Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Muslims picked out at airports


Muslims say they are being harassed when they enter New Zealand because of global fears about terrorism.

Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand president Javed Khan said he would call on the Government this week to investigate why Muslims had to endure inspections for hours in New Zealand airports without explanation.

"The only reason is that they have got Muslim names and beards. It's getting worse and worse. They are asking for all sorts of information from them. It's totally unnecessary. It's tantamount to harassment," he said.

Khan had received several complaints from Muslims, furious at what they believed was targeted harassment by customs and immigration officials.

The level of scrutiny in the past year was unprecedented in New Zealand.

Khan said Muslims across the country were furious.

"People have started to talk in the community that government and officials at the airport are detaining Muslims left, right and centre. It's totally unacceptable," Khan said.

"Maybe they catch a few people to show it's not only Muslims, but I can tell you Muslims are targeted for inspection."

Department of Labour deputy secretary Mary Anne Thompson said a small proportion of travellers were detained by immigration staff when aspects of their application "seemed to require further scrutiny".

Their country of origin had no influence on this process.

Muslim Association of Canterbury (MAC) member Hussam Razzaq said he had heard many stories of Muslims being held up at airports but this was possibly due to increased sensitivity among Muslims.

"Muslims know that if anything happens in the world something will backlash on them – so they become more aware and nervous," he said.

"Behaviour deemed normal in the past is considered racism."

Razzaq's own belongings were thoroughly checked by immigration officials for the first time in 18 years when he returned from a recent trip abroad.

Airport staff were polite but firm when they asked questions about his luggage in what appeared to be a random check.

It was an anxious hour-long wait, he said.

MAC president Khalifa Alhasi said while the checks might have been random, they were rankling Muslims.

"They are really angry. They say I'm not coming any more to New Zealand," he said. "Sometimes it's too much. I've been living in New Zealand for 10 years and they still stop me for two or three hours."

Three months ago, a Muslim asked for his lawyer when an immigration official at Auckland airport asked to look inside his wallet.

"People come from overseas – some of them they sit for four hours," he said.

A Labour Department spokeswoman said officials did not collect data on people detained and checked routinely at the border.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Ramadan drum ban urged in Turkey

Saturday 06 November 2004, 18:23 Makka Time, 15:23 GMT

A Turkish province has declared that a centuries-old Muslim tradition is a breach of human rights and should be abandoned, newspapers reported.

The human rights board at the office of the governor of the southern Mersin province - comprised of the governor, other senior local officials and civic groups - said that pre-dawn drum-beating to wake Muslims up was disturbing for children as well as sick and working people.

The decision was made at a meeting called after several citizens lodged complaints with the board.

Under the tradition, volunteers stroll the streets before dawn, loudly beating drums to wake believers up for a light meal, called sahur, after which the day-long Ramadan fasting begins.
Backing of cleric

The province's top Muslim cleric has lent support to the move, saying that drum-beating is not a condition set by Islam, the Radikal daily reported.

"If drum-beating disturbs people, it should be stopped. Today, there are technological means" to wake people up, mufti Mazhar Bilgin was quoted as saying.

The recommendation of the board has been sent to local municipalities, which are to decide whether to heed it.

Local administrations in three districts - one in Istanbul and two in the touristic Mediterranean province of Antalya - banned drum-beating during Ramadan this year, either because it caused noise pollution or disturbed non-Muslims, the Hurriyet daily said.

Friday, September 30, 2005

BBC Rejects Muslim Council Complaint

BBC rejects Muslim Council complaint
Claire Cozens
Friday September 30, 2005

The BBC has strongly rejected a complaint from the Muslim Council of Great Britain about a controversial Panorama documentary on the challenges faced by the Muslim community in the wake of the July 7 bombings.

In a letter to the MCB, Panorama editor Mike Robinson said there was no truth in the claim that the programme was "maliciously motivated" and "Islamophobic", which he described as "about as grave a complaint as it is possible to make".

"The programme's purpose was to reflect, inform and generate debate in the Muslim community and the wider population about the nature and direction of the leadership of British Muslims," Mr Robinson wrote.

"In the light of the London bombings this is a debate which many Muslims to whom we spoke believe is long overdue.

"As this debate goes forward I very much hope that you will desist from unwarranted and wildly inaccurate attacks on the honesty of our journalism."

The BBC received 250 complaints about the programme, which was broadcast in August and featured presenter John Ware touring Muslim communities around Britain to examine how they were treating the threat of extremism in the wake of the July attacks.

It examined the extent to which the MCB, an umbrella organisation for around 400 mosques and other Islamic groups, condones ideas promoted by some of its affiliates, which can feed the kind of extremism that led to the July bombs in London.

Ware interviewed Sir Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the MCB, about his stance on Palestinian suicide bombers, his decision to boycott Holocaust Memorial Day last January and his attendance at a memorial service for Sheikh Yassin, spiritual leader of the Palestinian militant group, Hamas.

The MCB claimed that A Question of Leadership was "dishonestly presented, mischievously edited and clearly aimed at maligning the Muslim Council of Britain and its major affiliates ... without regard for the facts".
from MediaGarden

Saturday, September 24, 2005