Tag Archives: Muslims

NATO forces in Afghanistan apologize for ‘highly offensive’ propaganda leaflet

A senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan apologized on Wednesday for a “highly offensive” propaganda leaflet which contained a passage from the Quran used in the Taliban militants’ banner superimposed on to the image of a dog.

The dog is considered unclean in Islam and associating an image of the animal with one of the religion’s most sacred texts prompted indignation.

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Suspect charged in Quebec mosque attack

A French Canadian known for far-right views has been charged with six counts of murder over the shooting rampage at a Quebec mosque. Suspect Alexandre Bissonnette, who was also charged with five counts of attempted murder, made a brief court appearance and did not enter a plea.

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India parents investigated after Jain girl dies from 68-day fast

Indian police are investigating the parents of a 13-year-old girl who died last week after undertaking a religious fast for 68 days.

Police in southern Hyderabad city told BBC Hindi they want to know if Aradhana Samdariya was forced to fast.

Her parents have insisted she voluntarily fasted as prescribed in Jainism, one of the world’s most ancient religions.

The case has sparked a debate about the practice of religious fasting in India.

Reports said Aradhana lived for 68 days on boiled water. Two days after she called off her fast last week, she was dead.

Continue reading India parents investigated after Jain girl dies from 68-day fast

Charlie Hebdo publishes cartoon of drowned Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi

The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has publishes a cartoon about the death of Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi on the cover of its latest issue.

Eight months after the terrorist attacks at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris which killed 12, the magazine has continued to create controversial content.

Since the photograph of three-year-old boy, Aylan al-Kurdi, who fled with his family from the Syrian civil war but died on a Turkish beach was shared around the world, public support in Europe for refugees has reached increased significantly.

Charlie Hebdo used two cartoons both including drawings of Aylan’s death.

The print accompanying the image reads: “Welcome to migrants!” “So near his goal…” is the message over Aylan’s body.

A sign on the beach with a children’s clown character says: “Promo! 2 kids menus for the price of one”.

A second cartoon depicts what appears to be Jesus next to the drowned boy with the caption: “Proof that Europe is Christian. Christians walk on water – Muslim children sink.”

The cartoons have attracted a lot of criticism online from those who view the use of Aylan’s death for satirical purposes as offensive. Others have said magazine is merely the West’s handling of the refugee crisis.

The images were drawn by artist, Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau. The political cartoonist has had to be chaperoned at all times by armed, plain-clothed police since the attack on the Charlie Hebdo headquarters.

Riss survived the shooting despite being hit in the shoulder and has since become the acting editor of the magazine.

Maajid Nawaz, founder of the think-tank Quilliam defended the magazine’s cartoon: “Taste is always in the eye of the beholder. But these cartoons are a damning indictment on our anti-refugee sentiment,” he wrote on Facebook. “The McDonald’s image is a searing critique of heartless European consumerism in the face of one of the worst human tragedies of our times.

“The image about Christians walking on water while Muslims drown is (so obviously) critiquing hypocritical European Christian “love”.

“Fellow Muslims, not everything and everyone are against us, every time. But if we keep assuming they are by reacting like this, they will surely become so.

European jihadists – Why and how Westerners go to fight in Syria and Iraq

THE two young men in the bus from Antakya, in south-eastern Turkey, to Reyhanli, nearer the border with Syria, sported long beards, calf-length trousers and toted small drawstring bags with their minimal belongings. They spoke in broken Arabic to the bus driver (local Turks usually have a smattering of the language) but to each other in a regional British accent.

They were just two out of hundreds of Muslims from Europe, setting off to Syria to join the battle. That was two years ago. Since then, several thousand may have signed up—and the rate may be increasing. What do they do when they get there? And what might they do when they go home?

The effect of the swelling influx is apparent as the Islamic State (IS), a brutal extremist group in Syria and Iraq that has attracted most foreign fighters, stakes a claim to a swathe of territory that is the size of Jordan and embraces a similar population—6m or so.

Boastful combatants post well-scripted videos to attract their foreign peers, promising heaven for those who leave their lives of Western decadence to become “martyrs”.

They tweet “selfies” holding the severed heads of their enemies after photos of the luxuries, such as Red Bull, an energy drink, that are available to the fighters. And they issue threats to the West while using emoticons—smiling faces, for instance, formed by punctuation marks—and internet acronyms such as LOL.

IS has consolidated its hold on Raqqa, a town in eastern Syria that it snatched from other rebels who had themselves taken it over in March last year. Raqqa has become the headquarters for jihadists in Syria and Iraq.

Fighters from as far afield as Afghanistan and Sweden have brought their wives and children to the town and moved into the houses of residents who have fled. “Milk”, says a European fighter in northern Syria when asked what he misses about home. “Here you have to get it straight from the cow”. Harder than buying it at Tesco.

But junk food is in ample supply, tweets a Swedish fighter, more happily. And there is a lot of time, sometimes days on end, for “chilling”, says the European fighter on Kik, a smartphone messaging app. That is when he makes “a normal-life day: washing clothes, cleaning the house, training, buying stuff”.

Thanks to satellite internet connections, the continuing flow of goods into the country and the relatively decent level of development compared with elsewhere in the region, Syria is a long way from the hardship of Afghanistan’s mountains. Last year, to attract others to come, jihadists tweeted pictures with the hashtag “FiveStarJihad”.

Yet Western fighters do not shy away from battle. Some have taken part in slaughtering those labelled kuffar (unbelievers), including Sunnis deemed too moderate as well as Shia Muslims, who are all deemed apostates. They help fight for dams, military bases and oilfields. They carry out suicide missions such as the bombing in Aleppo, Syria’s second city, perpetrated in February by Abdul Waheed Majid, a Briton.

Westerners are useful for other reasons, too. Hostages released from IS’s clutches say they were guarded by three English-speakers. Foreign jihadists can e-mail the families of hostages in their own language to ask for ransoms.

Western fighters often seem to jump at the chance to take part in a fight or help build a new Islamic state. The Soufan Group, a New York-based intelligence outfit, reckons that by the end of May as many as 12,000 fighters from 81 nations had joined the fray, among them some 3,000 from the West (see chart).

The number today is likely to be a lot higher. Since IS declared a caliphate on June 29th, recruitment has surged. Syria has drawn in fighters faster than in any past conflict, including the Afghan war in the 1980s or Iraq after the Americans invaded in 2003.

The beheading on or around August 19th of James Foley, an American journalist, by a hooded fighter with a London accent, has put a spotlight on Britain. In the 1990s London was a refuge for many extremists, including many Muslim ones.

Radical preachers were free to spout hate. Britain remains in many ways the centre of gravity for European jihadist networks, says Thomas Hegghammer of the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment. “The radical community in Britain is still exporting ideas and methods.”

While the overwhelming majority of foreign fighters in Syria are Arabs, Britons make up one of the biggest groups of Western fighters. But Belgians, Danes and others have a higher rate per person (see left-hand chart above). France, which has tighter laws against extremism, has also seen more of its citizens go off to wage jihad.

One reason for Britons’ prominence is that English is so widely understood, especially in the countries whose governments IS hopes to influence. The video depicting Mr Foley’s murder was titled “A message to America”. IS has published two issues of Dabiq, a glossy new magazine in English, named after an area of northern Syria.

Leader of French extremist group jailed for nine years

PARIS – A French court on Friday jailed the leader of a local Islamist group for nine years for “criminal association with a terrorist group.”

Mohamed Achamlane, 37, the leader of Forsane Alizza, also called the “knights of pride”, was one of 15 members of the group on trial for plotting terrorist attacks.

The accused were arrested in 2012 during a crackdown on radical Islamists shortly after gunman Mohamed Merah shot dead seven people, including three Jewish children.

Achamlane insisted throughout the trial that the group, formed in 2010, had no “terrorist inspiration” and only wanted to defend Muslims against mounting Islamophobia in France.

Asked during the trial about internet chats where he said he wanted to “slash France” he said many people used his computer.

As for files explaining how to build explosives, “all sorts of people sent me all sorts of files”, he told the court during his June trial.

Achamlane also said that he was only calling for the “legitimate defence” of his community, adding “I am not racist, I am not an anti-Semite.”

But prosecutors put forward evidence including a list of “targets” that highlighted Jewish shops in the Paris region.

“We wanted to make a provocative video with a wall of Kalashnikovs and my bearded head to redress the balance,” he said, specifying that he felt Muslims were “excluded” from French society.

“There is no radical or moderate Islam,” he added. “There is only authentic Islam.”

The group – which gained attention for its protests against a decision to ban veils in public – was disbanded in 2012 by the government, which described it as a “private militia”.

After it was disbanded, the group put a message on its website demanding that French forces leave all Muslim-majority countries.

“If our demands are ignored, we will consider the government to be at war against Muslims,” the message said.

Here is the blood-stained note written by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in hiding before he was caught

Tsarnaev boat note

BOSTON (Reuters) – Jurors in the trial on Tuesday of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev got to see the blood-stained message that prosecutors say he wrote on the inside of a boat he was hiding in before his violent capture, explaining his reasoning for killing innocent people.

“We Muslims are one body you hurt one you hurt us all,” the message read, citing what it said was aggression in Muslim lands. “I don’t like killing innocent people it is forbidden in islam, but due to said (…) it is allowed,” the message read, with a word missing due to a bullet hole.

Boston Police Officer Todd Brown identified a photograph of the message, displayed to the jury on screens in U.S. District Court in Boston, showing bullet holes and blood dripping over the words.

Tsarnaev, 21, is accused of killing three people and injuring 264 with a pair of homemade bombs at the race’s crowded finish line on April 15, 2013, as well as fatally shooting a police officer three days later as he and his brother tried to flee the city.

Federal prosecutors contend that Tsarnaev, who emigrated with his family from Chechnya, was driven by an extremist view of Islam and a desire to strike back at the United States in revenge for military campaigns in Muslim-dominated countries.

Defense lawyers argue that his older brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan, was the driving force behind the attacks and that his younger brother followed him out of a sense of submission. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died four days after the bombing when his younger brother inadvertently ran him over with a car as he fled a gunbattle with police.

Tsarnaev, who was shot and seriously injured before being captured in a dry-docked boat in Watertown, just outside Boston, faces the death penalty if convicted.

Earlier on Tuesday, an FBI agent testified that Tsarnaev attended the world renowned race the year before the attack and posted an ominous tweet about people being “defeated.”

FBI agent Stephen Kimball said Tsarnaev, using the Twitter handle J_Tsar, wrote “they will spend their money and they will regret it and then they will be defeated” on April 16, 2012, the day of that year’s marathon. Kimball said “yes” when asked if the FBI believed he attended the race in 2012.

Defense attorney Miriam Conrad questioned Kimball about other tweets from Tsarnaev, including ones citing rap lyrics, and jokes like “I want to study a broad or two”.

“Is it fair to say that in addition to the 45 tweets that the government chose for you to introduce, there are a lot of tweets about things like girls, cars, food, sleep, homework, complaining about studying,” she asked.

“Yes,” Kimball responded.

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev federal court sketch
Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev federal court sketch

Conrad also pointed out that a background photo on one of Tsarnaev’s two Twitter accounts was of the city of Grozny in Chechnya, not of Mecca, the sacred city for Muslims in Saudi Arabia, as Kimball had earlier suggested.

Other FBI agents on Tuesday described how some 3,000 piece of evidence, including shrapnel and body parts, were retrieved from the blast sites near the marathon finish line, some on surrounding rooftops as high as four-stories.

The jury has heard from 33 witnesses, including victims and emergency workers, during the trial’s first four days. That brisk pace reflects the fact that defense lawyers, who opened their case by acknowledging Tsarnaev committed the crimes, have so far cross-examined only four witnesses.

The bombing killed Martin Richard, 8; Krystle Campbell, 29, and Lingzi Lu, 23. Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, 27, was shot to death three days later.

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