By Soeren Kern
December 30, 2014
The Muslim population of Britain reached 3.4 million in 2014 to become around 5.3% of the overall population of 64 million, according to figures extrapolated from a recent study on the growth of the Muslim population in Europe. In real terms, Britain has the third-largest Muslim population in the European Union, after France and Germany.
Islam and Islam-related issues were omnipresent in Britain during 2014, and can be categorized into four broad themes: 1) Islamic extremism and the security implications of British jihadists in Syria; 2) the continuing spread of Islamic Sharia law in Britain; 3) the sexual exploitation of British children by Muslim gangs; and 4) Muslim integration into British society.
What follows is a chronological review of some of the main stories involving the rise of Islam in Britain during 2014.
In January, an analysis of census data showed that nearly 10% of the babies and toddlers in England and Wales are Muslim. The percentage of Muslims among children under five is almost twice as high as in the general population. By way of comparison, fewer than one in 200 people over the age of 85 are Muslim, an indication of the extent to which the birth rate is changing the religious demographic in Britain.
Also in January, Muslim fundamentalists threatened to behead a fellow British Muslim after he posted an innocuous image of Mohammed and Jesus on his Twitter account. The death threats against Majid Nawaz, a Liberal Democrat Party candidate for British Parliament, added to the growing number of cases in which Islamists are using intimidation tactics to restrict the free speech rights of fellow Muslims in Europe.
On January 16, a Muslim woman was arrested by counter-terrorism police at Heathrow Airport as she was preparing to board a flight to Turkey. Nawal Masaad, 26, is accused of trying to smuggle £16,500 ($27,000; €20,000) in her underwear to jihadists in Syria. She and her alleged co-conspirator, Amal El-Wahhabi, 27—a Moroccan who does not work and claims British social welfare benefits for herself and two young sons—were the first British women to be charged with terrorism offenses linked to the conflict in Syria.
On January 23, the head of Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism unit, Commander Richard Walton, revealed that 14 British minors were arrested on charges linked to the Syrian conflict in January alone, compared to 24 for the whole of 2013. He said it was “almost inevitable” that some fighters would try to mount attacks in Britain upon their return.
On January 16, British Islamist Abu Waleed outlined his vision of an Islamic state in Britain, and called for Christians to be humiliated so that they would convert to Islam. In a video, he said:
“If the Muslim sees a Kafir [non-Muslim] with nice clothes, the Kafir has to take his clothes off and give them to the Muslim. The Kafir, when he walks down the street, he has to wear a red belt around his neck, and he has to have his forehead shaved, and he has to wear two shoes that are different from one another. He [the non-believer] is not allowed to walk on the pavement, he has to walk in the middle of the road, and he has to ride a mule. That is, my dear brothers, the Islamic state.”
In Bristol, the city council approved a controversial plan to convert a former comedy club into a mosque. In Cambridgeshire, a Muslim group submitted plans to convert a warehouse into a new mosque. In Cambridge, locals opposed a plan to build a £17.5 million ($28.5 million; €21 million) mega-mosque, claiming it could be “a front for terrorism.” In Blackburn, home to nearly 100 mosques, city councillors were urged to reject a plan to open a mosque in a residential neighbourhood.
In Southend, local residents celebrated after a four-year battle resulted in the closing of an illegal mosque. In Newton Mearns, south of Glasgow, plans were abandoned to build a mosque within the grounds of a school in one of the most affluent suburbs of Scotland, due to local criticism of the move.
In Catherine-de-Barnes, a tiny village in western central England, local residents objected to plans for a large, Muslim-only cemetery, which will include space for 4,000 followers of Islam to be buried, and 75 parking spaces for visitors. The village has a population of just 613, which means the cemetery could eventually hold six-and-a-half times as many people as Catherine-de-Barnes itself.
In February, official statistics showed that net immigration to the United Kingdom surged to 212,000 in the year ending September 2013, a significant increase from 154,000 in the previous year. The new immigration data cast doubt on a pledge by Prime Minister David Cameron to get net migration—the difference between the number of people entering Britain and those leaving—down to the “tens of thousands” before the general election in May 2015.
Separately, data released by the National Crime Agency showed a 155% rise in British children groomed by sex gangs during 2013.
Also in January, a Muslim extremist who hacked a soldier to death on a London street in May 2013, launched a taxpayer-funded appeal against his murder conviction. Michael Adebolajo, 29, who tried to behead the British soldier Lee Rigby with a meat cleaver, maintained that he should not have been convicted because he is a “soldier of Allah” and therefore Rigby’s killing was an act of war rather than premeditated murder.
Adebolajo and his co-defendant, Michael Adebowale, 22, were found guilty by a jury in December 2013, and were sentenced on February 26. Adebolajo was given a “whole-life” prison term and Adebowale was given a minimum term of 45 years. Adebolajo’s brother said his sibling was the victim of “Islamophobia.”
On February 16, The Sunday Times reported that about 250 British jihadists who went to train and fight in Syria had returned to the UK and were being monitored by the security services. Senior officials said the high number of “returnees”—five times the figure that had been previously reported—underlined the growing danger posed by “extremist tourists” going to the war-torn region. MI5 and police said they feared that “returnees” could be preparing a Mumbai-style gun attack on civilians, possibly in a crowded public place in London.
On February 14, three Muslim vigilantes who terrorized innocent members of the public as the self-styled “Muslim Patrol” were banned from promoting Sharia Law in Britain for a period of five years.
In March, British authorities launched an investigation into the source of a document that purportedly outlined a plot by Muslim fundamentalists to Islamize public schools in England and Wales. The four-page document described a strategy—dubbed Operation Trojan Horse—to oust non-Muslim head teachers and staff at state schools in Muslim neighbourhoods and replace them with individuals who would run the schools according to strict Islamic principles.
Also in March, a report entitled, “Easy Meat: Multiculturalism, Islam and Child Sex Slavery,” showed how officials in England and Wales were aware of rampant child grooming—the process by which sexual predators befriend and build trust with children in order to prepare them for abuse—by Muslim gangs since at least 1988. Rather than taking steps to protect British children, however, police, social workers, teachers, neighbours, politicians and the media deliberately downplayed the severity of the crimes perpetrated by the grooming gangs in order to avoid being accused of “Islamophobia” or racism.
Meanwhile, official figures revealed that record levels of Muslims are serving jail sentences and that the numbers are still growing. Across England and Wales the proportion has risen from 8% one decade ago to 14% now. In London, the figure is 27%, which is more than double the 12% of the capital’s population who are Muslim.
On March 27, ITV News reported that the problem of honour-based violence and forced marriages in England is “worse than people think,” but that many people are afraid of speaking out because they do not want to be branded as being “racist.” Claire Phillipson from Wearside Women in Need said:
“I have no doubt that all over the North East [England] first, second, third generation English young women are being forced into marriage.
“Schools and communities are keeping silent about it, because they are concerned that they would be called racist, Islamophobic. They don’t quite know where the line between culture, religion and human rights should be drawn.”
On March 13, the Law Society, the main professional association representing and governing the legal profession in England and Wales, issued ground-breaking guidance to help lawyers draft Sharia-compliant wills and estate planning documents. The move effectively enshrined Islamic Sharia law in the British legal system for the first time.
In April, the British government launched a public consultation on whether or not to introduce student loans that are compliant with Islamic Sharia law, which forbids loans that involve the payment of interest.
Critics said that the dispute over interest-bearing student loans follows stepped-up demands for Sharia-compliant banking and insurance as well as credit cards, mortgages and pension funds, which—taken together—are contributing to the establishment of parallel Islamic financial and legal systems in Britain.
Separately, Lloyds Bank was accused of reverse religious discrimination after dropping overdraft fees for Muslims but not for others. The bank said that non-Muslims would have to pay up to £80 (€97, $135) a month for an overdraft, but that for Muslims “there won’t be any charges.”
Meanwhile, the fast food giant Subway removed ham and bacon from almost 200 outlets in Britain and switched to halal (Arabic for “permitted” or “lawful”) meat alternatives, apparently in an attempt to please its Muslim customers.
On April 9, Home Secretary Theresa May published her annual report on the government’s strategy for countering terrorism. The report concluded that battle-hardened British jihadists returning from the war in Syria now pose the most serious threat to British security.
On April 17, the Sheffield Crown Court found Aras Hussein, 21, guilty of beheading his girlfriend, Reema Ramzan, 18, with a kitchen knife in her apartment in Sheffield in June 2013. He was sentenced to life, with a minimum of 20 years in prison.
On April 30, a jury at the Manchester Crown Court heard how Ahmed Al-Khatib, 35, murdered his wife for becoming “too westernized.” The prosecution told the jury that the mother of three had been “in fear of her husband” and “believed he might one day kill her.” She eventually sought help from the police and a lawyer. The prosecutor said:
“The family of the defendants were insulted that she had gone to the law. They wanted her and her children back within the family fold… Therefore, it was decided that she should either be forced to comply or be killed.”
On April 19, the Charity Commission, a government agency that regulates charities in the UK, announced a crackdown on Muslim charities that send money to jihadist groups in Syria.
On April 24, British counter-terrorism officials launched a nationwide campaign aimed at encouraging Muslim women to contact the police if they were concerned that their family members or close friends might be preparing to travel to Syria to fight.
Also on April 24, a group of British lawyers launched a new organization called “Sharia Watch UK” to “highlight and expose those movements in Britain which advocate and support the advancement of Islamic law in British society.” The group called Sharia law “Britain’s Blind Spot.”
In May, a senior adviser to Lutfur Rahman, the extremist-linked mayor of the heavily Islamized London Borough of Tower Hamlets, threatened Muslim riots unless people stop questioning the manner of his re-election. Rahman narrowly won re-election on May 23 as an independent, but the result was cast into doubt amid dozens of reports of voter intimidation and a chaotic count that took more than five days to declare a final result. Rahman was expelled from the Labour Party in 2010 after The Telegraph revealed his close links to an Islamic extremist group, the Islamic Forum of Europe.
On May 19, a jury in New York found Abu Hamza, the former imam of Finsbury Park mosque in north London, guilty on all 11 counts following a four-week trial. The one-eyed, handless Hamza was charged with organizing a terrorist camp in the US, taking hostages in Yemen and sending one of his followers from London to train with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. The guilty verdicts followed a lengthy battle over his extradition from the UK, which began in 2004 but was only carried out in 2012. At the same time, Scotland Yard and MI5 were accused of ignoring warnings that Hamza was establishing an international hub of terrorism in London as far back as 1999. Despite Abu Hamza’s conviction, Britain remains the world’s leading recruiting ground for al-Qaeda.
On May 16, the Telegraph reported that Aminu Sadiq Ogwuche, a British-born “ringleader” of the Islamist group Boko Haram, responsible for kidnapping hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria, was radicalized while studying at a British university. Ogwuche, the son of a retired Nigerian colonel, was said by fellow students at the University of Glamorgan in Wales to call himself “The Lion of Allah” and threatened to cut off the hands and feet of non-Muslims while living in the UK.
On May 9, the mother of Nicky Reilly—a convert to Islam who tried to blow up a restaurant packed with diners in Exeter in 2008—told the BBC’s Radio 4 that the would-be suicide bomber was turned into “a loaded gun” by Islamic extremists in Britain. The 22-year-old changed his name to Mohammad Abdulaziz Rashid Saeed-Alim in 2004 in tribute to the jihadists who attacked New York on September 11, 2001. Kim Reilly said: “They were telling him he would be in paradise with 44 virgins, and he believed it.”
On May 7, Pizza Express, a British restaurant chain, revealed that Halal meat was being used in all of its chicken dishes in all of its 434 restaurants across the UK. Under Islamic law, chicken can only be eaten if the bird’s throat has been slit while it is still alive. A Quranic verse is also recited during the ritual. On May 15, it emerged that at least a dozen top universities, including Oxford University, have been secretly serving Halal meat to unsuspecting students.
On May 30, a Somalian doctor with a practice in Birmingham was struck off the medical register after he was found by a medical malpractice tribunal to have told an undercover reporter how to arrange female genital mutilation abroad for her two nieces.
In June, Tablighi Jamaat, a radical Islamic group committed to “perpetual jihad” to spread Islam around the world, edged one step closer to building one of the world’s largest mosques in London after a star Muslim opponent of the controversial project was intimidated into silence. The proposed mega-mosque would be built on a 16-acre site near the Olympic Stadium, and would have a capacity for more than 9,000 worshippers.
On June 17, British Prime Minister David Cameron warned that British citizens and other Europeans fighting alongside Islamist insurgents in Iraq and Syria posed the biggest threat to Britain’s national security.
But on June 22, the Financial Times reported: “The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has halved its counter-terrorism budget even as officials warn of the most severe threat to the UK from overseas terror groups since the London bombings in 2005.”
Also on June 22, the Sunday Times reported that British jihadists are faking their deaths on the battlefield in Syria in an attempt to return to the UK undetected. In one instance, the martyrdom of a fighter in Syria was announced by his colleagues on social media, only for police to arrest the “dead” individual at the port town of Dover.
The Times also reported that a British jihadist using the nom de guerre Abu Rashash Britani recently posted a message on Twitter that said: “When we establish Khilafah [an Islamic state], a battalion of Mujahideen should head to UK & capture David Cameron & Theresa May n behead them both :)”
Another jihadist from Birmingham named Junaid Hussain tweeted that the “black flag of jihad” will soon fly over Downing Street. He also tweeted: “Imagine if someone were to detonate a bomb at voting stations or ambushed the vans that carry the casted votes. It would mess the whole system up.” Hussain re-tweeted a warning from a like-minded countryman for British people to “watch out,” because “we’ll come back to the UK and wreak havoc.”
Meanwhile, a 19-year-old jihadist from Portsmouth named Muhammad Hassan promised a “killing spree” of British citizens if he were ever to return to Britain.
On June 16, a new law entered into effect, which makes forced marriage a self-standing criminal offense in England and Wales and is punishable by up to seven years in prison. Research commissioned by the government estimates that up to 8,000 young women in Britain are the victims of forced marriages each year, but charities say the actual number is far higher because many victims are afraid to come forward.
On June 12, the BBC reported that some Muslim families in Britain have begun hiring bounty hunters to track down the victims of forced marriage who try to run away.
On June 25, Britain became the first Western nation to issue Islamic bonds, completing a plan that was more than seven years in the making. Investors placed £2.3 billion ($3.9 billion) of orders, more than 11 times the amount of bonds on offer.
On June 24, the Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts, said that a Sharia-compliant alternative to the conventional student loan could become available in the UK beginning in 2016. He said: “It would be a tragedy if any student, particularly a Muslim student because of concerns about so-called interest rates, were put off from going to university.” He added: “This does not mean we are introducing Sharia law in the UK.”
On June 6, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) admitted that non-Muslim soldiers are unknowingly being fed Halal meat on military bases.
Also in June, an investigation found that all of the chicken and lamb meat being served at the University of Warwick is Halal. A first-year student commented:
“It’s disgusting that only Islamic meat is provided and no others. How is it acceptable for me to eat blessed meat of another religion that is different to my own? To effectively impose a monopoly on my choice leads me to question whether their religion (Islam) is prioritized over my own.”
On June 9, government inspectors found that the library at Olive Tree Primary School, a Muslim school in Luton, included books that advocate stoning and lashing. Leaders of the school accused the inspectors of “Islamophobia.”
In July, analysts at SITE, a group that monitors radical Islamic propaganda, reported that a growing number of British women have moved to Syria to raise children under the Islamic State. One such woman is Aqsa Mahmood, a 20-year-old woman from Glasgow, Scotland who left for Syria in November 2013.
Mahmood attended private schools and had wanted to become a doctor, but she dropped out of university without warning and vanished overnight in order to become a jihadist and marry an IS fighter. Using the jihadist name of Umm Layth (Arabic for “Mother of the Lion”) Mahmood uses social media to encourage other British Muslim women to leave their families behind and join the jihad in Syria. She wrote: “Once you arrive in the land of jihad, the Islamic State is your family.”
On July 3, the Inner London Crown Court sentenced six Muslims to a combined 36 years in prison for attacking two black men with a baseball bat because they were not Muslim. Judge Ian Darling said: “Not only was there a religious aspect to this offense, but there was an undoubted racial element.”
On July 4, a British jihadist who uses the nom de guerre Abu Osama told the BBC’s Radio 5:
“If and when I come back to Britain it will be when this Khilafah, the Islamic state, comes to conquer Britain, and I come to raise the black flag of Islam over Downing Street, over Buckingham Palace, over Tower Bridge and over Big Ben.”
On July 6, a British jihadist using the alias Abu Dugma al-Britani, warned that the Islamic State would capture Downing Street and hold executions in Trafalgar Square. Using Twitter, he wrote: “Downing Street will be a base for Muslims. Trafalgar Square is where public executions will take place. Army of Islamic State is coming.”
On July 8, Lord Richard Scott, a former British Supreme Court judge, called on Christians to marry Muslims to tackle Islamophobia. He said:
“Of my two sons one has become a Muslim and of my two daughters one of those has become a Muslim, and I have 12 lovely grandchildren, seven of whom are little Muslims.
“The family relationships since those events took place have been as happily familial, as close and as good as any parent or grandparent could wish.
“I do just wonder that if an improvement is needed between the faith groups, one way of promoting that might be to encourage interfaith marriages.”
On July 14, a Muslim checkout worker at a Tesco supermarket in London refused to sell non-Muslim customer ham and wine because it was Ramadan. The checkout clerk told Julie Cottle that he would not touch the items because they are considered forbidden by Islam and advised her to use the self-service tills instead. When Cottle complained to the manager, he backed the worker’s right to refuse to serve her because it was the holy month of Ramadan and he was fasting. Tesco later apologized for the incident and said the worker had been “spoken to.”
On July 18, a government report leaked to the Guardian revealed that a group of Islamic fundamentalists, mostly men of Pakistani origin, infiltrated the management of at least ten schools in Birmingham, sometimes breaking the law in order to introduce Muslim worship and sex segregation. Their activities were unimpeded by council officials who were fearful of allegations of Islamophobia and who forced ousted teachers to sign gagging clauses rather than treating their complaints seriously as whistleblowers.
On July 28, the Star City entertainment complex in Birmingham barred non-Muslims from entering a cinema because they were not celebrating the Islamic festival Eid. One non-Muslim complained on Facebook:
“My friends family have just been refused entry at VUE cinema as they are not Muslim this is a shocking disgrace. If the shoe was on the other foot there would be uproar. Can you imagine banning all Muslims to star city because it’s Christmas.”
In August, data released by the Office of National Statistics [ONS] showed that Mohammed was the most popular given to boys born in Britain in 2013. Although the ONS claimed that Oliver was the top name with 6,949 boys, it was in fact Mohammed when the top three spellings for the name (Muhammad, 3,499; Mohammed, 2,887 and Mohammad, 1,059) are combined to yield 7,445 boys.
On August 21, it emerged that there are now more British Muslims fighting for the Islamic State than for Britain’s military.
On August 23, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, warned that radical Islam is on the rise and “imperilling our way of life, threatening to undermine the values that have been bitterly won over the centuries.” He called on Britons to “recover a confidence in our own nation’s values. For too long we have been self-conscious and even ashamed about British identity.” He added:
“By embracing multiculturalism and the idea that every culture and belief is of equal value we have betrayed our own traditions of welcoming strangers to our shore.
“The fact is that for too long the doctrine of multiculturalism has led to immigrants establishing completely separate communities in our cities. This has led to honour killings, female genital circumcision and the establishment of Sharia law in inner-city pockets throughout the UK.”
On August 26, Alexis Jay, the leader of an independent inquiry in the sexual abuse of children in Rotherham, released a horrifying report that found that gangs of mainly Muslim men of Pakistani heritage had groomed, terrorized and abused at least 1,400 girls, some as young as 11, in Rotherham over a 16-year period between 1997 and 2013.
On August 31, the Independent on Sunday reported that a House of Commons committee would launch an investigation into whether Tony Blair’s Labour government knew about the Rotherham child abuse scandal as far back as 2001, but refused to act because of his government’s desire to pacify Muslim communities.
On August 30, a straw poll conducted by the BBC’s Saturday Morning Live Show found that 95% of respondents said that they think multiculturalism in Britain is a failure.
In September, new census data showed that the number of Muslim children in Birmingham was greater than the number who is Christian for the first time. Of Birmingham’s 278,623 children, 97,099 were registered as Muslim and 93,828 as Christian. There were also 54,343 children who were recorded as following no religion, showing the rising trend of atheism in the country.
On September 12, London Deputy Mayor Stephen Greenhalgh warned that London children under the age of ten are being “trained to be junior jihadis,” a disturbing sign of the growing extremist threat in the capital. He said:
It’s pretty horrendous when you hear how some of these children are being radicalized. The threat of radicalization of young people is real and this is a problem that is going to be with us not just for a couple of years, but for the next generation.”
On September 5, it emerged that networks of Islamic radicals are recruiting British jihadists through mosques and prayer centres. Previously, most British jihadists were recruited via online networks. But a combination of a Turkish border clampdown and a focus by counter-terrorist police on taking down online networks has made recruitment on the ground more important.
On September 3, eight Muslim men were charged with sexually abusing girls under the age of 16. The charges followed series of police raids involving 120 officers in the Thames Valley. On September 9, five Muslim men went on trial in Sheffield, accused of trafficking a 13-year-old girl for sex.
On September 10, the government announced that Muslim students will be offered Sharia-compliant interest free student loans in an effort to get more Islamic pupils to go to university.
In September, a customer at a Leicester branch of KFC was refused a hand-wipe as it might offend Muslims. Graham Noakes, 41, said staff at the fast food chain’s outlet in St George’s retail park refused to give him a hand-wipe because it was against its Halal policy. Staff said this was because the wipes are soaked in an alcohol-infused liquid and alcohol is forbidden in the Koran.
In October, a 75-year-old retiree was arrested for “racism” after saying “I’m not Muslim” when he was asked to remove his shoes at security at Stansted Airport. Paul Griffith was charged with causing “racially or religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress.”
In October, a taxi company in Rochdale, a town tainted by a child sex-grooming scandal perpetrated by Muslim gangs, began offering customers “white” or “local” drivers on demand. The move came after two local drivers of Pakistani origin were jailed for their part in the rape and trafficking of young white girls.
On October 23, the BBC reported that a memorial for Lee Rigby, a British soldier who was murdered by two Muslim converts in May 2013, will not bear his name. Greenwich Council said a stone would be placed in St George’s Chapel garden, opposite Woolwich Barracks where Rigby was based, but that the memorial would pay tribute to all fallen servicemen and woman. Local MP Nick Raynsford said that a Rigby memorial would attract “undesirable interest from [Islamic] extremists.”
On October 16, a new report showed that in just six months, nearly 2,000 women and girls in England were treated by the National Health Service after undergoing female genital mutilation [FGM]. In September alone, 467 female patients in England were newly identified as having been subjected to FGM. The data published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre [HSCIC] were the first official figures to have been published on the numbers of FGM cases seen in hospitals in England.
On October 30, a new study found that child sexual exploitation has become “the social norm” in many parts of Greater Manchester. The report—Real Voices, Child Sexual Exploitation In Greater Manchester—estimated that nearly 650 children reported missing in towns across Greater Manchester in 2014 were at risk of child sexual exploitation or serious harm. But despite almost 13,000 reports of child sex abuse in the past six years, only about 1,000 people have been convicted. The report’s author—Labour MP Ann Coffey—was criticized for failing to address the fact that many street grooming gangs are made up of Muslim men. She said it would be “wrong” to focus on “Asian” gangs targeting teenage girls.
On October 30, a Populus survey found that one in seven young British adults has “warm feelings” towards Islamic State. A tenth of Londoners and one in 12 Scots view Islamic State favourably, but sympathy for the militant group reaches its highest levels among the under-25s.
In November, British police foiled an Islamist plot to behead Queen Elizabeth at a Remembrance Day event at the Cenotaph, a war memorial situated on Whitehall in London.
In London Borough of Croydon, a couple from Afghanistan threatened to kill their daughter if she rejected a forced marriage and to behead her if she contacted authorities for help.
On November 5, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, told an international terrorism conference that his officers are “struggling to cope” with the speed of immigration and because many of those coming to Britain speak different languages and hold different views of authority.
On November 16, senior officials at Scotland Yard advised British police officers not to wear their uniforms on the way to and from work amid concerns that Islamic extremists are plotting to target them on the streets.
On November 10, The Times reported that British intelligence officials warned senior ministers that the scale of terrorist activity is so great that an attack is “almost inevitable” in the coming months.
On November 26, the British government unveiled sweeping new counter-terrorism measures which—if approved by Parliament—would give the United Kingdom some of the “toughest powers in the world” to fight Islamic terrorism.
On November 12, the BBC reported that the British Islamist Abu Rumaysah skipped bail after being arrested on terrorism charges and is thought to be in Syria, despite being banned from leaving the UK. Rumaysah left London on a bus bound for Paris after blundering police failed to confiscate his passport. On November 2, 60 Minutes aired an interview with Rumaysah, who said:
“Ultimately, I want to see every single woman in this country [Britain] covered from head to toe. I want to see the hand of the thief cut. I want to see the adulterer stoned to death. I want to see Sharia law in Europe. And I want to see it in America, as well. I believe our [Sharia] patrols are a means to an end.”
On November 1, a new report by Sharia Watch UK exposed the activities of Islamist speakers on British university campuses. The report—Learning Jihad—documented how Islamists are making anti-Semitic remarks, deriding Western notions of human rights, advocating female genital mutilation and calling for a raft of strict Sharia punishments such as stoning adulterers to death.
On November 11, the new Muslim owner of the exclusive Bermondsey Square Hotel in London abruptly banned alcohol and pork from the bar and grill at the hotel, in order to run it “in accordance with Sharia law.” The £220 ($340)-a-night hotel is believed to be one of the first in the UK to introduce the strict Muslim policy, but staff said the changes have caused business to plummet, with many reservations cancelled.
Also on November 11, it was reported that thousands of Muslim school children in East Lancashire were being offered a pork-based vaccine as part of a major new flu immunization program. The new nasal spray, which is made with gelatine derived from pigs, is part of a pilot project, but Muslim leaders complained that the decision not to offer an alternative was “outrageous” because they consider the spray to be ‘haram’ or sinful. Public Health England, which is leading the project, said in a statement: “There is no suitable alternative to [the porcine-based] Fluenz [vaccine].”
On November 13, police in Manchester arrested 13 members of human trafficking gang after a pregnant woman was duped into travelling to England before being sold into a sham Sharia law marriage. The 20-year-old Slovakian woman, who was 25 weeks pregnant, was tricked into flying to Luton airport in May believing that she would be able to meet her sister. After meeting a man at the airport who claimed to be her sister’s friend, however, she was taken to an address in Oldham. She then discovered that she had been sold to a Muslim man who had paid the gang £15,000 (€19,000; $23,000) to provide her a sham marriage. Police say the purpose of the marriage, which took place under a Sharia ceremony in Rochdale in July, was to improve the man’s chances of avoiding deportation from the UK.
On November 10, the BBC reported that police in Rotherham not only ignored, but actively obstructed investigations into child abuse victims, apparently because the perpetrators were Muslim. On November 19, the Birmingham Mail reported that the Birmingham City Council “buried” a politically incorrect government-funded report that revealed to sexual exploitation of young white girls by Muslim men. The author of the report, Jill Jesson, told the newspaper that the report was never published and all copies were to be destroyed. She said:
“I was employed to do the work because I think they thought I would be objective,” she said. “I was told to reveal what I saw. I did – and some people didn’t like it.
“Every time a news item has come on about sexual grooming of young girls and girls in care, and the link, too, between private hire drivers, I have thought, ‘I told them about that in 1991 but they didn’t want to acknowledge it.’ I think the problem has got worse and worse over time.”
On November 24, the Law Society withdrew controversial guidelines for lawyers on how to draft “Sharia compliant” wills amid complaints that they encouraged discrimination against women and non-Muslims. The guidelines advised lawyers on how to write Islamic wills in a way that would be recognized by courts in England and Wales. They set out principles that meant women could be denied an equal share of inheritances while unbelievers could be excluded altogether.
In December, a radio presenter for the BBC Radio 4’s Feedback program, Roger Bolton, wrote an article for the Radio Times, a weekly magazine, in which he warned that British school teachers are afraid to teach their students about Christianity out of fear of offending Muslims. Bolton said that this was creating a generation of British youth who are ignorant about Christian culture and its role in British history. He cited a study that found that a quarter of British children indicated that they have never read, seen or heard of Noah’s Ark,’ that a similar proportion had never heard of the Nativity, that 43% had never heard of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and that 53% had never read, seen or heard of Joseph and his coat of many colours.
On December 10, a new report by a human rights group exposed the vulnerability of Muslim women living in Islamic “marriages” in the UK. The report—Equal and Free? 50 Muslim Women’s Experiences of Marriage in Britain Today—found that the widespread practice of polygamy has left Muslim women without legal rights upon “divorce,” entirely dependent on their “husbands” for financial support, and often unable to leave sham “marriages” for fear of social ostracism or bringing “shame” to their family.
On December 11, the House of Lords held debates on female genital mutilation [FGM] and the “impact of Sharia Law on the United Kingdom.” Lord Faulks, Minister of State for Civil Justice and Legal Policy, cited research that “revealed that approximately 60,000 girls are at risk of FGM in the UK.” In the following debate, Baroness Cox said: “The establishment of Sharia courts or councils in this country has promoted the application of gender-discriminatory provisions in ways which are currently causing considerable distress for many women.” She also asked why “polygamy is allowed to flourish” in Britain even though bigamy is illegal.
Finally, December saw the launch of the faceless “Deeni Doll,” (Deeni is Arabic for “faith”) which is adorned with a traditional Hijab headdress, but has no nose, mouth, or eyes, in order to comply with Islamic rulings regarding the depictions of facial features. The toy, which retails for £25 ($40), was designed by a former teacher at a Muslim school in Lancashire. She said:
“I came up with the idea from scratch after speaking to some parents who were a little concerned about dolls with facial features. Some parents won’t leave the doll with their children at night because you are not allowed to have any eyes in the room. There is an Islamic ruling which forbids the depiction of facial features of any kind and that includes pictures, sculptures and, in this case, dolls.”
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group