Europe welcomes Gaza ceasefire

Egyptian-brokered cease-fire goes into effect, bringing to a halt 51 days of death and destruction in the blockaded coastal enclave.

Europe welcomes Gaza ceasefire

The European Union has welcomed the latest cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, bringing to an end 51 days of fighting between Israeli and Palestinian forces that have led to catastrophic death and destruction in the blockaded coastal enclave.

A statement from the European External Action Service “warmly” welcomed the Egypt-brokered agreement which went into effect at 16:00 GMT Tuesday and called “on all to abide by its terms.”

“We commend the efforts of Egypt and others in working towards the cease-fire, and express our sorrow for the loss of life, especially civilians and destruction caused in the last 50 days,” the office said on its official Twitter account, adding that the EU is ready to contribute to consolidating the truce.

For the past seven weeks, Israel has pounded Gaza with the declared aim of halting rocket fire from the territory, claiming at least 2,139 Palestinian — mostly civilian — lives, and leaving nearly 11,000 people injured. Thousands of homes have also been partially or completely destroyed by devastating Israeli bombardments.

At least 69 Israelis — 64 soldiers and five civilians — have also died in the conflict, according to Israeli figures.

Laurent Fabius, the French minister of foreign affairs and international development, also welcomed the cease-fire in an earlier statement saying that France, in coordination with its European partners and as a member of the United Nations Security Council “is committed to contribute to finding solutions through such an agreement.”

It was unclear as to whether by “solutions” Fabius meant an answer to the Palestinian situation, which has seen Palestinian refugees spread all over the world — many confined to refugee camps — since they were expelled by Jewish settlers from their homelands in 1948, or a solution to the latest conflict in Gaza.

“France urges all parties to respect and to continue discussions under the auspices of Egypt to achieve a sustainable solution that answers the requirements of lifting the blockade on Gaza and guaranteeing Israel’s security,” read the statement.

The cease-fire was also backed by Italy, which expressed hope that it would serve as a”turning point we have been waiting for and toward which we have been working with many other countries.”

“The Israelis and Palestinians now need to launch negotiations as soon as possible for a lasting truce and political agreement that finally lead to a stable settlement,” Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini said in a written statement.

Britain also welcomed the truce, Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood hailing Egypt’s efforts in securing “this important step.”

“I welcome today’s agreement by all parties to a cease-fire. The cease-fire provides a critical and welcome window of opportunity for reaching a comprehensive agreement that tackles the underlying causes of the conflict,” Ellwood said Tuesday.

 “This should ensure that: Hamas and other militant groups permanently end rocket fire and other attacks against Israel; the Palestinian Authority resumes control of Gaza and restores effective and accountable governance; and that Israel lifts its restrictions in order to ease the suffering of ordinary Palestinians, and allow the Gazan economy to grow,” added Ellwood.

There was no mention of an answer to what many Palestinians call “underlying causes” — the continued misappropriation of lands by Israel, the diaspora of the Palestinian people and control of their livelihoods and borders.

The Palestinian situation began in 1917 when the British Balfour declaration promised a national home for Jewish people in Palestine. By 1948 a newly formed state inside of the Palestine boundary named “Israel” had declared independence, which resulted in 700,000 Palestinians fleeing or being expelled and hundreds of their villages and towns destroyed.

The Palestinian diaspora has since become one of the largest in the world, refugees spread across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and other countries, while many were settled in refugee camps in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Palestinians commemorate “nakba” — “the day of catastrophe” — on May 15 in memory of the expulsion.

Since 1948, Israel has continued to misappropriate Palestinian land, despite being condemned by the United Nations. The right of return to pre-1948 homes is still a demand for many Palestinians, in particular Hamas, which formed a national unity government with Fatah this year after nearly seven years of feuding.

The number of Palestinian fatalities from Israel’s latest offensive has surpassed the combined death toll from Israel’s two previous operations against Gaza, including Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” in 2008/09 in which at least 1,500 Palestinians were killed over the course of three weeks.

*Anadolu Agency correspondents Hale Turkes from Ankara, Hajer M’tiri from Paris, Inci Gundag and Assed Baig from London, and Baris Seckin from Rome contributed to this story.

Read the original article published in Anadolu Agency on 27 August 2014

UK Muslims reject notion of ‘collective guilt’ over Foley

‘We don’t expect Christians, nationalists or socialists to apologise for [Adolf] Hitler,’ so why should we apologize for the Islamic State.

UK Muslims reject notion of 'collective guilt' over Foley

Muslim organizations have attacked British media values in the wake of what they see as a clamor to tie their faith to the Islamic State’s (IS) apparent murder of a U.S. journalist in Syria.

Mohammed Shafiq, the chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, told the Anadolu Agency Thursday that a narrative existed among “right-wing media and some politicians” that Muslims are not doing enough to combat extremism.

“But we have been speaking out since 9/11,” underlined Shafiq. “We condemn the murder of James Foley, but not because the British press tells us to, but because our faith tells us to.”

Foley’s death was broadcast in a video on YouTube on Tuesday night, his killer – who claims to be from the Islamic State – blaming U.S. involvement in Iraq in what sounds like a British accent before taking a knife to the 40-year-old’s neck.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has since said it is looking “increasingly likely” that the man was – or is – a British citizen. The government has previously said it believes that there are around 400 British nationals fighting alongside IS – formerly known as Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) – in Iraq and Syria.

The London Evening Standard newspaper acknowledged Wednesday that young men who have joined the IS are not necessarily representative of the capital’s Muslims, but went on to say “they are nonetheless worshippers at their mosques, members of their families, with friends and relatives privy to their plans.”

It called on Muslim communities to be “far more outspoken” about religious extremism, adding “we look to them, for instance, to organize protests against the Islamic State.”

Shafiq told AA that instead of making such generalizations that all Muslims share the same ideology, media and some politicians should instead be focusing on the root cause of radicalization and extremism.

“Our [British] inaction over Syria, our illegal war in Iraq and our silence over Gaza, and [British] support of the Israelis feeds the misconceptions and shows double standards,” he told AA.

Faith Matters Director Fiyaz Mughal agrees.

“The usual canard that is mentioned is that Muslims are not doing enough and these papers promote such ill-informed ideas,” he told AA.

“In fact, parents, mothers and [guardians] have actively been involved in dissuading young men from going to Syria and the stance of these papers shows how ill-informed their positions are as Muslim communities have been working tirelessly for at least five years on tackling extremism.”

Mughal added that some papers felt that all Muslims share a sense of “collective guilt” over the issue.

“Collective guilt is by itself anti-Muslim in nature since it targets all Muslims by virtue of their identity, when many have nothing to do with or have no control over global situations,” he said.

“We have to call this… exactly what it is – prejudice that targets whole communities.”

Massoud Shadjareh from the London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission said to AA that as human beings we “don’t expect Christians, nationalists or socialists to apologise for [Adolf] Hitler.”

“If ISIL self-represents as Islamic or Muslim or any other Islamic term, it neither gives them Islamic credibility, or connection with Muslims around the world; including those who seek political solutions through Islamic political and social organisation.”

Read the original article published in Anadolu Agency on 21 August 2014

Ezidi leader’s son calls on Turkey to intervene in Iraq

Breen Tahseen says Turkey more important than France and Britain because it has more power in Iraq.

Ezidi leader's son calls on Turkey to intervene in Iraq

The son of an Ezidi leader has called for Turkey to help Ezidi refugees trapped in northern Iraq.

Breen Tahseen, the son of Prince Tahseen Saeed Bek, who is leader of the Ezidi people, said Turkey should open its borders to allow Ezidi refugees in and to deliver humanitarian aid.

Tahseen also said Turkey should arm those fighting the so-called Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

Ezidis, an ethnic minority in Iraq, are a religious sect fusing Zoroastrian, Manichaean, Jewish, Nestorian Christian and Islamic elements. Orthodox Islamic scholars regard them as heretical.

Tahseen, 33, works in the Iraqi consulate in Manchester but said he was speaking in a personal capacity.

“Turkey is more important than France and Britain, because Turkey is closer to Iraq and has more power in Iraq, especially northern Iraq,” he said.

He called on Turkey and others to put troops on the ground to push IS back. France has pledged to arm Kurdish peshmerga forces battling Islamic State militants.

“IS is not just dangerous for Ezidi people; it affects everyone,” Tahseen said.

He called on European countries to take in Ezidi refugees. He said thousands of Ezidi were trapped and unless doctors and soldiers were put on the ground there was no way of knowing the exact number.

He said more than 600 Ezidi women and girls had been kidnapped by Islamic State fighters and taken to Mosul.

Mount Sinjar, in northwest Iraq near the border with Syria, has been home to thousands of Ezidis who have fled in fear of being massacred by Islamic State militants, who consider them “devil-worshippers.”

The militants have been blamed for several massacres already. Reports say that hundreds of people have been massacred, including at least 80 Ezidis who refused to convert to Islam.

More than 1 million civilians have been displaced by the clashes in the north and west of the country.

Read the original article published in Anadolu Agency on 17 August 2014

US, UK ‘hypocrites’ over Russia verbal attacks

Malaysian government minister says US also guilty for supplying war weapons to those killing innocent Palestinians in Gaza.

US, UK 'hypocrites' over Russia verbal attacks

A top minister in the Malaysian government has accused the United States of hypocrisy in its criticism of Russia for supplying arms to separatist groups, stating that the U.S. is just as guilty in that is supplying war weapons to those killing innocent Palestinians in Gaza.

“A lot of people are making very hypocritical statements, especially in the last week where Western leaders were saying it is obvious the weapons were supplied by the Russians to the rebels in order to shoot down the plane,” Mukhriz Mahathir, the chief minister of the northern state of Kedah told the Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

“This begs the question, who then supplied weapons that Israel is using against Palestinians? They need to be careful with statements like that.”

Last Thursday, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is believed to have been shot down in the Eastern Ukraine while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, resulting in the death of all 298 on-board.

The U.S. and Britain have since threatened sanctions against Russia for allegedly supplying weapons to the separatists.

Andrei Purgin, a deputy prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, has denied the accusations, saying all its weapons were stolen from the Ukrainian government.

The British government has also been accused of double standards, the head of French President Francois Hollande’s ruling Socialist ruling party calling Prime Minister David Cameron a “hypocrite” Tuesday night over Britain’s arms sales to Russia.

The British government had insisted that any arms licenses granted for equipment to the Russian military had been suspended in the wake of the MH17 disaster, but the Independent newspaper reported Wednesday that at least 251 export licenses for the sale of controlled goods – ranging from sniper rifles to night sights – remain in place despite Cameron’s calls for other countries – in particular France – to halt lucrative arms deals with Moscow.

Cameron had singled out French President Francois Hollande for his refusal to call off a £1 billion ($1.7 billion) deal to sell Moscow two helicopter carriers in the wake of the aircraft being downed.

Malaysian minister Mahathir is the political heir of influential former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who has frequently criticized former U.S. President George W. Bush, Vice-President Al Gore and former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for their countries involvement in the Middle East and their backing of Israel.

He asked Wednesday that the world not speculate on the downing of MH17″ until a formal independent investigation is undertaken that points to the identity of the shooter.”

“[We] and the families of the MH17 victims would like to know the motive of the shooter. What they wanted to achieve by shooting a civilian plane. Was this planned or an accident?” he said.

At least 609 Palestinians and 29 Israelis have died in Israel and Palestine over the last two weeks, most Palestinians dying during Israel’s bombing campaign and subsequent ground invasion in Gaza.

The United Nations office of humanitarian affairs has said that civilians made up at least 75 percent of Palestinian deaths, many of them children.

Meanwhile, the international community has stepped up diplomatic efforts to revive an Egyptian brokered cease-fire proposal that was rejected by Hamas.

Mahathir said that the U.S. has been promising to assist in ceasefires for years, but little had been done to help the Palestinians beyond that.

“Have we ever seen [the U.S. looking for] a possible closure to this?”

The Palestinian situation began in 1917 when the British Balfour declaration promised a national home for Jewish people in Palestine. By 1948 a newly-formed state inside of the Palestine boundary named “Israel” had declared independence, which resulted in 700,000 Palestinians fleeing or being expelled and hundreds of Palestinian villages and towns destroyed.

The diaspora has since become one of the largest in the world, refugees spread across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and other countries, while many were settled in refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinians commemorate “nakba” – “the day of catastrophe” – on May 15. in memory of the expulsion.

The right of return to pre-1948 homes is still a demand for many Palestinians, especially Gaza’s Hamas goverment – deemed a terrorist organisation by Israel, the U.S. and the European Union, amongst others – and what many see as fuelling the Palestianin-Israeli crisis.

*Anadolu Agency correspondent Assed Baig contributed to this story from London.

Read the original article published in Anadolu Agency on 23 July 2014

100,000 people march in London in support of Palestine

Protesters flock to British capital as Israel escalates its onslaught against Gaza Strip.

100,000 people march in London in support of Palestine

About 100,000 protestors from across Britain have rallied in London to protest against Israel’s onslaught on Gaza, according to demonstration organizers Stop the War coalition.

Demonstrators of mixed ethnicities, race and color from across Britain including grandmothers and children, Jews and Muslims, began their march from Downing Street on Saturday amid bright sunshine.

 Protestors chanted: “David Cameron shame on you!” and “Free Palestine!” as they marched under the watch of police officers lining the streets and hovering in helicopters in the skies above the British capital.

As the march started, about 10 members of London’s Hasidic Jewish community posed beneath a banner emblazoned with anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela’s words: “South Africans cannot feel free until the Palestinians are free.”

Stop the War rally organizer Lindsey German told the crowds: “We will demonstrate until Gaza is free,” as she stood on a stage outside the Israeli embassy.

‘Stop arms sales’

Peace activist Kate Hudson asked demonstrators: “Who actually has weapons of mass destruction?”

 “Israel!” the crowds shouted back.

Member of Parliament Jeremy Corbyn declared: “The very least the UK can do is stop the arms sales to Israel.”

Another demonstrator, 28-year-old Dominic, told Anadolu Agency: “I want Israel to know that killing children is unacceptable, and that we will oppose them every step of the way.”

Police barricades prevented the marchers from reaching the Israeli embassy, where one eight-year-old boy posed on a side street with his face daubed in fake blood next to a poster stating: “Freedom for Palestine.”

‘Joyous disbelief’

The British media has come under attack for its coverage of Israel’s offensive in Gaza, with several demonstrations behind held outside BBC offices around the country over the past week amid criticism the broadcaster’s reportage of the onslaught was biased in favor of Israel.

Channel 4 Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jonathan Miller tweeted from Gaza: “This London protest pic greeted with joyous disbelief here.”

Crispian Balmer, Reuters bureau chief for Israel and the Palestinian Territories, tweeted: “Much larger protest over Gaza in London than anywhere in the Arab world.”

One marcher said, as he tweeted a picture of the crowds: “It’ll embarrass Arab countries!”

Londoner Michelle said: “We can’t let this continue, we have to stand against oppression, and it looks like tens of thousands of people think the same because just look at the massive turn out.”

‘Free Palestine’ call

Observers said the demonstration would reinforce the reputation of London as a pro-Palestinian activist base.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz said: “The British capital has indeed become the most active center of pro-Palestinian groups, especially those of the BDS (broad pro-Palestinian campaign group) strand.”

All the demonstrators had one message for Israel and the British government: “Free Palestine.”

Police said three people were arrested.

Offensive stepped up

At least 339 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,390 injured, according to Palestinian health officials, since Israel launched its offensive on 7 July with the ostensible aim of halting rocket fire from Gaza.

One Israeli has been killed as a result of Palestinian rocket fire during the same period.

The Israeli army stepped up its offensive on Thursday, sending troops into the Gaza Strip.

The ongoing offensive, dubbed “Operation Protective Edge,” is the self-proclaimed Jewish state’s third major assault on the embattled coastal enclave – which is home to 1.8 million Palestinians – in the last six years.

Read the original article published in Anadolu Agency on 19 July 2014

Threat of UK foreign fighters on return ‘exaggerated’

New report says no empirical evidence to support notion that UK nationals fighting in Syria are threat on return.

Threat of UK foreign fighters on return 'exaggerated'

A new report by an UK-based campaign group claims that the British government has greatly exaggerated the threat posed to the country by foreign fighters taking part in the Syrian civil war.

British government policy is “confused and dangerous” and has “created a climate of fear,” says CAGE, which campaigns on behalf of the victims of “The War on Terror.” It accuses authorities of being “inconsistent” in how they treat those supporting rebels and foreign fighters in Libya and Syria.

The report – “Blowback – Foreign fighters and the threat they pose” – was launched Thursday night at an event held in East London. Over 400 people attended, listening to speakers including those who had been to Syria on humanitarian aid missions.

The study that led to the report looked at “terrorism plots” in the UK, and at how many of those involved in the plots had fought oversees.

 Post 9/11 – the period during which the West’s “War on Terror” started – no one involved in a terrorism plot in the UK had spent time fighting abroad, it states.

Asim Qureshi, the director of Cage, told the Anadolu Agency that there is no empirical evidence to support the idea that British nationals fighting in Syria are a threat to the UK.

“You don’t need to go to Syria to learn how to blow things up. Anyone with access to the Internet can learn how to do that,” he added, quoting the Boston marathon bombings as a prime example.

Qureshi accused the government of double standards in the way it defines criminality.

“We are in a situation where if a British national joins the forces of [Syrian President] Bashar Assad, and fights in the civil war then he will not be considered as a domestic threat or an extremist, but if someone travels to Syria and fights alongside the rebels against the regime, then they will be criminalized.”

To compile its report, Cage carried out interviews with people it said had travelled abroad to take part in conflicts.

It concluded that none of the unnamed fighters possessed the intent to participate in political violence, and suggested there is “scant” evidence that any significant numbers have done so.

Prime Minister David Cameron and security chiefs have stated that foreign fighters returning from overseas pose a great threat to the UK, Cameron telling parliament in June that the government has stopped people from travelling – taking away their passports – in an effort to stop them being radicalized.

The prime minister has also said that the government intends to introduce legislation that doesn’t just make efforts to travel to take part in “terrorist attacks” illegal, it also wants to introduce legislation that criminalizes the planning of such attacks from the UK.

The report, however, underlines, that those traveling to Syria had no intention of attacking the UK on return.”

Those that were spoken with did not envisage any tensions between travelling to Syria to join the civil conflict, and legal and moral obligations to Britain,” it states. “However, due to the climate of fear that has been created, it appears that disproportionate measures have been incorporated to reduce the threat from foreign fighters.”

Cage has claimed that it has being targeted by the government because of its work, for speaking out against anti-terror laws and for investigating British complicity in torture overseas.

It says its bank accounts have been closed down, claims the charities commission has launched an investigation into two of its major donors, and says that one of its directors – Dr. Adnan Siddiqui – is facing an investigation by the NHS England’s counter fraud department.

“There are too many coincidences for this not to be politically motivated,” said Quereshi on Friday.

All of this took place after its outreach director, former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg, was arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences linked to Syria.

The launch of the report Thursday was in part an attempt to raise money for the running of the organization.

The British government has estimated that around 400 UK nationals are fighting with groups in Syria, although the prime minister has acknowledged the government has less information about those in Iraq.

Last month, the government revealed it had made 65 arrests linked to Syria, and seized 14 passports, Cameron warning of the “security threat” to Britain.

Read the original article published in Anadolu Agency on 18 July 2014

World leaders urge truce in Ukraine for plane probe

US calls for a full, credible, and unimpeded international investigation into downed Malaysian airliner.

World leaders urge truce in Ukraine for plane probe

World leaders have urged Moscow, pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine to support a ceasefire in order to ensure international investigators have access to the crash site of a Malaysian airliner downed over Ukrainian territory.

A Friday statement from the White House said the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and the FBI would contribute to any international investigation that may be carried out.

“It is critical that there be a full, credible, and unimpeded international investigation as quickly as possible. It is vital that no evidence be tampered with in any way and that all potential evidence and remains at the crash site are undisturbed,” it said.

The statement forwarded the notion that the downing of the Malaysian commercial airliner occurred in the context of the Ukraine crisis, during which pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in February by protesters seeking closer ties with the European Union.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Razak Najib said during an emotional press conference in Kuala Lumpur on Friday morning that he had received a call from U.S. President Barack Obama, during which they had mutually agreed for a thorough investigation that will include an international team with full access to the crash site.

“No stone will be left unturned. If the plane has indeed been shot down, Malaysia will insist that the perpetrators be swiftly brought to justice,” Najib added.

In Germany Friday, Chancellor Angela Merkel called for an independent investigation to “begin as soon as possible.”

“For such an independent investigation, a truce is necessary,” she told journalists in Berlin.

She underlined that the tragic incident has shown once again the importance of reaching a political solution in Ukraine and called on Russia to play its part.

“Russia and the Russian president should make their contribution to reach a political solution. Ways for a permanent and mutual ceasefire must be found,“ she said.

“The developments of the last week showed that this is a difficult path, but from my point of view, there is no alternative to a diplomatic and political solution.”

Meanwhile, British Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond sent his condolences to those who lost friends and family in the crash and backed calls for an international investigation.

He said he did not want to “speculate” as to what had happened or about the exact number of U.K. nationals on board.

Both Merkel and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday paid condolences to the families of the victims of the downed commercial airliner – on which there were four German citizens.

“We are horrified by the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. There are no words adequate to express our condolences to the families of the nearly 300 victims,” said Kerry.

He also noted that they have been reviewing whether any American citizens were aboard the flight.

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flight MH17 was downed Thursday night close to Ukraine’s border with Russia with 295 people on board. Ukraine President Petro Proshenko has blamed “terrorists” for “shooting down” the plane, which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur at an altitude of 10,100 meters.

The Ukraine government uses the term “terrorists” in relation to pro-Russia separatists it is battling who are seeking to unite the east of Ukraine with Moscow.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has held Ukraine responsible for the crash, saying in a Friday statement that “the tragedy would not have happened if there were peace on this land, if the military actions had not been renewed in southeast Ukraine.”

The disappearance adds to a woeful year for Malaysia’s national carrier, following the disappearance of Beijing-bound flight MH370 after it left Malaysian airspace March 8.

A total of 239 people were on board the flight, including 12 crew and 153 Chinese citizens.

Despite the most intensive search in commercial aviation history, Malaysia’s efforts to find the plane have been heavily criticized by media and the family of passengers.

* Anadolu Agency correspondents Ayhan Simsek in Berlin, Assed Baig in London and Prem Kumar in Kuala Lumpur contributed to this report. 

Read the original article published in Anadolu Agency on 18 July 2014

Muslims tell of far-right group’s invasion of UK mosque

A Muslim worshipper has told Anadolu Agency of the disturbing moments when members of a far-right group stormed a mosque in south London.

Muslims tell of far-right group's invasion of UK mosque

Worshipper Mohammed Luthful Wahid told AA on Wednesday that he found himself confronted by five members of the Britain First group after they entered the Crayford Mosque and demanded the removal of what they called “sexist” signs – designating separate entrances for women and men – from outside of the building.

Wahid, who is 69-years-old, said: “To be honest with you, I was nervous and worried.”

The group, which posted a video of its invasion on the Britain First Facebook group, had marched into the North West Kent Muslim Association mosque on Sunday, trampled on the prayer area without removing their shoes and demanded to speak to the Imam, who was not present.

In the video, the leader of the group, Paul Golding, approached Wahid and said: “We’re Britain First, yeah? We object to your signs that are outside, the signs for men and women… in this country we have equality.”

Wahid told AA: “We are Muslims, we are not aggressive.

“I just wanted them to take their shoes off.  I wanted them off the carpet.”

– ‘Shocked’ worshippers

He said the three worshippers in the mosque at the time were left feeling shocked.

In the video, when asked to remove his shoes, Golding responds: “When you respect women, we’ll respect your mosques and you’ve got signs out there that segregate men and women.”

Wahid can be heard in the video saying: “Please get out.”

Before leaving the mosque, Golding and his associates demanded that a Christian cross engraved into the brickwork on the outside of the building – a former Methodist church which was only opened as a mosque in 2008 – be covered up.

Wahid said: “I told them that Jesus is one of our prophets, but the guy kept saying, ‘No’.

“Thank God there were only two or three of us in the mosque at the time, if they had come at prayer time, when there are about 20 people, it could have been disastrous.”

Worpshipper Shiraz Ahmed told AA that the Britain First group’s actions were “disrespectful and aggressive”.

He said: “If they had come at a different time, when there are more people here, it would have been very different.

“I would have thrown them out of the mosque.”

– ‘Christian patrols’

The Metropolitan police said in a statement they had been called to a “disturbance” at the mosque, adding: “The incident has been investigated by detectives to establish whether any offences have been committed or not.

“Inquiries are continuing and no arrests have been made.”

Britain First said in a statement on its website the “Britain First Kent battalion” had gone to the mosque “to inform the Imams that they have exactly seven days to remove sexist, segregationist signs from outside their building – or we will”.

 “With further operations against the mosque in planning, we expect this campaign to receive further coverage,” it said.

In May, members of the group, carrying bibles and leaflets, accosted worshipers at mosques in Bradford in the north of England and demanded they do something about “Britain’s grooming gangs” – believed to refer to several court cases in the UK where Asian men had been convicted for grooming children for sex abuse.

The group has also targeted the East London mosque and mounted “Christian Patrols” in East London.

Britain First was established in 2010 by former British National Party members who had split from the original organization.

Cameron: British fighters in Iraq pose threat to UK

Prime Minister tells Parliament that militant Britons are a threat to the UK.

Cameron: British fighters in Iraq pose threat to UK


The militants currently advancing on Baghdad are planning terrorist attacks in the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron told Parliament on Wednesday.

He said: “I would also disagree with those people who think that this is nothing to do with us and if they want to have some sort of extreme Islamist regime in the middle of Iraq that won’t affect us. It will. The people in that regime, as well as trying to take territory, are also planning to attack us here at home in the United Kingdom.”

Calling for robust action from the Iraqi government, he said the right approach was to “be long term, hard-headed, patient and intelligent with the interventions that we make and the most important intervention of all is to make sure that these governments are fully representative of the people who live in their countries, that they close down the ungoverned space and that they remove the support for the extremists.”

During a long exchange about Iraq during Prime Minister’s questions, Cameron said that he had had meetings to discuss the threat posed by Britons people travelling abroad to fight in Iraq and Syria. The government, he told MPs, has already stopped people from travelling and has taken away individuals’ passports. He also said the government intended to make illegal to plan overseas terrorist attacks from the UK.

Cameron said: “The estimates are now that this is a greater threat to the UK than the return of foreign jihadis and fighters from the Afghanistan or Pakistan region and we need to be doing everything we can to keep our country safe.”

He added: “We will continue to do everything we can to keep our country safe.”

The UK has ruled out military intervention in Iraq, Cameron said aid for Iraqi refugees would be increased from £3 million to £5 million.

ISIL, which already controls parts of Syria, has extended its reach into Iraq since June 10, when it seized Iraq’s second-largest city Mosul and several other towns amid allegations of atrocities against prisoners. Iraq has seen a marked increase in sectarian violence between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims in recent months, which the Iraqi government blames on ISIL.

Read the original article published in Anadolu Agency on 18 June 2014

No proof of Islamist plot at UK schools: leaked report

Investigations into 21 schools in Birmingham do not provide evidence of an Islamist plot, according to the leaked ‘Trojan Horse’ report.

No proof of Islamist plot at UK schools: leaked report


There is no evidence of an alleged Islamist plot to take over schools in Birmingham, the U.K.’s second-largest city, according to reports to be published by the country’s main educational authority Monday.

The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) said, however, six of the 21 schools investigated are not doing enough to protect children from extremism.

“The academy’s work to keep students safe is inadequate. Key safeguarding procedures are not followed. Too little is done to keep students safe from the risks associated with extremist views,” said a leaked copy of a report obtained by the Anadolu Agency. The findings were rejected by the Park View Educational Trust, which operates three schools.

The Ofsted investigation into 21 schools was prompted by an anonymous letter sent to Birmingham city council — made public in March — claiming there was a secret “Trojan Horse” plot by “Islamists” to take over Muslim-majority schools.

It claimed that Muslims were taking control of school governing bodies and replacing head teachers with ones who adhered to a specific Muslim ideology. The leaked copy report made no indication of such a plot.

Vice-chair of the Park View Trust, David Hughes, confirmed that three of the trust’s schools had been placed under special measures by Ofsted.

“Our Ofsted inspections were ordered in a climate of suspicion created by the hoax Trojan letter and by the anonymous, unproven allegations about our schools in the media,” he told the media outside Park View School.

“Ofsted inspectors came to our schools looking for extremism, looking for segregation, looking for proof that our children have religion forced upon them as part of an Islamic plot. The Ofsted reports find absolutely no evidence of this because this is categorically not what is happening at our schools.”

Hughes said that the “knee-jerk reactions” of politicians had damaged community relations in Birmingham and could lead to discrimination against Muslim children.

British Prime Minister David Cameron earlier said that the government would look into changes that would allow inspector to carry out snap inspections.

“Protecting our children is one of the first duties of government and that is why the issue of alleged Islamist extremism in Birmingham schools demands a robust response,” said Cameron. “The education secretary will now ask (Ofsted’s chairman) Sir Michael Wilshaw to look into allowing any school to be inspected at no notice, stopping schools having the opportunity to cover up activities which have no place in our society.”

Education Secretary Michael Gove also mentioned the possibility of unannounced school inspections. “Evidence uncovered in Birmingham clearly indicates that schools have used the notice they have been given of inspections to evade proper scrutiny,” he said in a statement.

Gove has previously been criticized for having links to right-wing conservative think-tanks and some critics accused him of Islamophobia following the publication of his own book on Islamism, “Celsius 7/7.”

Park View School is a 98 percent Muslim school situated in a deprived majority Muslim area. In defence of the school, Assistant Principal Lee Donaghy said, “Park View is part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

The debate over extremism in schools has caused a public row within the government — between Home Secretary Theresa May and Education Secretary Michael Gove — which forced the prime minister to order an internal investigation.

Gove had accused the Home Office of not doing enough to stop extremism but May in return questioned the Department of Education over reports that there had been concerns raised about Birmingham schools in 2010.

The Ofsted reports will be officially released later today.

Read the original article published in Anadolu Agency on 9 June 2014