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OPINION: Taliban’s ban on women in parks is misogyny disguised as Islam

Islam has a rich history of women playing an active role in society, so why has the Taliban banned them from visiting parks?



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The Taliban like to ban things – well, after all, it’s in their name. 

The militant-group-turned-government of Afghanistan continues to bar women from basic activities that are taken for granted in most other countries, all in the name of Islam. 

In the latest of such restrictions, women in Afghanistan were banned from going to parks and fun fairs by the Taliban. This was closely followed by banning women from gyms, and public baths a couple of days ago – places that had already been segregated by gender. So the ‘Morality’ Ministry’s explanation for excluding women for not following the Islamic custom of modesty and segregation of sexes, just doesn’t hold up. 

The Taliban cites Islam as its motivating factor for all of these restrictions, just as it has always used Islam as justification for its terror activities. But how true is that, really? 

In light of the latest crackdowns, some say that using Islam as justification is merely a ploy for the Taliban to pre-emptively suppress their people. But that’s where the Taliban make their worst mistake.

If one takes just a glimpse at early Islam at the time of its founder, Muhammad, the Holy Prophet, one comes away with a very different picture of society and women’s larger-than-life role in it. 

Taliban bans women from parks

In a battle between the idol-worshipping Meccans and the vastly outnumbered early Muslims, the fearlessness of one of Prophet Muhammad’s female companions, Umme Ammarah drew the attention of the Prophet himself who is recorded to have said, “By God! Today Umme Ummaarah has preceded all men in courage!”

Along with other Muslim women at the time, Umme Ammarah nursed wounded soldiers and gave them water on the battlefield. It was while she was running between the ranks of the wounded at the battle of Uhud with her waterpot that she saw very few men were left to protect the Prophet from the enemy. She immediately grabbed a sword and began to defend him with such ferocity that the Prophet would declare later: “On the day of Uhud, everywhere I looked, I saw Umme Ammarah fighting.”

Mount Uhud 2
Mount Uhud, Medina, Saudi Arabia

A man recorded to have been running away had a shield that the Prophet took and handed over to Umme Ammarah, whilst giving her words of encouragement and praise as she fought the enemy closing in around them. She sustained twelve different injuries on her body after the battle and bled heavily. It was the Prophet who had her bandaged under his supervision and prayed for her while declaring her bravery outmatched everyone else on the battlefield. 

A far cry from the Taliban’s Afghanistan in the 21st century in which women are being left untreated due to the doctor being male.  

Umme Ummaarah was skilled in sword fighting and she wasn’t the only Muslim woman to be so. Khaulah Bint Azwer led five hundred men against the Byzantines and was captured and taken by the enemy. She was seen ripping through the ranks of the Byzantine army alone after her brother’s capture, felling soldiers as she went, while all the Muslim men stood back and watched in amazement, assuming it was the great fighter Khalid Bin Waleed under full body armour battling a full army himself. After she roused the rest of the Muslims to go back and rescue her brother, both Khalid and her brother commended her for her bravery. 

It wasn’t just war where early Muslim women excelled. Women were scholars and writers and intellectuals, all encouraged and inspired by the Prophet Muhammad. And they were taught sciences and arts by Muslim men and in turn, taught them too. One of the greatest and if not the first scholar of Islam after the Prophet was Aisha, his wife. She learned from her husband directly and went on to raise a generation of Muslims in the faith – both men and women. 

“Education is mandatory for every Muslim”

Prophet Muhmmad

Segregation and modesty of dress were maintained, but it was required for both sexes, as Islam actually teaches – not just for women. Men are told to lower their gazes in front of women in the Holy Qur’an, before the commandment for women to cover up.

The Prophet was not just a religious figure who had no time for his family. His wife Aisha narrates that he once challenged her to a race, which she won, while another time, he held up his cloak for her as a screen so she could watch a spear fighting display and didn’t move until she decided she had had enough.  

The Prophet also said that the man who has three daughters and educates them and raises them well will enter paradise. “Education is mandatory for every Muslim,” is an authentic recorded saying of the Prophet. But by barring women from education, the Taliban have perhaps closed the doors of Paradise to many Afghan men. 

The Prophet’s first wife, Khadija, who he remained happily married to for twenty years till her death, was many years older than him and a successful businesswoman. She proposed to the Prophet after being impressed with his honesty in the marketplace. She encouraged and supported her husband throughout his mission. We can never forget that the first Muslim after the Prophet Muhammad was a woman – a wealthy, powerful businesswoman who was devoted and loyal to her husband.

When Muslims ruled Spain for seven hundred years, it was again Muslim women who come out on top. Take Ā’isha bint Ahmad bin Muhammad from Cordoba, about whom the famous historian Ibn Hayyān wrote, “There was none in the entire Iberian Peninsula in her era that could be compared with her in terms of knowledge, excellence, literary skill, poetic ability, eloquence, virtue, purity, generosity, and wisdom. She would often write panegyrics in praise of the kings of her era and would give speeches in their court. She was a very skilled calligrapher and copied many manuscripts of the Qur’an and other books. She was an avid collector of books, of which she had a very large amount, and was very concerned with the pursuit of knowledge. She was also very wealthy and died chaste, without having ever married. She died in the year 400 AH [1009].”

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Or the Tunisian-born Fatima Al Fihri who built the Al Qarawiyyin University in Fez, Morocco with her inheritance (that’s right, Islam gave women the right of inheritance long before the West clocked on), a project which took 18 years and which culminated in the establishment becoming one of the leading intellectual and spiritual centres of the Islamic Golden Age.

And such women were not rare at the time. It is recorded in the 900s AD that there were more than 170 female scribes in Cordoba while Spain was under Muslim Rule. Perhaps one of the most famous scribes was a Muslim woman who was born a Spanish slave, Lubna of Cordoba. She was later appointed as curator of the palace library which contained 500,000 books.

Muslim women need to remember the role that their female Muslim ancestors played in overcoming oppression, whether religious, political or intellectual. It was by the force of their own strength, bravery and intelligence. In fact, they surpassed their male counterparts in success. And they had the full consent of their religion, rather it was their faith was inspired and motivated them.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.


OPINION: Jesus ‘trans’ debate signals decline of religious values in Britain

Faith in a high power is no longer at the centre of people’s lives, and the number of people identifying with ‘no religion’ continues to increase. Religion is a rule book but what use are those rules that are rewritten at one’s own convenience?



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Faith in a high power is no longer at the centre of people’s lives, and the number of people identifying with ‘no religion’ continues to increase.

A 2021 consensus in the UK revealed Christianity’s declining influence. Christians are now a minority in England and Wales, latest data from the Office of National Statistics suggests. Atheism is on the rise and an unprecedented 5.5 million people have stopped identifying as Christian in those two nations of the UK.

It is no wonder then that respect for religion has also taken a backseat. But a backseat, not a total abandonment. Despite the steep decline, a lingering association remains.

Jesus was trans, claimed post-doctoral researcher Joshua Heath in a guest sermon. While Dr Michael Banner, dean of Trinity College, Cambridge defended his assertion. Echoed in the halls of what was founded as the training college of 16th century Catholic priests, it seems to be a feeble attempt to sustain Christian values in a society increasingly mired in ultra-liberal worldviews.

A painting of Jesus, one constructed many years after the existence of Jesus himself, is the genesis of this suggestion. Jean Malouel’s Painting ‘Large Round Pieta’ depicts the wound that Jesus suffered on the right side of his chest and presents the figure without any garments.

Henri Maccheroni’s 1990 work “Christs” was also included as supporting evidence of this confronting claim. A shocking portrayal of a revered and holy man, which brings into question the lengths people are permitted to go to express their opinions. Given that beneath scholarly entanglement, and the grandeur of academic voice, it is little more than a fickle of imagination. There is no evidence that Jesus may have been trans, in the gospels, early accounts and any other sources. Rather, it is an absurdity to think that a few paintings made centuries after the existence of Jesus can prompt the questioning of his gender and are somehow linked to surgeries performed today to achieve the trans body. Not only this, Mr Heath’s ideas declare that an open wound is a valid claim to the female body. It is a ludicrous thought and one that inadvertently perhaps, but emphatically associates wounds with women.

Jesus was believed to be a Syrian before the Renaissance period’s artistry shaped him into a European. A Caucasian countenance of blond hair and blue eyes, and later many suggested that he was in fact of African appearance. The founder of Christianity, who passed away so long ago, has been revived in art form, to fit the model of each phase of society.

It is no surprise then that this debate has surged in an era of extremities, where free speech has no consideration for ethics, and traditional thought is without fail viewed as incorrect. With social movements at the forefront of imposing new perceptions on society, it seems there are many who want religion to hop onto the bandwagon.

A decade ago, these claims would have faced obloquy, and blasphemy charges levelled against them immediately in an attempt to preserve Jesus’ sanctity. Yet we bounce from one extreme to the next, questioning the identity of a figure who is no longer alive to tell his life’s tale nor file charges against those who might wrongly identify him.

And this malaise of secularism seeps further. Those who contest the novel interpretation of this holy figure’s identity are left to protest merely by categorising Trinity College’s session as an act of “heresy”. It gives precedence to one thought and not the other, wrapped by the guise of pluralism.

It is a thought that even those who hold authority may not challenge. It was only four years ago that a similar debate found its way in when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby was asked at a Church service what gender God was. His response, the oft heard “neither male nor female”, met criticism by those who did not like that gendered language was used to describe God. Yet, today the once great and esteemed Church of England exercises silence on the developments at Trinity College, leaving the followers of Christ in tears and distress.

In Islam depictions of prophets are prohibited. And for good reason. Today’s debate on Jesus’ gender, reflective of moral degradation, is a prime example that imagery serves only to distract from and disrespect estimable religious doctrines.

Religion is a rule book but what use are those rules that are rewritten at one’s own convenience?

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Human Rights

Opinion: Enforcement is no answer to Iran’s anti-hijab protests

As the memory of Mahsa Amini’s death fades, and the world’s eyes no longer draw on Iran, its complicity in the growing rift between it and the world of the West cannot be evaded.



iran protest

The United Nations launched a fact-finding investigation into human rights abuses committed in Iran. It closes a gap where previously no international courts nor national jurisdictions addressed these crimes. But fears abound that Iran may not cooperate with this historic precedent.

When outrage sparked at the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, an Iranian woman who was arrested by the so-called morality police for violating the country’s strict hijab laws in September. Amidst the protests that were sparked, one more cry was also notable: How can we take the West’s condemnation seriously, when it is also guilty of human rights abuses?

As the Iranian government sought to crackdown on protests that erupted in response to the young woman’s death, directing legal action on those voices of dissent, the West was not slow to speak out against Iran’s rampant authoritarianism. The UK issued sanctions on Iran’s morality police to send out a message: “We will hold you to account for your repression of women and girls,” said then Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly. His statement echoed those of many others; that no one should dictate how Iranian women and girls should dress.

But some Muslims were left wondering where these voices were when Switzerland implemented its burqa bans. Or when France gripped ever tighter on its repression of Muslim women’s hijabs. Or even when Hindutva extremists burned mosques in India.

But as the memory of Amini’s death fades, and the world’s eyes no longer draw on Iran, its complicity in the growing rift between it and the world of the West cannot be evaded.

France was the first country to impose hijab bans in 2011 and the act, “Law of 2010-1192: Act prohibiting concealment of the face in public space” was introduced to prevent women from mainly wearing the niqab (a covering for the entire body and face except for the eyes). Following France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, China, and Bulgaria also introduced such laws.

There are many reasons that so many European and other countries claim to have banned hijabs or niqabs. The most well-known one is for security reasons considering a veil will prevent police from identifying the person, arguing that such people can commit crimes without being identified.

But that is not the only reasoning behind the laws, as when France was banning niqabs the government campaign used the term “the Republic is lived with an uncovered face.”  Similarly, the right-wing Switzerland party that proposed the hijab ban organizes “resistance against the claims to power of political Islam in Switzerland.”

So where does this Islamophobia come from? Why is the forced hijab seen as worse than hijab bans? Well, the responsibility for this, along with Islamophobia lies on so-called Islamic countries as well.

Along with Iran, Afghanistan under the rule of Taliban imposes strict dress code laws on women and men. Women are forced to cover their faces and every part of their bodies. Women cannot travel without a male companion. The country is also accused of gender-based discrimination and partaking in child-marriage, forced marriage, and sexual exploitation of women. 

All these laws are implemented under the name of Islam.

Saudi Arabia is another such Islamic country that usurped women’s rights after the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Finally in 2015, it granted women the right to vote and run as candidate in election, in 2018 women were finally allowed to drive, and in 2019 the male guardianship laws were eased. However, even after these basic rights were slowly granted to women, the problems have not been eradicated as women are forced to wear full clothing as well as face veils even now.

There are many other Islamic countries that impose such harsh laws and force the hijab or niqab, so in the West’s eyes this garment has become a sign of discrimination. Wanting to be saviours of women’s rights, they ban the hijab altogether, not knowing, or ignoring the fact, that it can be worn willingly as well.

But is this the battle that the majority of Muslims should be fighting in the first place? When so much power is given to the West that their opinion becomes a reason for debate, the people are distracted from the real issues.

Another problem is the belief that the West is omnipotent, it can solve all problems, even if it does not have that power anymore. A Prospect article that was written back in 2010 explained how the reason that the West was considered to be powerful was not that “its people are biologically superior, its culture better, or its leaders wiser, but simply because of geography.”

The 2020 Munich Security Conference discussed the power that the West once held and if it still holds it. Most people attending the conference agreed that the West was not all-powerful anymore. Michael Barnett, a professor of international affairs and political science at George Washington University said; “The West’s influence was partially dependent on its material wealth and its moral purpose, both of which are in decline, and so the West has ceased to be the soft power that it once was.”

Instead of fighting a battle about opinions, the world should focus on helping the victims. Whenever women’s bodies are controlled, there is an outrage for a while and then all is forgotten. Despite the online outrage as well as the thousands pouring out into the streets of Iran, very little comes to change as authorities are quick to silence and punish dissent

One example is Iran’s protest in 2018 against the morality police. Despite a report being released that showed that 49% of the population was against forced hijab, the bans were never removed. As a result, Mahsa Amini had to die at the hands of the so-called morality police in 2022.

These protests have been repeated many times, the first one being in 1979 when the hijab imposition was first passed by religious fundamentalists. Again, we saw protests in 2014, when there were a series of acid attacks against women who were deemed to be wearing inappropriate clothes. Each time, the attention that these protests garnered was used as a political tool and nothing was done for the women in Iran.

Dilshad Ali, Content Editor at Haute Hijab explained this point by stating; “If there are ever any political tensions or issues afoot in any country that hones in on Muslims, targeting the hijab is low-hanging fruit because it’s such a visible way to know one is Muslim. “

Adding, “People take the hijab and use it to misrepresent a thousand different political things, when really, at its heart, it’s not anything scary or oppressive, but rather something private between a woman and Allah and her visible declaration that “I am Muslim.”

The hijab is something that a Muslim woman should wear to feel safe, and respected, and as a sign of being Muslim. But, when the same garment is forcefully used and acts as a way to control women, it becomes something to detest. According to Iranian poet and journalist Asieh Amini due to forced veils, the hijab became a symbol of oppression, as women “can’t stand this domination and want their rights.”

The forced hijab in Iran is non-discriminatory when it comes to the religion of the women being forced to veil themselves. Regardless of religion or cultural differences, every woman is the victim of the morality police. These laws trace back to when the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini said women should observe Islamic dress codes in 1979 after the Islamic revolution but due to protests, he backtracked only for the hijab becoming part of the law in 1983. In fact, before the revolution, Muslim women used to wear hijab as their own choice.

By merely pointing the finger at the West, once again the outrage will end without any real changes taking place in countries that are to blame, and the women that are killed in India, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and all other countries will remain without justice. All because the world is busy playing the blame game and forgetting why these protests started in the first place.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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What to expect from a Muslim country hosting the World Cup

What can we expect from the first Muslim country to host the world’s premier football tournament?



qatar stadium

A Muslim country honoured to be the host of the most prestigious sporting events: the football world cup comes with great criticism. Few hosts have been met with equivalent backlash, but Qatar’s status as a Muslim country from the Middle East has supposedly made it an easier target. Qatar’s FIFA World Cup has recently been portrayed to be a backward and conservative experience for the sponsors, players and audiences. But what can you expect from the first Muslim nation to host this prestigious sports tournament?

Qatar has rightfully paid homage to its official religion, Islam, in the opening ceremony by featuring verses from its Holy Book: The Quran. The mesmerising recitation can be remembered as one of the most unique openings of a FIFA World Cup, presented from Qatar’s Al Bayt Stadium. For most football fans this is a first-time experience, and many found it beautiful to their ears. The verses were selected to encompass harmony and unity, extending a warm welcome to the nation. Al Bayt’s unique design is yet another breathtaking example of Qatari nomadic culture, designed like a tent to represent the traditional homes of the people.

Qatar has given special attention to presenting its nomadic lifestyle and culture to newcomers, as all hosts do. Murals and posters, containing sayings of their leader, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) have been found at several locations in a courageous attempt to combat Islamophobia and highlight the true nature of the religion. The country’s Islamic philosophy underpins its media, billboards, structure and overall lifestyle. It has taken this opportunity to give tourists a glimpse of the nation’s rich history and used creative QR Codes to achieve this. The well designed “Explore our Civilisation” presents the riveting history of the country and its culture through the perspective of natives.

Hotels in its capital, Doha, have also installed barcodes to teach guests about Islam in different languages. Written on it is a slogan of the Abdullah bin Zaid Al Mahmoud Islamic Cultural Centre. The centre is affiliated with the Qatari Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs. The barcodes are a part of its initiative to provide multilingual Islamic materials.

Tourists have also been introduced to the traditional ‘Call to Prayer’, a recitation that can be heard throughout the country five times a day. This call, also known as ‘Adhan’ signifies to Muslim residents that it is time for prayer. The recitation was found to be enthralling by many listeners and is another example of the country’s culture.

As expected, visitors are expected to dress modestly, public affection and intimacy is frowned upon and can be a punishable offence. For many these restrictions appear shocking however this is the norm for Qatari people. In addition, Qatar has strict laws to protect the privacy of their country and people. Hence, photography is forbidden in many areas. Content that may use material that slanders or is culturally insensitive is unacceptable. Swearing and behaving obscenely is viewed as a great disrespect and can lead to imprisonment or deportation.

In doing this, Qatar offers an insightful experience into its unique, albeit conservative culture, a huge contrast to previous World Cup hosts. It seeks to alleviate the misconceptions about Islam held by many people through the medium of sport and encourage harmony.

And so, we can expect a world cup experience that deviates from traditional FIFA host nations by allowing it to be more regulated and controlled in terms of the content and the material it promotes. The Qatari’s maintain that alcohol consumption is limited to consider the comfort of residents and lower the damages caused by drunkards. Most citizens of the country are not accustomed to public drunkenness and normally such behaviour incurs heavy charges. Like all countries, Qatar expects tourists to accept the laws of their land and set aside their personal beliefs for the next month. By doing this, they are simply asking for tolerance and inclusion from travellers, but perhaps that is too much to ask?

At a glance, the alcohol ban, coming a few days ahead of the world cup seems like a cunning move by the hosts. It may be a shrewd experience for some, but a relief for others. Studies have revealed that in England, for example, increased drinking at high-stake sporting events like FIFA is directly linked to domestic violence. Domestic partner violence saw a staggering increase of 38% in 2014 when England lost a football game. An alarming statistic that is ignored by most nations because it interferes with the social and cultural obligations of the sporting event. Hence, whilst Qatar’s ban is likely rooted in religious concern, it heralds many positive benefits for society.

Regardless of the concerns raised in the days leading up to the World Cup, Qatar has held its ground. It welcomes the world to a land filled with lavish Mosques, fascinating food and music to accompany the football journey. With so much at stake, the show must go on…

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Why Jews can’t pray at the Temple Mount

The Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem has seen storms of ultra-nationalist Jews attempting to gain authority over it, but why is it so contentious?



Are Muslims to blame the ban on hews to worship in the Al Aqsa Mosque?

Standing within a 35 acre compound called the Al Haram Al Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) by Muslims, and the Temple Mount by Jews, Al Aqsa Mosque has seen storms of ultra-nationalist Jews attempting to gain authority over it. Their claim is that there is a curtailment of religious freedom at the holy site. where once stood two temples, one destroyed by Babylonians in 586 BCE, and the other by Romans in 70 CE. 

The site holds historical significance for Muslims, Jews, and Christians, but has for years been a point of contention in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Since the end of the Six Day War in 1967, which cemented a historical Status Quo, allowing Jews and Christians to visit the compound but reserving prayer there only for Muslims, Zionist groups have rallied to seek control over it. 

It’s this which Dr Jordan Peterson, in his latest video, draws attention to. In enthralling language, the conservative self-help guru relates to his upward of five million followers a story of victimhood against an oppressive, almighty force. But what exactly is he saying?

Peterson refers to his visit to the compound, where he was spotted amongst a congregation of Jewish worshippers on the first day of Sukkot, a Jewish holy festival (he says he was there for an upcoming documentary). 

Describing himself as an “uncraven slave”, he claims he felt “a spirit of compulsion and force at work there at Al Aqsa”, which he endeavoured to resist. He describes Islam as an “unnecessary tyranny”, which bars Jews and Christians from worshipping at the Al Aqsa complex. He doesn’t stop there. He also raises an objection against gender segregation at the mosque. 

Let’s take his first claim. Are Jews and Christians not allowed to pray at this site?

In short, no. But it isn’t Muslims who prohibit it. For Jews, the compound is the place of the Holy of Holies, an innermost sacred spot where once stood the ancient Temple of Jerusalem. 

Jewish law prohibits treading on this holy point as only those who have attained ritual purity should access it, but no one can and for those that do, punishment can be death. The entry of Jews inside the Temple Mount itself is forbidden under religious law since the location of the sacred area has never been confirmed. Some claim walking on some areas of the compound is permissible if purity laws are followed. But the act of worship itself contradicts Jewish custom. 

For centuries, Muslims, Jews and Christians have clashed over the site. But in 1757, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Osman III sought to bring an end to factional Christian groups over another building in the Old City, the Church of the Sepulchre. The Status Quo, as it was known, also reaffirmed a ban on non-Muslims worshipping there, but allowed Jewish worship in another part of the compound, the Western Wall. They still do.

And Orthodox Jews don’t contest this. In 1921, the Chief Rabbinate himself banned Jews from the site. 

The Status Quo was internationally recognised in the Treaty of Berlin in 1878, and various other treaties over the years have legitimised it. Israel itself has accepted it. After its occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, an arrangement was made between the Islamic Waqf, an Islamic trust controlled by Jordanian government, and the Israeli government that the former would retain control over the compound, and Israel would control its external security. This agreement maintained the ban on non-Muslim worship. 

But why did they agree? Because internationally East Jerusalem is considered occupied territory. That, and the fear of opposition from the Middle East. 

Whilst generally Israeli governments have always maintained the Status Quo, attempts to breach it have been many. Notably, by former Israeli Opposition Leader, Ariel Sharon in 2000, and Yehuda Glick, head of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, which is one of the groups intent on replacing the Muslim holy sites in the Noble Sanctuary with a Third Temple. They receive funding by the Israeli government as well as foreign-based groups. 

And as far right-wing nationalism tightens its grip, the Israeli government has also sought to deviate from the Status Quo. Former prime minister Naftali Bennett made a statement in July 2021, that Israel would preserve the freedom for Jews to worship at the Temple Mount (although he later withdrew this remark).

Israeli forces routinely impede on the rights of Muslims worshippers at the mosque. 

No one has found the exact location of the Holy of Holies, although the nationalist Temple Movement claims it can. But the real reason, some say, is political: an encroachment on Palestinian land and an expulsion of its people, which Orthodox Jews do not condone. 

Peterson blames Muslims. But his assertion evades one telling truth: Islam does not ban non-Muslim worship at any mosque, not lest the Al Aqsa Mosque. The Prophet Muhammad permitted Christians to pray at one in Medinah, which is Islam’s second holiest city. The only act that is forbidden is idolatry. 

But what else does Peterson go on to say? 

He also points to gender segregation at Al Aqsa Mosque. Although what he suggests is a unique Islamic custom has long been practised in many other religions. Ultra Orthodox Judaism still does, and this is witnessed in the very premises of the Temple Mount. Former Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu scrapped plans in 2017 that would have seen the intermixing of men and women at the Western Wall, which is  a plaza within the compound where Jews are allowed to pray. The deal, which was being negotiated between Conservative Jews and the West over a four-year period, would have ended this traditional Jewish custom at the wall, but pressure from Ultra-Orthodox Jews forced it to collapse. 

Peterson’s words are an enchanting lure to those who might already be prejudiced. He pedals his Islamophobia with untruths wrapped in elaborate language. But digging deeper reveals only manipulation and unfounded terror. 


All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Make religious education in Northern Ireland more diverse, says UNESCO



Make religious education in Northern Ireland more diverse, says author of UNESCO study

A study by UNESCO Education Centre concluded that schools in Northern Ireland should scrap Christian influenced religious education and daily acts of collective worship and replace religiously segregated schools with those that are more religiously diverse.

AnalystNews spoke to Dr Matthew Milliken, the study’s author, to find out how he thinks a more religiously open and diverse education system could bring much needed change to students at Northern Ireland’s mainstream schools. 

Dr Milliken says that the purpose of this study was “to present a vision on empirical and academic evidence of what an education system in Northern Ireland could look like.” A vision that recognises various failings of the system which includes completely disregarding the idea of teaching students the different types of beliefs that society currently has, and the impact this has had on children who may be part of a faith which differs from the traditional Northern Irish beliefs of Catholicism or Protestantism. The signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, which brought an end to thirty years of the Troubles, introduced a new devolved government where unionists and nationalists would share power. But the arrangement did little for the country’s education system. 

Unionists who believe Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK are usually Protestants and nationalists who believe that Northern Ireland should become part of a United Ireland are mainly Catholic. As the power to govern is shared between the two sides, schools have become completely segregated and students have been left with only two choices: attend Catholic or state Protestant schools. More than twenty-four years after the agreement, a surprising 93% of students in Northern Ireland still attend segregated schools. 

“They still go to schools that are dominated by a Catholic ethos, present a particular image of Irish culture and Irish identity or they attend schools that are influenced, if not controlled, by Protestant denominations and propagate a particularly British view of society,” explains Dr Milliken. Students in Northern Ireland are kept religiously segregated from as young as three to eighteen. 

But it’s not only the students. Teachers, too, attend separate training colleges. Dr Milliken elaborates, “They then go into university or for the sake of teachers, into separate training colleges. There’s a separate training college for Catholic schools and there’s a separate training college for state schools. And those teachers can go through their entire career, from age 3 through all of their school, through all of their further education, to going straight back into the classroom without ever having sat alongside anybody of the other faith.” 

It hasn’t gone uncontested. The need for greater religious awareness has been a growing matter, and it predates the Good Friday Agreement. “There is a small integrated education system that accounts for about 7% of the schools here. It started about 40 years ago against great opposition. It was strongly resisted by the churches in particular,” states Dr Milliken. 

And resistance has persisted. In July this year, a high court judge ruled that exclusively Christian religious education was unlawful. It came following a legal challenge by a father and daughter whose lawyers argued that the syllabus taught at the seven-year-old’s controlled primary school, violated her educational rights as laid out in the European Convention on Human Rights. 

Catholic schools in Northern Ireland prioritise a view of history from an Irish perspective, whilst their state-controlled Protestant counterparts learn the British version of history. This means that in a Catholic school, children learn the Irish language, focus on issues to do with Ireland, and understand British issues through an Irish lens. However, in a Protestant state-controlled school, children are more likely to learn a British version and understanding of history, which means learning history the same way it is taught in mainland British schools. 

The influence this has on wider society may be profound. Everything is taught differently – from academic subjects to sports. So for example, a Protestant school normally has as part of its physical education curriculum rugby, cricket, and hockey, but in a Catholic school, sports closely allied with Irish national identity such as Gaelic football and hurling are played. 

The issue “goes beyond religion” Dr Milliken says. “To simplify to religion doesn’t really help because at the core, both sides are Christian. However, the roots of that Christian-centric education system go right through the education system here.” Boards of education have representatives from the three Protestant denominations and the Catholic Church which are responsible for educational administration. And there are separate boards for the controlled state-side and the Catholic side. 

To entrench matters further, places on the board of governors are protected. Dr Milliken told Analyst News: “A Catholic school is likely only to have Catholics sitting on the board of governors. A controlled-state school is likely only to have Protestants on that board, and Protestants only from three particular denominations. There are no protected places on any of them that management are governors or people from any other faith.” All schools are required to teach a religious syllabus that is laid down exclusively by those four Churches. Schools are “controlled, inspired, dominated by Christian thinking. And pupils do not have the opportunity to study what they refer to as World Religions: Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, until they reach post-primary level,” he says. 

Even so, the way that Christianity is taught is intense; a Catholic primary school must have teachers who have undertaken an additional qualification that is solely approved by the Catholic Bishops, who then sanction whether they can teach the Catholic faith in line with the teachings of the Church. The Certificate in Religious Education is one of the many interlinked matters that have been identified as limiting opportunities for teachers in Northern Ireland to accessing employment outside of those schools associated with their own educational background and community identity. “That certificate is a large barrier to Protestant teachers getting a job in a Catholic school,” according to Dr Milliken but “there is time for change now.”

From a human rights perspective, faith schooling is considered a key part of schools’ ethos. Children are entitled to skip religious education lessons if they follow different faiths but they usually end up sitting in the corridor on their own. And this is problematic as Dr Milliken explains. “They are being excluded. It’s one thing if they want to identify themselves and their difference in the class. But when they’re being excluded and identified as different by the system of education. That’s not a healthy way to be.”

The result is isolation and a feeling of victimhood. If a fair and open-minded religious curriculum was taught rather than “a lesson that propagated a particular worldview,” these children would feel much more comfortable explaining, sharing, and talking about their views and faith. 

Dr Milliken told Analyst News that exploring religion would ultimately help them understand other people’s faith and their cultures: “I think there is a need to help young people, to find out right from wrong, to explore their values and belief systems. I think there’s an absolute need to help young people form their own ethical view of the world.” 

It doesn’t help that certain topics are not broached. Dr Milliken says: “They don’t explore the issues of controversy that still affect this part of the world. They don’t look at issues of faith, issues of identity, issues of culture, issues of nationality, issues of politics, issues of history, that are shared. Those are the issues that teachers need to come to terms with.” 

He states in his study that controversial issues should be taught in classrooms such as ‘shared education’ which “is an effort to fund joint activity between divided schools.” Supported by state funding, he envisages Catholic and Protestant primary schools working in collaboration and discussing issues that surpass “safe territory.” 

Change could come through an engagement with those controversial issues, opening up debate and listening to alternative views without prejudice or the possibility of indoctrination. Whilst acknowledging the many differences between the two educational approaches, Dr Milliken is hopeful that his study may draw on their similarities instead and “bring people forward to challenge and question the state of school.” And although “it’s not a quick fix”, he feels the research offers a steppingstone to further questions about the school system in Northern Ireland. Dr Milliken is adamant that “we can have a more inclusive system of education that becomes a more shared system of education. One that isn’t backward looking, and one that better prepares our children for a shared future.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Could the UK revoke citizenship of British Muslims?



Can the Uk revoke British Muslim Citizenship?

The Institute of Race Relations, has raised its concerns about British citizenship being reduced from a right to a privilege for Muslims. According to the report, Britain holds the power to strip people of their nationality without them being notified thus lowering the status of British Muslim citizens to that of a “second class, disposable and contingent”. However, these laws are not practiced in the UK exclusively. Many countries in the EU also exercise thepower of involuntary revoking of citizenship of their residents.

Along with the Netherlands, Denmark, Greece, and Bulgaria, laws in France equip officials to revoke the nationalities of individuals on the basis of disloyalty along with fraudulent acquisitions. Similarly, if any resident of these countries and ten others implementing the same type of laws,commit treason or be an accomplice to a crime against national security, they will have to give up their citizenship.

In the UK, statistics show that since 2010, around 214 people of South Asian or Middle Eastern descent have been deprived of their British citizenship. The figures reached their highest in 2017 with the rise in Islamophobia in Britain after the fall of the Syrian ISIS empire. Also European countries, for example Denmark, practiced this law against dual nationality holders who played an active role in the operations of ISIS.  

According to British Muslim legal consultant and lawyer, Muzammil Abid, these laws have stirred up a debate with a petition getting more than 300 000 signatures for the removal of clause nine from the borders and nationality bill.  Abid told Analyst News that those cases mentioned in the reports have not only been thoroughly reviewed but the rulings on them can also be challenged. 

Although the government has already rejected the petition to revoke clause nine, in its response it makes clear that “it does not intend to deny a person their statutory right of appeal where a decision to deprive has been made…Once a person makes contact with the Home Office, they are given a copy of the deprivation decision notice.”

While the UK government continues to defend the law by calling it “a policy to keep the public safe,” its past of colonial injustices remains one of the biggest concerns and a source of public outrage. The Nationality, Immigration, and Asylum Act passed in 2002 was the first to pave the way for the legalized power of revoking citizenship. Until 2014 anyone who was accused of carrying out any action that proved to be “prejudicial to the vital interests of the UK” could be deprived of their nationality even if they were born in the UK.

Although the government has held the power to strip people of their nationality since 2002, by passing clause nine of the Nationality and Border Bill of 2021-2022, the act of depriving Muslims and people of color of their citizenship, especially if they hold citizenship of another country, has been facilitated but it’s also been brought into the public eye. 

The author of the report, Frances Webber, who was formerly a barrister in the Garden Courts, argued that clause nine increases the complications in the neutralization process and reinforces the notions of ethnic communities as lesser citizens of the country.

The exercise of these powers has impacted the lives of many families including that of various women who became subject to child trafficking. After they lost their British nationality, they were left stranded in prison camps far from a safe home. 

Various Lords and representatives have voiced their concerns about the indefinite power given by clause nine. According to Lord Ahmad, it could impact the “already strained” relations of British Muslim youth with society who  “… already feel disenfranchised. These proposals would only compound those feelings, making their ‘Britishness’ seem like a temporary state, removable at will, rather than a permanent part of their identity.”

Similarly in a letter to the home security office,  Sayeeda Warsi, Nosheena Mobarik and Frances D’Souza reminded us that clause nine challenges the values “of fair play and the rule of law that make UK citizenship so prized around the world.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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