A sad example of the problems of extreme Islam

November 19th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

In my earlier blog post I laid out that the problem with Islam extends beyond Jihadist Muslims to other Islamists or extreme Muslims who cheer on death in certain circumstances. They are a minority of Muslims, but still number in the hundreds of millions.

We sadly see this in this story:

Turkish fans booed and chanted Allahu Akbar (“God is greater”) during the minute’s silence for the victims of the Paris attacks before their national team drew 0-0 with Greece in a friendly international match on Tuesday (Wednesday NZ time).

They celebrated the slaughtering of youths at a nightclub.

Starting to rethink my view that one day Turkey should be allowed into the EU.

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Five shades of Islam

November 17th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

One of the predictable, yet distressing, things about the Paris terror attacks is you get extreme opinions about Islam and Muslims, from both “sides”.

One the one side, you get people saying the entire Islamic religion is to blame, and all Muslims are untrustworthy, and should be deported/not allowed in etc.

On the other side you get many try to argue that Islamic terror attacks have nothing to do with Islam, and that there are no problems with Islam.

I reject both those views.

Those who argue that the West should somehow banish all Muslims, and that all adherents of Islam are potentially a problem are wrong both ethically and practically.

Ethically it is wrong to treat individuals purely as members of a religion, rather than on the basis of everything else in their lives. You only judge someone by their group characteristic in the absence of any knowledge of them as an individual.

Practically it is nuts to think that you could try and divide the world up by banishing 1.4 billion people from certain countries.

Anyway I want to go into some detail as to why you can’t lump all Muslims together, just as you can’t lump all Christians together or even all Catholics. But I also want to explore why there is a problem with Islam beyond the jihadists.

For the purposes of the post I’m going to divide Muslims into five broad categories. They’re categories created by me, so don’t argue about whether there are four or six or seven or 852. And I’m not even going to get into Sunni vs Shia and Wahhabi etc.

Broadly speaking I personally see five broad groups of Muslims. They are:

  1. Secular Muslims
  2. Moderate Muslims
  3. Devout Muslims
  4. Extreme Muslims or Islamists
  5. Jihadist Muslims

Secular Muslims

Now wait a second you say. There is no such thing as a Secular Muslim. It is a contradiction.

Well just as Israel has Atheist Jews, you do have basically secular Muslims. They’re people who culturally identify as Muslim, but don’t really practice the religion at all. It is a cultural thing, rather than a religious thing. And yes I’m aware they’re probably not considered Muslims by some of the other groups, but it is about what they identify as.

You might ask why do they identify as Muslim, if they do not really follow the religion at all. Well basically it is family. Declaring yourself not a Muslim would get your ostracized from your family.  You would have years of  arguments and stress. Also you are proud of your family and their culture, and wish to be associated with it.

Beyond the identification as Muslim, the behaviour is generally no different from others in their country and peer group. I know Muslims girls who have numerous boyfriends, hook ups, drink alcohol etc. Possibly even eat pork. And one of them I know wasn’t even sure if their family/they are Shia or Sunni.

For many years I have not believed in God, yet I still have ticked Anglican on my census form, because I grew up Anglican, was only 99.99% sure their is no God, and still have positive feelings about the Anglican Church. So I have been a sort of secular Anglican. I also have Jewish heritage, and associate with my Jewish heritage, even though I am not religiously Jewish.

I don’t know what proportion of Muslims are basically secular, but in Western countries it is quite a few.

Moderate Muslims

This is what I call the equivalent of the Easter and Christmas Catholic. They will believe in God/Allah. They will very occasionally go to a religious service. They may not necessarily wear a head scarf without fail (if female), and their religion is not the most important aspect of their lives. It is significant, but not dominant.

Again no real estimate of numbers, but in my observations more common in Asian countries than the Middle East. Not unknown also in parts of Africa.

Devout Muslims

Arguably the largest group. Their religion is a very important part of their life. They will go out of their way to adhere to religious customs, and attend mosque regularly. They do not think their religion should be the law of the land, they just want to be able to practice it themselves.

The equivalent of weekly church goers in Christian  churches.

Islamists/Extreme Muslims

These are Muslims who basically do believe their religious beliefs should not just be practiced by themselves, but should have legal force. They may support sharia law, stoning as punishment for adultery, the death penalty for apostasy, suicide bombings as justified sometimes, have favourable views of jihadist groups, support honour killings.

This group does not include jihadists, but provides the environment where they can thrive and gain support. If you support killing adulterers and apostates, then it is not surprising that it is hard to argue that however it is wrong to kill party goers in Paris. One really wants adherents of a religion to say that killing anyone (except in self defence) is always wrong – full stop.

The number of Islamists or exteme Muslims is not insignificant. In this blog post I estimate it is around 420 million or so. A minority, but a large minority – say 25%.

Jihadist Muslims

These are the ones who actively get involved in killing people who they think have offended their religion, willing fighters for Islamic State, al-Qaeda etc. Estimated (low end) numbers are:

  • Islamic State 60,000
  • al-Qaeda 20,000
  • Taliban 60,000

There’s around 100 smaller groups also. In total talking low hundreds of thousands.  As a proportion of Islam not even 0.1%, but as raw numbers scarily high.  By comparison the IRA had around 10,000 members.

So I see no good in lumping all Muslims together. It’s unhelpful, it’s offensive to them, and it only makes things worse.

However I do believe the focus should not just be on Jihadists Muslims, but also Islamists or Extreme Muslims. I’m quite happy for countries to have immigration policies that say if you think think death is an appropriate punishment for adultery or apostasy then you’re not suitable to live here. Likewise if you think your religious beliefs should be imposed on people who don’t follow your religion, the same. And that applies to extreme adherents of other religions also.

In my mind you can’t make the case that blowing civilians up is bad, but executing someone for changing their religion is acceptable.

Islam does need a reformation. That can’t be done by non Muslims. It can only be done within Islam. The bottom line needs to be that death is never justified. The problem however is that Islam has no central authority (unlike most religions) and the status of the Koran makes a reformation very difficult. However there is no other long-term solution.

So I do reject those who say Islamic State and its terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. That is a lie. It may be an extreme minority aspect of Islam, but the teachings of Mohammed clearly are a driving force for many Islamists and Jihadists.

Douglas Murray covers this well in The Spectator:

The West’s movement towards the truth is remarkably slow. We drag ourselves towards it painfully, inch by inch, after each bloody Islamist assault.

In France, Britain, Germany, America and nearly every other country in the world it remains government policy to say that any and all attacks carried out in the name of Mohammed have ‘nothing to do with Islam’. It was said by George W. Bush after 9/11, Tony Blair after 7/7 and Tony Abbott after the Sydney attack last month. It is what David Cameron said after two British extremists cut off the head of Drummer Lee Rigby in London, when ‘Jihadi John’ cut off the head of aid worker Alan Henning in the ‘Islamic State’ and when Islamic extremists attacked a Kenyan mall, separated the Muslims from the Christians and shot the latter in the head. It was what President François Hollande said after the massacre of journalists and Jews in Paris in January. And it is all that most politicians will be able to come out with again after the latest atrocities in Paris.

All these leaders are wrong. In private, they and their senior advisers often concede that they are telling a lie. The most sympathetic explanation is that they are telling a ‘noble lie’, provoked by a fear that we — the general public — are a lynch mob in waiting.

And it has become counter productive.

‘Noble’ or not, this lie is a mistake. First, because the general public do not rely on politicians for their information and can perfectly well read articles and books about Islam for themselves. Secondly, because the lie helps no one understand the threat we face. Thirdly, because it takes any heat off Muslims to deal with the bad traditions in their own religion.

Muslims in the first three categories bear no responsibility for what Jihadists do. But there does need to be a recognition that reform is needed – that their views of Islam need to become more widespread so they represent not 75% of Muslims, but 99%.

To claim that people who punish people by killing them for blaspheming Islam while shouting ‘Allah is greatest’ has ‘nothing to do with Islam’ is madness. Because the violence of the Islamists is, truthfully, only to do with Islam: the worst version of Islam, certainly, but Islam nonetheless.

Other religions have issues also, as the author notes but:

Here we land at the centre of the problem — a centre we have spent the last decade and a half trying to avoid: Islam is not a peaceful religion. No religion is, but Islam is especially not. Nor is it, as some ill-informed people say, solely a religion of war. There are many peaceful verses in the Quran which — luckily for us — the majority of Muslims live by. But it is, by no means, only a religion of peace.

You can cherry pick verses in the Quran to argue it is a religion of peace or war. What matters is the actions by its adherents.

I say this not because I hate Islam, nor do I have any special animus against Muslims, but simply because this is the verifiable truth based on the texts. Until we accept that we will never defeat the violence, we risk encouraging whole populations to take against all of Islam and abandon all those Muslims who are trying desperately to modernise, reform and de-literalise their faith.

And they are the ones we must support. Not demonise.

The world would be an infinitely safer place if the historical Mohammed had behaved more like Buddha or Jesus. …

We may all share a wish that these traditions were not there but they are and they look set to have serious consequences for us all. We might all agree that the history of Christianity has hardly been un-bloody. But is it not worth asking whether the history of Christianity would have been more bloody or less bloody if, instead of telling his followers to ‘turn the other cheek’, Jesus had called (even once) for his disciples to ‘slay’ non–believers and chop off their heads?

A point worth considering.

This is a problem with Islam — one that Muslims are going to have to work through. They could do so by a process which forces them to take their foundational texts less literally, or by an intellectually acceptable process of cherry-picking verses. Or prominent clerics could unite to declare the extremists non-Muslim.

Again the lack of a central authority makes this difficult. However political leaders in Muslim countries could lead the way. They could remove laws around executing people for apostasy or adultery as a start.

We have spent 15 years pretending things about Islam, a complex religion with competing interpretations. It is true that most Muslims live their lives peacefully. But a sizeable portion (around 15 per cent and more in most surveys) follow a far more radical version. The remainder are sitting on a religion which is, in many of its current forms, a deeply unstable component. That has always been a problem for reformist Muslims. But the results of ongoing mass immigration to the West at the same time as a worldwide return to Islamic literalism means that this is now a problem for all of us. To stand even a chance of dealing with it, we are going to have to wake up to it and acknowledge it for what it is.

The challenge is to talk about the problems within Islam, in a way which doesn’t lead to more extremism and defensiveness.

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The hijab and niqab

November 2nd, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

The young Muslim woman refused a job at an Auckland jewellers because of her hijab (headscarf) has been the subject of an important debate since her story appeared in the Weekend Herald last Saturday. Letters to the editor have questioned whether it is fair to expect a shop hiring counter staff to ignore a garment that may make some customers uncomfortable. They praised the Stewart Dawsons/Pascoes outlet for at least being honest with the woman.

Many employers might turn her down on a false pretext. But the James Pascoe group was quick to disown the decision. “This is by no means how we run our business,” said a spokesman. “We have employees who wear the hijab.”

I don’t think most people have any problem with the hijab. Criticising a Muslim woman for wearing a hijab is like criticising a nun for wearing a coif.

There may be a small set of jobs where a hijab would not be appropriate, as in a job where any headgear is banned – possibly for safety reasons. But these would be very few.

Those who are unsettled by Islamic women covering their head, and even their face in some cases, will need to get used to it.

Head yes, face no.

But tolerance does not preclude debate about the meaning and purpose of covering up in this way. Islam insists on the hijab (covering hair) but not the niqab covering all but the eyes, which some adherents choose to wear as part of the full body covering, the burqa. To Western minds it is profoundly sad that any women should want to cover their face in public or cover themselves completely, especially if their religion would otherwise blame them for arousing male interest.

I view the niqab very different to the hijab. Apart from the fact is is more a political than a religious requirement, it is an incredibly hostile garment as it means you can not make any sort of visual identification with a person wearing that – something that cuts to the core of most societies.

I find the niqab as anti-social as a balaclava.

One of them, British-born, Iranian-bred New Zealand citizen Donna Miles-Mojab, described the niqab in the Herald on Thursday as a rejection of “the objectification of women and manufactured views of beauty and liberty”.

There are many ways to reject manufactured views of beauty and objectification of women, without covering up every piece of skin except your eyes.

It is almost a signal that I don’t want any contact with anyone. If you were not sure of where you were going and wanted to ask someone directions, you wouldn’t ask someone in a niqab. You wouldn’t make casual conversation with them at say a bus stop. And it is almost beyond belief that someone wearing a niqab would ever get hired in a job, as almost all employers and employees value the norm of visual identification.

More seriously, they are a social barrier to others. We are not accustomed to people around us in public being hooded or masked and it is not easy to get used to. If we must, of course, we can. Tolerance will prevail.

We should tolerate it in the legal sense. Any NZers should have the right to wear what they want, within decency standards. But I don’t think we should shy away from making it clear that wearing a niqab in New Zealand is a socially unacceptable thing to do (even if legally acceptable) and that it is the equivalent of someone in a Middle Eastern country walking around in say cut off shorts and a t-shirt.

When we visit or live in other countries we respect the cultural norms around dress. If people choose to live in NZ it is my hope they will respect our cultural norms around dress – which is being able to have visual identification of people you interact with. It should not be a legal requirement, but to me it is a sign that someone doesn’t want to integrate into NZ society.

Western governments who have tried to discourage these dress codes have not achieved very much.

Tolerance is the only fair and sensible response and with it, immigrants are more likely to find the space and confidence to discard some encumbrances and embrace new ways.

We should have legal tolerance, but that is different from societal tolerance. And I am only talking about the niqab, not the hijab. So long as I can see someone’s face, I don’t care what else they’re wearing – overalls, a nun’s habit, a hijab or a dinner suit. But a society where a large number of people walking down street are showing their eyes only, is not one I want for New Zealand.

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Maybe he should have paid his tax?

August 24th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Khalid Mehmood didn’t believe in paying $1 million tax – but the government didn’t have much sympathy and sent him to prison

Now, the restaurateur says jail itself is against his religion: he isn’t fed a Halal diet, he can’t pray because the other inmates are too noisy, and he doesn’t have access to an Imam. 

Again, authorities are unsympathetic. This week, the Court of Appeal upheld his three-year sentence in Northland Region Corrections Facility.


Mehmood’s appeal failed after judges found no records of the prison receiving his complaints, and noted he had since moved to a newly-built prison in South Auckland where he was able to observe his duties. 

So he was using his religion as an excuse to try and get a lighter sentence.

He appealed the sentence, claiming it was “disproportionately severe” because it prevented him from observing daily religious protocols. He argued it was a hardship not generally suffered by other prisoners. 

By that argument, atheists should get longer prison sentences than people of faith.

The Court of Appeal noted Mehmood had since been moved to a new facility where he had his own cell, could shower four times a day, had access to an Imam, was provided a Halal or vegetarian diet, and was given his two meals at 5pm everyday so he could eat after sunset and before sunrise.   

Sounds lovely!

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How is this man running a school in Australia?

April 23rd, 2015 at 4:27 pm by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

THE State Government will probe shock claims girls at an Islamic high school in Melbourne’s west have been banned from running in case it caused them to lose their virginity.

A former teacher at Truganina’s Al-Taqwa College alleged that principal Omar Hallak stopped girls from running in cross country events in 2013 and 2014, Fairfax Media reported.

It gets worse than that.

Mr Hallak previously drew the ire of Mr Merlino when he reportedly told some students that Islamic State was a Western plot.

He claimed Islamic State was created by Israel and the US.

Bad enough to have such radicals in the wider community, but to have one of them poisoning the minds of school children is terrible. The State Government should stop all funding for his school.



Ayaan Hirsi Ali on “Islamophobia”

April 9th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Daily Beast interviews Ayaan Hirsi Ali:

Do you think there is such a thing as Islamophobia? The term is often used to mean not just criticism of Islam, but bigotry toward Muslims as a group and as individuals. Do you think this is a problem?

You know what? Bigotry exists. People are racist. I grew up in a racist household. My mom used to look down on Kenyan people and call them slaves. It’s almost human nature to be racist. When it comes to “Islamophobia,” I think the individual who has given the most comprehensive answer and analysis is Asra Nomani in a January 16 article for The Washington Post. She [talks about the] “honor brigade” [a loosely knit network of bloggers and activists who criticize slights against Islam]. She tells you the genesis of how this “Islamophobia” term was invented, how it was kept afloat, but most disastrously, how it’s used to keep people silent. Right now, the country of Sweden has stood up for human rights, and Saudi Arabia is accusing Sweden of Islamophobia. Saudi Arabia is actually beheading people for sorcery, flogging women. And they dare call Sweden Islamophobic. It’s a country that has no churches, no synagogues, that persecutes fellow Muslims on grounds of being Shiites. It’s just amazing. That’s how “Islamophobia” is used.

Good point.

Are there people in the Muslim community who have been willing to engage with you, more than before?

Yes, it’s very interesting. Ten years ago, I was a pariah. And now, I have Muslims who are saying, “I don’t necessarily agree with every word you say”—which they don’t have to—“but you’re one of us, you’re brave, a reformation is needed.” I’m giving you an example: Maajid Nawaz, because he’s very prominent. The last time I debated him three years ago, here in New York, we were debating on Intelligence Squared, “Islam is a religion of peace” and he was saying, Islam is a religion of peace, and I was saying, No, Islam unreformed is not a religion of peace. Today he is saying, like me, Islam needs a reformation; but unlike me, he is still a Muslim. And along with him is a cleric, Usama Hassan, who has endorsed this book. He doesn’t agree with me, but he says, “This discussion is absolutely necessary. It’s important, it’s urgent, let’s have it.” So there is a shift, and beyond individuals who are just talking. Look at the president of Egypt [Abdel Fattah el-Sisi]. I think ISIS is forcing a lot of people who are Muslims into opposition. [El-Sisi] says we need a revolution in religion. That goes much farther than I’m going. I’m saying reform; he’s saying revolution. But it’s ultimately going to be a revolution in religion, he’s right.

A reformation of Islam, as happened to Christianity some centuries ago, would be a very good thing. But also very difficult.

So you’re very hopeful about what’s happening right now.

I just want to remind the free world that there was a time when they were not free—Europeans and Americans were not free. There was a time when Christian theology and Jewish theology was used to commit atrocious acts. Remember the witch hunts, remember the Protestants. I think Americans associate religion with something positive. In Europe, Protestants were killing other Protestants, Catholics were killing Protestants, Protestants were killing Catholics, just as the Sunni and the Shia are doing now. That is now in the history books. I look forward to a time when atrocities committed in the name of Islam will be in history books and museums and movies, but not happening to real people in real time.

The key is changing the focus of a religion from justified death, to honouring life.

You’ve had some reactions from Western feminists to your statements about Islam that you’ve found a bit disconcerting.

We are seeing that Western feminists are shy about pointing out the misogyny that’s committed in the name of the religion of Islam, because they feel we can’t impose our ethnocentric or Eurocentric or American-centric ways. If you read the [faculty] letter at Brandeis, that’s the core of it. Which is—don’t be ridiculous. It doesn’t matter where you are as an individual human being; freedom is freedom. Nobody likes to be oppressed. Human rights are universal. Individual rights are universal. This is the message to American feminists and other Western feminists: the best thing to share is the outcome of the emancipation.

There’s an argument, which I’m sure you’ve heard, that Western women face their own forms of oppression, which are different but may be just as bad, or almost as bad—

Like what? Who does the dishes at home? That’s what it boils down to: How can we balance work-life. Of course that’s challenging. But can you imagine how far we’ve come from the points when women weren’t allowed to get out of the house, couldn’t be in public, couldn’t take public office, weren’t allowed to vote, couldn’t own their own bank accounts. Even the money they inherited wasn’t theirs, it was for the male guardians to look after. And now, [it’s], “Who loads the dishes in the dishwasher, who does the unloading?” And I think it’s still very important; I have massive fights with my husband about who does what at home. But that is more on the micro level, and it’s a luxury. And I don’t think that the government can do anything about that. What kind of law are you going to pass that says who does the dishes, who does the diapers, who looks after the children, who’s going to work and whose career is going to go up or down?

I always find it amusing when NZ’s progress of women’s rights is judged by a UN committee that includes countries that don’t even given women the vote.

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Fight extremism with humour

April 6th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

The police officer had just finished an earnest presentation on counter-extremism before an audience of 200 restless teenagers at an East London high school when a young man of Pakistani origin in a black hoodie took the stage.

“How many of you people are Muslim?” the man barked.

He grinned as nearly every hand went up.

“Guys, we can take over! Sharia law coming soon!” the man cried gleefully. “Allahu Akbar!”

The teens erupted in laughter even before the man had a chance to clarify: “I’m kidding. I’m kidding. I think I scared the white people.”

It’s the kind of knowing humor that has made 29-year-old Humza Arshad an Internet sensation, a hero to Muslim teenagers and perhaps the most potent new weapon in Britain’s arsenal as it wages an increasingly desperate campaign to counter violent Islamist extremism.

At a time when the flow of British Muslims to the war in Syria shows no sign of ebbing, Arshad has positioned himself as the anti-Jihadi John. Like Mohammed Emwazi, the scowling Islamic State executioner, Arshad is a London-raised Muslim from an immigrant family whose face has become instantly recognizable to millions of young Brits through videos uploaded online.

We need more people like this.

But where Emwazi seeks to terrify the world and seduce fresh recruits to join his bloodthirsty crusade, Arshad’s message is precisely the opposite: Laugh at extremism; don’t fall prey to it.

Great message.

In his “Diary of a Bad Man” series, Arshad plays a wannabe gangster who gets beaten up by girls, peed on by a fox and endlessly ridiculed by his mother. But he also manages to save his cousin from a descent into radicalism, and uses lessons from the Koran to urge others to steer away from violence.

This spring, Arshad has taken his message directly to students through an unusual partnership with Scotland Yard in which the police sponsor him to tell jokes at London-area high schools. The program has been a hit, with schools across the city vying for his time and officials planning to take the program nationwide.

Probably more effective than several dozen community engagement panels.

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van Beynen on Islamic extremism

March 30th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A very good column by Martin van Beynen:

While there can be no disputing that only a minority of Muslims believe in taking their beliefs to extremes, an intrinsic part of Islamic teaching justifies the death of opponents, non-believers or believers in other religions.

And a large minority of Muslims support the death penalty for apostates. I estimate around 32%.

An ancient text can be used to justify a variety of lethal behaviour as the history of Christianity has shown but, as some commentators have pointed out, you don’t get the feeling the Islamic world is moving away from fundamentalist interpretations of the Koran.

There are almost no people in Christianity demanding that there be an empire run on old testament law.

There are a fair amount in Islam wanting an empire run on a fundamentalist 7th century version of Islamic law.

As British columnist Rod Liddle pointed out recently in the Sunday Times, it is only in Islamic countries that people risk being put to death for blasphemy or apostasy (renouncing Islam).

“It is not just Muslim extremists who want to punish people for apostasy and blasphemy; it is the view of the mainstream Islamic world,” he writes.

And this is the challenge – not just the jihadists, but the laws in many Islamic countries.

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How widespread is extreme Islam?

February 5th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

It is often said by many (including me) that Islam is not the problem, just the extreme version of it practiced by a minority. The majority of Muslims do not support suicide bombings, killing of apostates etc just as the majority of Christians do not support old testament punishments.

However many commentators (again including me) have pointed out that the size of the extremist faction of Islam is not small. It is a minority but it is a large minority. This is where Islam is different to other religions – the size of the faction with extremist views.

I’ve not seen much reporting trying to quantify the size on a global basis. Pew Research in 2013 published a report which collated opinion among Muslims in 39 countries with a large Muslim population. They report on views in each country. What I have done is take the percentages for each country and multiplied it by their estimated Muslim population to get a global figure. For some issues they report the data as a percentage of those who favour sharia law, so I have cross multiplied to get it as a consistent percentage of all Muslims in those countries.

Globally there are 1.6 billion Muslims. Here’s how many share what I (and most) would consider extreme views.

Favour Making Sharia the Law of the Land

In the 38 countries surveyed 69% of Muslims said they supported Sharia law being the official law of the land. This represents 739 million Muslims out of 1,064 million in those countries

Favour Stoning as Punishment for Adultery

In the 20 countries surveyed 42% of Muslims supported the stoning of adulterers .  This represents 352 million Muslims out of 835 million in those countries.

Favour Death Penalty for Apostates who leave Islam

In the 20 countries surveyed 32% of Muslims said the death penalty should apply to apostates who leave Islam.  This represents 267 million Muslims out of 835 million in those countries.

Say suicide bombings against civilian targets can be justified

In the 21 countries surveyed 22% of Muslims said suicide bombings against civilian targets can be justified . This represents 209 million Muslims out of 944 million in those countries.

Favourable opinion of al Qaeda

In the 11 countries surveyed 16% of Muslims said they had a favourable opinion of al Qaeda. This represents 107 million Muslims out of 666 million in those countries

Say honour killings can be justified as punishment for sex

In the 23 countries surveyed 47% of Muslims said honour killings can be justified as punishment for pre-marital or extra-marital sex.  This represents 420 million Muslims out of 903 million in those countries.


This data gives some idea of the size of the problem. It isn’t 20 lunatics members of the Westboro Baptist Church. A large minority of Muslims globally hold views that are extreme and go against basic human rights and/or principles such as separation of church and state. There is good news in that there is declining support for suicide bombings and al Qaeda. And a strategy of demonising all Muslims and an entire religion will not reduce extremism, but increase it. However neither is it a good idea to pretend that the problem is just a few thousand jihadists. It is more widespread than that.



The problem is not just terrorism

January 14th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reported:

Saudi Arabia is remaining silent in the face of global outrage at the public flogging of the jailed blogger Raif Badawi, who received the first 50 of 1,000 lashes on Friday, part of his punishment for running a liberal website devoted to freedom of speech in the conservative kingdom. …

Saudi Arabia joined other Arab and Muslim countries in condemning the murder of 12 people at the Paris satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo but angry comments highlighted its double standard in meting out a cruel punishment to a man who was accused of insulting Islam.

The two acts are not the same, but they are part of the same problem. There is almost universal condemation of the Islamist terrorists who killed the cartoonists because they thought the cartoonists had insulated Islam. It was an extra-judicial killing, designed to terrorise.

However when countries like Saudia Arabia have laws which allow judicial torture and even killing of people who offend Islam, then it can hardly be surprising that some Muslims get the idea that offending Islam is something that should be punishable by death – even in non-Muslim countries.

The solution is that there should be no criminal sanction anywhere for offending any religion. The only sanction for offending a religion, should be excommunication from that religion. Any religion that needs to terrorise people into being nice about it, is a pretty lame religion in my view. And that applies just as much to state sanctioned terror, as that done by terrorists.

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Young female Muslims in Australia

November 19th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

I detest Islamists and the psychopaths that are flocking to ISIS as much as anyone. But I also deplore people who think they represent the majority of Muslims. They are a very significant threat, but treating every member of a religion as the same is stupid and goes against my beliefs of treating people as individuals.

News.com.au has a cool feature on four young Australian Muslims. They are:

  • Delina Darusman-Gala, a fashion blogger
  • Neslihan Kurtonal, a tattooed social worker
  • Frida Deguise, a stand up comic
  • Abi Moustafa, a TV content editor

I’d encourage people to read the article and consider the need to distinguish between Islamists and Muslims.


Well done the moderates

May 21st, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Lincoln Tan at the Herald reports:

A mosque in Auckland has been shut down indefinitely following violent attacks and the declaration of jihad, or holy war, against private security staff hired to guard the premises.

Bill Frost, who leads the Global Security Intelligence team at the Avondale Islamic Centre, was assaulted twice on Sunday and said he feared for his life and the safety of his family after one worshipper threatened him with jihad.

High fences, seven security guards and two police officers were yesterday seen on the site as worshippers were turned away from afternoon prayers.

The New Zealand Muslim Association, which owns the property, said it was shutting down the centre until further notice because of safety concerns.

The centre’s administrator was brutally beaten two weeks ago after issuing trespass orders to a Salafist imam and some of his supporters, and spent 10 days in hospital with fractures and eye injuries.

Mr Frost said he was assaulted twice as he was handing out six trespass orders to people causing trouble at the Blockhouse Bay Rd mosque on Sunday.

There has been an ongoing battle against a small number of extremists. It’s been massively pleasing to see those who run the Avondale Islamic Centre, rejecting the extremists. I’ve often said the only solution to extreme Islam, is moderate Islam.

The extremists claim they are not extremists. But the fact they respond to the trespass orders with violence and threats of jihad, suggests that the NZ Muslim Association has judged the situation correctly. They should be congratulated.


Arrested for quoting Churchill in England

April 30th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

A candidate in the European elections has been arrested after making a speech quoting from a book by Winston Churchill about Islam.

Paul Weston, chairman of the far right Liberty GB party, was making the speech on the steps of Winchester Guildhall, Hampshire, on Saturday, when a member of the public complained to police and he was arrested.

He had been reading from Churchill’s book The River War, written in 1899 while he was a British army officer in Sudan.

Mr Weston, who is standing as a candidate in the South East European elections on May 22, was detained after he failed to comply with a request by police to move on under the powers of a dispersal order made against him and he was arrested on suspicion of religious/racial harassment.

It’s quite outrageous.

Just as David Irving should be allowed to talk in public on how he thinks the Holocaust is a hoax, people should be allowed to speak in public about their dislike of particular religions.

I’m damn sure if someone was making a speech attacking Christianity, they would not be arrested.

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A sensible ruling

September 18th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Britain’s leading Muslim organisation warned yesterday that a judge’s landmark ruling that women should not give evidence in court while wearing the veil threatened to undermine the nation’s long-standing tradition of religious tolerance.

Amid warnings by the Muslim Council of Britain of an increasingly “hysterical” debate on the niqab, Judge Peter Murphy concluded that a female defendant would be allowed to attend court while wearing the Islamic face covering but would not be permitted to take the witness stand unless she removed it.

No other ruling is possible. Of course you must be able to see the face of a witness. Observing body language is crucial for lawyers and a jury.

People can believe whatever they want. But their beliefs do not trump the law.

Talat Ahmed, chair of the council’s social and family affairs committee, said: “Every time we discuss the niqab, it usually comes with a diet of bigoted commentary about our faith and the place of Islam in Britain. There are few people who wear the niqab, and they should be allowed to wear this veil if they freely decide to do so.”

She said banning the garment was “un-British” and would mean “embarking on a slippery slope where the freedom to wear religious attire of all faiths would be at risk”.

Who is talking of banning them? The court has merely said you can’t testify in court wearing one.

The woman denies attempting to intimidate a witness. When she stands trial in November the court will be adjourned and cleared to allow her to identify herself to a female court officer. When she gives evidence with her face uncovered she will be able to do so from behind a screen or via video-link so she will not be on view.

Sounds like the court has bent over backwards.


Bigotry in Australia

July 7th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Peter Kurti at CIS writes:

Federal Labor MP Ed Husic is to be commended for his cool reaction to the swirl of anti-Islamic posts on Twitter and Facebook this week.

When he was sworn in on Monday as a Parliamentary Secretary, the member for Chifley became Australia’s first Muslim frontbencher.

Mr Husic, the son of Bosnian migrants, took the oath of office on a copy of the Qu’ran. ‘I couldn’t obviously take my oath on a bible,’ he said. ‘I am who I am.’

But that decision provoked unpleasant and anonymous attacks on social media which accused Mr Husic of treacherous and unconstitutional behaviour.

As well as being offensive, these rants were both absurd and inconsistent.

Far from being an unconstitutional act, Mr Husic’s decision to take the oath of office on the Qu’ran falls entirely within the provision of section 116 of the Australian Constitution.

Not only does the Constitution protect the free exercise of religion, section 116 prohibits religion being made a qualification for public office under the Commonwealth.

In other words, the Constitution protects the rights of Muslims to hold public office. When a Muslim is appointed to such an office, it is entirely appropriate that he or she take the oath on the Qu’ran if they wish to do so.

The Qu’ran has long been made available to Australian Muslims taking the oath in Australian courts of law.

A person taking an oath on a sacred book is not promising explicitly to uphold the contents of that book. The book simply serves as a symbol of invocation as the oath taker calls upon God to be the guarantor of his or her integrity.

NZ is rather more tolerant on these things. Ashraf Choudhary in 2002 was elected an MP and chose to swear his parliamentary path on the Qu’ran.  Off memory, there was no fuss or protest or backlash at all (except from Winston Peters, but he doesn’t count) – as there should be. We either allow no-one to swear an oath on a religious book, or we allow all religious books to be used. A country should not tell its citizens which religions are acceptable.

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Islamic Terrorism

April 24th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The two brothers suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon appear to have been motivated by a radical brand of Islam but do not seem connected to any Muslim terrorist groups, US officials said after interrogating and charging Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with crimes that could bring the death penalty.

Tsarnaev, 19, was charged in his hospital room, where he was in serious condition with a gunshot wound to the throat and other injuries suffered during his attempted getaway. His older brother, Tamerlan, 26, died after a fierce gunbattle with police.

The Massachusetts college student was charged with using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. He was accused of joining with his brother in setting off the shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs that killed three people and wounded more than 200 a week ago.

The brothers, ethnic Chechens from Russia who had been living in the US for about a decade, practiced Islam.

Two US officials said preliminary evidence from the younger man’s interrogation suggests the brothers were motivated by religious extremism but were apparently not involved with Islamic terrorist organisations.

In one sense it is more concerning they were not dupes put up to it by a terrorist group, but decided to turn to terrorism based solely on their religious beliefs.

There are approximately 1.6 billion Muslims, and it goes without saying that the vast majority do not practice or support terrorism. Just mindlessly ranting against an entire religion achieves nothing.

And of course there have been terrorists motivated by other religions – Northern Ireland, for one.

But to my mind there is a difference with terrorism done by extreme Islamists. It is that religion seems to be the sole reason for the terrorism.

Most terrorism involves territorial disputes. Northern Ireland was part-religious but partly an fight over the partition or Ireland.

Terrorism in Kashmir is linked to control of disputed territory. Religion is part of it, but not all of it.

Other factors involved in why people turn to terrorism can be extreme poverty, lack of education etc.

But when it comes to terrorism involving relatively well off, well educated citizens, with no territorial dispute – the sole factor often is just their belief in an extreme version of Islam. And to be frank that is scary.

Tony Blair and the IRA managed to find a political settlement that has almost stopped terrorism in Northern Ireland. The same has happened in other areas.

But I’m at a loss to know how you stop people like the Tsarnaev brothers concluding that their God wants them to blow up children who are watching the Boston Marathon. When a religion doesn’t unambiguously condemn violence and killing, and many priests promote rewards in the afterlife for those who kill in God’s name – no wonder. When Iran’s mullahs hand out fatwas encourging people to kill the likes of Salman Rushdie, it is no surprise that you have others decide that killing people for their God is a good idea.

Christianity has it faults, and a chequered history. But the number of Christian priests who in modern times ever call for someone to be killed is almost zero – the odd lunatic excepted. But sadly in Islam, all too many religious and political leaders (and the two are linked) do preach violence in God’s name.

The solutions are not easy. Just condemning 1.6 billion Muslims for the sins of a few is not a solution – just prejudice. But neither is there merit in ignoring the problems and almost unique challenges of Islamic terrorism. The lack of a central authority in Islam, and the inability to modernise their teachings, makes change very challenging.

In the end the only practical long-term solution is to encourage moderate Muslim leaders, to speak out and condemn the extremists, and make clear that terrorism is evil and sinful – no matter what.

But I have to admit I am pessimistic. I don’t see an end to religious terrorism in my lifetime.

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February 12th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

New Zealand First MP Richard Prosser has a column in Investigate Magazine. In his latest column he refers to certain people as coming from “Wogistan” and also declares that no young male who is a Muslim, looks like a Muslim or is from a Muslim country should be able to fly on a Western airline.

It is worth realising that these are not comments made off the cuff in an interview. A New Zealand Member of Parliament sat down and wrote a column that refers to Wogistan and calls for basically dark-skinned people (how else do you interpret look like a Muslim) not to be allowed to fly.

36,000 New Zealanders are Muslims. A New Zealand MP has said they should be banned from flying or Air New Zealand if they are male and aged 19 to 35. I’m sorry, but that is appalling.

Now before anyone says this is just political correctness, and one should be able to talk about the fact almost all airline terrorism incidents have been done by young male Muslims – I agree.  I there there is an absolutely valid discussion to be held on issues such as the pros and cons of profiling, the costs of airline security, and the fact that so much terrorism is done in the name of Islam. In fact I have blogged on these issues several times.

But one can have that discussion without referring to Muslims implicitly as Wogs and without calling for Muslims to be banned from flying on Western airlines.

Some of the quotes from the article:

I will not stand by while their [his daughters’] rights and freedoms of other New Zealanders and Westerners, are denigrated by a sorry pack of misogynist troglodytes from Wogistan …

I mean seriously – effectively calling people wogs. I actually like Richard Prosser and agree with him on a few issues, but this column is seriously offensive.

If you are a young male, aged between say about 19 and about 35, and you’re a Muslim, or you look like a Muslim, or you come from a Muslim country, then you are not welcome to travel on any of the West’s airline …

When he says looks like a Muslim, does he mean look like a wog? Because let’s face it any sensible wannabee terrorist could simply wear non-religious attire if they really wanted to blow up a plane. So I can only imagine “look like a Muslim” means if you look South East Asian or Persian or Arabic or Turkish etc? Never mind that they may in fact be Christian or Hindu or anything. If they look like a Muslim, we have a Member of Parliament saying you should not be able to travel on Western airlines?

Taking Richard literally, Air New Zealand should refuse to accept any passengers from Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey, Malaysia etc if they are a young male. This presumably includes all the students from those countries that are students at New Zealand universities.

If the belief systems of ancient history are so important to you, and the advances of the decadent West so abhorrent, go ride a camel instead?.

Now this comment was not directed at the extremists, but at anyone who is a Muslim, looks like a Muslim or comes from a Muslim country.

Now again, there is a very legitimate debate to be had about profiling, terrorism, extreme Islamists and the like. I’ve been attacked myself for writing on some of those issues.

But never in a hundred years would I refer to Wogistan and advocate that people be barred from flying based on their appearance or country of origin. And to have a Member of Parliament deliberately write that is staggering.

Labour and the Greens are desperate to form a Government with NZ First as they know it is near impossible without them. Will any Labour or Green MP come out and state what they think of their potential coalition partner writing about Wogistan? Winston wants to be Foreign Minister again. Does he stand by the views of his MP that young men from Malaysia and Indonesia should be banned from travelling on Western airlines?

A photo of the second page of the column is below.


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The extent of the extremism

September 24th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I think we often try to comfort ourselves that the “extreme” faction of Islam is just a few thousand uneducated poor and/or jobless Muslims. But the sad reality is that the extreme faction has wide-spread support from leaders down. They are definitely still a minority, and rejected by most Muslims, but they are not a trivial number.

We see this, in this story on NZ Herald:

A Pakistani official on Saturday placed a US$100,000 bounty on the head of the maker of an anti-Islam film that has sparked a wave of violence and anger, as Muslims mounted fresh protests worldwide.

Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour also called on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda to join the hunt and help accomplish the “noble deed.”

Bilour spoke to reporters in the northwestern city of Peshawar a day after violent nationwide demonstrations against the “Innocence of Muslims” film left 21 people dead and more than 200 injured.

“I announce today that this blasphemer who has abused the holy prophet, if somebody will kill him, I will give that person a prize of $100,000,” Bilour said, urging others to shower the killer with cash and gold.

“I also invite Taliban and Al-Qaeda brothers to be partners in this noble deed,” he added. “I also announce that if the government hands this person over to me, my heart says I will finish him with my own hands and then they can hang me.”

Even worse, neither his Government nor his party are taking any action against him. They are saying that his statement are personal views, not Government policy, so no need to do anything!

I think we are understanding how Osama managed to live in Pakistan for so long, undetected.

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Dom Post on free speech

September 21st, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

The anti-Muslim movie blamed for the wave of violence sweeping across the Muslim world is an appalling piece of propaganda. The work of a convicted conman, it is utterly without merit – artistic, historical or intellectual.

The same might  also be said of the grotesque caricatures published  by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo depicting the prophet Mohammed in a range of demeaning positions. They are offensive, insulting and designed to provoke.

Neither, however, is reason for the murder of innocents, the storming of embassies or the further propagation of hatred. Perhaps the most shocking of all the images seen since United States ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens was killed in an attack linked to the movie was that of a small child at a protest in Sydney holding aloft a sign bearing the words: ”Behead all those who insult the Prophet.”

That is not the Australian way, it is not the Western way and it should not be the way anywhere. As one Australian politician observed: ”Kids of this age should be playing hide and seek, not calling for jihad or beheadings.”

That was so incredibly disturbing. The one good thing from it is that there has been such a backlash against these violent protests in Australia, that the extremists are being marginalised.

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Ironic indeed

September 18th, 2012 at 4:53 pm by David Farrar

Dr Zain Ali writes in the NZ Herald:

Sam Becile’s recent “movie” depicts Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, as a buffoon, a womaniser and a child molester. The movie is far from a genuine attempt at social or theological criticism; rather, it comes across as a work created by a group of misinformed and bored misanthropes. Unfortunately, many in the Muslim world have taken the bait, and have responded with acts of brutal violence. The saddest moment in this outpouring of rage was the death of US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens (all this on the anniversary of 9/11).

The violent protests involve a cruel, and perhaps bitter, irony. The protesters believe Becile’s movie besmirches the honour of Muhammad, and this is because the movie depicts Muhammad as being a violent, bloodthirsty, womaniser. The irony is that the protesters have responded to this movie with acts of violence, all the while believing that Muhammad was a peace loving and virtuous person. 

It is sad and ironic.

I believe the tradition of Islam represents a spectrum of views, and there is a centre made up of those who welcome intellectual honesty, equality, secularism and pluralism. The problem is not that Islam lacks a centre, but that mainstream Muslims are being out-manoeuvred by the violent and irrational fringe. This fringe dominates the headlines and shapes the public view of Islam and Muslims.

The person of Muhammad is dear to the heart of Muslims, and the reason for this is that Muhammad represents an important, and challenging, ideal. Prior to Islam, there existed tribes, some of whom had hated each other for generations. Muhammad was able to transform hate and distrust into genuine love and trust. Muslims love Muhammad because he showed it was possible to love each other while being at peace with ourselves.

Given what Muhammad represents, we can argue it is the perpetrators of violence who are the ones who have besmirched and dishonoured Muhammad. After all, Muhammad is reported to have said that, “the strong are not the ones who overcome others by force, but the strong are the ones who control themselves while in anger”.

Most Muslims are “moderate”, tolerant and respectful. New Zealand’s Muslim community for one is a good example of that.

All religions have extremists, and violent fanatics. However it is fair to say that a far greater proportion of Islamic adherents are extremists than with other religions. I believe this is partly because the religion has no central authority that can unambiguously condemn violence in the name of religion – and also because Islam has no ability to modernise its beliefs (due to the lack of central authority).


Well done Google

September 18th, 2012 at 6:27 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Google rejected a request by the White House on Friday to reconsider its decision to keep online a controversial YouTube movie clip that has ignited anti-American protests in the Middle East.

The Internet company said it was censoring the video in India and Indonesia after blocking it on Wednesday in Egypt and Libya, where US embassies have been stormed by protesters enraged over depiction of the Prophet Mohammad as a fraud and philanderer.

Well done Google. Blocking it in countries where there is a legal order from the Government can be appropriate, but removing it entirely would be an act of censorship and deplorable appeasement.

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The women only exhibition

August 30th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

If Lower Hutt’s Dowse Art Museum was a private institution, nobody could complain about it showing a work that only women were allowed to see.

However, the gallery is operated by Hutt City Council and paid for by ratepayers. As a publicly funded entity, it cannot justify staging exhibits from which half the public is excluded.

Personally I think it is all a publicity stunt from Dowse to get publicity. I can’t say I worry about not being able to see an exhibition I have no interest in seeing.

But the editorial is right. If you are a public institution, you can’t ban half the population from an exhibition.

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Muslim women say burqa is affront to human dignity

July 21st, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Lincoln Tan at NZ Herald reports:

A Muslim women’s group is expected to tell a public forum tonight that the burqa is not a requirement in Islam and it is “an affront to human dignity” for women to be forced to wear it.

Excellent. Meaningful change should come from within.

The group’s founder, Zainah Anwar, said on its website: “I find the burqa really disturbing.

“There is enough literature to show that the face veil is not a requirement in Islam.

“In a conservative, patriarchal Muslim context, face veiling really symbolises women’s invisibility and inferior status.

“That a woman should not be seen and heard, and should she venture into the public space she must be as invisible as possible, is an affront to human dignity.”

It is also quite unfriendly. If you are looking for a location and want to ask someone for directions, you won’t be asking someone who won’t even show you their face.

Note I have absolutely no issue with head scarves – just those which cover the face so you only see eyes.

The view was supported by the head of Islamic studies at the University of Auckland, Zain Ali.

He said the burqa was more a cultural requirement than an Islamic one.

“The Islamic requirement is for modest dressing, but what has happened in many parts of the Muslim world is that the burqa has been accepted as a norm for that modest dressing,” Mr Ali said.

“But the burqa is almost dehumanising and it robs the personality and the ability of someone to express themselves.”

Again it is good to see the debate happening amongst the Muslim community.

However Malaysian businessman Zulkifli Hamzah, who is in Auckland to help set up a Muslim “Obedient Wives Club” branch, said followers of Islam understood “women and men are not equals”.

“Everything has a structure and for a Muslim, the man is seen as the leader of the family or household.

“If a woman is told to wear a burqa or hijab so she does not tempt other men, then she should obey.

Oh my God. thank goodness he is not a NZ citizen is all I can say.

“The issue is not whether it is a cultural law or religious law, it is the husband’s law.”

My advice to Kiwi men is to not try that line to settle marital arguments.

The club’s founders, Malaysian-based business group Global Ikhwan, support polygamy, and claim their moral attitude is in line with Islamic teachings for building strong families.

The club encourages women to submit to their husbands and meet all their sexual needs because it believes sexually fulfilled men are less likely to stray so marriages are less likely to break down.


The Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand said it did not support the movement and that the club’s views were “interpretation of Islam to the extreme”.

They are, and that is why it is good more moderate views will challenge those extreme views.

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The hijab debate

July 6th, 2011 at 10:12 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Two New Zealand Muslim women say they fear they will not get jobs because of their appearance.

Their comments come in the wake of two incidents in Auckland in which bus drivers took exception to Saudi Arabian women wearing veils that covered their faces.

I think we need to be careful not to confuse two forms of hijab here. There is the hijab which leaves the face viewable and the hijab which does not.

I would hope few people would discriminate against someone because they wear a head scarf.

But it is quite a different issue with someone who insisted on wearing a hijab that covered the face. Yes you would have great difficulty gaining employment and fitting into a workplace, if you cover your face up.

The student, who did not want to be named because she did not want to harm her job prospects, said she could not imagine how she would be accepted into a corporate environment in her hijab.

“I know I’m going to have a hard time just being in my veil and applying to a corporate role … I can’t wait to work but sometimes I’m worried how I’m going to fit into a corporate environment where I’m not wearing a miniskirt.”

The mini-skirt rich corporate environment is more myth than substance in my experience (except PR firms). I think most workplaces are tolerant of cultural and religious diversity – within reason.

Mrs Adam, who is half Fijian-Indian and wears a hijab which exposes her face, said in 30 years she had only had two negative experiences in Wellington that she could remember.

Good. That is two too many, but once every 15 years is not too bad.

Other friends who wore the niqab, which covered the face aside from the eyes, reported they had been told to “go home” and sworn at.

This was uncommon, she said. “Wellingtonians are extremely friendly and tolerant.

“Wearing the niqab is a little more disconcerting for people and I do recognise that, you see someone’s face, that’s reassuring.”

It is up to each person what they wear in public. If they wish to wear a face covering niqab then that is up to them. But don’t expect to get a job easily if you won’t show your face for a job interview. Most people place considerable reliance on being able to see who we talk to and work with.

She rejected claims made online at dompost.co.nz yesterday that Muslims who came to New Zealand should abide by the culture.

The situation was not the same as Westerners dressing modestly when they visited Muslim countries, as “to be uncovered is not a religious tenet for the person, therefore it’s easier to not do it”.

She misses the point. Certain countries impose their religious viewpoints on people through the law. NZ generally does not. If you stand up for your right to dress according to your religious values in NZ, you should stand up for the rights for non Muslims in other countries to not comply with Islamic dress codes.

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The Top Gear burqa controversy

December 30th, 2010 at 10:50 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports:

The presenters of motoring show Top Gear have caused controversy after dressing in burqas while filming an episode in the Middle East.

Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond disguised themselves as women in a Christmas show filmed in Syria.

The Boxing Day episode, broadcast in Britain, featured the hosts driving across the Middle East to trace the path of the Three Wise Men.

However, Muslims in Britain said the show mocked their religion.

Islamic activist Anjem Choudary told the Daily Mail the burqa was a “symbol of our religion and people should not make jokes about it in any way”.

Bzzzt. Wrong answer. No religion should be so intolerent that its adherents demand no jokes be made about it.

Personally the show sounds hilarious, and it would have been equally funny if they had dressed up as Orthodox Jews and driven through Israel. Guess there would be less complaints.

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