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We will also post relevant news worthy items and information on Human rights issues, racism, extremist individuals and groups and far right political parties from around the world although predominantly Britain.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

US Muslims Invite Dialogue to Counter Anti-Islamic Tensions (USA)

Muslim leaders in the United States are inviting the American public to their mosques to encourage a dialogue with other religions and to counter anti-Islamic tensions.

According to American Muslim leaders, hundreds of mosques across the United States are opening their doors this week to people of all religions to encourage interfaith understanding.

Zaheer Uddin, executive director of the Islamic Leadership Council of New York, says some 20 mosques in the city are holding an "open house"  as part of a week of dialogue to counter what he calls "Islamaphobia" that has grown during the past six months.

Imam Al-Amin Abdul Latif, president of the Leadership Council, told reporters that the dialogue is intended to educate the public about Islam.

"We feel very strongly that this will help thwart and stymie the hatred against Islam and Muslims being spread by anti-Islamic extremists and bigots," said Imam Latif.

Muslim leaders discussing the weeklong program say there are many misconceptions about Islam, including the belief that it encourages bigotry and that it is a religion of terrorism.

According to the Leadership Council's Al-Amin Abdul Latif, the nationwide, coordinated effort to combat those stereotypes is an expansion of previous Muslim efforts in the United States to meet with the general public.

"How successful we will be, again, we've always had great success in doing this," he said. "And hopefully, this week by extending it more and trying to be a little more aggressive just to get Muslims to do it more - that's what the problem is; we're not doing enough.  So if enough of us begin to do it more, it will go a long way in terms of educating the public and allaying their fears of Muslims in the mosque, what goes on in the mosque."

One Muslim leader says the success of the first three New York events over the weekend - at the Islamic Cultural Center, at a Brooklyn mosque and at a Protestant church - indicate that the program is off to a good start. 

VOA News

Carlisle supermarket worker shouted racist abuse from car (UK)

A teenage supermarket worker who shouted racist insults at a black man in Carlisle has been given a suspended prison sentence. 

The city’s crown court heard that Michael Hutchinson, 19, was among a group of young men who deliberately targeted Richard Feanychukwu Onuoha for abuse because they knew he would react.

The court heard that Hutchinson, of Nelson Street, Denton Holme, was on his way to visit his grandmother in the Morton area of the city in May when he saw a group of younger men shouting at Mr Feanychukwu Onuoha outside the Co-op in Stonegarth.

Later, while cruising around in his car, he saw the same group, still shouting abuse at both Mr Feanychukwu Onuoha and his white girlfriend.

“For some reason he decided to join in – in the excitement of the moment, probably – and shouted abuse out of the car window,” defence advocate William Mark-Bell said.

Hutchinson was traced because Mr Feanychukwu Onuoha took a note of his car registration number and gave it to the police.
Mr Mark-Bell said the incident was “totally uncharacteristic” of Hutchinson, who was known as a quiet man.
“He was going through a bit of a bad patch,” he said.

“He seems to have got himself sorted out now, but at the time he had got in with the wrong sort and was trying to impress them.”

Mr Mark-Bell said Hutchinson had since written “a very appropriate” letter of apology to Mr Feanychukwu Onuoha, saying he was thoroughly ashamed of what he had done and that he realised he had caused distress to his family.

Hutchinson pleaded guilty to a charge of racially aggravated intentional harassment, causing alarm or distress.
He was sentenced to a six-month term in a young offenders’ institution, suspended for a year, and ordered to do 60 hours unpaid community work.

He was also told to pay £800 court costs.

The judge, Recorder Andrew McLaughlin told him: “Not only was it reprehensible, it was also criminal. “The fact that you knew Mr Feanychukwu Onuoha was someone prone to react makes it more serious. The words you used were utterly deplorable.”

News and Star

Northern Ireland’s first detention centre given the green light (BNP, UK)

Yesterday a meeting was held between the UK Border Agency, the Planning Service and Larne Borough Council to discuss the matter after concerns were raised over the impact the facility could have on Larne.

Immigration officials want to convert Hope Street police station into a short-term holding centre capable of housing up to 22 detainees.

Under the initial plans the existing custody suites would be used to hold adults and an extension would be built at the back of the site for showering, catering and exercise facilities.

But the proposals — which have already been approved by the Planning Service — have angered some residents as well as human rights activists.

The plans have also raised opposition from the far-right British National Party (BNP) which printed leaflets claiming Larne had been “earmarked as a dumping ground for illegal immigrants and bogus asylum seekers”.

Currently, any person who is detained under immigration powers can be held for a maximum of seven days, however there are no facilities to hold suspected illegal immigrants in Northern Ireland.

Instead they are arrested then held in police cells before being transferred to official detention centres in Scotland and England.

That practice was heavily criticised in a Criminal Justice Inspectorate report last year which found that some failed asylum seekers had been held in police cells for up to five days.

The UK Border Agency was given until September to find alternative arrangements.

The Hope Street police station was identified as the preferred site.

Larne mayor Andrew Wilson explained the plans were presented to council last month but were deferred to allow for yesterday’s meeting.

He said those matters have now been addressed.

“A number of concerns had been raised regarding the height of the fencing, the use of razor wire and the extra lighting. Those issues are now being addressed,” he said.

It is understood the height of the fencing will be reduced from 5.1m to 4.2m and light pollution will be reduced. The Refugee Action Group is unhappy with the plans. The coalition of non-governmental organisations and refugees fear individuals could be detained at the centre for weeks.

Authorities can only hold a person detained under immigration powers for a week, but if they are arrested on criminal matters such as an immigration offence they could be held indefinitely.

A spokeswoman from the group said: “The Refugee Action Group feels very strongly that there is no need to detain any individual in Northern Ireland in connection with their immigration status.

“We oppose the criminalisation of asylum seekers and don’t think they should be segregated from the rest of society.”

The Belfast Telegraph contacted the UK Border Agency to clarify the plans but it did not provide a response.

It is understood the amended plans will be presented to Larne Borough Council in December.

Belfast Telegraph

BNP loses another councillor (UK)

The British National Party has lost another councillor, the fourth this month. Alex Copland, who was elected to Loughton Town Council in May 2008, has left the party according to Eddy Butler, the failed BNP leadership challenger.

Copland was one of five BNP members elected to the town council. Only three remain. Last year Garry Martin resigned his seat and the BNP lost the by-election in December 2009 after a strong local campaign run by Redbridge and Epping Forest Together.

Epping Forest District Council, which covers Loughton, once had six BNP councillors, but the party is now down to one after losing seats in the 2008 and 2010 elections.

Earlier this month it was reported that Meirion Bowen, a community councillor in Llandybie, Wales, had left the party in the interests of his family, employment and personal safety. Then Paul Golding, a district councillor in Sevenoaks and the party’s communications officer, quit after a fallout with other senior party staff. He was swiftly followed by Michael Simpkins, who has sat on Corsham Town Council since 2007, who left over the BNP’s failure to pay its creditors, who include printers who risked opprobrium to print the racist party’s election material.

Hope Not Hate

Britons held at Amsterdam EDL demo

Five Britons were among several dozen people arrested during a demonstration by the right-wing English Defence League in Amsterdam.

Around 60 EDL activists turned up in the Dutch city on Saturday to support Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders.

The Britons were among 34 people arrested during the day, Amsterdam Police spokesman Rob van der Veen said. It is understood the five were held for not producing identification while on their way to the demonstration.

Officers equipped with horses and dogs were among those out in force as the protesters gathered in a specially designated area between the city centre and port.

Dutch authorities attempted to isolate the protest from anti-fascist groups and supporters of football team Ajax, both of whom urged their members to disrupt the afternoon demonstration.

Mr Wilders - who was barred from visiting Britain before being allowed to enter last year - has reportedly said he has no ties to the EDL and did not support the demonstration.

Writing in The Times last week, Jon Cruddas, Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham, called on political parties to "choke off" what the EDL taps into.

He said the organisation was a small, violent street militia "but it speaks the language of a much larger, disenfranchised class".

Belfast Telegraph