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This film looks back at the #MakingAStand campaign which we launched in 2014 to stop the damage caused by extremists poisoning young minds in our communities. We took the campaign around the country visiting; Birmingham, Luton, Cardiff, Leeds, Burnley, Bristol, West and East London in order to spread the word. As a result, women now feel empowered to stand up and say: “No more. Enough is enough.” To hear from some of the inspirational women we met on our journey please visit http://www.wewillinspire.com/making-a-stand/mas-wall/

 

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Inspire is pleased to learn today (25th November 2015) that the Law Society have withdrawn their practice note on sharia wills which was issued in March this year.

Inspire was deeply concerned by the practice note, which was duly promoted as ‘good practice’, and as a result instructed law firm Hogan Lovells to raise our concerns with the Law Society.

Sara Khan, co-director of Inspire said: “As a counter-extremism and Muslim women’s rights organisation, we were troubled about a number of issues the practice note raised.

Firstly, the Law Society was promoting one narrow interpretation of Sharia, despite the breadth of religious interpretations (including gender equality interpretations) and had chosen to promote a particular interpretation of Sharia law which endorsed the distribution of estates in a way that discriminates against women.”

There exist diverse religious readings of inheritance laws not only among the various schools of Islamic jurisprudence but also contemporary interpretations.  Morocco’s reform of its family law for example the Moudawana has taken on a holistic approach where the principles of the Islamic faith have been reconciled with international human rights law.

Sara Khan continued: “Secondly, we were concerned whether the Law Society had acted in accordance with its own Equality and Diversity Framework in issuing the Practice Note and with international law, in particular with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) as well as other human rights treaties.

Thirdly, the qualifications and views of those who were referred to in drawing up the practice note was of particular concern to us as outlined in section 5 of the practice note. We highlighted our reasons to the Law Society about this.”

Inspire is pleased however that its concerns were duly noted and accepted by the Law Society.

Sara Khan added: “We would like to thank the Law Society for writing to us yesterday in informing us that the practice note has now been withdrawn and will not be replaced.  We also accept their apology and welcome the opportunity to engage and work with the Law Society in offering our guidance and advice where we are able.

“We would also like to thank Hogan Lovells for taking this case on for us and for their outstanding professionalism.”

For all media enquiries please contact media@wewillinspire.com

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Sara Khan meets with a group of Muslim women in Wandsworth who have gathered to discuss how they can take the lead in their community #MakingAStand against extremism, and what challenges they have faced trying to do so.

Muslim women accross the UK are adding their voice to the #MakingAStand campaign. “Women are the heart of their own communities whether it’s in their household or their neighborhood…..If we don’t try and make a stand for something better, than who else is going to?” Hodan Hussein, the Elays Network.

Add your voice by tweeting the hashtag #MakingAStand.

In the latest issue of CHARTIST, Tehmina Kazi writes on the complications found in efforts to unite Muslims

During September 2014, the #notinmyname hashtag went viral. Young British Muslims at the East London-based Active Change Foundation created a video condemning ISIS, with a tagline at the end: “ISIS do not represent British Muslims.” This was a great show of initiative by young men and women from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds. It complemented the July 2014 letter, signed by over 100 Sunni and Shia imams and religious leaders, which urged young British Muslims not to join ISIS or fall prey to sectarian divisions.

Further, in September 2014, Inspire launched a women-led initiative against ISIS at the Royal United Services Institute. Home Secretary Theresa May was the keynote speaker, and their #makingastand hashtag has also been shared widely. I was fortunate enough to have attended the launch; it was heartwarming to see a Muslim women’s initiative receive enthusiastic backing from people of all backgrounds, professing a wide variety of beliefs. This is the spirit in which we must go forward to tackle all kinds of extremism and sectarianism, no matter where they emanate from.

Initiatives like #makingastand provide a refreshing change from those that have dominated the British political scene for years. Too many political alliances are fickle, opportunistic, drawn along sectarian lines, and are conceived in opposition to ‘the West’ as opposed to standing for anything positive. These kinds of efforts – which often attract otherwise well-meaning individuals – actually take us backwards and propagate the cycle of hate.

Further afield, efforts to unite different groups of Muslims – including Sunnis and Shias – have spanned the gamut from the King of Jordan’s well-received ‘Amman message’ to the recent US-Islam World Forum convened by the Brookings Institute and the Government of Qatar, designed to bring together leaders in the realms of politics, business, media, academia and civil society. The Salafi governor of Medina also had a noteworthy meeting with the Shia community in which he said “It is an honour to visit this tribe.”

It was heartwarming to see a Muslim women’s initiative receive enthusiastic backing from people of all backgrounds, professing a wide variety of beliefs. This is the spirit in which we must go forward to tackle all kinds of extremism and sectarianism

There are also grassroots efforts in Iraq itself, such as the Organisation of Women’s Freedom, which runs a safe house for women fleeing ISIS persecution, and publicly denounces their genocidal campaign against minorities. These grassroots groups are contending with a seemingly never-ending cycle of brutalism, which was cruelly stoked with the 2003 US invasion. According to a Pew research survey in 2011, the majority of Iraqis are Shia (51%, compared with 42% saying they were Sunni). However, Saddam Hussein’s regime was, of course, Sunni-dominated. After the 2003 invasion, the Shias came to power, and sectarian violence continued until 2008, on both sides. Much of this was exploited by Al-Qaeda terrorists, who killed scores of Shias in bomb attacks.

In March 2010, parliamentary elections took place, and Nouri Al-Maliki’s Shia State of Law Coalition went up against the mainly Sunni Iraqiya Coalition, led by Ayad Allawi. The latter won 91 seats, compared to the State of Law Coalition’s 89. The initial jubilation of most Iraqi voters was not to last: the new Parliament only opened after three months of negotiations, allegations of electoral fraud, and a recount. To top it all off, Maliki remained the Prime Minister of Iraq. After a brief ceasefire, the violence increased again, partly due to Sunnis feeling disenfranchised and under-represented in Government (several were arbitrarily detained by police after protests about this in 2013), and partly after witnessing the actions of militants in the Syrian civil war. All of this has boosted the following of ISIS.

Today, Yazidis, Kurds and Christians have been killed en masse in their own ancestral villages. Shia shrines have been threatened. The border between Iraq and Syria has been decimated. Over 650,000 Iraqis have been internally displaced and are living in transit camps. Sexual violence is endemic, and at the same time, ISIS are enforcing strict female dress codes. Child soldiers have been recruited. Who could stand idly by in this situation? On 27th September 2014, British MPs voted overwhelmingly to support US air strikes over Iraq, albeit cautiously, only offering the use of six Tornados, and refusing to intervene in Syria. Various staunch opponents of the original Iraq war – of which I was one – have noted that the situation is very different this time round.

As Sadiq Khan MP (who voted for intervention) wrote on his blog: “On this occasion, ultimately, a sovereign state has asked for our help, and we had a responsibility to answer that call.” Even Caroline Lucas MP, who voted against intervention, stated on her website: I don’t think this is like the last Iraq war. I don’t think that the Prime Minister is manipulating intelligence or lying to the House.” Further, just because British MPs voted for military action, it doesn’t mean that political and diplomatic solutions are redundant – quite the opposite.

To start with, Iraq’s politicians need to persuade Sunnis that they can participate as equal citizens in an Iraqi state. Secondly, Jordan’s announcement of a draft UN resolution – calling for a new international offence on crimes against humanity that target specific communities – is a welcome one. Thirdly, it is rare to see instances of Sunni-Shia co-operation when it comes to fighting IS in Iraq, but these are rising steadily. When IS fighters tried to storm the Tigris River town of Dhuluiya north of Baghdad in early October, they were stopped by a group of Sunni tribal fighters inside the town and Shias in its sister city Balad, on the opposite bank. Then there was another powerful Sunni tribe who fought alongside Kurdish forces to drive IS fighters from Rabia.

Further, the international community should give greater financial backing to secular groups who fight both extremism and fundamentalism. Professor Karima Bennoune, law professor at University of California Davis and author of Your Fatwa Does not Apply Here notes: ‘While Qatari coffers have nourished jihadists across the region, secular groups who fight Islamists scrounge for funds.’ This brings us nicely to the last recommendation: the UK must establish a clear and consistent foreign policy that is based on respect for international law and human rights norms. This does not mean selling arms to regimes like Saudi Arabia; the British Government approved £1.6bn worth of exports to the Kingdom in 2013 alone. A Human Rights Watch report from 21st August 2014 revealed that 19 people had been executed in the twelve days prior to that. No matter where we live or which belief system we profess to follow, we cannot allow tribalism and allegiance to one’s own particular group to trump universal standards of justice and human rights. That is one of the lessons to be learned from the horrific situation that Iraq – and other countries in the Middle East – now find themselves in.

Tehmina Kazi was writing in the latest issue of CHARTIST, which can also be found by clicking here.

Tehmina Kazi

Tehmina Kazi took up the position of director of British Muslims for Secular Democracy in May 2009. On top of this, she was a freelance consultant for English PEN’s “Faith and Free Speech in Schools” project, is a trustee of anti-fascist organisation Hope Not Hate, an advisory board member of the Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks project, a committee member of the newly-formed Inclusive Mosque Initiative, and a judge of the Accord Coalition’s Inclusive Schools Award 2014. She is a co-Executive Producer of the “Hidden Heart” documentary on Muslim women who marry non-Muslim men. 

Tehmina was shortlisted for Cosmopolitan Magazine’s “Ultimate Women of the Year Awards 2011” in the “Campaigner” category for her work. She also won an “Outstanding Achievement” Award at the Syeda Fatima Interfaith Conference at the House of Lords in June 2012, and was named as one of the BBC’s 100 Women in October 2013 and October 2014.

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Noor Inayat Khan, a proud Muslim woman whose faith guided her in her journey, is the type of role model that young women across the world, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, have long sought out. A woman whose heroism was not defined by any other person but herself. Noor displayed courage and loyalty throughout her life and in death.

Noor, a decendant of Indian princes, became a British secret agent during World War II. She led an extraordinary life until she was betrayed to the Nazis, suffered torture and interrogation, and was killed on 13th September 1944. At this time, she was only 30 years old.

Today at Inspire, we will be remembering the heroic contribution of so many like her, who have given their lives for their country.

Read her story here.

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Inspire’s co-director Sara Khan has commented on reports that further women have been abducted by Boko Haram in the north-eastern Adamawa state of Nigeria:

“Following reports of a truce and the proposed release of the schoolgirls it is unbelievable that these criminals have still not handed over these young women but the fact that they have reportedly abducted even more women and girls is truly shocking. The majority of them have been missing from their families for over six months and must be facing the most terrifying of situations. It just reaffirms the disgusting, twisted ideologies and barbaric behaviour that Boko Haram are capable of, echoed in the treatment of women by other groups like ISIS. These girls are being robbed of their innocence not to mention their dignity and respect. We urge all women in the UK to join us in showing their condemnation for groups like these by using the hashtag #makingastand and to actively challenge extremists who are a direct threat to women and their rights.”

Watch the film here:

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Six months have gone by since Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls from their villages in northern Nigeria, six long months of waiting for a sign of life and hoping for their release. Yet, just last week, the terrifying news reached us of a renewed kidnapping of dozens of girls by the militant terror organisation.

Amidst the horror; three brave girls, taken from their beds by militants at night, courageously escaped Boko Haram’s brutal clutches and reunited with their families. The BBC is now retelling their incredible story as a cartoon, dedicating a short animation to them as part of their 100 Women series.

Since 2009, Boko Haram has kidnapped more than 500 girls and women in Nigeria, a horrifying toll. Human Rights Watch published a new report this week, detailing the mental and physical violence endured by the abducted.  Read more here.

We urge all women to join us in #MakingAStand and condemning this barbarism which treats women as spoils of war to be traded.

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British Muslims are coming together to say that the so-called Islamic state has nothing to do with our faith. It’s a twisted version of Islam that we condemn utterly. We won’t tolerate Great Britain being poisoned by extremist propaganda.

Inspire launched “Making A Stand” because British Muslim women are incredibly angry and frustrated about their faith being hijacked and want to make a stand against terrorism. We oppose IS and extremism. We see how young people are being radicalised and fear that our children will be next.

When we hear about teenage boys and girls going out to Syria and Iraq to join IS we feel outrage and horror. These young people are being brainwashed and as women we want to do something about it.

But our message can go further. The Sun is today asking Britain to unite as a whole and make a stand against extremism. Terrorists are committing acts of brutality and we have to say we are not taking it anymore.

As a nation we stand for tolerance, respect, equality and human rights. That is what makes Britain great. We’re making a stand against any intolerance and hatred and everyone has a role to play.

Imams in our mosques need to continue to reach out to young people and to openly reject what IS is doing. They need to reach out to young Muslim girls in particular. At times, these girls find that they are not welcomed in the mosque and they are not having their voices heard. So they turn to the internet for religious guidance and find extremist views.

Imams also need to continue to open up their doors to the wider community and promote tolerance. That good work has got to be amplified at the moment because it is so desperately needed.

Young Muslims have a vital role to play in the fight against extremism. They need to stand up and say that IS is simply not cool and spread that message to their peers.

IS likes to promote the idea that their fighters are ‘real men’ but there’s nothing masculine about blowing people up. A man is somebody that respects life and humanity and builds bridges within the community.

IS also like to say that the young women travelling over to be jihadi brides will be treated as equals. But the reality is so much different. They are treated as second class citizens and their role is within the home. They’ve bought into a pack of lies and they’ve given up the freedoms and women’s rights that Britain offers.

People of a non-Muslim faith can help in this fight against IS by stamping out hate as a whole. IS plays into the fears that some people have about the Muslim faith and burn the bridges within our society.

If we respond by promoting hate to each other we are letting them win. They want Muslims to feel marginalised so they will want to join their twisted cause.

We need to say we’re not going to allow you to destroy us and we say that by not tolerating hatred or violence to anyone.

The common theme here is to make a stand against any hatred or extremism. It’s not what it means to be British.

IS is touching every part of British society. In the last week we had a 15-year-old British girl travelling to Syria to join the cause and we had the barbaric murder of Alan Henning.

But that should make us stronger. In these times of crisis we need to stand up even more united and stand up stronger. We’re not going to allow them to divide our nation.

We are British. We need to take to social media and go into our communities to spread the message and show that we are all making a stand.

Sara’s words can be read as part of Wednesday October 8’s seven-page spread in The Sun Newspaper:

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/5979045/United-Against-IS-Young-Brits-denounce-jihad-savages-of-Islamic-State.html (£)

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/sun_says/5978998/The-Sun-Says-Together-we-can-defeat-Islamic-State.html (£)

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/5978853/The-Sun-urges-ALL-Brits-to-unite-against-Islamic-State-extremists.html (£)

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Yusra Hussien is the latest of up to sixty young Muslim girls who may have been radicalised here in the UK and then travelled  abroad perhaps to join the so-called Islamic State. We have utmost sympathy for Safiya Hussien, the mother of Yusra, who has appealed for her to return home.There are now a growing number of bewildered parents across the country facing the same anguish. Victims of terrorists and extremists peddling a distorted version of our faith. We are sadly aware of the devious ways in which these radicalisers operate trying to give young women a sense of purpose. But these are falsehoods that end in a nightmare.This is why we have launched #makingastand – to make our communities more resilient to terrorists, to give mothers the confidence to oppose their arguments and to stop young girls like Yusra even considering joining the barbaric IS.There is now a real urgency to our campaign. To avoid more families being affected by this heartbreaking situation. Women understand that only by actively countering extremism can we protect, support and divert vulnerable teenagers from those who would destroy their future.Radicalisation and recruitment comes from many sources and individuals. We must be vigilant in challenging the ideology of violence and rhetoric of extremism that our children are exposed to. In this way, we will push back against the supporters of the so-called Islamic State.

I urge all women to join us in declaring our abhorrence of the message peddled by these preachers of hate who are destroying our communities, and are now preying on our daughters as well as our sons. Show your support by tweeting using the #MakingAStand hashtag.

KALSOOM BASHIR
CO-DIRECTOR, INSPIRE

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Khadijah Kamara’s pain was visible to see.  She had lost her son in Syria. The young man from Brighton had been brainwashed by radicalisers, ending up in the line of fire with Jabhat al-Nusra, an affiliate of Al Qaeda.

Ibrahim Kamara was just 19 years old.

As with other grieving mothers, Khadijah found out about the death of her son through social media. The Facebook update included a picture of his face in an unzipped body bag lying in the desert. That was the grim fate of a teenager who, as his mother put it, had fallen in with the “wrong people”.

Khadijah Kamara said last week: “I didn’t know how to deal with it. I couldn’t imagine a member of my family could even think about this kind of thing.”

I’ve talked to other mothers of sons who have been radicalised by extremists. Often troubled youngsters looking for an identity, a purpose in life. They’re preyed on by extremists who give them easy solutions and a path to false glory. In the case of Ibrahim Kamara and others his age, the path has led instead to a short life and the broken hearts of those families members left behind. Many who, even years after the loss of their child, are still searching for answers to their hundreds of questions.

Our campaign #MakingAStand launched last week and aims to drive a wedge between the radicalisers and their targets. We’re going to bring communities closer together to stop more deaths like that of Ibrahim Kamara.  Our children and brothers and sisters are not battle fodder for Al Qaeda or the Islamic State. They have productive and fruitful lives ahead of them.

Unfortunately, we’ll hear of more young British lives being lost in Syria and Iraq. Ibrahim Kamara was not the first and he certainly won’t be the last. We must stem the flow of recruits to the killing grounds of Syria and Iraq because these young people could have had a completely different life.

That’s why it is imperative that as Muslim women we must make a stand and take the lead in challenging extremism. Join us and show your support by tweeting using the #MakingAStand hashtag and find out more on the website. Together, we can make a difference for our children, our families and ultimately, our communities.

SOCIAL MEDIA