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Majority of Iranians want secular government, leaked study shows

A study conducted by the Iranian Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry that was leaked to Persian press abroad revealed that the majority of Iranians wish for a secular government, Iran international reported last week. The survey asked some 15,800 Iranians aged 18 and up. This study is the most recent in a series of four, with the previous one being conducted in 2015. According to Iran International, the vast changes reflected in the study are due to the 2022 demonstrations which swept Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini, who died in custody of the "morality police." She was arrested for allegedly not complying with the hijab law.  The protest, termed “Woman, Life, Liberty,” was qualified by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) chief as “the strongest, most dangerous, and most serious” in the history of the Islamic Republic.  A newspaper with a cover picture of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's ''morality police'' is seen in Tehran, Iran September 18, 2022 (credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/REUTERS)Figures show a change in society Numbers show that 73% of Iranians want a separation between state and religion. With regard to religion, 85% of participants said they have grown less religious in comparison with five years ago while a minority of 7% claimed the opposite. An additional 8% claimed they had not changed. In addition, the figures show extreme skepticism regarding future religious observances in Iran. A vast majority, 81% of participants, foresaw a decrease in religious observance in the next five years. Some 9% answered they believed they would be more religious in years to come while 10% stated there would be no change. Participants also shed light on the changing attitudes towards the compulsory wearing of the hijab. In the recent survey, more tolerance is expressed toward women who choose to disobey the rule. Some 38% said they are impartial to women opposing the mandatory veiling, in comparison with a scant 10.6 in 2015. While in 2015, only 15.7% voiced their opposition to the mandatory hijab law, in the recent survey, some 34.4 said the same. Conversely, only 7.9% of participants stated they were in favor of the mandatory hijab law, in comparison to 18.6% in 2015.  The survey comes amid the regime's continued efforts to curtail religious freedoms with the morality police patrolling streets and security cameras identifying those who do not abide by the imposed dress code.  Tzvi Joffre and Reuters contributed to this article. 

Baroness Warsi calls on Rishi Sunak to break silence on Islamophobia row

Sign up for the View from Westminster email for expert analysis straight to your inboxGet our free View from Westminster emailTory peer Baroness Warsi is calling on Rishi Sunak to break his silence over an escalating Islamophobia row and to explicitly condemn anti-Muslim rhetoric within the party.In comments described as “dangerous” by senior Tories, the party’s former deputy chair Lee Anderson claimed on Friday that “Islamists” have “got control” of London Mayor Sadiq Khan. He had the whip suspended the following day after he refused to apologise.Baroness Warsi, who was a cabinet minister in David Cameron’s government, urged the prime minister to “find the language” to “call Islamophobia Islamophobia”.Senior Conservatives are calling on Rishi Sunak to break his silence over an escalating Islamophobia row and to explicitly condemn anti-Muslim rhetoricShe told the Guardian: “What is it about the prime minister that he can’t even call out anti-Muslim racism and anti-Muslim bigotry? Why can’t he just use those words?”Asked if Mr Sunak should make a point of denouncing Mr Anderson’s comments as Islamophobia, Baroness Warsi said: “Of course he should. If you can’t call racism racism, if you can’t call antisemitism antisemitism, and if you can’t call Islamophobia Islamophobia, then how are we going to fix it?”The prime minister has so far failed to address Mr Anderson’s comments or surging Islamophobia across Britain, despite speaking publicly about a rise in “prejudice and antisemitism”. In a statement issued following Mr Anderson’s suspension, Mr Sunak highlighted events of recent weeks that “should not be tolerated”, including pro-Palestinian protests held across the country since the 7 October attacks, which have been “hijacked by extremists”.Tory peer Sayeeda Warsi, who was a cabinet minister in David Cameron’s government, urged the prime minister to ‘find the language’ to ‘call Islamophobia Islamophobia’ (PA Archive)Mr Khan described Mr Anderson’s anti-Muslim rant on GB News as “Islamophobic, racist” and pouring “fuel on the fire of anti-Muslim hatred”.Mr Anderson, who was deputy Tory chairman until last month, said on Saturday: “Following a call with the Chief Whip, I understand the difficult position that I have put both he and the Prime Minister in with regard to my comments. I fully accept that they had no option but to suspend the whip in these circumstances.”However, speaking to the BBC on Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden refused to rule out the possibility of Mr Anderson returning from his suspension.Conservative former deputy chair Lee Anderson claimed on Friday that ‘Islamists’ have ‘got control’ of London Mayor Sadiq KhanRemarks made by the former home secretary Suella Braverman as well as the former prime minister Liz Truss also drew criticism this week. Ms Braverman asserted that “Islamists are in charge” of Britain in a Daily Telegraph article on Thursday, while Ms Truss remained silent in an interview as Steve Bannon described the far-right’s Tommy Robinson as a “hero”.Baroness Warsi said: “There will always be people who hide behind the word Zionist, people with a long history of antisemitism who use the term Zionist when they actually mean Jews. It’s a very disingenuous form of antisemitism. And there are always people with a long history of anti-Muslim racism who will hide behind the word Islamist when they actually mean Muslims.”After what it called “a week of inflammatory statements and Islamophobia from senior figures in the party”, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) wrote to the Conservative Party on Sunday demanding an investigation into claims of “structural Islamophobia” within its ranks.Sir Keir Starmer said it was right that Mr Anderson was suspended from the party over the ‘appalling racist and Islamophobic outburst’ It comes as new figures show the number of Islamophobic incidents has skyrocketed since the 7 October attack on Israel by Hamas and the retaliatory Israeli bombardment of Palestine. London charity Islamophobia Response Unit (IRU) said there was a 365 per cent increase in reports of Islamophobia in October.A report earlier this week from Tell Mama – another body that records anti-Muslim hate incidents – found there were 2,010 incidents between 7 October and 7 February, more than triple the 600 reported during the same period the year before.Sir Keir Starmer said it was right that Mr Anderson was suspended from the party over the “appalling racist and Islamophobic outburst”. The Labour leader also challenged Mr Sunak over wider Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.“What does it say about the prime minister’s judgment that he made Lee Anderson deputy chairman of his party?” Sir Keir said.He added: “Whether it is Liz Truss staying silent on Tommy Robinson or Suella Braverman’s extreme rhetoric, Rishi Sunak’s weakness means Tory MPs can act with impunity.”

Muslim group demands Tories investigate ‘structural Islamophobia’

Sign up for the View from Westminster email for expert analysis straight to your inboxGet our free View from Westminster emailThe UK’s largest Muslim group has written to the Conservative Party demanding an investigation into claims of “structural Islamophobia” within its ranks.The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said it addressed a letter to Conservative chair, Richard Holden, on Sunday after what it alleged was “a week of inflammatory statements and Islamophobia from senior figures in the party”.The body pointed to comments made by the former Tory party deputy chair Lee Anderson, who had the whip suspended after drawing widespread criticism for claiming on Friday that “Islamists” have “got control” of London Mayor Sadiq Khan. It also highlighted remarks made this week by the former home secretary Suella Braverman as well as the former prime minister Liz Truss.The body pointed to comments made by the former Tory party deputy chair Lee AndersonWriting to Mr Holden, Zara Mohammed, secretary general of the MCB, said: “Our view is that the Islamophobia in the party is institutional, tolerated by the leadership and seen as acceptable by great swathes of the party membership.”The letter criticised the Tories for removing the whip from Mr Anderson only after he refused to apologise for the anti-Muslim rant on GB News, which Mr Khan said was “Islamophobic, racist” and poured “fuel on the fire of anti-Muslim hatred”.Mr Anderson, who was deputy Tory chairman until last month, said on Saturday: “Following a call with the Chief Whip, I understand the difficult position that I have put both he and the Prime Minister in with regard to my comments. I fully accept that they had no option but to suspend the whip in these circumstances.”The MCB condemned Liz Truss for remaining silent as Steve Bannon described the far-right’s Tommy Robinson as a ‘hero’ However, speaking to the BBC earlier on Sunday, deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden refused to rule out the possibility of Mr Anderson returning from his suspension.The MCB also accused Ms Braverman of falling into a “well-trodden Islamophobic path” in her assertion that “Islamists are in charge” of Britain in a Daily Telegraph article on Thursday.Meanwhile, the MCB condemned Ms Truss for remaining silent as Steve Bannon described the far-right’s Tommy Robinson as a “hero”.It comes as new figures show the number of Islamophobic incidents has skyrocketed since the 7 October attack on Israel by Hamas and the retaliatory Israeli bombardment of Palestine. London charity Islamophobia Response Unit (IRU) said there was a 365 per cent increase in reports of Islamophobia in October.People inspect the damage to their homes following Israeli air strikes on Tuesday in Rafah, Gaza (Getty Images)A report earlier this week from Tell Mama – another body that records anti-Muslim hate incidents – found there were 2,010 incidents between 7 October and 7 February, more than triple the 600 reported during the same period the year before.Rishi Sunak has so far failed to address Mr Anderson’s comments or surging Islamophobia across Britain, despite speaking publicly about a rise in “prejudice and antisemitism”.In a statement on Saturday night, the prime minister highlighted events “of recent weeks”, including pro-Palestinian protests across the country since the 7 October attacks. “The events of recent weeks are but the latest in an emerging pattern which should not be tolerated,” Mr Sunak said.Rishi Sunak has so far failed to address Mr Anderson’s comments or surging Islamophobia across BritainIn a statement after Mr Anderson’s suspension, the prime minister said legitimate protests have been “hijacked by extremists” and politicians have been “verbally threatened and physically, violently targeted”.Sir Keir Starmer said it was right that Mr Anderson was suspended from the party over the “appalling racist and Islamophobic outburst”. The Labour leader also challenged Mr Sunak over wider Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.“What does it say about the prime minister's judgment that he made Lee Anderson deputy chairman of his party?” Sir Keir said.He added: “Whether it is Liz Truss staying silent on Tommy Robinson or Suella Braverman's extreme rhetoric, Rishi Sunak's weakness means Tory MPs can act with impunity.”

Palestinian prisoner writes book in Israeli prison, nominated for award

While in prison, Palestinian author Basim Khandaqji's book, "A Mask, the Colour of the Sky," written during the author's ongoing Israeli prison sentence, was nominated for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) last month.Khandaqji, born in Nablus, was arrested in 2004 on charges of terrorist activity at the age of 21. He was convicted with three cumulative life sentences for planning and participating in a suicide bombing at Carmel Market, Tel Aviv.While in prison, Khandaqji completed his education, studying political science at Al-Quds University. What is A Mask, the Colour of the Sky about?Khandaqji's book describes the story of a young archeologist named Nur from the Ramallah refugee camp who adopts an Israeli identification card to join an archeology expedition in the West Bank.The protagonist assumes the guise of a Jew to try and understand the Zionist mentality.  The book depicts the struggle Nur goes through in his attempt to navigate between the two parts of his life. View of a drill for prison guards at the Israeli Prison Authorities, Gilboa Prison, near Israel Valley. December 5, 2022. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)What is the International Prize for Arabic FictionThe IPAF began in 2007, is funded by Abu Dhabi's Culture and Tourism Ministry, and is mentored by the Booker Prize Foundation in London.The IPAF, also known as "the Arabic Booker," is the most prestigious prize in literature in the Arab world. The prize recognizes excellence in Arabic writing and encourages higher-quality literature, as mentioned on the prize's website. It also works on an international level through the translation and publication of winning and shortlisted novels in other major languages.In 2020, a group of Arab authors called for the boycott of the IPAF due to it being funded by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in protest of Abu Dhabi's warming relationship with Israel.However, despite the protests, the UAE decided to continue creating cultural ties with Israel and signed a cooperation agreement with the Israel Film Fund, as well as the removal of a visa requirement when traveling between Israel and Abu Dhabi.Implications of the nominationThis nomination is unique since one of the nominees is being held "behind the walls of an Israeli jail," according to Yasir Suleiman, chair of the event's board.Yasir adds that "the shortlisted works dig deep into the past to excavate the present."In an interview, the author's brother, Youssef Khandaqji, said that "[Basim] based his (shortlisted) novel on his reading of research and studies about Palestinian history, including eyewitness accounts of some of the prisoners inside and outside prisons, especially the Palestinians living inside Israel.""The narratives [...] are characterized by in-depth fictional digging in history, in such a way that the recent and distant past intertwine with the present and the future," says Nabil Suleiman, chairperson of the 2024 judging panelMr. Khandaqji's nomination for the IPAF already grants him a prize of $10,000, and if he wins, he can win a prize of $50,000.As was previously reported by The Jerusalem Post, the distribution of writings from inside prison walls is considered an independent crime. In response to Khandaqji's book nomination, the Israel Prison Service stated that "we do not recognize the book or the identity of its author. If it decided that a terrorist should be rewarded with a prize, it would be impossible to receive it," according to a KAN News reporter.Hannah Brown contributed to this report.

Re: Negotiations between Hamas, Israel resume: Egyptian media

Egyptian media reported S...

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