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A London trainee GP has been beaten and withheld hostage by her family who are forcibly trying to marry her to a stranger in Bangladesh.
Dr Humayra Abedin, who has remained a prisoner since August by her parents, is believed to have been gagged, tied and violently struck to make her submit to her parents’ wishes.
The 33-year-old had trained as a doctor in Bangladesh and arrived in England to pursue her studies at Leeds University, reports the Independent.
Dr. Abedin, who had made East London her home while working in hospitals since 2002, is said to have developed a close bond with a Hindu Bangladeshi man – an act vehemently opposed by her Muslim family.
She had been baited to fly to Dhaka on the pretext of her mother’s illness where the family has ignored orders from the Bangladeshi high court to release their girl.
The daughter of a retired businessman and a housewife has been held captive since August 5 while being denied any contact with friends or attorneys though she managed to send an email to a close pal describing her plight.
Anne-Marie Hutchinson, the barrister from Renaissance Chambers acting for Dr Abedin, said: There are real concerns for the safety of this young woman. These proceedings will not end until she is produced.
If we are too late and she has been married, it [the Forced Marriage Act] will help us to bring nullity proceedings for her.
Europe’s anti-terror chief has launched a stinging attack on the political correctness that he says is hampering the campaign against militant Islam.
Gilles de Kerchove, the EU counter-terrorism co-ordinator, said last week that concern about stigmatising Muslim populations was hampering policy-making and thus prevention. ‘One of the problems … is that some member states are extremely reluctant to be explicit about the link with religion,’ said de Kerchove. ‘Religion has been hijacked and distorted for political ends.’
De Kerchove’s statement comes against a background of infighting within the EU over counter-terrorism policy. The European Commission has been working for several years on a paper analysing militancy in Europe and outlining policy to combat radicalisation. The Council of Ministers is still waiting for the now long-overdue paper, on which future policy will be based.
EU officials claimed last week the delay was because Jacques Barrot, the French Commissioner for justice, freedom and security, had grave reservations about the definition of terrorism in the commission’s policy paper and had delayed signing the policy document as it ‘went too far in blaming Muslim communities’.
A spokesman for Barrot refused to comment. ‘There is a paper that is being prepared. Our services are working on it and there is no fixed timeframe at the moment,’ he said.
De Kerchove praised the Home Office’s emphasis on countering the extremists’ message through the media. ‘We have to provide an alternative narrative,’ he said. ‘A lot of research is showing that young people being radicalised are looking for thrills as much as anything ideological. We need to show the violence for what it is, bloody and indiscriminate, and the people who do it for what they are, ugly criminals not heroes.’
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The United Nations’ Human Rights Council has launched a new session and will consider a controversial resolution to declare religious defamation illegal.
The resolution is really designed to permit countries with a dominant religion, such as Islam, to squelch any free-speech rights of religious minorities, according to Bill Saunders of the Family Research Council (FRC).
“So for instance, in some Muslim countries, it’s considered blasphemy to just say what a Christian believes — because that is inconsistent with what Islam teaches,” Saunders explains. “Or, to try to switch from Islam to Christianity, that’s considered apostasy, and in those situations you can be punished by death.”
It is debatable whether a voice for religious freedom will be heard. “Rightly so, the world objects to that kind of thing and says to these countries [that] we need to have religious freedom,” Saunders contends. “And religious freedom includes the right to have any religion that you choose and to follow it.”
The Human rights Council is dominated by Muslim countries. The resolution is also expected to be submitted to the United Nations General Assembly.
“The idea that free speech should be so restricted is a very dangerous one,” Saunders adds.
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Iran’s parliament has passed the death penalty for apostasy, which is viewed in that country as converting to any other faith than Islam.
Thousands of Iranians have been converting to Christianity, and the underground church is thriving, according to reports. But other Iranians are returning to Zoroastrianism, which was the dominant religion in Iran at one time. Jonathan Rocho, with International Christian Concern (ICC), explains.
“We, as a Christian organization, are very much concerned about this because this means many Christians who converted from Islam are going to face death, simply because of their decision to follow Jesus Christ,” Rocho laments.
He says Iranians are questioning the Muslim faith after living under the regime, which has been dominated by the religion since the revolution in the 1970s. “They have not seen any change in their lives,” Rocho adds. “There is even more repression, more problems going on in the country, so they are very much confused about the Islamic faith.”
Already, two Christian converts accused of apostasy have been given the death penalty. Since Iran does not easily succumb to international pressure, Rocho urges people to pray.
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18-year-old Hammaad Munshi has been sentenced to two years in a juvenile detention centre, making him the youngest person to be charged, tried and sentenced under Britain’s Terrorism Act.
Munshi was arrested after police found a guide to making napalm on his computer, and because he was associating with Aabid Khan, someone described as a “key player” in using the Internet to promote Islamic extremism.
The barrister representing Munshi said that the boy had been viewing the bomb- and napalm-making guides out of curiosity, a claim police have denied.
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