April 1. National Union of Teachers (NUT) delegates condemned efforts by Ofsted, the chief regulator of British schools, to ban the hijab, a Muslim head covering, in primary schools. Ofsted said the measure was aimed at promoting the integration of Muslim pupils. Teachers blasted the policy, announced by Ofsted director Amanda Spielman, as "racism dressed up as liberalism."
Kauser Jan, a Muslim activist and teacher in Leeds, described the hijab policy as "Islamophobic" and said she would not comply:
"We have taken regressive steps where our children are now being made to feel that must leave their cultural and linguistic and religious identity at the door. I know Muslim girls and men that have shaved off beards, taken off their hijabs so they can anglicize themselves, so they can fit in and not feel they are part of the problem."
Mehreen Begg, a British Muslim from Croydon, described Ofsted's stance on the wearing of hijabs in primary schools as "unwarranted" and "draconian." She added:
"It is wholly inappropriate for Ofsted inspectors to question primary-age Muslim girls on their choice of dress. This is an act of intimidation by a powerful adult on a young child and has no place in our education inspection system. Whilst wearing a hijab may not always be a choice, both here and internationally, it is not for Ofsted to intervene in this debate, which is a debate within the Islamic community."
A spokesperson for Ofsted responded:
"There is nothing political about ensuring that schools and parents aren't being subject to undue pressure by national or community campaign groups. Head teachers need to be able to take uniform decisions on the basis of safeguarding or community cohesion concerns, and Ofsted will always support them in doing that."
April 5. The Economist, citing the Moroccan newspaper Al-Ousboue, reported that Queen Elizabeth II is a descendant of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed:
"Al-Ousboue traced the queen's lineage back 43 generations. Her bloodline runs through the Earl of Cambridge, in the 14th century, across medieval Muslim Spain, to Fatima, the Prophet's daughter. Her link to Muhammad has previously been verified by Ali Gomaa, the former grand mufti of Egypt, and Burke's Peerage, a British authority on royal pedigrees.
"Prince Charles (bin Philip), is intrigued by Islam.... He is said to want a multi-faith coronation and to be ordained as "defender of faith," not "the [Christian] faith."
The late Harold Brooks-Baker, publishing director of Burke's Peerage, once warned: "The royal family's direct descent from the prophet Mohammed cannot be relied upon to protect the royal family forever from Moslem terrorists."
April 6. Aweys Shikhey, a 38-year-old Dutch national originally from Somalia and living in north London, was sentenced to eight years in prison for preparing acts of terrorism. The court heard how Shikhey, a delivery driver who has two wives, one in The Netherlands and one in Kenya, was planning to elope with his Somali-Norwegian jihadi fiancée and travel from London to Turkey, and then on to Syria. The court also heard how he talked to other jihadis about attacking Queen Elizabeth, shooting Jews in Stamford Hill, north London, and football fans as they left Tottenham Hotspur's stadium.
April 8. The Scottish government issued a guidance, warning teachers against using the phrase "British values" when discussing terrorism with pupils because it might be offensive: "The concept can cause offense and could play into the hands of groups who seek to assert that there is an inherent conflict between being British and being Muslim." The British government's anti-terror Prevent strategy defines extremism as "the vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values" such as democracy, the rule of law and tolerance. The Scottish government advised teachers to use the words "shared values" instead. The guidance also urged teachers not to use the terms "war on terror," "Islamist extremist/terrorist," "jihad/jihadist" or "radical" in current affairs lessons. The guidance cautioned: "There is always a danger in using 'Islamist' as non-expert audiences are likely to hear 'Islamic.' All audiences will make a connection to the Muslim faith. This phrase is best avoided."
April 8. Nearly two-thirds of "child" refugees who were questioned about their real age after coming to Britain were found to be adults, according to a report by David Bolt, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, into the Home Office's treatment of lone child migrants. The statistics showed that Britain's generosity towards genuine child victims of war, terror and humanitarian disasters is open to wide abuse.
April 9. Almost two cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) a day on average are being identified by doctors in the Birmingham area alone, according to an analysis of data compiled by the NHS. In 2017, there were 620 cases just in Birmingham and environs where a woman was newly recorded in the FGM dataset. FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985, but there has still not been a single successful prosecution for the offense.
April 10. Shamsu Iqbal, a 61-year-old former Home Office employee, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration. Iqbal was the "lynchpin" of a £6 million ($8 million) scam that falsified the records of at least 437 illegal migrants so they could remain in Britain. The potential loss to taxpayers was assessed by Home Office statisticians as £56 million ($76 million), based on the amount the 437 illegal immigrants could falsely have claimed in benefits over the six years of the fraud.
April 11. Delegates to the annual conference of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) agreed to a resolution calling on the government to prevent parents from withdrawing their children from classes about Islam. Richard Griffiths, from ATL's Inner London branch, told conference attendees that "parents with certain prejudices including Islamophobia" are pulling their children from Religious Education classes because they do not want them to learn about Islam. This, he said, is "significantly hindering" the ability of schools to "prepare a child for life in modern Britain."
April 12. Ibrahim Hussain, a 35-year-old man from Bradford, was sentenced to 23 years in prison for grooming, abducting and repeatedly raping a 12-year-old girl. Hussain later took the girl to a house in Leeds, where she was gang-raped by five unknown men. Judge David Hatton QC said the girl was raped by "essentially a pack of ravenous wolves." Hussain was already on bail for sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl he had met through Facebook.
April 13. ITV News reported that Alexanda Amon Kotey, a British jihadi who previously belonged to the infamous four-member Islamic State cell known as "The Beatles," helped to organize a plot to execute soldiers and police officers in London. Kotey and other jihadis are suspected of guiding and funding the would-be attackers in the U.K. —apparently helping to organize the plot "by remote control" from Syria. Kotey, the London-born son of a Ghanaian father and Greek-Cypriot mother, reportedly converted to Islam in his early 20s after falling in love with a Muslim woman. He was arrested by Syrian Kurdish fighters in January 2018 while attempting to smuggle himself back to Europe.
April 14. A YouGov poll found that a large minority of Britons believe that multiculturalism has failed and different communities generally live separate lives. The poll found that 43% predicted relationships between different communities in Britain will deteriorate over the next few years compared to 14% who feel things will improve. More than one third of those who took part in the survey believe that Islam is a threat to the British way of life; 51% believe that immigration is putting pressure on schools and hospitals.
April 18. Shahid Ali, a 43-year-old Washwood Heath man previously convicted of terror offenses, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for deliberately running over a pedestrian's head in a road rage incident. Ali, who apparently became enraged because he thought his victim, a 35-year-old Irish national, was holding up traffic, fled the scene and later dumped his car. The incident was captured by a motorcyclist who had a GoPro camera attached to her helmet. Ali was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent. In his defense, the court heard how he "prayed twice" soon after the incident that his victim "had not been affected in the worst way."
April 18. Rotherham Council was ordered by a government ombudsman to apologize for retaliating against Jayne Senior, a whistleblower who helped to expose the town's Muslim sexual grooming scandal. Senior revealed how the council, police and social services turned a blind eye to the abuse of at least 1,400 children by men of Pakistani origin. Local officials kept silent about the abuse for more than a decade, apparently due to a fear of being charged with racism.
In the city of Rotherham (pictured), the council, police and social services turned a blind eye to the sexual abuse of at least 1,400 children by gangs of men of Pakistani origin. Local officials kept silent about the abuse for more than a decade, apparently due to a fear of being charged with racism. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)
April 18. Exeter Mosque in Devon accepted donations totaling nearly £250,000 ($340,000) from Sheikh Sadiq Al-Ghariani, an extremist Muslim cleric who is on a terrorism watch list due to his support for al-Qaeda-linked jihadi groups in Libya. An online petition called on those who run the mosque to clarify how much money was received and what it was spent on. Trustees of the mosque said they "do not have any links to any form of extremism." Ghariani said the money was to be spent on "completing construction of the [Exeter] mosque," which he said represented "moderate Islam, free of extremism."
April 19. Adam Wyatt, a 48-year-old convert to Islam, was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison for disseminating a terrorist publication that said "Britain must atone for its sins in Palestine" and posting on social media that jihad was an obligation for all Muslims. Wyatt, of Salford, admitted owning booklets, including one called "The Mujahedeen Poisons Handbook."
April 20. Taiyab Hussain, Mohammed Hizar Rizwan, Shaheem Ratyal and Sohail Raja Ali, all from Burton, were collectively sentenced to 17 years in a young offender institution for sexually abusing five girls, aged 13 and 14. Judge Jonathan Gosling, said: "It is clear the girls meant nothing to them whatsoever. They were simply an agency to satisfy their adolescent lust of these men. One girl had only just passed her 13th birthday." Nevertheless, Gosling ordered that the men be released after serving half their sentence, which had already been reduced by 155 days, because the men were not "predatory paedophiles" but "schoolboys."
April 24. The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims called for a "working definition" of "Islamophobia," one that can be "widely accepted by Muslim communities, political parties, and the Government." The APPG is chaired by Sayeeda Warsi, the first Muslim woman to serve in the cabinet. She resigned from government in 2014, describing then Prime Minister David Cameron's pro-Israel policy as "morally indefensible." After resigning, she demanded that the government impose an arms embargo on the Jewish state. More recently, she said that British citizens who volunteer for the Israeli army should be prosecuted.
April 25. Wokingham Mayor Peter Lucey resigned after a "member of the public" complained that he had shared "politically incorrect" articles from Gatestone Institute, Dutch politician Geert Wilders and Canadian author Mark Steyn. In a statement, Wokingham Town Council said: "Councillor Peter Lucey has today resigned from Wokingham Town council for personal reasons."
April 25. The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it was investigating 33 current and former police officers for potential misconduct in the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal. Operation Linden, the IOPC's operation looking into the allegations, grew to 98 investigations by the beginning of April 2018 compared with 62 investigations at the same point in 2017.
April 25. The home of a family member of a victim of a Muslim sex gang in Telford was set on fire, allegedly to stop the woman from cooperating with police. The arson attack appears to have achieved its objective: The woman, now in her 30s, decided against sharing the names of the members of the gang that operated in the 80s and 90s as she fears for the safety of her family.
April 27. Doctors, nurses and teachers are still nervous about being branded racist if they speak to families about female genital mutilation (FGM), according to Hazel Barrett, a professor at Coventry University and expert in FGM. In an interview with the Evening Standard, Barrett said that despite campaigns, many professionals are still unaware of their legal responsibilities, nervous about how to broach the issue, and concerned about being called racist and rejected by communities with which they work. The Serious Crime Act 2015 requires healthcare professionals, social workers and teachers in England and Wales to report to the police if they think a girl aged under 18 is at risk of FGM.
April 27. Komar Uddin, a 68-year-old Bangladeshi imam living illegally in Britain, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for raping a 19-year-old woman during an exorcism. Judge Timothy Spencer QC said:
"She was 19 years old...young enough to be your granddaughter. She was very vulnerable...grieving for (a family member) who had died. She, like the rest of her family, had a deep belief in the spirit world and in djinns (spirits). You encouraged the belief that you were skilled in ridding believers of bad spirits; evil djinns.... You were invited to their house and it was supposed to be for you to help that young woman with her distress, to rid her of the evil spirits. You used your power over her to violate her for your own sexual gratification and did nothing to assist her distress — you greatly added to her distress. You showed no restraint whatsoever. You had her completely at your mercy and you raped her. It's a shameful betrayal of your religion and the position you held within the Islamic community."
The Leicester Mercury was the only publication to identify Uddin as a Muslim. The BBC referred to the man as a "bogus faith healer." The Daily Mail called him a "spiritual healer."
April 27. Rabar Mala, a 33-year-old Iraqi living illegally in Britain, was sentenced to eight years in prison for helping hundreds of jihadis in Iraq, Syria and Turkey communicate online by activating mobile phone Sim cards for them in the UK. Mala, who lived in Warrington, became what amounted to an IT support worker for the Islamic State. Police determined that Mala had registered and activated 360 Sim cards and used them to help jihadis who had no easy means of registering social media accounts without drawing attention to themselves. Mala was caught only because police linked him to extremist material posted on YouTube.
April 30. Sajid Javid, a 48-year-old first-generation Briton of Pakistani origin, was named Home Secretary of the United Kingdom. As the first-ever British-Muslim to hold the post, the most important cabinet position after that of the prime minister, Javid will be in charge of the UK's immigration, security and counter-terrorism efforts.
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.