Pictured: The Palace of Westminster in London, meeting place of the Houses of Parliament. (Arpingstone/Wikimedia Commons)
August 1. In a landmark ruling, a high court judge declared that a Muslim wife could divorce her husband and claim his assets, despite the fact that they married in an Islamic ceremony called a nikah, which is not legally recognized in Britain. In a written ruling, Mr. Justice Williams, who heard the case in the family division of the high court in London, concluded that the marriage fell within the scope of the 1973 Matrimonial Causes Act because the couple had expectations similar to those of a British marriage contract. The decision came after Nasreen Akhter divorced her husband, Mohammed Shabaz Khan, who attempted to block her separation on the basis that they were not legally married according to English law and only under Sharia law. Previous cases involving nikah marriages concluded that they were legally non-existent, meaning that spouses had no redress to the courts for a division of matrimonial assets if a marriage broke down. The ruling will make it easier for women who are married under Sharia law to divorce their husbands and split their assets. The ruling also appears to enshrine two parallel justice systems — British law and Sharia law — in Britain.
August 2. British teenagers are being forced to marry abroad and are therefore effectively raped and often impregnated while the Home Office "turns a blind eye" by handing visas to their husbands, according to The Times. Officials received dozens of reports last year that women wanted to block visas to the UK for men they had been made to marry in countries Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates. In almost half of the cases, records show, the visas were approved. Yvette Cooper, chairwoman of the home affairs select committee, said that she would demand answers from the Home Office over the findings. Experts believe there are thousands of victims in Britain, but that the vast majority are too afraid to come forward.
August 3. Safaa Boular, 18, of Vauxhall, London, was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum 13-year term, for plotting a jihadi attack on British soil. Alongside her mother and sister, who were imprisoned in June, Boular was part of Britain's first all-female ISIS cell. Boular presented herself at the trial in Western clothing and declared herself deradicalized, but Judge Mark Dennis QC warned that she posed an ongoing threat: "There is insufficient evidence...to conclude at this stage that the defendant is a truly transformed individual."
August 4. A police officer phoned a charity to ask whether it was "culturally acceptable" for an Iraqi pedophile to have a 12-year-old girlfriend, according to an investigation carried out by The Times. The officer had arrested the 26-year-old man but wanted to be "culturally sensitive" after the suspect said the relationship was acceptable in his community. The charity that took the call, Karma Nirvana, told the officer to deal with the man as he would any other suspected child abuser. The charity, which works with victims of forced marriage, said the case showed the danger of officers whose professional judgment was clouded by fear of being called racist.
August 5. Former foreign secretary (and possible future prime minister) Boris Johnson sparked a political firestorm after making politically incorrect comments about the burka and the niqab, the face-covering garments worn by some Muslim women. He compared Muslim women wearing burkas to bank robbers and letter boxes, but added, "that's still no reason to ban it." The ensuing debate over Islamophobia revealed the extent to which political correctness is stifling free speech in Britain. It also exposed deep fissures within the Conservative Party over its future direction and leadership. London Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said that Johnson's remarks did not "reach the bar" to be a criminal offense.
August 6. The Daily Mail removed a report from its website that described the French capital as "Powder Keg Paris" after a French activist, Marwan Muhammad, complained that the report was Islamophobic. The article reported that 300,000 illegal migrants were living in the suburb of Saint-Denis, north of Paris, where drug dealing, crime and poverty were rising due to "immigration on a mammoth scale."
August 6. Muhammed Mucahid, a 57-year-old a Turkish migrant living in London, was arrested after allegedly sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy in the restroom of a McDonald's restaurant in Southend-on-Sea. Mucahid was accused of watching the boy attempt to use a urinal, then ushered or pushed him into an empty cubicle. It is alleged he kissed him on the cheek before the boy managed to escape and get back to his father, who had been waiting in line to order food.
August 7. Ishaq Al-Noor, a 21-yer-old Sudanese asylum seeker, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for raping a 17-year-old student in a cemetery in Spring Bank in Hull, East Yorkshire. When the rape charge was put to him, Al-Noor, through his interpreter, told Hull Crown Court: "Guilty. Yes, I did that. Why not?" Al-Noor, of West Hill, needed the services of one of the few interpreters in Britain who could speak his particular Sudanese dialect.
August 8. A Sky Data Poll found that 60% of Britons surveyed said that it is not racist to compare Muslim women wearing burkas to bank robbers and letter boxes, while 59% were in favor of a burka ban.
August 9. Three members of a Rochdale pedophile grooming gang were stripped of their British citizenship and now face possible deportation to Pakistan. Taxi drivers Adil Khan, Abdul Aziz and Abdul Rauf were among nine men imprisoned for gang raping teenage girls in 2012. In 2016, Theresa May, Home Secretary at the time, ruled that the three should have their names deleted from the roll of British citizens. The trio, all of whom have British children, challenged the decision. They claimed it violated their human right to a family life. Senior judges at the Court of Appeal ruled that stripping them of citizenship is "conducive to the public good."
August 10. A bus driver in Bristol was disciplined after asking a Muslim woman to remove her face veil. "This world is dangerous," he told her. The 20-year-old woman was with her two-month-old baby when the driver of a bus destined for Bristol's city center explained that if he could not see her face, he did not know what she was capable of doing. "I've been humiliated in public, and I'm disappointed," the woman said. "It's 2018, we shouldn't be like that. I'm being stereotyped." The bus company apologized for the driver's actions and said they took action against him.
August 10. Lewis Ludlow, a 26-year-old convert to Islam from Rochester, Kent, pled guilty to plotting a terror attack on London's Oxford Street. Ludlow, who also used the name Ali Hussain, planned to rent a van and hit pedestrians. He also targeted Madame Tussauds and St Paul's Cathedral, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said. Ludlow said that he had hoped to kill up to 100 people.
August 10. Prime Minister Theresa May was accused of trying to censor photos of her at a halal butcher for fear of alienating voters. The photo was taken during a campaign stop at London's Smithfield Market, but her aides begged photographers not to use it, according to the Sun. The source said: "Her staff pleaded with us. They were terrified it would alienate people. Her team were petrified." The Prime Minister's office insisted that there were no restrictions on photos.
August 11. Liam Bradley, a 48-year-old motorcycle instructor, accused a Shell gasoline station in Blackburn of "racism" after he was told to remove his helmet while a woman in a burka was refueling her vehicle next to him. Venting his frustration on Facebook, Liam branded the different treatment as "racism at work in Britain," and urged people to share his post so as to not "let them get away with it." The post quickly went viral.
August 13. Razwan Faraz, a former deputy head teacher at the Nansen Primary School in Birmingham, lost an appeal to get his job back. Faraz, who was fired after saying that homosexuals should be "eradicated," had alleged that he was the victim of religious discrimination, but a judge threw out his claim for unfair dismissal. Nansen Primary was embroiled in the "Trojan horse" scandal, in which an anonymous letter exposed an alleged plot by a group of conservative Muslims to take over several Birmingham schools and impose an Islamist ethos there.
August 14. Salih Khater, a 29-year-old British citizen of Sudanese origin, swerved his car into cyclists and pedestrians before driving towards police and crashing into a barrier outside the Houses of Parliament. Police said his case was being treated as terrorism due to the location, methods and alleged targeting of civilians and police officers.
August 15. Thirty-two members of a Muslim sex gang were charged with offenses including rape and trafficking after an investigation into sex crimes against children in Huddersfield. Police in West Yorkshire said the five alleged victims were girls aged between 12 and 18, with the offenses said to have occurred between 2005 and 2012. Those charged include: Banaras Hussain, 37; Banaris Hussain, 35; Mohammed Suhail Arif, 30; Iftikar Ali, 37; Mohammed Sajjad, 31; Fehreen Rafiq, 38; Umar Zaman, 30; Basharat Hussain, 31; Amin Ali Choli, 36; Shaqeel Hussain, 35; Mubasher Hussain, 35; Abdul Majid, 34; Mohammed Dogar, 35; Usman Ali, 32; Mohammed Waqas Anwar, 29; Gul Riaz, 42; Mohammed Akram, 41; Manzoor Akhtar, 29; and Samuel Fikru, 30. A further 12 men who were not named for legal reasons were charged with "numerous offenses in connection with the same investigation."
August 16. A sermon at the Didsbury Mosque, where the Manchester bomber worshipped, called for the support of armed jihadist fighters, according to the BBC. In December 2016, an imam at the mosque was recorded praying for "victory" for "our brothers and sisters right now in Aleppo and Syria and Iraq." The imam, Mustafa Graf, said that his sermon did not call for armed jihad and he has never preached radical Islam. The recording the BBC obtained is of Friday prayers at the mosque six months before Salman Abedi detonated a suicide bomb after an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in May 2017. Abedi and his family regularly attended the mosque and his father sometimes led the call to prayer. The family's whereabouts on the day of the sermon are not known, but the BBC reported that Abedi bought a ticket for the concert 10 days later. The bomb killed 22 people as well as the attacker, and injured hundreds of others.
August 17. A three-year-old girl was hospitalized after allegedly being subjected to female genital mutilation, which left her severely wounded. A London couple — the man, 42, and woman, 36, of African heritage — was accused of carrying out the procedure. The case is only the third time that charges of FGM have been brought to court. The two previous cases both resulted in acquittals, meaning that there has not been a single FGM conviction in the UK despite its being illegal in the country since 1985.
August 19. The number of girls being forced into marriage ahead of the summer holiday period has increased by more than a third in recent years, according to the national charity Karma Nirvana, which provides training to the police, National Health Service and social services. The group condemned the Home Office for shelving a campaign to raise awareness of the practice of girls taken abroad to be married off to strangers during the "critical" run-up to the summer break — the time of the year when the problem is at its peak. Speaking to The Independent, Karma Nirvana revealed that it had learned of 150 new cases of forced marriage from May to July, an increase of more than a third compared to the same period in 2015, when it received 99 new cases. The charity also found that cases of forced marriage had soared by 40% at the start of the school holidays in 2018. The charity also said that in July, it was receiving reports of cases at a rate of two a day, more than double the average of 25 seen in the first four months of the year, with 44 cases reported in May and June. Karma Nirvana's founder, Jasvinder Sanghera, warned that thousands of girls would not be returning to school in September, having had their educations cut off and, in many cases, been left trapped in a cycle of poverty after falling victim to the crime.
August 20. Senior politicians and animal welfare groups condemned the British government over a deal that allows meat from lambs slaughtered without being stunned to be exported to Saudi Arabia. They said that the deal, estimated by the government to be worth £25 million ($33 million; €28 million) over the next five years, showed a disregard for animal welfare.
August 22. Abdul Jalil, a 64-year-old migrant from Bangladesh, was found guilty of cheating the British welfare system out of £28,000 ($37,000; €32,000) over a period of eight years. Jalil was spared time in jail after he told probation officers that "he would do unpaid work as long as it's light work." The judge ordered him to complete 120 hours.
August 24. A Muslim family was filmed butchering animal carcasses on a patio in public housing in Dagenham, Essex. The footage sparked a hygiene probe from the local council but a woman at the property denied any wrongdoing. It was not known if the family — celebrating Eid al-Adha, the Muslim festival of sacrifice — slaughtered the animals at home or were simply butchering them. A columnist, for the Sun, Anila Baig, said that Muslim families traditionally sacrifice a goat or sheep and divide it into portions for Eid al-Adha, but added: "In this day and age, it's extremely unusual for someone to do this themselves at home." Mohammed Shafiq, of the Ramadhan Foundation, insisted the family had done nothing wrong in practicing their religion.
August 24. The Lancashire County Council temporarily suspended its ban on beef and lamb from animals that are not stunned, as is required before Islamic religious slaughter. The move is aimed at giving all of Lancashire's county councilors the chance to reconsider the authority's ban on halal meat from unstunned animals. The county council's cabinet decided in July to provide only stunned halal meat, except poultry, to schools. But the Lancashire Council of Mosques objected and threatened to ask Muslim families across the county to boycott all school meals.
August 25. Yusuf Aka, a 22-year-old man from Grovebury Walk, Leicester, was sentenced to five years in prison for randomly stabbing a man during a violent rampage at a hospital in the city. Aka, on parole from a seven-year sentence for armed robberies when the incident happened, told the Leicester Crown Court that he did what he did because he wanted "attention."
August 26. British Somali teenagers are being taken back to their parents' homeland under the pretense of a holiday vacation and then kept in detention centers before being forced into marriages, according to the Guardian. The latest government figures showed a 100% year-on-year increase in the number of forced marriage cases handled by Home Office involving Somali children and teenagers. In 2017, the figure rose to 91. There were calls from 65 females and 26 males. Of those, 23 were under the age of 15. London had the highest number of victims at 64. When the Guardian contacted several UK-based Somali community organizations and charities, most said they had not heard of the practice or denied that forced marriage involving British Somali nationals was taking place.
August 30. Mohammed Hamza Siddiq, a 37-year-old convert to Islam, appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court on charges of encouraging terrorism on Facebook. Siddiq, formerly known as Andrew Calladine, did not enter a plea and was remanded in custody.
August 30. Abubaker Deghayes, 50, a former leader of the al-Quds Mosque in Brighton and brother of Guantanamo detainee Omar Deghayes, was sentenced to 18 months in prison after being found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice. Blackfriars Crown Court in London heard how Deghayes, who arrived in Britain from Libya in 1991 and is the father of two jihadis killed in Syria, threatened to have his wife shot if she gave evidence against him in a separate trial. In it, he was accused of assaulting his wife and children in what was described as an exorcism. Judge Rajeev Shetty reprimanded Deghayes for refusing to stand for the court: "You appear rather arrogant with no respect for the secular nature of our laws. You have refused to stand with the court opening and closing. This does not insult me but insults our proud legal system."
August 31. Naa'imur Zakariyah Rahman, a 21-year-old jihadi from Finchley, north London, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for plotting to kill Prime Minister Theresa May. Rahman, who pledged allegiance to ISIS, had planned to bomb the gates of 10 Downing Street, kill guards and then attack the prime minister with a knife or gun. His plan was discovered by a network of undercover counter-terrorism officers from the Metropolitan police, the FBI and MI5. Judge Charles Haddon-Cave said that Rahman was "a very dangerous individual" and that it was "difficult to predict when, if ever, he will become deradicalized and no longer be a danger to society."