Women and girls who are coerced into marriage by their families will be allowed to give evidence in secret so they can object to their foreign spouses' visas without fear of repercussions, according to legal changes announced by UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid. Pictured: Javid addresses the media in Dover, England on January 2nd, 2019. (Photo by Gareth Fuller - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
July 1. Mubarek Ali, a 35-year-old former ringleader of a Telford child sex abuse gang, was sent back to prison after breaching the terms of his parole. In 2012, Ali was sentenced to 22 years in prison for child prostitution offenses, but was automatically released in 2017 after serving only five years. Telford MP Lucy Allan said there are "many questions to be answered" about why Ali was released, and also about how the justice system treats so-called grooming cases:
"Now he is back in jail, justice demands that he must serve the remainder of his sentence in custody; anything less would show a casual disregard for the nature of his crimes and for the victims whose lives he changed forever."
July 2. Abdul Rauf, a 51-year-old imam from Rochdale, was imprisoned for one year and five months after admitting to assaulting more than 20 children at a mosque. Inspector Phil Key, of Greater Manchester Police, said:
"Abdul Rauf is a nasty, bully of a man who beat the children in his classes until it became normalized. The children were left cowering and holding onto their ears, their arms and their legs after he repeatedly used violence as a punishment. The parents of the children had no idea that they were leaving their children in the care of a man who would leave them writhing in pain and covered in marks and bruises."
(Rauf is different from Abdul Rauf, 49, formerly of Rochdale, who was convicted as part of a child sex gang that targeted girls as young as 13 in the town.)
July 3. A judge in Iraq said that British jihadis found in the country would be executed by hanging. Abdul Sattar Beraqdar, spokesman for the Supreme Judicial Council, said that such a form of capital punishment would be good for British security:
"The punishment, as much as it seems strong, will affect the security of your country. I am sure there are hundreds of people in Britain at this moment thinking of committing similar crimes. That's why we, as Iraqis, if we are tough in sentencing these people, they will think thoroughly before taking any action."
Some 800 Britons have journeyed to Syria and Iraq to fight for the Islamic State; 130 have been killed in the conflict, according to British officials. It is unclear, however, how many British jihadis have been captured or have faced the death penalty. "We oppose the death penalty in all cases," a British Foreign Office spokesman said.
July 5. Laurel Ellis, a conservative candidate for a council by-election in Merthyr Tydfil, a town in Wales, was suspended after sharing social media posts critical of Islam. Labour Assembly Member Dawn Bowden had claimed that the posts were Islamophobic. A spokesman for the Welsh Conservatives said that the party seeks "to reach out to, and represent, all communities and people from all walks of life in Wales."
July 6. Police in London revealed that they intervened to stop a suspected "child sex party" at a kebab shop in Bethnal Green. So-called "uck parties" (the word uck is a colloquial term for oral sex) involve young girls being plied with alcohol and drugs before older men have sex with them. Authorities in Tower Hamlets, which has the highest percentage of Muslim residents in England and Wales, has since revoked the kebab shop's alcohol license.
July 7. The Daily Mail reported that Imran Waheed, a 41-year-old psychiatrist with the National Health Service in Birmingham, was also working as an expert witness to British courts, even though he is an Islamist who has openly said he "does not believe in democracy" and is "not obedient" to secular law. In a BBC interview he said: "I've got no respect for any law other than Allah's, so I don't care about the law to be honest... I care for the law of Islam. I don't care for the law of any man."
July 8. An opinion essay published by the Guardian claimed that a new a new art exhibition in Florence reveals the "deep connection" between Europe and Islam:
"Embodied in the Renaissance view is certainly a sense of Islam as the other. But it is intertwined with curiosity, respect, even awe. There is a willingness, too, to reach beyond the otherness of Islam and to see the Muslim world not as demonic or exotic but as a variant of the European experience....
"At a time when many politicians present Islam as alien to the European experience, such shows are a useful reminder of how historically deeply intertwined are the worlds of Europe and Islam."
July 9. Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted, the schools regulator, accused Muslim groups of having a "sense of religious or cultural entitlement" and attempting to exert an outsize influence on school policy:
"For some children, school may be the only time in their lives that they spend time every day with people from outside their immediate ethnic or religious group, or at least where the values of people outside their own group can be explained and openly discussed.
"Islamist extremists, particularly fueled by the online propaganda of Daesh [Islamic State] and others, prey on a sense of isolation and alienation in some minority communities."
July 12. Thousands of Muslim pupils in Blackburn, Burnley, Hyndburn, Nelson, Preston and Rawtenstall were instructed to boycott all school meals when they return to class in September. The move followed the decision by the Lancashire County Council to stop supplying schools with unstunned halal meat, and instead to serve meat from pre-stunned cattle and sheep.
July 13. Sophie Rahman, the former head teacher of Eton Community School, a primary school in Ilford, was banned for life from teaching after it emerged that she had allowed the "London Bridge jihadi," Khuram Butt, to teach Arabic classes after school at the facility. Butt reportedly told children that non-Muslims were the "worst creatures" and that it was acceptable for them to lie to their parents. A panel found Rahman guilty of unacceptable professional conduct. She confirmed that the last day Butt taught the children was June 2, 2017. The next day, Butt, along with Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba, plowed a van into people on London Bridge before launching a knife rampage around Borough Market. The attackers were shot dead by police officers.
July 15. Samantha Lewthwaite, a 34-year-old British convert to Islam, was reported to be recruiting suicide bombers to target summer holidaymakers in Britain, Cyprus, Greece, Spain and Turkey. The mother-of-four — known as the White Widow after her jihadi husband, Germaine Lindsay, killed himself along with 26 others in the 2005 London suicide bombings — was feared to have recruited up to 30 jihadis, who have been taught how to build suicide vests and choose their own targets. An intelligence source said:
"The White Widow hates Britain and everything the West stands for. She has completely turned her back on her country and her former life. She has mentored dozens of female terrorists and favors white converts to Islam because she feels they attract less suspicion by the security services."
July 17. The Independent reported on an inquiry which found that the British government received information detailing the activities of Muslim pedophile gangs in Rotherham as far back as 2002 but failed properly to act on it, apparently out of fear of being accused of racism. A large-scale inquiry was not launched until a decade later, after a Times report on the scale of grooming in Britain provoked a national scandal. Sarah Champion, Labour MP for Rotherham, said it was clear that the Home Office knew about child sexual exploitation in Rotherham since 2002:
"Why, when so many in authority knew the scale and severity of this crime, did it take until 2014, with the publication of the Jay report, for a large-scale investigation to occur? How many lives could have been protected if swift action had been taken a decade before?"
July 20. Khalid Ali, a 28-year-old plumber-turned-jihadi from London, was handed three life sentences, with a minimum term of 40 years in prison, for plotting a knife attack on MPs and police outside the Houses of Parliament. Ali had three knives when he was arrested by armed police in Parliament Square on April 2017, following surveillance by counter-terrorism police. Ali had spent five years in Afghanistan, where he made Taliban bombs used to maim and kill British and NATO troops. In an interview with officers, Ali said he wanted to deliver a message to British leaders telling them to leave "Muslim lands," destroy the state of Israel and release prisoners of war. "I would consider myself as a mujahid [Islamic warrior]," he added. "Jihad is what we do."
July 20. Former Prime Minister David Cameron said it is a mistake to understand terrorism as a clash between Christianity and Islam: "Listening to [President] Trump makes me feel that it is a clash between Christianity and Islam. It is wrong." He added that there was "a clash within Islam, between the civilized ones who want to practice their faith peacefully and those who had taken a radicalized and perverted view of the religion."
July 21. The Sunday Telegraph reported that former Prime Minister Tony Blair was being paid £9 million (€10 million; $11.5 million) to advise the government of Saudi Arabia. An article on Blair's website states:
"[T]he Crown Prince has demonstrated a level of conviction, clarity and coherence in identifying and understanding the nature of Islamist extremism that Western policymakers should seek to learn from. Britain should learn from Saudi Arabia and how it has demonstrated a clear commitment to tackling the politicization of Islam to inform policymaking, with no moral ambiguity in delineating Islam, the faith, from Islamism, a politicized ideology."
July 24. Majud Hussain, a 41-year-old police officer from Nottingham, was sentenced to seven years in prison for raping a 17-year-old girl. Judge James Sampson told Hussain, a married father of four: "You have shown absolutely no remorse whatsoever. You are clearly a disgrace to the uniform of police officers and you are obviously unfit to be a police constable."
July 24. Khalid Baqa, a 54-year-old man from East London, was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison for circulating jihadi literature on the London Underground. Commander Clarke Jarrett, Head of the Met's Counter Terrorism Command said:
"Baqa was reproducing and distributing terrorist related material in the hope of getting others involved and drawn into the same toxic ideology he was peddling. Not only that, but he also radicalized and involved a young impressionable 17-year-old, whom he then used to help distribute his pamphlets and CDs."
July 25. Home Secretary Sajid Javid ordered research into the ethnic origin of sexual grooming gangs, apparently in order to discover why men convicted of child sex crimes are disproportionately of Pakistani origin. Javid, a British-Pakistani, said that exploring the "particular characteristics" of offenders was "critical to our understanding" of what happened across the country, including in Newcastle, Telford and Rotherham.
July 25. Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Northern Ireland's biggest health trust, reported 17 cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) between April 2017 and January 2018. The women's ages ranged from 24 years to 46 years. Their countries of origin were not recorded.
July 26. The director of the Royal College of Midwives in Northern Ireland, Breedagh Hughes, said that women are being let down by a lack of clarity over procedures for reporting incidents of female genital mutilation (FGM):
"The fact that there have been no official, practical guidelines for nurses, midwives, social workers, anyone working at the coalface [on the front lines], means it's very difficult for anyone to know what to do when confronted with a case of FGM....
"There is also an issue of jurisdiction. If the offense was carried out on someone over 18 outside of Northern Ireland, what do they do?"
July 27. Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Britain expressed fear of violent persecution after cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan announced victory in Pakistan's general election. The Ahmadiyya community is considered heretical by orthodox Muslims: its followers do not believe that Mohammed was the final prophet. This belief, under Pakistan's blasphemy laws, is an offense punishable by death. "We are standing with Article 295c," Khan said at a gathering of Muslim leaders in Islamabad, "and will defend it." Khan was referring to a clause of the Pakistani Constitution that mandates the death penalty for any "imputation, insinuation or innuendo" against Mohammed. Some 30,000 Ahmadiyyas are living in Britain.
July 28. Six men were charged in connection with an acid attack on a three-year-old boy, who was on a shopping trip with his mother. The boy's father, a 39-year-old Afghan asylum seeker, was among those charged in the attack. Police believe the man had intended to attack his estranged wife, who, with their three children, left him last year and moved to another house to start a new life.
July 29. The Sunday Times reported that not a single Christian was among the 1,112 Syrian refugees resettled in Britain in the first three months of 2018. The Home Office agreed to resettle only Muslims and rejected the four Christians recommended by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
July 30. A couple who tricked their teenage daughter into travelling to Bangladesh in an attempt to force her to marry her first cousin was sentenced to four-and-a-half years and three-and-a-half years to prison, respectively. The husband and wife, who were not named for legal reasons, were found guilty in May of using violence, threats or coercion to force her into marriage. During a three-week trial in Leeds, a jury heard that in 2016, the couple's daughter, then 18, was taken out of college during classes to go on what she thought was a six-week holiday to Bangladesh to see family and celebrate an Islamic holiday. She was told of the marriage plans less than a week after arriving in the country. When she refused to take part, her father threatened to slit her throat.
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 [a mutual agreement of bride and groom of their own free will], 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, 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-year-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, 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 next to him was not required to remove her burka while refueling her vehicle. Venting his frustration on Facebook, Liam branded the double standard 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 after the sermon. 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 of forced marriage.
August 20. Senior politicians and animal welfare groups condemned the British government over a deal that allows meat from lambs slaughtered without first being stunned to be exported to Saudi Arabia. They said that the deal, estimated by the government to be worth £25 million (€28 million; $33 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 (€32,000; $37,000) 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. The move was aimed at giving all of Lancashire's county councillors 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. The Lancashire Council of Mosques, however, objected and threatened to ask Muslim families across the county to boycott all school meals.
August 25. Yusuf Aka, 22, from 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 20-year-old British-Bangladeshi jihadi from North London, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for plotting to behead 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. During his trial, the court heard how Rahman told undercover officers of his plans:
"I want to do a suicide bomb on Parliament. I want to attempt to kill Theresa May. There are lorries [trucks] here with big gas tankers, if a brother can drive it next to Parliament I will bomb. [God willing] will be very big if I'm successful. I can't mess up. I can't get [martyrdom] if I get caught."
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."
September 4. Prosecutors accused Andy Sami Star, 32, of Chesterfield, and Farhad Salah of Sheffield, of plotting a jihadi attack with an explosive device involving a driverless car. Prosecutor Anne Whyte QC told Sheffield Crown Court that Star and Salah, both of whom are Kurdish asylum seekers from Iraq, were supporters of the Islamic State. She said the two had decided that improvised explosive devices could be made and used in the UK in a way which would spare their own lives but harm others they considered "infidels."
September 5. Sara Iftekhar, a 20-year-old law student from Huddersfield, became the first hijab-wearing woman to take part in the Miss England final. "I did not expect to be making history," said Iftekhar, of Pakistani origin. "I do feel proud."
September 7. Girls are being pressured in British playgrounds to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM), a survivor warned. Dr. Leyla Hussein, who underwent the procedure when she was seven years old in Somalia, said pressure was being put on children by their peers as well as relatives. "Some of my clients are 19-year-old girls who were children or were born in this country, and they will say they were pressured in a playground in a school in London to go and have it done." She urged people in affected communities to confront the idea of FGM as a "tradition."
September 8. Ayaan Ali, a 28-year-old woman from Isleworth, was charged with attempted murder after she stabbed someone at Barnsley town center. Market trader Abdul Razzaq, 43, said he confronted the woman after she produced "a huge kitchen knife" and shouted "kill, kill, kill" as she stabbed a man in the shoulder and then walked around the busy streets. Ali's defense attorney attributed the attack to a "deterioration" in her mental health.
September 9. The Muslim Council of Britain called on the Home Office to stop Franklin Graham, an evangelical preacher from the United States, from entering the UK. Graham, who was accused of making comments that were supposedly Islamophobic, was invited to preach at a Christian festival in Blackpool. The event went ahead as planned.
September 14. A senior Scotland Yard officer was in danger of losing his job for allegedly racist language in a briefing to colleagues. The detective superintendent reportedly addressed colleagues about the need to be faultless and above reproach in carrying out inquiries. He said that they needed to be "whiter than white." The Met later received a complaint about his comment and passed it to the police watchdog for investigation. The officer was placed on restricted duties while the Independent Office for Police Conduct investigated. He was told the inquiry may take up to 12 months to complete.
September 15. Four in ten Britons believe multiculturalism has undermined British culture and that migrants do not properly integrate, according to a new research into the population's attitudes to immigration. The study, conducted over the last two years, also reflected widespread frustration with the government's handling of immigration, with only 15% of respondents feeling ministers have managed it competently and fairly. More than a quarter of the people surveyed believe that MPs never tell the truth about immigration and half the population wants to see a reduction in the numbers of low-skilled workers coming into Britain from the EU.
September 16. Islamist groups are "weaponizing" Islamophobia and "cynically" using human rights to promote their ideology, according to Sara Khan, the government's new counter-extremism tsar. She said that Islamist groups accuse their critics of being anti-Muslim, in an attempt to shut down "legitimate debate" about Islamic extremism. She added that the "use and abuse" of the language of human rights is "perhaps the most concerning" tactic employed by fundamentalist groups. "Groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir, for example — who traditionally rally against what they perceive to be western human rights — increasingly and cynically use human rights to promote Islamist ideology," she said.
September 17. West Yorkshire Police introduced an alternative, looser fitting police uniform for Muslim women. The change was said to be part of efforts to recruit more minority ethnic officers. Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams said:
"For the last month we have been trialing a new uniform for women which is designed not to show the female form. This was suggested by a Muslim female officer and was designed by our Clothing Manager in conjunction with the officer.
"The tunic is a looser and longer fit, and has full sleeves. This has been well-received from officers in the force and we have now made further supplies of this uniform for other officers to trial it if they wish.
"I hope this uniform will encourage people from underrepresented groups to consider a career in policing if they had previously been put off joining the force due to the uniform, and we are open to suggestions from all communities on how our uniform can be styled to better suit their needs."
September 20. The illegal immigrant population Britain was estimated to be increasing by 70,000 per year — nearly equivalent to the size of the full-time British Army, according to a new report by Migration Watch UK.
September 22. The Times reported that Hizb ut-Tahrir, an extremist group banned in more than a dozen countries, launched a recruitment drive in Birmingham's Sparkhill area, an inner-city neighborhood linked to more homegrown terrorists than anywhere else in Britain. Campaign materials for its youth roadshow made no mention of the group's name and did not feature its usual logo of the Islamic state flag. They instead presented the group, which two prime ministers considered banning, as an innocuous community organization.
September 23. The new head of the Police Federation, John Apter, said that common sense policing has "gone out of the window" with officers forced to spend their time intervening in social media disputes rather than attending burglaries and other serious crimes. Apter, who represents 120,000 rank and file officers across England and Wales, said his members were "incredibly frustrated" because they felt they were no longer able to do the job they had signed up to do. Rather than attending burglaries and helping to prevent soaring levels of violence, police officers were often being deployed to sort out petty arguments on Facebook and Twitter, he said.
September 26. The Charity Commission announced the appointment of an interim manager to the Fazal Ellahi Charitable Trust due to misconduct and mismanagement at the charity. The Commission opened a statutory inquiry into the charity to look into a number of concerns including the use of the charity's premises to support or condone terrorism. The investigation was opened following the conviction of the charity's imam, 40-year-old Kamran Hussain, for six counts of encouragement of terrorism, and two counts of encouraging support for a proscribed organization.
September 27. Ashfaq Khan, a 60-year-old "predatory and manipulative rapist" who targeted "lone, vulnerable" gay women in the Manchester Gay Village before raping them was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Khan pretended to be a taxi driver, or allowed women to think he was one, offering them a lift before attacking them. Remorseless Khan, from Longsight, denied the three rapes he was found guilty of committing.
September 30. British authorities destroyed more than 47,000 kilos of onions after more than 20 migrants were discovered hiding in trucks at the Port of Poole. The migrants, who were discovered by Border Force staff, identified themselves as from Afghanistan, Albania, Iran and Iraq. Borough of Poole said the items had to be disposed of to prevent any contaminated goods from coming into contact with the public. The overall cost of the onions was estimated at more than £35,000 (€39,000; $45,000).
October 1. So-called cutters are being flown into Britain to perform female genital mutilation (FGM) on young girls, according to The Independent. "The practicing community talk together, saying, 'My girl needs to be cut,' and pay the cutters to come into the UK and cut the girls here," said Hoda Ali, an FGM activist who works in West London. She added: "The reality is we need to open our eyes. We don't need to think just about faraway countries because right now we have girls who are in their late teens or even early twenties who were cut in this country. They are British girls who were born here and they were cut here."
October 2. Women and girls who are coerced into marriage by their families will be allowed to give evidence in secret so they can object to their foreign spouses' visas without fear of repercussions, according to legal changes announced by Home Secretary Sajid Javid. The changes came two months after The Times revealed that the Home Office was issuing visas to known abusers in forced marriage cases.
October 3. Zakaria Mohammed, a 21-year-old drug dealer from Birmingham, was sentenced to 14 years in prison after admitting to charges of modern slavery. Mohammed groomed his victims — a 14-year-old girl and two runaway 15-year-old boys — before making them sell class-A drugs from squalid flats a hundred miles from their homes. The teens, who were transported from Birmingham to Lincoln to work as "expendable workhorses" in drug dens, were found by police in a drug-infested apartment in Lincoln. The Telegraph reported it was the first time in British legal history that a drug-dealer has been convicted for breaching the Modern Slavery Act by trafficking children.
October 4. Rahman Ullah, a 38-year-old father of two from Croydon, was sentenced to 14 months in prison for beating his estranged wife and live-streaming the battering to relatives in Pakistan. Ullah, wielding a kitchen knife, made stabbing motions at his wife and boasted to his relatives: "I'm going to kill her today." Ullah initially told police that his wife was the aggressor.
October 5. Ten baby girls, all of whom were less than a year old, underwent female genital mutilation (FGM) in Birmingham between April and June 2018, according to the Birmingham Mail, citing official statistics. The data also revealed that 15 children aged between one and four were reported as FGM victims. In total, there were 140 new cases of FGM in the city in those three months. Most victims were between five and nine.
October 6. A report for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found that one-third (33%) of Britons surveyed believed that efforts to provide equal opportunities to Muslim immigrants had gone "too far." The report, the first of an annual "barometer" testing public opinion, also found that 22% of Britons had negative views of Muslims.
October 7. The outgoing head of Karma Nirvana, a charity that supports victims of honor-based abuse, launched a scathing attack on the government's failure to tackle forced marriage. She said she feels "let down by the lack of leadership" and warned that more children will suffer as a result. Jasvinder Sanghera, who announced she was stepping down as head of Karma Nirvana after 25 years, said that working with the government to address the issue had at times been like "pushing a rock up a hill." She added: "The government has not done enough to raise awareness and mainstream the issue so there remains a huge problem with professionals viewing forced marriage as a cultural issue rather than a crime. Many aren't even aware there is a law."
October 8. A leaked letter showed that Home Secretary Sajid Javid agreed to hand evidence on two British jihadis to American authorities for a federal prosecution, but without assurances that the death penalty would not be used. El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, allegedly members of a jihadi cell dubbed "The ISIS Beatles," beheaded a series of hostages in Syria. They have been the subject of a legal dispute between Britain and the United States since being captured in January 2018. Edward Fitzgerald QC, a lawyer for Elsheikh's mother, argued at the Administrative Court in London that Javid wrongly exposed the suspects to the risk of an "inhuman" punishment." Lawyers for Javid countered that there is no prohibition on providing legal assistance to another country where it may result in proceedings leading to the death penalty. "This group [the ISIS Beatles] is associated with some of the gravest offenses perpetrated against civilians in Syria during the conflict," James Eadie QC told the court. "These beheadings are notorious globally, all but one having been filmed and posted on the internet."
October 9. Teachers should look out for girls who have difficulty walking, sitting and standing, or who request to be excused from PE lessons, according to a new guide on spotting signs of female genital mutilation (FGM). Schools should also be aware of girls who have a prolonged absence from school, noticeable behavioral changes after these absences, or girls speaking about being on holiday to their country of origin or another country where the practice is prevalent. The indicators were published by Islington Council and the Manor Gardens Welfare Trust as part of a risk assessment tool to help teachers to identify and evaluate the damage done by FGM. The 12-page workbook takes teachers through the signs that a child may be at risk, that FGM may have already taken place, and what educators should do if such a situation arises.
October 10. The British Army launched an investigation after an anti-Islamization activist known as Tommy Robinson posted a photo of himself with a group of young soldiers. The photo appeared to have been taken at a highway rest stop, and Robinson had described the group as "young recruits." Robinson wrote on Facebook, "A moment like this makes it all worthwhile. Today I met real British heroes." An Army spokeswoman said, "Far-right ideology is completely at odds with the values and ethos of the armed forces. The armed forces have robust measures in place to ensure those exhibiting extremist views are neither tolerated nor permitted to serve." Robinson said that he had met the soldiers by chance and they should not be "left hung out to dry" for having their photo taken with him.
October 11. The retailer Marks & Spencer sparked a row after including hijabs — head coverings worn by some Muslim women — in its school uniform section. The company's social media pages were flooded with angry messages and dozens of disgruntled customers said they would not use the store until the black headscarves removed from the stock. The founder of the Quilliam Foundation, Maajid Nawaz, said that M&S had reverted to "medievalism" by including a child-size hijab in the school-wear category.
October 13. A 29-year-old Somali whose deportation from Britain was halted after airline passengers staged a mutiny and demanded his release was exposed as a convicted gang rapist being deported because of his crime. Officials escorting Yaqub Ahmed on a flight from Heathrow to Turkey on October 9 were forced to abandon his deportation when around a dozen holidaymakers who felt sorry for him angrily intervened shortly before take-off. At one stage a traveler complained, "They're separating him from his family," while others chanted "take him off the plane." It later emerged that Ahmed and three other youths had gang-raped a 16-year-old in London's Leicester Square in August 2007. Ahmed served only half of a nine-year sentence. When a video of the protest was published by MailOnline, hundreds of readers expressed their outrage. One wrote, "The police should have been called and all the passengers who were interfering should have been arrested and removed from the plane." Another reader wrote, "Now it will cost a lot more to fly the man back on a private charter! Well done silly interfering, self-seeking, do-gooding idiots!"
October 14. Belal Ahmed, 24, and Mizad Miah, 24, both from Tower Hamlets, were sentenced to a combined 24 years in prison for spiking a 21-year-old woman's drink with MDMA ("Ecstasy"), raping her after she became unconscious, and then dumping her at the side of the road in her underwear. Both men were arrested at Gatwick Airport in November 2017 when they returned to Britain after vacationing together in Morocco.
October 15. The Ministry of Justice blocked plans for an academic study into why prisoners convert to Islam and how it can lead to radicalization, according to The Times. Supporters of the three-year project said they were dismayed by the decision and believe the prison service did not want outsiders studying such a sensitive topic. "The corporate culture of the service is defensive, and they will have been concerned about what this proposed project will discover," a source said. The number of Muslim prisoners in jails in England and Wales has more than doubled in recent years, rising from 5,500 in 2002 to 12,894 this year, The Times, citing official data, reported.
October 17. Lancashire County Council decisively voted to stop supplying halal (legally permitted according to Sharia law) meat from un-stunned animals to area schools as of 2019. The decision — 49 to 23 with nine abstentions — will affect 12,000 Muslim pupils in the 27 schools in Blackburn, Nelson, Burnley, Rawtenstall, Hyndburn and Preston. The Chief Executive of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, Abdul Hamid Qureshi, said he was considering calling for Muslim pupils to boycott school meals.
October 18. A Tesco worker sued the supermarket chain for harassment and racial discrimination after a colleague "broke wind in his face." Atif Masood, 42, a customer assistant at a branch in Thornton Heath, demanded £20,000 (€23,000; $26,000) — claiming that passing wind amounts to "bullying." In legal papers submitted to a London employment tribunal, Masood claimed there was "too much racism" in the Thornton Heath store, and felt he was discriminated against by colleagues because he was a Pakistani Muslim.
October 19. The radical preacher Anjem Choudary, described as Britain's "most dangerous extremist," was released from prison after serving only half of the five-and-a-half-year sentence he received in 2016 for pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. Prison authorities could not prevent his release: under British sentencing guidelines, prisoners — even those still a risk to the public — automatically become eligible for release under license (parole) after serving half their terms.
October 20. Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, a 51-year-old Muslim cleric who runs Britain's largest network of Sharia courts, was questioned over allegations that he had raped children. West Midlands Police are investigating claims that Siddiqi raped two Dutch women in the 1980s and 1990s. The women claim they were sexually abused from the ages of 11 and 12 until they turned 16. They were sent to Britain by their parents to be educated by Sheikh Siddiqi's father, a respected Muslim scholar. Siddiqi is the head of the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal, an Islamic legal service in England that operates a string of controversial Sharia law courts which critics say discriminate against women. He has denied the claims against him, which first appeared in the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, and said they are part of a campaign to discredit his family.
October 23. Nearly 2,000 young people in Britain, the vast majority of them girls, were wed before the age of 18 between 2010 and 2015, according to Thomson Reuters Foundation, citing official data. Child marriage — defined internationally as marriage under 18 — remains legal in Britain. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, teenagers can wed at 16 with parental consent. In Scotland, at the age of 16, they do not need consent, Thomson Reuters noted. British parliamentarian Pauline Latham, who introduced a bill to raise the marriage age to 18, said it was "crazy" that Britain still allowed child marriage when it was spending £39 million (€44 million; $51 million) over five years to support efforts to end it in developing countries.
October 24. An Islamic school teaching that only Muslims and animals were saved on Noah's Ark was the first to be successfully prosecuted for operating illegally. The Al-Istiqamah Learning Centre in West London marketed itself as a study center where home-educated children could attend part-time classes, but government inspectors found that almost 60 children of compulsory school age were regularly attending the center during school hours. The case was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service after the center failed to respond to a government warning notice. The Chief Inspector of Schools, Amanda Spielman, said that the verdict sent an important message to other unregistered schools, some of which she said deny children a proper education and leave them at risk of radicalization. Photographs posted on the school's website identified Noah as a prophet of Allah.
October 25. A Muslim family complained about the use of pork gelatin in three vaccines used by the National Health Service, according to the BBC. Porcine gelatin is derived from pigs and used in vaccines against flu, shingles, measles, mumps and rubella. A spokesperson for Public Health England said the gelatin is used as a stabilizer and developing an alternative "may never happen." A parent who contacted the BBC said he was "offended" by the use of porcine gelatin in a nasal flu vaccine. He said that his wife was told about the ingredient by a doctor when she took their children to be vaccinated. She refused the vaccine because of their religion. The Muslim Council of Britain said the vaccines are not permitted in Islam unless lives are at risk and there are no alternatives. "There should be more work towards an alternative," said Dr. Shuja Shafi, the chairman of the council's research and documentation committee. "We should be trying to find a long-term solution. The needs of the people must be met."
October 26. The diocese of Oxford defended a decision by the University of Oxford to invite an imam to deliver the University Sermon at the end of a eucharist on October 21. A spokesman for the diocese said that inviting Imam Monawar Hussain to preach at the university church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford, was "a good piece of interfaith engagement." The spokesman said that the diocese had received a dozen complaints about the invitation but added, "If we had had 100 complaints we would have stood by the university's decision." A blog post by Adrian Hilton on his Archbishop Cranmer site noted that as a Muslim, Hussain would not believe in Jesus's death on a cross or in his resurrection. "By inviting an imam to preach not just a sermon, but a eucharistic sermon," he wrote, "it is hard to understand how this glorifies the crucified Son of God." The Bishop of Buckingham, Alan Wilson, dismissed the objections: "Hussain's work has been fundamental in deepening our understanding of Islam and combating the threat of terrorism in this country. He is promoting a charitable and wise interpretation of Islam."
October 27. Forty-three percent of Britons believe that Western liberal society can never be compatible with Islam, according to a ComRes "Islamophobia" poll. Two-fifths (43%) of the population would be concerned if a mosque was built in their neighborhood or a family member married a Muslim. One in five (22%) would be concerned if a Muslim family moved next door and three in ten (30%) would object to their child visiting a mosque.
October 28. As many as 80 jihadi brides and their children, who were detained in Syria since the fall of the Islamic State, are expected imminently to return to Britain, according to The Times. It also reported that the British Home Office has started issuing them British passports.
October 30. Mohammed Ghani, a 65-year-old former imam in West Yorkshire who sexually assaulted a young child over a period of seven years, had his sentence increased. In August, Leeds Crown Court sentenced Ghani to two years in prison, but his sentence was increased after it was referred to the Court of Appeal by the Solicitor General, Robert Buckland QC MP, under the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme. The Court of Appeal increased Ghani's sentence to five years in prison. Speaking after the hearing, the Solicitor General said: "Ghani abused his position of authority and subjected a vulnerable child to a campaign of sexual assaults. I hope that the Court of Appeal's decision today brings the victim and their family some comfort."
October 31. The Times reported that Anjem Choudary was ordered to attend Britain's first compulsory deradicalization program. Choudary, who was released from prison on October 19, halfway through his sentence for supporting the Islamic State, was ordered to attend the Desistance and Disengagement Program (DDP) as part of his probation. The course, which requires him to receive mentoring and theological "advice," is the government's latest attempt to combat the heightened jihadist threat. Convicted jihadis are being freed from prison at a rate of one a week. More than 40% of those found guilty of terrorism offenses in the past decade, according to The Times, will be eligible for release by the end of 2018.
November 1. Alice Weidel, the leader of Germany's anti-mass-migration party Alternative for Germany (AfD), cancelled a scheduled speech at the Oxford Union due to "concerns with security." The decision followed growing pressure from students and local groups to cancel the event. The president of the Union, Stephen Horvath, stood by Weidel's right to speak at the event, saying that the Union remained "committed to the principles of political neutrality and free speech."
November 2. A 6-foot-tall Iranian migrant claiming to be 15 years old began attending Stoke High School in Ipswich. The man, named Siavash, arrived in Britain in early 2018 posing as an unaccompanied minor. He was removed from the school after he admitted that he was 25, married and had two children. School officials initially dismissed the concerns of parents, saying they were motivated by racism.
November 3. Two Birmingham Islamic schools were reported to the government for segregating boys and girls. The Avecinna Academy in Bordesley and The Wisdom Academy in Nechells were flagged for "sex discrimination" by the education watchdog Ofsted. Avecinna was found to be practicing segregation across year groups, including during breaktimes, while Wisdom was said to be "failing to prepare students for life in modern Britain." Ofsted inspectors said in their reports that the mixed sex schools were in breach of the Equality Act 2010.
November 6. The Labour Party invited a known extremist preacher to an anti-racism rally. Shakeel Begg, an imam at the Lewisham Islamic Center, was listed as a speaker at a Lewisham Labour Against Racism meeting, alongside two Labour MPs, local activists, trade unionists and students. The London rally, attended by many of the area's prominent Labour officials, aimed to "challenge the hostile environment," "stop Tommy Robinson's far-right allies" and "oppose Islamophobia and antisemitism." In 2016, Begg was declared "an extremist Islamic speaker who espouses extremist Islamic positions" by the High Court. It ruled that he had recently "promoted and encouraged religious violence by telling Muslims that violence in support of Islam would constitute a man's greatest deed."
November 14. Kirklees Council, responding to a freedom of information request, revealed that 40 schools in the council were serving halal meat from non-stunned animals to schoolchildren. The revelation sparked a debate and a petition to ban non-stunned meat. The petition, signed by more than 7,000 people, stated:
"Every day children in Kirklees schools are served meat from animals that have been slaughtered while fully conscious, suffering unnecessary pain and distress. It is a legal requirement that animals must be humanely stunned before slaughter, but non-stun slaughter is still permitted for some religious communities....
"Kirklees Council has been serving non-stunned halal meat in 42 schools without the knowledge or consent of the majority of pupils and parents. In some schools all of the meat served is non-stunned and there is no alternative option for pupils. The council has refused to say which schools are affected.
"There is no need for the council to supply non-stunned halal meat when the majority of halal meat is pre-stunned. Most Muslims are content with stunning."
November 16. Six British-Pakistani men — Mohammed Imran Ali Akhtar, 37, Asif Ali, 33, Tanweer Ali, 37, Salah Ahmed El-Hakam, 39, Nabeel Kurshid, 35 and Iqlak Yousaf, 34 — were sentenced to a combined total of 101 years in prison for grooming and raping five teenage girls in Rotherham. The men subjected the five girls to "degrading and violent" acts using alcohol, drugs and the "excitement of friendship" to lure them in. Sheffield Crown Court heard that one girl had been sexually abused by "at least 100 Asian men" by the time she was 16. The men targeted and groomed the girls, who were aged between 13 and 16, over seven years between 1998 and 2005. The case was the first major prosecution arising out of Operation Stovewood, the National Crime Agency's inquiry into historical child sexual exploitation in the South Yorkshire town. The inquiry, which identified more than 1,500 victims, will cost British taxpayers more than £90 million (€102 million; $117 million) by 2024, the date to which current planning extends, even though few people think it will be completed by then.
November 17. An imam recited the adhan, the Muslim call to prayer, at Blackburn Cathedral, a Church of England cathedral, in front of an audience of about 400 people. In Arabic, the imam stated: "Allah is the greatest; I bear witness that there is no other God but Allah; I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah." Gavin Ashenden, a former chaplain to the Queen, criticized the church for trying to move from "being a religious organization to a cultural one." Peter Howell-Jones, the dean of Blackburn Cathedral said that the cathedral was not only a place for Christians, but for people of all faiths.
November 18. The broadcasting regulator Ofcom launched an investigation into the Islam Channel, a Muslim television station accused of promoting divisive and hardline views in Britain. Ofcom said it was "conducting an assessment of content on Islam Channel to determine whether it complies with the broadcasting code." Ofcom has censured the channel in the past for political bias, advocating violence against women and supporting marital rape. The station, which claims it has one million viewers a day, reaches 59% of British Muslims, according to government estimates. The move came after a Sunday Times investigation showed that the channel has been supported by Saudi money.
November 21. A new report from the Henry Jackson Society think tank revealed that the personal television station of Zakir Naik, a prominent Islamist preacher linked to the Glasgow airport bomber, continued to hold a UK broadcast license. Founded in 2006, Peace TV repeatedly broadcast speeches by prominent extremist preachers with links to global jihad. The station has been repeatedly sanctioned by Ofcom for individual infractions of the Broadcast Code due to its extremist content. Despite this, Ofcom has failed to revoke Peace TV's license. In June 2010, Naik was banned from entering Britain on the basis that his entrance would "not be conducive to the public good." The decision, which was later upheld by the High Court, came three years after one of Naik's followers, Kafeel Ahmed launched a jihadi attack on Glasgow airport.
November 23. Five fraudsters, who ran a fake Bangladeshi visa scam and falsely claimed £13 million (€14 million; $17 million) in tax refunds, were sentenced to total of 31 years in jail. London law student Abul Kalam Muhammad Rezaul Karim, 42, was the ringleader of the group, which set up 79 bogus companies and created fake documentation used by Bangladeshi nationals in fraudulent visa applications. Officers found that Karim, his brother-in-law Enamul Karim, 34, Kazi Borkot Ullah, 39, Jalpa Trivedi, 41 and Mohammed Tamij Uddin, 47, charged clients for temporary visas to remain in the UK a minimum of £700 in cash for their fraudulent immigration services. The gang, as part of their tax and immigration fraud, claimed their clients were employees. The gang also created fake pay slips and provided false information on approximately 900 visa applications. An investigation into their wrongdoing was the "longest ever undertaken" by Immigration Enforcement's Criminal and Financial Investigation team.
November 24. Prime Minister Theresa May was accused of personally intervening to deny asylum to Asia Bibi, a Roman Catholic woman convicted of blasphemy in Pakistan. Home Secretary Sajid Javid reportedly argued passionately that Bibi should be given refuge in Britain, but May refused because of fears that allowing Bibi to claim asylum would "stoke tensions" among British Muslims.
November 25. Muslim rape gangs preyed on British Sikh girls for decades, but police ignored the abuse due to political correctness, according to a report by the Sikh Mediation and Rehabilitation Team. Sikh girls would be lured by "fashionably-dressed adult Pakistani men travelling in flamboyant vehicles to predominantly Sikh dominated areas and schools," the report disclosed. Titled, "Religiously Aggravated Sexual Exploitation of Young Sikh Women Across the UK," the report said it was not intended to be a "witch-hunt against any individual, community, culture or faith" but that nothing would change unless the facts were known.
November 26. A jailed sex offender was allowed to play a part in the future of the child of a woman he raped. The man, who was reportedly part of a grooming gang, was contacted in jail by a council who gave him a chance to seek visits from the child. Baroness Newlove, Victims' Commissioner for England and Wales, said:
"This is a perverse situation. It appears to be a case in which a victim of the worst sexual violence faced the prospect of continuing to be abused by her perpetrator, this time via the family courts. I believe that where a child has been conceived by rape that the presumption of joint parental rights should be abolished."
Louise Haigh, shadow policing and crime minister, added:
"This case potentially reveals a huge issue in the family courts where rapists are not only able but actively encouraged to gain access to their children and traumatize their victims all over again. If a child is born through rape, the father should under no circumstances be able to weaponize the courts against their victim."
November 27. People smugglers were reportedly telling migrants that they must enter Britain before "the borders shut properly" after Brexit, a BBC investigation disclosed. More than 100 people, the majority claiming to be Iranian, entered British waters in boats in November. An undercover reporter found smuggling operations were being organized at makeshift camps in northern France. "When the UK is out of Europe, the borders will be shut properly," a smuggler told an undercover reporter posing as an Iranian migrant at a camp in Dunkirk. "This jungle will be cleared. They will put everyone in jail." An Afghan, who gave his name as Farhad, told the BBC that he was part of a failed attempt to enter Britain aboard a dinghy with 11 others. "There is a rush," he said. "Everyone is talking about it saying we need to get in quick in case the security gets tighter."
November 30. Rahim Mohammadi, a 42-year-old Kurdish-Iranian from Hackney, was sentenced to 19 years in prison for murdering 80-year-old Lea Adri-Soejoko. Mohammadi, a Kurdish-Iranian, strangled Adri-Soejoko, the secretary of Colindale Allotments in North London, because he feared he would be thrown off his allotment, a plot of land for growing fruits and vegetables. Mohammadi sought political asylum in Britain in 2005 and was given indefinite leave to remain in 2010.
December 1. The Muslim Council of Britain and other Islamic groups demanded full legal protection from Islamophobia. They called on Prime Minister Theresa May, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and all other party leaders to adopt a newly proposed working definition of Islamophobia, apparently in an attempt to put pressure on a reluctant Home Office to follow suit. The definition was set out in a report published by a cross-party group of MPs and states: "Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness." The Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, Harun Khan, said that he hoped political leaders would "all understand the importance of listening to communities" and make a "positive response" by adopting the definition. A Home Office minister, Victoria Atkins, said that the department had no intention of adopting a "definitive definition" of Islamophobia. She said that there were "many definitions of Islamophobia" and that "we have very effective monitoring systems of all race-hate crimes."
December 5. Chaudry Mahmood, 51, from Ravensthorpe, pled guilty to assault by beating after he punched his girlfriend in the face. Prosecutor Natalie Chapman said a passerby witnessed the attack and called police. Mahmood claimed it was acceptable in "Asian culture" to hit women to "shut them up." When asked if he would do anything differently, he said 'no.' He was fined £80 and ordered to pay £85 prosecution costs plus £30 victim surcharge.
December 6. The Charity Commission, the government agency that regulates charities in England and Wales, condemned the former management of Muslim Aid, one of Britain's largest charities with a budget of £34 million (€38 million; $43 million) a year, for failing to safeguard against funding illegal groups. The charity, which worked in some of the most sensitive conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East, failed to check whether its money was going to blacklisted groups.
December 11. A 33-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of plotting a jihadi attack in Newcastle. More than a hundred officers swooped in on a quiet cul-de-sac in Newcastle upon Tyne to arrest the man, a "lone wolf plotter" said to be inspired by the Islamic State. Fearing that explosives may be present, more than 150 houses were evacuated as well as a school.
December 12. Miqdaad Versi, a spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain, complained that British media had accurately reported that Chérif Chekatt, the 29-year-old French-Moroccan jihadi who killed three people and injured a dozen more at a Christmas market in Strasbourg, shouted "Allahu Akbar" during the attack. He tweeted: "Disappointing to see BBC and Sky News lead with 'Allahu Akbar' in their headline on the awful shooting in #Strasbourg vs. ITV and Al Jazeera who are being far more responsible. This matters and it's wrong."
December 15. Abdulrahman Alcharbati, a 32-year-old Syrian from Benwell, was sentenced to seven years in prison for sharing jihadi propaganda. During his trial at Newcastle Crown Court, jurors were told how one of the films showed Syrian soldiers being violently beaten to death and dragged away. The court also heard how another of the videos depicted young children at an orphanage being given Islamic State "indoctrination" and being taught how to be a "thorn in the side of enemies of religion." Facebook had suspended his page on eight occasions between December 2016 and March 2017, but the father-of-one managed to get it reinstated each time by claiming that he was merely "exposing what was happening."
December 15. A 38-year-old Iranian asylum seeker who raped a teenage girl was spared deportation even though a judge believed his supposed conversion to Christianity was a deliberate ploy to cheat the justice system. The man, referred to in court documents as AM, arrived in Britain in 2006. In August 2013 he was sentenced to five years in prison for raping the 17-year-old in 2012. After his release from prison, a judge ruled that his claim to be Christian meant his deportation to Iran would be a breach of his human rights. The judge, who acknowledged that the man's religious conversion was part of a ruse to avoid deportation, ruled that his 850 twitter posts quoting the Bible and Christian theology placed him at risk of persecution if he was sent back to Iran.
December 17. Mohammed Karrar, 44, Bassam Karrar, 39 and Anjum Dogar, 36, were found guilty at Oxford Crown Court of ten counts of rape, indecent assault and conspiracy to rape for grooming and sexually abusing a "vulnerable" school girl in Oxford. During the trial, prosecutor Oliver Saxby QC said that the men had groomed and sexually abused their victim over a number of years in the early 2000s. He told jurors that they had formed part of a wider group of men who "sexually exploited vulnerable young girls for regular, casual and entirely functional sexual contact, in a car, in a park, in someone's flat." He added: "The common theme being sexual gratification that had the appearance of being consensual but in reality, courtesy of the level of exploitation and grooming involved, was anything but consensual."
December 18. Saheed Rasoolli, 30, and Araz Abdulla, 23, were sentenced to a combined 22 years in prison for abducting and raping a woman in Sunderland. Newcastle Crown Court heard how the woman was waiting for a bus in the city center on May 23 when she was approached by Rasoolli. She was then taken to a property in Roker Avenue and raped. Once Rasoolli had left the room, Abdulla entered and forced himself on the victim. She managed to flee to a nearby shop and reported the rapes to police. Rasoolli was sentenced to 12 years in prison and Abdulla was given a 10-year prison term.
December 19. Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, a 27-year-old Uber driver from Luton, was acquitted of terrorism charges. In August 2017, Chowdhury drove his car at a police van and attacked police with a samurai sword outside Buckingham Palace. Chowdhury shouted "Allahu Akbar" ("Allah is greatest") as two officers grappled with him. The court heard that three hours before the incident, Chowdhury left a note marked "read this" at the family home in Luton. The note said:
"By the time you read this note I will be in paradise with Allah. Tell everyone that I love them and that they should struggle against the enemies of Allah with their lives and property. The Queen and her soldiers will all be in the hellfire. They go to war with Muslims around the world and kill them without mercy. They are the enemies that Allah tells us to fight."
Chowdhury told the court that he had no intention of hurting the police and instead wanted to commit suicide because of British government policy against Muslims. He was unanimously acquitted after jurors deliberated for eleven-and-a-half hours.
December 20. The trial of William "Billy" Charlton, a 54-year-old activist accused of stirring up racial hatred during protests in Sunderland, was suspended after the jury at Newcastle Crown Court was unable to reach a verdict. Charlton was accused of targeting "immigrants, Asians, black people and police" during a series of public rallies to protest an increase in sexual assaults against women and children in the city. He allegedly referred to "immigrant rapists" and women being "used and abused by cowardly immigrants." Referring to Muslim rape gangs, Charlton said: "This will never be Rotherham, it will never be Rochdale, this is Sunderland." The case was be back in court in January 2019 for prosecutors to declare whether Charlton would be tried again. Charlton was granted bail in the meantime.
December 21. Statues of the Virgin Mary and Joseph were smashed, and a figure of baby Jesus was decapitated, at a nativity scene in Ilford. The nativity scene was installed and paid for by the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) to remind residents about the real meaning of Christmas. Councillor Jas Athwal said that he will not let "mindless people" ruin the nativity. "If we have to have it protected in the future then we will do it," he said. "We want to be making sure that all religions are living here peacefully."
December 22. London Police launched a murder investigation after a man in his 20s was stabbed to death in Haringey, North London. He was the 131st person to be violently killed in the capital in 2018 — the most since 2009.
December 25. Forty migrants, including two children, were rescued from boats in five separate incidents on Christmas Day in the English Channel. A Home Office spokesman said:
"The evidence shows there is organized criminal gang activity behind illegal migration attempts by small boats across the Channel. We are working closely with the French and law enforcement partners to target these gangs, who exploit vulnerable people and put lives at risk."
December 26. Home Secretary Sajid Javid defended a controversial tweet in which he attacked "sick Asian pedophiles" and said that ignoring the men's ethnicity would boost extremism. He added that he took the Rochdale grooming scandal personally because it involved men from his hometown and defended the government's right to strip the men of their British citizenship and deport them back to Pakistan. Javid said it was his job was to keep the British public safe even if it meant offenders being sent to a country where they may face fewer checks on their actions.
December 27. Mohammed Aqib Imran, 22, from Sparkhill in Birmingham, was found guilty of preparing to join terrorists abroad. Imran arranged to travel for jihad around the same time that his friend Naa'imur Zakariyah Rahman, 21, was plotting a suicide attack against Prime Minister Theresa May. The pair were caught by a network of online role players from the Metropolitan police, MI5 and the FBI. Rahman's plan to kill May was thwarted when undercover officers handed him a rucksack packed with fake explosives. Following a trial in July, Rahman was convicted of preparing acts of terrorism and Imran was found guilty of possessing a terrorist handbook. Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC told jurors:
"At the heart of this case is a developing radicalization in the minds of two men who came to know each other online, and afterwards met and began to collaborate. Both thought about travelling abroad to further their cause, going to a conflict zone such as Syria to lend support to violence. Each also contemplated carrying out terrorist acts of violence here in the UK.
"Mohammed Imran elected to travel and set about assembling money, acquiring a fake passport, engaging in research and otherwise equipping himself with the information and means to travel abroad for violence for terrorist purposes."
December 28. David Wood, a former senior Home Office official who used to lead immigration enforcement, warned that human smugglers were being emboldened by the fact that British lifeboats were rescuing travelers out at sea, with the rescuers then taking them on to dry land where they can claim asylum. He explained:
"Britain's border force, coastguards and lifeboats are being used as a taxi service for migrants. As far as organized crime is concerned, it's de-risked their business. They know they don't have to get right across the Channel and land, they can get half way across and the migrants will be taken the rest of the way.
"We have to stop this or it will grow and grow. The answer is to return them to France as soon as they are picked up. Given that the immigrants travelled from France, it would not be unlawful if the French agreed."
December 29. Home Secretary Sajid Javid cut short a Christmas holiday to return to Britain to deal with a surge in illegal crossings of the English Channel. Two boats were intercepted off the Kent coast on December 28 containing a total of 12 migrants, prompting urgent calls for the British and French authorities to do a better job of tackling people smuggling operations in northern France. Javid said he was ensuring that "everything possible" was being done to disrupt and prosecute organized people-smuggling gangs. Javid said that 539 people had made the crossing in 2018; 80% of those, in the last three months of the year. In "almost every case," he said, they went on to seek asylum.
December 31. A 25-year-old Somali man wielding kitchen knife and shouting "Allahu Akbar" stabbed three people, including a police officer, at Manchester's Victoria Station. The suspect, who had been living in Britain for a decade, reportedly shouted "Long live the Caliphate" and "As long as you keep bombing other countries, this sort of s*** is going to keep happening." The suspect, who appears to have acted alone, was initially held on suspicion of attempted murder, but later was detained under the Mental Health Act.
Part 1 of this series can be found here.