August 1. Nearly 900 Syrians in Britain were arrested in 2015 for crimes including rape and child abuse, police statistics revealed. The British government has pledged to resettle up to 20,000 Syrian refugees in the UK by the end of 2020. "The government seems not to have vetted those it has invited into the country," said MEP Ray Finch. The disclosure came after Northumbria Police and the BBC were accused of covering up allegations that a gang of Syrians sexually assaulted two teenage girls in a park in Newcastle.
August 1. Male refugees settling in Britain must receive formal training on how to treat women, a senior Labour MP said. Thangam Debbonaire, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees, called for a "refugee integration strategy" so that men "understand what is expected of them." She said it could help prevent sexual harassment and issues "including genital mutilation."
August 2. Jane Collins, MEP for the UK Independence Party (UKIP), launched a petition calling for the BBC to stop using the term "honor killing." The petition says the term "cultural murder" should be used instead. It states:
"To use the term 'honor killing' when describing the murder of a family member — overwhelmingly females — due to the perpetrators' belief that they have brought 'shame' on a family normalizes murder for cultural reasons and sets it apart from other killings when there should be no distinction.
"Murder is murder, whether it be for cultural excuses or others. The term 'honor killing' is a euphemism for a brutal murder based on cultural beliefs which have no place in Britain or anywhere else in the world."
August 3. Zakaria Bulhan, a 19-year-old Norwegian man of Somali descent, stabbed to death an American woman in London's Russell Square. He also wounded five others. Police dismissed terror as a possible motive for the attack, which they blamed on mental health problems. But HeatStreet, a news and opinion website, revealed that Bulhan had uploaded books advocating violent jihad on social media sites.
August 4. A public swimming pool in Luton announced gender-segregated sessions for "cultural reasons." The move will give men exclusive access to the larger 50-meter pool, while women will have to use the smaller 20-meter pool. The gender-segregated sessions are named 'Alhamdulillahswimming,' an Arabic phrase which means "Praise be to Allah." UKIP MEP Jane Collins said the decision to have segregated times for swimming was "a step backwards for community relations and gender equality." She added:
"The leisure center said this is for cultural reasons and I think we all know that means for the Muslim community. This kind of behavior, pandering to one group, harms community relations and creates tension. Under English law we have equality between men and women. This is not the same in cultures that believe in Sharia Law."
August 5. Egyptian members of the Muslim Brotherhood may be allowed to seek asylum in Britain, according to new guidance from the Home Office. The document states that high profile or politically active members
"may be able to show that they are at risk of persecution, including of being held in detention, where they may be at risk of ill-treatment, trial also without due process and disproportionate punishment.... In such cases, a grant of asylum will be appropriate."
The new guidance contradicts previous government policy. In December 2015, then Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain would "refuse visas to members and associates of the Muslim Brotherhood who are on record as having made extremist comments."
August 5. Stephen Bennett, a 39-year-old father of seven from Manchester, was sentenced to 180 hours of community service for posting "grossly offensive" anti-Muslim comments on Facebook. One of the offending comments: "Don't come over to this country and treat it like your own. Britain first." He was arrested under the Malicious Communications Act. The judge said Bennett, whose mother-in-law and sister-in-law are Muslims, was guilty of "running the risk of stirring up racial hatred." He described it as "conduct capable of playing into the hands of the enemies of this country."
August 6. British MPs face a six-year alcohol ban when the Palace of Westminster, which has dozens of bars and restaurants, undergoes a multi-billion-pound refurbishment beginning in 2020. They will move to an office building operating under Islamic Sharia law. Their new home, Richmond House, is one of three government buildings which switched ownership from British taxpayers to Middle Eastern investors in 2014 to finance a £200 million Islamic bond scheme — as part of an effort to make the UK a global hub for Islamic finance. Critics say the scheme effectively imposes Sharia law onto government premises.
August 8. Lisa Duffy, a candidate to succeed Nigel Farage as leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), called for a ban on Muslim women wearing a veil in public buildings, shopping centers and on buses and trains. She also demanded that Islamic faith schools be closed to combat radicalization, as well as a "complete and comprehensive ban" on Sharia courts in the UK. She said the veil is "a symbol of aggressive separatism that can only foster extremism" and claimed that it is often "forced on women by men who view them as their property."
August 8. Stanley Johnson, a former Conservative MEP and Chairman of the European Parliament's Intergroup Group on Animal Welfare, called for all halal meat offered for sale in the UK to be clearly labeled as such. He wrote:
"The halal market is worth £2.6 billion in Britain alone, and the export market is also growing particularly in the Middle East. Most of us eat halal meat unwittingly on a daily basis, since it is sold in most major outlets, including big brand-name supermarkets, without being labelled as such."
August 9. Tanveer Ahmed, a 32-year-old taxi driver from Bradford, was sentenced to 27 years in prison for the "barbaric, premeditated" murder of a shopkeeper in Glasgow. Ahmed admitted to repeatedly stabbing Asad Shah to death outside his shop in March 2016 in a sectarian attack motivated by hatred of Shah's religious views.
Ahmed, a Sunni Muslim, confessed to attacking Shah, who belonged to the Ahmadi branch of Islam, which believes Mohammed was not the final Muslim prophet. As he was led from the dock, Ahmed raised a clenched fist and shouted in Arabic: "Praise for the Prophet Mohammed, there is only one Prophet." His cry was repeated by supporters in the public gallery.
Tanveer Ahmed (right), a Sunni Muslim, was sentenced to 27 years in prison for the murdering Asad Shah (left), who belonged to the Ahmadi branch of Islam. Ahmed confessed to killing Shah in Glasgow because he claimed Shah had "disrespected the Prophet Mohammed."
August 11. ITV News reported that Kadiza Sultana, one of three British schoolgirls who left their homes in east London to join the Islamic State, was killed by a Russian airstrike in Raqqa, Syria. Sultana had been living in Syria after leaving her home in February 2015 to join IS. She had travelled with her friends Amira Base and Shamima Begum, both of whom are believed to still be in Raqqa. "Sultana had become disillusioned with life in the medieval terror state and was making plans to flee back to Britain," ITV said.
August 11. Muslim women are the most economically disadvantaged group in British society, according to a report by the Women and Equalities Committee of the House of Commons. Figures suggest they are three times more likely to be unemployed job-seekers than women generally, and twice as likely to be economically inactive.
The report also found that jobless rates in the Muslim community run at more than double the rate of the general population (12.8% against 5.4%). It called for a change in law that would force companies to introduce "name blind" applications to reduce "unconscious bias" against Muslim and other minority candidates.
August 12. Voter fraud has been deliberately overlooked in Muslim communities because of "political correctness," according to a government report. Sir Eric Pickles, author of the report, warned that election fraud was commonplace "especially in communities of Pakistani and Bangladeshi background" but it has been ignored because of "over-sensitivities about ethnicity and religion."
The investigation began after a scandal in Tower Hamlets, London, where Mayor Lutfur Rahman was removed and his election declared void after he was found by a court to have committed electoral fraud, including vote-rigging. Pickles said never again in Britain should people be told they will "burn in hell" if they do not back a particular candidate. He added: "Electoral malpractice is far more common than just one isolated London borough thanks to the state's collective state of denial."
August 13. British schoolchildren should be required to make a regular US-style pledge of allegiance to the British flag, according to Khalil Yousuf, a spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. He said: "Not only should we raise the flag, but everybody in the Muslim community should have to pledge loyalty to Britain in schools. There is no conflict between being a Muslim and a Briton."
August 14. Metropolitan Police of London announced a £1.7 million "Online Hate Crime Hub" to investigate offensive comments on Facebook and Twitter. The so-called Twitter Squad, created by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, will identify online abuse and report it to the appropriate police force. Civil liberties groups worry the new unit could stop people expressing opinions for fear of arrest. "There's a risk of online vigilantism, where people who are offended by the least thing will have a license to report it to the police," said Andrew Allison of the Freedom Association. An offense of malicious communication carries a prison sentence of up to two years.
August 16. The Crown Prosecution Service announced that Anjem Choudary, 49, one of the most notorious Islamists in Britain, was convicted of inviting support for a proscribed terrorist organization, namely the Islamic State. A top associate of Choudary, Mohammed Rahman, 33, was also convicted for the same offense. The jury delivered its verdict on July 28, but it was not announced until August 16, after the conclusion of a related trial. On September 6, both men were sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison.
Choudary, a lawyer by training, had for years managed to avoid prison by treading the fine legal line between the inflammatory rhetoric of Islamic supremacism and the right to free speech. Up until now, he had never been convicted of any offense. The judge said he crossed the line by pledging an "oath of allegiance" to the Islamic State, which has been proscribed as a terrorist organization. Evidence presented in court linked Choudary to 15 terror plots since 2000 and more than 500 British jihadists fighting with IS.
August 16. British authorities allowed two Pakistani Islamists to speak at mosques throughout Britain as part of a seven-week tour called Sacred Journey. Muhammad Naqib and Hassan Haseeb led a high-profile campaign in Pakistan in praise of Mumtaz Qadri, an Islamist who murdered Pakistani politician Salman Taseer in 2011 for opposing Pakistan's strict blasphemy laws. Qadri claimed it was his religious duty to kill the Punjab governor.
After arriving in the UK, Naqib was welcomed at Lambeth Palace by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. They discussed interfaith relations and ways to counter "the narrative of extremism and terrorism."
Shahbaz Taseer, whose father was murdered by Qadri, criticized British authorities for allowing the clerics into the country. He said:
"These people teach murder and hate. For me personally I find it sad that a country like England would allow cowards like these men in. It is countries like the UK and the US that claim they are leading the way in the war against terror and setting a standard. Why are they allowing people in that give fuel to the fire they are fighting against?"
The Home Secretary has the power to ban people from the UK if their presence is deemed to not be "conducive to the public good." In June 2013, former Home Secretary and now Prime Minister Theresa May used these powers to ban Robert Spencer, an American expert on radical Islam, for saying that Islam "is a religion and is a belief system that mandates warfare against unbelievers for the purpose for establishing a societal model that is absolutely incompatible with Western society."
August 20. The Daily Mail reported that a Muslim train driver who went through a red signal light before he crashed a train at London's Paddington Station in June had gone without food or drink for 15 hours because of Ramadan.
August 20. In an article for the Mail on Sunday, a British asylum judge revealed that only a tiny proportion — between five and ten percent — of the people whose asylum applications are denied are actually deported. He also wrote:
"I am an experienced asylum judge in a major British population center and you must believe me when I say this: our immigration controls are broken and the country cannot cope.... the truth is that the great majority of the claimants at my tribunals are not attempting to escape persecution at all. They are economic migrants, pure and simple....
"A colleague of mine had before him the case of a Muslim from Asia who had lived here for years with a wife and children, and then went back to his country of birth to marry three other wives, as he is allowed to do under Islamic law, and had more children.
"Those later children then claimed British nationality, even though we don't recognize polygamy in our marriage laws, and the mothers also claimed the right to come over here with the children on the basis of a right to family life. That obligation was imposed on the UK Government by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Astounding as it might seem to you or to me, they were successful on appeal....
August 22. The Justice Ministry announced measures to combat Islamic extremism in British prisons. The move came after an official inquiry concluded that inmates acting as "self-styled emirs" were exerting a "radicalizing influence" over fellow Muslims. The most dangerous Islamist extremists are to be removed from the general prison population and held in separate prison units, to prevent them from proselytizing other inmates. In addition, prison wardens will be instructed to confiscate extremist literature and to remove anyone from Friday prayers who is promoting anti-British beliefs.
August 23. The Police Service of Scotland announced that the hijab will become an optional part of its uniform. Chief Constable Phil Gormley said he hoped the move will encourage more Muslim women to join the force.
August 24. Michael Coe, a 35-year-old convert to Islam and a close associate of Anjem Choudary, was found guilty of assault and battery after knocking a 16-year-old boy unconscious in east London because he was hugging a girl. Coe, also known as Mikaeel Ibrahim, left the boy unconscious and bleeding after he kicked his head.
August 25. The trial began of two Islamic State supporters accused of murdering an imam in Rochdale because they viewed his practice of Islamic healing as "black magic." Mohammed Hussain Syeedy, 22, and Mohammed Abdul Kadir, 24, were said to have developed "a hatred" of Jalal Uddin, 71, when they discovered that he practiced Ruqya healing, which involves the use of amulets. Uddin suffered multiple injuries to his head and face in an attack, thought to have involved a hammer, in a children's playground on the evening of February 18.
Opening the case at Manchester Crown Court, prosecutor Paul Greaney QC said:
"Who hated a decent man like Jalal Uddin with such virulence? The answer to that important question is to be found in the twisted ideology of ISIS, sometimes known as Islamic State. Jalal Uddin was a practitioner of a form of Islamic healing called Ruqya. ISIS regards this practice as black magic and adheres to the view that those who engage in it deserve severe punishment, even death."
August 26. The BBC reported that the number of minors detained under the Terrorism Act more than tripled over two years. Forty-six were detained in 2015, compared with 13 in 2013, with the youngest aged only 13. The threefold rise is believed to be the result of police stopping unaccompanied minors on outbound flights who they believe could be travelling on to Syria.
August 27. A close associate of Anjem Choudary ran a series of front companies that received more than £1 million of taxpayers' money to run computer training courses in libraries and job centers. That money was then transferred to key members of Choudary's banned terrorist group Al-Muhajiroun (ALM). Even after the government learned about the associate's links to Choudary, it continued to grant him money for another four years.
The businessman received £1,187,883 (€1,398,000; $1,574,000) of public money between 2012 and 2014 alone, according to the Mail on Sunday, which wrote: "It has never been revealed until now that ALM was relying on government money to stir up hate against Britain."
August 27. Police in Telford — dubbed the child sex capital of Britain — were accused of covering up allegations that hundreds of children in the town were sexually exploited by Pakistani sex gangs. Officers were accused of taking too long to probe allegations, including eyewitness accounts of older men selling drugs and alcohol to teenagers.
An abuse victim called for an independent inquiry: "I never want any other girl to go through what I did. We need a Rotherham-style inquiry in Telford. It has been going on for at least two decades. When will it stop?"
Another victim said: "I dread to think how many victims there have been over the years. It wouldn't surprise me if the offending was on the same scale as Rotherham."
The Rotherham inquiry revealed that over the course of 16 years, 1,400 girls as young as 11 were raped, tortured and beaten, mostly at the hands of men from the town's Pakistani community. Police and municipal officials in Rotherham downplayed the abuse because of fears of being accused of racism.
August 31. A YouGov poll found that a majority of Britons are in favor of banning the burka in public spaces. According to the poll, 57% of Britons support a ban; 25% are opposed. The only age group to oppose a ban was 18-24 year-olds; all others were in favor, with the oldest 65+ group supporting a ban by 78% to 12%. All major political parties also had a plurality of voters in favor of a ban. A separate question asked by YouGov found that 46% of Britons want to ban the burkini; 30% are opposed.
August 31. National Churchwatch, a multi-faith organization dedicated to reducing crime in places of worship, issued a security warning for British churches after jihadists murdered a Catholic priest in France. The group's director, Nick Tolson, said the risk of an attack had risen since the July 26 murder of Father Jacques Hamel. "My experience tells me it won't be a large church or cathedral," he said. "It'll be a small church where there's not much around and the police are a long way away." The group has sent a 12-page security guidance — Counter Terrorism Advice for Churches — to every church in Britain.
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.