January 1. A 25-year-old Somali man stabbed three people — including a police officer — at Victoria Station in Manchester. BBC producer Sam Clack, who was waiting for a tram when the attack took place, reported: “The guy, his exact words were, he said: ‘As long as you keep bombing other countries, this sort of sh*t is going to keep happening.’ The suspect also screamed “Allahu Akbar!” (“Allah is the greatest!”) as he was bundled into a police van. Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson nevertheless said that officers were “retaining an open mind in relation to the motivation for this attack.” The suspect was eventually detained under the Mental Health Act.
January 2. Golders Green Mosque in London cancelled an exhibit about Muslim Albanians who helped, protected and rescued their Jewish neighbors during the Holocaust. The exhibit, which was intended to be part of the mosque’s drive to open and maintain dialogue with its neighbors, was cancelled after Muslim groups urged a boycott.
January 3. Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson deployed the Royal Navy patrol ship HMS Mersey to the English Channel to deter migrant crossings to “help prevent migrants from making the dangerous journey.” The navy’s involvement was requested by Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who said it would be an interim measure until two more Border Force cutters, HMC Protector and Seeker, are redeployed from the Mediterranean to UK waters. More than 200 people are known to have reached the UK in small boats since November.
January 4. Lewis Ludlow, a 27-year-old British convert to Islam, swore allegiance to the Islamic State and apparently planned to kill 100 people in a vehicle ramming attack in London, all while he was taking part in a government-sponsored deradicalization program, London’s Old Bailey was told during a sentencing hearing. The former Royal Mail worker also told the court that he was filled with “animosity and hatred” for the British public and carried out reconnaissance of high-profile targets around London. Ludlow, an associate of the convicted jihadi Anjem Choudhary, filmed himself denouncing his British citizenship: “I spit on your citizenship, your passport, you can go to hell with that.”
January 5. Britain has spent almost £200,000 ($260,000) protecting the welfare of an Islamist preacher, Abu Qatada, since he was deported to Jordan in 2013, according to The Times. Under terms agreed to by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary, the government has paid for the cleric to have appointments with human rights workers and doctors for three years. The payments were permitted despite May telling parliament in 2013 that “significant costs” to the taxpayer relating to the Abu Qatada case were “not acceptable to the public and not acceptable to me.” The “welfare visits” were to ensure that he was not tortured after he was removed from Britain for being a threat to national security, details released under freedom of information laws disclosed.
January 6. An eight-year-old boy was questioned by two counter-terrorism police officers and a social worker at a school in east London over fears that he might have been radicalized, according to The Independent. The Counter Terrorism Professional Standards Unit launched an investigation into the matter after the boy’s parents lodged a formal complaint about how their son was being treated. The parents, who said they wished to remain anonymous, said their child was left “frightened” and “traumatized” after he was separated from his classmates at a school in Ilford to be interviewed by the officers. The father claimed his son was asked about Islam, the mosque he attends, whether he prays, and his views on other religions. He was also asked to recite verses from the Quran.
January 7. Ten men — Parvaze Ahmed 36, Naveed Akhtar, 43, Saeed Akhtar, 55, Zeeshan Ali, 32, Kieran Harris, 28, Izar Hussain, 32, Faheem Iqbal, 27, Basharat Khaliq, 38, Yasar Majid, 37, and Mohammed Usman, 31 — went on trial accused of grooming and sexually abusing two teenage girls. The alleged abuse is said to have begun in 2008 when both girls were 14 and living in a Bradford children’s home. Prosecutor Kama Melly QC told Bradford Crown Court the men used threats, violence, alcohol and drugs sexually to exploit the girls. The men denied a total of 25 offenses, including allegations of rape and inciting child prostitution. Melly said the men had “exploited and manipulated” the two girls, who, for legal reasons, could not be named.
January 9. In a now-deleted tweet, the BBC asked viewers if they “respected the decision” of a teenager who had fled Saudi Arabia after renouncing Islam. The tweet read, “18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun fled Saudi Arabia as she said her family would kill her for choosing to leave Islam — do you respect her decision?” Irate readers responded on Twitter with comments such as, “You’re a waste of taxpayer’s money,” and the BBC rapidly deleted the tweet. A BBC spokesperson said, “We accept that the original wording of our tweet did not reflect the question being posed on air and was open to misinterpretation.” The BBC had previously stirred up controversy with a tweet asking, “What is the right punishment for blasphemy?”
January 9. A report on religious education presented to the Thurrock Council found that parents were refusing to allow their children to attend lessons about Islam and participate in school trips to mosques. The report warned about “integration issues” and concluded that an investigation should be launched into the “nature and extent” of the refusals. It stated:
“Parents have objected to the teaching of Islam and withdrawn children from lessons and visits to places of worship.”
“The outcome for those children, who arguably are those that most need to be taught about Islam, are no longer being taught about it.”
“It is not clear whether or not this is a widespread issue in Thurrock, but it is clear that the Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education needs to investigate.”
“Schools have a statutory duty to promote community cohesion.”
A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said that it was vital that British children learn about Islam to prevent Islamophobia:
“In an ever increasingly diverse society, it is more crucial than ever to learn about each other’s faith and cultures, and help foster better understanding between communities.”
“In particular, as hostility towards Muslim communities remains widespread and more young people are brought up with inaccurate views about Muslims, we believe visits to mosques are an important way to help resolve misunderstandings.”
January 9. Asher Samson, a 41-year-old Pakistani Christian, was deported back to his home city of Abbottabad after living in Britain for 15 years. Samson first arrived in the UK in 2004 to attend seminary to become a pastor, but later applied for asylum after receiving threats from Islamic extremists during visits home. Samson’s asylum claim was rejected in 2018 and he was detained in Morton Hall Detention Centre in Lincoln on November 24. There, he was told he was to be deported. “I’m so scared,” he said. “People know who I am, they know I am a Christian and they have seen me on social media.” Due to religious persecution in Pakistan, Samson’s entire family had fled, and settled in Britain. While his siblings both have spousal and unmarried partner visas, he was unable to secure his status.
January 10. Mohammed Abdul, 21, was sentenced to 28 years in prison after being found guilty of two counts of attempting to murder multiple people. Maidstone Crown Court heard how Abdul had been thrown out of Blake’s nightclub in Queen Street on March 17, 2018 before he drove a stolen car into the place and injured party-goers.
January 11. Mohammed Sawalha resigned from the board of trustees of Finsbury Park Mosque, one of Britain’s most prominent, after an investigation by The Times revealed that he was a senior operative of Hamas. Finsbury Mosque is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent movement of Hamas.
January 13. Councillors in Bradford called for an investigation into why a high proportion of child grooming perpetrators in the area come from the Pakistani community. During a debate organized by Bradford Council’s Bradford East Area Committee, police told members of the good work being done to educate people how to spot the dangers of grooming. Councillor David Ward said while this work was commendable, there was no reference to the fact that British Pakistani men were disproportionately more likely to be perpetrators of child sex crimes. He said he was “gobsmacked” that police had not done more work investigating this link. He added, “This is not simply about catching people who do this type of crime, it is about knowing why people are doing this. Unless we know why certain people do this, we can’t stop them.”
January 14. Police arrested 55 men from Dewsbury, Batley and Bradford in connection with historical child sex abuse cases in West Yorkshire. The arrests began in November, according to West Yorkshire Police. All the men were interviewed and released under investigation, the force said. The claims made by seven women relate to abuse against them when they were children, between 2002 and 2009. The allegations are connected to offenses in the Kirklees area, predominantly in the towns of Dewsbury and Batley.
January 16. Prosecutor Caroline Carberry QC told London’s Old Baily that investigators found evidence of spells and curses aimed at police officers in the home of a Ugandan woman, 37, and a Ghanaian man, 43, both from east London. They are accused of performing female genital mutilation (FGM) on her three-year-old girl. The woman claimed the girl “fell on metal and it ripped her private parts” after she had climbed to get a biscuit. Carberry told the court that the girl had been subjected to FGM at her mother’s home in the presence of her father, who lived nearby. Highlighting WhatsApp messages between the parents after the alleged FGM, Carberry said the pair were discussing casting a spell to “silence the police and the doctors.” She said:
“Two cow tongues were bound in wire with nails and a small blunt knife also embedded in them, 40 limes were found and other fruit which when opened contained pieces of paper with names on them.”
“The names embedded included both police officers involved in the investigation of the case, the social worker, her own son and the then director of public prosecutions.”
January 16. West Midlands Police reported that more than a dozen churches in the region had received “threatening letters,” including one warning of a petrol bomb attack, and another threatening to “stab” congregants “one by one.” All of the letters originated in the West Midlands region. The National Counter Terrorism Security Office recently issued a “Crowded Places Guidance” to mitigate the threat of jihadi attacks against British churches and other public venues.
January 17. Seven members of a Turkish gang from Hackney were sentenced to a total of 55 years in prison for spraying passersby with acid. The unprovoked attack occurred in Hackney in May 2018 and was recorded by CCTV cameras. The gang fled the scene in three cars as they shouted homophobic comments and that they “run Hackney.”
January 18. Violent crime on London’s Tube network increased by more than 43% in the last three years, according to official statistics. British Transport Police data showed there were 2,838 crimes between November 2017 and September 2018, compared to 1,980 reported incidents between November 2015 and October 2016. King’s Cross St Pancras station in central London had the highest number of recorded offenses. The figures, which were released following a request from the Greater London Authority Conservatives, are to September 2018 because data for October was not available.
January 21. Mohammed Karrar, 44, Bassam Karrar, 39 and Anjum Dogar, 37, three men from Oxford, who groomed, raped and sexually abused a vulnerable school girl, were sentenced to a total of 48 years in prison. During the three-week trial, jurors at Oxford Crown Court were told that between 2002 and 2005, the girl, aged between 14 and 16 at the time, was subject to repeated sexual abuse by the men. In one instance of rape detailed to the court, she revealed that she had been attacked by a number of men while at a party at Plowman Tower, Oxford. The victim, now an adult, described feeling hands all over her body after she was plied with drink and drugs before passing out. When she woke up, the court heard, she was naked except for a single sock and covered in blood after suffering injuries, including bite marks. It was this rape, the court heard, that led to her becoming pregnant.
January 22. Around 5,000 people signed a petition to boycott Marks and Spencer toilet paper: they alleged it was embossed with the Arabic word for God. Footage taken by an unidentified man showed the Aloe Vera 3-ply toilet tissue with the indentation in question. Speaking on the video, the man urged his “brothers and sisters” not to buy the £2.50 roll because “every toilet tissue has the name of Allah on it.” The petition stated, “This is a very weasly [sic] and pathetic attempt to insult Islam.” Marks and Spencer, in a statement on Twitter, denied the claims: “The motif on the aloe vera toilet tissue, which we have been selling for over five years, is categorically of an aloe vera leaf and we have investigated and confirmed this with our suppliers.”
January 22. The trial began at Worcester Crown Court of Saied Hussini, a 40-year-old Afghan national, and six other co-conspirators accused of spraying sulfuric acid on Hussini’s three-year-old son. The boy suffered burns to his arm and face during the attack, which occurred outside a Worcester school on July 13, 2018. Prosecutors said the attack was organized by the boy’s father to show that his estranged wife was “unable to properly care” for their three children. The seven defendants deny the accusations.
January 23. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe urged Britain to make it a legal requirement for Muslim couples to register their marriages civilly before or at the same time as their religious ceremony, because Sharia marriages alone “clearly discriminate against women in divorce and inheritance cases.” The recommendation added:
“The Assembly considers that the various Islamic declarations on human rights adopted since the 1980s, while being more religious than legal, fail to reconcile Islam with universal human rights, especially insofar as they maintain the Sharia law as their unique source of reference. This includes the 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, which, whilst not legally binding, has symbolic value and political significance in terms of human rights policy under Islam….
“The Assembly is also concerned about the ‘judicial’ activities of ‘Sharia councils’ in the United Kingdom. Although they are not considered part of the British legal system, Sharia councils attempt to provide a form of alternative dispute resolution, whereby members of the Muslim community, sometimes voluntarily, often under considerable social pressure, accept their religious jurisdiction mainly in marital and Islamic divorce issues, but also in matters relating to inheritance and Islamic commercial contracts. The Assembly is concerned that the rulings of the Sharia councils clearly discriminate against women in divorce and inheritance cases. The Assembly is aware that informal Islamic Courts may exist in other Council of Europe member States too.”
January 25. Asma Aweys, a 30-year-old jihadi from Edmonton, London, was sentenced to 19 months in prison for three counts of “dissemination of a terrorist publication.” Her brother Ahmed Aweys was sentenced to 25 months and her husband Abdulaziz Abu Munye to 15 months, also for disseminating terrorist materials. Asma had copies of the jihadi magazine Rumiyah, which included advice about how to make napalm and Molotov cocktails, as well as an article about the ‘perfect knife’ for murder. She also gloated on social media that the March 2017 Westminster jihadi attack, which left four people dead, “was by the decree of Allah.” Ahmed pled guilty to using WhatsApp to distribute the ISIS online magazine Dabiq. Munye, apparently a common thief, who said he was entitled to steal from the ‘kuffar’ [infidels], admitted to using WhatsApp to distribute an ISIS film called “Flames of War 2.” “It shows brutal executions of various kinds, battle footage, references to attacks in the West and praising the faith-based nature of the participants,” prosecutor Lee Ingham said.
January 26. The Guardian reported that hundreds, and possibly thousands, of young girls in Britain are being subjected to so-called breast-ironing, an African practice whereby mothers or grandmothers use a hot stone to massage across the breast repeatedly in order to “break the tissue” and slow its growth. The objective is to stop unwanted male attention. A community activist said:
“It’s usually done in the UK, not abroad like female genital mutilation (FGM). Sometimes they do it once a week, or once every two weeks, depending on how it comes back.”
One of UK’s leading QCs, Alex Carlile, said:
“It is surprising to me that the police and other authorities are not allocating even the resources clearly needed to deal with this horrific phenomenon. Surely, it’s high time for the police and prosecuting authorities to address and tackle the issue in a robust manner, sensitive to the personal issues that arise for young victims and their communities.”
Conservative MP Maria Miller added: “It’s not only an issue of funding, it is also an issue of political will to tackle something that historically has been accepted as a cultural practice.”
January 28. Comedian Russell Howard revealed that the BBC required him to re-record a joke about the Islamic State in case it offended the jihadi group. Speaking about freedom of speech on Sky One’s “The Russell Howard Hour,” he recalled filming a segment for the BBC on the 2015 jihadi attacks in Paris. Howard said about ISIS, “they’re not Muslims, they’re terrorists” — a remark which drew cheers from the studio audience during filming. “At the end of filming, the BBC lost their minds, saying ‘You need to re-record it! You need to say ISIS aren’t *devout* Muslims,'” he recalled. “I was like, ‘Are you worried we are going to offend ISIS? Are they going to write in?'”
January 30. Asim Hussain, an imam at the Al-Hikam Institute in Bradford, was removed from his position and told to delete his social media accounts after Muslim scholars found that he was guilty of “serious violations of morality” and “abuses of authority.” Although the exact details of the allegations were not revealed, the imam had been ordered to “pray his five times daily prayers, look for a spouse and refrain from contact with ‘Ghayr Mahram’ women, referring to incestuous relationships. West Yorkshire Police said they were making enquiries “to establish if any offences have been committed.” Hussain’s supporters started a petition to “stop him retreating as an imam… we hate the sin and not the sinner.”
January 30. Government inspectors reported that Al-Hijrah Muslim primary school in Birmingham was still separating boys and girls, despite a 2017 Court of Appeal ruling that found the practice was unlawful. Addressing the Parliament’s Women and Equalities Select Committee, Luke Tryl, a director at the education regulator Ofsted, said that Al-Hijrah school was enforcing a “very strict gender segregation” which included “denying the girls to have their lunch until the boys had had theirs.” He added: “We [Ofsted] found some very discriminatory texts for instance, encouraging violence against women.”
January 31. A 21-year-old man was arrested after a machete attack outside a McDonald’s in Sheffield. One woman said she saw the man brandishing what she thought was a sword as she walked past on her way to work. “We were so scared. We thought he was going kill everyone. The first thing I thought was it was terrorism.” Another man said:
“I turned around to see what the commotion was. There was a colored guy with a big machete, about 15 inches long. And then there’s a bloke running towards me with his face slashed all down one side. The manager and me ran towards the door, we locked the door. The next thing, the coppers Tasered the attacker and jumped on him. He didn’t seem in the right frame of mind, at all.”
January 31. A man who has spent three years on the run after fleeing Britain while on trial for the rape of a girl in Rochdale was arrested in Pakistan. Choudhry Ikhalaq Hussain, 41, was convicted in his absence and sentenced to 19 years in prison for rape, sexual activity with a child and conspiracy to rape. Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said that Hussain was arrested north of Faisalabad, and will now face extradition to the United Kingdom.