March 1. A new Channel 4 documentary series called “Extremely British Muslims” showed the inner workings of a sharia court inside Birmingham’s Central Mosque. In the first episode, viewers witnessed the case of mother-of-four Fatima, 33, as she sought permission to divorce her drug dealer husband she says has abused her throughout their 14-year marriage. According to sharia law, Muslim women must plead their divorce cases in court, while Muslim men need only to say the words “I divorce you” three times to obtain a divorce. Birmingham Central Mosque said it allowed the sharia proceedings to be filmed in an effort to “break down misconceptions about Islam.” Some 100 sharia courts in Britain are now dispensing Islamic justice outside the remit of the British legal system.
March 2. English actor Riz Ahmed warned that the lack of Muslim faces on British television was alienating young people, driving them towards extremism and into the arms of the Islamic State. Delivering Channel 4’s annual diversity lecture in Parliament, Ahmed said that television had a pivotal role to play in ensuring that Muslims felt heard, and valued, in British society:
“If we fail to represent, we are in danger of losing people to extremism. In the mind of the ISIS recruit, he’s the next James Bond right? Have you seen some of those ISIS propaganda videos, they are cut like action movies. Where is the counter narrative? Where are we telling these kids they can be heroes in our stories — that they are valued? If we don’t step up and tell a representative story we are going to start losing British teenagers to the story that the next chapter in their lives is written with ISIS in Syria.”
March 3. The Amateur Swimming Association changed its swimsuit regulations to allow Muslim women to wear full body outfits, after a request from the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation. The rule was changed to encourage more Muslim women to take part in the sport. Rimla Akhtar, from the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation, said:
“Participation in sport amongst Muslim women is increasing at a rapid pace. It is imperative that governing bodies adapt and tailor their offerings to suit the changing landscape of sport, including those who access their sport.”
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