Al Jazeera

Conservatives accused of ‘political war’ on Muslims in bid for votes

London, United Kingdom – The British government has been accused of declaring “political war” on the country’s Muslim minority over tough new counter-extremism measures that include the launch of a unit to appraise and potentially blacklist Islamic organisations and community leaders, and further proposals that would give authorities powers to shut down mosques and silence preachers who fail to adhere to “British values”.

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Theresa May, pictured during a visit to a mosque in London in February. [Daniel Leal-Olivas / i-Images]

Critics also suggested that Theresa May, the home secretary, was using Muslims as a “political punchbag” in a bid to shore up right-wing support for the governing Conservative Party just six weeks before British voters go to the polls in a closely fought general election.

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Al Jazeera

UK denies passport to Syria aid couple’s baby

A British aid worker based in northern Syria says he has been denied a UK passport for his baby daughter and says that sustained harassment by the security services has left him feeling he has “no home to go to”.

Tauqir Sharif has worked in Syria since 2012. [Photo: Aid Convoy]

Tauqir Sharif has worked in Syria since 2012. [Photo: Aid Convoy]

Tauqir Sharif, who works with his British wife in a refugee camp near the Turkish border, says that British officials’ failure to grant his 17-month-old daughter a passport has effectively stranded her in Syria, and potentially placed the family in greater danger by making it harder for them to escape if fighting breaks out.

“She’s not English, she’s not Syrian, in effect she is stateless. If we need to get out of Syria we can’t go through an official crossing. We have to be smuggled out, and face being shot by Turkish soldiers,” Sharif told Al Jazeera.

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Al Jazeera

Muslim voters wield growing influence in UK election

London, United Kingdom – British Muslims are being urged to turn out and vote in greater numbers than ever before in the upcoming UK general election amid claims their say could be decisive in shaping the country’s next government.

Sayeeda Warsi [MEND]

Sayeeda Warsi said the Conservative Party was in danger of making itself irrelevant because of its failure to connect with minorities [MEND]

Turnout among Muslims eligible to vote has traditionally been significantly lower than among the wider population.

But campaigners say they hope a voter registration drive in the run-up to the May 9 ballot and community concerns over Islamophobia, British foreign policy, counter-terrorism measures, and economic and social marginalisation will motivate more people to participate.

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Al Jazeera

Irish MEP strikes for right to speak her own language

An Irish member of the European parliament is staging a “language strike” in protest against what she calls the discrimination against her mother tongue within European Union institutions and the “dismantling” of Irish language services by the government in Dublin.

Liadh Ni Riada says the Irish language is "excluded and ignored" in EU institutions

Liadh Ni Riada says the Irish language is “excluded and ignored” in EU institutions [European Union/EP]

Liadh Ní Riada, an MEP for the south of Ireland who grew up and lives in an Irish-speaking community, has been communicating only in Irish in the parliament since the beginning of the month and plans to continue until St Patrick’s Day on March 17.

Minority and regional language campaigners and supporters from across Europe have backed Ní Riada, and accused the EU and member states of failing to meet their own commitments on protecting linguistic diversity.

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