Islamist Watch (IW) maintains an extensive archive of news items on nonviolent Islamism in the Western world. The complete collection can be found here; lists organized by topic are accessible on the right side of the IW homepage.

The following are some of the recent developments covered in the IW database:

Australia: Do cultural differences excuse rape?

Esmatullah Sharifi, an Afghan refugee who came to Australia in 2001 and launched a career as a sexual predator, has been granted leave to appeal his sentence for raping an intoxicated young woman in 2008. Robert Redlich, an appellate judge, explained that the sentencing judge had focused primarily on "the protection of the community" and improperly "rejected any suggestion [Sharifi] didn't have a clear concept of consent in sexual relations" due to cultural differences. Citing "aspects of his conduct that were strange" — Sharifi had treated the victim like a "willing participant" before driving her home — Redlich concluded that "it proves, in my view, an adequate basis for most grounds of appeal that [Sharifi] wishes to pursue."

Whether or not the appeal succeeds, Redlich has already helped to bolster the "Muslim defense," described in a past IW news brief as "a double standard whereby a Muslim upbringing can excuse horrible behavior that would never be tolerated from non-Muslims," including workplace harassment, assault, and sex with minors. The Sharifi case touches on another taboo subject: the growing number of rapes perpetrated by Muslim men against non-Muslim women in the West.

Left: If you are a Muslim immigrant charged with rape, Robert Redlich is the judge for you. Right: These signs were posted on the streets of Waltham Forest, London, two years ago, but they would be more appropriate in the borough's school cafeterias.

England goes halal: Stats from Waltham Forest

How far has the march of halal progressed in English schools? An unsettling report shines light on one small corner of the country, the London borough of Waltham Forest: "A total of 46 schools and academies supported by the local authority order only halal meat from Waltham Forest Catering, their supplier. Just one school serves both halal and non-halal meat and 15 serve meat from animals slaughtered using 'standard' methods." Hence, three-quarters of the schools controlled by Waltham Forest Council feed students halal meat only. Also note that the borough is home to Larkswood Primary School, where parents recently protested plans to adopt a halal menu (see the previous IW news brief).

We are rapidly approaching a time when it will be easier to list those British establishments that have not gone halal. Schools represent merely the tip of the Shari'a-compliant iceberg. From supermarkets and restaurants to hospitals and sports venues, many food providers serve halal items without bothering to inform the people eating them.

Ex-Muslim quits Catholic Church over limp response to Islam

Magdi Allam, a former Muslim who was baptized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008, has declared that he is leaving the Catholic Church because of its "religious relativism, in particular the legitimization of Islam." He remains Christian but believes that the Vatican lacks what is needed most: "the courage to denounce Islam as incompatible with our civilization and fundamental human rights." As Andrew Bostom notes, "Benedict XVI never regained the bold moral clarity he demonstrated at Magdi Allam's public conversion." Yes, Muslim scholars cut off dialogue in 2011 after Benedict called for the protection of Middle Eastern minorities, but many argue that the Vatican did far too little to challenge Muslim persecution of Christians during his reign.

Given their statements following the election of Pope Francis, leading Islamist institutions hope for — and perhaps expect — an even softer stance. Surely they remember that, as a cardinal, Francis criticized Benedict for enraging Muslims by quoting a Byzantine emperor's unflattering appraisal of Muhammad in 2006. Shortly after becoming pope, Francis turned heads again by extending a hand to "our Muslim brothers and sisters" and expressing his desire "to intensify dialogue" with Islam. The new pontiff — and everyone else — would benefit from reading William Kilpatrick's insightful essay on the pitfalls and failures of Catholic–Muslim dialogue.

Left: Magdi Allam predicts that Islam will overrun Europe unless entities such as the Catholic Church defend Western culture and "condemn Shari'a as a crime against humanity." Right: Pope Francis sparked controversy by washing the feet of two Muslims on Holy Thursday.

Associated Press modifies its definition of "Islamist"

Three months after Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) asked the media to drop the word "Islamist," the AP has rolled out fresh guidance. It previously defined "Islamist" as a "supporter of government in accord with the laws of Islam. Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi." The revised definition is more verbose: "An advocate or supporter of a political movement that favors reordering government and society in accordance with laws prescribed by Islam. Do not use as a synonym for Islamic fighters, militants, extremists or radicals, who may or may not be Islamists. Where possible, be specific and use the name of militant affiliations." The sentence about politicians and militants remains. Though at first blush the changes may seem small and unobjectionable, the Islamists of CAIR are celebrating them.

Appearing to capitulate to CAIR is bad enough. Worse, there is good reason to suspect that the new conditions will make the term less likely to be employed, thus allowing some Islamists to escape ideological identification. This will further erode Westerners' ability to understand the enemy. For more on the AP's move and its significance to the grand jihad, IW recommends recent articles by Walid Phares and Andrew Harrod and Sam Nunberg in the American Thinker.

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For additional news and analysis, please visit the IW website.