Tokyo Camii, or the Tokyo Mosque, is a curious sight, both stunning and subtle. Despite the grand Turkish design, the mosque hides between apartment blocks in the quiet residential neighbourhood of Yoyogi Uehara. 

Construction of the current incarnation of the mosque was completed in 2000, but the mosque has a much longer history. It was in the 1930s when Japan first saw a significant resident Muslim population and the first mosques were established. The Nagoya Mosque was built in 1931 and the Kobe Mosque in 1935 by Indian-Muslim migrants. 

Tatar Muslim migrants escaping the Russian revolution made the largest ethnic group in Japan by the 1930s and established the original Tokyo Mosque in 1938.

Hans Martin Kramer, a professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Heidelberg and an expert on religion in Japan, considers this to be the most prominent mosque in Japan, one that was “not only supported by the Japanese government, but also financed by Japanese companies, most notably Mitsubishi, and its opening ceremony was attended by dignitaries and diplomats from both Japan and the Islamic World”.

While the Tokyo Camii does not have the same support and contacts with Japanese government and large conglomerates in contemporary times, the mosque was rebuilt using funds from the Turkish government and is both a religious venue and an ethno-cultural space hosting wedding ceremonies, fashion shows, plays, exhibitions and conferences.

Marriage and conversion

Away from the tourists, marble floors and ornate interiors in a small alley around the corner from Tokyo Camii is Dr Musa Omer at the Yuai International School. The school is loud, unpretentious, chaotic and teeming with children. It is a Saturday and the school has activities and classes from 10am until 8pm. While the leadership at the school is looking towards offering full-time education in the near-future, it is currently limited to offering Saturday classes ranging from Islamic studies and Arabic, to karate and calligraphy.  

The school is run by the Islamic Centre of Japan (ICJ), a post-WWII Muslim institution established in 1966. Omer - an advisor to the Saudi Ambassador and who has twice served as the Sudanese Ambassador to Japan - is its acting chairman. 

On this day, Omer is preparing to marry a young couple in his small office - a Saudi man and a Japanese woman. Omer works on the marriage certificate and answers questions simultaneously. Like the atmosphere in the school, the wedding is informal and relaxed with both the bride and groom dressed casually. She is converting to Islam and will move to Saudi Arabia soon.

In a brief interlude, the woman is asked whether this is her first introduction to Islam, and she replies that it isn’t. Her relationship with the Saudi man started online two years ago and they decided to get married. Omer, with long-established links to the Saudi embassy, was contacted to assist the couple in arranging the wedding.

As the Japanese bride converts, she joins a tiny group of Japanese Muslims. In the absence of official statistics on Muslims in Japan, demographic estimates range from between 70,000 to 120,000 Muslim residents with about 10 percent of that number being Japanese, in a country with an overall population of more than 127 million. 

According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the population of foreign workers in Japan has nearly doubled in the last 20 years, and reached more than two million at the end of 2011.

Yoshio Sugimoto describes how the population of foreign workers, which includes Muslims from Pakistan and Bangladesh for example, increased in the late 1980s and early ’90s as visa waiver programmes were introduced by the Japanese government to address an ageing workforce and a shortage of labour.

Monitoring mosques

Omer, on the other hand, came to study architecture on a Japanese Embassy scholarship in 1970 after founding the Japan-Sudan Friendship Society in 1964 in Khartoum, Sudan. He speaks with pride at how Islam has grown and laid institutional foundations in Japan. 

"There were just two mosques in Tokyo when I came over in 1970," he says. Now there are 200 mosques and musallahs, or temporary sites used to pray. 

Omer is an influential figure in the institutionalisation in post-WWII Japan with deep roots in the country, privileged position as a former diplomat, and contacts in the Gulf. He has helped various groups raise funds to establish mosques and institutions. Despite that, the Islamic Centre of Japan itself does not have a mosque of its own. 

Activities for children in the school, which was established in 2011, are far more important than a mosque, he says. “You can pray anywhere.” 

The ICJ has had to cut its annual spending by almost half since the early 1990s, and currently only employs one full-time staff member, down from 25, with its funds coming primarily from donations by individuals in the Gulf.

Some researchers have highlighted negative stereotypes of Islam that Muslims have been confronted with in Japan since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Despite the Tokyo Metropolitan Police being absolved of any wrongdoing by the Tokyo District Court in January, the UN Human Rights Committee has expressed concerns in a recent report about the systematic surveillance of Muslims and mosques in Japan.

Police stationed agents at mosques, followed individuals to their homes, obtained their names and addresses from alien registration records, and compiled databases profiling more than 70,000 individuals,” according to an article in the Asia-Pacific Journal Japan Focus. “In some cases, the police actually installed surveillance cameras at mosques and other venues.”

Islam’s footprint

Omer says he prefers to look at the environment in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks as one that “opened doors to speak to people” in Japan about his faith with heightened “interest” in Islam.

While Islam may not have the same footprint in Japan as other religions such as Buddhism and Christianity, knowledge of it and the Prophet Muhammad here can be traced back to the 8th century. 

Serious and sustained engagement with the Muslim world began for Japan as a part of its global outreach in the early Meiji period (1868-1890), with trade and information gathering missions sailing towards the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East.

Verifiable accounts of Muslims entering Japan can be placed in the same period with records of Indian merchants and Malay-Indian sailors working in ports in the Japanese cities of Yokohama and Kobe. 

The Tokyo Mosque, Omer, the Islamic Centre of Japan, and the children of the Islamic school are the contemporary chapter of this old and under-researched history of Islam and Japan.


Brief, substantive and informative video about the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa: The symbol of a long-term violent sociopolitical crisis regarding the lack of State and the rule of law in Mexico.

We’ve had enough.


Nigeria school bombing kills dozens
Last updated. 4 hours ago:

At least 47 people, mostly students, killed after blast rips through school during morning assembly in Yobe state.

At least 47 people, most of them students, have been killed after an explosion ripped through a secondary school in northeast Nigeria, as students gathered for morning assembly before classes began.

Police said a suicide bomber disguised in a school uniform carried out the attack at the Government Comprehensive Senior Science Secondary School in Potiskum, Yobe state.

"There was an explosion detonated by a suicide bomber. We have 47 dead and 79 injured," national police spokesman Emmanuel Ojukwu said, adding that the armed group Boko Haram was believed to be responsible.

More than 2,000 students had gathered for Monday morning’s weekly assembly at the school when the explosion blasted through the school hall, according to survivors.

"We were waiting for the principal to address us, around 7:30am, when we heard a deafening sound and I was blown off my feet, people started screaming and running, I saw blood all over my body,” 17-year-old student Musa Ibrahim Yahaya told the Associated Press.

The student was being treated for head wounds at the Potiskum General Hospital - located just hundred metres from the school - where dozens of others were also admitted.

Schools ordered closed

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Boko Haram frequently attacks schools in northern Nigeria, where the fighters have control over large areas.

"Boko Haram particularly targets schools because they are soft targets. And they represent everything the group is against - Western education, lifestyle and civilisation," Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from the Nigerian city of Lagos, said.

Fourth journalist killed in Syria in three days

A correspondent working for Al-Jazeera’s Arabic website,, was killed Wednesday night while covering clashes between rebel and government forces in Syria’s Daraa province, the outlet reported today. Mahran al-Deeri is the fourth journalist to die covering fighting in and around the village of Sheikh Miskeen in the past three days.

At least 75 journalists have been killed covering the conflict that has lasted for more than three years, according to CPJ research. The vast majority were local journalists like al-Deeri and the Orient TV crew.

Read more.

Photo credit: Al-Jazeera

Kenyan counter-terrorism police confess to extrajudicial killings


• For the first time, members of Kenya’s counter-terrorism police admit to ‘eliminating’ radical Muslims

• Police eliminations could be “almost 500”

•”Prima facie evidence” to suggest Britain and Israel involved

Speaking exclusively to Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, officers from four units of Kenya’s counter-terrorism strategy admitted the police assassinate suspects on government orders.

An Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) officer said the order comes from Kenya’s National Security Council: “It comprises of the President, Deputy President, Chief of the Defence Forces, Inspector General of Police, National Security Intelligence Service Director, Cabinet Secretary of Interior, and the Principal Secretary Interior. Any decision is made within that club of people.”

President Uhuru Kenyatta and National Security Council members denied running an extrajudicial killing programme.

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#Indigenous Australians are regrouping after more than two centuries as the socially disadvantaged ‘other’ people.

#Australia’s #Aboriginal and #TorresStraitIslanders activists hope 2014 will be remembered as the year they said: “Enough is enough.”

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks has no doubt about it. “We are under assault,” she tells #AlJazeera.

The 77-year-old renowned Aboriginal activist from the somewhat ironically named region of Utopia, Northern Territory, paints a bleak picture of a human rights crisis in the Aboriginal community.

"This assault is a punitive eradication of the ‘other’ culture in Australia, Aboriginal culture," says Kunoth-Monks. "Our language and the attachment to the land are really being crushed as we speak."

Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders are the indigenous inhabitants of Australia, who despite being granted full #citizenship in 1967, are still not included in the constitution. Nor has their wish to enter into a negotiated treaty which would define their place within Australia been granted.

No redress and little progress

Killed in the hundreds of thousands by European settlers following the arrival of #CaptainCook to the continent in 1770, Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders have been subject to catastrophic policies ever since, including forced assimilation, removal from ancestral lands and finally an urbanisation that, they claim, ignores their cultural needs and denies their basic #humanrights.

Despite promises of redress for past mistreatment made by successive prime ministers, such as that of Paul Keating in 1992 or Kevin Michael Rudd’s formal apology for the #StolenGeneration in 2008, little progress has been made by state institutions to dialogue with this minority, say activists.

Even now, the indigenous population features at the bottom of most socioeconomic indices.

The recent “Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage 2014” (OID) report, released by the Productivity Commission, confirmed ongoing governmental failures to improve indigenous wellbeing.

Watch on

شكرا لأخي @eyad1989 على تصوير التقرير الذي بثته الجزيرة قبل قليل .. حيث تسائلت الجزيرة عن تلك السياسة التي دعت الإنستغرام الى اغلاق حسابي مرتين بشكل عنصري .. بينما بحمد الله ﻻ ازال احتفظ بنشاطاتي على بقية مواقع التواصل كتويتر ويوتيوب

مريومتي شكرا جدددا رفعتيلي معنوياتي @Alaqsasoldier
وشكرا بحجم #القدس وبركة أقصاها لكل المتابعين الداعمين ❤


#Alyateema #alaqsalion

Suspicion, anger and fear – the harsh reality of daily life in Ebola-hit Liberia
  • Award-winning series Africa Investigates back on Al Jazeera
  • Liberia: Living With Ebola starts on Wednesday, 12 November at 22:30 GMT 

The second season of Al Jazeera’s award-winning Africa Investigates kicks off on Wednesday, 12 November 2014, asking whether the Liberian government is making the Ebola crisis worse.


In the first episode of the second season, Liberia: Living with Ebola, Sierra Leone’s Emmy, BAFTA and Peabody winner Sorious Samura, of Insight TWI: The World Investigates, teams up with Liberian investigative journalist Mae Azango, a winner of International Press Freedom Awards from both The Committee to Protect Journalists and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. Working together, the pair explores the reality of living through the world’s deadliest Ebola epidemic, which has killed nearly 5 000 people in eight nations.

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#AlJazeera Network Headquarters Tour compliments of my #FRamily Madame Press Exec @ramroum36 Love you to life my darling… What a day, babe😊 What a life… Shukran, habibi. YOU’RE SIMPLE THE BEST😍😙😍😙😍😙 #WorldChangingWomen #BeautyAndBrilliance #INFINITEGRATITUDE #HONORED #AlJazeera #JournalisticIntegrity #DohaMemories #DOHAQATAR #2015 #NoLimits #StarvingFear #FeedingDreams (at Al Jazeera Network Headquarters, Doha Qatar)

This video clearly demonstrates just why I love Ms Kidjo. Her passion for Africa, womens’ and childrens’ rights is evident and immense, as are her common sense solutions to some of the issues the continent faces - both within its remits and those fanned by irresponsible media.

Thank goodness for this remarkable woman!!

#Honorarium #AlJazeeraJournalismMuseum #Honor #ThePriceOfTruth

#AlJazeera Network Headquarters Tour compliments of my #FRamily Madame Press Exec @ramroum36 Love you to life my darling… What a day, babe😊 What a life… Shukran, habibi. YOU’RE SIMPLE THE BEST😍😙😍😙😍😙 #WorldChangingWomen #BeautyAndBrilliance #INFINITEGRATITUDE #HONORED #AlJazeera #JournalisticIntegrity #DohaMemories #DOHAQATAR #2015 #NoLimits #StarvingFear #FeedingDreams (at Al Jazeera Network Headquarters, Doha Qatar)