Breaking: Man threatens suicide at UK embassy

A man entered the UK Embassy grounds in Tel Aviv this afternoon, threatening to commit suicide if he wasn't given asylum.

The man is an Arab, apparently a Palestinian collaborator with Israeli security forces.

Israeli police were called to the scene and are taking action inside the Embassy grounds on request of the embassy personnel.

Source: Ynet (Hebrew)


The man has been identified as Nadim Injaz, a 28 year old from Ramallah. He is demanding asylum in the UK as well as a plane to fly him there.

According to an interview to the Israeli press 2 months ago his troubles started in 1995. He was 16 at the time. When his neighbors discovered his brother was colloborating with Israeli security forces, they started harassing him. He moved to Ramallah where he was told he could only stay if he worked with the Palestinian gangs. Together with two other men he broke into hundreds of homes in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and brought any weapons they stole back to Ramallah.

In 2000 he turned to the Israeli police. The police promised him a residency permit, but in fact did nothing. He continued being harassed by the Palestinians, and had to finance himself by stealing. He has no passport and therefore cannot leave the country [the Palestinian authority has never declared a state].

Update 2:

Israeli police stormed the compound and disarmed the man. According to one report, the gun he held was a toy gun.

More can be read on the BBC. It is interesting to note their last comment:

Our correspondent said incidents of this nature were very rare despite the large number of Israeli citizens who carry firearms.

The large number of Israeli citizens who carry firearms are soldiers. Israel has very tough gun laws and it is almost impossible to get a gun if you do not need one for you work (ie, soldiers, police and security guards). On the other hand, I think incidents of Palestinians/Arabs storming into a place and threatening violence are not as rare.

Allochtonen Weblog Roundup

Allochtonen Weblog is a Dutch language blog that collects news about the immigrant community in the Netherlands. Here’s a few interesting stories they’ve had the past couple of weeks.

First Moroccan referee

Karim Saadouni will start this season as the first Moroccan referee in Belgian national level soccer. Saadouni is a 2nd generation immigrant whose grandparents came from Morocco.

Attracting immigrant volunteers

Breda-Actief, an organization dedicated to attracting volunteers in the Breda area has put out five new brochures to explain how to attract more immigrant volunteers and keep them volunteering.

Discrimination in the police force

According to an interest group of immigrant police agents, it is almost impossible for immigrants to make a carrier in the police, due to discrimination. A program to bring more people to command position in the police did not succeed. Of 25 participants that graduated the police academy, only 11 are still working in the police and none of them in a high position.

Separate women swimming

The Muslim swimming association “De Waterlelie” wants to start again with separate sex swimming in the Mercator pool in Amsterdam. They intend to start renting the pool after the Ramadan (end of October this year) on Sunday evenings for women only. The question of who will pay to cover the pool windows is still open.

The pool itself also organizes a “women only” afternoon, but says that the women who come then are much more open and educated than the women of “De Waterlelie”

Museum programs for immigrants

The Municipal Museum and the Amsterdam Historic Museum are preparing special programs for new immigrants. Titled “City and Language” they are hoping to introduce the immigrants to the art and history of Amsterdam. The city is financing the program with 140,000 euro.

Free language lessons

Various Amsterdam neighborhoods are doing their best to make sure that as many people take language lessons while they’re still free. Graduates are encouraged to bring in more people to the courses.

Segregation in kindergarten

Officials in Hellevoets are afraid that one of the kindergartens is segregated with one group of kids speaking Turkish and almost no Dutch. The kids have almost no incentive to learn Dutch and Dutch parents don't want to send their kids to that group.

Support for Muslim schools down

Support for Islamic education has decreased the past year. Barely 40% of the Dutch think that Muslim schools have a right to exist as special schools. That’s down from 50% last year.
12% of parents (down from 18%) are willing to prevent the formation of “black” schools by sending their kids to such a school.

Wilders' party platform

Geert Wilders, a right wing Dutch politician, wants to forbid holding a double nationality. Since Morocco forces its citizens to hold on to their citizenship, this would mean that Moroccan-Dutch will not be able to hold Dutch citizenship. Wilders intends to force Morocco to change its policy.
Wilders also wants to halt immigration from non-Western countries for 5 years, to accept a maximum of 5000 asylum seekers a year and to stop building mosques and Muslim schools for the next five years.

Human smuggling ring arrested

Police arrested 19 people in connection with a human smuggling ring. Two were arrested in the Netherlands and hold Dutch citizenship, the rest in Turkey.

Denmark: Job fair for immigrants

Several hundred immigrants and first-generation Danes walked away from a job fair yesterday with the promise of work Abdikariim Houssein Yacin finally saw hope. He has been out of a job for nearly four years, but as he stood amongst the hundreds of other non-ethnic Danes inside Børsen, the chances looked good.

'If I get a job, I'll be happy. Nothing special - maybe Post Danmark, Bilka, or whatever.'

Yacin hoped that the job fair at the old Danish stock exchange building would find him employment like it did for 200 others that very afternoon. The fair targeted non-ethnic Danes - those with roots in Arab, African or other Islamic countries - to help ease the high rate of unemployment within that group.

The event was sponsored by the Danish Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the the Ministry of Integration, the Democratic Muslims, and the Association for the Integration of New Danes into the Labour Market (HTSI). All parties agreed the fair was a huge success.

'We didn't know how many people to expect, but this was fantastic,' said HTSI's Anette Overby, who conceived of the event.

The 21 employers at the job fair presented 500 vacancies, focusing primarily on unskilled labour, such as drivers, postal workers and cleaning personnel. Globally recognised companies like McDonald's were some of the biggest names at the job fair.

'The event has definitely been a success for us. We've had a lot of interest,' said David Tøttrup, who works as a human resources consultant for McDonald's.

Due to the positive results from the Børsen fair, organisers are now planning several more job fairs around the country.

Source: Jyllands Posten (English)

Sweden: foreign students flocking in

The Swedes not only offer free university classes, they also offer them in English.

Sweden is becoming an increasingly popular place for foreigners to study. With more universities offering classes in English, students from around the world have been knocking on the door of the Swedish Migration Board asking for temporary visas.

Since January this year, the number of non-European Union students has shot up, increasing by 32 percent compared to the same period last year.

The Board saw a spike in applications during the summer months with 5,253 requests coming in. Some 4,149 applications from students outside the EU were considered last year.

Elisabet Swartz, head of visa applications at the Migration Board told The Local that the surge of foreign applications is due in large part to more institutions of higher education offering more classes in English."

We have had so many calls from students worried about getting their visas on time," she said. "We had to call in extra staff just to be able to handle all of the extra applications that came in during the summer months."

Swartz said she expects to see a similar rise next year.

She said most student applications arrive from Pakistan, China and Nigeria, adding that if a student has been accepted to a university and can prove he is able to support himself financially then he is likely to get approved."We give student visas to 70-80 percent of those who apply."

Foreign students receive free schooling once in the country, but the idea of charging these students for the classes taken has recently surfaced.

The government investigator Erland Ringborg proposed a fee of about 80,000 per year on students coming from outside the EU.

David Samuelsson, head of planning at the education department said the idea is not new."We have not taken a position on the investigator's suggestion," Samuelsson said, according to Svenska Dagbladet. "

But we Social Democrats have already said we want to introduce such a fee. If we are going to increase the total number of foreign students, they should finance their own education; otherwise we risk them forcing away Swedish students."

Source: The Local (English)

Sweden: Human smuggler charged

There are several points to this story:

1. This"largest smuggling ring in Europe" is apparently not connected to the "largest smuggling ring in Sweden" that was recently caught.

2. The guy was convicted in the past for human smuggling. In fact, it's unclear to me how he was responsible for human smuggling in 2005 when he was supposed to be serving a prison sentence then. What is going to stop him from continuing to smuggle people into Sweden after he's convicted this time around?

3. What about the people who are now living in Sweden/Europe under false pretenses?

A man who police say was responsible for one of the largest people smuggling rings in Europe was charged on Tuesday in a Gothenburg district court on 42 counts of human smuggling. Amir Heidari is suspected having led an organization that helped people move from Iran and other Middle East countries.

Heidari, who faces eight years in prison if convicted, was taken into custody in February.

“The investigation has been long and strenuous, but we believe we now taken out possibly the most important and most well organized European operator when it comes to human smuggling from Iran and Iraq to Europe and the western world,” said prosecutor Thomas Ahlstrand, according to Dagens Nyheter.

The man has previous convictions for similar crimes. The last conviction led to four years prison in 2002. The crimes he is now accused of have occurred during 2005 and 2006.

Heidari provided fake passports and even organized apartments for those needing board.

Ahlstrand said some of those smuggled in by Heidari would have likely been accepted by Sweden as refugees and would have received support.

Heidari has denied any wrongdoing.

Source: The Local (English)

Norway: developing blood feud

News from Norway has been following up on a developing blood feud in Norway between two Afghani families. After one kid called the sister of another names, the families from both sides convened to fight it out.

"All of my closest family members have been arrested," one of the teenagers told the paper's web site "This is about my own and my family's honor."

It started with a violent quarrel outside a fast-food restaurant in Storgata (Main Street) in Lillestrøm on Friday evening. That culminated with one of the boys making indecent remarks about the other boy's sister.

On Saturday morning, representatives of both families reportedly agreed to take up the quarrel at 6pm at Nebbursvollen. Around 30 people using both knives and other weapons were involved in what developed into a massive street fight.

One person was killed and the killer and his family are now being threatened. Blood revenge laws require that if a person from one "family circle" is killed, somebody from the killer's "family circle" will be killed in response or blood ransom paid in lieu of it.

We’ve taken some precautions, but I don’t want to go into specifics. We just hope that the families will start to see reason, and solve this conflict by peaceful means says the police superintendent.

I don't think "hoping" or "precautions" will help here. This issue can be dealt with on various levels, but it must be dealt actively before any more bloodshed occurs, in order to prevent a blood feud. So, how to prevent it? As a first stage, force the families to come to a mutual agreement. Do not wait for them to do it on their own. Approach community leaders and demand that they take immediate steps. It is in the interests of the Afghani community in Norway to resolve this quickly. Make it clear that any continuation of the blood feud would result in terrible consequences for both families involved.

I had recently read a book about blood revenge, and it is interesting to note that external circumstances do affect the willingness of families to come to a compromise and to a resolution of the conflict. As long as there are no consquences, both families are off to a very hard time, and they'll be dragging their entire community and Norway in general with them.

In related news, Aftenposten brings an article about how Norwegian-Pakistanis applaud gang crackdown.

Hamid and Bashir are among those who are appalled by the criminal gangs that have been clashing in Oslo and other Norwegian cities lately. The two main "A" and "B" gangs are closely tied to the Pakistani community, the majority of which condemns their operations.

"The gangs are stamping all Pakistanis as negative," Hamid told newspaper Aftenposten. "I think it's sad every time I read about it. Pakistanis haven't come to Norway to commit crimes, but to work and get an education."

It's just a shame that a major Norwegian newspaper had to find two kids on the street to be the voice of the "majority which condemns gang violence". I'm sure there are many leaders and educators in the Pakistani community who feel the same and would speak out against the gangs, no?

The immigrant community, in this case both Afghani and Pakistani, must take a stand. They came to Norway to get a job and an education, but by doing so they accepted upon themselves Norwegian law. A law which does not recognize "honor" as an excuse for violence and bloodshed and a law which does not recognize blood feuds. I'm sure that many of those who immigrated to Norway, did so because they prefer living in such a country.

Sources: Aftenposten 1, 2 (English), News from Norway

Antwerp: language as a weapon

A new two year study by Jürgen Jaspers of the Antwerp University concludes that young Moroccans in Belgium see language as a weapon to make fun and counteract other people. Despite what most people think, they are fluent in Dutch and show enough fluency in both standard and dialectic Dutch to be considered perfectly integrated.

Jaspers distinguished between three types of Dutch by the kids. Broken Dutch mixed with Arabic and Berbers was used in order to 'expose' Belgians who thought they couldn't speak better Dutch. They associated the Antwerp dialect with the complaining, indignant and sometime racist people of Antwerp and so mimicked this dialect in order to provoke responses from bystanders. Standard Dutch is seen as the language of authority, the school and the people who follow the rules.

Source: De Standaard (Dutch)

Belgium: Abou Jahjah to move to Lebanon

Dyab Abou Jahjah, the founder of the Arab European League has announced plans to move to Lebanon. The former Lebanese refugee had returned to Lebanon in July in order to join Hizballah forces in their fight against Israel.

Four weeks later he returned to Antwerp and now he says he's only back temporarily till he gets the Arab European League affairs in order. He refused to say what he did during his stay in Lebanon last month.

Source: FOK (Dutch)

See also: Belgium: Call to ban Abou Jahjah, Our homeland is calling

Switzerland: murder

The article calls this an "honor" murder, but it's not really. "Honor" murders will in most cases be done by the women's family, not her husband. This seems more like a 'regular' domestic quarrel.

Some questions which the article glosses over: Khudeja, the wife, grew up in Switzerland and raised in an open, liberal society. Where was her husband raised? Probably in Pakistan. Did he come over to Switzerland just to marry her? Where were her parents in this story?

Swiss prosecutors have charged a Pakistani man over the "honor killing" of his wife, according to legal documents published Wednesday.

Ajmal Butt Aziz, 24, is accused of murdering his 20-year-old wife Khudeja because she refused to follow Islamic tradition and wear a headscarf, according to the charge sheet published by the Corriere del Ticino newspaper.

Aziz's spouse died in July 2005 after he allegedly bludgeoned her to death with a hammer as she slept at the couple's home in Bellinzona, in Switzerland's southern canton of Ticino.

Born in Pakistan, Khudeja Aziz was brought up in Switzerland and was a citizen of the Alpine country.

Aziz claimed that he acted in self-defense after being attacked by his wife.

Prosecutors, however, alleged that he acted because he was opposed to his wife's Western lifestyle and her wish to find a job, and also that she was seeking a divorce.

No date has yet been set for Aziz's trial.

Source: Middle East Times (English)

Oslo: Police scared of gangs

Police are apparently afraid that the gang members involved in the shooting on Sunday have fled the country. The shooting involved two Pakistani gangs. Additionally, the shooting brings up an even more serious problem - Oslo police are afraid to deal with the gangs.

Note that Finn Abrahamsen, a police representative, continues to refer to the gangs as if they were kids playing a game. They "love to grab attention" and "they like playing cat-and-mouse". According to him they just don't realize how dangerous guns are. Apparently they're just playing games and not dealing with drugs, crime, weapons and violence. Putting aside the ethnicity and origin of the gangs, I think Oslo will not be facing an easy time with that kind of atttitude.

Norwegian News has a good report on a response by a Pakistani-Norwegian politician.

Police in Oslo have sent out an international warrant for the arrest of four gang members tied to a shoot-out at the Aker Brygge waterfront complex on Sunday.

None has responded to a police request that they turn themselves in. "These are people who like to play cat and mouse with the police," said Finn Abrahamsen of the Oslo Police District.

Police continue to examine evidence collected at the scene where as many as 20 shots were fired by alleged members of Oslo’s rival "A" and "B" gangs.

Two men, also tied to the gangs, were wounded in the shoot-out that shocked passersby at the popular and busy complex that features restaurants and shops along Oslo’s inner harbour.

Newspaper Aftenposten reported Tuesday, meanwhile, that police in Oslo have been reluctant to crack down on the gangs out of fear for their own safety.

Some gangs in Oslo's Stovner district are so difficult to deal with that even a routine check can require two patrols and at least four officers.

"I have it in writing from officers at the Stovner police station that they have chosen not to react to some types of crimes," said Sigve Bolstad of the Oslo Police Association. "This is a very demanding situation that requires greater resources."

Gang activity in the Furuset district is also widespread, and the area has seen several shoot-outs. Some of those involved in the Aker Brygge episode over the weekend are believed to be from Furuset.

"Violence and threats against the police have exploded in recent years," said Arne Johannessen of the police officers' union Politiets Fellesforbund. "In a survey we made, 60 percent of our members said they had been subjected to violence or threats on the job."

Police chief Anstein Gjengedal said he was surprised to hear the situation at Stovner was so serious, and said he'd send more forces there.

"We can't let these gangs dominate," he said.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

See also: Oslo: gang warfare

Oslo: gang warfare

The Oslo police seem very understanding, for some reason.

Police were searching for four gang members Monday after shots rang out amidst the crowds at Oslo's popular waterfront complex Aker Brygge.

Hundreds of diners and persons strolling along the pier lined with restaurants suddenly became shocked witnesses to what police believe was a clash between Oslo’s so-called "A" and "B" gangs.

The shoot-out on Sunday evening left two men wounded, shot in their legs. Police were asking help from the local Pakistani community, to which the gang members are believed linked.

No clear motive for the shoot-out on Sunday evening has been revealed. "We have good information, but we need the cooperation of everyone in order to bring an end to this sort of violence," a police spokesman told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) Monday morning.

Finn Abrahamsen of the Oslo Police District called the suspects "notorious members of the A- and B-gangs who love to grab attention." He said it was "exasperating" that the gang members "don't understand how dangerous this is."

Police searched several homes in the Oslo area during the night and have seized the car believed to be used by the gang members, a black BMW found in Stensberggata.

The shoot-occurred just before 8pm, a busy time of the evening at Aker Brygge especially on sunny summer evenings like Sunday. The waterfront complex, which features shops, restaurants, offices and residences on Oslo’s inner harbour, was packed with people when the shots rang out.

"It was unreal, I didn't even have time to get scared before it was all over," said one stunned witness. "Now I'm just thinking that I could have been shot as well. How on earth can something like this happen here?"

Source: Aftenposten (English)

Various News

A few stories from the past couple of days

Muslims in the UK: Feeling Foreign at Home - an attempt to explain why Britain continues to sprout home grown Islamic terrorists. The article points at factory downsizing. People were fired and never got back on their feet. A good reason as any, apparently, to go blow up the neighbors.

Looking for converts to Islam - a look at converts to Islam in the UK and the way they're seen by extremist Islamic groups. (the students who were fired?)

Integration minister slams integration report - a new report in Sweden suggests far reaching changes in integration policy, none of which will probably be accepted.

Gang smuggled thousands into Sweden - three men will appear in court for smuggling bogus refugees and asylum seekers into Sweden. The gang was caught by anti-terror police.

Leijonborg: no more religious schools - the leader of the Swedish liberal party calls for a moratorium on independent religious schools as a way of stopping Islamic fundamentalism. "If it were up to me to decide, we would introduce a moratorium on religious schools, at least until we had guarantees that all lessons were free of religious content" [ed. religion does not have to stand for anti-democracy and anti-liberalism. It doesn't have to stand for violence and extremism. It could stand for personal, family and national values.]

German police capture Lebanese train-terrorism suspect - German police are still looking for his accomplice and suspect they're part of a terror ring (AKA, "group of offenders with signs of a long-term structure").

Radical Muslim convicted for making death threats - Fadi Ahmad Abdel Latif, spokesman for the Danish branch of Hizb-ut-Tahir was convicted of threatening the life of the Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and inciting to kill Jews and sentenced to 3 months in jail. The conviction could be used to disband Hizb-ut-Tahir.

Denmark: Police following up on "honor" related crimes

Police have been swamped by reports of honour-related crime since stepping up preventive efforts in June

With nearly 50 reports of honour-related crime and four active cases since June, police are finding that the problem may be worse than previously believed.

Police intensified their focus on honour killings and other related crimes in June after convictions in the murder of 18-year-old Ghazala Khan.

Khan, a daughter of Pakistani immigrants, married against family's wishes and was killed in broad daylight last year. Her brother was convicted of pulling the trigger. Nine people, all of them family members or friends, were found guilty.

'Fifty is a lot. And of the 50 the national police have investigated four cases, which is also a lot,' Jacob Scharf, head of the national police's division of law enforcement, told daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende. 'So we can see that there is a need for our initiative, and that we're looking at a problem.'

One notable case concerned a 43-year-old man who was severely beaten because he refused to kill his sister. In another case a Turkish man was charged for attempting to kidnap and murder his 19-year-old daughter.

The data was gathered at the request of the national police, who asked local police to report crimes that could be honour crimes. They also requested advice and investigative assistance.

Manu Sareen, an ethnic consultant, believes that the police were unaware of the problem's scope.

'Those of us working in this area have noticed the need for initiative, and it has been difficult for the people who need help to make contact with the police and other authorities,' Sareen said.

The National Police and other organisations are currently drafting a strategy for honour crimes, which should be completed sometime next month.

Source: Jyllands Posten (English)

See also: Keeping count of "honor" murders

Arab/Muslim euphemisms

This is a reference article that I intend to add to as I collect more information.

Different countries have developed different euphemisms for referring to the local Arab or Muslim community. It is a way for the media to pretend it is politically correct, though by creating social cues for people to understand what they mean without saying so, journalists and the media are actually causing more harm than good.

I would appreciate more examples. I will add anything sent to me or added by comments.




Asians - I have already seen quite a few examples of the media referring to the "Asian Community" and then going on to talk about imams and mosques.


Allochtoon (originating from another country). Officially this holds for every person who has at least one foreign born parent. Practically, the media uses it almost only for Muslims.

In Belgium: Nieuwe Belg (New Belgians). An article I read recently had trouble diffrentiating between "Old" Belgians and "Old Belgians".


Nydansker - New Danes


Turks - there's no general distinction between Muslim, Arab and Turks. It's not really a euphemism, but not every Turk is a Muslim and vice versa.


Suburban youth/resident - see comments below


Village - in the Israeli press and popular opinion, any reference to a 'village' usually means 'Arab'. Therefore, a newspaper can write "three thieves were caught, from a village in the Galilee" and everybody will know that the three are Arabs, without them having to spell it out.


Pakistani / Muslim community

Last updated: Feb. 26th, 2007

Denmark: al-Qaeda supporter to be tried

I didn't think this was so exceptional, except for the following sentence:

Legal experts say the trial will be important in determining how far a Muslim living in Denmark may go in expressing in his political-religious standpoint.

This has nothing to do with political-religious standpoints. This has to do with a country deciding that it's illegal to try and bring down the current standing political order, that it wants to stay a liberal democracy and that anybody who works to change that is a danger to the state and its citizens.

This above sentence is quite demeaning, though I'm not sure if it's more demeaning to the ethnic Danish or to the new Muslim immigrant. Is a Muslim allowed to express his views less than anybody else, or is that what holds for the Danish?

Every citizen should be allowed to express their viewpoints. Somehow, it seems to me that bomb making manuals, preparing attacks and calling for war are not just "expressing viewpoints".

Denmark's most renowned al-Qaeda supporter, Said Mansour, has been officially charged for inciting terrorism, the office of the public prosecutor announced Wednesday. The justice minister, Lene Espersen, decided to approve the charges after evaluations from the office of the public prosecutor and the commissioner of police.

The Moroccan-born Mansour will be tried for producing and distributing material glorifying holy war against the west.

If found guilty, Mansour could be punished with up to six years in jail.

The trial is the first time the nation's revamped anti-terror laws banning incitement to terror will be tested in court. Legal experts say the trial will be important in determining how far a Muslim living in Denmark may go in expressing in his political-religious standpoint.

Mansour, who has been in jail since September, has been under investigation since 2004. At that time a police search of his flat in the Brønshøj neighbourhood turned up videos, CD-ROMs and other material promoting jihad. Since then, further investigations have turned up evidence that Mansour distributed bomb-making manuals.

The 45-year-old has pleaded not guilty to the charges and claimed the arrest is persecution of a 'missionary Muslim'. He also argued that the confiscated material was freely available on the internet.

Mansour has previously been convicted for a number of minor crimes, including unlawful possession of a weapon. Police unsuccessfully attempted to charge him for terrorism two years ago, after he had taken pictures of certain facilities while on a ferry to Oslo to Copenhagen.

Source: Jyllands Posten (English)

Brussels: Veiled teachers not to return to work

The two teachers who were fired from a municipal school for wearing a Muslim head covering will not be allowed back to work, according to an internal educational board of appeals.

The board has decided that wearing a veil goes contrary to the neurtrality of the municipal schools. It has also decided that school rules apply to teachers and not only to students.

The head of the school system would like to use this decision to start a dialogue with the Muslim community.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

See also: Brussels: Teachers fired for wearing veil

Sweden: Gov't help hurts immigrants

Immigrants who participate in council-run introduction programmes are reducing their chances of getting a job, according to new research from Örebro University.

Barely one fifth of immigrants who have attended the introduction programme have jobs two and a half years after getting a residence permit in Sweden.

The number of immigrants in work is twice as high in those groups who do not participate in the council programme, claims Elisabeth Svantesson, a postgraduate researcher in economics at the university.

Svantesson has examined the factors which increase immigrants' chances of getting a job. The conclusions make dismal reading for the supporters of the local government schemes.

"For the groups of immigrants where the municipalities are paid by the state to run these introduction programmes, participation has a significantly negative impact on their chances of getting a job," she told TT.

The primary reason, she believes, is a kind of "lock in" effect. Even if the new arrivals are able to look for a job while they are on the scheme, few actually do.

And in many areas, the programmes themselves are also at fault, according to Svantesson. In several places the course participants never even come into contact with the labour market."When we went further and researched whether there was anything in the programme which actually worked, it seemed that practical workplace experience increased the chances of getting a job. So then you have to ask why many people didn't get this," said Svantesson.

Her research was based on a survey of immigrants who received their residence permits in the spring of 2002, in the 52 municipalities which take in the most immigrants.

Source: The Local (English)

UK: Muslim demands

Supposedly moderate Muslim leaders in the UK came up with new demands in a meeting with gov't officials. Apparently they think you can tackle extremism in the Muslim community by having UK laws conform to the Sharia.

Muslim politicians condemned the idea, saying it would both fuel division and be impossible to manage.

This article throws around concepts without any regard to what it's talking about. For example, I really doubt that the Muslim leaders asked for stonings in the UK. It is much more probable that they would like inheritance laws to follow Sharia.

Muslim leaders summoned to talks with the Government on tackling extremism in their midst called for public holidays to mark their religious festivals.

The Whitehall meeting was set up in response to last week's airline bomb plot discovery.
Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly had prepared an uncompromising message on the need to tackle dangerous radicalism.

But, in what she admitted were 'sharp' exchanges, some senior Muslim figures turned the tables yesterday and made a series of demands which also included the introduction of Sharia law for family matters.

Dr Syed Aziz Pasha, secretary general of the Union of Muslim Organisations of the UK and Ireland, said: 'We told her if you give us religious rights, we will be in a better position to convince young people that they are being treated equally along with other citizens.'

Dr Pasha said Miss Kelly had agreed to look at the proposals, though her spokesman insisted later that she did not favour any legal change which would give 'special treatment' for the Muslim community.

Some of the 30 moderate Muslim leaders at the meeting told Miss Kelly that important days in their two main religious festivals - Ramadan and Eid-ul-Adha - should be made public holidays for followers of the faith.

Sharia law, which is practised in large parts of the Middle East, should also be introduced in Britain, they argued. While it specifies stonings and amputations as routine punishments for crimes, Dr Pasha said he wanted it only for family affairs.

Under the law, a husband pays his wife a dowry on marriage, and money and assets are shared out between family members in specified amounts after someone dies.

'We are willing to co-operate but there should be a partnership,' Dr Pasha said. 'They should understand our problems then we will understand their problems.'

The Muslims do have a problem, just as many Jews do. What do you do on religious holidays which are not considered state holidays? Jews do not work on the Sabbath, which starts off on sunset Friday and ends after sunset Saturday. What do Jews do in Northern Europe during the winter, when the Sabbath might start in the middle of the work day, you might wonder? It is a very good question. Apparently, the Jewish community found a way to deal with the extremism caused by this complete lack of understanding on the part of the general population.

Many of these demands can be easily dealt with the on the individual level. A husband wants to give his wife a dowry? What stops him? A family wants to give inheritance according to their religious beliefs? That's what a will is for. You want to take time off for religious reasons? Talk to your boss and do it on your own expense.

I suppose that's what many people do. It's not easy, but then - nobody said being religious and upholding your convictions in a different society is easy. There are many places around the world where being Muslim is easy.

Sources: Daily Mail (English), Life Style Extra (English). Hat tip, LGF

Syria: Dutch looking for mediator

The Dutch seemed to have hit a wall in the case of the two kids who fled to the Dutch Embassy in Damascus close to two months ago.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is now looking for an external mediator who would be able to negotiate for the release of the two kids. According to a Ministry spokesman the Ministry has considered the idea for a while, but is now thinking about it seriously. "We're looking for an expert in the field of kidnappings or judicial cases. He doesn't have to be by definition Dutch."

Janneke Schoonhoven, the children's mother, says that she came up with the idea. "We're fully dependent on the father and his has accused the embassy of kidnapping. Therefore we need somebody neutral."

Source: Nederlands Dagblad (Dutch)

See also: Syria: Abducted Dutch kids flee to embassy, Syria: Update on Dutch kids, Syria: Dutch kids ask Queen for help, Syria: Kids still waiting

France: new Muslim high school

A new private Muslim highschool that will be the largest in France is hoping to get the go-ahead from the French authorities to open in the southeastern city of Lyon at the start of the country's school year in September. Although it does not yet officially exist, the school has already received 250 applications for its planned 150 places, Le Monde reported on Monday.

The planned school is the initative of France's biggest Muslim teaching association, al-Kindi, which says on its website it is "proud" to announce the new highschool in the Lyon suburb of Decines-Charpieu "if it is God's will for it to open." Al-Kindi's president, Nadkir Hakim, stresses the association's willingness to integrate "within the French school system."

The Rushd Islamic Institute announced in July that three-quarters of students passed their end-of-school Bacalaureat exam this year and gained their high school diploma. The secondary school was set up by the northern city of Lille's Muslim community in 2003 for girls who want to wear the veil - or hijab - after its was banned in France's state schools.

Source: Al-arab online (English)

See also: France: First Muslim high school

Norway: extremist recruiting

I think this is a very sad attempt at self-persuasion, for both sides of the coin.

For one, I doubt Norway is where Muslims are the "best off". How easy would it be to get a job in Norway if you have a Muslim name? Would students get Halal food at school?

For another, in the UK extremists have been managing rather well to recruit people for terror attacks, and the UK seems to me to be one country where Muslims are quite "well off". The people who committed the 7/7 attacks were not "frustrated over their own situation". They were simply Muslims who were convinced that Islam is in a global war against the infidels and that they should take part in it, even if it means killing innocent civilians.

Muslim extremists on recruiting missions around Europe have likely been scouting in Norway, but the head of an Oslo-based youth group doesn't think they'll have much success.

"Muslims in Norway are probably the best off in all of Europe," Farid Bouras, leader of Youth Against Violence (Ungdom mot Vold), told newspaper Dagbladet on Tuesday. He doesn't think many will fall for the extremists' sales pitch.

Bouras believes that extremist groups succeed best in areas where there is both local frustration over individuals' own situation and anger over events in the Middle East. That's why it may be difficult for them to find recruits in Norway.

Bouras warned nonetheless that extremists have been on recruiting trips in Norway and probably have developed local ties.

"These people are very mobile, and travel around on European passports from country to country," he said. "Ten years ago, they'd have long beards and be in traditional dress. Now they move around with shaved heads and wearing Dolce & Gabbana trousers."

He said some simply want to build up "muslim brotherhood," but most are looking for recruits to go to holy war.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

On the topic of how easy or not extremist recruiting is, see also: Allochtonen Weblog Roundup: French: A couple of weeks to turn out an extremist Muslim

Denmark: Islamophobia widespread

Danes believe that Muslims pose a threat to democracy, argues Professor Jens Frølund Thomsen in his new book about immigrants from Islamic countries.

Thomsen conducted a study for the book which was based on a questionnaire, asking Danes their attitudes and opinions about ethnic minorities.

'There is a near hostility from many people toward immigrants and refugees who practice Islam,' said Thomsen to daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten. 'Forty percent believe that Islam is a threat to our democracy.'

The questionnaire was distributed to 1500 people in 2002 and shows, according to Thomsen, a common attitude based on cultural differences and prejudices. It also shows that the issue has become a political dividing-line between the right and left wings.

'There is an opinion gap and it's stable. I've compared my study results with the 2005 election polls and it shows the attitudes haven't changed,' he said.

Views about religion in general are also to blame for the distrust, Thomsen said. Danes generally believe that religion is an individual, private matter, while Muslims make religion a part of their everyday life.

Another of the book's messages is that personal and direct contact between Danes and immigrants creates goodwill.

'Many people invent images of Muslims and consider them as one large group where all think alike,' says Thomsen. 'But Islam is a very multifaceted religion.'

Thomsen believes that the Danish community has to accept that Islam is now a part of it, and that politicians must work to that end.

'The immigrant issue has been the most important for several years and will continue to be for a long time yet,' stated Thomsen. 'It is a researcher's duty ... to point out problems and then others can determine what can be done about them.'

Source: Jyllands Posten (English)

Italy: honor murder

Italian police arrested a Pakistani immigrant on Monday for the murder of his 20-year-old daughter, who investigators believe was killed because her family disapproved of her relationship with an Italian man.

Police found the body of Hina Saleem on Saturday, buried in the vegetable garden at the back of her family house near the northern city of Brescia. Her throat had been slit and her relatives appeared to have left in a hurry.

Hina's Italian boyfriend, with whom she had recently moved in, reported her missing on Thursday after she went to visit her family.

Locals told police her father, Mohammed Saleem, resented her relationship with the man.

"He has decided to exercise his right to remain silent. He seemed quite calm and aware of the accusations that are being levelled at him," Saleem's lawyer, Alberto Bordone, told Sky Italia television.

Italian news agencies said the woman's uncle was also being questioned.

The case has added to a heated political debate about immigration, just days after the centre-left government relaxed rules for foreigners to gain Italian citizenship.

Centre-right lawmaker Antonio Briguglio said on Monday the government should reconsider its plan, while a member of Prodi's Union coalition said the murder showed the left's "rather idyllic idea of multi-ethnic integration" had its limits.

Italy was shocked earlier this year by a revival of the Mafia's own tradition of "honour killing", when the nephew of a Mafia boss in the southern region of Calabria shot his sister for "dishonouring" the family by having a baby out of wedlock.

Source: Reuters (English)

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

An Israeli general was interviewed last week several times, saying that it was wrong to view the situation with Hizballah (bad), Israel (half-bad) and Lebanon (victims). I agree with that. At the beginning of the war I saw Lebanon as a country which was taken hostage by a terrorist group. Since then I have realized that it is a willing victim. Hizballah ministers are sitting in the cabinet. The Lebanese leaders show support for Hizballah and openly call them the "liberators" of Lebanon.

Somebody recently asked me how I would have ran the war. The question came in response to my statement that Olmert is extremely stupid. Well, the question gave me pause for thought. How would I have run the war?

For one, I would not have started it. Certainly not without having a very clear idea of my goals. By Olmert it seems that the war dictated his goals. He started off with 'we'll get the abducted soldiers back' to 'we'll crush Hizballah' and 'we'll make sure no rockets threaten Israel' to 'we've shown Hizballah that we mean business' and 'we can never fully protect Israel from the threat of rockets'.

Second, I would not have stated my goals and then gone halfway. If Olmert wants to crush Hizballah, then one of his terms from Lebanon should have been to declare Hizballah an illegal terrorist party and to arrest all its members. That should have been a basic term of any agreement with Lebanon. As long as makes the diffrentiation between Hizballah in the Lebanese leadership and Hizballah as a fighting force, he will not succeed. Let's say he would have killed Nasrallah and wiped out the Hizballah bunkers and weapons. The next day, Hizballah would still be in the cabinet, making decisions for Lebanon.

In one of his speeches, Olmert compared Gaza and Lebanon. I originally thought he was skirting a very important issue regarding Gaza. In Gaza, Hamas are the gov't. He cannot fight Hamas and at the same time try to have good relations with the "Palestinian Authority", since that authority is Hamas. However, I thought that in Lebanon it was different. That it is possible to fight Hizballah and yet have talks with the Lebanese gov't. In fact, I was seeing things from the wrong perspective. Olmert was treating Gaza and Lebanon similarly and in both cases he was skirting the most important issue. In both cases he is acting as though there are two separate entities: a political one and a military one. However, he cannot deal with one unless he deals with the other.

Israel has failed in its war. It has failed to bring security to its citizens and it is setting them up for a more dangerous and much harder war in the not so far future. It has put many of its citizens under risk for no tangible benefit.

I was recently accused on my blog of being "slavishly pro-Israel". I do not think Israel is right in everything it's done. In fact, I think that Olmert is both stupid and dangerous to Israel and that this war is a good example of why this is so. I was asked why so many pro-European blogs feel the need to defend Israel. The question assumes that this blog is pro-European, which it's not really. But even assuming that it is: Israel has failed not only its citizens in this war. It has failed Europe as well. It has given terrorists an immense push, showing them that Israelis (and by extention, Americans and Europeans) are easily beatable. The world feels good with itself now for brokering a ceasefire, but the world will pay dearly for not standing up to a terrorist organization and for not using the opportunity to beat it down.

As is usually the case, I doubt anybody will see the cause and effect.

Just a few months ago I spoke to an Israeli about fighting terrorism. I pointed out that Israel should not have run away from Lebanon six years ago, certainly not without an agreement. "But," he told me, "there's peace and quiet in the northern border now. You can't say it wasn't a good move."

In the past year Hizballah was responsible directly for 70% of all terrorist attacks within Israel itself. However, since the terrorists were not shouting in Lebanese and since the northern border was quiet, Israelis found it easy to think that "there are no problems" there.

Israelis love to fool themselves. So do many other Westerners. It is hard to think of people wanting and plotting to kill you. Israel has failed Europe and I certainly hope Europe will know how to defend itself when the time comes, that it would not follow Israel's very poor example or shy away from going through with a necessary war and that it will not pay too high a price for that.

Rotterdam: Essalam mosque in progress

The construction of what will be the largest mosque in Western Europe is nearing its highest point. Two month ago the construction of the two 50 metre (164-foot) minarets was started.

With only about an other 15 metres to go, the highpoint is finally in sight.

Contruction site in the morning mist - Photo:

The Essalam Mosque will not only be the biggest Mosque in Rotterdam, but also the biggest in western Europe. The 4 million Euro Mosque, build with help from the Maktoum Charity Foundation from Dunai, will be an eye catcher situated near the Feijenoord soccer stadium and the southern entrance to the city centre.

Minarets of Essalam Mosque in the morning sun - Photo:

The mosque intends to use a real muezzin to call the Muslims to prayer, as compared to the more modern method of sounding tapes. In Rotterdam the muezzin calls only on Friday afternoon, for the weekly Friday prayers.

The mosque will accommodate 1,500 people at any one time and offers shopping, a library, kitchen, offices and a congress hall. The Mosque will house also an Islamic school. The construction of the Mosque, which started 3 years ago, will be finished around the end of this year.


See also:
Allochtonen Weblog Roundup: Rotterdam Essalam Mosque

Syria: Kids still waiting

Sarah and Ammar have both celebrated their birthdays recently, in the Dutch Embassy in Damascus. The kids have spent close to two months in the embassy, waiting for diplomatic negotiations between the Netherlands and Syria to allow them back home.

There has even been a suggestion by a Dutch politician to involve the US in order to pressure Assad directly.

Their father, Hisham Hafez, says that they can go back to the Netherlands, when they're 18. Until that time, he says, they belong with him in Damascus. The Embassy is like a jail and they can't continue staying there.

His kids have been interviewed on Dutch TV and said they want to go back to the Netherlands. To which Hafez says: "Then I'll never see them. I'm on the Ineterpol list. They see me as a criminal. I'll be picked up if I come to the Netherlands. That's why I say, when they're 18 they can leave here if they want to, then you wouldn't be able to forbid Ammar and Sara anymore."

Mohammad Hassaan ’Awad, a professor of Islamic Law in Syria, thinks that the kids should be sent back to their mother, Janneke Schoonhoven. The marriage was contracted in the Netherlands and the mother lives there. If that can be proven and the kids want to live with her, then according to Sharia law she should be able to bring them back.

'Awad, who wants to help mediate in the case, says that Sharia law puts the kids' interests in the center and since they have shown countless times that they want to go back to the Netherlands, it should be a possiblity.

Schoonhoven says about her ex-husband: "He has lived in Europe for 30 years. He has double citizenship, Dutch and Syrian, and he has accepted the judgement of the Dutch judge that the kids belong here. If we would have married in Syria and had kids there then I would have had to abide by the law."

Sources: Telegraaf (Dutch), Dagblad van het Noorden 1, 2 (Dutch)

See also: Syria: Abducted Dutch kids flee to embassy, Syria: Update on Dutch kids, Syria: Dutch kids ask Queen for help

Norway: anti-Israel article

Jostein Gaardner, an internationally known Norwegian writer, came out last week with an anti-Israel, anti-Jewish piece titled "The Chosen People". (You can read about it on the Norwegian News blog).

The piece started off a storm in Norway and caused Gaardner to come out with an explanation, saying he was very insulted to be called an anti-Semite. Aftenposten published several articles on the topic in English:
Injured and threatened, Frightened by reactions, Hate mail and dialogue, Clumsy fall in familiar trap and I wrote out of disgust for the war.

[Please note that despite Gaardner being the one injured, threatened and frightened, the people getting the hate mail are the Jewish community.]

Now, this same peace which has caused such an uproar, is flaunted by one of Norway's Arab writers as a hope for peace. The writer, Walid al-Kubaisi, had supported freedom of the press during the Mohammed cartoon affair, and for that he should be commended. However, I wonder how many Norwegian articles that came out then apologizing for Norway and its press, did he bother to translate and send to the Arab world. Wouldn't that have made more an impact for peace? Wouldn't that have showed more that Norway cares about what Muslims feel? Apparently, one anti-Israel piece is worth it all.

Author Walid al-Kubaisi calls Jostein Gaarder's highly controversial critique of Israel "a gleam of light for the Arab world", and has sent an Arabic translation to at least 40 Arab newspapers and web sites.

Walid al-Kubaisi has been a prominent writer in Norway, and has expressed his opposition to fundamentalist Islam on several occasions. Now he strongly supports Jostein Gaarder's provocative attack on recent Israeli actions in the Middle East, and has sent a translation to leading Arab culture desks.

"I contacted Gaarder for permission, but received no answer. After finding an extremely inaccurate translation on a web site I felt compelled to send out my translation. I have sent it to countries like Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and all leading cultural editors," al-Kubaisi said.

"This is big news, for Arabs, that an intellectual from Norway weeps for their suffering. It is important that it becomes known, and that one learns that it is the man who wrote "Sophie's World" that writes this. It is powerful that Gaarder's article is written in a Lutheran society. It is as strange to people as a flying saucer on Karl Johan (Oslo's main avenue)," al-Kubaisi said.

Al-Kubaisi said that he has spoken to many intellectuals that support Gaarder but feel that the time is not right to say the same.

"Some time in the future Norwegians will say: Why did we react so strongly to Gaarder? I do not support Hezbollah. For the same reason I cannot support Israel. To kill children is a criminal act. How can the world accept what is happening? As a humanist I feel honored to read a Norwegian humanist who distances himself from the concept of God's chosen people. It is racist to claim that some are chosen, it means that God has rejected the rest," al-Kubaisi said.

Al-Kubaisi feels that Gaarder has criticized both Hezbollah and Hamas in the piece as well. He does not expect trouble for helping publish the piece in the Arab world, arguing that it would be published anyway, sooner or later.

Al-Kubaisi believes that Gaarder will receive respect in the Arab world and that Norway should take advantage of this.

"I say to (Foreign Minister) Jonas Gahr Støre, this is a good starting point for dialogue and peace efforts with the Arab world. So don't ignore this, please. Especially now with the terror attempt in London, it is very important. With Gaarder we can create a new history," al-Kubaisi said.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

UK: Terror plot

Amazingly, newspapers had something more interesting to focus today than the war in Lebanon. A group of about 20 Pakistani, British born men apparently intended to blow up planes mid-air, probably over various cities. Thousands of people are now stranded across Europe. Thousands were supposed to die.

"Dispatches", a Channel 4 series, recently aired a documentary titled "What Muslims Want"

A survey done for the show can be found here (PDF file). I originally intended to wait till I had the time to go over it thoroughly and summarize it. Though you can say it doesn't reveal much that hasn't been discussed in countless other surveys in the recent past, it's quite comprehensive and does bring up some interesting points. For example, how many Muslims who prefer Sharia law would like to see Britain as an Islamic state? (hint: much less than 100%). How many of those who prefer British law would want to see Britain as an Islamic state? (hint: more than I would have thought). How many Muslims feel victimized and how many really are? (hint 1: lots. hint 2: barely any). Are the younger British-born generation more open to liberal values? Are they less religious then their parents? (hint: no and no).

Oslo: knife attack

Is this the new Oslo fashion?

A 38-year-old Oslo man was injured in a knife attack in Oslo's main avenue, Karl Johan, on Thursday morning.

Police were notified of the crime at around 6:15 a.m.

"A person was stabbed near the 7-Eleven in Karl Johan," operation leader Ellen Ulvin of the Oslo police told

The victim was cut from the scalp to chin, in both thighs and in the leg. He was taken to Oslo's Emergency Ward. The assailant, who was described as wearing a Palestinian scarf wrapped around his head, is still at large.

"We have not found the perpetrator. He disappeared in the downtown area," Ulvin said. Police believe the attacker and victim knew each other, and the attack was related to an argument about money.

"We do not believe that the man we are seeking is dangerous to others," Ulvin said.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

Sorting Out Life as Muslims and Marines

This is about the US, but I have no doubts that Muslim soldiers in Western armies around the world are facing these dilemmas.

Few people ever see Ismile Althaibani’s Purple Heart. He keeps the medal tucked away in a dresser. His Marine uniform is stored in a closet. His hair is no longer shaved to the scalp.

It has been 20 months since he returned from Iraq after a roadside explosion shattered his left foot. He never expected a hero’s welcome, and it never came — none of the balloons or hand-written signs that greeted another man from his unit who lived blocks away.

Mr. Althaibani, 23, was the last of five young marines to come home to an extended family of Yemeni immigrants in Brooklyn. Like the others, he grew accustomed to the uneasy stares and prying questions. He learned not to talk about his service in the company of Muslim neighbors and relatives.

“I try not to let people know I’m in the military,” said Mr. Althaibani, a lance corporal in the Marine Corps Reserve.

The passage home from Iraq has been difficult for many American troops. They have struggled to recover from the shocking intensity of the war. They have faced the country’s ambivalence about a conflict in which thousands of their fellow soldiers have been killed or maimed.

But for Muslim Americans like Mr. Althaibani, the experience has been especially fraught.
They were called upon to fight a Muslim enemy, alongside comrades who sometimes questioned their loyalty. They returned home to neighborhoods where the occupation is commonly dismissed as an imperialist crusade, and where Muslims who serve in Iraq are often disparaged as traitors.

Some 3,500 Muslims have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan with the United States armed forces, military figures show. Seven of them have been killed, and 212 have been awarded Combat Action Ribbons.

More than half these troops are African-American. But little else is known about Muslims in the military. There is no count of those who are immigrants or of Middle Eastern descent. There is no full measure of their honors or injuries, their struggle overseas and at home.

The rest of the article can be read on the NY Times site (requires a free signing up).

Source: NY Times

Belgium: Burglar killed

A burglar hits a neighborhood, gets caught by three men and later that night dies. Apparently, not due to any violence on the part of the apprehenders. Nobody tried to evade police and the three show up at the police station.

The facts behind the story: the burglar was Moroccan. The apprehenders are Italian and were on their way back to Italy that night.

No racism involved. Just a neighborhood suffering from a crime wave.

The judicial authorities of Tongeren (Limburg province) announced on Friday that there were no suspicious circumstances in the death of a burglar, who was caught when breaking into a house in Maasmechelen on Wednesday evening.

According to the authorities, there were few traces of violence discovered during the autopsy on the body of the thief, a drug addict who was chased and overwhelmed by three local residents who caught him red-handed.

By the time local police arrived, the three men had left the scene. The burglar reported feeling unwell and was taken to hospital, where he died a few hours later.

The local men turned themselves in to the police when they found out that the burglar had died.

Initial allegations suggested that the burglar had died due to violence - Belgium has been rocked by several cases of violent crime during 2006.

However, the autopsy proved that the death was "an accident".

Local residents had been complaining about burglaries for some time and claimed that the local municipality was not doing enough to combat the problem.

Source: Expatica (English)

Brussels: More on last protest

More pictures from the last anti-Israel demonstration in Brussels can be seen on Indymedia:
1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

De Standaard Online also has a video segment from the protest, where they interview a Lebanese who explains in English his views on the war.

See also: Brussels: 2nd anti-Israel protest

Lebanese Satire

The Israel at Ground Level blog brings a clip from a Lebanese satirical show. Watch it till the end, quite recommended.

Supposedly the Shi'ites in Lebanon rioted after this show and forced it to be taken off the air.

You can see it on YouTube as well .

Denmark: Immigrant population forecast halved

A new population forecast shows that birth rates among immigrant women have dropped so low that population forecasts need to be changed Birth rates among immigrant women have dropped so much that predictions of the number of second and third generation Danes have been changed, according to new calculations by the independent Dream Institute.

In 1980 immigrant women gave birth to an average of four children. Today, the number has fallen to 2.4 children.

'It was very surprising that the birth frequency among immigrants from lesser developed country was so low,' said Lars Haagen Pedersen, a researcher with the Dream Institute, to daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

The fall in proportion is due to the older age of women immigrating to the country. There are also fewer immigrants from the lesser developed countries where large families are the norm, reported Jyllands-Posten.

The drop in numbers will have a drastic impact on the ethnic composition of Denmark in the long term, said Pedersen.

Compared to the last population forecast in 2004, the predicted number of immigrants and their descendants has almost halved from 15.3 percent. The lower birth rate means that immigrants and their descendants from countries like Turkey, Somalia, Lebanon and Iraq will constitute just under eight percent of Denmark's population in 2080.

Source: Jyllands Posten (English)

Brussels: 2nd anti-Israel protest

About 8000 protestors marched in Brussels to protest against the war in Lebanon. They were divided into several groups, some of which called for an immediate cease fire, others of which showed support for Hizballah and Hamas.

Unlike the previous protest, more ethnic Belgians showed up this time.

More pictures can be seen at Indymedia.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

One year ago

One year ago, Israel was busy evicting Jews from Gaza. Sending out its army and police it dragged Jews from their homes. No Arab or Muslim was forced to leave. Entire communities were destroyed, both physically and psychologically. Decades of hard work were wiped out.

The global left, and the world in general did not see anything wrong with that.

In order to gather up forces for this important missions, the Israeli army sent out the flight school cadets. One of them was interviewed and explained why he sees this as a challenge, and why he feels it is important to follow orders no matter what he thinks is right.

Fast forward a year.

Israel decided it will not stand for Hizballah attacks on its borders. Sending out its planes and soldiers, it bombards Lebanon, trying to hit Hizballah terrorists, supplies and infrastructure.

The global left, and the world in general is shocked at Israel's extreme reaction, and wonders why innoncent people have to suffer.

Those same flight school cadets are now battle pilots and are taking part in bombing missions. They haven't changed. They have been trained to follow orders, no matter what they think is right.

Of course, things are much easier when your target is the enemy and not your fellow citizen. They hope that they'll only kill terrorists and grieve when they hit innocent civilians.

However, when the world is out shouting that Israel is overreacting and that it's immoral to do what they're doing now and that those pilots are guilty of war crimes, maybe it should ask itself why it stood by silently last year.

Norway: the sad condition of cricket

Most people have no idea what cricket is. That is, unless you come from a Commonwealth country, like Pakistan. And if you come from a Commonwealth country and happen to live in Norway, you ask yourself why nobody cares about cricket.

I doubt this would have made the news if there wouldn't be a war in Lebanon between Israel and Hizballah right now.

At least 500 police will protect Norwegian Muslims and Israeli Jews during their international cricket match in Scotland.

Up to 4,000 protestors are expected at the European 2nd Division championship fixture, and their target is the extremely odd mix of nations, politics, religion and sport. Norway, Israel, Jersey and France are in Group 2 of the event which runs from Aug 3-9.

There have been large protests over Israel's inclusion, and many have argued that the match against Norway in Glasgow shouldn't take place.

"In that case the USA, China and Russia shouldn't be allowed to have sport. This smacks of discrimination," Stephen Kliner, honorary president of Glasgow's Jewish Representation Council told the BBC.

"The organizers asked us if it would be a problem for us to play the match," Mehtab Afsar, head of Norwegian Cricket, told from Scotland. Afsar gives the impression that the team could not afford not to play.

"It is very important for us to play this tournament. If we win, it will be easier for us to play cricket in Norway. I would rather speak to the demonstrators and explain that we are just here to play cricket," Afsar said.

The Norwegian Muslims live in the same hotel as the Israeli team, and this gives them some uneasy moments.

"This is just something we have to accept, even though we would rather have stayed somewhere else for security reasons. Our only request is that we have our own bus to the match on Saturday," Afsar said.

Cricket Norway is only associated with the European federation, and a good result in Scotland can mean promotion to full membership. This would mean funding for the game in Norway, about NOK 1 million (USD 155,000), Afsar believes. Norway's win over France on Thursday was a good start.

If there is real political anger from the Norwegian team, it is focused on the situation at home.

"Norwegian politicians don't care about cricket at all. It's a disgrace, especially since so many of the players have minority backgrounds," Afsar said.

There is sponsorship interest, and conditions for cricket in Norway are primitive.

There are currently 24 cricket clubs in Norway, divided into three divisions. They play on four grounds.

"We also have ten junior teams and three girls teams, but they have no regular training. I fit them in to what free time I can find," Afsar said.

"We play at a higher level than our (associated) membership would imply. Many teams would like to come to Norway to play us but we have no grounds, we don't even have toilets. Here (Scotland) it is completely different. We have never played on grounds like this," Afsar said.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

Italy: Beaches for Muslims only (UPDATED)

Ok.. where to start?

If they want to open a seperate beach, why is it open for Muslims only? Would a woman who is not Muslim but prefers not to lie half naked in front of men also be allowed in?

The comparison to newspapers and charter aircraft is ridiculous. How would the town of Riccione react if the Germans would want a beach of their own, where they could speak only German and not have to look or deal with any natives? I'm sure they'll be extremely pleased and ready to do whatever it takes to have satisfied customers, right?

One of Italy's most popular Adriatic Sea resorts, Riccione, is set to open the country's first beach exclusively for Muslim women.

The city administration has approved an unprecedented measure this week providing for a beach from which men will be banned and fitted with tents to safeguard the privacy of Muslim women who want to sunbathe and swim without having to do so fully clothed as Islamic custom prescribes.

Female lifeguards will also be provided

City councilor Loretta Villa told Italy's largest circulation paper Corriere della Sera that Riccione is now only awaiting for one of the local entrepreneurs "to apply to run the beach and we will immediately prepare the authorization."

Highly popular among Italians and Europeans for its resorts, shops and night clubs, Riccione, in central Italy, has become popular with Arabs, especially Saudis, who are increasingly demanding customized services, such as private jet charters.

Indeed the resort's five start Grand Hotel des Bains is currently hosting part of the Saudi royal family.

The hotels however says its Saudi clients had to rent the indoor swimming pool so the women in their group can take a swim.

"When the Germans started coming here, didn't we learn the language and started providing German newspapers?" asked Villa, who is on charge of state land in the city administration."

Riccione lives from tourism and we must be able to satisfy the needs of our guests."

As far as separate beaches are concerned, she concluded, "we are not talking about superficial motives but of cultural and religious beliefs."

Source: Al Arab online (English)


In a completely unrelated story, Morrocans are upset at the French elite who are buying up beach front property.

Bernard-Henri Levy, the writer and philosopher, erected a wall around his cliff top villa in Tangiers that partially block the view of the bay from the terrace of famous Hafa cafe next door, the Times said.

The view was known to have inspired such writers as Jean Genet and Tennessee Williams.Levy said he built the wall to provide some privacy for his wife, actress Arielle Dombasle, while she sunned herself by the pool.

The idea of women sunbathing topless inflames a growing Islamic movement aiming to turn Morocco, one of the more liberal Muslim countries, into a strict theocracy, the newspaper said.

Source: Al Arab online (English)

Update 2:

It's unclear, but apparently the idea was to open a beach for women only.

Netherlands: 50% immigrants among youth in cities

The percent of non-Western immigrants among the youth is still going up in the four big cities. Amsterdam has about 55% immigrant youth, and Rotterdam also has more than 50%.

About 33% of the total population in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague are non-Western immigrants. This has gone up by less than 1% a year in the past 10 years (~25% in 1996, ~30% in 2001). That is a much higher percent than the total over the country. The Netherlands has 11% non-Western immigrants (about 1.8 million out of 16.3 million).

While the percent of 1st generation immigrants is going down, the 2nd generation is growing. Many non-Western immigrants are in the age when they start families.

Non-Western is defined as immigrants from Turkey, Africa, Latin America and Asia (not including Indonesia and Japan).

Source: Elsevier (Dutch)

If this continues by this trend the major cities will have a majority of non-Western immigrants in 25 years. However, it is being offset by a move to the smaller cities. The Dutch Bureau for Statistics estimates that in 20 years the population in both big and medium size cities will stabilize at 30%.

See also: Netherlands in 2025

Hague: Halal mortgages

Two parties on the city board of The Hague - VVD and Islam Democrats - are pushing for a change in the current mortgage laws.

Bilaa-Riba (no interest) from Leiden is setting up a mortgage scheme where no interest has to be paid. However, in such a case you don't get the benefits of deducting the interest you earn from your taxes.

The two parties which are pushing for this new halal-mortgage are hoping it will encourage Muslims to buy houses, which would cause them also to be more concerned about their house and neighborhood. They say that the deduction law is intended to stimulate house ownership and that it doesn't fulfill its goal by one million Muslims and therefore should be changed.

Source: (Dutch)

France: Unofficial airport mosques closed

Police have shut down makeshift Muslim prayer rooms at Paris' two main airports after they became a focus of intense scrutiny following allegations by a far-right politician that Islamic activists were compromising security.

Officials insisted there was no threat, but the prayer sites set up by Muslim workers in cloakrooms, depots and other areas at Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports were quietly shuttered. There are three official prayer rooms - still open - at each of the two main Paris airports, just as there are chapels for Christians and synagogues for Jews.

Officials had vehemently denied allegations in a book by Philippe de Villiers, published in May, that clandestine prayer rooms honeycombed the corridors underneath airport runways and that Islamists were poised to put the premises under Muslim Sharia law.

Villiers, a presidential hopeful who opposes immigration by Muslims, claimed to have based his book, "The Mosques of Roissy," on intelligence reports. Many saw the book as a bid for attention. It caused a stir and briefly climbed the bestseller list.

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, considered the leading conservative presidential candidate, visited Charles de Gaulle airport in April, after book excerpts were published, and insisted measures to strengthen security were under way.

About 70 airport employees were being let go because they weren't "zero-risk," he said. He didn't give details about who made that judgment.

Officials contacted by The AP insisted the unofficial prayer sites posed no risk and said employees in sensitive areas are carefully vetted.

Eight prayer rooms were shut down at Orly airport, said Yvon Caratero, deputy chief of the Air and Frontier Police for Orly, calling it a "precautionary" measure.

The daily Le Parisien reported last week that some 30 prayer rooms were shut at de Gaulle.

Hazem El-Shaffei, the imam, or Muslim leader, for Charles de Gaulle and Orly, confirmed unofficial prayer rooms were shut at de Gaulle but didn't say how many.

He said by telephone he wasn't opposed to shutting them, noting working Muslims can group their prayers in the evening. But he stressed the prayer rooms were "not a question of any threat."

Caratero, the police official, said, "It was a problem that really wasn't one. There were no meetings to talk about Islam. There was no imam preaching. It didn't present a particular risk."

He said authorities had "tolerated" the makeshift sites used by Muslims, who pray five times a day.

"People came, prayed and folded up their (prayer) rugs," Caratero said. The airports are major employers on the north and south peripheries of Paris where numerous Muslims live and work.

Source: Easy Bourse (English)

Netherlands: more on mosques

Seventy mosques are to be built or enlarged in the Netherlands in the next four years. Most of them on the outskirts of residential neighborhoods, in industrial areas and farmlands, out of sight of the Ethnic Dutch.

One reason for this is that big mosques need a lot of space and hosting 2000 people in a residential neighborhood is not easy. Another reason is the growing anger at Islam.

The Netherlands will soon have 450 mosques, 115 of which are in the four big cities. They offer services to one million worshipers. The number of churches, on the other hand, is going down, with about 4500 currently, with Catholic churches especially being turned over for other purposes.

Mosques are being built due to a severe shortage of space. Especially during Ramadan, many municipalities open up tents to deal with the overflow. The mosques have in many cases engaged in year long struggles in order to build more, and in most cases are doubling the upper floor.

Source: (Dutch)

See also: Netherlands: More and more mosques