UK: Muslim prayers in Windsor castle

This would be amazing news if it didn't include the little fact that Buckingham Palace already has a Muslim prayer room. I was not aware the Anglican Church sanctioned Islam. On the other hand, rumor has it that Prince Charles has converted to Islam, so it might be useful.

Does anybody know if there are prayer rooms for other religions in British castles?

Muslims often complain that they are discriminated due to the basic fact that Islam is not a religion like Christianity is. It doesn't have a structured ministry like Christianity, for example, and therefore doesn't fit into the bureaucratic definition of religious institutions in several European countries. When it comes to praying, Islam is not like Christianity. When the time for prayer comes, a Muslim is expected to pray wherever he is.

The Queen is allowing a room at Windsor Castle to be used as a Muslim prayer zone.

The move came after a request from 19-year-old student Nagina Chaudhry, who works in the visitors' shop, a royal spokeswoman said.

An office at the castle has now been set aside for her to offer lunchtime prayers during the holy month of Ramadan, a time of fasting.

A spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace, where such a facility already exists for Muslims, said: "Miss Chaudhry made a request for somewhere to pray.

"During Ramadan if she wants to use this office for praying then that's fine.

"We are an equal opportunities employer and we do our best to facilitate any requests made by our employees."

When not being used as a prayer chamber, the room will continue to be used as an office.

Miss Chaudhry, speaking to the Daily Mail newspaper, said: "It feels amazing to be the first Muslim to read namaz (prayers) at Windsor Castle.

"The Queen is the head of the Church of England so it's great to know she respects other people's faith.

"I think I'm the only Muslim who works here so I feel special knowing they've made such an effort for me."

Source: The Guardian (English)


A few more details, from Islam Online. This is a bit more than setting aside an office for an employee to be able to pray alone, or to sit out her lunch break in a place where it would be easier to fast. The office has been essentially turned into a mosque.

"It feels amazing to be the first Muslim to read namaz (prayers) at Windsor Castle," said Nagina Chaudhry, 19.

"I was reciting the prayer with more power than usual because I knew I was making history."

Chaudhry, who works at the 11th century Windsor Castle gift shop at weekends, has requested for a special room to perform prayers during the fasting month.

Within days, an office in the castle's Saxon Tower, a stone's throw from the royal family's private St George's Chapel, had been converted.

Portraits were removed from the walls and a small marker indicating qiblah (direction of the Ka`bah) was set.

Copies of the Noble Qur’an and prayer mats were provided.

"I think I am the only Muslim working here, so I feel special knowing that they have made such an effort for me," said Chaudhry.

A spokesman for the Royal Household confirmed that the room had been set aside for prayers during Ramadan.

"We have had Muslim employees before who have taken time out to pray, but a decision has been made to make a particular room available during Ramadan," he said.

There are no mosques in Windsor. Muslims who want to perform prayers during Ramadan must travel into Slough, three miles away.

Source: Islam Online (English)

Germany: "honor" murderer sentenced to "life"

Though the life sentence in Germany is only 15 years, meaning this murderer will be out of prison by the time he's 40, it's an improvement over the 9 year sentence given to the last person accused of "honor" murder.

A German court on Friday convicted a 25-year-old man of murder and sentenced him to life in prison for the honor killing of his sister.

A state court found Ali Karabey, a German citizen of Turkish origin, guilty of shooting his 20-year-old sister, Gonul, to death in the western city of Wiesbaden in June 2005 to prevent her from marrying her German boyfriend.

The verdict comes amid a growing discussion in Germany about how to better integrate immigrants, especially Muslims, into German society and ensure that they respect its laws. The nation was rocked last year by a flurry of similar honor killings that added to the urgency of the debate.

According to the court, Karabey tracked down his victim to a garden shed belonging to her boyfriend's family after she ran away from home.

The court said his sister agreed to meet him after he assured her that he meant her no harm and told her boyfriend that he would help arrange their marriage.

It said Karabey fired at her repeatedly after persuading the boyfriend to leave them alone in the hut.

Defense lawyers had argued for a manslaughter conviction, contending that Karabey, a German citizen of Turkish origin, shot his sister in the heat of the moment during a row that had nothing to do with her marriage plans.

Under German law, convicts serving life sentences can be released after 15 years.

It was unclear if Karabey would appeal the verdict.

Source: International Herald Tribune (English)

See also: Germany: 9 years for 'honor' murder

Sweden: Teenager arrested for murder

The youth, only 17, has now turned into a man. Fittja has an immigrant population of 66%.

A 17-year old man has been arrested in connection with the murder of a 47-year old man in the Stockholm suburb of Fittja earlier this month.

Police on Friday also released a 19-year old man they had been holding in connection with the crime.

"I had applied for the 19-year old to be remanded in custody when on Thursday night new information came to light which weakened the case against him. He is not excluded from the investigation, and is still suspected of involvement in the murder," said prosecutor Kai Koskela to news agency TT.

The 17-year old was arrested on Thursday evening, after a warrant had been put out for his arrest earlier.

"I intend to apply for him to be remanded in custody on Saturday," Koskela said.

The man has denied involvement in the killing. A further two teenage boys are currently in custody under suspicion of manslaughter.

The 47-year old victim was attacked on 16th September by a gang of youths outside a school in Fittja. He died later of his injuries.

Source: The Local (English)

See also: Sweden: Man killed by "gang of youth"

Norway: Asylum seeker caught drug smuggling

When is an asylum seeker really an asylum seeker? Should a criminal hiding from justice be considered an asylum seeker? In the case of Norway, the answer is yes.

Not for the first time, an asylum seeker in Norway is not being deported since he faces a death sentence in his country. It seems the best thing an asylum seeker in Norway could do is go out and commit a serious crime. Maybe murder a few people. That would make prevent him from ever being deported.

Fahrad Mohammed Injeh is back in jail, after police in Follo, south of Oslo, arrested him and four others on charges of smuggling amphetamines into Norway.

Newspaper Aftenposten reported Friday that police had trailed suspected drug couriers from the Swedish border at Svinesund to a garage in Ås, which was then raided by armed police. Among the five men nabbed on the scene was Fahrad Mohammed Injeh.

Two of those arrested had driven the car from Svinesund, in which police found more than five kilos of amphetamines concealed in its framework. A third man owned the garage and the two others, one of whom was Injeh, are believed to have been the intended recipients of the drugs.

Injeh's defense attorney said his client was baffled by the charges. "This is probably a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time," said attorney Petter Sørensen.

Injeh, meanwhile, remained in solitary confinement Friday. He also had been arrested and charged in another drugs case in the autumn of last year, but those charges were later dismissed for lack of evidence.

Injeh and his brother first landed in Norway when they hijacked an Aeroflot flight from Baku in Azerbaijan to Oslo. The brothers were later deported, jailed in Russia and released in 1997. They managed to return to Norway via Denmark and ultimately sought asylum.

Their case sparked widespread public debate in Norway and government ministers opposed their plea, but asylum was later granted on the grounds the brothers would be hanged if sent back to Iran. Norway won't deport anyone if they face a death penalty in their homeland.

They ended up receiving residence permission in Norway in 2002. A potential drug conviction likely won't revoke that, because Injeh could still argue the need for protection from the death penalty back home in Iran. His brother hasn't been involved in any criminal offenses since returning to Norway.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

See also: Norway: Krekar not to be deported, The case for asylum seekers

Sweden: Female circumcision exam reported to ombudsman

I'm not sure what upsets the Uppsala Discrimination Office here: the fact that this girl was singled out, or the fact that the check was forced on her. Or maybe they should be upset that a little girl of that age could have undergone such a procedure as to require an examination later. The idea of making such examinations compulsory has already been brought up in Sweden. It came about because there is a problem and it should be dealt with.

An Uppsala schoolgirl was taken out of school by police and subjected to a gynaecological examination, after concerns were raised that she might have been circumcised.

The test showed that the girl, 11, had not had her genitals mutilated. Now, social services, the Uppsala County Council and the local police authority have been reported to Sweden's Justice Ombudsman.

The decision to force the girl to undergo the examination was taken after a district nurse raised suspicions that the girl had been taken away and mutilated. The nurse informed social services, who in turn reported her suspicions to the police.

"It is wrong that certain individuals' prejudices, and what we consider to be an unwillingness to find out the facts, should have such serious consequences for a little girl," said Lina Gidlund of the Uppsala Discrimination Office, to Swedish Radio.

Source: The Local (English)

See also: Sweden: fight the honor culture

Belgium: Prison guards attacked

The prison guards at Vorst and Sint-Gillis prison are for now getting police protection on the way to and from work. The new decision comes after two guards were attacked on the tram by immigrant kids. The two were threatened with a knife and called "murderers".

The situation at the prison has been very tense since the death of a Moroccan prisoner last week. The prisoners swear at the guard and attempt to provoke riots. A couple of times already the prisoners refused to return to their cells after their walk.

Source: De Standaard (Dutch)

See also: Brussels: Riots, Brussels: More riots, Brussels: Police prevent riots

UK: Driving Blind

Omed Aziz, who lost both his eyes in a bomb blast and is also deaf, was caught behind the wheel with a friend sitting in the passenger seat giving him instructions on when to steer and brake, and how quickly to drive.

Aziz, who also suffers from leg tremors, claimed he was perfectly safe and denied a charge of dangerous driving before being convicted.

Pc Glyn Austin told magistrates that he saw Aziz's white Peugeot 405 move from one side of the ring road in Oldbury, West Midlands, to the other, crossing a white hazard line, before turning left.

He and a colleague had already seen him successfully negotiate two roundabouts and a corner.

Pc Austin said that when he pulled over the car, Aziz, who wore dark glasses, was fumbling with the controls. When asked if he noticed anything about Aziz he replied: "I did — he didn't have any eyes."

He said: "I attempted to speak to the driver. At that point the passenger leaned across and said 'He's blind'."

Aziz, 31, and his passenger, who was banned from driving at the time, were arrested and taken to Smethwick police station, where Aziz confirmed that he was totally blind and had impaired hearing in his left ear as a result of injuries from an explosion in Iraq before he moved to Britain.

He said he had driving experience prior to being blinded and said he was suffering from depression about his injuries and was "testing himself" by getting behind the wheel.
Warley magistrates heard that he also lost a thumb and two fingers in the blast.

Pc Austin's colleague, Pc Stuart Edge, told the court that he asked Aziz whether he could see him. He said: "He removed the dark-coloured sunglasses he was wearing and I could clearly see he was blind as he had no eyes."

Timothy Gascoyne, defending, said Aziz, who did not give evidence, should be cleared because "the question is not whether his driving was dangerous, but whether being blind makes it dangerous".

He said: "If my client hadn't been blind he wouldn't have been arrested for dangerous driving, so it doesn't fall far below what is expected from a careful and competent driver."

Peter Love, prosecuting, told the court: "A blind man controlling a vehicle is inherently dangerous. A careful and competent driver would not dream of driving in this manner."

Aziz, from Darlaston, Staffs, who was followed by police driving at 35mph for half a mile before he was stopped at 11pm in April, was led into court by an interpreter. He previously admitted driving with no tax, insurance or MOT.

Source: Telegraph (English), hat tip: This is True

Brussels: Police prevent riots

After two nights of riots in the Marollen neighborhood, Wednesday night was quiet. Police detained 30 people, 15 of which were minors. There were no serious incidents and no confrontation between police and rioters. According to police, some of those detained had inflammable products and could have provoked incidents. Police also found in various bushes balaclavas and inflammable products ready for use. All together about 50 youngsters were out on the streets, which is less than Tuesday's night turnout of about a 100. They moved about in small groups of 5-6 people. By 9:30 pm, the neighborhood was quiet again.

Earlier, police had revealed that of the 45 people arrested yesterday, 31 had a police history and had already been accused in total of 242 offences. Brussels Mayor Freddy Thielemans said the riots were not caused by protesters who wanted to express their anger, but rather by people who knew each and who had interest in causing destruction. Police are examining photos taken during the skirmishes and will be making further arrests. The police chief emphasized that there had only been 50-80 people out on the streets Monday and Tuesday and that without the work of the preventive services who had been working closely together the past couple of days, the number would have been 200-300.

Source: HLN 1, 2 (Dutch)

See also: Brussels: Riots, Brussels: More riots

Source of immigration

News in Norway recently posted an article regarding the Norwegian Minister of Labor and Integration's statements while on a visit to Pakistan. The minister, Bjarne Håkon Hansen, called to increase Pakistani immigration to Norway in order to stave off the labor shortage that Norway is supposedly facing.

I found it quite interesting, since just a few months ago, Oslo politicians were surprised at a study that showed that immigrants were responsible for 92.5% of Oslo's growth over the past decade and that non-western immigrants made up 86% of that growth.

What was more interesting was a Danish plan that was unveiled a week later.

Denmark wants to be known as the country where the best job opportunities lie. To that end, the government presented a 13-point plan Tuesday that will make it easier for Danish businesses to recruit foreign labour, reported daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende Tuesday.

Claus Hjort Frederiksen, the minister of employment, said that the initiative is important in keeping the economy on the upswing by helping to fill open positions.

'We have to make it easier for companies to attract and employ foreign labourers. We've seen that it can be difficult to get the unemployed in Denmark out to the open jobs.'

Frederiksen indicated that the plan is aimed at countries and cities where there is the greatest chance to find qualified workers, especially Poland, Sweden and Germany.

'If a large business closes in Poland or Germany, then we have to get the workers interested in Danish job opportunities. That can take place, for example, by contacting their local media,' said Frederiksen.

Denmark's embassies in those countries will also use their networks and local knowledge to promote the plan, an initiative that pleases the Confederation of Danish Industries (DI).

'We can see that countries like Ireland and Norway have had more success attracting foreign labour than we have, so I think the government's initiative is extremely positive,' said DI director Kim Graugaard.

In other words, there are qualified employees right across the border. There's no real need to go all the way to Pakistan in order to find them. Maybe Norway has more success in attractive foreign labour, but Denmark is at least looking much closer to home.

Source: Copenhagen Post (English)

Denmark: Islamists and Naivists

On Sept. 5, the day Danish police arrested nine Muslim suspects in connection with a foiled terrorist plot, a slender book warning of conquest by Islamic fundamentalists in Europe appeared in bookstores here.

"Islamists and Naivists," by Karen Jespersen and Ralf Pittelkow, has since risen to the top of the best-seller list and is causing a sensation in Denmark - in part because the authors are establishment figures previously known for their progressive attitudes toward Islam and integration.

The book is also gaining notice because Denmark, a country celebrated for its fairy tales, is on the front line of the culture wars between Islam and the West following publication in a Danish newspaper late last year of cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad.

The book's main argument is that Europeans who ignore the threat posed by Islamists belong to a new and dangerous tribe of "naivists," a term coined by the authors. This may not sound so radical at a time when the pope has upset the Islamic world by quoting a medieval passage calling Islam "evil and inhuman" and when Islamic terrorist plots have put Europe on edge.

But the book also equates Islamic fundamentalists with Nazis and Communists - a provocative stand on the heels of the cartoon crisis, which strengthened a backlash against immigrants that was already brewing here.

Pittelkow says the new book's publication on the day of the terror arrests, while a coincidence, was a prescient reminder.

"The threat is that the Islamists and their values are gaining ground in Europe, especially among the younger generation," he said in an interview. "They try to interfere in people's lives, telling them what to wear, what to eat, what to think and what to believe. They warn Muslims to create their own societies within Europe or risk disappearing like salt in water."

Muslim leaders here have denounced the book, accusing Pittelkow and Jespersen of giving Muslim-bashing a respectable face in Denmark, a country that views itself as a tolerant and open society.

Danish analysts say the book reflects the extent to which skepticism about Islam has invaded the European political mainstream.

"The book is significant because it shows how attacks against Islam are no longer limited to people on the right, but have become acceptable, even fashionable, among people close to the establishment," said Jakob Nielsen, a commentator for the left-leaning newspaper Politiken, which Pittelkow labels "naivist" for underestimating the threat of the Islamists. "The reality is that nobody in Denmark bats an eye anymore when people talk about the threat that Islam poses to Danish values because this is viewed, however wrongly, as a fact of life."

The authors' backgrounds could hardly be more mainstream. Pittelkow, a former literature professor and prominent Social Democrat, advised former Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen before becoming a commentator for Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper that published the Muhammad cartoons. Jespersen, Pittelkow's wife, is a former interior minister and social affair minister who belonged to a leftist revolutionary party in her youth.

Pittelkow says that Denmark's cherished openness is under attack by Islamists due to a clash of values epitomized by the cartoons. He argues that Islamic radicalism nearly triumphed during the crisis because many editors and political figures in Denmark and elsewhere accepted Islamic arguments that publishing the caricatures was an affront to Islam, turning their backs on free speech.

"The mixture of political correctness and fear all too often leads to compliance with Islamism," Pittelkow writes in the book. "The fatal mistake of the naivists was to cave into demands for Islamic-style censorship."

For Pittelkow and Jespersen, the best defense against the threat from Islamic fundamentalists is to tighten Europe's immigration policies, which they argue have allowed pockets of unintegrated Muslim communities to flourish.

"Denmark and the rest of Europe need to integrate their existing Muslim communities," Pittelkow said. "Multiculturalism has gone too far."

One "naivist," Pittelkow says, is Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain. He cites the existence of Sharia councils in Britain that rule on divorce and inheritance cases, and notes a recent poll by Britain's Channel 4 indicating that 28 percent of young British Muslims want Britain to become an Islamic state and that 30 percent would rather live under Sharia than British law.

[ed: according to the survery 30% would rather live under Sharia law and another 15% don't know. Only 54% said they would rather live under British law. As for the question of whether you prefer England as an Islamic state, 20% had no opinion. Only 52% did not agree that Britain should become an Islamic state. This passive segment of the population, who don't know and aren't sure whether they prefer Sharia or not, should not be ignored.]

Danish analysts say the largely enthusiastic reception for the book reflects the growing popularity of the Danish People's Party, which has 13 percent of seats in the Danish Parliament and has pushed through some of the toughest anti-immigration rules in Europe.

Pittelkow denies that his views mirror those of the party, whose leaders have equated Muslims with cancer cells. But he acknowledges that the party has forced Denmark to engage in an immigration debate that he says has been pushed to the sidelines by political correctness in other countries.

The book has been sharply criticized by Muslim leaders.

"Pittelkow and Jespersen are Islam- bashers who show how acceptable it has become to attack Islam," said Imam Wahid Pedersen, a prominent Muslim leader who converted to Islam. "They are dangerous because by pushing the debate to the edges, they are making it harder for moderate Muslims in this country to find a middle ground."

Pittelkow strenuously rejects these arguments, saying that his critique is of Islamic radicalism, not of Islam itself. He also denies that the war in Iraq and other conflicts between the West and the Muslim world are the root causes of Muslim extremism. "Britain and France do not have tight immigration policies and they have a far more serious terrorist threat than we do," he said. "Germany has no troops in Iraq, yet it has been targeted by terrorists. Many things can be used a pretense to fight Western societies that Islamists hate."

For many Muslims, the book's most incendiary passages are those comparing "Islamism" with Nazism and communism. But Pittelkow insists that all three movements have totalitarian impulses and seek to control people's lives. Islamists, he says, include not just terrorists but also include Muslims who seek to impose their values on Europe in the name of religion.

"If a woman doesn't wear a headscarf, the Islamists will exert maximum pressure and use the threat of violence to make sure that she does," he says. "It is that zealous attempt to apply Islamist principles that is as authoritarian as Nazism or communism."

Source: International Herald Tribune (English)

Belgium: Young car thief killed in police chase

Four kids stole a car and were joyriding around when they were spotted by the police. The police set off in pursuit. At one point the kids crashed into a roundabout. A 16 year old passenger was severely wounded and died of his wounds. The driver, also a minor, sustained severe injuries as well. The two other passengers suffered minor injuries and ran away. They were later captured by the police and confessed to stealing the car.

Source: VRT (Dutch)

Syria: 90 days in the Dutch embassy

Sarah and Ammar Hafez were abducted by their father from their home in the Netherlands to Syria two years ago. More than 90 days ago, they sought refuge in the Dutch embassy. The kids have been hiding there ever since, afraid to leave, since under Syrian law their father has custody over them. The two have since celebrated their birthdays and are still waiting.

Dutch foreign minister Bot has recently announced that he will visit Syria only if he'll be able to return the two kids with him. Bot has been invited by his Syrian counterpart in order to discuss the case, but according to Bot talking is not enough. He also added that he thinks it's Syria's job to convince the father to return the two kids. Syria's position is that the kids will only be allowed to leave with their father's permission.

Source: (Dutch)

Meanwhile, the Telegraaf newspaper site opened up a special Dutch language site on the two kids.

For more on the story 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, Syria: Dutch looking for mediator

Rotterdam: First Muslim hospital

The first Muslim hospital in the Netherlands might be built in Rotterdam within two years. The plan was presented by Paul Surkenboom, the entrepreneur behind it.

The customs and norms of the Islamic culture will be followed in the hospital. For example, the food will be halal, there will be separate departments for men and women and each sex will be given service by doctors and nurses of the same sex.

The hospital will offer the same services as every general hospital, and people will only have to turn to other hospitals for very specialized services. The hospital is expected to employ about 45 specialists and 274 nurses and paramedics, all of which will comply with Dutch requirements.

The employees will not need to be Muslim, although they would have to naturally respects the belief and its customs.

The primary language will be Dutch but the hospital will employ Arabic speaking personnel who could function as translators.

Source: (Dutch)

Brussels: More riots

New incidents broke out in the center of Brussels and in the Marollenwijk neighborhood Tuesday night from 8:30 pm. About 30 young men were administratively detained by the police. They threw stones at the police and towards passersby. Car windows were smashed and cars were set afire. Fire was set to a youth center. The men prevented the fire brigade from putting out the fire and stole the keys of the fire trucks.

Two Molotov cocktails were thrown at the Saint Peters hospital (Sint-Pietersziekenhuis). The fire brigade managed to get the resulting fire quickly under control, but also there the keys of the emergency services vehicles were stolen.

Source: De Standaard (Dutch), VRT (Dutch). Video and pictures are available on the VRT site.

See also: Brussels: Riots

"You need to understand those who smashed your windows"

The following quote was taken from Het Parool (a Dutch newspaper) in a report of a residents gathering, following the riots in Amsterdam East.

A 60 year old Moroccan man adds in the end: "You need to understand those who smashed your windows."

I will try and translate the whole thing later on.

Source: Het Parool (Dutch)

See also: Amsterdam: riots after knifing

Brussels: Riots

Riots broke out in central Brussels Monday night. A cafe and several cars were set on fire, according to the local fire brigade and police. The cause of the riots was the death of a man in the Vorst prison. The man, a 25 year old suspect of several car thefts, was in detention and put in an isolation cell. Due to his agitation he was given sedatives. When jailers checked in several hours later, they found him dead.

The public prosecution has started an investigation into why he received sedatives without a previous checkup.

The man died Sunday, but the news was announced only on Monday night, which led to riots in the center of the city. Around 9pm, about 50 kids of North-African origin set fire to a cafe and several cars. The residents living above the cafe escaped without injury. The police came out en-masse to keep things in check. Around 11pm, the fire brigade was called out again to put out a fire which had been set to another car. Windows of several stores were broken.

Source: De Standaard (Dutch), VRT (Dutch)

Ghent: New Islamic University

In Ghent, 30 students began this year their studies in Islam in the Islamitische Universiteit Gent (Islamic University Ghent). The university is not recognized or subsidized.

The institution, which has started off in the Netherlands, began last year with lessons in Arabic. This year they will be extending their offerings in Islamic Studies. The lessons will be given in both Arabic and Dutch.

The Ghent "rector", Abdullah Demircrioglu, expects that a 4-year diploma in Islamic Studies could give a student a job as Islam teacher or imam.

Source: De Standaard (Dutch)

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 this week.

Less aslyum seekers but more in the Netherlands

There are less and less asylum seekers, but the number of asylum requests in the Netherlands is going up. While the sum total went down by 14% the number of requests in the Netherlands went up by close to 180% (from 5200 for the first 6 months last year to 9000 this year).

China led the list of asylum seekers, followed by Iraq, Serbia, Russia and Turkey.

Ramadan Festival

Minister Nicolaï of Urban Renewal and Amsterdam mayor Cohen opened the Ramadan Festival in Amsterdam Sunday. Minister Van der Hoeven of Education will open that Rotterdam Festival.

The starting point of the opening party was peace, with a dialog about peace and video messages of famous Dutch on the subject.

The Ramadan Festival is celebrating its 2nd year.

Islamobile in the Netherlands

The Islamobile, a mobile information center about Islam, has arrived in the Netherlands. The Islamobil is a van made to look up like a mosque with a dome and two minarets on the roof. It was started in 2001 by a group of German Muslims who wanted to inform Germans about Islam. Currently all the information is in German, but if reactions will be positive it will be translated into Dutch.

See also Spiegel Online's English article on the Islamobile: Allah's Mobile Information Point

Mosque running out of room

The Moroccan mosque in Etten-Leur is looking for a bigger place. According to the mosque president with the Ramadan coming up, 200 people will be coming to pray but there will be no room. There is currently no room for women. The mosque had tried looking for other places and turned to churches as well, but so far has found no alternative.

Broadcaster fined for not enough minority broadcasting

NPS, a Dutch gov’t-funded broadcasting foundation, has been fined 27,000 euro for not broadcasting enough programs for minorities. 16% of the foundations TV broadcast time was aimed at minorities instead of the required 20%, while on radio it broadcast 21% of the time to minorities instead of the required 25%.

France: Boycott of Israeli dates

French Muslims have launched a campaign to boycott Israeli dates that poured into the markets ahead of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which starts Sunday, September 24, in the European country.

"The Union of Muslim Associations has urged French Muslims to boycott Israeli dates flooding the French market during Ramadan," Hasan Farsado, the UMA leader in the Seine-Saint-Denis district, told Saturday, September 23.

The dates, nicknamed as the "dates of Jordan River," could be seen in abundance across predominantly Muslim French districts.

"Islamic organizations have called on residents to make sure of the country of origin before buying the dates," Farsado said.

French Muslims, estimated at some six millions, are set to start fasting on Sunday, September 24.

Muslims are used to breaking their fast with dates, following in the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

Muslim adults - excepting the sick, infirm and those on a journey - are required to abstain from food, water and sexual relations during daylight hours throughout Ramadan.


Ramadan is seen by the second and third generations of French Muslims as a poignant symbol of their Islamic identity.

A poll by LaFe magazine showed that the majority of Muslims, particularly of the second and third generations, is committed to following the Islamic traditions during Ramadan.

Some 88% of French Muslims said they are keen on fasting Ramadan, according to the poll.
Nearly 43% of the respondents also said they were practicing Muslims, while four percent said they were keen on performing hajj.

Some 20% of those surveyed also said they are used to reciting the Noble Qur'an to recite some verses of the Noble Qur'an for at least once a week.

Source: Islam Online (English)

Belgium: No ban on scarf in elections committees

Brussels Prime Minister Charles Picque denies that election committee members in the voting booths will not be allowed to wear a head covering.

Instructions sent to Brussels voting places say that members of the election committee are not allowed to show political, philosphical or religious preferance.

Muslim women have already been told that they may not wear a scarf. Picque says that passage has been misunderstood and that it means that there should be no outward feature that clearly serves to influence the attitude and voting behavior of the voters or is considered as provocation.

The head of the elections committee of each voting bureau may asses the situation independently but will not be able to use a cultural tradition to refuse entrance.

Source: De Standaard (Dutch)

Denmark: Ramadan on TV

After facing harsh criticism for the insulting cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, Denmark continues to take conciliatory steps toward Muslims.

The state Danish television channel employed a Muslim woman wearing an Islamic headscarf and is now preparing to broadcast an program about Islam during Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims.

A program titled “Ramadan Calendar” will air at 7:55 p.m. everyday on the DR2 station.
The lives of families during Ramadan in the Avedore district, which has a predominantly Muslim population, shall be broadcast.

The program was filmed last year, where iftar (evening meal), sahur (pre-dawn meal), eid-el-fitr visits, neighborhood relations and the teravih (long prayer after sunset during Ramadan) of one Pakistani, one Egyptian and three Turkish families shall be televised.

Catechism information and recipes will also be given and posted on the program’s website.
DR2 authorities stated that although 200,000 Muslims live in the country, most Danish people know little about Islam, which was behind the decision to air this program.

Anna Gerd Allerbaek, the producer of “Ramadan Calendar,” said that their aim was to inform the society on the beliefs and lifestyles of Muslims.

She asked, “Today, how many people can say that they have Muslim friends? I think none. With this program, many Danish people will know that there are Muslims among us and see that living side by side with Muslims is not a threat.”

Allerbaek stated that traditionally a program titled “Christmas Calendar” is broadcasted from Dec. 1 to 24, hence the name, “Ramadan Calendar.”

Source: Zaman (English)

Denmark: First Muslim cemetery

At 16:00 Friday, Muslims will finally have a burial site of their own in Denmark. Representatives from the Danish Islamic Burial Foundation along with the minister of ecclesiastical affairs and education, Bertil Haarder, open the country's first Islamic cemetery after 15 years of wrangling, protests, accusations and, in the end, agreement.

The cemetery is located in Brøndby, about 10 miles southwest of Copenhagen.

'It's wonderful having the burial grounds,' said Danish-Pakistani author and lecturer Rushy Rashid. 'Now Muslims can really feel that religious equality also applies to them as it does to the other large religions, which have had their own cemeteries for years.'

Denmark has an estimated 200,000 Muslims. Most of those who pass away are buried in Danish cemeteries that have a Muslim area set aside, while another 70 per year are taken abroad to be buried.

The Danish Islamic Burial Foundation believes the site is an important step in Danish - Islamic relations and hopes that more Danish Muslims will now choose to be buried in Denmark.

'It's a dream for Muslims that has now become reality. That the cemetery is now inaugurated confirms that there is religious freedom in Denmark, and we see this as an expression of tolerance,' said Kaseem Said Ahmad, the foundation's chairman.

Source: Copenhagen Post (English)

Belgium: imams for ramadan

With the start of the Ramadan this Saturday, dozens of imams are coming to Belgium from Egypt and Morocco. They are annually flown over to come and preach in local mosques. At the end of the month they return to their homeland.

Fifty imams came this Friday. In Belgium there are about 400,000 Muslims, mostly of Moroccan and Turkish origin, which amounts to about 4% of the population.

There are 328 mosques, with about 300 imams. Since the mosques and imams are not always officially recognized, they are mostly paid by the local religious community.

Source: Standaard (Dutch)

Norway: Terrorism

The four men arrested earlier this week for firing at Oslo's synagogue are now being charged with terrorism. At least one of the men is Pakistani, the others are of different nationalities.

News from Norway reports that they were planning to blow up the Israeli and US embassies, as well as other neighboring buildings. The two embassies are located in a central location in Oslo, right next to the Royal Palace. Both countries have been under pressure to move their embassies, as they constitute a security risk and require constant guard.

This is a good time to remind everybody that according to Muslim norwegians, Muslims are not responsible for terror. (see: Norway: Muslims aren't terrorists 2, Norway: Muslims aren't terrorists, Norway: Don't panic!)

See also: Norway: Arrests in synagogue shooting


Putting together the various reports on this story, the four men are:
1. A Norwegian born Pakistani, 29
2. A Pakistani holding Norwegian citizenship, 28
3. A Norwegian (of Norwegian descent) , 26
4. A Turk holding Norwegian citizenship, 28

I think it's not too hazardous to guess that they are Muslims. Like many other European countries, Norway should now wake up to the realization that it does not matter where the person came from so much as the convictions they hold.

Update 2:

The Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) had the Norwegian born Pakistani under surveillance for a while. The four suspects are being accused of plotting to blow up the US and Israel embassies, as well as the syngogue and of planning to abduct and behead the Israeli ambassador, Miryam Shomrat.

The Norwegian suspect is the son of an employee at the royal court, and the PST suspects that there may be a breach in the security network around the royal family.

Source: Reuters (English), Aftenposten (English)

Muslim hospitality

I was quite surprised to see this article on Islam Online. It brings the story of a convert to Islam, but her story of her first visit to a mosque is befitting an anti-Muslim site. Starting with the disdain for women, continuing on with the way people ignored her, the anti-semitism she encountered. And yet, she brings her own Jewish family (or semi-Jewish, it's hard to tell), as an example of bigots and racists.

It is not surprising that people aren't welcoming of the stranger. I'm sure I would get stares if I enter a church. However, I am surprised that this article doesn't emphasize the need to be kind to strangers. There's no emphasis on the point that this woman became Muslim only thanks to the kindness of one other Muslim woman. Her experiences on her visit to the mosque might have been surprising, but they seem to be taken for granted.

I bring parts of the article below:

When we arrived at the masjid, he pointed out the entrance to the women's section — downstairs in the basement. We agreed to meet in the parking lot after the program was over. "OK, I can do this," I thought to myself as I entered the dark dank hallway and walked down the steep steps.

I had never had trouble making friends before. I had always enjoyed multicultural situations and looked forward to the evening.

My husband had suggested that I wear something modest for the occasion. I ran my hands down over my long-sleeved dress, straightening and smoothing it out. I felt confident that the women at the masjid would approve of my appearance.

However, when I arrived at the bottom of the stairs and walked through the door marked "Sisters," I could immediately feel it in the air: thick tension, suspicion, estrangement, and confusion. Every veiled head turned in my direction and the Muslim women stared at me as if I had two heads. I stood frozen in place in the entrance way, staring back at them.

I had never seen so many Muslim women together in one place. Most of them wore the traditional hijab, but two women peered out at me through head coverings that revealed only their eyes. A few others sat with their scarves draped over their shoulders. When they saw me, they pulled them up over their heads.

But then one of them got up from where she was sitting, approached me, and introduced herself as Sister Basimah. At least this one has a welcoming look on her face.

"Hi," I said. "My name is Sharon. I'm here for the speaker's program."

"Is anyone with you?" she asked.

"My husband is upstairs," I replied.

"Oh! Your husband is Muslim?" she asked.

"Yes. Yes, he is," I said.

"Al-hamdu lillah," she said. "Come over here and sit with us."

She led me to a table where three other women were seated. They were the most beautiful exotic women I had ever seen. Right after she made introductions, I forgot each one of their names, which were equally exotic. Sister Basimah then got up and went to greet more people who had arrived."

Where are you from?" one of the women asked me.

I replied that I was an American of Eastern European heritage, born in New York City.

"Where's your husband from?" was the next question.

"He's from America."

"But where is he from?"

"Philadelphia," I replied.

"No, I mean, what country is he from?"

"He's American, born in the United States, he's African-American, from Philadelphia," I replied, thinking that there was a language barrier. I would later learn that most of the Caucasian women in the masjid were married to Arab men.

"Hmmm," they all said in unison and they cast their lovely gazes downward.

"Are you thinking of becoming a Muslim?" another one asked, looking up at me with a beaming expression on her face.

"No," I replied, "I'm Jewish." Well, I wish you could have seen the look on their faces. As soon as it was politely possible, the topic was switched.

"Are your children Muslims?" one of them asked, returning to the interrogation.

"No." I replied, "I don't have any children." That was it; their attempts to find a common ground with me had failed. They smiled at me and then something incredible happened for which I was not prepared: The conversation turned to Arabic.

I continued to sit with them at the table. They mostly spoke to each other in Arabic, and I mostly smiled. As more women would join the table, they would introduce me in English, "This is Sharon. She's Jewish." Then they resumed speaking in Arabic.

When the program began, the women gathered in the prayer room and everyone sat down on the plush carpeted floor. But after about five minutes, the women started chatting to one another, all but drowning out the sound of the program that was being delivered over a stereo speaker from upstairs.

After the program was over, the women went into the kitchen to prepare food. Sister Basimah came over and told me to sit and make myself comfortable until it was time to eat.

"But let me help you," I offered.

"No! You are our guest. Some American sisters have arrived. I'll introduce you," shereplied.

Sister Basimah motioned to one of the women on the other side of the room. She came over and the two women kissed each other on the cheeks and greeted each other with a cheerful Arabic expression. Then they both turned to look at me.

"This is Sharon. She's Jewish. Will you keep her company until we eat?" Sister Basimah said to the other woman.

"Oh, yes!" she replied. "Hi, Sharon, I'm Sister Arwa!"

Sister Arwa and I sat down and began to get acquainted. I asked her questions such as how long she had been a Muslim, whether she was married to a Muslim, etc. Then she dropped the bomb.

"Why did you kill Jesus?" she asked me.

"What?" I replied. My face must have shown my shock and disbelief.

"I mean" she inquired again, this time softening her question, "why did the Jews kill Jesus?"

I couldn't believe what I was hearing! I was astonished and rankled by the question. I could tell by the innocent look on her face that she really wanted to know. Maybe she never met a Jewish woman before, and this was her first real opportunity to get an answer to her burning question. When I was first introduced to her, I welcomed her company; after all, she was the first American I had seen that evening. Now I wanted to get up and run from the table. Then the anger set in.

Giving her a baleful look, I replied through clenched teeth, "We did not kill Jesus. The Romans did!" She returned the look of a wounded animal. Her lips opened to say something, but before she could reply someone called to her."Excuse me," she said, "I'll be back." I could hear the relief in her voice.

A group of African-American sisters arrived at the masjid and I spent the remainder of the evening in their company. Before I left to meet my husband, Sister Basimah gave me her telephone number and encouraged me to call and arrange a time to visit with her.

Source: Islam Online (English)

Amsterdam: riots after knifing

A knifing in Amsterdam in which one man (27 years old) was killed caused riots in the city Wednesday night. Two people, ages 21 and 23, were arrested shortly after the knifing.

Big groups of Moroccan kids searched for Surinamese kids and besieged the police. They threw stones at policemen and broke windows. According to a police spokesperson, the kids suspect that the perpetrator was Surinamese.

The victim, whose identity was not released, staggered into a shop around 9 pm with various knife wounds. He was brought to a hospital but died of his wounds around midnight.

The police said they were doing all they could to calm down the riots.

A neighbor reported that 40 to 50 kids were besieging a house where a Surinamese kid lives. "They threw bricks from the street to the house. The police had to save the kid and take him away."

The Moroccan kids also besieged a Surinamese cafe in the street. A witness reported he heard windows being broken and cars were rammed. He said it was currently quiet but that the riots lasted two hours.

There were other reports of violence, though I'm not sure if it's the same as above or not:

A group of Moroccan kids forced the door of one residence open, broke in, searched the building and caused destruction. A 20 year old suspect was arrested.

By another residence, in which one of the knifing suspects was arrested, the police prevented the group from breaking in again.

Source: Parool (Dutch), AT5 1, 2, 3 (Dutch)

Denmark: juvenile crime

In this example, the euphemism is only in the title

Deputy mayor: give us more money to fight juvenile crime

A city councillor is demanding more funds for programs targeted at stopping juvenile crime

A co-operative project between schools, social services and police (SSP) has helped to curb criminal tendencies for teens from immigrant families, according to Copenhagen's deputy mayor for integration, Jakob Hougaard.

Hougaard wants more public funds channelled into the project.

'The co-operation shows that we can, in fact, reach criminals and children in danger of slipping into criminality through efforts on the streets. There needs to be more of it. On top of the integration package, I want to put a further two million kroner towards things such as parent contracts, a strengthened SSP and volunteer corps,' said Hougaard.

Figures show that in the first seven months of this year, teens with immigrant backgrounds have appeared before the city courts 38 percent less frequently than the same period last year.

'It looks as if now there's a path to dialogue,' said Peter Schlüter, the Conservatives' representative on the city's employment and integration council.

But not everyone is convinced yet that the project is working. Manu Sareen, one of two Social Liberals on the council, thinks SSP has been a good thing, but that there hasn't been enough time to properly evaluate its affects.

Sareen said that city figures showing a drop in immigrant juvenile crime are merely consistent with those of the entire country.

'We already have a lot of people working on the streets as it is. It's completely hopeless to just throw more money at the project. You have to look at many other factors as well.'

Sareen's scepticism seems to have a basis. A Rambøll study completed last winter found that that Copenhagen does not have 'systematic control and evaluation of the integration projects that are implemented'.

The study added that 'there is no stringent monitoring and control of the broader integration effort'.

Source: Jyllands-Posten (English)

Norway: Arrests in synagogue shooting

Is anybody surprised?

Regarding the shooting against Nina Johnsrud: it's quite an interesting story. At the time there were various suggestions put up as to why she was shot at. One theory was that it had to do with a political corruption scandal in Oslo. Another theory was that it had to do with a shooting that happened recently beforehand, a shooting which involved a Pakistani as well and that to me seemed like blood revenge.

A 29-year-old man with links to the criminal A-gang is among the four suspects arrested on Tuesday and charged with firing on Oslo's synagogue last weekend.

The man was arrested in Germany this summer, suspected of participating in the planning of a terrorist attack on the soccer World Cup there. He was released quickly.

Last week he was arrested again, this time charged with threats against crime journalist Nina Johnsrud from the newspaper Dagsavisen. Police suspect him of having something to do with shots having been fired against her house this summer, but he was released after 24 hours.

The man's lawyer, John Christian Elden, denied any involvement in the synagogue shooting on the part of his client. In addition to the 29-year-old, who is of Pakistani extraction, Oslo police and the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) have arrested three others.

"The four have different ethnic backgrounds," said police inspector Iver Stensrud, head of the Oslo police's section for organized crime. He did not rule out further arrests.

Charges in the case are vandalism, violation of the Weapons Act and reckless handling of a firearm. The four suspects were arrested in various spots in downtown Oslo and the city's suburbs between 5 and 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

See also: Oslo: Synagogue attacked, Norway: Murder after overdose

Multicultralism Analysed: Belgium, Netherlands, UK, Germany

A new book 'Multiculturalisme ontleed' (Multiculturalism Analysed) of Leuven University studied various aspects of multiculturalism in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and the UK.

75% of Belgians think that immigrants who commit a serious crime should be kicked out of the country. Of the Dutch 76.6% agree, British - 78.2% and Germans 90.2%. Expulsion for any crime garnered less but still considerable support with 39.7%-48.2% agreeing.

The situation in Belgium is that many people have no relations with immigrants at all. 46% have friends who live in Belgium but come from other countries. 51.1% don't have immigrant co-workers. 63% live in neighborhoods composed exclusively of other Belgians. If they would move, especially Belgians would prefer moving to a neighborhood without immigrants.

If they do have contact with immigrants, most people prefer immigrants from the same ethnic background.

More than any other country, Belgians think that immigrants should adapt to the common culture. In the UK people were far more tolerant on this issue.

In the UK and the Netherlands people oppose immigration but think that once an immigrant arrives they should get full rights.

In the four countries the residents see immigrants as a threat for the social security and for the situation of the poor, rather than as an economic threat. Half of the German and British think that unemployed immigrants should be expelled. In the Netherlands it's 42% and Belgium 44%.
Immigrants are also seen as a criminal threat, especially in Germany.

54% of Belgians think it's better to live in a country where everybody shares the same customs. This standpoint didn't get a majority in the other countries.

All countries agreed that it's better that people speak a common language (92%-97%).

The study showed more tolerance to other religions than to other traditions.

There was no support for separate school for immigrants.

Source: Standaard (Dutch)

Transcript of Samir Azzouz's Statement

Samir Azzouz, a Moroccan-Dutch, is now standing trial for the 3rd time on charges of terrorism. At one point he left a video-taped testament, intending it to be his last message to the world.

Dutch broadcaster NOVA has gotten hold of this video (clip available) and put out a Dutch translation and transcript, which is slightly different than the official police translation. The following was translated from the NOVA translation.

Many thanks to Klein Verzet, who helped me with the translation and with finding the Quran sources.

Quran quotes appear in italics and are taken as much as possible from the University of Michigan site. Comments not in the original Arabic or Dutch translation appear in blue. "Notes from the translators" are notes from the Arabic to Dutch translation.

----- Begin Statement ----

The message begins with recitals from the Koran:

Surely Allah has bought of the believers their persons and their property for this, that they shall have the garden; they fight in Allah's way, so they slay and are slain; a promise which is binding on Him in the Taurat and the Injeel and the Quran; and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? Rejoice therefore in the pledge which you have made; and that is the mighty achievement. [9:111]

Samir appears and reads the following text:

In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate. Much praise and thanks to Allah. Praise Allah who has imposed on his servants the obligation to help his believing servants to shoot. He says in the Book which has been sent down: If they seek aid from you in the matter of religion, aid is incumbent on you (except against a people between whom and you there is a treaty). [8:72]

And peace be upon his cheerful and contrary messenger who says: "an unbeliever and his murderer will never meet each other in the fires of hell". Peace be upon all his fellow men and companions who struck the necks of apostates.

[Possible reference to Sura 47:4?]

So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks until when you have overcome them, then make (them) prisoners, and afterwards either set them free as a favor or let them ransom (themselves) until the war terminates. That (shall be so); and if Allah had pleased He would certainly have exacted what is due from them, but that He may try some of you by means of others; and (as for) those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will by no means allow their deeds to perish.

And continued:
I, Samir Azzouz, Abou Sayfouddine, address my message and my advice today to the Muslims in Europe, as well as to my parent and my family, to my brothers in the jails of the despots and to the Dutch government and its people.

My message to the Muslims who believe just as we do that there is no God but Allah, to them who condemn the devil (the despots) and believe in Allah, consists of barely two words, that I swear by Allah: "Attack or be attacked". What do you think of our oppressed brothers in
Afghanistan, in Chechnya, in Iraq, in Palestine, in the Philippines and in Kashmir. Allah, the Exalted, says in his Holy Book: And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! Cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper. [4.75]

Don't you know that the Jihad now is a justifiable Jihad and that is it Fard Ain, an individual religious obligation.

(After this the recording is apparently stopped and subsequently resumed. The click of a button is audible)

My message to my family and my parents is: Have patience (be strong) and know that this is the right path and know that I'm performing this act out of fear for the punishment of Allah, the Exalted, because he says: If you do not march out, he will punish you with a painful
punishment" and out of obedience to Allah who says: Fighting is enjoined on you, and h is an object of dislike to you; and it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you [2.216]

We must prepare ourselves for the day of departure.

Quran recitation is resumed:

But when the deafening cry comes,
The day on which a man shall fly from his brother,
And his mother and his father,
And his spouse and his son--
Every man of them shall on that day have an affair which will occupy him. [80:33-37]

Samir appears again and continues with reading his message:

And Allah the Exalted says:

And reckon not those who are killed in Allah's way as dead; nay, they are alive (and) are provided sustenance from their Lord;
Rejoicing in what Allah has given them out of His grace and they rejoice for the sake of those who, (being left) behind them, have not yet joined them, that they shall have no fear, nor shall they grieve.
They rejoice on account of favor from Allah and (His) grace, and that Allah will not waste the reward of the believers.
[3: 169-171]

When I performed this act, I did it with the conviction that I followed the right Manhaj (religious method). I saw the prophet of Allah in my dream with a smile on his face sitting before me. I saw him after I entered into a dispute with the hypocrites who claim that they follow the path of the righteous predecessors. I saw him, peace be upon him, sitting across from me smiling. He began to read to me verses from the Quran. And he says:

Those to whom the people said: Surely men have gathered against you, therefore fear them, but this increased their faith, and they said: Allah is sufficient for us and most excellent is the Protector. [3.173]

Below is my message to my brothers who sit in the prisons of the Tawaghit (despots).

Quran recitation is resumed:

Apparently Sura 85:7-8

And they were witnesses of what they did with the believers.
And they did not take vengeance on them for aught except that they believed in Allah, the Mighty, the Praised

Samir comes into view again and resumes reading:

To my brother Abou Zubair and the American and Souhaib. To you I say: I love you for the sake of Allah. Tolerate patiently what you encounter, if you have just the knowledge that they know just like you. You anticipate from Allah what they don't anticipate. Don't lose heart and don't grieve. You have the upper hand if you are faithful. We truly pray for you during our prayers and submissiveness so that Allah will grant your freedom and martyrdom for his sake.

Last follows the message to the Dutch gov't and to its people.

Regarding my message to the gov't: it is the message of our prophet, peace be upon him, to the Mushrikin (the idolators) of Quraish (the tribe to whom the people of Mecca belonged). Then he aid: "I brought you the slaughter"

Sheikh Osama Bin Laden, may Allah guard him, has warned you regularly and frequently. The Mujaheeden Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri has also warned you regularly and frequently.

And our beloved sheikh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (translator's note: Samir becomes emotional) may Allah protect him, has warned you as well. But you have committed only more injustice, you crusaders. You supported Bush when he uttered his known word "Let the crusades
begin". I say to you that between you and us only the language of the sword count until you leave the Muslims alone and choose the path of peace.

I have the following question for the Dutch people: Did Sheikh Osama Bin Laden, may Allah protect him, attack America or the Netherlands? And did Saddam Hussein, may Allah curse him, attack the Kurds or the Dutch? What is your role, you fools? You want democracy. That means that you are responsible for the deeds of your government. Your soldiers in Iraq are holding our brothers there, the fighters that rose up for Allah and hand them over to the British and the Americans.

You have seen the pictures (translator's note: Samir becomes emotional) of what happens to them in the prisons of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib (translator's note: Samir has trouble with naming the prisons and becomes emotional). You are therefore held responsible. We will, by Allah, take revenge for each tear that fell out of the eyes of the mothers and children of the Muslims. We will take revenge for each Muslim (translator's note: Samir once again becomes emotional) that was killed while he fought for Allah. You're considered as fighters because you have chosen this gov't. Your fortunes and your blood are permitted to us. Just as you have spilled the blood of the Muslim citizens in Iraq, we will spill your blood here, and because you have stolen the possessions of the Muslims in Iraq or followed the example of your American bosses, we will appropriate your properties.

Keep your hands off the Muslims anywhere in the world and don't follow any example to attack Muslims. We have sworn allegiance to Allah and his envoy to accept death. We will let you, for certain, forget the abomination of the Holocaust. Wait, Allah is our protector, you have
no protector. Allah is mighty, the glory belongs to Islam, the prophet and the believers but the hypocrites are ignorant.

(Note from the translators: the translator has tried to reproduce the
poem as fully as possible)

He grabbed his sword and stood, shaking himself
His flashing weapon was his faith
He left his friends, the friends he used to play with
He left, both his sides glowing like fire
How can he live restively when Islam calls?
Who would stand up for faith
We saw him pass by in his pure garments
Like a dream to our waking eyes
Not yet twenty was he, with his radiant appearance
His blooming youth made him like a fragrant plant
A bullet ended his life
His pure blood ran on (across) his face
His mother hurried near: Where has my son gone?
Will he not return to me?
In the distance his funeral appeared, enclosed in divine dignity
Senseless, her eye followed him disappearing in the distance
And then a mournful cry escaped her
A boy answered: Your son has obeyed his creator
And went to meet his wish
He dwells in the peaceful gardens of Paradise
Cry not for him, mother, don't cry

second male voice shouts at the end (this is a recording):
The martyr is victorious and the heroes are victorious

[- end of message -]

(Translators note: Except for Quran passages, the text is formulated in so-called Modern Standard Arabic. In formulating this letter careful attention was paid to sentence construction, grammatical use and expressions).

UK: Driving tests ID checks for Muslim women

I'm not sure why this is news.. Throughout the world ID cards must have a picture on them. How do Muslim women who wear a burka or niquab vote in the UK?

Muslim women are having their face veils removed so their identities can be checked before they take driving tests.

The move by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) follows a spate of cases in which bogus learner drivers impersonated friends or relatives and took the test for them.

Now the DSA has ordered female test examiners to discreetly remove the face veil - or nikab - from Muslim women in a private room along with a female chaperone or interpreter.

They will then match the women's faces against a photo ID from their provisional driving licence or passport to ensure entrants are genuine.

Posters featuring a photograph of two Muslim women wearing veils, and written in Arabic and English, were put up last week at test centres in Muslim communities all over Britain. The poster says: 'Dear customers, Did you know you can ask a chaperone to escort you on your driving test?

Anyone aged 16 or over can go with you but they must not speak during the test.

Alternatively you can bring an interpreter, who is over 16 and not your driving instructor.

The interpreter must only repeat the instructions given by the examiner.

'At the test centre, the examiner will need to check your identification against your photo card. To do this you will need to remove your nikab. Where possible this will be conducted in a private area and where possible by a female examiner.'

Last year, 260 people were investigated by the DSA after trying to impersonate others who were supposed to be taking the test. So far this year, 250 such cases have been investigated. It is not known if any involved Muslims wearing veils because separate figures on religion and ethnicity are not collected.

The DSA said in a statement: 'An essential part of the test is the check by the examiner that the person being tested is who they say they are.

'We discovered many Muslim women did not know that they could request a female driving examiner, where present, to complete the identification part of a test.

'The DSA agreed to put this policy in place because we strive to offer an excellent and fair service to all people regardless of gender, race, disability, religion, sexual orientation and age.'

Source: Daily Mail, hat tip Females Need Faces

Gangs: Norwegian vs. Dutch

A new crackdown on Norway's criminal gangs got off to a dramatic start over the weekend, when police stormed a house north of Oslo and freed three badly abused hostages. The hostages, drug dealers themselves, were being held by Oslo gang leaders who were demanding millions in small notes for their return.

The brutality of the scene that met police on Saturday shocked even the most experienced among them: Three men bound and gagged and severely beaten in the cellar of a house at Ullensaker, while nine persons including several children were upstairs. By some reports, the men had been held and abused for as long as a week.

The nine adults in the house, which is owned by a veteran of the Young Guns gang, and their hostage victims were in police custody Monday, after the abused hostages were treated at local hospitals. The captors are charged with kidnapping and assault. Their victims are charged with a series of narcotics offenses.

The hostage drama is believed linked to a battle between Norwegian-Pakistani gangs and a powerful Moroccan hashish league based in the Netherlands. Dutch police had tipped their Norwegian counterparts to what was happening in Ullensaker, northeast of Oslo.

Among the nine hostage-takers arrested is Arshad Mahmood, age 37, who has a long string of convictions for offenses including assault, dealing in stolen property and kidnapping. In 2003 he was shot outside the main terminal at Oslo's airport at Gardermoen, by the son of another man Mahmood had beaten badly three years earlier.

Mahmood is a verteran of the Young Guns gang, which together with the so-called "A" gang has been in conflict with the Netherlands-based, Moroccan narcotics league that allegedly controls much of the market for hashish in Norway.

Newspaper Aftenposten reported that the Oslo gang members thought they could make a quick profit by robbing drugs stored in the Dutch group's Oslo depot, and then more profits by seizing the Dutch group's couriers and demanding ransom, reportedly as much as NOK 8 million in cash, in small denominations.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

Sweden: Man killed by "gang of youth"

The article doesn't mention nationalities, but something about the way things are phrased makes me think the "gang of youths" was Muslim. It's quite possible, since according to Wikipedia, 66.3% of the residents of Fittja have a foreign background, mostly Arabian.

A 47-year old man was killed on Saturday night in an attack in the Stockholm suburb of Fittja.

The man was hit, kicked and stabbed in a schoolyard at around 8.30pm by what a witness says was a gang of youths. When the witness shouted at them, the youths ran away.

"He was hit, kicked and stabbed in the torso," said police spokeswoman Gunilla Lööw.

The man died shortly after arriving at hospital, and police are treating the case as murder. Nobody has yet been arrested and police say they has no suspects on Sunday afternoon.

"We are now talking with the man's relatives, questioning witnesses and knocking on doors in the area. We are also collecting material from cameras in the area, for example at the school and in the metro station," said Lööw.

She added that a party was taking place near to the scene at the time of the crime, and people who attended the party were being questioned. The dead man was not previously known to the police.

Source: The Local (English)

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 this week.

Moroccan Talent

State Secretary Henk van Hoof says that highly educated, talented Moroccan youngsters show that they can break stereotypes. The project “Moroccan talent” shows that after a short period they can help employers get rid of preconceptions.

During the project about 30 highly educated Moroccans were coupled with 20 executives of big companies. Thank to these connections, the youngsters were able to build up a network with which they can help other people.

The project will be extended now to include Turkish youngsters as well as kids from other backgrounds.

Trendy Maroc Star in NL

A new campaign “Trendy Maroc Star in NL” has been set off to bring about a mentality change in the Moroccan-Dutch community. Abkader Chrifi, who’s behind the initiative, wants to give Moroccan-Dutch an impulse to develop a new, stronger identity. The Moroccan community is in the grip of negativity, fear and uncertainty. “It’s time for the Moroccans in the Netherlands, and especially Moroccan kids, to dare believe again in our community.”

The starting point of the campaign is the conviction that people are able to arrange their own affairs on the basis of self-awareness, confidence, resolution, passion and pride. These are the five core values of the campaign, which uses the five point star from the Moroccan flag as a symbol.

Supermarkets and immigrants

Johan Boersma, a market researcher says that supermarkets know almost nothing about shopping patterns of immigrants. Nobody knows whether immigrants follow a shopping list or what they buy, although immigrants put out billions of euros on food. A new research is supposed to shed some light on these issues.

Imam education "next to impossible"

Muslim organizations in the Netherlands say it is almost impossible to start controlled imam training in the Netherlands. The organizations think it is better to put more effort in naturalizing imams that have been active in the country for years and faster admission of imams from abroad.

Today waiting times for approval for an imam to enter the country run up to a year and half. The result is that low-educated imams lead the prayers, while they often don’t know Dutch.
The Muslims want to free imams from the obligation to do the integration test abroad and allow them to do it in the Netherlands.

Oslo: Synagogue attacked

Shots were fired at the Oslo synagogue 1t 2:30 AM Sunday morning. Apparently the shooting was done from a car driven by two men. The automatic weapons fire hit the front of the building.

The Oslo synagogue is located in the center of Oslo, next to the municipality building and a Jewish kindergarten. Police are investigating.

Source: Ynet (Hebrew)

Related links: Norway: Muslims aren't terrorists 2, Norway: Muslims aren't terrorists, Norway: Don't panic!

Norway: Muslims aren't terrorists 2

Now it turns out many Muslims in Norway don't think Muslims are responsible for terror. It just doesn't make sense, right?

Muslims feel unjustly accused of terror. After all: Muslims aren't involved in terror and Muslims don't support the terror attacks that do occur. We'll just ignore reality. We'll ignore the fact that just today a Muslim group said it's OK to attack France and France said it's taking the threat seriously. I do wonder why Aftenposten is just bringing quotes and not posing some questions of its own. Or is it waiting till the non-Muslims who don't commit terror attacks do it in Norway as well?

Many Muslims in Norway support the controversial claims of some Oslo imams who doubt that Muslims were behind the terrorist attacks on the US in 2001. Among them are some students who don't believe Osama bin Laden gave the order to attack.

Junaid Tariq, age 23, said he's heard that bin Laden's terrorist network al-Qaida was behind the attacks. "But I don't know, and really don't believe that bin-Laden gave the order," Tariq told newspaper Aftenposten on Friday. "At any rate, I don't think it was Muslims who did it."

That's because Islam advocates peace, Tariq said, and Muslims are taught not to take human life.

"Those who were behind the airline attacks shouldn't call themselves Muslims," said Tariq's friend, Rehan Maajid, age 32.

"It could have been al-Qaida, but it's difficult to say," Maajid continued. "There are still lots of holes in the stories around what happened. I think al-Qaida exists, but Muslims shall not take a life. Islam is the religion of peace, and if you take a prisoner, you're supposed to treat them like an equal."

Masoom Zubair, leader for a Pakistani youth organization, says many Muslims feel unjustly suspect when terrorist attacks occur, something they neither have been involved with nor support.

The leader of the Muslim student organization in Norway, Awais Mushtaq, shares the doubts of imam Zulqarnain Sakandar Madni that it was al-Qaida who was behind the attack on the World Trade Center, contending there are only "indications," no hard evidence.

Several Muslim politicians, however, are trying to tone down the debate in Norway over Zulqarnain Sakandar Madni's comments. "The damage is done," Afshan Rafiq of the
Conservatives told Aftenposten, adding that he thinks it was "unwise" of the imam to raise the issue.

"An imam has a special responsibility to build bridges between people, which this certainly hasn't done," he said. Khalid Mahmood of the Labour Party agreed.

"I don't support the imam on this issue," he said. "An imam should be a spiritual leader, and should be very careful in commenting on political issues in the community."

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and the cabinet minister in charge of immigration issues, Bjarne Håkon Hanssen, have both criticized the imam's remarks.

"There is freedom of expression in Norway, people can say what they believe," Støre told Aftenposten. "But when that's said, this amounts to speculation... with which I completely disagree."

Hanssen said he fears the imams' doubts will now spread, which could in turn make life more difficult for Muslims in Norway.

"It can also make it harder for them to get a job," Hanssen said. "It can be scary for many (Norwegians) when imams in Norway come out with something like this."

Source: Aftenposten (English)

See also: Norway: Muslims aren't terrorists, Norway: Don't panic!

Norway: Muslims aren't terrorists

Islam is a religion of peace. Therefore, Muslims cannot do anything that is not peaceful. Therefore, Muslims cannot be responsible for terror attacks. QED.

Aftenposten seems quite shocked by these statements, but it's something that many Muslims have been saying for years.

More of Norway's imams have expressed their disbelief that the terrorist attacks of Sep. 11 2001 on the USA can have been carried out by Muslims.

"I don't believe that Muslims have the resources or qualities needed to carry out the attacks of September 11, 2001," said Imam Hafiz Mehboob-ur-Rehman of the Islamic Cultural Center. Other Norwegian imams share his view, which first came to attention in a web chat on with imam Zulqarnain Sakandar on Monday.

"There are many theories about Sep. 11, but no hard evidence. In addition, it is against the teaching of Islam to kill civilians like this," said imam Mehboob-ur-Rehman. [How should civilians be killed according to Islam?]

Mehboob-ur-Rehman emphasized that the attacks could not be defended no matter who was responsible, but he had no reason to believe they were Muslims.

"The attacks have had no positive effects for Muslim. Muslims and Islam have suffered because of what has happened," Mehboob-ur-Rehman said.

Al-Qaeda doubts

Rehman did not go as far as Imam Zulqarnain Sakandar and subscribe to conspiracy theories that the USA itself was behind the attacks, saying there was no hard evidence for this either. But Mehboob-ur-Rehman did agree with imam Zulqarnain Sakandar's doubts about the existence of al-Qaeda.

"Neither I nor any of my acquaintances had heard of al-Qaeda before Sep. 11. I don't know if it exists. Al-Qaeda has primarily existed in the media. I have the impression that everyone mentions al-Qaeda because the USA and President George W. Bush mentions it," Mehboob-ur-Rehman said.

Vice-imam at the Islamic Cultural Center, Mian Tayyib, agrees.

"I feel that the truth has been kept hidden. The way the towers fell indicates that it was not caused by the planes. The close-ups I have seen on TV show smoke coming from the towers before they were hit by the planes," Tayyib said. [Which close-ups? who was taking pictures of the towers before the planes hit?]

Aftenposten's evening edition spoke with three Somalians outside the mosque afterwards, and found this opinion again, with the trio believing Sep. 11 was planned by either the USA or Israel to turn Muslims and Christians against each other, or to justify an invasion of Iraq.

Imam Syed Ikram Shah at the World Islamic Mission also ruled out the possibility of Muslims being behind Sep. 11 on the logic that Islam does not allow the murder of innocents.

Waiting for proof

"Even if they (the hijackers) had Muslim names, those people lived in the West. It is not proof they were Muslims," Ikram Shah said. [I cannot believe this guy is serious. The terrorists of 9/11 did not just have "Muslim names". They killed for Islam. The Muslims around the world saw it exactly for what it was meant - an attack of Islam on the West, and celebrated accordingly.]

Imam Nehmat Ali Shah of Central Jamaat-e Ahl-E Sunnat would make no decision before an independent tribunal passed judgment.

"Five years have passed since this happened, but as far as I know, no independent court has convicted anyone for it. So I cannot say to day that it was Muslims or anyone else behind it," Shah said.

"These days all acts of terror in the world are linked to al-Qaeda. I have never heard of al-Qaeda having an office or a representative anywhere. The question is how some shepherds in a poor region can control what happens in the world from a cave," Shah said.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

See also: Norway: Don't panic!

Denmark: teaching democracy

More focus should be put on the importance of fundamental human rights. Democracy, as was recently established by the Dutch Justice Minister, can easily be misused and abused.

More focus on democracy and freedom of expression are what the minister of education, Bertil Haarder, thinks today's students need. The theme served as the background for his ministry's publication Wednesday of a pamphlet on democracy in education.

'We see a growing number of children that don't have a clear idea about democracy, and that creates problems,' said Haarder. 'It isn't just about immigrant youths, but also Danish kids. They are blind to democracy and simply don't know enough about it.'

Haarder does, however, point to Islamic extremism as a catalyst for the general unruly behaviour among young people.

'It happens in every generation. In the 1930's many intellectuals and artists lost their sense of orientation and were fascinated by dictatorship. We saw it again in the 70's under the Cold War, and now we're seeing it in Islamic communities.'

The Danish People's Party (DF) made the direct link to Muslims, stating that the pamphlet's message should be mandatory education in schools.

'We shouldn't be afraid to put extra weight on the teaching of democracy to students of Muslim background,' said Martin Henriksen, DF's education spokesperson.

Anders Bondo Christensen, chair of the Danish Union of Teachers, does not believe that Haarder's pamphlet will solve behavioural problems at schools in disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

'These schools need real help solving problems, not a pamphlet. Respect for one another isn't something we can teach as a subject, but need to prove on a daily basis.'

Source: Jyllands-Posten (English)

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.

Amsterdam: fighting corruption

According to a new plan to be debated next week in the municipal council, Amsterdam is going to give its immigrant workers special attention in order to fight corruption.

The plan states that workers from a specific cultural background run a higher risk of improper behavior “on instigation of family members”. For example, handing over official documents without authorization or changing data of family members.

While some politicians called the plan “stigmatizing” and said that such plans should focus on processes and not on people, others said that it was a sensible plan.

The plan doesn’t focus on more supervision but rather on more intensive training for immigrant workers so they’ll be able to handle such requests.

The plan was inspired by a case in Zuidoost in which Surinamese civil servants issued papers to family members against regulations.

Political attention to integration

According to a new survey, almost 70% of the Dutch think political parties give enough attention to integration issues.

25% think the issue of integration has no effect on their daily lives.

50% think that the Netherlands has done too little in the past to better the integration of foreigners.

Fighting the taboo of female circumcision

The municipality of The Hague will be setting up talks with various immigrant organizations in order to fight women’s circumcision and the taboo surrounding it. The plan in The Hague is a test of a nationwide plan and will last two years.