UK: Support for passivism (but only in the UK)

The British academics union, the University and College Union, accepted two resolutions today.

The first is not to join in the "witch hunt" against Muslim students.

"Lecturers want to teach students," said Sally Hunt, general secretary of the union. "If they wanted to police them, they would have joined the force."

The second is to boycott Israeli Universities

The resolution condemned what it called "the complicity of Israeli academia" in the occupation of Palestinian lands and said "passivity or neutrality is unacceptable, and criticism of Israel cannot be construed as anti-Semitic."

Apparently, UK academics believe that their Israeli counterparts shouldn't be able to just teach their students.

Sources: Daily Mail (English), NY Times (English)

Netherlands: Lebanese family terrorized

This is becoming a regular feature in Dutch news now.


A Lebanese family in Melissant (South-Holland) says it is terrorized and discriminated against by four neighboring family.

The 40 year old father, Khalil El-Maoula, sleeps out of fear in secret places in his car.  He says he had gotten death threats and had sent aboard his wife and five children, 5-14 years of age.

"I live like a vagabond, shower by acquaintances, eat and sleep in my car.  We want to move quickly out of Melissant". 

There is indeed a big fight in the neighborhood, but it's absolutely not about discrimination, agree neighbors.  It also certainly has not so that everybody detests the
family.  "We've never had trouble with them," says a neighbor Toos Struik.  "The children greet politely, the neighbor sometimes does odd jobs.  I don't understand the whole commotion."

Khalil El-Maoula feels so threatened that he put up a camera to see who throws eggs on his house. "Each evening eggs are flung on the windows," says the man who fourteen years ago fled due to violence and has war trauma.  "Neighbors threaten us and call: Bugger off with your Alla.  We live her eight years without problems.  It only went bad when new neighbors moved in.  Before that nobody complained.  I'm a car mechanic, always ready to help and now newcomers spoil it."

"There is absolutely no issue of discrimination," say the neighbors.  Mayor Servaes Stoop also doesn't see any indications that this is what it's about.  "They provoke it themselves with their behavior" say the neighbors.  

Jeffrey Voogsgeerd, living there the past year: "The man himself had threatened my two year old son."  It started with children fights that the parents tried to make up. The situation escalated last week when Voogsgeerd said something to the camera that the Lebanese put up on his house.  "It started off a fight.  I called the police, but they went directly to the family and held me up later on suspicion of throwing eggs."

Voogsgeerd spent a night in jail.  "Somebody would have seen that I threw eggs.  I would have to throw it precisely through my attic window on their window.  that isn't possible.  He hit me with a pipe, but wasn't arrested."

Neighbor Geralda van Veen: "We don't trust the police anymore.  They are too scared to discriminate.   These people have been driving us mad for years.  We want to talk, are aggressively chased away.  Nothing happens without complaints, but only with the complaints of the family.  We haven't seen the mayor yet either."

Mayor Stoop wants to mediate, together with the police.  El-Maoula has for that matter left his house.  "He did that after we saw no reason for a 24 hour guard," says a police spokesperson.  

Both parties are going to complain by the police.

Source: (Dutch)

See also: Amsterdam: Moroccan family threatened, Amsterdam: Jews terrorized, Amsterdam: Snackbar terrorized

West Flanders: Advice against recognizing Muslim community

The West Flanders province council advises against the recognition of a Muslim community in Desselgem, in Waregem.  It would be the first recognition of an Islamic community in West Flanders.  According to deputy Gunter Pertry a thorough research of the file is necessary.

"In principal we're not against the recognition," says Pertry.  "We want, however, to send a signal to the minister that he can't just like that make such recognitions.  We ask for a thorough research of the file, since we don't think the file is fully in order administratively."

Earlier the municipal council of Waregem advised positively on the case.  The municipal council pointed to the positive contribution of the Assounah organization to the integration of Muslims is the local community by among other things organizing courses in Dutch and contributing to setting up a slaughter house for Eid ul-Adha.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

Netherlands: Language problems in nursery school

Almost 20% of students in groups 1 and 2 (4-5 years old) of elementary school in problematic neighborhoods do not speak Dutch.

These children speak in sentences of up to two words and do not understand simple combined instructions such as "take your chair and go sit".  Though most of these children of Turkish and Moroccan backgrounds have been born in the Netherlands, Dutch is barely or not spoken at home.  Also children of asylum seekers appear to often have no or barely any mastery in Dutch.  That's according ot research by the education advice bureau   KPC Groep in which 43 schools were visited in the problematic neighborhoods declared by Minister Vogelaar.  The main problem are elementary schools in problematic neighborhoods in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and the Hague.  The kids aged 4-6 have usually received no prior eduction.  14% speak only two Dutch words: that is the speaking standard for children two years old.

The researches speak of a "serious backwardness in language development that develops into an education backwardness."  It can be seen by the kids in the areas of knowledge of the world, movement and on the social-emotional level.

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

See also: Netherlands: Fighting language problems at younger age

Sweden: Attitudes harden towards immigrants (and Jews)

One in four Swedes would be prepared to vote for a party that was in favour of restricting the rights of immigrants. And the number of people who strongly agree that they could envisage voting for such a party has risen from 5.7 to 7.3 percent, according to a survey carried out by the Swedish Integration Board.

"The recent media debate on the Sweden Democrats has probably made it more acceptable for people to express these sorts of party preferences,"José Alberto Diaz from the Integration Board told Dagens Nyheter.

Also, the proportion of those who strongly agreed with the statement that 'native Swedes should take precedence over immigrants when it comes to jobs, housing and benefits' has increased from 12 to 14 percent.

Attitudes towards Sweden's Muslims and Jewish communities have hardened somewhat since 2006.

In 2007, 58 percent rejected the idea of limiting Muslim immigration, compared to 61 percent last year.

There were also fewer respondents who strongly disagreed that 'Jews have too much influence in Sweden', down from 67 percent last year to 64 percent in 2007.

"The large number of negative results is surprising as the results of previous surveys had pointed in the other direction. The question is whether this is temporary or the beginning of a new type of change in attitudes," said José Alberto Diaz.

Source: The Local (English)

Brussels: Call to boycott elections

This article refers to a similar document from Great Britain.  Regarding those elections I had also read religious/theological documents showing that Muslims have an obligation to vote.


A French language document is circulating on the internet In Brussels calling to boycott the June 10th elections because they are "illegal", reports Le Soir.

The twelve page document is called 'Participer aux élections' (participation in the elections) and is being spread in the Arab-Muslim community in Brussels and has already appeared in various blogs.

The text is anonymous and is written "theologically" with knowledge of the issue.  The Koran and the Sunnah are quoted, the author refers to various prophets and bases himself an a Fatwa in Great Britain.

According to Le Soir the document was drawn up in a Brussels mosque where Salafists come to pray.  Salafism is a movement in Islam that wants to bring back the faith to its original form.

The document states that only Allah has to right to issue absolute laws.  "Any Muslim who takes part in the elections is an apostate," it says.

Source: HLN (Dutch), Le Soir (French)

Belgium: Minister speaks with ambassador about naming issue

Flemish minister of integration Marino Keulen invited the Moroccan ambassador for a meeting about the list of Arabic names that the Moroccan authorities are handing out through Flemish municipalities. Belgian of Moroccan origin who choose a name not on the list cannot obtain Moroccan citizenship. Minister Keulen will stress the importance of free choice in naming.

Last week it was made public that there exists a list of traditional Moroccan names which is a criteria for acquiring citizenship. If a kid of Moroccan parents does not have an Arabic sounding name, the he can be denied Moroccan nationality according to Moroccan law. "More than a step too far" and "a hindrance to integration" thinks Vlaams Belang leader Filip Dewinter.

Minister Keulen said this is a federal matter, but at the same time stressed the importance of free choice in naming. "I can only outline for the ambassador the conflict between freedom in choosing names and possible citizenship," according to Keulen. To solve the problem - "We must show the Moroccan authorities that we won't budge from freedom of naming."

Dewinter wants to consider doing the opposite, namely couple the acquisition of Belgian citizenship with an obligation to choose a Flemish or French name.

Keulen calls Dewinter's suggestion "incorrect and grotesque", saying that we must guarantee freedom of naming.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

See also: Belgium: Moroccan consulate rejects non-Arab names

Amsterdam: Discos discriminate against immigrants

Amsterdam discos regularly discriminate against immigrants by their entrance policy, according to the GroenLinks party's own research.  The party put up a question in parliament for the Minister of Justice Ernst Hirsch Ballin and for the Minister of Integration Ella Vogelaar.  GroenLinks is thinking of starting a blacklist.

The party sent out parliament member Tofik Dibi, of Moroccan origin to do the testing.  Together with his younger brother he tried entering four discos and was refused entrance at all four.  Two ethnic youth, sent by the EditieNL program, got in without any problem.

GroenLinks wants the license of entertainment places to be withdrawn if they repeatedly discriminate.  The party wants, above all, to make the entrance policy clearly visible at the entrance and suggest a blacklist.

Source: (Dutch)

Netherlands: No problem with Mecca compass

Dutch Minister of the Interior Guusje ter Horst says there is no problem with police cells equipped with points and compasses that show the way to Mecca.

Muslim detainees "have a right to practice their religion," Ter Horst thinks.
The minister wrote that on Friday in response to a question posed in Parliament by PVV PM Hero Brinkman.  According to Ter Horst everybody has a right to practice their religion, including criminals who have been arrested.

The police corps of Haaglanden and Amsterdam-Amsterlland have partially equipped their cells with points and compasses so that Muslim suspects can practice their religion during their stay in the cell.  The corps of Rotterdam and Utrecht are considering such measures.

Brinkman thinks it is unacceptable.  He says Ter Horst's answers are "a bit silly".  Ter Horst also didn't answer the question regarding the costs involved.

Brinkman says other detainees are extremely annoyed.  "It seems like everything currently must serve the Muslim faith and that is is not a good thing," he says.  He says he will continue to work against it.

Source: Elsevier (Dutch)

Rotterdam: Port halal certified

The Rotterdam Port received a halal certificate in Kuala Lumpur, according to Mayor Ivo Opstelten who is currently in the Malaysian capital.  The port is the first European port whose products can be distributed while fully complying with Islamic religious laws.  

Opstelten is in Malaysia by invitation of the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF).  His spoke there about dealing with the labor market in Rotterdam.  A delegation from the Rotterdam Port Authority was present as well.  Former prime minister Ruud Lubbers was present in the capacity of Minister of State.

Last year it was announced that the port will have the first distribution center for halal food in Europe.  This terminal will be used only for storage of halal-approved import products from Indonesia and Malaysia.

Opstelten accepted the invitation by the WIEF since Malaysia and many other Muslim countries are important for the Rotterdam Port.  "In our port there is a Malaysian palm oil refinery. In addition you meet here the whole world.  I have spoken with the Indonesian president and with the prime minister of Kuwait I spoke about our refineries."

The mayor's wife also took part in the conference.  "She gave a presentation about participation of women in the labor market"

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

Belgium: Bousakla receives police protection

Mimount Bousakla, Belgian politician of the List Dedecker party, received police protection when she took part in a political debate with five other immigrant politicians at the Instituut Maris Stella Sint-Agnes (IMS) in Borgerhout.

"The school wanted me to tell that my posters had been blacked out or removed.  I also heard that merchants in Antwerpen-Noord had been intimidated to take down my posters," says the politicians.  She had not yet received direct threats.

"People who conduct my campaign had gotten signs that I should maybe better stay out of certain neighborhoods.  But I won't be stopped by it.  I continue to wage my campaign, but take care that I won't be alone.  I always take several trusted people with me who can keep watch."

The politician doesn't think that this has anything to do with her move to List Dedecker.  "The hate campaign against me exist already much longer.  Some people simply do not agree with my standpoints," says Bousakla.

In November 2004 she received death threats of a man who wanted to "slaughter" her.  She made a complaint and got round the clock police protection.  Six days later the man was arrested.  He confessed to the facts, but said he never intended to carry out his threats.  He has simply got wound up by several statement by Bousakla.  The court gave him 46 hours of community service in March 2005.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

Norway: Wife killer pleads not guilty

An Iranian man charged with stabbing his wife to death outside a crisis center in Drammen last autumn pleaded not guilty when his trial started on Tuesday.

The 44-year-old man also said in court that he was certain his wife had cheated on him, and he blamed her brother for being a bad influence on her. The brother, he claimed, had become "too European," and gave the dead woman "inappropriate advice."

The 39-year-old mother of three was stabbed more than 20 times outside the Betzy Crisis Center in Drammen last year. She'd been moved there from another crisis center in Bærum, just west of Oslo, for her own protection after she left her husband, but he tracked her down.

"I asked her if she would come back home with me," her husband said. "I told her the children weren't doing well without her. She said that she would come back."

He waited for her outside the center until she emerged with a girlfriend. He's charged with stabbing her in broad daylight after he approached her, but he testified that he doesn't remember much about what happened that day last October.

He claimed he didn't stab her more than 20 times. "I don't think it was more than four or five times," he said in court.

The murder is the first outside a crisis center in Norway ever.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

Antwerp: No Jihad street

Less than a month to parliamentary elections:

On Wednesday Filip Dewinter (Vlaams Belang) intends to visit the Turnhoutsebaan street in Borgerhout to hang up street signs saying "No Jihad Street". The local store association reacted with shock. "Pure provocation and without respect for every Borgerhout resident and for anybody who works for years to upkeep this shopping street," says president Alain Herremans.


The sign didn't stay up for long. It was, of course, a provocation. But what was it provoking? It wasn't a sign saying "No Muslim Street", just an anti-Jihad sign.

Source: HLN (Dutch), HLN 2 (Dutch)

Update 2

Borgerhout is, of course, part of Antwerp, not of Brussels. I had Brussels on my mind when I posted this.. :-)

Netherlands: Petition against Arab name policy dropped

"Islam hater", "traitor", "why don't you call your kid Pim-Theo-Aynan?", but also: "I don't want Moroccans to use Dutch names. I want them to leave the Netherlands. Today even!"

Haarlem councilor Moussa Aynan (34) got hundreds such reactions the past few weeks on his website. Aynan, who just became a father, began a signing petition in April to end the "voluntary collaboration of the Dutch government with the discriminatory and Arabic-nationalist policy of the Moroccan government."

When registering babies at Dutch municipalities, young Moroccan parents get a list, without request, from which they must choose a name.

The official list, circulated by the Moroccan government, contains only Arabic names and not Christian or Berber name. "that is discriminatory and affects the freedom of choice," says Aynan. He thinks Dutch municipalities should not serve as an outpost for the Moroccan government.

His initiative was not unnoticed internationally. Aynan got hate mail also from abroad. So much that he decided to take his blog off the air on the Pentecost weekend. "It was too much, especially my wife was afraid," says Aynan.

He regrets that his initiative was hijacked by "both Christian fundamentalists and Muslim fanatics". He was accused of detesting Muslim names. Aynan: "Muslim names don't exist. Muslims from Indonesia or India have names that also don't appear on the list. The list is Arabic-Nationalist".

Source: Volkskrant (Dutch)

See also: Netherlands: Moroccan babies get only names approved by Morocco, Netherlands/Belgium news roundup, Belgium: Moroccan consulate rejects non-Arab names


Were those comments above sent by email directly to Aynan or did the journalist simply go to Dhimmi Watch?

Belgium: 50% want to ban headscarf

One in three people in Belgium is bothered by women wearing headscarves in public places. Just over half even would prefer that they be banned in certain places. Intolerance and racism are at the root of these negative views on headscarves.

This was the conclusion drawn by the religious faculty's centre for psychology at the Catholic University of Louvain-La-Neuve after two studies into the Belgians' attitude towards headscarves.

Some 69 percent of those asked see the headscarf as a sign of oppression and 53.3 percent thinks wearing one goes entirely against modern western values. Some 44.6 percent are disturbed by someone wearing a headscarf at school.

The researchers said that this study is evidence that society still has a long way to go in the fight against racism and intolerance.

Source: Expatica (English)

Switzerland: Bishop suggest monitoring mosques

One of the Catholic Church's leading experts on Islam says the Swiss authorities need to keep a closer eye on the country's mosques.

Pierre Bürcher, assistant bishop of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg, tells swissinfo it is what goes on inside mosques rather than the construction of minarets that poses a greater threat to peace.

His comments come just weeks after a group of rightwing politicians launched a nationwide campaign to ban the construction of minarets.

Bürcher is president of the Swiss Bishops Conference's working group on Islam, which was set up in 2001. He says meetings with Muslims both at home and abroad – the body has visited Iran and Syria – have led to improved relations and better understanding between both religious communities.

But he warns that the road towards a truly peaceful co-existence remains long and rocky.

swissinfo: You say that relations are improving at a religious level. But aren't they constantly being undermined by global political events?

P.B.: Inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue is a major challenge at the start of the 21st century and in recent decades the Catholic Church has made a priority of establishing contacts with other religions. Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor John Paul II have said this dialogue is vital for the future of our society.

At a political level, both at home and abroad in Iran and Syria, we have always been well received by the various authorities. The difficulties stem from a very small extremist fringe, which poses enormous problems but does not represent true Islam.

swissinfo: Christians in some Middle East countries do not enjoy anything like the same religious freedoms as Muslims in Switzerland. Was there any indication during your visits to the region that this might eventually change?

P.B.: Fortunately in Switzerland we have freedom of religion and worship; in other countries the situation is somewhat different. If you take some Gulf states, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, Christians are free to worship and it is often the emirs themselves who provide land for the construction of a church.

But in Saudi Arabia there is neither freedom of religion nor worship, yet there are many Christians who live and work there. I hope the day will come when it will be possible for Christians to worship in Saudi Arabia. We need to continue to put pressure on the Muslim authorities and the Saudi government for this to change.

At the same time we now have this initiative in Switzerland against the construction of minarets, which shows there is a certain amount of extremism here as well.

swissinfo: Indeed, this initiative is clearly a reaction to the spread of Islam and Islamic law in Switzerland. Where does the Catholic Church stand on this issue?

P.B.: It is essential that we respect the laws laid down in Switzerland and we cannot allow them to be fundamentally undermined by another way of thinking, such as sharia law.

It's true that the minaret is a symbol for Muslims but it is not an essential part of a mosque and we should not get fixated on it. What goes on inside a mosque is much more important, because it's there that the Koran is taught and where you can have people stepping out of line. It is in this place of worship that the khutba [Islamic sermon], which is often politicised, and all the anti-Western or even terrorist teaching can take place.

Do the authorities really know what is going on and whether it is legal? This seems far more important to me than whether you can build a minaret or not.

swissinfo: So you're saying the authorities need to keep a closer eye on what's going on inside mosques in Switzerland?

P.B.: Yes, because one needs to be aware that in Muslim tradition, politics, culture, society and religion are all entwined. We are touching here on a fundamental difference between two religious concepts and the slightest tolerance in this domain will be extremely damaging for peace and co-existence. It is because of this that mosques in many Muslim countries are coming under increased surveillance and the khutba is always monitored.

swissinfo: It is clear that there is a fear of Islam, not just in Switzerland but also in other Western countries. How can this be overcome?

P.B.: One of the reasons for this fear is that our two religions are different and we still lack a sense of mutual understanding. Secondly, newcomers can often create unease or even fear because they may upset the balance. Therefore we need to learn how to live with each other, otherwise we will run into major problems.

swissinfo: But centuries have passed and we have yet to find a solution. What makes you think we can do so now?

P.B.: The most fervent believer, whether they be Christian, Jew or Muslim, will never attain perfection and we are on a similar path when it comes to inter-cultural and inter-religious relations. The human being has its limits; unfortunately we are not perfect and neither are our societies.

Source: swissinfo (English)

See also: Switzerland: Move for vote on minarets

Norway: Letter smuggling attempt by terror suspect

A 29 year old terror suspect tried recently to smuggle a letter out from Ringerike Prison.  The prison is the most secure in Norway and the 29 year old, whom Norway police think is the leader of a Norwegian terror cell, had sat in isolation for the past two month.  The reason, according to TV 2 is that he had recently tried to smuggle a letter out of the the prison asking one of the other suspects in the case to remove weapons and tracks.

The friend's lawyer says his client said during police questioning that he did not know what the contents of the letter meant.  Petar Sekulic was quoted as saying that his client had been questioned about weapons both earlier and in the recent questioning but that he doesn't know the people mentioned in the letter and has no idea what he was asked to do.

John Christian Elden, the 29 year old's lawyer, is critical of his client's smuggling attempt, but says that his client has been in isolation for a long time without any reason.  Since his arrest last September he had sat over 150 days in isolation.  His lawyer thinks the letter was an attempt to contact an acquaintance whom the police was preventing him from talking to.

The 29 year old is accused for being a member of a terror cell, along with a 27 year old co-suspect.  Together they planned to blow up the Israeli and American embassies.  He is also suspected of a murder attempt and for shooting the Jewish synagogue in Oslo last year.

Source: Dagbladet (Norwegian)

See also: Norway: Terror or crime

Brussels: Muslim high school to be set up

This article got an amazing amount of responses.


A Muslim high school is about to be founded in Molenbeek, a suburb of Brussels.  The reasoning behind it is to sidestep the ban on wearing hijab which is in effect in most Brussels schools.  According to a website dedicated a "women only" party which took place May 17 in Molenbeek, the school would be on Vanderstraetenstraat where the Al Khalil Mosque is.  The institution would offer regular subjects, but also teach Islam and Arabic.

The initiators want to offer an answer to the banning of wearing the veil in scores of Brussels schools.  Enrollment costs 500 euro and a money collection has been started.  The organizers are counting on getting 200 to 250 student which would make it possible to get subsidies.

The initiative had already caused reactions.  The party leader of the Reformist Movement in the French speaking Community parliament pointed out that if the school will receive subsidies they would have to follow the regulations of the French speaking community. 

Source: HLN (Dutch)

Tilburg: Friendship match turns into battlefield

A friendship match between the Dutch and Moroccan youth groups in Tilburg degenerated into a battlefield when Moroccan fans ran into the field and destroyed the stadium.  The stadium was filled with Moroccans who had come to watch the game and the Moroccan youth team was almost playing a home game.  Already during the match several Moroccan supporters ran into the field.  After the match hundreds of fans ran in, threw chairs and pulled down the goals and announcement board. 

YouTube has many films showing the Tilburg match.  For example these two showing the beginning of the match and the way the Dutch anthem was received and the end of the match with the fans running into the field.

Twenty six people were arrested between the ages of 17 and 39.  According to the KNVB (Royal Netherlands Football Association), they are facing a six year stadium ban.

Tilburg mayor Ruud Vreeman received flowers from Moroccans who were present at the match.   Flowers were also offered at the stadium. 

Members of the Moroccan Foundation in Tilburg (Marokkaanse Stichting Tilburg, MAST) say they are embarrassed by what happened.  "We feel deeply ashamed" a spokesperson said.  "In the sports arena Morocco won, but by everything else that happened, Morocco has lost big."

The spokesperson of MAST was present at the match and said he did not see anybody of the Moroccan community on the field.  According to him it was many people who had come from out of town.  The foundation had bought 100 tickets for the supporters.  "We had gone to the match with a hundred people and afterwards we went neatly back home."

Mohammad Allach, technical manager of the VVV team from Venlo and president of the Maroqui Stars association says the riots were a social protest.  "It was a political statement, a collective expression of discontent."

The Samenwerkingsverband van Marokkanen in Nederland (Colloboration of Moroccans in the Netherlands) explains it similarly. 

Allach point out that the booing took place during the Dutch anthem and a Moroccan in Dutch uniform was hissed at .  He says he is not surprised that groups who feel left out of society bring about specific excesses.

The Party for Freedom demands that in the next five years no Moroccans will be allowed into stadiums where Moroccan teams are playing.  If there will be no such ban, they ask that matches against Moroccan teams be banned for the next five years.  

The party also asked for explanations from the Minister of Internal Affairs and Justice.  The party wants to know why after earlier disorderly conduct in Utrech, Arnhem, Kerkrade and Amsterdam by Moroccan supporters, the police was not out in full force to make sure the match in Tilburg went smoothly.

According to Henk Groenevelt of the Central Information Point for Football Vandalism (Centraal Informatiepunt Voetbalvandalisme,CIV) the disorderly conduct should have been expected, but that things got so out of hand came completely out of the blue.

He points out that Moroccan fans generally react more exuberantly in the stand.  "And if they get the opportunity, they run in their enthusiasm into the field.  We aren't accustomed to that.  You must be a bit more ready for it."  He continues to say that he will not accept the violence and destruction, from any fan group.

He supposes the authorities did not expect what happened.  An earlier match between AZ and Ajax was heavily guarded to make sure the fans won't get near each other, but this was a friendship match between youth groups.  Everybody couldn't understand why the police let the Moroccans calm down on their own, but he says that sending in the riot police might have caused the situation to escalate even more.

Source: De Stentor (Dutch), MSN (Dutch), DVHN (Dutch), Parool (Dutch), Volkskrant (Dutch)

Norway: Six years for racist fire

A 19 year old has been sentenced to six years in jail for setting fire to a house and apartment building in Halden last summer.  The man confessed to having racist motives and to hating Muslims.

The man set fire to a house in July, in which there were 15 people at the time.  Nobody was injured, though the risk of somebody being killed was great.  In August the man set fire to an apartment building of eight apartments, in which there were eight people.  One person jumped out the window of the second story and sustained broken bones.

The 19 year old must in addition pay restitution to his victims, which goes up to several million kroner.  The man was also sentenced for damaging cars and spraying swastikas and racist symbols on house walls.

Source: Aftenposten (Norwegian)

Denmark: Debate about polygamy

If the Danish imam Abdul Wahid Petersen is asked to marry two people, if the man is already married, he will normally decline. But only "normally". Petersen says he would agree if the first wife says that it's ok with her and that she can't have children or if there is another reason.

According to the Koran a man can have up to four wives, but a woman can only marry one man.

Petersen says one of the cases he handled was a woman who couldn't have children. She suggested herself that her husband would get another wife. They had a child who had a father, mother and an aunt, which is what they called her, and all three were happy to have the child.

His comments caused conservative integration spokesmen, Henriette Kjær, to suggest re-education for the imam. She says polygamy is forbidden in Denmark and will of course be prosecuted. Regardless of whether Abdul Wahid Pedersen finds his arguments in the Koran or elsewhere, his position on polygamy shows that he neither accepts or understands that in Denmark there's equality between women.

Morten Østergaard, left-wing integration spokesman says Pedersen causes damage to integration with his positions and causes some of the prejudice against Muslims, that they support polygamy and don't belong to modern society. He adds that Denmark needs to go back to the religion debate and say that we are a liberal country but polygamy is not something we're going to have.

Polygamy is banned by law in Denmark, but though Denmark doesn't recognize such marriages, a man can theoretically be married to one wife by a state recognized marriage and marry more women in a Muslim manner. Quite legally.

Fahmy Almajid, integration consultant, says such things do exist. The "legal" couple might live in an apartment while wife #2 who appears as a single parent, lives with her children.

It happens 3-4 times a year, that family services deals with people who have married twice illegally and must ask them to choose one of the women, he says.

SF's equality spokesperson, Pernille Vigsø Bagge, is shocked that polygamy exists in Denmark and thinks it is oppression of women, because it only takes place if the man wants it. She says the Equality Ministry should start a campaign about woman's rights in Danish society in 2007 and there should be an internal revolt among Muslim women with support from the women who have already achieved a high degree of freedom.

She rejects that polygamy by the Muslims can be compared to having a mistress, as Abdul Wahid Petersen said. She said it is a social construction where a man lives in a parallel society, where the woman is the man's wife number two, three or four outside the Danish law where it is forbidden to have several wives. It has nothing to do with sexual moral but with oppression, she says.

Source: Berlingske (Danish)

Belgium: Moroccan consulate rejects non-Arab names

After the Netherlands, Belgium also discovers this problem.  I think this is just symptomatic though of a more serious issue.  After all, Moroccan women cannot pass on their citizenship to their kids.  Is that a reason for a 2nd generation Moroccan woman in the Netherlands to marry only a Moroccan?  Would a woman who marries a non-Moroccan be able to come with her family to visit her family?

Moroccans living abroad have ties and connections to their homeland, if not for anything else, because many have family in Morocco and they visit regularly.  The article below says Belgian nationals without a Moroccan passport cannot visit Morocco.  I am unsure whether that is true - Morocco does not require a visa for EU nationals. 

In similar articles about the Netherlands, heavy fines were mentioned, but it's possible those fines only come into play if somebody asks for a passport.  I might misunderstand the whole issue, but if Moroccan demands so much for a passport, and the advantages are minimal, then why bother getting one?


Belgian children of Moroccan origin who also want Moroccan citizenship will not get it if their first name is (too) Flemish or French.  The Moroccan consulate rejects names that do not appear on an Arabic list.  The children can therefore not get a Moroccan passport or come on family visits.
Source: HLN (Dutch)

See also: Netherlands: Moroccan babies get only names approved by Morocco, Netherlands/Belgium news roundup

EU: Map radical mosques

Security officials from Europe's largest countries have thrown their weight behind the EU Commission's plans to map out mosques on the continent to identify imams who preach radical Islam that raises the threat of homegrown terrorism.

The project, to be finished by the fall, will focus on the roles of imams, their training, their ability to speak in the local language and their source of funding, EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini told a news conference.

Europe had ample experience with the ''misuse of mosques, which instead of being places of worship are used for other ends, Italian Interior Minister Guiliano Amato said Saturday.

''This is bringing about a situation that involves all of our countries and involves the possibility of attacks and developing of networks that use one country to prepare an attack in another,'' Amato said, after a meeting in Venice of interior ministers and security officials from six European countries and the United States.

Frattini also emphasized the need of strengthened dialogue with the Islamic communities ''to avoid sending messages that incite hate and violence.''

Security officials from Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland also expressed concern about drug-trafficking, and said they would work with African nations to interrupt a new cocaine route from Colombia across Africa into Europe.

''They have created bases in Europe and we need to have our counter-bases,'' Amato said, noting that the Spaniards have seen an influx of cocaine in the south and east of their country beyond the traditional Atlantic route.

The officials proposed setting up drug-fighting bases in Lisbon to monitor sea traffic and Gibraltar to monitor land.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff used the opportunity to discuss with his counterparts ways to reach a new agreement to share airline passenger data for terrorism investigation.

''I think the value of this data perhaps is not widely understood. You can't have an informed discussion on how to handle it unless you know what it is that it provides,'' Chertoff said in an interview.

Chertoff will continue making his case in meetings with EU parliamentarians in Brussels next week.

''What I hope to do in that visit is to explain, with some detail how valuable that information is to us, using examples of cases in which we have stopped people or intercepted people coming into the country who are terrorists or drug traffickers,'' he said.

One example Chertoff has cited is the case in June 2003 of an agent at Chicago's O'Hare airport who, unsatisfied with a foreign traveler's responses, refused entry and sent him back to where he had come from _ first taking his fingerprints.

Those fingerprints, according to Chertoff, turned up later on the steering wheel of a suicide truck bomb detonated in Iraq.

Europe and the U.S. disagree on how long U.S. authorities can use the data, when it should be destroyed and which agencies should have access to the information. The United States also wants the authority to pull data directly from airline computers, but European countries insist airlines must transmit the information to U.S. authorities.

European governments are worried about protecting their strict privacy laws _ a legacy of the continent's history with totalitarian and authoritarian regimes.

The current deal, which expires in July, allows the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency to disclose passenger data to other American law enforcement agencies for anti-terror investigations if those agencies have protection standards comparable to those of the EU.

Source: Expatica (English)

Germany: Honor killer sentenced to 4.5 years

A 42-year-old man with ingrained traditional Turkish views was jailed for 54 months in Germany for the attempted manslaughter of his teenaged daughter after a row over family "honour."

The girl, 16, had been forced to marry and later rebelled. Witnesses described how her father lifted her over a fourth-storey balcony, with another family member prising apart her grip on the rail, and threw her down.

She survived the fall onto a garage roof. The family had accused the daughter of being "dishonourable" because she opposed her father's will, the court in the city of Wuppertal was told.

Passing judgement, a state court judge told the accused he lived in a "parallel world" dominated by Turkish concepts although he was the third generation of a family that had resettled in Germany .

"Equal rights between men and women was an alien word to him," said the judge. "It is a miracle this girl survived."

He slammed city of Wuppertal family welfare officials for not helping the girl though they knew about the family and that she needed urgent psychological help.

After similar cases in the past, German politicians have called for draconian punishment for "honour killings."

The accused denied the charges and said his daughter was trying to commit suicide and he had been restraining her. But witnesses said she was desperately clutching the rail. The court was unable to identify which family member had dislodged her hands.

The girl testified her father had said, "I'll kill you," as he hurled her 9 metres deep. She said the family pressurized her to alter her testimony, but she would not. Her own lawyer said Tuesday she was now in danger of revenge attacks by relatives.

Source: Expatica (English)

Germany: Obstacles prevent integration

Selected quotes from an article about Muslims in Germany.

Dr. Johannes Urban, an official at Germany's Federal Ministry of the Interior, stressed the German government's will for Muslim integration into German society, but he sees some obstacles retarding such integration.

For example, the rate of Muslim women attending school is less than non-Muslim women. Also, most young Muslims don't speak German, which means they can't find a job easily. Urban also referred to discussions about the choice of most Muslim parents to prevent their daughters from participating in swimming classes, sex education classes and camping trips.


"It's not only Muslim attitudes and practices that make their integration into German society difficult," says Lina Ganamah of the Arab Women's Forum in Berlin, explaining that historical and social reasons also contribute to Muslims' isolation.

In the 1960s, Germany opened its doors to immigrants to address an acute labor shortage during a period of rapid economic development by inviting "guest workers" from less developed countries to do jobs for which Germans were unavailable. Under agreements with foreign governments, these workers were expected to stay for a fixed term and leave when their services no longer were needed.

Many of the original guest workers (Italians, Greeks and other southern Europeans) did return to their native countries; however, subsequent groups of guest workers, mostly Muslim Yugoslavs, Turks and North Africans, stayed and eventually brought their families to join them.

However, they and their children remained largely segregated from German society, living in their own communities and sometimes having little contact with their host society. "Now, there's the fourth generation of these immigrants, but most of them don't speak German and most are jobless," Ganamah noted.

Regarding the German education system, she says the Muslim community has difficulty adapting to such a system and compared to their non-Muslim classmates, Muslim students' marks aren't good. "In fact, most Muslim parents don't push their children to acquire further education or knowledge because they themselves lack education," Ganamah says.

She points out that many parents want to instill their Islamic and cultural values in their children, but think Muslim women believe that wearing hijab is part of their religious freedom. k certain classes, such as sex education or sports classes for girls, may impact their children's attitudes toward those values.


Nezar Ahmed, a second generation Muslim in Germany, mentioned his frustration at not being able to pray in a "real" mosque. According to him, most Muslims in Germany pray in mosques hidden from view in old factory buildings and basements. "Most Germans wouldn't accept a more traditional looking mosque in their neighborhood," he said, noting that building traditional mosques often is controversial.

Aydin agrees that there are controversies in some German states related to building mosques. "However, today, more and more mosques are being built in Germany in the classic Oriental style. In German cities like Cologne, a muezzin calls devout Muslims to prayer, at least in those neighborhoods where people aren't bothered by the loudspeaker."


Sabiha Al-Zayat, who works at the Islamic Women's Center for Research and Encouragement, commented, "In the past, maybe five years ago, wearing the hijab wasn't a big deal, but nowadays, wearing the hijab has become a serious issue discussed in Parliament." She adds that nearly 30 Muslim teachers have left their jobs due to insisting upon wearing hijab.

The hijab controversy can create other problems delaying Muslims' integration.


[Ed: I think this last interviewee sums it up the best.  When you are practically born in a country and still think of it as "their country" and see learning in the public school system as something exceptional, don't be surprised that "they" don't see you as part of "them".]

Sema Tozoglee, 24, immigrated with her Turkish parents to Germany when she was only a year old. She now lives in Bonne with her Muslim German husband.

"I'm doing my best to integrate into German society. I speak their language, I studied in their schools, I married a German guy… I do whatever I can to increase my ability to be treated as a German citizen," she explains, pointing out that despite these efforts, she still suffers as a Muslim in a secular community.

"When I was 18, I decided to wear the hijab, but I then noticed Germans looking at me for being different." Her friend Huelya, also wearing hijab, stresses that their insistence upon wearing it is the reason for not being employed in many occupations, although they are qualified.

Source: Yemen Times (English)

Norway: Unemployment by immigrants going down

New figures show unemployment among immigrants sinking, but the gap between them and ethnic Norwegians remains.

Registered unemployment among immigrants dropped from 8.1 percent to 6 percent last year according to new figures from Statistics Norway (SSB).

But unemployment has also dropped markedly among ethnic Norwegians, from 2.6 percent to 1.8 percent.

According to the SSB, the difference between immigrants and Norwegians on the employment market has remained very stable, even in periods of high unemployment, with immigrants generally having three times a higher rate.

The SSB defines immigrants as persons born abroad of foreign parents. This group is divided into five categories, Western immigrants, Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and South and Central America.

The four non-Western groups had a decline of about three percent points in unemployment. Africans have a 12.8 percent unemployment rate, Asians 8.2 percent, Eastern Europeans 6.9 percent and 6.1 percent for Latin Americans. Immigrants with a Western background had unemployment levels just above Norwegians, 2.2 percent. New Eastern European EU nations had a rate around 3 percent.

The SSB said that the figures also represent the composition of the sub-groups, with the majority of the non-Western immigrants being refugees and the Western representatives and new EU nations were largely an imported work force.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

Asmaa Abdol-Hamid - A Question

Asmaa Abdol Hamid hopes to be the first religious Muslim women in the Danish parliament.  She had already started off much debate about the fact that she intends to wear a veil in parliament.  Reading her story, though, I have a question on something else completely.

Asmaa says she is a stateless Palestinian. Her Palestinian identity is very important to her. 

"I was immersed in my Palestinian background and many of my school projects dealt with Palestinians or Muslims in Denmark. Awareness of identity is very important for an ethnic minority."

Her necklace is in the shape of Mandatory Palestine.  I personally find it disturbing that a Danish politician walks around with a necklace symbolizing the destruction of a sovereign state, but I am not sure Palestinians have a positive symbol to uphold.

She herself was born in the United Arab Emirates, her parents grew up in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.  Were her parents refugees from the Six Day War (1967) or were her grandparents refugees from the Israeli War of Independence (1948)?  She doesn't say.  I would assume it's the latter, since the Six Day War refugees fled to Jordan, and many of them returned. 

Does she want to return to Palestine?  Currently Gaza is under full Palestinian control and nobody is preventing her from doing so.

Her identity as a stateless Palestinian was probably fostered by her parents.  And so, though she grew up in the UAE, she does not feel connected there.  Her father came to Denmark several months after the family received asylum there.

"As soon as he arrived in Denmark, my father also went to the language course in Åbenrå, but he found going to school difficult and he wasn't an easy pupil. He was often aggravated by some of the teachers' pro-Israel interpretation of the conflict in the Middle East."

Do Danes often bring up the Middle East conflict when teaching Danish or was her father agitating to bring up his own points of view?  Either way, the Middle East conflict was obviously very important to him, enough that it bothered him to learn Danish. 

Which brings me to my question.  The family received asylum in Denmark because her father was interrogated and tortured by the United Arab Emirates Intelligence Service.  She blames the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, but I seriously doubt that the UAE would have cared unless they felt he was a threat to their own security.  Was he a PLO activist?  What exactly was he accused of?  What was he interrogated for?

Abdol-Hamid might not be responsible for her father's past actions, but if she's going to enter Parliament, I think Danes should wonder about this last question.

Source: KVInfo (English)

Scandinavia: New organization for ex-Muslims

After Germany and the Netherlands, Muslims in Scandinavia have now started their own organization for ex-Muslims, the Central Council for ex-Muslims in Scandinavia (Centralrådet för ex-muslimer i Skandinavien).  The organization is helped by Mina Ahadi of the German Ex-Muslim Council.  The organization criticizes media and politicians for giving a voice to political Islam. 

Friday they intend to have a press conference to announce their organization.

Source: Sveriges Radio (Swedish), HPD (German)

Oslo: Family killer wants another chance

In January 2003, a 32 year old Norwegian-Somali in Oslo knifed his wife and two children, who were 8 months and two years old at the time, to death. The reason was that he was sure his wife was disloyal. After the murder he went after the man he suspected of being his wife's lover. The man sustained many knife wounds before the 32 year old was apprehended.

In October 2003 he was sentenced to psychiatric care. Since 2005 he's been allowed out of the hospital for two days a week. He uses this time to go to the center of Oslo and among other things go to a mosque. Now he's requesting to do away with the forced treatment since he wants to start anew and build a family.

According to Dagsavisen, people who have met him have called the police to report the "murderer on the loose".

According to psychiatrists the man is not dangerous as long as he takes his medicine. The man says he is able to do so without being forced. State prosecutors don't accept that as a guarantee.

The psychiatrists also say that the situation has changed since the murder and that's why he's being allowed out on his own. Before the murder he heard voices commanding him what to do, and that's not the case anymore.

Source: Aftenposten (Norwegian)

Norway: Mother to 4 disappeared

An Iraqi citizen in her 30s disappeared from her home in Nedre Eiker in Buskerud more than 3 weeks ago. Her husband, 41, informed the police of her disappearance eight days later.

Policeman Øyvind Aas says there can be logical reasons for the delay, such as the husband trying to find his wife on his own first.

The husband, who is also an Iraqi citizen, has been in Norway for 10 years, his wife for six. The couple has four children, all under the age of 10.

Police suspect foul play since the woman did not have her own car or phone and doesn't have many friends in Norway. She is close to her children and has not traveled away before.

Kripos, Norway's special national crime agency, has been called in to deal with the case. Currently extensive searches are being conducted both at land and at sea. In addition, contact is being made with people in Norway and Iraq who might have had connections to her.

Norwegian police are hesitant about putting out identifying material about the women so as not to identify the family.

Aftenposten (English), Dagbladet (Norwegian), VG Nett (Norwegian)

Norway: Law proposal to limit family reunification

The Norwegian government wants to limit family reunifications, and to demand three years of either work or education after elementary education for people coming in from outside the EU.  In practice this means a demand to be 19 years or older.

Representatives from three coalition parties support what is seen as a measure against forced marriage.

Akhtar Chaudray of the Socialist Left Party says it is discriminatory and wants his party to object to the law proposal.

Source: Dagbladet (Norwegian)

Denmark: Immigrants overtake Danes in education

There are more immigrants currently getting an education than ethnic Danes, according to new statistics from the Integration Ministry. In the 16-24 age group, 62% of immigrants and their children were being educated while the number for ethnic Danes was 61%.

The numbers don't say however how many complete their education. Additionally, it is a snapshot of the situation, and young ethnic Danes who have completed their education and now work as carpenters or bricklayers aren't counted in.

Integration minister Hvilshøj says it shows that Denmark is moving in the right direction, and that there have been great advances. Education is very important, she says, and it is known that immigrants without education have greater difficulties in the job market than ethnic Danes without education.

It is notable that from 2001 there's a marked improvement. Then 56% of immigrants and children were getting an education.

The statistics count all forms of education, except short courses such as three weeks AMU course (adult vocational training).

Bjarne Laustsen of the Social Democrats, has long criticized the government for eliminating the school-based training program from technical education, a program many immigrants have taken.

He says there is certainly a big hard core and much place for improvements with many young men who aren't working. He says when the economy is good employers have no time for training and when the economy is bad they have no advice for the young men.

Lautson also says there is a separate group which the government is not looking at, the learning disabled, who cannot get education under normal circumstances.

Source: Berlingske (Danish)

Netherlands: Turkish imams condemn honor murder

A regional phenomenon?

Turkish imams in Dutch mosques are going to declare their aversion to honor murder in the upcoming time during Friday afternoon prayers. The initiative comes form the Turkish Islamic Cultural Federation (Turks Islamitische Culturele Federatie, TICF).

The TICF is the biggest mosque organization in the Netherlands. 80% of Dutch mosques belong to the organization.

Two mosques have already called to condemn honor murder. The other 140 mosques of the TICF will soon follow.

According to Kasim Akdemir, spokesperson for the TICF, imams have condemned honor murder in their lectures more often. "But it has never before been organized such that all our mosques join in".

The TICF wants to clearly signal with the initiative that honor murder has nothing to do with Islam. "The Islam rejects murder. A good Muslim doesn't do honor murder", says Akdemir.

Honor murder, in which women, but also men, are killed for having violated the family honor, happens often in the south east of Turkey.

Honor murder is not typically Muslim but rather a regional phenomenon. Besides Turkey it takes place in Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It exists in North Africa but the "guilty party" is usually not killed there.

Due to immigration the problem has also become Europe. In 2003 the Netherlands was shocked by an honor murder of 18 year old Turkish Zarife from Almelo. The girl was killed by her father with a shotgun during a vacation in Turkey. Zarife had fled home due to abuse and had therefore caused her family shame.

In Turkey honor murder is current an important subject, says EU parliamentarian Emine Bozkurt. "There are scores of films, shows and talk-shows about honor murder. You have for example a very popular TV show 'Sila' in which honor murder is strongly condemned. And that is a very effective means of fighting it."

According to Bozkurt the shows is also seen by many Turks in the Netherlands.

Since 2003 honor murder is on the political agenda in the Netherlands. The problem is finally being recognized, say researchers.

The national expertise center on honor murder of the police in The Hague had handled 540 cases last year in which there was suspicion of honor related violence. The total is probably higher since only the police in Haaglanden has a thorough registration of honor crimes. The rest of the police corps doesn't do that yet.

There are no trustworthy number of the total number of honor murder victims in the Netherlands. An unambiguous definition is needed first. So honor violence is confused with domestic violence.

In 2006 a pilot was started in women's shelter to register victims of honor murder. Later this year all data from the police, women's shelter nad municipalities be joined together.

Source: NOS (Dutch)

Norway: Afghanis march in protest

More than 70 asylum seekers from Afghanistan set off on a 648-kilometer march from Trondheim to Oslo over the weekend, following a so-called "Pilgrims' Route" that's meant to symbolize their plight.

Around 70 asylum seekers from Afghanistan are marching from Trondheim to Oslo to

Many of the refugees are now illegal aliens in Norway, after their applications for asylum were turned down. They risk being arrested by the police and deported at any time, but that's not keeping them from marching.

To the contrary: "I feel more secure taking part in the march than I do as an illegal alien in Oslo," a 21-year-old man who identified himself as "Amin" told newspaper Aftenposten. He said he came to Norway in 2003 and lost his final appeal for asylum last year.

"I've tried to get a job many times, but when I'm asked if I have working permission, I have to answer 'no,'" he said. "I can't keep living off my friends. That's why this march is so important."

He and the others participating hope their choice of the ancient trail used by pilgrims to the Nidaros cathedral in Trondheim will touch the hearts of Norwegians and build support for their cause. They're afraid to return to Afghanistan, where war rages and the Taliban is making aggressive strides.

Amin claimed that eight persons were killed in a Taliban attack on his village last week. His parents and siblings have fled to Pakistan. "I have no family to return to in Afghanistan," he said.

There are an estimated 1,900 Afghan refugees in Norway, and the majority have been denied asylum. The march isn't the first time they've demonstratrated their desperation. Many staged hunger strikes last year.

"We've lived with war for 30 years in Afghanistan, and the situation is getting worse," says march leader Zahir Athari. He says the marchers "are used to living every second in fear," and the march offers them a chance to "stand forward" despite the risk of being apprehended.

The marchers plan to march durng the day and spend the nights outdoors in sleeping bags, just like they did when the initially fled Afghanistan. Some of them walked as many as 3,000 kilometers then.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

See also: Norway: Afghan hunger strike a success, Norway: If at first you don't succeed..

Belgium: Moroccans largest group

Moroccans are now the largest group of immigrants in Belgium, overpassing Italians according to sociologist Jan Hertogen. He speaks of "a historic moment". For his research he used numbers from Belgian government statistics.

On January 1st, 2004 there were 264,974 Moroccans and 262,120 Italians in Belgium, including both foreigners and New Belgians. That's according to statistics received by Jan Hertogen. The statistics did not count the children of Belgian citizens.

Hertogen sees a parallel between the Italian immigration wave that started in 1920 and the Moroccan wave that started in 1960. But while the Italian immigration had gone down since 1980 (due to return of Italians and a lower birth rate) the Moroccan immigration wave will peak only in 2016, according to Hertogen. Another significant difference is that 70% of Moroccans get Belgian citizenship while by Italians that's the case only by 30%

According to Hertogen, the rising total of immigrants, especially from Morocco, will have an impact on the political landscape. The impact will be less noticeable in the upcoming federal elections but rather in the municipal elections in 2012. "In five to ten years a number of Moroccan mayors will certainly emerge."

After Moroccans and Italians, the largest group in Belgium is the Turks with 159,336. Hertogen expects a peak there also in another eight years. The French 145,556 and Dutch 126,447 form the largest European immigrant groups.

The top ten list consists also of Spanish (55,686), Germans (43,392), Congolese (42,068), Portugese (33,326) and British (30,987). The growing group of Poles comes number 11 with 25,545. According to Hertogen that total number of immigrants is 1,569,909 (foreigners and New Belgians) [ed: which amounts to 15% of the total population]

Hertogen also examined the man/women distribution by foreigners. The numbers confirm the phenomenon of marriage immigration by Thai and Filipinos foreigners. More than 80% of Thai foreigners and more than 70% of Filipino foreigners are women.

Belgian Statistics are reserved about Hertogen's report. "The numbers that Hertogen used are generally right, but are not the full official number. In this way he counted naturalizations without for example taking into account deaths of people who emigrated again."

Source: HLN (Dutch)

See also: Brussels: 56.5% immigrant population, Belgium: Vlaams Belang's lose accounted by immigrant vote

Amsterdam: Moroccan family threatened

A family in North Amsterdam has been threatened for the past year and a half. Saturday night a stone was thrown through their car window, after which the car was set on fire. The car is a total loss.

The intimidation is directed at the mother. For the past eight year she wears a niqab. She is a Moroccan, born in Amsterdam.

The family has no idea who's behind the intimidation. These intimidation come from a "Wilders" fan but the family was also threatened earlier with Arabic texts. The police is keeping all options open. The family would like to move as soon as possible.

Source: AT5 (Dutch)

See also: Amsterdam: Snackbar terrorized, Amsterdam: Jews terrorized

Amsterdam: Threats over a mosque

What will happen if the new Wester Mosque in Amsterdam won't be built? Fatih Dag of the Turkish mosque umbrella organization Milli Görüs don't want to threaten. He simply does: enormous resistance, a demonstration of Turks from all over Europe which he hopes will be a peaceful march and a non-violent "rebellion" (were the quotes his or the journalist's?) , but he can't promise anything. Al Jazeera will broadcast it to the whole world, and he has no idea what the consequences will then be. After all, nobody in Europe has any experience with Muslim anger.

I was going to translate the entire article, but Klein Verzet already did such a good job.

Source: Trouw (Dutch)

Copenhagen: Little Mermaid turns Muslim

The Little Mermaid statue in Denmark's capital was found draped in Muslim dress and a head scarf Sunday morning, police said.

After receiving a telephone call, officers drove to the site and removed the garments, said Copenhagen police spokesman Jorgen Thomsen.

The Little Mermaid was created by Danish sculptor Edvard Eriksen in tribute to Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen. Sitting on a rock at the entrance of Copenhagen harbor since 1913, she draws an estimated 1 million visitors a year, and is occasionally targeted by vandals.

She has been beheaded and doused in paint several times. Four years ago, the statue was blown off its perch by vandals who used explosives.

In 2004, someone put a burqa, the head-to-toe Islamic robe, on the statue along with a sign saying "Turkey in the EU?" in reference to Turkey's bid to join the European Union.

Source: International Herald Tribune (English)

Norway: B-gang investigation turning to Pakistan

After the big operation against the B-Gang, which was dubbed "Operation Nemesis" in Norway and which spread out to Brazil where it was called "Operation Paradise", the Oslo police are now opening a third front in Pakistan. 

The Rasool family are central members of the B-Gang.  Five of the six brothers are currently under arrest, suspected of dealing with stolen goods, while the sixth is in police custody.  Two other family members have also been arrested, brothers aged 19 and 30.  Additionally five women in the family had been arrested.  Three were released last week, the other two - the 50 year old mother and the eldest brother's 29 year old wife - are still in custody.

Police believe the family transfered significant assets to their homeland, and that this money originates from criminal acts in Norway.  Sources in Pakistan say that the Oslo police had asked the Pakistani police for help in tracing these assets down.

The family has accounts in Pakistan as well as a house in Mhemad Chak, also known as "Little Norway".  The family supposedly also owns other properties in the Gujrat distict.

Brazilian police said they can connect at least three of the Rasool brothers in Natal and Fortaleza in Brasil.  Police inspector Iver Stensrud said last week that the police will cooperate with Brazilian police in the search for B-gang money.

Source: Aftenposten 1, 2, 3 (Norwegian)

See also: Joint Norwegian/Brazilian raids against B-Gang

Denmark: Proposal to ban veils

The Danish People's Party wants a total ban on veils in Denmark, but both the opposition and the government don't support it.

Pia Kjærsgaard, leader of the Danish People's Party, said in an interview: "I want the headscarf to be completely banned in Danish society.  It is oppressive and I cannot tolerate it."  She suggested to start with schools and institutions.

Kjærsgaard is not talking about Jewish skullcaps and Christian crosses, saying they're not the same and are not religious laws.

According to a survey 46% of Danes support a ban on veils in schools.  

Education minister  Bertel Haarder said veils are an undesirable signal that people don't want anything to do with each other, however, he adds that it is quite a jump to ban veils in schools.  He prefers that some girls will go around with a veil who would prefer not to rather then having girls walk around without a veil and feeling that their freedom is being limited by the state.  He doesn't want a law deciding what people wear on their heads.

Schools today already ban the niqab and burqa, which cover the whole face, due to objective reasons which have nothing to do with Islam.  In an educational institution the face must be seen, and the same goes for the public sector.  

There are laws against the veil in France and Turkey, but Haarder points out that they are secular societies and all religious symbols are banned and that is not something he wants to see in Denmark.

Source: Berlingske (Danish)

France: Muslim named justice minister

President Nicolas Sarkozy sent out a powerful message to France's five million Muslims on Friday by appointing a woman of North African origin to the key post of justice minister.

Rachida Dati, a 41-year-old newcomer to government who shot to national attention as Sarkozy's election campaign spokeswoman, is the first French Muslim politician to hold a top government job.

Her appointment breaks important new ground in a country where north and west African immigrants and their children are severely under-represented in public life -- an imbalance seen as one of the reasons behind the 2005 riots.

Tall and impeccably turned out, Dati grew up on a public housing estate in the western French city of Chalon sur Saone, the daughter of a Moroccan labourer and an illiterate Algerian mother.

The second of 12 children, she worked her way through her studies as a nursing assistant, earning a raft of degrees in law, economics and business.

Dati worked as a magistrate and an accountant, carrying out public and private sector audits, before becoming Sarkozy's advisor on delinquency in 2002 -- using fierce determination to break through to the right-winger's inner circle.

"I wanted to work with him, so I wrote to him. No answer. I wrote again. Still no answer. But since I really, really really wanted this, I wrote to him again. That time, he wrote back," she said at the time.

"For him, I am not just a token Arab. I have a real advisor's role," she said.

Dati sees herself as living proof that it is possible in French society to overcome poverty and discrimination through hard work.

"We need to stop seeing people of immigrant background as either problems or victims," she once said.

"It's not always easy for us to climb the social ladder. But the Republic makes success possible. Public examinations are the same for everyone."

Dati does not see herself as a spokeswoman for France's troubled suburbs -- and has often been at loggerheads with community groups in the suburbs critical of Sarkozy's tough line on immigration and law and order.

As justice minister, she would be in charge of rolling out Sarkozy's planned reform of criminal law, that would toughen sentences for young offenders, including from the suburbs.

But Dati has also repeatedly defended Sarkozy against charges of racism sparked by his tough campaign talk on controlling immigration and defending French identity.

She also supports Sarkozy's call for some form of affirmative action, based on socio-economic rather than ethnic grounds.

But there is strong resistance in France to US-style affirmative action, with critics saying it would undermine the Republican principle of equal citizenship regardless of race or religion.

The riots two years ago in high-immigration French suburbs cast the spotlight on ethnic discrimination in the job market and public life, but there have been few signs of radical change.

There are currently 10 black deputies in the 577-seat lower house National Assembly, all from French overseas territories in the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean.

Among the 555 elected in mainland France, none are black or of Muslim North African origin.

Source: Middle East Online (English)

Rotterdam: Jihad recruiter set free

The Rotterdam court freed Tuesday a 19 year old Tunisian from detention, suspected of recruiting for armed jihad.  Mohammed M. would be probably immediately put into custody again since he is in the Netherlands illegaly.

Of the six suspects in the case - most were arrested in November - three are still in custody.  They were initially suspected of membership in a criminal and then terroristic organization.  The public prosecution dropped that charge due to lack of evidence.

According to the public prosecution the suspects were planning to go to Iraq or Afghanistan for Jihad.  The main suspect, Murat Ö. (36) wanted in that way to prepare youth ideologically and physically.  He is the only one still suspect of preparing a terrorist crime abroad.  In 2003 Ö, aka Ibrahim the Turk, freed in the "first Jihad case".

A Muslim-wedded pair are suspected of recruiting for jihad via inciteful and hateful pamphlets and Islamic lessons.  The man and women (both 20) are in custody due to the "investigation interest" and not due to "repeat danger".  Their attorney believes they will be freed before October when their case comes up to trial.

Source: Volkskrant (Dutch)

See also: Netherlands: 6 arrested for jihad recruitmentNetherlands: AIVD could have known about Bouyeri's extremism

Amsterdam: Jews terrorized

A Jewish couple is running away from Amsterdam, after years of being victimized by Moroccan neighborhood terror.

They're scared to death.  For almost nine years the lives of Loes and Nico Vet had been turned into hell.  Swastikas and Arabic slogans scratched on the door, soiled car, slashed tires, attempt at breaking in and windows broken by iron pipes and stones thrown in.

Sixty year old Nico says they couldn't  handle it any more and have given up.  "We couldn't like like this any longer.  Or maybe we should wait till a firebomb comes flying in?  We want away.  Away from Amsterdam!  Preferably as quick as possible, because we're close to a breakdown."

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

See also: Amsterdam: Snackbar terrorized

Brussels: Stone throwers young kids

Three youngsters aged 12 and 13 were picked up for stoning four trains last week.  The parents of one of them turned to the police after they questioned their son.  The boy told police the names of his friends. 

Originally police assumed the stoning was revenge for ticket checks that were conducted earlier that day, but it now seems to be simple vandalism.

The parents might end up paying for the damages, which could be pretty high, for the broken windows, the delay of about 45 trains, as well as psychological damages caused to the train drivers.

Source: HLN (Dutch), Brussel Nieuws (Dutch)

See also: Brussels: Shooting on trains

Sweden: 'Muslim-friendly' radio presenter receives death threats

Radio presenter Täppas Fogelberg has begun receiving death threats. Serious threats and letters smeared with excrement have been sent to him via his employer, Sveriges Radio.

Last week, a card filled with racist terms arrived at Sveriges Radio in Sundsvall.

The author claimed that there were people prepared to murder Täppas Fogelberg. The reason given was that he "pampers bloody Muslims" on his programme Ring P1.

"It's disgusting," Fogelberg told newspaper Sundsvalls Tidning.

The manager of Sveriges Radio in Sundsvall, Lena Tideström-Sagström, has reported the matter to the police.

"It has gone too far, it's just depressing," said Fogelberg.

"It would be repugnant if I was silenced. I will be careful with my body but not with the spoken word. I am not going to become nicer," he added.

Source: The Local (English)