Sweden: Iran upset at "Mohammed dogs"

Sweden is currently dealing with its own "cartoon crisis" after a Swedish newspaper published a cartoon of Mohammed as a dog.  Iran has officially protested the cartoon and Iranian President Ahmadinejad has blamed the Zionists for it.

The claim came during a tirade against Israel, in which Ahmadineja accused Zionists of sowing conflict, publishing offensive cartoons and "lying about being Jewish."

"Zionists are people without any religion," Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly predicted that Israel is doomed to disappear, told a news conference in Tehran.   "They are lying about being Jewish because religion means brotherhood, friendship and respecting other divine religions," he said.


Leading figures in Sweden's media industry have backed newspaper Nerikes Allehanda, which has been criticised by Iran for publishing a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a dog. The paper itself has meanwhile defended its decision to publish.

PeO Wärring, deputy chairman of the Swedish Newspaper Publishers' Association (TU), said that regardless of what people thought of the cartoons it was important that they could be published and debated.

"The strength of freedom of expression lies in the fact that it tolerates - and protects - not only comfortable, harmless and uncontroversial opinions, but also those that are tasteless, controversial, upsetting and offensive," he said in a statement.

The cartoon in question, by Swedish artist Lars Vilks, depicted Muhammad's head on the body of a dog. Vilks had found it hard to find a gallery willing to display his work, and Nerikes Allehanda published the cartoon alongside an editorial on freedom of expression.

A Swedish diplomat was summoned to the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Monday to receive a protest from the Iranian government about the cartoon.

Wärring said that TU fully supported Nerikes Allehanda, an Örebro-based regional paper. He also called on the Swedish government to stand up for Sweden's tradition of press freedom, religious freedom and other forms of free expression.

Nerikes Allehanda on Tuesday published an English translation of the editorial by leader-writer Lars Ströman. In it, he argues that while a liberal society "must be able to defend Muslims' right to freedom of religion and their right to build mosques," it must also allow the ridicule of "Islam's foremost symbols - just like all other religions' symbols."

Ströman told The Local on Tuesday that Nerikes Allehanda had decided to publish after a number of other papers had printed Vilks' cartoons.

"I was a bit surprised by the reaction, as we were the last of a number of publications to publish the picture. I also think that the context in which we published should make it more acceptable for Muslims."

He said he thought it strange that the Iranian government contacted the Swedish government about the matter, saying it could just as easily have contacted the newspaper itself.

The article, he said, points out "that the right to caricature a religion and the right to practice a religion are connected."

"We at Nerikes Allehanda have a good record of defending Muslim rights in Sweden," he added.

The initial reaction to the publication of the cartoon was positive, he said.

"In the first few days I just got one email from a Muslim who was a bit upset," he said. On Friday, a protest was held in Örebro against the cartoon, but it was "very peaceful, and followed all the rules,". [can be seen on video, in Swedish]

Ströman added that he did not feel that he was in physical danger after the Iranian action.

Source: The Local 1, 2 (English)

See also: Sweden: Muslim groups to exhibit Mohammad "dog" sketches

Antwerp: Who really wants the headscarf?

The following article was written by Marij Uijt den Bogaard , a former social worker working for the Antwerp municipality. She was fired after writing reports warning about radicalization in the Muslim community. The article originally appeared on Brussels Journal in Dutch.


The discussion in Antwerp about the veil by the counter is beginning to be hilarious.

It's not only about the attitude of Muslim women but also about the way in which politicians react and the media reports about it.

First let's put the facts in order.

The Antwerp city council mentions in the council agreement that due to the diversity of the philosophies, civil servants who come in contact with citizens from now on must leave any external signs of religious conviction.

This isn't to the liking of several Muslim groups. Yet before there was talk of the only organized protest, De Standaard reported already in December 2006 the opinion of a Salafist organization. Before the city decides on regulations regarding the headscarf they should come talk with them. In the beginning of 2007 several women's organizations combined to create BOEH and came out to protest the clause in the council agreement.

The media played a remarkable role in this protest. Taking into account the total number of women present, in comparison with the total number of women who walk around with a headscarf, it seemed like good news, that most women accepted the regulations. Only a limited number showed up for the protest, certainly in comparison to the high number of women in Antwerp who walk about with a headscarf. In contrast to the impression that the media gives, there's barely any protest of Muslim women against the council agreement.

It's also simple to to explain. Within the Antwerp Muslim world there are many subgroups, with stark differences among them, but also similarities.

One of those is the geographic origin of the homeland, the first immigrants from Morocco and Turkey were mostly poorly educated villages with a strong cultural Islam. Most of the immigrants who followed still share this background, which partially explains their poor social and economic situation. Families which started here hold on to the tradition and identity that they have built up here. This means that the husband is usually the breadwinner and that women shouldn't work. They do the housework and take care of the children. This mentality still exists for the first traditional subgroups. Within these groups there is also little interest of the city's decision that according to the BOEH women discriminates against women on the job market. There don't plan to be part of the labor market. They choose wholesale for the traditional female roles and are often encouraged to do so.

Naturally this doesn't hold for every Antwerp Muslim. There are female Muslims who do work, who owe their success in great measure to education, an ability to adapt to the business culture and employer expectations versus religious convictions and their own cultural background.

A pity that no photographer present at the protest took a picture of the lonely Naima Lanji standing outside the ring of protesting women. She made a stand, this municipal councilor without a headscarf, contradicting in essence all the arguments of the protesting women.

But apparently this escaped the attention not only of the women but also of the press, who preferred giving attention to Mrs. Miri, who would like to ban Christmas trees and Easter eggs! As if her headscarf has anything to do with it, Miri doesn't see that she's walking about with the guillotine of women's rights on her head. According to all signs, she doesn't understand what it's about.

It's about the question if she takes up the opinion that because she thinks a headscarf is obligatory, this right holds for always and everywhere, above the expectations of a diverse society. She demands that her convictions get priority above the diversity of life-convictions of all other Antwerp residents. If we choose for that, demands such as those of Mrs. Miri will interfere more and more with our environment. And this will clash in a protest of those who don't share the opinions of Mrs. Miri and sisters and don't want to do so in the future.

That protest is taking form, as can be seen from the planned protest in Brussels. It is remarkable that an organization such as AEL can say in the media without problem that this is about a protest of the extreme right, racism and hate against other cultures, religious convictions. That it totally not so, since most Antwerp residents are welcome, as long as their culture doesn't repress ours, or their conviction doesn't include pushing away those of others. The statements are threatening for many Antwerp residents and Flemish and testifies that there's little readiness for dialog or self criticism. Meryem Kacar's statements shows this as well, comparing the critical attitude of the Flemish to the holocaust and denying every form of criticism by calling it simplistic perception. this offends and stigmatizes a large part of the Flemish population and this type of statements are picked upon by less and less people.

The Antwerp city Council would do well to look at the connection and networking between women who rise up for their right to continue wearing the headscarf everywhere because it's obligatory and between organizations that also have this issue high up on their agenda. This would give insight into whom people are dealing with and what this is about. The issue is much more pressing than the extent to which a headscarf is allowed or not. The current bandanna discussion is also absurd [Antwerp agreed to allow daycare workers to put on a bandanna]

The city council will not get information about the networking of organizations with radical standpoints via this or the other intelligence service. This information must be collected at mosques and organizations, who show how the subgroups are organized. And especially through the experience of fieldworkers, who often know well who works at integration and wants a diverse society and who only pursue their own agenda, helped by unknowing politicians and supported by a media that puts political correctness above objective reporting. Hopefully you will be able to laugh about it before it's forbidden as well.

Maybe you'll be allowed to smile, just as you'll be allowed small Easter eggs and Christmas trees.

Source: Brussels Journal (Dutch)

Denmark: Hizb ut-Tahrir's annual conference

Hizb ut-Tahrir in Denmark gathered Sunday for the movement's six-hour annual conference.  The conference caused calls from politicians to ban the movement, mainly from the Danish Social Liberal Party (Radikale) and the Danish People's Party.

Fadi Addullatif, the movement's spokesperson, said in response that Denmark is becoming a dictatorship, just like those Denmark criticizes in the Middle East.  He said such developments blur the difference between the dictatorships and the European governments.  However, he is not worried about Hizb ut-Tahrir's future, calling the calls to ban the movement election propaganda.  Danish attorney general Henning Fode had said in 2004 that there was no judicial basis to ban the organization.

Justice Minister Lene Espersen had said several months ago that it might be time to review the question, if there was proof that the organization was acting violently.  This was after Abdullatif was sentenced to 60 days in prison for inciting against Jews ('kill them all, wherever you find them') and threatening the life of PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Last year's conference called on members to join a holy war and sought Muslim leaders who reached for the sword and not for words.

Simon Emil Ammitzbøll, of the Social Liberal Party party, said it is time to stop prosecuting members of the organization individually, as there is enough evidence that the organization calls for violence and incites hatred against Jews.

Fadi Abdullatif said that the conference was only peaceful debate and explanation about Hizb ut-Tahrir's declared goal to establish an Islamic Caliphate.  There are many myths about he Caliphate and it is therefore important to explain more about it.  He said many people think it is a theocracy, but it is far from it.  He expected a large portion of the country's Muslims to take part, including several Copenhagen imams.

Regarding cooperation with other Muslim organizations, Abdullatif said that there have been several preliminary meetings and concrete issues have been discussed on how to improve Muslim's social, cultural and identity problems, but there haven't been concrete initiatives.  A series of big debate-meetings are scheduled for the fall.

About 1000-1500 men, women and children showed up for Sunday's conference, most of immigrant background.  Most women wore face-covering veils but the men mostly just wore darker colors and the teenagers wore the usual Danish clothing.

A quick check by Berlingske Tidende showed that most people were not members of the party, but rather supporters to various degrees.

The meeting started with greetings from the organization's leader, Ata Abu Rashta, who urged his followers to follow Muhammad's example, but also brought up Saladin, who conquered Jerusalem from the European crusaders.  Those present were urged to fight the current "Jewish state".  However, he did not go on with more detailed threats against Jewish citizens.  He finished by urging his follower to fight to establish the Caliphate.

One of the youngest present was Mahshaf Zmir, a 15 year old student of the Pakistani Jinna International School.  He told Berlingske Tidende that he was not a member, but he agrees with Hizb ut-Tahrir's opinions and thinks that many young Danish Muslims do so as well.  He is now interested in becoming a member.

Photographer Jacob Holdt, who has followed Hizb ut-Tahrir trying to start a dialog with them, said he often succeeds, but not in such big conferences.  If you invite them home for coffee, they are really so sweet, he said, but these conferences remind him of Christian revivalist meetings (such as the Danish Inner Mission) who dream of heaven and cry over injustice.  Holdt said the battle-cry "Allah is greatest" could be confused with the "Red Front!" but that it was easy to see that this belonged to a very marginalized group in society.  He doesn't think that the organization is in a position of much influence.

Journalists were not welcome at the conference.

Sources: Berlingske Tidende 1, 2 (Danish), Politiken (Danish), Copenhagen Post (English)

See also: Copenhagen: Imams cooperating with Hizb ut-Tahrir

Stories of Life: Domestic violence

The following article was written by Marij Uijt den Bogaard , a former social worker working for the Antwerp municipality. She was fired after writing reports warning about radicalization in the Muslim community. The article originally appeared on Brussels Journal in Dutch.


Fatima looks embittered.

'You're so naive,' she says, 'tell that to the marines, that goes for you!"

Fatima is a good story-teller, and the subject is the meaning of marriage in traditional Islam; she talks about overcrowded refuge homes with an ever growing representation of her sisters, Muslim women, escaping the violence and severe conflicts inside families. The women are homeless and end up in refuge homes; where they now make up 53% of the inhabitants.

A Muslim background often plays an important role in violence and severe conflicts inside 'immigrant' families, as a result of the Muslim notion of marriage in traditional Islam. According to Fatima Muslim marriage for most immigrant women is a final destination. And this is nothing more or less than a business contract. It entails a certain number of rights and duties, for the husband as well as for the wife, she explains. Children are part of this contract.

Women coming here (the Netherlands) via marriage, grew up in villages with a traditional way of living. Existence knew in the homelands little stimuli for development. No luxury or comfort. Women come to our country because of the difference in prosperity, away from the futureless villages.

For Muslims marriage is obligatory. Thus, if it comes to marriage, then preferably with a man who can offer a leather 3-piece suite, car and washing-machine. So they come and marry, have children, as part of the contract, an arranged marriage. They are not accustomed to think for themselves. Where should they have learned that? Everything is fixed in advance for women in the traditional Islamic village life. Survival depends upon development of qualities like obedience to the parents, Koran and later the husband, performing one's obligations.

From birth to death others regulate her life. Love? That will come later, when children are born. Or not, and then mothers see children as a burden, an inevitable part of the contract. In a loveless marriage upbringing is limited to giving primary care. In traditionally arranged marriages, concluded only for economic reasons, this is too often the case. Primary care means clothes, food and shelter. Affection and giving an education is not included.

As long as the whole family behaves inside its own subgroup , the virtual village in Antwerp North, Borgerhout or other suburbs requiring "particular attention" (aandachtwijk), where many import-brides from traditional villages land, all is well. There's a taboo about problems like violence inside traditional Islamic families. Everyone knows about it, "you" as well as "we", Fatima says.

Is the above mentioned story about an Islamic marriage and its connection with domestic violence stigmatizing? Do I want to insult? No, this description of the situation of women from Turkish and Moroccan origin comes from the many Fatimas I have talked to during my fieldwork in one of the area's for special attention. Their sisters overcrowd the refuge homes, just like the situation is in the Netherlands. Through often arranged marriages, blinded by the leather 3-piece suite, Fatima's sisters land here in Flanders. Within our Flemish cities there are several virtual villages where the prevailing opinions and life patterns are the same as those in the Rif mountains or in the Turkish countryside.

The Fatima's never learned there to stand up for themselves, or to insist on equal rights. Self-determination does not exist. Islam decides what is the role and duty or protection of a women. Her life and the quality of her life is dependent on her husband and nothing can change that, not even in Borgerhout of Antwerp North. The husband rules over her right for self determination. He decides whether she may or may not go out, and that also goes for getting a driving license or making a trip to the other side of the town. Her freedom is for him to decide. And how about it, if Fatima wants more?

Then, sooner than in a Flemish family, physical violence may occur. Because Islam opens it up for interpretation, leaves the possibility open. And it is allowed by her direct social environment.

Does this mean that every Muslim husband beats his wife? No, of course not, but it does mean that a little to many Muslims do. Refuge homes are overcrowded! It also means that Muslims justify this as allowed by the Prophet, Koran, imam and Islam. Whenever they address Flemings or the media, spokesmen of the Muslim condemn this, of course. But this does not mean that they urge revision of sexist texts of the Koran within their own subgroups. Nor preventive campaigns are organized against violence on women by immigrant moderates.

In an interview with The Brussels Journal, Theodore Dalrymple already put his finger on the fact that inside our western society there are groups of people living in a totalitarian climate. God forbid that we allow totalitarian enclaves to grow in Flanders! If we do tolerate this, these enclaves will flood us, and we will loose our freedom. So we should not evade the discussion with the traditional Muslims about the results of economical migration via marriage and domestic violence on the grounds of the set phrases and contra-arguments. We do not want to stigmatise, but we know that Fatima is right. Marriage-migration comes down to economic aspects and leads to overcrowded refuge homes with women seeking refuge against serious conflicts and domestic violence. Result of arranged marriages on economic grounds, with an increase of every form of social underprivileged poverty, as appear from school drop-outs, poor positions on the labour market and overcrowded sanctuaries.

Of course, women in the virtual villages talk among themselves about these and other problems.

Once a young woman with headscarf asked my advice. Her husband used co come home in the most impossible hours and then dinner had to be ready, or she risked a severe admonition to hurry up! The Islamic advice of one of her sisters was: in the first place read the Koran often, and kindly but restrictedly draw the attention if her husband to the fact that he ought to behave like a good Muslim and that her opinion should be observed also. And above all, pray to Allah.

I hope that women in the refuge homes see the difference between Flemish assistance, based on legal rights, and Islamic advice. For this difference is a socially important discussion, as spokesmen of all sorts and conditions of men undoubtedly will claim that those overcrowded refuge homes came into being because the normal assistance did not sufficiently take into account the cultural background of Muslims in general. In other words: again society is to blame, the threshold for assistance is too high! Assistance ought to be more directed on islamic customs? For the sake of women, I hope not!

We dare not breathe a word about reality, when husbands slap women because dinner is not ready on the table. He can do that, she should read the Koran mentioning that right. We also don't say that assistance is especially not accessible because it lies outside the virtual village.

Without a proper knowledge of language, it is difficult to travel independently. For that reason social support that openly disapproves of violence always remains unattainable for the women who, fleeing domestic violence of traditional Muslims, land homeless in refuge homes.

Whenever the media report these problems, they immediately put the finger on questions of exclusion from the labour market and housing. Nobody ever mentions the low level of independence of these women, their low education, their restricted knowledge of language, limiting their chances for a job, and their growing numbers in social housing. They always point to society and the holy trinity of discrimination, racism and exclusion. Never to the influence of Islamic, traditional culture and convictions in the family and the life of women. Even less do they mention the social responsibility we all bear.

Apart from overcrowded refuge homes, as a result of our tolerance, helpless people are killed. Five children, victims of a mad woman who, according to her sister in the media could not cope with the lovelessness of her contract. And a father, who did not understand what is was all about, in light of his absence during a month in Morocco. Who wishes this fate to a parent, be it a father or a mother? Nobody.

But what do we do, so tolerant as we are. We look the other way! Sure of our business – understanding culture and convictions is good – fits into the leftist way of thinking. Whoever disagrees with this, is completely wrong, is at the least a dung-beetle or a racist. "Violence is not at all colour-bound, is no exception in all sorts of families", says the Left-wing. Yes, true, but not with approval of the social environment or based upon fundamental disparity, seen out of convictions as a right of the man over the women.

Of course we do not point our finger to a deeply distressed man, who lost five of his children, or to the connection between culture and convictions. And certainly not to the possible connection with this hypothesis and the mother's action, who took her children with her on her voyage to death. Human grief never has a colour. But that does not free us from our social responsibility to put this theme on the agenda. To resist taboos on what can or can not be discussed. And to form, starting from a realistic view, a correct image about cause and consequence. About the position of women inside traditional Islam and overcrowded refuge homes. Past the spokesmen and tittering women with headscarves and wisecracks, claiming that this "is not Islam". For it most certainly is, in light of reality. Others Fatima is right when she says "tell this to the marines".
Time for a little less naivety and more openness about the rules of the game in our society, applied to everybody, regardless of origin and above every ideology.

Source: Brussels Journal (Dutch)

See also: Stories of Life: Speaking Dutch, Stories of Life: Working with a Moroccan Colleague

Netherlands: Poll on Jami attack

Was it right to attack Ehsan Jami? Jami, who heads the committee for ex-Muslims, was attacked in his hometown.

A poll on marokko.nl, a Dutch language Moroccan forum, came up with the following results:
"Yes, he is against Islam" - 35.81%
"No, you conduct a discussion with your mouth" - 60.97%
"Euh, don't know" - 3.22%

Source: marokko.nl (Dutch)

Antwerp: Muslims want complete neutrality

The Antwerp trade union representative Badia Miri says that if Muslim women working for the municipality can't wear a veil while dealing with clients in order to guarantee neutrality, then the city shouldn't be putting out Christmas trees in the municipality building, or passing out Easter eggs.

Miri is one of seven Muslim women who must take off their veil if they want to continue working by the city counter. Of the seven Antwerp municipal workers who had worn a veil by the counter, three had taken it off. Other positions were sought for the others. Nobody was fired. However, there is still opposition to the clothing regulations which were implemented in March. The seven Muslims are now pushing for truly enforcing neutrality.

"The Antwerp city council claims that neutrality suffers if personnel wear a cross or veil," says Miri. But she says that their experience is that action is taken only against the Muslim women. "If the city council is truly committed to neutrality than there should be no more Christmas trees or Easter eggs at work." Miri says they want a place where they can report all infringements of the clothing regulations.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

See also: Antwerp: Protest against veil ban , Antwerp: Municipal veil ban drawing protest, Brussels: Veil forbidden

Stories of Life: Working with a Moroccan Colleague

The following article was written by Marij Uijt den Bogaard , a former social worker working for the Antwerp municipality. She was fired after writing reports warning about radicalization in the Muslim community. The article originally appeared on Brussels Journal in Dutch.


"Well..," says colleague Mohammed. "Women are simply not accepted by the Muslim community. Therefore women also better not do this work [as neighborhood worker or integration civil servant]" He looks at me somberly. "That is just the way it is, and therefore I prefer not to work with a woman, that simply doesn't work."

Mohammed doesn't think that this mentality about women and work is wrong. In fact, whoever questions them is wrong because it is his culture and belief, therefore he accepts it, he "understands" it, we don't and therefore we must learn this, till we "understand" as well.

He sighs. Yesterday it came to a collision with his female colleague, a Flemish, who hierarchically is above him. Together with a small team of often immigrant coworkers, she cares for meaningful free time activities for the mostly Moroccan youth in the neighborhood. His female colleague is also close to despair. Working together with Mohammed is not plain sailing.

She has no support from her Moroccan colleagues. On the contrary, slowly but surely she's being frozen out. Whenever she appears in the square several older man gather round her and start speaking Berbers with her male colleagues. "They want to marry you," her male colleagues of Moroccan origin laugh, "because we said that you're not married." In the evening the men wait for her and trouble her, why won't she? Several girls of Moroccan origin take her phone, her colleagues look the other way, also when older kids who always start discussions with her kick her shins till they're blue and threaten her.

She didn't want to discuss the complete lack of fellowship, the negative attitude of the Moroccan colleagues. Her problem was Mohammed. He didn't want to work together with her. He walked aways during an interview and went to pray in the meeting room, calling on Allah to stand by him in the discussion with a woman! Perplexity by his female colleague.

Naturally she submitted her conflict with Mohammed, praying in the meeting room, to the management. Yes, it's annoying, but now what? The problem was pushed to the staff manager. Of whom came, strangely enough, a completely absurd accusation. Not Mohammed, but rather the female coworker, had overstepped her bounds. She had threatened Mohammed and provoked aggression.

How? By questioning his actions. Yes, that's what Mohammed had said. To the staff manager of course.. The female colleague stands as if hit by lighting. She doesn't weigh half as much as Mohammed, she would be mad to wake up aggression by somebody who could wipe her off the map, Mohammed is also a kickboxer, she is not that crazy! She's left with her feeling of powerlessness. Not Mohammed. In this conflict she's the bitten dog.

Her complaint about Mohammed's behavior was not taken seriously anywhere. It should be, since Mohammed discriminates against women in the workplace, and he is accused by female colleagues of sexual intimidation, and above all he doesn't offer help to a colleague who has to deal with violence from the target group.

And this for the simple reason that women shouldn't do this work, because they are unacceptable for Mohammed and the target group, we must understand that, end of story.

Nobody speaks to Moahmmed about this completely wrong mentality towards women. Worse still: We assume that by employing Mohammed the target group is "better reachable". In actuality, the effect is usually the opposite. Mohammed supports the target group, shares a wrong mentality and doesn't think to do anything differently.

And because nobody has the courage to approach Mohammed about the behavior that would be unacceptable for any other civil servant, we continue running on the spot, polarization and segregation increase and with a welfare system of thousands of field workers we don't achieve a mentality change, with respect for everybody regardless of origin, sex or belief.

If policy waits any longer, soon Brussels will be too small for everybody who's had enough. Because these disparities disrupt society. Not skin color, but the behavior of target groups causes people to be rejected at work, discotheques and swimming pools. It is time for whoever has had enough to get together, in the interest of everybody.

Source: Brussels Journal (Dutch)

See also: Stories of Life: Speaking Dutch

Europe: No need to worry about Islamization

Muhammad is the second most popular name for newborn boys in Britain if you add together the various spellings. In the Seine-St-Denis suburb of Paris, Mohamed is number one. In the four biggest Dutch cities in 2005, either Mohamed or Mohammed came top.

Facts such as these have led some pundits to forecast the Islamicisation of Europe - a future "Eurabia". Bernard Lewis, a scholar of Islam, cited the immigration from Muslim countries and relatively high birth rates of immigrants as trends that mean "Europe will have Muslim majorities in the population by the end of the 21st century at the latest".

Most academics who have analysed the demographics dismiss such predictions.

Jytte Klausen, a professor of politics at Brandeis University who studies European Muslims, says: "It's being advocated by people who don't consult the numbers. All these claims are really emotional claims." Sometimes they are made by Muslim or far-right groups who share an interest in exaggerating the numbers.

Nominal Muslims - whether religious or not - account for 3-4 per cent of the European Union's total population of 493m. Their percentage should rise but far more modestly than the extreme predictions.

That is chiefly because Muslims in Europe and in the main "emigrating countries" of Turkey and north Africa are having fewer babies. "Nobody knows how many Muslims there are in Europe," says Ms Klausen.

Few European states ask citizens about religious beliefs. Estimates based on national origins suggest that 16m nominal Muslims live in the EU. There are about 5m in France, 3.3m in Germany and 1.5m-2m in the UK.

"Berlin is a Muslim city, Paris is a Muslim city, and even Madrid or Turin to some degree ," Jocelyn Cesari, an expert on European Muslims at Harvard University, has said.

The EU's most Islamic country is Bulgaria, where 1m Muslims account for about one-seventh of the population.

But the birth rates of Europe's Muslim immigrants, though still above the EU's average, are falling. The fertility rate of north African women in France has been dropping since 1981, say Jonathan Laurence and Justin Vaisse in their book, Integrating Islam. "The longer immigrant women live in France, the fewer children they have; their fertility rate app-roaches that of native-born French women."

At the last count, Algerian women living in France averaged an estimated 2.57 children, against 1.94 for French women overall.

The decline in birth rates is more dramatic in north Africa itself. Women there use contraceptives more and have babies later than they did. In Algeria and Morocco 35 years ago, the average woman had seven children. According to the United Nations, it is now 2.5 in Algeria (about the same as Turkey), 2.8 in Morocco, and falling in all of them.

The US Central Intelligence Agency's World Factbook has even lower estimates of Algerian, Tunisian and Turkish birth rates: below France's rate and below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman. Emigrating countries are no longer exporting high birth rates to Europe.

Northern Europe has experienced a rebound in fertility.Several countries have introduced policies - such as more generous parental leave and better childcare - to encourage people to have babies.

France's birth rate is near the replacement level of 2.1. The UK's fertility rate is at its highest since 1980, thanks largely to older or immigrant mothers - only a minority of whom were Muslims. The number of babies born in Germany has rebounded since the post-war low recorded in 2005. Cash incentives appear to have helped, but birth rates in southern and eastern Europe remain low.

The US National Intelligence Council predicts there will be between 23m and 38m Muslims in the EU in 2025 - 5-8 per cent of the population. But after 2025 the Muslim population should stop growing so quickly, given its falling birth rate.

In short, Islamicisation - let alone sharia law - is not a demographic prospect for Europe.

Source: Financial Times (English)

See also: What about the Europeans?

What about the Europeans?

WARNING: The following is an attempt at sarcasm. It is also an attempt to stimulate thought.

Before reading, please watch both of Pat Condell's clips: Islam in Europe and What about the Jews?

Pat Condell is an atheist and a comedian. He's against religious coercion wherever it happens and by whomever it happens. Muslims, Christians, Jews - they all get a piece of his mind. He recently put out a video about Islam in Europe, but I must admit he surprised me.


For that, let's go back to Pat Condell's video about the Jews. Condell likes the Jews since as he says, "whereas Muslims and Christians want everybody else to believe what they believe, Jews don't give a damn what you believe as long as you leave them alone." The anti-religious-coercionist's friends, so to speak.

His gripe then? Jews insist on having Jerusalem, which, according to Condell, is an Arab town. Why do they want to start a nuclear war over a town which should be razed down in any case?

I am not going to debate Condell about the reasons why Jews are so attached to Jerusalem. I doubt Condell is really interested or cares about history and culture. Not when it's not his own, of course.

Condell does care about European civilization though. He feels Muslims are attacking his civilization and at that point, the same reasoning that he applies to the Jews doesn't apply to him or other Europeans.

You want to start a worldwide war over a couple of cartoons and you say the Jews are mad for wanting to live in Jerusalem? You're against banning a protest against the Islamization of Europe but want to give in to Ahmadinejad when he threatens to wipe Israel off the map? Your logic fails me.

I think the Europeans would do themselves a big favor if they came to their senses and let go of their western civilization. Keep Europe secular, by all means. But you don't need Brussels, London, Amsterdam or Paris.

Europe has proven itself. It's not to be trifled with. We get that now. But Brussels is not a European town. It's an Arab town and it's time we all started to live in reality, before reality imposes itself on us in the most unpleasant manner.

You have a problem with Sharia law, Condell? Then move to a country which doesn't contemplate implementing it. Don't drag everybody down with you.

You're bigger than that, Condell.

Oh, and when England does implement Sharia law, maybe the (Islamic) world will even thank you for it. Wouldn't that be a turn up for the books.


Update (The Non-Sarcastic Version):

Judaism is a religion, but long before it was your everyday religion, it was a nation with a living culture. If you want to give Jerusalem to the Muslims and sacrifice Israel and Jewish nationhood on the alter of 'making peace', don't be surprised when those same Muslims later demand that the European cities where they're a majority will be run the Muslim way. Israel cannot survive as a nation or as a culture without Jerusalem, much like England cannot survive without London or France without Paris. This is even more critical for the Jews. Without the national ties to the land, as signified by Jerusalem, they have no right to be in Tel Aviv or Haifa either, as Pat Condell would like to believe.

If you think "making the world happy" is a good enough reason to sacrifice one's civilization, don't be surprised when the same is demanded of you.

Stories of Life: Speaking Dutch

Last week the city of Copenhagen announced it will have all 5-year-olds do a language exam, to check their language skills. This brought the Danish People's Party to suggest that immigrant parents, for example those speaking Arabic, Urdu or Turkish, be encouraged by both the municipality and teachers to speak Danish at home. Their suggestion was rejected by other politicians.

It is of course not only immigrant children who may have problems. A recent news report reported that even ethnic Danish children can have language problems, when they're brought up by au-pairs who don't speak the language. However a Danish child is much more likely to spend time with other Danish children, hear Danish on radio or TV etc.

The following article was written by Marij Uijt den Bogaard , a former social worker working for the Antwerp municipality. She was fired after writing reports warning about radicalization in the Muslim community. The article originally appeared on Brussels Journal in Dutch, and I bring it here with my translation.

The issue of language learning is not something all Turks ignore. In a study about Turkish marriage migration done by Antwerp University, one woman raised in Belgium and married to a Turkish man was asked about her child's language skills:

Interviewer: Do you think your child will have trouble with Dutch?
Response: I don't think so, but I will first speak with my child Dutch at home, because anyway she will learn Turkish from her surroundings.. we live here and thus we must speak Dutch.

This view was echoed by other interviewees. It is a sad state of affairs when a child growing up in Antwerp will never hear Dutch spoken on the street. It would be even sadder if the parents assumed their child will learn Dutch nonetheless.


She laughs and says, "Naturally I'm happy that my daughter can go to childcare, but there's also a disadvantage, she learns Flemish there!". I look surprised at my colleague, a young mother with a baby daughter. We're drinking a cup of tea together, and as often happens by female colleagues we speak about the children. My colleague, of Turkish origin, grew up in Flanders, Turkey is the land of her parents which she knows of vacations, but she sees it as a problem that her two year old daughter repeats Dutch words at home, words that she had been taught with much patience at the nursery.

"But don't you want your daughter to learn Flemish?" I ask,"It's good if she will soon start kindergarten." But my colleague doesn't agree. For her it is obvious that as a parent you first teach your kid Turkish. Only once Turkish is spoken well, then it's Dutch's turn. "The school takes care of that," says my colleague.

The effort that the nursery expands to teach toddlers some Dutch is thwarted at home to benefit Turkish language development. Because this, and not Dutch, decides who your are, where you belong.

Curious as I am, I ask for the reason. My colleague herself speaks Dutch well. Her husband, who had come five years ago from Turkey, doesn't yet. You would think that speaking Dutch correctly, also at home, creates possibilities for her husband, who can't find work because he "doesn't speak Flemish" and for her daughter, who will start kindergarten in six months.

"But Turkish," she explains to me, "is a part of your identity, therefore is it important that kids first learn to speak Turkish and not Flemish. More than that it's the language of the family, uncles and aunts, of newspapers and television, of stores and mosque, Flemish is really barely spoken among Turks, this way we keep our identity alive in Flanders," explains my colleague.

Naturally there's nothing wrong with people being proud and wanting to stay with their origins, but what if these "customs" cost society dearly? Because the opinion of my colleague is not marginal, in most Turkish and Moroccan families language is seen as part of the identity and children are deliberately not brought up in Dutch. The consequences, a bad start at school, dropping out by secondary school and going on the job market without a diploma, are never seen as related and that is strange because it seems to me logical that there's a connection between language development and learning problems.

Naturally the beginning civil servant is taught, during the obligatory course of intercultural education, how you should look at this and all other problems. With a film about the first generation of Dutch in Australia sitting next to Dutch cuckoo clocks musing about Dutch food civil servants learn that there's nothing wrong, since you see, Dutch do it too!

It's not like that; but you can't object aloud during the obligatory training. Because unlike the Turks and Moroccans, the children and grandchildren of that generation don't speak Dutch anymore, because their identity in the new land must be maintained by the language.

Their descendants barely differentiate themselves from Australians, they don't shop at their own stores to buy Dutch cheese at any cost, and they read more than just De Telegraaf. Neither do they watch Andre Van Duin every evening by satellite. The social life of their children is not limited only to other Dutch. Neither do they go to work with clogs because they think they must. After the first generation the Dutch in Australia are completely integrated, and that's they way it must be because whoever doesn't work is not truly welcome.

But beginning civil servants in Flanders regularly get this film served up, to urge them to understanding. The two year old daughter of my Turkish colleague is not really helped by that, but she will be if a colleague would point out that speaking Dutch at home would possibly give her husband more opportunities for work and in any case give her daughter a better start in education.

Because everybody says that everything's ok nobody dares to speak straight out to Turkish of Moroccan parents, although this is important to many children.

Naturally education contributes greatly to language development and it's a part of your identity. But it's not the school's job to be fully responsible for language education. That is really up to the parents, who should make sure that their kid can develop as much as possible and will have the best starting point that they can offer as parents. That both parents are fluent in the language is an absolute condition that can't be reached just through an integration course. More Dutch should be spoken in the family, more Flemish television and newspapers, books! A mentality change is needed by many Turkish and Moroccan parents, towards Flemish society.

It is in a child's interest to develop their Flemish at home as well, starting from birth on! Childcare workers don't know what to do with all the children for whom the "other identity" is most important at home. Naturally the comparison that parents make between their own situation and that of their children doesn't hold up. The second generation got a lot of extra help and attention and that was possible because there were much fewer of them than the case is now with children who don't speak the language.

But also for the second generation there were consequences, despite of that. My Turkish colleague-civil servant, who now diligently "cures" her daughter of the language, did not finish her higher education, and she blames her poor language development on the nuns who let her and her friends talk too much Turkish at school! If we want more Turkish and Moroccan children to do better at school, we must talk with Turkish and Moroccan parents about the concept of identity. Only when the parents are convinced of the importance of the Dutch language for their children, will there be better results in education and work.

Anybody who comes in contact with young parents should emphasize the importance of this. Young children should be checked if they react to simple words or not. And if not, there should be measures to show parents what their responsibilities are. What we shouldn't do in any case is not to conduct this dialog on a large scale. Or continue to talk about discrimination and racism as the only causes of learning problems. The reasons are also due to the "new Flemish" themselves. It is time to start an open discussion about it, beyond the grumbling about respect and understanding, beyond the Turkish and Moroccan identity.

Sources: Berlingske Tidende 1, 2 (Danish), Copenhagen Post (English), Antwerp University study (Dutch), Brussels Journal (Dutch)

See also: Antwerp: Daring to tell the truth about radicalization

Norway: Interest in interest-free banks

Muslims groups in Norway are currently working to set up an interest-free bank.  Close to 100 people registered at the website of amanah.no within a few days.  Mhammad Answar, the initiator of amanah.no says that many Muslims don't take a house loan because it is forbidden by Islam and therefore they rent their whole lives.  Many Muslims have wanted an interest free bank for years.

More and more European banks have been adding Sharia services.  Instead of interest the banks take rent for the house.  The buyers pay in addition an extra amount as a down payment on the loan.

According to amanah.no an interest free loan of 1,350,000 kroner (~$228,000) will cost 8,700 kroner (~$1470) a month for 25 years.

Source: Hegnar online (Norwegian)

Netherlands: Jami has taken things too far

Co-founder of the committee for ex-Muslims Loubna Berrada thinks that Ehsan Jami has taken it too far with his comments on Islam. She says this in the AD on Thursday. "It was much too extreme and his comments put us in danger. Not only him, but me too."

The committee stands up for the right for every individual to choose his own faith or turn away from his religion. Jami has been assaulted in the last few months and has received death threats. He has been under extra protection for just over a week now.

"In the beginning phase we planned just to give three interviews, but before I knew it he had given thirty. He had called the Koran backwards, and the prophet Mohammed a criminal. He just kept on going. I didn't know what he was doing. You don't create any support doing that, you just make people angry," says Berrada.

She decided to resign from the committee, but changed her mind a day later because she feels its purpose is so important. "But then I heard that I was no longer welcome. Perhaps my statements are too nuanced, I don't know. I've not been able to contact Ehsan since so I can't ask him."

Berrada feels that Ehsan insults people who are Muslim. "He is also causing my family, who are still Muslim, a great deal of pain. Besides it is all just about him now."

Source: Expatica (English)

See also: Netherlands: Support for ex-Muslims, Netherlands/Belgium news roundup

Sweden: Muslim groups to exhibit Mohammad "dog" sketches

Two Muslim groups have indicated their willingness to exhibit controversial sketches by artist Lars Vilks after galleries in western Sweden declined to show the artworks.

Inspired by Sweden's recent 'roundabout dogs' craze, Vilks composed a series of sketches portraying the Muslim prophet Muhammad as just such a creature.

The well-known artist took his pictures to galleries in Värmland and Bohuslän. However, both refused to show the drawings on the grounds that the security risk was too great.

But now two groups - the Secular Muslims in Sweden (Semus) network and the magazine Minaret - have taken a joint decision to exhibit the sketches.

"This will take place at an established musical and cultural venue in Stockholm. Negotiations are underway and I think it will be ready at the beginning of next week," Semus spokesman Hooman Anvari told news agency TT.

Anvari believes that there is a very good chance that the exhibition will go ahead as planned. .

"Partly because there's a public interest in generating a nuanced discussion on this issue and partly because Lars Vilks has agreed to participate," he said.

While he himself considers the drawings to be tasteless, Anvari is adamant that they should be put on display.

"Our intention is to create a nuanced debate around freedom of speech, religious freedom and democracy. These issues tend to cause polarization if they are not tackled in the right way," he said.

Source: The Local (English)


My blog has recently been rather quiet and for that I apologize.
There are still news stories to be translated but they are rather

In the upcoming weeks I will be concentrating on the following:

1. Off-blog writing to which I had committed myself
2. Correspondence (I've fallen behind)
3. Reviews of books and studies I had read recently (and less recently)
4. Translations of articles I had put aside

I will still be bringing interesting news stories as they appear.

Scotland: Doctors given Ramadan guidelines

Professionals, especially those dealing with life threatening situations, should not impair their capabilities, even for religious practice. Who makes sure that fasting doctors are capable of treating patients?

HOSPITAL staff in the Lothians have been told not to eat at their desks to avoid offending Muslim colleagues during Ramadan.

NHS Lothian has advised doctors and other health workers not to have working lunches during the 30-day fast, which begins next month.

The health service's Equality and Diversity Officer sent an e-mail to all senior managers, giving guidance on religious tolerance.

This includes ensuring Muslim staff are given breaks to pray, and time off to celebrate Eid at the end of Ramadan.

It is understood they also advised hospital managers to move food trolleys away from areas where Muslims work.

An NHS spokesman said he could not confirm what was in the e-mail.

Jim McCaffery, director of acute services and workforce at NHS Lothian, said: "This e-mail was circulated to a number of senior managers as we continue to promote cultural awareness in our organisation."

But the move has angered many doctors and politicians, who say it is taking religious tolerance too far.

Bill Aitken, Scottish Conservative justice spokesman, was reported as saying: "Frankly, this advice, well meaning as it may be, is total nonsense.

"This is the sort of thing that can stir up resentments rather than result in good relations."

Source: Scotsman (English) h/t Nieuw Religieus Peil

Netherlands: Support for ex-Muslims

Freedom to leave one's religion does appear in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.  Apparently, it's already part of the consensus.

Prominent Labour PvdA member Jos de Beus, professor of political science, has joined the support committee for ex-Muslims, as have columnist Theodor Holman, philosopher Paul Cliteur and at least 11 other well-known Dutch people.

The support committee – affiliated with the committee for ex-Muslims chaired by Ehsan Jami, under extra security since an attack just a week and a half ago – plans to ask 150 people, including the faction leaders in Parliament, to sign a statement soon. De Beus – an open critic of his own party – thinks that this topic is one that all parties should be concerned about.

"I want to make one simple point: everyone should be able to believe what they like, and anyone who wants to stop believing should be able to do so freely and safely. I don't think is a little game on the part of neoconservatives. It should be a part of the consensus in Europe."

Source: Expatica (English)

Netherlands: Why not call God Allah?

The simple reason - because one speaks Dutch in the Netherlands. God is Dutch (and English), Allah is Arabic. Arabic is a beautiful language, so why not just switch over completely?


The Bishop of Breda, Tiny Muskens, thinks "Allah" is a beautiful word for God and suggests it from now on. He is aware that using the name "Allah" would be very emotional and therefore he says it must be thought about, prepared and weighed in advance.

However, he is convinced it will happen, whether it be over a century or two. Muskens had worked in Indonesia for eight years and had prayed there to Allah, saying he had called God "Allah" during mass.

Source: Trouw (Dutch)

Oslo: Ambulance crew refuses to take patient

A 37-year-old man who was badly injured in an Oslo park last week, and then denied ambulance transport to a local hospital, remained in a coma Tuesday. His case has sparked a huge debate on latent racism within Norwegian society.

Ali Haji Mohamed Farah, a Somalian-Norwegian, initially was the victim of random aggravated assault in Oslo's Sofienberg Park last Monday afternoon. He'd been relaxing in the park with family and friends when someone playing football, also of African descent, allegedly assaulted him after a minor conflict.

Ali Farah was severely injured, and his condition may have worsened after ethnic Norwegian ambulance drivers arriving at the scene refused to take him to hospital. Witnesses say the ambulance personnel performed only a cursory examination, verbally abused him and left the scene, telling police to take the assault victim to a medical clinic instead.

Friends ended up getting Ali Farah into a taxi and took him to the clinic, where doctors determined serious head injuries. He has been in intensive care ever since, and doctors have postponed plans to wake him from a coma in the hopes of preventing permanent brain damage.

The ambulance team's refusal to treat and transport Ali Farah has set off a wave of protests, and embarrassed both the ambulance service, Ullevål Hospital and the police. Officials spent most of last week trying to blame each other, but since have been apologizing and trying to explain what happened.

Commentators, politicians and Ali Farah's family, meanwhile, are raising charges of racism, arguing it's unlikely the ambulance drivers would have abandoned a white Norwegian in need of medical help.

'Security risk?'

On Tuesday, newspaper VG reported that the ambulance dispatch service had listed Ali Farah as a security risk, and warned the drivers he'd been a troublesome patient on an earlier occasion. If a patient has behaved in a threatening manner, it's recorded in his or her electronic record and that information comes up on future emergency calls.

The warning, however, was made in error and Arild Østergaard of Ullevål told VG that there was no such information in Ali Farah's medical records. He was apparently mixed up with another patient, "and we apologize that incorrect information was released," Østergaard said.

The ambulance team has been suspended and the driver who left Ali Farah, who was supposed to leave this week for UN peacekeeping duties in the former Yugoslavia, was also suspended from military service.

He and his partner are under investigation by the police and health department officials for leaving a patient in need and making racially abusive statements. A man from Ghana, meanwhile, has been arrested, charged with the initial assault on Ali Farah.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

Edinburgh: Veil compromise

EDINBURGH'S bus drivers have been told they will not have to ask Muslim women to remove their veils after all.

A row broke out earlier this year in the wake of new guidelines issued to Lothian Buses staff as part of a crackdown on fare cheats.

Drivers said they had been told to tell women to lift their veils or produce photo ID if they wanted to use a bus pass.

The move sparked anger in some sections of the Muslim community, with at least one woman said to have walked off a bus.

But bus chiefs today insisted the new rules had been misunderstood and have issued fresh guidelines insisting that drivers should never ask for a veil to be removed. The firm has also worked with some of the city's faith groups to produce a multilingual guide that explains the different options open to Edinburgh's veiled women who want to use a bus pass.

Lothian Buses, managing director Ian Craig said today: "We felt that it was important to lay down clear and concise guidelines for both our staff and passengers.

"Since we issued the original guidelines to our drivers, we have worked closely with the trade union and inter-faith groups to fine-tune the procedure, making sure they know how to interact with our different passenger groups delicately and discreetly."

The "clarified" guidelines state that veiled passengers can either show a passport or driving licence, or, of their own choice, lift the veil to prove it is their bus pass. Alternatively, they can pay the fare if they are not comfortable with either option.

Unions and faith groups today welcomed the leaflet explaining the new rules. Rubeela Umar, of the Pakeeza Women's Group, a support group for Muslim women in Edinburgh, said: "We were asked to come along and get involved with the drawing up of the new leaflet.

"The idea that women would be asked to lift their veils on buses is not very nice, so it is good to have it finally sorted out.

"There are some Muslim women who are not comfortable about getting on buses because they maybe feel out of place, but I hope clearing up the situation about veils will make them less feel awkward."

The new leaflet explains that Ridacard applications from veiled passengers can be handled by female staff in private if requested. Passengers have the choice of taking off their veil for photographs or presenting a passport-type approved photo of their own.

If a passenger chooses the latter option then they will still need to momentarily lift their veil so staff can verify it is the same person.

Rab Fraser, branch chairman of the Transport and General Workers Union, said: "We believe Lothian Buses have handled the whole issue with the best interests of our members and passengers."

Victor Spence, general secretary of the Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association, added: "It is a good idea to clear up any possible confusion with the leaflet."

Source: Scotsman (English)

Sweden: Flights to Iraq stopped

All Swedish air traffic to Iraq has been cancelled until further notice, the Swedish Civil Aviation Authority has announced.

The decision was taken on Friday afternoon, after it was revealed that a Swedish passenger aircraft had been shot at in north-eastern Iraq as it took off on Wednesday night.

"We have made this decision in order to protect the safety of both passengers and crew," said Eva Axne, head of air safety at the authority.

Two airlines, Viking Airlines and Nordic Airways, currently fly regularly between Sweden and Iraq.

Crew members on a Nordic Airways MD-83, carrying 130 passengers, reported seeing someone firing shots at the plane as it took off on Wednesday night.

Source: The Local (English)

Italy: Court discriminates against Muslim girls

Apparently, if you're a Moroccan in Italy you don't have the same rights as ethnic Italians.

The Italian supreme court recently rejected an appeal by the prosecution in the case of a Moroccan girl who had been beaten by her family, her parents and her brother. The appeal was rejected on the grounds that it was for her own good and for her non-conformity with their culture, she had gone out with a friend and her life style was not accepted by her parents.

This story starts in 2003 when the parents of Fatima R. (19), a Muslim girl from Bologna, were sentenced for tying Fatima up and beating her. The court of appeals reversed the decision and this past week the supreme court confirmed it.

According to the Italian judges that girl had not been beaten out of anger and it was unusual for the father, who had only beat his daughter three times in his life.

According to the prosecution Fatima had been tied to a chair and released only to be brutally beaten. However the supreme court ruled that Fatima had threatened suicide out of her fear and that she had been tied up in order to prevent her from doing so.

Souad Sbai of the Italian Association of Moroccan Women said that this decision was worthy of an Arab country which observed sharia law. and accused the judges of applying a double standard in the name of multiculturalism. According to Sbai a Catholic father in a similar case would have been harshly punished. Sbai says that there is excessive tolerance towards certain behaviors both from the right and left wing, who prefer political correctness over applying the Italian law.

According to the Italian Association of Moroccan Women at least nine Muslim women have been killed by their relatives in the past year.

Source: Il Messaggero (Italian), Liberation (French)

See also: Germany: Judge supports "honor" crimes


Reply to Pat Condell's video: What about the Europeans?

Brussels: Anti-Islamization protest banned

Brussels mayor Freddy Thielemans has banned a protest against the "Islamisation" of Europe planned for 11 September, the anniversary of the suicide attacks on the US, his spokesman said Thursday.

The "Stop the Islamisation of Europe" (SIOE) group last month announced its intention to organise a protest in front of the European parliament building, six years after the suicide plane attacks in New York and Washington.

The group, which started in Denmark, considers Islam "a tool for introducing Islamic imperialistic politics."

On its website it argues: "Islam and democracy are incompatible due to teachings within the Koran itself."

The group hopes to bring thousands out onto the streets of the Belgian capital on 11 September. It is organising other protests to take place simultaneously around the world, notably in the United States, Canada and Australia.

But the mayor's spokesman Nicolas Dassonville said: "The danger to public order is too high," to allow the Brussels protest to go ahead.

"The sizeable foreign community living in the area could react to the action," he added.

The city of Brussels authorities receive between 500 and 600 requests to hold protests each year. In the last five years only six have been banned, said Dassonville.

Source: Expatica (English)

Wilders: Enough is enough

Dutch politician Geert Wilders has recently called, in an article in Dutch newspaper Volkskrant, to ban the Koran in the Netherlands. Klein Verzet had written a good summary of the background to Wilders' article and the responses it got (see Setting us up for another murder). I bring below a translation of this article


I've been shouting it already for years: moderate Islam does not exist. For whoever doesn't believe me: read the speech that the Italian author Oriana Fallaci, who unfortunately passed away last year, gave on Nov. 28, 2005 in New York, when she received an award in honor of her heroic opposition to Islamofascism and her fight for freedom (*): "Moderate Islam does not exist. It doesn't exist because there is no distinction between Good Islam and Bad Islam. There is Islam and that's all. And Islam is the Koran, and nothing but the Koran. And the Koran is the Mein Kampf of a religion which aims to eliminate others, that calls these others - non Muslims - infidel dogs, inferior creatures. Read that Koran, that Mein Kamp, once more. In whichever version than also you will see that all the evil that the sons of Allah began against us and themselves, originates in that book." (Oriana Fallaci, The Force of Reason, post-script, p. 305, Feb. 2006).'

Ehasn Jami is such an infidel dog, an apostate Muslim who had the guts to call the prophet Mohamed a criminal and to call certain regulations from the Koran backwards. And who had also gotten it into his head to stand up for other infidel dogs and has even established a committee for them. Allah thinks that apostasy deserves the death sentence. Last Saturday that almost became reality: the infidel Jami was attacked by two Moroccans and a Somali till he bled.

Enough is enough. Let us stop with political correctness rubbish. It's good that Jami is now protected and a disgrace that this hasn't happened earlier but it doesn't solve the root of the problem. The root of the problem is fascist Islam, the sick ideology of Allah and Mohamed as set down in the Islamic Mein Kampf: the Koran. The texts from the Koran leave little to the imagination.

In various suras Muslims are called upon to oppress, persecute or murder Jews, Christians, those of other faiths and non-believers, beat and rape women and using violence establish a worldwide Islamic state. Suras a plenty which call upon and incite Muslims to death and destruction.

Ban that wretched books like Mein Kampf is also banned! Give a sign in this way to the attackers of Jami and other Islamists that the Koran may never ever be used as inspiration or excuse for violence in our land.

How I'm ashamed of Dutch politicians. Their naivety and sick pursuit towards the Utopian moderate Islam that only brings to our land hell and damnation. How I'm ashamed of all those in the cabinet and the parliament who refuse to stop the Islamic invasion of the Netherlands. How I'm ashamed of Dutch politicians who day after day accept the over-representation of immigrants in crime and have no answer for it.

The Hague is full of cowardly people. Scared people who are born cowards and will die cowards. Who think and promote that Dutch culture will be based on a Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition. Who grant a general pardon to liars and criminals. Who look the other way when homosexuals are meanwhile attacked almost daily. Who want to introduce sharia mortgages.

Who meet with representatives of the terrorist Hamas. Who effectively work for the dictatorial Moroccan king. Who see extremists of the Muslim Brotherhood as discussion partners. Who allow Muslim men to refuse treatment of their sick wife by male doctors. Who don't care for the interest of the Dutch citizen and who collaborate with the transformation of the Netherlands into Nether-Arabia (Nederabië) as a province of the Islamic super-state Eurabia.

I've had enough of Islam in the Netherlands: no more Muslim immigrants. I've had enough of the worship of Allah and Mohamed in the Netherlands: no more mosques. I've had enough of the Koran in the Netherlands: ban that fascist book.

Enough is enough.

Source: Volkskrant (Dutch)

(*) ed. comment: Oriana Fallaci received the Center for the Study of Popular Culture's Annie Taylor Award in New York.

Norway: Force kids to go to kindergarten

Abid Raja, father of two, thinks half a day in kindergarten should be obligatory for 4 year old from non-Western countries, such as Pakistan, Somalia and Morocco. From the age of 5, children should be in kindergarten full time. The cause is that many children can't speak Norwegian when they begin school, because they don't go to kindergarten.

"It hinders integration that many immigrant children don't know a word of Norwegian as 6 year olds. The result is that they keep to each other instead of with Norwegian children" says Raja, who is a lawyer and member of the Liberal Party.

Jan Bøhler (Ap) recently proposed to withdraw financial support given to parents. 84% of immigrant families in Oslo keep their children home and receive financial support, compared with 30% of Norwegian families.

Abid Raja also thinks that the financial support given to parents is a big problem for integration of immigrants. A family can get up to 39,636 kroner a year (almost $7000) in financial support for keeping their children home. Raja believes many immigrant families are tempted because they get bad advice. Therefore the obligatory kindergartens should be free.

Gunn Karin Gjul of the labor party is skeptical of Raja's proposal. "I don't think we can require something that we don't require from ethnic Norwegians. IT is discrimination." says Gjul to VG.

The Stovner neighborhood of Oslo offers all families four hours of kindergarten daily for children over four. The offer is available for Norwegian families as well.

Source: utrop (Norwegian)

See also: Netherlands: Language problems in nursery school

Brussels: "An attack is just a matter of time"

Arthur van Amerongen, a Dutch journalist, had spent many years as a war correspondent in the middle east. He had spent the past year submerging himself in the Muslim world in Brussels. His sensational and sharply written book BXL Eurabia is as startling as it's hallucinatory. Belgian magazine Knack had seen the manuscript and invited the author for a talk.

In 2006 Van Amerongen won the prize for Dutch journalism (Prijs van de Nederlandse journalistiek) for a well-balanced story about Moroccans in Het Parool. In 2005 he won the Zilveren Reissmicrofoon (a prestigious Dutch radio award) for Inburgerking (Integration King), again a show about Moroccans.

Q: In Het Parool you wrote that you love Moroccans, despite the cowardly murder of Theo Van Gogh. After more than a year infiltrating the Muslim world in Brussels, you write that you can't stand most Moroccans. Where did it go wrong?

ARTHUR VAN AMERONGEN: Now I've left Brussels and there's some distance [between me and] my subject, I also have my powers of perspective back. In addition several incidents during the end of my stay in Brussels have somewhat branded me. I was molested by a group of Moroccans in Hoogstraat after they first called my girlfriend a whore and in reply I shouted at them "your sister". I also went through a couple of robberies. So the feeling for nuances disappeared.

I also had enormous difficulties with the double morale of their culture: on the one hand they're fanatical about their exalted morale and the superiority of Islam, on the other hand there's a growing contempt for our achieved liberal ideas. There's a sort of lawlessness among Moroccans because they look down on our culture. Our women are all whores. By the Moroccans the honor of the woman is supposedly maximally protected. There are also looking constantly at how far they can go. Their attitude is often provocative.

Q: Moroccans in Brussels are strongly under the influence of Jihad. Is the tension there really so much more than in Amsterdam?

ARTHUR VAN AMERONGEN: a specific group of Islamic youth is fascinated by Jihad. I do think that Brussels is a time bomb. Moroccans are totally marginalized there. Look at the statistics of unemployment, poverty, the bad accommodations, the discrimination in the labor market, the criminality. I think that Moroccans in the Netherlands, or even better in Amsterdam, have it a bit better than the Moroccans in Molenbeek. For many youth Islam is the only consolation. I have been to many lectures in Brussels in Islamic association halls. They were attended by all possible youth, from those dressed hip to those dressed as if in Mecca. That phenomenon doesn't exist in Amsterdam.

Q: Will there be a Muslim attack in Brussels?

ARTHUR VAN AMERONGEN: It looks to me like a matter of time. If you see how many people had been arrested in Brussels in the past seven years you know that the city is a time bomb. There's an urban legend that says that there has always been an agreement between the terrorist groups and the government. It wasn't for nothing that the Afghan mujaheddin could open an office here undisturbed in the beginning of the 80s, because they fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan - typical Cold War politics. The same goes for the Algerian FIS: Terrorists wanted in Algeria got political asylum in Belgium. In the end all those extremists left for Londonistan with all the results of that for the United Kingdom. Belgium is of course not in Iraq or Afghanistan, but that doesn't have to be the only reason for an attack. You only need one crazy person with their own agenda. Above all, there are naturally interesting targets such as NATO and the European Parliament. A lot will depend on the foreign policy of the European Parliament.

Source: Knack (Dutch)

Sweden: Immigrants more likely to have car accidents

A Swedish study by the VTI (National Road and Transport Research Institute) concluded last year that immigrant males over 18 were twice as likely to have a car accident compared with ethnic Swedish males. Immigrant women were 70% more at risk.

The immigrant groups with the highest risk were from North Africa and the Middle East. Men from these areas were almost 3 times as likely to have a car accident compared with ethnic Swedish men. In 2nd place in the high risk groups were people from the rest of Africa.

At the same time another Swedish VTI study from 2003 concluded that immigrant children between 9 months and 3 years were rarely secured in the car compared with ethnic Swedish children. Immigrant children were also over represented in accidents. It is unknown which countries they came from.

The Norwegian Public Roads Administration assumes that these same tendencies exist in Norway.

Trygg Trafikk, The Norwegian Council for Road Safety, thinks it's about time that the traffic habits of immigrants will be researched.

Kristin Øyen of Trygg Trafikk says that they have the impression that immigrants from various countries have a different attitude towards using safety equipment in the car than ethnic Norwegians. Trygg Trafikk have therefore prepared informational material in various languages about securing kids in the car and have distributed it in health stations.

Source: Aftenposten (Norwegian)

Netherlands: Restoring virginity (2)

According to Islamic culture Muslim girls must be virgin when they enter a marriage. For girls who had not succeeded in doing so, the wedding night hangs like the sword of Damocles above their head. A hymen repairs operation offers a way out. "I'll do everything, if only I'll bleed."

"I was greatly relieved when I was after it." Yasmina (22) from Rotterdam sits on a bench in Zuiderpark. She wears jeans with a leather jacket and big silver earrings hang from her ears. After thinking and weighing it for a long time, Yamina had finally promised to talk about one of the great taboos in the Islamic community: the hymen repair operation.

Yasmina: "I was 19 and head over heels in love with with a boy at school. He was also Muslim and when he heard from my girlfriends that I though he was nice, we started talking. My girlfriends warned me that I should still look out because he was known as a player, but I was too in love to listen. More than that he told me I was the one. Exactly three months after I went out with him it happened. He swore to stay by me, but when I called him up the following day he broke it off."

At that moment Yasmina realized that she would never be a virgin when she married. "I felt terrible. Not being a virgin before marriage is one of the greatest sins in Islam. My mother always told me in the past that girls who gave away their virginity will never marry. I really wanted to get married and out of fear kept silent." Three years later, when Yasmina was ready to get married, the panic began anew. "My fiance made no secret of the fact that he thought it very important that I was still a virgin. I was then also terrified of what he would do if I didn't bleed. Probably he would immediately separate from me. By chance I happened on the internet on a clinic that offered hymen repair operations. At that moment it seemed to me the perfect solution. A couple of days ago I had the operation and next week I'll be married. I know that I can't erase the past, but the hymen repair operation made me in any case a virgin again."

Yasmina is one of the hundreds of girls in the Netherlands who go through a hymen repair operation annually. The operation is especially popular by Muslim girls of Turkish, Moroccan and Hindu origins. In this group there's often enormous obscurity about the hymen. The girls are raised with the idea that the hymen is a type of glass membrane that closes the vagina and which only lets the menstrual blood flow through. During the wedding night this membrane is perforated and the girl bleeds. In many North-African countries it is even usual on the following day to show the bloodied sheets to the family. When a girl is no longer a virgin, she is repudiated according to tradition. In the Netherlands, despite the present time, this tradition is persistently held on to. Girls who lose their virginity without marriage go into complete panic.

Wies Obdeijn- Van Welij, doctor and sexologist, gets 50 girls a year who beg for a new hymen. "Most girls who come here still think that they must bleed when they lose their virginity."

"In the past maybe it was so that in the Islamic culture certainly 90% of the girls bled during the wedding night. But this happened mainly because they married very young and through marrying off still barely knew their partner. Because of the nerves there wasn't a state of arousal and that resulted in bleeding. Today certainly 40% of the girls don't bleed during the first time. Also the hymen is not a film that must be pierced but barely a bordering tissue."

However many girls decide to go through the repair operation. Obdeijn- Van Welij: "The idea of bleeding is often held so deeply that they barely believe anything else. They just want most of all to bleed during the wedding night. As the tradition prescribes. An operation can take care of that. During the operation we pull the edges of the hymen more tightly so that the girl almost certainly will bleed. When they're done with it, they often go home happily. Virginity is strongly connected by these girls to the hymen." If it's intact, it means they're virgins.

Saida (25), from Amsterdam, had a hymen repair operation two years ago. She sits in a station restaurant in The Hague because she is afraid to be recognized in her own neighborhood. "Though every Muslim knows it happens, nobody talks about it," she says. "This is the first time that I tell about it. When I was seventeen I lost my virginity. It was a boy from class with whom I had a courtship at that time. Naturally I felt very guilty afterwards, but my fear began just when I was about to be married. At any cost bleed during the wedding night. I didn't want my husband to be disappointed and also though even as a virgin you don't have to bleed, my husband would never understand that. Above all, I had no interest in difficult talks during my marriage. It had to be perfect. Therefore I had a hymen repair operation. The wedding night was perfect. I bled and my husband was completely happy."

However the operation is disputed. Many gynecologists refuse to perform the operation because it upholds the myth regarding the hymen. Ineke of Seumere is a gynecologist at the UMC in Utrecht and performs the operation only rarely and on exceptional indications. When we support the idea that a virgin must bleed during the wedding night nothing will ever change. Not only do we agree that a virgin must bleed, we also help to keep the tradition. A tradition that according to Seumeren is full of contradictions. Isn't it strange that a man may have sexual intercourse before marriage but demand a virgin? Therefore I get girls repeatedly that have used anti-conceptions for years, and now they want a quick restoration before their marriage.

Obdeijn-Van Welij agrees with the gynecologist's story. "There are even girls who come to me that are yet plainly virgin and want to make sure that they bleed. But I think that it's not up to use to change the tradition. You shouldn't forget that these girls are a second generation of guest workers. They are girls that have enormous double feelings. On the one hand they grow up in the free Netherlands. On the other hand they don't want to disappoint their parents. I think that the situation will change by itself. Till that time, I will attend girls as well as I can. That's what I'm a doctor for."

Yasmina is not worrying anymore about her wedding night. "Through the operation my problem has been solved. My husband will tear my hymen, and I will bleed for him. Precisely as it should."

The Party for Freedom wants to ban the operation, which party parliament member Fleur Agema describes as perverse. According to the party operation rooms and medical personnel shouldn't be burdened with a "medically completely unnecessary operation".

Source: Metro (Dutch), Nieuws.nl (Dutch)

See also: Netherlands: restoring virginity, France: Regaining virginity

Hague: 'no' to Islamic high school

There won't be an Islamic school network in The Hague. The Council of State denied Wednesday a request by the Association for Islamic secondary eduction "Ibn Ghaldoun".

According ot the Council, minister of Education at the time Maria van der Hoeven rightly refused to add the association to the "plan of schools". the minister said that based on a prognosis there was no need for an Islamic school network for secondary education in the Hague.

Ibn Ghaldoun said that the minister had deviated from a fixed policy in this case. The Council of State considered the minister's arguments to be adequately motivated.

Being added to the "plan of schools" means that the school will be considered for subsidy by the government. Islamic school networks exist in Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

Source: RTV (Dutch)

Amsterdam: Moroccan-Born Mayor Dispenses Tough Love to Immigrants

For one Amsterdam mayor, the Netherlands' famous tolerance has gone too far. Morrocan-born Ahmed Marcouch is taking the tough cop approach in a rough Amsterdam neighborhood, pushing his fellow immigrants to integrate. But some consider him a traitor.

A street festival is in full swing in Amsterdam's Slotervaart neighborhood. The occasion is the dedication of a new community center for Christians and Muslims designed to foster interaction between the two groups.

As the crowd listens to music, munches on fish snacks and Arab pastries and drinks fruit juice, Ahmed Marcouch, the district's 38-year-old mayor, holds a speech. He talks about progress and mutual understanding between different ethnic communities. At the end of his talk, Marcouch poses for pictures with an attractive young woman wearing a headscarf.

The festival and the speech are nice gestures, but atypical. Normally life in Slotervaart isn't nearly as convivial as the speakers paint it. Crime and unemployment are significantly higher than the national average, and one in three of the neighborhood's young people are high-school dropouts.

Ahmed Marcouch grew up in this environment, but he has since made a better life for himself. He was illiterate when he came to the Netherlands from Morocco at the age of 10, but he was lucky enough to encounter a teacher at a progressive Montessori school who helped him get on track.

A Different World

There is little evidence of Amsterdam's typical charm in Slotervaart, a neighborhood where bleak concrete apartment blocks cluster around a futuristic-looking town hall. Almost half of Slotervaart's 45,000 residents are foreign immigrants, and it is not uncommon to see eight-member families living in cramped, 50-square-meter (540-square-foot) apartments. And it's perhaps no coincidence that the police station is across the street from the mosque.

Immigrants from Turkey or the former Dutch colony of Suriname are not the ones that keep the police on their toes. The "problem" immigrants in Slotervaart come from Morocco, not from major cities but from villages in the High Atlas and Rif Mountains. They live here in their own world, eating couscous with lamb's brain salad, watching Al-Jazeera and attending the mosque on Fridays. There is little pressure to conform to Dutch customs and lifestyles.

This parallel world of immigrants is relatively apolitical. Nevertheless, living together with other ethnic groups has proven to be a challenge for Slotervaart's Moroccan immigrants. But for Hassan al-Maghroubi, originally from the town of Oujda near the Algerian border, all the talk about ethnic tensions is nothing but unfounded agitation. "What are we doing that's so dangerous?" he asks. "Sometimes we stuff potatoes in our neighbors' exhaust pipes, or we steal oranges from some street trader. But otherwise we don't bother anyone here."

Hassan is one of what the Dutch call "hangjongeren" ("guys who hang out") -- unemployed men with no prospects of getting jobs. Nevertheless, he says, he feels at home here. "Dit is mijn landje, ik ben een rasechte Nederlander," he says in Dutch: "This is my country. I'm a purebred Dutchman."

A Shift in Mood

Slotervaart's most prominent son is former Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok, who can sometimes be spotted in the morning riding his bike down to the train station along Pieter Calandlaan. Kok, a member of the left-learning Labor Party (PvdA), lives here because he wanted to set an example. But his political adversaries on the right call it a pointless experiment in multiculturalism. The neighborhood, they argue, is contaminated beyond repair.

Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered in Amsterdam on Nov. 2, 2004, sparking massive tensions over immigrants in The Netherlands.

Mohammed Bouyeri, the murderer of eccentric filmmaker and provocateur Theo van Gogh, lived in Overtoomse Veld, not far from Kok's house. Bouyeri was born in Amsterdam, a second-generation immigrant. Like many Dutchmen, he rode his bicycle and loved to eat traditional Dutch stews. He couldn't have been more Dutch, but he got caught up in the radical Islamist movement nonetheless.

Van Gogh's murder marked a turning point in Holland's warm and fuzzy take on democracy. Until then, the Dutch were accustomed to looking generously the other way when it came to a wide range of abuses. The approach even had a name: the gedogen principle. The untranslatable word gedogen refers to the Dutch practice of turning a blind eye to things which are officially illegal but tolerated, such as soft drugs and euthanasia. Under the gedogen principle, anything went. The fact that some Muslim men beat their wives was tolerated, as was the selling of polemic texts -- which encouraged believers to stone women who committed adultery and throw homosexuals from tall buildings -- at the Al Tawheed Mosque on Jan Hanzenstraat.

Taking a Hard Line

But since the Van Gogh murder, the gedogen principle no longer applies -- at least in Slotervaart, a change that is in no small part due to the mayor's efforts. Marcouch, a former police officer, experienced at first hand the unrest that followed the Van Gogh murder. He wasn't a softie like some of his colleagues, who routinely looked the other way when rowdy mobs swaggered through the streets. He took a hard line when he believed it was necessary, which was the case more often than not. And a tougher police approach is suddenly popular with the no-longer-quite-so-relaxed Dutch.

The government of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende insists that it will fight lawlessness in the suburbs and will no longer tolerate foreign-born hate preachers in the country's mosques. But it has done little so far to make good on its promises.

Marcouch, on the other hand, is doing something. He has instructed his officials to conduct one-on-one interviews with young unemployed residents to help them find ways to make a fresh start. Especially tough cases are referred directly to Marcouch.

Although he has no authority over the Amsterdam police force, Marcouch has set up a rapid response team of social workers which constantly patrols the streets on bicycles to defuse hostilities and catch young criminals red-handed.

Marcouch's brief tenure to date has already left its mark in Slotervaart, where the crime rate has dropped and there is significantly less trash on the streets. "When there's a lack of cooperation, we have to give them a bit of a push -- with force, if necessary," he says.

Making a Deal

A Moroccan mother paid Marcouch a visit last week. The story she told was heartbreaking. Her son, she said, was completely out of control, constantly getting into fights and stealing, with no prospects of landing a job. He had become too much to handle, she told Marcouch.

The mayor had the boy brought to his office. Towering in front of him like some drill sergeant facing an unruly recruit, he shouted: "We're going to make a deal, my friend. I find you an apprenticeship, and you become a decent citizen. If you don't shape up, you'll find yourself in jail. You give me a headache and I'll show you what a headache is."

Marcouch says that he wants to use educational methods to help reintegrate young offenders back into society. Part of his plan is to provide them with job training in prison. Those who complete the training courses successfully are released early, while those who fail the course must serve their entire sentence.

When his tough cop approach doesn't work, Marcouch attempts to convince the Moroccan immigrants to abandon their self-imposed isolation. "Look at me," he tells them. "I am a Muslim, but I am also a Dutchman. This country is your home, too. You have a good life here, and you have freedom." The son of immigrants himself, all Marcouch wants from the children of other immigrants is that they accept Dutch culture. For Marcouch, tolerance is a two-way street: Just as the majority accept the minority, the minority should also tolerate the majority.

In addition to his mayoral duties, Marcouch serves as the district chairman of the PvdA. The position is unlikely to represent the high-water mark of his political career: Eight out of ten citizens in the Netherlands believe that there is a place in Dutch politics for people like Marcouch.

But not a few of Marcouch's fellow Moroccans in the area, which is known locally as Little Morocco, consider the mayor a turncoat. Two 11-year-old boys recently accosted him as he was walking through his community, calling him a "chaïn" -- Arabic for "traitor."

Marcouch was furious. When he managed to catch one of the boys, he took hold of his chin and pulled the boy towards him, glaring at him and barking in Dutch, "sukkel" -- "loser."

He refused to admonish the children for calling him a "traitor," considering it beneath him. But it didn't mean the insult didn't hurt.

Source: Spiegel (English), h/t internation's musings