Berlin: Gay Muslims pack a dance floor of their own

Six men whirled faster and faster in the center of the nightclub, arms slung over one another's shoulders, performing a traditional circle dance popular in Turkey and the Middle East. Nothing unusual given the German capital's large Muslim population.

But most of the people filling the dance floor on Saturday at the club SO36 in the Kreuzberg neighborhood were gay, lesbian or bisexual, and of Turkish or Arab background. They were there for the monthly club night known as Gayhane, an all-too-rare opportunity to merge their immigrant cultures and their sexual identities.

European Muslims, so often portrayed one-dimensionally as rioters, honor killers or terrorists, live diverse lives, most of them trying to get by and to have a good time. That is more difficult if one is both Muslim and gay.

"When you're here, it's as if you're putting on a mask, leaving the everyday outside and just having fun," said a 22-year-old Turkish man who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear that he would be ostracized or worse if his family found out about his sexual orientation.

Safety and secrecy come up regularly when talking to guests, who laugh and dance, but also frequently look over their shoulders. To be a gay man or lesbian with an immigrant background invites trouble here in two very different ways.

Souad came to Berlin in 1983 after leaving home as a teenager. She studied to be a dressmaker and played in a punk band, but discovered Middle Eastern music through a friend and began teaching herself belly dancing. Souad started Salon Oriental, her first belly dancing theater, in 1988, and threw the first Gayhane party — hane means home in Turkish — in January 1997.

The club was packed by midnight and still had a line out the front door. On stage, Souad mixed a white turban and white net gloves with a black tuxedo with tails and a silver cummerbund, her face made up with perfectly drawn eyeliner and mascara. Dancing, she was all fluid motion, light on her feet, expressively twisting her hands and swiveling her hips.

Under flashing colored lights, guests, some with dreadlocks and others with carefully gelled coifs, moved to songs by the likes of the Egyptian Amr Diab and the Algerian Cheb Mami. Beats from traditional drums crossed with electronic ones, as melodies from flutes and ouds intertwined. When several circle dances — halay in Turkish — broke out at once, the floor began to shake from the stomping.

One of the regular D.J.'s, Ipek Ipekcioglu, 35, said she got her start rather suddenly, when one of the founders of SO36 walked up to her and said: "You're Turkish, right? You're lesbian, right? Bring your cassettes and D.J."

Ipekcioglu spins everything from Turkish and Arabic music, to Greek, Balkan and Indian, a style she calls Eklektik BerlinIstan. She has been a full-time professional D.J. for six years and performs all over the world.

The space is decorated with bright yellow wall hangings depicting elephants, camels and even a flying carpet, with an intentional degree of kitsch, Souad said, and an intentional distance from anything Islamic. "We take care that religion is not mixed in here, not in the music either."

Outside the boom of loud firecrackers can be heard, the first test rounds for the annual cacophony here that leaves New Year's revelers ears' ringing. Kreuzberg has been home for decades to large populations of Turks and Kurds, many of whom have very conservative religious values. Yet they have had to share the neighborhood that formerly abutted the Berlin Wall with many counterculture types, artists and anarchists and also gays and lesbians.

According to the city's Schwules Museum, partly devoted to the history of gay people in the city and the country, "a lively homosexual subculture had developed in Berlin by the second half of the 18th century or perhaps earlier." It was known as an oasis for gay men and lesbians in the Weimar period immortalized by the writer Christopher Isherwood and in the period when West Berlin was surrounded by the wall. Today, the city has an openly gay and highly popular mayor, Klaus Wowereit.

But gay men and lesbians from Muslim families say they face extraordinary discrimination at home. A survey of roughly 1,000 young men and women in Berlin, released in September and widely cited in the German press, found much higher levels of homophobia among Turkish youth.

"These differences are there," said Bernd Simon, who led the study and is a professor of social psychology at Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel. "We can't deny them. The question is how do we cope with them."

"The answer is not to replace homophobia with Islamophobia," he added, pointing out that homophobia is also higher among Russian immigrants and in other, less urban parts of Germany.

Kader Balcik, a 22-year-old Turk from Hamburg, said: "For us, for Muslims, it's extremely difficult. When you're gay, you're immediately cut off from the family."

He had recently moved to Berlin not long after being cut off from his mother because he is bisexual. "A mother who wishes death for her son, what kind of mother is that?" he asked, his eyes momentarily filling with tears.

Hasan, a 21-year-old Arab man, sitting at a table in the club's quieter adjoining cafe, declined to give his last name, saying: "They would kill me. My brothers would kill me." Asked if he meant this figuratively, he responded, "No, I mean they would kill me."

"I'm living one life here and the other one the way they wish me to be," Hasan said, referring to his parents. He said he still planned to marry, but when he turned 30 rather than right away, as his parents wished. "I have to have children, to do what Islam wants me to do," he said. "I would stop with everything in the homosexual life. I would stop it."

He stood up from the table and called to his two friends. "All right, boys, let's go dance," he said. "We're here to have fun." And they marched off to the dance floor, smiling.

Source: International Herald Tribune (English)

Netherlands: Teaching the Holocaust

When teaching Holocaust studies to Dutch Muslim teenagers in Amsterdam, Mustafa Daher says he first has to defuse his pupils' own hostility toward Jews and Israel.

"If I don't capture their interest, then I have done nothing. So I use the rising Islamophobia to help them connect to the persecution of the Jews," the seasoned educator says.

"For example, I tell them that when the Nazis suspected someone was Jewish, they would pull down his pants to see if he was circumcised. Then I remind my Muslim students they are also 'snipped.' So they, too, would've ended up in a concentration camp," says Daher.

Judith Whitlau, who teaches groups about the Holocaust at the Dutch Theater in Amsterdam, says she has to contend with another analogy.

"Some point to media reports from the occupied territories, and they want to know what exactly Israel itself is doing to internalize the Holocaust's lessons as it preaches others should do."

Daher and Whitlau are taking part in a week-long seminar for 21 teachers at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, the first run by Yad Vashem for Dutch educators, with one day devoted to discussions about teaching Holland's Muslim minority about the Shoah.

But not all the teachers in the group have Muslim students. Franca Verheijen teaches at an affluent school in Leiden, some 35 minutes by train from Amsterdam. There, drawing parallels between Islamophobia and anti-Semitism can be counterproductive.

"If I make this connection, some students usually reject the analogy, saying that unlike the Muslims, the Jews never engaged in terrorism," she says.

Another charged issue for the teachers is the question of complicity. Some 100,000 Dutch men and women belonged to the country's Nazi party during the war, openly collaborating with German authorities.

Despite this, Meir Villegas Henriquez from the Hague-based Jewish non-profit Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI), said he wouldn't want to see a whole chapter in the school curriculum on Dutch Nazis.

"We're here to educate, not blame," the delegation organizer said.

Other participants in the seminar - which is partly funded by the Dutch government's Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies - were also hesitant about the issue.

"For many people this is taboo and we can't afford to waste our two weekly hours [for history] on it," said Wout Claessens from the eastern Netherlands.

Source: Haaretz (English)

Netherlands: Possible attack foiled

This is breaking news. I'll be adding more news as it appears.


The Dutch Special Intervention Unit (DSI, an anti-terrorism police unit), arrested three men Monday, suspected of wanting to commit a possible attack. The Public Prosecution reports that the suspects are 31, 32, and 39 years old.

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)


The men were arrested in Rotterdam. Two of the men have both Moroccan and Dutch citizenship. One man has no permanent residence and is probably Sudanese.

Five residences were searched and data and correspondence confiscated.

Sources: Telegraaf (Dutch) De Morgen (Dutch)

Update 2:

The prosecution is not releasing any information regarding why these men were arrested. The men can be held for three days and 15 hours, after which the prosecutor must decide whether there's enough evidence to charge them.

Charleroi: Pakistani arrested for murder of daughter

Tarik Mahmood Sheikh (58), the father of Sadia, had been arrested on Sunday.  He was preparing to leave for Pakistan.  Police are still searching for Sadia's brother, Mudasar Sheikh (24), the chief suspect in the murder, who had disappeared after the murder.

Twenty year old Sadia was killed by her brother on Oct 22nd, in Lodelinsart (Charleroi) after refusing an arranged marriage in Pakistan.  Her father was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of murder.  The arrest is the result of new information the public prosecution got through tapping phone conversations.

Tarik Mahmood Sheikh had meanwhile sold a lot of properties, looking to return to Pakistan.  He already had a plane ticket with him.  According to the man's lawyer he had put his house in Brussels up for sale and wanted to spend his last years in Pakistan.

Two lawyers taken on by the family to protect Saida's brother's interests have called on him to give himself in to the police.

The family claims this was a 'family drama' and not an 'honor murder'.

Sources: HLN 1, 2 ,3 (Dutch)

See also: Charleroi: Pakistani honor murder

Germany: Alevis protest incest libel, minister calls for respect of 'religious feelings'

It seems to me that the Alevis are protesting that their feelings as a persecuted minority have not been taken into account, rather than about any lack of respect for their religious feelings.

The popular German TV series "Tatort" has provoked an uproar within a segment of its Turkish community. Alevi Muslims, who practice a tolerant offshoot of Shiism, say the show has revived a centuries-old incest libel and may inflame immigrant tensions in Germany.

Up to 20,000 Alevi Muslims in Germany gathered in front of the Cologne cathedral on Sunday to protest a broadcast of a popular TV series called "Tatort" (Crime Scene). Alevi leaders said the show played on a centuries-old prejudice against Alevis by showing a character involved in incest.

The protest "was absolutely peaceful," said a police spokesman according to Agence France-Presse. An Alevi leader in Germany, Mehmet Ali Toprak, told the Tageszeitung newspaper: "The Alevis respect freedom of press and freedom of opinion and are opposed to any ban on cultural expression. But these values must not be used to harm the dignity of a minority."

Alevis are an offshoot of Shi'ites and make up at least a tenth of the estimated 3 million Muslims in Germany. They're a minority in Turkey, where leaders say the Sunni majority discriminates against them for their liberal practices which include allowing women to mix with men in prayer. Their relative tolerance gave rise to a stereotype in the Ottoman Empire that Alevis were prone to incest.

The "Tatort" episode, broadcast by the state-funded ARD channel on December 23, portrays murder and incest within a modern Alevi family in Germany. Hundreds of Alevis demonstrated against the show last week in Berlin, Hanover and Hamburg, but Sunday's protest was unprecedented. The Turkish Daily News reported that around 200 buses had been rented to bring thousands of Alevis from around Europe to Cologne.

Angelina Maccarone, who directed the show, said she was unaware of the Alevi incest libel. Alevi leaders -- including Toprak -- went to Hamburg before the broadcast to complain and ask NDR to repress it. NDR refused, but ran a statement in the opening credits explaining it was fiction.

One protester in Berlin last week, Cigdem Ipek, told SPIEGEL ONLINE: "It's possible that Germans have no prejudice against us. But a film like this can aggravate tension in the Turkish community between Alevis and Sunnis."

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that the episode shouldn't be "an excuse for a cultural war," and that the story dealt with individuals rather than Alevis in general. But he added that scriptwriters had a responsibility to show "respect, discretion, and caution for the religious feelings of all people, regardless of which faith they follow."

Source: Spiegel (English)

See also: Germany: Muslim community protests TV show

Brussels: Terror attack planned

The 14 Muslim extremists who were arrested Dec. 21, 2007 and then set free, had spoken over the phone about a reconnaissance of the Brussels Metro.  They intended to put small bombs in trash bins.

Several months earlier several sources showed that Muslim extremists wanted to break Nizar Trabelsi out of jail.  In the middle of December that changed, and there was suddenly talk of an attack.  In one of their telephone talks the suspects spoke about a reconnaissance of the Brussels Metro, in which it was referred to the attacks in London.  "They wanted to test the efficiency of the police agents by putting small bombs in trash bins."

Naïma, Nizar Trabelsi's second wife, confirms that her daughter, who studies chemistry, can make a bomb.  Naïma's son had told his stepfather Nizar Trabelsi that he wanted to become a kamikaze.

Naïma says now that she only said that for the laughs.  Malika El Aroud, one of the 14 suspects, says similar things.  A day after she was freed she said, "It might surprise you but for this time I thin the police were right to act."

Source: HLN (Dutch)

See also: Brussels: Continuing terror threat, Belgium: Terror report

Netherlands: Fear of riots, police not to act against pamphlet

Seems to me that all Wilders needs to show in his film is a news broadcast. 


According to diverse sources, the government is making plenty of preparation for the possible severe reactions to Geert Wilders' (Party of Freedom) announced film about the Koran.  His protection, already strong, will be stepped up.

The Amsterdam police has held talks this month with imams and other influential people in the Muslim community in order to be ready for reactions.  There's also a scenario written out in case of large-scale public-order problems.  The Hague and Utrecht has taken specific measures.

Wilders' film, which contains offensive pictures for Muslims, would probably be broadcast on TV Jan. 25, during the time dedicated for political parties, as part of the Party for Freedom broadcasts.  Justice is studying whether the film's broadcast can be prevented.

According to one source, policy makers are taking into account that the film will cause more commotion than the publication of the Mohammed cartoons in Denmark.  The cartoons in Jyllands-Posten had led to protests all over the Muslim world.

When it was leaked that Wilders wanted to release an anti-Koran film, three ministers warned him of the eventual consequences.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has since informed all diplomatic posts, in order to explain in other countries that the cabinet distances itself from the film.

The government's nervousness has increased because Wilders has till now shown no willingness to hold back his film.   It's being checked out whether Wilder would need a new, specially secured residence and if Wilder's party members should also get protection.

Wilders wants to show in his film that "wretched things" from the Koran are still being practiced.  Muslim organizations, from moderate to fundamentalist, have expressed concern about the film.


The Amsterdam police doesn't see a reason to act against the spread of a pamphlet in which Muslims are called to oppose a film in which the "Noble Koran is ridiculed and humiliated".

The pamphlet of the radical-Muslim "freedom party" Hizb ut-Tahrir was given out in Amsterdam, the Hague, Haarlem and IJmuiden.

His name is not mentioned in the pamphlet, but it is known that parliamentarian Geert Wilders of the Party for Freedom will show a film at the end of January about "the abuses in the Koran".  According to the authors, "the youth of Hizb ut-Tahrir in the Netherlands", "defending the Noble Koran is a Muslim obligation".

A police spokesperson said that they can't establish any offense and Wilders is also not mentioned by name, though the police is paying attention to it, just as all other development regarding Wilders.

According to a spokesperson of the Zeeburg neighborhood, there is no objection to the pamphlet.  As long as it doesn't call for violence, anybody can say or write what they want.  There's opposition to the film also in parliament.

In 2005 the cabinet said that Hizb ut-Tahrir can form a danger to the democratic order.

Sources: Volkskrant (Dutch), Parool (Dutch)

See also: Netherlands: Wilders complains to police about clip, Netherlands: Hizb ut-Tahrir youth in campaign against Geert Wilders , Netherlands: Concern about Wilders film, Gouda: Death threats against Wilders, Netherlands: Muslim Council "fears the worst"

Russia: 'Muslim Russia'

Russia's Muslims are beginning to change the way they talk about the relationship between their religious community and their country, a shift that reflects their own growing self-confidence but one that frightens many ethnic Russians who see it as a threat to their own status.

Until recently, Daniyal Isayev writes in a commentary on the portal, the Muslims of Russia, like most analysts who discuss their community, typically spoke "about 'Islam and Russia,' 'Islam in Russia,' and even '[non-ethnic] Russian Islam." But they "never" referred to "'Muslim Russia.'"

Now, he writes, ever more of the faithful there are doing just that, a reflection of "how much is changing both in the world and in Russia itself" -- and "especially in the consciousness, self-conception and position of Muslims" living in that country


"Muslim Russia," he writes, "is Derbent, Kazan, Astrakhan, Ufa, Tyumen, Orenburg and so on. Today, this is also Moscow and St. Petersburg. {It] is the creativity of Pushkin, Lermontov, and Tolstoy, … an enormous territory and peoples of Northern Eurasia who were drawn together by the Golden Horde."

Moreover, "Muslim Russia is [also] the victories on the fronts of the First and Second World Wars, gold medals at the Olympics and scientific achievements of recent years." And the future of Muslim Russia, Isayev suggests, is certain to be even richer and more beneficial to the country.

That is because "Muslim Russia is not a finished or finally completed phenomenon. [It] is a dynamically developing present and a magnificent future of our country," one in which Russia's Muslims "every day acquire ever greater certainty in their own strength, in their own goals, and their own future."


Indeed, in this, the 21st century, it is entirely possible that "Muslim Russia can become the advance guard of the development of Islam in Northern Eurasia" and even of the development of the Islamic community of the entire world. "Only Allah knows," Isayev concludes, just what role in the future Muslim Russia is fated to play."

But there is one role that "Muslim Russia" is already playing: as a bogeyman to many non-Muslim Russians who feel that the rapid growth of the Islamic community in their country at the present time represents a threat not only to their way of life but even to the existence of the Russian state itself.


The existence of these two sets of attitudes, the increasingly self-confident Muslim one, on the one hand, and the increasingly defensive ethnic Russian one, on the other, points to more conflicts ahead, unless the authorities and cooler heads on both sides pull back a little and reflect on just how dangerous such clashes could be.

More on Window on Eurasia

Source: Window on Eurasia, h/t Atlas Shrugs

See also: Russia: Islam flourishes

Ireland: Plans for Muslim schools

UP to five Muslim primary schools and six Catholic schools could be opened next year.

They are among 33 schools for which plans have been notified to the New Schools Advisory Committee of the Department of Education.

The largest sector includes 19 multi-denominational schools for which recognition is being sought by Educate Together, while six of the proposals are for primary schools under patronage of the local Catholic bishop.

The five Muslim schools planned are for Lucan, Clonee and Tallaght in Dublin, Tralee, Co Kerry, and Sligo town to cater for demand among the growing Islamic population of these areas.

Last year's census showed that there were more than 32,500 Muslims living in Ireland — almost 70% more than in 2002.

Shahzad Ahmed, chairman of the North Dublin Muslim National School, said: "The Catholic schools have catered well for Muslim children but their parents might feel they are uncomfortable when it comes to teaching religion.

"There has also been more pressure for places with large numbers of Catholics coming in from eastern Europe in the past few years are understandably getting priority."

The Muslim population in Tralee has been boosted by Bangladeshi people, many of them working in the hospitality sector. The planned school in Sligo will cater for migrant workers, asylum seekers and refugees.

The two Muslim schools already operating in Dublin teach the same primary curriculum as all schools, including Irish, but also teach Arabic through which religion is taught. They are open to the same Department of Education inspections as other schools.

The other applications for new schools include four all-Irish schools, one under Catholic patronage in Co Monaghan, and three under the patronage of An Foras Pátrúnachta. Two of these will have a Catholic ethos and the other, in Greystones, Co Wicklow, will be interdenominational.

There are also plans for an interdenominational school in the Curragh, Co Kildare and a Church of Ireland school in Adamstown, Co Dublin. 

Source: Irish Examiner (English), h/t Nieuw Religieus Peil (Dutch)

See also: Ireland: Muslim population increase

Södertälje: Swedish intifada 2

Södertälje has a large Assyrian community of about 30%.   Both Ronna and Hovsjö have a large immigrant community, made up especially of Syrian Assyrians and Finns.


This past week a bus in Södertälje was attacked with rockets.  Helena Sundberg of SL (Greater Stockholm transport service) says that it can't go on any longer, as they can't guarantee the safety of the drivers and passengers.

Stone throwing has been going on all throughout the fall. 
Kjell Hägglund, security head of Swedbus, which drives buses through Södertälje for SL, sounds resigned.  It's the same old thing.  The youth throw stones at the buses.  Now they've started shooting rockets and throwing bombs as well.

Friday night things went too far.  First, at midnight, several youth threw stones at a buss in Ronna, hard enough to break a window and land on one of the seats.  Then, at about three, a buss was attacked in
Hovsjö.  The bus was just coming back when the driver saw four, five youth take position on the road and each fired a rocket at the bus.  Anders Arvsin of Swebus in Södertälje says that the driver threw himself to the floor and thankfully was not hurt.

The windows didn't break, but blackened completely, and the bus walls were damaged. 
Anders Arvsin is not surprised of what happened.  He himself had driven the bus in Ronna and Hovsjö.  Youth throwing stones has become commonplace and has been going on and off for about two years.  He says people are prepared for it to happen, especially when driving at night.

The police haven't managed to stop the youth, but Anders Arvsin still thinks the politicians are mostly responsible.  The police is doing everything they can, but the politicians just don't seem to see the problem. 
Hovsjö is starting to look like a slum in an American film.

SL and Swebus have decided to stop all traffic after 6pm, at least until the New Year's.   After the holiday there will be a meeting between SL, Swebus, the police and social services in Södertälje.  Kjell Hägglund says things must change.  He wants the parents to be engaged.  They're currently missing in the neighborhood and that must change.

Source: DN (Swedish), h/t
Muslimska friskolan (Swedish)

See also: Södertälje: Swedish intifada, Århus: Bus personnel attacked by immigrants

Brussels: Continuing terror threat

Traditional New Year's Eve fireworks in the center of Brussels have been canceled because the police contend there is a continuing terror threat to the Belgian capital, officials said Sunday.

The authorities have warned of an increased risk of attack over the holiday season since the police detained 14 people last week. They were suspected of a plot to break a prisoner linked to Al Qaeda out of a Belgian prison.

A judge ordered their release 24 hours later for lack of evidence, and all of the suspects have maintained their innocence. In a letter published by the newspaper La Dernière Heure, the prisoner, Nizar Trabelsi, denied the allegation that his supporters were involved in preparations for a jailbreak or a terrorist attack.

But the authorities announced that heightened security measures would be maintained until Thursday at least.

Jaak Raes, director general of the government's crisis center, said, "We've reviewed the situation and the conclusion is that there is no reason to scale back the current level of alert." Click here to find out more!

Raes said that the Christmas market in the city center would be closed at 6 p.m. on New Year's Eve, rather than staying open all night, and that an adjacent skating rink would be shut down at 8 p.m.

Trabelsi, 37, a former professional soccer player from Tunisia, is serving a 10-year prison sentence for planning to drive a car bomb into the cafeteria of a Belgian Air Force base, where about 100 U.S. military personnel also lived.

The government asserted last week that it had information the suspects were plotting to use explosives and other weapons to free Trabelsi, who was arrested in Brussels two days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States and convicted two years later.

Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt warned that the suspects could have other targets and ordered the police to step up security in public places, including at the Brussels airport, subway stations and the Christmas market.

At the time of his trial in 2003, Trabelsi admitted that he had planned to kill U.S. soldiers at the air base in northeastern Belgium.

Trabelsi came to Europe to play professional soccer in 1989. He bounced from team to team in the minor leagues over the next few years, acquiring a cocaine habit and a criminal record. He eventually made his way to a Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, where evidence presented at his trial showed that he had placed himself on a "list of martyrs" ready to commit suicide attacks.

Source: International Herald Tribune (English)

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

Denmark: The anarchists, the skinheads, and the immigrants

Two stories, through the Danish Uriasposten blog.

While anarchists were occupying a factory building in Vejle, local hoodlums amused themselves by shooting airsoft gun bullets at the hooded activists.  Anarchist portal criticizes the police for not being there when the activists needed them.

The anarchists were occupying an empty factory in Vejle and were attacked by stones, bottles and firecrackers.  Only this time it wasn't the police or neighbors being attacked, but rather the anarchists themselves.

"Tanja" says that the occupiers, sitting in the empty factory on the outskirts of the city, were attacked by about ten people and describes them as a mix of local skinheads and immigrant youth.

Besides bricks the local hoodlums brought a softair gun with them as well, which they used to shoot at the building's windows.  According to the occupiers, the evening's dramatic highlight was when the attackers managed to detonate firecrackers in the building's first floor, where several of the occupiers were at the time. reports that during the attacks the activists said nothing to the police, and the police first appeared at noon, when it was time to remove the occupiers.  The police arrests 13 anarchists who, besides one, were all released after a few hours.

Meanwhile, Jyllands-Posten reports of teenage hoodlums throwing bottles at skaters at the Aarhus Concert Hall.  The police was called several times to the skating lanes because youth aged 12-16 were throwing bottles on the ice.  Tuesday it happened once more, and when the police arrived they got them to sweep up the glass shards.

Laust Jacobsen of Østjyllands Politi says they get many reports of harassments and shoving, and they keep close watch on the skating lanes.  Their patrol car passes by every so often.  Typically there's a group of 10-15 very young 2nd generation immigrants that causes the uproar.

Sources: 180 Graders (Danish), Jyllands-Posten (Danish)

Pakistan: Murder suspect could lose Norwegian citizenship

A Norwegian-Pakistani suspected of raping and murdering a 7-year old girl in Pakistan stands to lose his Norwegian citizenship, and any help from the Norwegian government, if it turns out he had recently gotten Pakistani citizenship. The man, 24, is a member "A-gang" in Oslo, and has prior convictions in Norway for violence. The man, who'd been living for quite a while in Pakistan, has family in Norway, including a wife and children. In Norway he had worked at a car-wash and received welfare benefits.


The 24-year old Norwegian-Pakistani suspected for a girl's murder in Islamabad had obtained a Pakistani passport before his pilgrimage to Mecca. And therefore he might not get help from the Norwegian authorities.

The man risks a death sentence if he's found guilty of the abduction, rape and murder of a 7-year old girl in October.

On Saturday he went back on his confession and said he confessed after he was mishandled and beat with clubs by the police.

The 24 year old has a wife and children in Oslo, and Norwegian citizenship. But, according to his lawyer, Abid Q. Raja, he had also gotten himself a Pakistani passport. He did so in order to be counted for the Pakistani pilgrim quota which is considerably larger than the Norwegian one.

Aud Marit Wiig, the Norwegian ambassador, says that the man had gotten Norwegian citizenship after he applied for it. He doesn't yet know if the man is not still a Norwegian citizen, but he knows the Pakistani authorities think he's a Pakistani citizen.

The Norwegian authorities are now trying to determine how the man had gotten a Pakistani passport. If he bought a forged passport, or got one any other way - he is guaranteed support from the Norwegian authorities. But if he has formally gotten legal Pakistani citizenship - he lost his legal rights for help from the Norwegian authorities. The reason is that double citizenship is illegal according to the Norwegian citizenship laws.

Sources: Dagbladet (Norwegian), Aftenposten (English), Aftenposten (Norwegian)

See also: Pakistan: Norwegian-Pakistani suspected of girl's rape and murder, Oslo: Gang leader sentenced to 9 years

Greece: Dealing with illegal immigration

As can be seen here and here , Greece is the first stop for many illegal immigrants heading into Europe.

Nowhere is the pressure on the European Union's borders mounting as insistently as in this northernmost corner of the Aegean Sea across the river from Turkey.

With the help of smugglers, dozens of migrants breach this frontier daily on foot, in plastic boats, by swimming, or crouched inside empty oil tankers or secret compartments of trucks.

In its zeal to secure the border, Greece is being accused of serious lapses in human rights and ignoring treaty pledges that bind it to give haven to refugees claiming protection - rights established under international conventions.

"There are serious problems with the asylum system in Greece," said William Spindler, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva. "It doesn't meet European or international standards."

Would-be immigrants - Iraqis, Palestinians, Afghanis and others - are arriving here in numbers bigger than ever before. Their ranks are swollen by a "huge and very sudden influx" that began in September, according to Pangiotis Papadimitriou, the border monitoring officer for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Waiting for the new arrivals are the police. Refugees' lawyers say many migrants are secretly forced back, without being given the chance to request asylum.

"It is illegal, illegal, illegal," said Evgenia Papanastasiou, a refugees' lawyer in the northern Greek city of Kavala who has 19 years of experience in criminal law.

In October, two private groups, Pro Asyl, based in Germany, and the Group of Lawyers for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants, based in Athens, made a similar accusation, adding in a joint report that the Greek Coast Guard was pushing back migrants' boats at sea.

The police and the coast guard vehemently deny the allegations and say that those who require asylum can request it. Under Greek law, it is a crime for public servants to expel forcibly any person needing international protection.

The land border between Greece and Turkey, two historically antagonistic nations, extends for 182 kilometers, or 114 miles, tracking the Evros River, which the Turks call the Meric, down to the Aegean Sea.

For 11 kilometers, where the river temporarily parts with the frontier, the soil is studded with land mines - a legacy of old enmity. That does not deter migrants, who travel from as far away as Myanmar and Bangladesh and whose bodies are occasionally found in the minefields.

"You see wars, disasters and so on, on television, and six months later they are here," said a jaded Evros border guard who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.

Tens of thousands of migrants try to cross the EU borders every year. But while the numbers of arrivals have plunged in the Canary Islands this year and stabilized in Malta and the Italian island of Lampedusa, along the Greek-Turkish border they are on the rise.

In the district guarding the southern half of the Evros border with Turkey, the border police headquartered in Alexandroupolis arrested more than 15,000 migrants in 2006, and 13,869 through Oct. 30 this year, about four times as many as in 2005, when 3,706 were arrested.

Common among Greek officials is a sense that faraway Brussels requires them to be gatekeepers for the whole of the European Union, without having to deal with the stresses or offering much support.

"This is the EU border, and our job is to help the rest of the countries that are behind," Anestis Argyriadis, chief of the border police in Alexandroupolis, said in an interview this month. "The problem we face as Greek police is the problem of the entire EU."

The influx of displaced civilians is putting Greece's humanitarian resolve to the test. In many ways the nation is ill-equipped to handle the challenge. Its coastline is dotted with thousands of islands that are impossible to patrol, while its asylum procedures are rudimentary.

Emmanuel Karlas, prefect of the border island of Samos, says the European Union could start by urging Turkey, a prospective member, to improve its border controls.

"The EU stands far from here and watches with its binoculars and doesn't find a solution," he said. "This is not the problem of Greece, Italy or Spain; it is a problem for all of the EU."

Complicating matters, the Greek police cannot work with their Turkish counterparts to address border issues because the army, not the police, has jurisdiction on the Turkish side.

Still, under an agreement reached with Ankara in 2001, Athens is entitled to send undocumented migrants with no refugee claim back to Turkey; the narrow bridge across the Evros at Kipi is the only place in the whole country where this is authorized.

According to official figures, Athens requested readmission for 2,250 such people of various nationalities in 2006, and Turkey agreed to accept 456. Delays meant that in the end, only 127 were actually sent across.

Meanwhile, migrant numbers continue to rise. This year through November, 10,961 of them rowed inflatable dinghies to the three Greek islands closest to Turkey in the Northern Aegean; for the whole of 2006, the total was 4,024, Interior Ministry data show.

Greece sees the matter primarily as a security concern.

"The job of the police, the foremost goal, is to safeguard our border so migrants don't enter illegally, and as a consequence, to arrest them," Argyriadis said.

Undocumented migrants are held in administrative detention for three months. Members of the European Parliament who visited one such center on Samos in June described its conditions as deplorable; it stayed open for another six months. The Greek Interior Ministry would not allow a reporter access to detention centers there or elsewhere.

A number of lawyers for refugees say that the Greek police and army are secretly and illegally expelling migrants, some of whom are not even registered or given the opportunity to request protection. They say that these deportations take place at night, in small plastic boats, across the Evros River.

Mariana Tzeferakou, a refugees' lawyer in Athens, said that illicit deportations along the Evros were an open secret and had been going on for a decade.

"Now we realize it is going on much more intensely," she said, adding that a large number of people coming across in this area "are prima facie refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa."

Giorgos Tsarbopoulos, the Athens-based head of the UN refugee agency for Greece, said the agency had had several reports that this was happening.

"Our indications are that people are being made to return by unofficial means in a very short period of time," he said. "Some complained that they had tried to explain their need for asylum and were not heard."

For those who do get a hearing, Greece's overall recognition rate for refugees is low, hovering for years at roughly 1 percent. That compares with 45 percent in Italy last year and 19 percent in Spain.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees examined 305 randomly selected initial decisions on asylum claims, lodged in Greece by people from Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Sri Lanka, and found every one of them negative.

About 3,500 Iraqis requested asylum in Greece in the first half of this year, the highest number for any industrial nation except Sweden. Yet a study comparing decisions on asylum claims in five EU countries, published by the UN refugee agency in November, found that the chance of an Iraqi refugee's receiving protection in Greece stood at zero. In Sweden, it was 75 percent.

In April, the European Commission sued Greece in the European Court of Justice over its asylum processes. Greece lost.

Spindler, the spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, said the agency did not want Greece to lose sight of the need to offer protection.

"We understand the need to police the borders and combat illegal immigration, but you have to bear in mind that sometimes people cross borders without documents for very valid reasons," he said. "You have to leave the doors open for those people."

Source: International Herald Tribune (English)

Netherlands: Wilders complains to police about clip

Party for Freedom leader Geert Wilders lodged a complaint by the police after internet site had written about a video clip showing his beheading.  "It's never been yet so revolting," according to Wilders.

The clip was made by Youssef & Kamal.  The two got a lot of attention two years ago with a clip against the politician. 

The new clip shows a look-alike of Wilders surrounded by a group of youth waving hammers, saws, knifes and guns.  At the end somebody beheads him.


I doubt this clip would get much attention if it wouldn't have shown Wilders.  It's called "Eindhoven Represent" and is available here.  It doesn't mention Wilders by name,  though the clip ends with a list of songs 'out soon on the Wilders film soundtrack".

The song itself is about Eindhoven and specifically the Woensel neighborhood: Ruled by the Moroccans, and where your life and valuables are not safe.  It compares Woensel to Palestine (the Jews running away) and reminds us of the successful terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

Netherlands: Muslim home-care

Infirm immigrants in and around Haarlem will soon be able to get assistance from people who understand their own culture. Manager Ernst Blok of Thuiszor in Holland (Homecare in Holland) thinks he's filling a demand in the market. According to Blok, whose company is working together with a Turkish and Moroccan associates, there's a lot of interesting with Islamic home care. "The interest among infirm immigrants for homecare is high," he knows.

But in practice there are many problems. "If the elderly already know that they're being considered, many of them don't master the language and are active religiously," and that can lead to many problems.

Thuiszorg in Holland wants to send out Islamic home care to Islamic immigrants. "They speak the language, know the culture and are well aware of habits and customs. That makes for a better click," according to Blok. A Muslim assistant wouldn't think prayer, shoes being left outside or not preparing pork is odd. Blok is not afraid of criticism that he's preventing integration of immigrants. "People are free to choose which help they want," he says.

Thuiszorg in Holland is a commercial company that stresses that it listens to its clients. "A Dutch elderly who asks for Dutch help will also be served. And we also don't send, for example, a male assistant to a Muslim single woman or couple." If there's enough demand, Thuiszorg in Holland will also employ Muslim nurses.

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

London: Muslims donate sacrifice meat to Christian charities

Racing to feed hungry and poor people in the European country, British Muslims have donated their Udhiyah meat to two Christian charity organizations to feed the hungry and homeless, reported The London Free Press on Friday, December 28.

"We know there are lots of people who are hungry and live on the streets," said Mohammad Yassine, president of the Islamic Centre of SouthWest Ontario

He said that Muslims in London have donated more than 360 kilograms of Udhiyah meat to the Men's Mission and Salvation Army in London.

"I hope this is going to become a tradition," he said.

A financially-able Muslim sacrifices a single sheep or goat or shares six others in sacrificing a camel or cow as an act of worship during `Eid Al-Adha, which ended last Saturday.

According to the majority of scholars Udhiyah or sacrifice is a confirmed Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

It reminds Muslims of the great act of sacrifice Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son Isma`eel were willing to make for the sake of God.

In Islam, Muslims keep one-third of Udhiyah meat for themselves, donate one-third to the relatives and one-third to charity.

Fighting Hunger

Imam Jamal Taleb of the London Muslim Mosque said the Muslim meat donation aims to fight hunger in the European country.

"We believe poverty is a problem that we need to work together to solve," he said.

It is the first time the London Mosque donates meat to the Men's Mission and the Salvation Army.

Last year, Udhiyah meat was given to the London Food Bank, a non-profit, charitable organization working to help people in need.

The Salvation Army is a Christian charity which describes itself as seeking to bring salvation to the poor, destitute and hungry by meeting their physical and spiritual needs.

The Men's Mission also works to serve the homeless and disadvantaged in London.

Joyce Boutin, of the Men's Mission, said Muslim meat will be distributed as of next week among the poor and the hunger.

"We feed a lot of people here. It was a good choice," she said.

Source: Islam Online (English)

UK: Guardian sparks row over Dutch fireworks ad

Three weeks ago the Dutch Consumer Safety Institute (CSI) came out with a new campaign for the safe use of fireworks. Fireworks are responsible for many injuries around the holiday period, specifically on the New Year's. In the Netherlands the campaign was a huge success, with more than 750,000 visitors reported to the campaign site in the first two weeks.

I was therefore surprised to see the following Guardian story (see below), claiming the ads sparked controversy. Here's what I found about this supposed controversy:
1. The only one complaining in this article is Saad Saraf, of the British Media Reach Advertising company.
2. In the past three weeks I did not see any controversy around this campaign in Dutch news, and despite serious search attempts, I couldn't find any Muslim or Arab group in the Netherlands who voiced complaints (or anything else) about this campaign.
3. Almost all Muslims commenting on this ad - in forums, news-sites and on youtube - found this extremely funny, and if at all - were proud that it was done in Iraqi Arabic ("the most clear dialect..")

To answer Saad's question: Yes, these adverts are meant for people who are not affected by terrorism, suicide bombings and the invasion of Iraq in some way, though I'm not sure even such people wouldn't find them funny as well.

Apparently, the Guardian is trying to drum up a controversy, but since even the Muslim Council of Britain finds them educational and funny, had to rely on one British-Iraqi advertiser. In other words, the Guardian is doing here exactly what it's supposedly warning against. By reporting a non-story it's "depicting a negative stereotype of the Muslim community", and therefore showing itself to be quite 'Islamophobic' in its own right.

'Terrorist' firework ads spark row


Featuring a group led by an Osama bin Laden lookalike figure at their camp, the viral ads are dubbed into Iraqi-accented Arabic and have versions with subtitles in Dutch and English.

The tone is intended to be humorous, with the terrorist group seen receiving a shipment of fireworks like an arms cache, wearing suicide vests made of firecrackers, and bungling efforts to "demonstrate to you our true power" by blowing themselves up.

However, the light treatment of such a serious issue has angered some industry insiders.

"What is the campaign hoping to achieve by depicting a negative stereotype of the Muslim community in a fireworks advert?" said Saad Saraf, the chief executive of multicultural marketing specialists Media Reach Advertising.

Saraf, an Iraqi, was particularly offended by images in one ad that show one person strap fireworks around him in a style similar to a suicide belt , which later explodes.

"Are the producers aware that the actors in the advert are speaking in an Iraqi accent; with the current state of affairs in Iraq and the loss of lives as a result of suicide bombing, I question, what were the creatives thinking?," said Saraf.

"This is insensitive to society as a whole. Suicide bombings have destroyed many thousands of lives - using them in a humorous way is totally inappropriate. Are these adverts then for people who have not been affected by terrorism, suicide bombings and the invasion of Iraq in some way?"

Saad described the setting of the adverts as an "al-Qaeda-style camp", an image reinforced in one of the ads when the group are seen hiding out in a mountain cave.

However, Inayat Bunglawala, the assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, did not think the ads were particularly offensive.

"I thought they were very humorous public safety films," he responded by email after being sent several links to the ads.

"Obviously there will always be some who find it to be in bad taste, but I thought it was done light-heartedly and funny and with clear educational value."

The ads were first seeded on YouTube with Dutch subtitles around two weeks ago. Since then, versions of the ads have appeared with English subtitles.


Source: Guardian (English)

See also: Netherlands: Terrorism against fireworks

Germany: Muslim community protests TV show

A Muslim group in Germany announced plans Thursday for a demonstration over an unflattering portrayal of it in a popular television crime series. The Alevi Muslim Community AABF called on its members to stage a peaceful protest in Cologne on Saturday against the "slander and disparagement" contained in a Tatort (Crime Scene) programme aired December 23.

The episode dealt with incest in an Alevi family in Germany and the murder of a daughter who wanted to inform police of the matter.

The Alevi community in Berlin tried to prevent the programme being broadcast on the grounds that it revived age-old prejudices against the Alevis.

It has filed a criminal complaint against the NDR television network which showed the programme, accusing it of incitement to racial hatred.

NDR said in the opening credits to the film that it was a work of fiction that in no way intended to harm religious feelings or rekindle prejudices against the Alevi community. Alevis, considered by some to be a sub-group of Shiite Islam, worship in assembly houses instead of mosques and allow women and men to pray side by side.

Around 20 million Alevis live in Turkey. Under Ottoman rule radical Sunni Muslims accused the Alevis of incest because they included women and children in their religious rituals.

Source: Earth Times (English)

See also: Tatort (German)

Denmark: Demand for study on ethnic criminiality

It's known for certain that youth coming from other countries are more criminal than Danish youth, but after that, it's all guesswork.  It has never been researched if youth coming from Palestine or Somalia are more criminal than youth from Turkey or Iran, or if youth from refugee families are more criminal than those from immigrant families.  But there's much to show that this is true.

The most comprehensive study done in institutions for criminal youth shows that 66% of young criminals have a background other than ethnic Danes, and that 70% of ethnic (ie, non-Danish) youth come from refugee families.

Bo Ertmann of Teori og Metodecenteret, says that 2nd generation immigrants at the institutions are less criminal than ethnic Danes and much less criminal than youth of refugee background.

The study is from 2006, but going into the details, Bo Ertmann has the suspicions that the debate is based on wrong assumptions.  He says that the debate on criminality in Denmark starts off with what he sees as a dogma: that the reason for developing criminality is that we have a group of 2nd generation immigrants whose parents weren't able to discipline them and who are torn between their original culture and the Danish one.  But Bo Ertmann believes that reality is different, that refugee kids are more criminal becasue there come from vulernable families, where the scars or war are tatooed in the families' history.

According to Bo Ertmann stateless Palestinians and youth from Somalia and the former USSR are more criminal than immigrant youth from Pakistan or Turkey.  he says that looking at youth institutions, there's a dividing line between those who come from traditional war ravaged lands, and those who don't.  Bo Ertmann stressed that he's speaking out of a gut feeling.  It's been taboe to label youth's criminality according to ethnicity, but he thinks that that taboe should be broekn, and the material should be more precise.

Immigrant consultant and author Manu Sareen, who works with young trouble makers thinks that the researchers and statisticians should go ahead, even if there's a risk that certain groups would then be stigmatized.  He says it's possible that this way 80% of the integration projects could be closed the money used where there's actual need for it, since people don't know what the money is being used for.

The Danish People's Party wants to require a more through research of how crime is divided among the different ethnic groups.  The Social Democrats agree, saying that it will show how to approach crime better.

Source: Politiken (Danish)

See also: Copenhagen: Increase in gang-crime , Norway: Muslim youth mentally healthier than other immigrants

Germany: The most powerful book in the world

Der Spiegel's latest issue: "The Koran - the most powerful book in the world". The main article, titled "Verses for War and Peace", is only available to subscribers.

Source: Der Spiegel (German)

Denmark: Minister supports Great Mosque

Denmark's Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs Birthe Rønn Hornbech says that Muslims in Copenhagen should have the same possibilities as other religious communities to have a prayer house.

The Muslims today are relegated to empty factories and cellars around the country, but the minister will not stand in the way of a great mosque in Copenhagen.  She says her starting point is that it's up to the Muslims themselves, and they should have the same possibilities for a prayer house as everybody else, but just as with all other religious societies, it should be on their own initiative.

Birthe Rønn Hornbech had in the past offered her aid when Muslims had problems with a cemetery in Brøndby, and when it comes to the right to practice one's religion the minister is clear: she's not a religion minister, but she's ready to support the religious associations with practical things, she said in an interview to Information.  She lamented the increased negative focus on religion in Denmark.

The minister's statements and her goodwill in connection to the great mosque made the Islamic Society in Denmark happy, but Carl Christian Ebbesen, of the Danish People's Party at the Copenhagen city council, rejects the idea of a mosque, thoughts of a mosque, and said he was very displeased with the minister's report.

Source: DR (Danish)

Netherlands: Hizb ut-Tahrir youth in campaign against Geert Wilders

The Dutch Hizb ut-Tahrir youth have come out with a new campaign, against the slander of Islam. The campaign is carried out by passing out pamphlets, which are available online in English, Dutch, Arabic and Turkish, titled "Defending the holy Koran is an Islamic obligation". The pamphlets are apparently directed at Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who is expected to come out in January with a movie about the Koran.

In the name of Allah, the merciful
Defending the holy Quran is an Islamic Obligation.
Some people in Holland backed by others decided to produce a film about the Noble Quran, this film may be will be broadcasted in the Dutch TV in January next year. Those who are responsible for this shame work had declared that the objective behind their work is to show the fascism aspect of the Quran, and how the Quran motivates the hatred and violence. This film is just a part of an organized campaign leaded by some against Islam and Moslims in this country, its objective is to exercise pressure upon the Moslims so that they will leave their religion, their style is distortion, fabrication and mockery of everything the Moslims believe in.
We, the Shabab of Hizb ut Tahrir in Holland, don't expect that those people and those who are behind them will respond to the call of wisdom, and stop their work which contradicts the values of their ideology they used to speak a lot about, and cause the humiliation to a big number of the civilians of this country, but our hope is that the Moslims will move individuals and groups to honor the symbols of Allah and to defend their religion.
O Moslims in Holland,
Allah(swt) stated in the holy Quran:
And it has already been revealed to you in the book( this Quran) that when you hear the Verses of allah being denied and mocked at, then sit not with them, until they engage in a talk other than that( but if you stayed with them) certainly in that case you would be like them. Surely, allah will collect the hypocrites and disbelievers all together in Hell. (TMQ:An Nisa' 140).
This means that we should not keep silence regarding the mockery of our religion and the mockery of the holy Quran, it is a duty upon us to support our religion and to defend the Quran, and here we are the Shabab of Hizb ut Tahrir in Holland, we had started a campaign to defend the Quran and to forbad those who are trying to humiliate our moqudasat, and to stop the campaigns which will distort the image of Islam in this country, that is why we ask you to stand with us and to support us in our campaign, and to let our voices be heard to stop the continuous humiliations against us and against our religion.
O Moslims in Holland,
Keeping silence in such a case where your Quran is being humiliated may be understood by some people as a sign of acceptance so they will continue in their falsehood, others would understand your silence as a sign of weakness, so their hatred and their mockery of your religion will increase. But we know that you will not accept your religion to be humiliated, and you are strong in faith, that is why we ask you to deny this munkar by using all lawful means and not to be silent.
O Moslims who are honored by Islam, listen to us and work with us to defend the Quran so that you will get the gayr of this dunya and the hereafter.
"That and whoever honors the sacred things of Allah, then that is better for him with His Lord"
(TMQ:Al Hajj 30).
Shabab Hizb ut Tahrir
The pamphlets, which have been given out in Den Bosch and Eindhoven, ask people to sign their petition against the slander of Islam:


During the past years, Holland has been dominated by a climate of slander and common insult towards Islam and Muslims. It is also evident that certain politicians and influential people are behind the current hostility. In answer to this we, the shabab of Hizb ut Tahrir in Holland, have initiated the campaign "Stop the slandering of Islam".

With the help of this campaign, which entails a substantial signature petition, we want to give the Muslims a voice. This will enable them to react in a respectful and proper manner to the constant slandering of high values within Islam and the feelings of insult and anxiety that are the result of this.

At the same time, the campaign "Stop the slandering of Islam" also makes clear that the common insult of Islam and Muslims creates an altercation in the Dutch society and hereby seriously disturbs the harmony of the Dutch society.

We can report that the first weekend of this campaign has lead to positive reactions from the community. The initiative has been welcomed and we have received messages of support from both Muslims as non-Muslims.

Source: Campaign site (English, Dutch), Omroep Brabant (Dutch) h/t CLOSER (Dutch)

See also: Netherlands: Concern about Wilders film, Wilders: Enough is enough

Denmark: Muslims' religiosity exaggerated

Researchers prefer to speak with the very religious Muslims, when surveying Muslim's religiosity, and that distorts the public debate, concludes a new study.

Muslims are not as religious as the media and researchers tell us, says religious history and minority studies researchers Nadia Jeldtoft, who has studies minorities' religious identity. She thinks that Islam researchers confirm the prejudices against Muslims when they focus only on the 600-800 Muslim immigrants who are organized in associations and organizations of a religious character.

She says analysis of interviews show that the interviewees didn't attribute such a critical meaning to the religious, as most studies concluded. For them being Muslims meant being different than the majority - the religious content wasn't as dominating. She adds that she's not a Muslim lover (halal-hippie) who denies that there are many fanatical Muslims, but she says there are many who are Muslims just because they're part of an ethnic and cultural group.

Kate Østergaard, a lecturer at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies (ToRS) at the University of Copenhagen confirms the view of misleading research. She says the picture that the media paints of Muslims who are very religious is reinforced by the study of Islam. First and foremost because researchers of religion naturally focus on the religious, and therefore also on Muslims who are very religious. Additionally Islam researchers have a tendency to be interested in religiously organized youth because they are easier to count.

Tim Jensen of the Philosphoy, Pedagogy and Religion Studies Department at Syddansk University, thinks that it's the media and politicians who bear the blame. He says the normal Muslim is like the normal Christian, also the passive cultural Christian, and when many think that Muslims are much more active, it's distorting reality, and that comes from the media and politicians.

Source: 180 Grader (Danish) h/t Dagens Ateist (Norwegian)

Belgium: 2006 Foreigner statistics

Belgian sociologist Jan Hertogen has come out with new statistics about foreigners in Belgium for 2006. According to his calculations, in total, the number of foreigners in Belgium increased by 31,688 (from 900,473 to 932,161) with an increase of 114,719 and a decrease in 83,031. However, not counting naturalizations, the total increase is 63,478 foreigners.

The increase in the number of foreigners is divided as follows:
- Births: 9,039. In Flanders, 24% of the births were to foreigners, this is 5 times there percentage in the population.
- Immigration: 83,433
- Asylum seekers: 12,496. These are asylum seekers who were officially recognized as 'foreigners'. On January 1st, 2006 there were 90,919 asylum seekers in Belgium, which are not counted as 'foreigners'.
- Foreigners who 'popped up':6,219. These are legal foreigners who were thought to have gone home in past years, but have turned up again.
- Belgians who exchanged citizenship: 70
- Statistical adjustment: 3,462.

The decrease in the number of foreigners is divided as follows:
- Deaths: 5,598. Half were in Wallonia, apparently this is especially the older Italian immigrants.
- Emigration: 27,117
- Disappeared: 18,456. These are foreigners who have left their official residence, and are not signed up in any other Belgian community. It is therefore assumed they have left the country.
- Naturalization: 31,860

This comes down to a 'new immigration' of 63,478 foreigners:
- 3,441 births (5%)
- 44,079 immigration (69%)
- 12,496 asylum seekers who received residence permits (20%)
- 3,462 unknown (5%)

Source: NPData (Dutch)

See also: Belgium: The debate over statistics, Belgium: Moroccans largest group,Brussels: 56.5% immigrant population

Poll Results: Will there be a Muslim state in Western Europe in the next century?

183 people took part in the poll, answering the question "Will there be a Muslim state in Western Europe in the next century?"

The results:

* Yes - 117 (63%)
* No - 66 (36%)

I had phrased the question in the most general way possible. Muslims are a minority in Western Europe today, making up 3-5% of most Western European countries, and I therefore do not see any of today's countries turning into Muslim states. However, there are three issues which could lead to an independent Muslim state:

1. The Muslim population congregates in the major cities, where they currently make up up to 25% of the population. Among the youth, this figure is much higher and reaches up to 40%.

2. Europe is experiencing a drive towards separatism, as can be seen, for example, in Belgium and Spain.

3. Coupled with the EU umbrella, independence has never been easier.

Pakistan: Norwegian-Pakistani suspected of girl's rape and murder

A rapist and killer of a 7-year-old girl was arrested by the Capital Police from Islamabad Airport when he just arrived from the first Haj flight here Tuesday after performing Haj.

Shahid raped a 7-year-old girl, strangulated her and threw her body on the roof of another house of the street and left Islamabad for performing Haj," police said.

The Capital Police, however, arrested the rapist and recovered sandals and Chadar of the innocent victim after confession of the cruel crime by him. In the cruel incident, the 7-year-old, Sadia, student of a local school, was rapped and killed after kidnapping, when she was playing in a street in I/10-2 on October 25.

On the complaint of Akhtar, ill-fated father of the victim, the Sabzi Mandi Police, later, recovered the dead body of the innocent rape-victim lying on the roof of a house close to her house and sent it to PIMS for autopsy. The autopsy report confirmed her rape and killing by strangulation. The police registered the case under Section 364-A PPC.

Akhtar informed the police on November 4, about 10 days after the missing of Saadia and her body was recovered on November 24, about one month after the occurrence, when a resident informed the police that the body of a little girl was lying on the rooftop of his house, police said.

The police said that the suspect — Shahid — left for performing Haj on November 14, before the recovery of Saadia's body. "It was very difficult to cast doubt on a person who has left for performing Haj but all the evidences were heading towards the accused as the residents of the street informed about his involvement in mysterious activities," an officer involved in investigation said.

He said that the police had no option but to wait for his return after getting the date and time of his arrival. "He could have left Pakistan for good because he was keeping Norwegian nationality," he added.

"As he landed from the first Haj flight (PK-2502) at Islamabad Airport at 1.50 p.m., the police, already waiting for the 'monster', arrested him at the arrival lounge," the police said. The alleged rapist and killer later confessed his crime, disclosing that he picked up the girl from the street and later raped her in the drawing-room of his house. The SHO (Sabzi Mandi) Khalid Masood, quoting the statement of Shahid, said that he strangulated the girl with her Chadar when her condition worsened and threw her body on the roof of next house.

The police have recovered sandals of the minor victim from his house and a Chadar used for strangulating her. The police said that wife of the accused was living in Norway while he, despite having Norwegian nationality, was living alone in the house and involved in suspicious activities.

Source: The News (English). I had removed names and personal details from the article. I do find it strange that these details were even in included with no regard to the victim's or suspect's privacy, and especially as honor murders and vendettas are practiced in Pakistan, and supplying such details might induce a cycle of violence and enable people to take justice into their own hands.


The suspect is 24, and has a wife and two kids living in Norway. He had confessed to the crime in a TV interview on Pakistani TV (can be seen here, with Norwegian subtitles), although Abid Q. Raja stressed today in several interviews that in Pakistan false confessions can be extracted through coercion and torture. The suspect had been arrested when he came back from Mecca with his mother, and she was the one who alerted the rest of the family in Norway to the arrest. He risks a death sentence by hanging, if found guilty. The family in Norway hopes the Norwegian authorities would be able to help with getting a lawyer.

Source: Aftenposten (Norwegian)

Leicester: Mosque to allow guiding dog

A mosque in the city of Leicester will soon allow a dog into its premises to help its blind owner attend congregational prayers, a precedent supported by the umbrella Muslim organization and welcomed by congregants.

"To tackle the inevitable issue of a Muslim owned guide dog we engaged in conferences with relevant agencies, imams and mosques in Leicester to learn, raise awareness and tackle the issue," Imam Ibrahim Mogra, chair of the interfaith committee at the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), told

"One mosque has been identified in Leicester and we will pilot a case there in 2008."

Leaders of Al-Falah Mosque have agreed to allow Mahomed Khatri, a blind Muslim teen, to be accompanied by a guide dog into the mosque premises.

The retriever is undergoing specialist training by Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, a national association which provides guide dogs, to assist and enable Khatri pray in the mosque.

It will remain in a purpose-built kennel outside the prayer hall of the mosque and wait for the blind teen to come out after worship.

Imam Mogra said the MCB, the umbrella organization of Britain's two million Muslims, carried out a full review of the Shari`ah ruling on keeping dogs.

"It is correct to say that the saliva of a dog is regarded impure," he noted.

"In this case the guide dogs are highly trained. A lot of money is invested in their training and these animals are very disciplined, and highly unlikely to jump on people, sniff them unnecessarily or lick their faces, or any other parts of a person's body."

A retriever salivates less than other dogs and thus reduces of the risk of flicking spittle onto worshippers.

Khatri's receiver is getting extra training to restrain it from instincts to lick its owner.

Islam forbids Muslims to keep dogs as pets. However it is permissible to have a dog for legitimate benefits such as hunting or guarding.


MCB leaders saw tackling the issue of guide dogs as urgent, given recent incidents in which Muslim restaurant owners and taxi drivers refused customers with guide dogs.

"We initially got in touch with national guide dog associations after controversies highlighted in the media, surrounding the reluctance of taxi drivers to allow guide dogs into their vehicles," said imam Mogra.

In June, Sallahaddin Abdullah was fined £200 in Cambridge after refusing to allow a blind couple into his taxi because they had a guide dog.

The MCB then issued a ruling saying British Muslims should allow guide dogs to enter restaurants and taxis.

Mogra affirmed that Shari`ah does not preclude being around guide dogs, and it is actually an Islamic duty to help the visually impaired.

"We have been involved in consultations for a period of time and therefore acknowledge that a guide dog enhances the health and safety of an individual, it helps a person and enables better mobility."


Al-Falah Mosque congregants welcomed allowing Khatri's guide dog into their mosque.

"I am not bothered in the slightest," Sulaiman Patel, a regular worshipper at the mosque, told IOL.

Patel insists that the blind Muslim teen should receive every possible support to help him pray at the mosque.

"I can't see any arguments against it," added the 26-year-old bakery manager.

"I'm very proud that my mosque is leading on this."

Idris Desai, 32, praised the Al Falah Mosque administration for accommodating Khatri's needs.

"It's no big deal. The dog will not be standing next to worshippers."

Mariam Lorgat, a student at Loughborough University where Khatri studies, also commended the mosque leaders.

"It is appropriate that we are discussing relevant issues like this," said Lorgat, a regular Al-Falah Mosque congregant.

"As time goes on there will be more guide dog users, all over the country.

"This will help break many barriers."

Source: Islam Online (English)

A note on Palestianism

I was asked to comment on Bat Yeor's Palestiniasm of Europe theory. I had read through the article, but due to chronic lack of time, did not yet listen to the interview.

I think there is no debate that the West and the EU have a policy of preventing conflict with its neighbors by 'sharing the wealth'. This policy can be seen in the Euro-Med partnership as well as in the continuing enlargement of the EU, to include the Eastern Block, and in the future, possibly Turkey. This can also be seen in NATO's "Partnership for Peace" and "Mediterranean Dialogue" projects, and possibly also in NAFTA.

There is also no debate that the EU would like to see a trans-national body, Europe joined as one, getting past its national identity.

I also agree with Bat Yeor that the West doesn't always understand the 'other', and does not realize how its actions will be viewed and understood.

However, what Bat Yeor would like to see a conspiracy, I see as a reality. "Londonistan" did not come about due to explicit agreements with terrorists, but rather through the reality that the UK did not see the threat of letting in Islamist fighters and political agitators, and assumed that these fighters would continue fighting the enemy, rather than their 'new' home country. Denmark is another example of a country which accepted terrorists, this time in a misguided understanding of what asylum really means.

This policy was not accepted by all European countries. I think France is the leading example of a country which both had to deal with terror on its soil (in the 1990s), and which did not accept the UK's lax policy. Muslim countries were also not happy with this policy, just as they were not happy with Denmark and other countries who let in escaped terrorists. I therefore think it's hard to see Muslim immigration or the 'terror policy' as a joint Arab-European policy.

Regarding immigration: most European countries stopped immigration in the early 1970's as an almost direct result of the economic slump that came after the oil embargo. Any immigration after that is due to Europe's inability to define human rights and is conducted through family reunification (right to marriage) and asylum seekers. Most Muslims do not come to Europe in order to take over, but rather because Europe offers them the realization of a dream.

As for support for the Palestinian cause. Europe has a serious problem with Israel, and I think it is unfair, at the least, to blame it all on the Arabs and the Muslims. By seeing Israel as the villain, and putting Israel in the 'Nazi' slot, Europe can cleanse itself of its own sins. Bat Yeor sees the Muslim attempt to Islamasize history, but she says nothing of the critical theological problems that the very existence of the state of Israel poses for the Christian religion. As Pope Pius X told Herzl in 1904: "The Jews have not recognized our Lord, therefore we cannot recognize the Jewish people."

The West's problem, as I see it, is it's inability to accept the truth or value of its own values and culture. Whether this comes about because of past colonization, or because of WWII and the Holocaust, I have no idea. Europe accepts the Muslim interpretation of the Golden Age, etc, because Europe, and the rest of the Western World, are critical of their own ethics and their own values. One can say that this is due to the Western inclination of self-criticism, an inclination that has served the West quite well in the past. This constant doubt of your own nationalism, your own culture and your own ethics is led by the Left, which already controls the media and education systems, and you can see this in the US, in Europe, and in Israel. Their success is partially due to that most westerns don't understand what democracy or liberalism even mean. It fits in well with the Muslim claims that the West is decadent and falling apart, but I don't see the casual link.

Btw, slavery was abolished in the US only in the middle of the 19th century, and only after a bloody civil war that still festers. Bat Yeor doesn't delve too deeply in this article into comparing the Western and Muslim modes of slavery. There are of course differences, but I don't think Muslim slavery was only religious. Putting aside the Barbary pirates, throughout the Middle Ages the Muslims abducted or bought soldiers. These soldiers, the Mamluks, were able to climb up the ranks, and actually took over at various times. This mode of slavery was as necessary for the Muslims as the economic slavery was necessary for the Europeans. Muslim slavery is generally ignored by the West, just like other 'ethnic' atrocities and crimes are ignored by the West, because it doesn't fit in with the picture of the 'noble savage'.

In general, it is hard for me to see a whole movement here, of Europe teaming with the Muslims against the US. The UK, the same country that was well known among Islamist circles for accepting terrorists, the country that accepted Taliban asylum seekers even as its soldiers were fighting in Afghanistan, was at the same time the US's staunchest allies. France, which has the exact opposite attitude, could not stand US policy.

Bat Yeor compares the Europeans to the Christian Arabs, but there is one important difference between them. As she points out in her book 'The Dhimmi', the Christian Arabs find themselves in a historical dilemma. They see themselves as Arabs, and want to share in the Arab destiny. This is something that most Europeans don't have to worry about. Bat Yeor talks of the replacement of the Judeo-Christian ethics towards one based on the Koran, but that is not done simply by talking theology. Ethics and morality will be replaced only if the Europeans will be convinced that Islam holds something better.

There are Muslim movements who are trying to force Islamic values on Europe, but I don't see cooperation from the European side. The first and main victims of such acts today are the Muslim immigrants, and not the Europeans.

Final points:
1. Which European leaders claim that Islam is an important part of Europe's civilization?
2. How are Israelis and Europeans denied the right to decide freely about immigration in their own countries? Israel has one of the most stringent immigration policies.