France: Muslims give more support to Socialists

A study by Ifop for La Croix finds that the French Socialist Party rules among Muslims.

The survey shows the political profile of the French Muslims as close to the Left, critical of Nicolas Sarkozy and regarding François Bayrou with new sympathy. In 2004 the first study of its kind already revealed French Muslim sympathies for the Left. Today this tendency is still confirmed and established.

In four years, however, the political affinities of Muslims have known appreciable change, accompanying the jolts of actuality, from the riots of the banlieues of 2005 to the Presidential election of 2007. The trend thus gives advantage to the Socialist Party, supported by the majority of French Muslims. More than double the rest of the electoral body.

Jérôme Fourquet, who ran the study for Ifop, says that this position was confirmed after the 2005 riots and was translated into the electoral office in the last presidential elections, that saw Ségolène Royal realize remarkable results in the suburbs.

If the attraction of the extreme left is diminishing, after a peak during the presidential election, it however remains clearly stronger among Muslims than among the rest of the population and reinforces the image of a group strongly gained by the opposition. Adding the results of the Socialist Party, those of the extreme left and greens, more than 73% of Muslim voters declare their support to the left.

This massive sympathy for the leftist parties aren't explained only by the characteristic features of the Muslim electorate, younger than the average French, less favored socially. Fourquet analyzes that these social factors do play a role but that an additional premium is definitely given to the left according to the origins and culture. It benefits from a more flattering image, fed by decolonization, the opposition to racism and the support of the Palestinian cause.

In contrast, the Right can asses in these survey figures the direction to conquer the Muslim electorate. The UMP has particular trouble, with rating of less than 10%.

Nicolas Sarkozy doesn't have a brilliant standing in this area at all. He's extremely far off from Jacques Chirac's popularity in this electorate. That was one of the most outstanding points of the study. In 2004, the Muslim electorate appeared Leftist, but supported Chirac.

In 2008, it's still the Left, but anti-Sarkozy. Fourquet explains that Chirac benefited from special treatment, due to the fact that his election in 2002 was against Le Pen, his opposition to the war in Iraq and his image as a friend of the Palestinians.

Sarkozy himself hadn't succeeded in arousing similar appeal in the Muslim community, despite the signals sent to that electorate. As Minister of the Interior he had made many efforts to get the French Council of the Muslim Faith going. Elected as President he surprised in naming a government that showcases diversity, with Fadela Amara and Rachida Dati, named to the prestigious Minister of Justice.

Fourquet says that this taking of risk hasn't paid off. It wasn't enough to make people forget the other contradicting bad signals experienced by a portion of the population on the issue of immigration, on the friendship proclaimed with the USA and Israel, the creation of a "national identity" minister or the memory of the riots of 2005, when the current president was minister of the interior. The Muslim electorate is today more critical of the actions of the President.

Besides the left-right divide, the study shows the unexpected breakthrough among the Muslim electorate of François Bayrou, practicing Catholic and proclaimed head of the Christian Democracy. The head of the Union for French Democracy (MoDem), has surely profited from the last presidential campaign by bringing into this party the electorate that until now was unknown in the Centrist family.

Fourquet says that his speeches on laicite open to religions, his insistence on the necessity of escaping the clashes, is seducing also to the Muslims. He was able to speak to those who are seeking an alternative to the Socialist Party.

This should be noted by the parties. The Muslim electorate evolves, as all others, and is not acquired by one party forever.

The Ifop study was based on 109 polls between 2003-2008, with all together 108,186 French, out of which 3,280 declared themselves Muslim.

This displays the French Muslim political preferences.

(click to enlarge)

Top left - support by Muslims (green) and the national average (blue) for the different political parties, ranging from the extreme Left on top to the extreme Right at the bottom. The last line is those not supporting any party.

Bottom left - support by Muslims (green) and the national average (blue) for Chirac and Sarkozy.

Right - support for the different political parties over the past five years. Pink - Socialists, Red - extreme Left/Communists, Green - Greens, Blue - Centrist, Yellow - No party, Grey - Nationalist/Conservative

Source: La Croix 1, 2 (French)

Senegal: Committed fraud against Belgian authorities, arrested for gay marriage

Senegal has jailed a Belgian retiree and his male Senegalese domestic helper for two years for "homosexual marriage and acts against nature," their lawyer said Thursday.

Richard Lambot, 61, and Moustapha Gueye, 63, who wedded in Belgium -- where civil gay marriage is legal -- last month, were sentenced by the Dakar regional court on Augusut 21, said lawyer Seyni Ndione.

"To help Moustapha Gueye get papers to live in Belgium, Richard Lambot married him in July," Ndione said, after which they returned to Senegal -- a predominantly Muslim nation where homosexuality is frowned upon.

"This marriage was only intended to help Mr Gueye," the lawyer said, adding that a poorly conducted police investigation led the two to be accused of "acts against nature" at Lambot's home in a working-class part of Dakar.


Source: IC (English)

Belgium: Muslim Executive subsidies renewed

The Belgian Muslim Executive is receiving subsidies again.  They had been taken away since January.   A Royal Order, which appeared yesterday in the Belgian Official Journal, grants the Muslim Executive 150,000 euro.  The money is taken from the federal budget for religions, according to Le Soir.

Minister of Justice Jo Vandeurzen, responsible for the administration of religions, had postponed the granting of subsidies to the Muslim Executive at the end of March, after charges of document forgery, use of forged documents and abuse of public property against the former president of the body.

The new team, lead by imam Semsettin Ugurlu from the Borinage, Limburg resident Mehmet Üstün and Shiite convert Isabelle Praile, was formed at the end of May, together with a new Executive college and the submissoin of a financial plan to the minister.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

See also: Belgium: Muslim Executive disbanded, Belgium: Muslim Executive subsidies delayed, Belgium: Muslim Executive denies allegations, Belgium: Former Muslim leader held for embezzlement

Oslo: Gay editor gets support from Muslim women

Michael Hartman, editor of the gay magazine Pink Planet, has been subjected to persecution and harassment in the Grønland neighborhood of Oslo. He experienced surprising support from Muslim women.

Hartman lives in Urtegata in Grønland and spends most of his time in this part of Oslo with many Muslim residents. In recent years he has repeated experienced persecution by young Pakistani and Somalis on the street - because he is gay.

Hartman told that these are Pakistani men who drive by in expensive cars, roll down the window and yell curses. He also gets disparaging comments about his sexual orientation. [ed: which I'm not translating].

Last weekend Hartman participated in a seminar on Islam rub by the Tauheed Islam Center and the International Health and Social group at the Hotel Opera. There he voiced his frustration with these incidents and experienced surprising support.

He says he got a lot of sympathy and understanding from Muslim women in the hall. Many stood with tears in their eyes and asked forgiveness on account of the men in their community who do this.

Source: Utrop (Norwegian)

Cologne: Mosque plans approved

Authorities in Cologne have given the green light for the construction of what will be one of Europe's biggest mosques after Germany's main Muslim group agreed to shorten the minarets.

The Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB)'s original plans for two 55-metre (180-feet) minarets were rejected but on Thursday night the more modest plans were approved by the western city's council.

Plans for the mosque in Cologne, whose massive Gothic cathedral dominates the skyline and where 12 percent of the population are Muslims, have been on the cards for more than a year.

There are now 159 mosques in Germany, compared to just three in 1990, to serve a Muslim minority that numbers close to 3.5 million, most of them Turkish or of Turkish origin.

Source: Middle East Online (English)

CR: TV station fined for Islamophobia

This article was only available in Czech, and its translation is heavily based on Google.


Czech TV Nova was fined 100,000 korunas by the Council for Radio and Television for broadcasting xenophobic and Islamophobic content. 

The station broadcast a report about Syrian Mohamed Fahed, who had killed his Czech common-law wife in Zelesice, near Brno (see here and here for more on the incident).  Fahed had said that where he came from, the Kurdish areas of Syria, a man was allowed to kill his wife.  The reporter said that in Syria there's Sharia law, which allows a husband to kill an unfaithful wife. 

The Brno Muslim community complained to the Council, which decided that the report was xenophobic and Islamophobic, misleading regarding Islamic law.  According to the council Syria is not run by Sharia law, and in any case Sharia law does not allow a husband to take justice into his own hands.

Nova denies the allegations and will go to court.

Source: iDNES (Czech)

Marseille: Basilica transformed into mosque?

The following pictures, published by the independent news agency Novopress, are from a mural in the children's hospital of Timone, Marseille.

The mural portrays the Notre Dame de la Garde basilica, a major landmark in Marseille, being painted by a djellaba wearing artist. Novopress felt that the Virgin Mother on belfry was being transformed by the artist in the painting into a mosque and decided to check further.

the basilica (Wikipedia)

the basilica in the mural vs the original (Novopress)

the painted basilica in the mural (Novopress)

The canvas (10 by 2 meters) has been displayed in the hotel lobby since Feb 3, 2005, commissioned by the "Le Blé de l'Espérance – Maguy Roubaud" organization in order to cheer up the ill children. It was drawn by Valérie Ciccarelli and two other artists and is intended to portray life in Marseille in a humorous manner. The artist had wanted to denounce colonization and the Islamization in the city.

Valérie Ciccarelli was surprised to hear of the various interpretations offered for her work. She explained that she was asked to make a mural of Marseille and that at that time many things were going on, including a mosque project, and that explains the painter in a djellaba replacing the belfry with a minaret. Ciccarelli adores the cosmopolitan side of Marseille but says she had no intention of putting in political connotations.

Source: Novopress (French)

Marseilles: Muslim community divided over high school

The upcoming opening of a Muslim high school in Marseilles, the 4th in France, is fanning controversy, also within the Muslim community.

A school that will open only at the beginning of 2009 is causing much debate in Marseilles.  It concerns the Muslim school, which will be the fourth of its type.  Part of the Muslim community asks for this institution, but another, in particular the religious authorities, refuses and denounces the division of the community.

Thus the grand mufti of Marseilles, Soheib Bencheikh, opposes the project.  he says he doesn't see any efficiency in a purely Islamic school. the public school offers them all the opportunities for a valuable citizenship, as all French, and the parents are free to send their children to Koran school to teach them Arabic and the basics of Islam.
Abderramane Ghoule, responsible for the project, plays down the tensions within the Muslim community.  He says that people get confused when speaking of an Islamic school.  They think that it's a school that gives lessons in Arabic and Islam.  It's an approved high school  with maximum one to or two hours dedicated to Muslim culture.  He says it has nothing to do with Koran or Islamic schools.  This school is approved and teaches a program approved by the academy, as do all the high schools in France.

Source: RMC (French), h/t Le Blog Laiciste

See also: France: Fourth Islamic school, France: First Muslim high school, France: New Muslim school to open, France: new Muslim high school

Norway: Islamic Council says imams should listen to homosexuals

The Islamic Council of Norway doesn't want homosexuals, Muslim or not, to be in the closet.  They live in Norway, a democratic country, and they are free to come out, says Senaid Kobilica of the Islamic council of Norway to Dagsavisen.  He stresses that nobody should live in fear and points to violent incidents where homosexuals were beaten due to the sexual inclination.

"Most of all they need somebody to speak with.  Imams must therefore be open to listen to homosexual Muslims.  We recommend that everybody respect homosexuals and lesbians", says Kobilica.

The Islamic Council is an umbrella organization for the Islamic faith societies and organizations in Norway.  It represents close to 70,000 Norwegian Muslims.  [ed: out of an estimated 120,000-150,000]

By saying imams should listen to homosexual Muslims, Kobilica opens the door for homosexual Muslims.  But the head of the Islamic Council thinks it's incompatible to be a homosexual and a believing Muslim.

"It isn't possible to live homosexually and at the same time say that one practices Islam.  These are two incompatible things."

- Isn't is also an interpretation of Islam, that one can't be an homosexual and a believing Muslim?

"No.  Homosexuality goes against what Islam stands for, and therefore it can't be combined."

- How should the imams treat homosexual Muslims?

"The imams should listen to homosexuals and to their concerns. But naturally we will also inform them about Islamic thought and how it relates to homosexuality."

- Can homosexuality be cured?

"I don't want to speak of curing or that homosexuality is an illness.  As an imam I will note that every Muslim should live in conformity to basic Islamic principles."

Earlier this week the Islamic Council of Norway's met with SV's homo-network, where they spoke of homosexual Muslims in Norway.  This is the first time the Islamic Council met with homosexual representatives to debate on this issue.

Two and half weeks ago the Children and Equality Minister, Anniken Huitfeldt, criticized the Islamic Council for not rejecting the death sentence against homosexuals. (..)

"We stress that the Islamic Council of Norway rejects the death sentence for homosexuals in Norway, but we don't want to go into legislation in other countries," says Kobilica.

But Norwegian Muslims don't need to reject the death sentence for homosexuals outside Norway?

"As said the Islamic Council can't get involved in how other countries are run."

Senaid, you had earlier said that you can count homosexual Muslims on one hand.  Do you still think that?

"He he.  No, I've heard much about it, and it was certainly not so clever of me," answers Kobilica.

Basim Ghozlan, head of the Islamic Association, says he will naturally listen to homosexual Muslims who come to him.

"But until now I haven't seen anybody.  If they come to me, we can talk about anything.  I think they should live the way they think is right," says Ghozlan.

Source: Dagsavisen (Norwegian)

See also: Norway: Islamic Council facing loss of funds over homosexuality question, Norway: Still waiting, Norway: Waiting for the fatwa, Norway: Islamic Council turns to European Fatwa Council for ruling on homosexuals

Utrecht: Swimming pool to offer separate male swimming lessons

Aquacenter Den Hommel, Utrecht's municipal's swimming pool, will be offering swimming lessons for men, starting September 8th.

Separate swimming for women has existed for a while, but also by man there seemed to be a need for separate lessons.  According to Den Hommel's site this is for men who have never learned to swim since they came to the Netherlands at an older age or due to their cultural background.

The swimming lessons on Monday evening will be given by male swimming instructors.  The demand is very big, says company head Kuipers Weten.  The men are assured that they will not meet women once they have changed into their bathing suits, though they might still meet them while still dressed, by the reception or in the restaurant.

The separation between men and women is limited to the lessons. Special men's or women's hours are not available for whoever finishes learning to swim.

Sources: AD, Aquacenter Den Hommel (Dutch)

See also: UK: Muslim only swimming

Praying for Muslims

Open Doors, an organization aiming to help persecuted Christians in the Muslim world is organizing a prayer event before Ramadan.  Open Doors also runs the annual 30 day of prayers for Muslims during Ramadan, with participants from all over the world, as well as in Europe.


Reducing the fear of Islam, increasing love for Muslims

Prayer events and seminars from sunrise until midnight at St Aldates Church, Oxford

Around the world millions of Christians face persecution for their faith, many in Muslim societies. Brother Andrew, the founder of Open Doors, pioneered the way for Church in the West to reach out to its persecuted family in love, prayer and commitment. Brother Andrew advocates a fresh and dynamic approach to Muslims characterised by the acronym, I.S.L.A.M. — I Sincerely Love All Muslims.

By distinguishing between Islam as an ideology and Muslims as human beings, we seek to reduce the fear of Islam and increase Christians' love for Muslims, for our Lord Jesus commands and enables us to love all people, and the Apostle Paul notes that 'perfect love drives out fear'.

Sunday 31st August is the day before the beginning of Ramadan (the Muslim month of fasting). Take an honest look at some of the challenges posed by Islam today and join us as we seek to love, bless and pray for Muslim people in Britain and around the world.

Source: Open Doors (English)

Italy: Niqab woman ousted from museum, guard to be disciplined

The head of one of Venice's most prestigious museums apologized on Wednesday to a Muslim woman asked to leave the building by a guard because she was wearing a veil over her face.

The episode, which has kindled controversy in the Italian media and arguments between centre-left and centre-right politicians, occurred on Sunday in Venice's Ca' Rezzonico museum, which houses 18th-century Venetian art.

"I'm sorry for what happened and if she ever wants to return to our museum, she will be more than welcome," director Filippo Pedrocco told Reuters by telephone from Venice.

The woman, visiting the museum with her husband and children, had cleared security when she entered the building.

When she reached the second floor, a room guard told her she must remove her "niqab," which leaves only the eyes visible, or leave.

"The room guard was over-zealous. He should not have done it. She already passed security and his only duty was to guarantee the safety of the artwork in his room," Pedrocco said.

The woman was believed to have been a member of a well-off family visiting Venice from Saudi Arabia or a Gulf state.

She refused to take off the veil and left the building, which faces Venice's Grand Canal and houses works by such 18th century Venetian masters as Giandomenico Tiepolo.


Source: Reuters (English)

Sweden: First Sharia fund

See also Sveriges Radio report.

Sweden's first sharia fund is being launched today.

Until now banks and fund companies thought that the demand for Sharia funds in Sweden was too small, but after inquiries from customer who wanted a Sharia fund, fund company Selector Management registered Sweden's first Sharia fun at the end of July. Starting today Avanza Bank offers the fund to its customers.

Claes Hemberg of Avanza Bank says that their customers have been asking for a Sharia fund for a long time. The Dow Jones Islamic market index was started ten years ago and it was only a matter of time until Sharia funds came to Sweden.

The fund is called 'Selector world shariah value' and is a global fund of 110 companies from all over the world. The companies have been chosen based on Islamic criteria by the Dow Jones Sharia Board, which is composed of five imams from various countries. The companies don't trade in weapons, alcohol, porn, banks of other financial institutions.

The Sharia Board approved 2,600 companies, of which several are Swedish, but none of the 110 companies in the fund are Swedish.

Carl Ghatan, Selector's representative in Sweden, says that they started up the fund because there's a group in Swedish who don't have any investment alternative. They hope it will be offered to customers in the ten European and Asian countries Selector serves, and be accessible even in other places.

The Islamic Association in Stockholm believes that the fund will be a success. Head Abdallah Salah says that there's a giant demand for such a fund and other Muslim bank services in Sweden and that there are barely any Muslims who have actively chosen their pension savings. But now many Muslims could move their pension plan to a Sharia fund instead. And there are many companies with Muslim bosses who will invest in funds.

Jonas Lindmark, analysis head of Morningstar fund analysis company, says that it's strange that there haven't been Sharia funds in Sweden earlier. He thinks one reason that there hasn't been such a strong demand is that many Muslims keep their savings within the family and it would be interesting to see what happens with the new fund. If it would be a success, it's probably other banks will follow suit.

Source: DN (Swedish)

Source: Sweden: No interest in Islamic banking, Sweden: Islamic bank considers opening branch

Antwerp: An interview with a Muslim

The following video was posted by the Islam Colonia blog a few months ago. Intending to reveal Muslim extremism on the streets of Europe, they have not been active since. H/t Hodja.

Denmark: I love Allah

A new exhibit by Danish artist Michael Brammer, focusing on logos:

A quest
to be tolerant and respectful of cultures that you are not familiar with.

Do you dare proclaim your love?


The logo, I love Allah, has been created with a view to create greater tolerance overall - using a western logo to show acceptance of Muslims

10% of the surplus from the sales of these works will go to The Muslim Aid Federation.

Source: Brammer Gallery (English/Danish), ht/ Uriasposten (Danish)

Sweden: Holocaust study questions on Muslims and immigrants

The Swedish Living History Forum recently published its report about the teaching of the Holocaust in Sweden. The survey was conducted among history teachers and included quite a few questions related to Muslims and immigrants. The data below is for the 2007 survey, data in parenthesis is from 1998.

What do you think of Muslim girls who want to wear a veil/scarf in school?
I accept it and think it's good - 14.04% (13.13%)
I accept it - 58.49% (%28.47)
I accept it but don't approve - 21.28% (44.87%)
it's unacceptable - 2.79% (5.97%)

Do you think it's good that non-Christian students have the following possibilities:

Q: To get food in accordance with their religious regulations
Yes - 94.09% (80.17%)
No - 3.22% (12.17%)

Q: To get time off on their religious holidays
Yes - 80.84% (77.39%)
No - 10.74% (14.49%)

Q: To be released from religious classes
Yes - 3.38% (20.90%)
No - 93.73% (69.26%)

Q: To be released from gymnastics, music, art or language classes
Yes - 0.80% (7.71%)
No - 96.61% (82.77%)

Q: To be released from sexual and anatomy classes
Yes - 1.19% (9.45%)
No - 94.93% (78.75%)

Q: There a big problem in school that many students from certain cultures don't recognize the authority of female teachers.
Completely disagree - 11.63% (8.04%)
Partially disagree - 10.27% (7.85%)
Partially agree - 35.52% (37.36%)
Completely agree - 33.12% (23.03%)

Q: Immigrants in Sweden who come from non-European countries should return to their homelands.
Completely disagree - 86.56% (64.15%)
Partially disagree - 8.70% (17.22%)
Partially agree - 3.01% (9.49%)
Completely agree - 0.19% (1.41%)

Q: We should allow Jewish kosher slaughter or Muslim halal slaughter in Sweden
Completely disagree - 24.55% (35.33%)
Partially disagree - 12.72% (9.23%)
Partially agree - 18.55% (9.19%)
Completely agree - 19.23% (11.22%)

Q: Muslim immigrant parents in Sweden don't look after their children's best interests
Completely disagree - 64.70% (42.69%)
Partially disagree - 16.29% (12.70%)
Partially agree - 9.17% (11.56%)
Completely agree - 0.63% (1.64%)

Q: All immigrant children should from the beginning learn that Swedish is their mother tongue
Completely disagree - 63.64% (51.88 %)
Partially disagree - 19.62% (20.28%)
Partially agree - 11.81% (16.15%)
Completely agree - 2.82% (6.14%)

Q: Islam is a threat against the West's social and cultural advances
Completely disagree - 58.67% (32.40%)
Partially disagree - 19.30% (18.13%)
Partially agree - 12.95% (21.26%)
Completely agree - 2.31% (6.38%)

Q: Sweden's immigration and asylum policy should be more liberal than it is today
Completely disagree - 14.13% (18.85%)
Partially disagree - 23.36% (28.02%)
Partially agree - 33.83% (26.45%)
Completely agree - 13.18% (9.04%)

Q: There should be more people of immigrant background in political associations
Completely disagree - 3.16% (3.22%)
Partially disagree - 3.77% (7.67%)
Partially agree - 35.03% (37.75%)
Completely agree - 50.94% (39.07%)

Q: The authorities and the media often hide uncomfortable fact about the consequences of immigration and the costs for Swedish people.
Completely disagree - 43.67% (22.95%)
Partially disagree - 15.66% (16.16%)
Partially agree - 16.54% (26.12%)
Completely agree - 4.26% (10.01%)

Source: Living History Forum (Swedish)

Sweden: Bank reported for discriminating against Muslims

Skandiabanken bank has been reported to the Swedish Ombudsman against ethnic discrimination (DO) for discriminating against Arabic sounding names.

When Ahmad Waizy from Lindome tried to complete an international payment transaction on Skandiabanken's website, he was unable to complete the payment as the bank rejected his first name.

After ringing the bank, he was told that Skandiabanken's online payments system has a bar against names that could be of Muslim origin. Over 4000 people have Ahmad as a first name in Sweden today.

The Ombudsman against ethnic discrimination (DO) has asked Skandiabanken to justify its policy. Skandiabanken's head of press Lena Hök told Svenska Dagbladet newspaper that the bank was only following the European Union's sanctions list. This means that certain common Arabic names such as Hussein and Mohammed are affected.

However, Hök said that Skandiabanken welcomed the official report to the Ombudsman as they need a clear directive on the current status.

Source: SR (English)

Ukraine: Ramadan campaign

Muslim organizations in Ukraine are racing time to prepare for the fast-approaching holy fasting month of Ramadan with plans for religious lectures to re-charge people's spirituality and brochures to introduce Islam to non-Muslims.

"The Federation of Social Organizations in Ukraine (Arraid) is sponsoring programs to raise religious awareness among Muslims during Ramadan," Ismail Al-Kadi, its chairman, told

The federation will be organizing session for Muslims to study the Noble Qur'an and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

It will also host iftar banquets for the poor and needy during the holy fasting month.

"In Ramadan, Arraid sends nearly 800 food packages every day to poor families and orphans," said Kadi.

Ramadan, the ninth month on the Islamic lunar calendar, will fall this year in early September.

In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.

Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to become closer to Allah through prayer and self-restraint.

Many spend part of the day studying the Qur'an.

Introducing Islam

Ramadan is a special time for Ukraine's two million Muslims, who make up nearly five percent of the population.

"Ramadan brings a special joy for Ukrainian Muslims," Seran Arifof, director of the Radwan center for memorization of the Qur'an, told IOL.

"During the holy fasting month, Muslims become more active in joining awareness programs, not to mention paying zakah for the poor and orphans."

Arifof said many children show increasing interest in memorizing the Qur'an and learning more about their faith during Ramadan.

"We have seen many Ukrainian Muslims compete in international competitions for Qur'an memorization in recent years."

There are up to 200 mosques and 20 Islamic centers nationwide, which experience no restrictions by the Ukrainian authorities.

Ukrainian Muslims are also planning to seize on the holy fasting month to introduce their faith to non-Muslim compatriots.

"We are doing our utmost efforts to educate both Muslims and non-Muslims about Ramadan," said Kadi.

His organization has been distributing brochures and pamphlets about Islam and the holy fasting month.

"It is amazing the kind of reaction with which the brochures have been received by many non-Muslim Ukrainians and we have seen many of them embracing Islam during Ramadan."

Source: Islam Online (English)

UK: Qatari student killed in attack

A 16-year-old Middle Eastern language school student has died after being beaten up in what police believe was a racially motivated attack.

Mohammed al-Majed, who was from the Gulf state of Qatar, died in hospital on Sunday night from severe head injuries two days after he and his friends were set upon outside a kebab shop in Hastings, East Sussex. Police are treating his death as murder.

Majed, described by friends as "like a brother to everyone", had spent five weeks in Hastings studying English at the EF International Language School. He had been due to return home next week.

He and his friends were set upon as they left a social club for foreign students shortly before midnight on Friday. They were beaten, kicked and pelted with glass bottles by a group of youths, who stamped repeatedly on Majed's head before leaving him for dead.

Majed's room-mate, Majd Al Ghannamah, 19, who suffered a black eye, said the assailants chanted racist abuse during the attack. "They called me Saddam Hussain and Osama Bin Laden. We just wanted to get away, get home, but they attacked and we couldn't get away," he said.

Another student suffered a head injury needing six stitches. "I blame myself for not saving Mohammed, but where I come from, we are not used to this kind of thing happening. At home, we never need to defend ourselves like that," said the boy, who did not want to be named.


Source: Guardian (English)

Norway: Somali author criticizes Somali community

A Somalian woman who came to Norway more than 10 years ago is harshly criticizing her fellow Somalian immigrants and Norwegian authorities. In a new book, she claims Somalians themselves don't want to integrate into Norwegian society, and that Norwegian welfare programs make it easy for them to remain isolated.

The book written by Amal Aden, a pseudonym for the Somalian author, is already creating an uproar. Amal Aden wouldn't use her own name because of fears for her own safety.

In an interview with newspaper Aftenposten, the author said she hopes to launch a new debate on immigration and what can be done to further integration.

"I wrote the book in the hopes that children will get better lives," she said. "I want to see more integration, and the responsibility for that lies with the Somalians themselves and with the authorities."

She claims that resistance to integration is widespread especially among Somalian men, who fear losing their culture and religion. Many are afraid of Norwegians and view them as infidels who can't be trusted.

In her book, entitled "See us!" (Se oss!), Amal Aden claims the Somalians also exploit the Norwegian welfare state and have many children in order to qualify for more welfare payments. Many couples also "divorce" under Norwegian law in order for the women to receive even more welfare payments as single mothers, only to continue to live under Somalian customs with their Somalian husbands and have more children, the author claims.

She writes that violence is a part of life in Somalian homes, that young girls are often molested and women and children are intentionally kept isolated. Many Somalian men, she claims, prefer to live on welfare than accept jobs seemingly below their social status.

"I'm tired of being patient with a situation where children aren't getting enough food at home, where women are beaten by their husbands, where welfare payments to the (Somalian) families are used by the men to buy (the narcotic) khat, where the willingness to simply obtain more welfare money is stronger than the ability to care for children," writes Amal Aden. She accuses many spokesmen for the Somalian community of hypocrisy, saying they say they support integration when in reality they don't.

Several Somalian activists in Norway are already rejecting the book and blasting Amal Aden for criticizing immigrants traumatized by war and poverty in their homeland. "Half of the Somalians in Norway have been here less than five years, have little education and have problems integrating," claims Said Abdulwahab. "It doesn't help to criticize them."

Abdulwahab has five daughters himself aged four to 14, but has sent them all to school in Kenya. Not, he claims, because Norwegians can't be relied upon but because he wants them to get a good education.

Major publishing firm Aschehoug has put out the book, saying that while it may be accused of stigmatizing Somalians, it's important to "release new voices" on the issue. Aschehoug editor Halvor Fosli said Amal Aden had "a brave pen."


Source: Aftenposten (English)

Sweden: Boys facing honor violence

Boys are also victims of so-called honour violence, according to Save the Children Sweden, an organisation dedicated to upholding children's rights both at home and internationally.

The number of boys reporting that they have been the victim of honour violence is between five and ten percent.

Monica Brendler, a psychotherapist at Save the Children Sweden, believes the problem is even greater. Speaking to Swedish Radio, Brendler told of boys threatened with violence if they do not adhere to their parents' strict rules and in some cases are even sent to their parents' homelands to be "educated" in their relatives' way of living.

Brendler feels that society is usually better at helping young males who themselves display aggressive behaviour rather than those who are victims of aggression or threat.

Brendler called for special emergency centres for boys and young males, just as there are those for young girls.

Source: SR (English)

See also: Sweden: Challenging the honor culture

London: Bulgarian passports for sale in mosques

The original report is in News of the World

A criminal group in London is selling Bulgarian passports to suspected terrorists, a British newspaper reported after undertaking an investigation. A Bangladesh citizen was selling Bulgarian passports in a mosque in East London for GBP 1500 apiece. The merchant was trying to find customers by assuring that since Bulgaria is EU member state anyone who purchases a passport will be living in London undisturbed by authorities. 24 Chasa Daily reports.

Source: FOCUS (English)

Islam in Europe Weekly Review

In China the Olympics have ended.  There was not much talk of European Muslim athletes, though there were quite a few of them, as can be seen from this picture of Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad of the French athletics team.

Terrorism: A report by PET, the Danish Security Service, says that Danish citizens are active in Jihad abroad.  Or at least, that's what it would have said, if PET hadn't also recommended not to use the word 'Jihad'.  Recent terror arrests in the UK are apparently also connected to Scandinavia, as the suspects were headed for Finland.  Meanwhile, former Guantanamo prisoners are asking for asylum in Switzerland.

Ramadan: Ramadan is starting next week.  In France a Muslim charity plans to use the month for a charity campaign.  In the UK a pharmacy chain is offering special Ramadan services.  In the Netherlands, doctors are advising Muslims who have diabetes to abstain from fasting (NL).  In Switzerland, a professor proposed exchanging a couple of minor Christian official holidays for Muslim ones.

Mosques: Two attacks against mosques, one in Sweden  - where one of the arsonists in Sweden was arrested (EN) - and one in France.  In Paris the mayor of the 11th arrondisement mayor was asked to stop a mosque from broadcasting its sermons on loudspeakers, while in Italy the Northern League intends to propose anti-mosque laws.  I had started off a list of mosques in Europe, which I hope to keep updated with new information.

Censorship and provocations: The American publisher of "Jewel of Medina", a book about Mohammed's child wife, decided not to publish the book.  In Serbia the book was published, but was then shelved.  This was not enough for one Muslim leader, though another says it was too much.  The book might yet be printed in Europe, and in Denmark the publisher's association supports its publishing (EN). 

A decision by the mayor of Sarajevo to paint the pavements green was called 'provocative' by a Croatian group.  In Berlin an Arab magazine said gays carried diseases, sparking outrage. 

Mixed marriages: A recent survey shows that Danes oppose mixed marriages with Muslims, much more so than Muslims.  In Sweden a Christian-Muslim couple trying to bury their son ran into problems with the local imam.

Demographics: A survey in France about religious affiliation found 5% were Muslims.  While Danish women are having more children, the fertility rate of non-Western immigrant women is dropping.

Crime: Police in Paris are investigating an antisemtic shirt.  An attack on an ice-cream parlor in Germany was apparently an issue of family honor among Turks.  Sweden suspects Iraqi asylum seekers are abusing their repatriation scheme.  In the UK a man is accused of forcing two boys to join in a violent Shia ritual.

In Other News:

* Muslims in Finland are looking for land to set up a cemetery.

* A third of the girls in Stockholm removed from their family's custody have been subjected to honor violence.

* Immigrant traders in Sweden prefer not to take bank loans.  The same pattern had been noticed previously in Amsterdam.

* A court in Rotterdam ruled the municipality was allowed to reject a job applicant who refused to shake hands with women.

* A French inventor came up with a French-Arabic alphabet.

* German Muslim youth and puzzling identities.


This article was cross-posted to Islam in Europe and to THE ASTUTE BLOGGERS.

France: Muslim charity plans Ramadan campaign

 As French Muslims ready to greet the fast-approaching Ramadan, a Muslim charity is preparing to feed thousands of poor people and orphans in the European country during the fasting month.

"We hope our Ramadan campaign will be the real launch for the Muslim Hands charity in France," Kamal Al-Zein, the charity's exchequer, told

Established in 1993 in Britain, Muslim Hands is an international NGO offering help to people affected by poverty, natural disaster and conflict around the world.

It has offices in more than 40 countries worldwide and has partnership with world relief organizations including the UN Food Program and UN children's fund (UNICEF).

Based in Faubourg Saint Denis district in the capital Paris, Muslim Hands made its first steps in France last year.

"Over the past year, we focused on gaining a legal status to the group and promoting its activities," he said.

Now, the group is preparing to start its charity work.

"Ramadan will see the group's first real chairty activity in France."


Source: Islam Online (English)

Italy: Northern League seeks to block mosque building

Italy's Northern League, the populist, xenophobic, sometimes separatist movement that is a key component of Silvio Berlusconi's governing coalition, has proposed new legislation which would in effect halt construction of new Islamic mosques.

The bill, which the League's chief of deputies Roberto Cota is expected to send to parliament next week, would require regional approval for the building of mosques. It would also require that a local referendum be held, that there be no minaret or loudspeakers calling the faithful to prayer, and sermons must be in Italian, not Arabic.

Chances of this being approved as it stands are slim, since it clashes with a number of constitutional rights and there was no immediate support from either Berlusconi's Forza Italia party or from the exfascist National Alliance.

But there has been cautious support from the small, ultra-Catholic UDC party, and the proposed anti-mosque legislation undoubtedly reflects widespread feeling among Italians that some defence against a rapidly rising Islamic presence is needed. At present, the Muslim population in Italy is estimated at 1m, with 258 registered mosques.

The Northern League, which theoretically favours the secession of northern Italy from the centre and south, won more than 8 per cent of the vote at the April general elections, and has always trumpeted defence of national values of the northern Italian "race" as the natural product of its homeland.


Source: Financial Times (English)

Denmark: Danes more opposed to mixed marriages than Muslims

Only 38% of Danes agree that their children will marry Muslims, according to a study by Catinét Research og Analyse Danmark. On the Muslim side, 48% would agree to a Danish son or daughter in law, reports journal Ugebrevet A4.  16% of Danes and 14% of Muslims oppose mixed friendships among children.

According to integration consultant Fahmy Almajid the numbers show that Danes generally aren't good at letting foreigners come closer and that the lack of integration is not just the fault of immigrants.

Almajid told Ugebrevet A4 that people always accuse the immigrants and reproach them for not wanting to integrate, but at the same time people turn their backs to them and tell them that they're not 'part of us'.  That is why we have a parallel society today, says Almajid.

Source: Berlingske (Danish)

UK: Terror investigation moves to Scandinavia

Three men arrested on suspicion of terror offenses are linked to an investigation into threats to kill British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, police sources have confirmed.

Although there was no firm plot, an extremist jihad Web site had called in January for Brown's death.

The Internet hosts many sites from groups and individuals claiming allegiance to Al Qaeda and Usama bin Laden.

It routinely issues warnings and threats to political leaders in the U.K. and the U.S. over the West's involvement in the Middle East.

The three suspects, aged 21, 22 and 23, and from Blackburn, Lancashire, were all arrested on Aug. 14 under the Terrorism Act 2006.

Two were detained at Manchester Airport as they were about to board a flight to Finland; the third was arrested in Accrington, Lancashire.

Counter-terrorist officers from Greater Manchester and Lancashire have flown to Scandinavia to continue their investigations.

Detectives have been granted up to next Thursday to hold the suspects, when they will have to charge them, release them or seek an extension to their custody.

The sweep was said to be the culmination of a counter-terrorism operation between Lancashire Police and Greater Manchester Police's Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU).

Neighbours described the suspects as "normal everyday lads."

One man who lives in Percival Street, where two of the men lived, said: "You don't expect it on your doorstep but that's life. It could happen anywhere."

Source: Fox (English)

Lyon: Attack on mosque

A Nazi graffiti was painted on a hall in Meyzieu, a suburb of Lyon, and a fire started in the toilets Thursday.

The hall of 300 sqm, purchased and renovated by the local Muslim association, was to be inaugurated shortly and operation for the coming Ramadan.

Written in German, the inscription was the motto of the SS "Loyalty is our honor" and was written on the facade of the building, according to the local mayor, Michel Forissier.

Moreover, at the rear of the building a window was broken and a plastic bag filled with papers was thrown in, sprayed with inflammable liquids to set the fire.  The fire did not spread and the firefighters didn't need to intervene, according to Forissier, but the smoke caused damage, notably to the toilet area.

The inauguration of the hall shouldn't be called into question.  the mayor advanced a theory of an 'isolated' incident since there was no opposition to the project in the municipality, which has always accommodated all religions.

Source: France 2 (French)

Denmark: Danish citizens active in terrorism abroad

Many people who are either Danish citizens or have legal residency in Denmark are involved in terror-related activities abroad and will be more closely monitored, according to intelligence agency PET.

In its 2007 annual report, the agency stated that the number of such cases is increasing and called the development 'disturbing'.

PET mentions Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and Lebanon as countries Danish residents are often using to conduct terror-related activities. The involvement can be direct or indirect, such as financial assistance or the passing on of information, according to the agency.

The report points to the three recent terror trials in Denmark - the Vollsmose, Glasvej and Glostrup cases - as evidence that foreign-based terror groups have contacts inside Denmark. In addition, the report warned of independent terror networks existing within Denmark itself.

PET also indicated that Denmark's participation in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has put more focus on the country as a target for terror organisations.

Jakob Scharf, head of PET, said creating a dialogue with the more radical groups – which tend to be of Muslim background – was a part of prevention efforts, even if the dialogue was based on disagreement. He said the UK's tactic of finding contacts that have influence over young people was of vital importance.

In addition to addressing terrorism, the report also showed that organised crime was increasing in Denmark, primarily in connection with narcotics.

Source: Copenhagen Post (English)

See also: Denmark: Danish Muslims training in al-Qaeda camps, planning attack against Denmark, Denmark: Danes inciting Jordanians against Denmark, Denmark: Cooperating with extremists

Switzerland: Former Guantanamo prisoners apply for asylum

Three detainees at the US Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba have applied for political asylum in Switzerland, reports said Thursday.

The men are from Libya, Algeria and China, the Swiss federal office for migration confirmed. The Chinese man is a member of China's Uighur Muslim minority.

The spokesman for the migration office, Jonas Montani, told dpa that the applications would be handled like any other.

According to Swiss media reports, the three asylum seekers have been released from the US prison camp without charge. The camp was set up following the 2001 attacks on the US for suspected terrorists.

Source: Expatica (English)

Paris: Appeal against loudspeaker sermons

The following open letter was written by Laurent Brodhac in the secularist paper Riposte Laïque.  The Omar Ibn-Al Khattab is suspected to belong to the Muslim Brotherhood. 


To the attention of Patrick Bloche, mayor of the 11th arrondissement, deputy for Paris,

Mr. Deputy-Mayor,

For many months now the Omar Mosque which every Friday takes over Moret street and stops traffic in order to pray, from now imposes its sermons on all the neighbors by broadcasting them via loudspeakers in the street.

In a secular democracy citizens have a right to expect of a religious movement that it will not force the whole neighborhood to follow its sermons.

If secularism allows everyone to live their religious convictions freely, it equally requires respecting the opinions of others.
I don't need to shut my windows to avoid hearing "Allah Akbar" chants resonating in the street.
Opposite the cultural center of the  Maison des Métallos and near the Place de la République square, I want to believe that the state of law can again enforce itself.

As we are in Paris, the responsibility of the arrondissement mayor is as important as that of the police commissioner.

That is why, Mr. Bloche, I appeal to you, as mayor, but also as a deputy, to apply the constitutional values of our Republic and to allow everybody to live together with respect for each other.

In the hope of hearing from you favorably, Mr. Deputy-Mayor, yours sincerely,

Source: Riposte Laïque (French), h/t Le Blog Laiciste

Rotterdam: Court rules for municipality in handshaking case

The social services in Rotterdam were right in denying a job to a Muslim man who did not want to shake hands with women.  According to the Rotterdam court somebody who meets with customers on a daily basis and builds up a bond of trust must also have hand contact.

The Muslim had turned to the court since he claimed his freedom of religion was being affected.  Earlier the Committee for Equal Treatment had agreed with him.  The judge agreed with the Rotterdam municiaplity that somebody who daily recieves customers at the social services may not refuse shaking hands.

Source: NOS (Dutch)

See also: Netherlands: Find another way to show respect

Sweden: Problems at joint Christian/Muslim funeral

One year old David was buried a week ago at the Landskrona cemetery, but the funeral didn't go as planned.

The Reza family lives near the cemetery and Monir Reza can therefore visit his son's grave every day.  He tries not to think of what happened when the casket was lowered in, but like his wife, he's very disappointed with the imam's behavior during the funeral.  Monir and Carina Reza never had problems with the fact that they're of two different religions.

David Reza was just over a year old.  After a short illness though he passed away at Lund's hospital on July 29 this year.  Already at the hospital the parents discussed how they would conduct the funeral.  Carina is Christian and Monir is Muslim.  They have been together for 13 years and had never considered that one would convert to the religion of the other.  Therefore it was natural for them that the ceremony would contain something from both religions.  They wanted to have an assembly in the church and burial in a Muslim cemetery, but their wish proved hard to fulfill.

Carina Reza says that it shouldn't be so in Landskrona in 2008.  That must be better cooperation between the religions. 

A wild discussion started up at the grave site regarding how the ceremony should be conducted.  The clash ended with the imam refusing to finish the burial. He left and the family and friends concluded the ceremony.

The imam was angry since the boy had in the casket some stuffed animals, letters and pictures.

Carina says that to get to such a situation at the grave was terrible.

Both Carina and Monir speak calmly and objectively about what happened.  They don't want to complain about Islam as a religion or about the individual imam.  They want to draw attention to the problem, so that others in their situation won't meet the same resistance.  They say they doubt they're the only couple of different religions.

Contact with the Swedish church was smooth.  The hospital priest Britt Marklund in Landskrona could see eliminating some of the Christian elements, such as making the sign of the cross, out of respect for all the Muslims present.

Finding an imam was much more difficult.  A first contact in Lund ended negatively.  The imam said it was against his religion to bury somebody who hadn't been washed according to the religion's rules.  Carina and Monir's sisters had already washed David in the hospital in Lund.

The next attempt was Fekri Hamad, an imam in Landskrona.  Monir says he'd asked him how often she prayed, why his wife hadn't converted to Islam and other things which didn't have to do with the burial.

The imam wanted to think it over but in the end it was decided that Britt Marklund should lead the assembly in the church and Fekri Hamad the ceremony in the cemetery.

The church service proceeded as planned and Carina says that it was beautiful.  The organ played  from a Swedish musical, everybody sang and friends read texts.  Monir's relatives understood why they needed two weeks to prepare everything.

After the church service the company assembled in the Muslim part of the cemetery.  The imam came late wearing jeans and a sweatshirt.  With introducing himself, he began his prayer.  when the casket was to be lowered, he asked in Arabic if the boy was laying on his right side and asked to open the casket.

Monir says that he heard people say 'God, it's just a little boy'.

When the imam says the things they had put next to David he got upset and said that they had made God upset and shouted that they're sinning and that God will never forgive them.

Carina and Monir believe that the situation could have been solved much more smoothly if the imam hadn't been so upset.  They say they were open for change.  For example, they knew they shouldn't put valuables in the casket and didn't do so.

Monir says he doesn't want to criticize Islam, but that man didn't show respect for his son.  It hurts him that the imam had yelled and screamed.  Monir had lost David and the imam had trampled his feelings.

The imam should be a good example and guide people, says Carina and asks does tradition really have to be more important than flexibility?

The Reza couple is now trying to digest what had happened.  They have a three year old daughter to take care of and Monir's colleagues at Skånetrafiken miss him at work. The family don't want the negative events to become a lasting memory.  Already now they can smile that David had contributed to getting their families closer.  Carina tells how her 78 year old father and Monir's 77 year old father  met at the church.  They didn't speak the same language, but they hugged and supported each other.

She says that their families really stood by them.  At the grave there was complete consensus among the people, and all took part in filling in the grave.


The imam, Fekri Hamad, who works in Landskrona and Helsingborg, regrets that he'd agreed to participate.  His version of the events doesn't differ from that of the family.  He understand that the family is disappointed about how the funeral ceremony developed, but that as an imam he can't compromise on his religion.

The problem is that they mixed two religions, he says.  He has a good relationship with the Swedish Church and they work together, but there are cases when people can't mix.

Hamad was upset that the boy was wearing the wrong clothes.  According to the Islamic ritual, the body should be buried in a kafan, a white cloth.  The boy wasn't wearing it, but he didn't say anything.  But there were also toys in there and he couldn't have that.

Hamad had asked them to take away the toys.  He says that otherwise everybody would have done so in the future.  He says that he had told them that if they want to bury him according to Islam, they must follow the Muslim rules.  If you discard all the rules and bury him in a different way that's up to them, but they shouldn't ask him to help with the burial.

At that point he left, which he doesn't regret.  He says that he told them not to call him again, and that he can't have a relationship with them.  It's not him who decided that without the religion.

How can a few small toys be so important?  Hamad answers that having toys in the grave means you believe in something else, not what God had said in the Koran.  In life people can have toys and fun, but in life after death people can't have connection with what they had in life.  What would it have meant if he left the toys in there?  Would the dead boy have played with them.  In  that case he (Hamad) doesn't believe in what God had said.


Othman Al Tawalbeh, imam and Islamologist, works at Ib Rushd, a Muslim study association in Sweden, in adult education about Islam.
He says that what the imam did was clearly wrong and that having toys in the grave isn't such a big thing.  It doesn't conflict ideologically with anything in Islam that can't be tolerated.  There were students of the prophet, for example, who had been buried with parts of the prophet's  hair.

That the imam left the place is even worse.  HE should have done his job and helped the family to follow their wishes.  If he thought they were doing things wrong, he should have continued with the ceremony.  It's the family who's answerable to God, not the imam.

Othman Al Tawalbeh explains that Muslim scholars disagree on whether children should be washed before burial, but that it isn't such a big thing.  The bodies are washed for the sake of worship, but such a little child is sin-free, he's automatically a bird in paradise.

He thinks in this case there was a lack of knowledge.  An imam can't leave the funeral in this manner.  It's immoral.  Unfortunately there are people today who call themselves imams, but lack education. There are amateurish imams who Google if they get a question.  People must give religious answers based on the context they're in, not to import answers and say that they apply literally.

He says that a ceremony that combines two religions wasn't done in the past.  He thinks that's why the imam hesitated if he should be there.  But he says that people can do two separate things.  The pries does his first ten minutes, then the imam.  That can be in the same place, for example in the church.

Asked about the family being told that the imam couldn't be in the church Othman Al Tawalbeh answers that it's completely wrong and just stupidity.  He himself, he says, had conducted ceremonies together with the Swedish Church in Landskrona.  However, people can have objections to a completely common ceremony.  For example, Christianity's trinity contradicts Islam's image of God.

But the father and family have done nothing wrong.  It just has to do with the imam's understanding of Islam.

Sources: HD 1, 2, 3 (Swedish)

Serbia: Muslim leader against withdrawing Aisha book

Serbia's two main Muslim organisations are divided over a controversial book that has been withdrawn from sale.

'The Jewel of Medina' written by Sherry Jones has been withdrawn from bookshops after the Islamic Community organisation complained about its content.

The group's mufti Muamer Zukorlic said the book was an insult to Muslims and asked the Belgrade publisher Beobuk to withdraw it from the market.

Beobuk's director Aleksandar Jasic later apologised and the book was withdrawn.

However, The Islamic Community of Serbia, mufti Adem Ziklic on Tuesday said Zukorlic just wanted to represent himself as the sole representative of all Muslims in the country.

"This way Zukorlic has imposed himself as the only protector of Islam and causing this much stir over the book will only result in a bigger demand for the novel.

"I doubt that the mufti has read the book and it seems he is acquainted only with the parts which directly refer to scenes from the Koran (the Muslim holy book)," Ziklic said.


Source: AKI (English)

See also: Serbia: 'Jewel of Medina' withdrawn, Muslims not satisfied

UK: Pharmacy to offer Ramadan service

A famed pharmacy chain in Britain will offer a special medical service for Muslims during the holy fasting month of Ramadan, to help patients observe the dawn to dusk fasting without endangering their health.

"We know that during Ramadan many patients change the times they take their medicines, or even the number of doses they take each day, without first seeking medical advice," Adrian Price, Professional Practice Manager of the Co-operative Pharmacy chain, told The Telegraph on Tuesday, August 19.

"Spending a few minutes discussing their plans with a pharmacist can identify potential problems and discuss possible solutions."

The Co-operative Pharmacy, the third largest pharmacy chain in the UK with over 800 branches, is offering free checks for Muslim customers during Ramadan, expected to fall on the first of September.

"We encourage all our regular customers to have a medicine check but with Ramadan approaching they are particularly useful for people intending to fast."

During the month, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain during daylight hours from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.

Ramadan, the ninth month on the Islamic lunar calendar, is also a time for Muslims to feel closer to God through prayer and self-restraint.


The chain has trained pharmacists at 40 branches in areas with large populations of Muslims.

They will guide Muslims on how to fast without undermining the effectiveness of drugs and on the dangers of changing the times of prescribed medications without consultation.

"For example, longer-acting slow-release alternative drugs may be available," explained Price.

"We're not making assumptions about how Muslim patients might act, but we strongly recommend they talk to their pharmacist."

The high-street pharmacy chain has already published ads to introduce the new service on its website in English, Urdu and Bengali.

Britain is home to a sizable, multi-ethnic Muslim minority of nearly 2 million, mainly from Pakistani, Bengali and Indian backgrounds.

Price insists the Ramadan service aims at showing understanding to the religious needs of the Muslim customers.

"We appreciate the importance of cultural understanding and sensitivity when discussing the implications on health care of people's religious beliefs."

Source: Islam Online (English)

Sarajevo: Green pavements deemed “provocation”

The Croatia Libertas NGO says that the decision to paint pavements in Sarajevo in green is pure provocation.

(green sidewalks, Bosnia News)

The non-governmental organization stated that the painted pavements were a clear message from Muslims to all the city’s other residents that Sarajevo was not the capital city of Bosnia-Herzegovina, but an ethnically Bosniak capital.

“This is a message of intolerance and a perfidious scene of ethnic cleansing that was preconceived as a way to drive away people of other ethnicities and religions living in Sarajevo,” said NGO President Leo Pločkinić.

He said that nowhere in the world were streets and pavements painted green—the color traditionally linked with Islam—not even in Tehran.

“It is clear that Sarajevo wants to be a greater Tehran than the capital city of the Islamic Republic of Iran itself,” Pločkinić surmised.

Sarajevo Mayor Semiha Borovac said that painting the pavements and streets green would be good for the city, because the city lacked greenery.

Source: B92 (English), h/t Weasel Zippers

See also: Bosnia: Sarajevo almost fully Muslim

UK: Boys 'flogged' during Shia ritual

A man whipped himself until he bled during a Shia Muslim religious ceremony, before allegedly forcing two boys to do the same, a court has heard.

Syed Mustafa Zaidi, 44, is accused of encouraging the boys, aged 13 and 15, to beat themselves at a community centre in Manchester on 19 January.

Manchester Crown Court was played a film showing Mr Zaidi beating himself with a whip made of knives and chains.

Mr Zaidi, of Station Road, Eccles, denies two counts of child cruelty.

It is the first case of its kind ever to be prosecuted in the UK.


The court heard how Mr Zaidi had attended a meeting at the community centre two days before the ceremony, where it was made plain that children under the age of 16 should not participate.

Mr Zaidi denies forcing the boys to participate and claims they had requested to take part.

Mr Nuttall said: "The prosecution say the defendant ignored the advice given to him that this practice was not allowed for children under 16 years of age."

He said Zaidi forced the boys to participate in a ceremony "clearly designed to cause self harm".

Mr Nuttall added: "This was not only against their own will but in any event is not allowed by law."

The case continues.


Source: BBC (English)

See also: Netherlands: Day of Ashura

Serbia: 'Jewel of Medina' withdrawn, Muslims not satisfied

The Islamic Community in Serbia said on Monday it was not satisfied with the withdrawal of Sherry Jones' novel, The Jewel of Medina, from the country's bookshops.

Referring to the book released by Belgrade publisher Beobuk three weeks ago, the organisation's leader Muamer Zukorlic said it was "offensive to Muslims" and demanded all of the published copies be handed in.

He also called for director Aleksandar Jasic to repent for what he had done.

After an initial complaint from the Islamic community, Jasic apologised saying the company "had no intention of insulting Muslims in Serbia" and announced the book would not be available in any bookstore in the country.

But Zukorlic said on Monday that this was not enough.

"Jasic needs to sincerely repent because of the incident he caused," Zukorlic said.

Zukorlic has already compared The Jewel of Medina with the Mohammed cartoon controversy in Denmark.

The Danish cartoons, deemed offensive to Islam, led to worldwide protests when they were first printed in September 2005.

"Obviously someone wishes to join the ranks of those who produced the cartoons in Denmark several years ago and it is an insult to all Muslims of the world, especially for us here in Serbia," said Mufti Zukorlic.

The book was due to have a world premier in Serbia, since its US publisher decided against selling the book fearing the reaction of radical Muslims.

Jasic explained that Macedonia, Croatia, Spain and France had also bought the rights for the book.

The novel is a love story about the life of Aisha, the seventh wife of the Islam prophet Mohammed, and follows her life from her betrothal to the prophet when she was six-years-old.

According to the novel, Aisha was Mohammed's favourite wife and he died in her arms.

Source: AKI (English)

Sweden: Iraqis in suspected repatriation grant racket

A financial incentive scheme encouraging asylum seekers to return to their homelands has been abused by hundreds of Iraqi refugees, Swedish authorities believe.

The Swedish Migration Board suspects that Iraqis who never intended staying in the country have been exploiting the asylum seeker repatriation grant introduced by the government last year.

The board has written a letter to the justice ministry explaining that "it is relatively clear that the foreigners are not seeking asylum to stay in Sweden but to receive financial support."

Iraqi asylum seekers in particular have taken back their applications after a short period and instead applied for grants intended as an aid for people wishing to move back to their home countries.

The record was set by a man who cancelled his asylum application after just eight days and put in a request for a repatriation grant.

Of the 685 Iraqi who have applied for the repatriation grant this year, 291 did so after their asylum applications were rejected, while 385 canceled their asylum requests and applied for the grant instead.

On August 1st last year the government earmarked 27 million kronor for repatriation grants. Currently the grant amounts to 20,000 kronor ($3,000) for an adult with a cap of 50,000 kronor per family.

So far the authorities have paid out 5.5 million kronor in repatriation grants.

Source: The Local (English)

See also: Sweden: Financing for Iraqi entrepreneurs

Germany: Muslim Youth and Puzzling Identities

"The profile of the German Muslim youth has been changed visibly. Their expectations towards their local communities, their parents and also towards their society have been changed likewise. But dangers increase on the other hand. If you neglected those young people, there might be a possibility of ending up in drugs, violence and crime. We are not able to address all the masses, but we rather have to deal with the youth personally, individually and locally," Mesut Gülbahar, chairman of Islamische Gemeinschaft Milli Gôrüs (IGMG)'s youth section, commented on the situation of Muslim youth in Germany.

"My parents wanted to educate me in a certain direction, but I don't think they succeeded in their attempt because they missed something important: They could not give me a Muslim identity that is compatible with Germany," Hischam Abul Ola, a German Muslim youth, summarized his point of view.

Torn between different identities and affected by real problems (such as unemployment, poverty, educational deficiencies, and assumedly crime), young Muslims in Germany are trying to find their way, not only in their daily lives but also in their religious practice.

Seen with a sober eye, Germany seems to be missing a lot when it comes to the traditional role model of the "Futuwwa" that shaped, for more than thousand of years, the attributes of Muslim youth. The young Muslims are not to be blamed for this statue, but rather the current circumstances and the failing of the previous generations to create the proper condition for the appearance of this life transaction are to be blamed.

There are currently around 1.5 million Muslim children and youth living in Germany. Mostly, their parents and mosque societies are caring for their religious education. So far, there is no Islamic teaching in state-run schools, an issue discussed for years.

Recently, there are pilot projects in some of the German federal states. "But even if Muslim students are informed about their religion by means of regular Islamic teaching in the state schools, this would be only a small contribution to the religious identity of young Muslims," observed well-known sociologist Werner Schiffauer.


Source: Islam Online (English)

Sweden: Immigrant traders shun banks

Small business owners in Sweden with an immigrant background avoid taking out bank loans when setting up their own businesses, according to a new report from the Swedish Trade Federation.

Eight out of ten trading companies use money they have either saved or borrowed from family and friends when starting out in business in Sweden.

"A lot of people have discovered gaps in the Swedish market, which has led them to introduce products or services they have experience of from their home countries," said federation spokeswoman Margareta Ternell in a statement.

Of the traders questioned in the survey, 70 percent said their business was very strongly influenced by their background.

Some 65 percent of the companies imported goods from the owners' home regions. These products include food, clothing, cosmetics, furniture, gold and textiles.

55 percent said the products they sold were not previously available on the Swedish market.

The Swedish Trade Federation is to be present the study in its entirety at a seminar in Stockholm on September 23rd.

Source: The Local (English)

See also: Amsterdam: Immigrant entrepreneurs turn to private loans