For my feed subscribers: I've been having problems with my feed over the past few days, but it looks like it's fixed now.
The controversial ultra-conservative Tilburger Ahmad Salam is not a direct security threat for Dutch democracy or order, but his fundamentalist religious convictions can clash with Dutch norms and values.
This is the conclusion of the IVA researchers, an agency linked to the Tilburg University. They presented their results Monday to the Tilburg municipal council.
The study was conducted due to signs of dangerous developments in the mosque of Salam in Tilburg-Noord, including information which the police received from the Dutch intelligence service AIVD.
Ahmad Salam belongs to a group of Salafi imams who are followed by the AIVD. His mosque is considered a radical one, along with the El Tawheed mosque in Amsterdam, the Al Fourqaan mosque in Eindhoven and the As Soennah mosque in The Hague. He's particularly famous since 2004 because he refused to shake hands with Rita Verdonk, who was minister at the time. This type of visible conflict-situation and customs can set the tone and can be the basis for tensions, according to the researchers. They point to the menacing effect on the long term.
The researchers spoke with the many Moroccan and Somali mosque visitors. They consider imam Salam as a great leader. His authority is unquestionable.
He doesn't really solve practical day-to-day life problems for his followers, since he sees problems out of his uncompromising religious interpretation. 'The followers are made and kept vulnerable by that attitude.
Mayor Ruud Vreeman (Labor) told the imama two years ago that he didn't belong in the Netherlands. "I'm not happy with him," he said Monday, referring to his fanaticism and old-fashioned attitudes. Vreeman is particularly concerned by the youth who visit the mosque in Tilburg-Noord.
The Tilburg council will later discuss the results of the study and a still confidential plan of action by the board. Coalition party VVD said it was doubtful of the conclusions. Fraction chairman Roel Lauwerier says that his party didn't change it's point of view. "Really, there is just one place where imam Salam belongs: with a one-way ticket in a plane to Syria."
Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)
From the worlds of politics, business, sport and the arts, Britain's unsung Muslim heroes and heroines were honored and celebrated at a ceremony that recognizes the very best of Muslim contribution to the British society.
"This Awards ceremony is about recognizing those individuals who aspire to attain their very best as members of our society," Ahmed J Versi, editor of The Muslim News said at the ceremony of the annual Muslim News Awards for Excellence on Monday, March 31.
Winners of the annual awards, presented by the monthly Muslim newspaper, were announced in a massive celebration and gala dinner in central London.
The shortlist and later the winners of are chosen by a panel of independent judges drawn from Britain's Muslim community to reflect a cross-section of opinion and experience.
After pruning back scores of nominations, the panel reaches the winners list for the awards presented in 15 different categories.
The annual ceremony is celebrating its ninth year.
Shadow justice secretary Dominic Grieve, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Communities Secretary Hazel Blears were among more than 800 people invited to the event.
"The Muslim News Awards are an important opportunity for us all to recognize and show our appreciation for the valuable contribution that British Muslims make to our shared society," Smith said in the ceremony.
Clegg said that the awards provide an opportunity to acknowledge the many successful achievements of British Muslims.
"They also encourage us to reflect upon the valuable social, cultural, and economic contribution made by the Muslim community in the UK."
Source: Islam Online (English)
Halal slaughter in Denmark involves stunning the animal first, as with any other slaughter, and then doing the ritual slaughter. Other than that, based on different news articles on the subject, I'm unclear whether such slaughter is taking place in Sweden or not.
For those who favor the stunning method, see also: Pigs boiled alive at Swedish meat plants
The Muslim Association of Sweden (SMF) has renewed calls for the legalization of religious slaughter practices such as kosher and halal.
In a letter to the Swedish government, SMF chairperson Mahmoud Aldebe, challenges the government to respect the "democratic rights" of Sweden's Muslims to exercise their "religious freedoms" and find a way to permit the practice.
He points out that all other European Union countries have found a way to permit religious slaughter practices in a way that most religious authorities accept.
The halal slaughter method is administered by means of a sharp knife, cutting through the skin, jugular vein, and trachea to result in thorough bleeding of the carcass in preparation for dressing and evisceration in accordance with Islamic guidelines.
There is a great deal of similarity between halal and kosher methods and some Muslim halal authorities accept kosher meat as halal.
A key issue is when and how the pain killer is administered to the animal. The SMF is seeking a dispensation from the agriculture ministry over the requirement that an electric shock be administered to the animal before the cut is made.
"This method is prohibited by most Muslim and Jewish authorities as the risk of the animal dying before the cut is made is high," Aldebe writes.
The ban on the slaughter of animals by cutting the jugular vein has been in force in Sweden since 1937.
Aldebe points out that in 1937 "around 20 Muslims" lived in Sweden. There are now around 500,000 and 60 percent of these are Swedish citizens.
Aldebe argues that the Swedish government should consider the issue as a question of the democratic rights to religious freedoms and not bow to pressure from "extremist groups" such as "neo-Nazis, animal rights activists and certain veterinarians" and grant dispensation.
Source: The Local (English)
* Sweden: Halal slaughtered chickens
* Sweden: Prime Minister calls on companies to offer Muslims services
The Dutch themselves aren't big on pain management either.
Palliative care for Muslims is often hindered by cultural barriers and prejudices. Muslims are often afraid of pain management since it makes one drowsy, and in the Koran it says one must be alert before Allah.
A Muslim soon to be facing death who can say his confession while alert, is a lucky man. Since one must appear alert before Allah and make the transition to the new life fully conscious, the Koran proscribes. Many Muslims therefore prefer to avoid severe pain management which make one drowsy. Prof. Wouter Zuurmond of the VU Medical Center saw this in his work as a doctor at the Expertise Center for Palliative Care in the Kuria Hospice in Amsterdam, which he manages. It frustrates him, since he knows pain management doesn't always makes one drowsy. He says pain management is like a suit which should be fitted to size.
More and more nurses and artists meet Muslims in their owk, who in their last stage of life need support. Knowledge about religious backgrounds, cultural customs, but also prejudices, seem important, if these care providers want to do their work well. the VU Medical Center therefore organized on Sunday a symposium about nursing care for Muslims in the palliative phase of an illness.
Besides incorrect ideas about pain treatment, Zuurmond also saw in his pracitce that pain is seen as a punishment by Muslims. He says that Muslims want to experience pain as purifying. They say: this is my punishment; I must suffer it. He also identifies fear of the side effects of pain management.
Source: ND (Dutch)
Pop into the firestation and the chances are there'd be a group of reassuringly burly men in there waiting for the call out, with uniforms and firefighting suits tailored for their use alone.
The one or two women among them would have to make do with ill-fitting adaptations of the men's outfits while the handful of Muslim women in the service would be wearing their own head scarfs.
But, with the fire service anxious to attract recruits of all sexes and backgrounds, it was decided that something had to be done.
So yesterday the results were uneveiled, including full-length skirts, hijab headscarfs and long- sleeved shirts for Muslim women recruits.
The hope is that the uniforms, designed for wearing round the station and for outings such as school trips, will be smarter and better fitting for every firefighter - even the men.
For the first time also, women will get their own mustard yellow fire-fighting suit designed to protect their breasts and upper body.
This outfit was tried on yesterday by Lincolnshire firefighter Julie Smith.
'The uniform now available shows that cultural beliefs are being recognised, as we seek to increase the representation of ethnic minorities within service.'
However, in England's Fire and Rescue Service only 5.5 per cent of all staff are from a minority ethnic background and 3.3 per cent are women.
Jagtar Singh, spokesman for the Asian Fire Service Association, said: 'We are pleased to note that the fire service is now taking seriously the issues of culture and religious belief when purchasing corporate and protective clothing for firefighters.'
Source: Daily Mail (English)
A woman wearing a Muslim veil was kicked off a bus Monday, after she got on an Arriva bus with her husband and children in Aarhus (Denmark), reports Århus Stiftstidende.
The driver said he doesn't drive women with a veil since he doesn't drive masked passengers and refused to continue unless the woman got off.
The woman and her family are originally from Algeria. She wears a veil and niqab, which covers her face.
The other passengers were upset about the driver's actions and one of them called Arriva and spoke with the head of the company. The boss said that the driver should continue driving the bus, which had stood at the stop for 10-15 minutes, with the woman onboard. The driver finally followed orders and drove the woman and her family.
Arriva are not proud of the story. Spokesperson Martin Wex says that this was clearly an error of the driver, and moreover, conflicts with the law. People can naturally wear whatever they want when they board the company buses.
Wex says that the the company had a very serious talk with the driver, who was told that his actions are unacceptable.
Source: DR (Danish)
For more on this story in English see here and here.
The court of Cádiz sentenced a Mauritanian woman, Hawa Mint Cheikh, to 17 years in prison for forcing her 14 year old daughter, Selamha Mint Mohamed, to marry a 40 year old man. The mother was convicted of sexual assault, coercion and threats.
The husband, Mokhtar Salem, got 13.5 years in prison for sexual assault, while the father, Mohamed Ould Abdallahi , was acquitted of most charges and sentenced for 18 months for threats.
The verdict might still be appealed by both the prosecution and defense.
The girl was born in Puerto Real (Cadiz) in 1992. Her parents, born in Mauritania, had lived in Spain since the 80s. They have three children, all born in Spain. Selamha is the oldest.
In 2006 the mother and daughter came to Mauritania on vacation. A distant cousin of her father's wanted to marry her, and offered a dowry for her. The father agreed on the phone from Spain.
The wedding was held in Mauritania and the child was then forced to have sexual relations with her new husband. According to the girl her father threatened her that she would be stoned, and that he would throw the first stone.
The father says that in Mauritania it is common for girls to marry their cousins.
A few weeks later, the girl returned to Puerto Real, and the girl went back to school. But a year later, in 2007, her husband stopped in Spain after a business trip to Germany. He then again had relations with her without consent.
According to the girl's testimony, the mother forced her by threats and beating to have sex that night, threats which have been ongoing since her wedding. The girl says that her parents threatened that they would kill her, burn her or cut her throat. The next morning she escaped and fled to neighbors who took her to the hospital and then to lodge a complaint.
The same day the Spanish police arrested the parents and husband. The mother and husband were imprisoned.
The court imposed the maximum sentence on the mother, since her actions were crucial for the sexual assault. The father was not home that night.
The court also ordered the mother and husband to pay 15,000 euro, and put a restraining order on the mother during her prison sentence, and on the father for four years.
The family accuses the court of racism and says that this is a cultural misunderstanding.
Meanwhile the neighbors fear that the younger sister, Aicha, also faces the same fate.
Source: El Pais 1, 2 (Spanish), h/t Bivouac-ID
About 250 protesters participated today in the Vlaams Belang anti-mosque protest in Sint-Janswijk (Kortrijk). The party is protesting against the recognition of the Attakwa mosque in this neighborhood. After a very boisterous protest march, it is now calm. One person was arrested after trying to throw a jar of white paint on VB leader Filip Dewinter. The politician was not hurt.
Filip Dewinter introduced his new book "Inshallah" - a plea against the Islamization of Flanders - in Kortrijk yesterday. A hundred youth, mostly immigrant, waited for the protesters on the Sint-Jansplein, about 200 meters from the place where the protest started.
There were repeated calls and things thrown back and forth. The security services kept the two parties separated with difficulty. After the VB meeting, the VB supporters were led back to their vehicles under escort.
Source: HLN (Dutch)
Danish newspaper Fyens Stiftstidende reports that 200 taxi drivers at Odense Taxa are so afraid of driving in Vollsmose (Odense, Denmark) that they will no longer drive in the area, and will drop passengers at the outskirts of the neighborhood.
The reaction comes after several serious attacks on drivers, which twice were threatened over the weekend with knives to give over their earnings.
In both cases the attackers were described as a group of young, Somali men, and according to the Fyns police it's possible it's the same group. Also last Monday a driver was also attacked by a group of Somali youth while driving to Vollsmose.
Source: Berlingske (Danish)
Tasnim Aslam, the Pakistani ambassador to Italy, says this attack should alarm Italian society.
A witness of a savage attack in Rome against a Pakistani man was due to testify on Monday as police seek to identify the attackers, who fled the scene. Five Italian youths in their 20s are said to have severely beaten a Pakistani man last Monday in what investigators say was a racially-motivated attack. However, the news only surfaced on Saturday.
Mohammad Basharat, 35, the owner of a small convenience store is said to be in a coma at Rome's Policlinico Casilino after the group of young men began to savagely beat him, while his car was stopped at a red light in Rome's deprived Tor Bella Monaca district.
Reports say Basharat's friend, Naziq Mehmood Muheed, managed to keep his door locked after a young man with shaved head tried to open it. Muheed told Basharat to be calm. However, four other men arrived at the scene and tried to open his door.
Basharat then got out of his van and asked the young man what they wanted. He was then brutally punched, causing him to fall to the ground and hit his head on the pavement.
Basharat fainted but regained consciousness and was taken to the hospital. After staying in the hospital overnight, his condition worsened and suffered a severe brain haemorrhage, probably due to the beating he received.
Basharat's 38 year-old Sri Lankan partner Chandy Karunasekera , who was three months pregnant, miscarried on hearing the bad news about her husband.
"We were about to get married. Now what do I do? I am alone and I am afraid," Karunasekera told Italian daily Il Messaggero.
"My husband did not have enemies, he did not have problems with anyone."
Source: AKI (English)
The number of young immigrants who worked doubled since 1995.
In 1995, 34% of immigrants under 40 worked. In 2008 this was 62%, reports Sampil.info, the newsletter of the Danish National Labor Market Authority.
The older immigrants also find it easier to get work. 12% more in the age group of 55-59 got work in the past 13 years, the numbers show.
A crucial explanation for the increase in employment is education, says Torben Tranæs, research head at Rockwool Fonden's research unit.
Tranæs says that young immigrants get an education more than their older countrymen. It's not because the youth generally give up education in favor of an immediate job. They have more of both education and work.
According to him it's particularly girls who get more of an education and pull away from the boys.
Tranæs says it's worrying since it shows that only immigrant girls think of the long term and ensure they get an education in time.
Source: DR (Danish)
Minister of the Interior, Anne Holmlund is concerned about the position of immigrant youths in Finland. She says improved efforts at integration into Finnish society would improve national security.
Speaking at a police seminar on immigration affairs on Monday, Holmlund emphasized the vital role played by police in the integration of immigrants.
The Minister called on local authorities to take additional measures aimed at helping and guiding young immigrants. Noting that crimes committed by immigrant youths have increased, Holmlund feared their alienation could lead to tougher attitudes against ethnic minorities.
Source: YLE (English)
The writer is apparently surprised about Swedish prosecutor Ronnie Jacobsson's comments that he couldn't prosecute the Somalis while they were in Sweden and warns that he should be fighting the terrorists in Sweden.
The translation for the Swedish part:
What are you talking about, Jacobsson??? How much more evidence against the suspect do you need? He is a member of a criminal organization, he has proven more than 90% that he collected illegal money from people who live on welfare. , he's the closest friend and spends time iwth other known terrorists from Sweden, who are also well-known to the police.
His relationship to the al-Shabab terrror group is not a secret since his closest friend is Fuad Shongole who's a senior leader for al-Shabab. Whic proves that al-Haraam and Hizbul Kalaab is one and the same grou with two different names. They proved their relationship by sending help to al-Haram last week to G/Guduud province and fighting side by sie.
Mr. Jacobsson, you've made a serious mistake once by freeing terrorism suspects and I see that you are now making the same mistake again but refusing to prosecute a terror suspect. I know that he has a more organized underworld 's in Sweden today and I know that you also know those I'm talking about. Don't free those groups to travel to Somalia and commit terrorism.
See also: Somalia: Somali-Swedes heading terror group
Odense: Jerusalem Mufti, Archbishop visit
Two of the Middle East's high ranking religious leaders visited Vollsmose [Odense, Denmark] over the weekend to discuss the integration efforts. One is the Great Mufti of Jerusalem, Akrama Sabri, the other the Archbishop of Jerusalem, Attalah Hanna.
The Vollsmose parish priest, Torben Hangaard, says he's proud of the visit.
"The visit reflects extraordinary recognition, which completely surprises us, but fills us with pride. It's almost the biggest pat on the shoulder we can receive," he says.
According to Torben Hangaard, the two religious leader were especially interested in studying the way in which integration problems are solved in Vollsmose.
Sources: Fyens (Danish)
German newspaper Stuttgarter Nachrichten reports that the Politically Incorrect site , www.pi-news.net, serves as a focal point for the opposition to the Oberstenfeld mosque project. Curiously, not only affected citizens, but people from all over Germany, post there. The targets of their protest include spokesperson for the Free Voters Inge Zimmermann and Oberstenfeld mayor Reinhard Rosner.
The site calls on people to write letters in order to protest the plans of the Islamic community. Zimmermann doesn't know how and why she came to be on this site, but says that today she got 48 emails, most of them vicious and below the belt. The spokespeople of the other parties don't appear on the site.
The website quotes the Oberstenfeld CDU (Christian Democratic Union) who say they spoke against the scale of the mosque. Spokesperson Wolfgang Streufert confirms this. They think the people have enough prayer space in the current mosques and they're against the building of the mosque.
The discussions and anger about the plans of the Islamic Community are too much for Mustafa Kodal. The head of the religious Muslims in Oberstenfeld and the vicinity is alarmed at the strong responses. He says he was really surprised. The Muslims in Oberstenfeld have a mosque since the 80s and there weren't problems then.
After the recent backlash the board and several members gathered on Saturday. The situation had become unbearable and they had to do something, says Kodal. They met with architect Wolfgang Kuhn and discussed removing the minaret. Kodal says he doesn't like this step and that the minaret belongs in a mosque, but that keeping the peace with the citizens of Oberstenfeld is more important. The Bottwar valley is home to many Muslims, and they want to stay here in peace.
Mustafa Kodal hopes that the disputes and smear campaign would end. By sacrificing the minaret they're taking a step towards the critics and he thinks that it's possible to meet in the middle. There will be an informative meeting on Tuesday, March 31, which is an important step in this direction. The architect will be there, and though Kodal expects a lot of criticism, he thinks people will finally get to an agreement.
Source: Stuttgarter Nachrichten (German), h/t Politically Incorrect 1, 2
Geert Wilders, a parliament member of a fellow EU country, is banned from Britain because he might cause unrest. So why go out of your way to invite a member of an openly Islamist, anti-democratic, anti-Western, antisemitic party?
A Hezbollah member of Lebanon's Parliament will hold a rare meeting with British parliamentarians in London this week, the militant group announced Saturday.
The visit follows an announcement by Britain's Foreign Office last month that it has contacted Hezbollah's political wing in an attempt to reach out to its legislators. It said its ultimate aim is to encourage the militant group to abandon violence and play a constructive political role in the deeply divided country.
A Hezbollah statement issued Saturday says Hussein Hajj Hassan was invited by a number of British legislators to take part in a political meeting of parliamentarians to discuss "regional issues." It said he would be traveling to London on Sunday.
Britain's Foreign Office confirmed he has been granted a restricted validity, singly entry visa for the purpose of the visit.
A spokeswoman, speaking anonymously in line with government policy, said the decision "is consistent with the government's policy of exploring contacts with members of Hezbollah's political wing."
Source: IHT (English)
The following is an article written by René Servoise, former ambassador of France to Indonesia, as translated by Gallia Watch. Servoise warns against the lack of Muslim integration and the dangers of further immigration.
A mutation of our nation is in progress. It is growing, it is profound but uncontrolled. In all likelihood, the immense majority of Frenchmen are unaware of it.
Hundreds of thousands of Muslim families, from North Africa, the Middle East and black Africa - whose religion, aspirations and mores are radically different from ours - now live on our soil. Their birth rate is higher than that of European families. What is the consequence? Within 30 years the population of Islamist culture could be in the majority among those 40 years old or younger. "In France, we will have between 6 and 8 million Arabs by the years 2005 - 2010," said Edgar Pisani, honorary president of the Arab World Institute. We have been duly warned: this is a radical transformation (political, economic, cultural and social) of our society.
This mutation is in progress at the very moment when, to use Toynbee's expression, "an external proletariat" is forming on the southern and western shores of the Mediterranean Sea. This army of reservists came about as a result of the birth rate of these peoples, and the absence of an economic policy capable of guaranteeing them a decent life in their homeland. In front of them lie France, Italy, Spain and Germany, lands of mirage, highly developed, with guaranteed employment, free social protection and education. Who could resist the call of this "promised land"?
Source: GalliaWatch (English)
Germany is home to several hundred "potentially dangerous Islamists", including a hard core of around 100, a senior Interior Ministry official said on Saturday.
Between 60 and 80 "Jihadists" have returned to Germany out of some 140 who have undergone training in camps in the tribal areas of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area, Deputy Interior Minister August Hanning said.
"The danger should not be underestimated. The 60 to 80 who have returned make up the overwhelming majority of up to around 100 people whom we class as dangerous," Hanning told the daily Tagesspiegel.
"There are approximately another 300 potentially dangerous Islamists on top of this. Altogether we are talking about a network of around 1,000 people," said Hanning, who used to head Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND.
He added that he was worried about the possibility of attacks in the run up to this September's general election in Germany. "The threats do not mention the elections directly. But for Jihadists in Pakistan the election is important because it will determine Germany's foreign policy in the future," he said.
Source: The Local (English)
Not all these children are Muslim.
Two hundred schoolchildren in Britain, some as young as 13, have been identified as potential terrorists by a police scheme that aims to spot youngsters who are "vulnerable" to Islamic radicalisation.
The number was revealed to The Independent by Sir Norman Bettison, the chief constable of West Yorkshire Police and Britain's most senior officer in charge of terror prevention.
He said the "Channel project" had intervened in the cases of at least 200 children who were thought to be at risk of extremism, since it began 18 months ago. The number has leapt from 10 children identified by June 2008.
The programme, run by the Association of Chief Police Officers, asks teachers, parents and other community figures to be vigilant for signs that may indicate an attraction to extreme views or susceptibility to being "groomed" by radicalisers. Sir Norman, whose force covers the area in which all four 7 July 2005 bombers grew up, said: "What will often manifest itself is what might be regarded as racism and the adoption of bad attitudes towards 'the West'.
"One of the four bombers of 7 July was, on the face of it, a model student. He had never been in trouble with the police, was the son of a well-established family and was employed and integrated into society.
"But when we went back to his teachers they remarked on the things he used to write. In his exercise books he had written comments praising al-Qa'ida. That was not seen at the time as being substantive. Now we would hope that teachers might intervene, speak to the child's family or perhaps the local imam who could then speak to the young man."
The Channel project was originally piloted in Lancashire and the Metropolitan Police borough of Lambeth in 2007, but in February last year it was extended to West Yorkshire, the Midlands, Bedfordshire and South Wales. Due to its success there are now plans to roll it out to the rest of London, Thames Valley, South Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, and West Sussex.
Source: Independent (English), h/t NRP
See also: UK: Twelve year old (non-Muslim) radicalized by jihadists
Of the 820 000 high school students in Bulgaria, just 3600 were studying Islam, Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev told Parliament during question time on March 27 2009.
This was eight per cent fewer than a year earlier, he said. He was answering a question regarding the row around the school in Ribnovo village in southwestern Bulgaria. The village has a population of about 3000 people, all of whom are Muslims.
Students are allowed to pick religion as one of their classes with the approval of their parents.
Source: Sophia Echo (English)
Malmö suburb Rosengård has come to symbolise Sweden's struggles with integration. AFP's Marc Preel examines a community grappling with its identity after a winter marred by rioting and clashes with the police.
Believers file quietly out of a mosque into the cold night in Rosengård, a neighbourhood at the centre of a heated debate over Sweden's failure to integrate immigrants amid reports that radical Islamists now control the area.
"How does society expect us to integrate when we are so segregated?" asks Sami Touman, a 21-year-old mechanical engineer student whose
family comes from Gaza.
Around 86 percent of the some 22,000 people who live in the towering, grey, 1960s concrete structures that make up the heart of this Malmö suburb in the south of Sweden are first or second generation immigrants.
Traditional Swedish names like Svensson, Larsson and Andersson have gradually disappeared from the metal buzzers, replaced to a large extent by the names of Muslim refugees who have fled conflicts in places like Iraq, Lebanon, the former Yugoslavia, Somalia and Afghanistan.
"When I first got here 15 years ago I had Swedish neighbours. Today, there isn't a single one left," says Anis, a 33-year-old of Bosnian origin who only gives his first name, as he eats a kebab at the large shopping centre that is Rosengård's main meeting point.
Kenneth, a 56-year-old unemployed truckdriver, agrees that Rosengård is basically just your average community.
"Rosengård is a fairly nice neighbourhood. You find everything here, except a Systembolaget," the state-run liquor store, the ethnic Swede jokes as he sips coffee with a friend at a shopping centre cafe surrounded by oriental stores interspersed with Swedish supermarkets.
"It's true that we are a minority here, but we don't really think about it in those terms. We have so many immigrant friends," he says.
Maxime Camara, who heads the Rosengård's refugee welcome committee, however laments that increasingly influential Islamic groups have further isolated the already over-populated and under-employed neighbourhood.
While Sweden's official unemployment rate stands at around seven percent, nearly 40 percent of Rosengård working age residents are jobless.
"A lot of young people here are out of work... Their parents don't work, and they get their only social interaction in the Islamic milieu, which complicates integration," says Camara, originally from Guinea.
"They spend their time speaking Arabic," he says, adding that "at heart they don't really want to be Swedish. They tell me so themselves."
Even the imam (preacher) at Rosengård's largest mosque complains that some immigrant communities here are not as open as they should be to Swedish society.
"That is a problem for us, for Europe, having some communities always looking to the past," says Bejzat Becirov, who gives his sermons in Swedish.
"So here we are with an Islamic football club and table tennis team," he adds.
Pernilla Ouis, an expert on Islam in Sweden at Malmö University, however maintains that a heavy Islamic influence makes it more difficult for immigrants to fit in in Sweden.
"The Muslim communities say they want to help, and that's fine, but their behaviour towards the non-Muslim society is not normal," she says.
The unrest was therefore in fact a good thing, insists Ouis, a Swedish citizen who herself wore the Muslim headscarf for 18 years.
"What happened this winter has brought attention to the problem that we couldn't talk about before without being accused of racism," she says.
Source: The Local (English)
Austria's first ever Islamic cemetery will see its first burial tomorrow (Fri).
Omar Al-Rawi, a Social Democrat (SPÖ) municipal councillor and the person responsible for integration at the Islamic Believers Denomination (IG), said today the first body to be buried there would be that of a Moroccan who at worked for the UN in Vienna and died of illness.
The service will take place after the daily prayers at the site in southern Vienna.
Al-Rawi said the cemetery was available to every Muslim who died and parcels of land in it would be not sold or reserved for anyone. The cemetery would be open to all who wanted to visit it, just like any other, he added.
Al-Rawi said the first bodies to be buried in the cemetery would be placed deep into the ground to allow the stacking of corpses in order to accommodate a maximum number of bodies, which he estimated to be 4,000.
The cemetery has a long history. The first discussions between IG and the city government about an Islamic cemetery started some 20 years ago and finally led to acceptance of a plan by both sides in 2001, when it was hoped the cemetery would be able to open in 2003. In the interim, archeologists would conduct excavations on the 3.4 hectares of land in question.
Source: Austrian Times (English)
For more info see also: Italy expels 2 over terror links
Moroccan Mohamed Essadeck, from Gaiarine (Treviso), and Tunisian Miri Sghaier, from Manzano (Udine), were deported this week by Minister of the Interior Roberto Maroni for being a danger to national security. The Italian security services intercepted calls between the two and others in North Africa where they planned to blow up the dam in Tramonti in Friuli. Additionally Essadeck spoke of recruiting for al-Qaeda.
The two expected that blowing up the dam would cause a disaster similar to the flooding during the Vajont Dam disaster of 1963. Close to 2000 villagers were killed then. The expected flood would have swept the villages of Meduno, Sequals, and Spilimbergo.
The two had been followed around the clock and it was determined that they had moved beyond statement of intent and into deeds. However, no proof was found of reconnaissance missions or other concrete actions and so the investigation was closed.
Source: La Tribuna di Treviso (Italian) h/t Politically Incorrect
Ilya Klebanov, presidential envoy in the Northwestern Federal District, is concerned with crimes committed by extremist groups among the Muslims.
"We are especially concerned about crimes aimed at destabilizing the situation in Muslim areas," he said at a meeting with the heads of anti-terrorist commissions and operative headquarters of the Northwestern Federal District held in St. Petersburg on Thursday.
According to Klebanov, forty-nine extremist crimes were registered in the district last year, most of which (19) occurred in St. Petersburg.
Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Alexander Bortnikov noted, "nationalist and extremist youth groups, which often use violence to reach their goals" were becoming increasingly active.
Source: Interfax Religion (English)
Muslims face oppression era-religious bans in Bulgaria that entered European Union on 1 January 2007, pledging more freedoms and rights to its citizens.
Bulgaria's Socialist-led government approved a draft bill on Thursday banning Muslim headscarves from schools.
The bill still needs approval from parliament.
Bulgaria, where Muslims account for about 12 percent of the 7.6 million population and some 80 percent are Orthodox Christians, so far did not have such a ban.
The office of the Muslim Chief Mufti in Bulgaria said the ban was wrong.
"We express our disagreement and bitterness with this decision. It completely damages the rights as well as the responsibilities of Muslim women," Hussein Hafazov of the Chief Mufti office told Reuters.
Last week, the government lunched an investigation into a local mayor and an Islamic studies teacher over Islam teaching.
The Chief Mufti expressed concern over increasing community tensions.
He said there had been arson attacks on mosques and other Muslim buildings and girls had already been forbidden from wearing the traditional Muslim headscarf in some schools.
In a separate case, the Muslim community in the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Burgas said it would file a complaint with the EU institutions over a city council halt of a mosque construction according to Bulgarian media reports.
Last week, the Burgas City Council voted against its own decision from December 2008, which allocated a plot in the Meden Rudnik ("Copper Mine") quarter for the construction of a new mosque.
Anti-mosque move came from the GERB party, whose informal leader is the Sofia Mayor Boyko Borisov with the support of the extreme right and nationalist Ataka ("Attack") party.
Source: World Bulletin (English)
20% of men of Moroccan origin in Flanders are divorced 10 years after their marriage. Among Moroccan women that's 17%. The number of divorces among couples of Turkish origin are much lower, 12% for men and 7% for women, according to data from Steunpunt Gelijke Kansenbeleid (Center for Equal Opportunities Policy at Antwerp University).
According to researcher Suzana Koelet, the number of divorces in Belgium reflect divorces in Morocco and Turkey. Though the topic is somewhat better accepted in Morocco, the issue is often still a taboo among immigrants.
Among Flemish men and women, 12% are divorced ten years after their marriage. 11% of ethnic Flemish have divorced parents, compared to 5% among Turkish children and 4% among Moroccans.
Steunpunt Gelijke Kansenbeleid performed the study for Kathleen Van Bremp (SP-A), Flemish Minister of Equal Opportunities. The study looked at divorces among Moroccan and Turkish couples in Flanders between 1994 and 2004.
Koelet says that the groups with the highest divorce rates are Moroccan man from Morocco and second generation Moroccan women. "Often those groups are each other's partner. Immigration marriages therefore have the greatest chance of resulting in a divorce."
Minister Van Brempt wants to continue to invest in family support.
Sources: HLN, De Redactie (Dutch)
See also: Sweden: Immigrants more likely to divorce
The cabinet will make it more difficult for lenders from, for example, the Middle East, to secretly obtain influence in mosques in the Netherlands, Guusje ter Horst (Labor), the Dutch minister of internal affairs, announced Wednesday.
Foundations must be more open in the future about their finances. The cabinet will make a law proposal already this year for regulating that. This law will also concern mosques, since most are foundations, says Ter Horst.
The parliament asked Ter Horst to study how much danger there is from foreign people or institutions who put money into mosques in the Netherlands. The parliament fears that they sometimes do that in order to get influence, aiming to oppose integration or advance radicalization.
Ter Horst recognizes the risks, but also says that they 'shouldn't be overestimated'. Foreign Islamic financiers mostly give money to mosques out of charity and are not out to get influence.
Due to separation of Church and State the government can do little to prevent unwanted influences in a mosques, as long as no laws are broken. Ter Horst: "It is in particular the resilience of Dutch mosques which can limit the risks of foreign financing".
Source: Trouw (Dutch)
Immigrant women participate in several social arenas as much or more than the rest of the population, which conflicts with the image of the oppressed immigrant women.
Local politicians Aisha Ahmed (19) and Hatice Elmacioglu (40) in Drammen are among the many women of immigrant background who have took control of seats on municipal boards around the country last elections. With that they contributed to the fact that immigrant women and men in local politics are much more equal then the rest of the population.
While women make up 46% of the immigrant representatives in municipal councils, women make up just 38% among all municipal council representatives. In Drammen 12 non-Western representatives were elected for the council in 2007, the most in the country. The wish to influence drives Norwegian-Pakistani Ahmed and Norwegian-Turk Elmacioglu.
Elmacioglu says she's a single mother of three and saw that there was a lot missing in the schools. "I decided to go into politics and came up from 20th to 8th place on the Conservative Part's list by actively getting votes," says Elmacioglu.
Ahmed was active in the Labor Party since she was 15 and was told she's a role model for young girls.
"It's important to participate in the debate. I think that it can motivate and engage other minority women to do the same."
The report "Immigrants and the municipal elections 2007" from Statistics Norway also shows that immigrant women usually vote more in elections than immigrant men. Adviser Vebjørn Aalandslid of Statistics Norway points out that there are great different between different immigrant groups, but thinks that the finds are interesting.
"This corresponds badly with the image of the oppressed immigrant woman which is often described," he says.
Minority women differentiate themselves positively not only in local politics: Women of immigrant background own their own company almost as often as Norwegian women, they complete upper secondary school more often than immigrant boys, get higher education more often compared to the rest of the population, and participate more often than immigrant men in Norwegian courses.
Equality and Discrimination Ombudsman Beate Gangås this this clearly shows the great resources among immigrant women in Norway.
She says that these numbers give a nuancing of the image which is often created of oppressed immigrant women who live on the sidelines of Norwegian society. The facts show that there are many resource-strong women who actively participate in society.
Hatice Elmacioglu and Aisha Ahmed work for including and socializing minority women. Ahmed heads a Pakistani women's organization in Drammen and Elmacioglu is a female representative in the Turkish national association and regularly arranges women's parties in Drammen. The parties are open for everybody, but Norwegian women seldom come.
"I'm concerned by Norwegian women. I think they're so occupied by their own lives that they don't engage in what happens outside," she says.
The women's movement was accused this week of failing immigrant women. Ahmed agrees.
"Why doesn't the women's movement cry out that immigrant women don't get jobs. It's easy to accuse culture and different values and it leads in some cases to immigrant women not being taken seriously," she thinks. Conservative Elmacioglu emphatically disagrees.
"I wanted to go into politics and now I'm there. There are possibilities, but you must fight for it," she says.
Last week Elmacioglu invited the deputy mayor in Drammen and Frp man Freddy Hoffmann to her home so he could learn more about non-Western culture.
"We must fight prejudices. I got praise from Hoffman for being a good role model," she says.
Source: Dagsavisen (Norwegian)
Although it has made a break with many of George Bush's controversial, self-declared war on terror policies and has promised to reach out to Muslims, the Obama administration has decided to back a Bush decision to deny one of Europe's leading Muslim intellectuals entry.
"Consular decisions are not subject to litigation," Assistant US Attorney David Jones told the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
He asked the court to uphold a decision to bar Tariq Ramadan, an Oxford University professor, from entering the country.
Jones argued that if the court questioned a consular officer's decision to bar Ramadan, this would leave the administration in a "quagmire" with others seeking such reversals.
When one of the judges asked how high the review of Ramadan's case has gone within the Obama administration, Jones said it was "upwards in the State Department."
The Obama administration's position came as a shock to many.
"It's disappointing to come here and hear Obama administration lawyers argue the same sweeping executive power arguments," Jameel Jaffer, lawyer and ACLU National Security Project director, said after the hearing.
He told the court that the government had failed to identify "legitimate and bona fide reasons for the exclusion."
Civil rights groups had hoped for a reversal of Bush policy of excluding foreign scholars from on the basis of their political beliefs.
Source: Islam Online (English)
More from the FOX News report on Brussels and Molenbeek:
Announcer: Old Europe is looking less and less European these days and that's giving rise to a clash of cultures. Correspondent Greg Burke reports from Brussels.
Burke: When you think about Brussels, Belgium, you tend to think about the heart of old Europe, a city that's been standing there for centuries, a place where visitors find lots of excellent beers and very fine chocolates. Think again. Think about one of the biggest and youngest Muslim populations in Europe. Right-wing Belgians are worried for their future.
Dewinter: It's terrifying for me and its' dreadful for everybody in Brussels. and it's important to know that the capital of Europe - this is the capital of Europe - will be Islamized within ten, twenty years.
Burke: Belgium needed immigrant workers in the 1960s and 70s, but integration didn't come easily for the Moroccans and Turks who arrived. While there are no hard figures, as much as 25% of the city is Muslim. Molenbeek is a part of Brussels with one of the largest percentage of Muslim residents. The socialist mayor of Molenbeek thinks Belgians of different creeds can learn to live together.
Moureaux: Be realistic. They're here, they're relatively numerous and they're growing. Do you want your children and grandchildren to live a kind of civil war, or do you want them to live in peace?
Burke: The imam of one of the city's main mosques takes a similar line, saying eveyrone's in the same boat and has to work together so the boat doesn't sink. The mosque shows the vibrancy of the Moroccan community in Molenbeek, with thousands showing up for Friday prayers. But there are problems.
The neighborhood is so dangerous, police gave us an escort while taping, and told us it would be safer to stay in the car. It's a double danger, both rampant street crime and anti-Western sentiment. Some Belgians claim Muslim enclaves are forming in Brussels, and charge that the government is bending over backwards to appease the Islamic community.
Dewinter: It's not Muslims who are integrated in our society, but it's our society who adapts to the demands of radical Islam.
Burke: While Molenbeek may not the breeding ground for Jihadists that some claim it is, dozens of North Africans have been arrested in Belgium over the last few years years on terror charges. In Europe they're already talking about what big city will be the first to have a Muslim majority. It could be here in Brussels.
The United States, of course, is still a long way away from that, but if America has something to learn from Europe, it's that the lack of integration of the Muslim community, comes with a very heavy price. In Brussels, Greg Burke, FOX News.
h/t Brussels Journal
See also: Brussels: Capital of Eurabia
Church leaders are spending 100,000 GBP moving a chapel half a mile - so it doesn't offend Muslims.
The Orthodox church was built on the site of a derelict mosque in Divic, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and is being taken away to improve relations with local Muslim worshippers.
Builders will spend a week driving the church to its new location on a massive low loader truck.
Source: Austrian Times (English)
Last March three Chechen men were stopped by customs in Sweden. Three automatic weapons, ammunition and a silencer were hidden in the spare tire of their Audi. The Chechens said they were on their way from Austria to Norway to visit friends and go fishing.
Swedish police and the prosecution think they would have used the weapons to commit robbery and that in Norway they would have collected money and recruited soldiers for separatist activity in their homeland.
When the three Chechens were stopped by customs in Trelleborg, Malmö, the custom officials quickly got suspicious. The suspected leader and later convicted 27 year old sat in the backseat of the Audi A3. While the leader was missing his right arm, the men in the front seat was missing both arms. A third man was therefore hired as driver.
The 27 year old leader left the war in Chechnya when he lost his right arm because of the Russians, and moved to Austria.
When the custom agents took out the spare tire and scanned it, they discovered there was something hidden inside the tire. When they cut it up they found weapons, ammunition and a silencer hidden behind newspaper and a black jacket.
When the leader was left on his own in the interview room, he destroyed a USB stick, who he partially tried to hide behind a radiator. Later he explained that the memory stick contained pictures of his sister mother, whom he hadn't seen for several years.
Lawyer Ola Sjöstrand in Malmö confirmed to Dagbladet.no that one of the main theories of the police was that the three planned a robbery. "When somebody comes with so many weapons, ammunition and black clothing, it's probable for the police to suspect robbery," says Sjöstrand.
In the interrogation all three denied knowing about the weapons. The 27 year old leader thought the weapons were placed there to trap him.
The 27 year old explained to the police that they two armless men and the driver were on their way from Austria to Norway to visit friends and to go fishing. He wasn't able to name the friends or exactly why he should.
In addition he said that he needed money from a person called Sajfodin, a not uncommon name in the Chechen exile community, where many operate under several names.
Lawyer Ola Sjöstrand told Dagbladet.no that they said there would just fish, and saw themselves as tourists. He theorizes that they came to Norway to talk with their Chechen brothers, and collect money for their activities.
According to the Swedish security service SÄPO, the 27 year old has a leading position for the Chechen refugees in West Europe. With Dokka Umarov, an organization labeled as terrorist by the Russians, behind him, he's responsible for collecting money and recruiting soldiers in Europe.
SÄPO therefore quickly started following the case after he was arrested after the customs seizure. The Swedish security service didn't want to comment to Dagbladet.no on the case directly, but confirms that they have ongoing contact with the investigators of the case.
In June the 27 year old was sentenced for a serious smuggling attempt. In January he was freed and was deported from Sweden.
Source: Dagbladet (Norwegian)
Wednesday and Thursday two weeks ago, Danish-Palestinian surgeon Said Ahmed El-Batran from Aabenraa in Denmark circumcised 15-20 boys in the offices of the Muslim Faith-Society in Agder county (Norway).
"We naturally prefer to do it in hospital, but we don't get access," says Hamze Farhat who organized the joint operation among Muslims in the city.
In the winter the Southern Norway hospital in Arendal decided to no longer offer ritual circumcision. The branches in Flekkefjord and Kristiansand decided the same. The reason is lack of resources.
Urologist Ole Tysland at of the Southern Norway hospital in Kristiansand says that circumcision is a custom many people bring with them, but it's difficult for him to see it being paid by the government. They must prioritize among the endless stream of requests for treatment and since this is not needed for medical help, this group was simply moved down in the priority list.
A letter from the hospital in Arendal to the health centers and doctors in Aust-Agder refers to a private clinic which offers circumcision for 9000 kroner in Tønsberg and Drammen.
Imam Akmal Ali of the Muslim Union in Agder says that they think the public authorities should take care of it. "Circumcision is an important part of being a Muslim. It's best if it take place early. Traditionally in the first week. On the seventh day the hair is cut, one is circumcised, the child gets a name and gifts of money. The hospital lays a heavy burden on parents by referring to expensive clinics".
Hamze Farhat found the solution when he was in Denmark to circumcise his son in a clinic in Aabenraa, on the German border.
Said Ahmed El-Batran is a senior physician and specializes in surgery at the public surgical clinic in the city, and he also has a private clinic.
"I travel to Sweden and Finland too, and the problem is the same. Preferably the operation should be preformed in hospital, but it's the politicians who decide. So we arrange it in the best possible manner," says El-Batran.
He's considering starting a branch of his private clinic in Southern Norway.
"It's not just circumcision that's the problem. Immigrants want to be treated by a hospital where they're understood," says El-Batran.
"I was afraid a little. It was a little scary," says Yunus Dudajev (7).
Two weeks ago he and his brothers were circumcised.
"It was most certainly legal and in order, but I felt almost as I did something wrong. The doctor wrote down the name and ID. But I got no receipt, and I was a little concerned of infections. The operation was not performed in a clinic, but in an office. Naturally I wish we could do it in the hospital," says father Dzjabraih Dudajev (34).
For a long time he's been trying to find a reasonable solution for circumcision. He was therefore glad that he could sign up on the list in the Muslim Union mosque in Agder.
"It's not a Chechen custom, but an important Muslim act," says Dudajev from Kristiansand.
He paid 4,500 kroner all together to circumcise his three sons. The same operation at the private clinic recommended by the hospital would cost 27,000 kroner plus travel expenses. At home in Chechnya the operation would have cost about 400 kroner for all three, or about five hours of work.
Said Ahmed El-Batran says that the operation was according to regulations, and says everybody got receipts. The room was prepared, he used medical equipment he brought with him and disposable items.
Source: fvn (Norwegian)
The Copenhagen Police annual report of 2008 says the following regarding gangs:
Religion can play a role among the group members. Some maintain a relatively strict interpretation of their religion, while others are divided about this, which is seen [by the fact] that towards the parent generation they keep their faith, while 'out in the city' they consume liquor and drugs.
Danish blog Uriasposten brings the following from a subscriber-only Jyllands-Posten article:
The Copenhagen police are very guarded about explaining what's behind the wording, but Chief Police Inspector Per Larsen says: It's not so that I can say that he and he and he are religious. But it's a question of describing the complete picture of the situation and which theories we work with. The extensive study that we have ongoing should uncover whether there are connections between religion and crime. At the same time the study will uncover whether there's a flow of money from the criminal communities to the religious communities.
As Uriasposten points out, there's no mention of Islam or of terrorism funding, either in the article or in the original police report. I think they don't really need to. "Immigrant gangs" is a euphemism that everybody's comfortable with and which nobody misunderstands.
Sources: Uriasposten; Copenahgen Police annual report 2008; Jyllands-Posten (Danish)
See also: Denmark: Internal justice in Muslim communities
Iranian broadcaster Press TV quoted from my site recently, through EuropeNews. My original article: Belgium: Dewinter, 'Islam is a predator', Press TV's summary below.
Far-right Belgian politician Filip Dewinter has written an anti-Islam book, describing the region as modern Europe's main problem.
Head of the Flemish Vlaams Belang party Dewinter - who is known for his support of Islamophobia and alleged sympathy for Israel in the opposition - argues in the book that the influence of Islam in Europe should be stemmed and describes Islamophobia as "an obligation."
He says this could materialize by barring immigrants from Muslim nations from entering Europe and imposing strict controls on the residing Muslims.
The book titled Insha'Allah? The Islamization of Europe is to go on sale Monday, EuropeNews reported.
"The moderate Muslims are many but they are not relevant. The radical Muslims who have the mosques in their power are," the author was reported as saying earlier.
Fox News visited Brussels.
FOX News visited one of those neighborhoods, called Molenbeek, which looks more like North Africa than the heart of Europe.
For some Belgians, that's not a problem. The mayor of Molenbeek, Socialist Philippe Moureaux, has worked hard to help Muslims try to integrate over the past decade and a half.
Moureaux believes multiculturalism is a good thing. He says even those who disagree with him should get used to life as it is in Brussels today: "Be realistic. They're here. They're relatively numerous and they're growing."
Many Moroccans have been in Belgium for decades and are now citizens, as are their children. The imam of one of the main mosques, which thousands of young Moroccans attend each Friday, stressed that Muslim immigrants have starting blending in around Brussels.
During FOX News' brief visit, there were no fiery demonstrations of the kind that have wracked the Netherlands, though the municipality is sometimes considered dangerous to traverse at night.
Yet Molenbeek remains disconcerting. Belgian police assigned three plainclothes officers to watch over a FOX News team shooting street scenes one morning in Molenbeek. When FOX News returned in the afternoon as more people were out and about, the police said it would be safer not to get out of the car. It wasn't even dark yet.
Part of that fear stems from particularly nasty street crime, something that can happen in bad neighborhoods in any big European — or American — city. But part of it is due to strong anti-Western sentiment among Belgium's Muslims, which suggests that true integration is still a long way off.
Moureaux [Molenbeek mayor, dubbed]: In my job as mayor I have to reassure the Muslim community that you're at home here, and explain to the others - with only relative success, since some don't even want to hear it - there's a new group here, and you have to accept them, and respect them and understand them.
Dewinter: That's not a Flemish, Belgian, European neighborhood anymore. It's not a Brussels neighborhood anymore. It's a kasbah, it's something like a kasbah in northern Africa.
Moureaux: Differences are always somehow scary for people. If you go down the street in Molenbeek, it's an Arab street with veiled women. Many people are used to it, but for some it's a shock to see this kind of thing in the heart of Europe.
Dewinter: The majority of the Muslims don't want to integrate into our society. The majority of the Muslims don't want to accept fundamental values of Western society. They don't want to accept the separation of State and Church, they don't want to accept the equality of men and women.
Moureaux: The mix of cultures is something positive. I think that in a Europe that's gotten a little old, for the young population, not only Muslim, but of different kinds, it's a positive contribution.
Dewinter: Brussels will be a Muslim city. Brussels will be the capital of Eurabia. Brussels will look like a city in northern Africa or in Saudi Arabia.
Moureaux: I think Brussels will certainly be the European city in which the Muslim population is more and more important. To say 'majority' is quite relative. Not everyone who says he's a Muslim goes to the mosque. Not everyone is signed up, as it were. But it's true that there's a very strong presence today.
Source: Fox News (English)
Q: What is [Al Qaeda's] next step?
A: "You never know, but I think that we can still expect attacks such as those in Mumbai. Get an optimal effect with little means. Al-Qaeda transferred its attention to Europe again recently. A Jihadi website said on March 17 that the European Union is a greater danger for Islam than the US, because the EU wants to talk with Iran and Syria" (De Standaard: the message appeared before Obama made his appeal for dialog to Iran).
"The EU is seen as a wolf in sheep's clothing. The UK and France in particular are named as targets, for the way Muslims are treated there. Osama Bin-Laden often said in the past six months that the terror organizations should aim more towards Europe. I think it's very relevant to note that Europe is always on the radar. Europe is a very important target."
- Reid Sawyer, director of the Combating Terrorism Center, US Army, interviewed by Flemish newspaper De Standaard.
An Antwerp official will be involved in improving the relationship between the city and the mosques. The man was already working for the city, but will from now on specifically advise the Muslim community about municipal regulations and inspections. His first task would be to guide the mosques through the inspections that the city will conduct for fire safety.
The city council decided recently to inspect all prayer houses for safety, after it became clear that some mosques did not fulfill the minimal safety requirements. The new coordinator will advise the mosque administrations and guide them in order to ensure everything is in order.
Additionally the mosque-official will explain to the Muslim community about recognition petitions for mosques and subsidy files. Further the city think also of editing a brochure about NGO law, specifically aimed at Muslims. In Antwerp there are about 220 prayer houses, of which 80 are mosques. The other religions already have their own coordinator, and now it is also the Muslims' turn.
Source: De Morgen (Dutch)
Two weeks ago I reported about arrests of Muslim leaders in Germany and Belgium. German news now has more information about the case.
I attended several preaches by Ücüncü and el Zayat, exclusive for Muslims. In a mosque in "Klein Istanbul", Berlin, which is predominantly inhabited by Muslim Turks and Arabs, Ücüncü said, "We Muslims must use every means possible to fight the infidels in this society and change it into a Muslim one. Armed jihad is a legitimate instrument. The Germans understand only the language of violence. They are fighting our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan and Iraq." The local media were not allowed to attend this preach. (Canada Free Press)
Two important German Islamic officials are involved in founding a criminal organization. It involves financial transactions for Islamic and violent organization in Southern Germany. Revenue from dubious transactions or "fraudulent financial structures" could have helped Islamists. The investors for the Munich prosecution and the police estimate that there were direct links between the officials who worked in Cologne and Kerpen and activists in Munich and Ulm.
One of the defendants is active in leading a Munich mosque connected to the Sunni-extremist Muslim Brotherhood, says the Munich police. Another called to support God's warriors by donating for weapons purchasing, already during the Bosnia War. All together the police speaks of seven suspects in the Bavarian capital from across the Islamic spectrum.
According to German newspaper „Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, the prime defendant Ibrahim El-Zayat, who organized his extensive business from the Köln-Nippes neighborhood, played an important role in the range of German Islamic associations and manages real estate across Europe for Milli Görüs. The 41 year old is also chairman of the Islamic Congregations in Germany (IGD).
Another defendant is the general secretary of Milli Görüs, Oguz Üçüncü. In this role, the 39 year old is responsible for the organization which has branches throughout Europe, and is based in Kerpen. At the instigation of the Munich prosecution El-Zayat's and Üçüncü's offices and homes were searches. Thirteen raids in Cologne, Köln, Bornheim, Kerpen, Hamm, Munich, Garching and Berlin, as well as one in Belgium, secured materials which are now being evaluated in Munich.
The investigators think that El-Zayat and Üçüncü together with the other suspects, worked together with the purpose of committing crimes with the aim of obtaining funds directed towards their political-religious and ultimately, Islamic, goals, and this already for several years. There This includes several cases of fraud, forgery, embezzlement, money laundering and violations of the Banking Act.
Though the Munich authorities stress that they are investigating individuals and not the entire Islamic community, Milli Görüs has for years played a leading role in the complicated organizational structure of the Muslim interests in Germany. The organization, founded in Cologne in 1985, has a longstanding dispute with the Germany Interior Ministry which due to its traditional roots in the international, anti-democratic and anti-Western Milli Görüs movement, classified it as "Islamist".
The German association does not deny these roots but claims that is now firmly grounded on the Western liberal order. A generational change is reflected within the organization, with fierce debate among the old guard and the new leadership, which was mostly born in Germany. Üçüncü always appeared as the representative of this new self-image.
Similarly, Ibrahim El-Zayat is watched by the security services. In an interview in „Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger" („Der Herr der Moscheen", 20. 12. 2007) he said that the German public should finally acknowledge that the Muslim organization had changed throughout the years. He can understand teh mistrust of the German public, but not the 'proxy war', which the authorities and politicians wanted to fight with the Islamic institutions, when the real danger was the fall of man and his environment.
A father to three daughter, he studied law and economics in Darmstadt, Marburg and Cologne, and speaks seven languages. He leaves the decision regarding the headscarf to his daughters. El Zayat's wife, Sabiha is a doctor. She is the sister of Mehmet Erbakan, who was chairman of Milli Görüs in Germany for many years.
Now the Munich investigators connect him to these 'real dangers'. When El-Zayat or Üçüncü are asked about the latest allegations, they answer simply that the accusations are without any basis and they do not want to say any more.
El-Zayat was repeatedly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. According to a media report, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt said that El-Zayat is their leader in Germany. In reply El-Zayat said he naturally condemned 'all terrorism'.
The new allegations against the Islamic officials affect more than the two Islamic associations. They also bring up criticism of the integration policy talks which Milli Görüs participated in. A dominating power in the Islamic Council, the controversial association of former chairman Ali Kizilkaya participated in the Islam Conference of Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.
Ibrahim El-Zayat's IGD is a member of the Central Council of Muslims, which also has discussions with Schäuble. Observers who know El-Zayata describe him as a clever dialogue partner, but also as power oriented. In the Central Council of Muslims he's considered a more powerful manipulator in the background, where with his radical positions he makes life difficult for moderate-conservative chairman Axel Ayyub Köhler.
The highly educated, sophisticated El-Zayat is also the mastermind behind the scenes in the 'Coordinating Council of Muslims in Germany" („Koordinierungsrat der Muslime in Deutschland") where the Islamic Council and the Central Council sit with the Turkish-Islamic Union, DITIB, and the Association of Islamic Cultural Centers (Verband der islamischen Kulturzentren, VIKZ), an organization fighting for the joint interests of Muslims in Germany.
DITIB and VIKZ were recently criticized for their connections with the politically controversial organizations. The interior ministry, which indirectly negotiated with an organization which according to its constitutional jurisdiction it should watching, was also criticized, also for the fact that Milli Görüs sits in various discussion tables on the local level. In Cologne, mayor Fritz Schramma even appointed the organization to the municipal "Council of Religions", where its representatives have access to papers dealing with extremists.
Source: Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger (German), h/t Tundra Tabloids
See also: Germany/Belgium: Investigation into suspect terror cell
A Tunisian pilot who paused to pray instead of taking emergency measures before crash-landing his plane, killing 16 people, has been sentenced to 10 years in jail by an Italian court along with his co-pilot.
The 2005 crash at sea off Sicily left survivors swimming for their lives, some clinging to a piece of the fuselage that remained floating after the ATR turbo-prop aircraft splintered upon impact.
A fuel-gauge malfunction was partly to blame but prosecutors also said the pilot succumbed to panic, praying out loud instead of following emergency procedures and then opting to crash-land the plane instead trying to reach a nearby airport.
Source: Reuters (English)
A French human rights organization is summoning Geert Wilders to court. The head of the PVV party is accused of inciting to hatred of Muslims.
"Wilders made statements about French Muslims, about Muslims in Paris and Marseilles, which incite to racial hatred," says lawyer Yassine Bouzrou. He lodged the complaint on behalf of the organization, which is being studied by the public prosecution. If Wilders is found guilty, he can be sentenced for one year in prison.
Wilders was not aware of the complaint yesterday evening. "I hear this for the the first time," he said. "The wold is becoming small with trials and procedures everywhere: from the Netherlands, Jordan and England to France. Dreadful. But I'll naturally fight back judicially. They won't prevail over me."
Last week the PVV head signed an official appeal against the UK's refusal to let him into the country.
The French complaint is based on Wilders' speech in New York last September. "Paris is now surrounded by a ring of Muslim neighborhoods," he said then. "Many neighbourhoods in France are no-go areas for women without head scarves."
He called the riots in the suburbs in 2005 a "Muslim intifada". Bouzrou came to the conclusion that the expressions are criminal. "Wilders says in that speech also that one in three French Muslims supports suicide attacks. With that he suggests that one in three French Muslims is a potential terrorist. Where he does he get all of this? How did he get ot it? Wilders makes serious accusations which are based on nothing."
Bouzrou made the complaint for the French human rights organization ADDH. They work together with the Collective against Islamophobia in the fight against Muslim hatred.
"A politician may express his idea. But Wilders makes dangerous statements about something of which he has no understanding. These are not political ideas, but insults and prejudices," says the lawyer. "We already had in France attacks on mosques and against Muslim cemeteries. The statements by Wilders instigate further extremism against Muslims."
Source: AD (Dutch)
The municipality of Utrecht spent massively on subsidies last year for 'the new apartheid between men and women', concludes VVD (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy) parliament member De Krom.
He is stunned by the thousand of euros of subsidies which went to segregated Afghan, Iraqi, Iranian and Somali meetings for men and women. The gifts came from the quality of life budget, for which Utrecht assigned 10 million euro in 2008.
De Krom: Equality between men and women is an achievement of our society. But now the municipality of Utrecht all of a sudden legitimizes the separation of the sexes. So you give in to pressure from some immigrant groups to separate people. This stems integration."
The extremely generous quality of life budget, which was doubled in 2008, approved 95% of all subsidy requests for street, neighborhood and barbecue parties. The funds were established by the local board of the Labor Party, GreenLeft, ChristianUnion and Christian Democratic Appeal parties.
The liberal parliament member grumbles that this is the buying off package of the Utrecht coalition and that a local authority shouldn't be paying 20,000 euro for a Ramadan party. He thinks this needs to be cleaned up.
De Krom is also upset at 76,000 euro given for a panna-football tournament of Youth for Christ, to impart 'respect and cooperation'. Panna-football involves kicking the ball through the opponent's legs.
De Krom had recently complained about the sex-segregated municipal counters Utrecht opened in a mosque.
Source: Telegraaf (Dutch), h/t NRP
See also: Utrecht: Municipal information counters in mosque
Allowing hijab at work is usually couched in terms of enabling immigrant women to work. However, in two recent cases, the women in question had taken up wearing a hijab recently, one quite recently. Maybe it is not surprising: women who wear a hijab for traditional reasons are more likely to be traditional in every aspect of their lives. Women who take it up in order to make a statement, would go out of their way to ensure they make an impact.
Fouzia Tanveer (20) was denied a job at a 7-Eleven because she wears a hijab. Tanveer is now turning to the Equality and Discrimination Ombudsman.
Such cases come up every so often, and I did not see this one as unusual, except for one issue: Tanveer started wearing a hijab the day before she started working.
She came to her job interview without a headscarf, and at that time she never wore a headscarf before. She tried it on in the shop and didn't feel like taking it off. When she came to work, she asked one of the employees if she could wear a hijab. The employee called his boss, the same guy who interviewed her, who said she should take it off. Tanveer says she asked just to be certain, but didn't expect a negative response. She doesn't think it's relevant how long she's been going with a hijab.
She says it's now part of her identity. She read that 7-Elven support free choice and she doesn't understand why they don't respect hers. She says she not taking up the issue because she wants her job back. She says she's doing it for other girls who wear a hijab and want to work.
A recent hijab case which hit the headlines was that of Algerian-Norwegian Keltoum Hasnaoui Missoum (24). Missoum asked the police directorate whether she can wear a hijab with her uniform. The directorate answered yes, and caused a political storm.
Missoum was also new to wearing the hijab, though according to various interviews, she had been wearing it on and off for several years. She used to work in airport security in 2006-2007, and according to co-workers was Norwegian both in dress and in character. She never wore a hijab, either at work or elsewhere. As part of her job she conducted body searches of both men and women without any problems.
Missoum says that two and a half years ago she decided to wear a hijab, just after she stopped working in airport security. She says that she's always been a Muslim but more recently she decided to take her religion more seriously than, and that included wearing a hijab. She asked whether she could wear a hijab there but was told she couldn't. When she started off in the police academy, she was encouraged to check whether she could wear the hijab with her uniform.
According to an earlier interview, she started wearing a hijab in 2003, a couple of years after she came to Norway, took it off due to her job and then later decided it was here to stay. She says never expected it to become such a headline making story.
Sources: Dagsavisen, Rogalands Avis (Norwegian), Aftenbladet (English), h/t Bivouac-ID