UK: Muslim scholar speaks out against multiculturalism, extremism

UK: Muslim scholar speaks out against multiculturalism, extremism

You can usually find at least one in any saloon bar, ready to give you the benefit of their peppery views on the parlous state of Britain today.

This particular example is a clean shaven, middle-aged man with the de rigueur attire of carefully knotted mustard tie and blue, golf club-style blazer.

Brass cuff buttons flash as he pounds an angry fist on to his knee.

'I will give £5 to anyone in Britain who wants to live under Sharia law,' he declares. 'It will help pay for their ticket to Sudan, Yemen, Pakistan, or wherever it is customary to live under Sharia law.

'Please, please go and leave us alone. This is Britain, not 10th century Arabia!'

We are indeed sitting in a bar, on a busy main road in Oxford.

But the man before me is no stereotypical Islamophobe.

For one, he is sipping a glass of water rather than something more inflammatory.

More importantly, though by no means obviously, Dr Taj Hargey is himself an Islamic cleric; perhaps the most controversial imam in Britain today.

In an age when the highest-profile Muslim preachers are bearded, anti-Western firebrands such as Abu Hamza or Omar Bakri Dr Hargey seems an anomaly.

He does not care much for male facial hair. He believes that women can be both seen and heard, even in a mosque at Friday prayers.

And don't even get him started on the sort of fanatics who blow up London buses, or the poisonous teachings that inspired them.

After three men were cleared this week on charges of assisting the July 7 bombers, there have been calls for an inquiry into blunders made by the security services.

But Dr Hargey has little doubt who, and what, is truly to blame for unleashing such terrorism on our streets.

'It is the extremist ideology present in many UK mosques which is the cement behind nihilistic plots such as this,' he says. 'They are twisting Islam.'

He has little or no time for the Government's 'pussyfooting' policy of encouraging multiculturalism.

'That is the biggest disaster to happen to Britain since World War II,' he says. 'It has given the extremist mullahs the green light for radicalism and segregation. We have to, we must, adjust to British society. And we can do so without losing our faith.'


Certainly more people hate him than follow him.

'The masses have been brainwashed by the mullahs,' he says.

Which begs the question: can this intellectual Oxford imam really succeed with his ambition to lead a 'reformation' of British Islam? Or will medieval orthodoxy triumph in the end?


Source: Daily Mail (English), h/t Weasel Zippers

Italy: Women-only swimming

Italy: Women-only swimming

Muslim women in the northern Italian province of Bergamo now have private access to a local swimming pool where they can swim freely without traditional clothing. Men are not permitted to swim at the Siloe pool when the women remove their veils, or burquas, at designated times each week, according to the Italian daily, Corriere della Sera.

Maida Ziaradi, an Iranian who has lived in Italy for 17 years spearheaded the move and said many Muslim women from Tunisia, Morocco, Iran and Egypt as well as Italians can take advantage of it.

The pool is owned by the diocese of Bergamo and the arrangement with the Muslim women is seen as a form of ecumenical respect for the Koran.

"At the beginning several (women) were hesitant and fearful," Ziaradi said.

"One had never swum before, others made a remarkable effort exposing their legs, one was terrified of the water and now doesn't miss a lesson."

Italy is not the first country to introduce designated swimming for Muslim women. In Germany the burqua can be worn in some public swimming pools, while in Australia some public pools have specific timetables for Muslim women.


Source: AKI (English)

Iceland: First 'all-Icelandic' Muslim marriage ceremony

Iceland: Icelanders marry in Muslim ceremony

The article doesn't say, but I'm guessing both husband and wife are converts to Islam.

Last weekend was an important moment for the Muslim community in Iceland, because the first 'all-Icelandic' couple got married at the Muslim Association mosque. The head of the association, Salmann Tamimi, performed the ceremony to join Hjalti Bjorn Valthorsson and Gunnhildur Aevarsdottir in matrimony.

"Of course there have been Icelanders who have converted and married members of our communion, but this is the first all-Icelandic pair we have married," Tamimi told Frettabladid. He said that the number of Muslims in Iceland has increased rapidly over the last couple of years. "Two or three years ago you could count them more or less on the fingers of one hand, but now there are between 30 and 40 (Muslims in the Association)," he said. "Things seem to be improving for Muslims, both here in Iceland and elsewhere these days."


Source: IceNews (English)

Random thought for the day

Random thought for the day

How long would it take the Muslims for rights of Danish pigs group to officially denounce the Egyptian decision to kill off all 400,000 pigs in the country?  How long would it take Danish media to remember that just a year ago they gave quite a bit of newspaper space to radical imam Abdul Wahid Pedersen's announcement regarding this new group?   

Muslims are forbidden to eat pork due to a specific ban in the Koran, but that does not mean that Muslims can't fight for the rights of impure animals, thinks Pedersen. He says that even hogs who are going to the slaughter are part of God's creation and require a humanistic - not hoggish - treatment and therefore they will now express their great indignation about such outrage in reader letters in newspapers.

Phone lines are open.

Denmark: 18% of Muslims want to see Sharia law implemented

Denmark: 18% of Muslims want to see Sharia law implemented

For more study results see:
* Denmark: 55% of Muslims think criticizing religion should be forbidden, 64% support curtailing freedom of speech
* Denmark: Close to 90% of Muslims would vote for the Left 
* Denmark: 60% don't go to mosque, imams unrepresentative

Close to a fifth of Muslims in Denmark want to see Sharia law implemented in Denmark.A study conducted by analysis institute Capacent for DR news shows that 18% of Muslims in Denmark declare they 'agree' or 'completely agree' with the statement: "Sharia law should be integrated into Danish law".

Sharia legislation is several hundred years old and built on principles from the Koan and report of the Prophet Muhammad's life.

But the notion of what sharia is, is interpreted very different by Muslims round the world.

In countries like Sudan, Nigeria and Iran sharia law means that adultery or stealing can lead to cutting off of hands or whipping.  At the same time, there are laws which considerably place women worse off than men, which means that women can be refused the right to a divorce.

In several Western countries, some Sharia law is implemented.  Here in Denmark it's possible to receive a so-called sharia-loan without interest, and in Great Britain there are so-called sharia councils which can solve private conflicts between Muslims.

Source: DR (Danish)

See also:
* Denmark: Responses to British sharia law idea
* Denmark: Can Islamic law be implemented in Denmark?

France: Antisemitic gang leader: 'Allahu akbar'

France: Antisemitic gang leader: 'Allah will be victorious'

Update (May 2): I forgot to add the relevant part from the article, added now. According to the BBC report, Fofana actually shouted 'Allahu akbar'. (BBC)

France was forced to confront the moral decay of its deprived housing estates as the trial opened today one of the decade's most harrowing murder cases: the kidnap and torturing to death of a Jewish mobile phone salesman by a gang said to believe Jews were "loaded" and would club together to pay a ransom.

Ilan Halimi, 23, was found naked with his head shaved, in handcuffs and covered with burn marks and stab wounds near rail tracks outside Paris in February 2006. In a state of shock and unable to speak, he died en route to hospital. He had been held, tortured and beaten for three weeks, his head wrapped in tape, eyes Sellotaped shut and fed through a straw, while a gang known as the Barbarians demanded a ransom from his family.

Police initially did not treat the case as a hate crime. But within days of Halimi's death his family said he was targeted because he was Jewish. France, still coming to terms with its anti-semitic collaboration of the second world war, was plunged into a wave of soul-searching. Tens of thousands of people marched against anti-semitism.

The leader of the Barbarians gang, Youssouf Fofana, 28, a French school dropout turned petty criminal, has appeared in court accused of kidnapping, torture and assassination, with anti-semitism as an aggravating circumstance. Facing life imprisonment, he admits masterminding the kidnap but denies murder. A deliberately provocative character who has bombarded officials and lawyers with insults, he arrived in court shouting "Allah will be victorious". Of the 26 other defendants, 15 are accused of taking part in the plot. Others are accused of adhering to a law of silence and not going to the police.


Source: Guardian (English)

Princeton Prof: Europe unfriendly to Muslims, Tariq Ramadan 'dangerous man'

Princeton Prof: Europe unfriendly to Muslims, Tariq Ramadan 'dangerous man'

Many Muslims today struggle to integrate into Western society, but those in the U.S. are better off than those in Europe, said Islamic scholar Ralph Ghadban during a lecture Monday at Ohio State.

"Many of the millions of Muslims that have moved to the West wish not to integrate into society," Ghadban said.

As a member of the Institute for Advanced Studies of Princeton University, Ghadban spoke in a small conference room in Hagerty Hall, with only 15 people in attendance. The lecture, "Islamic Law of Muslim Minorities in the West" was sponsored by the Middle East Studies Center and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures.

"[Ghadban] is not a traditional scholar," said Arabic professor Georges Tamer. "He has practical experience that combines Islamic studies with political science and philosophy."

Ghadban said that during their integration to the West, Muslims are confronted with new norms and customs, as well as a new structure of society.

Most importantly, they must abide by a secular law system, which they have never or barely been confronted with in their home countries, he said.

A third of the 1.2 to 1.4 billion Muslims in the world are minorities in 149 non-Islamic countries, and 25 to 30 million of them live in Western Europe and North America, he said.

With the exception of black converts, the majority of Muslims living in the West came to the Western world during the modern migration period of the second half of the 20th century.

He said that Muslim immigrants follow Sharia law, which is a form of Islamic justice often criticized for its brutal physical punishments, including flogging and execution by stoning. Sharia punishment is often enforced against women found guilty of offenses such as premarital sex and adultery.

Ghadban did not say if he condones these forms of punishment or not. Instead, he focused much of his lecture on the European acceptance of Islam.

Ghadban said that European law discriminates against Islam. Ghadban, who has lived in Germany for most of his life, said his country does not legally recognize Islam like it does Christianity and Judaism.

"Germany is a non-immigration country," he said. "Only a small group of people, after 50 years, can get their citizenship."

He said this creates Muslim isolationism in the Western world.

"In all European countries, Muslims receive the least education, yet they are highest population in terms of labor," he said.

Ghadban focused much of his lecture on Tariq Ramadan, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Oxford in England. Through his writings and lectures, Ramadan has contributed substantially to the debate about the issues Muslims face in the West. He is active both at the academic and grassroots levels, lecturing extensively throughout the world on social justice and dialogue between civilizations.

"He is a dangerous man," Ghadban said. "He is focusing on disintegration rather than integration and he has no influence on people."


Source: The Lantern (English)

Online religion game withdrawn

Online religion game withdrawn

Update to this story: UK: Religious groups calling to ban online game

The creator of the Faith Fighter online game allowing players to stage fights involving Jesus, Mohammed and other prophets said on Tuesday it has withdrawn the game after a Muslim protest.

Molleindustria claim they withdrew their game following worldwide protests.  They now put up another game instead, in which one needs to give love and respect to all religions.

Does anybody really think Molleindustria didn't have this all planned out in advance?  They are not a regular game company, after all.  Here's their mission statement:

We believe that the explosive slogan that spread quickly after the Anti-WTO demostrations in Seattle, "Don't hate the media, become the media," applies to this medium. We can free videogames from the "dictatorship of entertainment", using them instead to describe pressing social needs, and to express our feelings or ideas just as we do in other forms of art. (EN)

France: "Europe could be a laboratory for peaceful coexistence"

France: "Europe could be a laboratory for peaceful coexistence"

From the Council of European Episcopal Conferences:

Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard (France):

Europe has a unique responsibility: she can be turned into a laboratory where Christians and Muslims demonstrate to the world that it is indeed possible to "live together, in harmony, with a style based on understanding and respect of the neighbour." So spoke card. Jean Pierre Ricard, Archbishop of Bordeaux and vice-president of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences (CCEE) in an interview with the SIR, in the margins of the meeting of national delegates from the Bishops' Conferences responsible for relations with Muslims. Outlining the meaning of the meeting that is coming to an end today in Bordeaux, the cardinal spoke of a special responsibility Europe has for inter-religious dialogue between Christians and Muslims. "It is a challenge, but we must show that living together in harmony is possible and that giving the best of ourselves to the other is a gift that every religious tradition can make," he said. "Besides establishing peaceful relations, we also have to witness together to the fact that these peaceful relations can exist among people." The European Churches are confronted with the growing presence of Muslim people in European countries. "Their presence is changing the traditional historic, cultural and religious background of Europe, that a few decades ago was dominated by Christianity," said Richard.

Within the CCEE, "there are countries where Islam is predominant as in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Albania and in Turkey," the archbishop pointed out. "We felt the necessity of holding a meeting for the delegates from the Bishops' Conferences responsible for relations with Muslims in Europe to exchange experiences, initiatives, problems and responses about this presence. These issues affect our society as Muslims enter a democratic society characterised by a clear separation between temporal and spiritual power, between religions and State; they enter a European society characterised by pluralism, where other religions exist along with other conceptions of the world. It is about seeing how our European societies are integrating these new populations".

Andrea Pacini (Islamicist)

"While it is true that the inclusion of the Muslim population in Europe is a major challenge for European societies and for the Muslim component, it is clear that the young Muslim generations may play a key role in this process". The importance of the second- and third-generation immigrant populations of Muslim religion in the European integration process is highlighted by Andrea Pacini, professor of Islam in Europe at Rome's Pisai and advisor to the Papal Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue. Pacini – as he spoke this morning at the meeting of the bishops and national delegates for relations with Islam that is taking place in Bordeaux, on the initiative of Ccee – spoke of young Muslims in Europe: "they are the children of the first-generation Muslim immigrants and they share the fact they were born in Europe and have shared a large part of their schooling in European countries". In outlining the traits of this new membership of Islam, Pacini said that "while first-generation immigrants tend to live a sort of ethnic Islam in the attempt to reproduce at several levels the religious and social experience of their original countries, the young people of Muslim origin who were born and have studied in Europe tend to separate themselves from such ethnic Islam in the attempt to develop new ways of relating to Islam".

These young people often "cannot read or write the languages of their parents and regard the traditional practices as ancient". We are witnessing then a "progressive distancing from the ethnic Islam and the establishment of an individual approach to living the religious dimension", and this trend "is boosted in Europe by the lack of recognised Islamic authorities". A sort of "liberal Islam", which is widespread in Europe, where "most Muslims place their religious dimension in a private sphere". Another trend that is catching up in Europe – especially in France and Italy – is the "neo-Orthodox current" of Islam, which must not be confused with the fundamentalist drift. On the contrary, "this trend – explained the expert – stands out for the fact its members express a firm belief in Muslim religious membership, but place themselves in proactive dialogue with the European culture". Finally, the professor pointed out that "the urban protests that have broken out in some British and French suburbs over the last few years, although involving young people of Muslim origin, have never been marked by any assertion of Islamic identity. On the contrary, they complained of Europe's failing to fulfil its promises about their rights".

Source: SIR 1, 2, 3, 4 (English)

See also: Brussels: Cardinal warns against alienating immigrants

Denmark: Parliament ready to crack down on unregistered Muslim marriages

Denmark: Parliament ready to crack down on unregistered Muslim marriages

A majority in parliament is prepared to crack down on imams who perform forced and unregistered Muslim marriages - particularly those involving girls under 18.

The Liberals, Social Democrats, Conservatives and Danish People's Party are unified in their efforts to come up with an effective means of preventing the weddings from taking place and punishing the imams who perform them.

Several leading Muslim experts and counsellors have indicated to Jyllands-Posten newspaper that the number of forced marriages in the country is significant - also for teenage girls who have converted to Islam.

'These marriages have to be identified and stopped,' said Karsten Lauritzen, integration spokesman for the Liberal Party. 'The imams who perform these weddings are contributing to the repression of women and there ought to be consequences for them.'

Experts say that girls forced into these marriages cannot escape them because they have no rights when the marriage is not recognised by Danish authorities. It is normally the imam who decides if a divorce is possible, and often this decision is made according to sharia law.


Source: Copenhagen Post (English), h/t le blog laiciste

See also: Denmark: Muslims against polygamous marriages

Denmark: 60% don't go to mosque, imams unrepresentative

Denmark: 60% don't go to mosque, imams unrepresentative

For more of the study results see:
* Denmark: 55% of Muslims think criticizing religion should be forbidden, 64% support curtailing freedom of speech
* Denmark: Close to 90% of Muslims would vote for the Left 

When Friday prayers are called in the Danish mosques, about a tenth of Muslims participate.

It is wrong to use imams as spokespeople for Muslims who live in Denmark, thinks Lene Kühle of Arhus University.

"A small group of imams are not and have never been spokespersons for Muslims in Denmark.  Muslims in Denmark are all too diverse for that."

Especially after the Muhammad crisis, imams are often used as representatives for Danish Muslims in the media, probably in particular the now deceased imam Abu Laban.

According to DR's study, "Your Muslim Neighbor" conducted by Capacent, 60% of Muslims in Denmark never got ot the mosque, or do so only during the holidays.  Lene Kühle says that therefore there's a need for a more nuanced image of Muslims in Denmark then the one coming from imams.

"It's certainly always problematic when you ask only a small group.  It's obvious that Danish imams aren't and have never been representative for all Danish Muslims.  So I think it will be a good idea if journalists will ask more widely," she says.


Ibrahim is a young Muslim.  When asked if he believes in God, he answers: "When somebody asks me, I say that I'm a Muslim.  It can well be that I don't live up to the things that some think cause somebody to be Muslim.  I just feel that I am, and religion is something one has for themselves."

Ibrahim doesn't go to a mosque.  Like 60% of Muslims in Denmark, who overall don't go to a mosque. 

Ibrahim doesn't go to a mosque neither as a protest nor to revolt against his parents, who do go to a mosque.

"I never had a need for it, and don't rightly think about it.  I never went there.  There has never been anybody who invited me to go there, neither parents nor friends," says Ibrahim.

As he doesn't go to the mosque, Ibrahim has a little difficulty with imams who speak on behalf of Muslims.

"In any case they don't represent me, and I don't think they represent many of the Muslims who live here.  There have been unfortunate episodes and it doesn't look as if they can speak for all other Muslims here," says Ibrahim.

Sources: DR 1, 2 (Danish)

See also: Denmark: Imams split, do not represent Muslims

Södertälje: Muslims flee Assyrian attacks

Södertälje: Muslims flee Assyrian attacks

Both Ronna and Hovsjö have a large immigrant community, made up especially of Syrian Assyrians and Finns.

Apparently the attacks mentioned here (EN, SV) were against the Moor family.  (According to Swedish news, this involved a family which already lodged 20 complaints).


Several immigrant families in Södertälje are subjected to racism and harassment.  According to the police it is first and foremost people of Syrian or Assyrian origin who subject Muslims and newly arrived refugees to different types of attacks.

for the Moor family from Iran it's gone so far that they were forced to move from the Hovsjö neighborhood.  The family's father, Fouad, can't understand why it's just them who are subjected to it.

"A different apartment and secret address.  Why?"

The Moor family, which moved to Hovsjö in 2006, already lodged 20 complaints by the police of harassment.  This includes stone throwing at their apartment and smashing windows.

"Then, every night, there's stone throwing or snowballs.  Why just me," wonders Fouad Moor.

According to both police and the support center for young crime victims in Södertälje, the Moor family is not alone in being harassed.

Rose-Marie Lundkvist who works at the center says that the problem takes place most in the Ronna and Hovsjö neighborhood.

She says children are abused, beaten and bullied in general since they are Muslims, or suspected of being Muslims.  Often it's Syrian children who are involved with this group.

Over 40% of Södertälje's population has foreign background, according to the municipality's statistics.  This includes people who are born abroad or that both their parents were born abroad.

In Ronna and Hovsjö the proportion is even higher - around 85%.,

The Moor family is not alone in moving from Hovsjö. Radio Stockholm spoke with several Muslim families who were forced to move following harassment.

The Moor family was now forced to move in with a friend in another neighborhood of Södertälje.

"When they wake up they are stressed, when they go to bed, they are stressed.  At the same time, the children are also quite stressed to go out, even when they live by me," says the friend, who wants to remain anonymous.

Source: Radio Sweden (Swedish)

See also:
* Södertälje: Muslims attacked by Assyrians
* Södertälje:Immigrant infighting

Sweden: Christian rape gang?

Sweden: Christian rape gang?

Earlier this month Swedish news reported about a rape gang which systematically raped girls in Södertälje.

Four young men appeared in court on Thursday charged with involvement in a series of gang rapes in Södertälje in eastern Sweden.

A total of seven young men between the ages of 19 and 23 are being held in custody for the rapes.

The men are believed to belong to a network of several smaller groups who have systematically raped young women and girls in the town.

Six of them have been charged and four of them stood trial in Södertälje district court on Thursday for aggravated rape, among other charges, in one of the four cases.

The girls have said the men took turns raping them while the others held them down, newspaper Länstidningen Södertälje reports.


Source: The Local (English)

Södertälje has a very large community of Assyrian Christians, and more recently Iraqis.  According to one Swedish newspaper, all the rapists belonged to the same association and worked in restaurants, where they met the girls.  Some are Swedish citizens and some are facing extradition.  (SV)  In other words, they are not ethnically Swedish.

Swedish blog Politisk Inkorrect, suspecting they are Assyrians, dug deep and discovered the names of the rapists (SV).   Apparently, they are all Iraqi and some needed an Arabic translator in court.  However, it seemed to me quite unlikely that Muslims have started naming their children after the Christian apostles.  And indeed, according to Assyrian/Syrian forums in Sweden, the rapists are all Iraqi Christians, though there is still a discussion as to what specific ethnic group they belong to.  As for the girls who were raped, I saw some claims that a couple were Assyrian, but other claims that they were all Swedish.

Generally I don't report about crimes committed by non-Muslims, as they're out of the scope of this blog.  However, since it is quite easy to jump to conclusions and assume all immigrants are Muslim, I thought this is worthy of posting.

UK: Religious groups calling to ban online game

UK: Religious groups calling to ban online game

What's more newsworthy: A British newspaper trying to manufacture outrage, or an Italian company giving Muslims a censured version of their game? Or maybe this is just a new marketing ploy?

In any case, shouldn't Christian groups be a bit more upset at Molle Industria's Operation Pedopriest game?

(click to enlarge)

"This game is not intended to be offensive towards any religion.... the game contains a depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. If you feel that such a depiction would be offensive, we ask that you play the censored version of the game in which the character's face has been removed. Or better yet, don't play the game at all."


Religious groups are calling for a ban on an online game where holy figures such as Jesus and the prophet Muhammad fight to the death.

Critics say the free Faith Fighter game is 'deeply provocative' and 'disrespectful' towards all world religions.

Muslims are particularly outraged because Islamic tradition prohibits drawings of Allah.

Hindus and Buddhists are also upset as the god Ganesha and Buddha are two of the six 'players'.


A spokesman for the Federation of Muslim Organisations said: 'In the current climate, this game can only create fear about religion. 'Having images depicting Muhammad in this way is also very offensive to our faith.'

Brian Appleyard, former chairman of the Buddhist Society, called the game an 'offensive futile project'.


Sources: Metro, molleindustria (English)

Spain: First Islam guide

Spain: First Islam guide

Spain has released a guide on its Muslim community, including their number, concentration areas and places of worship, the first such move by a European country.

According to the guide, there are some 1.3 million Muslims in Spain.

Moroccans, Algerians, Pakistanis and Senegalese make up the majority of Muslims in the southern European country.

Past estimates usually put the number at about at 1.5 million out of a total population of 40 million.

The guide, released by the Arab House Institution of the Immigration Ministry, shows that there are 300,000 Muslims in the north-eastern province of Catalonia, making up the bulk of Muslim population in Spain.

The southern province of Andalusia is home to 120,000 Muslims, followed by the capital Madrid with 80,000.

The cover of the guide features an immigrant working woman, an Islamic architecture and a researcher conducting a scientific research.


The official guide shows that there are nearly 400 mosques and prayer rooms in Spain.

It lists only 13 big mosques and Islamic centers across the southern European country.

"More grand mosques should be built to cater for Spanish Muslim worshippers," MP Mohamed El-Shayeb told commenting on the guide.

Building stately mosques has become a mission impossible for many Spanish Muslims.


Source: Islam Online (English)

Denmark: 55% of Muslims think criticizing religion should be forbidden, 64% support curtailing freedom of speech

Denmark: 55% of Muslims think criticizing religion should be forbidden, 64% support curtailing freedom of speech

More from the big DR survey of Muslims in Denmark, titled "Your Muslim neighbor" (DA).  h/t Peter.  The data published in different papers is different by one or two percentage points, but the overall direction is clear.

See also Denmark: Close to 90% of Muslims would vote for the Left  for more on the survey.


A clear majority of Muslims in Denmark doesn't want religion to be criticized, according to a survey Capacent prepared for DR.

In the study "Your Muslim Neighbor" (Din muslimske nabo) conducted among Muslims in Denmark, They were asked whether it should be forbidden to criticize religion.

55% thought it should, while 34% didn't agree.

Capacent also asked the rest of the Danish population the same and here 10% thought that it should be forbidden to criticize religion.

Asked directly if freedom of speech should be restricted in such cases, 66% of Muslims in Denmark answered yes, while 10% of the rest of the population thought the same. 

The study was conducted among 523 Muslims living in Denmark.

It should be forbidden to criticize religion:

Completely agree: 27% Muslims, 2% Danes
Agree: 28% Muslims, 8% Danes
Neither agree nor disagree: 8% Muslims, 11% Danes
Disagree: 23% Muslims, 32% Danes
Completely disagree: 11% Muslims, 46% Danes
Don't know: 2% Muslims, 1% Danes
won't say: 1% Muslims, 0% Danes

Freedom of speech should be curtailed in such cases:

Completely agree: 25% Muslims, 1% Danes
Agree: 39% Muslims, 9% Danes
Neither agree nor disagree: 10% Muslims, 10% Danes
Disagree: 11% Muslims, 29% Danes
Completely disagree: 3% Muslims, 50% Danes
Don't know: 11% Muslims, 0% Danes
won't say: 2% Muslims, 0% Danes

Ezma Ozkan is a Muslim and thinks that it should be forbidden to criticize Muhammad, Jesus and religions altogether.

"I think it should be forbidden to criticize religion, because we should respect each other.  And if it's insulting, then I think it should be stopped," says Ezma Ozkan to Radioavisen

The 32 year old businesswoman from Sjælland participated in the DR survey. 

She thinks that the Muhammad cartoons are the best example for a lack of respect crossing the lines.

"You know it's pure provocation for the Muslim people, so it should stop there," she told Radioavisen.

According to the study, 64% of Muslims in Denmark think freedom of religion should be curtailed in such cases.  But at the same time 75% think that democracy is the best type of government.

Ezma Ozkan sees no contradiction:

"Clearly there's freedom of speech in Denmark, but religion is something we have inside, so one should think again before one comes with insulting statements," she told Radioavisen.

Sources: DR 1, 2, JP (Danish)

See also:
* Denmark: 50% of immigrants want to criminalize criticism of religion
* Denmark: Criticism of religion is OK
* Denmark: Close to 90% of Muslims would vote for the Left

Netherlands: Dutch feel better about immigration, think freedom of religion should be limited

Netherlands: Dutch feel better about immigration, think freedom of religion should be limited

Less and less Dutch have problems with immigrants.  Currently 35% think the Netherlands would be a nicer country if there would be less immigrants.  At the end of last year 41% shared this opinion.

This according to a survey by the Social and Cultural Planning Office (SCP).  According to the researchers more and more people say that the presence of different cultures is an asset for the Netherlands.  The percent of citizens with this opinion increased from 36% at the end of last year, to 44%.

Also, less and less people think that it's going badly with immigrants and their integration in Dutch society.  The researchers of SCP say further that in recent months people react less sharply regarding immigrants.

The improved feeling about immigrants seems to have nothing to do with economic downturn.  The citizens are still as pessimistic about the economic situation.  Currently, 65% of the Dutch are gloomy about the economy.  That was also the case at the end of last year.


A majority (61%) of Dutch think that freedom of speech shouldn't go so far as to offend people's religious feelings.

In particular women, those aged 55+, the highly educated and churchgoers think that there's a limit to insulting believers.  A small majority of Dutch (54%) also thinks that freedom of speech should be more strongly protected, but religious people agree less often with that.

SCP says that many people think that particularly for religion, people's resilience is very small.  In the discussion about freedom of speech, the ideas about integration and the toughening of society play a role. Freedom of speech is seen as a typically Dutch value which is under pressure.  Others see in the greater stress regarding this freedom either a decline in tolerance, or a greater inclination to feel attacked.

Most of those interviewed didn't think there's a role for government in this.  They this this is mostly an issue for the civilians, in which decency and communication play a big role.  Many people mentioned in this connection the way in which PVV leader Geert Wilders expresses himself regarding Islam.

Sources: Telegraaf, ND (Dutch)

Sweden: Counties should offer religious circumcision

Sweden: Counties should offer religious circumcision

All counties should offer religious circumcision for boys, according to a recommendation from the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, reports TT.  Stockholm county is one of the counties which does not offer religious circumcision for boys.

Today many parents who want to circumcise their sons are referred to someone outside the health services because many counties only offer circumcision for medical reasons.

Some of the operations are performed by people who have a permit from the Health and Welfare Board, but many have their boys circumcised abroad or by individuals who do not have a permit.

Source: SR (Swedish)

See also:
* Sweden: Boys injured during illegal home circumcision
* Norway: Hospitals drop circumcisions

Denmark: Close to 90% of Muslims would vote for the Left

Denmark: Close to 90% of Muslims would vote for the Left

Muslims in Denmark are red.  In any case, only one in ten Muslims would vote for the government and the coalition, if there would be elections now.

DR had an analysis prepared by Capacent institute among Muslims in Denmark and to the question, which party would you vote for if there were elections, now, the Social Democrats got 58.3% of the Muslim votes.  In mandates that comes out to 103.

Together the current opposition: Social Democrats, Social Liberal Party, Socialist People's Party and Red-Green Alliance will get 89.1% of the votes.

The government and Danish People Party get little backing.

The Conservatives and Liberal Party get the biggest blow.  Only 5.7% of Muslims in Denmark would support the Liberal Party, while the Conservatives are below the election threshold with 1.1% of the votes.

It is worth noting that the Danish People's Party does much better than the Conservatives.  4.1% of Muslims in Denmark consider checking the O on the ballot, according to DR's study.

The only party which has the same support among Muslims in Denmark and the rest of the Danish population is the Social Liberal Party.  Here the difference between the recent parliamentary elections and DR's study is not so big.  The Social Liberal Party got 5.1% of the votes, while among Muslims, they get 5.8%.

Source: DR (Danish), h/t Snaphanen

See also: France: Muslims give more support to Socialists

France: Hostel employee fired for forcing pork on diners

France: Hostel employee fired for forcing pork on diners

An employee for a workers hostel in Clermont-Ferrand was fired for insistently trying to serve pork to the Tunisian residents.

On June 15th, the labor court of Clermont-Ferrand will try a difficult case.   A former employee of the Home Dôme hostel, which houses young workers, is challenging his dismissal  for serious misconduct.  He is blamed for having tried to insistently serve pork to Muslim Tunisian residents of the hospital during an evening shift on October 16th.

That same evening, when another foreign client came to the restaurant, she publicly told the staff in front of the client that they are her witness that he'll eat pork.

As a result,  the Home Dôme hostel management found that this employee violated the honor and consideration due to the residents and behaved in a discriminatory fashion.

A version which is contested by the ex-employee.  Employed as a kitchen assistant, she was responsible for preparing the various dishes at lunchtime.  But on October 16, her colleagues demanded she serve the clients.  when the Tunisian trainees arrived, there were already many people, and another employee was just then busy preparing pizzas for them, explains Roesch, the plaintiff's lawyer.  The employee, who masters Arabic, talked with the Tunisians.  Then, at the same time, and in French, turned to the plaintiff and asked her to serve them two plates of fries.  The trainees said they do not wish to be served by the plaintiff, who already returned to the kitchen.  She never served them pork, and never proposed to do so.

But the Tunisian trainees say the plaintiff got it into her head to serve them pork, and adopted an aggressive tone.  Nine depositions have been taken in this vein.

According to Roesch, the reasons for the dismissal are different.  The lawyer says that besides the fact that the alleged grounds pose social-cultural problems which are difficult for our Western societies to manage, it appears that the dismissal results from other considerations, notably economic ones.  In effect, the service restaurant of the hostel is not the best and was suffering declining sales.

The hostel lawyer did not wish to comment before the court decision.

Source: Modergnat (French), h/t le blog laiciste

Israel: Flemming Rose on free speech

Israel: Flemming Rose on free speech

This past week the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, hosted a panel discussion on Free Speech and Religion titled "Freedom of expression - victim of religion?". The speakers were Flemming Rose, the editor of Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten who published the Mohamed cartoons, Michael Kichka, an Israeli cartoonist, and David Horowitz, editor of the Jerusalem Post.

An Israeli reader sent me a summary of the discussion together with pictures. Below is the summary of the talk given by Flemming Rose.

Additionally, I found several interviews with Flemming Rose while he was in Israel:

And here:


When asked why he decided to publish the cartoons, Rose said, "Not to insult the Muslims. It was in response to the spreading self censorship with regards to Islam. It started with a discussion on a children's books about Muhammad, whose author could not find an illustrator for it. One person was willing to do the drawings, but demand to remain anonymous, and later admitted this was out of fear of the Muslims' reactions.

"The publication also came after the murder of Dutch director Theo van Gogh at the hands of a Muslim (in response to his film about the Islam's attitude towards women), and the assault of a non-Muslim professor in Denmark after reading from the Quran to his class in the university.

"It's a classic journalistic case, you hear about a problem and want to find out if it really exists. We decided that, instead of describing it in words, we can let the cartoons demonstrate it and prove that they cannot be censored. It's an age-old journalistic principle: Don't settle for telling the story, but also show it."

When asked if he had anticipated the Muslim world's reaction, Rose said, "No one expected this." He pointed out that cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad had been published in the past in Danish newspapers, and he was even depicted as mentally ill in one of them, that did not lead to protests.

"There are even experts on Islam who didn't see this coming," he said. "I talked about it with the orientalist Bernard Lewis, who told me there was a long culture of insulting the prophet in Europe. He referred me to Dante, and the cathedral in Bologna where Muhammad is depicted in hell. Muslims didn't respond to that, because they said it these were heretics that they shouldn't be concerned with."

When asked why he thought Muslims reacted so harshly this time, Rose said, "According to Lewis, this is the first time Muslims try to impose Islamic law on non-Muslim countries."


If any of my readers attend such events, I'll be glad to hear and post about it.

Flemming Rose says that there have been two major changes in recent times affecting journalism:
1) previously, people read only their local newspapers. but nowadays the internet has changed the world, and now people know what's published in newspapers halfway around the world.
2) immigration is changing and people are now moving between places faster then they've done in the past.

In medieval times, countries had "blasphemy laws" and punished "heretics" who did not agree with the official state religion. But today, most western countries have freedom of religion.

Freedom of religion is meaningful only if it includes the ability to say "no" to religion and and to say negative things about religion. Moslems want a society based on religion (i.e. *their* religion), but they also wants freedom of religion as afforded by secular societies.

In May 2008 in Amsterdam, Dutch cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot was arrested. Nekschot is known in the Netherlands for his provocative cartoons. Three years before that he was reported to the authorities, who claimed it took them this long to find him. Rose doubts this since he says it took him only half an hour to locate Nekschot.

Dutch blasphemy laws exist on the books, just as they exist in other countries, but they are not used. The Justice Ministry suggested broadening the law to include other religions, minorities, and "life philosophies". Rose points out that this is a dangerous notion that would allow practically anyone to sue anyone else - e.g. a Communist could sue a Capitalist who offends his "life philosophy".

In 2004 Theo Van Gogh was killed by a Moslem who was offended by Van Gogh's movie. The Dutch Ministry of Justice later pushed to update the blasphemy laws, saying that if the law was better, the movie wouldn't have been released and Van Gogh would have still been alive. But is this the solution?

The prosecution has yet to decide what to do with Nekschot. Rose says this is a way of keeping a "sword of Damocles" over his head.

Three weeks after the arrest, the Danish embassy in Islamabad was attacked. Al Qaeda took responsibility for the attack, saying this was a response to the Mohammed cartoons.

Pakistan has the strictest blasphemy laws, and this is used to prosecute minorities, such as the Christians and Ahmaddiya.

When Rushdie was knighted, the Pakistani minister said: "How can we fight terrorism if the West doesn't fight blasphemy?" But this is a very dangerous comparison between offending and killing people. Rose says that blasphemy laws actually promote terrorism in Pakistan.

He sees three notions that led to the crisis:

1) "People have a right not to be offended" - Rose calls this "insult fundamentalism". Prof. Dvorkin says that in a democracy you have many rights, but you don't have a right not to be offended. Rose says that today people who offend others are sent to sensitivity training, but he suggests sending those who are offended to "insensitivity training" instead. It's a global world, and there's a lot to be offended about.

2) "Religions and cultures have human rights" - According to Western civilization, humans have a right to protection, not ideas.

3) "Minorities are always right" - but following that logic, you wouldn't have been able to criticize the Nazis in their early years, before they came to power, because at first they were a minority.

Rose says there are two options to go from here.

1) "If you respect my taboos, I'll respect yours." The problem is that this could be used to silence speech in general.

2) Allow all speech unless it incites to violence or violates libel or privacy laws. Regarding incitement to violence, Rose says that today there is a blurring between words and deeds. The incitement should follow the American first amendment model and be counted as incitement only if it creates an imminent danger.

Several answers from a later Q&A session:

1) In answer to a claim as if only political cartoons insulting Islam are published, Rose emphasized that Jyllands-Posten had previously published cartoons which insulted Jews and Christians, and showed a series of such cartoons. The one insulting Judaism (which is a bit blurry), featured a bomb with a Jewish Star of David.

2) In answer to a question about why the panel did not include any Moslems, the panel moderator said that there was no Moslem on the panel since he could not find one who would agree to come and appear alongside the panelists. Additionally, Moslem students in the Hebrew University demanded earlier that day to cancel the panel discussion, or at the least, remove Flemming Rose from the panel.

(It should be noted that while the panel discussion was going on, a group of Moslem students protested outside the university. However, there were also many Moslem students inside the hall, particularly female students, who later got up to ask questions.)

In general it was an enlightening evening, and it was very good that the Hebrew University made this discussion available to the public.

h/t L.

EU: Attacking the media

EU: Attacking the media

Several stories from the past couple of weeks, all involving attacks on the media.  The reasons are different every time, but the bottom line is the same.  As FOX News reported last month, they needed a police escort to film in an immigrant neighborhood and were advised at some point to just stay in the car.

Netherlands, April 13

Between ten and fifteen Moroccan youth troubled a reporting team of the television program Netwerk Monday.  The team was in the Utrecht neighborhood of Zuilen working on a report.  When the youth saw the camera, they got annoyed.  They pushed a couple of journalists and threw candy, confirmed a spokesperson for Netwerk and the police Tuesday.  The police quickly ended the disturbance, after which the team could go on with filming.  "Let's not make this particularly bigger than it was," says the editor, who was part of the reporting team.  "Nobody was injured, no instrument was destroyed.  I've been through a lot worse."

The images were broadcast on the actuality program Wednesday.  Netwerk decided on a film portrait of Zuilen due to a number of incidents in the neighborhood.  Various people were badgered out due to their sexual leanings.  The show will not lodge a complain against the disorderly youth.

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch).  See also Netwerk: Onrust Zuilen

Belgium, April 19

A VTM camera team was attacked this afternoon in Schaarbeek (Brussels).  The reporter and a cameraman got a few punches and the discette was taken out of the camera.  The incident was not direcly connected to the shooting incident this evening, according to Eric Goens, spokesperson for VTM.

The camera team was in Schaarbeek at the place where the shooting incident occurred in order to shoot general images.  A youth of immigrant origin riding a scooter wrongly thought that the team was filming traffic violations.  The young man began to threaten the team.  Soon a big group of immigrants gathered and a skirmish developed.  The team received a few punches and the diskette was taken away.  The camera stayed intact.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

See also: Brussels: Moroccan attacks agents, is killed by police

Sweden, April 24

Freelance photographer Jens C Hilner was beaten and robbed of his video camera in Rosengård tonight.  

"I developed good contact with the youth there in recent months - and that's what happens here," he says dejectedly.

It continued not to be calm in Rosengård last night.  For the fourth day in a row containers and tires were set aflame by the youth.  The police and emergency services held back in order not to risk being subjected to stoning.

But photographer Jens C Hilner, often employed by the Kvällsposten, was there as usual in order to shoot the disturbances.

"I stood at midnight by the Shell truck at Ramels väg (Ramel Road) and both photographed and filmed the burning rented trailer," he says. "Suddenly I saw someone running towards me shouting out loud.  I thought that this guy just wanted to test me, but he hit me hard in the face and pushed me down to the ground."

While Jens lay on the ground he was kicked in the side, while the attacker tried to grab his camera.

"I refused to let go of my system camera, so I desperately held on to it.  Instead, this guy managed to grab my video camera and then run away."

Jens went over to the gang of youth and asked them for his video camera back.  

"I asked them to show me the respect that I showed them the past three months," he says.  And actually a guy went off into the street and got the camera back.  Unfortunately it looks pretty damaged.

Jens C Hilner is both shaken and disappointed.

"I learned to know many of the youth in Rosengård and think that we developed a good relationship and good dialog with each other."  He says the youth know he's not out to get them.

"Most are good guys and there was the idea that some of them would appear in an interview in the next few days.  Now I don't know what's happening.  Right now it feels that I'll never want to go to Rosengård again.  But after a night's sleep I will certainly change my mind.  It's important to show what's happening out there."

Jens is sore in the face and a bit black-and-blue after the attack, but he survived the attack without serious injuries.

"Unfortunately I don't think that I will be able to pick out the culprit.  Everything went so fast," he says.

Source: Kvällsposten (Swedish)

Italy: "Anti-kebab" law

Italy: "Anti-kebab" law

While cameras clicked and video operators moved in for a close-up, Giorgio Schultze raised his hands defiantly. In one, he held a can of Coke, in another a doner kebab — the overstuffed spicy beef and veal sandwich that has become as common as pizza in this northern Italian city.

"I am now committing two crimes," said Mr. Schultze, an independent candidate for the European Parliament elections in June. "I am eating outside. And I am drinking."

Actually, it is likely that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Lombardy residents are running afoul of a regional law passed this week that regulates how fast-food restaurants and takeout shops may sell the food they produce.

The law, which also applies to ice cream parlors and pizza stands, bans establishments without restaurant or bar licenses from selling anything other than what they themselves produce on site, including drinks. Customers consuming outside the premises cannot sit down or use plastic utensils. (As Mr. Schultze was standing and held his kebab with a napkin, technically he was breaking only one law).

But what brought dozens of people to a so-called protest lunch outside a doner kebab shop on Thursday was concern that the law was aimed at fast-food restaurants run by immigrants. The measure was approved Tuesday by the center-right majority, but was championed by the conservative Northern League, as a means to preserve the traditional identity of Italian cities. Recently, the party has been lobbying nationally to establish unarmed citizens' groups that would patrol to prevent violent crimes, which are widely attributed to immigrants.

"In its original form the law was more racist — it was specifically geared to get kebab shops out of the city center," said Giuseppe Civati, a regional lawmaker with the Democratic Left opposition party, who organized the protest from his blog and then through Facebook, where hundreds of people joined his group.

In Italy, in fact, there are numerous "anti-kebab" groups on Facebook. In Bergamo, Mr. Civati said, there are pro-kebab and anti-kebab Facebook groups fiercely competing for members. Italian fans of foreign foods can also join a group calling itself the Couscous Clan, which promotes what it calls "gastronomic trans-contamination." It was started 15 years ago in Turin and became a Facebook group this year after the Tuscan city of Lucca banned new ethnic and fast-food restaurants from opening in its historic center.


Source: NY Times (English)

Amsterdam: Muslim scratches out lingerie ads

Amsterdam: Muslim scratches out lingerie ads

For more on this story see C L O S E R.


Recently the Amsterdam police has been dealing with a religious Muslim who scratches out advertisement posters in Amsterdam Oost with his nails.

On the billboards sexy women advertise Sapph lingerie.  The man, Tarix Abdullah, says that he acts out of 'respect for God'.  He says that he has nothing against women, except if they have nothing on besides a bra and a slip.  "I do it in order to protect women and children who pass by.  Soon women will think that they must look like this in order to please men.  If they follow the way of God, more specifically of Islam, we can avoid the danger."

The Amsterdam police is aware of the campaign, but has yet to intervene.  The manager of Sapph says the campaign is 'shocking'.

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

Hague: City to investigate Islamic boarding schools

Hague: City to investigate Islamic boarding schools

The municipality of The Hague will conduct an investigation into the possible existence of Islamic boarding schools in the city.

According to Else van Dijk-Staats (VVD) there are at least three boarding schools who, for instance, have contacts with the movement of Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. Youth in the boarding schools are 'isolated and indoctrinated'.

She announced Friday that on Thursday evening the college passed a motion to investigate if there are boarding schools with radical ideas in the capital.  A spokesperson for alderman Rabin Baldewsingh (Labor, citizenship) said that the college does not know of such organizations.  "We received several addresses from councillors and will now investigate what's happening there."

Source: Trouw (Dutch)

See also:
* Netherlands: Concern about Gülen movement
* Rotterdam: Councillor claims Gülen movement is fundamentalist
* Rotterdam: Controversy around new "Turkish" elite school

France: Parents arrested for violently preventing their children from Westernizing

France: Parents arrested for violently preventing their children from Westernizing

It started off as a simple runaway case.  Monday, around 1pm in Meximieux, two sisters aged 15 and 18, of Turkish origin, were reported missing.

The Meximieux police found their two hours later, but their investigation did not end there.  They discovered that the two sisters were regularly subjected to violence by their parents, who did not accept their wish not to live according to their very rigorous life principles.  Fundamentalist Muslims, the parents do not tolerate seeing them in Western clothing, visiting friends, or pursuing their studies.  They were also forbidden to watch French television.

The parents initially denied even the simple practice of religion, but later admitted to the facts and violence.

They will be tried by the court for violence by a person of authority towards a minor.

Source: Le Progress (French), h/t Bivouac-ID

Amsterdam: Two criminal Moroccans threatened with deportation

Amsterdam: Two criminal Moroccans threatened with deportation

This story has been in the news for the past week.

The story started when the police and mayor of the Amsterdam district of Slotervaart wanted to deport two Moroccan brothers who are part of a criminal youth group which hangs around the Piet Mondriaanstraat.  These two brothers, like 80% of the group, are not Dutch citizens and are in the Netherlands on a residence permit.

The two are about twenty years old and have been living for 15 years in the Netherlands.  They also forgot to extend their residence permit and according to the police, have been in the country for some period illegally.

The Dutch immigration service (INS) usually only deports criminals if they've been in the Netherlands for less than five years.

Ahmed Marcouch, the Slotervaart mayor, said that if they're not Dutch citizens, you must ask yourself what's the point of them being in the Netherlands.  Deporting them would have a preventative effect and show that the Netherlands doesn't welcome people who are a danger.  These people don't want Dutch citizenship but rather prefer to extend their residence permit every five years, Marcouch explained, because they have nothing to do with the Netherlands.

Newspaper AD visited the Piet Mondriaanstraat to interview Moroccan youth, who were very upset at Marcouch.  Hicham Achiban (21) told AD that Marcouch is worse than Geert Wilders.  Mohamed (19) said that these are his brothers, and they already served out theri sentence.  He says that when Marcouch wanted their votes, he came begging to them, but now he wants to throw them out. He is a Moroccan, but he throws his own people out of the country.  Another called Marcouch a profiteer and traitor, saying that Marcouch is not a judge, he hates him and that Marcouch should set fire to himself.

One of the brothers meanwhile got a new residence permit.  The INS wanted to declare him a 'undesirable alien' for the number of crimes he committed, but the judge dismissed the request.  The PVV in Parliament is demanding answers from State Secretary Nebahat Albaryark (Justice) regarding this decision.  The other brother's case is still ongoing. 

The Amsterdam Moroccan Forum (AMF), an umbrella organization of 17 Moroccan-Dutch organization, met Wednesday to discuss the deportation case.  They say that many Moroccans in Amsterdam are indignant and offended by the deportation decision, since the brothers have been living in the city for so long.

The AMF released a statement saying that they are disappointed Marcouch is taking on himself the job of Minister of Justice.  They accuse him of not having vision and responsibility.  The AMF would have preferred he come up with solutions based on an analysis of the problem, and which lead to an improvement for the entire group of youth.

They say the decision to deport the boys is unacceptable, because it offers no structural solution and since these boys have no prospects in Morocco.  They also think it's tragic for their sick mother.  The AMF thinks the boys should be given an opportunity to restart their lives in the Netherlands.

The AMF formed a work-group to follow the case and assist the boys' family.

Sources: AD, De Telegraaf 1, 2, Allochtonen Weblog (Dutch)

Netherlands: Orange headscarves for Queen's Day

Netherlands: Orange headscarves for Queen's Day

The students also emphasize that the headscarf could be worn like a regular scarf (NL).

The project site: Louka.


 Muslim women in Haarlem will be able to celebrate Queen's Day in Dutch style this year.

A group of students will hand out more than 5,000 orange headscarves on 30 April to promote tolerance in the Netherlands.

The orange headscarves will allow Muslim women to express their loyalty to their faith as well as to the queen. 

The two students who initiated the action said they are annoyed by the rabble rousing in politics and in society over the wearing of headscarves.

The orange headscarves were partly sponsored by a EUR-3,000-prize awarded by the Haarlem council for the students' initiative.

Source: Expatica (English)

Germany: Terror trial opens

Germany: Terror trial opens

Germany on Wednesday kicked off the country's biggest terror trial since the 9/11 attacks. Four men accused of plotting to carry out bomb attacks on targets across Germany are the focus of a high-profile case expected to last up to two years.

Under tight security, four men aged between 23 and 30 took to the dock on Wednesday in Düsseldorf to answer accusations of plotting a spate of bombings in discos, restaurants, airports, the Federal Prosecutor's Office and US army installations. The alleged plot, which was in its final stages when it was thwarted by police in September 2007, would have been the most destructive in Germany's postwar history.

Sitting behind panes of bulletproof glass, the suspects being tried -- Fritz Gelowicz, Adem Yilmaz, Daniel Schneider and Atilla Selek -- face charges of conspiring to commit murder, plotting to launch explosive attacks and membership in a terrorist organization, the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU). The men have remained silent since their arrest 18 months ago.

Police detained three of the so-called "Sauerland cell" members during a sweep on a holiday home in a quiet village in the Sauerland region in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The raid was Germany's biggest anti-terror operation to date. Police said they had been tracking the terror cell for months but stormed the cottage when it appeared that the suspects were nearly ready to strike. They are accused of having turned the unassuming holiday cottage into a bomb-making base. Among the evidence, police impounded hydrogen peroxide-based liquid explosives more potent than those used in the 2004 Madrid bombings or the 2005 attack in London.


Source: Spiegel (English)

Norway: Palestinian ambassador accused of supporting Israel

Norway: Palestinian ambassador accused of supporting Israel

The Palestinian ambassador to Norway, Yassel al-Najjar, was accused of supporting Israel's war in Gaza, and this led to death threats.

It was earlier this month that an Arab-language site published a letter supposedly sent from Israel's foreign ministry to the PLO ambassador Yasser al-Najjar.

The letter was signed by former Deputy Foreign Minister Majali Wahabi.  In the letter Najjar was thanked for having supported Israel's war in the Gaza strip in January.

But Najjar thinks the letter is false.  The site where the letter is published is moreover pro-Hamas.

"The letter is false from beginning to end.  I was shocked and sad at the same time when I was notified of it," says Najjar to ABC Nyheter.

Israel's embassy in Oslo and the Foreign Ministry in Israel can neither confirm not deny that the letter is real.

Najjar got death threats after the letter appeared.

"If people believe the letter, then I can understand that they react with anger.  You can imagine someone who lost his children in the war, and then they hear that one of their own is a traitor.  It's obvious they will be anger.  But it's also not true.  I never supported Israel and will never do it, either," says Najjar.

He thinks the letter could have come from the conflict between Hamas and Fatah.

Najjar is the son of Palestinian activist Abu Yousef al-Najjar.  In 1973 he was an eyewitness when an Israel death squadron stormed the family's apartment in Beirut and killed the parents.

[ed: Dagbladet fails to mention that Abu Yousef was an operation leader for Black September and responsible for the Munich Massacre]

The letter (in translation):

On behalf of the Foreign Ministry and the Foreign Minister I wish to express great gratitude for the recent cooperation and coordination between Najjar and Israel's ambassador in Oslo.  Cooperation of this type improves the relationship between our two peoples and bring to a hastening of the peace process.

Israel wishes continues cooperation and coordination and the undersigned is personally glad for Najjar's understanding that Israel is fighting terrorism in Gaza, and for liberating the civilians there from the terrorist Hamas rule in Gaza. I assure him that the army did everything they could to protect civilian lives in Gaza.  Every civilian loss hurts us.

All attempts to prosecute the Israeli leadership is a result of lacking understanding of the fight against terrorism.  We hope to see you soon, through the Palestinian delegation, to discuss future coexistence between our two people, side by side, and Israel is proud of having your friendship and cooperation.

Deputy Foreign Minister Majali Wahabi

Sources: Dagbladet , ABC Nyheter (Norwegian)

Netherlands: Muslim orgs want separate rooms in hospitals

Netherlands: Muslim orgs want separate rooms in hospitals

Muslim organizations in Breda (Netherlands) insist on separate rooms for men and women at Amphia Hospital.  "Many Muslim women don't think it's nice based on religious conviction to have a half-naked man in the bed next to them," says Driss Siraji, who spoke with the hospital on behalf of the Immigrant Council and the Aarahman mosque.

Separate rooms were common in  Dutch hospitals until ten years ago.  At Amphia they're aware of the wish of the Muslim community, but keep to mixed rooms.  "If people have a principle objection to mixed care, they can make it known at admission, we then try to take that wish it into account.  But mixed care gives the possibility of making optimal use of the bed capacity and prevents unnecessary transfer of patients to other rooms," says spokesperson Truus de Bruijn.

She says that in practice there are few requests to get care in a woman's room and that if they get such a request it's generally from a Muslim woman or a nun.  Other hospitals in the region also get requests for separate care.  "If it's possible, we arrange it.  People can also book a Comfort Class room.  They you lie alone, but that does cost extra money," says a spokesperson for the Lievensberg hospital in Bergen op Zoom.

Sirajij says that he often meets women who want to be cared in a separate room.  "Not in emergency cases, but by regular admission."  In 2006 there were plans to build a Muslim hospital in Rotterdam, but nothing came of it yet.

Amphia, who also has a branch in Oosterhout, will soon appoint a Muslims chaplain for the first time.  This is after urging from the same Islamic organizations.  Other hospitals already have such chaplains in service.

Source: BN DeStem (Dutch)

UK: Prisons to clamp down on Muslim prayer groups

UK: Prisons to clamp down on Muslim prayer groups

Prisons have been ordered to clamp down on Muslim prayer groups over fears of hijacking by extremists.

Governors have been ordered to carry out spot checks on Muslim priests, or imams, after inspectors warned that some groups operate as gangs to force inmates to convert to radical versions of Islam.

The guidance from HM Prison Service says imams should be monitored to ensure they challenge "inappropriate behaviour" and "maintain order". It also says: "Worship should not infringe or compromise communal areas with particular reference to health and safety, and order and control considerations." It recommends "splitting" prayer meetings to help isolate problem prisoners and adds that priests must not be left "in sole charge" of large groups of prisoners. Muslim inmates in high security prisons are to be banned from leading services.


Source: Mirror (English), h/t Islamization Watch

Austria: al-Qaeda operating in Austria

Austria: al-Qaeda operating in Austria

A former al-Qaeda jihadist of German origin who's been living in Bosnia for years and who goes by the pseudonym of Nihad C. says that al-Qaeda terrorists live safely in Sarajevo. 

C. says that al-Qaeda is busy preparing an operation from the Viennese Sahaba mosque, but the Austrian authorities let a head suspect slip from under their fingers.  Though it has been reported that Abdulrahman Hussein is dead, C. claims he is still alive and that he's been in touch with him recently.  The mosque was investigated in connection to an attack of Bosnian Muslims on the US embassy in  Vienna.  the head of the mosque is Abu Muhammed, who comes from the Serbian region of Sandzak.  He financed Wahabis from Sandzak who met in the mosque.  Muhammed was involved in the abuse of Bosnian Serbs in 2006. 

According to C., Austria is lucky that al-Qaeda terrorists have been active mostly in Afghanistan till now, but he says that terrorists in Spain, Morocco and Algeria are ready to carry out orders.  C. went to Bosnia as a 16 year old in order to fight with the Mujaheddin.  Afterward he fought for two periods in Chechnya.  In 2001 he went to Afghanistan, where he was arrested by the US and Pakistani secret service ISI in 2007.

Source: NRP (Dutch), News (German)

See also: Austria: Al-Qaeda cell under investigation

EU: Ethnic groups feel discrimination is widespread

EU: Ethnic groups feel discrimination is widespread

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) today releases results of the first ever EU-wide survey on immigrant and ethnic minority groups' experiences of discrimination and racist crime. The survey reveals that discrimination, harassment and racially motivated violence are far more widespread than recorded in official statistics.

The Roma report the most discrimination.  Here is some interesting data, relating to Muslim groups (North Africans, Turks, Somalis and Albanians):

Percentage of respondents who think discrimination based on ethnic or immigrant origin is widespread in the country

North Africans:
Italy - 94%
France - 88%
Belgium - 76%
Netherlands - 66%

Belgium - 69%
Netherlands - 61%
Austria - 32%

Sweden - 75%
Denmark - 61%

76% of Italian Albanians thought discrimination was widespread and 68% of Swedish Iraqis.

Experiences of discrimination

The survey checked discrimination in the following areas:

1) when looking for work
2) at work
3) when looking for a house or an apartment to rent or buy
4) by healthcare personnel
5) by social service personnel
6) by school personnel
7) at a café, restaurant or bar
8) when entering or in a shop
9) when trying to open a bank account or get a loan

36% of North Africans and 23% of Turks said they experienced discrimination in one of those categories in the past 12 months.

More specifically, 52% of Italian North Africans, 47% of Finnish Somalis and 46% of Danish Somalis experienced discrimination.

Experiences of racism

The survey checked whether the respondents were victims of the following

1) theft of or from a vehicle
2) burglary or attempted burglary
3) theft of personal property not involving force or threat
4) assault and threat
5) harassment of a serious nature

11% of North Africans and 9% of Turks said they experienced such a crime in the past 12 months.  More specifically, 34% of Finnish Somalis, 31% of Danish Somalis and 22% of North Africans experienced such a crime.

However, very few reported these.  Among Turks who experienced racist crimes, 78% did not report assaults and threats and 92% did not report serious harassment.  Among North Africans this was 62% and 81% respectively.

19% of North Africans and 16% of Turks said that in the past 12 months they avoided certain places for fear of being assaulted, threatened or seriously harassed.  In specific groups: 39% of Swedish Somalis, 31% of Finnish Somalis and 26% of Swedish Iraqis reported such behavior.

58% of North Africans stopped by police in the past 12 months said it was due to their ethnicity.  This breaks down to 73-74% in  Spain and Italy and 55% in Belgium.  71% of Italian Albanians and 56% of Greek Albanians felt the same.  Among Turks 25% said they were stopped because of their ethnicity.

Source: EU-MIDIS: European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey: Survey page, Press Release, Survey at a Glance (PDF)

France: 80 Islamophobic acts in 2008

France: 80 Islamophobic acts in 2008

The Association against Islamophobia in France (Le Collectif contre l'islamophobie en France, CCIF) announced today it recorded 80 Islamophobic acts in 2008, of which 59 are against people and 21 against property (mosques, cemeteries, societies).  The CCIF said in a press conference there was an increase in Islamophobic acts in 2008, without bringing any comparison data with last year.

Concerning the acts against people, it concerns in particular discrimination in government hiring, at work, but rarely physicla violence. Two thirds (67%) were in the Paris region.

As for damage against property, the CCIF reports eight attacks against mosques, four desecrations of cemeteries, including that of the Notre-Dame de Lorette in Arras where 500 graves were covered with inscriptions insulting Islam.

The CCIF was created 5 years ago to reduce Islamophobia and racism.  Islamphobia and racism. It records Islamophobic acts, aids victims and possibly takes legal steps.

Notably, it appealed to the High Authority for the Struggle Against Discrimination and for Equality on the prohibition against having veiled mothers accompany school field trips and is pleased having enabled veiled women to sign up to vocational training centers.

Source: Le Figaro (French)

France: Bahraini bank considers entering French market

France: Bahraini bank considers entering French market

Bahrain-based Islamic lender Al Baraka Banking Group BARKA.BH said on Wednesday it planned to enter the French market to tap into Western Europe's largest Muslim community.

The penetration of Muslim populations in European countries is seen as a key element for future growth of the nascent Islamic finance industry, but penetration has been slowed by the need for national regulation to cover Islamic product structures.

France is currently changing its legal system to allow Islamic financial institutions to provide services to its 5 million Muslims.

Al-Baraka's units in North Africa are planning tie-ups with French partners to "establish Islamic banking in France", it said in a statement on the Nasdaq Dubai, where it is also listed.

"However, there are no agreements entered into up to now, (nor any) legal arrangements being processed," it said.

Paris Europlace, the body promoting Paris as a financial centre, told Reuters' Islamic Finance Summit last week France would license its first Islamic bank by end-June.


Source: Reuters (English)

Copenhagen: Muslims walk out of terrorism conference

Copenhagen: Muslims walk out of terrorism conference

Comments from a member of the Danish People's Party resulted in Muslim guests walking out in protest from an intelligence agency conference

A number of Muslim attendees walked out of a 'Terrorism and Communication' conference hosted by the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) today.

Public broadcaster DR reports that the Muslim guests, including an imam, decided to leave the event after Søren Espersen from the Danish People's Party stood up and said that Islam is one of the world's problems.

Espersen's comments came after the head of PET, Jakob Scharf, opened the conference by maintaining that Islam cannot be equated with terrorism. Scharf argued that doing so is almost like running errands for al-Qaeda, because the terror organisation justifies its actions by saying Islam is under attack.


Source: Copenhagen Post (English)

Netherlands: Dutch getting trained by al-Qaeda

Netherlands: Dutch getting trained by al-Qaeda

For the first time, Dutch also seem to have gotten military training by the most feared terrorists in the world.  The Dutch left last year for the area of the Pakistani-Afghani border, where Al-Qeada is preparing new attacks on the West.

This according to the AIVD intelligence service.  AIVD head Gerard Bouman did not want to say how many people this involved.

"We are concerned about this development.  Upon returning from training these people are able to carry out operations," according to Bouman during the presentation at the AIVD annual report.  In addition, there are Dutch students in Islamic educational institutes in Pakistan.  The AIVD fears that they are under the spell of radical and jihadist movements.

Since August 2008 the secret service sees an increased threat from al-Qaeda and other terror groups in the Pakistani-Afghani border area.  According to the AVID there is further danger for "a number of people, objects and sectors".  Bouman said the threats against PVV head Geert Wilders were continuous: "His protection has in any case not decreased."

The Netherlands is labeled as one of the preferred targets of Jihadists, also because of the military presence in Afghanistan and the anti-Koran movie of Wilders.

The AIVD does not rule out that recruits from other European lands will be tasked after their training to carry out an attack in the Netherlands.  Besides al-Qaeda the Taliban, Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) also operate in the Pakistani-Afghani border area.

Last may the Dutch National Criminal Investigation Service arrested a Dutch of Turkish original who filled a key function in an international network, linked to the IMU.  The suspect, who was extradited to France, was in contact with the leaders of this terrorist organization.  

At the end of last year the AIVD sounded the alarm about a Turk who left the Netherlands for the Pakistani-Afghani border area to participate in Jihad.  Due to the danger to national security, the Turk was meanwhile declared an unwanted alien.  

After the attacks in London of July 2005 and several foiled terrorists acts in Great Britain, German and Denmark, the tracks led to the Pakistani-Afghani border area.  Last year, with the arrest in Breda of the HBO-student and part-time house painter Aqeel Abbasi, it was determined for the first time that young Pakistanis from outside Europe were 'flown in' to commit suicide attacks.  Abbasi was part of a terror cell dismantled in Barcelona which was preparing for a series of attacks.  

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

See also:
* Sweden: Swedish Muslims getting al-Qaeda training
* Denmark: Danish Muslims training in al-Qaeda camps, planning attack against Denmark
* Netherlands: Pakistani terrorism suspect released
* Netherlands: Pakistani terror suspect re-arrested
* Netherlands: Case closed against terror suspects