Denmark: Saudi lawyer demands Mohammed cartoon apology (UPDATED)

Denmark: Saudi lawyer demands Mohammed cartoon apology


Danish politician Nader Khader says that "If anybody in the world should apologize to the rest of the world, it's Saudi Arabia. They should apologize for oppressing their women. They should apologize that women can only inherit half the portion of a brother. They should apologize that women can't get a driver's license. They should apologize that you can't build churches and synagogues in the country." Khader adds that Saudi Arabia should also apologize for women having to wear a burka. (DA)


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A Saudi lawyer has demanded a public apology from a number of Danish dailies that reprinted a controversial cartoon of Prophet Mohammed in February 2008, Danish media reported on Sunday.


The lawyer, identified as Faisal A.Z. Yamani from Jeddah, sent an email to the newspapers that republished the drawing first printed in 2005 and demanded that they print an apology by the end of September, Danish news agency Ritzau reported.


"It should be a clear, public and unconditional apology for the offence and harm caused by their newspaper," Yamani wrote, demanding that the statement appear in the first three pages of the newspaper and in four languages, Danish, French, English and Arabic.


(..)


Yamani suggested in the email that Danish interests in the Middle East could suffer if an apology was not forthcoming.


(..)


The Danish newspapers' association, Danske Dagblades Forening, said it would consult the foreign and justice ministry next week, and contact Danish newspapers to see how many had received the email.


The head of the association, Ebbe Dal, told Ritzau the demands were "unacceptable".


Following the publication of the cartoons, the Danish government repeatedly refused to heed calls from the Muslim world for an apology citing freedom of expression.



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Source: Asia One (English)



Update:

A firm of Saudi lawyers, purportedly acting on behalf of descendants of the Prophet Mohammed, has demanded printed and multi-lingual apologies from Danish newspapers who re-printed cartoons of the Prophet, as well as undertakings that all Internet pictures of the caricatures be removed in perpetuity.


The demand from the Saudi Arabian legal firm of A.Z. Yamani, is contained in letters sent to about a dozen Danish editors-in-chief and gives the end of September as a deadline for compliance.


The A.Z. Yamani firm was founded by Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, Saudi Arabia’s former Oil Minister from 1962 and until 1986 when he was summarily dismissed. The letter in question was sent by his lawyer son Faisal Yamani.



(..)



One editor-in-chief has already commented on the letter, rejecting the ultimatum.


»There must be some people who continue to flog this issue. With all due respect for Muslims in Denmark and elsewhere in the world – this is unacceptable«, says Der Nordschleswiger Editor-in-Chief Siegfried Matlok.



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Source: Politiken (English)

Russia: Medvedev meets with North Caucus leaders on fighting radicalism

Russia: Medvedev meets with North Caucus leaders on fighting radicalism

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev met with muftis and regional leaders in the North Caucus on Friday. He pledged full support to the Islamic leaders and called for a program to work with young people, in order to prevent them from getting involved in the criminal activities of militant groups. Medvedev also called to stop using the expression "Islamic extremist", preferring 'bandit' [ie, criminal] instead.

Ingushetia's President Yunus-bek Yevkurov, suggesting tightly controlling young people who travel to Islamic universities abroad. Medvedev agreed and proposed signing long-term treaties with recognized Islamic educational centers.

Medvedev says that the mass media and the Internet should actively promote true Islamic values and religious education. He also proposed creating a TV channel which would teach and clarify the principles of Islam.

Source: Interfax 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (English)

UK: Campaign in schools to highlight scientific legacy of Muslim civilization

UK: Campaign in schools to highlight scientific legacy of Muslim civilization


Update: Fixed headline.

An educational foundation has announced plans to distribute free books to UK schools to highlight the scientific and cultural legacy of Muslim civilisation. 1001 Inventions is the brainchild of the Foundation for Science Technology and Civilisation (FSTC) – a network of academics dedicated to debunking the myth of the so-called “Dark Ages of Civilisation”.



Last month, atheism activist Richard Dawkins announced plans to distribute free DVDs to UK schools. Whilst FSTC does not consider it’s 1001 Inventions campaign a direct challenge to Dawkins, it does hope to encourage debate about the relationship between science, faith and culture.



FSTC has campaigned for school curriculums to acknowledge the scientific achievements of Muslim civilization for more than a decade. While the Dawkins campaign, supported by the British Humanist Association, positions science and religion as opposing forces, the 1001 Inventions project reminds us that for 1000 years the religious and the scientific were comfortable bedfellows and led to unprecedented openness to new ideas and social change.



The book that accompanies the project is entitled 1001 Inventions: Muslim Heritage in Our World and highlights the thousand years of social, scientific and technical achievements that are currently under-recognised in schools’ textbooks. The project aspires to deliver at least 3000 copies of the book to UK schools by October 2009, and is seeking public support for the campaign through a sponsorship scheme (as has Dawkins).



Professor Salim Al-Hassani, chief editor of the book, explained: “The period between the 7th and 17th centuries, that has been erroneously labeled ‘The Dark Ages’ was in fact a time of exceptional scientific and cultural advancement in China, India and the Arab world. This is the period in history that gave us the first manned flight, huge advances in engineering, the development of robotics and the foundations of modern mathematics, chemistry and physics.



“Whilst the Dawkins DVD teaches young people about ‘the experimental scientific method’, it fails to point out that it was pioneered by a religious physicist called Ibn-Al Haytham, who saw no conflict in being both a Muslim and a scientist. Our campaign is working to tell the story of the cultural origins of our present day science. A story that is often missing from our textbooks.”



The 1001 Inventions campaign was launched by the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation (FSTC); a not-for-profit, non-religious and non-political body based in the UK but supported by academics from across the globe. The project has attracted the support of leading educators, scientists and politicians.


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Source: 1001 Inventions

Oslo: Youths and Islam in Europe

Oslo: Youths and Islam in Europe

The Rap artist Mohammed Yahya shares his views on Youths and Islam in Europe with Young Immigrant TV in Oslo, Norway:





In the interview Yahya speaks about radicalization among the youth, which he blames on lack of involvement by imams.

Amsterdam: No Islam classes

Amsterdam: No Islam classes


Public schools in the Amsterdam district of Slotervaart are not currently planning on giving Islam classes. District mayor Ahmed Marcouch had asked for such classes about a year ago.

Marcouch support Islam classes outside the regular school-day, so that schools would offer parents an alternative to religious education in the mosques. Many children in Slotervaart go to such classes on teh weekend. According to the district mayor, the educational climate there is not good.

Classes in public schools are only possible if parents ask for them. That didn't happen as of yet. It is unknown if father and mothers simply have no need for it, if they aren't aware of this possibility. The district is currently checking if parents will consider religious education religious education in school.

If parents will say that they want their children to get Islam classes in schools, that is still possible. At several elementary schools in Rotterdam and Lelystad , children already have the possibility of taking classes on the Islamic faith.

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

See also:
* Amsterdam: Schools should be considerate of Islam
* Amsterdam: Investigate Muslim Sunday schools, bring Islam into public schools

Ramadan and professional football

Ramadan and professional football

An interesting article on Just-Football.com looks at Ramadan in professional football.

This issue comes up every year, as teams and players decide how they'll deal with the Ramadan season. Since football is one of the top sports across the continent, it sometimes makes for headline news.

More on Just-Football.com


See also:
* Italy: Inter Milan coach links poor game to Ramadan
* Italy: Inter Milan coach says he was misquoted
* Spain: Football players keep Ramadan
* Humour and pragmatism characterize Dutch Ramadan
* France: Athletes on Ramadan

Copenhagen: Municipality courting Muslims

Copenhagen: Municipality courting Muslims

Hamid El Mousti, a Moroccan-Danish municipal counsellor for the Social Democrats in Copenhagen was interviewed recently on French radio station RFI, regarding the city's approval for a mosque.

What's most interesting in this interview is the El Mousti claims that the Muslim population of Copenhagen is 19%, and that the municipality is courting the Muslims due to the upcoming elections.

Is El Mousti Islamophobic? According to EUMAP, btw, the Muslim population of Denmark is about 12.6%.

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(..)


RFI: The city of Copenhagen also wants to introduce the teaching of Arabic in schools in the fall. Why is the Danish capital making such efforts regarding the Muslim community?

H.EL : 19% of the residents of the city are Muslim, and the municipal elections will be held on November 17th. This is a signal to the Muslim community saying: you're part of the community.

RFI: The construction of this mosque is the way for Denmark to make up for the story of the Muhammad cartoons in 2005?

H. EL: Absolutely not. This story is long forgotten in Denmark. We don't speak of it anymore. And I say that as a Sunni Muslim.

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

UK: Somali paper target of attack, receive donation to continue working

UK: Somali paper target of attack, receive donation to continue working


Fear fell over Bristol’s Somali community when a prominent community newspaper became the latest target of what seems to be a racially motivated attack.


The Islamophobic attack came in the form of a midnight fire set to the Somali Voice newspaper offices serving the local Somali community.



The fire, which was started during the early hours of July 22, caused thousands of pounds worth of damage and spread panic like wildfire amongst the Somali residents of Bristol. Luckily, nobody was physically hurt.



Kayse Maxamed, the full time Editor and founder of the Somali Voice was severely distressed by the incident.



With all the computers severely damaged and all saved data lost, Maxamed voiced his concerns over the financial means necessary to get the newspaper office up and running.



He urged the local Somali Community to come forward and donate whatever possible in terms of replacement furniture and computers. Maxamed had not insured any of the contents as he did not think it necessary as he never thought that anything like this would ever happen.



The fire was started just hours after a meeting consisting of Bristol police and elders of the Somali community was interrupted by a masked intruder, shouting racial abuse at the Somalis. The situation was dealt with calmly.



Maxamed expressed his determination to carry on his work for the Somali community. He told The Muslim News, “We are determined to continue our work and will not be threatened by anyone.” Referring to the tip off that a member of the Central Mosque of Bristol had given to Bristol Police regarding would-be terrorist, Andrew Ibrahim, Maxamed added that regardless of what his community does, “Muslims will still always be seen as outsiders.”



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The Somali newspaper in Bristol has been given £3,000 worth of equipment to get back on its feet after a fire devastated its offices.


Frendoc, the not-for-profit out of hours GP service, has donated two PCs and a computer software programme so the Easton-based bilingual publication can continue to serve the community.



(..)


"It's great news that Frendoc can help us out," he said. "A lot of people are angry about what happened but we just want to get up and running again and continue to work for the people of Bristol."



(more)


Source: Muslim News, This is Bristol

UK: Prison installs footbaths

UK: Prison installs footbaths


Figures obtained from the Ministry of Justice under the Freedom of Information Act show that the money was spent on two footbaths, a "squat" toilet and a shower area at Canterbury Prison in Kent, which only holds foreign nationals awaiting deportation and has 92 Muslim inmates.


Footbaths are often used by Muslims as they are required to wash their feet before prayer. However, the area is not exclusive to Muslims and can be used by all inmates.



The expenditure was condemned by the TaxPayers' Alliance.


Matthew Elliott, chief executive, said: "It's ridiculous that we are spending so much money on prisoners who should have been deported, rather than kept here as a burden on innocent taxpayers.



"Making basic provision for people's needs is one thing, but there is no reason at all why there should be special toilets installed. If prison doesn't have the perfect toilet facilities for you, then you shouldn't have committed a crime, it isn't meant to be nice."



Canterbury Prison is the first in the country to fulfil the unique roll of holding only foreign national prisoners.



The Prison Independent Monitoring Board's annual report published in July, showed inmates represent 66 different nationalities, speak 33 different languages and practice 17 different religions.



Amy Bushell, of the board, said: "In the prison's overall refurbishment programme budget, the cost of the installation was relatively small.



"People who chose to use such facilities cover many nationalities, cultures and religions. We would've been greatly disturbed if these had been provided for just one group alone, as it would have excluded other individuals from using them."



The board also stressed no complaints have been received of non-Muslims being denied access to the area.



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Source: The Telegraph

Netherlands: Survey on crime among Dutch Moroccan youth

Netherlands: Survey on crime among Dutch Moroccan youth

Another interesting question is this one: Why do youth go off on the wrong path?

31% - 'Macho' culture among Moroccan youth
23% - Lack of opportunity in the environment where the youth grow up
15% - Dutch having little understanding for Moroccan culture
18% - Parents not being able to cope with raising the children
30% - Moroccan youth get less chances
14% - Moroccan boys pay no attention to their own future
16% - Moroccan boys are more likely to get sucked into 'bad circles'
11% - Other reasons


55% think too much political attention is paid to criminal Moroccan-Dutch youth. 76% think there's too much media attention. 72% think this media attention is too negative, and 72% think it's bad that the media reports on Moroccan criminals, ie, that origin is not relevant.

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A third of Dutch Moroccan youth think that the Dutch legal system is not hard enough on criminal youth. Trouble makers should first be dealt with by their parents, according to a survey by Top-X - the youth panel of TV program EénVandaag and Maroc.nl among 800 youth of Moroccan origin [under 30].

About 60% of the Dutch-Moroccan youth surveyed are disappointed and angry that many of their age group of Moroccan origin get in trouble with the police.

"Sometimes I'm ashamed that those ASOs [anti-socials] could ruin it like that for the rest," according to one of the participants.

A third think that the popularity of the PVV is due to criminality among Moroccan youth. A fifth think that these youth should get extra severe punishments [18% have no opinion]. The same percentage thinks that recidivists should be sent back to Morocco.

There is little trust in the solutions of the Dutch government. But a majority (70%) think that street-coaches is a good idea and half also supports the idea of family-coaches. There is disagreement about the role of the Moroccan community: Almost 40% says that it doesn't involve itself enough with a solution.

Source: EénVandaag (Dutch)

Italy: Inter Milan coach says he was misquoted

Italy: Inter Milan coach says he was misquoted


Inter Milan boss Jose' Mourinho on Friday blasted the media for misquoting him on Muslim midfielder Sulley Muntari's Ramadan fast and spurring death threats from Islamists.


''If something happens to me it will be your fault,'' the coach told reporters after Britain's Daily Star reported that at least one extremist site had threatened to kill him.



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''The situation with Muntari is your responsibility,'' Mourinho told reporters Friday.



''I know what I said, there are tape recordings, but you like to change words. I said: 'Muntari's decision is not to be criticised because it is a question of faith and religion. That means that I accept it (and) I never said Muntari should forget his religion and practice. If anyone in the Muslim community is angry with me it's your fault''.



After the 1-1 draw with newly promoted Bari, Mourinho was asked about Muntari's substitution 30 minutes into the game and replied: ''Who knows? It seems to me it had something to do with Ramadan...Ramadan doesn't come at the best time for a player, to play a football match''.



(more)


Source: ANSA (English)

See also: Italy: Inter Milan coach links poor game to Ramadan

Flanders: Review of headscarves policy

Flanders: Review of headscarves policy

Following the debacle in the Antwerp Atheneum, the state education agency decided to review its standpoint regarding headscarves.

Currently schools can decide on their own if their students and teachers may wear a headscarf or not during class.

Often only the teachers of life-conviction [ie, religion] classes may wear the religious symbol.


Source: GvA (Dutch)

See also:
* Antwerp: Two schools ban headscarves
* Antwerp: Following headscarf ban, imam calls to boycott Flemish schools
* Antwerp: Imam backs down from boycott call
* Antwerp: Protests against headscarf ban, call to snitch on burka-wearers
* Antwerp: School to open headscarf changing room

UK: Islamist preacher banned from Guantanamo Bay event

UK: Islamist preacher banned from Guantanamo Bay event


An Islamist preacher has been banned from addressing a major British fundraising event amid claims he backs attacks on UK troops and supports terrorist organisations linked to Al Qaeda.


The revelation that Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemen-based preacher accused of advocating violent jihad, was due to speak via video link at Kensington town hall later this month, has raised fears public buildings are being used for extremism. A spokesman for Kensington and Chelsea council said: "Some of the views expressed by Mr al-Awlaki in the past are not appropriate for broadcast in [council] premises."



The council banned al-Awlaki from speaking only after politicians and anti-extremist groups raised concerns about his appearance at the Cage Prisoners event, which will raise money for Muslims held in Guantánamo Bay.



Source: The Guardian
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From the Cage Prisoner's press release:


(..)


Imam al-Awlaki has never been charged, let alone convicted, of any offence. He was accused of being involved in international terrorism as were other guest speakers, Moazzam Begg, Sami El-Hajj, Moussa Zemmouri and Binyam Mohamed who were incarcerated without charge in Guantanamo Bay. Curiously, the Council does not feel that the involvement of any of the former Guantanamo Bay detainees is likely to damage its reputation. The interest CP has in all of these individuals is their detention without charge as part of the suspension of due process and the rule of law in the ‘war on terror’.



Beyond this, CP cannot comment on any other statements attributed to Imam al-Awlaki or other guests as we are unaware of their accuracy and furthermore, they are of limited importance to the remit of CP which is to focus on civil liberties and human rights. It is this defined focus which is why this year’s annual dinner is being sponsored by three of the UK’s leading anti-terrorism solicitor firms – Birnberg Peirce and Partners, Tyndallwoods Solicitors, and Khan Solicitors.



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Brussels: Municipalities ban Ramadan 'boycott Israel' campaign

Brussels: Municipalities ban Ramadan 'boycott Israel' campaign

The "Boycott Israeli dates" campaign is targeted at Muslims, as it is customary to break the Ramadan fast with dates.

According to Le Soir (FR), Saint-Gilles banned the campaign citing 'security' concerns. Schaarbeek was more precise, and mayor Cécile Jodogne wished to keep the peace in the community.


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Palestinian groups have accused Brussels authorities of inconsistency after three of the city's communes banned them from distributing leaflets calling for the boycott of Israeli dates from local markets, Belgian daily Le Soir reported Friday.



Citing security reasons, the districts of Schaerbeek, Saint-Gilles and Anderlecht blocked the campaign by 'Coordination Boycott Israel', which claims that proceeds from the sale of the fruits fund the Israeli occupation of parts of the Palestinian territories.



However, the campaign has been given the go ahead by three other communes - Brussels City, Molenbeek and Forest.



'Where is the consistency?' one campaigner was quoted as saying.



(more)


Source: Monsters and Critics

Sweden: Uzbek news site critical of imam refugees

Sweden: Uzbek news site critical of imam refugees

Uzbek news site UzNew published the following article, quite openly critical of Islamic radicalism among Uzbek refugees in Sweden.


In Sweden, Uzbek Muslim leaders, who escaped from the Uzbek authorities’ religious repression, have found not only the freedom of serving Islam but also a flock of Uzbek and other refugees in the new country.



Uzbek religious leaders, which were subjected to Uzbek President Islam Karimov’s repression, are becoming leaders in mosques that are opening in many places in Sweden.


They had never dreamt about this kind of freedom in Uzbekistan but in this northern European country they are easily renting any premises that their purses afford. As a result, another new mosque headed by an Uzbek imam has now appeared in Sweden.



A native of Andijon, Mamurjon-kori has received asylum in Sweden less than a year ago. Having settled in the town of Timro in the country’s north, he opened a mosque with the help of his like-minded associates. He rented and repaired an abandoned building and expanded some of its rooms for collective prayers.



Shortly after, Mamurjon-kori became a respected and influential man among Uzbeks and natives of other Muslim countries living in Timro.



Having suffered from Uzbekistan’s policy, the newly fledged leader of the mosque speaks with caution about the situation in his remote motherland. The religious leader’s soft and slow speech makes it clear that he is aloof from the political vanity in Uzbekistan and obedient to Allah’s will and divine administration.


The mosque leader says that Allah will reward the people suffering from in Uzbekistan’s dictatorial regime, its political, religious and economic repression, tortures and humiliations in torture chambers of law-enforcement bodies in this country and that they will be blessed when they pass away.



“We always pray for them, this is the only thing we can do,” Mamurjon-kori says.



Mosques similar to that of Mamurjon-kori are mushrooming up in Sweden. Many Muslims in the towns like Kalmar, Orebro, Hellefors and Stromsund are praying in mosques headed by Uzbek imams. Parishioners in these mosques include not only Uzbek refugees but also Muslims from other countries.



However, expanding their activities, Uzbek imams still speak cautiously when it comes to questions related to making their work, purposes, ideas and political positions public as if they fear that the Uzbek National Security Service’s invisible “eye” is continuing to watch their every step.



Mukimjon Mahmudov, the imam in a mosque in Hellefors, says that he and other religious leaders try to keep their activities low-profile because demonstrating their activities do more harm than good.



“We
even urge Swedish journalists not to write about us,” he says. According to him, there has been a case of arson in the mosque headed by Obid-kori Nazarov, a well-known imam in Uzbekistan blacklisted by the Uzbek authorities as a leader of Uzbekistan’s Wahhabi movement.


In other words, Obid-kori’s business in Sweden is just thriving. In addition to disciples from Uzbekistan, his admirers include Chechens, Dungans, Uighurs, Afghans and others, who have highly appreciated the Uzbek imam’s knowledge.



This summer, Nazarov opened a children’s camp in Jamptland, a picturesque area in the north of Sweden for the second time and rented a villa for this purpose.



Children are enjoying the nature and spend some time on Islamic education everyday, listening to the imam’s lectures.



When journalists, including an Uznews.net correspondent, visited Obid-kori Nazarov’s camp, they saw a greeting sign in Uzbek at the entrance to the camp that reads “Welcome to summer camp!”



Seeing the Uzbek journalist from our news agency, children thought he was Swedish and were very surprised that he spoke Uzbek very well. It proved that children were discomforted by the fact that the correspondent did not have beard because all Uzbek men in the children’s circle had beard.



(..)


Intensive activities of the Uzbek religious leaders, who gained complete freedom in Europe, are yielding results. Many Uzbeks, who had not regarded themselves as religious prior to their arrival in Europe, have started visiting mosques and reading prayers.


One of the factors leading to Uzbek refugees’ Islamisation is that they obtained their first opportunity to study Islam and be Muslims without the fear of being repressed. At the same time, Uzbeks’ isolation and the absence of ideas other than their religious ones, which could unite and fascinate them, is not the least of the factors.



This is why, finding themselves in Europe, many of them are not becoming “Europeans” but, on the contrary, start following Oriental traditions and Islamic canons in a way stricter than in their motherland.



Muslim leaders’ influence on Uzbek girls and women is especially noticeable. It is likely that girls and women becoming less free than they were in Uzbekistan.



When they see men, they hide their faces, which are already covered with hijabs. They do not leave the kitchen if there are guests in their houses and just slightly knock the door to let men know that food is ready.



(more)


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In a reply to UzNews, Obid-kori Nazarov says as follows:

(..)


“This is why, finding themselves in Europe, many of them are not becoming `Europeans’ but, on the contrary, start following Oriental traditions and Islamic canons in a way stricter than in their motherland.”

Some people ask if these words are hints implying that “Uzbek Muslims should be driven out of Europe” because in many parts of Europe Islamophobia sometimes shows its power. We have often had to hear Nazis’ calls that “Muslims should be driven out from Europe”.

Many understand that the purpose of this article is to denounce the imams mentioned in it. “Muslim leaders’ influence on Uzbek girls and women is especially noticeable. It is likely that girls and women becoming less free than they were in Uzbekistan.”

This tone resembles to words coming from (Uzbek President) Karimov’s propaganda machine. Karimov also began with pouring dirt on religious activists and, after all, he ended up subjecting ordinary Muslims and women to repressions. He is continuing his repressions. Despite the fact that there are people pursuing the same objectives in one or another way in Europe too, we hope that the European community will not go that far.

“When they see men, they hide their faces, which are already covered with hijabs. They do not leave the kitchen if there are guests in their houses and just slightly knock the door to let men know that food is ready.”

The question of women is not that monotonous as you describe it. Thank Allah, we have diversity here. A monotonous type does exist and journalists always want to show people. But there is also another type, a different picture. But these types did not emerge at somebody’s request, but by free choice. This shows pluralism of opinions within Islam. Because we acknowledge that women have the right to choose one of these types, it becomes clear that we are more democratic and tolerant than those who speak about themselves unambiguously. We say that women choose themselves whether to hide their faces or not. We do not want deprive women of their right and dictate how they should live.

(more)


Source: UzNews 1, 2 (English)

Oslo: Kindergartens celebrate Eid with songs

Oslo: Kindergartens celebrate Eid with songs

Parliament member Per-Willy Amundsen (Progress Party, Frp) told Norwegian news agency ANB that this is 'sneak-Islamization'. "We can't accept that such preaching songs sneak into the kindergartens."

Kristin Tveter was an assistant at the Etterstadsletta kindergarten in Oslo , when they sung two Muslim songs two years ago.

She says she tried to protest against these songs, but didn't get anywhere. The committee which decided on this around the Muslim festival of Eid weren't about to change their minds, and this was one of the reasons why she quit. She tells that there are both ethnic Norwegian and immigrant children at the kindergarten.

One song is called "Ten small Muslims" and is about frightening off the Muslim devil by calling on Allah as the great God. The other song is called "Little Muslims" and urges to pray five times a day.

Amundsen says that he's shocked such songs are being sung. It's rather strange that Muslim preaching becomes part of the norm in kindergartens. He says this can't be deliberate and he doubts it's legal.

He points out that the former Minister of Education Øystein Djupedal responded to having a Norwegian song of grace sung in kindergartens.

The Frp's immigration policy spokesperson says that we must be careful with bringing in religion into kindergarten and schools, as it involves the delicate mind of children.

"We must be more capable in integrating children of immigrant background in our Norwegian culture. these Muslim songs are rather a sign of the opposite, that's to say that it's Norwegian children who are trying to integrated in non-Western and Islamic culture. We can't have such things."

Kerstin Berglund of the Oslo Municipality defends the songs and denies it's preaching.

She told ANB that the songs have religious contents, just like Christian songs.

Berglund, who represents the district of Gamle Oslo says that songs of many different cultures and religions are sung in the district. The kindergartens say in their curriculum that they want to cerebrate the festivals of the children who go to kindergarten. She says there are 50 languages and cultures represented in the district.

She says that the songs are one of many means for multicultural educational support. They illustrate the children and family's culture and background identity by marking festivals and national days which are represented in the kindergarten, and illustrate pluralism and encourage multicultural understanding.

Berglund confirms that these songs are still sung in Etterstadsletta kindergarten to celebrate Eid. The kindergarten has just under 30% of children with non-Western background.

Per-Willy Amundsen asks for a more deliberate political attitude towards what happens in immigrant cultures. He says that debate should be handled in such a way that doesn't cause new problems.

"We can't allow Islam to be dominating." He says it is dangerous to let ourselves think that dialog will solve everything, and that we must have a conscious attitude towards these Islamic forces.

Amundsen says that we can't have different rules for Islam and Christianity. In these songs the children are asked to praise Allah and pray to him five times a day. If there would have been something similar with Christianity, he's certain there would have been reactions to it.

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Little Muslim, Little Muslim,
Do you pray? Do you pray?
That I do, that I do, that I do five times a day.
One at Fajr, one at Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, Isha'a
One at Fajr, one at Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, Isha'a


Ten Little Muslims

One and two and three little Muslims,
Four, five and six little Muslims,
Seven and eight and nine little Muslims,
Ten little Muslims.

But hush, there was something whispering
Hush, there was something whispering
See, it was the deceiving Shaytan
Come, let us frighten him away

All children cry: Allahu Akbar!
All children cry: Allahu Akbar!
All children cry: Allahu Akbar!

See, there he's sneaking off.

And there was one and two and three little Muslims,
Four, five and six little Muslims,
Seven and eight and nine little Muslims,
Ten little Muslims.


Source: Siste (Norwegian)

Amsterdam: School loses funding

Amsterdam: School loses funding


The governing board of an Islamic school in Amsterdam is taking the local government to court over the loss of its funding, reports Trouw.


The Amsterdam government has announced plans to reduce funding to As-Siddieq school group by EUR 200,000 after an alarming report of the national Education Inspectorate.


The report says the education provided by the primary school is not up-to-standard. The school board has also failed to meet agreements on citizenship and social integration.


The board is refusing to step down, as demanded by the local Education Councillor, Lodewijk Asscher.


In an unusual move, Deputy Education Minister Sharon Dijksma followed suit by withdrawing another EUR 225,000, five percent of the Amsterdam school's total subsidies of 4.5 million.


The Islamic school, which has been under close scrutiny for several years, has failed to give precedence to 'openness toward society' and 'basic values of the democratic constitutional state'.


(more)


Source: Expatica (English)

Brussels: nights of unrest

Brussels: nights of unrest

The past couple of nights there were various disturbances and unrest in the Brussels suburbs of Anderlecht and Sint-Jans-Molenbeek. Different news reports give different accounts of what appears to be different or similar incidents.

Thursday night a stone was thrown at a police car in Moleenbeek. About an hour later youth set fire to car tires and then threw stones at the police when they showed up. The police showed up and was confronted with about a hundred youth. Several cars and doors were vandalized.

Wednesday afternoon a police patrol interrogating a victim of a violent robbery in the Anderlecht suburb of Brussels, was circled by a growing group of youth. The police felt threatened and called in reinforcements with police-hounds.

The inspection of Brahim (25) was also exceptionally difficult. Stones were thrown at the agents, and they decided to put the dogs back in the car and calm the situation. This didn't work. Brahim threw the inspector down the steps of a metro-station and beat him black-and-blue. A colleague couldn't get Brahim off the inspector and only when a third agent showed up with a hound could Brahim be kept in check. Till the last moment the young men tried to incite the crowd against the agents.

Meanwhile, the security services were dealing with a group of youth who were troubling workers at the Rustplein in Sint-Jans-Moleenbeek. Additional reinforcements were sent there too.

Elsewhere youth set fire to a parked car, in order to challenge the agents. Several minutes later, there was a confrontation between a group of a Pakistanis and a group of North Africans, the former suspecting the latter of stealing a bike. The 'suspect' had nothing to do with the case, but the atmosphere in the neighborhood was tense.

Later a police car stopped a Renault Clio in Sint-Jans-Moleenbeek. Two of its three passengers were suspected of trying to cause riots a few days earlier. One of the passengers had drugs in his possession, and the registration documents were not in order. This inspection also caused tensions, but the situation was was quickly calmed down.

It is not the first time that incidents are provoked by the youth. The procedure is always the same: The police is lured somewhere, and when they get there they discover the pavement has been smeared with slippery mud. Then the youth start throwing things at them.

The police in Anderlecht is planning more patrols, preventive measures, and talks between the municipal council and the representatives of the immigrant community.

Sources: Brusselsnieuws, Nieuwsblad (Dutch)

Berlin: Al-Husseini censored from WWII exhibit

Berlin: Al-Husseini censored from WWII exhibit


The publicly funded Multicultural Center's (Werkstatt der Kulturen) decision to remove educational panels of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Muhammad Amin al-Husseini, who was an ally of Adolf Hitler, from an exhibit, sparked outrage on Thursday among a district mayor, the curator of the exhibit, and the Berlin Jewish community.


The curator, Karl Rössler, told The Jerusalem Post that it is a "scandal" that the director of the Werkstatt, Philippa Ebéné, sought to censor the exhibit.


"One must, of course, name that al-Husseini, a SS functionary, participated in the Holocaust," said Rössler.


The exhibit covers the "The Third World during the Second World War" and three exhibit panels of 96 are devoted to the mufti's collaboration with the Nazis.


The grand mufti delivered a talk to the imams of the Bosnian SS division in 1944, and was a key Islamic supporter of Nazi Germany's destruction of European Jewry.


Ebéné denied that there was an "agreement " reached with the local German-Muslim community to shut down the exhibit. She termed media queries regarding an agreement as "Eurocentric."


She told the Post that the exhibit was intended as a "homage to soldiers from African" countries who fought against the Nazis.


When asked about her opposition to the inclusion of the mufti panels, she asked, "was there ever a commemoration event in Israel to honor the [African] soldiers?"


Rössler was notified last Friday that Ebéné wanted to take out the panels dealing with the grand mufti, but he rejected her demand to remove them.


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Source: Jpost (English)

Copenhagen: City approves mosque plans

Copenhagen: City approves mosque plans

Though there are mosques in Denmark, this would be the first official one.

--------


Muslims in the capital will finally have fitting place of worship with a mosque being constructed


Copenhagen's first mosque will be a blue dome structure in the Nørrebro district after the City Council voted in favour of approving a district plan for its construction.


The council voted yesterday for a 2000sqm former machine factory on Vibevej Road to be transformed into the 32m tall place of worship for the city's Muslims.


The building's frontal facade will be 13m tall, while the blue dome stretching another 24m up. The mosque will also have two minarets at a height of 32m.


The minarets will be largely symbolic as they will not be used to call people to prayer, reports TV2 News.


The building will include a prayer room, amphitheatre, conference centre, library and housing quarters for visiting imams.


(more)


Source: Copenhagen Post (English)

See also:
* Copenhagen: Design for city's first mosque approved
* Denmark: Minister supports Great Mosque

Denmark: 'All the Danes and Jews must die'

Denmark: 'All the Danes and Jews must die'

Update: I referred to this below, but I now realize I could have emphasized it more. Originally the 23 neighbors were told to move. These 23 families include 3 families of immigrants. However, since then the 'offending' family has been moved instead.

----------

The family in question is Lebanese. There's no mention of their faith, but what do the Jews have to do with this?

More on this story in the Copenhagen Post (in English). The family has meanwhile been moved to a different place in the municipality, out in the countryside, where the nearest neighbor is 200-300 meters away. It's not the first time the family has been moved. The mayor says it's a shame that this Lebanese family is ruining it for all the other well-integrated immigrants in the municipality (DA).

Danish blog Uriasposten presents a transcript of an interview on Danish broadcaster DR. I bring here just a bit of it:

Mads Steffensen, DR host: They had to listen to words and phrases such as racist, whore [..] all the Danes must die, all the Danes and Jews must die. The residents of Belvederevej in Helsingør feel that they live in a war-zone, it's a life of violence, threats and vandalism. There are two blocks, 23 families, and in one apartment there's a Lebanese family.

(..)


Mads Steffensen: The day after the family got a termination notice in a case, which anyways hasn't concluded yet, then you got a greeting, where you live.

Elisabeth Dreijer Sørensen, resident's representative: Yes, I got a red cross on my door. And later we learned what it means - that we are infidels, and that we're on the death list. Yes, the vandalism didn't stop there, because also three cars were scratched, and all four tires were punctured, after they got their notice. But though they've received their notice, they still have three months..

(..)

Mads Steffensen: What do you think happened here. There's a family, that's harassing 23 others.

Elisabeth Dreijer Sørensen: It's very, very difficult to estimate what's this about, since it's so extreme that none of us have the imagination to imagine what's happening, and we think it's very spacious out by us. There are there other families of an ethnic background different than Danish, and there aren't problems, and we think we've been very accommodating and tried a lot to meet them and help them understand the house rules, and we must all keep to them because they were democratically decided, the house rules. They hold for all of us, so I don't know what's gone wrong.

Source: Uriasposten (Danish)

Netherlands: Halal wine

Netherlands: Halal wine

Taner Tabak (35) has been working on it for two years: certified halal wine. And now he succeeded. His 'kevser helal wine' passed the test and got the Halal Quality Control (HQC) certificate.

Tabak's quest for 0% alcohol wine begun at the request of Muslims. At Friday get-togethers, holidays such as Christmas or New Year's, they couldn't drink with colleagues and friends and a 'halal wine' could offer them a solution.

Tabak studied the process of making alcohol-free wine. Through a new technical process, for which a patent is pending, Tabak, in cooperation with a German company, managed to make alcohol-free wine. There are already so-called alcohol-free wines, Tabak says, but they didn't pass the HQC halal-test since there's a bit of alcohol in them.

The HQC has many demands before they give a certificate for a product. An extra demand to get the HQC certificate was, for example, the hygiene regulations. They worked on it in close consultation with the HQC. Tabak: Halal wine is not made just like that!

His target group is not only Muslims, but is more extensive. Tabak: My target group is also pregnant women, people who suffer from diabetes, people who need to drive after a party and therefore can't drink alcohol, etc.

Tabak has in his assortment white, red, and rose, as well as 'sparkling' wines. He is convinced of the good taste of the wine and recently challenge wine connoisseur Nicolaas Klei, of 'omfiets-wijnen' to come try his wines.

The name 'kevser' refers to a sura in the koran, explains Tabak. The Sura speaks of a spring of halal wine.

Tabak is not concerned about sales: restaurant, Christians packages and countries with a Muslim population, but also his various target groups.

When Wereld Journalisten called him he was in Belgium for business meetings. Countries such as Malaysia, Azerbaijan, Dubai and even Saudi-Arabia also showed interest, Tabak says enthusiastically.

Source: Wereld Journalisten (Dutch)

Denmark: Islamic Faith Society upset at Nazi comparison

Denmark: Islamic Faith Society upset at Nazi comparison


The Islamic Faith-Society is very upset that the Education Minister Bertel Haarder drew a parallel in Danish newspaper Kristligt Dagblad between religious private schools and private schools run by Nazis or autonomes. Albeit the latter do not exist.

As part of the government anti-radicalization strategy, 25 private schools will get extra inspection to ensure that the students are being prepared for a life of freedom and democracy. In the first pass, five schools will be visited by the National School Agency.

Haardel said that the inspection isn't only directed at Muslim schools but "also Nazi or autonome, if such would exist."

The spokesperson of the Islamic Faith Society, Bilal Assaad, wrote in a press release:

"The education minister equates between Muslim private schools and totalitarian institutions - without blinking. How Catholic schools will take this statement would be interesting to see. This deliberate comparison from a minister, who runs his ministries by throwing ashtrays when things don't go as he wishes, is surprising"

It was unfortunately not possible to get a detailed comment form Bilal Assaad yesterday. Generally, there is dissatisfaction in the private school sector with extra supervision, which they see as casting suspicion.

It's still unclear which schools will be inspected, but the head of the Danish Private School Association, Ebbe Lilliendal, guesses that all 20 Muslim private schools will get a visit. In addition, he says that Catholic schools could be included since some of them have many students of immigrant backgrounds.

The head of the Association of Catholic Schools in Denmark, Georg Høhling, is however not satisfied with this. He points out that the 21 Catholic schools in the country have been operating for over 100 years in Denmark, and there hasn't been one example of the schools leading to extremism.

"We thinks it's so important to teach democracy and equality, that all Catholic schools have it in their object clause. Catholic schools have, simply based on their view of humanity, a duty to educated the children to freedom and democracy," says Georg Høhling.

He wanrs against shooting wildly against private schools.

In a letter to the newspaper, Bertel Haarder explained that he didn't say that Catholic schools would be investigated. In practice, the School Agency decides which schools will be inspected.

The School Agency now formulated four objective criteria for the inspection visit. Private schools which meet at least two of the criteria can get an inspection visit, says education chief consultant Anders Andersen of the School Agency.

The criteria:
1. Schools are based on religious or political views.
2. Schools which didn't explicitly state how they will meet the legal requirement for students to be prepared for a society of freedom and democracy, like the Danish society.
3. Schools where there's a concern that students are isolate themselves or exclude themselves from others based on their religion, skin-color or political convictions.
4. Schools where former inspections have shown there's a concern that the schools don't meet the requirement for preparing students for freedom and democracy.

In addition to the four objective criteria, they will also attempt to get a geographical spread, and visit both large and small schools.

Source: Kristeligt Dagblad (Danish)

See also:
* Denmark: "We'll do the same to Nazi schools"
* Denmark: More supervision of Muslim schools
* Denmark: UN to decide legality of comparing Muslims to Nazis
* Denmark: DPP responds with UN imam complaint

Netherlands: Muslim schools not to be prosecuted

Netherlands: Muslim schools not to be prosecuted

The public prosecution will not deal with a complaint by State Secretary Sharon Dijksma (Education) against the Stichting Islamitische Scholen Helmond (Helmond Foundation of Muslim Schools). The investigation of the facts did show irregularities, but they do not warrant a criminal investigation, a spokesperson for the fraud department in justice said Wednesday.

Justice thinks that the State Secretary has sufficient means to act against the school administration, which is estimated to have wrongly spent more than 900,000 euro of subsidies. Half of the sum was used, according to the State Secretary, for self-payment and compensation for phantom-workers. Justice recognized that the money was not spent as it was intended to be, but a spokesperson says there is no issue of 'grave self-enrichment'.

In response the State Secretary said Wednesday she will respect the decision.

Two years ago Dijksma lodged a complaint of fraud against the association. She managed to fire two of the school administration via a court case. It was the first time that the ministry took this far-reaching step against a school.

A lawsuit to get back the money from the people who got it is still ongoing. The then school administration is challenging the claim and says that at most 200,000 euro was badly spent.

Last year Dijksma reported to parliament that 90% of Muslim schools are playing around with subsidy money. At the time she estimated that 5 million euro were wrongly spent.

Source: Trouw (Dutch)

See also:
* Rotterdam: School suspected of financial abuse
* Amsterdam: Dijksma against As-Siddieq school

UK: Novelist apologizes for criticizing Koran, Mohammed

UK: Novelist apologizes for criticizing Koran, Mohammed


Novelist whose new book features student drawn into Islamist terror cell, and who has been quoted attacking the Qur'an, apologises for any offence caused


Sebastian Faulks has moved quickly in an attempt to avert criticism over his comments about the Qur'an, which he was quoted describing as "just the rantings of a schizophrenic" with "no ethical dimension" in an interview with the Sunday Times yesterday.


"While I believe the voice-hearing of many Old Testament prophets and of John the Baptist in the New might well raise psychiatric eyebrows today, it is absurd to suggest that the Prophet, who achieved so much in military and political – quite apart from religious – terms, can have suffered from any acute illness. Only a fully cogent and healthy person could have done what he did," Faulks told the Guardian today. He went on to offer "a simple but unqualified apology to my Muslim friends and readers for anything that has come out sounding crude or intolerant. Happily, there is more to the book than that."


His interview with the Sunday Times also saw him call the Qur'an "a depressing book", which is "one-dimensional", with "no ethical dimension like the New Testament, no new plan for life". The novelist, who has included the character of a student led astray by an Islamist terrorist cell in his forthcoming book, A Week in December, was also reported to have opined of the Qur'an: "It says 'the Jews and the Christians were along the right tracks, but actually, they were wrong and I'm right, and if you don't believe me, tough — you'll burn for ever'."


But today Faulks said that often during an interview the case is overstated "in order to make a point more clearly". "If such an overstatement is taken out of its heavily nuanced context, then pulled out of the printed article and highlighted, it can have a badly distorting effect," he said. "I blame myself more than the reporter – or whichever subeditor thought it was good idea to pull out the more undigested bits and try to make a silly season scandal ... I unreservedly apologise to anyone who does feel offended by comments offered in another context."


(more)


Source: The Guardian

UK: Muslim leader kidnapped, ordered to stop religious service

UK: Muslim leader kidnapped, ordered to stop religious service


A MUSLIM community leader was kidnapped from his home by two men and taken to Epping Forest where he was ordered at knifepoint to stop his religious work.



Details are starting to emerge of the latest attack on Noor Ramjanally, whose home was firebombed last month.



He was in his flat in Valley Hill, Loughton, on Monday when he heard someone repeatedly ringing the intercom outside.



He said: “The doorbell kept ringing, I thought it was someone to fix up the flat. I came down and they grabbed me. They put a weapon, I think a knife, at the back of me and force me into a 4x4.



“They didn't say anything until I was in the forest. They said they didn't want the Islamic group in Loughton.”



After the man drove off Mr Ramjanlly was able to attract a dogwalker passing by who phoned the police. He said: “It was very shocking. I was still shaking when I got inside. It's killing me.”



The abduction marks the third time that Mr Ramjanally has been targeted since he set up Islamic prayer meetings in Murray Hall, in Borders Lane, Loughton, earlier this year.



(more)


Source: Epping Forest Guardian, h/t Islamophobia Watch

Norway: "We don't need them!"

Norway: "We don't need them!"

Debating the issue of Muslims and extremism, people sometimes argue with me that Muslims never speak out against Muslim extremists. I argue back that there are those who do, but they don't make the headlines. Here's a case in point. Shakil Rehman, writer and translator, wrote the following editorial in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.

"We don't need them!"

The conservative religious have won the media's attention without being put into a corner. Competent journalists who celebrate individual freedom, equality and brave confrontations are rarer and rarer.

I thought that the generally high level of education in Norway will benefit Muslims and that religion criticism will be a natural consequence, but without success. Criticism of religion has had a difficult path in Pakistan and we see the result in the Swat valley today. The Swat valley is a continuation of the blood-bath in the Red Mosque in Islamabad, where fundamentalist Muslims disregarded Pakistan's judicial system. Now the intellectuals finally wake up in Pakistan and there's an intense debate about the scope of religion.

First generation imams in Norway had been rather absent from the debate due to lacking Norwegian knowledge. In the times they've spoken out they've often come out with degrading statements about women or with absurd assertions about September 11. The development of more articulate second generation imams and young Muslim spokespeople isn't less worthy of concern. They preach and defend Islam by coming with memorized Koran verses, and smothering all attempts at an impartial debate about the religion which is the reason for insufficient social adjustment and integration.

Usman Rana and Abid Raja have been in the media for many years with effective controlling techniques such as accusations of racism and stigmatization. Their favorite verse is: 'There is no coercion in religion' and 'to kill one person is to kill all of humanity'. These people desperately try to hide that the religions have a lot of blood and coercion in their [history].

In an article in VG earlier this year, Attiq Ahmad Suhail presented himself as a young Muslim spokesperson with imam potential. He characterized the undersigned as an assimilated person who 'rose paints' Norway and therefore should be excluded from criticizing.

In the same article he also praises Norway, but from an Islamic perspective. He thinks Norwegian actually practice "real Islam" with their democracy and their laws and regulations.

Norwegian democracy, equality and freedom of religion are as distant from Islam as possible. Mohammed didn't practice democracy or secularism, but gave other tribes two alternatives: sword or submission. In Mecca Mohammed didn't allow religions other than Islam. Apostasy in the religion is a deadly sin.

Women in Norway are independent and free, with a private life and control over their own sexuality, which is incompatible with the Koran's teaching.

A young imam which appeared in the Norwegian media is Zulqarnain Sakandar Madni. He can be seen in the Brennpunkt program "Imamen" [The imam] on NRK's site. Madni, who has the Muslim society of the 600s as his ideal, is dangerous for Muslim youth by blending politics and religion.

He displays hate towards Jews and the West in the way he portrays Iraq and the Palestine conflict. He says further that girls should wear a hijab from the time they're very small, so that when they reach 13 they won't protest. If they protest, then they're not Muslim. This is a good example of brainwashing and social exclusion.

Madni was one of several imams in the panel Raja invited to his "dialog meeting" to prevent forced marriage. When Raja invites in addition open Jew haters and Talibanists to the same 'dialog meetings', he portrays himself, imam Madni, Basim Ghozlan and others from the Islamic council as more moderate then they are.

Abid Raja proposes state-employed imam who will go round schools and preach the 'proper' Islam. Islam is displayed as a solution to the integration problems. Norwegian Muslims don't need imams like Madni to tell them what is right and wrong. The younger generation of Norwegian Muslims need to reflect more critically about their parents' traditions and to a large degree make an independent, moral choice.

Source: Aftenposten (Norwegian)

Italy: Inter Milan coach links poor game to Ramadan

Italy: Inter Milan coach links poor game to Ramadan


Inter Milan coach Jose' Mourinho has spurred a fresh flap by suggesting that a Muslim midfielder had a poor game after drinking too little because of Ramadan.


Speaking after Sunday's lacklustre 1-1 draw with newly promoted Bari, the Portuguese coach said: ''(Sulley) Muntari had some problems related to Ramadan - perhaps with this heat it's not good for him to be doing this (fasting)''.


The suggestion did not go down well with Italy's Muslims. ''I think Mourinho should talk a bit less,'' said Mohamed Nour Dachan, head of one of the country's main Muslim associations, UCOII.


''There's no reason why a player who is religiously observant should perform less,'' said the UCOII chief, who claimed the faith of Christian, Jewish or Muslim players would boost their performances by making them more ''tranquil''.


Muntari, a Ghanaian international, was substituted after 30 minutes against Bari in a match the Italian champions were widely tipped to win.



Mourinho's theory that he might have been suffering from the Ramadan ban on daylight drinking held no water for the man who trains Muntari with the national squad, Milan university motor science professor Stefano Tirelli.



''Not all players react the same way to...Ramadan. Some have less energy in training and matches. But others have resources, in their character, emotions and genes, to put in adequate performances. Muntari is one of those''.



Tirelli said he had not heard from the player since the game but reckoned that the display against Bari was the result of ''a series of contributory factors, not a direct link to Ramadan''.



(more)


Source: ANSA (English)

Grozny: Russian Islamic University opened

Grozny: Russian Islamic University opened


The opening of the Russian Islamic University named after Kunta-Haji in Grozny on Thursday was attended by dozens of Muslim leaders from Russia and other countries.


The opening ceremony started with a video message from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin transmitted on a big screen.



"There are millions of Muslims in our country, and all of them see Russia as their home, their motherland, and we welcome the revival of the Islamic traditions," the prime minister said in his message.



There will be no Wahhabism and extremism in Chechnya, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said at the ceremony.


(more)


Source: Interfax (English)

Stockholm: Jews intimidated by strong Muslim presence

Stockholm: Jews intimidated by strong Muslim presence


The strong Muslim presence in Stockholm makes the Jewish community there apprehensive about taking a public stand against the recent article in the Aftonbladet tabloid reporting Palestinian claims that IDF soldiers stole body organs from Palestinians, Rabbi Isak Nachman, the spiritual leader of two Orthodox synagogues in the Swedish capital, said on Sunday.
Rabbi Isak Nachman.


"We want to combat this type of thing, but some Jews here are afraid - there are between 400,000 and 500,000 Muslims out of a population of about nine million," said Nachman, a member of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe.


"There is definitely anxiety and tension, especially at times when Israel is involved in a military operation, like Cast Lead," he said.



Nachman added, however, that there was not a threatening feeling on the streets of Stockholm as a result of the article in Aftonbladet. "I walk around with a kippa and the Chabad rabbi here wears his hat. Muslims don't live in the large Jewish neighborhoods."



(more)


Source: Jpost (English), h/t TT

Brussels: Proposal for 'floating' holiday

Brussels: Proposal for 'floating' holiday

Brussels minister Benoit Cerexhe (CdH) proposes to establish a public holiday, which would allow, for example, for Muslims to celebrate the end of Ramadan. Cerexhe is proposing a floating holiday. He explains that there would be nine fixed days and one day which could be chosen based on religious and philosophical convictions. He says this still needs to be discussed with the social partners and in the framework which will soon be launched by the Ministry of Employment and Equal Opportunities.

Source: RTBF (French)

Netherlands: Police announces daycare center murder suspect

Netherlands: Police announces daycare center murder suspect

Update (Aug 26): Police apprehended the suspect.

The police knows who is the murder who stabbed to death the owner of the Moeders Schoot daycare center in Amsterdam West two weeks ago. The man is Nevzat Koyak. He was born in Turkey and is in the Netherlands illegally. According to the police he's addicted to alcohol and drugs and has no permanent place of residence. The suspect is dangerous and unpredictable.

Koyak is on the run. Monday night is photo appeared in wanted notices on various national and local TV broadcaster. The police hopes that the broadcasts will bring in tip about the suspect's hiding place. Justice is offering 5,000 euro for the 'golden' tip.

A police chief told regional broadcaster TV-Noord Holland that Koyak was involved in the past in serious violence crimes. The police said nothing in its wanted notice about the motive of the suspect. A spokesperson did not want to add information. The murder, in any case, has nothing to do with the daycare or the parents of the children there. "This could have happened anywhere," says the spokesperson. According to the spokesperson there was no relation between the attacker and the victim.

Arzu Çakmakçi-Erbas (32) was stabbed to death two weeks ago in a parking place in front of the childcare center, just after she closed it. The victim died later in hospital.

The police currently has more than 20 researchers on the case.

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

See also:
* Turkey: Fears of European Islamophobia
* Amsterdam: Daycare owner stabbed to death

Denmark: Supermarkets don't have Ramadan sales

Denmark: Supermarkets don't have Ramadan sales


Supermarkets all over the world know that there's money in Ramadan, and therefore they're now selling food items at rock-bottom prices, just as they do on Christmas and Easter.

But in Denmark, Danish Muslims search in vain for bargains on the shelves of the country's largest supermarkets.

Neither Superbest, Coop or Dansk Supermarked chose to offer Ramadan sales, and that's in spite of the fact that there's evidence that Muslims spend more on food during the 30 day long holy month.

Dansk Supermarked has deals on chickens as a direct result of Ramadan, but the sale is not marketed in connection to it.

"We don't think it's works, as determined by experience in the industry and our own gut feeling," says spokesperson Erik Eisenberg.

Michael Skou, marketing manager at Retail Institute Scandinavia, doesn't want to guess how much money they're losing. But the potential is large.

"We haven't been good enough to take it seriously. In Sweden people are more aware of the needs consumers of other ethcni origin have," he says.

One of the few companies to exploit Ramadan is Elgiganten, which last year had a deal on mobiles. Professor of marketing Dannie Kjeldgaard says that it can work positively for integration.

"It helps a religious minority to feel integrated when a holy day is recognized in a public mainstream-forum such as a large supermarket chain," he says, but stresses that it can also be perceived negatively when a religious tradition is commercialized.

Dannie Kjeldgaard thinks that the supermarkets are reluctant to offer sales since they're afraid of offending ethnic Danish customers, but Dansk Supermarked denies it. The decision is purely commercial, says spokesperson Erik Eisenberg.

Source: metroXpress (Danish)

See also: France: Growing halal market

Spain: Football players keep Ramadan

Spain: Football players keep Ramadan


To be tremendously fit is a must for all professional footballers: a demand that leads some Muslim players to forgo the duty of fasting during Ramadan, preferring to fulfill their obligation when the football season ends. However, for Sevilla's Freddie Kanoute, this is not the case.


The former Tottenham Hotspur striker believes it is possible for a modern footballer to remain in peak physical condition during the holy month.


The likes of Kanoute, along with Real Madrid's Mahamadou Diarra, Lassana Diarra, and Karim Benzema, are the talk of football world as doctors work around the clock to formulate a routine in order to keep them hydrated during the fasting process.


And as Spanish tabloids splash headlines about the fasting month and debates rage about whether players should even be allowed to fast and play during Ramadan - Kanoute insists he just wants to get on with it.


"I try to respect my faith and follow it as best I can," Kanoute told Goal.com.


"It is sometimes harder to keep the fast because here in the south of Spain it is very hot, but I can do it, thank God.


"There are many Muslim footballers who people just do not know about in England in Spain, France and in many other leagues too. But having faith and practicing Ramadan is not something they wish to tell the world about.


"Personally, having faith helps my football and football helps me to be healthy and strengthens me. There is no conflict because people who know about Islam, they know that fasting empowers and does not weaken the Muslim."


While Barcelona's fans are wondering if the likes of  Eric Abidal, Seydou Keita and Yaya Toure - all Muslims - will be fasting, Real Madrid fans know of the importance their Muslim players - especially Mahamadou Diarra - place in their religion and his traditions.


(..)


"During Ramadan I give my all for my club and try not to let my team-mates and the fans down," he continued. "Everyone here has been very good to me and they understand. They also understand that during Ramadan you have a chance to reach out to those in need.


"For me, my charity is very important. I wanted to help with charity work for some time and a few years ago I went ahead with it and The Mali Children's Village cares for orphaned and vulnerable children. There is a very big need to work with children here, especially orphans.


"My father was born a Muslim but as an orphan, he didn't really know a lot about it, but he did try to teach me a few things. Children are our future and we should always try to ensure they are safe and have a good upbringing."


(more)


Source: Goal.com

Denmark: Boy charged for anti-Islamic posters

Denmark: Boy charged for anti-Islamic posters


A 15 year old boy from Rønne will appear in court next week. He's charged with trying to distribute racist posters.

The Bornholm court says that the 15 year old is charged with having produced posters and fliers at home with the titles: "Denmark will be a Muslim country?", "Denmark wake up".

The posters said: "Yes to an Islam-free country" and "Send the Pakis home".

The boy wrote, for example, that Muslims "preach to renounce all our freedoms," and that they advanced "devastating the cities with gangs and drugs."

The 15 year old is also charged for copying the materials in a school in Rønne on March 13, in order to hang them up in public places in Rønne and giving them out to people in the street.

The prosecution demands that the boy be imprisoned, says chief prosecutor Bendte Pedersen Lund.

Due to the boy's age the Bornholm Youth Center was called in to the court meeting.

Breaking the racism act can lead to a fine or up to two years in prison.

Source: DR (Danish)

Netherlands: Koran as audio-book

Netherlands: Koran as audio-book

Starting next week the Koran will be available in the Netherlands as an audio-book.  The Ahmadiyya Isha'at-i-Islam foundation started working on the MP3 version of the holy book two years ago, Abdul Hoeseni, the foundation's chairman, said on Saturday.

With this translation the foundation wants to increase the accessibility of the Koran.  The book is read by actors.  The Ahmadiyya Isha'at-i-Islam already came out with a braille version.  The introductory prize for the audio-book, which is 84 hours long, is 19.95 euro.

In addition to the audio-book, the foundation is publishing a hybrid version, where the book is read out, but the text is displayed on the computer at the same time, followed by a karaoke ball.  The readers can determine the letter size and the reading speed.

Source: Trouw (Dutch)

France: Growing halal market

France: Growing halal market

During the month of Ramadan, drinking, eating and smoking are prohibited, but it's still possible to go shopping.  The big names in distribution have understood they can profit from this annual period of fasting by offering more halal products.  In recent years Ramadan had become a high point for sales of these products in supermarkets.  Auchan, for example, doesn't hesitate to give ten or even fifteen times as much shelf area for selling halal food.

According to a recent study by the Solis agency, which specializes in 'ethnic marketing', the halal market (in France) is valued at close to 4 billion euro for 2009, and is estimated to grow at annual rate of 15%.  According to Solis, 93% of North Africans and 55% of sub-Saharan Africans buy halal products.

While the supermarkets diversity their offering: soups, ravioli, pizzas, baked dishes, precooked meals.  The large retailers established their own brands: Reghalal for Carrefour, Wassila for Casino.  Stéphane Renaud of 'products of the world' of Auchan says that there's a potential for 10-20% Muslim customers in their shops and these products represent a promising market.

Muslim consumers are more inclined to buy at supermarkets offering halal, and the supermarkets have significantly expanded their product offerings over the past five years.  Auchan, Leclerc, Super U and Casino have special halal shelf area during the Ramadan period, but also during the rest of the year.  At Carrefour they explain that Ramadan is an important commercial opportunity.  The company has been offering halal products for the past decade, but it recently developed its own brand, Reghalal, which offers turkey cuts and poultry sausages, and which is sold at its low-cost Ed stores.

Supermarket giant Casino offers more than 400 halal products, 3-4% of the total offerings.  In August they launched their own brand (Wasilla) in order to compete with traditional manufacturers.  The Systeme U stores, the smaller chain, also entered new territory over the past three years.

Spokesperson Thierry Desouches says that it's a small sum of the total, but that in certain stores, for example in Strasbourg, Mulhouse and the Parisian suburbs, it's a growing market.  and progressing consumers.

Halal supermarkets arrived in the 80s.  But the products were initially kept only to certain stories in areas with large Muslim populations. Today, thanks to sophisticated techniques of consumer profiling, particularly through loyalty cards, stores can effectively know the habits of consumers in different place and times. 

Jean-Daniel Hertzog of Isla Délice, one of the main producers and distributors of halal products in France, says that all the distributors realized the importance of the Muslim consumer, also beyond Ramadan.

Philippe Moati of the Center of Research for the Study and Observation of Living Condition (CREDOC) says that distribution now increasingly targets niche consumers.  It adapts to the heterogeneity of consumers, and Muslims are targeted just like consumers of bio-products.  Though halal foods are not a recent phenomenon, the staging of these products in stores during Ramadan is new.

For these stores the objective is not to pass by a business opportunity.  Georges Chétochine, a consultant, says that in certain areas the Muslim population represents 30% of the clientele and products specific to Muslims can reach a turnover of 6-7%.  Distributors try to seduce people who until now turned mostly to traditional shops.  According to a study by Solis, most of the halal consumers (95%) still prefer grocery stores and butcher shops over the big supermarkets (43%).

Since Islam remains a sensitive topic, distributors advance cautiously.  Chétochine says that in a secular country like France, they do not want to offend the non-Muslim consumers.  They therefore use as neutral a language as possible - "Flavors of the Orients' or the 'spice route' instead of talking explicitly about Ramadan.

Fateh Kimouche, who in 2006 founded the site Al-Kanz.org, the portal for Muslim consumers, says that while retailers dream of conquering the Muslim clientele, they are not ready to accept the consequences of their choice.  Distributors keep to cliches, and talk about the 'Orient' and a thousand and one nights, in order to avoid speaking about Ramadan.  Kimouche says that Ramadan is entering the French lifestyle, but it is still far from commonplace.

Source: Europe1, Le Monde (French), h/t Al Kanz

See also:
* France: Shakeup in halal market
* France: Report on halal industry
* Netherlands: More halal on the shelves

Turkey: Fears of European Islamophobia

Turkey: Fears of European Islamophobia

Turkish newspaper Turkish Zaman against talks about the increasing violence against Muslims in Europe. The only problem is that they only have two possibly 'real' examples.

The paper first talks about five Turks killed in Belgium and the Netherlands, but then only mentions four cases. The police still don't know who killed Arzu Erbas and Mustafa Cicek,but racism or Islamophobia is not mentioned as a probable cause. I couldn't find mention of Ufuk Kayakusu. Mikail Tekin was apparently beaten to death by prison guards when he resisted being taken into solitary confinement.

Despite Today's Zaman's wishful thinking, at this moment none of these stories sound like Islamophobia.

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The violent deaths of two Turkish citizens in Belgium and three others in the Netherlands earlier this month have stirred up controversy among the Turkish public, which feels that anti-Turkish and anti-Muslim hate crimes have started to take a toll on their countrymen in Europe.


Arzu Erbaş Çakmakçı, 33, was stabbed to death on Aug. 11 in Amsterdam by an unknown assailant outside the daycare center she owned. Although the motive for her murder remains a mystery, it is suspected that it could have been a xenophobic attack. In the same city, another Turkish citizen, 30-year-old Ufuk Kayakuşu, who owned a cleaning company, was found stabbed to death in his home on Aug. 14.


The death of a Turkish citizen, Mikail Tekin, 31, in Belgium's Jamioulx Prison on Aug. 8, apparently after being subjected to torture as indicated in his autopsy report, sparked outcry among the Turkish public, prompting a diplomatic protest by Ankara to Belgian officials. Tekin had originally been detained after a brawl with traffic police.



In another Belgian city, Gent, Turkish citizen Mustafa Çiçek, 32, was shot to death in his home after returning from a vacation with his wife in Turkey. The couple was attacked by two masked man.



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Çakmakçı's murder was a case in point, and it looks very much like a hate crime against Muslims. She was a successful headscarved businesswoman in Amsterdam and was running the Moeders Schoot childcare center, which 350 children attended, in the Geuzenveld district of the city. Her father was quick to pinpoint spreading racism and xenophobia in the Netherlands as the motive for her stabbing.



Human rights advocate Karagöz says he has difficulty understanding how hate crimes can spread like cancer in a country which champions human rights and advocates the promotion of those rights in the international arena. “I guess the Dutch authorities have now realized that they also have xenophobic problems in their own backyards,” he said.



The rise in hate crimes targeting Muslims is becoming a concern for many international human right groups as well. The US-based Human Rights First (HRF), which closely monitors hate crimes and discrimination, underlines that attacks on Muslims and those who are perceived as Muslims are sharply increasing. In recent reports, the HRF pointed out that governments are not doing enough to address the problem and in some cases use anti-Muslim rhetoric to capitalize on the overall climate of fear and misunderstanding of Muslims and Islam.



Amid increasing violence against Muslims in Europe, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has decided to open a representative office and appoint an ambassador to Brussels to fight against Islamophobia in Europe more effectively. “This office will provide the West and Islam with the opportunity to work coherently,” said Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the Turkish secretary-general of the organization, to Sunday's Zaman in June.



The office will cooperate with the European Parliament and the European Council to develop initiatives for interfaith and intercultural dialogue and institute contacts with nongovernmental organizations. The office will also be effective in efforts aimed at preventing discrimination against Muslims and fighting anti-Islamic propaganda. “Of course fighting anti-Islamic propaganda is one of the main aims of the office. Intercultural and interfaith dialogue constitute the priorities of the office in Brussels,” İhsanoğlu said.



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Source: Today's Zaman