Brussels: The Ghettos of Brussels

Brussels: The Ghettos of Brussels

A couple of weeks ago the leader of the Dutch green party spoke critically of how Islam is affecting her multicultraul neighborhood. Now it's the turn of a Flemish parliament member for the Groen! party, Luckas Vander Taelen, who wrote an editorial in De Staandard about the situation in his own neighborhood.

Brussels: The Ghettos of Brussels

I live next to a neighborhood in Vorst, from the Merodestraat to the Brussels-South station (Gare du Midi/Zuidstation), that even with the most multicultural bias you can't describe as anything but a ghetto.

My daughter long ago gave on on going into that neighborhood. For she's too often just called many bad things . I bike through there every day and experience more and more a different adventure. Double parked cars, drivers who block a junction in order to speak with each other, youth hanging about who look at you as if you've entered their private domain.

In particular don't try to say anything if you're run over again: the last time I did that, a bystander not even 16 years old heaped abuse on me, and ended his insulting tirade with a message that I won't translate: 'Nique ta mère.' [fuck off] That was not as bad as the previous time, when another young Magrebian driver felt insulted by my behavior: I had dared to take my right of way. His honor was so offended that he could apparently only rectify that by spitting in my face...

Thus: keep silent. Because if you try to make it clear that 70 km an hour is too fast in a 30 zone, then you immediately have a right to a confrontation with the sense of honor of a young new-Belgian who can't have somebody forbidding him anything, and who is ready to punch you for it.

Twenty years ago I was convinced that the young new-Belgians would quickly be assimilated. But now a generation of rebels without a cause grew up in Brussels who always feel offended and wronged. Never responsible for anything, it's always the fault of somebody else: of the government, of the racist Belgians. And also within their own families the young Maghrebian men remain unassailable. When the police in Molenbeek arrested a boy, the father immediately organized a protest because his son 'wouldn't even steal an apple'.

The efforts of the government in the problem-neighborhoods ensured that the youth don't feel the need to leave them, an ULB study showed last year. Thus you create the confines of a village in the big city.

A daughter of Moroccan friends has a Belgian friend. She never goes out with him in the neighborhood, since they'll be immediately jeered at. Because almost all the young immigrants may have Belgian citizenship, they don't have any identification with this country. On the contrary: 'Belgian' is a curse-word...

Indeed, you never see young women alone in the neighborhood. And certainly not in the cafes: there they're not even tolerated. When a worker of the municipality asked for a coffee there, it was quickly made clear to her that she shouldn't count on being served. When I bike into the Merode-neighborhood, I know that far past the Zuidstation, I won't see one woman on a cafe terrace. And I don't need to speak about the double sexual morals which are still expected from young immigrant women, that they'll demonstrate their virginity during the wedding night, though everybody knows that Brussels hospitals restore the hymen with a simple operation.

A renowned French-Moroccan artist displayed a remarkable work exhibit in Brussels till last week: a row of prayer rugs with shoes. The art gallery immediately received threatening calls, the glass in front of the artwork was spat at and damaged. the commotion arose because by one prayer carpet you could see red women's heels. The artist wanted to raise in this way 'the place of the woman in Islam'. But that isn't allowed anymore in Brussels: after a couple of days the artwork was removed.

Maybe we should ask ourselves once how it happens that we accepted that principles such as the freedom of the artist and equal rights for men and women don't hold for everybody in this country. Why don't we dare stand up for what is really essential: respect for the laws and values of the land where we live? A headscarf ban is no solution. But maybe we should consider how can assertively make clear that we dare defend what we think important?

It was to the credit of the Left to ask for more attention for discrimination and the social gap. The problem is sadly deeper: we were afraid to force our values on immigrants. Those values are really too dear for me to forfeit them.

Source: De Standaard (Dutch)

Denmark: Doctors told to stop virginity certificates

Denmark: Doctors told to stop virginity certificates

Medical association calls on doctors to stop performing tests to prove virginity of young women

Concerns that an increasing number of young Muslim women are being sent to doctors to prove that they are virgins has social workers and doctors taking steps to help them, reports DR News.

Kristina Abu-Khader Aamand, a social worker and the founder of the website NyMø (New Virginity), said about a third of the 50 or so girls that contacted her each month, asked about virginity examinations.

‘These girls are incredibly afraid of this examination, because many aren’t virgins,’ she said.


The Danish Medical Association has urged its members not to carry out virginity exams.

Frederiksberg-based general practitioner Dr Sabbir Ahmed said it was wrong for parents to demand their daughters undergo the examination. But he still issued the documentation if could help his patient.

‘If a piece of paper can help a girl, then I’ll issue it. It’s up to me to decide what’s best for my patients.’

‘The girls are under enormous pressure from their families,’ said Ahmed. ‘I can sense that, and that puts pressure on me as a doctor.’


Source: Copenhagen Post (English)

See also:
* Denmark: New site against virginity operations
* Denmark: Municipalities pay for virginity operations
* Denmark: Virginity operation season
* Sweden: No virginity certificates
* France: Certificates of virginity

Berlin: School must provide prayer space

Berlin: School must provide prayer space

The Berlin administrative court has ruled that school must provide room for a Muslim pupil to pray once a day according to Islamic rites outside of class time. But education authorities are considering an appeal.

The 16-year-old, Yunus M., had filed a lawsuit against his school because he wanted to comply with his prayer obligations as a devout Muslim.

In the first such legal ruling in Germany, the court said on Tuesday it saw no disturbance of school operations by the prayer, referring to the freedom of religion. The court said this basic right didn't only refer to inner freedom to believe in a certain religion, but also the external freedom to express it. This included prayer. It couldn't be expected from a devout pupil that he only pray outside of school.

The court spokesman, Stephan Groscurth, said this was an isolated case.

"But other Muslim pupils can refer to it," Groscurth said. The courts would then have to rule on each concrete case one at a time, he said.

The school is now obligated to allow Yunus M. to pray in a separate room outside of class time for a 10-minute period. The school director, Brigitte Burchardt, said she was disappointed by the ruling.

"If this is a precedence ruling, we cannot sustain school operations as they are," Burchardt said. If only eight more pupils demanded similar treatment, she wouldn't know how to implement it, she said.

"I have to consider the freedom of 650 pupils," Burchardt said. Up to 90 percent of them are from migrant backgrounds. All major world religions are represented in the Diesterweg High School in Berlin-Wedding.

But the ruling judge Uwe Wegener said he did not see the acute danger of a wide number of pupils demanding rooms for prayer. Wegener also said he could not determine in this case that Yunus' acts of prayer caused or deepened conflicts between pupils of various religions in day-to-day school life.


Source: DW-World (English)

Netherlands: Mayor regrets insulting comment

Netherlands: Mayor regrets insulting comment

Mayor Jos Waals (CDA) of Venray (Netherlands) 'regrets' his statements about Moroccans in his city, Waals wrote in a letter to the municipal council on Monday.

Recently Waals spoke during a speech to a women's club about a group of criminal youth , which he described as 'f**king-Moroccans'. That provoked a storm of criticism. "I regret that through my careless use of language it gave the appearance that I criminalize the Moroccan community in Venray," writes Waals, who earlier apologize publicly via the regional media.

The fraction chairmen in the municipal council said they accept his excuses. They see the issue as closed.

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

Netherlands: Cut off welfare benefits if burka prevents getting a job

Netherlands: Cut off welfare benefits if burka prevents getting a job

Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen said in an interview Monday in Dutch newspaper Trouw that a woman who will not take off her burka in order to get work, will not get welfare. National politicians meanwhile support this proposal.

In 2007 the court in Amsterdam said that the Diemen municipality was wrong to cut off welfare benefits for a woman wearing a burka. In response the parliament, with the support of the PVV, VDD, and SP parties, voted to enable cutting down on benefits for burka wearers The vote to cut off welfare completely was only supported by the PVV and did not pass.

The CDA party said Monday that they could agree with Cohen's ideas. The PvdA also says they support him: first cutting down and then stopping. Jeroen Dijsselbloem sees analogies to somebody with 'fourteen piercings in his face'. "It's all well, but then also no benefits."

There is every indication that such a vote would now get a majority.

"Personally I think it's dreadful to see a woman walking in a burka. But whether I think it's not pleasant, is not a criteria to ban it," according to Cohen in Trouw Monday. In situations where contact is necessary with other people, such as school or work, the situation is completely different, he says. "I agree that if you can't find work because of the burka, you also can't come to ask for welfare."

a municipality spokesperson emphasized Monday that already for years the municipality can ask people who get benefits to adapt their appearance if that stands in the way of opportunities in the job-market. That also applies to people with piercings. Indeed, the social service in the capital never had to refused welfare for a burka wearer.

In 2006, Alderman Ahmed Aboutaleb, now the mayor of Rotterdam, made a similar proposal.

Source: Telegraaf 1,2 (Dutch)

Paris: Jews and Muslims living together

Paris: Jews and Muslims living together

It's a few hours before Shabbat in the Belleville neighborhood of Paris, and a Lubavitch Chasid is helping an elderly Tunisian Jew put on tefillin in the doorway of a kosher butchery.

Across the street, bearded Muslim vendors are hawking sweets and pastries to crowds of North African immigrants for the nightly Ramadan break-fast meal, called the iftar.

Further down the boulevard lined with kosher restaurants, Ouali Boussad, an Algerian Berber, prepares coffee at the Lumiere de Belleville café.

"Jews, Arabs and Berbers live in Belleville like they did in North Africa," Boussad says. "They have the same culture." Despite the tensions that have marked Muslim-Jewish ties in France in recent years, this neighborhood in northeastern Paris has managed to stay relatively free of them. The Arab-Israeli conflict still complicates relations between the two communities, but residents describe Belleville as idyllic compared to the hostility between Jews and Muslims in the immigrant suburbs surrounding Paris.

"A whole generation here has worked, lived and grown up together," says Serge Cohen, who runs a kosher bakery off the boulevard. "It's a different situation in the suburbs. Jews are separated from Muslims and they mistrust each other." Locals in Belleville are fiercely proud of the climate of tolerance in their neighborhood.

"You journalists only want to write about anti-Semitism," shouts a butcher at Henrino's kosher butchery on the Boulevard de Belleville. "We all get along here." Some 350,000 Jews live in the Paris metropolitan area. In Belleville, the North African heritage shared by most French Jews is overt, which may help explain why Jews and Muslims here get along. Most Jewish residents and workers here are of Tunisian descent, and the neighborhood is affectionately known as La Goulette on Seine - named after a coastal town on the Mediterranean.

"Tunisians are the most open-minded Jews, they are basically like us," says a Muslim customer at Soltane, a Belleville halal butchery.


Source: Jpost (English)

Moscow: Mayor calls for Jihad at Islam conference

Moscow: Mayor calls for Jihad at Islam conference

For some reason Interfax felt the need to put the word 'Jihad' in quotes.


Mayor of Moscow Yury Luzhkov compared the activity of the capital's authorities with that of religious organizations and described it as "jihad".

"Religion is Jihad, but not the one that scares people, rather, it helps people to create," Luzhkov said at an international conference Russia - Islamic World: Partnership for Stability held on Thursday in Moscow.

According to him, "the creation is also fighting, efforts, and pains which each of us should take in human communication, business, economy, and government design."

"Thus, we here in Moscow, also perform our own "jihad" overcoming ourselves," Mayor Luzhkov highlighted.

He said that Moscow "counts 162 ethnic groups and 42 confessions by the number of large ethnic communities" and noted that the Moscow authorities thought it was "essential to form the basic principles of the world culture."

Luzhkov noted that the city's authorities "respect the world of Islam and Islamic communities and seek to create such environment that allows every Muslim to meet his or her religious needs."


Source: Interfax (English)

Egypt: Security services watch European Salafists

Egypt: Security services watch European Salafists

Many deeply religious students from Europe come to Egypt to learn Arabic. The question is: are these European Salafists coming to study the language of the Koran or to prepare terrorist attacks?

Young men with downy beards, caps, kneelength a traditional Arab galabeyas and sandals sat chatting in a McDonalds' restaurant in Nasr City, a large middle class district in the eastern part of Cairo. Women wearing concealing black garments and veils over their faces scurried around the small dusty streets between their apartments and the neighborhood shops. They were not from here and they barely spoke any Arabic. Asking around revealed that every one of them came from Europe and most of them have North African roots.

In the neighborhood Egyptians, the European Salafists - Sunni religious fundamentalists - are outsiders. Ashraf, a 26-year-old Dutchman of Moroccan descent, came to Cairo a year ago. "To learn Arabic," he says, "the language of my religion." He had just visited the mosque, where many kindred spirits go to pray five times a day. A not-so-secret agent of the security service stood outside the mosque. The house of prayer is under surveillance. "We aren't hurting anyone," says Ashraf, whose apartment was recently searched. "We only come to study and pray."

Arabic language schools in Nasr City are doing good business. Young Salafists from Europe come to Egypt in great numbers to learn the language of the Koran, the holy book that Salafists believe can only be understood in the original language in which it was divinely revealed to the prophet Mohammed.

In addition to language lessons, they usually follow courses in Islamic law offered by teachers ranging from the renowned Al-Azhar University to clandestine imams without permits. "Religious fanatics want to be taken seriously," says Walid al-Gohari, founder and director of the Al-Fajr institute, one of the many language schools in Nasr City. "But Salafists who don't even know Arabic are not considered credible."

Al-Fajr is popular among import Salafists and Al-Gohari acknowledges that some come to Egypt with bad intentions. "Most students are mainly centered on themselves and their faith, but some come here with firm opinions about Islam and call anyone who sees it differently an infidel," the director says. "We try to teach them the language so they learn to understand the true message of the Koran, but they often look for trouble. They get in with a bad crowd, visit the wrong mosque and listen to the wrong sheik."

The Egyptian security service is concerned about the situation. It therefore keeps a close eye on fundamentalist visitors with a European passport. Students say their homes are regularly searched and they are randomly taken in for questioning. "They ask stupid questions, like how often do I pray each day," Ashraf describes his brief time in custody. "As if you are an extremist if you do what Allah has ordered."


Source: Spiegel (English)

London: Jews, Muslims afraid to leave home at night

London: Jews, Muslims afraid to leave home at night

JEWS and Muslims are 'afraid' of leaving home at night through fear of hate crime attacks on the streets of Redbridge.

As the borough celebrates its Week of Peace, Redbridge Equalities and Community Council has secured government funding to tackle hate-related crime - and the cash cannot come quickly enough for some, as stats reveal incidents are up 27 per cent.

Rabbi Aryeh Sufrin, of Chabad Lubavitch, Eastern Avenue, Gants Hill, said: "It is a problem that has been getting worse over the years.

"People can be very abusive. Thank God I have never suffered violently, but certainly people are targeted.

"I know people who refuse to come on to the streets in the evening, they are too frightened. Hate crime has a very big impact on people's lives."

Bashir Chaudhry, chairman of the League of British Muslims, Eton Road, Ilford, said his community had similar fears and had suffered abuse.

He said: "Some people associate the 9/11 terrorists with the Muslim community, so hate crime is obviously prevalent and is growing.

"We need to break the barriers down and have more interaction.

"Parents have a large part to play as their opinions influence their children."


Source: Ilford Recorder

Germany: Police conducts house searches among converts

Germany: Police conducts house searches among converts

Police searched houses of German converts to Islam this past Wednesday. They are supposed to have recruited Muslims for an Islamic center in Yemen which is closely linked to al-Qaeda.

According to the Sunday paper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, which bases itself on security services source, 19 residences were searched in five states. The main suspect is a German from the south Bavarian town Weilheim, who has lived for a long time in Yemen. Together with two radical Muslims from Freiburg, both living in Yemen, he encouraged converts and other Muslims from Germany to go to a koran school in the Arab country. In Yemen they would have also supposedly gotten military training.

Source: AD (Dutch)

Belgium: French-speakers call for headscarf ban

Belgium: French-speakers call for headscarf ban

With video report. There were about 300 people here. In Brussels itself there's been a headscarf ban for the past decade.


Hundreds of women and their children demonstrated in Brussels on Saturday to calling for the veil and all other religious clothes or symbols to be banned from schools.

At the moment the veil is worn at the discretion of an individual school's headmaster, or not. Now Belgium's 40 percent French-speakers want the same law as passed in Belgium's Flemish half, which bans the veil.

"I had long, braided hair, so they would take the lower part of my veil, and wound it into my braids."
says one women's rights worker.

But the women's groups are split; some prefer to stress free choice, others the risk of indoctrination of the young;

"The Flemish are spot on, because their law preserves the ideas of diversity and equality among pupils, pupils who are the adults of tomorrow. So we are demanding that the French speaking community takes the same decision," says another women's representative.


Source: euronews (English)

Update: Fixed headline.

Germany: Another video threatens attacks

Germany: Another video threatens attacks

This time apparently from the Taliban.

German authorities have uncovered a new video threatening attacks against the country over its military engagement in Afghanistan ahead of this weekend's pivotal elections, according to officials in Berlin.

The new internet video threats are believed to come from the Taliban, an Interior Ministry spokesman said, and demand that Germany withdraw its troops from the war-torn country.


In the new video, a man calling himself "Ajjub" and speaking in German said: "Because of your commitment here against Islam, attacking Germany has become an attractive idea for us, the mujahideen," according to the spokesman. The militant said it was only a matter of time "before jihad destroys German walls."

Photos of famous German sites and events then appear, including Brandenburg Gate, Munich's Oktoberfest beer festival and Cologne Cathedral.

Politicians, including Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and Defence Minister Franz-Josef Jung, are also shown, the spokesman said.


Source: The Local (English)

Sweden: Teachers want veil policy, minister objects

Sweden: Teachers want veil policy, minister objects

Education Minister Jan Björklund says he doesn't want to legislate against the use of headscarves, niqab, and burkas in Swedish schools.

Teachers unions have called for common rules for teachers and teaching students working in the Swedish education system, as it is currently up to each school to decide, which can sometimes cause conflict with students and teachers.


Source: SR (English)

Nicosia: Discussions on additional mosques

Nicosia: Discussions on additional mosques

OFFICIALS from the Interior Ministry and Nicosia Municipality have met to discuss arrangements for opening up more mosques around Nicosia.

The meeting was deemed necessary after clashes between two groups of worshippers earlier this month at the Omeriye mosque in Nicosia’s old town. The conflict highlighted the need to look at the underlying causes and accommodate the different needs of Muslims living in Nicosia.

The meeting on Wednesday looked specifically at the possibilities of reopening existing mosques around the city – and even creating new ones.

Nicosia Mayor, Eleni Mavrou, said “The meeting was really an exchange of information and opinions about arrangements for different mosques in the city.

“The outcome of the meeting was that the Interior Ministry will contact imams and the embassies involved – such as the Libyan Embassy and Turkish Cypriot imams – fill in the blanks as far as organisation and overall arrangements are concerned.

“When this is done, we will be meeting again to exchange views on how to proceed.

“As far as the Omeriye mosque is concerned, the Interior Ministry is collecting information on arrangements there. The ministry and the antiquities department are also set to discuss restoration works.

“The mosque will probably have to close for a certain period while works are under way, so we have to see what solution can be found to accommodate the congregation during that time. It will be essential to make other arrangements for as long as the mosque is closed.”


Source: Cyprus Mail

Germany: Al-Qaeda calls German Muslims to Jihad

Germany: Al-Qaeda calls German Muslims to Jihad

Germany remains on alert after the release of the third al-Qaida message in a week, this time calling on Muslims in Germany to take part in jihad, or holy war, authorities said Friday.

"We are taking this seriously," German Interior Ministry spokesman Stefan Paris told reporters. He said the still image with an audio message released Thursday was not seen as increasing the existing terror threat facing Germany, which holds parliamentary elections Sunday.

In the third message a masked person presumed to be Bekkay Harrach, who uses the pseudonym Abu Talha, speaks about piety and service to Allah.

German authorities and international intelligence groups said they believe all three German-language videos were made by Harrach, a German of Moroccan background believed to have lived for years in Bonn. Authorities say he could now be in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area.

The person in the third video says the best way for a "sinful Muslim seeking redemption ... is participation in jihad," according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which analyzed the video. No specific threats were mentioned.

The first video came out a week ago with a threat linked to German troops' presence in Afghanistan and the election — prompting authorities to step-up security at airports and train stations.

The second al-Qaida message mentioned Afghanistan and the issue of sin in Islam.


Source: AP (English)

See also:
* Germany: Al-Qaeda warns of 'next 9/11'
* Pakistan: German families recruited to 'Jihad colony'

Belgium: All charges against Muslim Executive dropped

Belgium: All charges against Muslim Executive dropped

The Brussels court decided that all the suspects in the investigation into suspected fraud at the Belgian Muslim Executive will not be prosecuted. This was announced by the Brussels prosecution, who also said they will not appeal. The prosectuion itself had asked to drop charges for all those invovled except one. The prosection wanted to prosectue former chairman Benjelloul Kissi for embezzeling 1,000 euro, but the court saw no cause for it.

The investigation into suspected misdoings at the Muslim Executive began at the end of 2006, when it appeared that computer parts which were bought during the administration of the former chairman, Mohamed Boulif, could not be located by the Executive.

There was also talk of a suspicious transfer to Nizar Trabelsi, who was convicted of terrorism. In January 2007 Boulif sat in jail for a week but he was released when the computer parts turned out to be present in the premises of the Executive.

During the investigation into Boulif, the Brussels detectives discovered other financial issues at the Executive that they found suspicious. The French-speaking deputy chairman of the Executive, Benjeloul Kissi, was suspected of forgery, misuse of company goods and embezzlement. He spent a night in jail in December 2006.

In September 2007, examining magistrate Claise sealed the premises of the Muslim Executive and appointed a temporary administrator.

Benjeloul Kissi again ended up in jail and the Muslim Executive's financial NPO, Beheer en Financiën, was named the legal suspect.

In February 2008,the chairman of the NPO and the Muslim Executive, Coskun Beyazgül, and the treasurer of the NPO, Atila Aydoglu, were suspected of forgery, use of forgery and misuse of company goods.

In November 2008, after the investigation was concluded, the Brussels prosecution announced that Benjelloul Kissi alone would be prosecuted for embezzling 1,000 euro out of Beheer en Financiën. There was insufficient evidence for all other crimes that he and the others involved were suspected of.

The Brussels court decided on Tuesday that it shares this conviction. According to the court it was insufficiently demonstrated that the suspects intended any wrong. The Belgian State, which was a civil party to the suit, had to admit that though the administration of the Executive was disastrous, there was no criminal intent. Benjelloul Kissi will therefore not be prosecuted either.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

Netherlands: Children's show celebrates Eid

Netherlands: Children's show celebrates Eid

The Eid ul-Fitr episode has been around for a couple of years (you can see a clip here). There were several shows on Dutch TV over the past few weeks focusing on Ramadan.


A few days ago Teleac (Dutch education broadcaster) broadcast Het Zandkasteel, a kid's show, focusing on Eid ul-Fitr.

PVV parliament member Martin Bosma turned to ministers Plasterk (education) and Van der Laan (integration) to ask why the Muslim holiday was presented on the show as a holiday for everybody. Characters on the show said that at Eid ul-Fitr 'all the kids get presents' and 'we eat lots of sweets'. Additionally you 'get new clothing, since that's part of Eid ul-Fitr'.

Bosma asks as follows: What other Islamic propaganda will our children have to contend with via the public broadcaster? Can the minister preclude that toddler shows broadcast on national TV won't have the Smurfs soon where Papa Smurf will establish sharia and Smurfette will consequently be caned?

Source: Mediajournaal (Dutch)

Brussels: Muslim artwork taken down (UPDATED: Death threats)

Brussels: Muslim artwork taken down

Pictures of it here. It was supposed to be displayed from Sep 5th to Oct 5th.


A work by a young French artist, put up in a display window in Brussels, has caused negative reactions. The display had to be taken down.

The work is by Mehdi-Georges Lahlou. It displays a prayer area for Muslims, and in the middle of men's shoes, a pair of women's shoe with high heels.

The work caused negative reactions from passers-by. People threw stones at the shop window, spit at it, and the shop window was vandalized.

In recent days the shop window was covered with a panel. The work was taken down earlier than planned.

The artist says that the Muslim community didn't understand the message of the work.

Source: Nieuwsblad (Dutch)


The work is called 'Cocktail, or auto-portrait and society'.

Mehdi-Georges Lahlou says he was threatened by phone by several youth after the work was displayed, and that now he got death threats.

"I think it's a type of censorship. Humor and ISlam reamins a problematically compatible combination. Look at what reactions the cartoons of Mohammed provoked. With my work I wanted to make an impossible synthesis with a aphoristic character. The story that I wanted to tel, was understood wrongly. As the title of the work makes clear, this work is a self-portrait in which I represent the role of the transvestite with red high-heels. Sadly this message didn't get there."

A Delhaize shopper who stopped by the journalist: "I'm myself a Muslim and many of my friends clearly didn't understand this artwork. Mostly because it was shown on Ramadan. Now I've heard the epxlanation of the artist, I can see myself in it. Though you shouldn't be strangely surprised if certain Muslim believers do take offense here.

Source: Nieuwsblad (Dutch), h/t NRP

Netherlands: Police proposed to deal with mosque-residents fights

Netherlands: Police proposed to deal with mosque-residents fights

See also here for a video report (in Dutch).

A few months ago I reported about fights between mosque-goers and dog walkers. Last week the mosque again got to the news after a man walking his dog said he was attacked by a Muslim who threatened to shoot his dog. Other residents interviewed at the time said they liked the mosque, walked their dogs by it and never had problems with it. (NL)


The El Fath mosque in Liendert (Amersfoort) has been in the news regularly over the past few months in connection with various tensions between residents and mosque visitors. After several incidents of violence local party BPA is pressing in the local council for police supervision. The mosque administration says, however, that the unrest is being exaggerated and criticizes the image arising in the media.

In recent months there have been several rights between mosque-visitors and residents, among other things about bicycling on the footpath parallel to the Valleikanaal, cars being double parked in the neighborhood, and dogs being let loose near the mosque. "Particularly in the last weeks the situation seems to have gotten out of hand," says BPA council member Ruud Schulten. "Some people feel so threatened that they don't dare go out of the house. Last week on Sunday a man saw a mosque-visitor bicycling on the footpath, and approached him about it. He was consequently threatened by a group of Moroccans, and a couple who wanted to help him was sharply attacked too. 'We will hang your dog,' they threatened." Schulten also says he knows of a number of similar incidents.

Abdelkarim Elkarti, the El Fath spokesperson and former board member, says that he hasn't heard of this incident. "And what I don't understand is why this must obviously be linked to the mosque. We are not a Moroccan institution. In fact, I think that a mosque-visitor would never do something like that, they want just peace and harmony."

Elkarti says it's characteristic that the incident was linked to the mosque. "A different incident that completely unjustly was linked to our mosque took place a kilometer away and did not involve any mosque-visitor."

The mosque administration says that the mosque seems to be in the spotlight because several residents are trying to make a political issue out of it. Elkarti: "A very small group of people knows to regularly find the media. But the image that those several residents portray, isn't true from any aspect. There's absolutely no issue here of the situation escalating. We're doing many activities for and with the neighborhood and we've received many expressions of support and positive reactions."

According to Elkarti in the recent time there have been a few misunderstanding. "We're accused, for example, of wanting to restrict the dog-release policy. That is definitely incorrect. We've never asked for such a ban and think too that dogs are absolutely not impure."

Elkarti recognizes that mosque-goers do bicycle on the footpath. "Just like many students. Already before the building of the mosque we've asked for bicycle paths, but sadly we're still waiting for those. For that matter, we speak to our people about it and emphasize that they may not bicycle there."

Source: De Stad Amersfoort (Dutch)

Belgium: Headscarf update

Belgium: Headscarf update

The Forum of Islamic Organizations (FISO) announced that three Muslims girls from three different schools turned to Council of State against the decision by the Flemish public school network to ban the headscarf.

The Forum, which unites more than 30 Flemish organizations, was set up after the headscarf ban. The organizations include Leidraad, vzw Vrije Keuze, AEL and imam Nordine Taouil. The Forum says they advocate active pluralism in society and oppose the headscarf ban for students.

The Forum says they've received dozens of complaints from girls in various provinces.

In a recent decision regarding the headscarf ban in the Antwerp atheneums, the Council of State decided to reject the complaint for procedural reasons: the complaint was lodged too late, and the student is choosing to be absent and was not prevented from going to school.

In Wallonia, the MR party said on the weekend that they want to ban the headscarf in all the schools of the French community. Now they're proposing a ban on any religious, philosphical or political symbol for civil servants.

Sources: HLN 1, 2, 3 (Dutch)

Quote: Moroccan-Dutch are not treated as individuals

Quote: Moroccan-Dutch are not treated as individuals

Samira Bouchibti (38) is a parliament member for the Dutch Labor party. She worked in the past as program creator, debate leader and journalist. The following is from an interview in HP/DeTijd:

"I had said in the past that we as Moroccans should show that we are suitable, and that it's not dependent on our 'backwards' culture and religion. Due to the negative reports about the group of youth who cause problems, many Dutch have the idea that Morocco is a backwards country and that the Moroccans are just like the people who cause the negative image. All over the world people are regarded as individuals, but Moroccans are thrown into one big pile. You are a Moroccan, period. And Moroccans are not suitable in the eyes of public opinion.

I don't want to minimize the problems, but the trouble-makers ruin it for the group who do well and are often very successful. The group who just like hundreds of thousands of Dutch go to work each day, have an ING (bank) career or work as a school attendance officer.

As a politician and as a journalist I try to attract the successful Moroccans to the discussion, but when I ask them to give a speech, for example, they say: "You do it". We must make a distinction between people who do well and people who want to do evil. For the group of successful Moroccans it's tiresome to constantly be confronted with a reality that's not theirs."

Source: HP/DeTijd (Dutch)

Netherlands: What do you think of when you hear of Ramadan?

Netherlands: What do you think of when you hear of Ramadan?

A news article in the Dutch media announced a couple of days ago that about 75% of the Dutch don't know what Ramadan means. Asked what they think of when they hear of Ramadan: 25% thought of other Muslims issues and another 25% said they don't think of anything in particular. Only a sixth knew to answer that Ramadan is a month of fasting. And 55% answered that Islam is a threat to democracy in the Netherlands.

The only problem? That wasn't exactly the question. The site (what do you believe?) was set up specifically to check what the Dutch know about the Ramadan. And yet, their very first question is:

By the celebration of Ramadan, what do you think of first?

1. The pillars of Islam
2. A 3 day feast of abundant eating
3. The holy book of the Muslims
4. A month in which Allah revealed the Koran
5. One of the suras of the Koran
6. Eating many sweets
7. A free day
8. Nothing in particular
9. Something else (fill in)
10. I don't know

For some reason, fasting does not appear in the list. In fact, though one answer might be more correct, most of the answers are correct in some way.

As for the democracy question: the question was whether Islam could form a danger to Dutch democracy, and not whether it's a current danger.

What's the point of setting up a site to see how much the Dutch know about Islam, if you later advertise misleading results?

Antwerp: Dewinter claims Muslim courts are active

Antwerp: Dewinter claims Muslim courts are active

"Apostate Muslims tell me that there are already Muslim courts in the Turkish community in Antwerp," claim Filip Dewinter. But his sensational announcement has no confirmation.

Dewinter made his announcement in an interview in Belgian newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen. "This is just the first phase," he warns. "In the next the Muslims will demand that Sharia becomes part of our civil law. And in the end there will only be Sharia, the Islamic law. The holy war against the Western hereditary enemy is a duty for every Muslim."

Dewinter doesn't get a lot of approval. "His is completely nuts," says Turkish CD&V politician Ergün Top.

And sp.a. alderman Monica De Coninck: "I've never gotten even one indication about Sharia in Antwerp. I do know that imams sometimes act as mediators in conflicts. But rabbis and pastors do that too."

In an interview in this paper Dewinter calls Vlaams Belang a "resistance movement against the Islamization of Europe". He also lashes out harshly against the Antwerp imam Nordine Taouil, which he called "Allah's pimp".

Taouil regrets Dewinter's statements: "He is trying to turn the communities against each other".

Source: GvA (Dutch)


Filip Dewinter wants to mobilize his troops for a long battle. "The VB is more than ever a resistance movement against the threat of the coming decade: the Islamization of Europe".

Filip Dewinter is fed up with the discussions in the VB. He goes back to the theme that he's always preferred: the multicultural society. Finally we're beginning to convince we're correct, he says.

"Yet more than a political party, the VB is now a resistance movement," says Dewinter. "Resistance against the Belgian state, the radical Islam, crime and politically-correct thinking. And we're not going to compromise."

"The circumstances support us more and more. The headscarf issue, the disastrous new golf of regularization [of illegals], the arrival of Muslim schools, the riots in Brussels: we've always predicted it."

Q: How happy are you with the ban on the headscarf in all schools?

A: I think it's a good thing. The headscarf is not only a prison of textile for those women, but also and especially a political symbol, a weapon in the battle of conquest of Islam. Muslims express this way their feeling of superiority. The headscarf ban is a feather in the VB's cap."

Q: Imam Nordine Taouil apologizes for his call to Muslim girls not to go to school anymore. He denies that he's an extremist.

A: He's practicing the principle of takiya, that every Muslim is allowed to lie and sham whenever the interests of Islam demand that. Taouil is Allah's pimp, he obligates young Muslim women - through his moral coercion to wear the headscarf - to religious prostitution. And he's really a radical salafist who was educated in an extremist London mosque and organizes suspicious trips to Saudi-Arabia. I've learned that myself from apostate Muslims. Taouil strives for a segregated society with separate neighborhoods for Muslims and their own jurisdiction. I don't have hard evidence, but according to my sources some imams in Antwerp already administer justice in civil cases. The advent of Sharia, Islamic jurisdiction, is just a first phase. In the second Muslims would demand that sharia becomes part of our civil law. And in the end there will only be sharia. The holy war - the Jihad - against the Western hereditary enemy is a duty for every Muslims.

Q: All Antwerp Muslims that we know are moderate and very peaceful.

A: Then I call on those right-thinking Muslims to swear off Islam. And we must make an end to our ambiguous, hypocritical relationship with Islam. Stop the (official) recognition of mosques and of Islam, because that is the most considerable restraint on the integration of immigrants. Freedom of religion is an individual right. Recognitions, subsidies and Muslim schools aren't part of it. For that matter, the current anger of the CD&V, sp.a and Open Vld about those schools is hypocritical. Those parties have themselves established and designed the Islamic 'pillar'. [ie, separate community]

A: What do you do than with subsidizing independent education?

Q: I may not and cannot compare Islam with Catholicism. Christianity is at the roots of our civilization and deserves a privileged position. It's something completely different than Islam. May I compare Islam to a crocodile? I quote Churchill: 'we feed the crocodile, hoping it will eat us last.' Soon the crocodile will get to its main course, after he's been fed for years by parties like sp.a and Groen! Those former anti-clerical parties are evolving - through their multicultural beliefs and the background of their voters - more and more into confessional parties. The alliance of progressive, anti-clerical socialists and greens with Muslims is unnatural, because Muslims by nature are very conservative. They don't like gay-rights, abortions and euthanasia (laughs).

Q: You're back to where the Vlaams Blok was twenty years ago, no?

A: Yes, we've been right too early (laughs). Just now we're also convincing, if I read what Dedecker, De Wever and some CD&V'ers are saying. The riots in Molenbeek aren't only about drugs, they are the forerunner of an ethnic-religious guerrilla [war]. And in Antwerp the population after the new regularization will not be 30%, but 40% immigrant. Between 2040 and 2050 we'll reach the 'half plus one' and then we'll have an enormous crisis in our democracy. Then the power takeover would be a fact without one shot having been fired.

Nordine Taouil's response:

"After all the commotion of the past weeks I really prefer not to respond any more. I think the statements of Mr. Dewinter are very unfortunate, he's clearly trying to turn the communities against each other. Of everything he says, absolutely nothing is true. I am a straight person, a moderate Muslim. I've been born and raised here, and I respect everybody in this city. I don't obligate anybody to wear a headscarf. I also don't organize any suspicious trips, I only go sometimes as a guide to the pilgrimage in Mecca. As for sharia: That is a method of the Shiites. I'm Sunni and may not lie as a Muslim. I'm not going to attack Mr. Dewinter and I respect his opinion, but I hope that he's wise enough not to repeat these unfortunate accusations."

Source: Filip Dewinter (Dutch)

Spain: Judge refuses to hear testimony from burqa wearer

Spain: Judge refuses to hear testimony from burqa wearer

In a similar case in Denmark the judges focused on being able to identify the witness, but did not say anything about being able to judge the veracity of the witness' testimony.


A Supreme Court witness in today's trial of nine alleged islamists for sending mujahideens to Iraq, who refused to remove her burka to give evidence, was asked by the judge, Javier Gómez Bermúdez to leave the courtroom.

The judge explained that in Spanish courts it is obligatory to give evidence with one's face uncovered, so the woman was called to his chambers at the end of the session along with the prosecutor, Dolores Delgado, where they managed to convince the woman to return to court next Monday to give evidence with her face showing, albeit with her back to the public gallery.

"By looking at her face, I cam tell if she is lying or not, if she is surprised by a question or not," explained the judge, who added that he had no intention of holding her in contempt.

He pointed out that religious beliefs could not be above civil law.


Source: Think Spain

Sweden: Immigrant dense areas becoming denser

Sweden: Immigrant dense areas becoming denser

Immigrants to Sweden continue to flock to a few, high-immigrant concentration areas, new statistics show, prompting one politician to conclude the country's integration politics have failed.

According to a fresh report from Statistics Sweden (SCB), the number of inhabitants with foreign backgrounds has escalated in all of the country's most immigrant-dense areas over the past ten years.

Employment has increased to some extent in many city districts, and the number of individuals reliant upon government benefits has decreased to an equal degree.

By far the greatest change, however, relates to the concentration of inhabitants with a foreign background, which has increased dramatically in most of the 38 city districts.

"What the statistics show is that our migration and integration policies have totally failed," said Anders Lago, the Social Democratic mayor of Södertälje, to the TT news agency.

For 38 the districts deemed to have a high concentration of immigrants, from Malmö's Rosengård in the south to Hertsön in Luleå in the north, municipalities have signed special development agreements with the Swedish government.


"In practice, more of these areas are functioning like huge refugee reception centres. They become a passage way for asylum seekers and refugees, which makes it clear that this is a very, very, serious problem for society," said Lago.

In Ronna, a district of Södertälje, south of Stockholm, for instance, the concentration of inhabitants with a foreign background has increased from 66 to 84 percent in ten years.

In Linköping's Skäggtorp neighbourhood in central Sweden, the concentration has increased from 22 to 49 percent.

In nine of the 38 districts, more than 80 percent of inhabitants have a foreign background. The most densely populated immigrant district was Hjällbo in Gothenburg, with a concentration of 90 percent.

Sweden's Minister for Integration, Nyamko Sabuni, however, refused to see the increased concentration of immigrants in city districts as an indication of the success or failure of Sweden's integration politics.

“The purpose of integration politics is not to spread people out. We don't see it as a problem that many individuals with a foreign background live in areas with a high concentration of immigrants. The problem is that many people with an immigrant background are unemployed. The purpose of integration politics is to support people so they can establish themselves in the job market,” she told the TT news agency

“The statistics show that employment is on the rise and the need for economic support is decreasing, which is encouraging.”

The agency's statistics also contained data on a number of positive developments, including a marked increase in the number of gainfully employed individuals in most city districts.

Both Andersberg in Halmstad and Hjällbo in Gothenburg witnessed a 19 percent increase between 1997 and 2007. In 2007, almost half the population of both districts was employed.

Similarly, during the same period, the number of working individuals in Rosengård rose from 19.9 to 34.2 percent, while employment figures for the entire country oscillated between 72 and 78 percent.

In most districts, the proportion of inhabitants receiving government benefits dropped by as much as six percent between 2004 and 2007.

Despite this reduction, in areas such as Rosengård almost 26 percent of the population retained some form of economic support in the year 2007.


Source: The Local (English)

UK: Stories of foster carers for Muslim children

UK: Stories of foster carers for Muslim children

MUSLIM foster carer Rukhsana Raja from Coventry is a young woman with a big heart.

The 27-year-old, of Coundon, is one of only two Islamic foster carers in the city and two years ago took in four vulnerable youngsters.

She is a rarity in the fostering service, not just because of her religion but for her age. She is one of the youngest foster carers in Coventry and has had no children of her own.

Rukhsana is exactly the sort of person the service is seeking to attract, as the recruitment team judges applicants on their own merits and welcomes enquiries from young singles who have had no children.

Undeterred by misconceptions that she didn’t conform to the foster carer ideal, sheer determination led the accountant to fulfil her ambition to look after children.

She specialises in caring for youngsters from Muslim families who are still learning about the religion.

Rukhsana said: “I was always determined to do this and always thought I’d be good at looking after children.

“I’ve always believed that I could provide for them with stability and safety and it didn’t matter that I haven’t had my own children.

“I really enjoy it and know I’ll continue to foster children in the future, even when I eventually go on to have children of my own.

“I think it’s important that children know about their religion,” she added, “and are with people who can help them in their journey with Islam. That’s why I feel it’s my role to guide them while they live with me.

“Our religion says that by the age of seven a child should start reading the Koran and start fasting during Ramadan. That’s why my role is incredibly important.”

Islam has an impact on many areas of day-to-day life and, like all religious groups, Muslims vary in their level of practise. However, most adhere to basic rules.

These include dietary requirements for Halal meat and ingredients, which affect everyday foods such as bread.

There are also Islamic daily Salaah prayers, fasting and prayer in the month of Ramadan, after-school Islamic ethics and classical Arabic lessons. Following these rules comes as second nature to Muslims such as Rukhsana so they can share the knowledge and practise with foster children on a daily basis.

But because there are only two Muslim foster carers in Coventry, non-Muslim carers often take in Muslim children.

It means they are forced to adapt to a new way of living to accommodate the needs of the child, a situation long-term foster carer Betty McGlinchey knows very well.

She relies on the fostering service and the Muslim community in her area of Stoke for support.


Source: Coventary Telegraph

Morocco: Al-Qaeda terrorist network linked to Sweden, Belgium

Morocco: Al-Qaeda terrorist network linked to Sweden, Belgium

The security services in Morocco have arrested 24 members of a "terrorist network" linked to Al-Qaeda that recruited volunteers for suicide bombings in Iraq, the interior ministry said Wednesday.

In a statement carried by the official MAP news agency, it said the network coordinated "with terrorists in Sweden, Belgium and the Syria-Iraq zone" and also sought recruits for Al-Qaeda to fight in Afghanistan and Somalia.

The suspects -- now being questioned by police -- were arrested in several cities in Morocco, said the ministry, which did not specify the date when they were apprehended.

According to the interior ministry, those arrested were also planning to carry out "terrorist acts" inside Morocco, and to that end were preparing to welcome Al-Qaeda specialists to help assemble explosive devices.


Source: AFP (English)

Italy: Muslim NGO delivers aid to quake victims

Italy: Muslim NGO delivers aid to quake victims

Volunteers from an Islamic non-government organisation have left the quake-devastated city of Onna in central Italy after having distributed over 1.5 tonnes of aid. Dozens of volunteers from Pakistan, Morocco, Egypt and Algeria worked with Islamic Relief to help victims of the quake by providing food, blankets and clothing.

"During the past few months (since the April earthquake) we have distributed more than 500 blankets, 1.42 tonnes of food and drink, thousands of hygiene kits, huge quantities of clothes and other first-aid materials, to Monticchio, Bagno and finally Onna," said the director of Islamic Relief for Italy Abdullah Gonzaga in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).

"In the tent city (of Onna), which has become a dramatic symbol in Abruzzo, our organisation has installed itself there and been operating for six months."

"During this period we met Pope Benedict XVI in an emotionally touching visit, we also organised Arab-themed lunches as well as trips. We also collaborated with the Civil Protection Authority as well as Catholic and secular organisations, always with reciprocal satisfaction," Abdullah told AKI.


Source: AKI (English)

Norway: Eid service on TV

Norway: Eid service on TV

Norwegian broadcaster NRK will broadcast a Muslim sermon for the first time. The historic broadcast is from the Muslim Eid prayer at the Islamic Cultural Center mosque in Oslo and can be seen on NRK1 on Thursday and NRK2 on Friday.

This is happening more than a year after Dagbladet reported of NRK's decision to abolish the Christian monopoly and open up to sermons from other faiths.

"We worked one year at this project. This is certainly new material for us, but now we begin here and and there will be more eventually," says Helge Gudmundsen of NRK who was behind the project.

When Dagbladet reported abolishing NRK's Christian monopoly, Rolf Kjøde, general secretary of mission agency Normisjon, was critical, but Kristin Mile, general secretary of the Norwegian Humanist Association, thought it was about time. [ed: More accurately, she said there should be no preaching at all, but that if there's already preaching, it should not be only Christians doing it]

"We have only received positive reactions," says Gudmundson.

Q: Are there reactions now that the first program will be broadcast?

A: There might be some who don't want NRK to broadcast from other religions, but it will surprise me a bit, since I see that the recognition that we live in a multicultural society is becoming bigger," says Gudmundsen.

He thinks that broadcasting radio and TV sermons of different faiths can counteract prejudices and racism.

"It's about taking people seriously and conveying knowledge of what they believe in. Such a religion dialog increases understanding between us who live in a multicultural Norway," says Gudmundsen.

The Eid celebration is a prayer of gratitude, where Muslims thank Allah for his mercy. In many ways it's a sort of Christmas Eve, were they give each other presents and enjoy family company.

The NRK program will start with a report about Arslan F. Mohammed (34), who was born and grew up in Norway with parents from Pakistan and who tells why the Eid holiday is important to him.

Most of the hour-long prayer in the mosque will be broadcast with Norwegian subtitles. That will be the imam's sermon, but also something as rare as a sermon in Norwegian.

"This is an NRK program were we try to give the Muslim a face," says Helge Gudmundsen.

Source: Dagbladet (Norwegian)

Hague: Radical mosque now more moderate

Hague: Radical mosque now more moderate

The messages spread by the as-Soennah mosque in the Hague have been moderated by the influence of a new administration. The mosque also distanced itself since then from the use of violence, mayor Jozias van Aartsen wrote on Monday in response to questions by the VVD and SP parties. According to Van Aartsen, the AIVD (Dutch intelligence) has gotten to the same conclusions.

Van Aartsen told the municipal council that "we determine that the tone and context of the sermons in the recent period have been adjusted and that the spokespeople and imam of the mosque have expressed themselves more moderately in public." The new mosque administration started work in June, 2008.

Imam Sheik Fawaz Jneid has been criticized in the past, among other things, for cursing Theo van Gogh in a sermon. That happened several weeks before the director's murder. Ayaan Hirsi Ali was also criticized by the imam.

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

Germany: Police raid NPD office for sending racist hate mail

Germany: Police raid NPD office for sending racist hate mail

Police said on Wednesday they had raided the Berlin headquarters of Germany's neo-Nazi NPD party after it sent racist letters to ethnic minority candidates in this weekend's election, telling them to "go home."

A spokesman for Berlin prosecutors confirmed they had launched an investigation over suspected incitement to racial hatred.

The letters, signed by an "officer for the deportation of foreigners," were presented as a "notice" to candidates of Turkish origin ahead of elections on September 27.

According to one recipient, Green politician Ozcan Mutlu, the two-paged letter contained a "five-point plan" for "moving foreigners gradually back to their home countries."

The letters sparked outrage from mainstream politicians who called for renewed efforts to outlaw the NPD, which has no seats in the national parliament but is represented in two of Germany's powerful regional assemblies.


Source: The Local (English)

Book review: Reflections on the Revolution in Europe

Book review: Reflections on the Revolution in Europe

Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West, by Christopher Caldwell.

To buy the book: Reflections on the Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West

The book is divided into three sections, one each for Immigration, Islam and the West. Generally speaking, the 'immigration' section is devoted to a scathing criticism of the arguments used to justify mass immigration. The 'Islam' section looks at the problematics of Muslims in Europe, and 'The West' section looks at how Europe is dealing with this immigration.

A small gripe: The book has end-notes which give background and sources for some of the quotes and anecdotes. Instead of having pointers to the end-notes, they're simply listed by page number and partial quote from the original page. I can see the advantages, but I didn't realize they existed until I was halfway through the book.

'Reflections on the Revolution' is a very thought provoking book. I'll try to summarize the points I found most interesting together with my take on them. Some issues I've been thinking over for a while, some I've just started considering now, so this is really a work in progress.

US vs. Europe

I don't intend to repeat all of Caldwell's arguments against mass immigration. In the 1960s and 1970s Europe opened the gates, releasing what Caldwell calls 'network power', and what I call the 'immigration dynamic'. Every immigrant makes his own personal decision to immigrate, but together with all the other immigrants making that same decision, he makes up a formidable movement. As time went by and Europe realized what was happening, the arguments used by its politicians and policy makers also changed accordingly. Caldwell brings the different arguments used to explain why immigration is good and shows their internal contradictions.

Caldwell points out that the US had managed to integrate its immigrants better than Europe, though there are several difference: the US did not have to deal with mass immigration of a completely different culture (Muslim immigration) and the US forces the immigrants to integrate. In fact, Caldwell says that Europe's immigration problem is more similar to the race problem in the US. The Muslim culture in Europe and the Black culture in the US are 'adversary cultures' - built on distrust towards the dominant culture. When it comes to the Muslims their 'adversity' can easily slip into dangerous territory. There is a thin line between sedition and acceptable protest.

He does not see race as an issue in Europe, but I think that he really missed the point here. I agree with him that the best comparison is to the race problem in the US, but this is not because Europe's problem is racism. It's ethnicism.

Europe is made up of ethnic nation states. The ethnicity of the US, on the other hand, is its political system. An immigrant to the US can accept his new 'founding fathers', though he has no blood ties to the men who founded the nation. An immigrant in Denmark, on the other hand, can't become a descendant of the Vikings based on wish alone, and at this point in time, this wish barely exists. Assimilation wise, Islam is much more similar to the US. It is not ethnically based. A European convert to Islam can aspire to live according to the lifestyle of the prophet, and not feel that he's pretending to be somebody he really is not.


Caldwell uses the terms 'integration' and 'assimilation' interchangeably, but they are not really the same. In fact an 'issue' by many Muslims today is that they are willing to integrate but not to assimilate. Assimilating means losing your ethnic identity while integrating means keeping your own identity but being a part of the society. This could mean anything from being able to function in society to accepting the social norms. As Caldwell points out, some Europeans are fine with just 'demanding' that immigrants keep the local law.

Even if the Muslims of Europe might be integrated, they are far from assimilated. Caldwell points out that in France, for example, children of Italian or Polish immigrants were not considered 'second generation', but rather 'French'. I think the reason for that is simple. In her book "Generous Betrayal", Norwegian anthropologist Unni Wikan quotes the American sociologist Nathan Glazer who says that inter-ethnic marriage is the last step of assimilation. It marks the highest degree of social acceptance. I think it's more than that. I think that it is the only way to assimilate into a culture, into an ethnicity. Inter-ethnic marriage is a serious problem for today's Jewry for exactly this reason. It is not the 'last step' of assimilation. It is assimilation.

The Italian and Polish immigrants to France assimilated. Their children (or grandchildren) were already ethnically French. Take Sarkozy as an example: the son of an Hungarian father and French mother - he's French as can be. Though Muslim assimilation in France is relatively high compared to other European Muslims, it is still very low. Most Muslims marry Muslims from abroad or fellow Muslim immigrants, usually from the same ethnic background. Only a few would marry a European. And even among those who do marry Europeans, not all assimilate. There are cases where the European partner has decided to assimilate into the Muslim ethnicity instead.

'Invented' identities are one way for non-Europeans to integrate. For example, while most of the 'ethnic' English see themselves as 'English', most of the minorities see themselves as 'British'. The EU is a way for immigrants to become Europeans, even if they can't join the 'ethnic' natives. the problem is that you can call yourself 'European', but it doesn't leave you with any real identity.

In any case, Caldwell speaks of the lack of integration. Muslims in Europe don't think highly of European values. Since many Europeans have no idea what their values are, and have been quiet busy tearing those values down for the past few decades, that is not really surprising.

The second generation is de-assimilating and turning to its 'native' culture - Islam. In fact, this is a simplification. In many cases the 'native' culture is a folk Islam. The European youth are rejecting that as well, and turning to Arab Islam or multinational Islam, as a way of finding an identity. Caldwell speaks of the second generation assimilating into a globalized Islam, driven by what they see as the suffering of Muslims around the world.

Muslims accuse the West of colonization, but in many respects, this is exactly what the Muslim immigrants are doing today to the West: They are coming to Europe in order to enjoy the benefits European society offers, but they have no intention to assimilate into the local culture.

Religious Reform

The world today is experiencing religious renewal, a renewal which is barely felt in Europe. Caldwell says that Europeans who do want to feel that renewal are more likely to choose Islam over Christianity. He ignores the data that he himself brings, that Christianity is experiencing a revival of sorts in Europe as well.

Caldwell rejects the notion that Christianity developed into today's enlightened version on its own. He says that European secularism was set up in order to combat Christianity. Whatever space was given to religion in the public sphere, it was a concession given in return for Christianity leaving the rest to the secular state.

Islam is being protected from the very process which developed Christianity. It is being protected from ridicule, from criticism, from academic study. Caldwell is talking about Europe, but I don't really see enough (or any) wish in the Muslim world to 'attack' Islam. Even if Islam would face criticism in the West, can it really change as long as it remains the same in Muslim dominated countries? I really don't know.

Caldwell is very dismissive of the idea of moderate Islam and moderate Muslims. Moderate Islam, at the moment, is a hope, not a fact. He says that the level of moderation of Muslims actually depends on their view of politics, rather than view of Islam.

Caldwell writes what I've said many times: Tariq Ramadan, who's considered a moderate Muslim, doesn't practice 'taqiya', he says exactly what he means. It is the Europeans (or the West), who prefer to interpret what he means in the most moderate way possible. Ramadan speaks of 'war', of 'resistance'. It is the Europeans who decide to understand this as 'peaceful reform'.

Ramadan speaks of 'Jihad' as a 'spiritual effort', but as his grandfather al-Banna - whom Ramadan quotes as an influence - says that Jihad of the mind and Jihad of the sword are two sides of the same coin. According to Caldwell, Tariq Ramadan and Pim Fortuyn both saw Islam in the same way - a religious value system which can easily overwhelm Europe. They just didn't agree on whether that's a good thing.

Caldwell is also critical of the idea that Islam is never a problem. What sort of religion requires expertise so as not to become dangerous? Caldwell dismissively says that there's no such thing as 'moderate protestants'. That is true, but there are 'fundamentalist protestants'. This brings up another point: by saying 'moderate Muslims', people are acknowledging that 'Islam', in itself, is not 'moderate'.

'Minority protectionism'

Caldwell speaks out against the laws designed to prevent Holocaust denial - once one group was specially 'protected', everybody else wanted in as well, if only to prove that they were just as important. This directly led to today's situation, where people can not voice their opinions on the issues of the day for fear of being sued.

As an aside, Europe's law to 'protect' the memory of the Holocaust did nothing to protect its victims. The Muslims today are cast as the 'new Jews' and the Jews as the 'new Nazis'. In France, Jewish students refuse to go to school since they're afraid of the jeers they'll hear during history lessons. Teaching the Holocaust is not helping its victims, and the Muslims seem to be unaware that they're the prime beneficiaries of Europe's guilt over the Holocaust. Instead we see what French philosopher Finkielkraut predicted: anti-racism is now becoming a source of violence.

After WWII nationalism became passe in Europe. However, the immigrants who soon started coming were usually encouraged to be proud of theirs. Caldwell theorizes that since Europeans could not embrace their own nationalism, they embraced that of others, and in particular that of the Palestinians. It's an interesting idea, though it seems to me that it was more a way of channeling repressed antisemitism than repressed nationalism.

Multiculturalism wasn't only an issue of repressed nationalism, it was/is also an issue of processing European guilt feelings over colonization. The only problem? Immigrants are flooding into all of Europe, not only to former colonial powers. The Brits might feel guilty for their escapades in South-East Asia, but the Swedes don't owe the Palestinians anything. And though the colonial powers might feel they owe the people of their former colonies, what do the Italian owe the Albanians, Egyptians or Moroccans? Or the Dutch to the Moroccans and Turks?

Mosques and sexual freedom

According to Caldwell there are two basic issues where the Europeans do say 'stop'. One is mosques. When Muslims build mosques, Europeans have to accept the fact that Islam is going to stay, and that's a very difficult thing for them to do. It had taken a few decades just to realize that the 'temporary' workers don't intend to go back.

Resistance to mosques is mostly a popular sentiment, not usually supported by the politicians. There is one 'value' supported even by the most multicultural European politician, and that's everything having to do with sexual freedom, whether it's the veil, or honor killings, or homosexuality. It's no coincidence that the one thing that caused the Norwegian government to threatened the Islamic Council of Norway with withdrawing subsidies was their refusal to condemn the death sentence for homosexuals.

The violence Muslim women face in order to make them comply with the 'norm' is not simple violence. In such cases violence makes law. One honor murder can cause thousands of women to comply with the 'honor' norms.

Caldwell points out that male dominated societies lay down codes of virginity because they are hard to live by. This enables the men to use women sexually without feeling guilty. They are raped/sexually abused etc because they are sluts, and they are sluts because they have been defined so by men. Again, I think Caldwell misses a basic point. There are many religious societies where virginity is prized. It is the societies where only female virginity is prized that things can turn really ugly for women.

Now the question is: is this Islam? Islam (unlike Christianity) is not totally at odds with the West's sexual practice of the day, and in Europe Islam can actually serve as a way out of this sexist culture. As I wrote above, young European Muslims are leaving their parents' cultures and assimilating into globalized Islam. One reason to do this is to escape their parent's notions of family honor and the place of women in society.

Sexual freedom is a highly regarded value in Europe, but Europeans sometimes have trouble putting their finger on what is really bothering them. Take the headscarf. Why can't women decide on their own what to wear? Are you really going to force a woman to be sexually free? For some reason, when it comes to sexual freedom, Europeans seem willing to sacrifice other liberal values.

Caldwell says that Europe should learn from the experience of Ottoman empire. The multi-ethnic and multicultural Ottoman empire was torn apart by Europeans coming to 'save' their brethren. I don't know if Caldwell intended to take things this far, but one could say that the same thing is happening in Europe today. The Muslim world is demanding rights for its Muslim brethren in the West, and threatening with sanctions if there's no compliance.

More on Caldwell:

* Hirsi Ali: Europe surrendered to Islam
* Quote: Reflections on the Revolution in Europe
* Quote: Europe is making concessions to Islam
* Christopher Caldwell on Fox News

UK: New measures against honor crimes

UK: New measures against honor crimes

Note the PC-speak: A Danish 'Asian' was attacked for having a relationship with a Muslim woman.


Hundreds of attacks are to be treated as 'honour' crimes in a new drive by police to prosecute more offenders.

Prosecutors hope the drive will also ensure that victims receive more rapid protection that can save them from possible further violence or a forced marriage.

Under the new guidance it will be assumed that an honour crime has been committed in any case in which there is the slightest sign that such an offence has taken place - even if the victim has not reported it.

Elements of the strategy are designed to ensure that potentially vital evidence of honour-based persecution is not overlooked.

It will include information for police and prosecutors on how to identify male victims amid concern that at least 15 per cent of cases involve attacks or forced marriage inflicted on men.

The horrific consequences of honour violence were highlighted by an attack in Leytonstone in July in which a 24-year-old Danish man of Asian origin had acid poured down his throat and was repeatedly stabbed because of his relationship with a Muslim woman.


Officers will also be instructed to look out for disabled victims in response to evidence that some people with learning difficulties are being pressed into marriages to help their new spouses gain entry to Britain.

The new approach will be unveiled tomorrow at a London conference organised by the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Crown Prosecution Service.

There will also be a new attempt to persuade victims of female genital mutilation to come forward following the failure of legislation passed six years ago to outlaw the practice to result in a single conviction.

Under the new approach, which mimics the detection techniques used to tackle race-hate crime following the Stephen Lawrence murder, reports from friends or relatives about possible honour violence will be taken seriously, even if the victim has failed to raise the alarm.

Other indications such as a girl's sudden disappearance from school will also be seen as significant.

Announcing the new measures, Nazir Afzal, the Crown Prosecution Service's legal director, said: 'It will be about making sure we look for the signs so that we don't miss cases.'


Source: Daily Mail (English)

Antwerp: Regularization counters closed after conflict between illegals and Jewish children

Antwerp: Regularization counters closed after conflict between illegals and Jewish children

On September 15th the Belgian gov't started a campaign to regularize new immigrants. The campaign is set to last until Dec 15. Illegal immigrants who are 'firmly rooted' in Belgium and who have been in Belgium for five years, or who have been in Belgium legally at some point or tried to be in the country legally, can now apply to become legal.

The gov't expects 50,000-80,000 illegals to get permits this time around, but an anonymous top official of the Belgian immigration department says that taking into account the expected 'follow-up' immigration, they should get about 350,000 new immigrants all together. The immigration service, on its part, rejected this number, and said it was "made-up and unfounded" and that it's job description doesn't include criticizing or questioning gov't decisions.

The Flemish naturalization minister wasn't happy about this campaign. Neither was the city of Antwerp, which is expected to get 25% of the regularization requests.

In Antwerp the city opened its regularization service last Tuesday, and closed it down (temporarily) Wednesday afternoon.


The (immigrant) regularization counters in Antwerp were temporarily closed down after a threat of a conflict last week between illegal immigrants and Jewish children who were playing nearby.

The counters were closed down Wednesday afternoon. "Our Flemish minister for naturalization, Geert Bourgeois, therefore had to postpone his work-visit to the Antwerp regularization counters by a day," says N-VA chairman Bart De Wever. He doesn't think that the Antwerp social services bureau will suppress the problem.

"Naturally [I] responded in shock to this news. It's a grave warning of the fact that we can expect problems there. The idea! That seeing Jewish children would be a threat."

Source: GvA (Dutch)

Netherlands: Highly educated Turks, Moroccans not impressed by the Dutch

Netherlands: Highly educated Turks, Moroccans not impressed by the Dutch

I previously reported about this study, but this article adds more information.


Highly educated Turkish and Moroccan second generation immigrants don't have a more positive attitude towards the Dutch than less educated immigrants. They do feel loyal to the Netherlands, but they're not exactly crazy about the Dutch.

This according to a study presented for a doctorate at Radboud University in Nijmegen by scientist Jochem Tolsma. It is known, says the scientist, that the tolerance of Dutch towards immigrants grows accordingly as the educational level increases, but it appears that the opposite is not true.

Highly educated immigrants use Dutch media and therefore have a better understand of the land in which they live. But in this media the Moroccan-Dutch in particular also see a lot of negative attention directed at their ethnic group, which according to Tolsma may explain why they in particular don't like the Dutch so much.

Tolsma summarizes this part of his study by asking: is the lack of integration due to the immigrant or the ethnic Dutch?

Source: AD (Dutch)

Flanders: 30% of teenage mothers are of foreign origin

Flanders: 30% of teenage mothers are of foreign origin

According to a study of teenage mothers in Flanders conducted by the Center for Social Policy Herman Deleeck at Antwerp University, 80% of the teenage mothers in Flanders became a mother when they were of majority age. The average age for teenage mothers is 18.7. The younger teenage mothers are more likely to have dropped out of school and not to be working.

A quarter of all teenage mothers in Flanders don't have Belgian citizenship, and this total increases to 30% if you include Belgian girls of foreign origin. This group is, on average, not as highly educated as the others. It consists mostly of Turkish and Moroccan girls (about 15%) and girls from Eastern Europe, mostly from the former Yugoslavia (about 10%).

Teenage mothers of Turkish and Moroccan mothers are married to their child's father more often then the ethnic Flemish. They are also more often inactive, which means they stay home and are more or less invisible.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

Copenhagen: Bikers vs. 'Youth'

Copenhagen: Bikers vs. 'Youth'

This was Politiken's title for this story: "Bikers and youths battle at court". The 'youth' are of course 'immigrants'. It's apparently not PC to say "Bikers vs. immigrants battle at court". Immigrants in Europe have found the fountain of youth. For all we know, the 'youth' might be older than the 'bikers', and yet they will always and forever be called 'youth'.


Fighting breaks out in front of Copenhagen Municipal Court which is hearing a case against youths who shot at a Hells Angel tattooist.

There have been tumultuous scenes outside the Copenhagen Municipal Court where youths used café fixtures as missiles, as the court inside dealt with a case involving immigrant youths charged with attempting to kill a Hells Angel.

Trouble broke out when members of the Hells Angels support group AK81 and immigrant youths arrived at the courthouse on Nytorv in Copenhagen.

"Café tables and chairs were thrown but no-one was seriously injured and we have not arrested anyone," the Duty Police Officer tells Ritzau.

Friends of those on trial also threatened journalists sent to cover the trial, but a police operation prevented the situation developing.

According to an eyewitness, a group of some eight young immigrant youths were waiting in front of the courthouse when five aggressive and vociferous bikers rounded the corner.

"The biker-types went straight onto the attack at the group in front of the courthouse with a baseball bat, chairs and tables – but the youths counterattacked," Ritzau quotes the witness as saying.


Source: Politiken (English)