EU: Most beautiful minaret contest

EU: Most beautiful minaret contest

COJEP International and IMCOSE (Muslim Initiative for European Social Cohesion) with the support of Council of Europe, ISESCO and Organisation of Islamic Conference have launching a contest to select the most beautiful existing Minaret in Europe through a photographic competition.

Mosques, with or without their minarets have been a permanent addition in the aesthetics of our urban landscapes. They are a reflection of the presence of the Muslim communities in our cities and in the company of other faiths and beliefs, convey a message of common living, peace and respect. It is however unfortunate, that lately some populist politicians and a section of media has made minarets an issue to curtail fundamental rights.

It is therefore important that the universal peaceful presence of Islam is visible and its followers are able to practice their religion openly as is the case with other religions. This photo contest is also intended to remove the misplaced fears and prejudices in European societies that Islam and Muslims undermine the Western values and cultures.
To participate, the mosques administrators in Europe must send photographs, highlighting their minaret as well as details on the specifications (height from the ground, width, date of construction, construction period, name of architect, etc.) before 15th April 2010.

This has resulted in attacks on ethnic and religious minorities and spreading of hate crimes against Muslim people in Europe. It is therefore important that the universal peaceful presence of Islam is visible and its followers are able to practice their religion openly as is the case with other religions. This photo contest is also intended to remove the misplaced fears and prejudices in European societies that Islam and Muslims undermine the Western values and cultures.

To participate, the mosques administrators in Europe must send photographs, highlighting their minaret as well as details on the specifications (height from the ground, width, date of construction, construction period, name of architect, etc.) before 15th April 2010.

The collected photos will first be reviewed to determine if they meet the selection criteria. The Jury which will be composed of personalities from different faiths and ethnicities and which will include people with different backgrounds will have the task of determining at a special meeting in Strasbourg on 19th April 2010.

The winners will be presented at a press conference to be held at the European Parliament on 20th April 2010. An exhibition of the most beautiful pictures of minarets and mosques will be held at the Council of Europe later this year.


Source: COJEP (English)

Norway: No follow-up on integration subsidies

Norway: No follow-up on integration subsidies

Since 1987, immigrant organizations in Norway have received 220 million kroner in public integration subsidies, but little was done to find out whether the money had any effect.

Aftenposten had gone through all the subsidy arrangements. There is no overall summary, but several hundred million kroner were given out.

Rogaland Research/Agder Resarch concluded in a report from 2007 that close to 80% of the organizations that received integration subsidies are ethnic-based. The subsidies were not really evaluated. The report says that there's a certain uncertainly as to what was achieved with those subsidies. The report concludes saying that third-parties close to the immigrant-based groups say that they're mostly composed of friends and acquaintances.

Fafo researcher Anne Britt Djuve worked on integration and immigration for years. She says that it can be better for immigrants to participate in an ethnic association rather than not being active at all. But, she says, if the integration subsidies are given to immigrant organizations so that they'll learn about Norwegian society, one can ask if this is sensible use of the money.

Every nationality has a great number of association, usually divided by links to towns in their homeland. Sometimes the dividing lines between organizations is tribal. In Oslo alone, 500 immigrant organizations have applied for public support in one form or another within the past decade. These include 54 Somali organizations, 46 Pakistani, 14 Turkish and 13 Tamil.

The number of immigrant organizations is increasing, and today there are about 1,000 organizations nationally. The subsidies are given both as money linked to the number of members in the organizations and as different forms of project subsidies for integration.

Millions of kroner given in public integration support were granted throughout the years so that immigrants will preserve their national and cultural identity: Vietnamese football association, Tamil radio, sports meetings for Tami children, Somali Christmas, Vietnamese New Year's, Finish mother's day, Polish children's club, Afghan Eid festivities and gatherings are some of the examples.

This was a deliberate policy from the government's side. But since 2009, the wish was to prioritize measures and activities across ethnic and national groups. But the integration support continues to be given to activities directed at their own ethnic groups. For example "soldier's day" for Vietnamese veterans and Albanian radio.

Aftenposten's review of the county reports to the Directory of Integration and Diversity (IMDi) shows often lacking and superficial reports of the effects of the subsidies. The counties are often at the mercy of the organization's own reports. The county's annual reports don't have many examples of 'active participation, diversity, dialog and trade' to point to.

According to Arne Thomassen, special adviser to the Akershus county, the reports are partially lacking. "Some are good, some are less good." he says, and particlalrly lacking are reports about participation in the projects.

The report from Rogaland Research/Agder Resarch shows that only one county visited the organizations that received financial support for activities.

Aslam Ahsan is one of those who received most support for integration projects through the organization "Resource Center for Pakistani Children". The organization has been shut down. "I think it's very weird that 4th generation immigration should get support for membership in an ethnic organization. If people want to take care of their own culture, it's up to them. It's not the state's problem. If people maintain such support, it doesn't look like integration, in any case. My experience is that the activities in these ethnic organizations stop at the door," he says.

Ahsan says that those who grant the money must see if such subsidies actually help integration. In order to become part of Norwegian society, people should participate in Norwegian venues.

Source: Aftenposten (Norwegian)

Norway: Iraqis accuse Child Welfare Agency of racism

Norway: Iraqis accuse Child Welfare Agency of racism

Several weeks ago an Iraqi couple, Musheer Nadheer Mustafa (36) and Khalidah Yaseen Al-Khalidi (33), abducted their three children. The children had been taken out of their home by the Child Welfare Agency. Two employees of the Child Welfare Agency had accompanied the children home for an arranged meeting with their parents. The social-workers were given something to make them drwosy, after twhich they were attacked, beaten up and tied up by a couple of people wearing masks. Apparently, those were the 15 year old brother of the children, and the father's brother. The brother and uncle later handed themselves over to the police.

Meanwhile the couple fled Norway with their three children. They were caught in Greece when they tried to cross over to the Turkey. They were supposedly on their way to Iraq.

The parents are now facing an extradition process from Greece. Their children (aged 6, 12 and 14) were already brought back to Norway. The Child Welfare Agency also took custody of their 15 year old brother. (NO, NO)


Norway divides Iraqi family
Al Jazeera TV, Qatar

Presenter, Female #1

9 Iraqi families and other immigrant families living in the Norwegian city of Trondheim are suffering because their children were taken away from them by a child welfare agency. Norwegian law allows the separation of children from their family if one or both of the parents are neglecting the children. The family of Doride al-Kubaisi and other families are accusing officials from the agency in some areas, including Trondheim, of being reckless and racist by abusing the agency’s legal authorities against immigrant families. Our reporter in Norway, Smer Shatara, went to Trondheim and visited the family of Doride al- Kubaisi that was separated from its two children.

Guest, Male #1

A year ago, I had two children. One was seven months old and the other was a year and a half. My daughter was in the hospital for two months with her mother. I was at home with my son. I spent my time between the hospital and my home. On Dec 23rd, I was surprised by a large number of police officers who raided our home. They arrested me and took the child. At the same time, they also raided my wife’s hospital room and arrested her. We were shocked. It was a catastrophe. During the investigation, they asked me very strange questions. For example, they told me that there were signs showing that my daughter’s hands and legs were deliberately twisted. Another report said that I was crazy.

Guest, Male # 2

There have been many incidents with the child welfare agency, which has made immigrants feel that they are guilty until proven innocent. Immigrants face a somewhat difficult situation here. Everyone is afraid because they feel that one day their turn will come and their children will be taken away from them.

Guest, Male #1

The child welfare agency has racist employees and they target the Iraqi community.

Guest, Male # 2

The whole Iraqi community was affected by the story of Doride because he is well-known in the Muslim and Arab communities. He is known as a calm and straight-forward person who has happy family. When they called me and told me that Doride and his wife are in prison, I was surprised. I was asking myself, what were they imprisoned for? When we looked into the story, we realized that many things were not true, that they were illusions. In some cases, entire families were destroyed based simply on suspicion. This can’t happen.


Source: Link TV (English)

Netherlands: Crown-Prince studied Islam

Netherlands: Crown-Prince studied Islam

So to speak.


Dutch crown-prince Willem-Alexander has been working for years on his image, with some success, according to a new biography.

In 2008 and 2009 Willem-Alexander studied Islam for a year and a half. He read various parts of the Koran in the Bible club which has been meeting monthly since 1992, led by Carel ter Linden, the Reverend who conducted his wedding.

In the biography "Willem IV, from prince to king" Tel Linden say: "We read various fragments from the Koran. We watched the movie 'Fitna' by Geert Wilders. From time to time Wessles (Prof. Anton Wessels, researcher of religion and Islam) came by to answer the necessary questions. Also imam Abdulwahid van Bommel was our guest one time. We visited a service in the Rotterdam mosque ,which was explained by him. That topic kept us busy and the prince also read the necessary book, so that one of us once said jokingly: 'why should we ask Wessels, we have Alex, no?'

Prince Willem-Alexander as an Islam expert: this side of the Crown Prince was unknown till now. But with 1 million Muslim subjects, it's obvious that the future king would also study this religion. At the same time, Geert Wilders can also be happy: the Crown Prince is not bothered also getting to know about his view of Islam.

Source: Trouw (Dutch)

Liverpool: Police officers to protect hijab-girls on buses

Liverpool: Police officers to protect hijab-girls on buses

POLICE officers are being drafted on to Merseyside school buses to stop Muslim pupils being racially abused.

The problems centre around verbal attacks on hijab- wearing girls at West Derby’s Holly Lodge Girls’ College. Last night, bus drivers who are accused of refusing to stop for the veil-wearing Muslim pupils in order to avoid trouble were also branded “racist”.

The Daily Post can reveal police officers will now board the buses to protect the school girls from the “racist” taunts of other passengers.

A probe was launched after concerned female members of Liverpool’s Muslim community highlighted the abuse of pupils travelling to Holly Lodge to police.

Police chiefs have since held talks with travel authority Merseytravel and the Muslim community.

Complaints are contained within a Merseyside Police Authority report that “young Muslim women are targeted by racists on the way to Holly Lodge School” and “often buses won’t stop” for the girls “easily identified by their veils”.

Merseyside police last night said community police officers would now board buses in the area to deter the racism and would work with city schools to remind pupils “racial abuse is a criminal offence.”

But police stressed the issue of drivers failing to stop for the girls was a matter for Merseytravel.

Merseytravel said it condemned “all acts of racism” and, after probing the claims, has “now drawn up an action plan to deal with and prevent any further incidents”. It was not, however, able to release details of the measures which might be implemented.

Members of the Muslim community said the problem was a long-running one.


Source: Liverpool Daily Post

Norway: Debate on headscarf in school continues

Norway: Debate on headscarf in school continues

Loveleen Rihel Brenna has seen parents beat their girls when they discovered that they've taken off their hijab on the way to school.

"When I worked in the Children's Protection Service, I myself saw parents who beat their daughter who on the way to school have taken off their hijab," says Loveleen Rihel Brenna.

She the head of the parent's committee for elementary schools, integration adviser and member of the Women's panel which was established in February by the Children and Equality minister Audun Lysbakken.

"I think girls who want to wear the hijab should have the option to do it - also in school. But the minute girls have parents forcing them to wear the hijab, we must have a debate about wearing it. The way I see it, banning and coercion are just as wrong," says Brenna.

She wants to discuss the issue on the Women's panel, which consists of 31 women whose goal is to set the agenda on equality and integration.

PM Jens Stoltenberg told NRK yesterday that he didn't want a national ban on hijab in school, and that individual schools and municipality are most suitable to regulate it on their own. Earlier this week FrP's Siv Jensen made it clear she wants to ban the burka in public. She also wants to ban the hijab in school. Education minister Kristin Halvorsen (SV) says she doesn't want hijab for children of elementary school age.

"This debate is going by the premises of the majority. Women should discuss the issue, not least of all mothers, says Loveleen Rihel Brenna. She knows families where both wearing the hijab and not wearing it are accepted.

"I've met two sisters, one wears the hijab, while the other has put it away," she says.

Ny Krohnborg school is the school in Bergen with the most other-culture students. Principal Atle Fasteland has long thought there should be a ban on hijab in the school, and is skeptical about the possibility of an individual school or municipality making that decision.

Fasteland says that the hijab shows religious belonging, identity and a certain view of women's place in society. This is about helps the aims of good education and positive integration. Everybody should have the same options of developing, and for many teh hijab can be a hindrance.

At the same time he says that many of the most capable students are girls who wear the hijab. "But then I must also ask as principal if that's because these girls don't participate in other areas," says Fasteland He think it could easily develop into only-hijab schools in the question would be decided locally.

"Parents who want their daughters to wear the hijab will send them to schools that allow wearing it," says Fasteland.

In Oslo there are many schools where minority-speaking students are in the majority. Many of the principals of thee schools are skeptical about a hijab ban.

Anne Myhrvold, principal of the Gran school where 90% of the students are of minority background, told Dagsavisen that she doesn't support coercion, and that an open debate is better than a ban. Hijab doesn't cause us problems, she says.

Source: Aftneposten (Norwegian)

Yemen: Norwegian citizen arrested on terrorism charges (UPDATED)

Yemen: Norwegian citizen arrested on terrorism charges

Update: There's apparently an EU-wide push against the PKK. Ten Turks and one Italian nationals were arrested in Italy, on charges of recruiting and training PKK terrorists. (EN)


In other terrorism news, a Somali arrested in the Netherlands is fighting extradition to the US (h/t R., more here, Netherlands: American Somali arrested on terrorism charges). More recently, the Netherlands also arrested Hasan Adir, a Kurd suspected of being a leader of the KKK. (h/t Turkish Digest)


A 50 year old Norwegian citizen, who according to the UN might be linked to al-Qaeda, was arrested in Yemen on January 31.

He's the only Norwegian citizen on the UN Security Council's terror list.

According to, the man came to Norway in 1988, became a Norwegian citizen in 1995, and left the country in 1997.

The man was on his way from Dubai to the capital of San'a when he was arrested at the airport.

"I'm very afraid that he might be tortured," says the man's brother.

The man's wife in Yemen notified the Norwegian consulate in the capital that her husband was arrested.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Marte Lerberg Kopstad told VG Nett that they hadn't gotten any information about it and that the consul general will follow it up.

The 50 year old is on the UN list of "Specially Designated Global Terrorists" from January 25th, but the UN site does not have sufficient information on why he's on the terror list.

Kopstad says that the list also includes one other person who lives in Norway, but who isn't a Norwegian citizen - Mullah Krekar.

The Foreign Ministry says they will check in the arrested Norwegian needs help.

"But it's also important that this man emigrated from Norway 13 years ago and doesn't have the same claim for follow-up support as people who live abroad for shorter periods have," emphasizes Kopstad.

She says that since they haven't been contacted by the man himself, and he hasn't been in Norway for 13 years, it's not certain he wants help from the Norwegian authorities.

On Saturday the Norwegian foreign ministry got confirmation from the Yemeni authorities that a person with a Norwegian passport was arrested at the airport.

Source: VG (Norwegian)

Norway: Pakistani gangs want revenge for woman's murder

Norway: Pakistani gangs want revenge for woman's murder

Håvard Nyfløt (25) killed Faiza Ashraf for the money, in order to pay off debts. Nyfløt told the police that he killed her in the car, there there were no tracks found in his car. He apparently didn't know Faiza had a cellphone, by which she called the police and informed them of her abduction.

The 28 year old Norwegian-Pakistani taxi driver who ordered the killing pressured Nyfløt, saying he would harm a person close to Nyfløt if Nyfløt wouldn't pay back.

More on this story:
* Norway: Woman abducted
* Norway: After three weeks, woman's body found

The news that the kidnapped Faiza Ashraf had been found dead in Asker spread quickly through the Pakistani community, already before the police had their press conference.

Several people contacted Dagbladet and told of revenge plans from the criminal Norwegian-Pakistani communities in Oslo.

"There's a price for the head of the people who did this. They will be killed. This comes from the Pakistani communities. The minute they get to prison, they will be killed. Nobody does this to a Pakistani girl and gets away with it," said an anonymous caller to the Dagbladet tips hot-line.

Famous people linked to the gang community also told, without being asked, how upset they are.

"That man won't have it good in jail, no matter where he ends up. Nobody tolerates this," says a convicted Norwegian-Pakistani to Dagbladet.

He says the feeling in the community is very aggressive against the suspected killers, also among people who didn't know Faiza personally. The reason being that the murder is seen as an attack against an innocent Norwegian-Pakistani girl - carried out by a Norwegian man with money being the only motive.

Several people are now trying to get detailed information about the suspect, and the police must consider the imprisonment conditions carefully one the men are taken out of isolation.

"I expect the police and prison authorities to ensure the safety of my client,' tthe 25 year old's lawyer, Peder Morset, told Dagbladet. He didn't want to comment further on the threats.

Experts on gang crime by the Oslo police have already made it clear that none of those involved in the Faiza-case have connections to the Norwegian-Pakistani gangs.

Nobody in the Asker police was available for comment on the safety question.

Sources: Dagbladet, VG (Norwegian)

Denmark: Newspaper apologizes for offending Muslims

Denmark: Newspaper apologizes for offending Muslims

Politiken say this apology will not prevent them from publishing the cartoons in the future. If so, is there really a difference between this current apology and Jyllands-Posten's apology for offending Muslims?

Still, it's hard to see why Politiken felt the need to apologize now for something they did in 2008, particularly when they claim they're apologizing but don't intend to change their behavior by it.


As the first newspaper to do so, the Politiken newspaper has reached a settlement with descendants of the Prophet Mohammed in connection with the affront its re-print of drawings of the Prophet Mohammed in 2008 may have caused Muslims.

The settlement was reached between Politiken and eight organisations representing 94,923 of the Prophet Mohammed’s descendants in a move Politiken’s Editor-in-Chief Tøger Seidenfaden says shows that dialogue is the way forward.

“The settlement looks ahead and expresses very sensible views. It may possibly reduce the tensions that have shown themselves to be so resilient. It gives us hope that relations between Denmark, and not least its media, and the Muslim world can be improved,” Seidenfaden says, adding he does not believe Politikens move is a freedom of speech sellout.

Under the settlement, Politiken has not given up its right to publish the cartoons and does not apologise for having printed them, but rather for the affront felt by some Muslims.

Lawyer Faisal Yamani, who entered into the settlement on behalf of the descendants of the Prophet Mohammed says the settlement is a good one.

“This is a good settlement. It would be wrong to speak of a victory. Both parties have reached the point where they understand the background to what has happened. Politiken is courageous in apologizing, even though its was not their intention to offend anyone,” Yamani says.

Danish politicians have condemned the move.

“It’s crazy. The media carries offensive material every day. That is what freedom of speech is about,” says Social Democratic Leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt. Socialist People’s Party Leader Villy Søvndal says that “freedom of speech is not up for negotiation”.

The Danish People’s Party Leader Pia Kjærsgaard says she is ‘speechless’ in finding words to express how absurd the situation is.

“It is deeply, deeply embarrassing that Tøger Seidenfaden has sold out of Denmark’s and the West’s freedom of speech. I cannot distance myself enough from this total sell-out to this doctrine,” Kjærsgaard says.


Berlingske Tidende, Jyllands-Posten and Kristeligt Dagblad are some of the media that have received Yamani’s letter. Tha Saudi lawyer hopes that these media will show interest in a settlement, but the three newspapers have told Politiken that they have no interest in a settlement in which they apologise.

MorgenAvisen Jyllands-Posten’s Editor-in-Chief Jørn Mikkelsen says it is regrettable that Politiken has folded, instead of continuing the case with the other newspapers.

“Politiken has betrayed the battle for freedom of speech. They’ve given up and bowed to threats. That is, of course, disgraceful,” Mikkelsen says.


See the joint press release and Politiken's statement:

As part of Politiken's news coverage of Mr Kurt Westergaard's cartoon drawing of the Prophet Mohammed ("the Cartoon Drawing"), first published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005, Politiken reprinted the Cartoon Drawing.

Politiken has never intended to reprint the Cartoon Drawing as a statement of editorial opinion or values but merely as part of the newspaper's news coverage.

It was never Politiken's intention to offend Muslims in Denmark or elsewhere with the reprinting of the Cartoon Drawing.

However, Politiken recognizes and deplores that our reprinting of the Cartoon Drawing of the Prophet Mohammed has offended Muslims in Denmark and in other countries around the world.

We apologize to anyone who was offended by our decision to reprint the Cartoon Drawing.

Source: Politiken (English)

Libya: Gaddafi calls for jihad against Switzerland

Libya: Gaddafi calls for jihad against Switzerland

This follows the latest round of the Libya-Switzerland spat, following the arrest of Gaddafi's son in Switzerland in 2008.


Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi has called for a "holy war", or jihad, against Switzerland, the AFP news service reported on Thursday.

During a speech in Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city, Gaddafi declared Switzerland "faithless" and a country of infidels who have "destroyed Allah's house".

In November, Switzerland voted to ban the construction of new minarets in a nationwide vote that raised eyebrows around the world. The rightwing Swiss People's Party and a conservative Christian group were behind the campaign.

Switzerland's foreign ministry has explained to Muslim leaders that the vote was not against Islam and that freedom of worship is still in place.

In the past Gaddafi called for Switzerland to be dissolved. Each of its language regions should be absorbed by neighbouring countries, he said.


Source: SwissInfo (English)

Netherlands: Islam should be respected, says.. Wilders

Netherlands: Islam should be respected, says.. Wilders

The Dutch PVV party is poised to become one of the largest parties in the next parliamentary elections, leading at least one Dutch politician to call for a 'government boycott' of the party, as is the case with Vlaams Belang in Belgium.

The Dutch Dagelijkse Standaard blog dug up the following quote from Geert Wilders, when he appeared on the Barend en Van Dorp show on September 24th, 2001, just after the 9/11 attacks.

Politicians, just like anybody else, can change their minds. I think the more important point is that in 2001 Wilders claimed that if you attack Islam, you are also attacking Muslims, while today Wilders claims, particularly in his court case, that one doesn't necessarily imply the other.

The video is available on YouTube (in Dutch):

"I've made it clear from the beginning that I.. that the VVD has nothing against Islam. It's not about a religion. Contrary to Pim Fortuyn who calls for a crusade, or whatever it is, a cold war against Islam, which is a reprehensible comment, because it lumps all Muslims together, I've said from the beginning: there's nothing wrong with Islam, it's a religion which should be respected. Also most Muslims in the world, but also in the Netherlands, are good citizens and there's nothing wrong with them. It's about that small bit of Muslim extremism. (...) I don't target Islam because it's Islam, on the contrary, I have nothing against Islam. But the fact is that there's extremism in the world, and that nine times out of ten, it's Islam."

Wilders has seen the clip and said in reply that nine years ago he was under the yoke of VVD leaders Van Aartsen and Dijkstal, and that there was a reason he left the VVD. Wilders left the VVD in 2004 and in 2006 established his own party, the PVV. He has since called Islam a 'reprehensible ideology'.

In response Hans Dijkstal says that Wilders was always free to voice his opinion.

Sources: Dagelijkse Standaard, ND (Dutch)

Germany: Court suspends Kurdish TV ban

Germany: Court suspends Kurdish TV ban

A Kurdish satellite television channel won its court case Thursday against the German government, which had tried to close down the channel, Roj TV, after a request from the Turkish government. A tribunal in Leipzig effectively suspended the ban, asking the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg to rule on the case instead. Roj TV is based in Denmark, but its main audience comprises immigrants in Germany.

Germany's Interior Ministry had earlier warned Roj TV it had no legal right to beam its satellite broadcasts down into the country because it backs the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), a group defined as terrorist under both Turkish and German law.

The tribunal said those allegations were valid - but it transpired Germany had no power under European Union law to interfere in operations of a broadcasting enterprise incorporated in Denmark.

Judges said EU broadcasting law meant that it was up to Denmark to supervise Roj, which means "day" in the Kurdish language. Germany could only have shut down the channel if it had issued the broadcast licence in the first place.


Source: EarthTimes (English), h/t Turkish Digest

Moscow: Muslim Slums Breeding Grounds for Despair

Moscow: Muslim Slums Breeding Grounds for Despair

An increasing number of Muslim guest workers in the Russian capital “are living in inhuman conditions, suffering from cold, hunger and disease,” harassed by government officials, and largely ignored by the traditional Muslim hierarchies, a combination that is turning them into breeding grounds for despair and possible radicalization.

In a report carried on the portal, Rustam Dzhalilov describes the settlement of Chelobityevo, where some 3,000 Muslims from Central Asia, whose misfortunes people in Moscow “either do not know or do not want to know,” live only 200 meters from the Garden Ring Road.

Many of the buildings there are little more than crude huts, the journalist notes, assembled from found materials, lack any indoor plumbing or heating and often have as many as ten people to a room. The migrants there at one point did manage to purchase an electric generator, but militia officers took it away.

Dzhalilov spoke with Firuza, a woman from Kyrgyzstan living in one of the huts with her three children. She and her husband came to Russia to work 12 years ago, but then six years later, the family lost its apartment and took to sleeping in a Moscow railway station. Shortly thereafter, they came to Chelobityevo and built the hut she lives in now.

Her husband continued to work at a construction site, but then he suffered an accident and had to return home to Tajikistan. “But [Firuza] could not return: There was no home, apartment or means for existence” for her there. As a result, she remains in the settlement with two teenage boys and a 6-year-old daughter. None of them are in school.


Dzhalilov writes that he left Chelobityeva “with a heavy heart,” recognizing that after “20 years” of “a capitalist economic system,” most Russians have become indifferent to the fate of anyone except themselves and react with indifference even to those who have “to live in a cardboard box” as many in this settlement on the outskirts of Moscow do.

But he says that he is appalled by Russia’s Muslim “leaders.” The latter, he adds, are not real “representatives” of the umma “or defenders and exponents of [its] interests. Only Muslims themselves, voluntarily following the injunctions of their faith, can form unions that will be concerned about the interests of the entire umma, including those” in places like Chelobityeva.

Source: The Moscow Times (English), h/t EuropeNews

Poland: New mosque being built with Saudi financing (UPDATED)

Poland: New mosque being built with Saudi financing

Update: More on the Polish Muslim League and its ties to the Muslim Brotherhood at the Global MB Report.

The Muslim League in Poland is building a modern, three-story mosque near the centre of Warsaw.

The Centre of Islamic Culture, designed by KAPS Architekci, will be located in the close vicinity of the Blue City shopping centre, at the Zeslancow Syberyjskich roundabout just to the west of the city centre.

The three-story building will have an 18-metre high minaret. But the characteristic sound of prayer will not be heard drifting over the city.

“A muezin’s call for prayer will be heard only in a prayer room, not outside,” says Samir Ismail, head of the Muslim League in Poland. Apart from a prayer room, the centre will consist of a library with a multimedia room, art gallery, restaurant, café and shop. “We will pray there and make Poles aware that Islam is a moderate religion,” says Ismail.

The construction of the mosque will be mainly financed by a Saudi investor but the League does not want to reveal who it is or what the cost of the investment will be.


Source: TheNews (English)

Norway: After three weeks, woman's body found

Norway: After three weeks, woman's body found

Update on this story: Norway: Woman abducted

Not really mentioned in the article, but I understand the 25 year old is Norwegian.

There had been various theories during the past three weeks. One was that Faiza had 'set up' her abduction. As it turns out, she had been abducted and killed.


Faiza Ashraf was found dead last night in a grove next to a popular ski run in Solli, Asker. The 26 year old had been missing for three weeks.

The 25 year old suspect's statements led to the police breakthrough last night. After deny any connection to the case since he his arrest, he put all the cards on the table yesterday.

At a news conference Thursday the police said that he confessed to kidnapping and killing Faiza Ashraf. He also gave a detailed statement on where he had dumped her. The police found the place at 11pm in a tourist area in Solli, Asker.

Nina Bjørlo of the Asker og Bærum police district didn't want to comment in detail on where the body was found, but according to Faiza Ashraf was found in the grove shown here.

VG Nett reports that the body wasn't visible when police arrived, and the police say that she was buried under both snow and earth.

The forensic technicians worked at the scene throughout the night and in the morning the body was taken away.

The police now charged the 25 year old with premeditated murder, and the 28 year old Norwegian-Pakistani with being an accessory to murder. They think the 28 year old, who had been madly in love with Faiza, had ordered her abduction.

The 28 year old's lawyer, Petter Sørensen, told VG Nett that he has been in touch with his client, but can't say much at this point.

Sørensen says that his client was informed of the new development and that he was confronted with it in an interrogation yesterday.

The family's lawyer said in the press conference that they received the news that night.

"It's difficult to describe with words what this family has lived through the past three weeks, and the dreadful news that they received last night," he said.

The lawyer says that when the father saw the police coming to the door, his first reaction was "now they're coming with Faiza".

"They didn't do that," says Stabell.

The family is asking to be left alone.

"They have small consolation in all this, that they know what had happened. Now they also know that she hasn't suffered in the past three weeks," he says.

Petter Sørensen says that his 28 year old Norwegian Pakistani client had been madly in love with Faiza, but she wasn't interested in a relationship, and she told him so clearly.

There has been some SMS contact between them recently: he sent her messages and she answered him back telling him to go to hell.

Sources: VG 1, 2 (Norwegian)

UK: Two hundred terror arrests made last year

UK: Two hundred terror arrests made last year

A total of 201 people were arrested on suspicion of terrorism last year, Home Office figures showed today.

Of those, 66 were eventually charged, 17 under terror laws.

In the year ending September 2009 there were 200,444 people stopped and searched under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, down 12% on the previous year.

The number of terrorism arrests is slightly up on last year, when 178 arrests were made.

There have been 1,759 terrorism arrests since September 11 2001, the figures show.

For the year ending September 11 2009, of the 66 people charged, 17 (26%) were charged under terrorism legislation while seven (11%) were charged with terrorism-related offences.

The most common charge under terror laws since 2001 is possession of an article for terrorism purposes (30%) and fundraising (14%).

The charge rate of 33% is just above that for indictable offences, which is 29%.


Some 15% of those stopped classified themselves as Asian or Asian British and 10% said they were black or black British.

The arrest rate resulting from searches under Section 44, which must take place within a designated area, was just 0.5%, with 965 people detained.

The Metropolitan Police also made 1,896 stop and searches under Section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which allows an officer to stop a person they suspect to be a terrorist.

One in five of those stopped identified themselves as being Asian.


Source: Independent (English)

Germany: Court installs foot-washing basins

Germany: Court installs foot-washing basins

Foot-washing basins for Muslims have been installed in the high-security wing of the Düsseldorf court. This would enable the followers of the Koran to follow their religious rituals during the trial.

By request of JUNGEN FREIHEIT, court spokesperson Ulrich Eggert confirmed the report in the Rheinischen Post. He justified it saying that in the past toilets have been stopped up with toilet paper and used for feet washing.

Eggert says that in order to remedy the situation, the new court building has special foot washing basins in the bathrooms. The Düsseldorf court was in the over the past week, when Christian crosses were taken down due to the neutrality requirement.

The German Islamic Council has spoken out against the removal of crosses from German courts. Chairman Ali Kizilkaya said that the Western traditions which have developed over millennium all deserve the respect that people give their symbols. He said he was convinced that a cross on the wall does not prevent any judge from judging according to German law.

Source: Junge Freiheit (German), h/t NRP

Related story: Frankfurt: Hospital removes crosses

Italy: Catholic Church to do 'outreach' to illegal immigrants

Italy: Catholic Church to do 'outreach' to illegal immigrants

The Catholic Church needs to make an even bigger effort to reach out to immigrants who land on the shores of southern Italy, the Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI) said Wednesday.

In a new document on the Church's role in the South, the CEI emphasized the need for "urgent new forms of outreach" directed at immigrants who see southern Italy as a "land of hope".

It called the south an "ecclesiastic laboratory" where the Church hopes to teach immigrants about its values by extending them "hospitality and aid".

The CEI said the Church's work with immigrants also helped further interfaith dialogue.


Source: Life in Italy (English)

Vienna: Experiences teaching a language-course

Vienna: Experiences teaching a language-course

Barbara Coudenhove-Kalergi, a well-known German journalist, writes about her experiences following a year of teaching German to headscarf-wearing women in Vienna. Coudenhove-Kalergi recounts numerous anecdotes, some humorous, some wistful, as she and her Muslim students gradually get to know one another better thanks to a program called "Mama's learning German."

Though originally intended to be a language course, Coudenhove-Kalergi finds herself explaining the Christian origins of Christmas and taking her students, baby strollers and all, on a field trip to the famous St. Stephen's Cathedral. While the children light candles and place them on an alter, she discovers that her Muslim students (whether from Bangladesh, Tunisia or Turkey) have no problems with Christianity – it's rather the general atmosphere of 'godlessness' in Austrian society which renders them uneasy.

Coudenhove-Kalergi acknowledges the reality of their "parallel society," though shows herself to be rather sympathetic. For these women, most of whom arrived in the country as immigrant brides following a very brief courtship in their home countries, their lives consist of their homes, the park, the supermarket and the mosque. In general, there are few opportunities for them to come into contact with local Austrians.

In response to this, one of her colleagues set up a "Mama Café," held once a month and open to students, teachers, and outside guests (as long as female). Here Coudenhove-Kalergi is shocked as she sees Hollywood-style wedding pictures from her Muslim students and hears how all the women had the right to refuse their suitors – one Egyptian woman having turned down two men before accepting the third.



Norway: Education minister against hijab in elementary school

Norway: Education minister against hijab in elementary school

Norwegian Eduction Minister Kristin Halvorsen (SV, Socialists) wants hijabs out of elementary schools.

"I think children-hijab are absolutely undesirable, because it hampers the children's development and their chances of making independent choices," Halvorsen told Dagbladet.

Helga Pedersen (Ap, Labor) told Dagbladet yesterday that she would consider a ban on hijab in elementary schools. The proposal is already supported by the FrP (Progress Party)

The SV leader and education minister makes it clear that she's reticent about a ban, but doesn't hide that she's against the Muslim head-dress.

"Hijab in elementary school in Norway is something that appeared in recent years. I see it as coercion of small children, and it hinders them from participating equally with other children in Norwegian schools," says Halvorsen.

She says that she's travelled a lot in Muslim countries and that hijab for little girls is in no way common there.

"I can't see that there's any religious reason for putting hijab on little girls. Neither is it a tradition in Muslim countries to treat little girls like adult women," says Halvorsen.

Q: But can't the hijab be seen simply as a fashion. Other children in Norway also dress differently now than they did 20 years ago?

A: Some girls will certainly want to dress as adult women do, but neither do I think that seven year old girls should go with high-heels. Hijab for little girls should be seen as a sign which is chosen so that they'll be apart and not be included," says Halvorsen.

Q: Why do you think, then, that parent choose to have their daughter wear a hijab?

The education minister answers that she first wants the parents who do this to explain why they choose this, and that she's afraid it's a social sign that people want stricter control over their children's choices.

She is aware her proposal can start a fire. "It can be some people will be provoked by this, but we should deal with that. It's important that we as a society say clearly that we don't want this," says Halvorsen.

Still, she's not sure a ban is the way to go about this.

"A ban on clothing is alien to a liberal society. A ban can additionally lead to communities shutting themselves even more and that more Muslims will send their children to Muslim schools where hijab is allowed. There's absolutely no wish for such a development," says Halvorsen.

But yet she doesn't want to denounce the debate on a ban on the hijab in elementary school, which is now ongoing in her own party in Oslo.

"The important thing is that we as a society should be clear that we don't want hijab in elementary schools, not the discussion on whether it should be banned or not," says Halvorsen.

She also says that she's only talking about the hijab for children of elementary school age.

"I don't want to be part in any way of the stigmatizing of adult women's use of the hijab. Adult women should make their own choices," says Halvorsen.

Source: Dagbladet (Norwegian)

Frankfurt: Hospital removes crosses

Frankfurt: Hospital removes crosses

A German hospital removed twelve crosses, supposedly due to objections from Muslim patients, Christian German news agency Idea reported Tuesday.

Workers in the Bad Soden hospital near Frankfurt took off the crosses from the wall in front of the patients and put them in trash bags, which led to criticism by patients.

Director Helmuth Hahn-Klimroth had his employees do the job with the required prudence.  Crosses aren't considered common furnishings in a  general hospital, according to the director.

The crosses come from the surgical department of a hospital which was Roman Catholic till 1974.  At the request of the employees the|C crosses stayed on the walls after the hospital turned into a general hospital.  In September the department moved to Bad Soden.  After complaints by two patients, the nursing staff decided to remove the crosses, says the director.

Deken Eberhard Kühn of the Evangelical Church in Bad Soden says it would have been better if the crosses had stayed on the walls.  "A crucifix in a hospital room doesn't mean for a Muslim that his recovery is in danger."  The cross is more of a sign that attention is given to the soul of the patient as well, says Kühn.

At the request of the employees, a cross was kept in the employee area.  The question of what to do with the removed crosses will be discussed with the hospital chaplains.

Source: Reformatorisch Dagblad (Dutch), h/t NRP

Brussels: Ethnic Albanians seeking asylum

Brussels: Ethnic Albanians seeking asylum

About 334 Macedonians and about the same number of Serbs have signed up as refugees in February, a historic peak.  The massive flood is causing suspicion or an organized network, says Le Soir.  The asylum seekers believe they have a right to shelter and meals, as well as welfare.

On December 19th the EU, with the exception of the UK and Ireland, opened its border to residents of Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia, and dropped the visa requirement.

Like most other Western European countries, Belgium got many ethnic Albanians passing through.  They are fleeing the situation in their area, the border-zone between Macedonia and Serbia, and are attracted by the Belgian asylum policy, which they see as very tolerant.

Dirk Van den Bulck, Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons: "In the past they needed a visa or turned to smuggling routes, which was of course much more expensive.  Now they have the possibility to make their trip very cheap."

Since there's a very real chance that their asylum request would be turned down, the refugees run a double risk of losing, says Van den Bulck.  They must invest a certain budget for their trip, and when they get to Belgium they usually end up on the street.  There's no place in the refugee shelters of Fedasil (the federal refugee agency), and the refugees are referred to municipal welfare offices.

Van den Bulck is concerned about the credibility of the Belgian asylum procedure.  "This flood is crowding out other asylum requests.  After an analysis of the profile of these refugees we're going to deal with the files as quickly as possible.  Both here and in their homeland we're going to start a campaign which makes it clear that an asylum request in their case is doomed to fail."

The Foreigner Service is taking the situation seriously and in cooperation with State Secretary Melchior Wathelet has opened an investigation.

Source: De Standaard (Dutch)

Norway: Immigrants, Muslims portrayed negatively in the media

Norway: Immigrants, Muslims portrayed negatively in the media

The IMDI report is available here (in Norwegian)


The Directorate of Integration and Diversity (IMDI) published a report on Tuesday "Immigrants in Norwegian media: Media caused Islam fear and invisible day to day life", a detailed report on how immigrants are portrayed in Norwegian media.

The report shows that in 2009 there were just as many reports about Islam and Muslims (77,000) as there were about PM Jens Stoltenberg, and more than about the swine flu (74,000).

71% of all media reports focusing on immigration or integration were assessed as problem-oriented.

There's increased attention to religion, and especially to Islam, the report shows, and large focus on people from Somalia. Less visible in the media are the part of the integration efforts which are going well.

Somalis were the immigrant group most talked about, and that was often linked to crime, cultural practices and 'lacking integration'. Muslims and Somalis were portrayed particularly biased and negatively.

The conclusion shows that these immigrant group experience the most discrimination. 80% of those who have lived in Norway for a long time say they feel integrated, but 50% also feel discriminated.

IMDI says that when talking of immigrants who did anything criminal, their immigrant background is often brought up. Immigrants who do well in sports or culture are, on the hand, described as 'Norewgian'. The report says that while most of the government's integration effort are directed at getting immigrants to learn Norwegian and economically independent. The media coverage rarely corresponds to what the government thinks is important for good integration.

"Immigrants" and "Norwegians" are often used as opposites. Since the media is the most important source for information about immigrants, IMDI is critically questioning the media and its work.

Asmund Kalheim of IMDI thinks the report warns that a negative media picture of a group of a nationality over time contribute to creating negative attitudes which can lead to increased discrimination.

The report was published with help from representatives of academia, media and people of immigrant background.

Kalheim says he's surprised that Islam is more important for the media than swine-flu, education, children's welfare and environmental and climate issues. Even Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize didn't reach that level, he says.

But, he adds, he's not surprised that the media logic focuses on sensation, dramatics and showing the most extreme on every side of the debate.

Kalheim says they see a change in the media coverage. While in the past they focused on where people came from, now's there more focus on their religion.

"There's much pointing to the fact that this is an international trend. That there's increased attention to Islam and Muslims, and that this attention is mostly negative," he says.

"Firstly, it must be a little sad for Jens Stoltenberg that Islam and Muslims are named more than him. He should be present more in the integration debate," says Trude Ringheim, Dagbladet commentator.

She agrees that the press is occupied by hijab and Islam. She says it's negative and stigmatizing in several ways, but that she also thinks there has been a lot of good informational pieces in the past year.

The report says that more than 70% of the articles were conflict-oriented. Kalheim says only a small percentage of the reports were resource-oriented or neutral (11%).

Q: But isn't it normal that the press is conflict oriented?

A: Yes, in any case for tabloid papers. To get us to write more about common, normal and pleasant day to day life, is probably a lost case. But I agree that there are many amusing, good stories we should tell. She should be more out there. And we should tell the stories of those who come to Norway, about their whole lives. And set their lives in greater perspective, something we're not good enough in doing today."

Kalheim says that the IMDI isn't trying to do media criticism, but rather society-analysis and self-criticism.

"On the social level we're concerned about warning against a development where a colossal negative media description overall of a group of a national contribute to creating negative attitudes which can be dangerous in the sense that it leads to increased discrimination - that more people are discriminated relating to residence, work and other ways. It's unacceptable and it's an undesired development."

He says various immigrants, especially Somalis and other Muslims, say they experience this type of discrimination.

"There are various Muslims and Somalis who say that it's exactly what's happening, and that's a warning sign for a diverse society," says Kalheim.

Mazyar Keshvari of the Progress Party in Oslo, defends the media. Keshvari says that they're simplifying the debate too much when they just count the positive and negative stories. There are also ethnic Norwegians who are described most negatively.

He thinks the press won't be doing their job if they hide the actual circumstances when it comes to immigrants.

"Since IMDI are concerned by statistics, they could look at statistics for participation in the job market or aggravated rapes. All the aggravated rapes in Oslo last year were committed by non-Western immigrants. It's the media's job to report on this, if not they would be doing their job," Keshvari told Nettavisen

Sources: TV2 Nyhetene, Nettavisen, NTB info (Norwegian)

Scotland: Muslims tackle Islamic far-right

Scotland: Muslims tackle Islamic far-right

The British National Party and the Scottish Defence League often portray Islam as a separatist Trojan horse inside Britain – a religion of shadowy conspirators plotting to bring the county to its knees.

But Scottish Muslims are now setting out to take a stronger role in civic society, determined to do away with the negative image of Islam that is being pushed by the far-right and challenge the extremist doctrine promoted by zealots such as Omar Bakri or Abu Hamza.

Shaykh Amer Jamil, an Islamic scholar from Glasgow, has promised to wipe out what he sees as dangerous misinterpretations of his religion.

Using arguments taken directly from the Koran, he is demolishing misguided attempts to justify domestic violence, within fringe elements of the Muslim community.

He has also embarked on a project to educate Scottish Muslims about the true meaning of the word “jihad”, which is so often misunderstood.

He is distributing 12,000 pamphlets around Scottish mosques, reminding Muslims that jihad does not just mean holy war, but can mean “personal struggle”. The campaign will continue throughout the year and he will issue further pamphlets on issues such as forced marriage.

He said: “Some people come out and condemn terrorism or domestic violence, but never from a scholarly perspective. I wrote this leaflet so it is readable by anyone. It is not an academic piece that only five people can read. I set out to rebut negative arguments in such a scholastic way that there is no way of arguing against it.”


His effort is part of a wider trend among Muslim communities, as young people take an increasingly proactive stance in the society around them, reconciling their faith with their responsibilities as Scottish, British and European citizens.

For instance, in Edinburgh yesterday, classes were cancelled at the central mosque so women and children could take part in the protests against the Scottish Defence League – that did not happen during the SDL’s Glasgow protest.

Osama Saeed, of the Scottish-Islamic Foundation, one of the organisers of Scotland United, said the increased turnout reflected a “new wave” of Muslims determined to get involved in civic society.


Source: Herald Scotland, h/t Islam in Britain

Norway: Parliament member against Muslim taxi drivers

Norway: Parliament member against Muslim taxi drivers

Ulf Erik Knudsen, parliament member for the Norwegian Progress Party, has joined the Facebook group "we demand non-Muslim taxi drivers".

Knudsen says he joined the group to show that freedom of speech should be protected. He points to the Muslim taxi drivers protest in Oslo on Feb. 6th, when they stopped working in protest of Dagbladet printing the Mohammed cartoons. That the drivers did this shows that they don't respect freedom of speech, thinks Knudsen.

"When it comes to rapes in Oslo, it has happened several times that the attacker is of Muslim background, while the victim has been of Western or Norwegian background," he told NRK.

The group says it's a direct threat to get into a taxi with a Muslim driver, and the group demands the right to live life in safety from criminals.

Q: Would you rather see that there won't be any Muslim taxi drivers?

A: That was the most stupidest question. I think it's not worthy of a comment, answers Knudsen.

Lise Christoffersen, immigration policy spokesperson for the Labor Party thinks Knudsen has crossed the line. She says it's almost as if people can't take it seriously, it looks so far out.

Knudsen later left the group. He said that after NRK drew his attention to some of what the group wrote, he couldn't stay there. However, he says he joined as a protest against those who protested against freedom of speech, but it's clear that some of the group members support things he himself doesn't.

The group had 64 members Tuesday morning, and a few hours later, when NTB checked again, it had 94.

Source: VG 1 , 2(Norwegian)

Russia: Estonia becoming transit point for illegal immigration

Russia: Estonia becoming transit point for illegal immigration

Russian border and migration officials estimate that there are about 20,000 illegal immigrants near Estonian and Latvian borders whose destination is Finland or other Scandinavian countries and who attempt to get there through the Baltic states.

They say that if Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania wish to keep those illegal immigrants outside their borders they need to close all loopholes that they may use for illegal border crossing.

Estonian police and border guard board agrees that Estonia is becoming an important transit point for smuggling illegal immigrants, especially Afghans, Syrians and Palestinians to Scandinavia.


After Finnish authorities informed Estonian border guard service that the number of illegal immigrants arriving from Estonia was increasing, Estonian authorities started active inspections and in two months detained more than ten Afghans and Palestinians who were travelling to Tallinn from Riga by intercity coach and who had either forged IDs or none.


According to informed sources, illegal immigrants pay up to 15,000 US dollars per person for the right to get to the West. They sell everything, are taken first to Russia and then to the Baltic border zone.


Source: Baltic Business News (English)

Germany: Jewish leader warns of Muslim antisemitism

Germany: Jewish leader warns of Muslim antisemitism

In a related story, Imam Sabahattin Türkyilmaz of the Shiite Hazrat Fatima Zehra mosque in Frankfurt resigned all his positions in the mosque this week, saying he did so in order to protect the community, the blessed mosque, to protect all the families involved, the Muslims of the city and to protect - although now damaged - dialog. The Christian Democrats in the city said they thought it was the logical step, since the Islamic community was not in a position to refute the allegations against their imam.

The resignation followed a TV report about the imam's participation in an anti-Israel demonstration in Berlin on al-Quds Day several years ago, where he marched with demonstrators who cried "Death, death to Israel". In a speech he gave at a different demonstration he called in Arabic that "we belong tot he community of Hezbollah", and he expressed anti-Israel sentiments in a Friday sermon, quoting the Ayatollah Khomeini's speech against Israel.

The imam had accused the news program of conducting a smear campaign against him. (DE, DE)


The vice chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, warns of increasing antisemitism among Muslim immigrants. Especially among youth of Arab origins it's 'frightfully high', says Graumann in the latest edition of the German magazine 'Focus'. There's no point in denying it or in sidestepping the issue.

It's particularly the Muslim communities who would be served by curbing the anti-Jewish sentiments among Muslims, according to Graumann. Although their representatives make official statements against antisemitism, they don't do enough among their own people.

"If they'll make more of an effort, the Muslim communities would win much more credibility," according to the vice chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

Source: Katholiek Nieuwsblad (Dutch), h/t NRP

Amsterdam: Moroccans burglarizing each other

Amsterdam: Moroccans burglarizing each other

Moroccan residents of Amsterdam are increasingly breaking into each other's houses, for example to steal dowries.

According to Joke Padmos, spokesperson of the Slotervaart district, this is really a new trend.  "It's alarming how much the number of home burglaries is rising.  Part of it is due to shops being better secured, but it also has to do here with the phenomenon of Moroccans breaking into each other's houses.  They know, for example, that there was a wedding and go looking for the dowry."

According to Padmos, district mayor Marcouch has gotten letters from other parts of the country about this problem.  Meanwhile, she says that things are going very well in the neighborhood when it comes to muggings and breaking into cars.  "The number of muggings has been halved and breaking into cars has almost disappeared from the scene.  But those house burglaries are therefore a problem and we'll now deal with that."

1,400 families in Sloterparkwijk were provided with anti-burglary liquid, with lets them spray valuables with micro-dots of synthetic DNA.

If the police locates the stolen goods, the microdots, which can be seen with a microscope, show who's the rightful owner.

Padmos says that they'll make it extensively clear that the valuables in these houses are marked.  There would be stickers on the windows and signs in the neighborhood.  It then won't be attractive for thieves to break-in.  There would also be less people willing to buy the stuff.

Such projects in Rotterdam, Utrecht and Venray lead to an average decrease in break-ins of 50%.

The number of burglaries in Sloterparkwijk increased last year by 67%.  Padmos say that the anti-burgalry fluid is just the first step.  "We looking at how we can renovate these houses and want to improve local employment in the neighborhood.  People rarely have links with the neighborhood and each other.  There's poor social control.  We get way too few reports that there's a suspicious car in front of a house or that somebody or that someobdy is entering a house by ladder."

A ton of the fluid was needed for the 1,400 families.  That money was given by the district and by the Eigen Haard and Alliantie housing companies.

Source: De Telegraaf (Dutch)

Opinion: Why don't the Jews join us?

Opinion: Why don't the Jews join us?

An orthodox Jewish reader once asked me why Islam-critics criticize EVERYTHING about Islam. Why do they criticize the religious aspects and don't just focus on violent Islamic ideology? 

Keep this question in mind as you read this.

A recent article in The Daily Telegraph brings a story which is repeated in various ways across Europe.  Malmö, Sweden, is the city with one of the highest proportion of Muslim residents, and its small Jewish community is fleeing an increase in Muslim antisemitic attacks.

Various anti-Islam, Islam-critical, counter-Jihad etc blogs and activists expect Jews to stand with them against the Muslims.  But Jews don't always do so, and, sometimes, for good reason.     

I do not deny the threat of Muslim antisemitism.  But why put the Jews on the spot?  When anti-Islam protesters wave Israeli flags, they might want to show that they're not antisemitic.  They might want to make the Muslims mad.  But what they're actually doing is focusing the hatred at the Jews.  The Jews are a tiny minority in Europe, and one which has been through quite a lot.  Why put them on the spot more than anybody else, and certainly more than any other endangered minority?

On the other hand, I do not think the only threat comes from Muslim antisemitism.

Jews face various threats, one of them being Muslim antisemitism.  Aside from that, Jews also suffer from Christian antisemitism, general European foreigner-rejection, and the possibility of genocide by proxy with the goading of the far left.  Even if they would be accepted with open arms, Jews face two much more serious threats.

The first is the threat of assimilation.  It's been called the 'Silent Holocaust'.  As Jews become more and more like their non-Jewish neighbors, as they reject ancient religious traditions and accept liberal values instead, they face the prospect of losing their Jewish identity.     

And now, another threat appears on the horizon.  Championed by the Islam-critics, European countries are starting to consider banning basic Jewish traditions.  Female modesty, boy's circumcision, kosher food, the sanctity of the Sabbath and Jewish holidays - all are being put on the chopping block.     

I've written this in the past, and I will say it again: if circumcision and kosher food would be criminalized in Europe, Orthodox Jewry would disappear from Europe almost immediately.  The core of Jewish life would disappear completely.  Non-religious Jews would stay on and keep on being Jewish, but statistics show us that their grand-grandchildren have a very small chance of identifying as Jews and an almost zero chance of being Jewish according to Jewish law.  If there would be no religious Jewish community, they would have nothing to return to, either.

Judaism is not just a faith.  Jewish religious law is a way of life.  It is aimed at ensuring that Jews remain a separate, un-assimilable group among the nations.   As the Book of Esther describes the Jews: 'There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from those of every people; neither keep they the king's laws.. "  In the Biblical story, the Jews face physical destruction, but today they face an additional threat, that of having their culture disappear.

And now, as has been the case throughout much of their history, Jews are finding themselves once again caught between a rock and hard place.  When the French get all worked up about a restaurant deciding to sell halal food, when Europeans get upset at Turkish PM Erdogan for urging German and Belgian Turks to integrate but not to assimilate, when the Swiss and Austrians pass laws on what a house of worship should look like, what does that tell the Jews? 

Are Europeans fighting violent Muslim ideology, or are they fighting any religious community which refuses to assimilate?  Must Jews be forced to choose between physical attacks and spiritual decline?   

The Jews of Malmö might be leaving now because of antisemitic attacks, but they would leave even faster if Sweden would prevent them from practicing their religion.  These questions are not theoretical.  When elections in Belgium fell on a Jewish holiday, Orthodox Jews were fined for refusing to show up for poll-station duty.  Politicians in both Sweden and Switzerland are discussing banning circumcision and ritual slaughter.  Various countries are discussing banning head-covering for women.   The irony is that Islam can be much more flexible than Judaism when it comes to religious requirements.  Ban circumcision, and Muslims won't have a major problem, but Jews would be forced out. 

When you criticize Islam for being more than just a faith, for seeing itself as a nation, for having religious courts, for having laws about the most mundane aspects of daily life, for having demands on modesty, for having ritual slaughter, and for circumcising young boys: Keep in mind that Judaism has all that and more.

So what really bothers you?

Norway: Sparse showing for anti-'9/11 threat' demonstration

Norway: Sparse showing for anti-'9/11 threat' demonstration

See here for more on this story: Norway: Muslims to demonstrate against '9/11 threat'

This is the second attempt by Norwegian Muslims to protest against terror threats and terror attacks.  The previous one followed the attack on Kurt Westergaard, and barely anybody showed up for that too.

Mohyeldeen Mohammad has meanwhile returned to his studies in Saudi Arabia and told Norwegian news services that he's not sure he'll come back.


"We disagree with Dagbladet printing the Muhammed illustration, but we hate terrorism.  We should not threaten anybody even if we disagree with what others do.  We live in a peaceful land, where we can speak freely and therefore disagree with Muslims who threaten others into silence," says Avian Arif, who was among hte organizers of the Larvik demonstration, which was organized as a counter-balance against the statements of Mohyeldeen Mohammad Friday more than a week ago.

Nine demonstrators met up, and twice as many press people, at the square in Larvik Monday afternoon.

"Actually we were supposed to be over 50, but another Muslim in Larvik sent out an SMS that the demonstration was canceled," Avia Arif told

The peaceful demonstration was held in the snowy town With posters saying "We want peaceful coexistence in Norway", "we want mutual respect and understanding" and "what was the aim of printing of the caricature illustrations", the

Source: Aftenposten (Norwegian)

Russia: Muslims set up Supreme Coordinating Council

Russia: Muslims set up Supreme Coordinating Council

Representatives of three centralized Islamic organizations of Russia agreed to establish the Supreme Coordinating Council of Russian Muslims.

Representatives of the Central Muslim Board of Russia, the Council of Muftis of Russia and Coordinating Center of Muslims of the North Caucasus at the session of joint working group in Moscow chaired by Petersburg Mufti Jafar Ponchayev unanimously supported CMBR head Talgat Tajuddin as he proposed setting up the Supreme Coordination Council of Russian Muslims without forming a legal entity, an Interfax-Religion correspondent reports.

"Recognizing absolute necessity to unite Muslim Ummah (community – IF), the working group considers inacceptable and impossible to set up a one religious Muslim organization at the present moment," the working group said in its statement conveyed to journalists.

The participants unanimously rejected the idea of convening All-Russian Muslim Congress and electing a "Muslim Patriarch."


Source: Interfax (English)

Norway: Muslims to demonstrate against '9/11 threat'

Norway: Muslims to demonstrate against '9/11 threat'

In other news, police in Bodø in Norther Norway, removed a Muhammad cartoon sign Friday night (picture here).  Police say they responded to the possible traffic hazard the sign, which was hung from a bridge above the busiest road in the city, could cause.

Per Youssef Alsiddique, a Norwegian convert who spoke in the anti-Dagbladet demonstration in Oslo, says he's been harassed since hten.  He doesn't intend to report them to the police, though, since he doesn't feel there's anything serious behind them.

Mohyeldeen Mohammad has meanwhile left Norway and gone to Saudi Arabia to continue his Sharia studies.

His father, Hamad Ebrahim Belal Mohammad, was interviewed this week, and said that they participated in the demonstration because of the lack of freedom for Muslims in Norway, and that the responses to his son's statements show that Muslims are treated as second-grade citizens.

As to his son's warning of a Norwegian 9/11, Mohammad says that the media is overdoing it, and that his son only repeated what the security services are saying.  He says he doesn't support Bin Laden, but asked about what his son said about mujahidun, Taliban and al-Shabaab he answered: "We are Muslims.  We support those who are oppressed, not those who oppress.  Everybody has a right to defend themselves."


On Monday Muslims in Larvik are planning a demonstration to denounce the statements of Mohyeldeen Mohammad.

"He doesn't represent us," say the organizers, reports Østlands-Posten.

In a press release, the organizer urge Muslims who live in Larvik to meet for a protest march in Larvik to demonstrate against the statements that Mohyeldeen Mohammad (24) of Larvik made in recent days.

"We wish to show that the statements aren't representative of the majority of Muslims in Larvik and Norway.  His statements on threatening the country with terrorism, implementing Islamic laws in Norway and stoning gays to death are unacceptable and we think it's important to say that he's rather alone with these points of views," say Malika Hamarash and Ahmad Siddiq Umar, who are the organizers of the demonstrations.  Both are Muslims from Larvik.

They say Muslims in Norway are just a complex a group as all other groups.

"We are afraid the massive media coverage of Mohammad will lead to a stigmatized and one-dimensional image of us.  We are just as afraid of his statements as all others," the two say.

The demonstration is planned for 2:30 pm on Monday.

Muslim Larvik-politician Hiam Al-chirout is uncertain whether this is the most productive way to go about this.  She think it's been clear in recent weeks that many reject [Mohammad's statements], and says that there's more of a need for dialog within the community rather than a demonstration.

"I know that Muslims in Larvik disagree and that there are certainly some who support Mohammad's statements," Al-Chirout
told Dagbladet.

Al-Chirout, who is a mother tongue teacher and municipal representative for SV, was herself asking to lead the demonstration. She turned it down.

"I don't want to participate in this demonstration.  I myself disagree with Mohyeldeen's statements, but I think of his family who live in the city, and who have done nothing wrong.  His mother needs consolation now, she doesn't need the city's residents to go against her son in a demonstration," says Al-Chirout.

Al-Chirout points out that the community in Larvik is small and that everybody knows everybody.  She has nothing against people going to Oslo to demonstrate, but is uncertain of the consequences of such an event in Larvik.

"Here we meet each other at the shop and know who lives where.  It can be difficult to deal with daily life after such a demonstration," she says.

The SV politician has been behind several dialog meetings between Muslims in Larvik, and work hard for friendship and understanding across borders.

"Tomorrow I will speak with the organizers of the demonstration, to discuss what are the best means to work further on the issue in Larvik," says Al-Chirout.

Larvik has 42,000 residents and Al-Chirout thinks about 800 are Muslim.

She says there are Kurds, Arabs, Somalis, Sudanese and Albanians and that many of them have differing views on things.

She disagrees with Dagbladet's printing of the Muhammad cartoon, but doesn't understand why Mohyeldeen Mohammad can speak as he does.

"I was shocked when I heard what he said during the demonstration in Oslo. But I don't think he means everything he says.  We foreigners can some times have mistaken word-usage, and in this way we can be misunderstood.  We can toss out words without thinking about what we're saying"

Sources: AN, Aftenposten 1, 2; Dagbladet 1, 2; VG (Norwegian)

Copenhagen: Demands to cut funds for organizers of Khalid Yasin visit

Copenhagen: Demands to cut funds for organizers of Khalid Yasin visit

Sheikh Khalid Yasin visited the Netherlands last year, where he also provoked controversy (though much of it wasn't his fault):
* Netherlands: Controversy over arrival of preacher
* Netherlands: Khalid Yasin on Wilders
* Netherlands: A controversial talk by a controversial speaker


A member of the Red-Green Alliance Party in Copenhagen had to be escorted away from an immigrant meeting in Nørrebro after being threatened.

The only thing Jaleh Tavakoli did was to insist on seating with her husband - though there were gender-segregated sitting places in the sports hall, where the controversial American imam Sheikh Khalid Yasin was supposed to speak.

Jalah Tavakoli, an Iraqi immigrant, told that towards the end there were maybe 50 people around her, calling her whore, fat pig and several threatening her with violence. It was really scary, she says, and all because she wanted to sit next to her husband. "I tried arguing that they also sat next to women on the bus, but they shouted and threatened only louder and louder."

In the end she called up the police, because she felt threatened.

The police had to escort them out and drive them away, since emotions were so high. They only took down the name of the young man who threatened with violence, and she says she would lodge a complaint against him on Monday. It was really shocking, says Jaleh Tavakoli.


Meanwhile, the Social Democrats, Red-Green Alliance and Danish People's Party demand an investigation into whether municipal money was used for Fridays' event, where Sheikh Khalid Yasin urged the youth of Nørrebro away from the gang wars.

According to the invitation, the event was aimed at the youth in the Blågaards Plads area in an attempt to prevent them from joining the gangs in the area. Khalid Yasin, who in the past argued for death sentence for gays, called women's equality a delusion and described the September 11 attacks and the AIDS virus as American conspiracies, was the main speaker.

The Social Democrats were critical. Mette Reissmann, political spokesperson, said that the imam's view were clearly something that the municipality rejected, and that it's counterproductive that a person with such view would be held up as an example for young people. In no way do we want to support such things.

Jaleh Tavakoli or the Red-Green Alliance , also rejected the Viden om Islam (Knowing about Islam) event.

"It's a good idea to try and get the youth in Nørrebro away from the gangs. But an event with people with extreme views on gays and women is certainly not a good solution," says Jaleh Tavakoli.

Finn Rudaizky of the Danish People's Party demanded that the integration alderman Klaus Bondam (R) deal with the issue. Bondam refused to comment on the imam's visit.

Finn Rudaizky said that there's no rhyme or reason to having Khalid Alsubei, who was formerly the controversial head of the father's group, so much so that the municipality felt the need to stop working with him, hire a gay-hating American imam who speaks against equality and for the death sentence for gays. It needs to be stopped soon, and he therefore hopes that Klaus Bondam would stop all support for the Nørrebronx project, which is now so openly abused to promote radicalization of young people, which should be helped out of the gang community.

The meeting with Khalid Yasin, for which about 200 young Muslims signed up for, was arranged by Viden om Islam (VIOMIS), which talks to young Muslims about Islam.

One of the leading figures in VIOMIS is Khalid Alsubeihi, who is also head of the Nørrebronx association, which arranges youth clubs and sports activities for youth in Nørrebro. Nørrebronx received 1.2 million Danish kroner this year in public support from the Copenhagen Municipality, and Nørrebronx is located at Rantzausgade 23D - the same address as VIOMIS.

On the event's webiste and on the invitation, which Khalid Alsubeihi sent out about Friday's event, Nørrebronx and VIOMIS appear as joint organizers together with Khalid Yasin. And Korsgadehallen, the hall where the event was held, which is co-sponsored by municipal funds, said that the event was booked by Nørrebronx.

The Social Democrats want to investigate whether the event was fincned with municpal funds.

"We supported Nørrebronx in its work in keeping youth away from crime, and we supported in in the form of funds for its operation. It's clear that funds shouldn't go to support events with an American imam with such controversial views," said Mette Reissmann. She said she will ask the culture and leisure committee to check what role Nørrebronx played in this event.

Khalid Alsubehi assured Berlingske Tidende that Nørrebronx money didn't go to the Friday event, but he acknowledged and regretted that he mixed his two positions together on the imam-meeting invitation.

The Social Democrats and Red-Green Alliance nonetheless want to have the issue investigated.

Mette Reissmann says it's annoying that things get mixed up in this way and that the municipality does not want to support such events in any way. They never intended to support Nørrebronx so that they'll send invitations for such an event.

Sources: BT 1, 2 (Danish)