Denmark: Boys and bilingual kids begin school late

The article uses the term "bilingual kids", but I did not understand whether this means real bilingual kids - ie, kids who speak two languages at home, or kids who speak one language at home and will pick the majority society language when they're outside.

The statistics are a bit confusing in this article since they talk about two groups which overlap - boys and bilingual kids. However, while 93.1% of kids start school on time, only 3.5% of bilingual kids do so.

An increasing number of boys and bilingual children break government regulations by being kept out of school until after they reach the age of five.

The Socialist People's Party (SF) and the preschool teachers' union BUPL are warning the government against trying to push children to start school earlier.

Their warnings come on the heels of a study by the IT Centre for Education and Research that finds that 16.9 percent of parents choose to wait a year before starting their children in school.

Nearly twice as many boys started later than girls, and bilingual children weighed heavily in the statistics, though some 3.5 percent of bilingual children did start before the age of five.

A lot of parents postpone their children's start in schoolm, so the children¿are better prepared to start learning, according to Pedersen, the president of BUPL.

The minister of education, Bertel Haarder, called the trend 'worrisome' and called on parents not to delay their children's school start.

Compared with other countries, such as England, Danish children start school relatively late, staying in¿day-care centres¿until the age of five and beginning in kindergarten at six.

Source: Jyllands-posten (English)

Denmark: Literary competition for immigrants

A writing competition for immigrants hopes to add a new accent to Danish literary voices The borders of Danish literature have been opened to immigration with a writing contest sponsored by two of the nation's oldest and largest producers of the written word.

The idea for a literature competition for people with a different cultural background than Danish came about after daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende ran a series of articles that cast a light on the lack of foreign voices in Danish media, according to Jacob Høyer, cultural editor for Berlingske Tidende.

'In neighbouring countries, such as in Sweden and in Britain, there are lots of authors with different ethnic backgrounds. We don't have that in Denmark,' explained Høyer. 'We are missing out on some interesting stories concerning life, love, loss, globalisation, and the meeting between Islam and Western cultures.'

The literature competition, co-sponsored by Gyldendal publishers, is directed at people capable of writing in Danish. But according to Høyer the language doesn't necessarily have to be standard Danish, 'we're also open for Danish with a Pakistani accent.'

The submitted stories will be judged by a jury consisting of Jens Andersen, the literature editor at Berlingske Tidende, author Naja Marie Aidt, and author and lecturer Rushy Rashid Højbjerg.

Source: Jyllands-posten (English)

Paris riots (again)

Youths fought running battles with hundreds of police in a north Paris suburb in the early hours of yesterday, burning cars and attacking the home of the conservative mayor in the worst disturbances since last year's urban riots.

The violence erupted as the interior minister and presidential hopeful, Nicolas Sarkozy, prepared to present his proposed law on delinquency to parliament next month to try to curb criminality among France's disillusioned youth.

Mr Sarkozy wants to give more power to mayors to deal with troublesome teenagers. But yesterday morning on the rundown Bosquets estate in Montfermeil, Seine Saint Denis, where street signs had been ripped up and decaying tower blocks bore hundreds of graffiti tags saying "fuck the police", many said Mr Sarkozy's proposals had already backfired.

The violence began on Monday afternoon after the arrest of a teenager suspected of attacking a bus driver. The attack was witnessed by the local mayor, Xavier Lemoine, from Mr Sarkozy's ruling UMP party, who gave evidence to police. Mr Lemoine, started a row last month when he banned teenagers aged 15 to 18 from going out in groups of more than three, and ordered under-16s to be accompanied by an adult in public. A court overturned the ban after protests from civil liberties groups.

On Monday night, youths opposed to the mayor began burning cars on the Bosquets estate. At least 150, many hooded and with baseball bats, fought riot police for more than four hours, petrol-bombing buildings and smashing the windows of the town hall before gathering outside the mayor's house, which they pelted with bricks.

"Around 100 hooded youths stoned my home shouting 'the mayor is a son of a bitch'," Mr Lemoine, a former naval officer with seven children, told Le Monde. His home and family have been targeted recently and he was under police guard.

Seven police officers were injured and six arrests were made. The violence also spread to neighbouring estates in Clichy-sous-Bois, where last November's riots began. During those riots, more than 9,000 vehicles and dozens of public buildings and businesses in France's poor suburbs were torched. The government invoked emergency powers to quell what was the worst unrest in the country for 40 years.

Michel Thooris, secretary general of the Action Police CFTC union, said the violence was "the strongest aftershock of the earthquake of November 2005".

Source: Guardian (English)

Germany: Potential women suicide bombers

According to this article, these may have been the first non-Muslim women prepared to die for the sake of Islam.

German authorities may have thwarted suicide bomb attacks in Iraq by German women. According to intelligence sources, three women were prevented from travelling to Iraq after one of them had announced she planned to blow herself up in Iraq.

SPIEGEL ONLINE has learned that German intelligence agencies have prevented three German women from travelling to Iraq in recent weeks. The women, who have close contacts to the Islamist scene in Germany and at least one whom has converted to Islam, came to the attention of intelligence agencies after one of them had announced on an Internet site that she intended to blow herself and her child up in Iraq.

After the Web posting were spotted, Germany's domestic and foreign intelligence agencies mounted an intense search for the three women. One of them was located in Berlin, the other two are believed to come from southern Germany. The Berlin woman's child was taken away from her and she has been put in a psychiatric clinic. The two other women were also prevented from leaving Germany. One of them is also believed to have a child.

It's not clear yet how serious the women were about their claims and how far their plans for an attack had progressed. There has been no official confirmation. Well-informed sources say the women have had contacts with sympathizers of Ansar al Islam, a militant group linked to al-Qaida and suspected of smuggling suicide bombers from Germany to Iraq. The group is also suspected of raising money for the resistance to the US-led forces in Iraq.

There have been several such cases in the past and German security officials have long been worried that Islamic militants are increasingly recruiting young Muslims with German passports for suicide attacks.

It has become almost routine for foreign bombers to be used in Iraq. But the use of European citizens could be a new and dangerous trend. Last November a female Belgian convert blew herself up near Baghdad.

Source: Spiegel (English)

Update June 1st, 2006

More info given on Deutsche Welle, see More info on German suicide bombers
See also: Belgian Blows herself up in Iraq, Belgian police raid homes in probe of Iraq suicide bomber, More Belgian suicide bombers, European women and Islam

Netherlands: 'honor' murder in the popular arts

The issue of murder for the sake of protecting a family's honor seems to be popping up in various 'popular arts' forums around the Netherlands.

A recent episode on "16 miljoen rechters" (16 million judges) featured a case of 'honor' murder. The show is based on real cases and after a short reconstruction, gives time for the audience to debate a question of law and then vote on it.

The original case was of a 16 year old Afghani girl who was strangled by her father on Feb. 15th, 2001 because she had sex before marriage and her boyfriend refused to marry her. The mother of the girl participated in the crime, bringing her daughter to her own mother's house, and staying around during the murder itself. She did not intervene and later went back home with her husband.

The mother was found guilty of being an accessory to murder and sentenced to 7 years in prison, which on appeal was brought down to 6 years.

For the show itself, the family became Iranian, but otherwise the facts stayed the same. The family didn't look very religious on the show though, as I've seen commented on some Muslim sites - the mother wears no veil.

The audience, btw, found the mother guilty by an overwhelming majority (95%).

The topic is also brought up in a new theater production by Theater Vandenbulck in Den Bosch. "Vreemd" (alien, foreign) is a musical play that tells the story of Juul, a girl who'd been murdered for 'honor'. Juul relives her life, going back to her falling in love, being warned and then being killed.

Sources: VARA (Dutch), Rechtspraak (Dutch), Brabants Dagblad (Dutch)

Hunger strikes against deportation

In Belgium, 71 asylum seekers protesting at the a Brussels refugee center were brought the hospital for medical care after it was decided that they are endangering their lives. Some of the protesters had been hunger-striking for 35 days. The refugees will be returned to the refugee center on condition that they don't resume their strike.

In Oslo, a new hunger strike had just started.

More than 20 young would-be refugees from Afghanistan now fear that Oslo police will take steps to end a hunger strike they began over the weekend.

The 23 Afghans launched their hunger strike on Friday. Since then, they've been sitting or lying in a tent set up outside the Oslo Cathedral in the heart of downtown.

They're protesting the final rejection of their appeals for asylum in Norway. Huddled under blankets to ward off the spring chill, they say they're refusing food and drink until Norwegian immigration authorities change their minds and let them stay in the country.

That appears unlikely. Their applications for asylum didn't meet criteria, and all 23 were ordered to leave the country.

All were offered transportation home and some so-called "start capital" to ease resettlement back in Afghanistan. Only three others accepted.

Now the hunger strikers fear the police, who so far have left them in peace, will intervene and forcibly escort them out of Norway.

Meanwhile, new figures from the Norwegian Immigration Service show that 64% of asylum seekers will be approved this year, as compared to 45% last year.

Sources: Aftenposten (English), De Standaard (Dutch)

Update May 31st, 2006:

Now the hunger strikers fear the police, who so far have left them in peace, will intervene and forcibly escort them out of Norway. Their numbers grew to 39 in three tents on Tuesday, and worried church officials in the adjacent cathedral said they were standing by to help if needed.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

Danish Imams Key to Social Harmony

Imams in Denmark are believed to be playing a pivotal role in resolving disputes and squabbles in Muslim-populated areas of the Scandinavian country.

"We are trying our best to project a positive image of Islam and Muslims in Denmark," Imam Ghassan Edwan told

"We are helping police maintain order in areas densely populated by Muslims, but we don't interfere in their business," he stressed.

Edwan said that imams basically focus on social problems.

Danish daily Politiken highlighted in a report on Sunday, May 28, the key social role of imams in the country's three biggest cities of Copenhagen, Aarhus and Odense.

Manu Sareen, a Copenhagen municipality integration adviser, told the paper that imams impressively serve as intermediaries to resolve a lot of everyday social problems facing Muslims at a request from Danish authorities.

Inge Leingaard, a University of Aarhus researcher, said many Muslims tend to iron out their differences themselves thanks to imams' intervention.

Lars Bro, a local police chief in Aarhus, said imams were doing police a big favor.

"They spare us a lot of extra work and I really appreciate that," he told the daily.


Edwan said their good offices appeal to many Muslims nationwide.

"Danish Muslims, especially the second generation, hold imams at high esteem and appreciate the role we are playing," he said. [note: I assume the 2nd generation hold imams at higher esteem because they are more religious]

The imam hoped that Danish authorities would do more to enhance their cooperation with imams in the future.

"I wish that the government would prove more forthcoming and help us in our integration efforts, which strike the right balance between our Islamic identity and Danish values," he noted.

Imams in Denmark have been under fire from government circles on charges of triggering the controversy that erupted earlier this year over the publication of cartoons lampooning Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

Denmark's Deputy Prime Minister Bendt Bendtsen in March called for the expulsion of several imams on the same ground.

The imams hit back, arguing that they had to "internationalize" the cartoons issue after their complaints to the government fell on deaf ears.

Source: Islam Online (English)

Denmark: Lecture on Jihad in Europe

The Danish Institute for International Studies will have a lecture on Jihad in Europe by Lorenzo Vidino.

Jihad in Europe: The New Battleground of the International Jihad
Friday, 9 June 2006, 10.00-11.30

Terrorism in Europe continues to attract headlines, yet very few books have been published on the phenomenon of Jihad in Europe. The field of Jihad in Europe is indeed in a developing phase and much research remains to be carried out to understand the origins, current situation and future trends of this important aspect of European security.As Lorenzo Vidino has shown in his book Jihad in Europe: The New Battleground of the International Jihad (Prometheus Books, 2005), the threat has evolved substantially over the past decade. New terrorist groups have emerged, terrorist profiles are changing, and the culture of Martyrdom has gained substantial influence among aspiring Jihadists. Based on a meticulous collection of cases studies, Lorenzo Vidino’s subsequent analysis highlights a number of factors which have assisted in the rise of militant Islamism in Europe.

Among the topics to be covered in Vidino’s presentation are: asylum policies, international terrorist networks, legislative constraints, the identity crisis in Muslim communities and the state of current counter terrorism policies across Europe.

The presentation will be followed by 30 minutes of Q&A.

More info on the DIIS site. If any attendee will write up a review, I'll be happy to post it here.

Resources about Muslims in Europe

I haven't blogged much the past few days, and for that I apologize. There actually have been a few items of interest, but my time has been sparse and I haven't gotten around to logging them.

I've been working on setting up all my links together. Originally I thought to get a special page for it, but I then realized this blog might be a better choice.

So far I started putting in my resources, blog links and book reviews (of which I have a couple I need to write up.. I am still reading up :-). This is still a work in progress, and I'll be glad to get any comments and additions from my readers.

Weekly roundup

Allochtonen Weblog is a Dutch language blog that collects news about the immigrant community in the Netherlands. Here’s a few interesting stories they’ve had this week.
EU residence permit – An option for immigrants who find it hard to come up with the money for the Dutch residence permit is the EU permanent residence permit. There are no legal fees for it and it’s easier to get and keep.

Two Moroccans aged 19 and 23 have disappeared in Venray, in the southeastern Netherlands. It is assumed that they tried to rob a hemp nursery. The police have raided the place and found bloodstains.

The Moroccan mosque “Al Fath” in Tilburg has been closed by the municipality due to fire danger. In is unlikely that the mosque will open soon due the high costs of conforming it to the fire regulations. 650-700 people visited the mosque weekly and it offered language and religion lessons for kids on the weekend.

The Dutch Intelligence Service (AIVD) warns that there’s a growing number of young Dutch Muslims that go to Muslim countries to attend fundamental schools. The studies are being paid for by Saudi Arabia and Syria. The number of Muslims who go out to countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Syria had grown the past few years from a trickle to a few dozen. At least 6 students have returned from Pakistan to take up posts as imams.

Also two stories from the Dutch press I had no time to post. Both stories are from Parool.

Too little is being done to recruit immigrants to the police according to Dutch Interior Minister John Remkes. Eight of 26 police regions returned numbers as to the number of immigrants they employed. This comes out to 0.6% Moroccans and 1.1% Turks. The general population stands at 1.9% Moroccans and 2.2% Turks.

Immigrant civil servants make 4% less than ethnic Dutch according to recent statistics by the Central Bureau for Statistics. Putting aside the differences in education, the difference goes up to 20% by 1st generation immigrants and 25% by 2nd generation immigrants.

Conference on international radical Islam

A conference on international radical Islam was held today at Bar Ilan University in Israel. I bring quotes from an article on it.

Syrian-born Professor Bassam Tibi of Cornell University, however, disagreed, saying: “I am a Muslim, and a German citizen. I am reaching my hand out to peace. We must distinguish between Islam and Islamism. Is Islam a belief in god, a faith or a political order? If a person says it is a faith, this is an ordinary Muslim. But if they say it is a political order, you are talking to an Islamist.”

Tibi rejected the Islamist understanding of Islam’s relationship to power, saying: “The term ‘state' does not occur a single time in the Koran. The term Sharia occurs only once in the Koran. It is morality.”

Tibi also distinguished between two forms of jihadists: Those who work within a country, trying to Islamize the state, which he called institutional jihadists, and revolutionary jihadists, or those who seek to accomplish their goal through violence.

“Hamas blurred the line between these,” Tibi said, noting that “it is a jihadist movement which was voted in.”

“Arabs need to recognize Israel and live alongside it.” Tibi said, before speaking of his ideal of a Jewish-Muslim alliance.

“I’m a realist and I have no illusions. At the moment, this is not in reach, but it should remain an ideal,” he said.

Tibi also blasted the European and German Left for seeing jihadist movements as complimentary to their own anti-American views.

Source: Ynet (English)

Germany: Abuse of Muslim women

Notice the title of the article: "Abuse plagues Muslim women in Germany". It's very common to use the passive when you don't want to say who's being accused. In this case, the use of words, both the passive and the idea of "plague" point to a natural disaster.

Abuse plagues Muslim women in Germany

Imagine a home with so much pressure to cook, clean and take care of younger siblings that you don’t have enough time to do homework. Imagine your parents forbidding you from going out to socialize with friends from school. Imagine running away from home at 17.

This was Leyla’s life. Born in Turkey near the Syrian border, Leyla* came to Germany at the age of six with her mother and siblings to join her father, one of the many so-called "guest workers" invited by the German government during the 1960s and 1970s. (*The women interviewed for this story spoke on condition of anonymity for reasons of safety.)

Leyla excelled in German schools, but life at home was overshadowed by her parents' loveless marriage, verbal abuse from her father and few demonstrations of affection. It got worse when her older sister was married off and left home, and Leyla was suddenly thrust into the role of housekeeper and babysitter.

Then, after years of cleaning floors, cooking dinners and finding just enough time to finish a bit of homework, Leyla had enough of feeling like a slave and went to live in a shared house set up specifically for Turkish girls with troubled family lives.

Life away from her family was better, but it turned out her nightmare was only beginning. Leyla would shortly become one of hundreds of immigrant women in Germany — many from Muslim backgrounds — subjected to abuse, forced marriages and other violent family situations against their will.

After months of living on her own — and a chance to concentrate on school work and even have a social life — Leyla’s parents asked her to join them on a trip back to Turkey. “Your grandparents are sick,” they told her. “Come to see them one last time.”

Against the advice of friends and her social workers, Leyla acceded and joined her parents on the long drive to Turkey.

“As soon as we left my mother took away my passport,” said Leyla, recounting her story at a café in one of Berlin’s Turkish neighborhoods. “They told me Germany was now dead to me.”

Religion, culture, tradition

While Leyla managed to avoid a fate preordained by her family, it is impossible to know how many others are left in violent situations with few means of escape. An editor for the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet has estimated that 50 percent of Muslim women in Germany have been victims of domestic violence. In addition, forced marriages often turn into violent homes.

At the heart of the matter is a complicated dance between Germany’s inability to fully embrace immigrants, many of whom were invited from Turkey to fill labor shortages, and the immigrants' unwillingness to let go of behaviors and traditions that appear brutal to mainstream Western Europeans. [The writer can't bring herself to say that forced marriage and domestic abuse are actually brutal. Thus, they only "appear" brutal]

Critics of Germany's record with guest workers say the country has been standoffish with the new residents, leaving them clinging to their homeland’s culture for a sense of familiarity and belonging, a phenomenon particularly true among Muslim immigrants. Many Germans, meanwhile, blame the immigrants for holding on to their old ways and say the responsibility for their poor situation lies mostly with the guest workers for not making more efforts to adapt to German norms and customs.

“You can’t say [these attitudes against women are] because of one specific thing,” said Seyran Ates, a Berlin lawyer of Turkish descent who focuses on women’s rights. “Many families, who marry their children off early, want to prevent sex outside of marriage. Some are worried that here in Germany their kids will take a German partner or a partner of another nationality so they marry their kids very quickly with another immigrant or a person here they know.”

“It is an absolute mix of religion, culture and tradition,” said Ates, who was born into a Muslim family.

(the article is rather long and has 2-parts. I just brought parts of it, but you can read the rest on the MSNBC site)

Source: MSNBC (English)

Dutch gamer gets on US bad side

Note that the US Army puts out its own computer game in order to recruit soldiers and that violent games are a part of "US culture".

The Dutch creator of a video game-based movie, which the U.S. government says is being used as a recruitment tool by Muslim militants, says that his home-made creation was nothing more than a bit of fun.

The 11-minute video shows a man in Arab head-dress carrying an automatic weapon into combat with U.S. invaders, and it was shown to a U.S. Congressional Committee this month as evidence of a militant campaign to recruit Muslim youth on the Internet.

"It was just for fun, nothing political," said Samir, a 25 year-old Dutch gamer, in an interview with Reuters. "It has nothing to do with recruiting people or training people."

Samir, who did not want to be identified by his full name, is a Muslim who was born and raised in the Netherlands and is a fan of U.S. movies and rap music.

His short movie is based on a popular video game, "Battlefield 2", which usually shows U.S. troops engaging Chinese or Middle Eastern forces.

Samir borrowed part of the soundtrack from a satirical movie, "Team America: World Police", including the words: "As quickly as they had come, the infidels were gone. It was on that day I put a jihad (holy war) on them."

He also added a soundbite from President George W. Bush, days after the September 11 attacks in 2001, in which he described the war on terrorism as a "crusade". The phrase gravely offended many Muslims who took it to mean Bush was calling for a war against Islam.

Source: Reuters (English)

Nethelands: New plan against "honor" crimes

The Dutch parliament supports Minister Verdonk's new plan to combat "honor" related crimes.

The general approach is to combine everything related to "honor" crimes into one project. The first step is a pilot project by the police corps in Haaglanden. The police there have conducted research into the topic and want to integrate it into every policeman's training.

The plan also includes minority and community organizations that will get funding for projects that will break the "taboo around 'honor' crimes". (I'm not sure what the taboo here is.. what should be broken is the fact that it's accepted). More attention will also be given to the education system and to make schools more aware of the problem.

Verdonk is supposed to hand in bi-yearly reports to the Parliament, with the first one planned for September.

Source: Trouw (Dutch)

See also: Keeping count of "honor" murders, Holland: money for illegals suffering from "honor" crimes, The disgrace of honor murders

German court bans data trawl for Qaeda "sleepers"

A Moroccan man won a landmark legal victory on Tuesday when Germany's highest court set strict limits on the ability of police to trawl electronic databases at random in search of possible terrorists.

The Constitutional Court said such data trawling, for example to identify foreign male Muslim students, was only lawful if there was a concrete threat to Germany or one of its regions, or a danger to human life or freedom.

"A general threat situation, of the kind that has existed continuously in regard to terrorist attacks since September 11, 2001, or external political tensions, are not sufficient," the court said.

"The pre-condition is, rather, the existence of further facts pointing to a concrete danger, such as the preparation or commission of terrorist attacks."

The case arose from a complaint brought by a Moroccan student after the September 11 attacks on the United States, when German police began scanning local authority and university databases to identify Muslim men aged 18 to 40 who were current or former students.

Men who met that description were then subjected to further police checks in an attempt to uncover more al Qaeda "sleepers" like the three Hamburg-based Arab students who led the suicide hijack attacks on America. None were actually found.

Source: News (English)

"Islamic persecution in Europe brings immigrants our way"

An interesting commentary by Conor Friedersdorf from Daily Bulletin. I bring parts from the article:

Is European immigration over?

Let's hope so. Europe has sent America wave upon wave of immigrants fleeing Old World catastrophes.

But lately we've become accustomed to a prosperous Europe that is itself a refuge for the economically needy and the persecuted. Asylum seekers and economic refugees flock to that continent from Africa and Asia as surely as Latin Americans flock to the United States.

So it comes as a shock that a citizen of the Netherlands, of all places, is immigrating to the United States to flee religious persecution.

This columnist hopes these victims of religious persecution fleeing Europe remain the exceptions rather than the rule. As yet the Europeans, lately subject to cartoon riots, French slum riots and terrorist bombings, can turn things around. Islamic radicals can be deported, moderate Muslims can co-exist with European liberals and millions of people now co-existing peacefully in Europe despite religious differences prove the feat is possible.

On the other hand, the next century will bring Europe a cultural and demographic shift without precedent in the modern world. Some European countries are poised to have majority Muslim populations before the end of this century. Most of those Muslims will be peace-loving and tolerant, but if the violent minority pushes hard enough to expand its intolerance, Europe's history of appeasing tyrants doesn't bode well.

In other words, the fact that a peaceful transition to an Islamized Europe is possible doesn't mean it's inevitable. We all have reason to worry that terrorists will carry out attacks, work to radicalize disaffected immigrants and empower Europe's bigoted far-right, provoking racial, religious and cultural tensions across the continent.

Or right-wing fringe groups might as easily commit the initial provocation, bringing matters to the same end. In the worst case, civil wars may send ethnic Europeans or Muslim Europeans seeking asylum in the United States, depending upon who is winning.

Even the cultural shifts likely to characterize a peacefully Islamized Europe will likely yield some immigrants for the United States. Unless Islam changes considerably over the next century, a majority Muslim population presumably means that the Netherlands won't have the world's most liberal gay marriage and adoption laws anymore, that French beaches won't be de facto topless nearly as often and that Spain's residents will hang fewer ham legs from the rafters of tapas bars while drinking less beer on the streets.

Imagine yourself as a gay man in Amsterdam watching a new Islamic majority reversing gay rights laws, or an immigrant woman in Belgium watching as Islamic lobby groups push through laws based on the Quran.

Would you immigrate or stick around to see what might happen next?

Belgium: complaints of racism

Four Turkish women from Heusden-Zolder (in the Belgian province of Limburg) complained by the police that they had been driven off the road purposefully. One of the women said that "the driver shouted at us that he was Belgian and that therefore he can do such a thing. Afterward he made clear that he was proud of what he'd done."

Source: Standaard (Dutch)

Norway: automatic asylum for Iranian homosexuals

One way to encourage Iranian homosexuality. I wonder what percentage of Iranian asylum seekers claimed homosexuality as cause for asylum.

The Directorate of Immigration (UDI) gave all Iranian asylum seekers residency if applicants claimed to be homosexual.

The UDI granted asylum even if the testimony often had little backing or appeared to be patently false, newspaper VG reports.

The information emerged in connection with documents submitted to an investigatory commission examining how the UDI functioned in the period under former Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Erna Solberg until today.

While UDI leadership assured Solberg that asylum seekers were being handled on an individual case-by-case basis, and keeping in mind the danger of persecution in their homeland, caseworkers were instructed to grant asylum "as long as the applicant gives being homosexual/lesbian as the reason".

According to VG, UDI representatives have presented a range of cases in the Iran asylum affair where caseworkers clearly note their skepticism towards the applicant testimony given, but asylum was granted.

Homosexuality is punishable in Iran, but according to experts the demands of proof are extremely high, making punishment rare in practice.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

Rotterdam: Family arrested for abuse of foreign bride

There is no mention of where the poor woman came from, though it does fit in with Muslim/Arab practices - large family living together even after marriage, foreign bride imported, daughter not welcome back at home when she tries to run away.

From whichever immigrant community she comes from, this sounds like something from "Not Without my Daughter", and it's amazing that it can happen in Europe.

Five members of a family are in custody for allegedly holding a 22-year-old woman prisoner for a year of rape and assault, police revealed on Thursday.

A 24-year-old female suspect has been released. She was arrested on 1 May along with four men, aged 54, 25, 21 and 18, and a woman, aged 49.

The alleged victim came to the Netherlands in January 2005 after marrying the 25-year-old man. The police did not reveal her country of origin.

The couple moved in with the man's family in Rotterdam. Her life was turned into a living hell for the next year, according to her account. Her husband repeatedly raped her and she was regularly assaulted by other family members.

The woman was not allowed to have any contact with the outside world and was forced to do all the household chores on her own. She was only allowed to leave the home accompanied by her husband to deal with formal tasks requiring her signature.

She was sent back to her own family in March 2006. She was no longer welcome there either and she returned to the Netherlands. She received a telephone number for a person who could help her and this Rotterdammer contacted the police. The alleged victim made a statement and was placed in a safe house.

Sources: Expatica (English), Dutch Police (Dutch)


According to, the woman is from Morocco. The family, as can be seen from their ages are the two parents, 3 brothers and 1 sister (who's been freed in the meantime).

Human cruelty is not restricted to Muslims, of course, but it is obvious that a bride who is "imported" into the country without knowing the language or anybody at all and completely reliant on her new husband and his family, would be much easier to abuse. That is, without any additional inputs, I would expect that in a community where importing brides is the norm, such cases would also be more common.

Source: (Dutch)

Germany: Politician attacked

Giyasettin Sayan, 56, a member of Berlin's regional assembly who is of Turkish origin is in hospital after being attacked by two men who called him a "dirty foreigner", police said on Saturday.

Sayan, who represents the neo-communist Left party, suffered head injuries and bruising on Friday after his attackers struck him with a bottle in a street in his Lichtenberg ward in the east of the Berlin.

Police are offering a 3,000 euro ($3,600) reward for information leading to the arrest of the assailants.

The Lichtenberg district is known as a stronghold of neo-Nazis in Berlin, and Sayan's party chief in the Berlin assembly, Stefan Liebich, said the attack confirmed earlier warnings by a former government spokesman to World Cup fans.

Incident follows warning to foreigners

German politicians and football authorities reacted with anger on Thursday to the warning from Uwe-Karsten Heye that "there are small and mid-sized towns in Brandenburg and elsewhere where I would advise anyone with a different skin color not to go."

"They may not leave with their lives," Heye added.

Marlene Mortler, who chairs the tourism committee of the German parliament, said that, although isolated racially motivated attacks did take place, "Germany is far from being a country where foreign visitors should fear attacks from the far-right."

The interior ministry for its part said it was confident that all the estimated one million visitors for the June 9 to July 9 World Cup would feel safe.

The high rate of unemployment in the former East Germany has been blamed for helping neo-Nazi, anti-immigration groups recruit young members.

Police chief against declaring "no-go" areas

Berlin Police Chief Dieter Glietsch is hoping for a swift resolution in the Sayan attack. He said that a six-person team was in pursuit of the politician's assailants.

However, Glietch told reporters on Saturday that, despite the attack on Sayan, there was no justification for labelling certain Berlin city districts "no-go" areas for dark-skinned foreigners. That would be playing into the hands of the neo-Nazis who would like that to be the case, he said.

Source: Deutsche Welle (English)

Moroccan bus accident

Seven people died today and about 17-18 more were wounded when a bus traveling from Algeciras (port city on the way to Morocco) towards Brussels swerved off the road. The accident, which happened in Spain, took place in a mountainous region on a very windy road.

All passengers are Moroccan. Two of the dead are Moroccan-Belgians.

Source: Standaard (Dutch)

Ireland: Church refuses to give asylum

Irish police removed Afghan asylum seekers on Saturday from a Dublin church where they had staged a 7-day hunger strike, state broadcaster RTE reported.

Some 40 hunger strikers, who said their lives would be in danger if they were sent back to Afghanistan, began a sit-in at St. Patrick's Cathedral on Sunday to press their demand to be allowed to stay in Ireland as refugees.

Unlike the situation in Belgium, where Church officials are openly saying they are willing to give asylum to anybody who enters their Church and inviting asylum seekers to come in, the Church of Ireland Archbishop thinks differently:

Church of Ireland Archbishop John Neill says St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin is not an appropriate place for a hunger protest by refugees from Afghanistan.

Forty-one Afghans entered the Anglican church Sunday and began refusing food and water to avoid being deported to Afghanistan, where they claim their lives would be in danger.

While Neill said Monday he would not ask the refugees to leave, he also doubted there is a sanctuary right in modern-day Ireland.

"That was something that was there in ancient times," the archbishop told Web site Ireland On-Line.
St. Patrick's Cathedral is "not an appropriate place for them to be because it is not a place with proper facilities," Neill said.

Source: Reuters, (English)

See also: Vatican supports Belgian illegal immigrants, Belgium: Illegal immigrant actions

London: Halal food

British supermarket chain Tesco will sell Malaysian halal products in its London stores starting next year in an effort to cater to the city's large Muslim population, news reports said Saturday.

Tesco Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. will buy locally produced halal food - which conforms to Islamic dietary rules - worth 1 billion ringgit ($278 million) over the next five years for sale in Britain, national news agency Bernama and local dailies reported.

The export of Malaysian halal products will "help Malaysia to develop quickly into a global halal hub," Bernama quoted Tesco Malaysia chief executive James McCaan as saying in Ipoh, the capital of the northern state of Perak.

Tesco officials could not be immediately reached over the weekend.

The Star newspaper quoted McCaan as saying the products would start to appear on shelves in some 40 Tesco outlets, mostly in London and north London, by April next year. About 1.7 million Muslims lives in these two areas, he said.

Malaysia, which earlier this month hosted the World Halal Forum, has stated its aim to become a global hub for Islamic halal food by 2010, using its edge over other Muslim nations in trading, logistics, banking and halal certification.

Source: Seatllepi (English)

School trips to Mecca

School trips to Mecca are extremely popular for 8th graders of Muslim elementary schools. The expensive trip is a bonus and not a substitute for the regular trips to places such as the zoo. About 30% of Muslim elementary school have already done the trip. The kids stay a week in Mecca where they receive religious instruction and visit holy places. The trip costs several hundred euro per kid. ISBO (the umbrella organization for Muslim elementary schools) has given a small subsidy for the first time this year.

Source: De Telegraaf (Dutch)

Netherlands: Flowers by the Hofstad group

Several men brought flowers to the VARA offices, the company who prepared the show "exposing" Hirsi Ali, thanking them for the show last week. The attached card said "regards, the Hofstad group". Besides the card the men also brought Moroccan cookies, chocolate and left their names and phone number.

One of the men was said to be Jermaine Walters, who had been accused of preparing to kill Ali and was freed in March.

Source: (Dutch)

Denmark: preschool integration plan

The newest integration plan intends to mix bilingual children in nurseries and daycares to counteract ethnic divisions The Danish government's latest integration plans are targeting the youngest of the young. Some 85 nurseries and daycares in the Copenhagen area will be receiving a letter on Friday containing plans for mixing 'white' and 'black' children in the municipality's childcare institutions.

The plan involved creating reserved 'language spots' for bilingual children in 64 institutions where 'ethnic' Danes are overrepresented, daily newspaper Politiken reported.

'It's not about an enforced quota, but a voluntary offer that will be able to ensure a better mixing of children. That will benefit all children, also ethnic Danes,' said Bo Asmus Kjeldsgaard, deputy major for youth affairs. The 'Diversity in Copenhagen's Daycares' is a part of the Socialist People's Party integration strategy, and has a budget of DKK 6.6m.

The 21 daycares that currently have an unusually high number of children with an ethnic background other than Danish are also receiving word that they must try to attract more Danish children to balance the scales. Those institutions will be receiving extra aid to develop a better attraction plan, which could include offering more outdoor and ecology based activities.

Saud Ali is the mother of three children attending the age-integrated Krible Krable daycare on Nørrebro. The majority of children enrolled at the institution have bilingual parents. It is on the list of institutions where the ratio of Danish to ethnic Danish children is relatively low. Ali thinks the new plan is a good one.

'It is a good idea because children learn more Danish [in a mixed institution] and they also learn about each other's cultures from the time they are little. Danish children, immigrant children - they are children regardless, and they need to be integrated,' said Ali.

But not everyone is as enthusiastic about the plan. Henriette Brockdorff, head of the union of social educators and club members, is worried that while the plan has good intentions, it could create unwanted vacancies.

'Earmarked spots allow for less flexibility, so there runs a risk of empty places which could leave institutions with an economic problem.'

'If this place should have an effect on integration, then it requires a more holistic approach, in relationships and networking, instead of just focussing on the individual children,' said Pauline Ansel Henry, of Copenhagen's Parent Network.

She says the plan needs to be developed more, and also across community borders.
'It would be best if children can attend daycare with children they can become good playmates with, both at home and at the institutions.'

Kjeldgaard maintained that the plan is a necessary step in integration and added that a few years ago immigrant families weren't using the day care facilities at all. 'We encouraged them to use the daycares and it worked. Now we need to counteract the ethnic polarization that happened as a result,' he said.

Source: Jyllands Posten (English)

Switzerland: Terrorist plot to shoot down Israeli plane

This story seems to have it all: A plot to blow up a plane by two immigrants from Algeria and Libya, a secret service agent turning on his handlers. And of course - no arrests. Apparently the Swiss agree with the Dutch and will only arrest terrorists once they're fully ready to commit a terror attack (though I wonder why after a week the coast was clear again..)

A plot to blow up an El Al plane at Geneva's international airport has been thwarted. Swiss intelligence agencies uncovered a terrorist cell last December that plotted to strike an Israeli plane while it was taking off through an RPG rocket attack in December 2005.

The plot to shoot the plane was uncovered by Claude Kuvasi, a Swiss secret service member who worked under the codename Babylon. Swiss newspaper Blick reported that Kuvasi was planted as an undercover agent in an Islamic center in Geneva to find out if a terror cell was operating in it. In order to encourage the trust of the head of the Islamic center, Hani Ramadan, Kuvasi converted to Islam.

According to reports, one of the operatives of the centers told the agent, who was dining with him, that he was a member of a cell planning to blow up an El Al plane. Phone taps carried out by the Swiss agent found that the terrorist cell was made up of an Algerian immigrant, 40, named Assam, and a Libyan immigrant, 34, named Adar.

Although the two lived in the Zurich area they planned on blowing up the Israeli plane in Geneva, due to the fact that the airport and its takeoff pad can be viewed with ease from surrounding mountains.

Kuvasi gave a warning about the terrorist attack to his handlers on December 12, 2005.

Following the intelligence, local security forces carried out a check around the airport to see how tangible the threat was. The warning was also given to the Swiss police, but as far as is known, no suspects in the organization were arrested. The Swiss reached the conclusion that the plan was not ripe enough for a real organized operation.

According to reports from Europe, El Al, which runs three flights a week on the Tel Aviv – Geneva route, did not take any chances, and moved to the Zurich airport for a week. El Al did not respond to the episode and said it does not discuss security matters with the media.

The episode was kept secret for six months, until the Swiss agent exposed it on his own. Kuvasi, who became closer to the head of the Islamic center in Geneva, Hani Ramadan, feared that his new friend will face complications due to the fact that some of his students planned a terror attack. Kuvasi wrote a letter to Ramdadan saying his conscience guided him and he was therefore obligated to reveal how Swiss intelligence spied on him.

Source: Ynet (English)

Belgium: protest against headscarf ban

A protest at the entrance to the school in the Charleroi suburb of Marchienne-au-Pont which decided yesterday to ban headscarves. The protesters originally intended to block the entrance but later decided to wait for a meeting with the parents of the affected students.

Source: Standaard (Dutch)

See also: Belgium: School bans headscarf

Germans more anti-Islam

According to new research, Germans feel more and more negatively towards Islam. They are less willing to be tolerant to a religion which is seen as being in itself intolerant and threatening.

71% of those questioned said Islam was intolerant, compared with 66% two years ago. 56% thought it was ok to forbid building new mosques as long as some Muslim lands forbade building churches. 56% also said there was a "clash of cultures" between Islam and Christianity. 40% thought practicing Islam in Germany should be strictly curtailed.

Source: Reformatorisch Dagblad (Dutch)

Update (May 19th, 2006):

More info on Expatica:

Some 91 per cent said they associated Islam with oppression of women, up from 85 per cent in 2004.

The statement that Islam was dominated by fanaticism was shared by 83 per cent, compared to 75 per cent two years ago, the poll showed.

A total of 56 per cent said they believed "a clash of civilizations" had already begun, up from 46 per cent in 2004, the poll results showed.

"The clash of civilizations has already begun in the minds of (German) citizens," concluded the Allensbach Institute.

Dutch language mosque attracts people

The use of the Dutch language and young home-grown imams are magnetizing Muslims from diverse ethnic backgrounds to the Darul Hijra Mosque in Rotterdam.

"Delivering religious sermons in Dutch is the best way to reach out all worshipers," Abdul-Naser Youssef, the mosque's caretaker, told on Wednesday, May 17.

Hailed the "Dutch Mosque", it has been appealing to the ethnic mosaic of Turkish, Arab, Asian, Indian, African and Balkan Muslims in the city.

"This mosque in abandoning the usual practice of using national languages in mosques linked to specific ethnic communities," one worshiper told IOL inside the pioneering mosque.

Rotterdam has a Muslim population of 80,000 people, almost one eighth of its population, according to official estimates.

There are also 30 mosques, five Islamic schools and two Islamic universities in the city.

Home-grown Imams

The mosque, which was established in the early 1990s, is also favored by the majority of Rotterdam Muslims because of its home-grown imams.

"I came to the mosque one Friday and was delighted to find the imam delivering his sermon in Dutch," said a Dutch worshiper. "I never missed a chance to listen to him ever since," he added proudly.

The home-grown imams, well acquainted with Dutch values, have been praised for their ability to address the concerns of Dutch Muslims. They have also been credited for attracting young Muslims thanks to their ability to communicate with them and identify with their problems.

Multiple Services

"Young Muslims have decided to launch the website to promote communication with non-Muslims," Blom said.

The Darul Hijra Mosque is championing a series of activities to promote integration and educate Dutch Muslims about their faith. "Daily and weekly lessons are organized to teach Dutch Muslims the Arabic language," Youssef said.

It plans to organize trips for Muslim reverts to visit a number of Muslims countries to have a hands-on experience of Muslim culture and traditions.

The mosque has also taken part in a series of know-Islam seminars with non-Muslim Dutch bodies.

It has further organized a three-day workshop for non-Muslim religious teachers to acquaint them with Islam.

The Darul Hijra Mosque has launched a website [Ontdek Islam (discover Islam)] to serve the Muslim minority as well as familiarize non-Muslims with Islam. "Young Muslims have decided to launch the website to promote communication with non-Muslims," Jacob Van Der Blom, a Muslim activist helping with the website, told IOL.

Women are also effectively contributing to the mosque's social and cultural activities. "We used to come only for prayers but now we are joining hands in efforts to introduce Islam and teach Arabic just like our brothers," said activist Zarifa.

Source: Islam Online (English). Note the "revert" in Muslim-speak means "convert".

UK Orders "Urgent Review" of University Islamic Courses

The British government has ordered an urgent review of university Islamic courses on claims that young Muslim students were being exposed to radical teachings, the Yorkshire Post reported on Wednesday, May 17.

"There are weaknesses in the way young Muslims are educated about what their faith really requires," British Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell said Tuesday, May 16.

Rammell said that there was evidence that "narrow and unhelpful" interpretations of Islam were available to many young people.

"There is a concern that the teachings which the great majority of Muslims would want to stress about living in peace, protecting the vulnerable, avoiding harm to others, are sometimes sidelined."

The review will be conducted by Muslim scholar Dr. Ataullah Siddiqui to make sure that courses were not restricted to narrow interpretation of Islam.

He will also examine the nature of the spiritual advice which students are exposed to on campus.
Siddiqui is a Senior Research Fellow at the Islamic Foundation, Leicester, and Director of the Markfield Institute of Higher Education.

He is also a Visiting Fellow in the Centre for the History of Religious and Political Pluralism, University of Leicester.

Rammell said that some students were exposed to what he described as "wrong-headed influences" in the name of religion.

"In particular, exposed to teachings that either explicitly condone terrorism, or foster a climate of opinion which is at least sympathetic to terrorists' motivation.

"I am worried about this, so are colleagues in Government, so above all are Muslims that I have spoken to."

The minister also hit out at what he said demands by some Muslim students to dedicate prayer rooms in university libraries and re-arranging lectures to suit with the Friday prayers.

He claimed that such demands carried "big dangers", calling for an open debate on the issue.

"The alternative is that we drift into a position where some British Muslims begin to feel aggrieved because their expectations are not being met and no-one is commenting that those expectations are not appropriate for today's society.

"Pockets of discontent emerge, impressionable young people become vulnerable to extremists and Muslims become less integrated and more isolated."

A British government-backed study has concluded that the Muslim minority in Britain faces some of the most acute conditions of multiple deprivation.

The report said that Muslims were more likely than any other faith group to be jobless and living in poor conditions, which a leading Muslim activist blamed on Downing Street for only paying lip service to Muslim social woes.

"The problem is firstly what is being done by the government to alleviate this problem," Anas Al-Tikriti, the former president of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), told on Tuesday, May 16, over the phone from London.

Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority estimated at some 1.8 million people

Source: Islam Online (English)

European schools do not support immigrants

A new study by OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) shows that immigrant children throughout Europe are lagging behind. This goes for both first generation immigrants and second generation - kids who were born and grew up in their host country.

The report shows that more than a third of second-generation immigrant children in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Norway and the United States, who have spent their entire schooling in the host country, perform below the baseline PISA benchmark for mathematics performance at which students begin to demonstrate the kind of skills that enable them to actively use mathematics. In all other OECD countries except Australia and Canada, at least 20% of second-generation immigrant children fall below this level.

And yet, at the same time, immigrant children express equal, if not more, motivation to learn mathematics than their native counterparts and very positive general attitudes towards school, suggesting that they bring with them a strong potential on which schools can build more effectively.

School systems differ widely in terms of their outcomes for immigrant children, the report makes clear. In some countries, such as Canada and Australia, immigrant children perform as well as their native counterparts. But in other countries, notably those with highly tracked education systems, they do substantially less well. Indeed, in many countries, the odds are weighted against students from immigrant families right from the start. They tend to be directed to schools with lower performance expectations, often characterised by disadvantaged student intakes and, in some countries, disruptive class-room conditions. In all but four countries under review, at least 25% of second-generation immigrant children attend schools where immigrants make up more than 50% of the roll-call. By comparison, this is the case for less than 5% of native children in all but two countries.

Language and the geographical origin of immigrant children may be additional factors, the report notes. But this is not sufficient to explain variations in performance between countries. Immigrant students whose families have come from Turkey tend to perform poorly in many countries. But they do significantly worse in Germany than they do in Switzerland.

Furthermore, in a number of countries, second-generation immigrant children still perform as badly as their first-generation counterparts. On the other hand, in some countries with high levels of immigration, the performance of second-generation immigrant children is much closer to that of native children and close to the national average, suggesting that public policy can make a difference. Many of the countries that do well on this measure have in common well-established language support programmes in early childhood education and primary school that have clearly defined goals, standards and evaluation systems.

The report can be accessed here (PDF file)

Politicians across Europe called for education reform following the report.

In Germany Head of the opposition Green Party Claudia Roth called the study results a "shame for Germany," and told the Cologne paper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger that it was "shocking that the children of immigrants in our country have such terrible education opportunities."

In Belgium the Flemish Minister of Education called the report results "morally unacceptable".

This follows a report by Dutch newspaper NRC a couple of days ago saying that immigrant youths tend to go into the "wrong" professions, choosing administration over technical skills in fields where there is more work available. The conclusion of this report actually contradicts the OECD one and claims that immigrant students should actually be sent into less educated fields (constructions, metalwork), where work is more plentiful.

Source: OECD (English)

Belgium: School bans headscarf

A high school in Charleroi, the biggest city in the region of Wallonia in Belgium, has decided to ban wearing headscarves. The principal of the school informed the 86 students who until now wore a headscarf at a meeting this morning, at which point a commotion ensued. Several window panes were broken. The police appeared and by the afternoon quiet had returned to the school.

A meeting of the school board, the parents and mediators is organized for Friday. The parents accuse the school that they weren't consulted in advance while the principal claims that she doesn't have to consult them and that she is supported by the teachers. 80% of the teachers voted to ban the headscarf on the school grounds, during school activities and at internships.

Source: Standaard (Dutch)

Allochtonen Weblog Roundup

Allochtonen Weblog collects news about the immigrant community in the Netherlands. Here’s a few interesting stories they’ve had this week.

Islamic banks in the Netherlands – a post on Wij Bljiven Hier explains the problems of a Muslim using the regular banking establishments, given that interest is forbidden. [note that here you can get into a long discussion about whether interest is really forbidden, what type of interest, etc.]. Banks in the Netherlands have considered going into Islamic banking, but so far only one company, Bilaa-Riba Islamic Finance B.V. (the name means: “with no interest”) caters to the Muslim public. Avoiding interest also means many Muslims do not buy a house, with all the consequences of that on their integration into the country.

A skit on Dutch TV has irked several Muslim youth associations – the skit, about Muhammad, aired on May 1st on the show Kannibalen, an improvisations comedy show. This episode was a compilation meaning the show in question appeared previously.

You can see the episode here, Muhammad on the Catwalk is a 2 minute segement which starts off ~25:25 You might be asked to choose Real vs. Windows player and slow vs. fast internet.

Q1 Immigration results – about 22,000 immigrants came to the Netherlands in the first 3 months of 2006. That’s a rise of 2000 people compared to last year, showing an end to the immigration decline. The increase is composed of mainly returning Dutch (about 5,000) and Poles (about 1,800). 29,000 people emigrated out of the Netherlands in the same time period, 13,000 of which were born in the country.

Muslim Education - Dutch Minister of Education, Maria van der Hoeven, announced during a vist to Australia that the two countries, possibly along with Indonesia will develop an Islamic education program. The program will be based on the Leiden University 4-year Islam education course.

Schools support asylum kids finish their education – 600 secondary schools have signed a petition calling the Dutch gov’t to enable kids of asylum seekers who are being threatened with expulsion to finish their studies in the Netherlands. The organizers are saying they do not expect such kids to go from kindergarten to university, but rather that they not be expelled right before doing their tests.

Narrowcasting in the mosques – by the end of the year 10 to 18 mosques will be connected up with a narrowcasting network. This will enable the mosques to inform their public of happenings in the Moroccan and Turkish community. The network is financed by advertising and broadcasts in Arabic, Dutch and Turkish.

Shame – According to a new study by Twente University, girls are more ashamed of themselves then boys, but Muslim girls are less ashamed of themselves than their non-believing classmates. Christian boys on the other hands are more ashamed of themselves than their non-believing classmates.

Muslim girls are proud of their religion, feel less shame and have a less submissive attitude. However, they are more depressive than other kids, probably because they don’t get enough respect.

Fear of Paris like riots in Holland

School boards from the four big cities – Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht – say there is very real danger of Paris like riots. Young immigrants get mired in problematic behavior, drugs and crime and have little opportunities at school and work.

They want parents and neighborhood group to get more involved and for the government to invest more in long term plans. The school boards call on the government to invest 100 million euro more in education and specifically in language education, childcare, education personnel and education support.

Source: (Dutch)

Germany: gang rape causes tension

BERLIN - Four youths suspected of gang-raping a 16-year-old schoolgirl in a Berlin park last week have been released after briefly being detained by police in a move which has fuelled anger in the German capital.

The youths, aged 13 to 15, allegedly attacked their victim as she walked home from school in the Charlottenburg district which is generally seen as safe area with low crime rates.

While allegedly gang-raping the girl, the youths are reported to have filmed the sexual attack with a mobile phone camera. Media reports say the four later boasted about the rape to other school children and sent copies of the video to friends.

Police who detained the four earlier this week have so far not found any film footage of the alleged rape. There is suspicion the video pictures may have been erased and mobile phones of the suspects are being analysed by experts in a bid to retrieve any pictures.

"This brutal rape has shocked Germany," said a commentary in Berlin's B.Z. newspaper. Adding to the potential explosiveness of the alleged rape is the fact that the four suspects are all the children of immigrant families, while the victim is German.

The normally well-informed Bild tabloid said the suspects were two German-Turks, a German Russian and a German-Angolan.

Federal police statistics released on Monday show non-German youths under the age of 21 were twice as likely to be crime suspects last year than German nationals of the same age.

Officers in charge of the case are convinced the four youths carried out the gang the rape and DNA tests are being carried on sperm traces found on the victim.

Given the brutality of the attack, there has been anger over a decision by Berlin justice officials to order the youths be set free.

Source: Expatica (English)

Translating the anthem

After the US and Germany, it is now Norway's turn to suggest translating the national anthem to make it easier for immigrants to sing it. In the good old days of immigration past, immigrants would express their love by learning the language of the country which accepted them and offered them a future. Today, they don't even need to bother. Maybe a better idea would be to give immigrants a line by line translation along with transliteration, in order to make sure that at every official event, immigrants, even the newest of the new, would be able to sing along with everybody. Or maybe the next suggestion would be to have repeated singing of the national anthem in all the official translations?

During a week that brings out huge displays of patriotism in Norway, because of Constitution Day celebrations on the 17th of May, debate is brewing over a move to write an Urdu version of the Norwegian national anthem.

The debate comes just weeks after a proposal to translate the American national anthem into Spanish stirred controversy as well.

The editor of a newspaper for minorities in Norway, Utrop, floated the anthem translation proposal in the national newspaper Vårt Land this week. The idea is that an Urdu version of the anthem would allow many immigrants from Pakistan, for example, to more easily express their love for Norway.

The title of Norway's national anthem is, after all, "Ja vi elsker," which in English translates to "Yes we love (this country)."

Norway's most conservative party, the Progress Party, was quick to slam the proposal.

"This is integration in reverse," claimed Per-Willy Amundsen, the Progress Party spokesman on issues dealing with immigration.

The "best gift" immigrants can give to "their new homeland," argued Amundsen, is to learn Norwegian. He has no sympathy for immigrants who have problems singing the national anthem in Norwegian.

"It just takes practice to learn it," he claimed. "Those who are new to the country can hum along while we others sing."

Source: Aftenposten (English)

Denmark: Imam not leaving, just tempted

Reports of Imam Abu Laban's plans to leave Denmark were a misunderstanding, the cleric says Comments by Imam Abu Laban last week that led to reports that he was moving back to the Gaza Strip were a misunderstanding, the controversial cleric said.

Laban said he meant that he was only 'tempted' to return home.

'I never said to anyone that I wish to move away from Denmark. I have no such personal wish. I was invited here as an imam, and I will only leave if Muslims are dissatisfied with me and ask me go.'

The Palestinian-born Laban was quoted in a number of Danish media on Thursday as saying that he would relocate from Copenhagen to Gaza with his wife and youngest children.

'I've made a decision to leave Denmark. It's only a matter of time before I go,' Laban said to Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper that published the Mohammed cartoons. 'I'm not willing to be manipulated all the time and associated with terrorism, when I have worked day and night, tooth and nail in an honest way for this country's welfare.'

Source: Jyllands Posten (English)

Denmark "honor" killing

Nine Pakistanis living in Denmark went on trial on Monday accused of participating in the so-called honor killing of an 18-year-old woman who married without the consent of her parents.

Ghazala Khan was shot dead by her brother with two bullets in the heart in September 2005 just outside the train station of Slagelse, west of Copenhagen and her husband suffered serious injuries in attack, reports AFP.

The prosecution has qualified the murder as an honor killing, the ninth in Denmark in the past decade, but the brother insists it was accidental.

Six other members of the victim’s family, including her father and three family friends, were charged with murder and attempted murder.

Strict security measures have been taken for the trial, which is to conclude next month.

Source: All Headline News (English)

The reason behind the murder

In Antwerp last week, 18 year old Hans Van Themsche went on a shooting spree, aiming to kill foreigners and immigrants. The victims were a Turkish woman who was seriously injured, a black woman from Mali who was killed and her charge, a 2 year old Belgian toddler who was, in the words of Van Themsche "in the wrong place at the wrong time." Van Themsche intended to commit suicide at the end, but instead he was just shot by police and lived to tell the tale.

I haven't written much about the political furor going now in Belgium, mainly because politics is not really my strong point, and I doubt I can shed light on this issue. Vlaams Belang, the right wing anti-immigration party, is being accused, by left wing politicians as well as by the media, of being an "indirect" cause to the murder. Van Themsche's aunt is a parliament member for Vlaams Belang and that already is enough of a cause, apparently, for going out on a racist attack. Vlaams Belang does have racist and anti-semetic roots, but it does not strike me in itself as racist. They could do more to make sure the racist elements within them are kicked out, but being nationalist does not make you racist.

Van Themsche's original claim was that he had been pestered at school by immigrants and that's why he wanted to get back at them. As is pointed out in the Standaard, this is something that has happened when he was 13, five years ago.

The left wing claim against Vlaams Belang is that you can't accuse an entire community of Moroccans, for example, when a Moroccan kills, but then when "one of your own" kills claim that it's just a psycho. And so, on the one hand, the left wing politicians are doing exactly what they claim the right shouldn't (ie, accuse an entire community of one person's crimes), and on the other they're comparing two completely different things. After all, Vlaams Belang does not have an ideology that it's "Ok to kill immigrants". A Muslim who goes out in the belief that he should kill infidels, supported by his religious upbringing and teachings - does have that ideology.

So, what were the reasons for the murders? An article in the Standaard lists them out:
- Racism
- He was recently kicked out of his school, where he finally felt that he fitted in.
- Apparently, he was playing out a scene from a violent computer game - Grand Theft Auto. All the details, such as going out to a store to buy the gun and then going on a shooting spree. Van Themsche was a fan of such games. The goal of the game is to commit carjackings, but in a way, you also need to kill Spanish speaking immigrants.

For the question of racism. Whether he was pestered in the past or not, Van Themsche did aim at killing immigrants specifically. But did he do it because of his computer games or because his aunt is a parliament member of Vlaams Belang?

Source: Standaard (Dutch)

Belgium: police blamed for drowned kid

23 year old Mohamed Bouazza, a Moroccan from Antwerp, had been missing since May 1st. Yesterday his body, probably, was finally found in the Scheldt River. It is unknown how he drowned. On the night he disappeared he supposedly received racist threats during some quarrel and was then chased by his assailant in the area of the Antwerp wharf, at which point he jumped onto a boat.

The family is accusing the police of "killing him quietly" by doing nothing. The mother says she feels discriminated and says more would have been done if he had been a "Joe and not a Mohamed." "If it would have continued much longer, there would have been riots."

The Moroccan community organized a memorial. 1500 people, mostly Muslims, then marched through the streets. The police were not out in force, after a police station's windows were broken. The march was peaceful, and Bouazza's brother is quoted as saying during prayers "we want quiet till Mohamed has been buried". He will be buried in Morocco Tuesday.

Source: Nieuwsblad 1, 2 (Dutch)

Belgium: Vlaams Belang accused of murder

1200 people protested in Brussels next to the Vlaams Belang party headquarters, paying tribute to the victims of Thursday's shooting, in which 18 year old Hans Van Themsche went on a shooting spree against immigrants and foreigners. The protesters were mostly French speaking. No permission for the protest was requested.

Diop Alioune, chairman of the Sengalese Union of Brussels, accused Vlaams Belang of being "indirectly responsible" for the attack. "This 18 year old kid is a product of Vlaams Belang. He was brought up in a family where hate was admitted." This alluding to the fact that the murderer's aunt is a parliament member of Vlaams Belang.

Source: Standaard (Dutch)

See also: Immigrants shot in Antwerp

Denmark: Politicians attacked

late-night attack on the home of a local politician raises concerns that public officials are increasingly finding themselves the target of intimidation Elected officials fear that a culture of political violence is emerging in Denmark after a firebomb was thrown at the home of a councillor in the city of Korsør in western Zealand on Monday night.

The bomb missed its target, and Fritz Neumann, a member of the Danish People's Party, and his family escaped unharmed, but police say the attack is just the latest in a string of similar incidents.

Six other city council members in Korsør have received written and electronic threats signed 'Allah is great' and 'Al Qaeda-network' in the past three months. Police believe they were related and could have to do with a rejected application for asylum.

The latest bombing renewed concerns that Denmark's relaxed politicial culture made politicians particularly vulnerable to attacks.

Source: Jyllands Posten (English)

"The Project"

FrontPage Magazine brings the translation of a document written in 1982 and formulating a plan to build up a Muslim Caliphate. The document was discovered in a raid in Switzerland in 2001.

The target of the raid was Youssef Nada, director of the Al-Taqwa Bank of Lugano, who has had active association with the Muslim Brotherhood for more than 50 years and who admitted to being one of the organization’s international leaders. The Muslim Brotherhood, regarded as the oldest and one of the most important Islamist movements in the world, was founded by Hasan al-Banna in 1928 and dedicated to the credo, “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”

According to FrontPage, the main points of the plan are as follows:
  • Networking and coordinating actions between likeminded Islamist organizations

  • Avoiding open alliances with known terrorist organizations and individuals to maintain the appearance of “moderation”

  • Infiltrating and taking over existing Muslim organizations to realign them towards the Muslim Brotherhood’s collective goals

  • Using deception to mask the intended goals of Islamist actions, as long as it doesn’t conflict with shari’a law

  • Avoiding social conflicts with Westerners locally, nationally or globally, that might damage the long-term ability to expand the Islamist powerbase in the West or provoke a lash back against Muslims

  • Establishing financial networks to fund the work of conversion of the West, including the support of full-time administrators and workers

  • Conducting surveillance, obtaining data, and establishing collection and data storage capabilities

  • Putting into place a watchdog system for monitoring Western media to warn Muslims of “international plots fomented against them”

  • Cultivating an Islamist intellectual community, including the establishment of think-tanks and advocacy groups, and publishing “academic” studies, to legitimize Islamist positions and to chronicle the history of Islamist movements

  • Developing a comprehensive 100-year plan to advance Islamist ideology throughout the world

  • Balancing international objectives with local flexibility

  • Building extensive social networks of schools, hospitals and charitable organizations dedicated to Islamist ideals so that contact with the movement for Muslims in the West is constant

  • Involving ideologically committed Muslims in democratically-elected institutions on all levels in the West, including government, NGOs, private organizations and labor unions

  • Instrumentally using existing Western institutions until they can be converted and put into service of Islam

  • Drafting Islamic constitutions, laws and policies for eventual implementation

  • Avoiding conflict within the Islamist movements on all levels, including the development of processes for conflict resolution

  • Instituting alliances with Western “progressive” organizations that share similar goals

  • Creating autonomous “security forces” to protect Muslims in the West

  • Inflaming violence and keeping Muslims living in the West “in a jihad frame of mind”

  • Supporting jihad movements across the Muslim world through preaching, propaganda, personnel, funding, and technical and operational support

  • Making the Palestinian cause a global wedge issue for Muslims

  • Adopting the total liberation of Palestine from Israel and the creation of an Islamic state as a keystone in the plan for global Islamic domination

  • Instigating a constant campaign to incite hatred by Muslims against Jews and rejecting any discussions of conciliation or coexistence with them

  • Actively creating jihad terror cells within Palestine

  • Linking the terrorist activities in Palestine with the global terror movement

  • Collecting sufficient funds to indefinitely perpetuate and support jihad around the world

It is obvious that not every Muslim immigrant is part of this plan. Most might not be aware of it. But when dealing with fundamentalist Muslims it is important to keep this in mind. An organization in Holland called the WRR recently called upon the Dutch gov't to conduct talks with the Muslim Brotherhood, bringing them as an example of "moderate Islam" and citing that the Muslim Brotherhood is considered too moderate by some Muslims.

Source: FrontPage Magazine 1, 2 (English)

See also: About the WRR report


Another issue to note, this "secret plan" (and I would be glad for more confirmation on it), is very similar to the way the Muslim Brotherhood operated in Egypt, according to Khadduri in his book Political Trends in the Arab World (see my review). From its inception in the late 1920s and until it tried to take over power in Egypt, it portrayed itself as a charity organization, dedicated only to bettering the lot of the poor and teaching Islam. Even after they tried to take over power, it still remained a debate as to whether it was their original plan or not, and whether they were trying to build up a Muslim Caliphate or just take care of Egypt.

Holland: money for illegals suffering from "honor" crimes

Verdonk, Dutch Minister of Immigrant Policy, announced today that money will be put aside to help illegal women who are victims of "honor" related crimes. The money will be taken from an existing fond to help offset living costs and medical care until the gov't decides whether they can stay in the Netherlands.

Organization for helping women stressed that "honor" related crimes is an underrated problem in the Netherlands. Police, education and social workers do not have adequate knowledge or money to offer help to victims.

The announcement was made during a presentation of a book about violence against immigrant girls.

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

See also: Keeping count of "honor" murders

Belgium: immigrants shot in Antwerp

An 18 year old boy, Hans Van Themsche, went on a shooting spree in Antwerp yesterday, aiming to kill immigrants. He shot at one Turkish woman, next to a language learning center, then went on to kill a black woman from Mali and the toddler she was looking after. He was shot by police after he refused to put down his weapon.

Van Themsche is said to have extreme right wing leaning. He supposedly said he'll commit suicide after running into problems at his school and that he'll "take 10 immigrants with him".

The immigrant organizations in Antwerp organized today a silent march against senseless violence. About 300 people took part. A silent vigil was organized after the Friday prayers as well.

Source: Standaard 1, 2 (Dutch)

About Palestinian propoganda

This was sent to me by Nouille, and though it's not directly related to Islam in Europe, it's an interesting view into how TV and journalists work (available through YouTube).

Denmark: Imam leaving

Denmark's most prominent Muslim leader, who led criticism of a Danish newspaper that published drawings of the Prophet Muhammad, has decided to leave the country, the daily reported Thursday.

Imam Ahmed Abu Laban said he has felt humiliated in the aftermath of the cartoon controversy, which led to riots around the world, and that he would leave Denmark to return to Gaza with his family, the Jyllands-Posten newspaper wrote.

"I have recently felt that I am being viewed as a simple terrorist. No human being can accept that. It is an extreme humiliation," Abu Laban was quoted as saying. "I have taken the decision to leave Denmark."

Source: Jerusalem Post (English)

UK: New inheritance tax burden for Muslims

The new British inheritance tax would cause hardships for Muslims, who are obligated by Sharia law to hand out specific portions to specific people. Only spouses are exempted from the tax, by British law. It would also be interesting to see how the Jewish community deals with this issue.

The Inland Revenue had considered giving second wives a tax break (see lgf) as UK law only recognizes one wife for this exemption.

New changes to the British Inheritance Tax (IHT) law will badly affect many Muslim families who could end up selling their homes to pay the new levy, a leading British newspaper reported on Monday, May 8.

"Well over a million wills will need review, including those of thousands of Muslim families," David Harvey, chief executive of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, told The Guardian.

IHT is essentially a form of death duties. It taxes at 40% the value of all the assets one leaves behind on death.

It affects estates which are valued at more than £285,000, including the value of one's house.

In practical terms, it has to be paid by someone's executors before they are able to manage their assets and potentially hand them on to the beneficiaries.

The most important exemption is property left to a UK-domiciled spouse.

In English law, a widow or widower can inherit in full without paying inheritance tax.

Religious Dilemma

Muslims face a real religious dilemma as they are required by Shari`ah to distribute their wealth in specific quotas for their loved ones, but want to protect their families now in their wills from the new rules, which will come into effect in 2008.

"As it now stands a husband leaving a £400,000 inheritance would result in the children being landed with a bill for £25,000 inheritance tax," said Haroon Rashid, whose company I Will is one of the largest preparers of wills for the Muslim minority estimated at some 1.8 million people.

"In some cases, the only way for them to pay it would be to sell the house their widowed mother is living in.

"There is currently no other way around this problem and I don't believe this was ever intended."

Under Shari`ah, widows are entitled to an eighth of the assets, and widowers a quarter.

The rest must be split between their children and any surviving parents.

Under the new rules, revealed by Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown in Budget 2006, a married Muslim man, for instance, with an £800,000 estate could therefore protect only £100,000 of the total amount by leaving it to his wife free of tax.

Of the rest, £285,000 would be exempt under the nil-rate band and the remaining £415,000 would be subject to a 40% charge.

Source: Islam Online (English)