Book Reviews: On Arab Tribalism

I’ve recently read two books dealing with Arab tribalism:

The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith by Irshad Manji (Amazon Link)

Blood Revenge: Family Honor, Mediation and Outcasting by Joseph Ginat (Amazon Link)

On the face of it, these two books deal with two completely different topics, using two completely different approaches. However, I found that they complemented each other in many ways.

Manji’s main argument is that Arabic “foundamentalism” (ie, founding fundamentalism) is responsible for most evils in Islam today. That is, it is not Islam itself which is bad, but rather the Arabian tribal mentality which existed before Islam and had swept throughout the lands conquered by the Arabs.

I knew beforehand that Muslims see the pre-Islamic period in Arabia as one of “ignorance”. Manji adds that Arabs expand this view to include anything pre-Islamic, even outside the Arabian desert.

The Koran is not one-dimensional. When looking at the relationship between men and women and between Muslims and non-Muslims there are verses in the Koran that point towards equality and verses that point towards male and Muslim domination.

Manji claims that it is the Muslims themselves who choose where to go with the Koran, they're not under its yoke. That is, Islam is not being “hijacked”.

Though she does not mention it, I think this is backed by the Muslim concept of Ijama – general agreement. Goldziher in his Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law, explains that whatever is accepted by Muslims as right and true will by definition be right and true. Originally this was anything accepted by the general populace but was then minimized to the religious leaders of the Muslim nation. “Hijacking” is therefore impossible.

The argument of “It’s the culture not the religion” is one which keeps on repeating itself when dealing with Islam.

But, like this cartoon from Dry Bones demonstrates – does it really matter?

Manji’s argument is that it does matter. By focusing on the culture and not the religion, she hopes to enable and encourage reform in both.

She uses the concept of Ijtihad (independent thinking) to prove that it is possible to reform Islam from within. In this case, though, her message should be directed only at Muslims. Manji says, or even demands, that non-Muslims do not stay quiet just for fear of being called “Islamophobes”. I agree that non-Muslims should stand up against immorality, whether it is done in the name of religion or not. However, it is not up to non-Muslims to tell Muslims which religious convention they should be using to reform their religion. That is an internal Muslim issue.

Is it just culture or is it really the religion?

In his book, Ginat talks about four issues in Arab tribalism – blood revenge, mediation, outcasting and “honor” murder. Mediation and outcasting seem to be of less interest, especially as mediation is a common practice all over the world, and outcasting is basically only relevant when you deal with the issue of blood revenge.

According to Ginat, who brings Koran quotes to prove his point, blood revenge and “honor” murder are not supported by the Koran.

The Koran differentiates between intentional and accidental murder, where for intentional murder the murderer should be killed and for accidental murder a price paid.

The Koran’s laws for sexual purity also do not match the “common Arab law” – according to the Koran both man and woman who have sex when they are not married are punished by flogging. When dealing with infidelity – both man and woman are executed. For execution, you need 4 witnesses who have seen the couple in the act of infidelity. This is taken by Muslim scholars as a way of “forcing” Arab society to cut down on executions. It is actually interesting, since Jewish law also has a need for witnesses for various crimes, who have seen the crime, and warned the criminal. Since you usually do not have such witnesses, it makes executions almost impossible.

The “trouble” with Islam, as Manji puts it, is that this is only the law in the book, not the law in practice. I find this quite ironic, since I have already read in various books on Islam that Muhammad fought against the immoral tribalism of his time. It seems that he didn’t really succeed.

Bedouin and Arab society is based around the extended family. The “chamis” is a unit of five generations stemming from the father. In Jordan, btw, this has been cut down to three generations by order of King Hussein, which shows that (a) reform is possible, sometimes quite easily and (b) reform can be done from within. All the people in the chamis are responsible for each other. Their actions reflect on their fellows and their fellows are responsible for them.

This is where blood revenge comes in. The “law of the desert” demands that for every killing, intentional or accidental, a person from the other “tribe” will be killed in turn. According to Ginat, this comes to balance the warring tribes.

It is interesting to note that by the Bedouin, blood revenge is still the order of the day, while the sedentary rural Arabs will usually accept a settlement where the killer’s chamis pays a “ransom” instead.

The reason is quite simple: in settled society, where a person is tied down to land or business, and where it becomes impossible to call up work and say you won’t be coming because your 2nd cousin just ran over a kid in the street – compromises are sought after.

There are two types of honor is Arab society – a “man’s” honor, which is based on his deeds and can go up and down, and the “family” honor, which is based on the women’s sexual behavior. This last type of honor can only go down, and is the reason for “honor” murders.

Ginat tries to explain why sometimes a woman is killed for loose sexual acts and sometimes not. His theory is there is one major requirement for ‘honor’ murder: somebody from the ‘injured’ group must come with a public complaint to the woman’s direct relatives. The ‘injured’ group in this case is the family of the woman, as it is their honor that is being tarnished. If the man who had sex with the woman outside marriage will not marry her, the only remaining “action” is to kill her.

He brings various cases where the family turns things around and blames the man. This can easily happen is the man is from another religion (turning it into a witch-hunt). Not all Muslim cultures blame the woman for shaming the “family” honor. In Chechnya, for example, if the man refuses to marry a woman he’s had sex with, he will be publicly humiliated by the woman’s relatives.

Unlike the popular perception, “honor” murder is not something the father (or brothers) do without feeling. Being in this type of culture, they feel they are forced to do it, whether they want to or not. Ginat brings cases, for example, where a brother killed his sister after he was publicly called to protect the family honor, but then killed himself, not being able to deal with what he had just done.

After reading this book I started wondering about blood revenge. It is obvious that "honor" killings take place in Europe, but what about other aspects of Arab tribalism? Just this past week, a Pakistani Norweigan killed the woman who he blamed for killing his girlfriend, and seriously injured her boyfriend. Was this blood revenge or "a fit of revenge"? Is there a difference between the two? I would think that just as "honor" murder is being investigated today in Europe, it is important to verify how common is blood revenge.

The two books are very different from each other. “The trouble with Islam” is written in the form of an open letter, which is very easy reading. It throws ideas at you one after another, though sometimes they seem to contradict each other.

"Blood Revenge", on the other hand, is a learned study. It studies several practices in Arabic society from an anthropological point of view, bringing many case studies. The author brings up several theories which he tries to prove throughout the book.

Related links:

Muslim Refusenik - Irshad Manji's site
Ijtihad - A Return to Enlightenment - site by Dr. Muqtedar Khan
Ijtihad on Wikipedia

"Honor" Murder on Wikipedia
Honor Crimes Project
International Campaign Against Honor Killings

Denmark: Family found guilt of "honor" murder

A recent article on up pompeii said that FORCED MARRIAGE AND KIDNAPPING LEGAL IN UK IF YOU ARE MUSLIM. The reasoning being that since the UK decided not to make a special law dealing with forced marriages, they are in fact allowing it. I posted a comment there in response, as I really don't see a problem using existing laws. The only issue for me is that they will be used.

In Denmark yesterday, a court found an entire family guilt of "honor" murder. This is a "landmark" verdict, not because this is the first time an accessory to murder was found guilty. but because this is the first time the regular laws of the land had been applied to "honor" murder.

A landmark verdict finds nine people guilty for conspiring to kill a young Pakistani woman and her husband in the largest honour killing case ever tried in Europe The High Court of Eastern Denmark delivered a 'guilty' verdict on Tuesday to all nine defendants in the most far-reaching honour killing ever tried in Europe.

The verdict is considered a landmark finding, since not only the brother who fired the gun that killed Ghazala Khan was found guilty.

The court also found Ghazala's father and seven others guilty of conspiring to murder the young Pakistani woman and her husband for disobeying orders not to marry last September. Jurors determined that a group of uncles, aunts and acquaintances apparently plotted to lure the couple to the train station of Slagelse in western Zealand, where the brother waited with a loaded gun.

Ghazala suffered fatal wounds while her newly wed husband narrowly escaped death.

Although lawyers of seven of the defendants sought a reduced sentence for their clients, jurors rejected their plea that mitigating circumstances should release a milder sentence.

The verdict came as no surprise to Vagn Greve, a law professor at Copenhagen University. Jurors merely made use of Danish law's broad guidelines in defining who acts as an accomplice in a crime, he said.

'From what I have heard and read, I cannot see that we have done anything new. The jurors found that existing rules should be put to use.'

Legal experts in Germany, Sweden and other countries have followed the case closely, since it marks the first time accomplices have been found guilty in an honour killing.

Source: Jyllands-Posten (English), hat tip: LGF

See also: Denmark "honor" killing

Veiled news anchors?

Three of the Netherlands Broadcasting Foundation's workers put up a special 'veiled' edition of the NOS Journaal program - the leading news program in the Netherlands.

They go out to interview people out on the street in Rotterdam, all of which don't see a problem with it.

You can see it here.

Antwerp update: 6th suspect arrested

All six suspects in the killing of Guido Demoor have been arrested. The suspects are all Moroccans - five Belgians and one Spaniard. They are all Antwerp residents. Three minors aged 16 and three adults ages 18, 20 and 22. Three of them are known to the police.

Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt praised the efficient action of the police. He expressed the hope that the punishment the arrested youth will get will be an example. He also added that he found the behavior of the youth especially sad because they have discredited an entire community.

Source: De Standaard (Dutch)

See also: Antwerp: Man killed on bus , Antwerp: Bus killing suspects arrested

Update June 27th, 2006:

The suspects will be charged with "deliberate assault and injury that unintentionally led to death" and not "manslaughter".

A lawyer for one of the minors claims that Guido De Moor used violence as well, grabbing one of the suspects by the throat until he turned red and had trouble breathing. Only when his friends punched De Moor did he finally let go. The youth then gave De Moor another punch at which point De Moor dropped into a seat and died.

Filip Dewinter, head of right wing Vlaams Belang had already called for the suspects to sit out their punishment in Morocco. "Whoever here can easily get our nationality as a foreigner of 2nd or 3rd generation, must know that whoever abuses our hospitality will bear the consequences".

Source: De Standaard 1, 2 (Dutch)

Norway: Murder after overdose

This seems a convoluted story. The boyfriend of a woman who died of a drug overdose is now suspected of killing the woman who had injected the drugs and seriously wounding her boyfriend. The suspect is a Pakistani-Norwegian who had already probably left the country.

This might be a "fit of revenge", but there might also be cultural issues here. In Arab society, a murder, whether intentional or accidental, is always avenged with a return murder of somebody in that same "group". The only other solution is a "sulkha" - making peace between the two sides - which usually involves a hefty amount of "ransom money" being paid.

He claims to have killed her in self defense, though he did show up with a gun at her house, so it's hard to see where the self defense came in.

Norwegian police were checking flights to Pakistan from European airports after charging a young Norwegian man of Pakistani background with the murder of a 41-year-old woman in Oslo over the weekend.

The young Norwegian-Pakistani man was the boyfriend of a 20-year-old woman who died of a drug overdose last week. The 41-year-old murder victim had in turn been charged with negligent homicide after allegedly injecting the 20-year-old with heroin.

That set off what police believe was a fit of revenge on the part of the overdose victim's boyfriend. He allegedly made threats against the 41-year-old during the weekend and ultimately had a confrontation with her and a male companion Sunday night.

The woman allegedly threatened him with a knife and a hypodermic needle, while he had a gun. It all ended with multiple shots being fired that killed the woman and severely injured her male companion.

Lawyer John Christian Elden, who represents the overdose victim's family, said he has talked with the young man, who already has fled Norway. Elden said he advised him to turn himself in.

The overdose victim's boyfriend reportedly claims he shot the 41-year-old woman in self-defense.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

Weird quotes from the news

"I've never seen anything like it in Sweden"

A bizarre case in Sweden - a man was forced to put on explosives in what is supposed to be a revenge over a drug deal.

Though similar cases had happened in the US (see here and here), I found the following quote from the Swedish newspaper The Local article on it curious:

Ali said that he could see the man from inside the shop: "He was sitting down drinking something and the police were speaking to him. I've never seen anything like it in Sweden."

Which makes me wonder, where else did he see it happen?

"The two people arrested are thought to be men"

Or not.. they might just be plain terrorists.

This one is taken from a Sky News article about terrorism arrests in Bolton, UK.

Two people have been arrested under the Terrorism Act during a series of raids in Bolton, according to police. (..) The two people arrested are thought to be men.

Irshad Manji in De Balie

Irshad Manji, author of "The Trouble with Islam Today", will be giving a talk in English titled "Eutopia Live: Islam and the Routes to Pluralism", this Thursday (29th of June) in De Balie in Amsterdam.

The talk can be viewed over the internet right here - there should be a live broadcast at 8pm, local time, and a repeat at 10 pm.

Manji calls for reforming Islam from within. I have recently read her book and hope to put up my thoughts on it soon.

More on Danish caps

After posting the story about the Danish graduation caps (Denmark: Graduates' caps turn multi religious), I was curious about the numbers. I therefore turned to C.L. Seifert, the store mentioned in the original article and asked for more info. Mr. Steen Boldsen, the managing director, was kind enough to answer my questions. According to Mr. Boldsen, 5% of the caps ordered carry a different emblem (and not 10% as mentioned in the article), 60% of those being the Muslim crescent.

The Muslim population in Denmark is around 3%.

Antwerp: Bus killing suspects arrested

The Belgian Federal police have arrested five suspects tonight in the killing of 54 year old Guido Demoor on a bus last week in Antwerp. Another suspect has been identified but is still on the lose. All six are Moroccan immigrants, between the ages of 16 and 23. Four of the suspects (two minors, one adult and one on the loose) are suspected of assaulting Demoor, while the other two are suspected of standing by.

Demoor had tried to break up a fight on the bus between six and had then been assaulted by them, dying of a heart attack immediately afterward. The six had pulled for the emergency stop of the bus and had then ran off.

The suspects were identified during the weekend through police material and through witnesses. They were arrested at home, not far from where the assault took place. The six are wanted for manslaughter but it is yet unknown whether they will be charged with manslaughter or some lighter form of crime.

Earlier in the day the Union of Turkish Association, the Federation of Moroccan Associations, Mosque Union an Islamic Association of Antwerp have condemned the incident.

According to the suspect description, one of them was wearing a De Puta Madre 69 shirt, so it's interesting to see what it stands for.

The expression De Puta Madre is derived from Spanish and express a inner sensation. It could be translated into "I am cool" "I feel great". The message I.F.U. would like to send through his brand is:DO NOT COMMIT ILLEGAL ACTIONS, DO NOT USE ANY DRUGS TO FEEL DIFFERENT,DO NOT IMITATE OUR SLOGANS,BUT WEAR OUR T-SHIRTS AND YOU WILL BE EVERLASTING AT THE TOP, WITHOUT USING ANY ARTIFICIAL SUBSTANCES THAT AT THE END WILL DESTROY YOU.

Sources: De Standaard 1, 2 (Dutch)

Tolerance among Dutch and immigrants

A new study by Motivaction shows that ethnic Dutch and immigrant Dutch are both tolerant, just of different issues. The headline of this article was "Ethnic Dutch more tolerant than immigrants", however I"m not sure that's the right conclusion.

While the ethnic Dutch are more tolerant of such liberal issues as abortion, euthanasia and homosexuality, the immigrant dutch are more tolerant of multiculturalism and expression of religiosity.

Both groups agree that tolerance means respecting the choices of the other. Ethnic Dutch respect especially individuals while Moroccans and Turks put more emphasis on accepting their belief.

The numbers are as follows:

tolerance of homosexuality - 88% by ethnic Dutch, 55% by immigrants (with Moroccans having most trouble with it).

tolerance of euthanasia - 84% by ethnic Dutch, 48% by immigrants

tolerance of abortion - 73% by ethnic Dutch, 47% by immigrants (Moroccans being the least tolerant).

tolerance of multiculturalism - 70% of ethnic Dutch think there are too many immigrants, 39% think the same. 58% of ethnic Dutch are glad that the Netherlands is a multicultural land, compared to 93% of immigrants.

tolerance of religious expression - 50% of ethnic Dutch have trouble with wearing a veil as means of religious expression, while 81% of immigrants see no problem with it. A majority of both ethnic Dutch and immigrants disagree with forced marriage and female circumcision.

The article did not mention how many immigrants supported religious expression which isn't Muslim oriented.

Source: Reformatorisch Dagblad (Dutch)

Bot for social contract between Muslims and Europe

Minister Bot, Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, wants to make a “social contract” between Muslims in Europe and the countries in which they live.

The contract will stipulate that the immigrants will learn the language of the new land, participate in society and invest in their country’s future. At the same time, Muslims would be able to “experience their religion freely and participate in society as full-fledged citizens”.

The Grand Mufti of Bosnia Herzegovina had called for such a contract in the past.

According to Bot, Muslims should understand that the Netherlands is not Dar al-Islam (house of Islam) and not Dar al-Harb (house of war), but rather Dar al-Sulh (house of agreement/peace)

Source: (Dutch)

European Muslim women go to extremes to be virgins (again)

SAINT-DENIS, France (AP) — Chastity can exact a painful price from young Muslim women, forced into lies or surgery to go to the marriage bed as virgins.

Hymen repair, fake virginity certificates and other deceptions, said to be commonplace in some Muslim countries, are practiced in France and elsewhere in Europe, where Muslim girls are more emancipated but still live under rigid codes of family honor.

Such ploys have saved many a young woman from scorn and worse. But they also clash with the more liberal social mores of France and Europe, where some decry it as an attack on human rights.

The procedures are legal but shrouded in silence — "something that passes through non-official channels," via friends or the Internet, said Dr. Nathan Wrobel. "There are circuits that lead women to me."

( ... )

Through the ages, virginity has been prized across religions and cultures, and doctors note that only a few generations back European brides also had to furnish documentary "proof" of chastity.

In today's France, with an estimated 5 million Muslims — the largest such population in western Europe — it's part of the larger question of how to deal with cultural clashes ranging from head scarves in schools to sexual segregation in swimming pools.

A 2005 government report addressing culture clashes in hospitals, and issued a year after Muslim head scarves were banned from classrooms, briefly mentions the virginity issue, asking doctors to refuse to issue false certificates.

Isabelle Levy, author of Religion in the Hospital, decries both certificates and hymen repair, saying deception "increases the moral suffering."

In Islam, virginity is linked to bridal purity and family honor, said Dalil Boubakeur, head of the Paris Mosque.

He notes that tradition holds that "adre," virgins, are among the delights of paradise. However, Boubakeur, a doctor and a moderate Muslim, says the Quran does not address premarital virginity, and he is against the deception, counseling bride and bridegroom to confide in each other.

It is not known how many doctors in France or elsewhere in Europe help Muslim women to fake virginity. But in Germany, Turkish Muslim immigrants are increasingly seeking virginity certificates, said Serap Cileli, who survived a forced marriage and now helps victims.

( ... )

In an interview, a French Muslim woman from the northern Paris suburb of Saint Denis, recounted how she was forced to procure a virginity certificate at age 12 "after my mother surprised me with a friend." Although nothing had happened between her and the boy, her suspicious brothers beat her up, she said, requesting anonymity.

By age 19 she had lost her virginity and underwent hymen repair before marrying a man who demanded a virgin.

"I wanted to leave home. I took the first one who came along," the woman said. The marriage ended after five years.

Source: USA Today (English)

Allochtonen Weblog 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.

Rotterdam Essalam Mosque

The work on the Rotterdam Essalam Mosque is moving along, with the placing of two 50 meter high minarets. The mosque is being funded by a minister from the United Arab Emirates and should be finished this year.

The mosque intends to use a real muezzin to call the Muslims to prayer, as compared to the more modern method of sounding tapes. In Rotterdam the muezzin calls only on Friday afternoon, for the weekly Friday prayers.

Imams for overseas missions

The largest Muslim organization in Holland (Contactorgaan Moslims en Overheid, CMO) is calling on the gov’t to send military imams on overseas missions.

Parents not sending kids to 'black' schools

Less and less parents are willing to send their kids to “black” schools (ie, schools with a high percent of immigrants). The number has dropped from 20% last year to 12% this year. In general by the Dutch, the number has dropped from 27% to 22%. Meanwhile, the number of parents who feel Islamic schools have a right to exist has dropped from 50% to 40%

Shirts with Arabic text becoming popular

Said Dahchouri, A Dutch-Moroccan designer, says his designs are very popular both by Dutch and immigrants. The shirts are printed with various words in Arabic (famous, respect, peace, allochtoon/foreign)

Donner: Judeo-Christian tradition doesn't need gov't protection

Dutch Minister of Justic Donner says that the gov’t should not protect the “Judeo-Chrisitian tradition” and says many of those who support it, do not go to church themselves and are simply using religion in order to exclude immigrants. It is society which should protect moral norms, not the gov’t.

Working mothers in the Netherlands

New statistics have been published about working mothers in the Netherlands.

By ethnic Dutch the number goes from 90% working before motherhood to around 80% after the birth of their first child.

By 1st generation Turkish and Moroccan mothers this went from 70% to 40%. By other non-Western immigrants the number dropped as well, but not as much.

By 2nd generation Turkish and Moroccan women, 80% work before their first child, while only about 50% work afterward.

Parent-Teacher meetings

A parliament member is suggesting to force parents to show up for parent-teacher meetings, saying that especially immigrant parents are not coming to such meetings. However, one school official is saying there are better ways, for example – giving out reports only if the parents show up or revive the old practice of sending teachers to visit their students at home.

Antwerp: Man killed on bus

A 54 year old man, train driver for NMBS, was killed Saturday while traveling on a bus in the center of Antwerp. A group of around 6 young men (about 18-21 year old) were fighting on the bus and when the man tried to intervene they started kicking and assaulting him. The man died of a heart attack on the spot.

The bus, meanwhile, had stopped on the side of the road, and the young men fled through the open doors. They are now wanted for manslaughter.

It is unclear who the attackers were, though there is starting to be talk that they were "allochtonen" (meaning 'immigrants', but usually specifically for Muslims). The Belgian press and politicians are very careful about assigning blame at the moment, specifically since the last time everybody was ready the hang Moroccans for an outrageous murder, the murderers had turned out to be Polish gypsies.

Source: De Standaard (Dutch)

Poll among European Muslims

Pew Research has come out with a new survey, charting the divide between Muslims and the West.

It is interesting to see how European Muslims see the West.

While Europe's Muslim minorities are about as likely as Muslims elsewhere to see relations between Westerners and Muslims as generally bad, they more often associate positive attributes to Westerners - including tolerance, generosity, and respect for women. And in a number of respects Muslims in Europe are less inclined to see a clash of civilizations than are some of the general publics surveyed in Europe. Notably, they are less likely than non-Muslims in Europe to believe that there is a conflict between modernity and being a devout Muslim.

Solid majorities of the general publics in Germany and Spain say that there is a natural conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society. But most Muslims in both of those countries disagree. And in France, the scene of recent riots in heavily Muslim areas, large percentages of both the general public and the Muslim minority population feel there is no conflict in being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society.

Pew surveyed Muslims in the UK, Germany, France and Spain.

25% of Spanish Muslims think there is a conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in Western Society. That compared to 28% in France, 36% in Germany and 47% in the UK. Among non-Muslims the percentages go from 26% in France to 70% in Germany.

The survey also asked people in non-Muslim countries whether or not they see a conflict between being a devout Christian and living in a modern society. Majorities in all countries - as well as majorities of Muslims in four European countries - say they see no conflict. However, a relatively large minority of Germans (37%) sees a conflict between being a devout Christian and living in a modern society.

When asked if violence against civilians can be justified to defend Islam - 35% of French Muslims said yes (often/sometimes or rarely) compared to about 25% of Spanish and British Muslims and 13% of German Muslims. In France, Spain and the UK, about 15% said it can be often/sometimes be justified.

On the other hand, many Muslims don't believe that Muslims are responsible for terror. 35% of Spanish Muslims think Arabs weren't responsible for the 9/11 attacks, compared with about 45% of German and French Muslims and 56% of British Muslims.

Overall, the Germans and Spanish express much more negative views of both Muslims and Arabs than do the French, British or Americans. Just 36% in Germany, and 29% in Spain, express favorable opinions of Muslims; comparable numbers in the two countries have positive impressions of Arabs (39% and 33%, respectively). In France, Great Britain and the U.S., solid majorities say they have favorable opinions of Muslims, and about the same numbers have positive views of Arabs.

These differences are reflected as well in opinions about negative traits associated with Muslims. Roughly eight-in-ten Spanish (83%) and Germans (78%) say they associate Muslims with being fanatical. But that view is less prevalent in France (50%), Great Britain (48%) and the U.S. (43%).

In many ways, the views of Europe's Muslims are distinct from those of both Western publics and Muslims in the Middle East and Asia. Most European Muslims express favorable opinions of Christians, and while their views of Jews are less positive than those of Western publics, they are far more positive than those of Muslim publics. And in France, a large majority of Muslims (71%) say they have favorable opinions of Jews.

Moreover, while publics in largely Muslim countries generally view Westerners as violent and immoral, this view is not nearly as prevalent among Muslims in France, Spain and Germany. British Muslims however, are the most critical of the four minority publics studied - and they come closer to views of Muslims around the world in their opinions of Westerners.

It is interesting to note that there doesn't seem to be a correlation between the views expressed by the Muslims and how they are viewed by the non-Muslim population. 60% of Spaniards, for example, view Muslims as violent, while only 32% of British people say the same, despite the fact that both countries have experienced terror attacks, and that their Muslim population justifies violence at exactly the same percentages.

Source: Pew Research (English)

Amsterdam: dualism in Moroccan community

The Moroccan community in Amsterdam is composed of two groups, according to a recent study. One faces low incomes and high unemployment, but the other breaks away from the traditional "immigrant" mentality, joins Dutch culture and goes on to higher studies.

The report, "The Moroccan community in Amsterdam" was prepared by the municipal service "Study and statistics" (Onderzoek en Statistiek, O+S).

Source: Parool (Dutch)

Denmark: Graduates' caps turn multi religious

Danish flag to follow..

High school graduates customize their traditional white caps

As high school graduates take to the streets in the next weeks to celebrate, you might notice a change in the emblem on the front of their caps.

This year the caps are rapidly changing appearance, said Steen Boldsen managing director of C. L. Seifert, the original producer of the traditional graduation caps.

There is a much greater variation as to what the students choose as an emblem on the front of their cap. The original cross is widely being replaced with oak leaves by atheists, the Star of David by Jews, the half moon by Arabs or even a note by music lovers.

Some 10 percent of the caps ordered from Seifert carry a different emblem than the cross this year. The trend is especially noticeable in the major cities.

Source: Jyllands Posten (English)

Update June 27th, 2006:

More on Danish caps

Denmark: Kindergarten to teach English

A magnet school is supposed to attract better students, on the one hand, but if there are 75% of children from a foreign background, wouldn't it make more sense to focus on Danish?

A Jutland school in Århus is carving a reputation for itself by introducing English in kindergarten Gone are the days when children in kindergarten merely finger-paint and play with toys. An Århus institution has begun teaching English to children in kindergarten.

The Århus municipality has allocated funding to English instruction at both Sødalskolen and nearby Skåde Skole. The schools are implementing English in kindergarten on a trial basis and students who progress to first and second grade following summer break will continue English instruction.

'Some 75 percent of the children have a foreign background, and that's why we will be focusing on English as a specialisation subject. We would like to ensure that children have the opportunity to participate in a multicultural and globalised world where English is the main language,' said Susanne Berg, principal of Sødalskolen, to public service broadcaster DR.

Sødalskolen is one of eight magnet schools in Århus, which receives special funding from the municipality. The magnet school model was introduced to discourage children from moving to schools with a more homogenous composition of students.

'We have expanded the number of hours of English instruction at all grade levels, and we believe in the value of giving children the opportunity to incorporate English into their lives at an early age. They already encounter it in several facets of their everyday life,' said Berg.

The National Kindergarten Association that organises kindergartens has expressed scepticism about the idea. They have expressed concern that the time spent on English instruction would take away from other classes or activities. In the past the association has also opposed introducing more rigid schedules in kindergarten.

Source: Jyllands Posten (English)

France appoints first Muslim military chaplain

The French minister of defence, Michèle Alliot-Marie, received Wednesday the first chaplain in chief of the Muslim cult, Abdelkader Arbi, who was appointed on 8 June, reported AFP quoting a communiqué from the French Ministry of Defence.

The French Council of the Muslim Cult (CFCM) proposed the candidature of Arbi for this post, which had been instituted by a decree issued on 16 March 2005.

Many Muslims from Algeria, Morocco and Senegal had fought for the French army, particularly during the First and the Second World Wars, where tens of thousands perished. Yet, no Muslim military chaplain had been appointed; only "semi-official" Imams have filled the gap, underlined Arbi.

However, Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish military chaplains already exist in the French army.
Born in Algeria, to a father who had served in the French army, Arbi came to France with his family in 1962. He has been working in Cléon (north-western France), the city where he is a local councilor within a leftist majority.

There are no statistics concerning the number of Muslims in the French army, "but they are in all the army sections, and among them, a lot of high ranking ones," the France's first Muslim
chaplain affirmed during the announcement of his candidacy.

Source: Morocco Times (English)

Germany: Terrorist trial opens

Ansar al-Islam is a Kurdish Sunni Islamist group, promoting a radical interpretation of Islam and holy war. At the beginning of the 2003 invasion of Iraq it controlled about a dozen villages and a range of peaks in northern Iraq on the Iranian border. It has used terrorist tactics such as suicide bombers in its conflicts with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and other Kurdish groups.

STUTTGART, GERMANY - Three men went on trial under top security in Germany Tuesday, accused of plotting to assassinate the Iraqi prime minister of the day, Iyad Allawi, during a 2004 visit to Berlin.

Police had tapped their phones and arrested Ata R, 32, Mazen H, 26, and Rafik Y, 31, before they could act, prosecutors said.

The trio, who face trial in Stuttgart - and another two men who went on trial in Munich, also on Tuesday - are all accused of raising funds or recruiting for the Iraqi terrorist organization Ansar al- Islam.

Prosecutors say Ata R was Ansar's leader in Germany. Full names were not provided under German news guidelines protecting privacy.

Defence lawyers at the Stuttgart trial demanded the indictment, which was presented in German and Kurdish, be translated into Arabic too, contending that one of the accused knew hardly any Kurdish.

In the parallel case in Munich, both defendants, who have been in custody for a year, refused to testify apart from identifying themselves. Court officials expect the trial with its jigsaw of evidence amassed by police to last to the end of year or beyond.

A 34-year-old man is charged in Munich with being a member of Ansar al-Islam and a 40-year-old with being a supporter.

In January, an Iraqi national, Lokman M, was jailed for seven years for membership in the same group. He was expected to testify at the Stuttgart trial.

A seventh alleged member of Ansar al-Islam was detained in the transit zone at Frankfurt airport in Germany last week. The news magazine Der Spiegel said Burhan B, 36, an Iraqi, was in the course of leaving Europe permanently, bound for Jordan. [Esther note: How do they know it would be permanent?]

Der Spiegel said that Germany authorities had been monitoring him since November 2003 after tapping a phone conversation between him and Ata R. Prosecutors declined to comment on that report.

Source: Expatica (English)

UK: Support for Islamic Banking

Chancellor Gordon Brown has pledged support for the growth of Islamic finance, saying the UK can act as "a gateway" for the growing industry.

He told the Islamic Finance and Trade Conference in London he wanted to make the UK a centre for Islamic investment.

He called for stronger trading links between the UK and Muslim countries as well as global trade reform.

Under Sharia Islamic law, making money from money, such as by charging interest, is not permitted.

'Alternative approach'

In a speech to the conference, which was organised by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), Mr Brown said the UK was "well placed" to become a gateway for Islamic trade and finance.

Freer trade would boost economies in the Middle East in particular, he said.

He emphasised recent regulatory reforms which have ensured that financial frameworks are compliant with Sharia law.

The value of Islamic banking has risen sharply in recent years, with many of the world's largest banks offering financial products based on Islamic interest-free models.

The MCB said the conference was about more than consolidating existing trading relationships.

MCB secretary-general Dr Abdul Bari said: "We all know that the current climate of tension calls for an alternative approach, one that promotes peace and dialogue, and the trade and financial markets are an ideal platform for this."

Source: BBC (English)

Belgium: Freedom of religion vs animal welfare

The Belgian Council of State, whose job is to assist the executive branch with legal advice and to serve as the supreme court for administrative justice, has declared that freedom of religion stands above animal welfare.

This advice was given after a law proposal was made to Belgians support anaesthesing animals before slaughter

Source: De Standaard (Dutch)

See also: Belgians support anaesthesing animals before slaughter

Norway: Afghan hunger strike a success

The Afghan refugees protesting their lack of asylum ended a 26-day long hunger strike outside of Oslo Cathedral on Tuesday evening.

Spokesman Zahir Athari read a declaration as the strike ended, as protestors celebrated a new reaction from Norway's government.

Minister of Finance Kristin Halvorsen and Minister of Labor and Social Inclusion Bjarne Håkon Hanssen have said that no Afghans from outside of capital Kabul shall be sent home before the end of the year at the earliest.

"We end the hunger strike but continue our struggle for our rights," Athari said, and characterized the decision as a victory for both the refugees and the government.

All Afghan refugees will now receive legal aid to reassess the grounds for rejection of asylum. The government also promised to abide by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recommendation for returns to Afghanistan, and that no one would be sent back before the UNHCR considered it safe.

"We believe these rights must now also apply to refugees who are in the process of being deported, and we expect them not to be sent before this process begins," Athari said.
Hanssen told NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting) that the Afghans had not achieved asylum via the strike, just an opportunity for assistance in examining their case

Source: Aftenposten (English)

Oslo: Clearance for banning Niquab

The City of Oslo has received clearance from the Directorate for Primary and Secondary Education to forbid veils that cover all of the face but the eyes.

City Council leader Erling Lae will introduce a ban on this type of veil because he believes it makes it difficult for teachers when they cannot see their students' faces, NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting) reports.

Fakhara Salimi, head of the MiRA Resource Center for immigrant and refugee women, did not welcome the news.

"Banning something that impinges on an individual's freedom is never good. Adult women over 16 should be able to choose for themselves," Salimi told Aftenposten's evening edition. She felt that seeing the eyes was sufficient for daily school communication.

Although the ruling means that other municipalities in Norway can also introduce a ban on garments that veil everything but the eyes, this would only apply to the Muslim niqab, and not the scarf-like hijab.

"We are not forbidding religious garments. One must distinguish between the religious hijab and the completely covering niqab. The latter makes it impossible to have good communication between teacher and student, and between students as well," said Torger Ødegaard, city councilor for schools and education.

Teachers agree that education is more difficult when they cannot see facial expressions or the mouths of a student.

Norway becomes the third European country, after Sweden and France, to forbid the use of the niqab in schools.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

Netherlands: Antisemitic Muslim educational book still in stores

"Guide for a Muslim upbringing" (’Gids voor Islamitische opvoeding’) is a 500 page volume dedicated to teaching Muslim parents how to bring up their kids. It is based on a known Arabic work.

The Dutch public prosecution has decided in 2005 that several “classic anti-Semitic” passages in the book were a punishable offense, and that the publisher “Noer” could avoid prosecution by erasing them from the books.

Dutch newpaper Trouw has investigated whether these directions have been followed, and bough the guide in Dilara - a popular Muslim bookshop with several branches, who also run the Islam Boeken site.

They found that the word “Jews” (‘that through their wickedness and craftiness corrupted the people’) has been covered in several places, but it is still readable. In other places the censor missed it.

Ronny Naftaniël of the Israeli Information and Documentation Center (Centrum Informatie en Documenatie Israël, CIDI) says it’s an “abominable” book and has lodged a complaint against it by the police. Naftaniël says there are also passages against women and that call to hate and violence against homosexuals and atheists. “It’s unacceptable that Dutch Muslims and others will be brought up with these types of starting points.”

According to the public prosecution calling for killing homosexuals and for female circumcision in this religious context is not punishable because they come “in direct relation with the opinions of the religion” of Muslims and they are therefore permissible.

A seller at Dilara says they’ve just run out of the guide and new copies will be ordered as soon as the results of the complaint by CIDI are clear. He also said he’ll make sure that copies will temporarily not be sold over the internet site (which indeed has been done).

Source: Trouw (Dutch), hat tip, Allochtonen Weblog

Britain: Verdict in honor killing case

A BUSINESSMAN is facing a life sentence for stabbing his sister to death in front of his two young daughters in a so-called honour killing.

Azhar Nazir, 30, and his cousin, 17, used four knives to cut Samaira Nazir’s throat and repeatedly stab her after she fell in love with an asylum-seeker from what they saw as an unsuitable caste.

Miss Nazir, 25, had rejected suitors lined up to meet her in Pakistan and had been summoned to the family home in Southall, Middlesex.

The father, also called Azhar, Nazir and the youth launched the attack and at one point dragged her by her hair back into the property.

Miss Nazir, a businesswoman described as “strong-willed”, was heard to shout at her mother, Irshad Begum: “You are not my mother any more.” She was then held down as a scarf was tied around her neck and her throat was cut in three places. Nazir’s daughters, aged 2 and 4, were screaming and were splattered with blood. Police fear that they were ordered to watch as a warning to them. Neighbours called the police after hearing the screaming.

Nazir was found guilty yesterday of murdering his sister; a day after his cousin, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted for his part in the murder. They were remanded in custody and will be sentenced at the Old Bailey in London next month.

The court was told that the 17-year-old believed that Miss Nazir had become a victim of black magic at the hands of Mr Mohammad, an Afghan asylum-seeker. Nazir denied murder but told police that his sister “had to be stopped”.

The father was also charged with the murder but fled to Pakistan, where he has gone into hiding. Charges against the mother were later dropped.

The court was told that Nazir and his father ran Rana Brothers, a successful grocery store on Southall Broadway. The son also owned a recruitment company, S & F Staffing, which supplied workers for the Hilton hotel chain and had made Miss Nazir a director.

She was articulate and well-educated and had studied travel and tourism at Thames University. She was described as the brightest in the family.

She clashed with her family when she told them that she wanted to marry Mr Mohammad, who become known to the family after he came to the country illegally.

After the couple fell in love,Mr Mohammad tried to ingratiate himself with the family by arranging to bring the 17-year-old cousin to Britain from Pakistan. Mr Mohammad and Miss Nazir kept their affair secret for years.

He told jurors: “We were as boyfriend and girlfriend for about five or six years. But we couldn’t tell her family because Samaira said her father was a very strict man who would not allow any female in his family to marry outside of his caste or tribe. We had discussed marriage. Samaira wanted to tell her family herself. Her father was very upset and said I was only after their money.”

When the couple announced their engagement, Mr Mohammad, who ran a stall selling phone cards, said the father went at him with a knife and threatened to kill him.

In April last year Miss Nazir was summoned to the home to be killed to protect the family’s honour. As she screamed for help one neighbour banged on the front door, but the father emerged claiming that his daughter was having a fit.

When police arrived they found a trail of blood from the front of the house to the back door and then to the hallway where Miss Nazir’s body was slumped in a pool of blood.

The amount of blood on the children suggested that they were only feet from the attack. A neighbour spotted Miss Nazir’s bloodstained arm emerge momentarily from the front door before she was dragged back inside and the door slammed shut.

She received 18 stab wounds and three cuts to her throat.

Source: Times Online (English), hat tip: LGF

Belgium: Woman fired for wearing veil

Samira Achbita, a 24 year old receptionist, is a Belgian-Moroccan that has worked for 4 years for Group 4 Securicor. In her work she's contracted out to another company, Atlas Copco in Wilrijk. Four months ago she decided to start wearing a veil and that did not go down well by her employers. Group 4 Securicor is an international company and though its work regulations say nothing about wearing a veil they do expect their employees to stick to "strict neutrality" and she was therefore dismissed.

Achbita has turned to her work union and to the Centrum voor Gelijkheid van Kansen en Racismebestrijding (Center for Equal Opportunities and anti-Racism)

Source: Standaard (Dutch)

Sweden and Golan wines

About a week ago Sweden's state controlled alcohol retail monopoly, Systembolaget, decided to label Israeli wines produced in the Golan as made in "Syrian occupied territory".

As brought in Ynet:
"Many of our customers believe that the Golan Heights do not belong to the State of Israel according to international law. we have approached the Foreign Ministry in Stockholm in order to consult about how to define the origin of the wine in our catalogue," a spokesman for the state company explained.

A furor erupted, and Systembolaget backed down, supposedly.

EJP reports that:

Sweden’s state-run wines and spirits monopoly Systembolaget has backtracked on a controversial policy to label some Israeli wines as coming from 'occupied territory'

I went to check.. and discovered that if until now Israeli wines were labeled as coming from "Israel" with a note by the Golan wines that they were from "Syrian occupied territory", now the Golan wines are in a category all by themselves: Övriga ursprung (other origin).

Systembolaget's explanation as to the chain of events can be found here (in Swedish).

List of Israeli wines and a separate list of Golan wines.

For more info you can contact Systembolaget's press department: Björn Rydberg -

Netherlands in 2025

The three big cities in Holland are supposed to stabilize in the upcoming 20 years with 30% immigrants, according to the Dutch Bureau for Statistics. In other cities such as Schiedam, Diemen and Almere the total will grow to about 30% as well.

The total immigrant population in the Netherlands is supposed to be going from 1.7 million to 2.2, with the ethnic Dutch population going down from 13.2 million to 12.9.

There seems to be a couple million people missing, since according to the article in 2025 the Netherlands will have 16.9 million residents. I assume this would be the Western immigrants. Non western immigrants according to these statistics would account for 13% of the total population.

Source: Parool (Dutch)

Immigrants responsible for 90% of Oslo growth

Politicians boasts that the city is a great place to live and have children, but new calculations carried out for Aftenposten's evening edition show that Oslo's growth is almost exclusively due to its immigrant population.

Immigrants account for 92.5 percent of the capital's total population growth over the past ten years. Immigrants from western nations make up seven percent, while non-western immigrants are nearly 86 percent of the growth.

"That number is surprisingly high," admits the man behind the calculations, City of Oslo special adviser Geir Thornsnæs. He reckons that most of the immigrant growth is due to relocation, both from abroad and from other areas of Norway.

"Immigrant women have more children than Norwegians. But because Norwegian women are the great majority, the birth figures are not striking," Thorsnæs said, and notes that Poles and Somalians were the groups that increased the most last year. "A result of the expansion of the European Union and war," he said.

City council leader Erling Lae is well aware of the trend, and still views the overall immigrant segment as not particularly large.

"But growth is positive, stagnation is not. Without immigrants growth would be minimal," Lae said. "Balanced growth is ideal growth. I would not define any groups as a problem," Lae said. He would like to see more Norwegian families with children remaining in the city, and believes this is starting to happen.

Lae does not fear a distorted population in Oslo per se.

"It is only dangerous if the new groups do not become a normal part of the city's population, a combination of ghetto and unemployment. But we should remember that immigrants have contributed to the diversity that makes the city a magnet," Lae said.

Thorsnæs believes that factors outside of Norway will be decisive for the city's future.
"Those who have come, will stay. Refugee catastrophes and changes like the expansion of the EU will determine immigration," Thorsnæs said.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

Amsterdam: Blind people rejected by Muslim taxi drivers

Maikel Bader, a 19 year blind man, has troubles getting around by taxi, since drivers refuse to let his dog into their car. According to the article on, this goes for both ethnic Dutch and Muslims drivers. Dutch drivers don't want a dog dirtying up their taxi while Muslim drivers refuse because of religious belief. According to Bouder, "they say that they can't take dogs because of their religion. They would be impure."

Bouder brought a TV crew in order to draw attention to his plight, and the taxi drivers did not take kindly to being filmed. If anybody can point out to me where in the original article it actually talked about non-Muslim drivers, I would appreciate it. The video story can be seen, in Dutch, on the AT5 site.

This reminded me of a similar story that was reported by Fjordman about a year ago: Norway: Blind people rejected by Muslim taxi drivers

Sources: AT5, (Dutch)

Belgian family reunification immigration sharply rising

The number of immigrants coming into Belgium through family reunification or through marriage has gone up sharply the past few years. The total for the past 12 months is 31,342.

In Antwerp the number has jumped from 1,751 in 2002 to 4,348 in 2005. That is almost 250%. The reasons being the tough immigration laws in neighboring countries (ie, Netherlands), that are causing many people to go through Belgium.

The number of Dutch in Belgium has also jumped from 11,381 in 2002 to 21,868 in 2004, with a great number of them being of immigrant origin. In Antwerp the number of Dutch has also doubled in that same time period.
Source: De Morgen (Dutch)

See also: Belgian suffering from Dutch "family reunification" tourism, Belgium and Holland band against abuse of immigration rules, The Belgian Route

Finding foster families

The child welfare services in Flevoland, a Dutch province, are looking for Muslim foster families. There are about 20 kids waiting for care, but currently no foster families of immigrant origin.

Welfare authorities have already started making contacts with mosques, Muslims schools and organizations and expect to start a course for foster parenting in the upcoming fall.

Having Muslim foster parents will provide a better solution, though at the moment there are no applications.

According to the Flevoland child services, it will require patience and time since foster families are something non existent in the immigrant culture as well as having a taboo against bringing up you’re your child in another home (I suppose they mean here, home with a different religion).

Source: De Stentor (Dutch)

Amsterdam: boom in violence

A sudden boom in violent offence by (Moroccan) youth is currently sweeping through Amsterdam. The last month there were a number of incidents on which
The municipality admits that there is a “peak”, but sees no reason to change policy.

Amsterdam has started several years ago to attack the youth issue. About a hundred groups are making the city unsafe and there are meanwhile several ongoing projects to keep these “riot youth” in check. Police data show that the past month there’s been a row of incidents in which victims were just like that attacked, for example, pulled off their bikes and manhandled.

Two days ago a 21 year old man was attacked and kicked. According to the police he was pulled off his bike and mishandled by “young men of North African origin”. The culprits then escaped by car.

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

Muslims on MSNBC

MSNBC has a series of video articles about Muslims in Europe, generally focusing on how Muslims fit into society.

One of them brings the following story:

Muslim student seeks balance in her life

Embracing Islamic traditions while pursuing modern career

CORDOBA, Spain - Medical student Soab Belkebir, 27, is demanding the same access to education as other professionals in Europe, but she also wants to hold onto her Muslim religious traditions.

Not knowing anything, one would assume that Spain is a country which doesn't allow Muslims into higher education. Otherwise, why would she need to demand anything? She has the same access to education as other professionals in Europe. Nobody is stopping her from holding on to her Muslim religious traditions either.

There are quite a few Muslim countries which would not allow her into a university with a veil, and there are quite a few Muslim countries which would not allow her into a university period, being a woman. And yet the MSNBC reporter felt that she had to stress a bigotry which doesn't really exist. I understand from the video that Belkebir is not Spanish and has come to Spain because they offered her the opportunity to pursue a modern career. So why not stress that aspect of things?

If already, she should demand that other young Muslim women in the Middle East would get the same opportunities that young Muslim women in Europe take for granted.

Source: MSNBC (English) - video article.

Outlooks of Muslims in the Netherlands

Two new studies on the outlooks of Muslims in the Netherlands.

The first to appear, earlier this week, is a research by Motivaction showing that about half of Dutch immigrants have modern values.

I find it sad that values such as religion and family are considered "bad", while hedonism and materialism are considered "good". Having traditional values does not mean being anti-democratic or anti-progress, and I think that even today people can find a good "middle ground" between the two.

Back to Motivaction.. The research was conducted among 600 Turks, Moroccans, Surinamese and Antilleans, and show that there are generally five groups:

(1) Religious family-oriented (23%) – values religion and family and finds family honor more important than personal happiness. Sees no importance in material goods.

(2) Conservative work-oriented (19%) – combine traditional values of religion and family with a materialistic lifestyle.In a similar overall Dutch study, the researchers found that about 20% of the Dutch are conservative, though they are still more progressive than the most conservative immigrants.

(3) Modern status seekers (21%) – distance themselves from religion and family. Independent and materialistic, dreaming of riches and glamour, but not doing much to attain it and prefer to stick to secure work.

(4) Status-oriented carrier makers (18%) – very ambitious and devoted to luxury, but especially to achievement, success and social recognition.

(5) Ambitious developers (18%) – want to get ahead but find self fulfillment and development more important. This group is composed mainly of highly educated Surinamese and Moroccan women.

The first group being of the older immigrants and the latter 3 of younger people.

The research showed that Turks and Moroccans are generally more conservative than Surinamese and Antillians. About 60% of Turks have a conservative lifestyle compared to 48% of Moroccans.

According to the researchers the group being researched was rather small and further studies will have to be made in the future.

The next study comes out in a new report “Radicals and democrats” by the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies (het Instituut voor Migratie en Etnische Studies, IMES). The study shows that 40% of Moroccan youth reject demoracy and think that Muslim and European lifestyles are hardly compatible.

The youth have little confidence in politics (which I assume is a worldwide phenomenon, really). A majority is against the right to freedom of expression if it allows offending speech, and especially if it concerns Islam. They feel politicians are afraid of the religion and want to suppress it.

The youth are ready to defend their faith. A large majority by legal means, while about 6%-7% will resort to violence if needed.

Most Muslims feel discriminated against, both radical and ‘democratically active’ Muslims. There is a difference between the two groups on the social economic field. The democratically active want to build up their future in the Netherlands while the radicals don’t see their prospects there.

The report brings three motives for radicalizing: (1) exclusion and discrimination (2) a need for meaning, a religious quest (3) a feeling of lack of understanding by both Dutch society and their own parents.

Sources: Reformatorisch Dagblad (Dutch), Volkskrant (Dutch)

See also: New book on Muslim youth in the Netherlands

New book on Muslim youth in the Netherlands

Three political scientists at the University of Amsterdam have published a book on Muslim youngsters in the Netherlands. They conclude that radicalisation need not always lead to extremism.

At the request of the Justice Ministry, Frank J. Buijs, Froukje Demant and Atef Hamdy wrote the 304 page book 'Strijders van eigen bodem: radicale en democratische moslims in Nederland' (Home-grown Warriors: Radical and Democratic Muslims in The Netherlands). The book contains interviews with Muslim youngsters about their views, political choices and about Islam, democracy, radicalisation and violence.

Publisher Amsterdam University Press (AUP): "While a small group of radicals in the Netherlands is turning away from society and undertaking the crusade against the depraved West, democratically active Muslim youngsters are on the other hand seeking an increased participation in Dutch society. This study describes the influence of social factors such as deprivation and exclusion on the process of radicalisation".

The authors "analyse the unique position of the second generation of Muslim youngsters". They "analyse the attraction and danger of extremist thinking but also emphasise that the path to radicalisation need not continue into the path of extremism".

Source: NIS news (English)

Danish book on Islam banned

Kåre Bluitgen, a Danish author, wrote a children's book on Mohammed, and for the most noble causes. He's a firm believer in multiculturalism, and his own kids go to schools with a high percentage of immigrant kids. He wanted Danish children to understand Islam. After all, Muslim children in Denmark are expected to learn all about Danish culture and history. Why shouldn't Danish children learn about their immigrant friends' history? It's all a matter of mutual respect, no?

He couldn't find anybody to illustrate his book, and once an editor at Jyllands Posten got wind of that, the newspaper came out with a Mohammed cartoon contest. The rest is history. Bluitgen, meanwhile, managed to find an illustrator and published his book.

The only problem is that now Danish schools are banning the book. Why? Because it's too violent and only stresses the violent side of Islam. I'm not sure how Mohammed's life could be portrayed in a non-violent way, though I'm sure there are ways to do so in an age-appropriate manner. From what I can in the pictures here, it doesn't seem too violent, either.

All this does not bother Muslim sites from gloating over the fact that this book has been banned. After all, thousands of Muslims went out on the streets in protest just because he couldn't find an illustrator. Nobody really cares by now if the author who wrote the book is actually pro-Islam or not. Though, maybe, if the Danish are complaining that the book is too violent, it should make a difference.

Embargo on Danish Author's Book

Schools libraries in Denmark are not accepting Danish author Kaare Bluitgen’s children’s book titled, “Koran and the Prophet’s Life.”

Regarded as the inciter of the caricature crisis, Bluitgen said, “caricaturists do not want to draw the Prophet’s pictures for a children’s book because they fear being killed.”

Danish educators stressed it is inappropriate to limit the Prophet Mohammed’s (PBUH) life to his wars and commented, “Children will have incorrect information about Islam when they read this book.”

Scientists also backed schools that decided not to benefit from the book containing pictures of the Prophet.

Authorities described the book as “lacking scientific quality.” Bluitgen’s “book for children” received reactions mostly from schools.

Park school in the city of Struer is one of the schools that did not want to carry the book its in library.

School librarian Soren Langkjaer said their decision is not related to the caricature crisis or censorship and added, “The book highlights violence. If children read only this book, they will get inaccurate information about Islam. That is why we bought the book for teachers, we are not giving it to students.”

Hellig Kors School in the Norrebro province of Copenhagen did not find the book appropriate even for teachers and the Hillerodgade School also did not give consent to it.

The school administration said, “the content of the book brings violence to the foreground.”

Jorgen Baek Simonsen, a researcher in Islamic Studies at the Copenhagen University indicated the schools decision to not accept the book in their library was “appropriate.”The book is absolutely inappropriate for children,” he told. Simonsen asserted that those who want to read the book should read it under the supervision of an adult, adding “It is difficult for children to understand this book.”

Bluitgen, who introduced himself as a children’s book writer, wrote a 272 page book, exceeding the size of children’s book.

Titled, “Koran and the Prophet’s Life”, there is no chapter in the book about the Koran.The writer said he would include the “Danish version of the Koran” as well. There is a description of Prophet Muhammad in 10 sentences.

After the writer’s statement that “cartoonists do not want to draw images of the prophet because they fear being killed,” the Danish Jyllands Posten newspaper challenged 40 cartoonists to draw the images of Prophet Muhammad according to their own understanding.The cartoons depicting the prophet had caused great anger in the Muslim world.

Source: Turks.US (English), Hat tip: Islamic Evil

Belgians support anaesthesing animals before slaughter

According to a survey done by animal right organization GAIA, about 75% of Belgians think that animals should be anesthetized before being slaughtered. 72% think slaughtering should be forbidden without previous anesthesia. 79% think that animals suffer if they're not anesthetized before slaughter (that's 91% in West Flanders and 69% in Brussels).

87% (81% in Brussels) think animals should be anesthetized during regular slaughter, while 79% (67% in Brussels) think that this should be done also for ritual slaughter.

The study was done since senator Jean-Marie Dedecker proposed a bill to require anesthesia before slaughter. Sweden and Switzerland already have such a law. Such a law would affect both Muslim and Jewish ritual slaughtering.

Source: Standaard (Dutch)

Amsterdam: doctors assaulted

Update: I've got some more details on this story and updated accordingly.

A group of drunken youth caused trouble and threatened two doctors by a swimming pool in Amsterdam. An ambulance was pelted and one doctor was was slapped in the face.

The doctor was on her way to the swimming pool at around 6pm when she saw that someone was helping a young man who's become unwell. She decided to assist the man, who was a doctor.

The young man was intoxicated and was not communicative. While they tried looking for signs of life they were jeered by a group of about 20 youth that had gathered round. When an ambulance arrived, the group kicked it and pelted the rear, at which the ambulance departed. "Because it was an immigrant, they rode away" according to the youth. [according to a different version of the story, the ambulance first tried to drive away and was then attacked].

When the doctor asked them to leave a second ambulance undisturbed, she was attacked. The ambulance did not need to take the sick youth away as by that time his condition had improved.

Source: Parool (Dutch), (Dutch)

Burka ban in Belgium upheld

The Maaseik magistrate has decided that the city can enforce its Burka ban. The court rejected the appeal of Khadija El Ouazzani, one of five residents who would regularly walk around totally veiled. In April 2005 she received a fine of 75 euro which she appealed.

This is the first time that a court in Belgium forbids a burka or niqab. According to the city mayor, Jan Creemers, several other mayors are also considering such a ban and have been waiting for the Masseik verdict before moving on with it.

Source: Standaard (Dutch)

Allochtonen Weblog 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.

  1. The Dutch immigrant party (Partij voor Allochtone Nederlanders,PAN) held its first congress in Delft. The party wants to develop the multicultural society in the Netherlands, force companies to employ immigrants and support Turkey’s entry into the EU. The party also supports a school uniform to stimulate a feeling of oneness and a genera pardon for all asylum seekers in the country.

  2. Immigrant parents do not busy themselves enough with their children’s education, according to the Dutch education minister. Too often they expect the school to take full responsibility. Many don’t turn up for teacher’s meetings. Many times immigrant parents don’t enable their kids to do homework since they expect the kids to do so at school.

  3. Salafist imams are trying to convince the public that they do not form a danger such as the Dutch Intelligence Services claim.

    “We do nothing but spread pure Islam in peaceful ways. An Islam that has been weeded of cultural influences and that encourages a return to the times of the Prophet Muhammad.”, says Abdel Maoula, a regular visitor to the As Soennah Mosque in The Hague.

  4. The Salafist mosque in Tilburg has printed leaflets showing that the Koran condemns suicide attacks.

    The initiator of the idea is the Secretary of the Islamic Foundation for Culture and Health, M. Mrabet, who intends to give the leaflets out to all Muslim kids in the Netherlands.

    “Due to the questions of our young visitors I’ve decided to write up the opinions of 9 great scholars. Many kids get their knowledge from the internet, that is often based on a wrong explanation of the texts.” More than 200 people, 18 to 30 years of age, go to the mosque gatherings.

    “We want to protect our belief. A good Muslim searches for the truth. We therefore do better work than the AIVD (intelligence services). We think this is also our responsibility during these chaotic times."

    [I have tried looking them up, but could not find their site]

  5. Achmed Marcouch, neighborhood president in Amsterdam, has sent urgent letters to parents of Moroccan problem youth, requiring them to come for a meeting. This step was taken after several violent incidents the past few weeks.

  6. Nabeila Marhaben from Purmerend has been chosen as Miss Morocco-Netherlands. One candidate had been disqualified from running after appearing in a bikini photo shoot. The event is organized to show Moroccan women independence in the Netherlands.

  7. The cabinet has approved Verdonk’s plan for encouraging integration of immigrant women – the plan includes financial support, as well as providing resources for other municipalities such specific municipalities for supporting integration and security.

  8. Sheikh Fawaz Jneid of the As Soennah Mosque wants the state to prosecute parliament member Geert Wilders for criticizing the Queen’s “exemplary behavior” when visiting the mosque in The Hague.

    Wilders called the Queen’s agreement not to shake men’s hands “Dhimmi behavior”. The Head of State can do no wrong and therefore cannot defend herself. The Prime Minister is responsible for all statements and actions of the Queen.

  9. Dutch Minister of Education, Van der Hoeven, called on Muslim women to sign up for imam education. This after visiting a school for female imams in Rabat.

  10. The Ulu Mosque in Oss has gone “orange crazy” for the World Cup, fixing up the mosque with hundreds of orange flags. (mosque site in Dutch)

  11. The Advice Commission for Foreigner Affairs (Adviescommissie voor vreemdelingenzaken, ACVZ) says that the Netherlands should do more for immigrant brides that are victims of forced marriages. Dutch diplomats can barely intervene today or offer assistance.

    The ACVZ says also that information over forced marriages should be part of the integration exams.

    Forced marriages are common especially in Hindu, Moroccan and Turkish communities.

    The ACVZ says that embassy personnel can sometimes tell whether a bride is forced to be married, but they can’t prevent her from coming. Also, in lands such a Turkey and Morocco women often come to embassies complaining that they’ve been left behind by their spouse without any papers. They often don’t get assistance because they either don’t hold or can’t prove that they hold Dutch citizenship.

    The ACVZ sees both forced marriages and leaving behind as a form of domestic violence.

  12. France pardons hundreds of illegal students – about 700 families have been legalized since it’s “cruel to proceed with expulsions” of kids of have been born or raised in France. This according to Minister of the Interior, Nicolas Sakozy.

    The decision was attacked from both left and right, since on the one hand it only deals with a small percentage of the kids in France, while on the other – it allows for illegals to stay.

Islamic Values vs. British Values

Al Ghurabaa' is a radical Muslim group in the UK. Recently they put out this sticker, comparing Islamic Values to British Values (hat tip to Klein Verzet)

Needless to say, it is those same British values they despise that allows them to express such ungrateful views.

Of course, British people do gamble (casino in Jericho) and exploit others (oil embargo, Danish boycott). I have no doubt that there are many Muslims who stick to the high values listed above, but there are also many Muslims who show a different example.

I was toying around with this as an exercise in freedom of speech.

Norway: more contact with the Muslim world

Norway's politicians want to establish more and better contact with the Muslim world.

The Liberal Party has suggested that NOK 2 million (USD 163,000) be earmarked as start funds for a cooperative program between Norway and the Muslim world.

Norway's parliament, the Storting, has already approved a proposal for more contact and exchange to promote cooperation between individuals, voluntary organizations, political parties and industry in Norway and the Muslim world.

The proposal became highly topical after the controversy and conflict sparked by the publication of caricatures of the prophet Mohammed in newspapers earlier this year.

"The Liberal Party's proposal for a program of exchange and cooperation between Muslim nations and Norway builds on a firmly rooted belief in dialogue. This can help clear up prejudice, misunderstandings, or even sheer ignorance," said Liberal Party deputy leader Trine Skei Grande.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

Netherlands: Muslim building destroyed by fire

A major fire destroyed a large Muslim building in the city of Vlaardingen, the Netherlands on Friday evening. Firefighters were working to put out the blaze before burning out of control and at one point causing evacuations from nearby buildings.

The fire broke out just before 8 pm local time (7 pm GMT) and was under control around 10 pm (9 pm GMT), according to fire officials.

The blaze was located in a large Muslim building, including a mosque on the first floor. No persons were believed to be injured in the inferno.

Authorities said they were investigating the cause of the fire but suspected the cause was arson. Police officers and fire crews were evacuating the surrounding residents. The fire department called it a "major fire" and all units were called to the scene. Also water fire units were on the scene as the building is located near a river.

Vlaardingen is located about 10 miles from the Hague.

Source: Blogger News (English)

The Middle East in the heart of Brussels

Update: the article had been translated by Ynet as well.

The following is a translation of an article that appeared in Ynet, an Israeli news portal. They do have an English site and they translate some of their articles on it, but I decided not to wait for it.

The Middle East in the heart of Brussels

The Muslim waiter, of which there are not a few throughout the Belgian capital, sounds pretty credible when he invites tourists to the Friday prayer in the mosque in the heart of the Muslim quarter. But in the quarter itself the residents don’t like tourists and the tension can be felt in the air. On the one hand Europe prefers that foreigners will clean its houses and officers, and on the other hand – is afraid of the shows of force of the foreign workers, the Muslims. Ynet reporter visited the Muslim quarter in Brussels and heard that “the Europeans have a psychological problem”.

Ro’i Nachmias

The invitation was smiling and heart warming: “You’re gladly invited to the come to the Friday prayer. There will be 4000-5000 worshippers in the big mosque of Brussels and I will be among them. I’ll wait for you.” The inviter: none other than a pleasant Moroccan waiter, Hasan, who works in the center of Brussels. The full power of the rich history of the Christian culture can be seen all over the European capital. Especially because of that it’s curious to see how a Friday prayer looks in such a city, where the Arab media have reporters.

The way from the center of town, where the impressive buildings of the European Union stand, to the Muslim quarter is very short, a distance of just several stops on the subway from the EU buildings. The idea was to make it to the Friday prayers at the central El Halil Mosque at noon and maybe even talk to some of the worshippers and learn about the big Muslim community in the city. But nothing prepares whoever doesn’t know Brussels’ secrets well for what is happening above ground. The minute you go up above ground the feeling of a rich and impressive Christian culture disappears and you find a Muslim immigrant quarter in the full sense of the word. Suddenly you find it hard to find women whose head is not covered and Christian men. Many shop signs announce their merchandize in Arabic and uninviting gazes welcome the tourists who popped out of nowhere.

A shopkeeper in one of the shops sees somebody intending to photograph the Arabic sign of his shop and signals in a way that cannot be misunderstood that we should get out of there immediately and certainly not photograph the place. Others stare with burning eyes. After a few seconds, two friends who joined me after much imploring on my side are begging to go back. “It’s scary here, don’t be crazy!” they say. A few attempts to ask about the magnificent mosque are not answered. We had to get out.

The representatives of the European Union, which is just a short distance away from the quarter, are aware of the implications of the situation, but they don’t have a real solution. “Despite everything, the foreign worker flow will only increase in the next 20-30 years” says a European Union source in Brussels who deals with the issue. “The European might have a psychological problem. They just refuse to do black work like cleaning and see themselves as too good for such jobs. Some of them, due to the good welfare services in Europe, even prefer staying unemployed and not to work in those fields, which enables a flow of immigrants.”

And what are the implications of the situation?

The situation has a lot of implications. For example: Spain has had the last few years a big Muslim immigrant flow and so in one of the small town in Catalonia grew a Muslim community which makes up 1/3 of the town residents. Two years ago the community asked to build itself a mosque. The local community refused and in response – the Muslims turned one of the local public buildings that was used as a cultural center – into a mosque. When the residents discovered that – it caused a big storm. But despite that there are certainly positive aspects in the flow of immigrants. So, for example, one can mention that the Moroccan community that worked in the electricity field in Belgium – united and started sending cash to invest in electrical infrastructure in rural areas in morocco and that with the encouragement of the EU.”

The Moroccan waiter Hasan is an example of this wave of immigrants. He immigrated to Belgium with his father a few years ago, in his 30s. The father broke down and returned to his homeland, and Hasan is strict about visiting the family every summer. The rest of the year it’s reasonable to assume that he doesn’t feel a great loneliness of an immigrant – in the same street he works in there are quite a few Moroccan waiters and in the stores in the nearby street we had a fluent talk with other Moroccans about the quality of the Israeli fruits that get to Europe. “These are good fruits since they come from the holy land. Too bad that El-Kuds is conquered and it’s impossible to get to it and pray there, maybe one day we’ll get to come and visit you,” said one of the shopkeepers with a heart warming smile. [Esther note: El Kuds is Jerusalem, and to the best of my knowledge Moroccans can come to Israel with no problem].

The head covering that caused public debate in France is much more common in Brussels. Muslim women can be seen in almost every street with hair covered in various situations – some are held in their boyfriend’s arms and in tight clothing, others walk with a conservative and meticulous step and there were even a few who begged with their kids in fast food restaurants.

The Israeli representatives to Europe also observe the implications of the situation that is forming in Europe. So, for example, the Israeli ambassador to the EU in Brussels, Oded Eran, told Ynet this week that Europe is starting to react to the new situation and is toughening up incoming immigration. “Following the Danish caricature storm and the “intifadah” in Paris, you started seeing the implication in polls and votes across Europe. The issue of immigration has become more and more significant. Also in the caricature issue the European countries told the Muslims: that’s enough.”

According to him, “These countries insisted on the sanctified principle of freedom of speech and this was expressed in European legislation in general and in the issue of immigration and border control in particular as well as in the field of the war against terror. There is no doubt that the situation now is different than what it was two years ago in these fields.

Europe is internalizing the new situation?

“The Europeans understand the danger embodied in this situation but there are different approaches to dealing with the situation. It’s hard today for the governments of the European Union to ignore it. Europe today has greater awareness and better tracking of her intelligence services after what is happening within their borders, with an emphasis on sermons in mosques, for example. There’s greater readiness to deal with this in the public sphere and parts of the Muslim society in Europe understand the dangerous potential. Therefore there are attempts at communication from both sides.

Does this have any implications on the attitude of Europe to Israel?

“There is no doubt that today I come up against greater empathy and understanding towards Israel than in the past”, Eran added.

Source: Ynet (Hebrew)