Charleroi: Police stations attacked

Three police stations in the Charleroi region have been attacked by molotov cocktails Wednesday evening.

The third police station was the headquarters in Jumet. The damage is considerable.

Earlier in the evening a station in La Docherie neighborhood in Marchienne-au-Pont and a station in Lodelinsart were attacked with molotov cocktails. In La Docherie the station itself was not seriously hit but a neighboring building where there's a branch of the French Community's child care services suffered heavy damage. In Lodelinsart the damage was minimal.

By 11pm the fire everywhere was under control. The assailant escaped. There were no injured. Chief Commissioner Francine Biot arrived at the scene and the public prosecution was notified.

A crisis-meeting was held this morning at 7am in the Charleroi municipality building of police, fire brigade and the cabinet of mayor Casaert.

On Tuesday evening many molotov cocktails were thrown at a police station in the center of Marchienne-au-Pont. Damage was limited. The attackers managed to escape there as well.

These incident are apparently connected to a shooting that took place Sunday night in Marchienne-au-Pont. Police agents opened fire at a stolen car. The driver, Henaday Numeri (23), was killed and a passenger, Fayssal Hillal (20) was wounded.

No formal connection between the events could be established.

Source: HLN (Dutch), La Libre (French)

Netherlands: Day of Ashura

The Day of Ashura, is a day of mourning for Muslims and especially for Shiites.

As the BBC site explains:

For Shia Muslims, Ashura is a solemn day mourning the martyrdom of Hussein in 680 AD at Karbala in modern-day Iraq.

It is made up of mourning rituals and passion plays re-enacting the martyrdom.

Shia men and women dressed in black also parade through the streets slapping their chests and chanting.

Some Shia men seek to emulate the suffering of Hussein by flagellating themselves with chains or cutting their foreheads until blood streams from their bodies.

Some Shia leaders and groups discourage the bloodletting, saying it creates a backward and negative image of Shia Muslims. Such leaders encourage people to donate blood.

Muslim countries are not the only place where flagellation takes place. The picture below was not taken in Pakistan, Lebanon or Iraq, but rather in the Hague.

In Netherlands Shiites come together privately to commemorate Hussein. In the past it was mostly Pakistanis and they founded a Shiite mosque in The Hague in the seventies. Today many Iraqi Shiites lives there too. for years believers of various lands have celebrated the Ashura Festival in the mosque.

It's a nondescript building where during Ashura about 800 people gather together for ten evenings. The 10th day is the high point. Some people bring metal rods. On the side sit people who have just been cut. People make a small slice on the head, where they then continue to beat. Rhytmically. The result is rather bloody.

Not all the visitors to the mosque are pleased with this way of commemoration. A young visitor named Abbas thinks people would be better off donating blood to the bloodbank.

Mohammed, an Iraqi who immigrated to the Netherlands in 2002 sees self-flagellation as a valued cultural expression. "That's how we commemorate our imam Hussein. We do nobody wrong though? We want to bear the pain of Hussein. It is not dangerous and nobody gets injured." and, he adds "There's always first aid present to disinfect and close up the wounds."

The Pakistani Shiite community in The Hague decided this year to forbid self-injury. "In view of current public opinion we don't want to be offensive in respect to the ethnic, non-Muslim community," says a spokesman. "therefore the Ashura commemorations in the mosque toda ywill not be so dramatic and bloody as in years past."

Not everybody agrees. Since it is not allowed in the mosque, but the tradition is too strong to forbid, people were told this morning where they can take part in the Ashura ritual. Yesterday the spokesman did not want to divulge the place, afraid of angry neighbors and Wahhabi groups.

Sources: BBC (English), Trouw (Dutch)

Norway: Hard to find a job

It's interesting that he sees changing his name as lying. In the past, changing one's name in order to "fit in better" was quite common.

Chartered engineer Sheraz Akhtar, 31, has had 250 job rejections in five years. His qualifications are supposed to be in hot demand.

His fellow students are employed, and his lecturers during his education in electrical power engineering at the prestigious Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim repeatedly declared how invaluable such an education was for society, and that a job was guaranteed.

In the spring of 2002 he graduated, but since then has only been able to get work as a newspaper carrier, waiter, interpreter or substitute teacher.

"It is not directly racism, but it is uncertainty that rules," Akhtar says about how hiring is done in his field. It is hard not to entertain the thought that his name puts him at the back of the queue.

"In the beginning I tried not to think that that might be the case. But after nearly five years, I think about it," Akhtar said.

One of the few companies to actually call him in for an interview was honest enough to say that they had their doubts from reading his application, doubting the merits of his high school years in Pakistan and wondering how good his Norwegian was, and how well integrated he is.

But unlike many immigrants who have endured similar treatment, Akhtar is a Norwegian citizen and has lived in Norway since he was three months old. Apart from the age of 13-19 he has lived his entire life in Norway and his further education is Norwegian. Dropping any mention of his high school years in Pakistan has also failed to help.

Akhtar has been advised to send in applications under another name, and Aftenposten's consumer web site reported in September on another chartered engineer, Arshad Jamil, who finally got a job after changing his name to Jakob.

"But what about when I get called to an interview? Lying about my name is no way to start. What kind of impression do I give then," Akhtar asked.

Akhtar understands that people with more experience have been preferred to him, and also that those just graduating have more up-to-date qualifications. But not being able to use his education for so long, and gradually becoming stuck between these two poles, is a worry.

Akhtar has also experienced that his education also prevents him from getting other types of work, on the grounds of over-qualification, and that he will leave when he gets a more relevant offer. Married with two young children, Akhtar scrapes by on temporary jobs.

"I apply and apply, but nothing happens. And the longer it takes, the less chance there is of getting a job," Akhtar said.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

See also: Norway: Employers aren't chasing immigrants, Norway: lack of education not reason for lack of employment

Denmark: Asylum seeker and family reunification immigration dropping

I found the numbers hard to follow, so I looked it up on the Danish Immigration Service site.

Family reunification immigrants dropped from 13,187 in 2001 to 8,151 in 2002 when Denmark passed tougher immigration laws and down to 3,594 in 2006.
Several thousand foreigners are now coming to work and study in Denmark despite tougher immigration laws Denmark's efforts to attract a new, more educated and self-reliant type of immigrant seem to be paying off, reported national public broadcaster DR. Figures from the Danish Immigration Service indicate that there are more newcomers now entering Denmark than there were just five years ago, when the perceived problem was dealt with through tougher immigration laws. But the new wave is not made up of asylum seekers or those seeking family reunification. Instead, people are coming to Denmark to work or get an education. In 2006, 46,500 aliens were given temporary residency, nearly 30,000 of those coming to either work or study. In 2001 that number was a mere 13,000, making up only one-third of all residency permits issued. The numbers are surprising not only due to the nation's stricter immigration laws, but also considering the country has tightened its belts by no longer offering free studies, requiring foreign students to pay for their own educations here. The number of people seeking asylum or reunification with their families, in contrast, has been reduced. In 2001, those two groups accounted for 47 percent of all residency permits. By 2006, the number had fallen to only 11 percent. Some 1147 persons were given asylum in 2006, much the same figure as in 2005. Those seeking residency through family reunification totalled just over 3500 last year, also similar to the figures for 2005.
Source: Copenhagen Post (English), Danish Immigration Service (English)

Amsterdam: Investigation into mosque

Campus TV reports that the criminal investigation department in Amsterdam is investigating the As-soenna Mosque in Westerpark. The police want to see if the mosque is guilty of incitement or threats.

The mosque and Amsterdam alderman Ahmed Aboutaleb say the man who made the threats is a visitor. Student newspaper Folia denies that and says he's the permanent mosque translator

In a meeting with Jansen Monday, the mosque administrators says it does not support the death threats. However, they refused to apologize since the translator spoke on his own initiative. The translator would be reprimanded. (A video report of the visit can be seen on Campus TV's site, in Dutch)

In the show Premtime, Eric van den Berg, the Folia journalist, and Prem Radhakishun, of Premtime, went to interview the man, Mr. Kabli. Kabli says he has had nothing to do with the mosque administration for at least twenty years and that he has been misunderstood due to his lack of fluency in Dutch and to the heat of the moment. He only meant to say that in a radical Muslim land such jokers would be in serious trouble. The man's son steps in during the interview and says his father is stupid and that he has no sympathy for him since the entire family is suffering now due to his stupidity. Kabli continues to say that since his statements he has had fights with his wife and children and that his marriage is at stake. He ends by saying that due to his intereference and poor Dutch he has brought harm and shame on himself and his family. (The show can be seen here, in Dutch)

Source: (Dutch)

See also: Netherlands: what apologies?, Netherlands: Death threats quickly ignored, Netherlands: Comedian should be killed

Sweden and Norway: Yet more on ID scam

This might explain why so many Iraqis came to Sweden this past year. It looks like anybody who popped into the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm were able to get an Iraqi passport. The Swedish immigration service apparently knew about this, but did not think it had anything to do with them.

The Iraqi embassy in Stockholm is thought to have issued 26,000 false passports to asylum seekers in Sweden and Norway. Migration minister Tobias Billström is set to meet his Norwegian counterpart in Oslo on Wednesday to discuss the matter.

Details surrounding the fraudulent passports first emerged in Norwegian press after police cracked a forgery ring in Oslo. The Iraqi ambassador to Sweden informed Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten that the embassy had issued passports based on false documentation simply because it did not have the resources to check the authenticity of the paperwork.

"We have known for a long time that the Iraqi embassy has been issuing passports on false premises, but what can we do about it? This is a question for the foreign ministry. They know about this. We have presented the information in various reports," Bengt Hellström from the Swedish Migration Board told Metro. He added that the Migration Board has received numerous tip-offs over the last two years suggesting that people from Syria, Iran, Turkey and Lebanon have been able to get passports from the Iraqi embassy. Gustaf Lind, secretary of state at the justice department, says that his department has known about the problem for a month. "What we have done is to get civil servants at the justice department and the Migration Board to check out the information. We haven't really formed a judgment yet but the foreign ministry has called the Iraqi ambassador in to discuss the matter on Wednesday," said Lind.

Source: The Local (English)

See also: Norway: more on ID fraud, Sweden: Top address for Iraqi refugees, Sweden: Record for immigration, Sweden: Iraqi immigration main source of population growth

Somalia: European fighters in custody

I've seen several reports that the transitional gov't of Somalia has several Europeans in custody, suspected of Islamist activity.

These include Swedes, but it seems that other Scandinavians as well.
Somali officials are holding up to 50 foreign nationals, the Danish Foreign Ministry said today. Somalia's foreign minister, Ismael Mohamoud Hurreh, told Denmark's ambassador to Kenya that "about 50 foreigners are detained, including several Scandinavians, and at least one of them is a Dane," said Lars Thuesen, head of the Danish ministry's consular department. Danish Ambassador Bo Jensen briefly met Hurreh yesterday in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, to ask for details about reports that Danes were being held in Somalia.

This, in addition to the Europeans which have been killed in fighting.

A number of Swedish citizens are reported to have been killed in fighting in Somalia. The Swedes in question had joined Islamist militias in their battle with the country's interim government, a spokesman for the government, Abdirahman Dinari, told Sveriges Radio. Dinari's account follows a number of previously unconfirmed reports suggesting that several Swedish citizens had been captured by the interim government. "They came, they participated and we have seen their documents. Some of them have fallen. We are on the trail of several of them, while others are in prison. They were arrested when trying to cross the border to Kenya," said Dinari. The government spokesman would not say how many Swedes had been killed or imprisoned. Since it has not collated all the relevant information, the Somali government has yet to inform Swedish authorities on the number of casualties and arrests. "We have been hearing rumours like this for a long time but nothing has been confirmed," said foreign ministry press officer Nina Ersman. Confirming such rumours is rendered difficult by the fact that Sweden, in common with all other EU countries, does not have an embassy in Somalia. Figures presented by the Swedish embassy in neighbouring Kenya suggest that there are at least 125 Swedes in Somalia but such data may be unreliable, according to the foreign ministry "We have no official figures. It is entirely impossible to make this kind of judgment," said Ersman. "We have been advising people for a long time not to travel to Somalia, since we do not have any representation there. We have also encouraged anybody already in the country to leave," she added. Sources: IOL (English), The Local (English)

See also: Norway: Somalis support Islamists

Netherlands: what apologies?

The short version: That you deserve death according to Islam? We can't apologize for something we didn't say but we're not going to deny it either.

The long version:

Ewout Jansen, an Amsterdam comedian that a translator of a mosque in Amsterdam wished for his death last week due to his jokes on Islam, visited the mosque in question for a cup of tea.

Jansen (23) met with the administrators of the As-soenah mosque. The vice president of the Union of Moroccan Muslim Organization in the Netherlands, Driss el-Boujoufi, was also present. According to him the administration regrets the statements of the man. But there was no question of apologies since the man was "a visitor". "We are not responsible for everyone who visits the mosque. therefore we cannot offer our apologies because we have done nothing". He did say that "according to Islam nobody can take the law into their own hands".

Jansen, who is afraid the translator's statements "will give an idea to somebody outside the mosque" wanted the imam to to say that he shouldn't be killed and that by definition whoever makes jokes about Islam should not be killed, and he wanted him to do so on camera, as Campus-TV was filming the visit. But that wasn't easy. "The imam is not important enough to give an answer" said El-Boujoufi. Jansen was told that the question of whether you can make jokes about Islam according to the Koran should be submitted to a council of Imams.

Afterwards Jansen summarized it as follows in front of Campus TV's cameras: Whether Islam says that I should be killed, they need to yet think about that. They have four weeks for that. They don't say themselves that I should be killed and say that most Muslims also think so. If their "research" shows that I should indeed be killed according to Islam, then I shouldn't worry according to them, since it's forbidden by Dutch law."

The mosque was the center of a scandal last week when Amsterdam student newspaper Folia reported that a spokesman said that Jansen should be killed because of his jokes about Islam, during an interview with several mosque leaders and an imam. The man acted as translator according to the journalist. But the mosque administration and Amsterdam alderman Ahmed Aboutaleb said afterwards that it was a visitor to the mosque that had no connection to the mosque administration. Though the Folia journalist maintains that the man acted as translator, the Amsterdam municipality decided to drop the issue.

According to Het Parool newspaper, Aboutaleb pressed for the meeting between Jansen and the mosque administration. His spokesman, Herbert Raat, did not want to confirm that. "But we always think it's a good thing that people talk to each other".

Indeed, the mosque administration is not going to deny the visitor entrance to the mosque, like Aboutaleb said last week. Raat: "The mosque administration says that they can keep an eye on him better and therefore make sure that the man will not slide further. That seems very reasonable to us."

Source: Elsevier (Dutch)

See also: Netherlands: Death threats quickly ignored, Netherlands: Comedian should be killed

Denmark: Immigration issues

Two stories from Denmark: The Danish right-wing party, People's Party, fears Danish immigration laws might be undermined by the Swedish ones and Denmark finds that rejecting asylum seekers is not that easy.

Danish People's Party fears influx of Swedish immigrants

Commerce between Sweden and Denmark has been aided by the Öresund bridge. But the far-right Danish People's Party is concerned that improved communications may make it too easy for Sweden's relatively generous immigration laws to undermine Denmark's more restrictive policy.

The People's Party, currently the third largest in Denmark, is particularly worried about the flow of Iraqis to Sweden, Jyllands-Posten reports.

Sweden took in a total of 1,400 Iraqi citizens in November 2006, whereas just 62 made their way to Denmark in the same period.

The Danish People's Party fears that freedom of residence within the Nordic countries will make it too easy for immigrants with Swedish residency permits to establish themselves in Denmark.

Spokesman Søren Espersen has called for the Nordic agreement on freedom of residence to be repealed if problems develop.

But Social Democratic spokeswoman Lotte Bundsgaard and Liberal integration minister Rikke Hvilshøj found it difficult to understand the Espersen's reasoning.

"Why should large numbers of immigrants who are well integrated in Sweden move to Denmark? I agree with the minister that there are so many good things in Nordic co-operation which we do not want to throw out with the bath water.

"Many Danes have moved to Sweden and work in Denmark, so we use each other"s labour and have freedom of movement," said Bundsgaard.

Rejected Iraq refugees unwanted at home

The regional government in northern Iraq says it will not accept rejected asylum seekers from Denmark

A group of Iraqi refugees in Denmark are finding themselves in a political no man's land, after the regional officials in northern Iraq said they could not be accommodated, reported Politiken newspaper Monday.

The Immigration Ministry is seeking to forcibly return 300 asylum seekers to northern Iraq, despite the recommendations of the UN High Commission for Refugees, which says that civil war-like conditions in the country make returning too dangerous.

Officials with the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government pointed out that despite talks with the Danish ambassador in Iraq, the region's lack of housing and basic necessities made it impossible to accommodate returned refugees.

'The way things are now, they would be too much of a burden for us,' said Falah Mustafa Bakir, the director of foreign relations for the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Despite the rejection, representatives from Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen's Liberal Party predicted that the Iraqis would be able to return within the year - even if it meant resorting to unusual measures.

'I've already proposed that we help them build houses and find jobs there,' said Irene Simonsen, the party's integration spokesperson. 'I don't know whether we will have to sail prefab houses down there or build something there. That's something that we will discuss in negotiations.'

The question for the opposition parties wasn't whether the Iraqis should be sent home, but how they should be treated while they waited for the situation to improve. Until they can leave, they are demanding the refugees be given temporary residence permits and allowed to work.

'We know we won't be sending them home tomorrow or the next day,' said Social Democrat Lotte Bundsgaard. 'So I don't think we can justify keeping them in repatriation centres until they can be.'

Sources: The Local (English), Copenhagen Post (English)

Bernard Lewis: Islamized Europe or Europeanized Islam

Islam could soon be the dominant force in a Europe which, in the name of political correctness, has abdicated the battle for cultural and religious control, Prof. Bernard Lewis, the world-renowned Middle Eastern and Islamic scholar, said on Sunday.

The Muslims "seem to be about to take over Europe," Lewis said at a special briefing with the editorial staff of The Jerusalem Post. Asked what this meant for the continent's Jews, he responded, "The outlook for the Jewish communities of Europe is dim." Soon, he warned, the only pertinent question regarding Europe's future would be, "Will it be an Islamized Europe or Europeanized Islam?" The growing sway of Islam in Europe was of particular concern given the rising support within the Islamic world for extremist and terrorist movements, said Lewis.

Lewis, whose numerous books include the recent What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East, and The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror, would set no timetable for this drastic shift in Europe, instead focusing on the process, which he said would be assisted by "immigration and democracy." Instead of fighting the threat, he elaborated, Europeans had given up.

"Europeans are losing their own loyalties and their own self-confidence," he said. "They have no respect for their own culture." Europeans had "surrendered" on every issue with regard to Islam in a mood of "self-abasement," "political correctness" and "multi-culturalism," said Lewis, who was born in London to middle-class Jewish parents but has long lived in the United States.

Source: Jerusalem Post (English)

UK: Survey shows British Muslim youth are radicalizing

A new survey by Policy Exchange, a conservative think tank in the UK, shows that Muslim kids are more radicalized then their parents.  The survey can be read on the Policy Exchange website (PDF). 

A bleak picture of a generation of young British Muslims radicalised by anti-Western views and misplaced multicultural policies is shown in a survey published today.

The study found disturbing evidence of young Muslims adopting more fundamentalist beliefs on key social and political issues than their parents or grandparents.

Forty per cent of Muslims between the ages of 16 and 24 said they would prefer to live under sharia law in Britain, a legal system based on the teachings of the Koran. The figure among over-55s, in contrast, was only 17 per cent.

In some countries, people found guilty under sharia law face penalties such as beheading, stoning, the severing of a hand or being lashed.

The study, by the Right-wing think-tank Policy Exchange, also found a significant minority who expressed backing for Islamic terrorism.

One in eight young Muslims said they admired groups such as al-Qa'eda that "are prepared to fight the West".

Turning to issues of faith, 36 per cent of the young people questioned said they believed that a Muslim who converts to another religion should be "punished by death." Among the over 55s, the figure is only 19 per cent.

Three out of four young Muslims would prefer Muslim women to "choose to wear the veil or hijab," compared to only a quarter of over-55s.

Support was also strong for Islamic schools, according to the Populus survey of 1,000 people commissioned by Policy Exchange.

Forty per cent of younger Muslims said they would want their children to attend an Islamic school, compared to only 20 per cent of over-55s.

Britain's foreign policies were a key issue among the Muslim population as a whole, with 58 per cent arguing that many of the world's problems are "a result of arrogant Western attitudes". However, knowledge of foreign affairs was sketchy, with only one in five knowing that Mahmoud Abbas was the Palestinian president.

The findings emerged as David Cameron, the Conservative leader, criticised the Government for trying to "bully" immigrant communities into feeling British by telling them to run up the Union flag in their gardens or spy on their children.

But in a speech today, Mr Cameron will warn the Muslim community that it cannot use the "screen of cultural sensitivity" to deny women their rights.

The Policy Exchange report, Living Together Apart: British Muslims and the Paradox of Multiculturalism — says there is strong evidence of a "growing religiosity" among young Muslims, with an increasing minority firmly rejecting Western life.

Munira Mirza, the broadcaster and one of the authors of the report, argued that multicultural policies pursued by the Government had succeeded in making things worse, rather than better.

She said: "The emergence of a strong Muslim identity in Britain is, in part, a result of multi-cultural policies implemented since the 1980s which have emphasised difference at the expense of shared national identity and divided people along ethnic, religious and cultural lines.

"There is clearly a conflict within British Islam between a moderate majority that accepts the norms of British democracy and a growing minority that does not."

The report also raises questions about the scale of the problems created by Islamophobia, with 84 per cent of those questioned saying they believed they had been "treated fairly" in Britain.

There was also criticism of the decision by some councils to ban Christian symbols in case they offended Muslims or other communities.

Three quarters said it was wrong for a council to have banned an advert for a Christmas carol service.

Source: Telegraph (English)

See also:40% of British Muslims want Sharia law in UK

Rotterdam: Controversy around new "Turkish" elite school

The Dutch minister of Education, Maria van der Hoeven, attended this week the "reopening" ceremony of Cosmicus College and talked about making history.  She gave the school a subsidy of 300,000 euro because she found the teaching program impressive, the participation of the parents innovative and because the education at Cosmicus is directed at integration.

However, critics say that school is not the ideal example of integration, since almost all students in the school come from Turkish background.  Turkish-Dutch were were also by far the majority at the opening ceremony.

Other schools in Rotterdam oppose the new school.  Willem Vonk, rector of Citycollege Fransiscus thinks it's completely ridiculous the school is receiving a subsidy as it encourages segregation and not integration.  "This school is completely oriented towards Turkish culture," says Jan Kweekel, rector of Melanchthon college.

Vonk adds that another problem with Cosmicus is that it draws away the successful Turkish students from other schools in the inner city.  Students need to get a high score on exams in order to be accepted.

The school was founded by the Cosmicus Foundation, an association for students, alumni and academicians of Turkish origin.  The organization has founded homework help courses across the country.  Gürkan Celik, the president of the association has dreamed of founding a school for two years, but according to Mehmet Cerit, the principal of Cosmicus, they couldn't get the minimum amount of students in order to start.

The two networked with the Rotterdam municipality, the Multicultural Institute Forum and the Education Minister as well as with schools in Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.

Finally Rald Visser, head of LMC, a Rotterdam school umbrella organization, took them under his wing.  With 10,000 students of his own, he freed them from having to attain a minimum amount of students.

The school opened in August and now there are four classes with 88 students.  They're currently learning in rented office space but hope to move to their own premises.

Rald Visser sees Cosmicus as a gift from heaven.  LMC has lost 3,000 students last year, who have moved to schools on the outskirts of the city.  Cosmicus is an initiative that can help stop the exodus from the inner city.

Vonk and Kweekal accuse the school of starting off a segregated school "under the radar", but Visser says they're just afraid of the competition.  The principal is Muslim, but it's a regular Dutch school, with a mixed physical education classes and a Christmas tree.  They have Turkish as well as Dutch teachers.  He points out is organization can only run general and Christian schools, not Muslim ones.

Rait Bal, former president of ISBO (Organization of Muslim School Managements) says several members of the Cosmicus organization are members of Nurcu, a Turkish Islamic faction which founds schools and boarding schools for Turkish children worldwide.  But Cosmicus College doesn't mention Nurcu in their advertising.  The school advertises itself as a school for the "world citizen" that wants to promote meeting and dialog between ethnicity and culture.  A school with personal attention to the student.

Mehmet Cerit says Nurcu is not mentioned since religion is a private matter and does not belong to the school.  The management of Cosmicus Foundation and the school is strictly separate.

According to van der Hoeven, the school will be followed in the upcoming years to see if students of other backgrounds join the school.  According to Cerit, most students are Turkish since they're more known in Turkish society and since they recruited their first students from there.

Source: NRC (Dutch)

I found some information here about the Nurcu movement

Sweden: When discrimination is allowed

I personally favor people being able to choose their doctor, excluding urgent cases or when there is only one qualified doctor around.  However, if you decide that women aren't allowed to choose their gynaecologist, then why allow women of certain types to continue doing so?  Does a "regular" Swedish woman who doesn't want a man examining her most private parts have less rights than an immigrant woman?

Women in southern Sweden will in the future not be able to choose the sex of their gynaecologist. Allowing them to choose discriminates against male gynaecologists, it has been ruled.

The new practice has been introduced by clinics in the counties of Skåne, Halland, Blekinge and Kronoberg. Gynaecological patients in those areas will now be assigned a doctor of either sex, Helsingborgs Dagblad reports.

Exceptions will be made in some cases, such as for women who come from parts of the world with 'patriarchal traditions' or for the victims of sexual assaults , the paper reported. These women could insist on a female gynaecologist.

Women with less specific reasons for wanting a female gynaecologists may be turned down.

The changes have been brought in because many male gynaecologists have felt discriminated against.

Claes Lindoff, head of female healthcare at Helsingborg Hospital, said that the problem existed all over the country, but admitted that it only applied to "a hundred cases a year of our 15,000 visits."

Allowing women to refuse treatment by male gynaecologists also causes problems for clinics, for instance when there are no female gynaecologists on duty at the time or when a man on duty is better qualified than a female colleague.

Source: The Local (English)

See also: Sweden: When incitement is allowed

UK: Close "Muslim" schools

An influential government education adviser said today that schools dominated by Muslim children should be closed and replaced with 'multi-faith' academies to integrate pupils.

Sir Cyril Taylor, chairman of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, said the concentration of ethnic minorities and religious groups in certain schools had created a 'strategic security problem'.

He said that allowing significant numbers of ethnic minority children to lead virtually separate lives was fuelling extremism and harming academic standards.

The call for forced integration came as a Government commissioned report is this week set to recommend that values such as justice and tolerance should be at the centre of citizenship classes for secondary pupils.

The citizenship curriculum review by former headmaster and Home Office adviser Sir Keith Ajegbo is expected to conclude that more emphasis should be placed on British identity and more must be done to proved the 'essential glue' that holds society together.

The SSAT has identified 20 urban areas it says could benefit from the closure of comprehensives dominated by a particular ethnic group.

Sir Cyril said: "In some parts of the country, for example, where children only speak Bangla at home and do not mix with other communities at school, it has become a real strategic security problem.

"They would be much more likely to collaborate with the police and tell them [whether] people within their own community are doing things they shouldn't be doing if they were better integrated.

"Where you have two schools, one that is predominantly white and the other that is majority Bangladeshi or Pakistani, the answer is to close them both and put them together in a new academy operating on a multifaith basis."

Source: Daily Mail (English), h/t Islam Info (Czech)

Netherlands: Death threats quickly ignored

This is a translation of an excerpt from an opinion article by Hans van der Beek in Het Parool about the issue of the death threats against Ewout Jansen and how it was quickly turned into a tempest in a teacup.

What's the story?

Eric van den Berg, a report for the student paper Folia, wanted to show several quotes of Jansen's to an imam, in order to ask if you can make jokes about Islam and therefore he called up the Assoena mosque.

According to Van den Berg he got the mobile number of a "Mr. Kabli", who arranged an interview with imam Mohammed Bouljhaf and who acted as translator during the interview. There were three other people present, at least one of who belonged to the mosque management.

After the imam left the room, Kabli began his tirade. A Muslim who hears jokes about Islam can hit, kill of "do off" with the joker. Theo van Gogh was after all also warned often enough.

According to Van den Berg, the others present did not do anything during the objectionable statements and that can also be heard on the tape which he recorded during the interview.

Folia placed the article on their website, weblog Geen Stijl copied it over and from there things went very fast.

Aboutaleb felt immediately that this could become a real row and hurried over to the mosque. The Assoena management assured him that they were completely dismayed and that they distanced themselves completely from those statements. Mr. Kabli was just an accidental visitor and had nothing further to do with the mosque.

After twenty minutes the alderman had heard enough and in any case had to hurry off to Utrecht, where he was giving a lecture at which the queen was present, about the centuries old religious tolerance in Amsterdam

Journalists who called the mosque for a response were referred to Aboutaleb's spokespeople. He repeated the mosque's version, that the man was a visitor and nothing else. Newspapers and TV programs therefore deleted the item or reported it on a much smaller scale.

Aboutaleb did not think it necessary to contact the Folia reporter. According to his spokesperson his priority was to check whether the mosque agreed with the statements of the translator and that did not appear to be the case.

Case closed.

Is that right? It is definitely not unusual that statements that are made in an unguarded moment would be later twisted. But if the mosque leaders intervened during the interview, as they claim, it should be audible on the tape.

It appears in any case that Kabli is more than just a chance visitor. Aboutaleb should have at least sorted that out better before he unthinkingly adopted the mosque's startled response.

Source: Parool (Dutch)

Study: Moroccans more content in Dutch speaking cities

Antwerp and Rotterdam appear regularly in the news as cities in which part of the ethnic population has trouble with foreigners, but little is known about how the foreigners in these cities feel.

A new study compared the experiences of 300 Moroccans in Antwerp, Brussels, Liege and Rotterdam and came to surprising conclusions. Moroccans in Antwerp and Rotterdam are more content with their lives than Moroccans in the French-speaking cities of Liege and Brussels.

It could be said that Moroccans feel more discriminated in the French speaking cities, but the study shows that Moroccans experience a great deal of discrimination in all cities.

There are clearly differences between the experience of Moroccans in Dutch-speaking and French-speaking cities. Moroccans in Rotterdam and Antwerp look at the local population differently than in Brussels and Liege.

The study divided attitudes into four: integration, assimilation, separation and marginalization. * Integration - wanting to keep your own culture but thinking that contact with the ethnic population is important.
* Assimilation - wanting to be like the local population
* Separation - withdrawing from the local population
* Marginalization - not belonging to either group

In Antwerp and Rotterdam there was a clear preference for integration over anything else, while in Liege and Brussels integration got only a little more preference over the other options.

French is an important language in Morocco and therefore the study expected Moroccans in Liege to have an easier time in adapting to the local population than in Antwerp. It also expected Moroccans to feel more at ease in Brussels, which being an international and multi-cultural city with both French and Dutch as official languages also sees English as an important language.

Differently than expected, it appeared that there was no difference between Moroccans who lived in Belgium and the Netherlands. According to Geert Hofstede, a known researcher in the area of national cultures, the Belgian culture is more similar to the Moroccan than Dutch culture. For example, both Belgians and Moroccans are more oriented to hierarchy. However, the study showed no real difference between how the Moroccans in Antwerp and Rotterdam felt.

Moroccans in the French speaking cities experience greater resemblance to their own culture then in the Dutch speaking cities. But that does not affect how content they feel.

It might be that in the French speaking cities of Brussels and Liege they're less content because they do their best to assimilate and do not succeed. They're never "real" Belgians. In Antwerp and Rotterdam, on the other hand, they're less disappointed because they don't try to assimilate as much. The combination of contact with the locals as well as being able to keep their own identity makes them rather content.

Additionally, the French-speaking cities are more influenced by French centralization and have an immigration policy based on assimilation. While in Antwerp and Rotterdam the Anglo-Saxon multi-cultural model is more pronounced.

Source: Kennislink (Dutch)

"Hurray! We're Capitulating!"

Spiegel Online brings an excerpt of Henryk M. Broder's book "Hurra, Wir Kapitulieren," ("Hurray! We're Capitulating").

I bring a few paragraphs, but the whole thing can be read at the Spiegel's site. Broder says that capitulating to Islamic demands could lead to Islamic norms in Europe. But it is much more than that. When Europeans say cartoons should be more sensitive but stand silent when women are treated as chattel they are actually professing moral subjectiveness at best, and a screwed sense of priorities at worse. If anybody can do whatever they believe is right and there is no "right" way that anybody believes in, then there is nothing wrong with people committing suicide and taking 20 people with them in order to achieve paradise.

As different as the West's reactions to the Muslim protests were, what they had in common were origins in feelings of powerlessness and helplessness. Critical souls who only yesterday agreed with Marx that religion is the opium of the masses suddenly insisted that religious sensibilities must be taken into account, especially when accompanied by violence. The representatives of open societies reacted like the inhabitants of an island about to be hit by a hurricane. Powerless against the forces of nature, they stocked up on supplies, nailed doors and windows shut and hoped that the storm would soon pass. Of course, whereas such a reaction may be an appropriate response to natural disasters, such a lack of resistance merely encourages fundamentalists. It completely justifies their view of the West as weak, decadent and completely unwilling to defend itself.

Those who react to kidnappings and beheadings, to massacres of people of other faiths, and to eruptions of collective hysteria with a call for "cultural dialogue" don't deserve any better.

"The West should desist from engaging in all provocations that produce feelings of debasement and humiliation," says psychoanalyst Horst-Eberhard Richter. "We should show greater respect for the cultural identity of Muslim countries. ... For Muslims, it is important to be recognized and respected as equals." In Richter's view, what the Muslims need is "a partnership of equals."

But Richter neglects to describe what this partnership might look like. Does achieving such equality mean that we should set up separate sections for women on buses, as is the custom in Saudi Arabia? Should the marrying age for girls be reduced to 12, as is the case in Iran? And should death by stoning be our punishment for adultery, as Shariah law demands? What else could the West do to show its respect for the cultural identity of Islamic countries? Would it be sufficient to allow Horst-Eberhard Richter to decide whether, for example, a wet T-shirt contest in a German city rises to a level of criminal provocation that could cause the Muslim faithful in Hyderabad to feel debased and humiliated?

The discussion over which provocations WE should put an end to so that THEY do not feel upset inexorably leads to the realm of the absurd.

Should devout Jews be entitled to demand that non-Jews give up pork? And should they have the power to impose sanctions if their demands are not met? Can a Hindu in India run amok because the Dutch do not view cows as sacred beings? Those who believe Muslims have the right to be outraged by the Danes failing to abide by an Islamic prohibition -- especially when it's not even clear that such a prohibition even exists -- must answer such questions clearly in the affirmative. Even illiterates must then be allowed to ransack bookstores; in a world in which anyone is entitled to feel offended and humiliated, anyone can also choose which provocations he is unwilling to accept.

Source: Spiegel (English)

Sweden: School clarifies language ban

Staff at Gustav Adolf School in the southern town of Landskrona have now retracted a controversial ban on the use of languages other than Swedish on school premises.

Just days after its introduction the principal has downgraded the ban to a "main rule". Consequently pupils will now be allowed to speak their native languages during breaks.

But, in a new measure, pupils will have to pass two security guards when entering the school.

On Saturday it was revealed that the management of the school had decided that only Swedish could be spoken on school premises. Almost half of the pupils at the school come from an immigrant background.

The ban was introduced following a number of incidents in which staff and pupils felt they had been insulted in languages they did not understand.

Principal Patrik Helgesson explained the new move on the school's website.

"In order for staff at the school to be able to prevent breaches of school regulations, speaking Swedish is to be a main rule," he wrote.

Pupil's will however be permitted to speak their native languages during breaks, provided that staff and other pupils are not excluded from discussions.

"If somebody goes over to a group that is speaking a language that person doesn't understand, it is quite natural to make use of a common language," district manager Lisbeth Månsson told Helsingborgs Dagblad.

Månsson does not think the school has backed down from its previous decision.

"I would prefer to say that we have clarified this part of the regulations," she said.

Apart from tougher language requirements, pupils will now also have to knock on the front door before being let in to the school, according to newspaper Skånska Dagbladet.

The school has decided to place two security guards from the local council for crime prevention inside its main entrance.

Source: The Local (English)

See also: Sweden: Swedish only policy investigated, Sweden: School moves to Swedish only policy

Belgium: Former Muslim Executive president freed

The former president of the Muslim Executive in Belgium, Mohamed Boulif, was released.  The man had been held for eight days for abusing trust.

This came about after it was concluded Wed. morning that the computers that had been bought by Boulif and that had not been found were actually at the Executive.  Because the missing computer were found there is no reason anymore for the ex-president to be held in jail, according to the Brussels court.

In a press release that was published Monday, the current president of the Muslim Executive assured that the computer material that was written up in the invoices was indeed present at the Executive offices.  The president based himself on an inventory that was set up on Monday.  Imran Akhtar, the spokesman of the Executive says that they have never kept the disappearance of the computers under wraps.

When the Executive management changed. it caused confusion between the references written up on the invoices and those that corresponded with the materials.

"We ourselves couldn't verify it because we did not have the invoices until the company that had delivered the materials, SGI SCRL, came to our offices to make an inventory." said the spokesman.

The computer material - PCs, laptops, servers and printers - is being used at this moment by various staff members.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

See also:
Belgium: Muslim Executive denies allegations, Belgium: Former Muslim leader held for embezzlement

Netherlands: Hajj ban on travel agencies

The Saudi Arabian government has banned four Dutch travel agencies from organizing hajj tours for Muslims.  The tours of those agencies were beset by many problems such as double-booked flights and hotels which turned out to be still under construction.  That's according to the Saudi ambassador in the Netherlands.

Every year dozens of Muslims find themselves victims of badly organized tours.

The ban holds for several big agencies that have years of experience in organizing hajj tours.  Three of the four are banned forever.  One still has the chance to show that they can organize tours without problem.  It was not advertised which agencies were banned.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

Sweden: Swedish most embracing of multi-culturalism

Swedes are the quickest in the European Union to embrace the concept of the multi-cultural society. They are also among the least satisfied with efforts to combat discrimination, according to a new Eurobarometer survey.

In Sweden, 86% of those asked in the survey took the view that ethic minorities enrich the country's culture. Fewer than 4 out of 10 respondents shared this opinion in Malta (32%) and Cyprus (39%).

Yet in an apparent paradox, a mere 28 percent of those asked said that enough was being done to tackle discrimination in Swedish society - only Poles were less satisfied.

Eurobarometer asked people across the EU whether they thought discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, race and religion was common in their own countries.

Religious discrimination in famously secular Sweden was viewed as widespread by 56 percent of those surveyed. This contrasts with France, where 63 percent of those asked thought discrimination on the basis of religion or beliefs was common, and with Latvia, where only ten percent believed this to be the case.

Some 54 percent of those asked thought the wearing of religious symbols in the workplace was acceptable, contrasting with 79 percent in Malta.

Source: The Local (English)

Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium: Drug raid

I did not see anything in the Dutch language press about this.

Arrests have been made in Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium as part of a concerted drug raid led by Kripos, Norway's National Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS).

"Operation Broken Lorry", led by the NCIS division for organized crime, resulted in 34 arrests in the three countries and the seizure of 400 kilograms (880 lbs) of hashish, 10 kilos (22 lbs) of heroin and 6 kilos ( 13.2 lbs) of cocaine, just in Norway.

In addition to the confiscated drugs police have also charged several persons in connection with a 224 kilo ( 492.8 lb) consignment of hashish yet to be seized.

"This is a very special case where we have moved in on those who organize major drug traffic to Norway," deputy police chief Reidar Brusgaard told newspaper Dagbladet.

The operation began when Norway's Directorate of Customs and Excise stopped a Dutch passenger car at Svinesund on Feb. 28 of last year. The case turned out to be one of major international dimensions, with investigations into Moroccan circles in Norway and the Netherlands, the trail leading to three brothers in Amsterdam.

The eldest of the trio is believed to be the leader of the drugs network and they are now charged by Dutch police and an application to extradite them to Norway is underway.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

See also: Gangs: Norwegian vs. Dutch

Netherlands: Comedian should be killed

Ewout Jansen is a Dutch comedian.  As part of his show he makes fun of Muslims, which brings about different negative reactions - from abuse from the audience to storming the podium.  Jansen says many times Moroccan kids shout at him that he should be killed.

University paper Folia decided to get an official reaction from the Muslim community and therefore turned to Assoenna Mosque (Sonat Mosque) in Amsterdam.  

In an interview, a spokesman for the mosque said that Jansen should be killed "according to Islam" because of the jokes he makes.  If I understand the interview correctly, he also said Jansen should be sued and that if the judge doesn't do anything, then the Muslims should take care of it.  The spokesman also said that Van Gogh had been warned of the fate that awaited him.

Assoenna Mosque claims that the person interviewed is not an official representative of the mosque and was just passing through.  Folia, on the other hand, claims they talked to an interpreter named Mr. Kabli and that the mosque brought him to be interviewed.  He spoke in the presence of several mosque leaders.  The mosque's imam, Mohammed Bouljhaf, was also present during the interview, but left halfway through, before the comments were made.

I had tried looking up more information about Assoenna mosque and to find out whether there is a Mr. Kabli there, but did not find anything at all.

Sources: Folia (Dutch), Parool (Dutch)

Klein Verzet is following up on this story .

Sweden: Swedish only policy investigated

Sweden's Ombudsman against Ethnic Discrimination is starting an investigation into a school in southern Sweden that has banned the use of any language other than Swedish.

The move followed months of problems at the Gustaf Adolf School in Landskrona, a community with racial tensions. The anti-immigrant

Sweden Democrat party received almost one vote in four in the recent elections, while almost half the students at the school have immigrant backgrounds.

Students have been forbidden to speak any language other than Swedish anywhere in the school, including the playground. The school's principal has defended the move, saying students might think they have been insulted if they hear conversations in languages they don't understand.

The ombudsman's office says they haven't received any formal complaints, and are launching the investigation on their own. There have also been two police complaints from the public against the ban.

Source: Radio Sweden (English)

See also: Sweden: School moves to Swedish only policy

Sweden: Commemorations for "honor" murder victim

Commemorations were held around Sweden on Saturday, the eve of the fifth anniversary of a high-profile honor killing.

On January 21, 2002 Kurdish immigrant Rahmi Sahinhal shot to death his 26 year old daughter Fadime. The men in her family had objected to her having a Swedish boyfriend.

Fadime Sahindal had previously drawn attention to the problems facing young immigrant women here, and gave a prominent speech in the Swedish parliament during a seminar on violence against women.

Following her death successive government have launched programs to combat honor-related violence.

Source: Radio Sweden (English)

Norway: Immigrants stay around

Around 70 percent of persons immigrating to Norway in the past 16 years have stayed in the country, according the Norwegian immigration directorate UDI.

A total of 254,000 persons immigrated to Norway from non-Nordic countries between 1990 and 2005, reported UDI on Tuesday. Seven of 10 are still living in Norway.

Family ties are the main reason people from non-Nordic countries move to Norway, with 43 percent of the immigrants coming to be reunited with relatives.

The figures appear in a report that UDI prepares every year for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Net immigration in 2005 reached 19,000, up by more than 5,000 from the year before. It was the highest level of immigration ever recorded, and was attributed to Norway's labour shortage and new rules making it easier for European workers to cross borders in search of jobs.

Most of the immigrants to Norway have arrived from Poland, Thailand, Iraq and Somalia.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

See also:
Norway: 50% of original immigrants on welfare

Sweden: Gov't confirms right to headscarf

The Swedish National Agency for Education has reaffirmed its support for the right of pupils to wear religious headgear in school. In the spring of last year the agency intervened when a school in the northern town of Umeå had banned one of its pupils from wearing a Muslim headscarf.

The girl in question left Minerva School as a result of the ban. The school however stuck to its decision and requested the education agency to reconsider its original stance.

But the agency's second investigation produced the same conclusion: a full headgear ban is not permissible on the grounds that it effectively excludes the participation of pupils who wear scarves for religious reasons.

Minerva School, which is a non-religious private school, contended that its ban extends to all headgear worn in the classroom, not just headscarves. It also pointed out that, since many women who practice Islam do not wear veils, it is incorrect to maintain that a ban on veils prevents pupils from practicing their religion.

But the education agency has reiterated its original view that a ban on veils constitutes religious discrimination, which is not permitted under Swedish law.

"We took another look at our first decision and found that there was nothing wrong there. It complied with both Swedish and international law," Frida Ericmats from the National Agency for Education told The Local.

The agency's analysis was supported by the discrimination ombudsman, who agreed that the school's ruling constituted a form of indirect discrimination.

"The school's rules mean that it is not possible for all pupils to go there. But freedom of religion is a constitutional right," said Ericmats.

She also points out that headscarves should not be equated with burqas. While schools may prohibit burqas on the grounds that they impede teacher-pupil communication, no such argument can be made concerning headscarves.

The wearing of hats and caps is also a separate issue as the religious element is lacking. Schools may in fact come to an agreement with parents and pupils to ban the wearing of these items in the classroom.

But the right to wear unobtrusive religious headgear is non-negotiable.

Source: The Local (English)

Belgium: 50% of immigrants drop out of high school

About half of immigrant youth of Turkish or North-African origin drop out of high school before getting a diploma.  The cause is the low social-economic circumstances of the youth, the other language and the late entrance into high school.  This is according to a study of the Open Univesity of Brussels.

Less than 20% of boys and less than 25% of girls of Turkish and North-African origin start higher education.  By ethnic Belgians that's 57% of boys and 71% of girls.

More than 40% of Turkish and North-African youth begin secondary education after the age of 12, which means they already have a gap to fill.

The researchers pointed out that it's impossible to catch up on such gaps later on.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

Belgium: Muslim Executive denies allegations

The Belgian Muslim Executive confirms that the purchased computers are in the Executive's offices, according to an inventory.  The Executive therefore denies allegations against the former president Mohamed Boulif.  The public prosecution claims that it could not find the computers that were bought with subsidies.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

See also:
Belgium: Former Muslim leader held for embezzlement

Denmark: fighting honor crimes

Concern that many honour related crimes go unreported has led police to develop a plan to prevent family disagreements from turning fatal

The national police force is increasing its efforts to prevent honour related crimes by making sure that they can identify potential problems before they turn violent.

Honour related crimes amongst immigrant families have proved difficult for police to catch wind of. But by informing police on the street of the signs of a potential conflict and by taking steps to make women feel more comfortable about reporting problems, the national police force hopes it can crack cases before they become a crime.

The strategy also calls for local police districts to co-ordinate their efforts with the National Investigation Centre (NEC), as well as social service agencies.

'We have come up with a very systematic way to approach honour crimes,' said Kim Kliver of the NEC. 'The most important thing is that we don't have to sit around and wait for a crime to be committed. The sooner we get involved in a case, the greater the chance that we can stop it before it develops into something serious.'

Kliver said the new efforts would include keeping an eye on how police forces in other countries dealt with honour crimes.

Representatives from women's shelters said they were positive about the initiative, particularly efforts to make women more comfortable about talking to the police.

'These are extremely complicated cases,' said Anne Mau, a spokesperson for LOKK, the national organisation of women's centres. 'But with the new task forces and a more active effort, we can prevent conflicts from turning into honour crimes where everyone loses.'

Source: Copenhagen Post (English)

Belgium: Pupil stabs principal

A student in a technical school in Dinant broke into the principal's office this morning and stabbed the man many times with a knife.  The 16 year old was sent last Friday back home after drug problems.  His was later picked up.  The principal's condition is "serious" and the school had been closed.

The student was sent home last Friday since he dealt marijuana inside the school.  He threatened then with reprisals.  The student broke into the principal's office in the Institut Cousot about 9:15AM.  He stabbed the man several times in the abdoman and back.  The man was brought to a hospital and his condition is described as "serious".

The prosecution says that the student had been arrested.  Despite the student's age, an investigation was started, due to the seriousness of the events.  About the suspect the prosecution said that he is not a Belgian citizen and that he already has a file by the youth court for stealing an MP3 player last November.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

Amsterdam: riots

Eight pupils are still being held by police for involvement in riots next to theHeineken Music Hall last Saturday.  The Amsterdam police intends to use pictures from security cameras to find others who were involved in the fight, said a police spokesman.  Additionally, the police will use the internet and TV programs.

Thirteen youth between the ages of 13 and 18 were arrested for the riots which started during the youth event Topscore XXXSperience.

When a large group of students were not allowed to enter the hall, about 300 teenagers started rioting.  Later they attacked the police and threw stones and bottles at police agents.

The event was organized by the Department for Social Development (Dienst Maatschappelijke Ontwikkeling, DMO) of the Amsterdam municipality for pupils between the ages of 12 and 18.

The municipality miscalculated how many teenagers would head for the event.  "The capacity was calculated for 1500 people.  When it was full, we decided not to let any more people in." says a DMO spokesman. This is the 6th time the event was put up.  On average 1200-1500 showed up every time.

Pupils could enter for free by showing the XXXS pass, that was sent to all kids in Amsterdam.  The party had never before gotten out of hand, according to DMO.  Alcohol is not allowed in the event and the kids are searched upon entering.

The youth later went on to destroy a metro-car, a bus and a construction site.  Two police agents were injured.

Source: (Dutch)

Netherlands: restoring virginity

I was about to translate a recent article from Trouw about female circumcision, but I noticed Klein Verzet beat me to it: 80% of Dutch Somali woman genitally mutilated .  Regarding the difference in estimates (0.4% to 80%), the article states that 80% might go through a more "light" circumcision.

The Dutch Minister of Health, Hoogervorst wants to call a stop to hymen repairs such are done to Muslim girls.  In these operations the hymen is "restored" by sewing the vagina walls to each other.  That happens since men want their wife to bleed on the wedding night in order to show that she is a virgin.

"This contradicts medical ethics" Hoogervorst said in the parliament.  "There are big question marks about this interference."  Hoogervorst, who was answering a question by one of the parliament members said that the restoration operations are on the same rank as female circumcision and called it a crime.

Hoogervorst will now start a study into how many such operations take place in the Netherlands.  "Although I don't have the impression that it's a wide spread phenomenon" he said.  He also added that such operations will not be reimbursed.

Source: BN DeStem (Dutch)

See also: European Muslim women go to extremes to be virgins (again)

Belgium: Asylum seekers

Last year 10,207 asylum seekers were allowed to stay in Belgium for humanitarian reasons - mostly since their case was taking too long to process.  11,725 asylum seekers were expelled or not allowed in.

In 3,291 cases the asylum seekers were given permanent residence and in 2,101 temporary.

The amount of asylum requests in 2006 is an all time low since 1990.


The Belgian Interior Minister Patrick Dewael (Flemish liberal) and his Flemish counterpart Marino Keulen (liberal) have commissioned a new report to find out how many people are staying in Belgium illegally.

The work has been entrusted to the Belgian sociologist and criminologist Marion Van San, who will do the job together with two colleagues at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam (The Netherlands).

The sociologist has been asked to find out how many people are staying in Belgium illegally, how they arrived here, what their motives are and how they live.

The team will also examine whether the accession of new member states to the European Union has triggered a new influx of illegals.

The Belgian ministers also want to know how often illegals deal with the police and in connection with which kinds of crimes this happens.

The Belgian-Dutch team is also looking at who provides help, shelter and support for illegals and in which way this happens.

So far the scientists got interviewers to speak with 120 families of people staying in the country illegally. The research involves people from Antwerp, Ghent (East Flanders) and Brussels.

The interviewers have the same nationality as the illegals and as a result were able to contact these people more easily via pubs and non profit organisations.

The report should be ready by the spring.

The decision to involve criminologist Marion Van San has raised an eyebrow in certain quarters. In 2001 the scientist examined the crime share immigrant youngsters had in the total crime statistics.

At the time several politicians were unhappy with the way this report dealt with the issue.

Source: HLN (Dutch), Flanders news (English)

Netherlands: Asylum seekers more often suspected of crimes

Asylum seekers are more often suspected of punishable crimes than ethnic Dutch.  5.4% of immigrants who are waiting for their residence permit has been suspected of criminal behavior.  In the general Dutch population older than twelve the number is 1.5%.

This according to a report published Friday by the department of the Police Academy.

Looking only at "allochtone" immigrant groups, the percentages are much higher.  6.1%  of Moroccans are suspected and 7.5% of the Antillians.

[ed. By allochtone I suppose they mean here non-Western immigrants]

The reason for this difference?  Asylum seekers spend a lot of their time in asylum centers, where life consists mostly of waiting.  Additionally, traumas from the past might play a role.

Asylum seekers commit crimes to support themselves.  Many times they also commit crimes in an attempt to secure their stay in the Netherlands.  Many crimes are also committed in connection with addiction.  

Edwin Huizing, manager of VluchtelingenWerk Nederland says in reaction that the study makes clear that a lot of suffering can be prevented by a shorter asylum procedure and by allowing asylum seekers more possibilities for work.  

Huizing also says he's satisfied with the study, which unlike previous studies which he says have been slanted, brings the numbers in context.

He also points out that asylum seekers are generally suspected of crimes which do not involve violence such as shoplifting.

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

Norway: more on ID fraud

Several thousand Iraqis in Norway have been issued passports with a false name. This has been confirmed by the Iraqi Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, Aftenposten writes.

The embassy is alleged to have issued Iraqi passports without having had their identity papers checked out.

Ambassador Ahmad Bamarni says to Aftenposten that the majority have recieved passports on the basis of false documents, because the embassy has had no possibility to determine if the documantation was genuine.

An Iraqi Kurdish man who made out false ID cards to Iraqis was last year sent to jail for five years for smugling humans and for forgery of documents, Aftenposten writes.

Among other things he issued ID cards to the 182 Kurds from Northern Iraq who have been staying in Norway with so-called MUF status.

This means they could stay in Norway on a temporary basis, without the right to family re-unification.

Source: The Norway Post (English)

See also: Norway: Gigantic ID fraud

Sweden: School moves to Swedish only policy

The principal of Landskrona's Gustav Adolf School is to introduce a new policy prohibiting the use of foreign languages on school premises. Almost half of the children at the school come from an immigrant background.

The rules are to be tightened following the expulsion of 6 pupils and the suspension of 22 others from the school in the southern Swedish town.

When leftover fireworks from the recent new year's celebrations exploded inside the school on Thursday, health and safety representative Leif Paulsson ordered the school's immediate closure.

The incident followed reports of boys urinating in girls' shoes, as well as repeated bullying and beatings on school premises.

The only exception to the new rule is the teaching of foreign languages. Otherwise only Swedish will be tolerated.

"This means that pupils may speak only Swedish in the classroom and in the corridors. This applies even when they are speaking to each other.

"We are doing this so that others will not be able to think that they are saying anything insulting," principal Patrik Helgesson told newspaper Helsingborgs Dagblad.

The Swedish Children's Ombudsman, Lena Nyberg, is deeply critical of the measures.

"As an adult one must try to reach agreement with the children at a school before introducing this type of regulation. Disciplinary rules always work best where there is consensus," Nyberg told Helsingborgs Dagblad.

"The situation in Landskrona seems to be one of abdication, whereby staff have long since handed over power. Now they are trying to take the power back by settinmg the rules unilaterally.

"There is a large dose of discrimination against children who speak a different native language. The first thing that strikes me is that there are many newly arrived children of refugees in Landskrona who have not yet had the time to learn Swedish. Are they supposed to avoid saying anything at all during the school day?" she added.

Parents will be notified if a pupil revert to speaking his or her first languages. If the pupil continues doing so despite initial warnings the parents will be brought to the school for further discussion. If this does not solve the problem all parties involved will be called to a conference to discuss a potential solution.

Gustav Adolf School is the first to impose the sort of language ban suggested recently by two Liberal Party politicians in the nearby city of Malmö.

"Some pupils at Gustaf Adolf School have been threatened and harassed in the native languages of other pupils, which is why the rules have been tightened," said administrative manager Ylva Runnström.

"Only Swedish may be spoken on school grounds. There are already rules prohibiting harassment and this is a continuation of those.

"I am going to raise the issue of whether this should also be the case in other schools. It is important that we have the same levels of tolerance in all our schools," she added.

Ingegärd Milborn, a legal expert at the Swedish National Agency for Education, has not heard of similar measures at any other school and is uncertain as to the legality of the new regulation.

"The question is whether this can viewed as insulting towards the children. Forbidding children from speaking their native language is a sensitive matter. The situation is complicated for the school," she told Helsingborgs Dagblad.

Source: The Local (English)

See also: Berlin school bans languages other than German

London: Row over handshaking

A Muslim woman police officer has sparked a new debate by refusing to shake hands with Britain's most senior police chief for religious reasons.

The incident happened at a passing-out parade where Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair was inspecting a line-up of 200 recruits.

In addition to refusing a traditional congratulatory handshake from Sir Ian, the WPC - who wore a traditional Muslim hijab headscarf - also declined to be photographed with him as she did not want the picture used for 'propaganda purposes'.

The woman had earlier insisted that it was contrary to her religious teaching for her to touch a man.

Now The Mail on Sunday has learned that her gesture has sparked top-level discussions at Scotland Yard.

Some officers argue that her attitude towards men might impede her ability to detain offenders.

However, it is clear that she is happy to come into contact with men, just not shake their hand or kiss them.

An inquiry has now been launched and the unidentified WPC - described as 'a non-Asian Muslim' - could face the sack if it is considered that her strict religious beliefs prevent her performing as an effective police officer.

However, senior commanders are worried that dismissing her would deepen the atmosphere of mistrust between the police and the Muslim community.

The incident happened at Imber Court, Scotland Yard's sports and conference centre at Thames Ditton in South West London, when the 200 recruits attended a passing-out parade having completed their 18 weeks' basic training.

A senior police source said: "Before Sir Ian arrived she told her training supervisor that she was not going to shake his hand because it was against her religion.

"She also said she did not want her picture taken with the commissioner because they would only use it for propaganda.

"Sir Ian was informed on his arrival of the officer's request. This has never happened before and he was bloody furious. But he agreed to go along with it so as not to cause a scene.

"He went out and shook the hand of every single new recruit apart from her. It was very obvious and very embarrassing.

"There was a great deal of discussion about it afterwards. People were asking how the hell is she going to make an arrest if she refuses to touch men."

Having completed her 18 weeks' initial training, the WPC has now been assigned to a West London police station as a beat bobby.

Like all newly qualified officers, she will remain on probation for two years to satisfy her superiors that she is suitable for the job.

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said of the Imber Court incident on December 21 that normally the police would have refused a request not to shake Sir Ian's hand.

"It was only granted by members of training staff out of a desire to minimise any disruption to other people's enjoyment and to ensure the smooth running of what is one of the most important events in an officer's career,' she said.

"The commissioner did question the validity of this request and the matter is being looked at by the MPS."

The spokeswoman added that the officer has completed all basic training, including the safety course 'which requires recruits to come into physical contact with each other regardless of gender'.

Asked about the officer's ability to make an arrest, she said: "There is a standard between personal and professional life. A passing-out parade is a personal event. You are not fulfilling a professional duty there."

Scotland Yard has allowed Muslim WPCs to wear an adaptation of the hijab since 2001.

But, despite a vigorous recruitment campaign, there are still only around 300 Muslims among the Met's 35,000 officers and fewer than 20 are women.

The incident is the latest in a series of 'political correctness' and race-related rows under Sir Ian's command at the Met.

Last October, at the height of the Israel-Lebanon conflict, PC Alexander Basha, 24, was moved from Diplomatic Protection Group duties at the Israeli Embassy because he feared his Lebanese relatives could be targeted if he was seen on TV.

In June 2005 Sir Ian was judged to have 'hung out to dry' three white detectives - who were accused of rudely mispronouncing "Shi'ites' - to prove his anti-racist credentials.

An employment tribunal said that while he was deputy commissioner in charge of discipline and diversity he had prejudiced disciplinary proceedings against the men because he wanted to make an example of them.

Source: (English)