Netherlands: Turkey demands

Netherlands must protect the rights of Turks living in the Netherlands, and those who have worked here for years. The Turkish ambassador Selahattin Alpar delivered that message to The Hague and to Balkenende's cabinet from the Turkish government. There are 370,000 Turks living in the Netherlands.

The ambassador thinks it is the responsibility of the Dutch government to provide education to the children of Turkish employees in their own language and culture. "It is really inhumane not to teach children who might come back with their parents to Turkey about their own country and language."

Further Turkey points to the back pay of Dutch pension funds to Turkish guest workers. Turkish remigrants have many problems getting their benefits. Turkey also dislikes the high visa costs for Turkish visitors.

Ambassador Alpar said today in an interview with the De Telegraaf that the discussion, in and also out of the Parliament, about double passports "harms the integration" of Turks in the Netherlands. The discussion is according to him "pure nonsense" and outlines a wrong picture. "And that in a land that is btw a founder of the European Union. The Union strives for a mosaic of cultures, where nobody predominates, that people in the Netherlands shouldn't forget.

Alpar further says that is country would still like to belong to Europe, but not at any price: "If Brussels puts more entrance demands, the exercise is finished. We do want the feeling that we are welcome." Meanwhile support among the Turks for joining the EU is back to 55%. The ambassador thinks that Europe can't do without Turkey. "We are your gateway to the East."

He doesn't think the European criticism is just: "We are a secular state, that appears in our constitution. The majority of Turks believe in it. And in our land compared with most EU lands there's full freedom of speech. Europe should realize that east of Turkey all the way to Japan there's not one democracy."

Source: FOK (Dutch)

See also: Netherlands: Pushing Turkey to exempt Dutch from army service , Netherlands: Turkey worried about Turkish-Dutch

Amsterdam: The 4 myths of Moroccan youth

Fleur Jurgens, a Dutch journalist, is now coming out with a new book: "The Moroccan Drama" (Het Marokkanendrama). In this book she examines the Moroccan youth in Amsterdam. She claims that the fault of their lack of integration and their criminality is with their families. She interviewed about seventy people about the situation of the Moroccans.

In the the Volkskrant, Jurgens brings four myths that hinder the debate on Moroccan criminal youth.


Myth 1:

There isn't an issue of a Moroccan problem. Everything that Moroccan do wrong is enlarged by the media. In reality it's just a small group.

Making the messenger into the culprit is a well tried method when it comes to Moroccans: they are "stigmatized". But that is turning around cause and effect. In Amsterdam there is indeed a dubious Moroccan underclass being created of aggrieved youth that scarcely have a message to Dutch society.

A few facts (from among other things the report "Moroccan in Amsterdam", of the Amsterdam municipal service, 2006): Almost seven out of ten Moroccan youth leave the education system without a useful diploma; 40% of the Moroccan youth are unemployed, one in ten is registered by police as suspect of at least one punishable crime. Almost one in three youth in the judicial youth institutions is of Moroccan origin. The percentage of suspects from the second generation Moroccans is even highest of all ethnic minorities and more than twice as high as by the first generation Moroccans. Moroccan youth are also overrepresented in the hard core of youth revolving door criminals.

These youth grow up in questionable environments, in which having benefits is quite usual and having work quite unusual. 60% of Moroccan men get benefits, half for disability. In Amsterdam one in four Moroccan families gets social security benefits. Half of Moroccan kids in Amsterdam grow up in poverty. Moroccan kids live too crammed, grow up in Moroccan neighborhoods, are relatively unhealthy and go most often to special education, due to physical or mental limitations.

In the Westelijke Tuinsteden, meanwhile, several hundred Moroccan "problem families" already live: big families in which the kids and parents sometimes go together on raids, where there's addiction, debts, mental disabilities, domestic and sexual violence, extreme poverty, pollution, psychiatric or education problems. Policy makers already speak of the "Moroccan Tokkies".

Their own part in the problems is among these underclass of Berber machos a tremendous taboo subject. And hurriedly everybody - police, teachers and social workers - agrees with it. But precisely this lack of responsibility is what makes these Moroccan boys powerless to do something for their situation. A powerless growing aggression.

Pointing to Dutch society - with the press as representative - breeds an anti-Dutch sentiment. Almost all social workers, teacher, psychiatrists, police agents, employers and pedagogues that I interviewed for my research found the anti-Dutch sentiment specific for the new Moroccan underclass (in contrast to the Antillean or the Surinamese underclass. The Moroccan underclass is not only deprived, it also has an "offended face". That makes them easily inflammable and mobilizable.

Myth 2:

Moroccan criminal youth are driven into the arms of crime because they are discriminated in the Dutch labor market.

'They get no internship place', 'they are discriminated by Dutch employers based on their last names'. Logically they will misbehave. This reasoning comes up every now and then when talking about the Moroccan problem youth.

It rests on criminological misunderstanding that there is a casual connection between 'being discriminated' and 'committing crimes'. A bank robbery must according to this reasoning be seen as an unconscious expression of a deeper 'unease in society'.

First, I dare to claim that this motive is pretty much absent in the mind of a criminal at the time of the crime. Yes, naturally, afterwards (by the police, before the judge) he liked to being it forth as mitigating circumstances of his 'derailment': 'The police arrested me because I'm Moroccan".

But why can't a criminal simply be greedy? I am surprised at this blind spot. Is it not more reasonable that a bag snatcher, a petty thief or a drug trader are led primarily by the fruits of their crime: the Pradas (ie, clothes), BMWs, scooters or laptops? The criminal profession is in some neighborhoods of Amsterdam already a serious perspective. So are Moroccan drop outs directly employable in the drug trade, youth gangs or petty criminality. In practice it revolves - according to my study - around youth who take into account the risks of their 'profession'. The chance that a car thief would be caught is about 1 in 15. And if he has to appear before the judge, it is still not a disaster: In most cases he gets community service or a fine. Not reacting can lead to years of delay and in some cases even to postponement (if he gets to 18 in the meantime). After more sentences he must maybe 'sit' for a while in an institute that is especially aimed at "re-education", because that's how the youth criminal law goes: not to punish but to re-socialize as the main goal. A bag thief in that time gets very rich.

Secondly, there's the criminological misunderstanding - the criminal as a victim of an unfair society - an outdated form of determinism. A bad social-economic situation or culture origin, or bad youth definitely leads to crimes. But the fact that meanwhile almost a quarter of the Moroccans (from similar environments) studies in higher education, shows the opposite. The Moroccan comedians, authors, actors and politicians also have clearly applied their "cultural baggage" in a favorable way.

Thirdly it is said that Moroccan youth don't 'get' jobs or internship from discriminating employers. But isn't it more logical that this effect is caused by the fact that most of them don't have a useful diploma? They also take themselves out of the market by lacking basis employment proficiencies, such as coming on time, speaking Dutch, keeping their hands off other people's stuff, accepting authority, finishing something with discipline and working together. These kids are often educated on the street, without parental support. That doesn't prepare them for the job market, no matter how sympathetic Dutch employers are towards them.

Myth 3:

Moroccan parents can't supervise their sons in the street. Indeed, they are not used to it in their culture. Everybody repeats it: In Morocco the 'entire neighborhood' watches over their children, but in the Netherlands the 'Moroccan Community' is absent, and the parental authority of Moroccan parents doesn't get past the front door.

But how can you explain then that Moroccan girls time after time say that they find the social pressure of the community in the "Moroccan neighborhoods" almost unbearable? If they light up a cigarette or talk to a boy - loaded crimes for the family honor - their parents know it within a few hours. Apparently social control works excellently in the Amsterdam-Moroccan community, but selectively.

Moroccan parents don't know what's happening only when it relates to the bad behavior of their sons. In some cases it's because they don't entirely reject that behavior. These parents are indifferent to Dutch society. But in most cases it's because the balance of power in their family is disturbed. Many Moroccan sons control what's happening at home. From childhood they get what they want, because they are boys. Their mothers can barely restrict them a little. Through that develop big egos with short fuses. Researchers in the field speak of "Moroccan princes".

What is new in the Netherlands is that Moroccan mothers are often 'information dependent' on their sons. These Moroccan mothers still lead an isolated existence and speak bad Dutch. Many mothers came to the Netherlands as import-brides. Also they are not expected to enter the 'male domain'. That makes it difficult to call their sons to order in the street. More than that, these mothers often marry out of "community interests" and not out of love. There is little communication possible about the raising of children in their 'dull' marriage. Mothers want more control over their sons, but they are expected to be loyal to their spouse. That brings them into a "difficult straddle" between their kids and their spouse. Sometimes fathers care for their sons, but they do it in an authoritative manner. They give orders, or say what their can't do, but they don't explain what it's not allowed. That doesn't work by their Dutch-ized sons, who withdraw more from parental authority.

Myth 4:

The Dutch government owes the Moroccan community. Moroccan guest worker sit now "with a broken back" on the couch. Their children are derailed.

I call this slavery argument.

The official recruiting of Moroccan guest workers ended in 1973. At that time there were about 22,000 Moroccans in The Netherlands. Most (between 50%-70%) of this first group of guest workers by that time had already gone back or still wanted to do it, according to statistics of the CBS.

The biggest group of Moroccan immigrants who now live in the Netherlands, is from after the official recruiting of guest workers. First came the family reunificationists then the adventurers and the marriage-migrants. Meanwhile, 315,000 Moroccans live in the Netherlands, of which half are kids who were born in the Netherlands. The total number of import-partners is between 3 to 5 times as big as the total number of guest workers who were ever in the Netherlands.

I will just say: Most Moroccan parents are now certainly not former guest workers. They had for the most part come to the Netherlands of their own free will to build up a better and more prosperous existence for themselves and their children then was possible in Morocco. A pity that nobody reminds them of this original reason for moving.

Sources: Volkskrant (Dutch), Meulenhoff Publishing (Dutch)

See also: Amsterdam: dualism in Moroccan community, Belgian marriage-immigration

Limburg: A book on Muslims

The provincial integration service put out a book on Islam in Limburg. 26,000 to 29,000 Muslims of Turkish origin live in Limburg as well as 9,000 of Moroccan origin. There are 29 mosques in the province and seven active Islamic organizations.

The book answers questions such as: Who are the Muslims in Limburg? What is the difference between Shiites and Sunnites? Who are their contact people? What is their concerns?

Source: (Dutch)

See also: Netherlands: Number of immigrants in Limburg rising

Denmark: The new sheik of Dortheavej

Since I was curious what else imam Chendid said, I sat down to translate the interview. My Danish is quite basic, and I would appreciate if any Danish speakers let me know of anything I got wrong.


The interview was really over when I asked the imam if he knew any Muslim jokes. Just so we can demonstrate to people that Muslim really have a sense of humor. He laughs in defeat and turns off the recorder. "No, not Muslim," he says with an accent with a touch of gravity that I think again why we had the Mohamed crisis.

"Muslims don't joke with their religion. But I can bring many other jokes. Let us say, that there are about the Moroccans, because then they affect me."

With a big grin he start telling about Saddam Hussein, who wanted to fire rocket from Morocco's coast to the USA, but when he pressed the button, nothing happened. "There was just so many Moroccans, that grappled with them, that they couldn't take off. They wanted so much to go to the USA,"

"Or what with this here, which is older, now people certainly have rules about it. A young Moroccan marries a sixty year old rich woman. She's in love and insists on meeting his parents. In the end he gives in and they walk through Rabat's streets. She stumbles and falls. Another Moroccan comes past and says, "help your residence permit to it feet now."

The imam laughs so that he must hold his belly, and I ask dumbly, where the woman comes from. "She's Danish" the imam says and laughs more. We say goodbye and at the exit Mostafa Chendid says with a poker face, "Remember now to write nicely. Otherwise you are dead."

That can really be called humor. I think. I hope.

And supposedly it is precisely this passionate repartee, combined with an agreeable voice, a pair of friendly eyes and an inflexible belief in conservative Islam that has made Mostafa Chendid the natural choice for Dortheavej's new sheikh, like it is called, when one don't just preach like an imam, but also have authority to issue fatwas.

The job isn't easy: the predecessor Abu Laban remains Denmark's most famous imam and was the only in the land who managed to put together 1000 people for Friday prayer every week at Dortheavej. And that wasn't just Sunni Muslims from Arab lands; also Pakistani Muslims found a way. At the same time, it was doubtlessly Abu Laban's making that the Islamic Society in Denmark (Islamisk Trossamfund) was frequently labeled by journalists and researchers as one of the biggest associations in Denmark, despite its membership of about 800.

Certainly there are many more who have heard of the Islamic Society then of the Muslim's Joint Council (Muslimernes Fællesråd), the first Muslim umbrella organization, that was founded last autumn and currently counts more than 8,000 members.

It doesn't include the Islamic Society and according to Weekendavisen's intelligence that is intentional: Many of the member organization are quite tired that Muslims during the Muhammad crisis were lumped together with people such as Naser Khader or Abu Laban.

For the time being Mostafa Chendid seems however like he could continue to be the media imam in the same format as Abu Laban, if he wants. The association "Women for Freedom" have already complain about him to the Equality Ministry after he said to Jyllands-Posten on International Women's Day that all women - not only Muslims - should go with a headscarf.

A dozen such comments a year and he will be Denmark's most famous in an instant. But Mostafa Chendid says that he doesn't want to be known for this. "I am tired of the media always looking at Muslims, as if we stand in opposition to Danish society. My goal is that Muslims shall not be seen as a foreign element in society, but be a natural part of it. And no, I didn't say that Danish women will be forced to go with a headscarf. I said to journalists, that a headscarf was an obligation from God, since this is according to the Koran, but that doesn't mean that I said that a women with a headscarf is a better person than a women without one," he says during the interview.

We do the interview in a secluded place filled with files, brochures and heaps of paper. The imam sat down two meter from me in the most far off place, and I can't stop thinking if that is, because he thinks it is inappropriate to be alone with a strange women. I keep my jacket on, as that is most respectful.

"But you can't say that it a provocation to say such on Women's Day? I can certainly also just go round and say that I don't like that imams have such big beards and that they should shave them off?"

"Yes, you can say that, and I can then shave it off or keep it. That is permissible in a democracy. But you should just remember that it is not only imams that have big beards, it is also some old communists, who have one. But incidentally I don't understand why it is so provocative just when Muslim women go with a headscarf. When nuns do it in Denmark, is that a symbol of chastity and holiness. Nobody asks Mother Therese to take off the veil. Some Danish women feel free if they show themselves. Why don't Muslims have a right to go with a veil if it makes them feel free? The veil is a signal that they are not for sale."

"But men are also not for sale? You go around and tempt freely! Why don't you cover yourself?"

Mostafa Chendid grins disarmingly. "We do that too! Just see my beard! No, let me mention America. Every half minute there is a new rape. When a woman struts about, then it tempts men, and the headscarf server to protect them. But I also want to say that Western women aren't so equal as you perhaps think: they have it very hard. They are forced to work. We don't force our women to work. We don't forbid it, but the husband doesn't order her to join the labor market. I am sad when I see a women on a bicycle with two children at 6 AM bringing one to the nursery and the other to kindergarten. I don't wish that for any woman."

"From America to Denmark. I don't wear a veil. But therefore I am not raped. There aren't rape cases every other minute here. Either at work or in the streets. Are Danish men not real men or what?"

"As starting point men have the tendencies. But don't forget that we find ourselves in a cold land. And don't forget that your culture is different than ours. Moreover, I don't say that all men are unable to control themselves. Maybe it revolves around just five-ten percent of men who can't control themselves, but that is also sufficient. Incidentally I am tired of hearing that Islam oppresses women. If Muslim women are oppressed then it isn't based on Islam. Then it is based on tradition. It isn't the religion's fault."

We don't get further with that question: Mostafa Chendid is neither to be led nor driven. To the question if it isn't wrong that there shall be four male witnesses to a rape before the woman can get recognition for a crime, he says that it is just rubbish. It's not like that in any Muslim country, he maintains, and if it has ever been it was never legitimate by Islam. According to the Sharia a doctor's statement or bruises serve as evidence. It is only when a woman is suspected of infidelity that four male witnesses are needed. And they certainly only exist if one is unfaithful in the street. The law is merciful, he assures.

Neither my surprise that women don't have a place in mosques, but are directed to hear the imam's preaching through a loudspeaker outside the building, gets him to falter. "The Muslim's prayer position is now such that men can't concentrate in the mosque if a woman kneels there," he says. And on that point he is probably right.

And because the imam is both funny and obliging, I suddenly get the inspiration, that he then must understand why the Muhammad cartoons were found by most Danes to be completely harmless. Then I ask him about it. I ask what is really the matter with portraying the prophet with humor. But there the party is over. The imam's face is obscured by dark clouds and he waves deprecatorily with his hand. It is clear that he thinks it deeply provocative that I can in any way mention the word humor in the same sentence as the prophet.

"There are words I will not dream of using towards you as my guest in the Islamic Society," he says, "I will stop myself from using them, even if they are a part of my culture, just because it is insulting and disrespectful. If I told a joke about your mother, you will be angry. Why? Yes, not because of anything else but because she is your mother. For Muslims the prophet means much more then your parents. But you don't understand it."

"But the Christians will say that God is great, he is much too great to be insulted by this sort of thing."

"Yes, I know that, he will not be insulted. But we are insulted."

"But then we certainly lose our tradition for cartooning; it becomes restricted because now Muslims live in Denmark?"

"Why is that? I can make cartoons of everything else than of our prophet. Why is it so essential for you tradition?"

"Why, there are also cartoons of the pope. Should the Catholics then also have a right to protest if we make jokes of the Pope or Jesus?"

"The pope can answer for himself, if he wants. If the cartoons are an important tradition in Denmark, then people can, as far as I'm concerned, draw cartoons of whatever people want, just not when they desecrate our religion. Not that I will encourage it, but I will respect that there is a tradition in this land. But regarding Jesus then I will say that when Kvickly made sandals with the motif of Jesus we approached them at once and demanded that they be taken back. Jesus is in our hearts, not under our feet, we say. And when Kvickly refused, we turned to the police and asked to demonstrate. We wanted to defend Jesus! He is also our prophet. But then the sandals were taken off the market."

"I understand that you say that because you are a Sunni Muslim. I had heard that the Shiites don't have an image-prohibition. And they are also Muslims."

"Yes, that is true, that Shiites for example make images of Ali (The Sunnite's 4th caliph and Shiite's first imam). That we respect. Because when they make depictions of Ali it is as the most beautiful person in the world and that holds also if they make depictions of the prophet, that we are against because it is the prophet's message and his compassion and goodness that are essential and not his person. But the Shiites don't make cartoons, do they?"

"But you agree that the result of the Mohamed crisis was that the newspapers here don't depict the prophet?"

"Yes, that is one of the positive results. But not the only one. It was also positive that the Muslims here went the diplomatic way and didn't resort to violence. The risk was great otherwise. "We didn't want to bomb as in London. And the young people are volatile, they aren't satisfied with arguing by writing or talking, as I do. This was why we went round in the Middle East, to avert a bigger catastrophe. If we just sat here, then they themselves would have gone into action."

"Can't you understand that it was a shock for many, that Muslims became so angry? I imagined that people that had escaped here from Muslim countries, came because they wanted to be free from living in a strict religious society? But that wasn't the case?

"No, these people fled poverty and dictatorship. They love their land, it is the ruler they don't like. Naturally people love the place where they were born where their family lives, the flavors of the fruit, yes even if they don't smell good, people love it. You don't love your mother because she is the world's most beautiful, but because she is your mother. People love that which is a part of themselves. It isn't a question of good or bad. We fled from a dictator and it is completely ok that Danish society demands that people shall educate themselves, be able to speak the language and have a job and obey the law. But it is not ok to demand that people shall betray their own religion," says Mostafa Chendid, who himself attempts to live up to his own demands.

He has worked as a taxi-driver. And speaks good Danish - so good in fact, that he never wants to switch over to English if he gets a little more exercise. But currently he is self-conscious: many of the leaders in the Islamic Society speak better than him and as a new spiritual leader it is important to build up authority that isn't handicapped with failing language.

Mostafa Chendid doesn't his that the growing up generations of Muslims don't want to stay taxi drivers, if it's up to him. They will be doctors, engineers, yes, all together have professions which get respect in Danish society. In that way he hopes that the day will come when Muslims will take part on equal footing with other educated people in the debate about society, and not only on the religious issue.

"Today it is certainly wholly inconceivable that I can come with a message how people can solve society's problems, even if I have a good proposal," he says, "Try to imagine how upset people will be if I arranged a conference on how to avoid pedophilia in Danish society. What's that got to do with me, the Danes will say. That we will maybe settle ourselves."

That gets me to ask what he really thinks of the authorities conflict with Ungeren [The radical left youth that were evicted of their club by force]

"I think that they will respect the authorities' decision, the municipality's decision to sell the house was certainly not spontaneous, it came a after longer entanglement around the house. The municipality estimates that it wasn't a place for young people and I trust that they were correct. The youth should too, and they should respect the law."

"But it is very good, that you say that. But there is also a court's decision, which says it was ok, that Jyllands-Posten can publish cartoons of Muhammad, then.. "

But now Mostafa Chendid gets angry. "Next question. I will not discuss it more. Just say that there is an exception for every rule. And if such cartoons anger 1.4 billion Muslims, then.."

"Yes, I would just like to know, why we hear all the time of the 1.4 billion. I myself say that people shouldn't anger all Muslims for a small thing, but why do you do that then?"

"Because we as Muslims naturally feel spiritually tied with the whole Muslim world! It is certainly not different for you. During the caricature crises newspapers in France, Germany and Spain and other places published the cartoons. Wasn't that perhaps a supportive action? I hold the same. when Isla Perejil by Morocco's coast was suddenly a subject for a dispute between Spain and Morocco, then the EU sided also with Spain. It is the same," he says indignantly, and so we drop the topic.

Instead Mostafa Chendid explains why he think that many Western intellectuals mistakenly are skeptic about Muslims.

"It reminds them of the middle ages, which was Europe's childhood. It was a bloody childhood and because Islam had its golden age at that time, they think, that Islam stands for barbarism and resistance against knowledge and intelligence. But that is completely wrong. If we were against civilization, why didn't we bust then the pyramids, that were built before Islam? Muslims conquered Egypt in the 600s and let the pyramids stand. The same can't be said for Europeans that wrecked the Mayan, Inca and Aztec empires, when they colonized Central and South America. The thing is, that Islam stood for progress and new knowledge from about the 700s to the 1400s," says Mostafa Chendid and his eyes shine with enthusiasm.

Many of the thinks which Europe holds as the most accomplished, were inspired by Muslim thinkers. Thomas Aquinas loaned from Averroes in Morocco. The blind poet John Milton took his Lost Paradise from Abu-l-Ala al-Maari and Machiavelli's Prince was a copy of something which was written two hundred years before," he continues, "there were lights in Cordova's street in Andelus when people walked in mud up to the knees in Paris, like Anatole France describes it. Think, that the Muslims left behind more than a million books on medicine, astronomy, cosmology, about everything, since they followed Mohammed's commendment that they shall go out and seek new knowledge. No, it was the Chrisitan churches which stood by the reaction, it was they who didn't accept Giordano Bruno, Copernicus and Galilei; weren't these thinkers inspired by Muslims? We laid the basis to the science that Europe today builds on.

"The Greeks were also involved"

"Yes, but as Martin Bernal showed in his big work "Black Athena", the Greek civilization stemmed from Egypt and Babylon. Therefore I have never accepted that there should be several civilizations: there is just one!," says Mostafa Chendid.

And adds hopefully, that maybe one day the Muslim world will succeed in undergoing the renaissance, that was Europa's portion, when the Islamic world domination came under ascendancy rivalry, idleness and decadence.

The way goes through education. and from Dortheavej in Copenhagen Mostafa Chendid imagines doing it.

Source: Weekendavisen (Danish)

See also:

Denmark: Women should stop tempting men, Denmark: Muslim women hide rape, Norway: Minority women lash out at feminists, Norway: "Western women are set back"

Sweden: Moroccan terror suspect to be extradited to Germany

Sweden will extradite a Moroccan man suspected of plotting terrorist attacks to Germany, where a European warrant had been issued for his arrest, Swedish officials said on Thursday. German justice officials had ordered 24 year-old Abdelali Miftah remanded in custody in absentia, "as part of an inquiry in Germany on terrorist crimes," prosecutor Ronnie Jacobsson told AFP. He said Miftah is suspected of participating in preparations to commit terrorist attacks but gave no further details. Miftah was arrested in Sweden several weeks ago because he had no residency permit but was released. On Monday, after receiving the German warrant, Swedish police arrested him again. On Thursday, he was remanded in custody. Jacobsson said Morocco had also issued a warrant for Miftah's arrest, but this was not sufficient for authorities in Sweden to act. Miftah can appeal his extradition to Germany. According to Swedish news agency TT, Swedish authorities also decided Wednesday to remand in custody and extradite a Jordanian man to Germany. He is suspected of having links to Miftah and a third person detained in Germany.

Source: The Local (English)

Sweden: Islam is and will be a European religion

The birthrate among Muslim immigrants in Europe is three times higher than that of the non-Muslim European population. According to Sweden's consul general in İstanbul, Ingmar Karlsson, if this trend continues, the Muslim population will be doubled by 2015, while Europe's non-Muslim population will decrease by 3.5 percent. Some estimates indicate that in 30 years the number of Muslims in Europe could be as high as 65 million. The outspoken consul general, who is a doctor of divinity and the author of more than 10 books on the subjects of Europe's relationship with faith, terrorism, Islam and minorities, has said that the trend towards a multi-racial and multi-confessional Europe is unstoppable; therefore, Islam must be recognized and regarded as a "domestic" European religion. Karlsson, whose latest book will be available in Sweden today, titled "Europe and the Turk," said that Turkey's membership in the European Union would demonstrate the falsity of the argument that Islam and democracy cannot mix, also helping to bring about favorable changes in the Islamic world's attitude towards Europe. "There is nothing which intrinsically prevents a Muslim from being as good a Swede as a member of the Pentecostal Bretheren or an adherent of the Jewish faith, nor is there anything that prevents mosques from becoming as natural a feature of Swedish cities as churches have always been in İstanbul, Aleppo, Damascus, Mosul or Cairo ," Karlsson said. . For EU membership, religion is not among the criteria, therefore, refusing Turkey's admission on religious grounds would send a dangerous signal, especially after Sept.11, 2001, Karlsson noted, adding that Turkey's rejection by the EU would have a radicalizing effect both in the Muslim world and in Turkey itself. . Referring to the Muslim population of Europe, Karlsson said, "A 'no' to Turkey on religious and cultural grounds would be disastrous for Europe since it would send an immediate and strong message to the fastest growing segments of Europe's population that they will always be considered unwelcome and second-class citizens, even if they choose a secular way of life." . "Sending such a message could, before we know it, lead to the emergence of a ghetto Islam in Europe instead of a modern tolerant European Islam. Radical mullahs all over Europe are already doing their best to exploit Muslim immigrants' psychological, cultural and material problems for their own purposes, and this message would only make their work easier ," he said, adding, "A Turkish membership in the European Union will facilitate a necessary integration process and thus counteract a development fraught with momentous consequences for Europe." . According to Karlsson, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has emerged as a result of the transformation of Turkish Islamism; it came to power following free elections, and Turkey is now undergoing a historic reform process that is mainly motivated by the prospect of EU membership. . Why did you want a post in Turkey as a diplomat? . . I had been dealing a lot with Middle Eastern and European affairs during my career and Turkey was a combination of these. Before I came here I was ambassador in Prague and Bratislava. And as does my government, I feel the enlargement process of the European Union is very important. Then when I came here, the consulate general got a new task; a new special section was set up with the aim to promote Turkish and Swedish relations and the Turkish accession into the EU. We started working with Turkish universities, NGOs and different organizations. . What would you say about Turkish-Swedish relations? . . I think they are very good. Back then, I think there were some misunderstandings between Sweden and Turkey, and I even think there were some suspicions about our activities. We had been criticizing Turkey and the Turkish government on matters relating to the Copenhagen criteria, human rights and the rights of minorities, etc. And there was a feeling throughout Turkey that Sweden was criticizing Turkey because we wanted to keep it out; however, as you can see now Sweden is one of Turkey's best friends in the EU. I think people have realized more and more that Sweden was critical of Turkey not because it doesn't want Turkey to be in the EU but the opposite. . Is there a fear of Islam in Europe? If so, how does it affect Turkey since the population is predominantly Muslim? . . People don't know what Islam looks like in Turkey, its facets, etc. This is used by xenophobes in Europe. People are ignorant about the religion of Islam. People don't understand that Islam today is a European religion and if you say no to a country for being of this faith, then you are essentially saying to the 20 million Muslims living in Europe, 'Whatever you do here we will consider you to be second class citizens.' That is a very dangerous policy . . And the Muslim population is on the rise in Europe….. Yes, and that will continually rise. When I grew up in Sweden after World War II, there were three Muslims in the country, three! They were of Tatar origin. Now, Muslims make up 5 to 6 percent of Sweden's population. And as this number continues to rise, everyone will realize that Islam is and will be a European religion. The first time Sweden discussed entering the EU was in 1961. It was not looked at very positively since we are Protestants and the EU was then in the Swedish debate said to be a Catholic organization. Now, more than 45 years later, that is no longer an issue. Debates move on along with time. Current debates over Turkey will also change with the evolution of Europe, but Turkey must move full speed ahead with its reforms and not fall under the influence of super nationalist powers voicing themselves in Turkey. . How is the perception in Sweden about Turkey, as compared to other European countries? .. I think if you look at the Swedish parliament, we are unique in that all parties are in favor of Turkey entering the EU. I think the overall public opinion is a positive one. We have a large group of people of Turkish background in Sweden: Kurds, Assyrian/Syrianis and Turks are active in different parties and as members of parliament. The Swedish media has many Turkish people playing important roles. One of the most powerful organizations in the country is the Social Democratic Women's Association, whose chairperson is a lady by the name of Nalin Pekgül, who was born in Batman and came to Sweden at a very young age. İbrahim Baylan, the former minister of schools is also of Turkish background, who was born outside of Midyat. One of the program directors of Swedish is from İstanbul. Swedish citizens with a Turkish background can be found in all walks of life. This may have once been something that people were suspicious about but now it's a fact of life. . Religion is not among the criteria for entrance to the EU; however, religion has been a subject of discussion in Europe because Turkey is not a Christian country. Can you talk about how Turkey is perceived in Europe, considering the fact that it is a secular state? .. People are very confused, I mean, if you look at a guide book on Turkey you see that Turkey is 99 percent Muslim but people don't realize the diversity behind this figure. Much of the debate in the country centers around the headscarf issue! So I think this does cause a level of confusion, people cannot make the connection. Many people who argue against Turkey being in the EU also see that there is a ban on the headscarf, so this increases their confusion. People in Europe don't know about the secular nature of Turkey, how it works, how Diyanet [religious affairs ministry] works. . In one of your speeches you mentioned that Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan is trying to transform the AK Party into a Muslim version of the Christian democratic parties in Europe….. If you look at the party program of the AK Party, what he's trying to do, you will see that it is in many ways a Muslim version of the Christian democratic parties of Europe. Of course, the AK Party can never be one per se. But it is strange that Christian democratic parties of Europe don't see the AK Party as such! . So why is there not much in the way of friendship between them? .. There is not enmity but it's generally a lack of knowledge and ignorance between the two. As I have stated in my many speeches and articles, public opinion of Europe is colored by some of the ghettos in Europe, comprised of immigrants that have made no attempt to assimilate. Especially in some of Europe's bigger towns like Berlin where people came there 40 years ago and they thought that they would stay for a short while and go back and they didn't want to integrate and they were also often not allowed to integrate. But as contacts have increased during the negotiations, this picture will slowly disappear. . When it comes to Turkey, some of the EU countries started talking about a different level of membership status….. We frequently hear about European values. And I think European values are based not on Christianity but Roman law. One basic principle of Roman law is "Pacta sunt servanda" meaning, agreements are to be kept. The EU made an agreement with Turkey that if it follows the Copenhagen criteria then the road to the EU will be open for Turkey. . But when there is a talk about different membership level, Turkey is offended. It has become an emotional issue after having tried for so many years for full membership….. I think that Sweden would have reacted in the same way. If, during the negotiation process we had been told by Brussels that we have to meet conditions not given to other countries… There is something that you bring up regularly in your statements, about the EU's absorption capacity and how some falsely argue that the EU won't be able to absorb a big country like Turkey. . Ask any Frenchman if France has been absorbed by EU and he will be very upset. I don't think that any country has been absorbed by the EU. It's a cooperation between different nations. So if you say that Turkey is just too large to incorporate into a United States of Europe, then how about the enlargement process with the decisive step of the acceptance of 10 new members which took place two years ago, when the EU went from 15 to 25 members? So, to go to 28 members from 27 is not all that much of a jump. . How about the security and geopolitical arguments that exist, for or against Turkey's membership? .. I think that most of these arguments are in favor of Turkey and not against. We can see how the soft power of the EU has helped to transform Turkey. At the same time, the hard power of the US has made Iraq collapse. So Turkey in the EU with a stable economy and better system could be a source of inspiration for surrounding countries. If Turkey was more politically and economically unstable, that could be problematic for Europe. To keep Turkey out, and as a sort of a firewall between Europe and the Middle East, is not the right way of thinking. . What could happen? Why is it so dangerous to keep Turkey on the edge? .. From the point of both democratic and economic developments, it will better for Turkey to be in the EU. If Turkey goes back to the crisis it once had, it would be problematic for both Turkey and the EU. . Are you saying that Turkey's internal conflicts have an automatic effect on Europe? .. Of course. . How so? Could you give an example? . . New disturbances in the Southeast would, for example, lead to migration to Europe and increase the tensions between Turks and Kurds living there. . The argument in Turkey and in Europe -- if Turkey is not welcomed by Europe, it should look to the Middle East and vice versa. What do you think about this? Does it have to be one way or the other? . . Even before Atatürk [the founder of the Republic of Turkey], Turkey's main direction was toward Europe. The Ottoman Empire was called the 'sick man of Europe,' not Asia. Turkey's connections with Europe and with NATO have been so strong, I don't see the other as an option for Turkey. With Turkish modernization continuing at the rate it has occurred in the past four, five years, there will be no way that the EU can say no to Turkey. . Yourself, what do you like most about Turkey or Turkish people? .. The country is beautiful and the people are hospitable and nice. . What do you dislike most here -- not a diplomatic question? . . No, that's okay. What I dislike is all these expressions that you see now as with other countries. Any kind of ultranationalist, chauvinist intolerance. . Do you have concerns about the rise of nationalism in Turkey? .. I don't think that Turkey is turning into a more nationalist country. It is turning Euro-skeptic if anything, more into a EU-critic following some of the policies of the EU member states. . There are radical groups committing crimes claiming to protect Turkish interests. They are not in the majority; however, they are painting a negative picture of Turkey in Europe. The police being photographed with the killer of Hrant Dink, for example. This is very unfortunate. There is nationalism in Turkey today but you can find that in most European countries. Just take Holland, for example, where a party claims an ethnically Turkish female member of government should be kicked out because she is, how do you say, not of Dutch blood. This rise of nationalism is a phenomenon in many European countries as well. You have to see it and take it seriously but not get hysterical and overreact. .
Source: Today's Zaman (English)

Belgium: Apologizing for anti-homophobia book saying Ataturk was homosexual

Ataturk is in good company, according to this book.

Marie Arena, the education minister for Belgium's French-speaking community in the Walloon region, made a request yesterday for a meeting with Turkey's ambassador to Belgium in an apparent effort to explain the publishing of a book in which the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, is listed among the important homosexual and bisexual personalities of history.
Belgian sources on the same day emphasized that the Belgian government was by no means involved in the publishing of the book.
"The issue is extremely sensitive, and Belgian officials have eventually noticed their mistake," Yusuf Seki, press officer of the Turkish Embassy in Brussels, said yesterday, noting that following the embassy's warning, the ministry had decided not to publish in the next edition of the book a list of "Famous homosexuals and bisexuals in history" in which Atatürk was included. He also said that Arena's request for a meeting with Ambassador Fuat Tanlay has been accepted, without specifying an exact date.
Arena also sent a letter to the embassy in which she said her government had no intention of insulting Atatürk. Arena's spokesperson, Jennifer Wilquot, speaking with Today's Zaman, admitted that it was "a mistake" to put Atatürk's name on the list. As Wilquot avoided elaborating on what reference they had relied on for putting Atatürk's name on the list, other Belgian sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Today's Zaman: "The source of that list was a California-based Internet site, and unfortunately those who prepared the book didn't feel the need to check the information already provided publicly on an Internet site. It is a copy and paste accident." Responsibility for distribution of the book to all primary and secondary schools in the autonomous Walloon region doesn't belong to the Belgian state but to the Education Ministry of the government of the French-speaking Community of Belgium, the same sources also underlined. They noted that the 144-page book, titled "Fight Against Homophobia," was not distributed to students as was reported earlier. It was distributed to teachers for guidance so they could use it as a tool in lectures aimed at creating awareness concerning anti-homophobia, they said. Reminded of the fact that the list was already published in the first edition and that the books were already distributed, the Belgian sources said, "The ministry will request that teachers not take those pages into consideration while instructing students." The book, prepared at the instruction of Arena, emphasizes that homosexuality is not actually a negative thing and that there have been many famous and important homosexual or bisexual people in history. The French Community of Belgium is one of three official communities in the country along with the Flemish Community and the German-speaking Community. It is also called the French-speaking Community of Belgium. The French Community of Belgium has its own parliament, government and administration. Belgium is one of the few countries in the world that grants its citizens the right to same-sex marriages and child adoption by homosexual couples. It was stated that the distribution of the book on homophobia was aimed at "enlightening the future of the young generation in Belgium" and informing them correctly by giving information on the history of homosexuality and the general socio-cultural perception in regard to homosexuality. The book also touches on the equality of women and discusses the viewpoints of other societies regarding homosexuality with an aim of preventing the younger generation from harboring negative opinions on homosexuality. Among famous homosexuals in history, according to the book, are Alexander the Great, Leonardo da Vinci and Goethe. Other interesting names on the list are some spiritual leaders of the Catholic world such as Pope Benoit IX and Pope Jules III. Earlier this month, an İstanbul court ordered the Web site YouTube blocked because of videos that insulted Atatürk. However, the ban was lifted a few days later after the video was removed. Source: Today's Zaman (English)

Denmark: Women should stop tempting men

Every tenth man is sex-crazy. Women risk therefore becoming a victim of an attack if they don't adapt themselves, and wear a hijab. That's according to the new Danish imam, Mostafa Chendid, of the Islamic Society in Denmark (Islamisk Trossamfund). He thinks women must stop tempting men.

"Let me mention America. Every half a minute there's a new rape there. When a women struts about, then it tempts the man." The headscarf serves to protect her, Chendid emphasized to Weekend Aviser in a longer interview.

He explains that men, at the outset have inclinations. "But don't forget that we find ourselves in a cold land. And don't forget that your culture is different than ours. Furthermore, I don't say that all men can't control themselves, but think yet there is a problem with a good portion of men."

"Maybe it comes out that around 5-10% percent of men who can't control themselves, but it is also sufficient."

Basim Ghozlan, who is head of the Islamic Association in Oslo, thinks his Danish colleague has been misunderstood. "It is just nonsense that men are so sex-crazy. Men are temped by women,just like women are tempted by men, but that people attack each other because of it - that just doesn't happen," says Ghozlan to Nettavisen.

He points out that women cant' be blamed for being raped. "In any case it is the attacker's fault," he specifies, but doesn't hide that women for their own safety can be cautious with the signals they send out.

"I believe the signals people give can be a factor that plays a role. It concerns the way people speak, what people say and how people dress. This varies from culture to culture and from society to society."

Mostafa Chendid also told Weekend Avisen that he was tired of hearing that Islam oppresses women. "Think of the Prophet. He helped his women with the work at home. If Muslim women are oppressed it's because of the tradition, not because of Islam."

Yet women don't always get a place in the mosque, while are directed to listen to the imam's preaching through a loudspeaking outside the building.

Chendid has the following explanation: "The Muslim's prayer position is now such that men can't concentrate if a woman kneels in the area."

Basim Gohzlan points out that often men and women pray in the same room. "In Oslo we have women in the mosques and that holds also for big mosques round the world. In some places they sit on the side, while in the biggest everybody sits under the same roof. This is not a problem. Women are half of society and we can't carry on segregating."

Source: Nettavisen (Norwegian)

The full interview with Mostafa Chendid can be read on Weekend Avisen (Danish). If anybody is willing to translate it, I'll be happy to post.

Tilburg: imam denies allegations

Imam Salam denies he made anti-Western statements, while at the same time forcing everybody on the show to follow his own customs. The show can be seen here (Dutch)


Tilburg imam Ahmed Salam appeared last night on the "Pauw en Witteman" TV program and denied that his called to cause harm to the Dutch state. He also denied making other anti-Western statements that were ascribed to him. He said it was all based on a misunderstanding.

Imam Salam made the news in 2004 when he refused to shake hand with then minister Rita Verdonk, on camera. Tilburg mayor, Ruud Vreeman, said at the end of last year that Salam did not belong in the Netherlands due to his radical Islamic ideas. On "Pauw en Witteman" Salam said that the mosque now had good relations with the municipality.

In 2002 Ahmad Salam caused a sensation in 2002 in Tilburg. He preached that men should treat their wives with physical violence. He also preached earlier that men should marry women who work outside the house, because women become disobedient through it. He also said the Muslim boys and girls shouldn't swim together.

VVD parliament member Henk Kamp said last week that intentional thwarting of integration should be punishable. They should lose the Dutch nationality and the mosques were they preach should be closed.

SP leader Jan Marijnissen, who was also present on the show, thought Kamp's reaction was too hasty, especially since the imam denied he made the statement. He found the talk round the table an absurd "Yes, I did"-"No, I didn't" kind of game, since those who claimed the statements had been made were not present on the show. According to Jeroen Pauw and Paul Witteman the statements came up for discussion in a three-way meeting between the public prosecution, the police and mayor Vreeman. Marijnissen said as well that the separation of boys and girl in Muslim schools was more of a problem for him, than what happens in mosques.

The imam had brought his son, Suhayb Salem, who has caused much dispute as well, for much needed translation. The imam, who had come to the Netherlands from Syria in 1989 does not yet speak Dutch well. The two had demanded that no alcohol (ie, wine) be drunk by the table, since their belief does not allow it. Pauw and Witteman complied with the demand, and all guests, including Marijnissen and author Auke Kok, were served with water. This drew from Kok the observation that this alcohol ban was forced on him by the imam and his son.

In the show of Pauw and Witterman it was also made clear that Suhayb Salem, who had been engaged to the Samira Dahri from Utrecht, a teacher who refused to shake hand, was one of the advisers of the Commission for Equal Treatment that Dahiri had turned to. Sahayb said there was no problem of conflict of interest, since the teacher was then not yet his future wife.

Source: FOK (Dutch)

See also:Netherlands: Thwarting integration should be punishable , Netherlands: Who said shaking hands is respectful anyway?


Tilburg imam Salam did call upon his followers to "damage the state and not pay taxes." He has also told them 'Be aware that the unfaithful want to do something to Islam, deal with it accordingly."

That's according to mayor Vreeman, on being asked. After Ahmed Salam and his son Suhayb appeared on tv show Pauw and Witteman Wednesday, he also broke his silence. "I already saw it coming that they would deny their statement."

Vreeman says he's basing himself on various sources among them the police, researchers and the intelligence service AIVD.

source: Brabants Dagblad (Dutch)

Denmark: Kids had died because charity was accused of terrorism

Some fatherless Palestinian children have died. Others suffered malnutrition as a result of the four and a half years case between the Danish government and the Palestinian charity Al-Aqsa.

That's according to the organization's chairman in Denmark, Rachid Issa, after the Al-Aqsa was acquitted at Copenhagen's court of supporting terror.

According to Issa, Al Aqsa have been stopped from working for four and a half years. This had a very negative influence on their fully legal contribution to helping these children. In this time several children have died, because they didn't get support any longer.

Source: Berlingske (Danish)

See also: Denmark: Charity acquitted of supporting terror

Norway: After 8 years, asylum seeker can stay

Besides this case showing the incompetence of Norwegian immigration authorities - I'm not sure I understand why this guy is an asylum seeker. His mother had lived in Montenegro all this time, he plans to visit there, doesn't sound like he needs asylum.

Oslo's court has overturned a ruling by the Immigration Appeals Board (UNE) to send a 34-year-old Montenegrin out of Norway, after the UNE used eight years on his case. The court's verdict blasted the UNE and the Directorate of Immigration (UDI), but the relevant authorities have not appeared to question the job they did. "With the massive and repeated errors and oversights that have occurred in this case, the court finds the UNE's decision clearly unreasonable. One simply cannot treat people in such a way without it having consequences for decisions," the court ruled. Over at last Ilir Mustafaj is relieved that his ordeal is over, but still wonders why it happened. "This has taken a frighteningly long time. The last four years have been psychological terror and I don't know why it happened," Mustafaj told UNE director Terje Sjeggestad has said that the verdict will not be appealed, so Ilir Mustafaj can live in Norway, news that could communicate to him on Wednesday morning. "That was good to hear. It was very good to get that verdict. I am glad I found someone who could examine the case objectively," Mustafaj said. The eight year process had left the 34-year-old isolated in Norway, without documents that would allow him to leave the country. "The sad thing is that I could not go to my mother's funeral last month, but now I can at least visit her grave," he said. Long ordeal
In the course of Mustafaj's eight-year struggle to gain residency, he was denied travel documents, mistakenly given extended permission to work, received an UDI invitation to extend his residency, and had an application to re-extend his residency lost for two years by the UDI. While the process dragged on, Mustafaj learned Norwegian and found a steady job. The court pointed out that Sweden fully processed and returned unsuccessful asylum seekers in the time it took the UDI to find the applications papers they had lost. Mustafaj has no special plans for his future in Norway. He lives in Larvik and works at Schenker Linjegods in Sandefjord. "I have a steady job and am doing fine. Maybe I can buy an apartment. And I would like to visit my homeland," Mustafaj said. A demanding case
UNE director Sjeggestad told that the case had been a difficult one, that involved many complex questions. "The background of the case is rather special and we don't believe it will set a negative precedence if the court's ruling stands," Sjeggestad told about the decision. Sjeggestad said that the initial ruling had been a split decision within the UNE and that the case had been particularly complicated. Sjeggestad said that this complexity was the explanation for the criticism the UNE had received in the ruling. "As far as the criticism of the routines and the procedural errors by the UDI, the UDI will have to answer that themselves. As far as the ruling goes, we have concluded that it should not be appealed," Sjeggestad said. The UDI said that all questions about the matter should be referred to the UNE.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

Sweden: 17 year old girl Somali fighter released

Safia Benaouda, a 17-year-old girl from Stockholm, has been released from a prison located in the Horn of Africa. The girl's mother, who is chairwoman of Sweden's Muslim Council, was informed by the foreign ministry on Tuesday night that her daughter had been put on a plane back to Sweden, Svenska Dagbladet reports. Benaouda is one of at least four people from Sweden to be arrested in Kenya after fleeing the recent war in Somalia. Following their arrest, the group was first flown back to Somalia before being moved on to a prison thought to be located in Ethiopia. "We are working to gain access to them," Carl-Magnus Hyltenius from the foreign ministry told Svenska Dagbladet. Two British human rights organizations, Reprieve and Cageprisoners, came into the possession of a passenger list from a secret transportation of prisoners that was carried out on January 27th. A Kenyan passenger plane left Nairobi for the Somali capital, Mogadishu. The plane travelled the same route twice, transporting a total of 63 prisoners, all of whom were handcuffed and blindfolded. Four of the passengers were Swedish citizens. The prisoners were accused of fighting on the side of the Islamist militia against Somali government forces and their Ethiopian allies. Two months have passed since Helena Benaouda first heard that her daughter had been arrested. Safia Benaouda travelled to Dubai with her fiancé during the Christmas holidays. There they met another group of Swedes, and together they made the journey to Dubai to Somalia. The reason for their departure from the Arab emirate to the troubled African nation has not yet been established. As yet there has been no explanation for the release of Safia Benaouda. Her fiancé remains in captivity, as do the two other Swedish citizens arrested in the same operation, . "I have not heard anything about my husband," the 33-year-old wife of one of the prisoners told Svenska Dagbladet.
Source: The Local (English)

Netherlands: Muslims upset at Jansen

This time Muslims are upset at the father, not the son.


Muslims reacted indignantly to the call by Arabist Hans Jansen to create a separate section within the intelligence service AIVD that would keep watch over Muslim radicals. "Hans Jansen demonizes Muslims and calls to murder" says for example Abdullah as-Siddiq of the Islamic website Expliciet. He mailed that yesterday to all media. Hans Jansen asked last week for a secret service with the secret service. He thinks that the AIVD must function under strict democratic control. "It's not up to me to work out how that should be done exactly. That must be done by jurists and people of the intelligence services."

What is certain, according to Jansen, is that in the Netherlands more people are threatened by radical Muslims than is generally believed. "I know a handful of names of politicians, writers and artists who had to deal with threats and who have nothing to do with Wilders. But I'm not naming them." Those threatened and the media keep silent, on the one hand because it will give radicals ideas, and on the other out of fear: voluntary self-censorship. Jansen calls it creeping "self-Islamization". He published his cry in the recent edition of Opinio.

He asks for three measure: there must be a central reporting point for religious death threats, threatening politicians and opinion makers must be punished more severely and there must be a secret, physically operations section within the AIVD, an organization that now "may only analyze, observe and write polite treaties." Jansen wants disciplined rogues that "will do the dirty work without us knowing it."

Jansen completed recently his two-part book in which he discusses the tradition around Mohamed. He says that space for mockery of the Prophet and mentioning unpleasant sides of his person was cast away through the ages, by the Islamic tradition, but also by Western researchers.

The last decade there has been a turn around, but true historical research is difficult - Mohamed archeology is not permitted by the Arabic regimes - and is dangerous: irony about Mohamed or putting him in perspective draws the attention of fundamentalist imams and related Muslim radicals.

Source: (Dutch)

See also: Netherlands: Tolerating Muslims excesses, Netherlands: Comedian should be killed

Paris: Riots in train station

The youth rioting are apparently North African. Though it will be quite difficult to find that mentioned in the English language press. Articles copying from the this same AP article dropped the youth's origin and moved any mention of immigrant to the bottom of the article.

Riot police firing tear gas and brandishing batons clashed Tuesday with bands of youths who shattered windows and looted shops at a major Paris train station, officials said. Nine people were arrested.

Officials said about 100 people were involved in the melee at Gare du Nord, one of Paris' most important transport hubs. Officers, some with police dogs, fired tear gas and charged at groups of marauding youths, some of them wearing hoods and swinging metal bars.

The youths responded by throwing trash cans and other objects at the officers. A group of youths smashed the windows of a sporting goods store and looted boxes of shoes. Others attacked automatic drink dispensers and set fire to an information booth.

Commuter Cyril Zidou, a 24-year-old electrician, said he was coming home from the gym ``when I just got gassed.'' One woman was evacuated by paramedics for inhalation of tear gas.

The violence did not appear directly related to France's presidential election less than a month away, but it highlighted the social and economic tensions that the country's new leader will inherit when he or she takes power in May.

The train lines from Gare du Nord radiate out to the same suburbs north of Paris where three weeks of rioting erupted in 2005. That violence was born of pent-up anger - especially among youths of Arab and African origin - over years of high unemployment and racial inequalities.

The melee spilled onto the surrounding streets late Tuesday as officers cleared the station. Police ordered spectators to disperse and threatened to charge as small groups of youths set fire to wooden barricades and garbage cans and pelted passing tourist buses with sticks.

Zidou said the violence had echoes of the riots in 2005. ``They never finished,'' he said. ``It slowed down a bit, but it was never over.''

Another commuter, Guy Elkoun, said: ``There's always a feeling of insecurity in this train station ... I knew this could happen someday.''

Officials from Paris' RATP public transport authority said the violence started after a man without a Metro ticket punched two inspectors during a routine ticket check. Youths also attacked the inspectors and later turned on police patrolling the station, officials said.

``The inspectors were hit with projectiles, as were the officers who came to assist them,'' said Luc Poignant, an official for the Force Ouvriere police union.

But youths at the station said Tuesday's clashes started when police manhandled a young person of North African origin. Some claimed that the youth's arm was broken in the confrontation.

The clashes forced subway and commuter lines to skip their stops at the station for several hours. Its long-distance rail hub and terminal for Eurostar trains that go to Britain were unaffected.

Shopkeeper Mohamed Mamouni said he was bedding down overnight in his cell phone store to guard it. He said he chased away youths who smashed a hole in his window.

``I arrived just in time,'' he said.

Source: Guardian (English)

Netherlands: Thwarting integration should be punishable

Henk Kamp, Dutch politician, says that intentional thwarting of integration should be punishable. The former minister of Defense spoke on the TV program NOVA.

According to Kamp, imams who stand in the way of integration should be punished. As possible measure he mentioned losing the Dutch nationality. Also the mosques where they preach might be closed.

Kamp's statements comes after the conflict of Tilburg mayor Vreeman with imam Ahmed Salam, who called called on Muslims not to pay taxes.

The Tilburg imam caused a scandal in the past when he refused to shake hands with former minister Verdonk.

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

See also: Tilburg: Controversial imam "doesn't belong here"

Sweden: More people smugglers arrested

Seven people have been arrested in the Stockholm area on suspicion of people smuggling. The suspects are thought to have smuggled people from Iraq to Sweden over a long period of time, Dagens Nyheter reports. The arrests came about as a result of a police investigation that began in autumn of last year. The seven people seized from various suburbs in the southern part of the city on Tuesday consisted of both men and women. "There are a lot of people who want to profit from the political instability in Iraq. But we will have to wait for an investigation to show just how many people were smuggled in," public prosecutor Marie Lind Thomsen told Dagens Nyheter. There is no clear connection between the Stockholm raid and similar police operations carried out in Malmö and Västernorrland on Tuesday. "They are different cases. There may be a connection but it is not something we know about at the moment," said Marie Lind Thomsen. The suspects are currently being held for questioning. Police also confiscated a number of mobile telephones and computers during the raid. "We hope to be able to find more leads from the confiscated material," said police spokeswoman Petra Sjölander.
Source: The Local (English)

See also: Sweden: People smugglers arrested

Denmark: Charity acquitted of supporting terror

A Danish court on Tuesday acquitted two members of the country's branch of a Palestinian foundation of charges of financing terror.

Rachid Issa, chairman of the Al Aqsa Foundation in Denmark, and his deputy, Ahmad Suleiman, were charged in December 2005 with having violated a part of the anti-terror law that prohibits economic support for terror groups.

In 2002, the organization transferred nearly 500,000 kroner, about $61,000 at the time, to the Islamic Charitable Society and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, which Danish prosecutors said was part of Hamas.
The European Union, the United States and Israel consider Hamas a terrorist organization. But the Copenhagen City Court ruled there was no evidence that the money ended up in Hamas' hands. Issa and Suleiman were the first to be charged under Denmark's anti-terror laws after they were tightened following the September 11 attacks. The two men had pleaded innocent. It was not immediately clear whether prosecutors would appeal the ruling.
Source: Haaretz (English)

Flanders: New Flemish

Open VLD, the Flemish liberal party, approved a bill that among other things changes language usage by the liberal. 'Allochtoon' [ie, the word used for 'immigrant'] will now be replaced by 'New Fleming'. "The language use of our publications may by no means be stigmatizing for specific individuals," according to the bill. The party's 'mirror bureau' makes sure that the party is as much as possible a mirror of society.

The mirror bureau meets once a month and sees out the elections. there are representatives for the immigrants, youth, seniors and handicapped.

The word 'allochtoon' literally means "from another land" and comes from Greek: 'Allos' (other, foreign) and 'chthonos' (land). The concept was introduced in 1971 by the Dutch sociologist Hilda Verwey-Jonker in a report for the Minister of Culture, Recreation and Social Work, to replace the accepted word at the time 'immigrant'.

In the Flemish Decree Ethnic-cultural Minorities from 1988 the 'allochtoon' are mentioned as one of the goal groups, next to refugees and new-comers. In that decree 'allochtoon' and new-comers are different: newcomers already live a longer time (legally) in Flanders.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

Netherlands: Muslim Brotherhood have ties with Hofstad Group

The Muslim Brotherhood apparently has ties with the suspects from the Hofstad group. The connection was revealed in an investigation by the intelligence services into Muslim Brotherhood activities in the Netherlands.

One of the people in the picture is an activist of the Palestinian Hamas, related to the group round Samir Azzouz and Nouredine el Fahtni. The activist also played a part in the building of the Brotherhood movement in the Netherlands.

The CDA party demands that the Cabinet explain previous revelations that the Muslim Brotherhood has connections with the biggest mosques in the Netherlands.

The founders of the Essalam Mosque in Rotterdam have worked together with the radical Muslim leader Al-Tabtabai from Kuwait, who is a proponent of Islamic punishments such as stoning and amputation. The CDA in the Parliament said they were very disturbed. Parliament member Mirjam Sterk: We think it is important that such organizations don't get a foot on the ground" Sterk posed questions to Justice Minister Hirsch Ballin and Integration Minister Vogelaar. She wants to know what the cabinet is against the interference of the Muslim Brotherhood in Dutch mosques.

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

See also: Netherlands: Mosques under Muslim Brotherhood control

Vlaardingen: Mosques to call for prayer

The Ummet Mosque in the Oostwijk neighborhood of Vlaardingen had requested to call for Friday prayers using a loudspeaker. Two other mosques in Vlaardingen are considering buying sound equipment for the same goal. The intention is to sound the call to prayer (Adhan) several times around two pm.

Major Tj. Bruinsma sees no reason to deny the request. Only if the neighbors find the noise troublesome, will the municipality place restrictions. A municipal spokesperson said that 'phone calls were expected' when the first call to prayer sounded.

Marja Booister, president of Platform Oostwijk supposes that some neighbors of the mosques will protest. But she doesn't expect much opposition: "In our neighborhood there are two mosques. The are fully accept, they never cause problems."

A neighbor of the Ummet Mosque: "Such a call to prayer is permissible. As long as it's not a dominating sound. On vacation in Indonesia we heard nothing else the whole day."

According to neighboring municipality Maassluis, which already have experience of years with call to prayers from the Turkish mosque,situated on the edge of a residential area, the noise problems are minimal.

A spokesperson: "You barely hear it. We have never received complaints. The clocks of the Great Church make more noise."

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

Oslo: Family of murdered sisters not getting house back

This article doesn't mention a little fact: the police obviously suspect that Shahzad had help.

Shahzad Khan (31) doesn't want to tell police why he killed his three sisters. Therefore, the Khan family can't get their house back.

The Khan family must adapt to the loss of the three sisters Sobia (27), Saadia (24) and Nafisa (13) in cramped quarters: there are 20 people living in 60 sqm. The reason is that the elder brother, Shahzad, who is suspect of the brutal triple murder on Oct. 1st of last year, refuses questioning at the scene of the crime and to a reconstruction of the murders.

Police don't want to release the house until Shahzad explains in a more detailed manner what happened on the night of the murder. The three sisters were killed with ax and pistol.

Tahir Kahn (29), a brother, is upset at the treatment that family had received. "If I was called Tore Andre I'm sure we would have been treated better. We are treated like second rank citizens," Khan told Aftenposten.

He has been in touch with the police in order to know when they will release the house. "Every time they say that: you'll get it again quickly. If they only give me a time, it would be ok. The worst is that we must live in uncertainty. They have deceived me and my family the whole time," he says.

Police lawyer Cecilie Gulnes from Oslo police says that it is important that the suspect explain how the objects found in the house are related to the murder.

Shahzad had admitted to storing a pistol in a box. The police had the pistol alraedy, but found the box at the bottom of a closet after Shahzad had admitted to it. This box is now being kept as evidence.

Police also want to interrogate Shahzad in the house and eventually carry out a reconstruction with Shahzad in the head role.

"Reconstruction assumes that there is something to reconstruct. So long that he maintains he can't remember anything from that actual time point, reconstruction isn't realistic. If he remembers or explains himself, of course reconstruction would also be desirable," says Gulnes.

Shahzad's lawyer, Truls Dramer, says the questioning is going along slowly. "He is quite depressed and feeling down. He goes to a psychologist in jail two times a week. The medicines are also being increased," says Dramer.

Shahzad maintains the whole time that he doesn't remember anything from the murder. In police questioning he had said that the last he can remember from the day of the murder was that he stood in the shower and waited for the water to get warm.

The police has strong technical evidence tying Shahzad to the murders. They are looking for a clear motive, something Dramer doubts they will find, saying that talk of honor murder sounds to him like speculation.

Tahir Khan refuses to have an police interrogation before the family gets the house back. One of Tahir's younger brothers has however taken part in a reconstruction.

This brother came to the house immediately after the murders took place.

Tahir's fathers has also been interrogated by the police.

"My brother said he will never go into that house again. Does the police expect that the whole family will live in 60 sqm. till he eventually changes his mind? When will that happen? Next year? We have lost three sisters and have grief we must deal with. None of us have any private lives any longer." He adds that he thought bereavement "would be better in what is considered the world's best land to live in".

Source: Aftenposten (Norwegian)

See also: Norway: Triple murder could have been planned

Oslo: Homemade bomb explosives similar to those used in London attacks

On August 18th, 2005, an Oslo teenager died while making a bomb. The explosives that killed 17 year old Akram Aldasoki, a Syrian immigrant, were of the same types used in the terror attacks in London just a month earlier.

According to his Akram's brother, Jihad (21), Akram was a chemistry student who dreamed of winning the Noble prize in Chemistry. Instead, he killed himself making a bomb. He had gotten the chemicals from school, and used them to make a bomb.

The case was discussed at an Oslo court Monday, going over the details of that day. The two brothers and and a Pakistani roommate were involved in making a primitive tube bomb when things went wrong. Crying, Jihad Aldasoki replayed the seconds when his little borhter's homemade bomb exploded. The 17-year old sustained injuries, and metal splintered went through his heart, killing him.

Police still think that the bombs were meant to blow up ticket machines. Apparently nothing points to the brothers having serious intentions in mind.

Jihad Aldasoki is standing trial for among other things, involuntary manslaughter, a charge he refutes. According to his lawyer, he was not aware of the consequences.

The 22 year old roommate is also standing trial.

Jihad was also injured in the attack, losing the lower portions of both legs, his left hand and partially losing his sight. He had been helping his brother by holding the metal tube, while cork was being hammered in.

Sources: Dagavisen (Norwegian), Wikinews (English)

See also: Bomb warnings ignored (Aftenposten, English)

Netherlands: Terrorist jail is inhumane

EORG, a Dutch prisoners' rights organization, says that the use of a terrorist section in Vught prison is illegal and inhumane. The organization filed a claim the European Court.

An investigation from the court will visit Dutch jails soon. The organization also complained about the detention boats used for illegal immigrants.

The terrorist section in Vught prison is being used by Samir Azzouz, as well as members of the Hofstad Group.

Source: (Dutch)

Tilburg: Controversial imam "doesn't belong here"

Tilburg mayor Ruud Vreeman has told controversial imam Ahmed Salam that he "doesn't belong here."

Excerpts from a confidential report published by the Brabants Dagblad on Saturday indicate that the imam was summoned to the city hall in December.

Both parties are refraining from comment on the reason for the talk or what was said. It is clear that the mayor was unhappy with certain recent statements from Salam. The spiritual leader reportedly called on his congregation to cause damage to the Dutch state by refusing to pay tax, for instance.

The mayor told the imam that he does not belong in the Netherlands. Vreeman put pressure on the imam by whatever means available to him. The police conduct frequent checks at the mosque and the social services and tax authority have been informed about he Salam family.

There was also contact with a primary school regarding the Salam children's absence because of a holiday in Syria.

The controversial sermons from the imam fall within the freedom of religion, the municipality says, and so the city cannot take any further action.

Ahmed Salam is one of a group of conservative Salafist imams who has been monitored by the intelligence and security service AIVD for years. A number of these imams has been deported, including two members of the Al Fourqaan mosque in Eindhoven, which is regarded as radical. Salam, originally Syrian, also holds Dutch nationality.

The Tilburg imam was in the news in November 2004 when he refused to shake the hand of Immigration and Integration minister at the time Rita Verdonk.

Source: Expatica (English)

Huizen: Fire set to mosque

A fire was set to the porch of a mosque in Huizen Saturday morning.

According to police the fire was probably set. The damage was contained to the door of the property and smoke damage inside. The fire was discovered around five thirty.

The mosque wasn't closed, despite the smoke damage. "The fire department has cleaned the building with special equipment. But you can still smell very well that there was a fire here," according to a mosque spokesperson.

Many came to the mosque. "People wanted to share their emotions with each other. Through mutual contact most had been notified of the fire. The people are very startled." The spokesperson didn't know what motives the arsonists had.

Source: (Dutch)

Brussels: Veil forbidden

Civil servants working for the Brussels Community may not wear a head veil while working. This holds both for counter workers as well as everybody else. The new regulations is the strictest of all governments.

"We don't expect that new work regulation to cause problems," says Dirk De Bakker, spokesperson for State Secretary of Equal Opportunities Brigitte Grouwels. "We've made an inquiry by the personnel and it turned out nobody worked with a head veil."

"All personnel are committed to equal treatment of the citizen in all circumstances of the public service," according to the new work regulation for the employers of the Ministry of the Brussels Community.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

Oslo: Possible Islam Center at university

According to Professor Haakon Benestad, pro-rector at Oslo University, a new Islam Center might be opened at the university starting in 2008, giving BA degrees.

He said that there will also be a committe which will investigate what is needed to establish such a center. Representatives of Norwegian Muslims will also sit on the committee.

He said that they're starting to get to a finished draft of the studies plan. The courses will include various sides of Islam: introducing the different forms of Islam and the relationship between Islam and other religions. Language, literature and law will also be included in the courses. The intention is to give bachelor's and master's degree courses. Later it might also be possible to get a doctorate.

Benestad emphasizes that there is no talk of theological or spiritual education - what is known as "Imam schools". The courses are meant for Muslims, Christians and atheists alike.

The plans will be presented to the university administration in the budget meetings set for June. The administration had not yet expressed their position on the plans. Benestad expects that if the center will get funding it will start off with about 30 students.

The center is expected to employ people already employed at the university, and Benestad says that even if a sheik shows up with money, they will not employ many people. There is no intention of finding sponsors from Muslim countries, as the center expects to be independent.

Benestad thinks it will be interesting to see how much Muslims will take part in the new courses. Graduates will qualify for jobs in the academy world, as well as in public administration or industry.

Source: Aftenposten (Norwegian)

Finland: Immigrant candidates got most of their votes from native Finns

In the Helsinki and Uusimaa constitutences, there were twenty candidates of immigrant background standing for election to Parliament.

These are foreign nationals who have lived in Finland for some years and who have taken Finnish citizenship, which carries not only the right to vote in national elections, but the right to stand as a candidate.

There are a total of around 10,000 people of foreign extraction entitled to vote in Helsinki, and a further 5,500 in Espoo, Vantaa, and Kauniainen (in the Uusimaa constituency).

Given the hitherto rather apathetic turnout (15 per cent voted in the last municipal elections, though this figure probably did rise somewhat in 2007) among this section of the population, it seems clear that many of the votes won by immigrant candidates came from the native Finnish population.

This observation is further borne out by the geographical distribution of the votes they received, which did not always correspond to areas with a large immigrant population.

In Helsinki, "New Finns" won 6,650 votes, with the lion's share or 4,174 votes going to the Green candidate Zahra Abdulla, and a further 1,042 to Zahra Osman-Sovala (SDP). The other eight hopefuls were left far behind them.

Zahra Abdulla came tantalisingly close to becoming elected as the first person of immigrant extraction in Finnish history to win a seat in Parliament.

In fact she has every reason to feel a little aggrieved, as she was listed by the Finnish Broadcasting Company among those heading for Parliament while the count was still going on, and was even congratulated live on camera for her triumph. As it happened, she was overtaken in the closing stages by two other Green candidates and fell narrowly short. She has vowed to try again, until she succeeds or some other foreign-born candidate can win election.

Zahra Osman-Sovala was also disappointed by the outcome, having hoped for a total closer to two or three thousand votes. Her cause was hampered by the generally poor showing of the Social Democrats.

A snap analysis of the locations where the votes came from - for instance in the case of Zahra Abdulla - indicates that she collected support predominantly from strong Green League parts of the city, and areas such as Jakomäki, Konala, and Myllypuro, which all have a sizeable immigrant population, come down at the very bottom of the list.

Her votes look to have come primarily from young, educated Finns with a multiculturalist mind-set who wanted to see the first dark-skinned MP in the Finnish Parliament. She was given hefty and concentrated support also on the strength of advance comments that she was indeed a viable candidate for election.

In the case of Zahra Osman-Sovala, her strongest area was the eastern suburb of Vuosaari, where she lives and works.

Unlike Abdulla, Osman-Sovala profiled herself as a Social Democrat first and a Finn of foreign extraction second, charging that to vote for someone merely based on their being "not originally Finnish" was counterproductive, since foreign-born Finns can be of almost any political persuasion you care to name.

In Uusimaa, the greatest number of votes - 960 - went to Hans-Christian Daniel of Espoo, who was standing for the National Coalition Party.

A total of around 2,140 votes in Uusimaa were given to the ten candidates of immigrant backgrounds.

Source: Helsingin Sanomat (English)