Denmark: When the media has no story

Danish Uriasposten brings an interesting look at how the media works.

To understand the background: The Danish People's Party is no stranger to controversy. Søren Krarup, one of the party's parliament members, regularly appears on the news. In the past he had compared the Koran to Mein Kampf and the hijab to a swastika during parliamentary debates.

In this game there are two players - both the politicians and the newspapers want to get headlines, and both of them know exactly how to do it.

So.. what happens on a slow news day?

On Nov. 27th, Berlingske Tidende came out with the following headline: Krarup: Burqa wearers will lose voting right

"After keeping a low profile since his controversial comparison between the swastika and Muslim veils Danish People's Party's Søren Krarup again attacks Muslim clothing.

Krarup wants to forbid Muslim women from voting at the parliament elections, if they have covered their face with a burqa or niqab.


The proposal comes after the Canadian government introduced a bill that requires Muslim women to remove face-veils in voting booths, so they can't hide their identity."

The story was picked up by other news media:

- 27/10-07 (23.01) DR Online - Krarup: Reject burqa at voting booth .

" Both conservative leaders, Bendt Bendtsen and Minister of the Interior Lars Løkke Rasmussen reject the proposal."

- 28/10 (09.54) TV2 Online - Krarup: Burqa - zero voting right.

- 28/10-07 (12.44) Politiken - Krarup: Women with burqa will lose voting right.

- 29/10-07 (07.00) 180 Grader - Pia K: Strip burka-wearing voting right

" This is a frontal assault on the fundamental democratic freedoms. We completely don't care if people come with a top-hat, burqa or cassock.. such is democracy" (Morten Østergaard, deputy chairman of the of the Danish Social Liberal Party)


On Oct. 30th Søren Krarup published a letter in Berlingske Tidende in which he says the following:

Berlingske Tidende called me up and said that the Canadian government had prepared a bill that forbids Muslim women from wearing a burqa or other face-covering clothing, when they vote for parliament. They should be identified by their faces. What do you say? I answered that the bill was obviously correct, since obviously they should be identified at the voting place where they will vote. There are today so many fakes with cards and certificate. Bottom line, it's the face that indicates identity.


Berlingske Tidende then went on to report this as a minor sensation, saying Krarup wants to deprive Muslim women of their voting rights.

However, Krarup says his statements are exactly what Danish law says. According the parliamentary elections law, one must identify himself before voting, possible with an ID card. And according to the ID law, the identifying picture must be taken without a head covering.


If there's no news, why not create some?

Source: Uriasposten (Danish)

See also: Denmark: Hijab is as totalitarian as a swastika

UK: Study of extremist literature in British mosques

Agencies linked to the Saudi government have distributed extremist literature to mosques and Islamic centers in Britain, an independent think tank said Tuesday.

The Policy Exchange, timing its report to Saudi King Abdullah's state visit, said the material expressed a deep-rooted antipathy toward Western society, calling for violence against enemies of Islam, including women and gays who demand equal rights.

"Saudi Arabia is the ideological source of much of this sectarianism — and must be held to account for it," the study said. "Islamic institutions in the U.K. must clean up their act."

Abdullah, who depends on support from the same clerics known to inspire al-Qaida militants, has faced criticism for his support of Islamic extremists.

The king also has been dogged by criticism over Saudi Arabia's human rights record. Prime Minister Gordon Brown already is under pressure to use his visit to raise concerns about allegations that the regime is involved in torture and other abuses.

The Policy Exchange report, "The Hijacking of British Islam: How Extremist Literature is Subverting Britain's Mosques," describes 80 books and pamphlets collected at nearly 100 Islamic institutions, including leading mosques, in 2006 and 2007.

Experts in Islamic studies analyzed the material, some of which was translated into English from Arabic or Urdu.

Policy Exchange said the survey found radical material in about 25 percent of the institutions. They included some of the best-funded and most dynamic Muslim institutions in Britain — some of which are held up as mainstream bodies, the study said.

There were demands for gays to be killed and women to be subjugated, along with comments such as: "The Jews and the Christians are the enemies of the Muslim," the report said.

Some of the literature espoused the creation of a separate state for Muslims, governed by Sharia law, and urged individual Muslims "to feel an abhorrence" for Muslims considered to be practicing an insufficiently rigorous form of Islam.

"On occasion, this attitude of deep-rooted antipathy towards Western society can descend into exhortations to violence and jihad against the 'enemies' of Islam,'" the study said.

The study recommended that the government, councils, police and leaders should have nothing to do with mosques that continued to sell or distribute extremist literature.

Source: International Herald Tribune (English)

See also: "The Hijacking of British Islam" ( Policy Exchange, PDF)

Jerusalem Grand Mufti condemns Danish People's Party

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem condemns the Danish People's Party for referring to the controversial caricatures in the election campaign.

In a press release the Grand Mufti called the Danish People's Party use of the caricatures both "uncivilized" and "hateful".

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in the highest religious authority for Muslims in the Palestinian Authority.

By reason of Jerusalem's special position as Islam's third holiest city, his word carries weight through the Muslim world, when he urges both Arab and Muslim countries "not to remain silent".

The Grand Mufti, Sheikh Husseini, called in his press upon the Danish government to immediately stop what he called the Danish People's Party "illegal activities".

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem adds his protest to the one made yesterday by the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). The OIC had said that the Danish People's Party's only aim was to spark hate against a group of citizens in Denmark and that their conduct was irresponsible.

The Danish Representative Office to the Palestinian Authority warned all Danes in the PA yesterday that the Grand Mufti's word can have consequences in the coming days, not least at the Friday prayers.

Meanwhile no Danes have reported any consequences of the Grand Mufti's condemnation to the Representative Office.

Source: Politiken (Danish)

See also: Denmark: Muhammad drawing in elections

Scotland: Security services stepping up surveillance

A HARD core of 20 Islamic extremists with links to foreign terror groups is operating north of the Border and poses a "significant" risk to public safety, Scotland on Sunday can reveal.

Senior intelligence insiders have revealed the suspects - many of them born and brought up in Scotland - pose a similar threat to that of Mohammed Atif Siddique, the Scottish Asian who was last week given an eight-year prison sentence for terrorist offences.

Scotland on Sunday can also reveal that concern at the terror threat is now so great that up to 1,000 Scottish Asians will be placed under surveillance in coming months because they associate with known radicals.

Special Branch, backed by MI5 officers, will carry out checks on the individuals looking for evidence of radicalisation such as changes in clothing and increased mosque attendance.

Security sources deny targeting the Asian community and say the move is essential to prevent terrorist outrages and curb the growth of extremism. But community leaders and civil rights experts last night warned it could cause a backlash and reduce cooperation.

Siddique, Scotland's first 'homegrown terrorist', was convicted of possessing materials related to terrorism. Sources claimed the 21-year-old from Alva, Clackmannanshire, was planning to become a suicide bomber. The case followed the July attack on Glasgow Airport.

A senior source told Scotland on Sunday their investigation had uncovered around 200 "hardcore" individuals in Scotland. Of these, some 20 are of "significant interest", meaning they have been in contact - either through websites or face-to-face meetings - with known radicals abroad.

The 20 are under round-the-clock surveillance and their e-mails and mobile and landline calls are being monitored by GCHQ. Provided they do not pose an immediate risk, security officers are unlikely to make arrests until more evidence is gathered and associations with others are fully examined.

Sources say the larger group of 200 have come under scrutiny because they associate with the hard core and their behaviour gives cause for concern.

But now the security services are widening the net still further by looking at around four to five acquaintances of the 200, up to a total of 1,000.

"What we are trying to do is to prevent another Siddique from happening. We want to identify these people at the earliest possible opportunity and make sure they do not develop the way he did," said the source.

Checks will include regular assessments of how they act within the wider community, what they wear, whether they are becoming more religious or becoming involved in leafleting or petty crime, which could be helping to raise funds for an illegal group.

Anyone who "ticks all the boxes" will be passed on for more intense scrutiny by the security services.

Human rights lawyer Amar Anwar, who represents Siddique, said the policy risked isolating a whole community. "To fight terrorism, intelligence from the community is essential but what they are talking about here is racial profiling. If MI5 adopts this approach then they may as well round up half the Muslim community because they are becoming more religious and more politicised."

Arun Kundnani, of the Institute for Race Relations, echoed that view. He said: "There are lots of cases of British Asians being arrested for wearing Islamic clothing or growing a beard, but the number of people who end up being convicted for terror offences is miniscule. It just creates the impression that the state is targeting a community and a religion and that cannot be helpful."

John Scott, a human rights lawyer, said: "This announcement is worrying for a number of reasons. The intelligence services have not got a particularly good reputation for accuracy in identifying individuals who pose a threat to national security."

But Paul Martin, Labour MSP for Glasgow Springburn, welcomed the move, saying it was vital to prevent another terrorist outrage.

"If the security services have a profile or methods of profiling then they should use them. We are all very good with 20/20 vision after an event but what I would like to see is us having a bit better vision beforehand."

Prominent Glasgow businessman and Muslim Mohammed Goundal said he feared that putting large numbers of people under surveillance could be counterproductive.

He said: "I do oppose any form of radicalism and if the authorities do have strong evidence that individuals are involved then of course they should act. But the entire Muslim community should not be put under suspicion."

Source: Scotsman (English) h/t Islamophobia Watch

Norway: Apology for dog-child-immigrant comparison

A newly elected Progress Party city councilor for Bergen has now apologized for an interview where he compared the integration of immigrants with raising dogs or children.

Øistein Christoffersen at first seemed committed to the views he expressed in an interview with newspaper Åsane Tidende, but changed his tune after reactions began to build.

"I deeply apologize that, in an interview with Åsane Tidende, made comments on immigration policy that are easy to misunderstand and have been interpreted negatively. I see that my statements can be interpreted this way, especially the comment about setting boundaries and dogs," Christoffersen said in a press release Tuesday.

In the local newspaper Åsane Tidende Christoffersen had said: "We must take care that those who are here are properly integrated. That includes education in both language and how our society works. It is about setting boundaries, and is no different than raising children or dogs."

Christoffersen confirmed the statements to national newspaper Dagbladet's web site, and said he had two dogs himself that he had to raise so they could function in society, and rejected the idea that he feared his comparison might spark reactions.

"No, not if you read closely, then you see that I also compare them with children. Immigrants, children and dogs have to learn to fit in to the society around them," he told

Christoffersen also told Bergens Tidende's web site that people wanted to misunderstand him, and that "Everyone who has a dog knows what I mean."

Christoffersen is councilor for building applications and districts in Bergen, in a Progress, Conservative and Christian Democrat parties led council.

After the Socialist Left Party group leader formally demanded that Christoffersen be replaced in the council, the Progress Party politician decided to apologize.

"I wish I had not said this, because it does not represent my values or attitudes," he said. City council leader Monica Mæland also apologized for Christoffersen's remarks.

The Progress Party has a populist, right-wing profile and has traditionally had difficulty finding political partners in Norway, despite its steadily growing popularity, due in part to a history of xenophobic policies.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

Hague: Too many foreigners

About 60% of city residents, regardless of ethnic background, think that the number of foreigners in the city is too high.

By Turks this feeling is greatest: 73% of Turks think that the number of foreigners in the city is too big. By Dutch 58% think so and by Moroccans and Surinamese 53%.

This according to a yearly survey of city residents by the municipality. The surveyors also checked how people felt about their own neighborhoods.

Dutch in The Hague were considerably less dissatisfied: Just 26% thought the number of immigrants in the neighborhood was too high.

Immigrants in The Hague had less problems when it came to their own neighborhoods. 48% of Moroccans and 56% of Turks in the capital thought there were too many people "of foreign origin" living in their neighborhood.

It is striking that the number of Turks and Moroccans who are disturbed by foreigners in their neighborhood has gone down compared to previous years, while the number of Dutch who have problems with it has gone up.

In 2004, 65% of Moroccans in The Hague thought there were too many foreigners in the neighborhood. By Turks that was then 68%. Just 14% of Dutch agreed back then.

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

Denmark: More marriages with residents

More and more immigrants are finding their spouse in Denmark.

In 2001 67% of young immigrants and descendants from non-Western countries married somebody from abroad, typically from the family's original homeland. But now their part has fallen to 37% shows a study that was prepared by Danmarks Statistik for Jyllands-Posten.

About 24% married a Dane, while 29% married an immigrant living in Denmark, and 10% married an immigrant descendant.

According to professor Eskil Wadensjö from Stockholm University there are many indications that this is the result of the 24-year rule.

He says that this is a major change and that its most probably that the 24 year rule together with other restrictions in family reunification laws, is an important background for it.

Source: DR (Danish)

See also: Denmark: Marriage immigration drops, Denmark: Less immigrants dropouts

Interview with former British Hizb ut-Tahrir member

This past week Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende interviewed Maajid Nawaz, a former high-ranking member of Hizb ut-Tahrir's British branch. I had started translating the interview, which was conducted in English but published in Danish. While doing so, I realized that Nawaz had been interviewed in September on the BBC Newsnight show, and that he had already revealed quite a bit back then.

On Newsnight Nawaz revealed that Hizb ut-Tahrir wants to be a nuclear power and has taken steps in that direction ever since Pakistan became a nuclear power in 1999. He also points out that despite officially rejecting violence, Hizb ut-Tahrir does advocate violence once the Khalifate will be established, and is willing to kill millions of infidels in the process of expanding it beyond the Muslim world. I suppose a nuclear bomb would be helpful in that stage.

Danish and British authorities are still debating whether to ban the movement.

The interview can be seen on the BBC site, of see the Newsnight site.

In the Berlingske interview Nawaz said that the British Hizb ut-Tahrir consciously tones down its most warlike message for fear of being banned. The Danish branch, on the other hand, holds a more aggressive stance, which has often been criticized by its sister parties. That might be why the Danish Hizb ut-Tahrir announced several months ago that the party will now work to integrate Muslims and cooperate with Danish imams on community issues. Precisely like the British Hizb ut-Tahrir has been doing for several years already

Source: Berlingske Tidende (Danish)

See also: Denmark: Local Hizb ut-Tahrir leading recruitment in Germany and France, Copenhagen: Imams cooperating with Hizb ut-Tahrir

Germany: For tougher measures against forced marriages

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants tougher legal measures against forced marriages — another sign of Germany's decreasing tolerance of Muslim immigrant ways that clash with the country's liberal values.

Women's groups campaigning against the practice are applauding Merkel's idea to raise fines and specifically target forced marriage.

Merkel addressed the issue in a speech at a women's conference of her conservative Christian Democrats over the weekend.

"I completely agree that forced marriages should be punishable as a criminal act," Merkel said.

Currently, prosecutors rarely pursue criminal charges against forced marriages and, when they do, must use laws banning assault — which can carry up to five years in prison.

The thinking is that making forced marriages specifically a criminal act would ease prosecution and send a signal to the Muslim community that the practice is inconsistent with the constitutionally enshrined worth and dignity of the individual.

Approximately 3.3 million Muslims live in Germany, 70 percent of them of Turkish origin.

"We are thrilled that the chancellor has made such a clear statement," said Sibylle Schreiber from the women's rights group, Terre des Femmes, who has long been pushing for a tougher stance. "Finally she's given a signal to the people that forcing your daughter into marriage is a crime."

For decades, Germany looked the other way when it came to what was considered the private business of immigrant families. But fears about a "parallel society," extremism and lack of integration have led to a tougher stance, especially when it comes to basics such as respecting women's rights and learning German.

Several courts have upheld state-level bans on headscarves for Muslim women teaching in public schools. Additionally, immigration laws now require that foreign spouses be at least 18 years old and already have a basic knowledge of the German language.

Women's groups and people who study immigrant society said it is difficult to tell how many women marry under threats, beatings or coercion, but there are enough to keep several shelters busy and several immigrant writers have chronicled their escape from such marriages.

The impetus behind pressure to marry is found in conservative families' opposition to Western, secular ways such as dating and premarital sex — considered affronts to family honor.

Such pressures are also behind so-called honor killings by family members such as brothers or husbands. The Federal Crime Office counted 55 such cases from 1996 to 2005.

Several German states and private organizations have started programs to help these women.

One of them, a 20-year-old Turkish-German woman who ran away from home because her parents wanted to marry her to a cousin she had only met once, now lives in Berlin with a new identity, out of fear her family might track her down.

"After they found out I had a boyfriend, they locked me up in my room and beat me up every day for a month," said the woman, who now uses the name Rojin Dogan. "They wanted to sew the tear in my hymen and quickly marry me to my cousin — they wanted to make him believe that I am still a virgin."

Dogan was rescued by "Hatun und Can" — a private organization named after the Turkish-German woman Hatun Surucu who was shot and killed for her Western lifestyle in 2005. The group of 23 volunteers says it has helped 75 women since its founding in February.

Dogan contacted them online. A few days later days later they picked her up by car, brought her to Berlin and provided her with an apartment and a new job as a cashier.

The states of Lower Saxony, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Berlin have started state-sponsored hot lines, online counseling and shelters. North Rhine-Westphalia has made it mandatory for all high school students to be taught that forced marriage is a crime in Germany.

Baden-Wuerttemberg has launched a proposal for federal legislation that has yet to be taken up by parliament — and women's activists were hopeful that Merkel's push would accelerate the process.

A dedicated forced marriage unit in Britain handles 5,000 complaints a year, with around 300 suspected cases investigated, ministers said, reflecting dual-nationality Britons — often with ties to Pakistan or India. But lawmakers decided in July not to create any new criminal offense.

In the Netherlands, a study found no numbers but suggested the practice was rare and becoming less frequent.

Gulay Kizilocak, deputy director of the Center for Turkish Studies at the University of Essen, said that "it is important that we distinguish between forced marriage and arranged marriages."

"Not every arranged marriage is forced — most of the time the groom and the bride agree to their families' plans to marry them," she said. "Of course it is important to do something against forced marriage on the legislative level, but prevention is just as important. We need to tell immigrant boys and girls from an early age what their rights are."

Turkish-German writer Serap Cileli, who wrote the book "We Are Your Daughters, Not Your Honor" about her own escape from a forced marriage at age 24, welcomed Merkel's initiative but added it was important to address the immigrant community directly.

"As long as we don't teach the fathers, husbands and brothers to let the women live self-determined lives, this wound will never stop bleeding," Cileli said.

Source: International Herald Tribune (English)

See also: Sweden: Call to ban arranged marriages, Denmark: Brochures to teachers against forced marriages, Belgium: Forced marriages punishable offense

Berlin/Utrecht: Turkish protests

In Berlin a Turkish protest turned violent, while in Utrecht a protest of thousands passed (mostly) peacefully.

Eight protesters were in custody in Berlin on Monday after a rally by Turks and Kurds turned violent, police said.
Eighteen policemen were injured when clashes erupted on the fringe of Sunday afternoon's protest in the Berlin suburb of Kreuzberg. A police spokeswoman said 15 protesters were detained, but seven were released after questioning. The spontaneous demonstration was called to express solidarity between Kurds and Turks, following the recent attacks by Iran-based Kurdish insurgents against targets in southern Turkey. Police said the relatively peaceful protest turned violent when Turkish nationalists joined in and clashed with supporters of the outlawed Kurdish workers Party PKK. "The conflict in the south of Turkey has spilled over to Berlin," one senior police officer told the Berlin radio station RBB. Nearly 80 people have died in fighting between the PKK and the Turkish military in the past week, amid rising speculation of a Turkish incursion into northern Iraq to root out PKK militants based there. The PKK is seeking wide-ranging autonomy for the predominantly Kurdish provinces in the south of Turkey.


Thousands of Turks demonstrated in Utrecht on Sunday afternoon. In a peaceful protest they called for "one unified Turkey."

The police estimate there were 5,000 to 7,000 people at the demonstration.

The organiser, Turkish-Dutch student association Erkin, says the demonstration was not aimed at Kurds, but at the violence committed by the Kurdish PKK.

"Kurds are our brothers," was one of the slogans at the demonstration.

The Turkish demonstrators came from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, according to the organisation. Though two windows and a bus shelter were smashed, there were no other incidents.

There was some commotion after the demonstration. A number of young people kicked some windows and wanted to start throwing stones, but police managed to get the situation under control. Two instigators were taken in and the situation was calm after that.

Source: Expatica 1, 2 (English)

See also: Turkish/Kurdish protests


About 200 Turkish youths attacked Kurdish establishments in Berlin late on Sunday, injuring 18 police officers who tried to contain the group, German police said on Monday.

The incident occurred after about 1,200 Turks assembled for a peaceful demonstration against the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), police said.

After the demonstration about 200 people crossed into the Kreuzberg district, where they attacked a Kurdish mosque and shattered the windows of a snack shop, police said.

Source: Reuters (English)

See also: Turkish-Iraq conflict spills over (Spiegel Online, English)

Denmark: New Arab monthly

A new newspaper hit the streets this month that lets Denmark's Arabic population know what's going on in the country.

Al-Khabar is a free monthly publication that reports the Danish news in Arabic for the over 25,000 officially registered Arab speakers in Denmark. As an added bonus, the newspaper also contains a few pages of Arabic community news in Danish.

Kast Media, which owns and operates Turkish newspaper Haber in Denmark, will reportedly put out Al Khabar issues in October, November and December before assessing whether they will continue and how often they will print. October's print run was about 7000 copies.

Sadi Tekelioglu, Kast Media's managing director, told Nyhedsavisen newspaper he hopes Al Khabar can build a bridge between Danes and the Arab-speaking community.

'We also want to assist in the communication between immigrants with Arabic background and their children and their children's children,' said Tekelioglu.

Cengiz Kahraman, managing editor of both Al-Khabar and Haber, said the new newspaper is not Islamic and has no political or religious affiliations.

'The integration of Arabic residents here is a much more pressing issue than taking positions about what's going on in the Middle East,' he said.

Kahraman even went a step further and said the paper's staff would make a conscious effort to keep political discussions about the Arab world out of Al Khabar.

'We've made this decision intentionally and will insist on sticking to it,' said Kahraman. 'We instead want to focus on Arabs' daily lives and on our futures in Denmark.'

Source: Copenhagen Post (English)

UK: Channel 4 promotes terrorism

Channel 4 is airing Britz, a movie about a Muslim guy who joins MI5 and his sister, who decides to pursue terror.

From the Britz site:

His sister Nasima is a medical student in Leeds who becomes increasingly alienated and angered by Britain's foreign and domestic policy after witnessing at first hand the relentless targeting of her Muslim neighbours and peers.

With action set in Pakistan, Eastern Europe, London and Leeds, both feature-length episodes detail a tragic sequence of events from two distinct perspectives. At the heart of this thought-provoking drama is a revealing examination of British Muslim life under current anti-terror legislation. Britz ultimately asks whether the laws we think are making us safer, are actually putting us in greater danger.

Apparently, they need Muslim leaders to point out that understanding terrorism and promoting it are not what Britain needs today.

Islamic leaders last night called on Channel 4 to cancel a film about a British girl who is driven to become the UK's first female suicide bomber.

Britz, to be broadcast on Wednesday, tells the fictional story of a British-born Muslim who becomes part of a terror cell that sets out to slaughter hundreds of people.

Several of the characters are portrayed as associates of the real perpetrators of the July 2005 London bombings, in which 52 people died.

The film has also attracted criticism for labelling the police racist bullies after would-be suicide bomber Nasima, played by Manjinder Virk, is force-fed a ham sandwich by an officer.

Last night, Kurshid Ahmed, chairman of the British Muslim Forum, said: "A film which attempts to glamorise or rationalise the actions of suicide bombers has no place on our TV screens.

"Channel 4 should be working with us to defeat terrorism and extremism, not sowing hate and division in our communities."

Channel 4 says Britz is an attempt to understand what could lead a second-generation Muslim to turn against the country of their birth.

It blames Labour's "draconian" antiterror laws and foreign policy for alienating the Muslim community.

Director Peter Kosminsky denied radicalised Muslims would feel vindicated by the film.

"I hope that nobody who sees it would think there is anything triumphant or joyful about Nasima's journey.

"The point of the piece was to make non-Muslims know what it feels like to be Muslims in Britain today."

Sources: Daily Mail (English), Channel 4 (English) h/t Hodja (Danish)

Denmark: Local Hizb ut-Tahrir leading recruitment in Germany and France

Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende interviewed one of Hizb ut-Tahrir's former top men in the UK. The entire interview can be read on their site (Danish). I hope to translate it, but it's quite a long interview.


Hizb ut-Tahrir in Denmark are the spearhead for recruiting young 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants in Germany and France to the Islamic movement.

"Denmark is very important in Europe," says Maajid Nawaz, who until recently was the movement's front figure in Great Britain.

He says well-educated and well-integrated youth with "street credit" were recruited in Denmark who can go to France or Germany, for example, to recruit. "Hizb ut-Tahrir can - and I know that they do - send them to other European countries to appeal to their contemporaries.

The movement's activities are banned in Germany no the basis that the movement supports violence to achieve its goals. In Denmark the prosecution has so far rejected a ban against Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Hizb ut-Tahrir's Danish spokesperson, Fadi Abdullatif, calls Maajid Nawaz revelations "untrue" but one of the leading researchers in the field, Kirstine Sinclair from Syddansk University's Center for Middle East Studies says: "It is precisely the way they work. So it is very conceivable that the Danes went to Germany to establish a group there."

Maajid Nawaz broke off from Hizb ut-Tahrir in May 2007 and now the former UK spokesperson publicly opposes the movement that he sees as a threat against the west democracies and integration.

He does not say the movement should be banned, but he emphasizes their dangerous goals.

Therefore he also tells now of the movement's financing.

"Every member is obligated to give 10% of their salary every month. The leaders collect the money on a fixed day every month."

Fadi Abdullatif says this is also "untrue".

That Hizb ut-Tahrir is still financed by members paying 10% of their income to the organization is new to researchers.

Kirstine Sinclair says it shows the strong commitment and dedication of the members to Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Maajid Nawaz says his plane tickets between London and Copenhagen were paid for by the movement when he worked to expand its reach in Denmark in 2000.

Source: Berlingske Tidende (Danish)

Turkish/Kurdish protests

Europe is continuing to see Turkish protests, as well as some Kurdish counter protests.

About 100 Kurds demonstrated in the Hague on Friday against a possible invasion of North-Iraq by Turkey. According to the police, the protests was very orderly. [see video]

On Saturday, about 100 people of Turkish origin protested in Liege, Belgium against the PKK, the Kurdish Labor Party. With Turkish flags and banners men, women and children expressed their opposition to the party, banned in Turkey and seen as a terrorist party.

The protest, which marched through town for an hour, proceeded calmly, according to local police,

"For two weeks we hear of attacks in Turkey, performed by the PKK against the Turkish army. We lose many youth who are obligated to do their army duty. Many families suffer from it," emphasized Mustafa Ozdemir, one of the organizers of the protest, who belongs to the left-wing of the Liege Turks. Three thousand posters were put out before the protests. Ozdemir estimates there are about 20,000 Turks in the city.

In Utrecht 1000 Turks demonstrated Sunday afternoon, organized by the Turkish-Dutch Student Association Erkin, which had gotten a permit for it. This protest also passed by quietly.

A Turkish anti-PKK protest also took place in Genk, with about 200 protesters, mostly local youth. According to police, the protest passed by peacefully with the protesters marching by foot, and the procession being brought up by tooting cars.

"There were slogans shouted out but there weren't threatening. They were about freedom and friendship between all people. Many participants waved Turkish flags. The protest was accompanied by the traffic police and the Turkish associations," according to police chief Mulleners. It was not clear today either who were the organizers. The police had determined in the past days that chain-SMSs were being sent out calling for people to join in the protest.

The Belgian Foreign Ministry will remind the Turkish ambassador in Brussels that an ambassador may not stir up countrymen who have emigrated, according to State Secretary Vincent Van Quickenborne, speaking for Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel De Gucht in response to a parliamentary question by senator Josy Dubié. If the ambassador had infringed that principle, the ministry will not neglect to contact the Turkish authorities.

Dubié questioned the minster about the riots which took place in Brussels on Sunday and Wednesday. According to the senator the extreme right-wing Turkish organization Grey Wolves were behind the riots. He pointed out that vandals had managed to force their way into the American embassy on Sunday where they had set fire to the US flag and replaced it with a Turkish flag.

Dubié said he had received information that the Turkish ambassador had spurred on his countrymen against the minorities remaining in Turkey.

In the answer read out by Van Quickenborne, Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx condemned the riots. The public prosecution had opened up many legal files. The priority is to identification of those who fanned the flames of the riots. Onkelinx emphasized thatthe Brussels court will act quickly and severely.

Through the State Secretary minister of Interior Affairs Patrick Dewael said that the Gray Wolves have been added to the list of dangerous sects, but they are not coupled with terrorist activities.

In the Netherlands, meanwhile, the Gray Wolves apparently organized a flyby with their slogan. Read more at Klein Verzet.

Despite a call by SMS for Turkish youth to come into the streets again today, the Brussels municipalities of Schaarbeek and Sint-Joost-ten-Node remained calm. Police did arrest a dozen youth who walked about provocatively with a Turkish flag.

Ninety three people were picked up during the riots last week, of which 85 were held in administrative detention. Since Thursday the police is not leaving anything to chance and is massively present in the streets, with about 360 agents, a great number of armored and prison police cars and five water cannons at the ready.

In an interview last week, Selimat Belkiran of the Union of Turkish Associations said the riots which took place in Schaarbeek and Sint-Joost-ten-Node are unacceptable. The Union hopes that illegal protest can be prevented in the future and that such incidents won't occur.

"Protests can only be in a lawful manner." he said. "Incidents such those of Sunday and Yesterday are unacceptable. They don't help our case and our image. Whoever wants to protest must apply for it and do it in a dignified manner."

The riots took place after internet and SMS messages called people up for an illegal protests. Turkish youth also gathered in Antwerp but there the protest passed quietly. "In Antwerp we immediately met with the different Turkish organization and made contact with the police. After that a delegation went to the place where the protesters gathered and spoke with them. We made it clear to them that there was no protest and that there couldn't be one. In this way we succeeded to keep feelings calm. What happened in Brussels and why it got out of hand there, I don't know."

In any case, Belkiran hopes the situation would stay quiet. "Naturally the situation in Kurdistan would play a part. What happens there, is followed closely here. Meanwhile we have not heard of new calls via SMS or internet that could lead to problems again."

Meanwhile the Union is trying to organize a protest of its own. "We have submitted an application to hold a meeting in Antwerp. There we will express our disgust and rejection of terrorism in an organized manner and everybody would be able to come in and take part."

Sources: HLN 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (Dutch), AD (Dutch), Telegraaf (Dutch)

See also: Brussels: Turkish riots

Netherlands: Right-wing radicalism more of a problem than Islamic radicalism

Dutch municipalities contend more often with right-wing radicalism than with Islamic radicalizing, according to a study by the COT Institute for Security and Crisis management by request of the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG).

Seventy five municipalities took part in the study.  In municipalities that reported incidents there were 27 cases of right-wing radicalism and 8 of Muslim radicalism.

Additionally the study reveals that municipalities have limited insight into the problems of radicalizing.  According to researchers this is understandable because the problems are very complex.

This is the first time that municipalities are surveyed about these problems.  Municipalities are especially in need of help in observing radicalization.  They also want information about project and regulation in the area of these problems.

Besides that, municipalities should be helped with clear guidelines from police and social authorities about handling radicalization.

Source: NRC (Dutch), h/t  Allochtonen Weblog

See also: "Lonsdale or djellaba still not evidence of radicalization" (VNG , Dutch)

Netherlands: Many criminal Moroccans mentally handicapped

Many criminal Moroccans are mildly mentally handicapped, says psychologist Indra Boedjarath of the inter-cultural health care center Mikado.

Many Moroccan youth in Amsterdam-West have mental problems, such as the schizophrenic Bilal B. who stabbed two policemen and then was shot dead. Why is that?

"By criminal youth such these Moroccan, there are, we suspect, many mild mental handicaps. They have behavior problems and work off their frustrations with violence. These youth usually walk in the streets, because they are not identified or accepted as such."

How come schizophrenia occurs so often by Moroccans?

"The number of schizophrenics by Moroccans is 4.5 times greater than by ethnic Dutch. These psychiatric illness reveals itself mostly at the end of puberty, such as by the youth in Slotervaart. Schizophrenia is genetically determined. But much is also dependent on social circumstances."

Which social circumstances affect schizophrenia?

"These youth often come from lower social classes, are discriminated and brought up strictly, or feel completely no involvement from their parents. Through that they turn away from society, become unrestrained. They seek refuge than by bad friends or drugs."

By Moroccans family members marry each other. Does schizophrenia occur also by inbreeding?

"If there's schizophrenia in a family, than the chance for the disease is greater if a nephew with that gene marries a niece with that same gene. But just by carrying the gene, the youth does not become schizophrenic."

Why don't parents notice such psychiatric problems quickly?

"The parent's don't recognize it. Immigrants have a big taboo on psychiatric problems. If it would be pointed out to them, they would simply declare the youth 'crazy'. Additionally, parents often don't know what keeps their children their busy. They grow up in a household or orders in which the father's will is law, while they learn in school that everything is negotiable. That gives a discrepancy."

And how does it go with observing it outside the family?

"Often youth are falsely diagnosed. Criminal youth land in psychiatry and psychiatric patients in jail. Moroccan youth appear rather criminal than sick, because they present themselves so. If somebody suddenly gets bad grades, the student, parents, teachers and school doctor must be immediately spoken to. Than you prevent the youth from going off the tracks earlier."

What must the professional assistance do?

"The family must be immediately involved with such a youth with signs of schizophrenia. The parents then learn to recognize the problems with their child. Additionally medicine use must be supervised. Sometimes medicines are taken with the food, because the youth don't want to swallow those pills".

What should social workers keep in mind specifically for Moroccan youth?

"Social workers must remember that immigrations also plays an important role. The youth that mostly were born here, still carry the heavy burden of grandparents. That generation often falls back on happier times in Morocco. The (grand) children grown up with that unhappiness. At home the emphasis is laid on Moroccan tradition. Outside the youth must be Dutch. They develop a split identity."

In Slotervaart it's boys. And what about girls?

"Boys express their problems. Girls turn inwards. Boys cause pain more often to others, girls more likely to themselves.

Source: Trouw (Dutch)

Providing Financial Assistance for Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Security Detail

Providing Financial Assistance for Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Security Detail

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, former Dutch parliamentarian and an outspoken defender of women's rights in Islamic societies, is at risk from a variety of extremist threats in both Europe and the United States.  She has needed constant security protection since her life was originally threatened in 2002.  Up until October 1, 2007, this protection was provided by the Dutch government.

Now a permanent resident of the United States and a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Ms. Hirsi Ali must raise her own funds to finance her costly—but necessary—protection.  In response to the numerous private citizens who have expressed interest in helping Ms. Hirsi Ali fund her security detail, the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust  has been established.

The preferred and most immediate way to assist Ms. Hirsi Ali in the financing of her private security protection is through the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust.  This private trust fund can accept non-tax deductible donations from within the United States and internationally, and is entirely dedicated to financing Ms. Hirsi Ali's security.

Checks should be made payable to the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust and sent to:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust
Bank of Georgetown
1054 31st Street, N.W.
Suite 18
Washington, DC  20007
Ayaan Hirsi Ali Trust Tax Identification Number:   75-6826872

Thank you for your interest in assisting Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Wire Transfer information

Account Name:                      Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust
Account Number:                   1010054748
Bank Name:                           Bank of Georgetown
Bank Address:                       1054 31st Street, N.W.
                                             Suite 18
                                             Washington, DC 20007
Bank Telephone:                   202-355-1200
Bank Routing Number:        054001712

Nazis!!! (an explanation)

Thank you all. I posted my article because I felt strongly enough about the issue. However, I didn't think my opinion mattered much.

I did not originally intend to add more to that post, but since I did get comments about it and since it was not very clear at times what I was trying to say, I thought I would explain a bit more.

- I did not accuse any specific group of being Nazis. I titled my post the way I did because I thought that was a good way to sum up the entire Blogosphere discussion. I also chose it because I thought it would attract attention. I didn't realize I would get so much.

- Little Green Footballs is not the first to suggest that learning more about your partners today might save you trouble in the future. Vlaams Belang had written about it quite extensively. It is sound advice and it does not hurt to clear up people's positions on various issues. It might "serve the Islamic cause" in the short term, but it will only strengthen the liberal agenda in the long run.

- I did not mean to label SIAD/SIOE in any way. I wanted to bring facts for thought:
1. Left wingers/Anarchists have been wrecking havoc in Copenhagen for weeks.
2. Left wingers/Anarchists have been violently clashing with extreme right groups all over Europe for much longer. Reading in the news about "extreme rightists attacked by left wingers" is not that rare.

Therefore, having a group of protesters brutally attacked is not the start of political violence in Denmark, nor is it the sign that Eurabia is upon us. Does political violence only start when it's directed at your people?

A commentator on my post wrote about SIOE:
I was in Brussels in september and met quite a few demonstraters who were leftish, anarchists and an occasional communist.

I'm sorry, but that does not make me feel any better. I don't like the radical left any more than I like the radical right. Besides, the two ends of the political spectrum meet quite more often than people would think.

Btw, the SIAD protest was tagged as "anti-Islam" in the Danish media. Apparently, it was a protest against Saudi Arabia's Human Rights Commission participation in the Second Arab-European Dialogue on Human Rights and Terrorism. The Saudis were there to complain about European abuses of Muslim human rights. My suggestion to SIAD is to work on PR.

Interesting to note, the Saudis' demands were met by a Vatican counter-demand for more religious freedom in Muslim countries.

- I got several replies about my claim that the extreme right is more dangerous to Europe than Islam. I have voiced this opinion in the past, and it is directly connected to my interest in this topic. Islam and the extreme right are not separate issues. I believe that the existence of such a big group of immigrants, especially one which is as contentious as Muslims, is causing Europe to shift more and more to the right. This is a danger to Europe's liberal values and to its minorities.

Is the crescent a bigger threat than the swastika? There are maybe 5% Muslims in Europe. How many Muslims are currently in European parliaments?

How much did (far) right wing groups get in past elections?
Austria - Austrian Freedom Party (27%, 1999)
Belgium - Vlaams Belang (11% national, 24% Flanders)
Switzerland - Swiss People's Party (29%)
France - National Front (16% 2002, 10% 2007)
Denmark - Danish People's Party (13%)
(Several of these parties were either in government or very close to it)

I do not automatically disqualify the European right, and it is important to remember that Europe is not the United States. Denmark is the country of the Danes and they have no other, and the same goes for every other nation-state. The original ethnic Americans might have felt the same but they weren't asked when the Europeans came a conquering.

The problem is that the line between what is normal and what is scary, can be pretty easy to cross and hard to distinguish. I don't have the answers on how to do it right. Luckily for me, I'm not a political party and I don't have to come up with the answers either. I just fear it will go wrong and I think every step should be critically examined to make sure it doesn't.

- Nobody said anything about my Cologne pictures. I originally brought both pictures because one looked normal and the other scary (the one that appeared on the news), but if you notice - there are no skinheads and no racist or neo-Nazi slogans to be seen in either picture. The scary looking people are German police (I think). Maybe it says something about how the media subtly affect our way of thinking.

And now.. back to the news.


This isn't going to be pretty, so if you want to focus only on the news, feel free to skip this.

I don't usually follow what's happening in the Blogosphere, as I spend a lot of time reading the regular media, but in the past few days the Blogosphere has been in an uproar with accusations and counter-accusations going strong. Apparently it started with Little Green Footballs accusing several right wing groups of being racist and of hitching up their agenda to the anti-Jihadi movement.

I debated whether to jump into the fray. My blog focuses on translating news, not on inter-blog debates, but most important - I'm afraid of the reactions. On the other hand, maybe this is a good reason to speak up.

I do not want to get into the debate about any specific group being "racist". What bothers me more is the idea that bloggers can't speak, or express an opinion, because they stepped on somebody else's feet. Because they expressed a valid fear.

I am afraid of the Islamization of Europe. But I am also, and even more, afraid of the rise of the extreme right. In fact, one of my main fears is that people will get so fed up by the political correctness being shoved down their throats that they'll go from liberalism to the other extreme. As a Jew, I have no illusions - the Muslims might be kicked out first, but the Jews will suffer horribly when that happens.

I had blogged in the past about the anti-mosque protests in Cologne, and what struck me most was an interview with one "ordinary German" : "I'm just afraid of fundamentalist Muslims gaining more and more ground," says one female shop assistant. But it's hardly possible to voice this fear because of the risk of immediately being labeled right-wing, she says.

Indeed. Of course, the Left is using every tactic it can and labeling people Nazi's and racists is one of the simplest. But this does not mean that there is no such thing as neo-Nazis, no such thing as racists and no such thing as extreme right.

Going back to the Cologne protests: neo-Nazi groups are hijacking the protests. All it takes is a couple of skinheads to show up, wave banners and the entire demonstration changes its tone from one of serious concern about Islamizatoin to a racist one.

Can anybody guess which picture was featured on the news and which on the Pro-Cologne site?

Now, why am I writing all this? Because what gets me really upset is hypocrisy. Little Green Footballs named Vlaams Belang and the Sweden Democrats as racist groups. Brussels Journal, in return, accused LGF of being "more PC than thou". But didn't Vlaams Belang/Brussels Journal do exactly the same thing, just less than two months ago?

On September 11th three groups from the UK, Denmark and Germany, organized a demonstration in Brussels against Islamization under the umbrella organization Stop the Islamization of Europe. The demonstration was banned by the mayor of Brussels, and Dr. Ulfkotte, the German organizer, went to court.

Ulfkotte got support from Vlaams Belang, and Brussels Journal followed the story very closely. That is.. until Ulfkotte decided he's had enough. Then he became the enemy. He was accused of planning it all in advance to discredit Vlaams Belang and the demonstration.

Brussels Journal discovered that Ulfkotte had written a book about the French riots where he had brought up the claim that the Mossad was responsible for them. In other words, Brussels Journal accused a fellow anti-Jihadi, an until-recently valued member of the group, of being a paranoid anti-Semitic. (Btw, this piece of info was freely available to Vlaaams Belang in the days when the demonstration was planned and when the court was petitioned. A simple internet search brings it up.)

The claim now floating about Little Green Footballs giving ammunition to CAIR and their ilk are ridiculous. But they're ridiculous most for the underlying premise which is that a right wing blogger can't agree with Muslims. This claim is ridiculous because there are quite a few anti-Muslim groups who agree with Muslims, in their anti-Semitic views. Hitler salutes, kill the jews.. does that sound at all familiar? There are quite a few radical Islamists and right-wingers who would be at home with those sentiments.

Stop the Islamization Denmark (SIOD) had organized a protest in Copenhagen this past Sunday. On their way to the protest the organizers were brutally attacked, apparently not by Muslims but by left-wing radical anarchists. (see here, here and here)

The claim is that this wasn't mentioned in the Danish media, but both the demonstration and the attack were mentioned on the Jyllands Posten, Politiken and DR sites. The identity of the attackers might not have been mentioned, and in that sense the media were remiss.

A right wing extremist group was attacked by left wing extremists in a city which in the past few months had seen hundreds of left wing extremists riot. Hundreds of leftists and anarchists have been battling the police, using tactics that wouldn't have embarrassed any Intifada rioter. And now anti-Jihadi blogs want to know why this specific incident wasn't made into a more serious item. Clashes between right wing and left wing extremists are not that rare and are usually very violent.

Talking about the "media being remiss" - while the blogging community reported every car torched by Muslims (two more torched last night in Amsterdam, Dutch) they simply ignore and ignored the mass riots in Copenhagen. Of course, blogs dealing with Islam might not be expected to focus on left-wing anarchist riots. The media, of course, does focus on them. Danish media is full of stories about the left-wing anarchists.

I fear Islamization because it is a threat to liberal democracy, just like the radical left and the radical right. Between the different possibilities, it is much more likely that a right-wing extremist group would get to power in Europe than it is that an Islamist group would do the same. The swastika is much more frightening than the crescent because it is much more realistic.

Update: Nazis!!! (an explanation)

Belgium: Complaint against Muslim who refused male anesthetist

An anesthetist from Bree (Limburg) has lodged a complaint against a Muslim, because he refused aid from a male anesthetist during the emergency cesarean of his wife, according to medical newspaper Artsenkrant.

Doctor Philippe Becx from Bree was on watch at Maas en Kempen hospital on the night of August 23 when he was called for an emergency cesarean for a Muslim woman. The unborn baby had cardiac arrhythmia and would have died without the cesarean.

When the anesthetist came into the operation area the Muslim woman's husband barred him from entering. The man refused to let his wife be handled by a male doctor. The Muslim then forced his way into the operation area and demanded a female anesthetist. That was impossible, as Doctor Becx at the moment was the only anesthetist in the hospital.

After two hours of talking to the man the doctors, nurses and an imam called up, managed to bring the man to allow the male anesthetist to give his wife a injection. He demanded still that his wife's body would be completely curtained off so that only the part of skin for the injection would be uncovered. After that, the anesthesist had to leave the delivery room. With the door ajar, the doctor tries to continue the operation.

The anesthetist has now lodged a complaint at the magistrate in Tongeren for the prevention of a doctor from performing his function. He says he had incurred moral harm because he was prevented from practicing his medical aid duty while he would be responsible for eventural complications. Indeed the Muslim is being blamed for criminal negligence since he had endangered the lives of his wife and child.

The association of anesthetists sides with the complaint and joined in as party to the legal process. According to René Heylen, head of the association, this incident can't be traced back to religion but it's a case of gender discrimination. "It's unacceptable that doctors on the watch would be excluded because of their gender". The association insists on clear rules from the government that will make sure doctors are not prevented from practicing their profession.

For info: the delivery turned out well in the end.

Update: The woman was curtained off, not bandaged.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

See also: Flanders: Refusing male gynecologists

Netherlands: Turks working to cut Turkish immigration

This plan is optimistic, but they would have to convince those Turkish youth that they're not just trying to "hoard all the money" for themselves.


Less new Turks should come to Dordrecht, says the Turkish association Tuana from Dordrecht. The association wants to discourage youth in Turkey from emigrating, but offering them more opportunities for a future in their own land.

Mehmet Safranti of Tuana explains: "From study it's been shown that youth in the Turkish village Kayapinar are less inclined to study, because 'they will go to the Netherlands'. We want to change the mentality of that group. Many youth want to move to Europe for their whole lives. Dordrecht is for them the most familiar place in the Netherlands. They come here with expectations and think that the 'money faucet' is always open. When they realize that this isn't so they get frustrated. We recognize many problems caused by youth coming to the Netherlands without an education."

Language problems, unemployment, and culture differences are the biggest obstacles for Turks who arrive in the Netherlands without an education. Dordrecht has close connections with Kayapinar and to the Netherlands and was a popular destination for earlier immigrants. Youth look here for friends and family and find support by each other.

Tuana wants to cut the Turkish immigration by 80% within five years by stimulating youth to study in their own land and helping them with finding a job. To realize that they need a multi-functional building that would offer an internet-hall, library, archive, class space and workshops.

According to Safranti few youth from Turkey realize what waits for them if they come to the Netherlands. "Many Turkish youth complain about the lack of a future in Kayapinar. That's why they want to leave. Where they go to, they hardly realize."

"If we can help them to an education and a job, they can consciously make a choice. Than they'll see that when they have an education life in Turkey is not so bad. If they still come to Europe, at least they'll have an education and have more opportunities here."

Turks in Dordrecht reacted very positively to Tuana's plans. Many of them donated money to the project.

Source: (Dutch)

Netherlands: High demand for "virgin pill"

Like a virgin.


Demand for the vaginal suppository which imitates bleeding on the wedding night as gone up enormously, says gynecologist Ineke Van Seumeren (63). She doesn't know by how much, but it began two weeks after she spoke about the so called "virgin pill" in newsletter of her employer, University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht newsletter.

The requests come from hospitals, colleges and sexual help centers, though the pill, also developed by her, exists since 2003. Immigrant women exclusively, use it to start their marriage as a "virgin" even though they aren't. Van Seumeren is still surprised the most by the media attention. "it's a hype. I think it comes by the attention for Islamic customs."

The vaginal suppository works quite simply. the pill contains red gelatin that once inserted becomes fluid after half an hour by the body's temperature.

"We pull the men's leg." Gynecologist Ven Seumeren is the first to admit. She prefers to see it differently. "It's absolutely not my intention to put the customs of another culture in a negative light," but she does think "that a young women must have command over her own body."

The need to start a marriage as a virgin is a social and cultural problem, thinks the gynecologist. "It has nothing to do with Islam. It says nowhere in the Koran that a woman must bleed on the wedding night." Besides she thinks it's at the least double morals that Muslims boy can "get experience".

Annually dozens of immigrant women prefer to upkeep the illusion. They ask for a hymen restoration operation. Half get the operation, because Van Seumeren also has limits. "I will not do a restoration operation if a woman is divorced, marries again, and wants to bleed again during the wedding night!" If Van Seumeren agrees, it's in the cases where the gynecologist fears for the welfare of the woman, as in the afraid, than I play along in the interests of the girl."

That women bleed on their first time of having sex is a myth, as it happens by barely 60%. The same goes for the idea that the hymen is broken by tampons. "That doesn't really happen."

The "virginity pill" that the doctor developed with an Amsterdam colleague in 2003, is prepared by the hospital pharmacy at UMC Utrecht. The pill is not freely obtainable, and is given out only after consultation with a gynecologist or doctor. "I myself also speak extensively to the young woman. Why does she want it? She knows after all that she's not a virgin anymore."

Not everybody is happy with the gynecologist's efforts. "I have really had many negative emails cc'd to Wilders. In which it said I shouldn't associate with Islam, and misuse tax money."

The gynecologists sighs. She'd rather see the old fashioned ideas and myths of virginity change from within the Muslim community itself.

Source: Spitsnet (Dutch)

See also: Netherlands: Pill to replace hymen repair

Norway: Misconceptions about Muslim opinions

On average ethnic Norwegians think that Muslim Norwegians are more religious, fundamentalist and more negative towards Norwegian society, than they are in reality. These are the results in a report prepared by think tank Liberalt Laboratorium.

The report "What we know of each other" puts together the results from a new question survey of what Norwegians believe Muslim Norwegians think on a series of actuality issues, with a previous survey on what Muslim Norwegians really think on these issues, wrote Liberalt Laboratorium in a press release.

The biggest differences according to the report are in what Muslims think of their relationship to Norway. The general population thinks that just 38% of Muslims want to integrate more and that 37% think immigrants must do more to achieve this. In reality, all Muslim Norwegians answered 'yes' to these questions.

There are also big differences in answers on religion. The general population thinks 62% of Muslim Norwegians take part in religious ceremonies at least once a week. The real number is 18%.

When it comes to more controversial questions, the populace also has wrong ideas of Muslim Norwegians. They think that 39% are encouraged by Muslim leader to "Jihad of the sword", while just 2% say they have experienced that.

"All the participants in the public debate have a responsibility to correct the misconceptions." writes Martin E. Sanbu, of Liberalt Laboratorium in the report.

There are differences within the populace and there are different groups which have bigger misconceptions than others. On average the report says that the biggest misconceptions can be found by the elderly, less educated, those who live outside the bigger cities, earn less than average or vote Progress Party.

The surveys which the report is based on were conducted by TNS Gallup: the first for TV2 in 2006 and the second for Liberarlt Laboratorium in 2007.

Source: Dagbladet (Norwegian)

See also: Liberalt Laboratorium report (Norwegian)

Sweden: Female converts

Of the 400,000 people in Sweden estimated to be celebrating the end of Ramadan this weekend, around 5,000 are ethnic Swedes who have converted to Islam. Many of these converts are women. Two of them tell Rami Abdelrahman about how they square their faith with society's expectations.

In one of the world's most famously secular societies, Helena Benauoda goes against the flow. As chairwoman of the Swedish Muslim Council, she is Sweden's most high-profile convert to Islam. But she is only one of thousands of ethnic Swedish women to have made the leap.

Now based at the Grand Mosque of Sweden, in the slightly incongruous location of Stockholm's bohemian Södermalm district, Benauoda says mingling with Muslim teenagers at the age of 19 prompted her to look more closely at Islam, leading ultimately to her conversion:

"I read the Quran in Swedish, but it only offered the point of view of the translator. Nowadays, there are many different translations that offer different interpretations in Swedish, so you don't have to speak Arabic to understand Islam, although it helps a lot."

Benauoda says that in retrospect she started her journey towards Islam from a very young age.

"It started when I was 9 and wanted to perform evening prayers but did not know who to pray to, so I started looking for answers, and found all the logical answers in Islam."

Benauoda reckons that there are more Swedish converts than the 5,000 accounted for by Statistics Sweden. Others keep their religion a personal matter, she says. There's no doubt in her mind that the large number of Muslims who have moved to Sweden over the past few decades have been an influence on the Swedish converts.

Overall, of Sweden's population of 9 million, 300,000 to 400,000 are at least nominally Muslim. The immigrants "opened eyes and minds towards religion in general, not only towards Islam," Benauoda thinks.

"Many people here in Sweden are looking for a spiritual meaning of life. Even those who are against religion find themselves drawn towards it once they start studying it. But in general people here fear religion, because they fear death, and the fact that several religions deem people accountable for actions in the afterlife."

Fearing religion is not a specifically Swedish thing, she says, but is something seen across Europe. Religion has come in many parts of the continent to be associated with "corruption, oppression, and manipulation of hearts and minds," she says.

The history of Islam in Sweden goes back a lot further than the recent waves of immigration. It was likely first encountered by Swedes during Viking raids on the Middle East and North Africa, but the first accounts of Swedish Muslim converts can be tracked to the early 1900s. Most of them were diplomats or travellers.

Today's conversions reflect a whole new set of influences. According to Madeleine Sultán Sjöqvist, who wrote her doctoral thesis at Uppsala University on Swedish female converts to Islam, many women "make open and reflexive interpretations of what religious commitment means, at the same time as they are searching for the 'right answers'; to pin down what gender, family, society and religion are."

Imaan Granath, another Swedish woman who converted to Islam, says that people "have to look at Islam from a non-Arab perspective."

Granath's story started with her fascination with the tale of Aladdin:

"I've always been interested in different cultures, I loved travelling and loved learning languages. When I was a kid I used to dress up as an Arab princess - and I still do.

"But actually I think it all began with going to school with some Christian Arabs, who all were so proud of being believers. In the 1980s it was nerdy to be religious, but they were wearing clear symbols of faith such as big golden crosses around their necks.

"The most important reason, however, is how I was raised: to be honest, fair and caring. When I time started reading about Islam for real, I felt it was just as my parents raised me."

Granath later studied Arabic at Stockholm University and a few years after converting at the age of 20, she married a Palestinian Muslim from Gaza. The couple lived between the two cities and she blogged about their experiences, good and bad. Her blog became famous in the Middle Eastern blogosphere.

"We have tons of differences, being married to a man of another culture than yours is hard and requires a lot. Of course we share some general ideas but what he values and likes is sometimes very different from what I value and like," she adds.

Some converts feel their choice of religion is seen by other Swedes as an acceptance of sexual discrimination and inequality. But according to Madeleine Sultán Sjöqvist, the converts themselves are often deeply aware of equality issues:

"Equality and justice between the sexes are emphasised by converts, while at the same time they argue that women should obey their husbands and live properly according to Islam."

"There's a tension in the women between obedience and a religious involvement that gives expression to female liberation," Sultán Sjöqvist says.

The converts "say they are liberated as women as they feel freed from society's fixation on appearance, while at the same time this freedom for women can only be gained in the context of a patriarchal family model."

In Sweden as elswhere, the most visible sign that Muslim converts have rejected society's preoccupation with looks is their adoption of Islamic dress.

Like Benauoda, Granath wears the Hijab, and despite a recent study from Uppsala University which claimed that 50% of Swedes want to ban the headscarf in schools and workplaces, she insists she does not feel discriminated against. That is not to say that people don't judge her based on her choice of clothing:

"Sometimes I feel people think I'm not smart just cause of they way I dress," she says.

"My dress represents for them a backward approach to life, but for me it represents the choice of a healthier and more spiritual lifestyle, with awareness of myself and environment. I have had jobs in all-Muslim organizations since I converted, like the Pakistani embassy for example, and I've had no problem dealing with the Swedish customers".

But things have not changed when it comes to family and friends:

"I have an open-minded family. They might think I'm a bit strange but they still treat me as they did before. I think it is also because I myself have a liberal and open-minded personality, I have made many compromises when visiting my family. For a period of time I used to refuse shaking hands with men, but in my family I hugged them, because that is how we do it here. But I don't celebrate any traditional Swedish holidays anymore, like Christmas. That has made them very sad."

Asked what else gave up when she became a Muslim, Imaan jokes: "I gave up a whole lot of good looking guys".

"Seriously, though, I don't think I gave up that much. Sure there had to be some lifestyle changes, but they were pretty minor. I gave up belly dancing though, but I was fed up with that anyway."

Both Benauoda and Granath lament the fact that while their religion has become more high-profile in recent years, it has also taken on negative associations. Benaouda says the Swedish media too often associates Islam with war and violence. She insists that there is room for more tolerance and understanding.

Granath thinks that media, society and politicians will only achieve the sought-after tolerance when they come to realise that religion really is flexible enough to fit into the 21st century. Even converts themselves need to admit that the nature of their faith is not set in stone, she says:

"We as converts fall into this idea that who we were when we converted is who we should and shall be for the rest of our life. But we also change and develop like all others.

"I believe that we always have to evaluate our religion. It was interpreted in a certain time and place and will always need to be up to date."

Source: The Local (English)

Belgium: Moroccans more integrated, but also more discriminated

Moroccans in Liburg seems better integrated than Turks. However, they fall victim more often to discrimination and negative feelings from the ethnic population. A study by the communities of Genk and Houthalen-Helchteren reveals this paradox.

"It shows that integration is not a black and white sotyr, but one of grey tints," says promoter Johan Ackaert, political scientist in the University of Hasselt.

Moroccan immigrants in Liburg speak Dutch more often than their Turkish colleagues, participate more in local associations, have a more positive image of the locals and feel more Belgian. Whoever expects that Moroccans will loved more by the Belgians than the Turks, will be disappointed.

"Ethnic Belgians (from less than average neighborhoods) have a more negative picture of Moroccan immigrants than Turkish immigrants," write Maarten Van Craen an Kris Vancluysen, authors of "Beyond we and them? A measurement of the social-cultural distance between ethnic Belgians and immigrants. The findings are based on focus group discussions and a face-to-face survey in Genk and Houthalen-Helchteren.

integrated well and yet discriminated. The authors call it "the integration paradox". They see diverse reasons why according to the standard definition "less integrated" Turkish immigrants are treated friendlier than their Moroccan colleagues. Turks are more strongly rooted in their own community than Moroccans, but invest a lot in contacts with the local/ethnic community.

Social-economic factors also play a role: there are more untrained people in the Moroccan community than the Turkish. that could lead to that "ethnic Belgians from less than average neighborhoods perceive Moroccan immigrants as a greater competition." The authors suspect that also values play a role, especially religious opinions.

"The impact of this difference can, certainly after September 11, not be underestimated." The study teaches also more about discrimination. "There is talk of individual discrimination, but certainly the Moroccan community also has the feeling of being discriminated as a group," says Ackaert. It is striking that despite the negative experiences, both groups have quite a lot of trust in the institutions. Ackeart: "That threatens to change if we don't succeed in banishing discrimination. It's an additional reason to invest in integration."

Source: De Morgen (Dutch)

See also: Study: Moroccons more content in Dutch speaking cities