Germany: Most imams unable to help integration

Muslim immigrants looking for advice on integrating into mainstream society in Germany, won't find much help in their mosques. According to a new study, the majority of imams in Germany are ill-prepared for their own stay in Germany and most lack any academic training.

A study on Islamic preachers in Germany has found that most imams are unable to help Muslim immigrants integrate into mainstream German society because they are insufficiently prepared for their stay in Germany.

According to the study "Imams in Germany," up to 20 percent of preachers belong to the more conservative, fundamentalist strand of Islam. The study also discovered that only one fifth of imam's possess academic qualifications.

The research is the work of a Duisburg social scientist, Rauf Ceylan, the son of Turkish immigrants. To conduct the study he attended religious services in mosques and carried out interviews with Muslim preachers.

According to Ceylan, the religious groups running mosques in Germany were mainly interested in their preachers correctly reciting the Koran. "An examination of the content of the holy book," he said was "not the primary goal."

Ceylan also found that many imams were susceptible to "superficial interpretations" of the Koran, because they lacked a proper academic education. It was not uncommon, Ceylan said, for these lay preachers to be drawn from the ranks of extremists.

Among the preachers who do have an academic qualification, the majority are employed in mosques run by a Turkish umbrella organization, DITIB. According to the study, these elite preachers are the only imams who are in a position to help members of their congregations to integrate.

However, these imams only come to Germany for four years. In the abscence of any exchange of knowledge between those preachers who have considerable experience of Germany and the newcomers, new imams have to start from scratch, the study concluded.

Source: Spiegel (English)

Aarhus: Muslim church bodyguards

Ali Kauid and Khalid Omari, two Muslims of Palestinian origin, are now guarding the Gellerup church in Aarhus, preventing vandalism in the church and watching over the parked cars outside.

The two started guarding the church on a volunteer basis three years ago, when youth broke into the cars of people coming for services, and are now employed by the church. They see themselves as the church's bodyguards. The two are members of the 'father's group' in Gellerup park.

Khalid says proudly that there are no more robberies, since everybody knows that they're there and are guarding the place.

The church is satisfied with the two Muslim guards, says one of the parish priests, Neils Hviid. He says that the two are well known and respected in the area, and that adds to the security of the church. They have a good way of speaking with the youth. This also encourages the good contacts the church has with the mosques, imams and Muslim cultural associations.

Source: Kristeligt Dagblad, Udfordringen (Danish)

Islam in Europe Weekly Overview


The week started off with a couple of attacks: A Jewish boy was seriously injured in Paris, possibly as part of ongoing rivalry between Jewish and immigrant groups, while in Marseilles three Romanians were almost lynched by a mob, who suspected the Romanians of abducting children for body parts. In both cases it is understood that the attackers were Muslim.


Roma and/or Romanians featured in several other stories. In Rotterdam Romanian and Bulgarian pickpockets are dressing up as Muslim women to avoid detection.

While in Italy, where the Roma have been under attack in recent weeks, a Muslim leader called to protect foreign minors.

Euro 2008

The German and Turkish teams faced off in the Euro 2008 half-finals, putting Turkish-Germans in a bit of a quandary. Germany won, through Turkey acquitted itself honorably, enabling everybody to breath a sigh of relief. The game was followed by several anti-Turkish attacks.

Muhammed cartoons/Fitna

The Danish Muslim groups suing Jyllands-Posten for the (original) printing of the Muhammed cartoons have decided to turn to the EU court. The court case in Denmark was financed by a Saudi group.

The "Dutch Mohammed cartoons" (ie, Fitna) made the headlines in the Netherlands, where two Dutch companies gave in to the Jordanian threats of a boycott. The companies deny they did so as it was actually their Jordanian partners who published ads of apology, but they don't really deny they agree that the Netherlands should apologize. The effects of the Arab boycott on the Dutch economy are meanwhile close to null.


Hizb ut-Tahrir in Germany has turned to the EU court in order to overturn the ban against it. That did not stop Germany from announcing the banning of a Kurdish-Danish TV station this week on charges of terrorism. The station denies it is involved in any such thing.


The Constitutional Court in Belgium annulled a couple of articles in the alien law of 2006, making it easier for parents of refugee minors and for children of polygamous parents to immigrate through family reunification.

The Spanish government, meanwhile, plans to restrict immigration. This follows a major cooperative effort in Europe against people smugglers: 75 people were arrested in ten countries, most of whom were part of an Iraqi network.

The Honor Culture

Switzerland saw its first conviction of parents on charges of female genital mutilation. With Denmark and Norway recently having their first arrests, its seems that Europe has decides to stop the practice.

Another aspect of the 'honor culture' are virginity restoration operations (ie, hymenoplasty). Newspapers in Denmark wrote about the topic extensively this week. The operations are much more common in the summer, when girls go back to their homeland for marriage. It was also revealed that municipalities and regions in Denmark foot the bill for these operations, if there's a suspicion the girl might be in danger.

This danger is not theoretical. A Moroccan girl in Liege, Belgium plunged to her death as she was trying to escape her home through the window. Though police found no signs that she was pushed, she was apparently trying to escape an arranged marriage.


* In France a Muslim man insisted on a cross being removed in a Catholic clinic where his daughter was being treated

* Norway discovered the money it was sending for mosque renovations in Afghanistan had been misued by the imams.

* In Cornwall an Islamic Center being built is facing attacks.


This article was cross-posted to Islam in Europe and to THE ASTUTE BLOGGERS

Amsterdam: Investigate Muslim Sunday schools, bring Islam into public schools

Ahmed Marcouch (Labor), mayor of the Amsterdam neighborhood of Slotervaart, wants to investigate the extent and consequences of Muslim Sunday schools who inflict corporal punishments and cause damage to integration by instilling an anti-Western approach.

Marcouch says that children learn in awful circumstances with bad pedagogic means, and that what they pick up during the week in regular schools is spoiled in the Sunday schools.

Trouw says that according to a teacher's report, the young visitors of a "Moroccan school" in Amsterdam are hit by the teachers if they don't listen and are filled with fear of hell by an imam. Marcouch says that these are not exceptions and says he often receives reports of corporal punishment in Sunday schools. The teacher writes that the children are extremely frightened, but also often unmanageable because they can't reconcile the different approaches of the schools.

Marcouch says that this makes Muslim children "angry and sensitive for radicalization. During the week a loving teacher, on Saturday a harsh teacher, you get frustrated by it."

Marcouch wants an investigation into the scale, methods and effects of Muslim Sunday schools. He's already spoken to those in charge about the irresponsible pedagogical means" which are used there, but says that everybody denies it.

Marcouch says that public schools must give more attention to Islam as a "quality alternative" for Sunday school classes. "You could say: forget all that religion, but that doesn't work. The need of parents for religious schooling for their children is so great, that we must offer them a good alternative. We must compete with the bad offering in Mosque classrooms."


Fatimazohra Hadjar agrees "1000%" with Marcouch's call. "I know the stories of children who were hit till they bled," says the manager of Kap, "Kinderen in achterstandposities" in Amsterdam (an association for children with educational problems).

Hadjar says that after complaints from parents she had gone to mosques, and had stolen nasty think rules from classrooms, leaving a note to the teacher that they could find it by her if they couldn't do without it.

Hadjar adds that the mental abuse shouldn't be underestimated. What should a kid do if they hear that they'll be damned and that they should expect a one-way trip to hell.

Mohammed Cheppih says it's good to denounced abuse. As an imam for youth he's called in all over the country. He says that he also hears stories of smelly classrooms and Koran teachers who come from other countries and think it's normal to hit students. But he says he also knows many good examples of volunteers who without many resources supplement the daily education, and who give inspired Koran and Arabic lessons. They come in where parents fall short of educating. If you look at what's happening in the streets, you would want the troublemakers to go to Sunday school.

Marcouch aims his criticism particularly at the El Ouma mosque in Slotervaart. Khalil Aitblal of the Union of Moroccan Mosques in Amsterdam and the Area speaks on behalf of the mosque and says that Marcouch sketches a picture where children are hit on a conveyor belt and are tortured. There are incidents, also by them, but the outside world must not ignore that fact that mosques also teach in a different way.

Aitblal recognizes that Sunday school education should be better. "That is been a priority for us already for years. Concerning that we support the attention that Marcouch asks for quality education."


Minister Vogelaar firmly supports Amsterdam Labor politician Marcouch, who wants Islam lessons in public schools. She says abuses in mosques must be investigated.

Minister Ella Vogelaar (integration) wants to investigate abuses in Islamic education in mosques. This investigation must check both criminal aspects, because children are possibly punished with corporal punishment, as well as to check whether teachers indoctrinate the children with anti-western doctrines.

Vogelaar will consult with State Secretary Dijksma (education) and with Marcouch on how to conduct this investigation. Marcouch had asked to have Muslim religious lessons in public schools due to the abuses in mosques. According to Marcouch, children in Muslim Sunday schools are hit or abused in other ways on a grand scale.

In his neighborhood of Slotervaart a hundred children go to Sunday schools to learn Koran and Arabic. The children are also taught aversion to Western society.

Critics fear that Marcouch wants to "Islamisize" public education, but he receives support from Vogelaar, who says that formally there is such a possibility. The neutral character of the school is not affected. If parents ask for it, the school must comply with the request, as happens when Catholic or Protestant parents with children in public schools make such a request.

In such a case, Muslim education will get a place within the school's regular offering. It will be taught by teachers appointed by the school and paid from the school budget. The school inspection will monitor the quality of the classes.

Regarding the investigation into mosque abuse, Vogelaar says that corporal punishment is not allowed in the Netherlands, and that they're already looking at hate-preachers who are against integration. They must see if that also happens in religious education in mosques.

Last year Vogelaar caused a lot of commotion when she said that they will help Muslims and Islam take root in Dutch society. Vogelaar says that the moderate reactions to Fitna - where Geert Wilders severely criticized Islam - are proof that they've already partially succeeded in that. "I don't want to be arrogant, but I myself suppose that my open dialog with that community played a role in it."

"Our position as cabinet was: we don't ban the movie in advance, this belongs in our society, however offensive people might find it. Muslims have accepted that we do it like that here. I think that's an expression of taking root in our society."


Vogelaar also says that the Dutch should stand for their standards. She says that the Dutch react with too much fright to Muslim criticism of homosexuality, the depiction of naked women or other issues, which are regarded as normal here.

"Simply say: we think this is normal in the Netherlands, and therefore we'll do it too", says Vogelaar in an interview with Brabants Dagblad. "Don't think: We must let go of this because it's not agreeable to certain groups. We must be clear and firm on that."

According to Vogelaar it's good that Dutch Muslims speak up about inconveniences because that is also part of freedom of speech.

Sources: Trouw 1, 2, 3; Brabants Dagblad (Dutch)

See also: Amsterdam: Schools should be considerate of Islam, Netherlands: Salafi Islam Sunday school, Denmark: Muslim schools should be banned, Netherlands: Combating radicalism with radicals, Netherlands: A Judeo-Christian-Muslim state

Malmö: Sports club sued for rejecting woman with headscarf

A sports club in Malmo is being sued for 50,000 kroner in damages by the Ombudsman against Ethnic Discrimination (DO), for refusing access to a woman with a headscarf.

The woman was prevented from doing aerobics and spinning at a gym visit two years ago. According to the club's rules at the time, headgear was banned for safety reasons, also because caps aren't allowed in international sport.

DO claims that the club treated her unfairly because she was a religious Muslim and demands they pay damages for insult.

The issue will be decided by the Malmö court.

Newspaper Sydsvenskan writes that the club's rules now allow headgear in gym training.

Source: DN (Swedish)

See also: Sweden: Man loses benefits after refusing to shake hands, agency sued, Malmö: Compensation for niqab bus incident

UK: Police accused of blocking racism audit

The home secretary is at the centre of the worst race row to engulf the police service for almost a decade as chief constables stand accused of blocking an inquiry into discrimination against Muslim officers.

Jacqui Smith will be asked to intervene tomorrow after the damning revelation that at least 20 police forces refused to co-operate with the first audit into the treatment of Muslim and black officers. Information from those forces that did take part suggested there was routine racial discrimination against them.

Accusations that police forces refused to co-operate with the audit, which was conducted jointly by the National Association of Muslim Police and the think-tank Demos, is bound to cause consternation in government. Initially, only 11 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales replied to the questionnaire on the promotional prospects, rank and number of Muslim and black officers employed. As a result of this 'poor rate of return', the deadline was extended by another month. Even then barely half - only 23 - co-operated. The association condemned a seeming 'widespread squeamishness' on issues of race among a number of forces.

A letter sent to Smith and all chief constables in England and Wales by the association asks: 'Why were some forces unable or unwilling to co-operate, while others completed in full and on time? Why did some forces refuse to complete on grounds of the pretext of the Data Protection Act, while others said they did not have the time to take part?'

Senior Muslim officers warned forces last night that they would lodge Freedom of Information requests if they continued to refuse to take part.

The letter says: 'If the police are serious about ensuring that Muslim officers are able to rise through the ranks at the same speed as their fellow white officers, and ensuring that Muslims are deployed to counter-terrorism duties at a time of heightened national security, we must have reliable data to track progress and measure success.' It adds that the 'paucity' of information 'means that each individual case of discrimination, or alleged discrimination, can only be assumed to be symptomatic of the conditions facing Muslim officers across the UK'.

The letter from the president of the association, Zaheer Ahmad, also suggests that almost a decade after the Macpherson inquiry into the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence found the Metropolitan police to be 'institutionally racist', the situation may have deteriorated. It urges the Home Secretary to order a 'critical review' of racism in the police before the 10-year anniversary of Sir William Macpherson's landmark report next year.

The results of the association's audit suggest routine racial discrimination against its members in terms of promotion and opportunities. The letter, leaked to The Observer, says: 'Muslim officers are being overlooked, potentially discriminated against in promotion, or are failing to receive the necessary training and personal development that would allow them to rise through the ranks. We urge you [the Home Secretary] to recommend a review of these matters.'

Among the audit's findings include figures revealing that Muslim officers were almost 'entirely absent' from specialist operations, such as counter-terrorism. It found that some forces do not even have a single Muslim working in terrorism or Special Branch almost three years after the 7 July London bombings, a move that Ahmad believes is hampering the fight against terrorism.

The audit also reveals that only one chief constable of the 43 forces is black or Muslim, while only eight of the 300 members of the Association of Chief Police Officers belong to ethnic minorities, with just 32 out of 1,600 superintendents black or Asian.

'The statistics speak volumes,' said Ahmad. 'As we approach the tenth anniversary of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, progress on diversity in the police appears to have been painfully slow.' From the replies it received, only 0.7 per cent of police officers were found to be Muslim, compared with 3 per cent of the British population.

The letter will heap further pressure on Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan police commissioner who is embroiled in a race row with assistant Met commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, Britain's most senior Muslim officer, who may sue for discrimination.

Scotland Yard refused to comment on Ghaffur's intention to sue the force, but sources have told The Observer that the assistant commissioner has collated a dossier of evidence running to hundreds of pages to support his allegations of racism. Those who have seen the dossier said it was so 'explosive' it could harm national security. 'If this went to trial, the harm it would do to Muslim community relations would be tremendous,' said a friend of Ghaffur.

As well as Blair, the head of the Metropolitan Police Authority, Len Duvall, is also understood to be named in the dossier. Both strongly deny all claims of racism. Ken Jones, president of Acpo, said forces were working 'hard to make sure that all forms of discrimination are tackled head on'.

Source: Guardian (English), h/t Islamophobia Watch

Oslo: Muslims in the gay parade

For the first time, Muslim homosexuals took part in the Oslo gay parade, mainly to show that they exist. They experience threats and violence, forced marriage, persecution and ridicule, both from their family and from Muslim leaders in Norway.

Out of fear of more persecution, they wore niqabs, covering their faces. A girl walking in the parade with a niqab said that it's not a problem to show, but she fears the consequences.

'I'm a Muslim + Lesbian'
'We demand: Respect'

Another girl said: We exist. The Muslim population must realize that there are also homosexual Muslims and give us the respect we deserve.

Jon Reidar Øyan, head of the Norwegian National Association for Lesbian and Gay Liberation, told Yeye news that the participation of homosexual Muslims was exceedinly important. The head of the Islamic Council says that he can count all the homosexual Muslims on one hand, but this parade shows that he's wrong.

For Muslim writer Sara Azmeh Rasmussen, the parade was supposed to be a personal highlight.

She told TV2 that it's criticism against a symbol of women's oppression. Also, in this context where homo Muslims don't dare show their face, it's also to show that they won't allow themselves to be ruled by fear.

Sara Azmeh Rasmussen came out of the closet earlier this year, and this year she intended to burn a niqab. Rasmussen says that first and foremost it's to support freedom of express which is under pressure from radical forces. Her protest was stopped by the police and niqab-burning did not become a reality.

Rasmussen says she doesn't feel free and that it's unreasonable that she isn't permitted to burn clothing of oppression, while Muslims are allowed to burn Norwegian flags.

Source: Nettavisen, TV2 (Norwegian), h/t Snaphanen (Danish)

See also: Norway: the story of a homosexual Muslim, Norway: Islamic Council doesn't want to say 'no' to death sentence for homosexuals

Liege: Girl killed, might have been trying to flee arranged marriage

The girl fell to her death as she tried to leave her house, a few days before the family was scheduled to leave for Morocco. The family, who were all home, was asleep at the time.


A Moroccan girl, Nora (20), fell out of a window in Liege Saturday and was killed. According to newspaper La Dernière Heure and broadcaster RTL, the girl was to be married off in Morocco.

But the family denies that the girl was promised to a Moroccan man. The family is leaving for their homeland soon, though.

The police took statements from witnesses. The girl also had a relationship with a man in Belgium, and he was questioned by the police.

The drama happened early Saturday morning. The Liege prosecution emphasizes that no one else was involved. Witnesses and family members are still being questions, but the chance is small that anybody will be prosecuted.

It is unclear how the girl fell out of the window.

Sources: Het Belang Van Limburg (Dutch), RTL (French)

Switzerland: Parents convicted of female circumcision

Two Somali-born parents who had their daughter circumcised in Zurich in 1996 have been handed suspended prison sentences of two years.

The sentences to the parents of the girl, now aged 14, were read out in a Zurich court on Thursday. The judge's ruling was in line with what prosecutors had requested and was the first time anyone has been convicted for carrying out genital mutilation in Switzerland.

The parents had claimed they were unaware that female genital mutilation – sometimes referred to as female circumcision – was illegal in Switzerland.

They had been charged with grievous bodily harm, a crime punishable by up to ten years in prison.

The court heard that imprisoning the parents would have broken up the family, which the parents say is now better integrated.

The family's two younger daughters have not been subjected to the practice, something the parents say was part of their Muslim religion.

Earlier in June, a court handed down a six-month suspended prison sentence to a 50-year-old woman who had sent her 13-year-old half-sister to Somalia to be circumcised.

There are around 7,000 girls or women, mainly from Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea, living in Switzerland who have been or are at risk of being submitted to genital mutilation.

Source: SwissInfo (English), h/t Winds of Jihad

See also: Switzerland: First court case of genital mutilation

Italy: Muslim leader urges more protection for foreign minors

A Muslim leader in Italy has called for greater protection of foreign minors in the country, in particular those who enter the country illegally.

Ahmad Vincenzo, the president of the Muslim Intellectuals Association, said that the debate about Roma Gypsy children should be extended to foreign children as well.

Vincenzo was referring to this week's announcement by Italy's Interior Minister, Roberto Maroni, that Gypsy children whose parents keep them out of school and send them to beg on the streets would be taken into care.

"The question of the Roma Gypsy children is only one aspect of a vast problem of foreign minors, in particular those without a family, who arrive in our country and who are often exploited by criminal organisations," said Vincenzo.

He is also former coordinator of the Department of Inter-religious Dialogue, a cross-party group in the Italian Senate.

"The trafficking of children exists in Italy, where a large number of illegal immigrants currently are minors," he said.

"During the previous administration, we tabled a bill that would have prevented the exploitation of minors," said Karim Mezran, vice-president of the Muslim Intellectuals Association, who teaches at the Bologna Center of The Johns Hopkins University.

"We are immediately available to collaborate with Maroni to find widely shared solutions. We believe that even Catholic and Jewish organisations have our point of view," said Mezran.

Source: AKI (English)

UK: Army to offer halal rations

For decades, they have been as much a part of Army life as square-bashing and polishing boots - and they have been just as popular.

But now the 24-hour ration packs for troops in the field are to be given a tasty makeover aimed at beating 'menu fatigue'.

Twenty new menus double the options for troops, as well as ensuring for the first time that those serving in extreme temperatures will have food designed to meet their specific needs.

That means pasta pouches that can be eaten cold, and flapjacks and energy bars instead of chocolate (it melts too easily).


Yesterday the Ministry of Defence revealed the 20 menus, plus six each of Sikh, Hindu, vegetarian and halal, which should be ready for the forces in Iraq and Afghanistan next year.


Source: Daily Mail (English)

UK: Halal hampers

Rather than handing over an envelope of cash this summer why not not try something completely different.

When Nasreen Karim wanted to buy something for her friends wedding she came up with a novel idea.

"I was contemplating what to get and all of sudden I thought why can't I give them a hamper. "It is different, exclusive and will really stand out from the crowd."

Since she launched Hiba Hampers with her sister Shaheen and Zahid Rauf the company has begun to turn heads.

It has already featured at a host of celebrity parties and awards nights. And the company has started a small revolution of it's own by encouraging Asians to get a little more creative when it comes to giving wedding presents.

"We all know that when it comes to weddings, some of us are not always the most imaginative. I just got a bit tired of buying the same old gifts or handing over an envelope full of cash! But with Hiba Hampers you can make an exclusive hamper to suit you. All the products are 100% halal and if you want something completely new we will try our best to get it for you."

"We want the hamper to be personal and judging from some of the feedback, it is that personal touch that is so important to the person who recieves the hamper."

The hamper is made from the finest products sourced from around the world. All the drinks are non-alcoholic. The hand made baskets are imported from abroad, the jams from France and the chocolates from Belgium.

Prices for the hampers range from £50 to £250 for the most expensive.

"It all depends on what the customer wants. People always choose different things but if you like me can't make your mind-up, then just tell us about the occasion and a little bit about the person and we'll do the rest."

Tahir Mirza an IT consultant was one of Hiba Hampers first customers. "I must say I was a little apprehensive but when my sister got a hamper for her wedding she was overjoyed. I put in all of her favourite chocolates and even a teddy bear she used to play with as a child. Just to see that look on her face was priceless in itself."

"It's such a simple and original way to put a smile on the face of someone really special to you."

Source: Asian Image (English)

Brussels: Prostitutes conduct 'reign of terror'

Two prostitutes who conducted a reign of terror against fellow colleagues in the Brussels Ijzerbuurt had been arrested by the police. The detectives are still looking for a third woman. The threesome had for months extorted and beat up young women.

The Brussels police had heard of the three prostitutes, of North African origin, already several months ago. They were responsible not only for fights, robbery and noise-making in the neighborhood but also for regularly threatening their colleagues.

The three, who are addicted to alcohol and drugs, aimed especially at young girls who had just come to Belgium and were not yet legal. The girls were not inclined to talk to the police for fear of being deported, and the detectives therefore had trouble collecting evidence.

Meanwhile the extortion continued on. A small group of girls had been picked out as the most vulnerable and had to regularly deal with the three. One of the victims was hit in the head by a glass bottle in one incident.

The detectives did finally manage to find eight girls who lodged a complaint. Fathia B. (39) was arrested on May 26th, followed by Soraya B. (38), on June 3rd.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

Marseilles: Organ trafficking rumor leads to lynch

Three Romanians were seriously injured and their car burned down in a lynch attempt by dozens of people in Marseilles last Saturday. The Romanians found refuge in a snack bar were they hid until police arrived and saved them, using tear gas and flash balls.

The reason for the lynch is a rumor which has been going about the city, that Fatima (20), a young woman who had disappeared in early May had been found dead and that the body was missing a kidney, the victim of Roma organ traffickers. The rumor is also being passed about via SMS and through blogs who call to crush the Roma.

In this incident, about sixty people attacked the Romanians after a child reported they had been approached by the three.

The Police insist there have not been child abductions or organ trafficking in Marseilles. There have been other attacks on Romanians in the city in recent weeks, though none this serious.

Sources: La Provence, TF1 (French), h/t François Desouche

Rotterdam: Pickpockets dressing up as Muslim women

Markets in Rotterdam have been harassed the past few weeks by East-European pickpockets who dress up as religious Muslim women. The police doesn't have definite numbers but say there's a 'sharp increase' of thieving fake Muslimas.

These are mostly female Bulgarian or Romanian thieves who are quite elusive with their head covering robes. A police spokesperson says that it's become a known phenomenon and that they see it more and more often in nearly all Rotterdam markets.

A veiled Bulgarian was caught in the act this week in the Afrikaandermarkt in Rotterdam-Zuid. Besides stolen wallets the police found seven different colored headscarves, with which she constantly changed 'identities'.

Source: AD (Dutch)

UK/Ukraine: Anti-Muslim attacks

The Muslim News brings several stories of attacks on Muslims:

Two Derby families say day trip to the picturesque Derbyshire village of Belpar was ruined by an Islamophobic attack.

Mohammed Khalifa, 37, and Nathalie Faustilio, 24, said the trip with their friends on May 18 went horribly wrong when Khalifa and his friend Hassan Sami, 21, left their wives and two young children alone in the River Garden in North Mill Bridgefoot to withdraw money.

Faustilio, an Italian Muslim convert, and English convert, Soria Hawata, 21, were subjected to an unprovoked and sustained Islamophobic attack which left Khalifa with broken ribs and both women in constant fear.

Speaking to The Muslim News Faustilio said trouble began when she and her friend were left alone by their husbands in the park. "When they went to get money from the ATM machines a man started screaming really foul things at us."

Faustilio insists the nasty verbal abuse was so motiveless she initially thought he was aiming the expletives at his dog, "He was swearing and saying really bad things. At first I thought he was aiming his abuse at the dog then I found out he was aiming it at me."

The hijab wearing ladies said they were told to remove their "Pakistani clothes". "He told me and Soria to get out of the country, his exact words were 'get the F@#ck out my country go back to Pakistan'. I told him I'm Italian and my friend was English and even if we weren't it was none of his business."



Kamran Mahmood, 33, had to have 20 stitches in his face after an attack which took place in Littleborough on May 10. Detectives have released pictures of Kamran's injuries in the hope they will encourage people to come forward and help trace the offenders.

On May 10 at 7.00pm Kamran parked his empty bus at a terminus on Drake Road. Three young men, two of whom were on bikes, then approached Kamran's window and started shouting racist abuse at him.

Kamran tried to close the window and ignore them, but the offenders opened it again and one of the three then threw a glass bottle through the open window, which hit Kamran in the face.

The force of the throw knocked out one of the Kamran's teeth, and caused a large gash across his lip that has had to be stitched back together.

His face has become badly swollen as a result of the attack and he is struggling to speak. After attacking him the three young men rode away. One of them, the one who threw the bottle, is described as a young white man, aged about 16, 5ft 6in tall, slim with short fair hair. He was wearing a white t-shirt at the time of the offence.



A Muslim graveyard was desecrated in the village of Chistenko, Crimea, Ukraine, last month.The attack took place at night outside the village where dozens of gravestones were defaced and broken.

Muslim Tatars found more than 40 gravestones damaged as well as graffiti on the walls of the cemetery written in Russian that read, 'Tartars, leave Crimea now!' when they visited the cemetery at night. Other drawings showed gibbets, and the Tartar national symbol with the letter X marked through it.

Head of the Crimean Muslims, Ablayev Haji Emirali, told The Muslim News, "Undoubtedly the acts of vandalism both in Nizhnegorskiy region and Chistenkoye are provocations which aim to cause a clash between Crimean Tatars and the Slavic population of Crimea. The ones who are responsible for these inhuman actions are expecting that Crimean Tatars will take retaliatory measures and destroy the gravestones in Christian cemeteries. But nothing like this happened. We have been continuously calling not to yield to these provocations."

He alleged that either the Russians - "who are interested in destabilizing the situation on the peninsula which would allow them to bring their troops into Crimea" - or the Ukranians, "who have shown indifference to the attacks in the past and now," were behind the attacks. In addition, he held that, "a conflict in Crimea can be the way of shifting the blame for the existing problems in the country on Crimean Tatars." Tensions between the Tartars, Russians and Ukrainians have been running high recently because the police are forcing Tartar squatters off land wanted by developers

Since the beginning of this year two Muslim cemeteries have been viciously vandalised in Crimea. More than 270 gravestones were destroyed in the Muslim cemetery of the Nizhnegorsky region in February. Police blamed the attacks on local school children. Crimea's police force is overwhelmingly Christian and Slavic and Tartar activists have accused police officers of anti-Islamic bias.


UK: Despite Muslim objections, sniffer dogs to be used

Questions have been raised over using sniffer dogs to search Muslim passengers at train stations following complaints that it is against their religion.

Some Muslims had raised objections over being searched by the explosive-detecting animals, but British Transport Police have said they will continue to use the specially trained animals.

Dogs are considered to be unclean or impure in Islamic teaching and it is forbidden to keep the animals as pets.

Some Muslims have objected to being searched by sniffer dog due to their religious beliefs

The complaints came after a rail security trial at Brighton station, the Government revealed.

The Muslims reported that it was not permissible for them to have direct contact with dogs due to their religious or cultural beliefs.

In another trial on the Heathrow Express platform at London's Paddington station, there were instances when the body scan was considered unacceptable on religious grounds by female Muslims, the Government report said.

The report - on five rail security trials conducted in 2006 and the public's response to them - also showed:

  • Some Asians and black people felt they could be selected for tests because of their ethnicity "or because their appearance fell in line with screening staff perceptions of a terrorist".
  • Being selected for screening was an "embarrassment for Asian respondents in particular".
  • Some people were uncomfortable about giving their personal details to BTP officers, as they were not sure why they were needed, or how they would be used.
  • Some Muslims said they would avoid using a station with sniffer dogs because of their religious beliefs, while some young males, both black and white, said they would also avoid some stations as they feared the dogs would be able to detect drugs as well as explosives.

Asked if the findings would lead to certain measures not being used on certain people, a BTP spokesman said: "The legislation applies to everyone. It's not a case for exemptions.

"Officers will be sensitive where appropriate but obviously there are practical implications."

He added: "These dogs do not have to be clawing and barking up at people. These are highly trained dogs that can pick up scents from distance. There doesn't always have to be physical contact."

Source: Daily Mail (English)

Germany: Director of Turkish institute fired for Holocaust comparison

A German institute of Turkish studies sacked its Turkish-born director Thursday after he said Turks in Germany and other European countries suffered discrimination similar to that suffered by the Jews in the Holocaust.

The Essen-based Centre for Turkish Studies, which is funded by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, said it had decided to sack Faruk Sen for the comment and for previous remarks that presented a distorted picture of relations between Turks and Germans in Germany.

Sen had contributed to polarization, rather than integration, the institute's central aim, it said.

Sen, who has led the well-known institute since its founding in 1985, said he would launch a legal appeal.

Speaking to the German daily Tageszeitung from Istanbul, he described the decision as an "overreaction by the executive" in remarks to be published Friday.

More than a month ago, Sen compared discrimination against Turks in Western Europe with the persecution of the Jews by Germany during World War II in an article in the Turkish newspaper Referans.

He subsequently distanced himself from the remarks and apologized.

Source: Expatica (English)

UK: Twelve year old (non-Muslim) radicalized by jihadists

When he was eight he helped rape his sister, and only now police are concerned he might turn out to be a violent young man?


A schoolboy aged 12 has been identified as an al-Qaeda inspired extremist after sending beheading videos to his classmates, police have disclosed.

Anti-terrorism chiefs have said the example revealed how violent extremism is spreading "like a virus infecting young minds".

The blond, white schoolboy from West Yorkshire is among 120 people being dealt with by police in a new anti-terrorism scheme targeting al-Qa'eda inspired youths.

He has been identified only by the initials BC and was reported by his school after he was found circulating video clips of terrorists beheading Westerners.

Sir Norman Bettison, Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, said: "That was bad enough, but he also has an unnatural interest in guns and weapons.

"He spoke openly of his wish to be a sniper and spoke of his curiosity of what it would be like to kill someone."

Sir Norman described him as an "angelic looking boy" whose police mugshot showed a fair-haired child so short that his head was barely in the frame of the camera.

"He is at risk of being a violent young man and a threat to society," the chief constable said.

"He is not a Muslim. He is not driven by ideology – he is too young to spell the word.

"But he is being influenced and intoxicated by the imagery and appeal of Jihadist and other internet violence."

Sir Norman, speaking at a conference of police chiefs in Liverpool, said that the internet helped to peddle the "virus".

He added: "We know that there is a latent sense of grievance in the minds of many young people which, in the right conditions, can lead to the desire for violent expression.

"What happens if they learn how to build and deploy an explosive device that will cause mass casualties? Or if core al-Qa'eda can get their hands on these people to act as mules for a more sophisticated attack?"

The police chief urged every parent – particularly Muslims – to address the issue of extremism with their children.

"The al-Qa'eda brand of violent extremism continues to spread like a virus infecting young minds," he said.

"Every young Muslim will be introduced to ideas around al-Qa'eda and a 'global struggle'. I don't see how you can avoid it in 2008."

The 12-year-old boy arrived in Britain as an asylum seeker in July 2005, and at the age of eight allegedly assisted a nine-year-old and a 12-year-old boy in the forced rape of his sister, although he was never prosecuted, police revealed.

He is now being handled under a scheme known as the Channel Project, which has been running for the past nine months.

The number of suspects uncovered so far – 124 - was "higher than expected", Sir Norman added.

They have been referred to the police and other agencies by schools, community leaders, mosques and others.

"We are trying to intervene early. We are trying to snuff out violent extremism," said Sir Norman.

Sir Norman said none of the referrals had been prosecuted because officers were attempting to avoid using anti-terror laws against anyone identified by the scheme.

"Throwing the book at them in terms of the Prevention of Terrorism Act would be complete overkill," the chief constable said.

"We are not talking about criminal actions. We are talking about vulnerable kids."

Two other cases highlighted by the senior policeman were Muslim youths, known only as NH and YH, who were both 15 when they were reported by their communities because they were showing extremist and racist tendencies.

New figures revealed that 36 people were convicted of terror-related offences last year and 31 have been convicted already this year, with several trials ongoing. Around 140 are on remand awaiting trial.

Bob Quick, the head of Scotland Yard's Counter Terrorism Command, said: "The threat has not lessened in any way to that we have seen in the past four summers."

Source: Telegraph (English), h/t Europe News

Spain: Minister under fire for headscarf criticism

Spain's Equality Minister Bibiana Aido has angered Muslims by criticizing the Islamic headscarf, alleging that it undermines the rights of women, media reported Thursday. Muslim men could dress in Western clothes, Aido said, asking why women wearing loose clothes and headscarves could not do the same.

"Not all cultural practices must be protected and respected," she said, expressing her opposition to practices "violating human rights and promoting inequality" between the sexes.

Muslim women "wear the veil because they feel like it," representatives of Spain's Muslim community responded, advising the minister "not to talk about what she does not know about."

The Koran advised both men and women to dress modestly, said Mansur Escudero, president of the Islamic Board.

Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, a self- confessed feminist, created the Equality Ministry on appointing Spain's first female-dominated cabinet in April.

Aido, 31, became the youngest minister in Spanish history. Spain has a Muslim community of more than half a million people.

Source: Earth Times (English)

Belgium: Children from polygamous marriage can reunite with father

The Constitutional Court of Belgium annulled two stipulations in the alien law of 2006 today, relating to the requirements for family reunification. There were appeals against a number of other articles, but only these were rejected.

The court annulled an article which gave no right of family reunification to children born of a polygamous marriage and who were descended of an alien established in Belgium or from an alien who was already permitted or authorized to an unlimited stay and from one of the spouses not living in Belgium.

In addition the court annulled the stipulation that parents of a minor alien recognized as a refugee, must ask for family reunification within a year if they want to be exempted from producing evidence that the minor has sufficient accommodations and health insurance.

The court said that the requirement for such evidence causes differential treatment between minor refugees, as to whether the application by their parents is made before or after a year passed after their own recognition as a refugee. According to the court this article has a disproportionally adverse effect on the right to family reunification.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

Switzerland: Qataris want to follow Sharia in new hotel

A new hotel complex for Bürgenstock Hotels overlooking Lake Lucerne is expected to be finished in 2011. The main investors, a Qatari group, have requested that money made off alcohol be used for preventing alcoholism.

La Barwa Real Estate Company (Quatar) follows Islamic law, and have agreed to a compromise in which the profits from alcohol sales will go to an anti-alcoholism group, says Pierre Buyssens of Bürgenstock Hotels.

The negotiations between the real estate company, Rosebud Hotels Holding and the developers were not easy. A casino, for example, was out of the question.

Banning any problems work is expected to start in mid-2009. The hotel is expected to offer 800 jobs.

Source: Romandie (French)

Germany: Anti-Turkish attacks following German Euro victory

A group of youths attacked three Turkish fast-food cafes in the eastern German city of Dresden, injuring two Turkish workers, following Germany's victory over Turkey in the semi-finals of the Euro 2008 football competition.

Police reported that a group of 20 to 30 people had also set a Turkish flag alight late Wednesday in the city, the capital of the eastern state of Saxony, while others watched without intervening.

In Chemnitz, another city in the state, police reported a tense atmosphere with special units intervening to prevent outbreaks of violence.

Six officers were hurt, and several police vehicles were damaged, they said.

In Hanover in the west, police said they detained 20 right-wing radicals after they had shouted racist slogans.

Elsewhere, street parties went off without incident with Germans and members of Germany's 2.2-million Turkish community watching the game alongside each other on large outdoor screens.

But two brief breakdowns in television reception from the Swiss city of Basle, where the game was played, contributed to the heightened tension elsewhere.

Since the collapse of communism, the former communist states of eastern Germany have gained a reputation for right-wing and racially motivated violence.

Source: Expatica (English)

Germany: Ban against Kurdish TV station

The station legally broadcasts from Denmark.


Germany has banned a Kurdish television station from broadcasting in the country because it promotes the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said late on Tuesday.

Schäuble said that Danish-based Roj TV was a PKK "mouthpiece" and also ordered the closure of a production house based in the western German city of Wuppertal that supplies the channel with programming. Roj TV broadcasts via satellite in Germany.

"With its activites, the channel is an effect instrument for the continued operation of the banned PKK," Schaeuble said in a statement. He said the channel promoted violence to bolster the Kurdish separatist cause and aimed to "recruit guerrilla fighters for armed conflict with Turkey".

The interior ministry has had the production company under observation since September and raided its offices in May.

The PKK is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union and was banned in Germany — home to some 2.5 million people of Turkish origin — in 1993.

More than 37,000 people have been killed since it took up arms for self-rule in Turkey's mainly Kurdish east and southeast in 1984.

Source: The Local (English)

See also: Turkey: Case against support for Danish/Kurdish channel postponed,

Norway: Money sent to Afghan mosques misused

Afghan mullahs have misused money they received from Norwegian forces for mosque renovations. The Norwegian forces in Maimana in Afghanistan's Faryab province gave local mullahs 120,000 kroner (~$23,000) last year for repairs to local mosques. The money was sent through the Afghan authorities, but only one of the mullahs used it for its original purposes, according to Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet.

One mullah used the Norwegian money for his own gigantic marriage feast.

Lt Colonel John Inge Øglænd confirms that part of the mosque financial support had gone to other purposes. Financial support for mosques has been discontinued now.

Øglænd can't answer how many mullahs are suspected of having broken the agreement. Afghan authorities are informed about the case, which has not been reported to the police.

The Norwegian financial support was supposed to improve relations between Norwegian forces in the Maimana area and the local mullahs.

Source: TV2 (Danish), h/t Hodja (Danish)

See also: Norway: Money sent to Pakistani koran schools disappeared

Germany vs. Turkey - 3:2

In the end, friendship wins


Our national teams will play against each other for the first time in semi-final of a European Championship.

All of us know there will be a winner at the end of the match and the victor will qualify for the European final.

But this semi-final match is more than just a crucial match. It is also a great chance to show being together with Europe that is also important for them.

No one knows who is going to win the match.

But, we the editors-in-chief of Bild and Hurriyet dailys already know who needs to win this match.

Togetherness and friendship. Whatever the result of Wednesday’s match and regardless of whoever makes it through to the finals, the friendship between Turks and Germans will win out.

Let’s celebrate along with the winning team and jointly support them the finals.

If you remember, Germany played some memorable football at the World Cup in 2006.

Turks, waving Turkish and German flags, celebrated Germany’s win with them.

We desire to see the same pictures again today: Germans and Turks celebrating together.

We wrote this joint column with these feelings inside.

Our teams have been successful.

Live long the Turkish National Team.

Live long the German National Team.

Sources: Telegraaf (Dutch), Hurriyet (English)

See also: Deutsche Welle: Turks in Germany Have Chosen Sides, but They're Flexible

Related articles: Netherlands/Belgium: Preparing for the big game, Euro 2008: Turkey vs. Germany

Netherlands/Belgium: Preparing for the big game

Towns across the Netherlands are preparing for the big Germany-Turkey semifinals game by putting up large screens for the Turkish fans.

In Amsterdam West the municipality will be closing off the Surinameplein and setting up a 18 sqm screen. The square is right next to the Mercatorplein where Turkish fans had celebrated after their team victories in the past few weeks.

Turkish Dutch in Eindhoven can watch the game from the parking area near XXL Woensel. The municipality expects 4,000-5,000 people.

In Tilburg there will be a large screen next to the Willem II stadium. About 2,000 had seen Turkey's previous victory there. Organizer Ali Yenice expects double the number tonight. Mayor Ruud Vreeman is also expected to come.

Meanwhile, in Belgium several municipalities have held talks with the Turkish community, to keep down victory festivities.

After the last time Turkey won, some Turks had celebrated all night, engendering many complaints. In Sint-Niklaas people may toot their horn only until midnight, in Ghent until 1am. There will also be a strict(er) attitude towards cars driving in groups and breaking traffic regulations.

Sources: AD, HLN (Dutch)

France: Cross removed at Catholic clinic

Employees removed a crucifix in a room at the Catholic clinic Saint-Vincent de Paul in Bourgoin-Jallieu after the Muslim father of a patient demanded they do so before treating his daughter.

Marie-Therese Besson, manager of the clinic, says that people who choose to be treated at the clinic know that they are a Catholic establishment. It says so clearly at the entrance and the nurses wear a Catholic habit. She adds that there is a small crucifix in every room. In this incident the nurse did what was necessary to calm down the situation.

The Saint Vincent de Paul Bourgoin-Jallieu clinic is part of l'Alliance des maternités catholiques. Sister Marie-Mathieu, head of the board of directors for l'Alliance des maternités catholiques, says the issue will be brought up in the next meeting of the ethics committee. She say that they occasionally face such situations in their institutions, the last time being several months ago when a father broke a crucifix in a clinic in Aix-en-Provence and threw it in the trash. That incident was not tolerated.

The administration says that they regularly treat Muslim women and respect their wish to be veiled. Sister Marie-Mathieu says that such incidents go against the basic tenant of mutual respect.

Source: Le Dauphine Libre (French), see more at the Covenant Zone (English)

Germany: Hizb ut-Tahrir challenges ban in EU court

The organization was recently ruled legal in Denmark.


An internationalist Islamist organisation is submitting an application to the European court tomorrow in an effort to overturn a ban on its activities in Germany. Hizb ut-Tahrir, or the Party of Liberation, believes that the five-year-old ban is unlawful and argues it should be free to campaign in the country and have all frozen assets released.

Britain has twice considered proscribing Hizb ut-Tahrir, most recently after the July 7 2005 bombings, and decided each time that there were not grounds for doing so. Last week Denmark's senior state prosecutor also advised that the organisation should not be banned, as it has not breached that country's constitution.

Prohibited in several Middle Eastern and central Asian countries, Hizb ut-Tahrir operates legally in Israel, and is not banned in any EU country other than Germany. Although membership of the party remains legal in Germany, it has been prohibited from public activity since 2003, on charges of spreading antisemitic propaganda following the publication of a leaflet the previous year.

More recently, Germany has accused the party of breaching the "concept of international understanding" enshrined in the country's constitution, a charge more usually levelled against parties of the far right.

The party denies it is antisemitic and, says it is against violence and that its aim is to unite Muslim countries into a single state ruled by Islamic law.

Shaker Assem, the party's spokesman in Germany, said yesterday: "The German government has decided it would rather subvert its own principles by banning a political group, and prohibiting its thoughts, rather than engaging in debate or intellectually challenging it. As recently as this past week the German authorities have continued their policies of harassment, arrest and intimidation of our members."

The German government is expected to oppose the submission.

Hizb ut-Tahrir's leaders in the UK are thought to be concerned that a Conservative government might proscribe it. David Cameron challenged Gordon Brown about the party at the prime minister's first question time 12 months ago, when the former Home Secretary John Reid told MPs that there was "not sufficient evidence" to ban the organisation.

Source: Guardian (English), h/t Weasel Zippers

See also: UK: Hizb ut-Tahrir meets to discuss PR, Denmark: Immigrant local politicians support banning Hizb ut-Tahrir, Denmark: Immigrant local politicians support banning Hizb ut-Tahrir

Denmark: Muslims to turn to EU Court

Danish Muslims are planning to take Denmark's Jyllands-Posten daily to Europe's highest human rights court over the publication of satirical drawings of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).

"[Danish] Muslim organizations intend to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights," Muslim leader Mohammed Khalid Samha told on Friday, June 20.

The move comes a day after a Danish court rejected a suit by seven Muslim groups against newspaper editors for publishing the offensive cartoons.

"We were quite sure that the Danish judiciary would not be fair to Muslims," said Samha.

The High Court for western Denmark based in Aarhus upheld a court ruling that the Jyllands-Posten editors had not meant to depict Muslims as criminals or terrorists by publishing the cartoons.

It said although one of the cartoons, which depicts a man said to be the Prophet with a bomb in his turban, could have been seen as a representation of the Prophet as a violent man, the cartoon did not break the law.

"It is a known fact that acts of terror have been carried out in the name of Islam and it is not illegal to make satire out of this relationship," the court said.

Thursday's ruling was the fourth by Danish courts to reject legal charges against the daily.

In September 2005, Jyllands-Posten commissioned and printed 12 cartoons including portrayals of the Prophet wearing a bomb-shaped turban and another showing him as a knife-wielding nomad flanked by shrouded women.

The drawings, considered blasphemous under Islam, have triggered massive and sometimes violent demonstrations across the Muslim world and strained the Muslim-West ties.

Denmark's main dailies reprinted last February one of the lampooning cartoons.


Danish Muslim leaders described the court ruling as "disappointing".

"We regret this ruling," Mohammed Namah, media secretary for the Muslim Scandinavian Endowment, told IOL.

"This verdict reaffirms the feeling of many Danish Muslims that they are being threatened, insulted and targeted," added Samha, the Muslim leader.

Bilal Assaad, Chairman of the Islamic Faith Society, one of several plaintiffs, also lamented the court ruling.

"I can't say I'm surprised by the decision, but I'm disappointed," Assaad told Reuters.

"We had hoped that we could put this unfortunate matter behind us and that the High Court would draw the line that establishes the limits of freedom of expression in religious matters."

Denmark has a Muslim minority of nearly 200,000 out of its 5.4 million population.

Following the cartoons crisis, Muslims in Denmark and worldwide took many initiatives to remove widely circulated stereotypes about Islam in the West.

Danish Muslims established the European Committee for Honoring the Prophet, a grouping of 27 Danish Muslim organizations, to raise awareness about the merits and characteristics of the Prophet.

Source: Islam Online (English)

See also: Denmark: Jyllands-Posten acquitted, Muslims considering next step, Denmark: Muhammad cartoon court case financed by Saudis

Euro 2008: Turkey vs. Germany

See also Born and Raised in Germany -- But Playing for Turkey and Wild Celebrations as Turkey Advances. A 22 year old Austrian and 56 year old Swiss (NL) were arrested for shooting at the celebrating Turks.


For Germany's large Turkish population, the Euro 2008 semifinal clash between Germany and Turkey on Wednesday evening is more than just a football match. David Wroe reports on the conflicted feelings many Turks are facing.

Sitting at a cafe in Berlin's multicultural Kreuzberg district, grocery van driver Umit Badem summed up what many Turkish Germans seem to be feeling at the moment.

''Up here,'' he said, pointing to his temple, ''I am German.'' Then he tapped his chest. ''But here, I am still for Turkey.''

When Turkey's veteran goalkeeper Rüştü Reçber saved a penalty and sealed his country's unlikely victory against Croatia on Friday, he put Germany's estimated 2.6 million-strong Turkish community in the unenviable position of having to choose between their ancestral motherland and their adopted fatherland when the two countries meet in the first Euro 2008 semifinal Wednesday night in Basel, Switzerland.

But their decision in Berlin seems clear. With the city's estimated 500,000 Turks – said to be the third biggest Turkish population of any city on Earth – showing an extraordinary outpouring of pride for their roots, the white crescent and star on the red background is almost as common a sight Germany's black, red and gold tricolour ahead of Wednesday's match.


Source: The Local (English)

France: New French Muslim Council leader pledges reform

FaithWorld has two articles about the newly elected Moussaoui.


France's official Muslim council elected a new leadership on Sunday that promised to tackle problems left mostly unresolved for five years because of power struggles that stymied its former administration.

Mohammed Moussaoui of the Moroccan-backed Rally of French Muslims (RMF) took over as president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), founded in 2003 to represent what is now the second-largest faith in France after Roman Catholicism.

The RMF had won 43.2 percent in the first round of voting on June 8, ahead of the Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF) at 30.2 percent and a Turkish mosque network at 12.7 percent. The Paris Grand Mosque network boycotted the poll.

Moussaoui, an imam and mathematics lecturer at the University of Avignon, announced a reform of the CFCM but avoided any public criticism of its former head, Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Algerian-backed Paris Grand Mosque.

"The way the CFCM bureau used to work was not optimal," he told journalists after the administrative committee voted by 72 percent to accept a single list with him as president and three vice-presidents.

Chems-eddine Hafiz of the Paris Grand Mosque was one of the three vice-presidents, a sign it was not isolated after having boycotted the first round of the election in protest at the voting system based on the size of prayer space in mosques.

Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie congratulated Moussaoui in a letter expressing the hope the new leadership could tackle problems such as "the haj pilgrimage, halal meat (certification) and mosque construction."

French Muslims have complained about unscrupulous travel agents for the haj pilgrimage to Mecca, meat falsely labelled as having been slaughtered according to Islamic norms or difficulties in constructing mosques for their communities.

In an unusual step, Moussaoui published an action programme outlining those and other issues he wanted the CFCM to deal with to help better integrate the country's five million Muslims -- the largest Islamic minority in Europe -- into French life.

A major problem facing the CFCM is financing. The government helped set up in 2005 a foundation that would accept donations from Muslims in France and abroad to finance the CFCM and its projects, but political rivalries have paralysed it.

That body still reflects the old leadership structure of the CFCM, with Boubakeur at its head, and CFCM officials said these rivalries could continue to block it from taking action.

Moussaoui said he hoped for change there as well, but did not spell out what could be done.

"We are counting on Dalil Boubakeur to give the CFCM the means to function," he said.

Source: Reuters (English)

See also: France: Moroccan backed group wins Muslim Council vote, France: Muslim countries vying for influence on local Muslims, France: French Muslim Council crisis

UK: British nationalist arrested on terrorism (and pornography) charges

A right-wing extremist who wanted to "secure a future for white children" and kept explosives at his Yorkshire flat was convicted on terrorism charges on Tuesday.

Martyn Gilleard, 31, from Goole in East Yorkshire, was found guilty at Leeds Crown Court of the preparation of terrorist acts and of collecting information useful for an act of terrorism.

He had pleaded guilty at earlier hearings to possessing live ammunition and 39,000 indecent images of children.

Police conducting a child pornography raid last October had discovered racist literature, home-made bombs, knives and a rifle at Gilleard's flat.

Among the material seized were membership cards for the National Front, British People's Party and the White Nationalist Party.

In a handwritten speech also found, Gilleard wrote of "our duty as white British nationalists to reclaim our nation."

"I am so sick and tired of hearing nationalists talk of killing Muslims, of blowing up mosques, of fighting back, only to see these acts of resistance fail to appear," he had written.

"The time has come to stop the talk and start to act."

On a separate scrap of paper illustrated with a Nazi flag he had written: "We must secure the existence of our race and a future for white children, for race and nation."

Gilleard, who has a young child by a former girlfriend, worked as a fork-lift driver at a timber yard.

Officers who visited the yard before arresting him last November found Gilleard's high-visibility jacket marked with a hand-drawn swastika.

Police said Gilleard was an extremely dangerous individual.

"Not only has he openly expressed extreme far-right views and a desire to act on them, he also had the capability to do so," said Detective Chief Superintendent John Parkinson, head of the Leeds Counter Terrorism Unit.

"Gilleard had access to weapons and more frighteningly, explosives. He had even gone as far as to create small, hand-held bombs.

"We can only assume that his intention was to use them and we are thankful we were able to intervene before he had an opportunity to do so."

He will be sentenced later this week.

Source: Reuters (English), h/t Islam & The West

Malta: Muslim community meets PM, asks for school support

A delegation representing the Muslim Community in Malta has paid a visit to Prime Minister, Lawrence Gonzi at his office in Castille.

The delegation was headed by the Imam, Muhammad El Sadi and Wagdi Nashnosh, General Secretary of the Malta Branch of the World Islamic Call Society.

They discussed the needs of the Muslim community and the delegation pledged full co-operation with the Maltese government for the common good.

The Imam told that the Muslim community's urgent need is more government support for Mariam Albatool School as a charitable, non-governmental institution and as a unique experience of harmony in multi-culturalism to enable it to continue its spiritual and educational mission and to enhance more mutual respect, harmony and integration in the society.

The Imam presented the Prime Minister with a copy of the recently-published translation of the Qur'an into the Maltese Language. This translation was undertaken by Martin Zammit and the Imam himself.

Source: Times of Malta (English)

EU: Muslim children perform worse at school

Children of parent from Muslim countries perform worse in Western education than immigrant children of Christian or oriental-religious background. Children of immigrant from countries without a dominant religion, such as china, perform the best.

These are the conclusions of researchers Jaap Dronkers and Manon de Heus of the European University Institute in Florence. The studied 9,414 immigrant children aged 15 with parents from 46 countries in 16 West-European countries, New Zealand and Austria. The results will be presented next week in Berlin.

The study shows that children of parents who are lowly educated and come from a country where Islam is the dominant religion, score on average 30 point lower in the natural sciences than children of lowly-educated parent from non-Muslim countries.

The researchers used the international Pisa study. The average score in this test was 500 points, with a standard deviation of 100. Kids from a Muslim background systematically scored by one third of the deviation less. "That is very considerable," says education sociologist Dronkers. Muslim immigrant students with highly-educated parents scored just as well as other immigrant children of highly-schooled parents, according to

The negative 'Islam effect' can't be completely explained by the fact that Muslim immigrants often come from the socially-economically weakest areas of Turkey, Morocco and Algeria, according to Dronkers. A possible explanation ifs that Muslims feel discriminated more quickly. And their idea about the male-female relationship and about honor possibly impede individual development. A UN study has already shown that the inequality between men and women in Arab countries prevents the economic and cultural development there.

Source: (Dutch)

Amsterdam: Blogger sentenced for inciting hatred

Meldpunt Discriminatie Internet (MDI) reports that Dutch blogger Ertan was sentenced yet again by the Amsterdam court to 100 hours of community service for inciting to hate and violence against homosexuals. He was also sentenced for insulting and threatening then Minister of Foreigner Affairs Verdonk.

In 2004 and 2005 MDI lodged complaints against Ertan after receving more than 130 reports about his sites. In June 2006 he was sentenced to 100 hours of community service. Ertan appealed, but his appeal was rejected.

Ertan had called on his blog to stone Minister Verdonk. Moreover he wrote that "As soon as the Muslim law is in force in the Netherlands, I will be the first who will push off every protesting homosexual with his head down from the Westertoren." Ertan also wrote he wanted to blow up the monument for homosexuals and called upon his reader to made a "explosive party" of the Canal Parade.

According to the court, Ertan is inciting people against each other with his texts and such expressions conflict with the standards and values of Dutch society.

Source: NRC (Dutch)

Denmark: Virginity operation season

The summer months are a big time for new hymens. Young immigrant girls want particularly now to hide evidence of missing innocence, before they get the wedding ring, says gynecologist Christine Feldig, who has a private clinic in northern Zealand.

"We have a boom at the moment. It's always like this in May, June and July. We do about two to three pieces a week just now. It's marriage time." The rest of the year she does about 2-3 hymens a month.

Leif Randeris, head of the immigration council in Aarhus, also says that many girls go for a virginity operation at this time, before they get married abroad.

Randeris and Felding agree that the 18-20 year old girls who choose to do a hymen reconstruction are often well educated and well integrated. But the reconstructed hymen doesn't necessary solve the girls' problems, Randeris thinks, who frequently sees the same girls again when the marriage breaks down.

Source: Ekstra Bladet (Danish)

See also: Denmark: Municipalities pay for virginity operations

Netherlands: Companies deny giving in to boycott

Dutch companies published ads in Jordanian newspaper against Fitna and in support of the "The Prophet Unites Us" campaign, hoping to avoid a boycott (English). As expected, this was actually the initiative of local Jordanian businessmenm. However, unlike Danish company Arla, those Dutch companies stand behind their importers, thereby enabling the Jordanian boycott committee to announce victory (Arabic).


"We absolutely didn't give in to a boycott threat," says Zwanenberg spokesperson. "But you can't do business if you don't respect the other's religious convictions."

The sausage maker placed an advertisement in a Jordanian paper, which distanced itself from Fitna, Geert Wilders' movie. Zwanenberg also supports the campaign of the "The Messenger of Allah Unites Us", an action committee from Jordan which strives to forbid insulting religions in international law. By that the company prevented itself from being placed on a new poster of the committee that calls to boycott Dutch and Danish products. Chairman Zakaria Sheikh says that he had printed a million of these posters.

According to Zwanenberg the initiative for the advertisement came from a local middleman. "De facto, we export to his business. We don't speak with Mr. Sheikh, and therefore we had yielded nothing."

The company says it has started an investigation about the action committee. "We are not interested in being associated with a fundamentalist organization. But saw no harm in placing an advertisement. Everybody has freedom of expression. Why then shouldn't we distance ourselves from this movie?"

Dairy factory Friesland Foods had put out a similar advertisement in Jordanian papers. But according to a spokesperson, it was done by a local distributor on his own volition. "It wasn't directed from the head office. That ad wasn't necessary as far as we're concerned."

Friesland Foods, however, says it supports the published text. It came from a statement made on March 28th in which the company condemned Fitna since Wilders "equates Islam to violence". The spokesperson: "We're also not crazy. We knew that there will be questions coming in Muslim countries, let me be clear aobut it. That is how we thinks about it. Nothing more, nothing less." Thes statement was necessary for internal use, says Friesland Foods, since the company does a lot of business with Muslim countries. "We're a concept there".

Other companies, such as Philips and KLM, will appear in the boycott poster. They distance themselves from the contents of Fitna, but did not put out an advertisement.

A KLM spokesperson: "At this moment we don't see the necessity of it, but we aren't principally against it. We'll wait and see." Electronics manufacturer Philips is more positive: We aren't publishing an advertisement, simply because it's not up to us to take a position on political questions."

Dutch companies export to Jordan about 179 million euro per year, mostly dairy products and machinery. That is about 0.6% of the total export, according to Dutch Statistics. Exports to the Middle East are about 5 billion euro, which is less than 2% of the total exports. Despite the ongoing boycott efforts, Dutch businesses are barely affected.

Sources: Volkskrant, AD (Dutch)

See also: Denmark: Arla threatens Jordanian importers