Islam in Europe Weekly Overview

Based on a reader's suggestion, I will attempt to give an overview of what's been happening every week.


Sometimes my blog surprises me, and this week was one of those weeks. I had published several articles which I thought would be extremely newsworthy, but most of them didn't get any attention. What did get a lot of attention? The article announcing the winner of the Miss Headscarf 2008 competition, produced by the Danish broadcaster DR.

I had translated the article only because I assumed it would not be taken up by the mass media. I was wrong. Newspapers all over the world carried the news. The mass media, though, stressed that this competition did not engender discussion about headscarves in Denmark. Though it might be true, I think it's taking things out of context. Denmark has been heatedly debating headscarves (for judges, in the army, in schools, for government employees etc) for several weeks. I don't see how the DR competition could have brought about any more discussion than already existed.

Which articles did not get so much attention? There were two articles about Danish Muslims actively working and fighting against Denmark. In one article, Fathi El-Abed, head of the Danish-Palestinian Friendship Association claimed that Danish Muslims were inciting the Jordanian boycott committee against Denmark, and in the other, Jakob Scharf, the head of the Danish Intelligence Service claimed that Danish Muslims were training in al-Qaeda camps for Jihad against Denmark.

A beauty contest might always draw more attention, so maybe I shouldn't have been surprised. Or maybe it seemed to people as 'old news' (see below).

In other news this week:

* Both Denmark and Norway have for the first time arrested parents on charges of female genital mutilation.

* A survey in Sweden discovered that honor violence was quite widespread all over the country. An interview with one women's shelter shows the depth of the problem.

* The Irish are currently debating the headscarf in schools, though apparently there is no real controversy in the schools themselves.

The Unreported News

Every week I will attempt to give an overview of news items I did not feature on my blog.

* The Dutch honor murder debate

In June 2007, Kurdish-Dutch Zeynep Boral was killed by her ex-husband in the Alkmaar train station. She had left her ex-husband Serdar, a cousin from eastern Turkey, because he had abused her. The murder was first called an 'honor murder', but later was portrayed as regular domestic violence. Last week Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin wrote in a letter to parliament that honor 'played a role' in the murder. Zeynep's mother, who had warned the police before the murder that her daughter was in grave danger, was happy with the change of heart. Whether it is possible to define 'honor murder' or not, there is a general consensus that something must be done about it. (NL, NL, EN)

* Islamist Terrorism

There were quite a few stories regarding Islamist terrorism this week. I did not write about them on my blog, and maybe that's the saddest part of all. Muslims being arrested on terrorism charges is no longer news.

Among the stories: Muslim parents to blame for children turning to extremism (EN), Muslim children in Britain 'brought up to hate their homeland' (EN), London Bomber's wife convicted (EN), Moroccan Swede jailed on terror charges (EN), Spain: Eight men accused of links to al-Qaeda (EN), Spanish judge charges 11 with plotting suicide attack in Barcelona (EN), Terrorism threat against the Netherlands continues to be 'substantial' (NL),

One Norwegian-Somali (NO) and two Swedish-Somalis (SV) suspected of terrorism financing in Somalia were released since they are no longer considered able to obstruct justice or hide evidence. The three are still suspects and the trials against them will begin later this year. For more about this story see here and here.


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

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