'Islam in Europe' on 'Pakistan Daily'

My blog has finally reached the mass media. In Pakistan, at least. Pakistan Daily reports about Anti Muslim Islamophobia (*) in Denmark by ripping off my article, which is actually a translation and summary of two Danish news sources.

Islam in Europe:
Denmark: Expel Islam from Europe

Daily Pakistan:
Anti Muslim Islamophobia Expel Islam from Europe

(*) As opposed to pro-Muslim Islamophobia?

France: School facing funding difficulties


The oldest secondary school for Muslims in France is struggling for funding and may soon be forced to close.

See also: France: Fourth Islamic school

Norway: Muslims might become a majority

I tend to be very skeptical of demography studies as I don't know of any that have actually come true, and for the same reason Lars Østby states: things change.     


Just speaking about immigrants becoming a majority in Europe is difficult since the terms often used are charged or unclear.  But that record immigration and falling birthrate in Europe can make Muslims a majority is something we can speak about, thinks senior researcher at the University of Oslo Jon Rogstad.  

"I don't think it's unthinkable that Muslims will be a majority," says Jon Rogstad.  He's a sociologist and he has researched immigration since the 1990s.  "But I don't want to say that this is the question, but rather how we can avoid conflicts between religions or groups of people who use religion to create conflicts."

"Also Muslims have an interest in having an harmonic society with calm and predictability, but then there's a little group of Muslims and a little group of Christians or other groups who are want to make trouble.

Nobody registers religious, ethnic or culture relations in Europe.  But according to statistics by Eurostat received by NRK, 1.2 million non-Europeans came in 1996 to the 28 countries Eurostat supervises.

"There is extensive immigration to Europe today.  It's higher than ever," says professor Grete Brochmann at the University of Oslo.  She has published a series of books on immigration and agrees with some hesitation to call it a migration of nations.

"I think such terms can be used.    It's not a given what it can be used for, since it's not true that there are hordes in motion but individuals who come."

In addition to Eurostat's data, immigrants come to the 31 other countries the UN defines as Europe and a small but meaningful number of illegal immigrant who have never been registered.  AT the same time, ethnic Europeans give birth to so few children that the population will be halved in two generations."

"I don't think we will see Muslims become a majority," says Grete Brochmann.

"Will it cause anything if Muslims will be a majority?"

"It depends on what consequences it will for for our society."

"I very much support a liberal social system and maintaining a welfare society.  Muslims or not, I don't think it's important.  If people who come agree with then it's fine and if not and they are in a majority then it's I who will lose."

According to Eurostat's data, 63% of the registered immigrants in 2006 were from countries in Asia and Africa, the rest came from America and Oceania.  Muslim countries even have a much larger birthrate then the rest of the world, something from which the extreme right and fundamentalist Christians tried to make political capital.  But the birthrate in the homelands have little influence on whether ethnic Europeans will become a minority in Europe.

"The women who immigrate into  Europe generally have a higher birthrate than the average population.  But already their children again have about as many children as the average population, says researcher Lars Østby of Norway Statistics.

"It's not strange since their birth pattern is characterized by exactly the same reality as all others."

Lars Østby has long experience of immigration statistics and thinks that ethnic Europeans will not become a minority.

"Then people must go very far into a future that nobody knows about.  But let's keep to 50 years, as the demographers attempt.  Eurostat expects that in 2060 we will be 50 million immigrants and 450 million not immigrants.  If people are scared that there will be a Muslim majority in Europe, then it will not be created by this immigration, but it can of course happen if there will be extensive conversion to Islam."

"Why can't there be a majority if the birthrate and immigration we have today continue?"

Lars Østby says that it's possible if all the parameters we have today will continue on for several hundred years, but there's never been such a situation where all these parameters have been constant.

"The population development in Europe was characterized by major changes, and we will also see this in the future."

Source: NRK (Norwegian)

Paris: Bank, driving school reject women with headscarf

The following statement was received by Islamophobie.net from a woman who tried to enter a BNP bank branch and was refused on account of her headscarf. Together with the story below they sees it as a sign of Islamophobia in France.

The woman says that she came to the BNP branch at the Paris suburb of Fontenay-aux-Roses on Sept. 23rd, 2008 at 9:15am to perform operations in her bank account. She wore a scarf on her head which covered her hair but left her face visible. She entered the door by pressing the green button, and then pressed the button to open the second door in order to enter. Here, one of the employees told her via loudspeaker that for security reasons she must remove her veil to enter." She was stunned as usually she goes into the branch without problems and without any concern or remark. She therefore remained shocked and stuck in the doorway, a customer behind her waiting impatiently did not understand why she wasn't going in. She pressed the button again and the employee said to her that as already explained she must remove her veil in order to enter. She responded that she didn't agree, to which the employee answered that if she doesn't remove it, she won't enter.

The woman was therefore obliged to turn around and go back through the entrance door. She asked the customer who witnessed this to have the employee write down what she'd said (regarding the prohibition of entering with a veil or scarf) and she answered that it was written outside. The sign outside (see source link) doesn't mention removing a headscarf, but rather removing anything which covers the face and not the hair. She remained outside the bank, crying, feeling humiliated for being prohibited from entering the bank (like an animal) where she and her family have always been clients. She feels she's been discriminated and had also sent the bank a letter about it.

Source: Islamophobie (French)


MRAP (Movement Against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples) announced Wednesday they petitioned HALDE (High authority for fighting discrimination) on behalf of a young woman who was rejected by a driving school in Seine-Saint-Denis since she was wearing a veil.

Sabeh Kadi (20) wanted to sign up at the Cabriolet Roadster driving school in Les Pavillons-sous-Bois and was told that 'chadors' and 'scarves' were 'prohibited'. She was advised to find a different driving school. The French woman of North African origin, mother of three children, told AFP that she was 'shocked' and 'injured'.

The instructor she met told AFP that his school doesn't prevent people from signing up but warns applicants that all head coverings must be removed in the room and during driving lessons. Their rules do not distinguish between applicants, ensuring that everybody is equal, he added, invoking 'the Republic'. He explained that religion is not taken into account and that the driving school doesn't discriminate racially. He also added that head coverings might also interfere with hearing.

In the internal regulations displayed in the school office it says that one must dress correctly and appropriately and disqualifies the following head coverings: caps, turbans, scarves, hats.

According to MRAP, the conditions posed by the school constitute 'refusal of service due to religious discrimination' according to the penal code. The association says it will lodge a complaint with the Bobigny prosecutor in the near future.

Source: Le Parisien (French)

Copenhagen: Two arrested for honor-related violence

A 20 year old woman of an immigrant family and her Danish boyfriend were threatened they'll be killed so as to give up their love.  The women's two older brothers have been arrested.

"Drop your Danish boyfriend or you'll be killed," were the threats from the two Muslim older brothers according to the police.  The woman's family is from the Copenhagen suburb of Albertslund.

The brothers allegedly found their little sister's love to the ethnic Danish boyfriend as such a big problem for the family's honor that they felt called upon to decide about her private life.

According to BT information, the two older brothers have for a while threatened their little sister to drop her boyfriend, but when they also threatened her boyfriend's life on the weekend events escalated and the two were arrested Friday by the Copenhagen West police.

Saturday the brothers were brought before a judge in Glostrup with a demand to continue their arrest.  The police asked to conduct a closed hearing in consideration of the case being under investigation and this was granted by the judge.

The arrest of the two brothers was extended by 13 days.

Source: Berlinske (Danish)

Germany: Muslims religious and tolerant

Germany's Muslims are pious and yet more tolerant than most assume, a new study has found. Its authors are urging authorities to draw the country's Muslim children away from Koran schools by offering public religious instruction.

Dr. Martin Rieger of the Bertelman Stiftung thinks Muslim children should have their own religion classes. Rieger was the director of the study "Muslim Religiosity in Germany," which was provided to SPIEGEL ONLINE ahead of its scheduled publication on Friday.

The study reveals that 90 percent of Muslims define themselves as religous. In contrast a separate survey by the nonprofit German think tank found that only 70 percent of the entire population admitted to being religous. "We need to get the younger Muslims out of the Koran schools," Rieger urges, "and offer them professionally taught classes on Islam."
According to the report, Sunni Muslims living in Germany are religious to an above-average degree; 92 percent identify themselves as being religious. Among Shiites in Germany, that number lies at 90 percent, and it is 77 percent for members of the Alevite community. "Islam in Germany is not a unified block," Rieger says. "It's very multifaceted."

Rieger also finds it "surprising" that religion only has a major influence on the political stance of a small group of Muslims. The study found that only 16 percent of the Muslims surveyed said that their faith had an effect on their political attitudes and that two-thirds of them would say no to having their own Islamic political party.

Rieger also makes a point of stressing the high degree of tolerance shown by Muslims in Germany. Sixty-seven percent said that they agreed that every religion has a "core of truth," and 86 percent said that people should have "an open mind to all religions." "This value is equally high for all of the groups studied," Rieger says, "regardless of gender, age, denomination or ancestry."
The Bertelsmann study also speaks about German Muslims having a "rather pragmatic approach" to Islam. Over half of those surveyed were against the wearing of headscarves, while only 33 percent are for it. "However, these results do not mean that the headscarf will really be worn," says Ulusoy. From what he has learned, it's really more of an issue of "reconciling religiosity with everyday life." For Ulusoy, it's also a sign that Muslims are not sealing themselves off from society.
Source: Spiegel (English)

Netherlands: Jihad news 3

The orthodox As Soennah mosque in The Hague, the home base of the controversial imam Jneid Fawaz, has lost sight of a group of about 20 radical Muslim youth.

Hague council member Abdoe Khoulani of the Islam Democrats had raised the alarm about it to mayor Jozias van Aartsen.  The mosque administration is also concerned.  According to Khoulani the mosque administration had meanwhile informed the AIVD.

Khoulani says he's concerned since the youth have extreme ideas about Jihad and the recruitment of people for this war.  Khoulani thinks that in it necessary to be alert in order to prevent another Hofstad group.  "I am very concerned about what is going on here now."
Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

Germany: Jihad news 2

Three Turkish teens from Cologne who unsuccessfully tried to overpower two police agent on Tuesday, wanted to start a 'holy war' against the Americans in Germany with the service weapons, according to Josef Rainer Wolf, of the Cologne pubic prosecution.
The youth, aged 15 to 17, were arrested and indicted for attempt to murder.  Berlin newspaper B.Z. wrote that they had hoped to find sub-machine guns in the police car, in order to commit an attack against the American barracks in Heidelberg.  "This shows the danger of Islamist propaganda gives us great concern," according to a prominent security advisor of the federal government.

According to Wolf the fact that the anti-terrorism police hadn't caught sight of the youth earlier shows that they had been incited to their act by Islamist hate propaganda on the Internet.  The you couldn't have gotten their extreme opinions from home. Their parents are western oriented Turks.

The youth had made a false emergency call Tuesday evening in order to ambush the police agents.  Masked, the youth threatened the agents with dummy grenades and opened fire with an alarm pistol.  According to Woolf the youth had planned to kill the agents with knives.  The agents, a 26 year old woman and her 38-year old male colleague, kept cool and fired warning shots in the air.  They were not injured.
Source: Parool (Dutch)

UK: Jihad news 1

Four people were arrested in London yesterday over an alleged terror attack on the publisher of a controversial book on the prophet Muhammad.

The arrests are connected to a fire at a property in Islington, north London, which is used as the home and office of Martin Rynja, a publisher.
His company, Gibson Square, recently bought the rights to a novel which is considered by some to be more controversial than Salman Rushdie's book, The Satanic Verses. The new book, about the prophet Muhammad and his child bride, is entitled The Jewel of Medina.
The blaze yesterday, which led to people being evacuated from the house, may have been started by a petrol bomb pushed through the letter box.
Initially, three men, aged 22, 30 and 40, were detained at around 2.25am yesterday after a fire broke out at a property in Lonsdale Square, Islington. Two were stopped by armed officers in Lonsdale Square, and the third was seized when a car was stopped by armed police near Angel underground station.
Random House US, the major publishing group, announced in May this year that it was dropping its plans to publish Sherry Jones's debut novel following warnings that it could incite acts of violence from radical Muslims. The Jewel of the Medina was also pulled from bookshops in Serbia last month after pressure from an Islamic group.
Gibson Square, which has previously published other controversial books, bought the rights to Jones's book after Random House pulled out. It paid what it described as a "compelling" advance to acquire The Jewel of Medina. The book will be published by Gibson Square next month [October] in Britain, Australia and New Zealand. In the US, the book will be published by Beaufort Books.
Source: Telegraph (English)

Germany: Two arrested for terror plot

The last sentence is misleading.. Germany didn't suffer terror attacks, but not due to lack of trying.


German police boarded a Dutch airliner at Cologne airport on Friday and arrested two men suspected of planning to take part in terrorist attacks, a spokesman said.

The police spokesman identified the suspected Islamist militants, on a KLM aircraft about to take off for Amsterdam, as a 23-year-old Somali and a 24-year-old German born in Somalia's capital Mogadishu.

"It all went off in quite an unspectacular manner," he told Reuters television.

Police in the North Rhine-Westphalia district of western Germany said there was no indication the two were about to launch an attack.

"German police authorities removed two passengers from the plane...All the passengers had to get out for a check of all the luggage, and they removed the suspects' luggage," said a spokesman for KLM.

The flight, KL1804, continued its journey to Amsterdam just over an hour later.

Somalia is riven by a civil war pitching Islamist rebels against an Ethiopian-backed government. A large number of Somali refugees have moved to western Europe over 17 years of civil conflict.

Unlike Britain and Spain, Germany has not suffered a major recent attack on its own soil but Germans have been fearful since the northern port of Hamburg was used as a base for planning the September 11 attacks on U.S. targets.


Source: Reuters (English)

Denmark: Expel Islam from Europe

The controversial Danish People's Party member of the European Parliament Mogens Camre spoke at the DPP's annual meeting Sunday, calling to expel Islam from Europe.

"Islam cannot be integrated.  Islam will dominate Europe.  And Islam is incompatible with our values.  Therefore Islam will be thrown out of Europe.  This little land is ours, we forged it ourselves.  And we will govern it ourselves and decide ourselves who will live in it and how they will behave.  And we will fight until Denmark is again free," said Camre, to loud applause.

Last year a similar statement by DPP member Merethe Egeberg Holm caused a commotion, when she said "Out with all Muslims in Europe and in with Jews instead!"  That was her last speech as after last year's meeting, she was expelled from the party.

Camre met with harsh criticism for his statement.  Kamal Qureshi (Socialist People's Party) compared the DPP politicians to Danish Nazi head Jonni Hansen.  He also hit out at his colleagues in parliament, whom he thinks are keeping too quiet.  Both the reigning party and the opposition should distance themselves from the statements.

Sources: Berlingske, TV2 (Danish)

See also: Denmark: "We're anti-Muslim, but not fanatics", Denmark: 'We're anti-Islam, not anti-Muslims'

France: Muslims in Catholic schools

The bright cafeteria of Saint Mauront Catholic school is conspicuously quiet: It is Ramadan and 80 percent of the students are Muslim. When the lunch bell rings, girls and boys stream out past the crucifixes and the large wooden cross in the corridor, heading for Muslim midday prayer.

"There is respect for our religion here," said Nadia Oualane, 14, her hair covered by a black headscarf.

"In the public school," she added, gesturing at nearby buildings, "I would not be allowed to wear a veil." Oualane, of Algerian descent, wants to be the first in her family to go to a university.

France has only four Muslim schools. So the 8,847 Roman Catholic schools have become a refuge for Muslims seeking what an overburdened, secularist public sector often lacks: spirituality, an environment in which good manners count alongside mathematics and higher academic standards.

There are no national statistics, but Muslim and Catholic educators estimate that Muslim students now form more than 10 percent of the two million students in Catholic schools. In ethnically mixed neighborhoods in Marseille and the industrial north, the share can be more than half.

The quiet migration to fee-paying Catholic schools highlights how hard it has become for state schools, long France's tool for integration, to keep their promise of equal opportunity - irrespective of color, creed or zip code.


Source: IHT (English)

Bulgaria: Imam shortage forces 200 mosques to close

Bulgaria's highest Muslim authority has announced the closure of 200 mosques due to a lack of religious leaders or imams to lead prayers.

"Although the number of faithful has grown, we are forced to close the mosques due to a lack of religious leaders," said Bulgaria's Grand Mufti, Mustafa Haji.

"Many years of Communist rule and a lack of funds are the reasons for this crisis," he said.

Bulgaria has 1,500 mosques, but only 900 are currently open to the faithful and 200 of those are likely to be shut down indefinitely.

Bulgaria has 8.7 million inhabitants, of whom 12 percent are Muslim. The country joined the European Union in January last year.

Most Muslims in the country are Bulgarians of Turkish origin that have been living in the area since the time of Ottoman rule from the late 14th until the late 19th century.

Source: AKI (English)

Morocco: Watching the European Berbers

The Moroccan Secret Service's attempts to recruit spies in the Netherlands has angered the Dutch government. And in Morocco, the espionage affair has provoked heated discussion. It seems that Morocco feels threatened by the Berber population living abroad and wants to monitor the life of its second-class citizens in foreign countries. Most of the Moroccans living in the Netherlands are Berbers from the Rif region.

The furore erupted after the dismissal of the Rotterdam police officer, Re Lemhaouli, following allegations that the policeman had been passing information to the Moroccan Secret Service via the embassy in The Hague. The Dutch government protested to the Moroccan Embassy. This week, the Dutch current affairs TV programme NOVA revealed that Rabat had recalled two its diplomats two months ago, after receiving the complaints about the alleged espionage. Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen has made it very clear that he does not appreciate Morocco's interference in internal Dutch affairs. The Dutch parliament is to hold an emergency debate on the affair next week.  

It has since transpired that the Rotterdam police officer is not the only person to have been approached. Fouad el Haji, a Labour local councillor, claims that he was also contacted, "just like a former Dutch MP of Moroccan origin." Mr el Haji was apparently referring to former Socialist Party MP Ali Lazrak, who denies having been approached himself, adding that "it was well known that the Moroccan Secret Service was active in the Netherlands" and that other prominent politicians of Moroccan origin were asked to lend their co-operation.

A colleague at Radio Netherlands Worldwide confirms that certain Dutch citizens of Moroccan origin are routinely approached by the secret service. "The Moroccan government approached me years ago, when I first came to live in the Netherlands," says the journalist and describes the way Rabat works as: "Scary. First, I got a call on behalf of the Moroccan ambassador asking if I wanted to help improve the image of Morocco here." The journalist declined, but was "accosted by the press attaché at a conference", though he was able to brush the embassy staff member aside. Afterwards the journalist was rung again, once at work and once at home.


Source: Radio Netherlands (English)

Ireland: Hijab policy to remain school decision

THE hijab is in -- but the burqa is out under new policy rules for uniforms in schools. They were drawn up following controversy over the wearing of the hijab, a square of fabric, folded into a triangle, placed over the head and fastened under the chin.

Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe and Integration Minister Conor Lenihan jointly issued agreement recommendations which were drawn up following consultations and a review of the legal position in Ireland.

They agreed that the current system, whereby schools decide their uniform policy at a local level, is reasonable, works and should be maintained.

"In this context, no school uniform policy should act in such a way that it, in effect, excludes students of a particular religious background from seeking enrolment or continuing their enrolment in a school. However, this statement does not recommend the wearing of clothing in the classroom which obscures a facial view and creates an artificial barrier between pupil and teacher. Such clothing hinders proper communication."

Minister O'Keeffe said this meant the burqa could not be used as teachers could not see the full range of facial expressions of the students. The burqa covers the entire body and has a grille over the face. He was not aware of any cases where students sought to wear the burqa in Irish schools.

It is believed that the niqab is also unacceptable for the same reasons -- the niqab is a veil that covers the face but has a space cut out for the eyes.

The Irish Hijab Campaign has said it welcomed the recommendations although it would have liked to have seen more explicit legislation to protect the hijab.


Source: Independent (English)

See also: Ireland: 48% support headscarves in schools, Ireland: Opposition calls for school headscarf ban

France: Islamization in prison

The 'beards' are active behind bars.  According to a confidential (confidential defense) report of the French prison administration (AP) seen by Le Figaro, at least 442 Islamists imprisoned in France exhibit worrying behavior.  Among them, 78 arrested for acts of terrorism and six Islamo-thieves convicted for their logistical support networks.

Agents of the prison intelligence service also identified 147 prisoners who are involved in "operational activities of proselytizing".  In short: a new generation fanning the flames of Jihad. 

These clandestine religious men are radicalized by surfing the Internet, says one senior source of the AP.  Far from being experts of the Koran, they distill passages of the suras which can reference violence and use medieval speech to convert their fellow cell-mates.

Their target?  At least 211 prisoners are "in the process of radical Islamization," according to the report.  It's more than 80% of the French of North African origin.  Their low cultural level makes them receptive to the talk about destroying the West.  Among the recruits there are also about 10% of young people with higher education, according to an expert.

An anti-terrorism magistrate says that many of their files there are now France born converts, for the most part, in prison.  He says that it's a real concern.  If the radical elements are put in the same area, they eventually conspire.  And if they are spread out, they infect the other prisoners.  The technique consists of moving them regularly to prevent links from consolidating, explains researcher Farhad Khosrokhavar, author of 'L'Islam dans les prisons' (Islam in the prisons)

Concerned about improving the detection of at risk individuals, the Interior Minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, will present on Sept. 30th at the national security college (Institut national des hautes études de sécurité, Inhes) a 60 page handbook on "fundamentalism in prison".  This guide will be given to the 24,000 guards in French prisons, police and anti-terrorism magistrates.

An interior ministry official says that for the first time the Algerian security service were involved in the effort.  The document dissects the process of radicalization step by step.  It stresses the weight of origins, of the city, school dropouts and the marginalization of certain populations, which justifies their root community and their hate for Western democratic values, says an official at the unit for coordinating the anti-terrorism efforts (Unité de coordination de lutte antiterroriste, UCLAT)

Then it draws up a list of 23 indicators to identify deviant conduct: besides ostentatious display of logos referencing al-Qaida of the Islamic Maghreb or a picture of Bin Laden on the cell walls, it includes reading certain religious works, refusing to walk with other prisoners, starting to eat together or wanting to ensure that their hours of prayers are scrupulously observed.

An official from the interior ministry says that they want to put an end to the continuous challenges that those prisoners pose to the prison authority and to replace Sharia with the prison regulations.

A 20 page appendix includes the logos, symbols and signs of belonging to the al-Qaida movement.  The aim is to reveal the outlines and practices so as to better combat it.   

Sociologist Farhad Khosrokhavar says that this initiative at the least has the merit of raising public and personnel awareness, but the lack of Muslim chaplains in prisons encourages the emergence of this hidden and belligerent Islam.  While half the prisoners are Muslims, he says, only 100 imams work in French prisons compared with 600 Christian chaplains.  Islam remains, in the mind of many detainees, the 'religion of the oppressed'.

Source: Le Figaro (French)

See also: France: The state of terrorism, France: Prisons Filled With Muslims, Denmark: Moderate imams answer to prison radicalization

CR: Anti-Islamism protest

Supporters of the Czech far right National Party will stage a protest against Islamism outside the Brno mosque on Wednesday, the party has informed on its website.

The Libertas Independent Agency associating Brno Muslims and friends of Muslim nations has expressed its protest against the planned event in a statement CTK has obtained.

The demonstration is to start before noon.

"We are naturally monitoring the situation and collecting all important information concerning it," south Moravian police spokeswoman Jan Sipkova told CTK Monday.

The demonstration is to be a reaction to the death of Czech ambassador to Pakistan Ivo Zdarek who died on Saturday in the ruins of the Marriott Hotel in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad that became the target of a terrorist attack, along with another 52 people.

Shortly after Zdarek's death, the Brno Muslims expressed condolence to his family. In the past, they always distanced themselves from Islamist terrorist attacks.


Source: Prague Monitor (English)

Brussels: Ramadan rage attacks

Newspapers have reported two 'Ramadan rage' attacks in Brussels.  


Sept 5th:

17-year old Yassin was stabbed in his stomach by his older brother Hicham (22) for smokeing on Ramadan.  

On Friday afternoon Hicham found his brother smoking a cigarette in the family residence in the Anderlecht suburb of Brussels.  Hicham grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed him.  Police were informed by a witness who hid by the neighbors.  Yassin was hospitalized but his life was not in danger.

Source: RTL info, h/t le blog laiciste


Sept 15th:

Serge, a Brussels homeless man, was attacked when drinking a beer.  He had come to Blaes street at about 7pm [before sunset] for an appointment at a clinic, but coming early he decided to take a drink.  

A Muslim living above the clinic came down and started shouting that he was not allowed to drink alcohol on Ramadan.  His son, Rachid (21), showed up and they pushed Serge out to the street.  According to a witness Rachid then took a bar embedded with nails and started hitting Serge.

The incident was described as "particularly serious" by the Brussels prosecution, who say that the father and son kicked the victim while he was on the ground.  When the police arrived, the two explained it was for self-defense.  Rachid (21) was arrested for assault and battery.

Serge lost two liters of blood and was hospitalized with a deep wound in his leg.

[As a side note, the 2006 Brussels riots started in this area (Wiki).]

Source: DHNet  h/t François Desouche.  See also the account at Brussels Journal.

Germany: Honor violence on the roads

A 21-year old German-Turkish woman who caused a fatal accident between Emmerich and Kleve in which two Dutch motorcyclists were killed had been chased by her brother.

According to German newspaper Rheinische Post the young Turkish driver from Kleve wanted to break with her family.  Her brother started chasing her when she left home for Hamburg.  Both cars chased each other at speeds about 140 km/h over the provincial road between Emmerich and Kleve, where the speed limit is 70 km/h.  The chase came to dangerous overtaking maneuvers.

At the moment that the woman passed a car, her car was hit by that of her brother and she lost control of the wheel.  The two Dutch motorcyclists, from Humen and Wijchen (54 and 44 years old), who were going in the opposite direction, couldn't avoid the lurching  car.  They died on the spot.  A third Dutch motorcyclist was unhurt but came to the hospital in serious shock.

The 21 year old woman was injured and brought to the hospital with a permanent police watch.  According to Rheinische Post she had meanwhile left for an unknown destination.  Her brother was questioned by the police and then freed.

Source: Parool (Dutch)

Amsterdam: 173 polygamous marriages

According to data from the Amsterdam municipality, bigamy and polygamy exist in the Netherlands.  173 people in Amsterdam are registered with two marriages and two people are even registered with three.

The fact that bigamy and polygamy were commonly registered by the municipalities of the major cities despite a legal ban led to some fuss several months ago.  In Amsterdam the VVD asked for clarification and received the data for the first time in the Netherlands.  According to the current regulations, Amsterdam registers bigamous and polygamous marriages which are legal in the land of origin.  Whoever does the integration exam can't become a Dutch citizen as long as he's married to more than one spouse.

Of the 173 people with bigamous marriages, 31 have Dutch nationality in addition to their original nationality.  Having multiple spouses does not seem a hindrance to get Dutch citizenship, according to the answer of the Amsterdam city council to the VVD questions.

The mayors of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, the Hague and Utrecht think that people who get married with multiple women abroad should not be Dutch anymore.  They will send a letter to Dutch minister of justice Ernt Hirsch Ballin asking to change the law, according to mayor Job Cohen of Amsterdam in a response Friday to a written question from the VVD party in the capital.  Currently people who get married to multiple women in their land of origin can get Dutch nationality.  Dutch are forbidden from marrying multiple partners, also abroad.

Sources: Telegraaf, AD (Dutch)

See also: Netherlands: Statistics Netherlands to look at polygamous marriages

Germany: Two terror suspects arrested

German prosecutors said two men had been arrested on suspicion of links with the Pakistan-based Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), a group seen as a modern successor to al Qaeda.

Omid S, 27, an Afghan-born German national, and Huseyin O, also 27, a Turkish national, were taken into custody by federal police on Thursday, Sept. 18, in the Frankfurt area.

Both were accused of travelling to an IJU camp in the Afghan-Pakistan border area last year and taking supplies including binoculars, torches, and MP3 players to the remote camps.

A statement said they were associates of Adem Y, who was recently indicted for plotting car bomb attacks in Germany. Police arrested Yilmaz and two alleged co-conspirators last year before any attack occurred.

All the men were described as associates of the Islamist IJU, a shadowy Sunni Muslim group that is said to mimic the organization of al Qaeda a decade ago and which has been the main recent focus of German anti-terrorism inquiries.

A federal magistrate remanded the two arrested this week into custody on a charge of supporting a foreign terrorist organization and exporting arms of war.

Prosecutors said Pakistan security forces caught the Turkish national last year on his way to the camp and prevented him reaching it. Before his arrest, the other man, Y, had planned to visit the IJU camp this month.

Source: Deutsche Welle (English)

Italy: Exhibition marks Muslims who saved Jews in WW2

An exhibition commemorating Muslims who saved Jews during World War II opened the capital Rome this week during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Two Bosnian Muslims, three Albanians, two Turks and one Iranian are among those who under the Nazi occupation during World War II helped Jews escape arrest and transfer to concentration camps.

The aim of the exhibition is to "fight all the violent and radical tendencies that have unfortunately emerged in the name of religion and Islam in particular," said Khalid Chaouki, director of Minareto.it , an Italian Muslim web-portal.

The Italian Muslim Youth Association is organising the exhibition and a series of debates taking place in the historic Santa Cecilia convent in Rome's central Trastevere district.

The event runs until the end of Ramadan on 1 October.   

Source: AKI (English)

Denmark: Internal justice in Muslim communities

A parallel society where imams or other powerful people sentence delinquent Muslims and where the Danish state of law stands aside.  That is a reality in many places in the country, say several sources to Berlingske Tidende.

Police in the Vollsmose neighborhood of Odense revealed in Information magazine Saturday that about 90% of all complaints to the police are dropped.  Instead the conflicts are solved without the police and the courts.


The Information article is based on eyewitness reports, interviews with sources close to the pedophilia suspect and the imams in Vollsmose, community police and criminologists.  The attack occurred last fall, but the matter has been smouldering ever since.  [ed: the story is somewhat summarized].

Among Vollsemose's gray concrete buildings, a middle aged man and his three year old son get out of a car.  Hand in hand they go over to a little shopping center.  The man looks down as several of his acquaintances sit down in front of a halal-butcher.

Only when he's called, he forces his eyes up, and he sees a guy holding a silver-grey cellphone in his hand.

"Is this your voice on the recording?" calls the guy in Arabic.  He points the cellphone at the man.  "Is this your voice?"  The man looks surprised but finds the words.  "Yes, but it was just for fun, so won't you be sweet and delete it from your phone?"  Smiling the man reaches for the phone.

The smile disappears when he sees the man staring at him.   The man's arm tightens and he raises his voice , grabbing the other man's shirt.  From the greengrocer's a man comes out, grabs the little son's arm and brings him back to the car he's just come out of.  While the boy is flung inside, he father hits the asphalt, while he's kicked and beaten.

The curtains are pulled aside in the windows of the surrounding buildings.  More men come out.  The neighborhood boys receive SMSs that there are riots.  they come out fast and from all directions.  An audience which doesn't interfere in the drama.

After several minutes the beating stops.  The man lies still on the ground, but the cries continue around him.  He finally gets up and drags himself back to his car, turns the keys and backs out of the parking lot with his crying son in the backseat.

A recorded phone call has for some time gone around among residents of the Odense ghetto of Vollsmose.  The recording is of a conversation between a 10-year old boy and an adult man, both of Palestinian origin living in the neighborhood, where the man talks about the boys private parts, asks him when he will go out with him on a drive and ends by telling the boy not to speak about it.

But the name and sexual undertones were recorded on the boy's phone.  Like high-technology dominoes, the recording tumbled through bluetooth onto the closed, local network which exists among the residents of Vollsmose.  Suspicion of pedophilia spreads.

Many in Vollsmose are believing Muslims and according to the Koran and Arab tradition pedophilia is punished harshly.  Several times in the following weeks the residents take the law into their own hands and beat the man.  The police in the neighborhood isn't surprised since it's not the first time such things happen.

Torben Aagaard, a police agent in the local police station, says that many of the residents are used to having imams and older men take care of disagreements and therefore they don't turn to the police but find instead an alternative solution.

The case continues and the rumors buzz around.  The man will be hanged, according to some rumors.  He will have his nose cut off with shears, according to others.  He therefore flees to Germany on advice of both the police and close friends who seriously fear for his life.

The recording doesn't only bring up anger, but also memories.  Several witnesses tell the police how they can remember being abused by the man when they were children and he was their football coach.

The police start working on the case and begin to prepare a long report which they expect will be used to convict the suspect.

Several days later, about 40 Palestinian men meet in one of the houses in Vollsemose.  Three of Vollsmose's Arab imams are there: Abu Hassan, Abu Bashar and Abu Lahmin and they all start to debate the pedophilia suspect.

There are many opinions: that he was a pedophile for many years, that it can't be, that he should be kicked out of Vollsmose, that he should stay so that he doesn't attack children elsewhere, that he did it, that he's a good man, that he's sick.

After an hour's time, an older, highly-respected gentleman comes up with a suggestion, which is accepted by all.  Imam Abu Hassan, with his power as a religious authority, rewords the decision, adding citations from the Koran and speaks so long that nobody asks questions anymore.

The men agree that the suspect had never committed any other crime, and that some in the ghetto have certainly done it, which is worse.  People shouldn't throw stones if they live in an apartment with glass windows, stresses one of the participants.

The suspect can therefore stay in Vollsmose, when he comes home from Germany.  But he will know that what he's done is wrong.  Some think the man is sick and that the whole family needs support.  One of the imams will teach the family about Islam.

In the end the meeting decides that the case will be closed.  When people don't know the truth, they should let Allah find it.  Even the prophet didn't talk about things he didn't know the truth of, points out one of the imams.

The rumors, gossip and accusations will stop.  Already the same evening everybody will tell their family and friends that they should not talk more about the man and the suspicions.  The women will understand that they should not talk about it on the street corners and children shouldn't talk about it in the schoolyard.  The message of silence will also be spread at Friday prayers in the mosques of Vollsmose.

An hour and a half of heated sentencing.  the discussion is over.  The men leave the house in agreement and each go back to his own residence.

Among the concrete walls, men seldom turn with conflicts to the police.  The Danish punishment system is bureaucratic and slow compared with the powerful, local network.  When the police cases are finally closed there will always be a winner and a loser, a basis for new conflicts.

The imams in Vollsmose solve conflicts in a completely different way.  By reaching an agreement, the parties in the disagreement can shake hands and go their separate ways without being bitter.  the imams are called in day and night, and so conflicts are solved before they reach the police.

After the meeting the police had to give up the pedophilia case.  Several witnesses changed their statements.  They remembered wrong, they said about the humiliating experiences that they trust the police with a few days earlier.  The criminal police tells the local police that there is concrete evidence, but without evidence the accusation is insubstantial.

In Vollsmose the practice is so widespread that the police station today has implemented a new procedure for complaints.  In order to prevent work going to waste, they listen to what people have to say but ask them to come again the next day if they want to continue with lodging the complaint.  Most don't come again.

It's well known that people among some ethnic minorities of Arabic culture cultivate this type of local jurisprudence.

Anette Storgaard, a criminologist from Aarhus University, says that there's no research that shows that why it's linked.  But it's clear that religion can be an alternative source of law which determines what is a crime and what punishment should be given.  The dilemma starts when minorities choose their own interpretation of Islam instead of Danish law.

In Vollsmose the imams rules with their own interpretation of Islam and cultural traditions, the police therefore use many resources to remain a recognized authority in the community.  They dress in civil cloths and play pool in the youth club to convince the youth that they can trust the police.
Torben Aagaard says that in the past they had a reasonable view of what happened in the area, but after the police reform there aren't enough resources to keep tabs on what's happening.

Thirteen blocks away from the little local police station, a man comes out of a building and sees a "you will move out of here" spray-painted across from his house.  He quickly contacts a close friend and neighbor.  The friend says it's boy's tricks and they quickly make sure to remove the graffiti.  Nobody contacts the police.  Several in the area accepted the situation around the pedophilia suspect, but others still call him names or avoid talking to him.


Torben Aagard, a police agent working in the Odense neighborhood, says that there are criminals who are never punished by Danish law.  He says that there's a legal parallel society which makes it very hard for the police to do their job.  Naturally there are many who live by Danish law but as long as they don't dare file complaints against others, it's very hard to do anything.  He thinks money, honor, threats and sometimes also violence are used to try to solve conflicts internally within the Muslim communities.

Resident's chairman Mohammed Aslam from Mjølnerparken in Copenhagen confirms to Berlingske Tidende that the phenomenon of a law system without the police is extensive.  In Mjølnerparken people use a method where children and youth who have committed vandalism pay the aggrieved a settlement.

Mohammed Aslam says that it's meant to give the youth a chance, so they don't get into jail and become more criminal.   He stresses that he doesn't know that the phenomenon is organized and that he himself wouldn't get involved in serious cases such as the pedophilia case in Vollsmose.

Integration consultant Manu Sareen is appalled and says such things don't belong in a constitutional state, having several amateur judges in a basement.  Naturally it's ok for people to solve small disagreements on their own, but we're now seeing that people solve domestic violence, rapes etc.  It's not proper and is a very unfortunate development.  Manu Sareen thinks that imams send a bad message in particular to young immigrants not to rely on the police, the Danes and on the constitutional state in general.
He says that instead there's a need to show that Denmark is their land, and that the problems will be solved in a modern context.  Not through a strange, traditional access to society, he says and calls for more dialog between residents, police and social workers.

Imam Abu Bashar of Odense denies that punishments are given out.  He says it's 100% wrong.  Most of their work is about problems in families or between couples.  the imams get involved only in social problems and criminal problems are left to the police and the courts, he told DR.

According to Abu Bashar imams solve many forms of conflicts: neighborhood spats, problems between couples and other conflicts.  People respect what the imams say, but they don't think so of the police.  He didn't want to comment about violence but said that it's a part of the culture to listen to the imam and therefore imams have a lot of power, more than the police in some contexts.

Sources: Berlingske, Information 1, 2 (Danish)

Cologne: Anti-Islam rally canceled

German police Saturday canceled an anti-Islam congress organized by a far-right group on safety grounds in Cologne after the venue was blocked by opponents. Radical leftists also fought riot police on the streets.

A far-right group Pro-Cologne had called the rally to oppose a decision by local authorities in Cologne to allow the construction of a mosque with a high dome and minarets.

It invited nationalist groups from around Europe to join the "Stop Islam" rally to fight what it called the "Islamisation and immigration invasion" of Germany and Europe.

But only 50 supporters of the anti-immigrant group Pro Cologne managed to reach a city square for the scheduled rally against plans to construct a grand mosque in the German city.

An anti-right sit-down by 5,000 mostly peaceful demonstrators had blocked every entrance to the square. At the same time, police were fighting pitched battles with extreme leftists who tried to occupy the square.

The "Stop Islam" rally did start briefly, with more reporters than rightists attending but then city police declared the event illegal on public-safety grounds.

"The rally has been cancelled," a police spokesman said. The announcement sparked cheers from many protesters.

"The safety of our Cologne people has priority," said a police spokesman after ugly clashes between far-leftists and riot police.

The leftists, who were bent on occupying a city square set aside for the rightists to use, assaulted police and tried to snatch their pistols. Riot police advanced against them, swinging batons.

At Heumarkt, the square set aside for the rightists, the far left attacked roadblocks at several places and scuffled with riot police, but were repulsed.

"We had to crack down hard to avoid something worse happening," a police spokesman said. Reporters saw two men being detained. A police officer was hurt in the face when a firecracker was thrown at him.

Expecting trouble, riot police kept water-cannon trucks that can knock a man to the ground at 30 meters at the ready.

A police spokesman said the leftists were no longer attacking in small groups but in large formations.

Television images showed that only about 50 rightists managed to pass the blockade and enter the city square, where "no mosque" banners were hanging.


Source: Deutsche Welle (English)

Denmark: Satiric cartoon movie self-censured

A new, full-length Danish animation movie "The Trip to Saturn" will premier next Friday and it's not for the sensitive.  In the movie, which is an update and rewrite of the deceased cartoonist and author Claus Deleuran's album classics about a Danish space expedition, there's belching, farting and throwing up.  A series of scenes make fun of religious attitudes and beliefs.  In a scene which takes place in the Christian heaven, the Holy Spirit is peed on, while St. Peter kicks the unfaithful out through the Pearl Gates with curses and brimstones.  The only major character whose belief and convictions aren't derided is the Muslim character, Jamil, who's the cook in the space expedition.

Thirty year old Thorbjørn Christoffersen, one of the three directors of the film, says that it was completely intentional that the Muslim character is exempted from the sharp satire.  Attempts at it were given up by the film team already in the manuscript stage.  The reason was concern for the directors' own safety.

"It's unfortunately been impossible to make fun of the Muslims' religion. I think we make many jabs at the person Jamil in the film, but it's correct that we're not touching his belief.  It's simply too sensitive an area, that I can't take the responsibility to get involved.  I certainly need to think of both my family and my workplace.  I'm not a fighter, and I don't like to have raging Muslims knocking on my door," says Thorbjørn Christoffersen.

He nods affirmatively to the tragedy this involves.

"I 100% support that people should be able to make fun of everything.  but this is not about special consideration for Muslims, it's about consideration for myself and my family," says the director.

But how can the relationship between Danes and Muslim immigrants ever be different if everybody is too reluctant to treat them just as we treat ourselves?

"I don't see this as my or the film's problem.  I will not necessarily be a tool in a campaign, just because I make a cartoon film.  At the design studio we all felt concerned by threats against the Muhammed cartoonist, which I completely support, but at the current time I think that it will be dumb to repeat the demonstration.  Moreover, I don't believe in the confrontation model, as I believe that the Muslims with enough time will adapt to Denmark's standards," says Thorbjørn Christoffersen.

Author Kaare Bluitgen was an indirect cause for the Muhammed crisis, when he couldn't find an artist who dared illustrate his book about the Muslim prophet.  Kaare Bluitgen called Thorbjørn Christoffersen's attitude 'disappointing', since he thinks that Claus Deleuran himself would have made a good satire of both Christians and Muslims.

"I am sure that if Claus Deleuren would have lived today he would have made the 13th Muhammed cartoon, and it would have been the funniest of them all.  Therefore it disappoints me if people push political correctness even here."

Former culture minister and current justice minister Brian Mikkelsen thinks self-censure is 'sad'.

"It's sad it it's become so that individual artists censure themselves out of fear of religious fanatics.  We have in Dnemark a strong and good tradition of satire, also in connection with religious subjects.  And we should hold fast to it," says Brian Mikkelsen.

Source: Berlingske (Danish), h/t Veritas Universalis

Anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim attitudes increasing in Europe

Anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim attitudes have been rising nearly in tandem in several European countries, apparently reflecting concerns over immigration, globalization and economic ills, according to a new international survey.

Anti-Jewish feelings were particularly strong in Spain, Poland and Russia - with negativity up significantly since 2006, according to the Pew Research Center's polling. Anti-Muslim views were also strong in those three countries, as well as in Germany and France.

"There is a clear relationship between anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim attitudes," said the report from Pew, released Wednesday. "Publics that view Jews unfavorably also tend to see Muslims in a negative light."


In Europe, negative views of Jews and Muslims were strongest among older people, the less educated and those of the political right.

In some countries, including Germany, negative feelings toward Jews had risen along with favorable feelings - fewer people were left undecided.

Moreover, positive views toward Jews outweighed negative ones in every European country surveyed but Spain.

Still, 46 percent of the Spanish held negative opinions of Jews, as did 36 percent of Poles and 34 percent of Russians. The three countries on average were 6 points more negative than in 2006.

"There may be some backlash toward minority groups going on in Europe as a consequence of the EU's expansion and globalization," said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center. As for the Spanish, "I think they're on the cutting edge of globalization - with Muslim immigrants" in large numbers.

In contrast to the other countries, 77 percent of Americans held favorable views toward Jews, compared with 7 percent unfavorable. Britain stood out among Europeans, with 73 percent favorable toward Jews, compared with 9 percent unfavorable.

Views of Muslims tended to be more negative than those of Jews.

Fully half of the Spanish and Germans surveyed had unfavorable opinions of Muslims, as did nearly half the Poles and 32 percent of Russians.

One in four British and American respondents had negative views of Muslims.

There seemed to be a closer correlation with immigration and economic trends in the most negative societies than with the size of resident Jewish or Muslim populations. Germany and France have large Muslim populations, while Poland has a small one. Spain has a tiny Jewish population.


Source: IHT (English), Pew report

Netherlands: 'Moroccans are colonizing the Netherlands'

Update: Klein Verzet reports Dutch TV pulled the plug on Wilders speech. The speech itself as broadcast on TV can be seen here (in Dutch)

Moroccans are colonizing the Netherlands, Geert Wilders argued Wednesday during a session of parliament. According to Wilders the Moroccans did not come to integrate, "but in order to subjugate and dominate the Dutch."

"We are losing our land to the Moroccan scum who go through life cursing, spitting and hitting innocent people," according to Wilders. "They accept all too happily our benefits, houses and doctors, but not our standards and values."

According to GroenLinks head Femke Halsema, Wilders again reached "a high point of radicalism" with his statements. She called his positions "unethical and untenable.'

According to Wilders there are 'two Netherlands'. the Netherlands of the cabinet is one of "insane climate hysteria and the unstoppable Islamization."

The other Netherlands, "my Netherlands," he says, "is that of the people who pay the bills and are robbed and threatened by Islamic street terrorists."

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

Aarhus: Study cafes send birthday cake home

Thinking creatively, when the successful Aarhus study-cafes celebrated their ten year anniversary, they ensured that Muslim children will get their piece of cake despite the fast.

When the study-cafes in Aarhus celebrated their birthday together with cake and soft drinks, they paid attention to the children who couldn't enjoy the sweets due to the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.  In steady they got a lunchbox, so the cake can be enjoyed at home in the evening.

The Aarhus municipality started off the study-cafe at the Gellerup library ten years ago.  Since then it has been extended to seven libraries.

"The study cafes are for everybody.  The birthday must also naturally be so.  I am therefore happy that a way was found so that everybody can celebrate the day," says the councillor for culture and citizen service Flemming Knudsen.

"Authorized" cake-boxes were purchased with the logo of the study-cafes.  The family can therefore take a piece of cake home and celebrate the anniversary at home in the evening.

Source: Berlingske (Danish)

See also: Odense: Against students fasting

Denmark: Danish-Muslim fashion house

New Danish designs for Muslim women combine the traditional headscarf with modern Western designs - but also send a signal to Danish politicians as well as Muslim fundamentalists that women should be free to wear a headscarf as they want.

How in the world can somebody combine ancient and traditional head covering with the latest new fashions from the western world's catwalks? That was the question which inspired 28-year old designer and color consultant Samar Safar to develop a design concept for Muslim women who wish to wear a headscarf, but at the same time, want to look hip and modern in their clothing.

Today she runs "Islamic Moon" - an internet based design company, which as the first of its type in Denmark offers designs which can be worn either with or without a Muslim headscarf - hijab.

"Many of my designs can be quickly adjusted, so the women can have the hijab on when they are out, but then let their hair out when they are home or visiting family. In this way the design adapts Muslim culture at the same time that it takes into account the individual woman's wish for clothing. For example fit, color and cut" says Samar Safar.

The young designer, who is of Palestinian origins but was raised in Denmark, began to wear a headscarf when she was 15. Samar Safar has linked the headscarf with beauty and womanhood since she was quite little. And when she herself was on her way to becoming a grown woman, she saw it as completely natural to wear a headscarf.

"It was my own choice, and my parents were then also wildly surprised, when I suddenly stood before them in my headscarf. I don't think they had expected it, but they backed me up," Samar Safar says.

Women's right to choose on their own is an important point for the young woman. The design company's site says "Hijab is your right - your choice - your freedom." And according to Samar Safar this is the message for everybody who gets involved in the headscarf debate - Muslims and Danes, to step back and let the women choose on their own.

"For me it's about giving women the possibility to choose on their own. Neither Danish politicians nor Muslim fundamentalists should decide for them, but the woman on her own, if it's right for her to wear a hijab or if it's right for her to drop it" says the designer.

In Samar Safar's company, the women make the decision. If they don't want a design with a headscarf, then Samar Safar gladly designs it without one. She has not yet been asked to design a burka, but won't reject the task.

"As a designer it's certainly my task to accommodate the customer's wishes," she says and adds, "There are two basic interpretation of hijab: complete covering, where also the face is hidden - the so-called niqab - and partial covering, where both the face and hands are visible. It's only a small minority which profess the first version, so it's clear that I engage most with the latter. And here it's just fantasy which limits the pattern, colors and style. It should never be dreary to go with a headscarf," says Samar Safar.

Source: Kristeligt Dagblad,
Islamic Moon(Danish)

UK: MP calls on Muslims to drop 'victim mentality'

British Muslims are guilty of a "victim mentality" and should take greater responsibility for their lives, a Muslim Labour MP has argued.

Sadiq Khan also said more British Muslims must tackle sexism, learn English and condemn forced marriages.

The representative for Tooting, south London, made his comments in a report for the Fabian Society think tank.

Muslim youth organisation the Ramadhan Foundation said Mr Khan was out of touch with grassroots Muslims.

'Liberal anxiety'

In his report, entitled Fairness, Not Favours, Mr Khan said: "We need to take more responsibility for our own families, ignore those who propagate conspiracy theories, and above all we need to leave behind our victim mentality.

"We must all agree that honour killings are murder and forced marriages are kidnapping. These traditions have no place here or anywhere."

He also claimed that Muslims in Britain are pre-occupied by foreign policy and not concerned enough about day-to-day political issues.

"Muslims need to recognise childcare is as important as Kashmir," he said.

Assistant whip Mr Khan said there was no question that people coming to live in Britain should learn English and he criticised "liberal anxiety" about the issue.

"The requirement to learn English is not colonial. English is a passport to participation in mainstream society - jobs, education and even being able to use health services," he said.

"Having poor English creates multiple barriers to work; it decreases your confidence, makes it harder to gain other skills and qualifications and increases the likelihood of unemployment and your withdrawal from the labour market."


Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, said the "real issues" holding Muslims back were "poverty, crime, racism and Islamophobia".

He said: "We do not have a victim mentality but are victims of this government's failure to deal with real issues, issues around poverty, tackling the underlying causes of why there is terrorism in this country."

He said the Ramadhan Foundation had a long history of opposing forced marriages and so-called honour killings.


Source: BBC (English)

Rotterdam: Concern about girls disappearing

The city of Rotterdam is concerned about immigrant girls who had not returned to school after the summer vacation.

The City Board will investigate how many such cases there are and if they had been married off against their will in their homeland.

The PvdA even wants the municipality to find the girls in their homeland, in case they need help there.  "It can be that everything is ok, but also that such a girl languishes sadly because she was forced to marry somebody," says party chairperson Peter van Heemst.

It's unclear how big is the problem of minor girls who have been married abroad.  But almost every Rotterdam school is aware of cases of girls between 14 and 16 who have not returned to school after a vacation for this reason.  Often it's girls from countries such as Pakistan, Turkey and Morocco.

According to Frans Roozen of the Albeda College it's a "relatively small number of cases in recent years" in his school.  "As a school there is little you can do against it.  It's very complicated to act against it: so somebody is simply not here anymore."

Peter van Heemst wants to do more to help those girls abroad.  "You could for example, with help of the embassy there, also drop in by these children."  Van Heemst thinks that the girls must know that people pay attention to their fate.  Should a girl want to come back, this would help her.

Source: AD (Dutch)

Netherlands: Proposal to register ethnic background of criminals

Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst has proposed allowing police and judicial authorities to register the ethnic background of criminals.

In an interview with the Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool, the minister said the police and Public Prosecutor's Office should be able to report the ethnic background of suspects.

At the moment, the Netherlands only registers the nationality or the birthplace of suspects, but the children of immigrants are "invisible" as far as background is concerned.

Trouw reports that linking crime and ethnicity is extremely controversial as it allegedly stigmatises foreigners and second and third generation Dutch nationals.

Ter Horst said she does not believe that this would stigmatise certain ethnic groups, nor should it be seen in a negative light. "I remember that when I did research in dentistry in the 1970s we ascertained that Turkish and Moroccan children had many more cavities. We then thought up a questionnaire. It wasn't allowed. It was discriminatory because it was directed at a certain group. That's terrible, isn't it?"

"If you want to solve a problem you have to know who is causing it. And if in Amsterdam it's mostly Moroccans, then you have to give it a name. Otherwise you lose information. Moreover, you can also get the Moroccan community involved."

She said the registration should be seen as "a neutral target group analysis".

The Social and Cultural Planning Office, which is currently studying the need for registration according to ethnic background, will report in December to Integration Ella Vogelaar on the advisability of the idea.


Source: Expatica (English)

Norway: New religion class books drop Christian date count

New schoolbooks by Cappelen Damm publishers "We in the world" (Vi i verden) for the new religion class in elementary schools uses "before the common era" and "after the common era" instead of "before Christ" and "after Christ".


Shoaib Sultan, general secretary of the Islamic council, doesn't support the new term. "I think it's unfortunate.  People try to hide the meaning of something important because it has a religious background.  It's certainly not an implementation of a new date count, it continues to be based on Christ, and people should say that," says Sultan to Dagbladet.no.

He also thinks that the term "common" era is not less discriminating.  "For something to be common something else must be uncommon.  The new term signals that other date counts aren't the right ones."

The general secretary thinks it's misunderstood that people of other religious backgrounds feel offended by Christian references in Norwegian society.

"It's important that all religions are respected and that all get to have their religious holidays.  Norway has a Christian culture and history and everybody should understand that.  It shouldn't change by adapting itself otherwise which sends wrong signals," says Sultan.

He advises against being so zealous on respecting other religions that people give different treatment and instead attack Christianity.

"For example, Christmas is celebrated with a religious background, and people should support it.  it's misunderstood that it's neutral by camouflaging it's background."

Source: Dagbladet (Norwegian)

Sweden: Looking for a polygamous marriage

Polygamy might be illegal in Sweden, but e-muslim, an Muslim online meeting website, is openly advertising it.

According to e-muslim's statistics 50 out of the 400 members count themselves 'polygamy friendly'. A handful of married men are registered as looking for a wife though not all of them bothered filling in their attitude towards polygamy.

See also: Sweden: Supreme court judge supports polygamy and incest, Sweden: Muslims required to divorce according to Sharia law, EU: Simplifying divorces could lead to promotion of sharia law

Copenhagen: Turf wars continue

Police are putting more officers on the street and have declared the whole of Copenhagen a 'search zone'. (EN)


Two men narrowly escaped being hit last night when between 15 and 20 shots were fired in the Nørrebro district of Copenhagen in what appears to be a turf war between immigrant gangs and the Hell's Angels biker organization.

The two men were sitting on a bench when bursts of fire were shot through a passageway leading to Jægersborggade street.


Deputy Chief Superintendant Poul B. Hansen of the Copenhagen Police said the shots were in all probability 'a hefty signal to bikers' who hang out nearby and run the cannabis trade in the area.

Shots were fired from 50 metres in what Hansen said was close to attempted homicide if attackers had actually seen the two men on the bench.

Several cars were hit by the shots and impact marks were found in a wall in Jægersborggade street.


Source: Politiken (English)

See also: Denmark: Gang demonstrations

Germany: New appointee for Islam studies training

After a revolt by German Muslims, a university is to appoint a new professor to oversee the training of school teachers in Islamic religious studies, officials said Tuesday.

Muslim organizations said last week they had lost confidence in Professor Muhammad Kalisch, the theologian who oversaw a teacher-training program at the University of Muenster in northern Germany.

Kalisch upset the Muslim community by writing that there was no historical evidence that the Prophet Mohammed existed.

The state of North-Rhine Westphalia said it would accelerate plans to set up a new chair of Islamic education at the university.

Kalisch would keep his professorship but the newcomer would head the training courses.

Germany is preparing to introduce Islam classes for Muslim children in public schools.

The state higher education ministry in Dusseldorf said the appointments process for the new chair would be completed soon, adding that the new chair had been authorized in 2007 but had not yet been filled.

There would be close consultation with the mosque federations over the appointment, a spokesman said.

The appointment is seen as a face-saving way out of the dispute since German university authorities never sack professors on the grounds of public criticism.

A university spokesman praised the outcome, saying Kalisch's field was Islamic theology, not teacher training, and he had not been intended to run the program for teachers.

An estimated 3.3 million people of Muslim background live in Germany, 1.8 million of them Turks.

Source: Expatica (English)

See also: Germany: Muslim groups cut ties to professor of Islam

Italy: Proposal for imams register, mosque referendum

An Italian minister has proposed a register of imams in Italy in order to control the construction of mosques and a referendum to integrate new places or worship in a social and urban context.

Andrea Ronchi, European Affairs Minister, and member of the rightist National Alliance party, proposed the move on Tuesday in what he called a bid to improve interreligious dialogue.

Ronchi also wants to restart dialogue between Muslims and institutions such as the state-backed Islamic Council or Consulta per l'Islam.

However, Ronchi said he did not want Italy's largest Muslim group, the Union of Islamic Communities of Italy (UCOII) to take part in the initiative, calling them "the real exponents of non-dialogue".

"We do not speak to those who deny the existence of Israel," he said.

Ronchi announced his proposal after meeting the vice-president of the Italian Islamic Religious Community (COREIS), Yahya Pallavicini.

Ronchi said that there should be no limit to the existence of mosques in Italy but they should be managed in a transparent manner and included in a national register.

"We need to put a stop to mosques being hurriedly built, without the consensus of the community. We need to match them with the reality of the place," said Ronchi.

The initiative has already been carried out by COREIS, which has trained 20 Italian-speaking imams.

Italy's rightist Northern League, allied to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi wants to limit the growth of Islam and block the construction of mosques through strict new regulations.

Source: AKI (English)

See also: Italy: Northern League seeks to block mosque building

UK: MP proposes new religious discrimination law

A minister has called for the Government to introduce a new religious discrimination law which would require public bodies to have a legal duty to promote equality between faiths, to reassure Britain's Muslims that they are not second-class citizens.

Sadiq Khan, a government whip, wants a forthcoming Single Equality Bill aimed at stamping out discrimination on grounds of sex, race, gender and disability to include religion. He also calls for "Islamophobia in the workplace" to be tackled.

Under his proposal, public bodies would have to be proactive in tackling religious discrimination. The Equality and Human Rights Commission, chaired by Trevor Phillips, would issue guidance and codes of practice. "This would not apply exclusively to British Muslims, but it would make a significant difference to the experience of members of this community who, because of socio-economic status, are particularly reliant on public services," Mr Khan says.

The Tooting MP, one of four Muslim Labour MPs, makes his controversial call in a Fabian Society pamphlet, Fairness not Favours, published today. He says a proactive approach to prevent religious discrimination would balance "harder edged" measures such as "clampdowns" on immigration and security and undercut attempts by Muslim extremists to exploit social disadvantage.

Mr Khan wants to break down religious barriers and argues strongly that Britain's Muslims must change, too. He urges them to forget about the Iraq war; give their women more freedom and use their charities to help white poor people. He also calls for imams to stress the importance of parental participation in schools and says everyone should learn English.


Source: Independent (English)

Rotterdam: Police agent fired for spying

The Moroccan secret service arrested quite a few European Moroccans over the past couple of years for terrorism activities.  It would be surprising if the North African secret services were not trying to keep an eye on their radicalizing citizens in Europe. 


A Moroccan agent of the Rotterdam-Rijnmond police department was fired for having spied for the Moroccan secret service.  Brigadier Re L. regularly appeared on behalf of the the department since he was in charge of a successful program for finding a job for young Moroccans.

His project appeared in the news in February when Re L. gave out diplomas to the participants of the project together with princess Maxima.  The princess had officially linked her name to the job program.

The spying was reveals when the security service AIVD got a tip about the agent in the spring.  The suspicion was that he handed over police information to the secret service of Morocco.  The AIVD investigated the case and sent a notice to the police, which immediately started an internal investigation.  According to a police spokesperson this showed that there was 'serious neglect of duty', which was reason for the dismissal.

According to the public prosecution L will not be prosecuted since there is not enough evidence to pursue a successful criminal case.

The police did not say anything about the possible motive of the agent.

According to a colleague of L., who preferred to stay anonymous, nobody within the department had noticed anything about the suspected spying.  L. had been working by the Rijnmond police since 1991.  "This came to us like lighting from the blue."  The agent, who still works for the Rijnmond police says he's never dealt with anything similar.  "This is really unique, Re is a special case."

Source: AD (Dutch)

Norway: Alcohol as an obstacle for integration

The International Health and Social Group (IHSG) is arranging an evening at the Central Jammat-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat mosque in Oslo on Sep. 24th.  The theme of the evening is alcohol policy in an inclusive perspective.

"In Norwegian culture is almost provocative not to drink alcohol.  Norway is a multicultural society.  Are all groups really included?  Muslims make up a large part of the population in Norway, but how does society enable social inclusion?"

"What's so provocative about our drinking?"

"It's provocative that people aren't part of the group.  When somebody sits there and is completely sober and all others are drinking, there's pressure to drink.  'Are you afraid of your parents?  Are you a coward who doesn't dare try it?' are typical questions," says Fahim Naeem of IHSG to iOslo.no.

Muslims are not allowed to partake of alcohol in any way, and most Norwegian are aware of this, he thinks.

"In the invitation to this evening Norwegian alcohol habits are portrayed as an obstacle for the integration of Muslims.  What do you mean by that?"

"For Muslim youth it's a restriction.  We see that it can be hard for them, as most Muslims don't drink.  but if moderate amounts are drunk around them, it's good.  The problem is that many become a little insistent and the Muslim youth will feel a little uneasy," he says.

It's not a state secret that many Muslims drink alcohol on par with other Norwegians. Naeem recognizes that, but says it's completely forbidden.

"They get problems at home, if they're discovered."

"But can't it be part of integration that Muslims go out to town to dance and enjoy themselves - also with a couple of beers?"

"No, I don't think so."

"Integration takes place also during leisure time, in the city, out on the town and in cafes.  How can people solve this problem?

"Muslims want to have alcohol free days in discos.  There should be some days when people can go to restaurants and discos where there's a total ban on alcohol," says Naeem.

Hege Storhaug of Human Rights Service rejects such a proposal.  "

"All the time they have special rules, and we reject special requirements.  We get a split up society and Islam get more place in the public sphere.  people force religious opinions on others.  In the most extreme consequence it leads to the Islamization of society," says Storhaug to iOslo.no.  

"All the time it's Muslims who come with special requirements.  We never hear a peep from Catholics, Jews, Hindus etc."

"Can it be a type of integration that Muslim youth actually go out to town and drink a couple of beer?"

"Yes, I actually think that's very alright.  Naturally.  I think it is nice if they are involved in sports, in different organizations and that they are a normal part of society.  I am against ghettoizing of society," she says.

Storhaug applauds the proposal for Muslims to go to discos, bars and restaurants with their leaders' blessings.

"Yes, if they will have alcohol-free discos, then the question is: does that mean that Muslim girls will get to go out and dance and meet people," she asks.

Source: Nettavisen (Norwegian)

See also: Norway: Muslim russ

Germany: Germans see large mosques as provocation

Many German think that mosques which are bigger than churches are a provocation.  This according to a debate which has started up again, after authorities gave their permission to the building of one of Europe's largest mosques in the city of Cologne.

While Cologne's conservative mayor, Fritz Schramma, strongly defends the buildings, his own party members have decided to oppose the projects, because they regard the building as a show of force from the side of the Muslims.

The mosque, which will be in the Ehrenfeld neighborhood, is so large it will be the most dominating building in the area.

Some of the sharpest protests came from immigrants who have turned their back on Islam.

"I can understand it if the citizens in Ehrenfeld see the new mosque as a distasteful show of power from the Muslim side," says for example Seyran Ates, who was born in Turkey.  In recent years she has thought for the rights of Muslim women in divorces and is also a member of the Islam-critical organization Ex-Muslims Central Council in Germany.

A similar debate already took place a year ago.  The then minister-president of Bavaria, conservative Edmund Stoiber, then required that cathedrals should continue to be taller than mosques.  His argument was that Christian Germans still make up a majority of the population and the country's leading culture is pervaded by Christianity.

This attitude is now supported also by representatives of another religious minority in Germany, the Jews.  The vice president of the Jewish Central Council in Germany, Salomon Korn, calls on Muslims to take into consideration the feeling of the population and to renounced buildings which cause the Germans irritations.

"For most Germany mosques look like exotic buildings and minarets are striking as ruling symbols," says Salomon Korn in an interview to newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau. He thinks that Muslims should get more modern mosques, that do not have the same form as traditional mosques.

The new mosque in Cologne will have two 55 meter high minarets and a large dome which is 35 meter high.  The dome will look like a see-through globe, so it will be possible to see into the mosque, which according to newspaper Die Zeit is a symbol of Muslim's openness towards the world.

Famous sociologist and Islam critic Necla Kelek, who herself comes from an orthodox Muslim family in Turkey, interprets the architecture differently.

"The globe is a symbol of conquest, and people can see the dome and the minarets as a Muslim demand to get world domination," she says.

Formerly Muslim congregations often had to pray in slums.  Now Germany is experiencing a downright building boom of mosques and different Muslims and politicians see this development as a sign that Muslims are integrating and becoming part of Germany society.

Ali Kizilkaya, spokesperson for the largest association of Muslim organizations, The Muslim Coordinating Council, is happy that the mosque in Cologne can now be built.

"It's an important signal that Muslims in Germany have a right to build dignified prayer houses.  Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble said that Muslims are part of German society and so mosques are also part of Germany," says Ali Kizilkaye.

Critics of the mosques, on the other hand, see the building's size as evidence that Muslims don't want to integrate.

"In these mosques lie the seeds for a parallel society.  We have already seen that particularly large mosques develop into their own cities, own Medinas," says Necla Kelek.

Famous humanist and atheist Ralpf Giordano agrees.

"The building permit is an anti-integration decision.  Just the mosque's size shows that Muslims are demanding power," he told TV station WDR.

Both the Catholic and Evangelical churches, on the other hand, officially support the building of mosques in Germany.  The Evangelical church in Cologne has also expressed joy that Muslim fellow citizens will have a dignified place to practice their faith.

Unofficially it looks differently.  Particularly in the Catholic church there is a lot of resistance against the new, large mosques.  Different forces in the church attempt to create a link between Muslim rights in the West and Christian rights in Muslim countries.  Cologne's cardinal, Joachim Meisner, had demanded, for example, that the Muslims in Germany start fighting for Christian rights in Muslims countries in return for the mosques they have been allowed to build here.

Augsburg's bishop, Walter Mixa, had warned the authorities against allowing such large buildings as the mosque in Cologne.

"In countries which are mainly pervaded by Muslim culture, Christian really have no rights, and therefore we shouldn't allow mosques with pompous minarets in Germany.  In a Christian society it's enough if the Muslims have a place where they can hold prayers," says Walter Mixa.

Journalist Rolf Krüger, journalist and head of a Christian Internet portal, estimates on the other hand, that it's much better for Germany's security, if slum mosques disappear and the congregations come out in daylight.

"That which we really are most afraid or, is not Islam's power, but on the contrary the fear of admitting that Christianity at the moment is the weakest in Europe," he writes as commentary to the debate about the large mosques.

Source: Kristeligt Dagblad (Danish)