UK: Muslim peer pelted with eggs

UK: Muslim peer pelted with eggs

Conservative peer Baroness Warsi of Dewsbury, named Britain's most powerful Muslim woman, has been pelted with eggs during a visit to Luton.

Baroness Warsi was taking part in a walkabout in the predominantly Muslim Bury Park area of Luton when she was confronted by a group of protesters.

The male protesters accused her of not being a proper Muslim and supporting the death of Muslims in Afghanistan.

Baroness Warsi, who was hit by at least one egg, debated with the men.

The shadow minister for community cohesion and social action was then taken into a nearby shop.

Baroness Warsi told the BBC that the men were "idiots who did not represent the majority of British Muslims".

She said these type of protesters "bring Muslims into huge disrepute".

"I stood up to this group and said I challenge your views," she told BBC News.

"They just weren't prepared to listen. They shouted. I said if you want to have this debate, listen."

She continued her walkabout with a police escort.

One of the protesters against Baroness Warsi, Sayful Islam, told the BBC they were "against everything she stands for".

He said: "She is not a practising Muslim. Clearly by looking at her she does not represent Muslims."


Source: BBC (English)

Quote: Is it racism for the Dutch to want their nation to stay Dutch?

Quote: Is it racism for the Dutch to want their nation to stay Dutch?

Jim Prevor, at the Weekly Standard, discusses the national identity point.

The larger question, though, is whether a nation is any more than a geographic entity. If some Parisian Rip Van Winkle wakes up one distant morning and finds himself in a nation that speaks Arabic, where the people are Muslim, food is by law halal and the government follows Sharia law. Is that fellow still, in any meaningful sense, in France?

Is it simple racism for, say, the Dutch to want their nation to stay Dutch -- not just in terms of geography -- in terms of language, food, religion, government, architecture and all the things that make up a culture?

Switzerland is small and whether minarets are built there is of little importance. The issue, though, is whether it is a legitimate aspiration of a people to want to maintain a nation as a home for a certain people.

Minaret Vote: Muslim reactions

Minaret Vote: Muslim reactions

Various reactions from European Muslims.

See also
* European Right: Let's all ban minarets (Support and condemnation from across Europe)
* Quote: "Islam is by now a Swiss and a European religion" ( Tariq Ramadan)

Muhammad Abdul Bari of the Muslim Council of Britain also makes the point made by Tariq Ramadan: "Mosques and minarets in our European cities are manifestations of the proudly indigenous nature of Islam in Europe".


The imam of the biggest mosque in Switzerland called on all the Muslims in the world to respect the verdict of the Swiss about the banning of new minarets. Any statement in which the verdict is rejected would harm the Muslim community, imam Youssef Ibram of the Geneva mosque said on Monday.

He called the Muslim to be calm. "It will not help to abandon trade with Switzerland or to break contacts with the country," says Ibram. "The Muslims should show respect without accepting the verdict. They should respect the decision of the Swiss. Otherwise we will be the first victims," said the imam.


The president of Zurich's Association of Muslim Organisations, Tamir Hadjipolu, told the BBC: "This will cause major problems because during this campaign mosques were attacked, which we never experienced in 40 years in Switzerland.

"Islamaphobia has increased intensively."


Swiss Muslims, who come mainly from the Balkans and Turkey, reacted with sorrow. "The most painful thing for us is not the ban on minarets, but the symbol sent by this vote," said Farhad Afshar, leader of the Swiss Coordination of Islamic Organisations. "Muslims do not feel accepted as a religious community," he said.


The rector of the great mosque in Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, who has contacts with other Muslim leaders, said the the decision caused surprise, dismay and disbelief among Muslims in Europe.

"The result of the referendum is an expression of Islamophobia and we don't understand it. Nobody had expected this 'no' to minarets. It's a sight that the Swiss confuse a peaceful practice of Islam and militant Islamism," says Dalil Boubakeur.

The referendum results has already lead to demonstration in several parts of Switzerland, in Bern and Zurich, and more protests are in wait, says Boubakeur.

"In France this means additional difficulties for building the mosque in Marseille," says Boubakeur.

Switzerland is afraid of boycotts and suffering economically, but Boubakeur doesn't think that the wealthy Muslims would leave Swiss banks. "Switzerland didn't insult Muslims and do not intend to destroy existing minarets. The problem is that distrust has increased," he says.

United Kingdom

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) Monday condemned as "tragic and deplorable" the Swiss vote on banning of minarets in the alpine country. The vote revealed the extent to which far-right racist groups were "winning the battle of ideas on the future of Europe," MCB secretary general Muhammad Abdul Bari said in a statement.

"The Swiss referendum results show how far and how quickly Europe is moving in the wrong direction in its attitudes and policies towards Muslims and other minority groups in Europe," he said.

"Mosques and minarets in our European cities are manifestations of the proudly indigenous nature of Islam in Europe. It is tragic that the far right is stripping away at our illustrious heritage of coexistence between different faiths and cultures in Europe and replacing it with their warped and xenophobic outlook," said Bari.

"This is no less than a battle of ideas for the future of a plural and progressive Europe," he added.


Mahmoud Aldebe of the Swedish Muslim Assocation regrets the Swiss decision.

"The relationship with the Muslim world and Switzerland will be affected very negatively. I think that people will see Switzerland in a different way than in the past - netural and free. Now people see taht there's a lot of xenophobia and racism that somehow creeps in among the people there. But there's lacking much, much knowledge about Muslims and it is perhaps our fault that we aren't capable of informing about Islam and Muslims in a way that others can grasp and understand."

Q: How do you respond when things get like this? Are you sad, or ...?

A: I'm very sad because minarets don't harm anyone. On the contrary, they are good for the surrounding, a variety in the surrounding, and this is about the same as if one would say to Christians that the next step will be to ban also church bells in a referendum. Would you be happy or sad, though the clocks make more noise than minarets. So natrually it's very sad when one hears of a referendum like this," says Mahmod Aldebe.

FIOE - Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (Brussels)

The referendum in Switzerland on places of worship is a sad setback to the obligations regarding religious freedom

The message of hate directed at Muslims is seriously troubling, and must be renounced and remedied

With great sadness, the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) received the results of the referendum carried out in Switzerland on Sunday, 29 November 2009. The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe considers this an unfortunate retreat from the obligations of protecting religious freedom and human rights, not in keeping with Switzerland's standing and values.

No doubt, that well before that, the mere idea of putting issues related to religious freedom and human rights to vote is quite unacceptable and unjustifiable. Furthermore, the situation where the majority votes on issues related to the rights of the minority is fundamentally at odds with the spirit of democracy, which cannot be allowed to be used as an open door to incitement, and an excuse to pit citizens against their fellow partners in society.

The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe has followed with deep disquiet, the events of the past months and weeks in Switzerland—the charging of Swiss public opinion against Muslims, and feeding selective racism and political extremism, in a clear gamble on disturbing the stability of that society, under the pretext of banning minarets.

These developments are cause for serious worry, and indicate a state of retreat, in some European countries, in fundamental rights and religious freedoms. This is what requires revision and treatment at all levels. We consider the inflammatory campaigns that took place, as undermining the values, which Switzerland and European societies value above all else. It is worth noting that such campaigns, which feed a culture of extremism and bigotry are a disservice to any country regardless, or any society that prides itself on upholding human values, and moral obligations.

On this occasion, we invite officials, public opinion leaders, human rights organisations, and civic society institutions to work towards preserving civil liberties, and confront the results of this vote, which restricts the rights of Muslims to practise their religion.

We are also confident that Muslims in Switzerland shall remain ever concerned, as do their partners in society, with reinforcing the foundations of consensus, and pillars of harmony that must not be eroded, or surrendered under whatever pretext.

Sources: Trouw (Dutch); SR 1, 2 (Swedish); BBC, Times, Earth Times (English)

Amnesty: Minaret ban won't make it into law

Amnesty: Minaret ban won't make it into law

The Swiss referendum calling for a ban on the building of mosques with minarets is unlikely to make it into law. This is the view of the human rights group Amnesty International.

Nicole Sprokel from the Dutch arm of Amnesty says she does not expect the ban on minarets to become law as it contravenes the Swiss constitution:

"It is a violation of religious freedom of course, but it also discriminates because the measure affects one group."

Ms Sprokel thinks Switzerland's own legislation will prevent the ban from being introduced. If that doesn't happen she says the matter could be taken to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.


Source: RNW (English)

Quote: "Islam is by now a Swiss and a European religion"

Quote: "Islam is by now a Swiss and a European religion"

I agree with Tariq Ramadan on one point here: the message of this referendum is that the Swiss don't want to see the Muslims. But his conclusion is exactly what the Swiss fear. Islam might be a religion in Switzerland, just as other minority religions, but it is not a 'Swiss religion".

Muslims want full equality, but the Swiss are only willing to give them 'minority' status.

Ramadan's incomprehension can be seen in the example he gives:

The minarets are but a pretext – the UDC wanted first to launch a campaign against the traditional Islamic methods of slaughtering animals but were afraid of testing the sensitivity of Swiss Jews, and instead turned their sights on the minaret as a suitable symbol.

He's right, of course, the minarets are just a pretext, but I'm surprised that he's not aware that kosher slaughter has been banned in Switzerland for more than a century, and they're now considering banning importing kosher slaughtered meat into the country as well.

The original reason for the ban was simple:

At the time, Jews had recently been granted full civil rights and some Swiss citizens feared an invasion of Jewish migrants from Eastern Europe, who they considered to be unassimilable, foreign and unreliable. By banning the performance of a core Jewish ritual, the Swiss people found a disguised way to limit the immigration of Jews into Switzerland

Tariq Ramadan is fooling himself when he thinks that what Judaism couldn't do in hundreds of years of being in Europe, Islam could do within the short span of a couple of generations. The more Muslims assert that "Islam is Swiss", the more the Swiss are going to actively reject the notion.


Tariq Ramadan in the Guardian:

The campaign against the minarets was fuelled by just these anxieties and allegations. Voters were drawn to the cause by a manipulative appeal to popular fears and emotions. Posters featured a woman wearing a burka with the minarets drawn as weapons on a colonised Swiss flag. The claim was made that Islam is fundamentally incompatible with Swiss values. (The UDC has in the past demanded my citizenship be revoked because I was defending Islamic values too openly.) Its media strategy was simple but effective. Provoke controversy wherever it can be inflamed. Spread a sense of victimhood among the Swiss people: we are under siege, the Muslims are silently colonising us and we are losing our very roots and culture. This strategy worked. The Swiss majority are sending a clear message to their Muslim fellow citizens: we do not trust you and the best Muslim for us is the Muslim we cannot see.

Who is to be blamed? I have been repeating for years to Muslim people that they have to be positively visible, active and proactive within their respective western societies. In Switzerland, over the past few months, Muslims have striven to remain hidden in order to avoid a clash. It would have been more useful to create new alliances with all these Swiss organisations and political parties that were clearly against the initiative. Swiss Muslims have their share of responsibility but one must add that the political parties, in Europe as in Switzerland have become cowed, and shy from any courageous policies towards religious and cultural pluralism. It is as if the populists set the tone and the rest follow. They fail to assert that Islam is by now a Swiss and a European religion and that Muslim citizens are largely "integrated". That we face common challenges, such as unemployment, poverty and violence – challenges we must face together. We cannot blame the populists alone – it is a wider failure, a lack of courage, a terrible and narrow-minded lack of trust in their new Muslim citizens.

Russia: Mufti calls to counteract Chinese through assimilation

Russia: Mufti calls to counteract Chinese through assimilation

Talgat Tajuddin, the head of Central Muslim Board of Russia offered the way of the Far East counteraction by Chineses.

"Chineses will soon captivate all Siberia... I would direct one million of Tatars, one million of Bashkirs to the Far East and would marry them to Chinese and Korean women," Mufti told in an interview published by Bashkirian issue of Komsomolskaya Pravda daily on Thursday.

According to him, the first wife of Tatars and Bashkirs, for example, must be a woman of their nation.

"And after that we would secure our country and eastern frontiers at the same time. This is the natural problem decision. And though we speak about it as for fun, it’s still necessary to solve a demographic problem. Therefore - marry, multiply and replenish," Tajuddin appealed.


Source: Interfax (English)

European Right: Let's all ban minarets (UPDATE: France, Sweden, Vatican)

European Right: Let's all ban minarets

Various responses to the Swiss decision to ban minarets.


"Switzerland is sending us a clear signal: yes to church towers, no to minarets," says Italian minister Roberto Calderoli of Lega Nord. "In the popular referendum the Swiss balanced respect for freedom of religion with the need to stop the politics and propaganda linked to Islam."

Riccardo De Corato of the PdL party says that the minaret ban should be a lesson for Italy's Left.


Geert Wilders congratulated Switzerland and said: What is possible in Switzerland should be possible here too." He says his party will call on the cabinet to make such a referendum possible in the Netherlands, and if not, the PVV will propose such a law.


"It is very distressing that the Swiss people rejected building new minarets in a referendum," says Minister of Internal Affairs Ter Horst. She hopes that this will never happen in the Netherlands. "I am happy that we don't have any decisive referendum."

Also on behalf of Ernst Hirsch Ballin (Minister of Justice), she says that the Swiss people mixed up religion with attack and other expression of aggression, and that the Swiss government rejects the minaret ban. "There's a different between what the people want and what the government wants."


Filip Dewinter of the Belgian Vlaams Belang says: Just like Wilhelm Tell, the Swiss are a symbol for the resistance of many Europeans against foreign domination. The Islam, with its minarets and mosques, doesn't belong in Europe.

"Common sense has again gained on politically correct thinking. Despite decades of multicultural indoctrination the tenability of the Swiss hasn't been broken yet (..) Islam indeed doesn't belong in Europe. In contrast to the political authorities which embrace Islam and collaborate with it, a majority of Europeans wants to call a sound stop to the advancing Islam."

He will propose a bill in the Flemish parliament to stop the building of mosques and minarets in Flanders.


Head of the Turkish Community in Germany (TGD) Kenan Kolat told Berlin daily Berliner Zeitung that the decision was "very regrettable," adding that basic rights such as religious freedom should not be allowed to come to popular vote.

"A minaret belongs to a mosque," Kolat said.

But Wolfgang Bosbach, a conservative Christian Democrat heading the parliamentary committee on interior policy, said that the vote should be taken seriously. He told daily Hamburger Abendblatt on Monday that the vote reflects a widely held fear of Islam within German society – though he said German laws provided enough solutions for practical decisions about minaret construction.

"But there are spectacular plans for large structures, such as in Cologne's Ehrenfeld district or in Duisburg-Marxloh, for which there is a lot of resistance simply because of the size," he told the paper.

Bosbach added that is "possible that some of these large buildings were planned to signal how strong Islam has become in Germany."


Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat (CDU) party reacted with similar caution. To criticise the Swiss ban would be counterproductive, said Wolfgang Bosbach a senior CDU MP. It reflected a fear of growing Islamisation "and this fear must be taken seriously," he said.


Pia Kjærsgaard of the Danish People's Party proposed in parliament to bring up the issue as a popular referendum. A third of the parliament members can decide to send a bill to a decision by popular referendum.

Karsten Lauritzen of the Liberal Party rejects the idea: "We don't legislate in parliament on particular buildings. And then there are some who will think it's limiting freedom of religion. I don't say that it is, but that it's an element in the issue." Lauritzen also said that this isn't an issue for a popular referendum. Denmark has a democracy with politician to make decision and if the people are unsatisfied with the decisions, they can vote for different politicians.


Jimmie Åkesson of Sweden Democrats says: "Freedom of religion is not the same as an absolute right which lets you do and build what you want in the name of religion contrary to the will of the people. The minarets are one of the foremost symbols of both multiculturalism and the Islamization of Europe. The result of today's Swiss referendum should be seen as yet one more in a series of clear signals that the European people have began to have enough of both these phenomena. I congratulate Switzerland and the Swiss People's Party for having had, despite the fierce opposition from the establishment, the courage to speak their mind in a controversial issue.


Sweden has criticised the outcome of a Swiss referendum approving the ban of minarets in the country. Speaking to Swedish Radio news, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt called the vote an evidence of prejudices among the Swiss population.

The clear no to the building of further minarets in Switzerland could indicate some kind of fear towards Muslims, Bildt added. But the vote is likely to send negative signals on all levels, the Foreign Minister predicted.


France's foreign minister has condemned Switzerland's referendum vote to ban the building of minarets.

Bernard Kouchner said he was shocked by the decision which, he said, showed "intolerance" and should be reversed.


"I am a bit shocked by this decision," Mr Kouchner told France's RTL radio on Monday. "It is an expression of intolerance and I detest intolerance.

"I hope the Swiss will reverse this decision quickly," he added.


France's far right National Front welcomed the outcome, saying that the "elites should stop denying the aspirations and fears of the European people, who, without opposing religious freedom, reject ostentatious signs that political-religious Muslim groups want to impose."


However spokesman for Mr Sarkozy's centre-right Union for a Popular Majority, took a different line, saying that the vote showed the degree to which radical Islam was alarming Europe's citizens. Xavier Bertrand, the party leader, said that he was "not sure that minarets are needed in order to practise Islam in France".


The Swiss Government, which opposed the vote, reassured members of the faith that "this is not a rejection of the Muslim community, religion or culture." The Conference of Swiss Bishops also criticised the result, saying that it "heightens the problems of cohabitation between religions and cultures."


Yvan Perrin, vice-president of the SVP, the largest party in the federal Parliament, said that the vote was a lesson to the elite. Swiss companies should not worry about suffering from a backlash from Muslim countries, he said. "If our companies continue to make good quality products, they have nothing to worry about."


The Vatican on Monday endorsed criticism by Swiss bishops that a vote in Switzerland to ban the construction of mosque minarets was

Antonio Maria Sveglio, president of the pontifical council on migration, told the ANSA news agency that "we are on the same page" as the Conference of Swiss Bishops.

Sources: Aftenbladet (Norwegian); SR, The Local, BBC, Times of India, Times (English); Berlingske (Danish); AD, HLN, Trouw (Dutch); mynewsdesk (Swedish)

Opinion: An unspoken assumption

Opinion: An unspoken assumption

A few thoughts on the Swiss minaret ban vote.

I didn't post my prediction for the minaret vote, but I expected the initiative to pass, for several reasons:

1. Though a couple of polls showed a majority opposing the minaret ban, others polls showed an even split and even a majority favoring the ban.

2. A general poll on Swiss attitudes towards Muslims showed that the Swiss do not want Islam in their face.

This poll also showed quite clearly that the German-speaking cantons supported the ban, while the French-speaking cantons opposed the ban, though less strongly:

Similarly to the general perception of Muslims in Switzerland, the debate about building minarets shows greater resistance in the German-speaking areas (48% against, 38% for, 14% no opinion) than in the French-speaking areas (38% against, 42% for, 20% no opinion).

3. The way I see it, the anti-minaret people had the enthusiasm factor on their side.

The pro-minaret people were fighting for freedom of religion, which is generally considered a Western value. But particularly after the Danish cartoon crisis, we all know how much Europe is willing to fight for Western values.

The anti-minaret people were fighting for their national identity. They were fighting to define Switzerland as a Swiss country, which happens to be a very appealing idea to the Swiss. The ban very simply tells Muslims that they might be tolerated guests, they might be allowed to build their homes in Switzerland, but they are not at home. Unlike the French headscarf ban, there is no attempt here to hide behind a ban on 'religious symbols' or 'large crosses'.

In the battle between liberal values and ethnic identity, I would bet on ethnic identity.

There was an unspoken assumption behind this initiative, expressed by the following quote:

"If we give them a minaret, they'll have us all wearing burqas," said Julia Werner, a local housewife. "Before you know it, we'll have sharia law and women being stoned to death in our streets. We won't be Swiss any more."

It's quite a jump from building a minaret to being forced to wear a burqa and Sharia law. The unspoken assumption is that Islam is taking over. The ethnic European identity is in danger of becoming a minority, and the majority ethnic identity will soon be Islam.

The minaret ban is not intended to make Islam more 'European'. It is intended to keep Islam out of the public view, as if that would make Islam go away.

A minaret ban might cause some Muslims to think twice about immigrating to Switzerland, but it will not stop the demographic trend in which Muslims are outpacing the 'locals'.

The Swiss popular referendum model is a two-edged sword. Swiss Muslims are scattered rather evenly around the country, and as their proportion in the population grows, they will have more and more power. Once Muslims have enough power to win such referendums, I expect it will be next on the list of things to go.

Because in the final tally, the Swiss would rather keep their national identity, as symbolized by the cross on their flag, over so-called 'Swiss values'.

UK: Hizb ut-Tahrir in schools dispute

UK: Hizb ut-Tahrir in schools dispute

A month ago I reported that Hizb ut-Tahrir was receiving gov't subsidies in order to run a nursery and two schools in the UK.

One commentator on my blog claimed that those allegations were untrue, and that the school did not teach a Hizb ut-Tahrir ideology.

According to the article the schools are run by the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation, a registered charity, and at least three of the four trustees are Hizb ut-Tahrir members or activists. The original article was meanwhile either moved or removed.

British Conservatives brought up the issue in Parliament last week, but the gov't claimed they had their facts wrong:
1. The money did not come from an anti-terrorism fund, as the Conservatives claimed
2. The school had been inspected by Ofsted, the British school inspection department


Andrew Gilligan, who broke the original story, rejects those claims.

Cameron did mess up by saying that the cash was from the Pathfinder part of the Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) fund. It was actually from a different fund, for nursery education, confusingly also called Pathfinder.

Nor does HT run the schools directly. They're run by a charity called the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation. "Shakhsiyah Islamiyah," or the creation of an "Islamic personality," is one of the key tenets of HT ideology - the title of a three-volume book by the group's founder that is required reading for all new recruits.

But Balls is not playing a straight bat. He says the Foundation has told him "that it no longer has any links with any of the individuals who are alleged to have connections with Hizb ut-Tahrir".

Firstly, as Balls ought to recognise, that's not the point. The point is the situation prevailing at the time the money was paid. And at that time, the lead trustee of the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation and "proprietor" of one of the schools was Yusra Hamilton, who definitely does have "connections with HT." She's spoken at HT conferences. She's the wife of HT's main media spokesman, Taji Mustafa. Even the Foundation refuses to deny that she's a member of HT.


The Conservatives admit they didn't get all the fact straight, but continue to claim that the schools are run by Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Mr Balls
told BBC2’s Newsnight: “The issue here is that a very divisive allegation was made about two schools which splits communities, which divides our country, on the basis of false allegations.

“The question is, were these schools promoting terrorism or extremism? We have sent in Ofsted advisers, who have gone in and said 'No'. I looked across the curriculum and the evidence was 'No'. In the last few weeks... Haringey and Slough looked at the facts and there was no evidence that extremism has been promoted.

“That’s the responsible thing to do. The responsible thing for David Cameron to do was to check the facts with me before he made smears and allegations which divide our communities.”

But Conservative communities spokesman Paul Goodman told Newsnight: “A charity controlled by an extremist organisation that supports attacks on our troops in Afghanistan has been funded by Ed Balls’ department. Ed Balls is throwing up chaff.

“We know perfectly well that the person who headed up this charity has spoken on Hizb ut Tahrir platforms and her husband is the main media operator for Hizb ut Tahrir in the UK.”


Most articles supporting the gov't focus on the fact that the schools passed inspection, but apparently the school inspector is not a completely neutral party:

However, the first report on the Haringey school, in November 2007, said not enough was being done “to promote cultural tolerance and harmony”.

In a second report in May 2008, the inspector, Michele Messaoudi, said “satisfactory progress” had been made.


The Daily Telegraph has learned that Ms Messaoudi has links with Islamic organisations and events. Last year, she was a judge for the Global Peace and Unity awards in London. The awards and the associated conference, which Ofsted said Ms Messaoudi did not attend, are organised by the Islam Channel, whose chief executive, Mohammed Ali Harrath, is wanted by Interpol for alleged terrorist offences.

Sweden: Court grants WMD engineer refugee status

Sweden: Court grants WMD engineer refugee status

A chemical engineer who played a prominent role in Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq has been granted permanent residence in Sweden.

The man worked in developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. He was a major general in the Baath party, and co-author of a book which praised Saddam's "wise leadership".

The migration court decided that there's a threat against the man due to his political positions, and that he should therefore be considered a refugee. The man and his family received residence permits in Sweden.

In August the Swedish Migration Board rejected the chemical engineer's request for a residence permit and decided that he should be deported. He appealed to the migration court, which now determined that he should be allowed to stay in Sweden.

The Migration Board contsts the court's approval of the man's appeal.

Source: DN (Swedish), h/t Gudmundson

Switzerland: Majority for minaret ban

Switzerland: Majority for minaret ban

Update 6:

Voter turnout was 54.44%, so these are the final results.

57.47% voted for the ban, 42.53% opposed it. The majority of cantons supported the ban. Only 4 cantons opposed it: Vaud, Geneva, Neuchâtel and Basel-Stadt.

68% of the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino supported the ban.

Update 5:

53% of the votes are in, 57% of the voters support the ban. Most of the opposition to the ban is in the French-speaking cantons (Vaud, Geneva, Neuchâtel). The German-speaking cantons firmly support the ban with 5 of the cantons showing more than 65% opposition to minarets.

Update 4:

44% of the votes are in, 56% of the voters support the ban. A majority of the cantons (15) support the ban. Cantons which voted against it: Basel-Stadt, Vaud, Geneva, Neuchâtel. Zurich voted for the ban with 51.81% of the votes (close to 55% of the votes counted).

Update 3:

25% of the votes are in, 59% of the voters support the ban and 10 of the cantons out of 11 counted. Geneva's against the ban, with close to 60% against it.

Update 2:

Exit polls show 59% of voters supported the initiative.

Update 1:

Follow the referendum vote results online. With close to 9% votes counted, the ban is supported by 64%.


Projections from exit polls suggest that voters in Switzerland have backed a referendum proposal to ban the building of minarets, Swiss TV says.

The result is not yet official, but the BBC's correspondent in Berne says if it is confirmed, it would be a surprise.


Source: BBC (English)

Netherlands: Gov't investigates halal trade fraud

Netherlands: Gov't investigates halal trade fraud

There's a fierce discussion among Muslims on whether meat sold as halal is really so.

The General Inspection Service (Algemene Inspectiedienst, AID), an organ of the Dutch Agricultural Ministry, has now gotten involved in this debate. The service investigates fraud with halal certificates. Last month the AID raided Fasen Meat Trading, a meat wholesaler from Breda. Using forged documents the company sold several thousand tons of meat wrongly as halal to Muslims in France.

"The bulk of the European halal market is in the hands of scoundrels," says Ben Ali-Salah. He's director of Halal Correct in Leiden, which gives halal certificates. He says that documents of his certifying bureau are forged en-masse for meat cargoes which don't deserve the title of halal.

Though the term halal seems to have been naturalized, it's not legally protected. As a resort of the increasing demand - according ot the CBS there are 850,000 Muslims in the Netherlands - more and more butchers, supermarkets and meat processors pretend that their products are halal. According to Ali-Salah, most can't prove it.

It's claimed on internet forums that many restaurants also play loose with the rules. Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is accused of selling meat that is wrongly regarded as halal. Iyad Aljendi, the manager of the Halal Quality Control certifying agency in the Hague, says straight out that the chain misleads Muslim customers. He says that KFC uses a certificate that only states that a slaughterhouse can produce halal meat, but doesn't show that the meat was also slaughtered halal.

A tour of Volkskrant among four KFC branches shows that on request of clients they indeed only show the first certificate.

The problem is that meanwhile there are too many halal certificates. Because it's a lucrative trade, there many certifying agencies were set up. Ali-Salah speaks of an 'uncontrolled growth' of certifies, which he says are mostly unqualified. The Defense Ministry has meanwhile started an investigation to ensure Muslim soldiers real halal food, says army imam Ali Eddaoudi. He says that too often Muslims who blindly trust certificates are taken advantage of. Entrepreneurs cash on it, while some of those entrepreneurs are Muslims themselves.

Source: Volkskrant (Dutch)

See also: Belgium: 60% of halal food 'impure'

UK: Muslim tycoon calls for curbs on extremist imams

UK: Muslim tycoon calls for curbs on extremist imams

Britain's most prominent Muslim businessman, who was trapped inside a burning hotel in the Mumbai terror attacks, is calling on the government to toughen measures against extremist preachers.

Sir Gulam Noon, one of Labour's most generous donors, says the door is being left open for foreign imams to radicalise thousands of young Muslims in mosques.

His demand comes in an exclusive interview on the anniversary of the attacks, which left 173 people dead after three days of mayhem. Noon was trapped on the third floor of the Taj hotel for nearly 10 hours while dozens of people were murdered in rooms around him.

Known as the Curry King for selling 1.5 million Indian ready-meals a week in Britain, he says the experience has left him less tolerant of foreign Islamist preachers, who he believes are indoctrinating young British Muslims.

"Having seen what I saw at close quarters, the indiscriminate violence and pain inflicted in the name of my religion, I am astounded that I hear from friends in the community that radical preachers are still coming to this country and praising attacks by al-Qaida and suicide missions. There is a limit to free speech. Extremists who preach their approval of suicide bombers should be sent back to their country of origin," he said.


Source: Guardian (English)

Odense: School bans Arabic to stop harassment

Odense: School bans Arabic to stop harassment

In other Arabic news, the Education Ministry allowed Copenhagen to teach Arabic in 7th grade classes, in addition to German and French. (DA)


The students at Seden School in Odense were banned from speaking foreign languages during recess. This happened after a series of episodes where several bi-lingual students harassed and called after other students and teachers in Arabic. The worst consequences of breaking the ban could be having the parents called in for a chummy talk, reports Fyens Stiftstidende.

The decidsion was made by the school managers and teacher group in the school, where 30% of the students are bi-lingual.

Education minister Bertel Haarder (V) doesn't want to get involved in the issue, but he stresses that one should always respect the school management, which tries to keep order in the school.

"And I don't think that the sanction is particulalry serious, or that one can talk of a strong attack. People shouldn't speak nastily in either Danish or Arabic, and the essential thing is to have it stopped, and not which rules there are in the area," he told Danish news agency Ritzau.

At the same time he thinks it's important that the sanction be accepted through the school board. And on the school board not all the parents agree on the ban against foreign languages.

Brit Bremer Christoffersen, a member of the school board, told Fyens Stiftstidende that they're now on the edge of what's allowed. "It's ok to require students to answer in Danish, but that they can't speak their mother tongue internally, I don't think it's fair. I believe in dialog rather than rules."

Several experts called the ban discriminatory and wan that it can create a divide between the bilinguals and the DAnish students.

The regulation is currently valid until January 15, and the ban only holds for joint situations and not when two students go aside and speak togther. In adition to the ban on foreign languages, there's increased oversight of the students and a ban to stand in the school corridors.

Troels Boldt Rømer, head of the National Union of Danish Pupils, says that the ban is childish and a sign of impotence.

"We think that it's a childish ractions, that comes from this school, and it's really annoying that we can't solve these problems in a different way than making up a ban," he says.

He thinks it will increase the divide between ethnic Danish students and the students of another ethnic background.

Troels Boldt Rømer says that many other schools can solve these problems in other ways, when it's the Danish students who call after the teachers. In this way an important part of the student's culture is taken away from them, and that we don't want to accep tthat.

He also doesn't understand why parents won't be called in to a meeting if the students call after teachers in general, insteading of doing so if the students speak Arabic. It signals impotence and shows that the school doesn't have a direction with its integration policy.

Source: Kristeligt Dagblad 1, 2 (Danish)

Russia: Anti-immigrant group takes responsibility for train attack

Russia: Anti-immigrant group takes responsibility for train attack

Russian news sites are reporting that Combat 18, an anti-immigration group has taken responsibility for the attack.

One of the functionaries of the Movement against Illegal Immigration has published on its blog a statement made by the nationalistic group Combat 18, Russian reports.

"We, the militant autonomous group Combat 18, claim the responsibility for the attack against Nevsky Express. We will continue! The time has come. We say that the war will affect everyone. There are no indifferent people and no innocent victims in this war. There are only our supporters and enemies," reads the statement.

It is not clear whether the statement has indeed been made by Combat 18 members. Earlier a statement of the same group appeared on websites of far right groups regarding the explosive device found in the subway in Saint Petersburg on November 14.

Combat 18 is a far right group, members of which gave an interview with Newsweek, adds.


Source: FOCUS (English)

See also Reuter's discussion on whether the attack was Islamic or not.

Norway: Muslims wants Krekar out

Norway: Muslims wants Krekar out

Muslims in North Norway want Mulla Krekar out of Norway.

Ahmed Aadan Warsame of the Somali Family Association in Tromsø, says Krekar's statement are harmful for Norwegian Muslims and therefore a danger to the next generations of Norwegian Muslims.

Together with more Muslims in Tromsø he rejects Mulla Krekar.

"We generally reject Mulla Krekar, his supporters and everything he stands for.  We want peace and calm for our children in the future."

"We are Norwegian citizens and part of Norwegian society, and we don't want such statements such as Mulla Krekar makes."

He hopes Krekar will soon leave Norway.

"He isn't good this man.  Everybody knows who he is.  I don't understand why the Norwegian state spends so much money on him in court cases and such things."

Q: Is Mulla Krekar a good Muslim?

"No.  Good Muslims are those who take care of others, whether it be Christians, Jews or Buddhists, and respect the other's religion."

Source: NRK (Norwegian)

See also: Norway: Muslims need a state of their own, says Krekar

Quote: "It takes some time to adjust to the new world"

Quote: "It takes some time to adjust to the new world"

Swedish expert on transatlantic relations Gunilla Herolf on the conference on the Security of the European Union and Czech Republic in the multipolar world in the 21st century.

Q : There has been much talk lately about the islamisation of Europe. Prague 6 mayor Tomáš Chalupa pointed out at the beginning of the conference that the name Mohammed is the most common name in Western cities. Should Europe fear islamisation then?

A: Mohammed is really the most common name now. But we should not divide people along the religion line. To some degree I can understand people that the world has changed totally for them and it may be difficult to accept that. It takes some time to adjust to the new world. In a way it is sad that the world is changing. But we have to find a way to live with each other. Otherwise we
will have problems of all kinds.

What I don't like is that some European countries do not agree to lift the free trade barriers in North Africa. Just because we do not want them to compete with us, especially with their agricultural products. But if we were a bit more generous with them, helping them to stay where they are, we would have less illegal immigrants coming to Europe.

Source: Aktuálně (English)

Wales: Muslims celebrate 10 years of Welsh devolution

Wales: Muslims celebrate 10 years of Welsh devolution

The Muslim Council of Wales held a dinner in the City hall to celebrate 10 years of Wales Devolution and to honour First Minister, Rhodri Morgan AM, for his achievements and services to Wales.

Over 400 guests attended from all walks of life; from business, academia, charities, faith groups and non-governmental agencies.

Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales (MCW), Saleem Kidwai OBE, congratulating Morgan, said the presence of people from different walks of life “is a testament of their love, respect, appreciation of your service to our nation, your dedication, belief, enthusiasm, passion and sheer commitment to serve our country Wales is what we all value.”

Presiding Officer, National Assembly for Wales, Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas, said that the evening to celebrate the ten of Devolution was, “if anything, a sign of the Wales of the future.”

Morgan made an emotional speech praising the diverse nature of the Welsh culture and the rising threats to our multicultural Wales.

The First Minister said Wales was “the ultimate bifocal country.”


Source: Muslim News (English)

Belgium: Slaughter without anesthesia contrary to the Koran, says MP

Belgium: Slaughter without anesthesia contrary to the Koran, says MP

Parliament member Meyrem Almaci (Groen!) resonded in shock to the pictures published by the animal rights organization Gaia on ritually slaughtering animals without anesthesia. Gaia published pictures from eleven halal slaughterhouses in Flanders and Wallonia, showing animals being slaughtered without anesthesia.

"Slaughtering an animal in this way is contrary to the Koran," says Almaci. She asks to anesthesze animals during ritual slaughter and calls on the Muslim community to enter into a debate.

Almaci regrets the un-anesthetized slaughter of animals. "Animals are not products, but living beings. That here economic considerations figure above animal welfare is unacceptable and conflicts with the spirit of the Festival of Sacrifice [Eid al-Adha], where explicit critieria exist for slaughtering the animal," says Almaci. "So an animal can certainly not be too young, suffers the least possible pain, and a prayer said for the soul of the animal."

Almaci says the the Muslim community in Belgium should go for an animal-friendly way of ritual slaughter. She wants to anesthetize animals, following the example of Norway of the UK.


Gaia will meet with the Muslim Executive on Monday, November 30 to speak about the controversial halal slaughter. Belgian law says that animals have to be anesthetized for slaughter, but makes an exception for ritual slaughter. Gaia demands that that exemption be scrapped from the law. The minister in chage already said that legislation will be made stricter.

Gaia claims they've been flooded with expressions of support since they've published the pictures. "It is obvious that these practices are not tolerated," says the organization.


Today is the Eid al Adha holiday and Belgian municipalities have mosque organizations have prepared in advance for the mass-scale ritual slaughter. In Heusden-Zolder, for example, the municipality invested in its own slaughter place, since many people did home-slaughter last year. The municipal council originally wanted to ban home-slaughter, but that did not go through after fierce protest from the Muslims. Mayor Sonja Claes (CD&V): "I have the impression that the Muslims meanwhile know that un-anesthetized home-slaughter is not allowed. I also expect that they will keep to the rules"

Sources: HLN 1, 2, 3 (Dutch)

UK: Gov't wants to balance Chief Rabbi peerage with prominent Muslim

UK: Gov't wants to balance Chief Rabbi peerage with prominent Muslim

The government is preparing to give a peerage to the head of the Muslim Council of Britain, even though government links with the organisation are officially suspended.

Ministers are keen to find a prominent Muslim to enter the House of Lords as a way of balancing the peerage given to Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks earlier this year.

It is understood that the name of Muhammad Abdul Bari, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, was proposed at a meeting in Downing Street earlier this week to discuss relations with the Muslim community.


Source: JC (English)

UK: Mosques protest school admission policy

UK: Mosques protest school admission policy

OFFICIALS from two of the town's mosques have lodged complaints with Bolton Council about the admission procedures of Bolton Muslim Girls School.

Senior figures at the Masjid E Ghosia Mosque, in Caroline Street, and the Noorul Islam Mosque, in Prospect Street, say priority is given to girls from the Deobandi movement, despite the wider Muslim community helping to fund the school's establishment in 1987.

But the school claims its admission policy was put together in consultation with a variety of "stakeholders" and that it is fair. In a letter to town hall chiefs on behalf of both mosques, Bashir Shama, secretary of the Masjid E Ghosia Mosque, said: "Having provided that support, the girls from our congregations are now being refused entry because the school's management have chosen to provide priority to the Deobandi community.

"The wider Muslim community therefore feels that the actions of the school's trustees has been dishonourable and they are seen as having used the wider Muslim community to establish the school and then discarded us once they had no further use for us."


Source: Bolton News (English)

Netherlands: ‘Ambassadors’ appointed to fight female circumcision

Netherlands: 'Ambassadors' appointed to fight female circumcision

'Ambassadors' to fight against female genital mutilation were appointed by the deputy health minister Jet Bussemaker on Wednesday.

The ambassadors, who were appointed at an international conference to fight female genital mutilation in The Hague, are from African communities in the Netherlands.

They will pass on information on the dangers of female genital mutilation to parents who originally come from countries where the custom is practiced, such as Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan.

In a TV interview on Tuesday, Bussemaker stressed that apart from causing terrible pain, female genital mutilation, also referred to as female circumcision or genital cutting, deprives women of their sexuality and carries grave lifelong health risks.


Bussemaker also used the conference as a platform to launch a scheme after a French model whereby parents from high-risk countries are invited to sign a contract in which they undertake not to subject their daughters to genital mutilation.

The scheme is aimed at helping parents resist pressure from relatives by showing them the signed contract. It states that female genital mutilation is illegal in the Netherlands, and the parents risk prosecution if they allow it to be performed on their daughters.


Source: Expatica (English)

News in Short

News in Short

Various news stories from the past couple of weeks.


Learning about Islam - According to the Flemish minister of education Pascal Smet, elementary school students should learn about other cultures and religions, such as Islam. By the end of 6th grade they should be able to: illustrate that social and cultural groups have different values and norms, illustrate that immigration and the refugee problem have played a role in the development of our multicultural society, and realize that racism is often based on ignorance and fear of the stranger. (NL)

Losing citizenship - About seven New Belgians might lose their citizenship for 'severe shortcomings in their duties as Belgians'. Thse include Mohamed Reha and Abdelkader Belliraj, both of whom were arrested in Morocco on terrorism charges. Earlier this year Tunesian-Belgian Tarek Maaroufi was the first Belgian since WWII to lose his citizenship, after being convicted in Brussels on three counts of terrorism. The justice ministry intends to clarify the law by the end of the year. (NL, NL)

Animal rights - the Gaia animal rights organization published pictures it took in 11 halal slaughterhouses in Flanders and Wallonia. Animals can be slaughtered without anesthetization if the meat must comply to religious norms, but Gaia claims that slaughtering without anesthetization is a common practice and the meat is sold in regular shops without any label that it's halal slaughter. The organization wants the law to ban ritual slaughter and asks the Muslim community to accept anesthetization, as is done in New Zealand and the UK. (NL)


Muslim bus - Minister of integartion Eberhard van der Laan is not happy with the 'Muslim women bus' service, but he will not ban it. Whoever has trouble with it, can turn to the Equal Treatment Commission. (NL)

Jewish Geert supporters - the Jewish-Moroccan Network thinks it's time to act against Jewish supporters of Geert Wilders, who , they say, drives a wedge between Jews and Muslims. According to Mohamed Rabbae, the Moroccans in the organization are concerned and would like to prevent an escalation in this. "The Moroccan members think it's incomprehensible that there's support for Wilders on the other side." On the Jewish side Hadassa Hirschfeld says that it's 'absolutely despicable' if Jews support Wilders' party. "I think that everybody should fight against the ideas of the PVV about Muslims. And it's exactly Jews who know what it means to be stigmatized." (NL)

Paying for a doctor - Minister of health Klink says that patients who say in advance that they only want a female doctor will be given one. But in case of an emergency situation, the patient will pay any extra costs if they want a different doctor. (NL)


Bomb threat - A notice posted on the TV2 website threatened the Hellerud secondary school in Oslo for cooperating with the US. The threat, signed 'Mohammed', came from a computer in one of Oslo's schools. The school was not closed down, and no bombs exploded. (NO)

A joke - A joke which appears in Norwegian newspaper VG: "How is a soda bottle similar to a Muslim? Answer: Both are empty from the neck and up. Accordig to editor Jan-Erik Lauré, the joke, which was sent in by a reader, was printed by mistake. Ismail Salad Elmi of the Trondheim city council says that "there is freedom of speech in Norway, and there should be room for such jokes." (NO). (See also: Norway: Discriminating crossword puzzles)


Miss France - Juliette Boubaaya (19), the current Miss Picardie, and a practicing Muslim will compete in the Miss France 2010 competition. Her grandfather is an Algerian Harki, her grandmother's Polynesian, her father's a Muslim and her mother's an atheist. (FR)


Abducted at asylum center - A Chechen woman was abducted from a bus station next to the Sandholm asylum center, when three-four Chechen men forced her into a car. (DA)

United Kingdom

Charity denounces Anwar Al-Awlaki - JIMAS has decided to completely remove any and all promotion of Anwar Al-Awlaki through his talks and CDs that were available through us. Furthermore, we urge all Muslim organisations and groups to do the same. We cannot be morally responsible for the evil that is advocated by anyone. (EN)


Recognizing the Moors - Muslim associations applaud an initiative coming up for a vote in the Spanish parliament to recognize the injustice done to the Moors who were expelled from Spain 400 years ago. The initiative will urge the government to take the actions needed to establish and strengthen the economic, social and cultural ties to the descendants of the Moors in the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. Such an initiative will (ES)


Saudis to save mosque - A Muslim organization has turned to Saudi Arabia for help in financing a mosque in Umeå. The county government gave building permission four years ago,but the local Muslims did not manage to collect the money needed, and the authorities threatened to scrap the project. (SE)

Manchester: Muslim graves hit for third time

Manchester: Muslim graves hit for third time

Vandals have targeted Muslim graves at a south Manchester cemetery for the third time in two months.

More than 20 headstones at the Southern Cemetery on Barlow Moor Road were pushed over in what police are treating as a racially-motivated attack.

The offenders struck sometime between Friday afternoon and Monday morning, a police spokesman confirmed.

Det Ch Insp Steve Eckersley called it "mindless racist behaviour" that was being treated as a hate crime.

On 29 September, 26 Muslim headstones were vandalised and three days later 27 were targeted.


Source: BBC (English)

Belgium: Anti-discrimination body opposes the headscarf in elementary school

Belgium: Anti-discrimination body opposes the headscarf in elementary school

The Center for Equal Opportunities and the Fight against Racism (CGKR) wants to take the edge of the headscarf debate.  Therefor the Center will from now speak about the 'external expression of convictions' instead of the 'external expression of religious, philosophical and political convictions'.  Furthermore the Center wants a ban on the external expression of convictions in elementary schools.

The question of wearing external expression of convictions is found mainly in three essential sectors, according to the Center: employments, public services and education.  CGKR is therefore launching a site ( where it formulates recommendations for those three sectors.

The freedom to express one's convictions in a peaceful manner should be the starting point, says Jozef De Witter, director of CGKR.  "Naturally no single freedom, even a basic one, absolute. Evantuall limits should however be carefully justified.  A ban should, in other words, be an exception and not the general rule," according to De Witte.

In education the Center thinks that the current system has reached its limits.  De Witte says there should be a legal arrangement, but that they want a calm debate involving everybody concerned.  The individual freedom of the student should remain a fundamental principle, but it could be limited in order to deal with missionary zeal and in the name of security.

The Center wants a ban on external expression of convictions in elementary education.  As for secondary education, the communities should start a process to think it over.  Individual freedom should remain in higher education.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

Denmark: Antisemitism widespread among Muslim immigrants

Denmark: Antisemitism widespread among Muslim immigrants

Distrust and prejudice against Jews in Denmark doesn't thrive only in extremist groups.  Up to 75% of immigrants from five different countries and 20% of ethnic Danes have anti-Jewish attitudes.

The data comes from a new study which appears in the book "Danmark og de fremmede: Om mødet med den arabisk-muslimske verden" (Denmark and the stranger: on the meeting with the Arab-Muslim world), which will be published Friday.

The study is based on interviews with 1503 immigrants from five different groups: Turks, Pakistanis, Somalis, Palestinians and ex-Yugoslavians - as well as 300 ethnic Danes.

All were asked three questions, which deal with their attitudes towards various groups in society and not just to Jews.  But it's the Jews that the five groups are clearly most distrustful and prejudiced against.

65.8% of the five immigrant groups said that one "can't be careful enough in relation to Jews in Denmark."  75.2% don't want a family member to marry a Danish Jew.  And 31.9% think that 'there are too many Jews in Denmark'.

"The study shows that the anti-Jewish attitudes are certainly not unique to extremist circles.  The attitudes are far, far more widespread among the immigrants, then we usually think," says professor Peter Nannestad of the Institute for Political Science at Aarhus University, who made the study.

But ethnic Danes can't be said to be free of anti-Jewish attitudes.  For example, 18.2% of them think that one 'can't be careful enough in relation to Jews in Denmark', and 14.7% don't want to see a family member marry a Danish Jew.

Peter Nannestad says that the figures aren't surprising, but are roughly in line with what is seen in other studies.  He refers to an American study of antisemitism in Europe from 2006, which gave the same picture of Danish attitudes towards Jews.

Chief Rabbi Bent Lexner of the Mosaic Faith-society isn't surprised by the data.  He says that it's probably Danish naivety which makes people think it isn't so.  "Since the situation is so. It's not a coincidence that the government is working on an action plan on how to create better awareness of the Jewish community in Denmark in such groups."

The study shows, additionally, that anti-Jewish attitudes are strikingly more widespread among the immigrants who define themselves as Muslims than among Christian immigrants.

The spokesperson for the Muslim Joint Council, Zubair Butt Hussain, didn't want to comment on the study since he hasn't read it yet.  But racism - regardless of whether it's in the form of antisemitism, racism against Danish Muslims or other groups - is completely and totally unacceptable, he says.

Source: Kristeligt Dagblad (Danish)

Russia: Faith leaders call for calm as murdered priest is buried

Russia: Faith leaders call for calm as murdered priest is buried

Religious tensions rise after death of man who converted Muslims to Christianity

A murdered Russian Orthodox priest was laid to rest in Moscow yesterday, amid fears of rising religious tensions between Christians and Muslims in the country. Father Daniil Sysoyev was shot dead inside his own church last week, in a killing that many suspect was by Islamic radicals.

Father Sysoyev was a controversial figure, even within the Orthodox Church. He was an active missionary, attempting to convert Muslims to Orthodoxy, and authored a number of books, including one warning Russian women against marrying Muslim men. He also posted a series of online sermons on YouTube dissecting the Islamic faith and making several incendiary claims about the religion.

Late last Thursday night, after the evening service, an intruder burst into Father Sysoyev's small church, located in a drab Moscow suburb. The killer was wearing a surgical mask, brandishing a pistol, and demanded to know where Sysoyev was. When the priest emerged, he was shot twice, in the head and neck, and later died in hospital.


In contravention of an unspoken agreement among the major Russian religions not to seek converts among each other's flocks, Father Sysoyev was an active missionary, seeking to proselytise Muslims in the Russian capital. He was known to trawl construction sites looking for migrants from the traditionally Muslim countries of Central Asia, chatting to the workers and suggesting that they convert to Christianity. The priest himself spoke of receiving multiple death threats for his views on Islam.

"You're going to laugh, but the Muslims have again threatened to kill me – the threat was by telephone this time," wrote the priest on his personal blog in early October. "It's already the 14th time. Before it scared me, but I'm already used to it now."

In addition to his missionary work, Father Sysoyev's also held uncompromising and widely publicised views about the Islamic faith. "Islam is an attempt to create a new world order based on the authority of God," said the priest, cloaked in black Orthodox robes, in one of his online videos. "In this sense, it's less like the Orthodox Church or any other kind of church, and more like projects such as National Socialism or the Communist Party."


But the murder of Father Sysoyev threatens to bring underlying tensions to the fore. He is now seen by Orthodox Christians as a modern-day martyr, said Andrei Zolotov, an expert on the Russian Orthodox Church. "This is a very clear case of martyrdom. He was a saint living among us." While not everyone in the Church agreed with his views or methods, his murder will cause "a period of heightened tension," said Mr Zolotov.

Leading Muslim figures publicly condemned the killing and cautioned people against jumping to conclusions about who was to blame, but they are privately worried about the possibility of revenge attacks.

"He was an odious figure, who openly insulted Islam, the Koran, and our prophet," said a high-profile Muslim intellectual who did not want to be named, because of the sensitivity of the situation. Whether or not the murder was perpetrated by Islamic radicals, he said, there is now every chance of a backlash.

"I wouldn't be at all surprised if we see revenge attacks," he said. "The fact that the Patriarch himself led the funeral service is a sign from the authorities that these views are acceptable, and it's very ominous."


Source: Independent (English)

Norway: Muslims need a state of their own, says Krekar

Norway: Muslims need a state of their own, says Krekar

Interestingly enough, in his book Krekar, who considers himself a true Muslim scholar, is very dismissive of Osama bin Laden and most other 'leaders' whom he thinks do not really know Islamic law. And yet, here he suggests Bin Laden as the next Caliph [ie, Mohammed's stand-in].

The entire interview is available on YouTube (in Arabic).


In a new interview Mulla Krekar says that he wishes Osama bin Laden and other radical Islamist leaders will be heads of an Islamic super-state.

"The Muslims will become like the Jews in Europe, right until they establish a caliphate [ed: Islamic state]. Without a state we have no value," says mulla Krekar in a new interview with the al-Hiwar TV channel.

The interview was broadcast on the Arab satellite channel in October, and is accessible on YouTube. Neither the Norwegian nor the international press mentioned this interview earlier.

In the interview mulla Krekar speaks with the Islamist scholar Azzaz Tamimi. In the long interview conducted in the mulla's home in Grønland, Oslo, he also deals with the conditions for dialog with the West. In this context Krekar clarifies what he thinks of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

"When we have an Islamic state, lead by one like Osama Bin Ladne, with a foreign minister like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar or Ayman Al-Zawahiri, then we can speak with then [ed: the West], as equal parties," says Krekar.

Hekmatyar is the leader of the Taliban-allied party Hezb-e Islami in Afghanistan. Al-Zawahiri is bin Laden's deputy in the al-Qaeda terror network.

The interviewer Tamimi, who like Krekar has a background in the Islamist movement the Muslim Brotherhood, confronts the mulla saying his statement will make the Norwegians afraid.

"This, that you hope for an Islamic state led by Osama bin Laden, it makes the Norwegians scared?," asks Tamimi.

"Yes... even if it scares them - good!"

Krekar doesn't regret the interview with the Arab TV channel.

"What do I have to lose in this interview? I get attention from south and north regardless. This interview doesn't hurt me," Krekar said in commentary to VG Nett.

Q: Do you support Osama bin Laden?

A: I describe him as he is, I compare him. If I supported al-Qaeda, I would say it without fear," says Krekar and repeats that he has no connections with the terror network.

In the interview Krekar uses the word "Caliphate" to describe the state where he sees the al-Qaeda heads as leaders.

"The Caliphate is the final station for this movement. Jihadists think that all borders are illegitimate. With the exception of the Islamic emirate under the Taliban, no state today is legitimate in their eyes. The Jihadis are engaged in winning territorial control, doesn't matter where, and establishing emirate they think will expand and overlap each other and then grow together into an over-national unit," says terrorism expert Brynjar Lia of the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment.

"But they're less clear on what this will be and how it should look."

Q: Krekar says that when such a Caliphate is founded, it can be relevant to have dialog?

A: This is not so different from what Zawahiri and others have said. If the USA pulls back from the Islamic world and Israel stops to exist, the Jihadists can consider dialog. The West can continue to exits as long as they accept the Caliphate as a dominating power in the world. They have offered a ceasefire several time to the Americans and Europeans, but not to Israel and the Jews.

In the interview Krekar says that he won't rule out that in 20 years there can be an Islamic state led by Osama bin Laden, and suggest that Muslims should treat the est in the same way the West treats Muslims.

"Which of our enemies aren't like us? Why are we not proud of those who stand in the middle of the battle and frightens the world's biggest superpower?" asks Krekar rhetorically and points to the fact that Israeli and American leaders also boast of their own efforts in war.

In the interview he also claims that the Jihadist Islamist group Ansar al-Islam continues to fight against the Americans in Iraq and controls several areas there, though he admits that the resistance has weakened after the Americans allied with the Sunni Muslim tribe leaders in order to limit the uprising.

"Thank God," says Krekar to VG Nett about Ansar al-Islam's ongoing activities.

Q: Do you have any connection with them today?

A: "I have nothing to do with them," says Krekar and end the short telephone interview with VG Nett.

Source: VG (Norwegian)

Munich: Chinese gov't spying on Uighurs

Munich: Chinese gov't spying on Uighurs

China is not the only country keeping tabs on emigrants in Europe.


On Tuesday morning, officers from Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office and the Bavarian police searched the homes of four Chinese nationals in the Munich area, SPIEGEL ONLINE has learned. They are under suspicion of being intelligence service agents for the Chinese government tasked with spying on Munich's large expatriate community of Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic minority in China that has been engaging in violent protests this year against perceived discrimination.

Several hundred Uighurs live in exile in Munich, and many of them are politically active. Munich has one of the world's largest exile communities of Uighurs and the World Uighur Congress is based there. The government in Beijing is interested in everything the Uighurs think, talk about or plan. The Uighurs are one of the "five poisons" the Communist government is fighting against with all the means at its disposal.

The Federal Prosecutor's Office has discovered that the Chinese government has been recruiting a number of informants to spy on Munich's Uighur community. Investigators believe that the suspected group of agents is controlled from within the Munich consulate by a consul who has been observed conducting conspirative meetings with the alleged agents. The consul himself has diplomatic immunity from prosecution in Germany but prosecutors are investigating four of his alleged informers.

The investigation presents yet another strain on the already tense relationship between China and Germany. The spying activities in Munich are closely coordinated with Beijing, with the consul reporting directly to the homeland. The Chinese government is following every step taken by the German government with interest.

The rigid countermeasures taken by German officials are new. Last year, the Federal Prosecutor's Office established a procedure whereby all evidence regarding suspected Chinese spying activities was collated, but until Tuesday, no searches or arrests had been carried out. Officials largely limited themselves to keeping a close eye on hostile behavior on the part of the Chinese government and on the extreme interest showed by consulate employees in Munich's community of Uighurs in exile.


Source: Spiegel (English)

See also: Munich: Uighurs protest, Chinese embassy attacked

France: Youth claims riot police used racist violence

France: Youth claims riot police used racist violence

Police reacted with deliberate and overtly racist violence during celebrations in Paris after Algeria's footballing victory over Egypt last Wednesday, a French student of Moroccan descent has alleged.

In an account written on his Facebook page immediately after the events, and re-printed as the lead story in French daily Libération on Tuesday, 21-year-old Anyss Arbib claims he was assaulted for no reason, sprayed with mace and called a "dirty Arab".

Arbib, a fourth-year student at Paris's elite Sciences-Po (Political Sciences) university, went into central Paris from his home in the northern suburbs of Bondy to celebrate Algeria's victory with friends. When youths on the Champs Elysées started throwing bottles at riot police, Arbib and his group decided to leave.

"We stopped near the périphérique ring-road to wait for friends who, like us, did not want to get caught up in the violence on the Champs Elysées," Arbib writes on his Facebook page. "CRS riot police turned up, hitting anyone who was not in their cars with their truncheons.

"The logic in their actions was blatantly to create an atmosphere of terror and fear. The more of them that arrived at the scene, the more violent they became. I saw fathers beaten down in front of their children, youths beaten until they bled because they wanted to celebrate a football victory. I saw scenes that made me doubt the values of the Republic that we (French citizens) hold dear."

Arbib then claims one CRS officer shouted at him: "What are you looking at? Get the hell out of here."

He writes that when he asked why he was being spoken to impolitely, one of the officers sprayed him full in the face with mace gel.

"It was an assault by thugs - no, sorry, the CRS - who were acting with impunity," he continues. "I fell out of the car, I couldn't breathe."

When he recovered, he says another officer told him: "F*** off you dirty Arab. Today is a big party for you lot, and it's a big party for us too. We can beat you up just as much as we like."


Source: France24 (English)

Russia: Imam fined for early calls to prayer

Russia: Imam fined for early calls to prayer

A court in central Russia has fined a mosque cleric who called for prayers too early in the morning, thus disturbing children in their sleep.

The 500 rouble fine (approx $17) was imposed by a district court in the town of Orsk in Orenburg Region in the Southern Urals. The case has been forwarded to court after the cleric refused to comply with the decision of an administrative commission that had issued the same decision.

The commission found out that the cleric, who worked as an imam in the city mosque, used a loudspeaker to call for prayers every day, from 05:30 in the morning until 23:00. Local residents repeatedly complained that the calls woke up their sleeping children.

After the sentence was pronounced the imam assured everyone that from now on he will only use the loudspeakers from 07:00 in the morning, as is allowed by Russian law.

Source: Russia Today (English)

Belgium: Mohamed most popular name in Brussels, Antwerp

Belgium: Mohamed most popular name in Brussels, Antwerp

For the sixth year in a row, Emma was the most popular name in Belgium last year. Among boys Noah is back as number one, and Mohamed is the most popular boy's name in the Brussels Region and the Antwerp province, according to new statistics by the Directorate-general Statistics and Economic information.

In Flanders, Emma and Noah were the most popular names. In Wallonia, Léa and Nathan and in the Brussels Region, Sarah and Mohamed. It appears that there's barely any corresponding matches between the Regions. Flanders and Wallonia have barely two names in common (Emma and Louise for girls, Noah and Lucas for boys). Flanders and the Brussels Region don't have any names in common in the top 10.

In the national list, Sarah (419) fell from #3 to #6. Léa (458) is now third, Louise (520) is second, far from the leader in first place: Emma (726). Among boys, Noah (740) again got to first place , followed by Nathan (695) and Lucas (654)

The provinces also have their own top-10 lists. In Limburg and West-Flanders Noah didn't get into the top ten most popular names. Mohamed is the most popular name in the Antwerp province, but doesn't get into the first forty in the other Flemish provinces. Among girls names, Emma gets into the top three in every province.

Top ten most popular names in the Brussels Region:
Boys: Mohamed (236), Adam (194), Rayan (95), Ayoub (77), Gabriel (73), Alexandre (62), Anas (59), Hamza (59), Nathan (58) and Amine (57)

Girls: Sarah (103), Lina (90), Aya (83), Sara (79), Yasmine (75), Imane (70), Rania (61), Ines (60), Nour (55) and Inès (54)

Top ten most popular names in the Antwerp province:
Boys: Mohamed (109), Noah (96), Seppe (96), Daan (95), Kobe (94), Robbe (91), Senne (85), Alexander (84), Lars (77) and Thomas (76)

Girls: Emma (109), Lore (105), Marie (103), Noor (95), Lotte (87), Julie (85), Amber (80), Elise (79), Louise (76) and Hanne (74)

Source: HLN, Statistics Belgium (Dutch)

See also:
* Antwerp: 40% of elementary school students are Muslim
* Brussels: Possible Muslim majority in 15-20 years
* Brussels: 56.5% immigrant population
* Belgium: 12% Muslims in French-speaking community

Brussels: Police get death threats following abuse charges

Brussels: Police get death threats following abuse charges

For more on the charges of police abuse and the riots: Brussels: Police abuse leads to riots in prison, suburbs

Agents from the Brussels-South zone have received death threats following a report about the rough treatment by colleagues in the Vorst prison and the subsequent riots in the Brussels suburb of Anderlecht, according to a report by Het Laatste Nieuws. In the case of one policeman the threats got so serious that he may only work in the office and have his weapon with his 24 hours a day.

"The rioters wanted two things according to sensitive information: to set fire to the Kuregem station, and to kill the neighborhood-inspector [local police agent] from Kuregem. Point 1 they can cross out. Now it's that colleague's turn," say concerned agents in the zone.

All hell broke loose a week ago with an explosive report by the supervisory committee about rough treatment by the police in the Vorst prison. Police agents supposedly beat and humiliated several inmates.

"That report is utter nonsense," say two police agents from the South zone who are now suspected of being involved in the severe acts of violence.

Since the report, and particularly since the riots in Anderlecht, the agents have received death threats. "In our zone it's war. We fear for our lives."

Source: HLN (Dutch)

Moscow: Three arrested for Jihadi recruiting

Moscow: Three arrested for Jihadi recruiting

The Russian Interior Ministry's department for the suppression of extremism has seized three members of an international terrorist organization in Moscow. The suspects were recruiting militants for terrorist acts in Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"The Russian Interior Ministry's department for the suppression of extremism, the Criminal Investigation Department and the traffic police have seized three active members of the terrorist organization Islamic Party of Turkestan," says the department report received by Interfax on Monday.

The detainees, among them the 33-year-old amir of the terrorist organization, were wanted in Tajikistan for terrorism and extremism.


Source: Interfax (English)