Finland: Shooter kills former girlfriend, four of her co-workers

Finland: Shooter kills former girlfriend, four of her co-workers

Ibrahim Sckupoll/Shkupolli (43), killed his former Finnish girlfriend of 18 years and four other people in the store where she worked in the Finnish town of Espoo today.  The Kosovo-Albanian came to Finaland in 1990 after a short stay in Norway.  Sckupoll married an Albanian woman in 2008 and had a child with her, but still kept after his girlfriend.  Sckupoll's brother and parents also live in Finland. (NO)

According to some reports Sckupoll targeted his victims (according to one theory he suspected one of the shop employees of having a relationship with his former girlfriend), according to others, he didn't.

Mikko Paatero, Finnish Police Director General, says this case is all about integration. (This and a roundup of stories at Gates of Vienna)

Roger Boyes of the Times is already blaming the Finns, for not integrating the Balkan refugees:

Yet there is some degree of social responsibility and the Finns will have to face up to it. A study of the mental health of mass evacuated Kosovo Albanians, conducted by Goeran Roth of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, revealed serious psychological problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder and clinical depression, and a greater sense of displacement than other migrant communities. The study was conducted in Sweden but tallies with results from many societies that took in war-scarred Bosnians or Kosovars.

Finland accepted them generously, gave them benefits, schooling and roofs over their heads – and then ignored them. As a result the Balkan refugees often inhabit a parallel universe made up of internet cafes, betting syndicates, casual work.


Police have confirmed to YLE that a sixth person found dead in Espoo on Thursday was the perpetrator of a shooting rampage at the Sello shopping mall. Four people were shot dead at the shopping centre on Thursday. A fifth victim, an ex-girlfriend of the shooter, was found dead in a flat in Espoo.

Following the incident, police began a manhunt for the suspect, Ibrahim Shkupolli. They said he was considered armed and dangerous, and had run-ins with the police in the past.

The Helsinki District Court sentenced Shkupolli to a fine in 2007 for firearm violation for illegal possession of a 9 mm handgun and ammunition. The Espoo District Court had also fined Shkupolli for illegal possession of a 7.65 calibre handgun and ammunition in 2003. His ex-girlfriend had sought and received a restraining order against him.

The shooting was reported to police at 10.08 am. Espoo Police say three men and one woman, all employed at the Prisma grocery store at the shopping centre, were shot dead at the mall. The ex-girlfriend was also employed at Prisma. The mall was closed following the incident.


Source: YLE (English)

Austria: HuT threaten minister over burka comments

Austria: HuT threaten minister over burka comments

Of all the people who spoke out against burkas recently, the one who gets threatened is the one who said that she might ban burkas in the future?


A banned radical Islamic organisation has sent a threatening letter to Social Democratic (SPÖ) Women's Minister Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek after she called for a ban on burkas, according to the Österreich newspaper.

The newspaper reported today (Weds) that the Hizb ut-Tahrir organisation based in Lebanon had sent it a three-page email after Christmas in which it condemned the minister's remarks last week and threatened her using the sentence from the Koran: "And know that Allah is strong in punishment."

The organisation's Vienna spokesman Shaker Assem also called "on Austrian Muslims to cease supporting the SPÖ".

Österreich said it had handed the document to the Federal Crime Office (BK), adding that to date there had been no serious investigation of Islamic fundamentalists in Austria.


Source: Austrian Times (English)

Germany: First Islamic bank to open in early 2010

Germany: First Islamic bank to open in early 2010

Germany's first Islamic bank, a unit of Kuveyt Turk Bank of Turkey, is to open its doors in early 2010 in the southern city of Mannheim, an executive confirmed Tuesday. Under Islamic banking principles, interest on loans is forbidden and money cannot be lent to enterprises that flout Sharia law. Instead, borrowers must offer collateral and lenders receive a share of business profits.

The unit will open by March at the latest in Mannheim, a factory city with a large ethnic Turkish population, Istanbul-based Kuveyt Turk Bank said. It would seek a full local banking licence for Germany later.

An area newspaper, Rhein Neckar Zeitung, broke the news. The bank executive, who asked not to be named, said Kuveyt Turk Bank intended to establish further branches in Germany, then in other European nations.


The Central Council of Muslims, an Islamic group, says its data show three quarters of them feel a strong bond to Islamic tradition and at least one fifth are interested in Islamic-approved investing.

The council said it was only a matter of time before German banks also realized there was a domestic retail market for Islamic banking investments, which are usually certified by Islamic scholars who review how they work to ensure they conform with Sharia.


Source: EarthTimes (English)

Gothenburg: University Dress Code aimed at Muslims?

Gothenburg: University Dress Code aimed at Muslims?

The introduction of a dress code for students at the University of Gothenburg has raised suspicion that the new policy might be aimed at Muslims. Swedish Radio news reports that lecturers now have the right to demand their students be dressed in a certain way during certain activities.

There are situations in which the face of a student has to be uncovered in order to enable lecturers and the other students to see a person's mimic, explained Pia Götebo Johannesson of the university.

Representatives of the university's Muslim association have criticized the new policy on clothing. Mohammad El-Alti told Swedish Radio news he thinks the policy is aimed at female Muslim nursing students wearing veils. But these women have always followed the demands of the seminars they attended, so a dress code policy is unnecessary, said El-Alti.

Source: SR (English)

London: University not preventing radicalization

London: University not preventing radicalization

University College London, where Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was recently president of the Islamic Society, has been accused of being "complicit" in the radicalisation of Muslim students by "failing grotesquely" to prevent extremists from giving lectures on campus.

UCL has been heavily criticised in the past for its relaxed attitude to radical preachers, and security agencies are investigating whether it was there that Detroit bomber Abdulmutallab was recruited by al-Qaeda sympathisers.

As recently as last month, Abu Usama, who teaches that homosexuals and apostates should be killed, was due to speak at UCL until the university finally bowed to pressure and cancelled the event, and last year, when Abdulmutallab was still a student at UCL, the Islamic Society held a five-day series of lectures and seminars about the War on Terror which have been criticised as anti-Western propaganda.

Anthony Glees, professor of security and intelligence studies at the University of Buckingham, said UCL had no excuse for failing to root out extremism on campus.

He said: "I believe Abdulmutallab's radicalisation from being a devoted Muslim to a suicide bomber took place in the UK and I believe al-Qaeda recruited him in London. Universities and colleges like UCL have got to realise that you don't get suicide bombers unless they have first been radicalised.

"UCL boasts on its website that it has 8,000 staff for 22,000 students, which is an enviable staff/student ratio. What have they been doing?

"All British universities must look at their Islamic Societies and demand assurances that no radicalisation will be allowed. If they can't give those assurances, they should be disbanded."

UCL has confirmed that Abdulmutallab was president of its Islamic Society from 2006-07, but has insisted he "never gave his tutors any cause for concern".

Douglas Murray, of the Centre for Social Cohesion, said: "UCL has not just failed to prevent students being radicalised, they have been complicit. If any other society at UCL invited someone to speak who encouraged killing homosexuals, that society would be banned immediately, but academics are afraid of taking action when it involves Islamic societies in case they are accused of Islamophobia.


Source: Telegraph (English)

Marseille: "I'm going to bomb it when it opens"

Marseille: "I'm going to bomb it when it opens"

This article doesn't really differentiate between assimilation (letting go of your culture in favor or another) and integration (trying to find a way to keep your culture while fitting in with another).


The minaret of the new Grand Mosque of Marseille, whose cornerstone will be laid here in April, will be silent — no muezzin, live or recorded, will disturb the neighborhood with the call to prayer. Instead, the minaret will flash a beam of light for a couple of minutes, five times a day.

Normally, the light would be green, for the color of Islam. But Marseille is a port, and green is reserved for signals to ships at sea. Red? No, the firefighters have reserved red.

Instead, said Noureddine Cheikh, the head of the Marseille Mosque Association, the light will almost surely be purple — a rather nightclubby look for such an elegant building.

So is this assimilation? Mr. Cheikh laughs. “I suppose it is,” he said. “It’s a good symbol of assimilation.”

But as Western Europe is plunged into a new bout of anxiety over the impact of post-colonial Muslim immigration — reeling in varying ways from the implications of a recent Swiss vote to ban minarets altogether — some scholars see a destructive dynamic, with assimilation feeding a reaction that, in turn, spawns resentment, particularly among young Muslims.

Vincent Geisser, a scholar of Islam and immigration at the French National Center for Scientific Research, believes that the more Europe’s Muslims establish themselves as a permanent part of the national scene, the more they frighten some who believe that their national identity could be altered forever.

“Today in Europe the fear of Islam crystallizes all other fears,” Mr. Geisser said. “In Switzerland, it’s minarets. In France, it’s the veil, the burqa and the beard.”

The large new mosque, which its builders call “the symbol of Marseillais Islam,” is a source of pride here in France’s second-largest city, which is at least 25 percent Muslim. But it is also cause for alarm, Mr. Geisser said, embodying the paradox that visible signs of integration set off xenophobic anxiety. “All these symbols reveal a deeper, more lasting presence of Islam,” he said. “It’s the passage of something temporary to something that is implanted and takes root.”


Racism in France has moved from being anti-Arab to anti-Muslim, he said, “a terrible regression.”

If 10 years ago Muslims debated politics and assimilation, “today everyone agrees and reacts the same way,” Mr. Mammeri said. “They feel they are attacked. Today we realize being a secular Muslim or a moderate or a radical Muslim is not the right question. It’s about being Muslim.”

When he travels abroad, to New York, Barcelona or Algiers, Mr. Mammeri said, “I’m French; I feel French. But in France, in Marseille every day, you have these same questions, repeated stupidly: what about the burqa, the mosque, terrorism.”


Still, the planned mosque, costing about $33 million, is not welcomed by everyone. Local politicians of the far-right Regional Front have vainly filed lawsuits trying to block construction of what they consider an effort to create an alternative landmark to compete with the city’s cathedrals.

At the Grand Bar Bernabo, a gritty cafe near the site of the new mosque, an older man who refused to give his name said, with a thin smile, “I’m going to bomb it when it opens.” Asked why, he said: “There are a lot of them already, and this will bring more of them, and there will be trouble.”

Jean-Claude, 49, a sanitation worker, said: “People in the area are flipping out, but when it’s done, it’s done. You can say whatever you want, but they’re going to build it.” He only hoped that the minaret — limited to just over 80 feet by local zoning laws — would not be taller than a nearby bell tower.

Gabrielle Martelli said Marseille had a good reputation for tolerance, “but things have been tense here for a long time.”

“There’s a lot of racism here” that goes both ways, she insisted. “When you’ve been insulted and called a ‘sale Française’ ” — a filthy Frenchwoman — “you think: ‘Wait, this is my country.’ ”


Source: New York Times (English)

EU: Muslim Brotherhood behind new Muslim Rights group

EU: Muslim Brotherhood behind new Muslims Rights group

Unsurprisingly, the new European Muslim Human Rights group announced on the IslamOnline site, is the brainchild of the FIOE (Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe), the umbrella group for the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe. The FIOE say they invited many experts in law and Muslim activists, but only 26 showed up. European media didn't pay much attention either.

From the FIOE site:

Muslims of Europe Organize the Inauguration Conference of the European Authority for the Defense of Muslim Rights in Brussels

On the initiative of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe the Inauguration Conference for the European Authority for the Defense of Muslims Rights was held in Brussels on December 19th 2009. Many experts in law and many Muslim activists were invited to join this event from all European regions. This initiative comes in response to the rising wave of Islamophobia, which has become a challenge to the Islamic presence in Europe and a dangerous threat to the rights of Muslims in the region. This step was expedited by the murder of Dr.Marwa El Sherbiny, on the grounds of her being a Muslim, which was made clear by the villain in court, and the recent referendum results in Switzerland. What is despicable in both cases is that the European standpoint did not blanch at wasting a human life or subjecting a civil right to the voting process, which indicates a dangerous decline in the level of Muslim rights in Europe and beyond.

In a telephone conversation with the Federation of Islamic Organizations, Dr.Fouad Elawy the Head of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in France mentioned that the aim of this initiative is to take the responsibility of defending the rights of Muslims from the level of public organizations to the level of a specialized organization run by lawyers capable of protecting these rights, and to warn European communities of the danger of ignoring the rights of minorities.

It is expected that the conference will attract European and international media presence, due to the importance of the topic, and its relation to the Islamic status in Europe, and the interest taken by Europe and the world in the hardships facing the Muslims of Europe with regards to their rights.

For other FIOE initiatives see:
* Muslims to sign 'historic code of conduct'
* Federation of Islamic Organisation in Europe - Assembly of Imams

Germany: Life sentence for ordering honor murder

Germany: Life sentence for ordering honor murder

This is the first time, I think, in which German authorities prosecuted somebody for ordering an honor murder, and not only for carrying it out. This is an important step in fighting such murders. The son, the actual murderer, will be out of jail before he's 30, which is probably why he was the one chosen to do it.


A German court imprisoned a Kurdish man, 50, for life on Tuesday for ordering the "honour killing" of his own daughter after being told she had lost her virginity. A son and an Azeri friend lured the 20-year-old woman, Gulsum, to a lonely country road near the Dutch border, throttled her with a rope and clubbed her to death, inflicting horrific injuries to her face.

German authorities have vowed to stamp out the archaic custom among some Kurds, Turks and other ethnic groups of families murdering their own members who offend "family honour" through sexual relationships. Social workers had earlier tried to protect Gulsum.

The state court at Kleve sentenced Gulsum's brother, 20, to nine and a half years in youth prison, just short of the maximum youth sentence of 10 years. He and the victim were two out of three triplets. He had confessed to the killing after he was arrested.

His helper, 37, was jailed for seven and a half years.

Judges said they were convinced the only motive to murder Gulsum had been that she was no longer a virgin and had secretly undergone an abortion.

They said they were also convinced the father of 10, who denied the murder, had ordered his son to kill the sister.


Source: Earth Times

See also: Germany: Brother confesses to honor killing

UK: Moving in with your mother-in-law

UK: Moving in with your mother-in-law

It's still tradition for newly-married British Asian women to live with their in-laws. For many this rite of passage can be tough.

I've been living with my in-laws ever since I got married. Now, after 15 years, my husband and I have finally bought our own home.

For many Asian women in the UK, living with their husband's family leads to arguments, from petty squabbles over not washing the dishes, to more serious disagreements which can turn nasty.

British Asians make up 6.5% of the UK's population (there are 4.2m British Asians according to official estimates) and these households tend to be, on average, larger than other ethnic groups.


Women brought up more traditionally in India and Pakistan were often encouraged to believe they were just "visitors" in their parents' home. They were taught their real home would be their in-laws' house and they were to regard their in-laws as their "real" parents.

Rani, now in her mid-50s, has been married for more than 30 years, and has spent her entire married life living with extended family. She said the most painful moment was when she had to get permission to visit her own parents.

"I'd cry on the phone to my mum and say it was ridiculous… and she'd say 'that's just the way it is, you've to ask your in-laws'."

Thirty-nine-year-old Humera, a teacher from Walsall in the West Midlands, had an arranged marriage 10 years ago and moved to Leicester.

It soon became apparent that living with her husband's parents and sister was not going to work out.

"I remember standing in the bathroom and thinking 'what have I done'," she says.


Source: BBC (English)

Europe: Al-Qaeda practiced passing explosives through airport security

Europe: Al-Qaeda practiced passing explosives through airport security

A central intelligence source says in response to the additional scanning equipment at Schiphol airport that al-Qaeda have their own scanning and x-ray equipment with which they practice making bombs as much as possible. More than that: al-Qaeda practiced in the past in passing body-scanners at major European airports.

"Al-Qaeda is being constantly under-estimated. They have at their disposal high-quality technical equipment and train with it. They undertook 'test-runs' in European airports in order to deceive the inspections," according to the intelligence source, who was active in the Dutch military security service for years. Schiphol purchased in recent years fifteen body-scanners, which looks at the bodies of passengers through their clothing using sound waves. they also see non-metallic objects and materials.

Due to strict European privacy regulations, the body-scan can only be used now in trials on internal European flights and for inspecting airport personnel.

Schiphol doesn't guarantee that the body-scans would have detected Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab's explosive powder. Al-Qaeda says on a website that Friday's unsuccessful attack was a retaliatory operation for an American attack on the group in Yemen and calls to kill workers in Western embassies in the region.

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

See also: Netherlands: Airport guards cheered 9/11

Utrecht: Doctor turns away burqa-wearing woman (UPDATE)

Utrecht: Doctor turns away burqa-wearing woman

Update: The mother in question described the incident on a Moroccan Dutch forum (NL, via GeenStijl). The woman, who wears a niqab, was accompanied by her husband, who held their three month old baby. When they were called in to the see the doctor, the doctor told the father that only he could go in with the baby. When she insisted that she should enter as the baby's mother, the doctor replied that he doesn't want anybody wearing a burka helping or entering his consultation room. When her husband asked why, the doctor answered that it was because of religious convictions and that he absolutely didn't want the services of anybody with a burka. The doctor refused to give his name, and so the woman returned to the reception to get his name. When she returned she was told that another doctor would see them. The doctor who first refused them then showed up and apologized.


A 23 year old mother with a burka to the disciplinary tribunal because she was turned away by a family doctor on Christmas Day. The Utrecht woman is upset and also lodged a complaint by the Equal Treatment Commission, reports AD.

According to the Muslim woman, who went to the clinic with her sick son, the doctor didn't want to help her because she wore a burqa. The doctor later said that he acted this way because he was run down.

The woman is nethertheless upset and turned to the disciplinary tribunal. The clinic regrets the incidents and is investigating exactly what happened.

The woman told AD she felt humiliated, pound into the ground and distressed. "I simply can't believe that somebody would turn me away for my external appearance," she said.

Source: Elsevier (Dutch)

Poland: Euro 2012 al-Qaeda plot thwarted

Poland: Euro 2012 al-Qaeda plot thwarted

Anti-terror police have thwarted an Al-Qaeda plot to bomb the 2012 Euro football tournament in Poland, it has emerged. The secret operation - codenamed 'Stand' and carried out by Poland's equivalent of MI5 and MI6 - kept track of a suspected terror cell for more than four years after a tip-off from the CIA, reports Polish news magazine Angora.

Secret service chiefs believe the sleeper cell was planning to blow up an entire stadium of fans at the height of the tournament, being co-hosted by Poland and the Ukraine. It was planned as one of the Islamic terror network's most spectacular attacks, to be carried out live on TV in front of a world wide audience of millions.

At first terror experts knew only that the cell planned a "major offensive" in Europe but intercepted messages that showed the tournament was going to be the target. The terrorists were allowed to plant their explosives during refurbishment works on a stadium in Poland before being arrested and held by para-military units.

Source: Austrian Times (English)

Netherlands: Airport guards cheered 9/11

Netherlands: Airport guards cheered 9/11

Members of one of the Dutch security companies at Schiphol Airport, Group4Securicor (G4S), are speaking out after the attempted terrorist attack on the US bound plane, for which their company was responsible.

Guards and former guards say that after the September 11 attacks, the only thing that was done was to add more workers, who knew nothing. G4S refused to comment on these accusations.

Belinda Kreugel, who until recently worked for G4S, says that she decided to speak up since the public interest is greater than her personal interest. She says that risk-flights to the US were inspected by beginners, and that people were sent out to do body searches and x-rays after just two weeks of training. Three quarters of the employees have been there for less than a year, after which it becomes too expensive to keep them. Airport administrators repeated these concerns.

One former employee says that some of the guards sympathized with Islamic terrorists. "Among my colleagues were friends of [Moroccan-Dutch terrorist] Samir Azzouz."

"I saw what happened among the guards during the September 11th attack. In the guard area of the 'security members' a loud cheer rose from Muslim colleagues. Several former colleagues witnessed it. There was a standing ovation. Together with other colleagues I've lodged a complaint about it by the military police."

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch), h/t NRP

UK: Royal Post serves pork to Muslim employees

UK: Royal Post serves pork to Muslim employees

I assume the vegetarians were also upset.


MUSLIM Royal Mail workers blasted the company for including pork in its seemingly meat-free Christmas lunch options.

Staff at Birmingham’s Aston sorting office were treated to a festive buffet for their efforts throughout the year.

But the gesture backfired when Muslim workers realised the scotch eggs contained pork.

The party food favourite was one of the options available to vegetarians and those from religious backgrounds who were unable to eat meat.

This included around 15 Muslims who were invited to the festive buffet.

One worker said both he and his colleagues were “very angry” and labelled an offer of a free cup of tea from the Royal Mail to make up as a “joke”.

“It’s totally against our religion to eat pork so we were all clearly upset and angry when we found out that we had eaten it,” the worker of 20 years said.

“Some of us became suspicious that the scotch eggs contained pork, and when it was confirmed we were really upset.

“We asked the catering staff what was in them and they told us that it was, in fact, pork.

“Management admitted the error and offered us a free cup of tea in return, which was just a joke.”

A spokesman for Royal Mail said an apology had been issued for the “genuine mistake”.


Source: Birmingham Mail (English)

EU: Association for European Muslims Rights

EU: Association for European Muslims Rights

Muslims activists from 26 European countries have come together to launch the first rights association to enlighten European Muslims about their rights, monitor rising Islamophobia and defend Muslim rights in European courts of law.

"We think European human rights groups are not doing enough to defend the rights of Muslims," Ali Abu Shwaima, the director of the Islamic Center in Milano, told on Monday, December 21.

"Therefore we though that we need this new association, especially that all laws and constitutions in Europe respect freedom of religion and oppose all forms of discrimination and racism."

The Association for European Muslims Rights was launched Sunday, December 20, in the Belgian capital Brussels.


Source: IslamOnline (English), h/t NRP

UK: Arsonists burn down mosque

UK: Arsonists burn down mosque

Update: One mosque, I fixed the headline.

A mosque was burned to the ground by arsonists in an overnight attack.

Ten fire crews were called to Cradley Heath Mosque and Islamic Centre in Plant Street, Cradley Heathe, near Dudley in the West Midlands, on Boxing Day.

But they could not save the mosque building, which was completely destroyed in the attack. It is the second time the hall has been targeted in recent years.

The Islamic education centre next door was also burned out during the attack at 10.15pm on Boxing Day. Fire crews said the fire was started deliberately and police are now investigating.

Around 400 worshippers regularly use the mosque. Leaders now face a challenge to find a replacement meeting place.

"This is not the first time we have been targeted," said Vasharat Ali, secretary of the mosque and Islamic centre. "There was a similar attack four or five years ago.

"The building is completely destroyed and all the books that we use with the children in the education centre next door have been damaged by the water."

Source: Telegraph (English)

Finland: First Ashura procession

Finland: First Ashura procession

Iraqis in Finland staged a peaceful gathering in Helsinki on Sunday to mark Ashura, a festival for Shi'ite Muslims. Police say the event drew some 200 participants to Helsinki's Kulosaari district.

The procession, which included people of all ages, made its way from the Kulosaari mosque to the Iraqi embassy.

Event organiser Ahmed al Hillo says the march was a stand against terrorism and restrictions to freedom of speech.

"The media portrays Iraq's Ashura festival as a bloody event with fights between police and pilgrims. We want to remind people that all Iraqis aren't terrorists," says al Hillo.

Finland is home to some 3,200 Iraqis. This was the first time an Ashura procession was staged in the country.

Source: YLE (Engish)

Germany: Lack of Islam teachers leads to segregated classes

Germany: Lack of Islam teachers leads to segregated classes

At a school in Haunstetten (Augsburg) some of the parents are at loggerheads with the principal Josef Neugebauer.  A number of Turkish parents are accusing Neugebauer of discrimination.  At the beginning of the school year the classes were reorganized.  Lawyer Yalcin Yorulmaz, who represents the parents, says that it throws back integration policies 30 years back, and is planning legal action.

Since September the school has a new 3rd grade class concentrating all the Turkish students together.  The three other 3rd grade classes have only Catholic and Protestant children.  It's legal, but it causes unrest in the school.

The new layout had nothing to do with the immigrant children at first.  Rather, it was an organization problem, says Neugebauer.  The reason is that the school wasn't allocated any German-speaking Islam teachers this year.  Gerhard Nickmann, Augsburg's schools superintendent says that they've already pointed that out to the Swabian government in the summer.

The school wasn't aware of the problem until shortly before the summer holidays, and Neugebaue says that organizationally it made most sense to form a new class.  The result being that all the Turkish students are concentrated in the same class.
A Culture Ministry directive, however, clearly says that students of immigrant background should be spread out evenly across all classes.  According to the school board, the Augsburg schools are generally mixed, and students are only separated for religion classes.  According to the school, there are 50% immigrant students in the class, according to the parents 90%.  But the origin doesn't matter so much as the level of language and integration.

Some Turkish parents feel the division is discriminatory.  The children have almost no opportunity to have German friends, says Asli Kömürcü, who's on the parent council.  Integration has come to nothing.   Gürkan Yildirim, a father, says that once the kids reach secondary school, the differences woudl be noticeable.

Most of all the parents want to avoid the example being set by the school.  The children learned German by associating with the German kids, says father Recep Turak.  And the class already got the label of being 'dumb'.  Meanwhile, 60 parents (not only immigrants) signed a petition saying that the new division is not acceptable. 

Neugebauer says that this segregation is a one-time thing and would only last for the current school-year.  Some German parents see nothing wrong with the current arrangement, and that quietly it's being approved.  But Neugebauer says he can do without support from that direction.

Source: Augsburger Allgemeinen (German), h/t PI

Denmark: Bonus for language classes

Denmark: Bonus for language classes

The Danish Liberal Party is proposing giving immigrant women who finish Danish-language and democracy classes, as well as family and educational guidance 15,000 kroner (~2,000 euro).

The aim is to get 10,000 women, who today live isolated from Danish society, out of their homes and into the labor market. The bonus will be given to immigrant women who don't get welfare and who are typically supported by their husband.

The party's integration spokesperson Karsten Lauritzen said that they don't intend to interfere in the family's choice, but they are making an offer that both the women and their husband can understand. Some of the women want to be part of Danish society, but are kept out by their husbands via a form of social control.

He's relying on new research that shows that some of the women who come through family reunification, for example from Turkey and Pakistan, and have been in Denmark for 15-20 years, live without any real contact with the outside world.

The Liberal Party looks like it will have quite the political majority for the proposal, as the Conservatives, DPP, Social Democrats and Social Liberals all think it's a constructive suggestion.

Henrik Dam Kristensen, integration spokesperson for the Social Democrats, thinks a bonus is a good idea, and that this current government hasn't been active enough in getting these women into the labor market.

Several integration researchers doubt, though, whether a welfare bonus will make a difference for this group of women.

Senior researcher Kræn Blume Jensen of the AKF (local government research institution), says that he's not sure whether a bonus is the way forward. It might work for some, but he's uncertain whether it will reach the great masses.

Source: JP (Danish)

Sweden: 56% think immigration was good for Sweden

Sweden: 56% think immigration was good for Sweden

In the Netherlands, meanwhile, the number of Dutch fearing that they have to adapt to the wishes of immigrants is growing.  28% thought so in 2000, compared with 39% today.  In 2000 26% thought immigration was a threat to Dutch culture, compared with 39% today. (NL)


A majority of the Swedish population is positive about immigration, according to a new Sifo opinion poll. Members of the Left Party were the most positive, while Sweden Democrats were the most negative.

Fifty-six percent responded in the affirmative to the question of whether or not immigration has been for the most part positive for Sweden. Around 30 percent answered that immigration was negative and 14 percent were doubtful or didn't know.


Source: The Local

Quote: 'It's Much Better If Things Are Discussed Openly'

Quote: 'It's Much Better If Things Are Discussed Openly'

Muslims aren't integrating as well as many Europeans would like to believe. American political journalist Christopher Caldwell, author of a recent book on Islam in Europe, argues that taboos and wishful thinking prevent an honest discussion of the issue.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Caldwell, Switzerland recently banned minarets in a referendum. What was your first thought when you heard the news?

Caldwell: The most stunning thing about it is the gap between the clear rejection of the ban in public opinion polls and the clear approval given in the actual vote. It means there is an official discussion of Islam and that there is a subterranean discussion. That should worry Europeans.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Are you suggesting there is no open discussion about Islam in Europe?

Caldwell: I think these things are getting much more openly debated than a few years ago. In the Netherlands and Denmark you do have a contentious debate. I think a lot of Danes and Dutch aren't really proud of the way their populist parties are discussing the issue of immigration, but it's generally much better if things are discussed openly.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Where, in your opinion, is it not possible to speak openly about it?

Caldwell: In countries like France there are laws against all sorts of speech. That has a very chilling effect. Many people are frightened about negative consequences if they say how they really feel. Sometimes even to the pollsters, as the Swiss example shows.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: In your book, "Reflections on the Revolution in Europe," you cast a skeptical light on Europe's relationship with its Muslim immigrants. In your view, do Muslim immigrants pose a threat to the Continent?

Caldwell: I don't speak of a threat, exactly. This is a very important distinction. The debate up until now has been marked by two extremes. On the one side you have the doomsayer extreme, the people who say Islam is "taking over" Europe. On the other, you have people with the point of view that there's no problem at all, except racism. I think both positions are wrong, and I have tried to set a new tone.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Nevertheless, when reading your book, one leaves it with the impression that you think Europe will have real trouble integrating its Muslim immigrants.

Caldwell: Islam poses difficulties that other immigrant groups do not. Part of it is the growth of political Islam in the world in the last half-century. A large minority of European Muslims feel solidarity with the Muslim community abroad, and they feel at the same time that the West is at war with this world. That makes the transition into a European identity more difficult. But I think the problems at the cultural level are more important.


Caldwell: A lot of overly optimistic people expect Muslims to give up, or to modify, their religion over time. They're going to change in some way, but we don't really know how. And attitudes around religion provide a lot of potential for conflict -- the attitudes towards women, towards family relations, sexual freedom or gay rights.


SPIEGEL ONLINE: There are intellectuals like Bassam Tibi and controversial Tariq Ramadan who are calling for a Euro Islam and say that Muslims have no problem adopting European values.

Caldwell: Islam will definitely take on a European cast. That's exactly what happened to Islam in every place it has ever gone. And Muslims can certainly be good Europeans. But non-Muslim Europeans will be the judge of that, too. The Swiss referendum shows that Muslims arrive at a way of being European and believe that they've met the Europeans at the halfway point. But that does not mean non-Muslim Europeans feel the same.


Source: Spiegel

UK: Northwest terrorist might have been recruited in London

UK: Northwest terrorist might have been recruited in London

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian accused of trying to blow up Northwest Flight 253, may have become recruited to the terrorist cause during three years he spent studying in Britain, his family said.

The 23-year-old was sent to London to study by his wealthy father, a prominent Nigerian banker who is reported to have become despondent over his son's growing radicalism.

Abdulmutallab enrolled at University College London (UCL) in September 2005, graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering in June last year.


Police on Saturday carried out searches at the flat, the lease on which, according to records, is owned by a US investment company. Scotland Yard confirmed that it was liaising with the US authorities investigating the failed attack. Officers also visited UCL.

According to a Nigerian source based in the US, a relation of Abdulmutallab's had claimed that the student, from a Muslim family, had been "recruited" to a more militant form of Islam in London.

On completing his degree, Abdulmutallab was believed to have moved to Yemen, where he was further radicalised and allegedly underwent some form of training culminating in the failed terrorism attempt.

Abdulmutallab was issued with a visa to the US on June 16 last year, coinciding with the completion of his UCL course. The visa was valid until June 12, 2010. His reason given for visiting the US was to attend a religious ceremony.

The source said: "After school at a top establishment in west Africa, Umar was sent to London to college. But when his degree course ended, he 'disappeared' to Yemen, where he was being taught Arabic. His family are suggesting he probably got recruited in London but became radicalised in Yemen. He had been in Yemen for about a year or even a year and a half although during that period he had flown between Yemen, Nigeria and the UK."


Abdulmutallab is reported to have told authorities that the explosive device was acquired in Yemen along with instructions on when it was to be used from al-Qaeda operatives, although it is claimed he later withdrew that remark.

Mohammed Mutallab, a cousin of the alleged bomber, told The Sunday Telegraph that the family was shocked that he had been arrested and believed he had been radicalised in Britain.

A Nigerian online newspaper reported, however, that Abdulmutallab had already held extremist views while at a boarding school in west Africa, where he earned the nickname "Alfa" in reference to his prowess as an Islamic scholar.


Source: Daily Telegraph

Russia: Islamists claim responsibility for priest's murder

Russia: Islamists claim responsibility for priest's murder

An Islamist militant group based in Russia's North Caucases has claimed the killing last month of an Orthodox priest who was an outspoken critic of Islam.

"One of our brothers who has never been to the Caucases took up the oath of (former independent Chechen president Doku Umarov) and expressed his desire to execute the damned Sysoyev," said a statement on the website.

Daniil Sysoyev, 35, was killed on November 20 when masked gunman walked into Saint Thomas's church in southern Moscow and shot him four times.

Doku Umarov emerged as the leader of the remaining active rebel movements in the North Caucases in 2007 and is considered enemy number one in the region by Russian authorities.

The statement on the website, which is often used by militants, accused Sysoyev of writing several pamphlets insulting Islam.


Source: AFP (English)

Netherlands: A reader's personal experience

Netherlands: A reader's personal experience

I received the letter below a few days ago. The experience the reader describes is a common one. Common enough, that I don't report every time Moroccan gangs hit the news.

Just recently, for example, 29 Moroccan kids were arrested in Gouda for 'terrorizing' passers-by with snowballs and ice-balls. The kids put up snow barriers to stop bikers and drivers, and then mugged them. The police added agents to try and catch them, and intend to arrest more. (NL)

The experience is common enough that the Moroccan community itself is starting to recognize this problem, and that this problem is theirs as well.

See also: Amsterdam: Dutch want police to take harsher measures against Moroccans


I fell upon your blog tonight after experiencing my third Moroccan youth attack on innocence by-passers of the Bilderdijkpark. As I walked with my visiting friend from Montreal, we passed the Billderdijkpark to my apartment home near the Hugo de Grootplein we noticed a group of 15 to 17 Moroccan youth (maybe 17-23 year olds) walking by and throwing snowballs at people riding by on their bikes. At first we walked slowly across the Bilderdijkstraat towards our street but stopped in your tracks as we notice that they were all (all 15-17 of them) attacking a man on his bike causing him to fall off his bike. What was even more astonishing was that the youths continued to attack this man while he was down on the ground. They yelled and laughed as they threw tightly packed snowballs at this man's face and body.

My friend and I quickly went across the street as the youths placed their next targets on a elderly couple, who also frighten by this act, jumped off they bikes and began walking slowly behind and past this gang of youths. As soon as I arrived home I began to call the cops and watched as the gang continued throwing snowballs at any passerby. After telling the cops what I saw and being asked if anyone was actually hurt badly enough that they would need to come or call an ambulance, I finally said a few "magic" words, "They are attacking people" which made the police respond by saying, "we are on our way."

It was 10 minutes later that I saw the police ride by the Bilderdijkpark, turn around and drive quickly away.

I, in the meantime, left my apartment and followed the gang of 15-17 guys, around the corner of my block, on the Van Houweningenstraat, but perhaps I followed too cautiously because they were all gone in an instant. I did meet a neighbor who ask if I was looking a the "gang of young men". We began talking about how this gang have been terrorizing the neighborhood with their actions and how something needs to be done about this. Unfortunately, we both agreed, we do not feel backed by the police, nor the government. If i was to protect myself with an object I had on me, ie. bike chain, mace, etc., I would be held accountable for having a weapon and yet, the fact that these youth are terrorizing the neighborhood goes unwatched.

I feel that we need to have more police presence in this neighborhood and more arrest for these brutal actions. In my 6 months of living in this neighborhood, and after witnessing just three attacks, I know where these men live; so should the local police.

I am really upset by seeing this today and i want to do something more than walk around watching my, and my neighbors, back.

Please help me with any suggestions you might have.

UK: Girls face FGM during Christmas holidays

UK: Girls face FGM during Christmas holidays

Hundreds of British schoolgirls are facing the terrifying prospect of female genital mutilation (FGM) over the Christmas holidays as experts warn the practice continues to flourish across the country. Parents typically take their daughters back to their country of origin for FGM during school holidays, but The Independent on Sunday has been told that "cutters" are being flown to the UK to carry out the mutilation at "parties" involving up to 20 girls to save money.

The police face growing criticism for failing to prosecute a single person for carrying out FGM in 25 years; new legislation from 2003 which prohibits taking a girl overseas for FGM has also failed to secure a conviction.

Experts say the lack of convictions, combined with the Government's failure to invest enough money in education and prevention strategies, mean the practice continues to thrive. Knowledge of the health risks and of the legislation remains patchy among practising communities, while beliefs about the supposed benefits for girls remain firm, according to research by the Foundation for Women's Health, Research and Development (Forward).

As a result, specialist doctors and midwives are struggling to cope with increasing numbers of women suffering from long-term health problems, including complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

Campaigners are urging ministers to take co-ordinated steps to work with communities here and overseas to change deep-seated cultural attitudes and stamp out this extreme form of violence against women.


The Somali model Waris Dirie was mutilated at the age of five. She set up the Waris Dirie Foundation in 2002 to help eradicate FGM. She said: "I am worried about the situation in Europe and the US, as FGM seems to be on the rise in these places. In the 21st century, a crime this cruel should not be accepted in a society as developed as England. No one can undo the trauma that is caused by this horrible crime; it stays in your head for ever. So what we should focus on is that there won't be another victim."

Jackie Mathers, a nurse from the Bristol Safeguarding Children Board, said: "These families do not do this out of spite or hatred; they believe this will give their daughters the best opportunities in life. We would like a conviction, not against the parents, but against a cutter, someone who makes a living from this. We have anecdotal information that the credit crunch means people can't go home, so they're getting cutters over for 'FGM parties'. It is hard for people to speak out because they are from communities that are already vilified as asylum seekers, so to stand up against their communities is to risk being ostracised. But we have to empower girls and women to address this, along with teachers, school nurses and social workers. We can't ignore it; it is mutilation."

A Home Office spokesman said: "We have appointed an FGM co-ordinator to drive forward a co-ordinated government response to this appalling crime and make recommendations for future work."


Source: Independent, h/t HotAir

France: Burka ban proposal, minarets again in the spotlight

France: Burka ban proposal, minarets again in the spotlight

In a related story, the Austrian Social Democratic (SPÖ) Women’s Minister Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek said she supports a ban on burkas, should burkas become a problem in Austria.

"I consider the burka as a sign of the submission of women. It greatly hinders women from finding jobs in the labour market. If more women wearing burkas appear in Austria, I will test a ban on them and enact administrative fines for women wearing them in public buildings," she said. (EN)

The Social Democrats had previously rejected such a ban.


The identity debate is heating up in France.

Nora Berra a Muslim Minister of State, claims that Pascal Clement, the former justice minister, said that "the day when there are as many minarets as there are cathedrals in France, it won't be France any more". Nora Berra says Clement's words are a new anti-Muslim generalization. When we speak of the burka, she says, we're not speaking of Muslims.

Pascal Clement, on the other hand, denies he ever says it, and that he actually said that people should be free to worship in decent houses of prayer, but that minarets are governed by the planning codes that are the result of French history and cultural identity. Clement said on France 3 that once you talk about minarets, you become a racist. He added that Berra was the one who made up the statement.

However, Nora Berra was not the only one shocked by Clement's words. Minister of State Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet also left the room. (FR)

For more stories about the French identity debate:

* France: Young Muslims shouldn't speak slang, says minister
* France: Religious demands discussed in parliament
* France: No citizenship for 'burqa husbands', says justice minister
* France: Muslims must be discreet about faith


The French ruling party of President Nicolas Sarkozy now affirms it will present a bill to ban full-length Islamic veils in all public places in France. It won't wait for the results of a parliamentary inquiry into the all-covering niqab and burqa to be published. The move adds fuel to an increasingly hot debate on French identity that has minorities here upset.


The UMP effort to outlaw the full-length veil in public trumps earlier efforts to ban it only in some official buildings, and comes at a time when French Muslims say they are being targeted as outsiders or not fully French.

Yet UMP party leader Jean-François Cope yesterday said veils that cover a woman’s entire face are a “violation of individual liberty” and a “negation” of one’s identity and that of others in a public milieu.

Under the proposed law, women would not be able to move in public with their faces fully covered. The legal rendering is that burqas and all-covering niqabs are a public order issue, and not a religious practice issue - as is the French ban on headscarves in schools, which has been carried out to uphold French secularism, known as laïcité.

Offenders wearing veils would receive a fine – though lawmakers now say there will be a period of mediation following the initial charge.


The UMP launched the identity debate at a time when many French argue that social and ethnic tensions are being ignored. The concept of the discussion was at first welcomed by such figures on the left as Ségolène Royal, presidential candidate of the Socialist party in 2007.

Yet racial overtones and slurs among French UMP politicians and ordinary French during the identity debate – combined with a vaguely anti-Muslim echo effect here after the Swiss vote on minarets – has left many French intellectuals and analysts charging that the discussion is poorly conceived. One small town mayor on France 2 TV in the identity debate described France as possibly being “gobbled up” by “them.”

During the closed UMP discussion Tuesday, a lawmaker stated that "the day when there are as many minarets as there are cathedrals in France, it won't be France any more." The comment reportedly caused female Muslim UMP member, Nora Berra, to storm out of the meeting, slamming the door behind her.

On Europe 1 radio today Ms. Berra stated that she feels the dynamics of the burqa issue, and the identity debate, appear to target ethnic and religious groups and, as such, are violations of France’s sacred civic principle of laïcité, which forbids any public religious expression or targeting of citizens on religious grounds.


Source: CS Monitor (English)

Norway: "Naturally we celebrate Christmas"

Norway: "Naturally we celebrate Christmas"

Yousuf al-Qaradawi got a lot of flack from Westerners for saying Muslims shouldn't openly celebrate Christmas in Muslim countries. But how could he not? Christmas is one of the most Christian holidays there is. Why should Muslims celebrate it?

Muslims face an even greater problem in the West. Is Christmas a Christian or national holiday?

Radio Netherlands reports on how Muslims in Germany celebrate Christmas:

Modern-day Christmas has come to be as much about presents as religion. And this can cause problems for Muslim families whose children feel left out when their Christian friends and schoolfellows are being showered with goodies. Idan Suer, the son of Turkish immigrants and a sociology lecturer at one of Berlin’s universities, describes how a friend of his deals with the situation.

"Her family and some other Turkish families come together on Christmas Eve and they buy presents for their children. They do a Turkish version of Christmas. They have Turkish music, Turkish food and of course Santa Claus speaks Turkish as well. That is not a religious thing; it’s just making the children happy and buying them little gifts."


"Naturally" is the answer whenever somebody asks Norwegian-Pakistani Yousuf Gilani if he celebrates Christmas.

"It's impossible not to be infected by the good Christmas atmosphere," says the Drammen resident.

The 37 year old went to buy plastic Christmas trees and Christmas presents for his family. The only difference from the average Norwegian Christmas home is that the traditional ribs are replaced by lamb curry.

Gilani explains with a smile that this year they'll also have julenisse (Santa Claus), but he won't be White.

The Muslim admits he's a little tired of the well-intentioned question which often comes from colleagues, friends and acquaintances.

Therefore he wrote a column in Klassekampen which he concludes with: "One doesn't have to be Christan or have a religious connection to celebrate Christmas."

"Celebrating Christmas is a very nice tradition which has a message of love, of caring for each other and showing respect. Nobody can be hurt by that," says Gilani, who thinks Islam and Christianity are based on the same values.

He says that many of his Muslim peers celebrate Christmas, and encourages everybody to celebrate, in their own way.

He says it could be an alternative Christmas. "It doesn't necessarily have to be that we sing Christmas songs, but we have family gatherings with presents, and everybody has a good time," says the father to two.

He says it's important to share in each other's holidays such as Christmas and Eid, without having to convert to the other's religion.

"It's the best measure of inclusion in a multicultural society," concludes Gilani.

"Merry Christmas - inshallah! Directly translated it means 'if God wills'," ends Gilani once he finishes the last of Christmas shopping.

Source: NRK (Norwegian)

Sweden: Auschwitz sign stolen to fund struggle against Islamization

Sweden: Auschwitz sign stolen to fund struggle against Islamization

... By attacking the Swedish Prime Minister, the Foreign Ministry and Parliament.

Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet interviewed one of the people in this group. A Nazi leader, he supposedly defected from the Nazi group a while back, but now admits it was a bluff.

"The classic Nazi organizations are outdated. They consist of a collection of unintelligent people who can't achieve anything. I believe more in people who are willing to act, I am more Baader Meinhof-inspired".

"Moreover, Nazi is an outdated term. I don't give a shit about Jews. Today the struggle is not about race, but rather about religion, and the struggle against the Islamization of society". (SE)


The Nazi gang that ordered the theft of the infamous 'Arbeit Macht Frei' sign from the gates of Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland planned to sell it to fund violent attacks against the Swedish Prime Minister and Parliament, it was claimed today.

A spokesman for the Swedish security police confirmed that the authorities were taking seriously a threat by a militant Nazi group to disrupt national elections next year.

"We are aware of the information about the alleged attack plans," said Patrik Peter, the security police spokesman.

“We have taken actions. We view this seriously.”


Allegations concerning who ordered the theft, and why, have surfaced today in Swedish newspaper reports after the former leader of a Swedish Nazi group claimed that it had been stolen to order for a collector in England, France or the United States.

"We had a person who was ready to pay millions for the sign," the unnamed source told Aftonbladet, Sweden's biggest-selling daily newspaper.

The Nazi source said that the money would pay for an attack on the home of Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Swedish Prime Minister who has held the rotating presidency of the European Union for the last six months, and on the Swedish Foreign Ministry, the paper reported.

A third attack allegedly involved plans to bombard Swedish MPs from the public seats of the parliament.

"The sign was to be delivered to Sweden, since it was here the deal should be made," the source said. "My role was to find a buyer. We had a person who was willing to pay millions but he had no political agenda. These things have a huge collector value... The biggest collectors are from England, the United States and France."


Source: Times Online

Norway: 100 convert to Islam in 2009

Norway: 100 convert to Islam in 2009

More than 100 Norwegians converted to Islam this year. The Catholic church is also seeing a similar demand from people seeking a new faith.

Yusuf Estes, a Muslim speaker from the US was in Norway for a visit this past June. After his speech at Oslo University College, five Norwegians converted to Islam.

They did this by reading the Muslim creed in front of hundreds of students.

There are no official statistics on how many convert to Islam. But TV2 received data from most central mosques and Muslims organizations across the country. Just this year, more than 100 Norwegians became Muslim.

Most conversions took place at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Grønland, Oslo. Maulana Mehboob ur-Rehman is the imam who converted 14 people this year.

"Those who convert must read the creed where they sincerely say that they believe there's only one God and that Mohammed is his prophet. This is all that is needed to convert. The practical duties like prayer and alms will come eventually," the imam told TV2.

Fahad Qureshi is the head of the Islamnet organization. They arranged the speech at Oslo University College where five Norwegian converted to Islam.

Now he stands every other week at Karl Johan street and gives out informational material on Islam.

"We don't stand there to convert or sneak-Islamisize. We just want to correct the impression of Islam by saying the truth. At Karl Johan there are many who come over to us. Some are hostile and think we have nothing to do here. But other are seeking and wish to learn and read about Islam. We give them free informational material and DVDs," says Qureshi.

In late March he's arranging Scandinavia's first Islamic peace conference in Oslo.

"The idea of this conference is to build a bridge between Islam and other religions. And people who don't believe. We wish to present Islam for what it is, and not as the religion is portrayed in the media. The aim is to clear up misunderstandings about a peaceful religion," says Qureshi.

But it's not just Islam which is experiencing demand from seeking Norwegian. The Catholic Church has also gotten about 100 new converts in 2009.

In contrast to Islam, a sentence is not enough to convert. Pål Bratbak says that one must go to Sunday Mass, the most central of Catholic Church practices, learn for about a year's time and then write a letter to the bishop asking to be accepted into the Catholic Church.

Source: TV2 Nyhetene (Norwegian)

Greece: Immigrants to get citizenship

Greece: Immigrants to get citizenship

Cabinet approves pioneering draft law to give foreigners and their children greater rights

Second-generation immigrants are going to be given the right to claim Greek citizenship and vote in the country’s elections, the Cabinet decided yesterday.

In what will be groundbreaking legislation for Greece, the proposed law would allow some 250,000 children who have been born in the country to migrant parents to call themselves Greek. Under the draft law, now open to public consultation, if one of the child’s parents has been living in Greece for at least five years in a row, then their son or daughter will be able to claim citizenship.

This right will also be available to children who have attended the first three years of primary school in Greece or have studied at Greek schools for a total of six years. The Interior Ministry estimates that if the law is passed before next year’s municipal elections, then 150,000 second-generation immigrants will be able to vote in the polls.

The bill also proposes that foreigners living and working in Greece legally for five consecutive years will be able to be naturalized, allowing them to vote and run in local elections but not general elections.


Source: Kathimerini (English)

Birmingham: Opposition to Saudi imams

Birmingham: Opposition to Saudi imams

If Saudi clerics are sincerely opposed to al-Qaeda, is this enough to make them role models?

An instructive row has broken out between the Quilliam Foundation, British Muslims for Secular Democracy, humanists, and progressive rabbis on the one hand, and the Green Lanes Mosque in Birmingham, over a couple of visiting Saudi imams who will preach there this weekend.

The Quilliam/BMSD complaint is that these people are well-documented anti-semites and preachers of hate; the mosque responds indignantly that the preachers are thoroughly opposed to al-Qaeda and to terrorism, and that the objectors are unrepresentative stooges.

The first question is whether the original charges are justified. Here, I think that the mosque has been caught bang to rights. The letter objecting to the preachers" visit lists some pretty hair-raising statements on their site. The links are to Arabic sound files, but I don't see any reason to doubt their authenticity, which has not in any case been denied:


On the other hand, the mosque defends itself against the charge that it is sponsoring terrorism: "These speakers are academics who have specialised in Islamic sciences and are well respected in scholarly circles. It is grossly unjust to suggest that they belong to some fringe ideology rather than orthodox Islam."

Is anti-semitism of this sort really mainstream, orthodox Islam?


Source: Guardian (English)

Switzerland: Minarets in manger, schools respect Muslims

Switzerland: Minarets in manger, schools respect Muslims

In the church in Bellinzona (Ticino), the traditional nativity crib with the Child Jesus, is surrounded by minarets [pictures here].  The unusual scene is supposed to make people reflect about brotherhood and human rights, after 57% of the Swiss (and 68% in Ticino) recently voted against minarets on mosques.  On the crib are verses from the Bible and the Koran on the topic of water.


The education department in the canton of Zurich adopted new guidelines which take the religious feelings of children of other faiths into account.  Activities and songs with religious content, for example those that refer to Jesus as the Son of God, are not allowed.  In Islam, Jesus is a prophet but not the Son of God.

Director of Education Regine Aeppli (SP) says this doesn't mean schools should celebrate Christmas without Jesus, and that this shows that they respect the constitutional freedom of religion.  The guidelines were adopted years ago.  According to Aeppli there were never any problems with it.

Songs which deal with Jesus and therefore affect the religious freedom of non-Christian children: Alle Jahre wieder (Every Year Again), Der Heiland ist geboren (Christ is Born), Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming), Ihr Kinderlein kommet (Come ye little children), and Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht (Silent Night).  Songs without Jesus are less controversial, for example: O Tannenbaum (O Christmas Tree) and "Zimetschtern han i gern" by Andrew Bond.

Sources: Tages-Anzeiger (German), AD (Dutch), h/t NRP

See also: Italy: Mosques in nativity scenes

Denmark: Minister accuses Islamic Faith Society of thwarting integration

Denmark: Minister accuses Islamic Faith Society of thwarting integration

The Danish Employment and Equality minister Inger Støjberg (V) is accusing the Islamic Faith Society of thwarting integration in Denmark.

The accusation comes after the Islamic Faith Society refused a visit of  Inger Støjberg, because she would only talk about equality during the visit and not about the problems - such as hidden racism - that Muslims meet on the job market.

"This clearly shows that people aren't interested in doing anything about the massive problems around social and cultural control, which make some immigrant women are subjected to norms which restrict their free choice.  When we look at the numbers we can see, that the vast majority of immigrants are able to integrate in Danish society and join the labor-market.  That we have an organization like this - which pulls in the other direction - is a shame," says the Employment and Equality Minister.

Inger Støjberg invited herself to a visit at the Islamic Faith Society in relation to the fall campaign about equality between the sexes.  but the Faith Society says that the visit is a welcome opportunity to bring up other problems.

Though the Employment and Equality Minister stresses that she has no problems discussing other issues than equality with the Islamic Faith Society, she says she does intend to meet just to discuss employment policies.

"I'm not sure there's a basis for further debate.  I can see that while an increasing number of immigrant are integrating - and joining the labor market - it's clear that this organization is openly led by people, who have a questionable attitude to equality and a questionable attitude to the entire debate about equality," says Inger Støjberg.

Last week the Islamic Faith Society accused Inger Støjberg of acting against the law by saying that Muslim women could lose welfare benefits if they refuse to work in a place which required them to remove their headscarf.  The Islamic Faith Society said that Støjberg was attacking those women's constitutionally protected rights.

Sources: JP 1, 2 (Danish)

UK: MCB upset at law change following Livni arrest warrant

UK: MCB upset at law change following Livni arrest warrant

The Muslim Council of Britain has attacked Foreign Secretary David Miliband for saying he would change the law of universal jurisdiction in the wake of the Tzipi Livni arrest warrant row.

In a long letter to Mr Miliband, MCB general secretary Mohammad Abdul Bari said: “We regret to have to say that the process that the government appears to have chosen to follow on this issue is fundamentally flawed.”


But Mr Abdul Bari said: "It appears, that following the expression of strong disapproval and anger by the Israeli government, and representations by the Jewish Leadership Council, you have shown a willingness to review and remove the powers of magistrates in the UK to issue warrants of arrest against alleged Israeli war criminals”.

He accused Mr Miliband of “allowing political exigency to undermine and erode fundamental legal traditions and conventions which are centuries old”. He asked why the foreign secretary chose only to rely on Lord Pannick’s opinion and not sought different views.

The proposed change, he said, “sends out a clear signal that the government wants the courts to be subservient to political considerations”.

The letter ended by urging Mr Miliband of the “grave consequences of interfering with established legal procedures” and the damage it would do to Britain’s reputation both at home and abroad.


Source: The JC

Belgium: Turkish suspects aquitted of terrorism

Belgium: Turkish suspects acquitted of terrorism (Islam in Europe)

In a related story, a DHKP-C member was arrested in Germany on suspicion of carrying out firebombings.


The court of appeal in Brussels has acquitted the left-wing organisation DHKP-C of charges of terrorism or criminal acts. However, three of six DHKP-C members have been found guilty of being gang members. The case is ten years old and was complicated by newly introduced Belgian legislation concerning terrorist organisations.


The Brussels judges finally decided that DHKP-C is not a terrorist organisation. This is in stark contrast to Turkey, which put DHKP-C on the list of terrorist organisations in 2007.

Three members of DHKP-C have been found guilty of forming a gang. The best-known member of DHKP-C, Fehriye Erdal, vanished three years ago. The Belgian judicial authorities have 15 days to decide whether they want to launch an appeal and take the case to the Court of Cassation.

Source: De Redactie (English)

See also:
* Antwerp: Turks shocked by terrorist acquittal
* Quote: Terrorist attack in Belgium

Sweden: Allah not an acceptable name (UPDATED)

Sweden: Allah not an acceptable name (Islam in Europe)

Updated: According to the blog Politisk Inkorrekt, the baby in question is Muslim.

There are currently 19 women and 35 men named Allah in Sweden, but according to Margareta Lärkfeldt of the Tax Authority they all immigrated to Sweden and therefore can't be banned from having that name. There are no people named God or Jahve (Yahweh), but there are 152 Shiva, 167 Oden, 19 Zeus and 667 Jesus. (SE)


In the latest battle over what people may legally call their children, the Swedish Tax Authority (Skatteverket) has ruled that the parents of a two-month-old boy in Skåne in southern Sweden may not call their child Allah.

According to the decision, Skatteverket does not approve “names that can give offence or be seen to cause discomfort for the bearer”. In this case, Skatteverket was “of the opinion that the name can be seen as objectionable for religious reasons.”

Skatteverket legal expert Lars Tegenfeldt told The Local that devout members of the public might take offense to certain names with highly religious connotations.

“God or Allah or the Devil is offensive to the public. Not me personally, but there are religious people who think so,” he said.

“Some religious names though, like Jesus, are normal,” he added.


Source: The Local (English)

Odense: Prison for father who bit teacher’s ear (UPDATED)

Odense: Prison for father who bit teacher’s ear (Islam in Europe)


The father, Rabih Abou Khamis, told Tv 2 Nyhederne that the teacher insulted his daughter and so he reacted.

"I will try to convince all of the Danish people that I and my children were unjustly treated. We will bring out the truth. It's important for me that my version of the story is known," he said. Rabih Abou Khamis says he's not happy about having to leave his children and family for six months. (DA)


A man who attacked a teacher for having shaken the hand of his 9-year-old daughter during a parent-school meeting has been sentenced to six months in prison.

The attack took place last October when the man, who is an ethnic Palestinian, attacked a mathematics teacher, who is Moroccan, for shaking the hand of his daughter prior to a school-home meeting. Apart from repeated blows, the teacher was also bitten in the ear.


Source: Politiken (English)

Copenhagen: Ahmadinejad meets with Danish Muslims

Copenhagen: Ahmadinejad meets with Danish Muslims

Update: The Danish People's Party wants to cut subsidies to the Muslim Joint Council for participating in the meeting and not condemning Ahmadinejad and the Iranian regime. (DA)


Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad uploaded pictures of his trip to Copenhagen, and these include pictures of a meeting with Danish Muslims, in which imam Abdul Wahid Pedersen and the spokesperson for the Muslim Joint Council (Muslimernes Fællesråd), Zubair Butt Hussein, participated.

Zubair Butt Hussein says that he debated whether to participate "because you can't just say that I agree with the man - for example, regarding the Holocaust, or the treatment of the students who demonstrate in Tehran." but he's a debater and has also sat with everybody in Denmark whether from the Danish People's Party or the Red-Green Alliance. He wanted to hear from Ahmadinejad how he really sees Denmark.

Zubair Butt Hussein didn't get to speak in the meeting, which he says was very short, and couldn't communicate directly with Ahmadinejad, who only speaks Farsi. He says he spoke with a staff member who spoke English and told him that although the Danish debate is stormy, Danish Muslims really have it good. He's not picked up by the police for being a spokesperson for Muslims. He says that other Danish Muslims who were there gave a similar picture.

Asked why it was relevant to meet with a man like Ahmadinejad, Zubair Butt Hussein answers that he can't speak for everybody but he wanted to hear things from the people involved. He also wanted to shake hands with Mugabe (Zimbabwe's dictator), as did prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen.

He says that both Danish Sunni and Shia Muslims were at the meeting. The two denominations are fighting in Iraq, among other places.

He says he thinks there was an interest in how Sunni and Shia Muslims deal with each other here. The problems of mosque buildings and minarets were also discussed. And the meeting at the Bella Center during COP15 also dealt with the environment. He says he was glad to hear it being debated that a green lifestyle is part of Islam.

Source: Politiken (Danish)

Sweden: Left, Muslims bigger threat to Jews

Sweden: Left, Muslims bigger threat to Jews

The extreme-right is too busy with Muslims.


A central source in the Stockholm branch of the Jewish Security in Sweden organization (JSS) says that it's difficult to estimate how many antisemitic crimes go unreported, but it's at least double. The reported hate crimes against Jews increased by 400% during the Gaza war.

The JSS guards Jewish cemeteries, synagogues and Jewish events. In Stockholm, 25% of the Jewish community's membership taxes go towards security. A JSS source says the synagogue in Helsingborg and the funeral chapel in Malmö were subjected to arson attacks, cemeteries were desecrated, and besides that there's graffiti and vandalism, but also violence and threats.

According to the police, 10% of antisemitic crimes include violence. JSS claims that there's a hate crime a day against Jews in Sweden. The source say they work closely with the police and coordinate their work.

Lena Posner-Körösi, head of the Jewish Central Council, says the threats come from more and newer players.

"I've gotten hate mail from autonomous groups from both Right and Left, even the Christian extreme Right, I also see the threat from the Muslim extremist groups increased."

A source at JSS says that ten years ago the extreme Right was the greatest threat, but now the extreme-Left and radical Muslims groups pose a bigger threat to Jews.

The threats to the Jewish community are changing, a problem which is made worse since threats from different groups are handled by different institutions.

The autonomous Islamic groups are dealt with by the Security police's contra-terrorism group, a different department than for Right and Left extremist groups. Ahn-za Hagström, an analyst focusing on White-Power groups, says that hate crimes and antisemitic crimes are more often spontaneous acts by individuals, rather than organized. She says that today White Power groups focus more on Muslims, leftist extremists and internal ideological battles than Jews.

She says the crimes against Jews from White Power groups are wearing a swastika or other symbols and shouting Sieg Heil.

In September the US State Department said there were 600 cases of hate crimes in Sweden, 26% of them antisemitic, and 45% Islamophobic.

Danish Chief Rabbi Bent Lexner says that some Jews will recognize the increase of hate crimes in Sweden, but he thinks there's only a few at present.

"But it's always difficult to determine. Some Jews have a view that everything which has to do with violence and threats, comes from the radical Muslim circles, and that also happens to fit their political context. But it can well be that it's not the whole truth," he says.

Sources: Broderskap (Swedish), Kristeligt Dagblad (Danish)

Eindhoven: Radical Islam conference

Eindhoven: Radical Islam conference

Dutch and foreign intelligence services are at high alert due to a five-day international Islamic conference in Eindhoven, starting today.  The intelligence services fear that the congress participants will secretly collect funds for armed Islamic battle.  It's also feared that the speakers in the conference will reverse the integration of Muslims in the Netherlands.

The conference is organized by the Al Waqf al Islami organization in Eindhoven, a board member of which was linked in the past with financing al-Qaeda.  The organization invited renowned Islamic scholars to speak.

One of those, an imam from Saudi Arabia, was blacklisted by the Saudi royal family due to his radical opinions.  The conference participants will meet in the Al Fourqaan mosque in Eindhoven, a prayer house that is known to be radical and that the AIVD keeps an eye on.

According to intelligence sources, the aim of the conference is not the 'integration of Muslims in the Netherlands and the challenges," as it is formally named, but rather there's a secret agenda to stop the integration of Muslims in the Netherlands and collect money for Islamic battle.

The intelligence services are particularly interested in secret meeting outside the congress.

A spokesperson for the Waqf organization said he was not accountable for secret meetings of participants outisde the msoque.  He says that during the conference various Islamic issues would be discussed, such as dealing with money and that everybody can enter, they have no door-policy.

Dutch imams, who are positive about integration, say they are unanimous against the conference.  "An imam who lives, works, and lives in for example Saudi Arabia, has a completely different scope of reference, experiences and opinions about issues which in the Netherlands are completely normal.  If Dutch Muslims ask in such a conference if their wife may drive a car, such a foreign imam will expressly forbid it, because he lives in Saudi Arabia, where that is absolutely banned," says one sources, who says this will work against integration.  "This sort of conference frustrates all the good intentions of Dutch imams."

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)