Antwerp: Lecture shouted down by radical Muslims

Antwerp: Lecture shouted down by radical Muslims

Update: Spelling fixes.

h/t Tanguy Veys, who also sent a video of the incident.

Dutch author and notorious critic of Islam, Benno Barnard, gave a lecture last night titled: "The Islam Debate: Long Live God, Down with Allah!". It was part of a series of lectures about the Enlightenment, organized by the secularists in Antwerp University. Several radical Muslim organizations called beforehand via websites to come to the hall and disturb the lecture.

When the lecture began at 8pm, forty Muslims were among the public. The organizer of the lecture tried to get them to change their mind, but once Barnard began his speech, the youth stood up and started shouting. "I barely said a few words, and the leader stood up and shouted '[you] don't make fun of Allah'," says Bernard. "Afterward he and his followers started shouting 'Allah Akbar', and stormed the podium. If I hadn't had bodyguards, I wouldn't be able to talk to you now."

Several police-agents in plainclothes were present in the hall and quickly intervened. Twenty rioters were escorted out, but nobody was detained.

Rector Alain Verschoren of the University of Antwerp regrets the incident. "It bothers me greatly that they stopped the lecture after just two minutes. Those youth didn't even listen what the lecture was about. That can only mean that they were either afraid of the contents or that they didn't want to hear the contents."

The website of the radical organization Sharia4belgium took issue particularly with the title of the lecture. "The title is yet another slap in the face of the Muslim community," it said. Rector Verschoren tones it down: "The lecture indeed had a provoking title, but I think that extreme views should be allowed. As long as there's a possibility for an answer and discussion something like this is allowed at a pluralist institution like the UA."

Barnard himself was unhappy about the incident: "Isn't it appalling that an intellectual wants to give a lecture in the year 2010, and needs police protection? Actually, this is my best lecture ever. This incident shows what I've been trying to make clear for years: that the Islam is a completely intolerant system."

Source: Nieuwsblad (Dutch)

Finland: 85-90% of Somali newcomers are illiterate

Finland: 85-90% of Somali newcomers are illiterate

Finland is ill prepared for illiterate asylum seekers, according to the newspaper Aamulehti. Illiterate immigrants need basic education before they can begin to learn the language.

For example, 85 to 90 percent of Somalis are illiterate when they move to Finland, according to the Finnish Immigration Service.

Kerstin Söderlund of the Finnish Immigration Service says that 15 and 16 year olds have a particularly difficult time. The youth belong to the comprehensive education system in Finland. However, in practice they are often left behind.

Jarno Ruotsalainen of the Uusimaa Centre for Economic Development says that current funding for language education ought to be reformed. He says job training becomes nothing more than language studies.

Illiterate immigrants coming to Finland receive 200 days of basic education. The integration plan includes 40 credits of Finnish or Swedish, which falls short for those wanting to enter study or work programmes.


Source: YLE (English)

Belgium: City bans headscarves, draft law to ban burka

Belgium: City bans headscarves, draft law to ban burka

Belgium is set to become the first European country to impose a full ban on wearing a burkha.

A parliamentary committee in Belgium has unanimously voted to ban the wearing of full face-covering veils in public, paving the way for the first clampdown of its kind in Europe.

Officials say that the draft law will probably be put to a vote of the full house on April 22.

If passed, it means burkhas, niqabs and other full face veils would be outlawed from the streets, parks, schools and all public buildings.



Three hundred people demonstrated in the center of Brussels last Saturday against a school headscarf ban in Belgium. The organizers said that the debate about the ban has been dictated by an increasing Islamophobia, which they see as a form of racism. The protest slogan was: "School is my right, the veil is my choice".

Kaoutar Boustani, a member of the movement for basic rights, which organized the protest, said that Muslim girls and women wearing the headscarf never caused any legal problems. If certain schools will ban the headscarf, it's a form of racism and will lead to the creation of ghetto schools. [ed: This was actually the reason why two schools in Antwerp decided to ban the headscarf this year, the last to do so.]

The demonstrators were mostly Francophone, but there was also a delegation from Flemish Antwerp.


The municipal council of Charleroi has decided, after a long debate, to forbid teachers in the municipal education system from wearing any external religious or philosophical symbols. The Alderman College of Charleroi decided last week to ask the municipal council to side with the neutrality principle, as decreed by the French Community in 1994.

The decision followed the ruling by the Appeals Court of Bergen, which decided that a math teacher could continue teaching in three municipality schools while wearing a headscarf, since she was not trying to convert the students. The city is appealing, but the teacher could meanwhile continue teaching. This new decision will prevent the teacher from teaching while wearing a headscarf.

The teacher's lawyer will turn to the Council of State to ask to suspend the headscarf ban.

Sources: VRT, HLN 1, 2 (Dutch), Daily Mail

Germany: Turkey can have Turkish schools in Germany

Germany: Turkey can have Turkish schools in Germany

Before her visit to Turkey, Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected the idea of Turkish-language schools in Germany:

"I do not think this brings us forward, as I think that Turkish children and pupils should go to German schools. I do not think much of the idea of Turkish children going to Turkish school," she told the Passauer Neue Presse regional newspaper.

But after visiting German-language schools in Turkey, she doesn't dismiss the idea:

Chancellor Angela Merkel's pledge to support the establishment of Turkish-language universities is being hailed in Turkey as a hard-won concession, but it may not exactly be the news that Germany's nearly 3 million Turks are looking forward to hearing.

Merkel, who earlier rejected a call from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to open Turkish-language high schools -- reciprocating the existence of several German-speaking schools and a planned Turkish-German university in Turkey -- told a joint press conference in Ankara that “Turkey also can have schools in Germany,” since Germany has schools in Turkey. She warned, however, that this must not be an excuse for not learning German.

Erdoğan’s proposal annoyed German authorities, who claimed it would be detrimental to efforts to integrate millions of immigrants of Turkish origin into German society.

But despite the diplomatic ruckus it has created, the debate on Turkish-language high schools is largely unknown to Germany’s Turkish immigrant community, a large portion of which find it hard to receive a decent education and find jobs because of their low German skills.

Critics also said the debate is irrelevant, since there are no legal obstacles in Germany for the establishment of private foreign schools. Merkel’s pledges in Ankara are also likely to have a minimal effect in Germany, where education policies are mainly administered by federal states, not the central government.


Sources: Expactica, Today's Zaman (English)

Switzerland: Swiss People's Party attracts 2nd generation immigrants

Switzerland: Swiss People's Party attracts 2nd generation immigrants

The article doesn't say, though, how many of those 2nd generation immigrants are Muslims.


The rightwing Swiss People’s Party is attracting more and more young foreigners at the expense of parties on the left, the traditional base for migrants.

Aleksander, Naveen, Anastasia, Shanky and Shahid: their names or skin colour betray their origins. What they have in common, however, is their allegiance to a party reputed to be the most hostile to foreigners in Switzerland.

“We’ve got nothing against foreigners – we welcome them with open arms!”

This catchphrase, repeated over and over at the People’s Party’s small grassroots gatherings, might look like a slogan, but the growing infatuation of secondos – children of immigrants – and other young foreigners for a party that is otherwise typically agrarian is very real.

“We don’t have statistics, but it’s a very real phenomenon,” said Silvia Bär, a political scientist and member of the party’s central staff in Zurich.

“I’ve been criss-crossing the country for around 20 years and I’ve never seen so many people with foreign origins at our meetings, whether they are members or just sympathisers.”

This trend is confirmed by the party’s vice-president, Yvan Perrin, who adds that the phenomenon is more pronounced in the German-speaking part of the country than in the French-speaking part.

“And we didn’t do anything to attract this demographic. It was they who came to us because they can see the difference between us and the other parties and they find our values appealing,” he said.


Kurt Imhof, a sociologist and specialist in the role of minorities in society, believes it is the centre-left Social Democrat Party’s “enormous deficit concerning patriotism” that plays a central role.

“It’s precisely on this ground that the People’s Party could win over these new activists seduced by traditional Swiss values,” he said.

For Urs Meuli, a sociologist at Zurich University, “the People’s Party’s language, dynamism and uncomplicated methods correspond to what young people drawn to politics expect regarding immigration”.


Imhof concludes that “the working-class activism of the first and second waves of migration from the south of Europe no longer appeals to young people, who prefer to belong to parties on the right, which they equate with social climbing”.


Source: Swiss Info (English)

Norway: Preacher defends husband's right to beat wife

Norway: Preacher defends husband's right to beat wife

Islam Net claims they correct misunderstandings about Islam. Which is why, I suppose, they invite the most radical preachers to their conferences. The preachers in this conference included: Bilal Philips, as the (secret) featured speaker, Abdurraheem Green, Ali Mohammed Salah, Yusuf Chambers and Hussain Yee.

Hussain Yee is supposed to speak next weekend at an Islamic conference in Antwerp (Belgium) on family values (Family Matters - Foundation for Success), organized by the Al-Mawada organization. Vlaams Belang protested that the conference is taking place in a hall in the provincial gov't building, but the province saw no reason not to rent out the hall. (NL)


Several hundred young Muslims were in attendance when the Chinese Muslim preacher Husain Yee defended the right of Muslim men to beat their wives at a Muslim conference this past weekend.

The organizers Islam Net is a quickly growing organization, with mostly young members, both ethnic minorities, but also Norwegian converts.

On March 27th the organizations held a seminar on 'human rights in Islam' during its big Peace Conference in Oslo.

To the question by author and blogger Olav Elgvin on whether men in Islam have a right to beat women, Husain Yee answered as follows:

"A Muslim men doesn't have a right to beat his wife in anger or in order to injure. But you can do it if you do it in love, out of consideration," answered Yee, according to the author.

The preacher said that in the Muslim country of Malaysia, parents have a right to beat their children - out of love.

"In the same way men have a right to beat, but only if it's in love and out of consideration for the wife. Moreover, it shouldn't be on the head or other places that can be harmful to beat on, but only on other places in the body," Yee answered.

Yee is a famous Malaysian preacher who has his own program on the Islamic TV channel Peace TV. He converted from Buddhism when he was a teenager and now actively lectures in Europe.

In the Norwegian-Muslim community, reactions are strong and the debate is raging on various forums.

"I think this is idiotic. It's exactly such things that are the basis for misunderstanding. To give men who beat such legitimacy and acceptance completely misses the point," says Basim Ghozlan, head of the Islamic Association (Islamske Forbundet).

The organizers didn't want to comment to Tuesday on the contents of the lecture of the Muslim preacher.

"I don't know what he said. I don't know what he meant by this, it's impossible for me to say anything about this," says Fahad Qureshi, spokesperson for Islam Net.

Q: Are the lecturers representative of Islam Net's views?

A: What they say is not what Islam Net says, what they say is what Islam says. But everybody's human and everybody can say something wrong," responds Qureshi.

Linda Noor, a Norwegian convert to Islam, is among those who responded strongly to the statements of the Malaysian sheik, pointing out that it's not the first time his opinions caused a split.

"I think it's very inappropriate, first and foremost for those who organized [it]. I think they should check a bit who they put on the agenda, it's not the first time that he comes up with such unfortunate statements," says Noor, who is a board member of Abid Raja's Minotank.

Q: What do you think about what Islam Net says, that their lecturers represent Islam?

A: I think it's bold of such young people to define "true Islam'. They're taking on themselves a great responsibility, which I would probably be very careful with," says Noor and continues: sad.

The forum is one place where the issue is being intensely discussed. Some defend the statements, but many Norwegian Muslims responded strongly.

"I think what's sad about Islam Net is that they themselves say they work to counteract misunderstandings about Islam. Such lectures confirm, rather than weaken prejudices," says Noor.

It's not the first time Islam Net gets to the headlines. In February Liberal Party politician Abid Raja appeared on TV2 and warned of the student network's events, which he thought had 'extreme overtones'.

On May 8, 2008, Islam Net arranged a meeting with imam Zulqarnai Sakander, where the lecturer spoke of theories that Jews were responsible for 9/11.

The network is active at the Oslo University College and are very active on Facebook.

Source: Aftenposten (Norwegian)

Related posts:
* Copenhagen: Prison imam guides husbands on wife-beating
* Oslo: Imam blames 9/11 on US in college lecture
* Netherlands: Speakers at the National Islam Congress

Sarajevo: Al-Jazeera to open regional office

Sarajevo: Al-Jazeera to open regional office

The Arabic-language TV channel Al Jazeera has taken over a local television station in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, city mayor Alija Behman said on Tuesday.

Behan said Al Jazeera was planning to open a regional centre in Sarajevo that would boost employment in the recession hit Balkans.

“Al Jazeera will establish a regional office in Sarajevo which is expected to lead to the creation of new jobs,” Behman told local media.

Al Jazeera would take over television channel “Studio 33”, which was on the verge of bankruptcy.

The city has invested 160,000 euros in the station, which will be refunded by Qatar-based Al Jazeera, Behman added.


Source: AKI (English)

Russia: Islamic group offers reward for info on attack organizers

Russia: Islamic group offers reward for info on attack organizers

Russia's Islamic Cultural Center will pay 1 million rubles ($30,000) for any information on the organizers of the Moscow subway bomb attack, the organization's president said on Tuesday.

Two deadly suicide bombings hit the Moscow metro on Monday, killing at least 39 people and injuring more than 70. The blasts ripped through the rush-hour Lubyanka and Park Kultury stations with an interval of about 40 minutes.

Abdul Vakhed Niyazov said the offer had the backing of the Russian Council of Muftis.

"We all agreed that we should contribute to catching the criminals and their associates by any means available to us," he said, adding that any pertinent information would be handed over to law enforcement agencies.

"This initiative is designed to identify the organizers and masterminds of the act hateful to God and aimed against civilians," Niyazov said.


Source: RIA Novosti (English)

BREAKING: Terrorist attack in Dagestan

BREAKING: Terrorist attack in Dagestan

Update 3:

Two blasts have taken place near a school in the city of Kizlyar in Russia’s Southern Republic of Dagestan. At least eleven people, including the local police chief, are reported killed.

Russian news agencies report that the explosion took place on Moskovskaya Street, near Kizlyar School No 1 and the headquarters of the local police and security service. A moving car exploded early in the morning, when there were no children in the school.

When a police detail arrived at the scene of the blast and spectators started gathering, a man dressed as a police officer rushed into the crowd and triggered an explosive device strapped to his body. The second blast caused numerous casualties among the law enforcers.

Update 2: First attack next to interior ministry and FSB security service.

Update 1: Another terrorist attack reported. Local chief of police killed in attacks.


A car bomb has exploded near a school in the city of Kizlyar in Russia’s Southern Republic of Dagestan. Nine people have been killed in the blast.

Russian news agencies report that the explosion took place on Moskovskaya Street, near Kizlyar School No 1 and the headquarters of the local police and security service. A moving car exploded early in the morning, when there were no children in the school.

Nine people died in the blast, including two policemen. Seven more people were wounded. At least three cars caught fire. Rescuers and fire fighters are currently at the scene of the attack.


Source: RT (English)

Italy: Northern League doubles support

Italy: Northern League doubles support

The Northern League, an anti immigration party, which has now become pivotal in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's ruling coalition, has seen it's support more than double in the last five years.

Led by firebrand Umberto Bossi, who once called for the Italian navy to shell boats carrying illegal immigrants towards the country, his victory mirrors those recently by far right parties in Hungary, Holland and France.

In the last regional elections held in 2005 the League secured just 5.7 per cent of the vote but in subsequent polls they have seen their popularity grow and this time it was 12.7 per cent.

James Walston, a political commentator at the American University of Rome, said: "The League has done very well and they will be flexing their muscles for the remaining three years of government.

"They will push for further devolution and immigration and race will also be on top of their agenda and these two are issues which are of concern to many Italians.

"The League is very well organised and they have succeeded in taking a lot of the working class vote from the Communists and Democratic Left and they also appear to have taken votes from Berlusconi's own party."


After the election results yesterday, the Corriere Della Sera asked readers on its website why the League had done so well and one wrote: "Because it is the only concrete and viable party currently in Italian politics. It has concrete objectives and good internal party discipline."

The League is now a key figure in Berlusconi's coalition and as a result its members have been given key cabinet posts including Roberto Maroni as Interior Minister.

Mr Bossi described the League's performance as a 'tsunami' but assured his government partners in Rome that the balance of power in the coalition would not change and said the result of the regional vote could only give momentum to federalist reforms.

The League's advance appeared to be at the expense of Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) party which saw its share of the vote fall to 26.7 per cent from 35.3 per cent in the European elections, 37.4 per cent in the general elections and 29.3 per cent in the 2005 regional vote.

The League has campaigned against the building of mosques and are also pressing for legislation on the wearing of burkas.


Source: Daily Telegraph (English)

Related posts:
* France: Strong showing for National Front
* Netherlands: "Today - Almere and the Hague, tomorrow - the entire Netherlands!"

Russia: Hunt for 21-strong 'black widow' cell

Russia: Hunt for 21-strong 'black widow' cell

The Russians are hunting a 'black widow' cell, among reports that authorities knew of the metro bombing plot ahead of time. For more on the metro bombings see here.

Meanwhile, an internet website hosted in Sweden and operated by Islamist extremists from the Caucasus called for holy war. The Russians demand the site be shut down, but Swedish authorities say the site is legal. (See also Russia: Sweden gives refuge to Chechen bandits)


The first images of the 'Black Widow' suicide bombers were released today as Vladimir Putin vowed to 'scrape out the attackers from the bottom of the sewers'.

As Russia held a day of mourning for the 39 people killed in the underground terror attack, the country's prime minister vowed vengeance on those who had helped mount the attack.

The police and security services now believe there are in a desperate race against time to find the gang with fears they could be plotting another outrage.

It was suggested today that some 21 more 'widows' are at large following reports that the women were part of a 30-strong band of suicide bombers trained at a Muslim school in Turkey. Nine have already perished in earlier attacks, Russian media said.

The dead women in Monday's attack are both believed to be aged between 18 and 25 and to have carried the explosives - packed with nails and metal fragments to maximise death and destruction - in shahid belts or handbags.

According to police who have viewed CCTV which has not yet been released, one was said to be mentally retarded.

A source close to the investigators said that the women suicide bombers travelled to Moscow early on Monday by coach from a unnamed Caucasus town, prompting the belief that the attack was by militants from volatile Chechnya. .

The women were accompanied by a tall man with Caucasus appearance, dressed in dark blue coat with white marks. He had five days growth of beard. Both women were identified by the driver of the coach.

'One was dressed in black trousers, another in black skirt, black tights and spangled black shoes,' said the Kommersant newspaper. Their appearance indicated they were from the Caucasus region.

The newspaper said the women had been taught by an Islamic militant who had himself being killed last month in an operation by the FSB, which replaced the KGB. 'Around 30 of them were taught in Madrasah (Muslim school) in Turkey and then came back to perform their tasks,' said Kommersant.


However, amid the tough talk there were claims that the authorities had prior intelligence of a threat to the metro on Monday - and were actively stopping and searching women of the appearance of the attackers though no warning to the public was issued. Officials have not commented on the serious charge.

The Kommersant newspaper said: 'Russian law enforcement agencies knew ahead of time about the possible explosions on Moscow transport but still two women suicide bombers dressed in all black easily got inside the metro and even to the station next to FSB building.'

The newspaper claimed that before the attacks women suspected of being from the Caucasus were being stopped and searched and questioned.

One woman who was stopped and questioned around 15 minutes before the first bomb heard officers talking on their radio phones to colleagues at other stations.

'She heard that many women had been stopped but nothing was found so far. At the moment of the first explosion she was still at the police room in the metro when she saw a police boss rushed in with an angry face.

'He shouted to his officers - "how did you dare to miss them? You had all the information"?'

The newspaper said Moscow police were refusing to confirm the claim but 'several sources told us that at least three secret messages were received.'

Yesterday, a leading Kremlin minister added to the swirl of confusion by hinting that al-Qa'eda may have been behind the attacks.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov hinted at al-Qaeda's hand behind the attack. 'We all know very well that clandestine terrorists are very active on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan,' he said.

'We know that several attacks have been prepared there, to be carried out not only in Afghanistan, but also in other countries. Sometimes, these journeys go as far as the Caucasus.'


Sources: Daily Mail (English), VG (Norwegian)

Grand Canary: Gov't subsidizes halal slaughter

Grand Canary: Gov't subsidizes halal slaughter

The local government of Grand Canary gave 250,000 euro in subsidies in order to buy a special halal-slaughter machine for the central slaughterhouse (Matadero Insular). The special machine immobilizes the animal but leaves the head free in the direction of Mecca. The butcher then slaughters the animal by slicing its throat, leaving it to bleed out. The government hopes that the machine will stop clandestine ritual slaughter. The goal is also to produce halal meat for the rest of the Canary Islands. There are 20,000 Muslims in the Grand Canary.

Source: NRP (Dutch), La Provincia

Oslo: Man (23) charged with marrying his cousin (14)

Oslo: Man (23) charged with marrying his cousin (14)

A 23 year old man is suspected of marrying his 14 year old cousin in Oslo before Christmas 2007.

An imam conducted the ceremony in the presence of close family from both sides, and the marriage was contracted with permission from both sides' parents.

Afterward the girl said several times that she barely understood what went on before Christmas 2007. She was only 14 years old, reports Dagbladet.

According to the girl's statement, since the beginning of 2008, the 23 year old forced her to have sex.

The Children's Welfare Agency knew about the case a month after the girl moved in with her husband in an apartment in Oslo at the end of the year. She was affected both mentally and physically by this, her school work suffered and the teachers responded. The school's minority coordinator was called in, and after a while the girl started telling her story.

She said she was rejected by her own family when she said that she wanted out of the marriage with her cousin.

The school contacted the children's welfare agency, who started an investigation and called in family member for talks.

On March 7th, the Children's Welfare Agency decide to move the girl to a secret address. On March 11, the Oslo municipality informed the police of the relationship. Investigators took action against the husband, his family and the girl's family March 22.

The 23 year old was remanded in an Oslo court, but the court decision was not published. According to the paper, the man was since remanded for 14 more days with restrictions, and he denies guilt.

Source: VG (Norwegian)

Berlin: Attack on Kurdish politician

Berlin: Attack on Kurdish politician

Unknown perpetrators believed to be far-right extremists set fire to the car of a Berlin politician with Kurdish roots early on Friday morning, city authorities reported.

Evrim Baba, who has repeatedly taken a stand against far-right activity in her political career, is a member of the Berlin city parliament for the socialist Left party.

The politician said she believed the attack came from the neo-Nazi scene after recently receiving a number of threats. Several days ago a smelly liquid was also thrown inside the 39-year-old’s car, rendering it unusable.

City politicians from both Baba’s party and the centre-left Social Democrats condemned the attack.

Baba fled with her family from the Turkey's then military regime as an eight-year-old child and worked as an interpreter before becoming a member of the Berlin legislature in 1999.


Source: The Local (English)

Yemen: Two Europeans arrested during weapons training

Yemen: Two Europeans arrested during weapons training

Yemeni security forces have arrested two European nationals while they were training to use rifles in a remote high mountain to the south of the capital Sanaa, the Defense Ministry reported on Sunday.

The pair, both nearly at the age of 24 with one of them carrying an Arab
name, were detained in Naqil al-Mashanna area of the Jahran district in the southern province of Dhamar, said the ministry on its website.

The report cited a statement by the Interior Ministry's information center as saying that "the two Europeans were found training with two machine-guns and two pistols."

"The weapons were in the possession of the two young Europeans who belong to the same country," said the report without naming their nationality.

"Both of them have been referred to the security authorities concerned for further interrogations," the report added.


Source: Xinhua Net (English), h/t HarunAlAmriki

EU: Right-wingers to push for minaret-ban referendum

EU: Right-wingers to push for minaret-ban referendum

See also here for Spiegel's take on the congress.

Related stories:
* European Right: Let's all ban minarets
* Belgium: Dewinter, 'Islam is a predator'

Extreme-right parties from all over Europe are going to begin a campaign for a European referendum imposing a minaret ban, they said in a congress of the German pro-NRW party.

The extreme-right have been inspired by their fellows of the Swiss People's Party, who took the initiatvie for a referendum on a minaret ban, which was supported by about 60% of Swiss voters last November 29th.

The big supporters of the referendum campaign are the Flemish Vlaams Belang and the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ). Both parties are investing financially and organizationally in the small pro-NRW.

Filip Dewinter has been contact for quite a while with the leaders of the pro-NRW, ever since the time that the party was only active in Cologne. With the birth of Dewinter's vehicle "Cities against Islamization" in January 2008, the contact with the Germans became more intensive. 'Cities against Islamization' has organized congresses and meetings with pro-NRW.

Pro-NRW now has 45 local politicians in 11 cities, 17 district council and four regional councils. May 9th the party will participate for the first time in the North Rhine-Westphalia elections. It's doubtful whether pro-NRW will pass the 5% threshold. But its campaign against minarets and the building of the grand mosque in Cologne, the party deals with an issue that appeals to a wider audience than the traditional extreme-right supporters.

A large team from Vlaams Belang came to the congress in Gelsenkirchen. Vlaams Belang has been giving 'development-aid' to pro-NRW for quite a while. Speaking in his poor German, Vlaams Belang leader Filip Dewinter explained why in his speech Saturday. "We're laying here the foundations for an international against Islamization," he told his European comrades. "We are the voice of the European majority."

Dewinter warned his fellows. "Islam is a conquering religion that seeks to destroy our democracy and wants to exchange it for a Sharia-based dictatorship. One thing you don't need to doubt: Islam plans to conquer all of Europe (...) Islam is a predator, ready to pounce on the weakest victim: Europe is aging, dying out and letting itself be blinded by the multicultural away-with-us ideology."

Other speaks such as Catalan Josep i Rius Anglada, head of Plataforma per Catalunya, and Kent Ekeroth, of Sweden Democrats, turned to classical comparisons. They compared the current struggle against Islamization to the defeat of the Arabs by Charles Martel in 732 in Poitiers and turning back the Turks during the Siege of Vienna in 1673. Catalan Anglada ended his long speech with a slogan hijacked from the Left: "Islamists, no pasarán, you're not getting through."

Kent Ekeroth was inspired by Winston Churchill. "We will fight until victory," he cited Churchill. 'Victory at all costs, for without victory, there is no survival."

There were several incidents with the press during the congress. A crew from ZDF were kicked out of the hall to loud 'Nazis raus' shouts by the two hundred attendees. Pro-NRW said that the camera crew disturbed the congress when they wanted to show how a skinhead with a Londsdale sweater was kicked out of the hall. The man did not fit the image of tidy suits that the party wanted to present.

German police was mobilized throughout the weekend to ensure that the pro-NRW activities could take place. SPD leader Sygmar Gabriel and singer Peter Maffay of the party appeared in a counter-demonstration. On Sunday 150 showed up fro the pro-NRW protest in Duisberg. 150 Neo-Nazis from the NPD demonstrated elsewhere in Duisberg. According to the police, 4,500 people participated in two counter-demonstrations.

Source: De Standaard (Dutch)

Moscow: Suicide attacks in metro (UPDATED: Chechen group takes responsibility)

BREAKING: Metro attacks in Moscow

Update 6: Russian site reports that 20 minutes before the bombs exploded, the women were seen praying. The site reports that an undetonated explosives belt was found in one of the cars which were blown up in Park Kulturij. It was supposed to be worn by one of the suicide bombers, and was more powerful than the one that did go off.

The women supposedly carried 6 kg of explosives with them. (via VG)

Update 5: The Russian security service says the two bombers were 'black widows'. The attacks might be revenge for recent operations in Chechnya. It might also be a response to the recent killing of Said Buryatsk in Ingushetia.

Update 4: Police are now searching for two women who were caught on camera leading the suicide bombers.

Update 3: CNN reports that a Chechen separatist site claimed responsibility for the attack.

Update 2: Contrary to some reports, Russian authorities say there was no third blast.

Update 1: Suicide bombers set off the explosions. According to one report, they were female bombers.


At least 40 people have been killed and scores more injured as two explosions ripped through the Moscow metro at the height of rush hour this morning.

The first blast at the Lubyanka station in central Moscow happened at 0756 (0356 GMT) killing 22 people.

The headquarters of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), successor to the Soviet-era KGB, is located above the station which is just yards away the Kremlin.

The second explosion happened 45 minutes later at Park Kultury at 0838 (0438 GMT), killing at least 12 more people. "There are killed and injured," a security source said.

No group immediately took responsibility for the blasts but suspicion is likely to fall on groups from Russia's North Caucasus, where Moscow is fighting a growing Islamist insurgency.

Russian emergencies ministry spokeswoman Irina Andrianova said the first explosion happened as a metro train stopped at the station as it was packed with peak hour commuters.

"The blast hit the second carriage of a metro train that stopped at Lubyanka,", she said. "Fourteen people died in the wagon of the train and 11 on the platform," said Ms Andrianova. At least 10 people were wounded, she said. The second blast also took place in a train carriage while it was stationary at the platform, she added.

Security sources told the state Interfax news agency the blast could have been caused by a suicide bomber. Authorities have opened a criminal investigation into terrorism, a spokesman of the investigative committee of prosecutors said.


Source: Times Online (English)

Belgium: Request for police to pay more attention to Muslim homophobia

Belgium: Request for police to pay more attention to Muslim homophobia

Parliament member Bruno Tuybens (SPA, Flemish socialists) wants the police to pay more attention to homophobia among fundamentalist Muslims.  "The growing aversion of homosexuality among radical Muslims in our country is a great concern.  The police has an important role to play, also in the field of prevention," he says.

According to Tuybens, Islamic websites are constantly spouting 'reprehensible notions about homosexuality'.  "It's of course an exceptionally complex matter, to which we should respond in a multidisciplinary [manner]," he explains.  "Education should be more attentive to sexual diversity.  Additionally, the police also has a very important role to play, not only in the field of repression, when crimes happen, but also in the field of prevention."

In response to a parliamentary query by Tuybens, the minister of internal affairs Annemie Turtelboom (Open Vld) said that in the police education program deals with the specific problematics of discrimination, including homophobia.  Moreover, the Equality and Diversity service of the federal police has a knowledge center which gathers expertise and knowledge about homosexual leanings and homophobia, among other things.  Police agents are encouraged to register homophobic crimes.

Nonetheless Tuybens asks the federal government to pay more attention and to invest in the education of the police regarding these problematics.  He adds that gays in the Muslim community should also be cared for, as they're in a very stigmatized situation and literally enter meetings by the side-door.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

Malmö: The Iraqi city

Malmö: The Iraqi city

Cultural life in Iraq is on the back-burner, but it still exists.  And now the Iraq authorities are reaching out, to Malmö.

During a trip to the country, Natik Awayez, artistic director for the Inkonst Culture Center in Malmö, was invited by Aqeel Al Mindlawie, Iraq's general director for cultural relations:

"He wants Swedish poets to participate in a poetry festival in Basra, perhaps with a special Swedish evening," says Natik Awayez.

The poetry festival in Basra has been around for a long time, even during Saddam Hussein's time, but hasn't been active for many years.  Now it's been taken up again, and last year was the first time since the break that it's been organized.

The festival takes place in April and that's not enough time to arrange for a contribution from Malmö.  Natik Awayez forwarded the invitation to Malmö publisher Per Bergström, who's also behind the Stanza poetry festival.

"We won't make it by April.  It requires enormous planning, it's not like going to a festival in Berlin.  But it would surely be exciting if we could do something next year," says Per Bergström.

He will also check if SIDA (the Swedish International Development Authority) and the Swedish Insittute will invest money in a cultural exchange with Iraq, an effort which they can join in, in any case.

Natik Awayez says it's not surprising that those responsible in Iraq turned to Malmö.

"In Iraq everybody knows Malmö, it's really so, there are so many families who have relatives and friends here.  People speak of Malmö as if it were an Iraqi city, it's absolutely fantastic."

Source: Sydsvenskan (Swedish), h/t Every Kinda People

See also: Sweden: Riyadh calling! Malmö are you with us?

Macedonia: Saudis finance Balkan radicalism

Macedonia: Saudis finance Balkan radicalism

SAUDI ARABIA is pouring hundreds of millions of pounds into Islamist groups in the Balkans, some of which spread hatred of the West and recruit fighters for jihad in Afghanistan.

According to officials in Macedonia, Islamic fundamentalism threatens to destabilise the Balkans. Strict Wahhabi and Salafi factions funded by Saudi organisations are clashing with traditionally moderate local Muslim communities.

Fundamentalists have financed the construction of scores of mosques and community centres as well as handing some followers up to £225 a month. They are expected not only to grow beards but also to persuade their wives to wear the niqab, or face veil, a custom virtually unknown in the liberal Islamic tradition of the Balkans.

Government sources in traditionally secular Macedonia (official title the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), said they were monitoring up to 50 Al-Qaeda volunteers recruited to fight in Afghanistan.

Classified documents seen by The Sunday Times reveal that Macedonian officials are also investigating a number of Islamic charities, some in Saudi Arabia, which are active throughout the Balkans and are suspected of spreading extremism and laundering money for terrorist organisations.

One of the groups under scrutiny is the International Islamic Relief Organisation from Saudi Arabia, which is on a United Nations blacklist of organisations backing terrorism. It did not respond to inquiries, but has previously denied involvement in terrorist activities, calling such claims “totally unfounded”.

According to its website, it works in 32 countries to provide relief to the victims of natural disasters and to carry out humanitarian, health and educational projects.

“Hundreds of millions have been poured into Macedonia alone in the past decade and most of it comes from Saudi Arabia,” said a government source. “The Saudis’ main export seems to be ideology, not oil.”

Sulejman Rexhepi, leader of the Islamic community in Macedonia, said a number of mosques had been forcibly taken over by radical groups. Four in central Skopje are no longer under the control of the official Islamic authorities. New imams claim they have been “spontaneously” installed by the “people”.

“Their so-called Wahhabi teachings are completely alien to our traditions and to the essence of Islam, which is a tolerant and inclusive religion,” said Rexhepi.

In some mosques believers are being told that Macedonia, which sent 200 soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan, has been tricked into supporting a crusade against Islam spearheaded by Britain and America. Radical clerics have shown footage from Afghanistan, Iraq and the Palestinian territories to illustrate their claims that the West is waging war on Islam.


In Macedonia, Fatmir, a former disc jockey, explained how he became an adherent of Salafism. The father of two has grown a beard and instructed his wife to wear a niqab. He now makes his living by selling Islamist literature. “Ours is the Islam of the 21st century,” he said.


Source: Times Online

Norway: Bushra Ishaq & Abid Q. Raja to receive Fritt Ord Award

Norway: Bushra Ishaq & Abid Q. Raja to receive Fritt Ord Award

Ishaq and Raja were both involved in the public debate regarding Islam in Norway, but both had also been accused of being extremists (see here and here, for example). 


The Fritt Ord (Free Speech) award for 2010 goes to Bushra Ishaq and Abid Q. Raja.

Raja will get the award for creating arenas for dialog-meetings with themes which are important to the public debate.  He's been an energetic debater in a time full of conflicts, according to the Fritt Ord organization.

According to the Fritt Ord board, Ishaq gets the prize because clearly rooted in her Muslim faith and community and with her arguments and bridge-building form, she's contributed to further developing understanding of what it means to live in today's multicultural society.

Isaq was born in 1985 and studies medicine and physiology at the University in Oslo.  She's a peace-worker in the international organization Youth Global Harmony Association.  She's also a member of the women's panel in the Children, Equality, and Inclusion Ministry.

Since 2007, Ishaq has been a dialog-worker in the contact group for the Church council and Islamic council in Norway, and is a former leader of the Muslim student society.

Raja was born in 1975 and works today for the Norwegian Immigration Appeals Board.  He's a trained lawyer and deputy representative for the Liberal Party in parliament.

Raja had arranged several dialog meetings on equality of minority women, banned love, imam's social responsibility, women's oppression, freedom of expression, hate among minority groups and violent demonstrations, and he's been engaged in creating arenas where minority youth can meet politicians, journalists and decision makers.

Fritt Ord is a private organization which works to promote freedom of speech and public debate.  The Fritt Ord award is the institution's highest award.  Both recipients will receive a prize of 200,000 Norwegian kroner.  They will also get the Fritt Ord statue, created by Nils Aas.

The award will be given Monday, May 10 in Oslo.

Source: VG (Norwegian)

Stockholm: Saudi prince to finance mosque

Stockholm: Saudi prince to finance mosque

The 'million program' district of Tensta, is about to have Stockholm's largest mosques. A giant building (11,000 sqm) of Andalusian style is planned at the outskirts of the suburb, clearly visible from the E18.

"There are lots of Muslims in northern Stockholm who today have to have to be content with going to associations [mosques] in cellars. We'll build a big mosque for them with place for 3,000 visitors," says imam Abdel Karim Laallam of the Stockholm's Grand Mosque Foundation, which bought the land already in the 1990s.

The plans have been around for a while, but it's only now that there's economic possibilities - and that's thank to oil money.

Prince Abdulazizi ben Fahd – the son of former Saudi king Fahd - will bear the full cost, estimated at 350-400 million Swedish Kroner.

"He wants to give a gift to honor his deceased father," says Abdel Karim Laalam.

The City Planning Department will make a decision on this in April.

Source: Metro (Swedish)

Related stories:
* Stockholm: Fighting Islamic fundamentalism
* Stockholm: God's House with church and mosque
* Stockholm: Go-ahead for new mosque

UK: Female Muslim doctors allowed to wear disposable sleeves

UK: Female Muslim doctors allowed to wear disposable sleeves

For more on this story see:
* UK: Radiographer quits over bare arms
* UK: Medical students refusing to follow new hygiene rules
* Den Bosch: Muslim nurse fired for not wearing short sleeves

Female Muslim doctors and nurses are to be allowed to wear disposable sleeves in order to comply with NHS rules to prevent the spread of hospital superbugs.

All staff involved in caring for patients should be 'bare below the elbows' to ensure sleeves do not become contaminated and hands can be washed thoroughly to prevent infections passed around the ward.

However female Muslim staff had been concerned about the rule as exposure of their forearms is seen as immodest.

Staff in several hospitals had reportedly refused to expose their arms for hand washing and 'scrubbing in' procedures before surgery.

New guidance from the Department of Health said staff can wear disposable sleeves which are elasticated at the wrist and elbow when in contact with patients.

The guidance also states that using alcohol gel to cleanse hands between treating patients does not contravene strict Muslim rules on alcohol.

The guidance was drawn up following meetings between the Muslim Spiritual Care Provision in the NHS group and Islamic scholars, chaplains, multi-faith representatives and infection control experts.

It said: "Use of hand disinfection gels containing synthetic alcohol does not fall within the Muslim prohibition against natural alcohol (from fermented fruit or grain)."

The guidance added Muslim staff could wear uniforms with full length sleeves when not directly engaged in patient care and that they might not be loose or dangling. The sleeves should be able to be pulled back and secured for hand washing and direct patient care.

The Sikh bangle should also be pushed up the arm and secured for hand washing, the guidance said.

If Muslim women wish to cover their forearms during direct patient care they can wear disposable sleeves but washing of hands and wrists should still be observed.


The General Medical Council has said that female Muslim doctors must be prepared to remove their veil to treat patients effectively as religious clothing must not be a barrier to good care.

The guidelines say women can wear the hijab which covers the head and hair but not the face.


Source: Daily Telegraph

Berlin: First ever döner kebab conference

Berlin: First ever döner kebab conference

The German döner kebab market has come of age, with the industry holding its first ever national conference in Berlin at the weekend.

At least 200 professionals from the döner supply business were expected to fill the Ernst-Reuter Haus in the centre of the German capital on Saturday for the convention to make contacts, swap ideas and eye up the latest in meat-on-a-pole technology.

Until the 1970s döner meat had always been eaten on a plate – the story is that a guest worker in Germany was the first to wrap it in bread and add salad, sauce and loads of spices, unknowingly creating a new industry.

Now it is estimated that around 60,000 people work in the 15,500 döner shops around the country, while the idea has taken off in many other countries not only in Europe but also recently as far away as Vietnam.

The supply business is an interesting one in Germany, with only around 100 companies supplying the 122,000 tons of döner meat consumed here each year.

And while the döner shops are often teetering on the edge of financial survival, a good living can be made producing the giant spits of flash-frozen spiced lamb meat, according to Yunus Ulusoy, from the Centre for Turkey Studies in Essen.

"The spit producers have been very successful in the market for many years. Without them there would be no more döners," he said.

He said stacking the slices of meat on and around the spit is considered a highly complicated and technical business, with most of those who serve the kebabs not being able or willing to make their own.


These suppliers create and maintain customer networks through personal contacts and trust – which is often rooted in a common Turkish heritage, added Ulusoy.

Their knowledge of the Turkish language, culture and their understanding of the Islamic rules for preparing meat means Turkish-rooted suppliers are generally trusted more than Germans, said Tarkan Tasyumruk, chairman of the Turkish Döner Producers Association in Europe, ATDID.

Suppliers are often recommended by friends and contacts, he added, but said that the aim of the DÖGA meeting should be to increase competition between them in order to secure the long-term survival of the industry in Germany.


Source: The Local

Oslo: Frp proposes Muslim students wear Jewish Star

Oslo: Frp proposes Muslim students wear Jewish Star

The head of Frp (Progress Party) in Oslo, Christian Tybring-Gjedde, proposes Muslim school students should wear the Jewish Star of David to mark the extermination of the Jews.

"It will be a good way to show solidarity with the suffering of the Jews," Tybring-Gjedde told VG.

He thinks that the schools in Norway should introduce one day a year in which students can learn about the Holocaust and Jewish history.

"To show that people mean something with the promise to fight the harassment of Jewish children, people should wear a tag or symbol which shows it.  And I think a Jewish Star can be a good symbol," says Tybring-Gjedde.

He stresses he won't force anybody to wear Jewish symbols.

The Frp head doesn't get much understanding from the Islamic Council.

"The proposal to wear a Star of David in solidarity can be considered when Tybring-Gjedde proposes a similar obligatory marking for the hijab," says General Secretary Shoaib Sultan.

The head of the Mosaic Faith-Society, Anne Sender, responded favorably to the basic idea to have one day a year to learn about the Holocaust and the extermination of the Jew, but is more skeptical about the star idea.

"To encourage students to wear such a star can get in the way of learning," she thinks.

Source: Dagbladet (Norwegian)

Opinion: A confession..

Opinion: A confession..

I've got a confession to make. I'm not impressed by Vilks' artwork, and his Mohammad as a dog cartoon makes me uncomfortable. Why? The obvious reason might be because I'm pro-Islamic (thanks MI5!!), but it's a bit more complicated, actually.

On Sunday I posted a news story about the cartoon in question. A Dutch news-site used the cartoon to illustrate a story about the plot to murder Vilks. The cartoon was later removed, and the site claimed this had nothing to do with Muslim pressure.

I recently started posting more pictures on my blog, and so I thought of posting a picture of this cartoon. But I didn't, for several reasons:
1. It makes me uncomfortable
2. It can be found quite easily (Google 'Vilks' and it will come out on top)
3. As part of my post, I linked to several news-sites which posted the cartoon and kept it up

I expected an onslaught of readers who would attack me for my hypocrisy. Surprisingly, only one did.

Unless I miss some deep meaning in it, the cartoon itself is an insult. There are many, many cartoons on the net of Mohammad, all drawn with one express purpose in mind: to insult. I don't see a problem with them being posted online, or used as illustrations for news stories, editorials and cartoons. But, that does not mean I have to do so, either.

Lars Vilks drew this cartoon in response to the Danish Mohammad cartoon. I'm not a big modern art fan, so maybe I can't appreciate it as much as it should be. A couple of Swedish galleries decided this cartoon does have artistic value, and that it should be exhibited. However, they later realized the 'security' implications, and kicked Vilks from the exhibition, fearing Muslim riots. At that point, it stopped being a stupid cartoon and became a symbol for Muslim censorship. Vilks wrote an opinion column and published his cartoon in the press, to make a point, and that of course led to protests and threats.

The point was made, though not the point that anybody claiming 'Islam is peace' wants to make.

After the news broke about the Muslim Jihadist plot to kill Vilks, several Swedish newspapers re-published his cartoon. They did not publish it in order to illustrate anything. They published it to make a point. The same happened in Denmark after the first plot was uncovered to kill Kurt Westergaard, the famous Mohammad cartoonist. Though after the famous axe attack, Danish newspapers did not republish the cartoons. Surveys show that the Danes are tired of this 'point making' as well.

Norway had its own Mohammad cartoon crisis, a few weeks ago, when somebody posted a link to a cartoon showing Mohammad as a pig on the PST Facebook page. The story was published in Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet, together with the cartoon in question. Dagbladet didn't publish it to make a point, they published it in order to report about it. Strikes and threats of course followed.

Recently, the Tundra Tabloids discovered that the OIC published that very same Mohammad cartoon in their 'Islamophobia report'. The Danish media picked it up, followed by the Norwegians, and the OIC quickly removed the offending cartoon from their report.

But that only shows that they simply don't get it. The reason every Mohammed cartoon becomes a news story is not because they have any intrinsic value. It's because groups like the OIC make them into a story. It's because of the public outcry by offended Muslims and the constant threat of terror attacks (which so far were luckily averted) coming to 'avenge' and 'protect' Muslim honor. Europeans are not stupid. They realize that when a guy draws a cartoon it could be insulting. They might even understand the protests against it. But they also see that only response to continuous murderous attacks against cartoonists is silence from the Muslim community. Shouting 'Islamophobia!' is not going to make that go away.

'Muslim Jihadist plot' should be much more insulting than 'Mohammad is a pedophile'. Should be.

One wonders why a link posted on a Facebook page becomes top headlines and reason for concern in Norway. The answer is because Muslims all over the world made sure it would be. The fact that the OIC themselves published the cartoon just highlights their hypocrisy. But the basic hypocrisy in this issue is that this story even made it into their 'Islamophobia report'.

In the past I didn't publish many pictures on my blog, due to technical difficulties. I'm now trying to change that, and that might change my attitude towards what I post as well.

I post a lot of things I don't agree with, and I might also post pictures I don't agree with. For some reason, the 'let's see who can insult Mohammed more' type of cartoon, turned me off. I didn't feel like making a point. But, depending on circumstances, I might post such pictures in the future. If Dagbladet would have removed their story or image, for example, I would very probably have done so. If Vilks would have drawn his cartoon today, I might have posted it. I've posted various cartoons in the past on this blog.

But, frankly, I would prefer newspaper stop publishing cartoons to 'make a point' and instead do what they're supposed to be doing: report the news and serve as a platform for diverse opinions, in both cases, using the imagery necessary.

Jyllands-Posten write that the Islamists achieved a 'quarter' of a victory. But if Jyllands-Posten writes an entire 'how it unfolded' article in several languages and don't even dare show what cartoon they're talking about, it seems to me that the Islamists won 100%.

Bergen: Students want prayer room

Bergen: Students want prayer room

Related stories:
* Oslo: Muslim students want to use gym hall for prayer, deans object
* London: Muslim protest against university prayer room closure

The Muslim Student Society in Bergen, Norway, wants a prayer room in the university area. They're now struggling to pray five times a day.

"We want a quiet room, where people can come and concentrate on praying," Issam Bouiri, coordinator of the Muslim Student Society (MSS) in Bergen, told university paper Studvest.

According to Islam, you're supposed to pray five times a day. Both Norwegian and international students of Muslim faith are struggling to meet this requirements today.

"According to Islam it must be clean. We take off our shoes when we pray, therefore it's good if there's a carpet on the floor," saysBouiri.

Bouiri met with great understanding from both student politicians and employees at the university.

"UiB has ambitions to be an internationally attractive university, and then it will be an advantage with such an offer," says Erik Nyman Rydningen, who's responsible for welfare, environment and international affairs in the UiB student parliament.

The premises department in the university is already working on finding suitable premises. Senior consultant Morten Dyrdal will go far to accommodate the needs of the Muslim students.

"We will arrange for carpets on the floor. Currently we only received a query about such a room, but we want to find a solution that can be used by more," he says.

Source: NRK (Norwegian)

Netherlands: Man banned from municipality buildings for insulting headscarf wearing employee

Netherlands: Man banned from municipality buildings for insulting headscarf wearing employee

The Hoogezand-Sappemeer municipality in the Netherlands banned a man who treated an employee with a headscarf aggressively. A municipality spokesperson confirmed the news report which appeared in the Dagblad van het Noorden.

A week ago the man refused to be helped by a headscarf wearing employee and made that clear very loudly. He spoke to the woman with 'discrimination and contempt'.

The municipality later invited the man for a talk, but when that didn't lead to anything, the council decided to ban the man (for a year) from all municipal buildings.

The council thereby wants to make it clear that 'such emotions will on no account be tolerated in a multicultural municipality like Hoogezand-Sappemeer". The employee was shaken by the incident and will lodge a complaint by the discrimination hot-line. The municipality couldn't say if the ban is unique.

Source: AD (Dutch)

Norway: Jewish leader demands investigation of Muslim antisemitism

Norway: Jewish leader demands investigation of Muslim antisemitism

Related stories:
* Norway: Muslims attack Jews in school
* Norway: Muslim activist demands complete rejection of antisemitism


The Holocaust Center in Oslo will investigate Jew-hatred in Norway, but the center didn't plan to investigate the attitudes of Norwegian Muslims, as a group, when it comes to Jew-hatred.

This has become an topical issue with the recent news reports of Jew-hatred among students of Muslim background.

"Antisemitism among Norwegian Muslims should be part of the study," says the head of the Mosaic Faith-Society in Norway, Anne Sender.

"I can see no other solution when the world looks as it does, and we have the facts and the experiences essentially from the European reality, and in any case, with last week's revelations," she says.

The Holocaust Center will now consider whether they'll investigate what Norwegian Muslims think about Jews.


Education minister Kristin Halvorsen (SV) already took the initiative to set up a work-group to attempt to fight racism and antisemitism in Norwegian schools.

"I've spoken with many teachers who think it's important to tackle the problems that turn up with harassment, racism and antisemitism in Norweigan schools. Therefore we're inviting representatives from the schools, police and various faith-communities to participate in the work-group," said the education minister, who also added that they'll work on attitude-creating work.

Following NRK's report on Jew-hatred in Norwegian schools, the minister put the issue on her agenda. On Wednesday she met with representatives from the Mosaic Faith-Society.

Chairman Anne Sender is positive about the work-group.

"I think something concrete can come out of it," Sender told Norwegian news agency NTB.

She thinks that it's all about what type of society one wants and that everything regarding racism and antisemitism should be taken seriously. She says that now that it's dealt with at a national level, the chances for sucess are better.

Sender has on several occasions linked antisemitic attitudes to Muslim communities, and said that this is exactly where the problem lies.

Kristin Halvorsen doesn't agree with that conclusions.

"It's not a Muslim problem, but a Norwegian problem," she says.

The minister also emphasized the importance of differentiating between antisemitism and Israel's politics.

Sources: NRK, VG (Norwegian)

EU: No correlation between economic crisis and Islamophobia

EU: No correlation between economic crisis and Islamophobia

This article is mostly about the opposition to a minaret in Völklingen. I'd already written about that, but I thought this part deserved its own post.


Analysts say that strong social safety nets have kept intolerance toward Europe’s Muslims from growing significantly through the economic crisis, at least so far, with the worst sparring coming between countries — in particular Germany and Greece — rather than within them.

“Governments have been willing to cushion the blow and expand the deficits, so the debate has not heated up,” said Justin Vaïsse, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center on the United States and Europe, who studies Muslims in Europe. “You’re not looking at a 1930s situation where a social crisis derives from an economic crisis.”

Acrimonious debates and disputes over Islam — particularly the most visible manifestations like women wearing head scarves, veils and burqas and the construction of mosques — continue apace. But researchers have not seen a correlation between economic woes and Islamophobia.

“The economic crisis hit the immigrant population, many of them Muslims, harder than it did the majority population,” said

Werner Schiffauer, professor of social and cultural anthropology specializing in Muslim populations in Europe at the Viadrina University in Frankfurt an der Oder. “As they are dependent on welfare benefits, there was the accusation of blaming them, in a way, that Islam is responsible for a lax working morale.”


Source: NY Times (English)

UN: Human Rights Council condemns Swiss minaret ban

UN: Human Rights Council condemns Swiss minaret ban

In a tight vote Thursday, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted in favour of a resolution condemning so-called "defamation of religion."

A coalition of 17 mostly Western nations, including the United States and the Netherlands, opposed the resolution, but 20 states, including China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia, voted in favour. Eight states abstained.

The resolution adopted by the 47-member council was similar to one passed last year, but also included a section slamming the recent Swiss vote to ban the construction of minarets in the country.

The resolution has drawn criticism from liberal groups over concerns of infringements on freedom of speech and a bias in favour of Islamic states.

No mention of discrimination, other than anti-Muslim practices, were in the resolution.

Opponents noted tight restrictions on Christians, Jews and others in states such as Saudi Arabia and Libya, which did not make it into the adopted text.


Source: EarthTimes

Leicester: Muslim school's admission policies ruled 'unlawful'

Leicester: Muslim school's admission policies ruled 'unlawful'

Leicester's state Islamic school has been told its admissions criteria are "unlawful" because they discriminate against a Muslim group.

The Schools Adjudicator ruled that it was wrong Madani High gave Sunni Muslims priority over Shias.

The school's policy also breaks the Sex Discrimination Act by turning away pupils to create the same number of boys and girls.

It is the second time in two years the Evington Valley Road school has been judged to have an unlawful admissions policy.

The adjudicator said it was possible Madani – which has dropped its commitment to having 10% non-Muslim pupils – would not have been approved if people thought it favoured one denomination.

The school's admissions policy says priority is given to Muslim children, and defines "Muslim" as four named groups , which are all Sunni.

Chairman of governors Hussein Suleman said there was never any intention to exclude any Muslim group, and the school was already consulting on a revised admissions policy.

"This is creating divisions which don't exist," he said.

He said the school would comply with the ruling "without compromising our philosophy".


Source: Leicester Mercury

Norway: Proposal to tighten driver's license regulations

Norway: Proposal to tighten driver's license regulations

See also: Sweden: Immigrants more likely to have car accidents

Men from the Middle East and Africa have twice as many accidents as Norwegian-born men. The Public Roads Administration has decided to put a stop to it. Many new immigrants will have to be tested again before they will be allowed to drive a car in Norway.

If you come to Norway with a driver's license from Russia, Egypt or Argentina, you'll be given a Norwegian driver's license after doing a quick practical test - a common driving test.

About 40 nationalities can make use of this quick solution today. But the Public Roads Administration says it's unfortunate, and intends to tighten the rules so that fewer people can go for the simple method.

The Administration wants drivers from a number of countries to be forced to take the complete Norwegian driver's training, for three reasons: some immigrant groups are involved in disproportionally many accidents, it's difficult to check whether their driver's license is genuine, and in many countries driver's training is poorer than in Norway.

This proposal will affect people from these counties: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Philippines, Indonesia, China, Croatia, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Peru, Singapore, Serbia, former USSR, South-Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia and Venezuela.

Click to enlarge. Figures show accidents per 1000 drivers.

Some immigrants have traffic experience with collide with Norwegian driving culture, the research behind the proposal shows:

* In some countries motorists give little regard to pedestrians and cyclists - in Norway we expect to a greater degree that motorists stop for us.
* In some countries motorists don't need to yield unless there's a traffic sign
* In some countries people take off their seatbelts if they'll uncomfortable
* 60% of male immigrants think Norwegian traffic rules are too strict - compare to 20% of Norwegian-born men.

Moreover, some immigrant groups are involved in accidents more than Norwegian-born motorists.

Q: A large proportion of non-Western immigrants are drivers by trade and therefore more accident prone - for example Norwegian-Pakistani taxi drivers. Do the figures give an unjustified negative image?

A: We must remember that there's much more than accident-risks that led to our proposal for tightening [the regulations]," says department head Jan Edvard Isachsen of the Public Roads Administration.

He says that an important argument to change the regulations is that it's possible to get a Norwegian driver's license by presenting a fake foreign driver's license. Many countries lack a central driver's license registry, and they therefore struggle to verify that the foreign licenses are genuine. The verification process requires a disproportionate amount of resources.

Additionally, Isachsen says that they don't have much documentation about driver's training in many of these countries. In Norway there's an emphasis on attitude, conduct, and interaction in traffic, and that's not the case everywhere.

The figures show that foreign-born women are generally safer drivers than Norwegian men. Nevertheless, they will be affected by the requirement for doing the full Norwegian driver's training, if they have a driver's license from countries like Russia, Algeria, China and Argentina.

The Administration says that sparing the women will be bureaucratically impractical.

Today, many immigrants can use their foreign driver's license for a year in Norway before they must apply for a Norwegian license. This time-buffer will now shrink to three months, the Administration proposes.

In practice, this will leave many people without a driver's license while they're going through their driver's school training.

Q: Some will say you're strict?

A: The reason is our zero-vision regarding accidents. This is one of several contributions to reducing the number of injured and dead, says Isachsen.

The proposal to change the driver's license regulations is now being sent for consultation.

The Administration says that there might be interesting input from the embassies of the nationalities which will be affected.

The Administration will make the final decision on this issue.

Source: Aftenposten (Norwegian)

UK: Police recruiting internet café owners against terrorists

UK: Police recruiting internet café owners against terrorists

Police are recruiting internet café owners to spy on their customers as part of an anti-terrorism campaign.

Officers are training them in how to identify terror suspects downloading extremist material from the web so they can report them to police.

The voluntary scheme being trialled in Harrow, Camden and Westminster, London, aims to catch terrorists using the anonymity of public places to research and plan attacks.

Proprietors are also being urged to display posters and install screensavers on all computers warning customers that police will be called if they try to access suspect websites.

The move has been inspired by cases in which extremists have been snared after using internet cafés in terror plots.

Jailed airline bomb plotters Abdulla Ahmed Ali, Assad Sarwar and Tanvir Hussain were found to have carried out research and sent email to conspirators from internet cafés.

However, the initiative has been condemned by race relations campaigners, who claim it is a "another step in the direction of creating a society of total surveillance".

Arun Kundnani, of the Institute of Race Relations, said: "What is dangerous about this initiative is that it does not just focus on preventing access to illegal material but also material that is defined as 'extremist' without offering an objective definition of what that is.

"It thus potentially criminalises people for accessing material that is legal but which expresses religious and political opinions that police officers find unacceptable.

"It is likely to result in not only a general violation of privacy and freedom of expression but also discrimination against Muslims, whose use of the internet will be seen as inherently more suspicious."


Source: Daily Telegraph

London: Students turn to embassies to lobby for prayer room

London: Students turn to embassies to lobby for prayer room

See also: London: Muslim protest against university prayer room closure

Muslim students are demanding their embassies lobby City University to overturn a ban on them using their prayer room.

The University, which has students from Muslim countries including Bangladesh, Iran and Pakistan, padlocked the prayer room on Whiskin Street because of security concerns after six Muslim students were attacked in November.

Hundreds of male members of the Islamic Society (ISoc) have been gathering twice a day to pray in Northampton Square in protest. Up to 400 students have been attending sermons in the square during Friday prayers.

The University have offered the students space in a multi-faith prayer room, but the students say they cannot use a space that is shared by all faiths.

In a statement on the Muslim students campaign website it said: “We Muslims are still stranded in the middle of nowhere without a dedicated place to pray, and it seems the university don’t want to change their stance.”

Saleh Patel, president of the City University Islamic Society (ISoc), said: “We have tried dialogue but the University say they are always busy. We are hoping that they will listen to international students. We want them to ask their embassies to contact the University. We also want students’ parents to ring the University, showing character and patience. We hope to resolve this with dialogue if they let us speak to them.

Patel said they were not currently seeking to take legal action, but in a statement on the campaign website it says: “It may be the case that we need to take further steps if the university do not feel it is necessary to provide for the needs of the Muslims.”

A spokeswoman for City University said: “The University is continuing to meet with the Students’ Union, discussing the space and in response to the Students’ Union City Islamic Society’s request for bigger capacity for Friday prayers, has made the Great Hall available.


Source: Islington Now, h/t Islamophobia Watch