Cultural and social affairs Department OIC islamophobia Observatory

Monthly Bulletin – July 2010

1. Manifestations of Islamophobia

i) France denies citizenship to Muslim man – The French Immigration Ministry said Friday (Jul 9) that a Moroccan man who refused to shake hands with a French female official and whose wife wears the full Islamic veil had been denied French citizenship. The Ministry also said that the man, who has been living in France since 1999 and married a French woman in 2004, failed to “assimilate into French society” and displayed a “discriminatory attitude toward women”. It added that he “refused to shake the hand of a female official whom he met at the state prefecture because it was ‘against his religion’.” The man’s wife wore the full veil and only agreed to uncover herself in a room where no men would be present, the statement added.

In: retrieved on 10.07.2010

ii) US Church Starts “International Burn a Koran Day” – Dr. Terry Jones and his followers at Dove World Outreach Center, are one of the most outspoken groups against Islam. Recently they had protested outside a Florida Mosque, and in the past they came out in force with their “Islam is the Devil” shirts. They even wrote out that slogan, using Christmas lights outside their Church. In their latest attempt to draw attention to this issue, they have created the “International Burn A Koran Day” Facebook page.

Here is the information:

International Burn A Koran Day

On September 11th, 2010 we will burn the Koran on the property of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL in remembrance of the fallen victims of 9/11 and to stand against the evil of Islam. Islam is of the devil!

Mission: To bring to awareness to the dangers of Islam and that the Koran is leading people to hell. Eternal fire is the only destination the Koran can lead people to so we want to put the Koran in it’s place – the fire!

In: retrieved on 14.07.2010

Related: CAIR Seeks Educational Response to ‘Burn a Koran Day’ – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Jul 19 called on American Muslims to respond to a Florida church’s planned “International Burn a Koran Day” by hosting educational “Share the Quran” Ramadan fast-breaking dinners (iftars) at which copies of Islam’s holy text will be distributed to neighbors, public and law enforcement officials and journalists. (The month-long Islamic fast of Ramadan will begin in August.)

CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, said: “American Muslims and other people of conscience should support positive educational efforts to prevent the spread of Islamophobia.” He said CAIR’s research shows that anti-Muslim bias decreases when people have access to accurate information about Islam and are able to connect on a personal level with ordinary Muslims. Hooper added that the Florida church’s anti-Islam initiative joins similar Islamophobic efforts in that state and nationwide.

In: retrieved on 21.07.2010

Related: US National Association of Evangelicals Denounces Church’s Quran Burning Event – The National Association of Evangelicals, the American largest evangelical umbrella group, urged a Florida church to call off a planned Quran burning that is scheduled for September 11. Here is the NAE’s statement:

NAE Urges Cancellation of Planned Qu’ran Burning

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) encourages increased understanding and reconciliation between those of different faiths and backgrounds, and it laments efforts that work against a just and peaceful society. The plans recently announced by a Florida group to burn copies of the Qu’ran on September 11 show disrespect for our Muslim neighbors and would exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims throughout the world. The NAE urges the cancellation of the burning.

NAE President Leith Anderson said, “It sounds like the proposed Qu’ran burning is rooted in revenge. Yet the Bible says that Christians should ‘make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else’ (1 Thessalonians 5:15).”

In 1996 the NAE addressed religious persecution saying that “If people are to fulfill the obligations of conscience, history teaches the urgent need to foster respect and protection for the right of all persons to practice their faith.” [i] In the same resolution, the NAE pledged to “address religious persecution carried out by our Christian brothers and sisters whenever this occurs around the world.”

The NAE calls on its members to cultivate relationships of trust and respect with our neighbors of other faiths. God created human beings in his image, and therefore all should be treated with dignity and respect. The proposed burning of Qu’rans would be profoundly offensive to Muslims worldwide, just as Christians would be insulted by the burning of Bibles. Such an act would escalate tensions between members of the two faiths in the United States and around the world.

“We have to recognize that fighting fire with fire only builds a bigger fire,” said Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed, in Orlando, Fla., and member of the NAE Board of Directors. “Love is the water that will eventually quench the destruction.”

Anderson said, “The most powerful statement by the organizers of the planned September 11th bonfire would be to call it off in the name and love of Jesus Christ.”

In: retrieved on 31.07.2010

iii) US: ‘Petraeus wrote anti-Islamic manual’ – According to a manual allegedly co-authored by General David Petraeus, the new commander of US, NATO, and other US-led forces in Afghanistan, associates insurgency with Islam.  Petraeus reportedly wrote the counter-insurgency manual, which refers to “Islamic insurgents”, “Islamic extremists” and “Islamic subversives”, in 2006. The manual, which also details an alleged link between Muslim groups and terrorists, was reportedly co-authored by General James Amos.
The manual’s reported contents contradict a recent policy address by Obama’s chief national security adviser for counter-terrorism, John Brennan. He called on the US to avoid using the term Islamic terrorist, saying the use of such terms could cause more problems for the United States in the long run. The manual reportedly also says that the White House’s official policy of banning the word “Islam” in describing the United States’ terrorist enemies is in direct contradiction to the US military’s war-fighting doctrine now guiding commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In: retrieved on 14.07.2010

iv) US: Vandals Damage Iowa Mosque – Cedar Rapids police said vandals shattered five windows at a mosque. The damage at the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids was discovered early Tuesday (Jul 13). Police said it was done between 10:30 p.m. Monday (Jul 12) and 4:30 a.m. Tuesday (Jul 13), when members arrived for a prayer service. Police spokeswoman Sgt. Cristy Hamblin said it appeared the vandals didn’t go into the mosque. She added that the culprits used large rocks and other blunt objects to break an office window, two windows by the entryway and two glass doors. Damage was estimated at $3,000.

In: retrieved on 14.07.2010

v) Normandy: Mosque defaced – Inscriptions reading “Islam get out of Europe”, “No to Islam and to burkas”, along with swastikas, were discovered on Wednesday (Jul 15) in Herouville-Saint-Clair, a suburb of the city of Caen in Normandy (France).
The incident came a day after French lawmakers passed on first reading a bill banning women from wearing the full-face Islamic vail in public.

French Immigration Minister Eric Besson called the vandalism “cowardly” and “foolish”. He also said: “I cannot begin to describe my indignation. France has always been, and will remain, a land of immigration and integration.”

In: retrieved on 16.07.2010

vi) Sarah Palin Joins Chorus Slamming Ground Zero Mosque – Sarah Palin plunged into the raging debate over a proposed Islamic community center and mosque two blocks from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, saying in series of posts on Twitter that the project should not be built. The former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate tweeted on Sunday (Jul 18): “Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand. Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in the interest of healing.” In another message, she wrote: “Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real.”

In: retrieved on 20.07.2010

vii) US: Church Rejects Sale of Building for a Mosque – The board of trustees of a Roman Catholic Church on Staten Island, whose members include Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, has formally rejected a proposal to sell a vacant convent to a Muslim organization that planned to use it as a mosque. The Islamic group, the Muslim American Society, said Thursday (Jul 22) that it would seek a new location in the borough.

The vote this week by the board of St. Margaret Mary Church, which was announced Thursday (Jul 22) by the Archdiocese of New York, brought an end to a tense three-month standoff.  On one side, neighbors who opposed the mosque claimed it might become a front for terrorism. On the other, members of the Islamic group, some of whom live in the neighborhood, said Muslims on Staten Island sorely needed a new mosque — and chafed at being labeled terrorist sympathizers because of their religious affiliation.

In: retrieved on 24.07.2010

viii) Germany: Vandals attack ‘veil martyr’ memorial – Organizers said Friday (Jul 23) that vandals had attacked an art project erected in honour of a pregnant Egyptian woman who was murdered in a German court room. The Citizen.Courage group, which sponsored the display in the eastern city of Dresden, said that a few knife-shaped columns used in the open-air show had been knocked over several times and signs explaining the project were stolen. Group chairman Christian Demuth said in statement: “Citizen.Courage assumes this was a malicious, politically motivated attempt to destroy the project. To warn against everyday racism, we will not restore the destroyed installations. But we will continue the project.”

A police spokeswoman said authorities had opened an investigation. The “18 Stabs” installation, unveiled on the first anniversary of Sherbini’s death on July 1, featured 18 knife-shaped concrete pillars erected throughout the city with signs condemning racism and xenophobic violence.

In: retrieved on 24.07.2010

ix) UK: Muslim woman wearing veil ‘refused bus ride’ in London – Two Muslim women have claimed they were refused a bus ride because one had her face covered by a veil. The students, both 22 and from Slough, Berkshire, boarded a Metroline bus from Russell Square to Paddington, London. But they said when they presented their tickets on Tuesday (Jul 20), the driver told them they were a “threat” to passengers and ordered them off the bus. The firm has started an “urgent” investigation. The Muslim Council of Britain said it was “deeply concerned”. The pair, who have made a formal complaint to the bus company, have asked the BBC not to reveal their full names.

In: retrieved on 24.07.2010

x) Spanish Mayor Closes ‘Too Popular’ Mosque – Angel Ros, the socialist mayor of Lleida, in the northeastern region of Catalonia, complained that the mosque was too full and closed it on Wednesday (Jul 21) until further notice. The building, a former garage used to service trucks, was often filled with crowds exceeding a thousand people, the council said, when the authorized limit for the venue is 240.

A new mosque is under construction on the outskirts of the town but work had been stalled because of a lack of financing during the economic crisis. Mr. Ros said in response to complaints from the town’s Muslim population over the closure: “The municipality has no obligation to provide places of worship. Those that wish can pray at home, as I do.”

The move follows a recent ban on women wearing the burka or niqab in municipal building in the Catalan town. Last June Lleida was the first town council in Spain to introduce a ban, which has since been adopted by half a dozen other councils, including Barcelona, the capital of the region. Abdelwahab Houzi, the local imam, said the mosque closure had added to the Muslim community’s sense of “persecution” by authorities.

In: retrieved on 24.07.2010

xi) UK: Colne Woman Spat at Mosque Worshippers – A British court in Burnley heard that worshippers leaving a mosque in Colne were subjected to a tirade of racist abuse by a drunken woman who spat on them in the street. Brothers Quaram and Asim Majid were leaving the venue in Chapel Street on Wednesday (Jul 21) when they were confronted by Emma Woods. Woods, 24, of Laithe Street, Colne, hurled abuse at the pair and repeatedly spat at them, as their 14-year-old nephew looked on, said prosecutor Bill Maude. The brothers tried to walk away towards Albert Road and Colne Lane but Woods pursued them across the Pendle town, in scenes which were described in court as ‘disgraceful’.

Mr. Maude said the defendant continued to pursue the pair, as one of the brothers attempted to guide their 14-year-old nephew to safety. Woods shouted: “No-one wants you here. Get out of our country. This is our town.” Mr. Maude also said it did not matter whether saliva had made contact with either of the brothers, as the attack still constituted an assault on them, adding: “It was a fairly disgusting display and something that was not only done to the two aggrieved parties but in the presence of their 14-year-old nephew.”

Woods admitted two offences of racially aggravated assault and breaching a suspended prison sentence order, also imposed for assault. Magistrates jailed her for 146 days.

In: retrieved on 25.07.2010

xii) US: Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey Questions Whether Islam is a Religion – Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, a Republican competing in the GOP gubernatorial primary, said on July 14th that he was unsure if Islam was really a religion, suggesting that it could be a “cult”. Asked about the “threat invading our country from Muslims,” Ramsey first said that he was “all about freedom of religion”, proclaiming fealty to the first amendment to the Constitution. But he went on to add that “you cross the line when they start bringing Sharia Law in the state of Tennessee, the United States. Now, you could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, way of life, a cult, whatever you want to call it. But certainly we do protect our religions, but at the same time, this is something we are going to have to face.”

In: retrieved on 27.07.2010

xiii) US: ‘Anti-Islamic’ bus ads appear in major cities – A group called ‘Stop Islamization of America’ is promoting ads on major city public transportation that urge people to leave the Muslim faith. The anti-Islamic campaign is sparking thought about the religion’s place in American society.

A self-described “anti-jihadist”, Pamela Geller is the conservative blogger and executive director of Stop Islamization of America who conceived of the “Leaving Islam” ad campaign. Her bus posters, she said, were partly inspired by the ongoing Florida case involving a teenage girl who ran away from her Muslim parents after converting to Christianity. The girl, Rifqa Bary, made headlines last year when she claimed her father threatened to kill her for becoming a Christian. Ms. Geller described her campaign as “a defense of religious freedom”, in an e-mail response to questions. The goal, she said, is mainly “to help ex-Muslims who are in trouble” and also “to raise awareness of the threat that apostates live under even in the West.”

In: retrieved on 31.07.2010

xiv) US: Texas Mosque Targeted by Arson, Hate Graffiti, Slurs – The Texas office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-TX) reported on Jul 28 that local police and the FBI were investigating possibly bias-motivated incidents of arson, hate graffiti and racial slurs targeting a mosque in that state. CAIR-TX said a Sunday (Jul 25) fire at the playground of Dar El-Eman Islamic Center in Arlington, Texas, followed an incident two days earlier in which obscene anti-Muslim graffiti was discovered in the mosque’s parking lot. A third incident involved racial slurs being shouted at worshippers on Sunday (Jul 25).


The fire, which cost $20,000 in damages, had been set to the children’s playground at the mosque. Moreover, as worshipers were leaving the mosque Sunday (Jul 25) evening they were also yelled at with racist slurs by a carload of people driving by. Jamal Qaddura, President – DFW Islamic Educational Center, said:  “I don’t want to repeat (the slurs). You don’t want to hear them. About our religion, and about us.” When the vandals broke in Sunday (Jul 25) morning, they also cut the water pipes to the mosque as they set fire to its children’s playground. Jamal added: “This is a terrorist act. This person or persons who committed this terrorist act are no different than the terrorist who attacked or tried to burn Times Square.”

The terrified children at the mosque had to be consoled. Principal Amalia Awaida said she had been reassuring the children that “this is an accident, and that no one is trying to hurt them. I don’t want them to feel that they are threatened or that they are in danger. It is hard for them to understand because this is a house of prayer.”

Though Arlington Muslims have done their best to maintain cordial relationships with the surrounding faith-based communities, they realize that attacks such as these only have one reason behind them: the pandemic propagation of hate against Muslim Americans. Jamal said: “(This) is the fruit of hate. You keep implanting fear in people’s hearts, and it makes them evil.”

A spokesperson for Arlington police told CAIR that arson investigators and the FBI were involved in the probe. Police patrols had been stepped up in the area surrounding the mosque. CAIR-TX took part in a Tuesday (Jul 27) meeting at the mosque in which the FBI and other fire and law enforcement officials discussed the investigation.  The Texas Penal Code allows for enhanced penalties if an offense is “committed because of bias or prejudice.”

CAIR-Texas Executive Director Mustafaa Carroll, who took part in Tuesday (Jul 27)’s meeting at the mosque, said: “We appreciated the prompt and professional actions of local and federal agencies in responding to these disturbing incidents. We ask the FBI to encourage police departments nationwide to step up protection at American mosques and Islamic centers.”

Meanwhile, CAIR said that it was also looking into a report of recent vandalism at a mosque under construction in Round Rock, Texas. A motive had not yet been established in that case.

In: & retrieved on 31.07.2010

xv) US: Conservative Protestors Target Temecula Islamic Center – Protestors demonstrated outside an Islamic cultural center in Temecula (Los Angels) on the afternoon of Jul 30. The protestors were trying to block the planned construction of new Islamic mosque and cultural center near a local Baptist church. The demonstration purposely coincided with afternoon prayers at the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley. Organizers were a fringe conservative group called Concerned Community Citizens. It encouraged protestors to show up with “guns, bibles and dogs.” There was only one dog. He was on a leash. No bibles or firearms were on visible display. But there were lots of signs opposing Islam. Cynthia Don held one that said “No Allah’s Law Here”

Don, a self-described grandmother from Temecula, said: “I don’t care for their religion, I don’t care for their politics and I do no want them here just like I do not want the illegal Hispanic people here, I don’t want ‘em.” She joined about 20 other protestors across the street from the Islamic Center. “Sorry, if their mosque was used for religious reasons that’d be one thing but they’re not,” claims Don. She could not explain what else the mosque might be used for, but several protestors did try to equate Islam with terrorism. “This is where they do their little pow-wow meetings. They don’t belong here!”

The 12-year-old Islamic Center plans to build a new 24,000 square foot mosque and cultural center on vacant land about seven miles from its current home. Opponents also cite worries over the mosque’s size, and potential environmental impact. But Islamic Center chairman Hadi Nael says those issues were already addressed. He did say the center is paying an additional $10,000 for a traffic impact study. The Islamic Center hopes to have its new mosque built by the end of next year.

The mosque will also sit near Calvary Baptist Church. Its pastor Bill Rench publicly opposes the mosque. Rench in an open letter to parishioners, said: “Wherever Islam is dominant, we see very different conditions, and we find widespread persecution against Christians. We certainly find ample cause to oppose the spread of Islam. There are certainly plenty of people who oppose any spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In America, we still have (that) freedom. Islamic law does not provide that blessed freedom.”

In: retrieved on 31.07.2010

1.1. On Geert Wilders:

i) Dutch lawmaker forms anti-Islam group – An anti-Islam lawmaker in the Netherlands is forming an international alliance to spread his message across the West in a bid to ban immigration from Islamic countries, among other goals. Geert Wilders told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday (Jul 15) he would launch the movement late in 2010, initially in five countries: the U.S., Canada, Britain, France and Germany. Among the group’s aims will be outlawing immigration from Islamic countries to the West and a ban on Islamic Sharia law. Starting as a grass-roots movement, he hopes it eventually will produce its own lawmakers or influence other legislators. Wilders said at the Dutch Parliament: “The message, ‘stop Islam, defend freedom,’ is a message that’s not only important for the Netherlands but for the whole free Western world,”

He said he hoped to position the alliance between traditional conservative parties and far-right wing groups, saying that in Britain there was “an enormous gap” between the ruling Conservative Party and the far-right British National Party, adding: “The BNP is a party that, whatever you think of it, it’s not my party – I think it’s a racist party.” Wilders is due to stand trial in October on hate speech charges stemming from his short Internet film “Fitna”, which denounced the Quran as a fascist book that inspired terrorism. The film aroused anti-Dutch protests around the Muslim world, and he was banned for several months from entering Britain. But he is unrepentant and said he now wants to take his message outside the Netherlands. He said: “The fight for freedom and (against) Islamization as I see it is a worldwide phenomenon and problem to be solved.” Wilders declined to name any of the other founders of the organization he is calling the Geert Wilders International Freedom Alliance. He said he would hold speeches in the five countries where the alliance will first launch in coming months to drum up support.

In: retrieved on 16.07.2010

ii) Berlin: Islamophobic politician faces expulsion over invitation to Wilders – Geert Wilders, the anti-Islam Dutch politician, is set to address like-minded Germans in October 2010, triggering criticism Thursday (Jul 22) in Berlin, with city Christian Democrats saying they might expel a politician who invited Wilders to the German capital.

Rene Stadtkewitz, a Christian Democratic deputy in the legislature of Berlin State, was unrepentant over his invitation to Wilders. He said they would meet October 2 to share views on how to fight political Islam. He gave no details of any public appearances. The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Chancellor Angela Merkel is an opposition party in the Berlin regional legislature. The city and suburbs constitutes one of Germany’s 16 states.

Frank Henkel, caucus leader of the city CDU, said he would expel Stadtkewitz from the caucus if he did not call off the Wilders visit. Stadtkewitz responded: “I won’t cancel the invitation to Wilders. That would go against my fundamental political convictions.” Stadtkewitz resigned his CDU party membership in 2009 in protest at a fellow member who had built bridges with city Muslims, but remained a member of the CDU caucus in the state legislature. He had campaigned against plans to build the newest mosque in the city. He had charged that the Merkel party was “too soft and too tolerant” towards “violence-prone, radical Muslims.”

In:,wilders-triggers-criticized-berlin.html retrieved on 24.07.2010

2. Positive Occurrences

i) Australia: Think Tank proposes plan to teach students about Islam – Think Tank has called Australia a racist country and proposed that every Australian school student would be taught positive things about Islam and Muslims. According to the Courier Mail, the plan is outlined in a booklet ‘Learning From One Another: Bringing Muslim Perspectives into Australian Schools’ published this week by the Australian Curriculum Studies Association and the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Excellence in Islamic Studies. The authors are offering free seminars to teachers. The booklet, inter alia, stated: “There is a degree of prejudice and ignorance about Islam and Muslims and Australian students must be taught to embrace difference and diversity.”

In: retrieved on 12.07.2010

ii) US: NBC, CBS decline to run mosque-bashing ad from conservative group – A conservative political action committee blasted the CBS and NBC networks Wednesday (Jul 14) for rejecting its ad imploring Americans to fight the mosque proposed for Ground Zero. Titled “The Audacity of Jihad”, the commercial interspersed graphic footage of the 9/11 attacks with armed Muslim militants and the sounds of Muslims praying. The narrator of the 60-second spot proposed by the National Republican Trust said: “On Sept. 11, they declared war against us. And to celebrate that murder of 3,000 Americans, they want to build a monstrous 13-story mosque at Ground Zero.”

In e-mails to the group, CBS and NBC officials said the ad did not meet the networks’ standards and guidelines for broadcast. NRT executive director Scott Wheeler described the networks as “a very weak media that seems to be interested in only defending Muslims as poor victims.” He said his group was planning to pay the networks more than $50,000 to run the ad. CBS and NBC Universal corporate officials confirmed the ad was rejected by both networks.

In: retrieved on 16.07.2010

3. Muslims in the United Kingdom

i) Muslims protest in Cardiff against ‘anti-Islam laws’ – Muslims demonstrated in Cardiff to protest against laws across Europe which they say are anti-Islam. Saturday (Jul 10)’s protest was to highlight what they believe is an “ideological attack” on Islam.

Organiser Muhammad Abu Yaffir said: “Muslims feel very strongly about these laws being introduced across Europe. Wherever Muslims feel pain anywhere in the world it is our responsibility to respond to their needs.” The protest was organised by Ummah of Muhammad, which Mr Yaffir described as “a platform to share ideas and exchange views…We want to use freedom of expression laws to expose double standards.”

In: retrieved on 11.07.2010

ii) Reported abuse against Muslims in Leicestershire rises – According to figures from local police, Muslims in Leicestershire are facing increasing abuse. Between April 2008 and March 2009, officers recorded 25 offences against Muslims but in the following 12 months, the figure rose to 42. Most incidents involved verbal abuse but there was a small number of cases in which veils were pulled off. Police said they treated all types of hate crime as a priority and urged victims to report any problems.

In: retrieved on 24.07.2010

iii) Prison Governor Apologizes for Non-Halal Food – A prison governor apologized to Muslim inmates after they were served non-halal burgers. A number of Muslim inmates at HMP Ford, an open prison in West Sussex, were claiming they were served pork burgers by prison staff on Saturday (Jul 24) evening.

A prison service spokesman said: “On Saturday [Jul 24] a problem in the kitchens resulted in Muslim prisoners being mistakenly served non-halal food.” It is still not clear exactly what meat was used. The spokesman added: “The governor is apologising to the prisoners affected and an investigation is under way. The prison is working closely with the Muslim chaplain on this matter.”

In: retrieved on 28.07.2010

iv) UK: EDL members arrested in mosque bomb plot – Seven men were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to blow up a Bournemouth mosque. The men, six of whom are members of the England Defence League (EDL), were taken to Poole and Southampton police stations for questioning before being released without charge. Among those arrested was EDL member John Broomfield, 27, who was pulled from his stationary vehicle after armed police opened fire on his van in Corfe Castle village.

A spokesman for Dorset Police said: “Dorset Police can confirm that as part of an investigation surrounding threats to a Bournemouth mosque a total of seven people were arrested for conspiracy to cause an explosion. Following an investigation police can now confirm these people have been released without charge. One of the people arrested was detained safely by armed officers in the Corfe Castle area. We’ve been working very closely with the Muslim community and our local safer neighbourhood teams have been providing advice and reassurance throughout. At this stage there is no indication whatsoever that any of the mosques in Dorset are under threat of attack.”

Broomfield, the head of the Dorset EDL, said on Jul 27: “While travelling home from work I was stopped and arrested by armed police.” Of the alleged plan to blow up the mosque, he added: “There has been no conspiracy, there has never been any conspiracy.”

In: retrieved on 31.07.2010

4. Muslims in US and Americas

i) Muslims in USA face fears, bias to build, expand mosques – When Muslims want to pray in Rutherford County, many go to an office building on Middle Tennessee Boulevard that houses the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. Like many American mosques, the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro faces a dilemma. As the number of Muslims in the United States grows, mosques know they must expand as well. But those plans to expand often run into hostile resistance. Opponents, like some in Murfreesboro, try to use zoning laws to block mosque building or expansion. That has left some local Muslims wondering if they are second-class citizens when it comes to religion.

Of the estimated 330,000 houses of worship in the United States, only 2,500 are mosques. Fewer than 200 were built new, said Omar Khalidi, librarian for the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT, adding: “The vast majority of American mosques were buildings built for other purposes.” Those kinds of converted buildings worked for first-generation Muslim Americans. But they don’t work as well for their children, Khalidi said.

While immigrants in the 1960s and 1970s were content with a place to pray, their children want more from the mosques. They want their mosques to have the same kind of amenities that many churches offer. That has led many Muslim groups to design new mosques modeled after megachurches. Khalidi said: “They have gone over to the Baptist church model…If you have a gym, if you have a basketball court and maybe even a swimming pool or other facilities, this will be more attractive to young people.”

Building new mosques has become increasingly difficult since 2001. Over the past three years, at least 18 mosque projects — from Mississippi to Wisconsin — have run into fierce opposition. Mosque foes cite traffic concerns and fear of terrorism. More than 400 people flocked to a recent public meeting on Staten Island to protest the sale of an empty convent to a Muslim group there. A proposed mosque near ground zero in New York has drawn thousands of protesters. According to a poll from Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, more than half of voters in New York City oppose the project. Hundreds of opponents packed a Rutherford County Commission meeting in mid-June to protest the Murfreesboro mosque. Similar resistance helped derail a proposed mosque in Brentwood earlier this year when mosque organizers withdrew their request.

When supporters of the Murfreesboro mosque held a vigil June 24 at the Rutherford County Courthouse, mosque opponents showed up. Don Westcott held up a sign reading “Tolerance is not surrender of principles and truth”. The Smyrna resident said he has Pakistani friends who’ve been persecuted for their Christian faith. That makes him suspicious of American Muslims. Westcott said: “If we can stop it here, that’s another brick in the wall against Islamic spread.” But the Rev. Russell Richardson, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, disagrees. Richardson’s congregation has a new building next door to the proposed mosque site on Bradyville Highway. He said: “If we infringe their freedom — we infringe our freedom.” Grace Baptist held a seminar recently on how to witness to Muslims, led by Rev. Raouf Ghattas, a former missionary to Syria. Ghattas told Baptists at the meeting to always treat Muslims with respect, adding: “If you cannot respond to them out of love, it is best to keep your mouth shut.” Richardson echoed that message: “If we can bring them to a decision for Christ, that is wonderful. And if we can’t, we will still love them.”

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission in Nashville, said that mosque opponents are misguided. He said that the constitution protects all faiths, even unpopular ones. He added: “The minute you allow the government to decide which religions are kosher and which are not, you are in big trouble. That’s way above their pay grade.”

The trend in mosque construction matches what’s happening in other faiths, said Steve Newton, an architectural consultant for LifeWay Christian Resources. Newton, who has worked on church building projects for about 20 years, has seen a trend toward building cafes and larger lobbies to give people more places to gather. He said: “We are seeing a much greater emphasis on space where people can connect in intentional but unstructured ways.” In the past, Newton said, congregation members lived near one another and built relationships in the community, away from church. Now people drive past local churches to find one that fits their needs and their sense of mission.

A new building also can draw people who drifted away from the faith, says Kevin Jaques, director of the Middle Eastern and Islamic studies program at Indiana University, Bloomington. Jaques said only one out of every five American Muslims attends the mosque on a regular basis. Many Muslims come only for the major holidays, in the same way that some Christians show up at Christmas and Easter. Over the past 10 years, he said, mosques have tried to reach out to so-called cultural Muslims. He said: “Around the year 2000, the crisis of the American Muslim community was that the second- and third-generation Muslims were leaving because the mosques were oriented around the way their parents had done things back home. They weren’t accounting for American culture and customs. There’s been an attempt to create ways to pull those kids back.”

In: retrieved on 06.07.2010

ii) Muslim groups to survey 600 U.S. mosques – Muslim American organizations have launched what they said will be the most comprehensive survey of mosques in the United States in a decade. Ihsan Bagby, an Islamic studies professor at the University of Kentucky, who is leading this survey and worked on the last one, in 2000, said: “This is the biggest mosque survey since 9/11.”

The survey will again provide figures for the number of U.S. mosques and the number of Muslims associated with those and attempt to ascertain the status of women in them. New questions will focus on radicalization and whether it is considered a growing problem in Muslim communities. The survey is sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America and six other Muslim groups. Researchers intend to call leaders of 600 mosques with questions between this month and September. Bagby hopes at least 500 leaders will respond. Final results are expected in February 2011.

In: retrieved on 18.07.2010

iii) Electrolux aims to accommodate fasting Muslims – A St. Cloud household appliance factory is adjusting its night-shift meal schedule to accommodate Muslim employees who want to break their fasts at or shortly after sunset during the month of Ramadan. It was unclear if the move will resolve the dispute, however.

A policy at the Electrolux Plant bans eating on the production floor as a safety measure. A Muslim worker filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission this week on behalf of other Muslim workers on the second shift. A majority of the plant’s 300 to 400 workers are Muslim. Sweden-based Electrolux allows food in the workplace; however, food is not permitted in manufacturing work areas of its North American facilities. The company made the policy change in January 2010 to align St. Cloud with other Electrolux facilities in North America, Tony Evans, a company official, said in an e-mail Friday (Jul 23).

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations assisted the employees in filing the complaint, saying requests for a religious accommodation have been ignored. They are seeking an exception to the policy so the workers could eat a snack on the production floor at sunset during the month of Ramadan, which begins on or about Aug. 10; participating Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. The company on Thursday (Jul 22) presented a revised policy to the union that represents workers at the plant, saying: “As long as it complies with the labor agreement, we don’t see a problem with it.”

In: retrieved on 24.07.2010

iv) Group’s plan to build mosque in Florence approved – An Islamic foundation which was earlier denied a zoning request to build a mosque in northern Kentucky, now has approval at a different site. The Kentucky Enquirer reported Florence business development director Joshua Wice said Mercy Foundation Inc. had approval to construct the worship center near Mall Road in Florence. The area is already zoned for mixed use – including churches, synagogues, temples and other places of worship – and the nonprofit group’s site plan review has been approved. The group wanted to build a mosque eight years ago in Union, but the site would have required a zoning change and it was denied.

In: retrieved on 27.07.2010

v) Fox’s “Muslim Against NYC Mosque” is a Christian – In their continued campaign against a proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero, Fox & Friends on Jul 26 hosted Mosab Hassan Youseff, whose father is apparently a member of Hamas, identifying him a “Muslim” who is opposed to the “NYC Mosque”. But Youseff is anything but; at the beginning of the interview, Youseff explained that he was “born as a Muslim and then I converted to Christianity”. One would think this would throw quite a wrench into Fox’s framing for the segment — that even a Muslim “son of a terrorist”(!) thinks that the community center is “an insult to the victims of 9/11” — but you’d be wrong. Undaunted, Fox’s on-screen text continued to refer to him as a “Muslim Against NYC Mosque” throughout the segment.

Other than the inconvenient fact that Youseff is not a Muslim, Youseff gave Fox everything else they likely wanted out of his appearance. He attacked “Islamists” by claiming that “the real nature of Islam” shared “common grounds” with the Nazis because they want to “make one global Islamic state”. He added that “Islamists” have the “same objectives as the Nazis”, but are “even more dangerous”. He likened the planned NYC Islamic community center to “pouring acid in the open wound of the victims and their families of September 11”.
Fox has been on a crusade against the  community center, stoking the flames of Islamic xenophobia and making false claims, like their assertion that it was slated to open on September 11. Co-host Brian Kilmeade has repeatedly questioned if the “Islamic community” is “gloating”  or “taunting” 9-11 victims in building the community center near Ground Zero. Nary a day seems to go by without at least one segment attacking the community center.

In: retrieved on 27.07.2010

vi) Vote boosts G. Zero mosque – Backers of a mosque near Ground Zero chalked up a victory on the night of Jul 27 after the local community board voted against landmarking the building now at the site. During a raucous meeting, Community Board 1 voted 24-to-11, with two abstentions, to recommend that the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission deny historic designation for the building at 45-47 Park Place. Landmark designation would block demolition to make way for the mosque.

The vote followed two hours of comments from the public, including some 9/11 family members who said a mosque near Ground Zero is an affront to the victims. Stuart Kaufman of Great Neck, LI, said: “This is not just a local issue. It was America that was attacked on 9/11.” Jeffrey LaFrancois, of Harlem, who supports the mosque, said, opposing it is “an egregious assault on American freedom.”

Earlier on Jul 27, a leader in the effort to build the mosque, Daisy Khan, said her group has received threatening phone calls and letters.

In: retrieved on 31.07.2010

vii) Portland Mosque Wins Conditional Use Permit – The Portland Planning Board voted 4-0 on Jul 27 night to grant a conditional use permit to the Portland Masjid and Islamic Center on Washington Avenue. The vote ended about a year of controversy. The city initially rejected the proposal, citing zoning conflicts, which then spurred a lawsuit by the Maine Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the mosque.
The city, in the meantime, relaxed its zoning laws to accommodate places of worship such as the mosque. Saif Amini, president of the Portland Masjid and Islamic Center, said: “We will be happy to hear the result and we are optimistic that it will be positive.” The city had allowed the mosque to operate in its current location, a former TV repair shop, pending its application. Under the old rules, the mosque had to be located on at least an acre and have 40 parking spots. Now, Portland’s planning board has agreed to take places of worship on a case-by-case basis, and the mosque will only be required to have 10 spaces for a lot that’s less than 1/2 an acre.

In: retrieved on 31.07.2010

viii) New York tightens security at Islamic centers during Ramadan – The New York Police Department said Wednesday (Jul 28) it would tighten security around mosques and Muslim centers in the city during the upcoming Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The department said in a statement, referring to controversial plans to build a mosque near Ground Zero that Police patrols will be beefed up at all existing religious centers and sites of future ones from August 11 to September 9, adding: “During Ramadan, the Department will increase foot posts around mosques, assign patrol cars to houses of worship and select areas, and deploy additional plainclothes anti-crime units to deter burglaries.”

The department’s Hate Crimes Task Force “also will continue regular hate-crime awareness training throughout the city… (and) will visit mosques and sites where future mosques are proposed.”

In: retrieved on 31.07.2010

5. Muslims in Europe i) Italy: Project for “Halal Italia” label launched – The Italian Foreign Minister, Health Minister, Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies signed the inter-ministerial Convention sponsoring the “Halal Italia” project on Jun 30. The project in question is intended to create an Italian Halal stamp of certification for Made in Italy food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical products compliant with Koranic law. The Italian Islamic Religious Community (COREIS) participated in a pilot project run by the Milan Chamber of Commerce, setting up a special internal body with its own registered brand that will be able to issue Halal certification to Italian made products compliant with Italian and European health laws. In the context of the Italy’s commitment to internationalizing its productive system, and in light of Italian businesses’ growing interest in the markets of the Islamic world, this inter-ministerial convention will allow the government to guarantee adequate institutional support for the initiative, promoting the Halal certification registered by COREIS through trade associations and businesses and, at the same time, accrediting it with the authorities of Islamic countries as an Italian State-recognized certification of quality for the exportation of products compliant with Koranic law. The aim is twofold: the expansion on markets of Muslim countries – halal products have a turnover of 500 billion euros worldwide, 54 billion in Europe, 5 billion in Italy with 120,000 firms managed by Muslims – but also, explained Foreign Minister Franco Frattini: “the progressive integration of Muslim communities resident in Italy into the social fabric.” With the initiative approved on Jun 30, and to which companies will adhere voluntarily, Frattini added that “the seriousness of the certification” verified by the Ethical Committee was guaranteed, always respecting the Italian and European legal system, and “reassurance is given to consumers and authorities of those countries where these products will be promoted.” It is also, underlined the Minister for Agricultural Policy Giancarlo Galan, “a tribute to all the Muslim women and men who work in our country and to whom we owe a great deal.” In: retrieved on 02.07.2010 ii) Germany: Dresden honours Egyptian ‘veil martyr’ – The city of Dresden on Thursday (Jul 1st) paid its respects to a pregnant Egyptian woman who was stabbed to death in a courtroom one year ago in a racially motivated crime that outraged the Muslim world. Officials including Saxon Justice Minister Jürgen Martens honoured the memory of 31-year-old Marwa El-Sherbini, dubbed the “veil martyr,” with a plaque to serve as a warning against racism. Martens said: “One year ago all of us were forced to realise the deadly logic of the hatred of foreigners,” adding that the murder had shaken “Dresden, Germany and the entire world.” Members of the local Muslim community took part in the ceremony and a commemorative march was held later in the day. In: retrieved on 02.07.2010 iii) EU should embrace Islam: Expert – A leading British academic has called for greater assimilation between the EU and Islam, citing Indonesia as a key example of a peaceful coexistence between Muslims and a democratic government.Professor Mike Hardy OBE, an expert in Islam, described the rise of xenophobic forces in Europe and the political, legislative and economic measures needed to counter them, at a seminar designed to provoke an interfaith dialogue between the EU and Islam organized by the European Union Delegation to Indonesia, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry and the British Council. He noted recent trends in “questionable” immigration regimes, and “dangerous and destabilizing” Islamic extremist thoughts in Europe, asserting that interfaith coexistence should be the default behavior of ordinary European citizens. This comes in the context of a “dangerously fragile [Western] society”, he said, which currently relies on antidiscrimination legislation, rather than community cohesion. Out of the 500 million people living in Europe today, there are approximately 20 million Muslims, the largest populations living in France (8%), the Netherlands (6%), Germany (4%) and the United Kingdom (3%). Hardy identified that most Muslims are highly concentrated in region-specific areas, often linked with high crime rates and poverty, stating that immigrant Muslims are “mostly driven by socioeconomic realities, than cultural choice. A key issue in Europe is the perceived irreconcilability of Islam with the increasingly secular and sexually liberal outlook of Europe. Muslim piety, often represented with symbols [such as head scarves] and conservatism, is perceived to contribute to a recipe of non-integration. But statistics show that religious affinity does not make Muslims less likely to identify with their host countries.” According to recent surveys conducted by Gallup, YouGov and the Brookings Institution, Muslims in London are more likely to associate with the United Kingdom than most of the city’s population, whilst one in two French taxpayers support extra-marital affairs as morally acceptable, with 80% of French Muslims agreeing. The surveys indicate that European Muslims are as likely to reject violence, associate with their host countries, and uphold democratic institutions as their indigenous counterparts, he said. Despite this, YouGov has recently released data that 58% of the UK populace associates Islam with extremism, and 69% associates it with the repression of women. Four out of 10 members of the UK population disagreed that Muslims have a positive impact in UK society, he highlighted. The expert said: “I use these statistics not to raise alarm bells, but to reflect on the challenge that we face. Europe is a very international place. The UK is very comfortable with foreigners, but the problem lies in times of socioeconomic stress, where people turn to the other as a source of blame.” In: retrieved on 03.07.2010 iv) On Jul 18, Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, a British journalist writing to the Russian newspaper Pravda, posted an article in this newspaper titled “Islamophobia Sweeps Europe”. Some of his arguments are as follows: The continent which produced imperialism, slavery and Hitler now produces Geert Wilders. Belgium and France ban the burqah, a British MP has stated he will refuse to speak to constituents who refuse to reveal their face and Dutch Party for Freedom leader Geert Wilders declares his aim to launch his Stop Islam movement in five countries. It is Europe, not the Moslems, who are seeking a culture clash. Europe never ceases to amaze with its abject arrogance, its imperious imperialistic policies and its disgusting demagogy. The continent which produced, imperialism, slavery and Hitler now produces Geert Wilders. The victims this time are not the Jews, but Muslims and as was the case with Hitler, the horrific, racist, genocidal Nazi movement was not only endemic to Germany but had its metastases spring up all over the Continent in similar movements. Like Hitler, in his revolting, cruel and totally unacceptable campaign against the Jews, Geert Wilders wishes to internationalise his movement, called “Stop Islam – defend freedom”. “Freedom” is a buzz-word much used and abused by those who have an agenda… So not surprisingly, this odious racist called Wilders takes the same word in vain to further his cause. And precisely what is it? “I have a problem with Islamic ideology, the Islamic culture, because I feel that the more Islam we get in our societies, the less freedom that we get” (Wilders, in London, 2009). Now for a man who states that he is not a racist, how near to the mark is that? What we are dealing with here is abject and utter pig-headed ignorance in a European holier-than-thou top-down attitude, this from the Continent that went globe-trotting “civilising” the world and its peoples with the Christian Bible and the bullet. Jesus Christ was not the only prophet, Christianity is one of the many religions, one of the many paths to God. It does not have a monopoly on the truth, it is not the only Word. And if Europeans could strut around the Middle East, colonising vast swathes of Islamic territory in the past, imposing their will as they siphoned off resources, then why should Moslems be told what they can or cannot wear today? Asking a Moslem woman to remove her burqah is an insult, given that she has chosen to wear it to hide her body in respect for her husband and if she has chosen to do that freely, out of her own volition, who has the right to tell her to act otherwise? Just because an Islamic woman wears a burqah does not mean she is wearing a bomb belt under it any more than the man who is dressed as an Anglican bishop is gay or the Catholic priest is a pedophile. Islam is a religion of peace; Islamist fundamentalism is something entirely different and it is important to separate the two issues, respecting Islam and its wonderful culture, including its laws, lures and traditions so as not to make dangerous parallels between two extremes which do not exist, then tar everyone with one and the same brush and create another wave of racism in a Continent whose equation appears to bear this as a constant factor. If it is now a European value to tell people what they can and cannot wear, then how telling a statement this is on a Continent which has imposed the E.U. on its citizens in a most undemocratic fashion and how ominous it is that an odious creature such as Wilders can be seriously contemplating the internationalism of his racist priggish ignorance instead of being where he belongs – in the wilderness, far away from humanity. Full article available in: retrieved on 19.07.2010 v) Sweden: Christians Support Abolishing Halal Slaughter Ban – Sweden is the only country in Europe banning kosher and halal slaughter [Switzerland also bans kosher slaughter]. The Swedish Christian community should show tolerance to Jews and Muslims and demand to abolish the ban, say four representatives of Christian Sweden. The four – Sven-Bernard Fast, Caroline Krook, Peter Weiderud and Karin Wiborn – wrote in an opinion piece in Dagens Nyheter (a Swedish newspaper), that the Swedish parliament introduced a ban of religious slaughter in 1938 to complicate life for the Jews. The four wrote that the rest of Europe ended this discrimination after the war, but in Sweden the ban remains for animal welfare reasons, which complicates life for Jews and Muslims. The writers think that parliament members know what needs to be done to combine religious slaughter with the modern requirement of animal welfare. They said: “We know that kosher and halal slaughter are significantly less painful than the culturally cherished Swedish slaughter of grouse, elk and crayfish.” In: retrieved on 24.07.2010 vi) Czech Republic: About 10 couples have Muslim wedding annually – Vladimir Sanka, director of the Islamic Centre in Prague, has told CTK that about ten couples have a Muslim wedding in the Czech Republic every year, adding that most of the couples are foreigners but there are also Czechs who have adopted the Islamic faith. Muslims were registered as a religious group in the Czech Republic only in 2004, but the state has not yet granted special rights to them, that Christians and Jews, for example, enjoy. The special rights include the right to establish schools, assist in prisons, military and hospitals, and conclude legal marriages. Religious groups can apply for granting the special rights ten years after their official registration. They have to submit 10,000 signatures of adult supporters of the group who have permanent residence in the Czech Republic. Sanka told CTK: “The gaining of 10,000 signatures is unfeasible for us. We can hardly achieve this in the next decades either.” He added that if Muslims managed to meet the conditions, they would use the chance of concluding legal religious marriages, establishing schools and offer lessons of Islam at schools that would be interested in it. At present, two Muslim spiritual leaders, imams, operate in the Czech Republic. One came from Yemen and speaks Arabic. The other came from Bosnia and speaks both Arabic and Czech. Unlike Christian priests, the imams are not paid from the state budget. They are paid by the Muslim community. Along with the registration in 2004, Czech Muslims gained the right to apply for “halal” slaughter of animals in accordance with their faith. The Muslims ask the Agriculture Ministry for an exception for a concrete slaughter house. The ministry usually complies with the request, Sanka said. The slaughter is then made by a Muslim community member who is acquainted with the rite. Sanka said that some 12,000 Muslims live in the 10-million Czech Republic, but only one-third of them regularly visit the country’s two mosques, situated in Prague and Brno, and smaller houses of prayer. A large part of local Muslims come from the Arab countries, but some also from the Balkans, the Caucasus (Chechnya, Dagestan) and Central Asia (Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan). About 500 to 600 of local Muslims are of Czech origin. Four Muslim communities operate in the Czech Republic, seated in Prague, Brno, Teplice, north Bohemia, and Hradec Kralove, east Bohemia. Muslims have special burial places in the Czech Republic. Prague’s Olsanske cemetery and the cemetery in Trebic, south Moravia, offer graves turned towards Mecca. The Brno cemetery offered them as well, but the capacity has already been exhausted. In: retrieved on 24.07.2010 vii) German Education Minister: ‘Islam Lessons Improve Integration’ – German Education Minister Annette Schavan defended the policy of introducing lessons about Islam into German school classes, saying they aid integration. She said learning lessons about Islam had been very constructive in schools, leading to better understanding between Muslim and non-Muslim students. She told Focus magazine: “Of course I know about the fears of many Germans in connection with this topic. But I see it as experienced religious freedom, as a dialogue between Christianity and Islam.” She also said there was no way such lessons were about installing Koran schools, or offering a platform to radical Islamists, adding: “No, we want to use this to bring Islam out of the back yard and make it transparent.” Schavan first introduced Islam lessons in Baden-Württemberg when she was minister of culture. She said: “My experience was very positive. The acceptance of Muslims by Germans clearly increased. This was also to do with the fact that the lessons were held in German and no secret was made about it.” She also supported the idea of university courses in Islamic studies, and added: “We will soon be educating Imams at German universities, who will then work in mosques as preachers. We need leaders there who have learned about their religion scientifically and thus also critically.” The minister also said that Islamic communities in Germany should understand themselves as part of German society in order of “…no isolation, rather the greatest possible level of transparency. Only in this way can prejudices be reduced.” Yet Schavan was critical of burkas, saying they made integration much more difficult because “Is the burka an expression of self-determination or rather much more the expression of a fundamentalist attitude? I find clothes should not make a person impossible to recognise. Fear and uncertainty comes from such things.” In: retrieved on 26.07.2010 5.1. On Burqah and Veil Related Issues: i) Catalonian parliament rejects burqa ban – Catalonia’s parliament rejected Thursday (Jul 1st) a move to ban the wearing of the Islamic burqa in public places across the Spanish region after reversing an initial vote. A resolution moved by conservatives and centre-right nationalists was passed, but opponents said there had been a technical error and some absentees at the moment of the vote. After the session was suspended, the parliamentary speaker ordered the vote to be put again, prompting a walk-out by the motion’s supporters and a victory for its left-wing opponents. The motion would have called on the government of the northeastern region to ban the Islamic women’s garment which conceals all but the eyes, in the street as well as in public buildings. Right-wing deputy Rafael Lopez said it was a question of values, of voicing opposition to clothing which he said kept women in a “degrading prison”. Left-wingers said they did not approve the wearing of the burqa but called the motion politically-motivated with regional elections coming up this year. Nine municipalities in Catalonia, including Barcelona, have banned the use of face-covering Islamic veils in public or are considering doing so. Human rights group Amnesty International had called on the Catalan deputies to reject the motion. John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s expert on discrimination in Europe said: “Any wide-ranging ban will violate the rights to freedom of expression and religion of those women who choose to wear a full-face veil as an expression of their identity or beliefs. Women should be free to choose what and what not to wear. This is their right under international human rights law.” In: retrieved on 02.07.2010 ii) Europe: Widespread support for burka ban – On July 13, members of the lower house of the French parliament were expected to vote on a bill that would make it illegal for Muslim women to wear full veils — those that cover all of the face except the eyes — in public places. A survey by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, conducted April 7 to May 8, finds that the French public overwhelmingly endorses this measure; 82% approve of a ban on Muslim women wearing full veils in public, including schools, hospitals and government offices, while just 17% disapprove. Majorities in Germany (71%), Britain (62%) and Spain (59%) would also support a similar ban in their own countries. In contrast, most Americans would oppose such a measure; 65% say they would disapprove of a ban on Muslim women wearing full veils in public places compared with 28% who say they would approve. In the four Western European countries surveyed as well as in the U.S., support for a ban on Muslim women wearing a full veil is more pronounced among those who are age 55 and older, although majorities across all age groups in France, Germany and Britain favor a ban. For example, 91% of French respondents age 55 and older approve of restrictions on Muslim women covering their face, compared with 81% of those ages 35 to 54 and 72% of those younger than 35. In: retrieved on 10.07.2010 iii) French entrepreneur offers to pay veil fines – A French businessman, Rachid Nekkaz, offered to sell properties to help Muslim women pay any fines that they might receive for wearing the full veil in public if a law is voted through France’s parliament. Lawmakers will vote on the bill on Tuesday (Jul 13), which would see women fined 150 euros if they wear the full veil, known as the burqa or nihab, in public places. In a statement published in several newspapers, Rachid Nekkaz, who tried to stand in the presidential elections in 2007, said he would use proceeds from property sales for a 1 million euro ($1.26 million) fund to help women pay any fines. Nekkaz is setting up an association, ‘Hands off my Constitution’, which he said viewed banning the veil in the street as unconstitutional. In: retrieved on 13.07.2010 iv) French parliament approves law to ban burkas, despite criticism from Muslims and human rights groups – The France’s lower house of parliament approved a measure on Tuesday (Jul 13) banning burka-like Islamic veils, despite criticism from Muslims and human rights groups. Only one parliament member voted against the bill, while 336 voted in favor of it. Most politicians in the primary opposition group, the Socialist Party, declined to vote. Members of the Senate will vote on the legislation in September. It is likely to pass there. Then the bill will face its biggest obstacle as the country’s constitutional watchdog inspects it. Under the law, the bill would prohibit Muslim veils in public places, even in the streets. Violators would face a $185 fine, citizenship classes or both. Anyone convicted of forcing someone to wear a veil would face a year behind bars and a $38,000 fine. The penalties could be doubled if the victim is underage. In: retrieved on 15.07.2010 v) Netherlands: Bus driver refuses service to woman in niqab – A bus driver in the Dutch city of Uden prevented a 19 year old woman from getting on his bus because she was wearing a nikab. The Connexxion Bus Company did not approve of the driver’s behavior and apologized to the woman’s husband. The woman had a ticket and therefore Connexxion said she should have been able to get on the bus of their daughter-company Hermes. The driver might possibly be punished. 19 year old Ambaro has been wearing the Muslim veil since October 2009. When she got on a bus to Volkel, she was immediately pushed out by the bus driver because of her ‘extreme clothing’. In: retrieved on 17.07.2010 vi) British MP says he won’t meet veiled Muslim women – A Conservative MP has drawn flak from Muslims in Britain for saying he will refuse to meet women wearing the full Islamic dress in his constituency unless they lift their veil. Muslim groups have condemned Philip Hollobone, the MP from Kettering, saying he was being pedantic. In an interview with The Independent, Hollobone said: “I would ask her to remove her veil. If she said: ‘no’, I would take the view that she could see my face, I could not see hers, I am not able to satisfy myself she is who she says she is. I would invite her to communicate with me in a different way, probably in the form of a letter.” He went on to claim that Islamic scholars or clerics do not say that wearing the ‘burka’ or ‘niqab’ is a religious requirement. “It is not a necessity,” he said. Hollobone was in the news a fortnight ago when he moved a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament to ban women wearing the ‘burka’ or ‘niqab’ in public. He hopes that other European nations would follow the example of France which this week banned the wearing of the full-face veil in public. In: retrieved on 18.07.2010 Related: Niqab-ban Tory MP told he is breaking the law – A Tory MP has been warned he could face legal action if he follows through on a threat to refuse to meet constituents wearing the veil. Lawyers for Liberty wrote to Philip Hollobone insisting that his stance was unlawful and that they “will be happy to represent any of your constituents that you refuse to meet because they are veiled”. The group warned him that the UK’s Equality Act and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) oblige him to avoid discrimination. Because his ban would only affect Muslim women, it would also amount to indirect sex discrimination, the letter said. In: retrieved on 26.07.2010 vii) ‘Britain Not to Ban Muslim Women from Wearing Burqa’ – Britain has said that it would not follow France in banning Muslim women from wearing ‘burqa’ in public as such a move would run contrary to the conventions of a “tolerant and respectful society”. Immigration Minister Damian Green told The Sunday Telegraph that the move to ban women from wearing veils would be “rather un-British”, despite a recent opinion poll showing widespread public support for such an action. Claiming it would be “undesirable” for Parliament to vote on a burqa ban in Britain similar to that approved in France, he said: “Telling people what they can and can’t wear, if they are just walking down the street, is rather un-British thing to do. We’re a tolerant and mutually respectful society. There are times, clearly, when you’ve got to be able to identify yourself, and people have got to be able to see your face, but I think it’s very unlikely and it would be undesirable for the British Parliament to try and pass a law dictating what people wore. Very few women in France actually wear the burqa. They (the French parliament) are doing it for demonstration effects. The French political culture is very different. They are an aggressively secular state. They can ban the burqa, they ban crucifixes in schools and things like that. We have schools run explicitly by religions. I think there’s absolutely no read-across to immigration policy from what the French are doing about the burqa.” The Minister’s comments will dismay the growing number of British supporters of such a ban — a ‘YouGov’ survey found last week that 67% of respondents wanted the wearing of full-face veils to be made illegal. His comments also came after the new head of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) told the newspaper that the UK was the most welcoming country in Europe for Muslims. In: retrieved on 19.07.2010 viii) Saudi Clerics Exempt Women From Wearing Veils in France – Two Saudi clerics, Islamic jurisprudence scholar Mohamed al-Nujaimi and author and cleric Ayed al-Garni, have declared Muslim women were exempted from wearing full veils in France, which is planning to ban them, but added they should avoid visiting it as tourists. Those comments come two weeks after French lawmakers passed a bill under which women could be fined for appearing in public with the all-covering burqa or the niqab, which leaves the eyes exposed. Nujaimi said in remarks published by al-Watan newspaper: “For a woman who permanently resides in France or is a French citizen, if there is harm in wearing the veil…it is permitted that she shows her face when need and necessity demand it.” The clerics also said: “Tourism to Western countries like France, while not forbidden, should be avoided in favor of Muslim countries where veils are allowed.” Nujaimi added: “Tourism in a non-Muslim country is not indispensable, it is not needed, it is however allowed…but we have a lot of touristic regions in our country and there are a lot of Muslim countries that do not ban the niqab.” Every summer, tens of thousands of Saudi holidaymakers leave the kingdom and its searing heat to spend their vacation abroad, with many travelling to European countries. Muslim scholars are divided over the veil, disagreeing on whether and how much of a woman’s face should be covered. Saudi clerics widely recommend it. Nujaimi and Garni are not members of the Saudi Arabia’s official Senior Scholars Authority, which, to date, had not commented on the French parliament’s decision. In: retrieved on 26.07.2010 ix) Finland: Foreign Minister Opposes Burka Ban – Finland’s Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb is not in favour of a ban on wearing the burkha face-veil. He told the Finish provincial paper Satakunnan Kansa that diversity should be respected. He added banning the burkha would send the wrong message from Europe to the Muslim world. He added that a ban was not the right answer, even though he does not favour women wearing the garment. He said: “In all honesty, I don’t like to see a woman wearing the burkha face-veil but interfering with her right by means of a legal ban is no solution”. In: retrieved on 26.07.2010 6. On Dialogue among Civilizations and Religions: i) Rabbi Marc Schneier presents OSCE keynote address on Islamophobia – At the invitation of the Government of Kazakhstan, Rabbi Marc Schneier, Chairman of the WJC United States presented a keynote address on Islamophobia on 29 June at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Permanent Council’s Plenary in Astana.  At OSCE, the world’s largest regional security forum with 56 participating members, Rabbi Schneier led the panel discussion on Islamophobia and was the first rabbi to ever address this subject at this prestigious forum. “It is unfortunate that many individuals only association with the Islamic community is that of terrorism and other horrible acts of injustice and humanity,” said Rabbi Marc Schneier in accepting the OSCE’s invitation to provide a Jewish perspective on Islamophobia.  “I believe it is very important for world leaders to know that Islamic terrorists do not speak or act on behalf of the world’s Muslims and that the overwhelming majority of Islamic followers are good human beings who are dedicated to building a stronger community for the future.  I am honored to help spread this message of tolerance and understanding at this prestigious forum.” In: retrieved on 06.07.2010 ii) US: Anti-Mosque Sentiments Countered With Interfaith Walk – In direct response to recent outcry against building several mosques across Middle Tennessee, a group of interfaith congregants marched in peace from a Nashville Christian church to an Islamic Center. Yasser Arafat, vice president of the Islamic Center of Tennessee, said: “I think the main focus here is ignorance. A lot of people don’t know what Islam is. They associate Islam with extremism.” The walk began Monday (Jul 19) evening at the Belmont United Methodist Church, and continued a mile and a half to the Islamic Center of Tennessee. More than 150 people, among them people of Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths, showed up to show their support of religious tolerance and understanding. Arafat said: “It is the showing of respect to each other, each other’s rights, as full American citizens who have the right to practice their religion and to initiate and build their institutions to suit their needs. Regardless of what faith we come from, we have as much rights as anybody else. We all stand against extremism, regardless of what religion it comes from.” Many of the people who walked said they were disturbed by recent reports of the backlash against building mosques. Belmont United Methodist leaders said they’ve always welcomed worshippers from the Islamic Center, and for the past 31 years, the welcome has been reciprocated. In just a few weeks, Belmont UMC plans to invite Arafat into a Sunday school class to explain what Islam is all about. Ken Edwards, one of the pastors at Belmont United Methodist, said: “By growing in our understanding of each other we realize there’s not that much difference. We have a unity and faith that goes back many, many years and we can celebrate that. We think that we are enriched by diversity, not hindered by it.” Arafat said he would like those against the mosques to remember stereotyping is dangerous because “One thing that people need to understand is, generalizing is not a good thing. I mean we could say the same thing about Christianity, Judaism. We could look at Timothy McVeigh, David Koresh and others and what they did does not represent Christianity. What these terrorists did does not represent Islam. Some people might ask ‘why don’t you condemn?’ We have been yelling and condemning. Where are you getting your news from? But at the same time, we are not going to spend the rest of our lives condemning and apologizing for something we have not done.” In: retrieved on 21.07.2010 7. General Issues: i) Inter-faith dialogue best approach to counter Islamophobia – Professor Liyakat Takim, the Sharjah Chair in Global Islam at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada believes that education and inter-faith dialogue is the best way to remove Islamophobia. In an interview with Mehr news agency, he said: “Until today, many Americans think that Allah is a moon god and Muslims are required to kill non-Muslims, these misconceptions have to be corrected through proper education and Muslims need to reach out to non-Muslims.” Following is the text of the interview: Q: What are the roots of Islamophobia? A: If we understand Islamophobe by attacking the Prophet and slandering him then this starts in Europe soon after the death of the Prophet and spread of Islam in Europe. European writers attacked the Prophet viciously calling him epileptic and various other names. They even stated that Muslims have idols of the Prophet. Q: Elaborate on the negative impact of this phenomenon on the international system? A: This creates major hostilities and prejudices both ways. Whereas Muslims have always respected Christianity and Christians, Christians have not. In many instances, this has led to violence and discrimination against the other. Q: How to remove Islamophobia? A: Education and inter-faith dialogue is the best way to remove Islamophobia. Until today, many Americans think that Allah is a moon god and Muslims are required to kill non-Muslims, these misconceptions have to be corrected through proper education and Muslims need to reach out to non-Muslims. In turn, Muslims have to learn about the beliefs of other religions. Q: Can religion act as a facilitator in diplomacy (religious diplomacy)? A: Most religions lay down principles of universal discourse and human relations. However, most modern countries ignore such principles in the “national interests”. Many so called Islamic countries flout religious principles in order to further their own personal agendas. IN matters of political dialogues, we find that many countries prefer to be politically correct rather than religiously or morally correct. Consequently, they violate all religious or moral normative teachings. In: retrieved on 15.07.2010 ii) 2.5 Million Muslims Threatening to Leave Facebook – In the wake of Facebook’s Everybody Draw Mohammed Day, which outraged Muslims and led to worldwide bans, a group of Muslims issued an ultimatum: reinstate a handful of pages or lose millions of users. The group, apparently fueled by Facebook-clone, are outraged at the removal of several very popular Islamic pages from, purges the group reportedly claim took place after the outcry over Draw Mohammed Day. The pages, such as and each reportedly had hundreds of thousands or even millions of Facebook “likes”, indicating millions of fans. Unless the popular pages are reinstated by midnight on July 21st, the group plans to leave Facebook for The group’s message is being spread through a comment that decries “irresponsible behavior,” a comment being posted by thousands of users to Facebook posts mainly written by site admins. Facebook representatives were not immediately available to comment on the demands. In: retrieved on 16.07.2010

Compiled by:

Abdula Manafi Mutualo,

Secretary of the Observatory

Culture and Social Affairs Department

Email: [email protected]

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