The word “ethnic” is misused in the article below. We talk about metropolitan districts with large “ethnic communities”. The Guardian style guide says: “Neversay ethnic when you mean ethnic minority. It leads to such nonsense as the constituency has a small ethnic population.” Tony Blair’s hopes of patching up relations with the Muslim community have been dealt a fresh blow by a leading Islamic organisation which is urging its members not to vote Labour at next week’s European elections.
Islamic leaders sceptical about scheme to discourage support for al-Qaida by vetting radical imams and assisting moderates By Hugh Muir Secret government plans designed to win the “hearts and minds” of young Muslims and dissuade the vulnerable from resorting to terrorism were strongly criticised by community organisations yesterday. Tony Blair has assembled a group of senior civil servants from nine Whitehall departments to work on a project, codenamed Contest, aimed at the 10,000 young Muslims whom officials fear may be sympathetic to al-Qaida. The project, details of which were revealed yesterday in cabinet documents leaked to the Sunday Times, would lead to an unprecedented level of government intervention in the political and religious practices of Muslim communities.
The General Assembly of the Moslems of Belgium introduced to the Court Friday arbitrage proceedings for annulment of the law of July 2004 creating a Commission in charge of the renewal of associations representing Islam. The same step aims to arrest the royal execution of September 23, 2004 before the State Council. The reason is “unacceptable” internal interference in the associations of Muslim worship. For the cabinet minister of religion, Laurette Onkelinx, one wants to be careful with these recourse. “The institution of the Commission is only to bring back peace within the community, which is torn on the renewal of the Assembly of the Executives of the Muslims of Belgium”.
The Spanish government is considering censoring the sermons of Muslim imams in an attempt to control the spread of radical Islamic ideas – a move that has been criticised as a lurch towards authoritarianism. The interior minister, Jos_ Antonio Alonso, suggested the plan, which could also see a requirement that all preachers in mosques be registered. Mr Alonso told El Pa_s newspaper at the weekend: “We really need to improve the laws to control Islamic radicals. We need to get to a legal situation in which we can control the imams in small mosques. That is where the Islamic fundamentalism which lead to certain actions is disseminated.”
The Vatican will not allow Muslims to pray once more in the Mezquita, the former mosque that is now the cathedral of Cordoba, telling them they must “accept history” and not try to “take revenge” on the Catholic church. “We, too, want to live in peace with persons of other religions,” Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, told the Vatican’s AsiaNews agency. “However, we don’t want to be pushed, manipulated and go against the very rules of our faith.” Mgr Fitzgerald criticised the authorities of the southern Spanish city for lobbying to have the building, once one of the world’s biggest mosques, opened to Muslim prayer. “[They] have not the necessary theological sensitivity to understand the church’s position,” he said. He claimed Spanish Muslims who had been publicly lobbying for the right to pray had yet to make a formal request to the Vatican. The archbishop said the Vatican had been careful not to demand similar rights at mosques which were once Catholic churches – though he acknowledged that Pope John Paul II had prayed at a mosque at Damascus in Syria.
Liberal Democrats will have for the first time a Muslim, and that a woman, in the Parliament, reports The Muslim News. Mrs Kishwer Falkner, 49, was selected among 46 new working peers appointed today to the House of Lords. The list, approved by Prime Minister, Tony Blair, included no Muslims selected for peerages by either the Labour Party or the Conservatives. None of the seven new independents are Muslim. Falkner said that she was “honoured and delighted to take up this new role”. “I see this as a recognition of the contribution that so many immigrants make to life in Britain. I look forward to be a voice for diversity in the House of Lords,” she told The Muslim News.
By Jeremy Seabrook The British National party is expected to make gains in the council elections in the former mill towns of Lancashire and West Yorkshire and in Black Country sites of industrial dereliction. But its “success” should be judged less in terms of seats won than in its disturbing ability to connect with an older story of the meaning of Britishness. For the BNP, Islam is the new Popery. The superstition and malevolence once projected on to Catholicism appear to be made manifest once more in the fanaticism and extremism which new holy warriors believe they have located in Islam. Folk memory is a powerful generator of fables for those who know how to manipulate them. The tale the BNP tells today, in the rundown streets of the fearful old and the disinherited young, is about the spread of an alien creed, aided by the fifth column of an enemy within, and of hordes of migrant strangers at our border. The detail – “islands of Islam in our communities”, “a race relations industry kowtowing to the apologists for terror”, even “the imminent extinction of the white man” – however ghoulish, is less significant than the narrative of the nation in danger; for this resonates strongly with earlier versions of these islands in jeopardy.