Dutch Minister Loses Party Leadership Vote

By TOBY STERLING AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — The Dutch immigration minister who set off a political firestorm by threatening to revoke the citizenship of a Somali-born lawmaker lost a party leadership contest Wednesday seen as a referendum on the country’s tough immigration policies. The hardline minister Rita Verdonk caused the political downfall of lawmaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the country’s most outspoken critic of fundamentalist Islam. Hirsi Ali became internationally known when Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered in November 2004 by a Muslim radical incensed by the short film “Submission,” a critique of the treatment of women under Islam which she wrote the script for. Verdonk was the front-runner in the contest to lead the free-market VVD party into elections next year until she threatened earlier this month to revoke Hirsi Ali’s passport. Hirsi Ali — also a member of the VVD — quit after Verdonk said her naturalization was invalid because she gave a false name when she moved to the Netherlands in 1992. Hirsi Ali, 36, has acknowledged her real name was Ayaan Hirsi Magan, and said she fabricated her name because she feared reprisals from her family after fleeing an arranged marriage. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende conceded Wednesday that her resignation had damaged the Netherlands’ reputation as a haven of tolerance. “Everything that’s happened has brought negative publicity,” Balkenende said at a lunch with the Dutch foreign press association. “I read the international papers too, but the question is, will it have a lasting effect? I believe not.” Verdonk was defeated by the more moderate Mark Rutte in the party primary. She retains her cabinet post. Rutte won 51 percent of votes, while Verdonk got 46 percent, the party said. Many prominent members of the VVD, including EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes, shifted their support from Verdonk to Rutte after the Hirsi Ali affair. A former deputy prison warden, Verdonk built her reputation as a strict enforcer of the country’s immigration policies, among the toughest in Europe. Since taking office in 2003, Verdonk has ordered citizenship classes and tests for immigrants, raised visa fees by hundreds of dollars and began imprisoning rejected asylum-seekers before deporting them. As a result, immigration is half what it was in 2000. Verdonk, 50, had in the past benefited in the polls from decisions similar to the one on Hirsi Ali. She denied citizenship to an Ivory Coast-born soccer player Salomon Kalou, and deporting a young refugee from Kosovo just a month before she was due to graduate from Dutch high school. But after Hirsi Ali’s resignation, Verdonk was skewered in a 10-hour emergency debate in parliament, in which she was criticized by all sides for acting too hastily. Verdonk was forced to review Hirsi Ali’s case, and agree to reprocess her naturalization under her true name if necessary. Hirsi Ali continues to live in her apartment in The Hague under police protection because of threats to her life from radicals. She is unable to speak in public while her immigration case is under review and plans to move to the United States to join The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. Rutte, 39, will now stand in national elections next May, with an outside chance of becoming prime minister as leader of the country’s third-largest party.

Switzerland: Danger of Terrorism Rises in Switzerland

While there is no great threat of Islamic terrorism in Switzerland, its likelihood rose over the last year, according to a recent report by the Swiss federal police. The decentralisation of Islamic terrorism and Europe’s transformation from recruiting and propaganda ground to combat area are two major reasons for this. No act or preparation for an act of terrorism has been legally proven to occur in Switzerland, but the report names several Islamic organisations of concern with advanced operations in the country.

Dutch May Revoke Lawmaker’s Citizenship

The Dutch immigration minister said Monday that Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born woman who became one of the most prominent members of Dutch parliament, was improperly granted citizenship in 1997 and it may be revoked. Hirsi Ali, an opponent of fundamentalist Islam and an advocate for immigrant women’s rights, returned abruptly from a book tour in the United States last week after a political firestorm over her past erupted in the Netherlands. Critics called for her to resign after a television program aired Thursday detailing how she lied on her asylum application when she fled to the Netherlands in 1992 to escape an arranged marriage. Hirsi Ali had admitted the fabrications publicly when she was vetted as a candidate for parliament in 2002, and the country’s immigration minister said Friday she did not face any sanctions over the matter. But on Monday, Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk sent a letter to parliament saying that, after reviewing the facts “it must be assumed she (Hirsi Ali) will be considered to never have received Dutch citizenship.” She said Hirsi Ali will have six weeks to formally respond. Hirsi Ali’s spokeswoman Ingrid Pouw said the lawmaker would hold a news conference Tuesday to discuss her position. Earlier Monday, Dutch media reported that Hirsi Ali would announce her retirement from politics this week and would join the American Enterprise Institute starting in September to work on a new book. Pouw could not confirm that. Hirsi Ali’s political downfall would be remarkable, given the prominent role she has played in the Netherlands’ national debate on Islam in the past several years. She became internationally known when filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered in November 2004. Hirsi Ali wrote the screenplay for his movie “Submission,” which criticized the treatment of women under Islam and offended many Muslims. She received numerous death threats and has been under continuous police protection since the Van Gogh murder. The Dutch state is currently scrambling to arrange new housing for her after her neighbors in The Hague complained successfully that security arrangements for her had become an unfair nuisance for them. On the TV documentary program Zembla, she repeated that when she arrived in 1992 she changed her name and birth date on her asylum application and did not reveal that she had lived in three different countries after leaving Somalia. Several of her critics called for her to be deported. On Saturday, she told the AP she was the victim of a “smear campaign.”

Muslim Groups Protest Closure of Charity

The American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections has expressed its anger at the closure of the Muslim charity KindHearts by US authorities in February this year. KindHearts, the Ohio-based group was a $5 million-a-year charity with branches in Lebanon, Pakistan, and the Gaza Strip. It provided funds for water treatment plants and orphanages, but was shut down by federals authorities amid allegations that it was aiding Hamas. Pleas by American-Muslim leaders to US Treasury Secretary John Snow for guidelines on how to financially aid the Palestinian people without being accused of terrorism have been ignored.

Some Muslim Communities Concerned ‘United 93’ Creates Anti-Islam Sentiment

Take off your f***ing burqas and get the f*** out of this country. We don’t want you in this country. Go home. These words were allegedly spoken by a middle-aged couple to a group of three young Muslim women wearing head scarves Apr. 29 at the Desert Ridge Marketplace in Scottsdale, Ariz. According to the young women, the couple approached them calmly and asked if they were Muslim. After answering yes, the women said the couple became enraged and verbally abused them, indicating they had just watched the film United 93. The event raised concerns throughout several Muslim communities after one of the women, Bushra Khan, the office manager for the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Arizona chapter, sent a message out to all 31 CAIR offices nationwide about the incident.

US Muslim Women Americanizing Mosques, Book Finds

The face Muslim women present to America is as diverse as the faith itself — and one that is changing as waves of often impoverished immigrants come to the United States. That is part of the picture that emerges from a new book shedding light on the lives of Muslim women by way of well-crafted profiles of more than four dozen of them, cutting across cultures and lifestyles. “Part of what we found is that the United States is one of the best places in the world for women to practice Islam because they do have freedom, because of our ideas about women having careers and a voice in houses of worship,” said Donna Gehrke-White, author of “The Face Behind the Veil” (Citadel Press).

Pankow Mosque Can be Built

Berlin – After indications from district mayor Burkhard Kleinert (Left Party), the construction of a mosque in Berlin-Pankow is no longer in question. When the Ahmadiyya Muslim Union applied for a building permit, they should have recieved one immediately. The opposition to their application had no legal foundation, said Kleinert in an interview. It will be the first mosque in eastern Berlin. Local opposition to the mosque is strong.

Culte Musulman: Causes Of The Crisis

Xavier Ternisien explores the reasons for the crises at the Muslim Council of France. He claims that it has made no progress on any of the important issues facing Muslims in France (chaplaincies, construction of mosques, halal meat, foundation for Islam works, organizing the annual pilgrimage) and had no effect on the major issues such as the riots and the caricatures which have affected Muslims in France during recent months. He claims that it is unrepresentative, especially of the second generation, beset by internal dissent, and national logic has overtaken unity. {(continued below in French)} Pire encore, le CFCM a _t_ silencieux sur les _v_nements qui ont affect_ les musulmans au cours des derniers mois. Apr_s la mort de Cha_b Zehaf, un p_re de famille d’origine alg_rienne assassin_ le 4 mars _ Oullins (Rh_ne), c’est le Conseil repr_sentatif des institutions juives de France (CRIF) Rh_ne-Alpes qui a appel_ _ une manifestation “contre le racisme et pour la v_rit_”. Les instances r_gionales et nationales du CFCM _taient aux abonn_s absents. Ultime humiliation : dans l’affaire des caricatures danoises, le CFCM a _t_ incapable de saisir la justice, _ la suite d’une erreur de proc_dure que n’aurait pas commise un avocat d_butant… Toutes les _nergies de l’instance repr_sentative du culte musulman sont d_pens_es dans la gestion de ses querelles intestines. Pour comprendre les blocages actuels, il faut revenir _ la gen_se de cette institution. C’est Jean-Pierre Chev_nement, ministre de l’int_rieur, qui a lanc_ l’initiative d’une consultation sur l’islam de France, en octobre 1999. D_s l’origine, le choix a _t_ fait de prendre en compte toutes les sensibilit_s religieuses, y compris celles consid_r_es comme “fondamentalistes”. C’est ainsi que l’Union des organisations islamiques de France (UOIF) et le Tabligh ont _t_ invit_s, comme les autres, “_ la table de la R_publique”, pour reprendre une formule de M. Chev_nement. L’Istichara (“la consultation”) comptait donc sept f_d_rations, cinq grandes mosqu_es et six personnalit_s qualifi_es (la plupart proches du soufisme). En r_alit_, il faudrait distinguer trois blocs, motiv_s par des logiques sensiblement diff_rentes. Il y a d’abord un bloc id_ologique, pr_occup_ par la d_fense d’un islam orthodoxe (principalement structur_ autour de l’UOIF) ; puis le bloc des f_d_rations nationales, motiv_ par la d_fense des int_r_ts li_s aux Etats d’origine (Alg_rie, Maroc, Turquie) ; et enfin le groupe des modernistes (parmi lesquels le m_diatique Soheib Bencheikh). Ce dernier ensemble souffre d’un d_ficit d’organisation et d’une tr_s faible repr_sentativit_. Les grands absents sont les musulmans de la deuxi_me g_n_ration, dont beaucoup se reconnaissent dans Tariq Ramadan. Jean-Pierre Chev_nement souhaitait que le conseil repr_sentatif soit constitu_ de “structures plut_t souples, point trop diff_rentes peut-_tre de celles de la F_d_ration protestante”. Ce n’est pas cette voie qui a _t_ finalement suivie par les partenaires musulmans. L’accord-cadre, adopt_ en mai 2001, mettait en place un syst_me de repr_sentation calqu_ peu ou prou sur une logique consistoriale, _ la mani_re de l’organisation du culte juif. La gestion du culte est confi_e _ des responsables la_ques (des notables), gestionnaires de lieux de culte et employeurs du clerg_ (imams et oul_mas). La structure est pyramidale, fond_e sur un syst_me d’_lections _ partir des mosqu_es. Les repr_sentants des lieux de culte _lisent des conseils r_gionaux et le conseil d’administration du CFCM selon un scrutin de liste _ la proportionnelle. La logique est transparente et d_mocratique. Devenu ministre de l’int_rieur en mai 2002, Nicolas Sarkozy va infl_chir cette dynamique, dans un souci d’efficacit_. Il va s’appuyer principalement sur la “bande des quatre” : les quatre grandes f_d_rations que sont l’UOIF, la Mosqu_e de Paris, li_e _ Alger, la F_d_ration nationale des musulmans de France (FNMF), marocaine, et le Comit_ de coordination des musulmans turcs de France (CCMTF), li_ _ Ankara. Les pr_sidents des f_d_rations _mettent-ils des r_ticences ? Le minist_re prend contact directement avec les ambassades. Cette logique va trouver son aboutissement dans l’accord dit “de Nainville-les-Roches”, par lequel les grandes f_d_rations se r_partissent les postes-cl_s au bureau du CFCM, avant m_me que les _lections aient eu lieu. L’Elys_e a impos_ que Dalil Boubakeur, recteur de la Mosqu_e de Paris, soit le pr_sident de la future instance. Son r_le n’est pas de repr_senter les musulmans, mais de rassurer les Fran_ais non musulmans en leur pr_sentant le visage d’un islam mod_r_. LES LIMITES D’UN COMPROMIS Lors des deux _lections successives – en avril 2003 et en juin 2005 -, les logiques nationales fonctionnent _ plein. Les consulats usent de pressions pour obliger leurs ressortissants _ voter pour des listes _ forte coloration nationale. C’est donc tr_s logiquement la FNMF qui arrive en t_te, les mosqu_es de France _tant majoritairement fr_quent_es par les Marocains, moins nombreux mais plus religieux que les Alg_riens. La FNMF n’en demeure pas moins une coquille vide, un rassemblement h_t_roclite de mosqu_es ind_pendantes, certaines mod_r_es, d’autres fondamentalistes, voire salafistes, n’ayant en commun que l’origine marocaine de leurs dirigeants. Mais le Maroc est content et Dalil Boubakeur a sauv_ sa place de pr_sident. Cette logique aberrante, b_tie sur un compromis et non sur une majorit_, est en train de montrer ses limites. La baudruche FNMF a _clat_. Son pr_sident, Mohamed Bechari, est l_ch_ par Rabat et contest_ par une majorit_ d’_lus FNMF au conseil d’administration du CFCM. Toute sa strat_gie consiste d_sormais _ emp_cher la tenue du conseil d’administration, dans lequel il se sait minoritaire. Il a re_u l’appui inattendu de Dalil Boubakeur et de l’UOIF. Le premier cherche _ affaiblir les Marocains en les divisant. L’UOIF entretient une rancoeur tenace contre Abdellah Boussouf, rival de M. Bechari _ la FNMF. La politique s’en m_le aussi. Dalil Boubakeur, inconditionnel de Jacques Chirac, ne manque pas une occasion de savonner la planche au ministre de l’int_rieur. L’avenir du CFCM est provisoirement suspendu aux d_cisions d’un administrateur provisoire, nomm_ _ la t_te de la FNMF. On est tr_s loin de “l’islam _ la fran_aise” pr_ch_ par les ministres de l’int_rieur successifs. L’organisation du culte musulman en France rappelle _trangement la politique de certains Etats occidentaux dans le monde arabe : soutenir la d_mocratie, _ condition que le r_sultat des urnes corresponde _ leurs voeux.

Bank agrees to review its closing of accounts that belong to Muslim charity

A campaign by Muslim activists against Wachovia Corp. to protest the unexplained closing of bank accounts belonging to a Herndon-based Muslim charity is on hold pending an investigation by the bank. Any actions against the North Carolina-based bank, which has branches on the East Coast and in Texas, Mississippi and Tennessee, could include protests and boycotts, the activists said. That depends on what it ends up doing and saying.

Das Antidiskriminierungsgesetz Kommt Nun Doch — Diskriminierungen Wegen Religion In Zukunft Justiziabel

Trotz der Einigung in der gro_en Koalition bleibt das Antidiskriminierungsgesetz ein Zankapfel zwischen Union und SPD. Einige unionsregierte Bundesl_nder kritisieren die Pl_ne der Regierung f_r das “Gleichbehandlungsgesetz” so massiv, da_ SPD-Generalsekret_r Hubertus Heil ein Machtwort von Kanzlerin Angela Merkel (CDU) verlangt. Der Geltungsbereich des Zivilrechts geht nun _ber die Vorgaben von Br_ssel hinaus – so wie es _brigens auch die islamischen und j_dischen Verb_nde in den diversen Anh_rungen noch gegen_ber der alten Bundesregierung ge_u_ert haben. W_hren die EU im Arbeitsrecht die Benachteiligung wegen Alter, Behinderung, sexueller Identit_t, Religion und Weltanschauung untersagt, verbietet sie im Zivilrecht nur die Diskriminierung wegen Rasse, ethnischer Herkunft und Geschlecht. Auf Forderung der Verb_nde, der sich in gro_en Teilen auch die Justizministerin Brigitte Zypries (SPD) anschloss, wird k_nftig im Zivilrecht neben der Diskriminierung wegen Rasse, ethnischer Herkunft und Geschlecht nun auch die Diskriminierung wegen Alter, Behinderung, sexueller Identit_t, Religion und Weltanschauung verboten. Jedoch gibt es Ausnahmen beim Antidiskriminierungsgesetz. Der zus_tzliche Schutz, den Zypries durchgesetzt hat, gelte nur bei _Massengesch_ften. Daher k_nnten z.B. Behinderte oder Muslime weiterhin ausgegrenzt werden, wie zum Beispiel bei der Vermietung von Wohnungen. Auch Versicherungen, die auf einer versicherungsmathematisch ermittelten Risikobewertung unter Heranziehung statistischer Erhebungen beruhen,seien diskriminierende Ausnahmen erlaubt. Die Union konnte ihre Forderung durchsetzen, wonach Religionsgemeinschaften in ihren Einrichtungen unter Berufung auf ihr _Selbstbestimmungsrecht die Einstellung von Andersgl_ubigen ablehnen k_nnen. Das Antidiskriminierungsgesetz soll offiziell _Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz hei_en.