Plans For £330,000 Mosque For Whitehaven

By Andrea Thompson THE West Cumbrian Muslim Society wants to build a community centre and mosque in Whitehaven. The 65-strong group hopes to spend $330,000 on the centre. At present, the society uses a converted upstairs room in Whitehaven for prayers and social activities – but numbers have increased. Whitehaven Civic Hall is going to be used for a forthcoming Muslim wedding. The society is seeking funding towards a $9,000 feasibility study to identify specifications and funding for its own community centre, which it says would work with and help more than 200 people of all ages. It would not only be open to Muslims, but to other members of the community. Restaurant boss Nurul Hoque, who owns the Akash restaurant in Tangier Street, is leading the bid. Deb Muscat, community empowerment network officer for West Cumbria Voluntary Services, said: There is a growing population of Muslims in west Cumbria. I support the application. There is a demonstrable need in west Cumbria, especially in the Whitehaven area. The society has been awarded grants totalling $1,100 from the Hillcrest & Hensingham and South Whitehaven neighbourhood forums for the feasibly study. Alistair Norwood, Copeland councillor for Hillcrest, said: This is something that we really need to support. There is no other facility like this in Cumbria. This will bring people into Whitehaven from all over Cumbria and the north east and that can only be really good for the town. I do hope that people are open-minded and embrace this.

Anti-Islam: Mosques Tucked Away

ROTTERDAM – Almost 70 new mosques will be built or extended in the next four years. AD’s own research of 485 municipalities found that most of them will be built on the outskirts of residential districts, in industrial areas, or other out-of-the-way places. According to Marcel Maussen, a researcher in Amsterdam, this is partly because prayerhouses, with their additional facilities, are simply too large for some residential districts, and “few people would want 2,000 people outside their door on a Friday afternoon”; on the other hand, the “banishment” of mosques to industrial areas and roadside pastures is also a sign of growing anti-Islamic sentiment. {(continued below in Dutch} Maar er is volgens hem ook een andere verklaring voor de _verbanning’ naar industrieterreinen en weilanden naast snelwegen. ,,Dat heeft te maken met een groeiende anti-islamstemming.” Nederland telt binnenkort zeker 450 offici_le moskee_n, waarvan er 115 zijn gevestigd in de vier grote steden. Ze bieden onderdak aan ?_n miljoen gelovigen. Het aantal kerken neemt intussen gestaag af. Het zijn er volgens schattingen van kerkverzekeraar Donatus nu nog ongeveer 4500. Maar vooral katholieke kerken krijgen de komende jaren andere functies. Op verzoek van het AD leverde bijna driekwart van de gemeenten een overzicht van de talrijke nieuwbouw- en uitbreidingsplannen voor moskee_n. De bouwgolf wordt vooral veroorzaakt door een nijpend ruimtegebrek in bestaande moskee_n. Met de vastenmaand ramadan worden in veel gemeenten provisorisch tenten en bouwketens geplaatst om de toeloop aan te kunnen. De te krappe moskee_n leverden in veel gevallen een jarenlange strijd voor een nieuw, groter gebedshuis. De nieuwbouw levert meestal een verdubbeling van de vloeroppervlakte op. In Amsterdam, Utrecht, Den Haag en Rotterdam wordt een deel van de moskee_n aan het oog van gemeentebesturen onttrokken. Het gaat om nieuwe gebedshuizen van vaak jonge, ontevreden moskeebezoekers. Tegen de trend in beginnen zij juist weer in kleine ruimten de islam te prediken.

Nearly 100,000 Students Wish to Take Classes on Islam

MADRID – Nearly one hundred thousand students wish to receive classes on Islam, according to numbers issued by the Comision Islamica Espanola (CIE). According to a 1992 agreement with the Ministry of Education, instruction in the subject must be provided if at least a tenth of the students request it. To date, 28 teachers of the subject work in Spain, mostly in Andalusia, Ceuta and Melilla. However, budget appropriations for teaching staff in the Canary Islands and Aragon have already been approved, and the same is expected in Madrid, Valencia and Catalonia.

Mosque on Wheels Takes Islam to the German Streets

This summer, a group of Muslims is touring Germany with a mosque on wheels. They hope their ”rolling mosque” will help change German public opinion, which often associates Islam and Muslims with terror and fanaticism. The Islamobil is a sort of travelling mosque, one that aims to inform Germans about Islam. A group of young Muslims from the small city of Br_hl near Cologne came up with the idea in 2001 and will travel around Germany with it this summer. One of the founders, G_l_zar Keskin, said the idea was born out of the desire to explain and illustrate Islam on-the-spot. The goal of the project is for Muslims to reach out to non-Muslims, instead of waiting for the reverse to happen, said Keskin, thus, the idea to bring the cultural dialogue directly to the Germans where they live.

In Berlin, Yet Another Mosque Controversy

It was to become a meeting place, where Muslims and non-Muslims could come together. Inssan, a German Muslim organisation, applied for a building permit in Neuk_lln for a large site with a mosque, seminar areas, a youth club and a women’s centre. However, the district administration opposes the project, citing Inssan’s possible connection with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is officially seen in Germany as an organisation that misuses Islam to further its own political ends. Inssan, in contrast, repeatedly emphasises its commitment to an open, German-speaking Islam and for social toleration. To exemplify this, representative Chaban Salih refers to their current campaign against forced marriages.

Interview with Tariq Ramadan

LAS PALMAS – “What can Europe offer to Islam, and the Muslims to Europe?” “Europe gives Muslims who were born there a life in societies under the rule of law and democracy, where we can express and develop pluralistic points of view. In the other sense, what Muslims can contribute to Europe is further cultural horizons, the wealth of real pluralism. Islam also contributes to questions of spirituality and ethics, which trouble the whole of this consumer society. I am both things, a European and a Muslim, and my own contribution is to work for a reconciliation.” – Tariq Ramadan

Evacuated Muslims In Noisy-Le-Grand Are Praying On The Lawn

By Xavier Ternisien NOISY-LE-GRAND – In compliance with court ruling, the police evacuated Muslims from a company’s building. The more than 10 thousand Muslims, about one-sixth of the town’s total population, have tried several times before to purchase an adequate site of worship, but the municipality has thwarted their attempts so far. A group of Muslims will continue to hold outdoor prayers, in all weather, as a sign of protest. {(continued below in French)} La police, qui a proc_d_ _ l’_vacuation, n’a fait qu’appliquer une d_cision du tribunal de Bobigny, rendue le 10 octobre 2002, confirm_e par la cour d’appel de Paris le 11 mars 2004. Le propri_taire de l’immeuble, l’entreprise de HLM Logirep, souhaitait en effet r_cup_rer le local. Le probl_me est qu’il n’existe pas d’autre lieu de culte musulman _ Noisy-le-Grand, une ville qui compterait pourtant, selon les estimations courantes, pr_s de 10 000 musulmans sur un total de 60 000 habitants. Chaque vendredi, 400 personnes se pressaient pour la pri_re dans la mosqu_e El-Taqwa de l’all_e du Fort. Les plus _g_s parmi les responsables du lieu de culte sont rentr_s au “bled” pour les vacances. Il ne reste sur place que quelques jeunes, qui continuent de se rassembler sur des tapis dispos_s sur l’herbe, au pied des immeubles, devant le local cadenass_. Certains lisent le Coran en se balan_ant de droite _ gauche, d’autres prennent le th_ _ la menthe en attendant l’heure de la pri_re. “Le tribunal a tranch_, nous ne revenons pas sur une d_cision de justice, d_clare l’un d’eux, M. Ibn Belkacem (il ne souhaite pas donner son pr_nom), _g_ de 30 ans. D’ailleurs, nous avons quitt_ les lieux sans faire de casse.” Les fid_les admettent que la pr_sence du lieu de culte occasionnait des nuisances pour les riverains. Les voitures encombraient les parkings au pied des immeubles. Mais selon eux, le local _tait utilis_ comme mosqu_e depuis le d_but des ann_es 1980. “Il n’y avait pas de contrat de location. L’accord _tait plus oral qu’_crit”, croit savoir M. Ibn Belkacem. “DES SALAFISTES” Aujourd’hui, les musulmans qui fr_quentaient la mosqu_e El-Taqwa accusent la municipalit_ de faire obstacle _ toutes leurs tentatives d’acquisition d’un lieu de culte. “A plusieurs reprises, nous avons trouv_ des locaux _ Noisy, raconte M. Ibn Belkacem. D’abord dans la zone industrielle, mais la Ville a fait pr_emption. Ensuite, dans le quartier du Pav_-Neuf. Mais la mairie a fait pression sur le syndic, qui a refus_ de nous vendre le local. Dans n’importe quelle ville de Seine-Saint-Denis, il y a au moins deux mosqu_es…” “Nous ne sommes pas hostiles _ ce qu’ils aient un lieu de culte s’ils ont les moyens de le financer”, se d_fend le maire (PS) de Noisy, Michel Pajon. Il _met cependant quelques r_serves : “Pas sur une zone industrielle, je n’y suis pas favorable ! C’est le meilleur moyen de la couler ! Pas dans un local commercial, ce ne serait pas adapt_. S’ils trouvent un pavillon bien adapt_, on leur mettra pas de b_ton dans les roues.” Les musulmans de Noisy-le-Grand paraissent relativement isol_s. L’Union des associations musulmanes du 93 affirme ne pas avoir de contacts avec eux. “Ce sont des salafistes”, avance son vice-pr_sident, Mustapha Cista. Il est vrai que les jeunes install_s sur le gazon de l’all_e du Fort ont un “look” typ_ : cr_ne ras_, barbe longue, djellaba blanche. Eux d_mentent appartenir _ un courant id_ologique particulier : “Nous suivons la voie de l’islam, tout simplement. Demandez aux salafistes ou au (mouvement) Tabligh : ils ne se reconnaissent pas dans notre islam.” Ils sont r_solus _ continuer de prier dehors – y compris sous les orages – tant qu’ils n’auront pas obtenu satisfaction.

‘Honour Killing’ Appeal Refused

A father who tried to hire a hitman to carry out the “honour killing” of his son-in-law has lost a bid to have his prison term cut. Mohammed Arshad, 51, was jailed for seven years after being found guilty in 2003 of incitement to murder. The devout Muslim from Dundee took the action after his daughter married without his permission. Appeal judges said they were not convinced that the former justice of the peace received an unfair sentence. A local Islamic group had asked the court to impose community service. Arshad, a highly respected member of the Muslim community in Dundee, had an appeal against his conviction refused in March this year, but he has continued to challenge the length of the sentence. He put a price of _1,000 on son-in-law Abdullah Yasin’s head shortly after he married his daughter Insha in 2001. ‘Previous good character‘ Arshad objected to the marriage and had not given his permission for it to go ahead. However, he was caught after the “hitman” he approached turned out to be a Tayside Police detective. Arshad argued that his seven-year sentence was excessive and failed to take into account his previous good character and his state of health when he carried out the crime. A petition submitted to the court by the Tayside Islamic and Cultural Education Society, signed by more than 150 people, claimed Arshad was an honoured member of their community and asked judges to consider allowing him to serve his sentence in the community. Lawyers claimed Arshad was affected by ongoing depression, which was a “significant factor” in prompting him to act as he did. ‘Grave offence’ However, the judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh rejected the arguments, ruling that previous good character and the fact that he was unlikely to repeat the offence were not key mitigating factors. Lord Macfadyen and Lord Penrose stated in a written judgement: “We find nothing that persuades us that the sentencing judge erred in selecting a period of seven years’ imprisonment as the appropriate punishment for the appellant’s crimes. “What is of the greatest significance is that, when circumstances arose in which the appellant felt that his religious and cultural attitudes had been offended, he was prepared on that account to commit the extremely grave offence of incitement to murder. “We would add that we do not consider it appropriate in the circumstances to accord material weight to the views expressed in the petition which was laid before us.”

Berlin Moves Forward: Fighting Agaist Extremism by Creating Cofidence and Social Projects

The Berlin senate launched “1,000 Migrants”, a new project to help young immigrants with scant knowledge of German and a poor educational background. Up to 1,200 young immigrants will be offered sixth-month courses to prepare them for general integration and the job market. The European Union contributes 828 thousand euros to this two-million euro project; the rest is financed by the city of Berlin.