Anti-Islam Bigotry Claim: New Poll On Community Relations

A UK public opinion poll powered by global market intelligence solutions provider GMI (Global Market Insite, Inc.) on behalf of the Institute of Governance, Queen’s University, Belfast/Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool, and Muslim Voice UK, explores the detail of difference, agreement and shared concerns amongst UK Muslim and non-Muslim citizens. UK Muslims blame Islamophobia on the portrayal of their religion in the media, the survey revealed. The research found 40 per cent of Muslims blamed anti-Islamic feelings on the media, while almost three-quarters of non-Muslims blamed the September 11 bombings.

Islam In Provence’s Landscape

MARSEILLE – Following years of governmental delays, hesitation, and division within the Muslim community, the building project for the Grand Mosque of Marseille was given the go-ahead on 17 July. It is perhaps the most symbolic among a number of current construction projects in the region, which will provide the resident Muslim community with new places of worship, libraries, art and educational centres. The other religious communities in Provence expressed their strong support for these projects. {(continued below in French)} Port_s par le dossier symbolique de la grande mosqu_e de Marseille, les projets foisonnent dans la r_gion. Apr_s un si_cle d’h_sitations, Marseille aura sa grande mosqu_e. Lundi 17 juillet, le conseil municipal a vot_ _ la quasi-unanimit_ la signature d’un bail emphyt_otique de 99 ans, c_dant _ l’association La Grande Mosqu_e de Marseille un terrain de 8 600 m2 dans le 15e arrondissement. _ C’est un moment historique et un symbole de reconnaissance pour les 150 000 _ 200 000 musulmans de Marseille _, s’est r_joui, _mu, Nourredine Cheikh, pr_sident de l’association. Plus qu’un simple b_timent, ce projet constitue le symbole du rattrapage dans lequel s’engage la r_gion Provence-Alpes-C_te d’Azur, o_ les musulmans doivent se contenter de 293 lieux de pri_re am_nag_s dans des foyers de la Sonacotra, des appartements et des caves… Des lieux trop exigus pour recevoir les fid_les dans des conditions d_centes. Six projets vont aboutir dans les ann_es _ venir, _ commencer par la grande mosqu_e de La Seyne-sur-Mer (Var) dont la premi_re pierre a _t_ pos_e il y a deux mois. Le projet comprend un lieu de culte de 400 m2, un centre culturel, des salles de conf_rences et une biblioth_que. _ Un lieu de rencontre et d’_change avec les citoyens de toutes confessions _, pr_cise Abderazak Bouaziz, pr_sident de l’association cultuelle et culturelle de La Seyne-sur-Mer. “Pendant des ann_es, la r_gion a accus_ un retard” _ Toulon, deux nouvelles salles de pri_re de proximit_ verront le jour, tandis que le conseil municipal de La Ciotat votera en septembre la proposition de construction d’une mosqu_e de proximit_ sur le terrain o_ les fid_les prient depuis seize ans, dans des bungalows de chantier anonymes. Comment expliquer une telle profusion ? _ Pendant des ann_es, la r_gion a accus_ un retard, car la communaut_ musulmane _tait divis_e _, explique l’imam Abderrahmane Ghoul, porte-parole du Conseil r_gional du culte musulman (CRCM) en Paca. Depuis juin 2005, cet imam, affili_ _ la Grande Mosqu_e de Paris, a f_d_r_ les diff_rentes tendances de la r_gion et chapeaute les n_gociations entre les associations et les mairies. _ Auparavant, nous _tions confront_s _ de multiples associations, toutes revendiquant un projet diff_rent. Le CRCM a permis d’avoir un interlocuteur identifi_ et l_gitime _, explique Arthur Paecht, maire de La Seyne-sur-Mer. Les _lus sont r_alistes : les musulmans y repr_sentent entre 8 % _ 12 % de la population. _ Les musulmans de France sont des Fran_ais musulmans. Ils sont dans la R_publique et non pas _ c_t_. Nous devons r_pondre _ leur droit de pratiquer leur culte dans un endroit digne _, affirme David Lisnard, adjoint au maire charg_ des affaires cultuelles de Cannes, dont le conseil municipal votera lundi la cession d’un terrain de 1 900 m2 pour construire une mosqu_e de proximit_, rempla_ant la tente o_ 200 personnes prient depuis un an et demi, apr_s la fermeture de la salle du foyer Sonacotra pour des raisons de s_curit_. “La religion musulmane sur la voie de la reconnaissance” Pragmatique, Michel Caillat, maire d’Istres, estime que la construction de lieux de culte pour les musulmans r_pond aussi _ un objectif de transparence : _ Mieux vaut un lieu digne identifi_ et officiel que des endroits douteux dans lesquels risquent de se d_velopper des discours radicaux. _ Pionni_res, les municipalit_s d’Istres et d’Aubagne ont donn_ leur feu vert d_s 2000. _ Aubagne, la blancheur de la mosqu_e de 500 m2 tranche avec les b_timents de la zone commerciale. Stucs et d_corations florales recouvrent les murs de la salle de pri_re des hommes, tandis qu’_ l’entr_e, des cartons de carrelage s’entassent. _ Nous esp_rons avoir termin_ les travaux pour la fin du Ramadan en novembre _, explique Hafidikaddour Hafidi, pr_sident de l’association Dar-Es-Salam, qui a financ_ l’achat du terrain et les travaux gr_ce aux 380 000 _ de dons des fid_les. En attendant la fin du chantier, planches et pots de peinture jonchent le sol, mais peu importe : ici, les fid_les se sentent chez eux. _ La religion musulmane est sur la voie de la reconnaissance _, se f_licite, Si-Mohamed, qui, _ 19 ans, se sent enfin _ consid_r_ comme un Fran_ais musulman _. Les mentalit_s ont _volu_. _ travers l’_dification de lieux de culte officiels, les associations musulmanes n’aspirent qu’_ une chose : faire d_couvrir un islam mod_r_ et effacer des esprits l’amalgame _ islam = terrorisme _. Cette image engendre encore des craintes, comme _ Nice (Alpes-Maritimes), o_ l’association Moubarak et la mairie se livrent _ un bras de fer depuis des mois. “Du racisme et de la discrimination!” En novembre 2005, le maire, Jacques Peyrat, avait d_clar_ : _ Ce n’est pas le moment, face aux violences urbaines et _ la mont_e de l’islam radical, d’installer en plein c_ur de Nice une terre d’islam. _ _ Depuis, _ chaque fois que nous avons souhait_ acqu_rir un lieu en centre-ville, la mairie a us_ de son droit de pr_emption. C’est du racisme et de la discrimination ! _, s’emporte Abdelhamid Razzouk, pr_sident de l’association. Contact_, le maire de Nice a refus_ de s’exprimer sur ce sujet. Depuis, un groupe de travail a _t_ cr?_ en partenariat avec le CRCM. _ Nous avons obtenu un permis de construction pour am_nager une salle de pri_re de 1 000 m2 et remettre _ niveau la vingtaine de salles de pri_res existantes _, dit Otman A_ssaoui, d_l_gu_ d_partemental du CRCM. Les musulmans plaident pour la transparence. Les mosqu_es d’Istres, Aubagne, Marseille et La Seyne-sur-Mer comprendront des espaces culturels ouverts aux non-musulmans, tandis que la mosqu_e d’Istres sera ouverte aux visites scolaires. _ Nous voulons partager notre culture afin qu’elle ne soit pas entach_e d’obscurantisme, c’est le seul moyen de dissiper les craintes _, assure l’imam istr_en Boujeema Imaghri. L’architecture ultra-contemporaine de sa mosqu_e r_sume l’ambition de toute une communaut_ : se fondre dans le paysage. Corinne BOYER, _ Marseille Des projets soutenus par les autres religions Conform_ment _ leur longue tradition d’entente interreligieuse, les diff_rentes communaut_s de Marseille ont toutes apport_ leur soutien au projet de grande mosqu_e. Dans le Var, le service de relation avec l’islam du dioc_se de Toulon a m_me jou_ les m_diateurs aupr_s des pouvoirs publics. _Nous avons rencontr_ les _lus du quartier Pontcarral afin d’offrir des cl_s de discernement et d’_viter les amalgames dans une r_gion marqu_e par un fort vote en faveur du Front national_, explique Gilles Rebeche, diacre du dioc_se de Toulon pour qui l’_glise catholique constitue une _ autorit_ morale reconnue dans la pratique de la la_cit_.

Terror Ban On Muslim Extremists

{Ministers to put radical groups on a proscribed list despite fears they’ll be driven underground} By Jamie Doward LONDON – A number of radical Muslim groups are to be proscribed despite concern that this will drive them underground where they cannot be monitored. As part of the Prime Minister’s 12-point plan to tackle terrorism, announced after the London bombings on 7 July last year, The Observer has learnt the government is to unveil a list of organisations it wants to ban under the Terrorism Act 2006. The list is expected to include Hizb ut-Tahrir and The Strangers, also known as al-Ghurabaa’, the group that organised protests outside the Danish embassy in London earlier this year. Hizb ut-Tahrir’s aim is to subject the world to Sharia law and ‘bring back Islamic guidance for mankind and to lead the Ummah [Muslim community] into a struggle with Kufr [non-Muslims]’. Shortly after the 7/7 bombings, Tony Blair signalled his intention to proscribe this group. But such a move will prove highly controversial. Hizb ut-Tahrir claims to oppose violence and it has condemned the 7/7 bombings, as well as the atrocities in Madrid and Bali. The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) has questioned the merits of banning the group, as have human rights lawyers. ‘The Prime Minister correctly said fighting terrorism is an ideological battle,’ said Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty. ‘How are we to fight the war of ideas if non-violent political groups are driven underground?’ Such a step could harm the war on terror. ‘Criminalising free expression surely will make the job of police and intelligence services that much tougher, not to mention the spike in membership that these groups will receive once they’ve been banned,’ she added. A spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir accused the government of behaving dictatorially: ‘To ban us would not be a sign of strength, but a sign of weakness.’ Critics point out that many proscribed groups simply adopt a new name and structure. Members of another radical Islamic group, al-Muja Anjem Choudhury haroun, which the government signalled it was going to proscribe, disbanded and re-formed as al-Ghurabaa’. Al-Ghurabaa’ organised the 3 February protest outside the Danish embassy where demonstrators waved placards reading ‘Butcher those who mock Islam’ and ‘Kill those who insult Islam’. One of its spokesmen is Abu Izzadeen, who has described the 7/7 suicide bombers in London as ‘completely praiseworthy’. On the eve of the anniversary of the 7/7 attacks, Izzadeen was filmed preaching to a group of Muslims in Birmingham, mocking the victims of 9/11 and warning of further terror attacks in Britain. A spokesman said banning it would stifle debate and lead to further distrust between the Muslim and non-Muslim world. ‘The government wants to silence any opponents of its policies,’ said Anjem Choudhury. ‘Organisations such as Hizb ut-Tahrir or Al-Ghurabaa’ have been doing nothing other than ideological or political struggle, exposing the government’s policies and calling for the introduction of Sharia. This government claims to support liberalism and freedom. Why does it not allow groups with different policies and ideologies to challenge it?’ In the Commons last Thursday, the Leader of the House, Jack Straw, signalled the action against radical groups. He said a motion would be put before Parliament this week to approve the Terrorism Act 2006 (Proscribed Organisations) Amendment Order 2006. A vote on this will rubber-stamp measures to proscribe groups claimed to glorify terrorism. In conjunction with the vote, the government is expected to unveil the new list of those it will ban. Inayat Bunglawala, a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, said: ‘We have major differences with Hizb ut-Tahrir, in particular its non-participation in the democratic process. Having said that, we think banning it is entirely wrong. It is non-violent.’

From One Border to the Next: The Past and Present of Islam in the West

Between 15 and 22 July the universities of Granada, Hassan II-Mohammedia, Paris VIII and Seville will hold a joint program under the aegis of the Euro_rabe Foundation. The history of al-Andalus, the Mediterranean in history, syncretism, progress and tradition will be some of the organising themes at this European Summer University.

Experts and Army Meet to Discuss Muslim Concerns

KOBLENZ – The Civic Education Centre (Zentrum Innere F_hrung) of the German Armed Forces, Catholic and Evangelical camp priests, the women’s commissioners and the deputy chairman of the Central Council of the Muslims in Germany held a discussion in Koblenz. Among the topics were the appointment of a “camp imam” for the religious support of Muslims in the army, the preparation of soldiers for duty in Afghanistan, and the insufficient attention paid to Muslim women’s issues in the ongoing official integration discourse.

Former Ocnstitutional Judge Argues Headscarf Prohibition is Unsustainable

MUNICH – Prof. Dr. h. c. Ernst-Wolfgang Bockenforde, legal philosopher and retired Constitutional Court Justice, regards the case of the Muslim teacher’s headscarf as a part of integration. Each headscarf-wearing Muslim woman who pursues her profession independently and self-reliantly is a counterargument to the idea that Islam suppresses women.

One Fifth of Germans Have an Immigrant Background

For the first time, the Federal Statistical Office included questions concerning immigration in the population census. It found that around seven million foreigners live in Germany. If one adds those who became citizens only recently, one finds that around 15 million people, or one fifth of Germany’s population, has an immigrant background. Also interesting is the 2005 Report on Immigration, recently adopted by the Cabinet, which shows that the rate of immigration has been falling. At the same time, Wolfgang Sch_uble, the Minister of the Interior, argues that the percieved effect of immigration may be far beyond the actual level.

Multiculturalism In Britain Is Dead, Says New Research

By Prasun Sonwalkar Multiculturalism as a way of social integration in Britain is dead, concludes a unique University of Leicester study after the July 7, 2005, blasts in London. It should instead be replaced by the idea of inter-culturalism, says the report published after the conclusion of the one-year research. The findings have significant bearing on Britain’s policies towards Asian and Afro-Caribbean minorities. Inter-culturalism is defined as a sharing of cultural experiences with people from a different culture. It contrasts with multiculturalism that celebrates diversity. The report, titled “Engagement With Cultures: From Diversity to Inter-culturalism”, is authored by researchers Bill Law, Tim Haq and Asaf Hussain, who carried out their research in Leicester, a town in the east Midlands with a large minority of Asian and Afro-Caribbean origin. The authors state: “We believe multiculturalism has failed. It was a concept and a social re-engineering policy with the best of intentions, but with little debate at the grassroots. It failed to recognise or ignored the dangers of religious fundamentalism with deadly consequences. “It was yesterday’s message conveyed by yesterday’s men and women. “Multicultural policies saved no lives in London. The ones who died and were injured through the terrorist actions of British born terrorists in July 2005 came from all countries, cultures and religions.” “Our message is simple. Britain’s population has to become integrated.” Key conclusions of the report are: * Cities with immigrants directly from South Asia face greater challenges than those whose South Asian immigrants came from Africa. * Inter-cultural bridging has no value if it is a middleclass exercise. It has to occur at grassroots to have any impact. * Funding of cultural organisations must change. Funding should be conditional on engaging with other cultures. * Ensure citizenship is part of the education agenda. * Remove the link between religion and nationality, for example British Muslim, as this is mutually contradictory (one refers to a nationality and the other to a faith). Instead, this should be replaced with, for example, British Indian or British Pakistani. The report adds: “The term ‘British’ should be given specific meaning in terms of values of the adopted land in which such persons are settled.” According to the authors, “The term British should mean values of British society. It suggests respect for the monarchy; loyalty to the state (elected government); internalise values of democracy ie to express difference through democratic process, not violence; respect and abide by the law; accept plural society.”

Faith-Based Campaign Reaps Rewards For Tower Hamlets

Tower Hamlets council is celebrating its “largest ever” rise in recycling rates after developing a faith-based campaign in five London mosques. The East London borough, which has struggled to raise its recycling rate above 8%, revealed at a London Remade meeting in the capital yesterday that rates reached 11% in March thanks to engagement with the Muslim community. Over an eight week period from February this year, recycling toolkits, information stalls, coffee sessions and sermons linking recycling to the teachings of Islam helped to encourage 20,000 worshippers to reduce, re-use and recycle their rubbish. The council worked in partnership with the London Sustainability Exchange to help access the huge Muslim population. It currently makes up almost half of residents in the borough. Robin Beattie, head of strategy programmes for environment and culture in Tower Hamlets, said: “We do not have a marketing budget for recycling and so we wanted to plug into an existing structure. “Faith groups are organised, have their own developed community infrastructure and communicate to a large audience. It’s a rich seam of positive impact local authorities can tap into.” Positive Mr Beattie said that mosques could be very inward-focused and that there were very different cultural reactions to promotional work. Yet he said that the reaction to the campaign was overwhelmingly positive. He said: “Above all there was huge enthusiasm and hunger for information on recycling – That is hard for me to understate.” By the end of the scheme, almost all of the sermon attendees gave their support to the faith-based promotional work. Around a third said they would start recycling. Mr Beattie also said that recycling provided an excellent vehicle for repairing community relationships after 7/7. “Recycling is an extremely important issue to bring communities together,” he said. “It is relevant for everyone and it is part of our community cohesion strategy. “One of our goals was to showcase the Muslim community for its good work in driving recycling forward.” Cleaner, safer The scheme was part of a five-month “Cleaner, safer” campaign, which saw recycling rates in the borough increase by 3%. Mr Beattie said: “It’s the largest rise that Tower Hamlets has achieved in such a period ever.”