Denmark: Muslim Woman with Hijab To Run For Parliament

Twenty-five year-old Asmaa Abdol-Hamid announced her candidacy for the Danish parliament in Copenhagen, Folketing. Abdol-Hamid first became a national celebrity last year as a activist who fought in vain before the courts against the publication of the Muhammad cartoons. Turbulence surrounds her candidacy. The Right is outraged and the Left is skeptical about her place in their coalition.

Dutch intelligence agency says terror threat is receding but radicalization continues

The threat of terror attacks is receding in the Netherlands thanks to tough new laws and the prosecution of key Islamic extremists, the head of the country’s national intelligence service said Friday. “The concrete threat of homegrown jihadist networks appears to have receded,” said Sybrand van Hulst, head of the Dutch Intelligence and Security Service, as he presented the group’s annual report. “Nevertheless, it is still conceivable that there could be terrorist attacks in the Netherlands,” he said. Van Hulst warned that radicalization of young Muslims was continuing, fueled by events such as the Iraq war and the crisis caused by Danish cartoons that many Muslims believe insulted the Prophet Muhammad. Van Hulst said that a trend was developing for radical Muslims to preach ultraorthodox Islam to mainly young second- or third-generation immigrant men (…)

Sacred texts that reveal a common heritage; British Library exhibition celebrates the links between three monotheistic faiths

By Maev Kennedy For the first time, the oldest and most precious surviving texts of the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths have gone on display side by side at the British Library. They include a tattered scrap of a Dead Sea Scroll and a Qur’an commissioned for a 14th-century Mongol ruler of modern Iran who was born a shaman, baptised a Christian, and converted first to Buddhism, then Sunni and finally Shia Islam. The exhibition also has some exotic private loans, including an embroidered 19th-century curtain which once covered the door of the Ka’bah, the shrine which is at the core of the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, a hand embroidered Jewish bridal canopy – and a gold shalwar kameez worn by Jemima Goldsmith in 1995, when she married the former Pakistan cricket captain Imran Khan. The exhibition, which will be formally opened today by the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Moulay Rachid of Morocco, was organised over the last three years at a time of acute stress between the three faiths after the Iraq war. The British Library was already considering such a project when it was approached with the proposal by the Moroccan British Society, which became a main sponsor, among others from all three faiths. Graham Shaw, the lead curator, said: “We were determined not to create faith zones, but to show these wonderful manuscripts side by side, and demonstrate how much we share – not least that these are three faiths founded on sacred texts, books of revelation.” Many exhibits are among the oldest of their kind, including a Qur’an made in Arabia within a century of Muhammad’s lifetime. The exhibition also shows how calligraphers and manuscript illuminators shared influences and styles. The microscopically detailed decorated capital letters of the Lindisfarne Gospels are echoed in Islamic and Jewish manuscripts, while Christian and Jewish texts borrowed Islamic-inspired decoration, so that a 14th century Qur’an and a translation of the gospels into Arabic are indistinguishable at a glance, and two 13th-century French texts, one Christian, one Jewish, use virtually identical images of King David. A later psalter owned by Henry VIII outrageously uses his portrait as the great Jewish king – accompanied by Henry’s court jester, William Somer, beside a text which translates as “the fool says in his heart ‘there is no God'”. Dr Shaw’s favourite manuscript in the exhibition is the only surviving evidence of how the four gospels almost became one. Tatian, a second-century Christian, combined the accounts by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John into one narrative, threaded together with his own writing. It became a standard text until, in the fifth century, it was declared heretical, and suppressed so effectively that no copy survives. Tatian’s work would have vanished without trace but for the commentary denouncing it, with quotations, by St Ephraim. It is displayed among Gnostic gospels, which inspired Lord Archer’s latest book the Gospel According to Judas.

Muslim veils ‘should be allowed in court’

The wearing of the Muslim veil in court was backed by new official guidelines today. Senior judges who examined whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear the full facial covering, known as the niqab, said it should be decided on a case-by-case basis. Muslim women should be permitted to wear the garment providing it did not interfere with the administration of justice, the Judicial Studies Board’s Equal Treatment Advisory Committee said. The guidance follows a case at an immigration court in Stoke-on-Trent last November where the judge, George Glossop, ordered an adjournment because he was having difficulty hearing legal executive Shabnam Mughal. The guidelines said: Each situation should be considered individually in order to find the best solution in each case. Forcing a woman to choose between participating in a court case or removing the veil could have a significant impact on that woman’s sense of dignity, it added, and could serve to exclude and marginalise her. Committee chairwoman Mrs Justice Cox said: At the heart of our guidance is the principle that each situation should be considered individually in order to find the best solution in each case. We respect the right for Muslim women to choose to wear the niqab as part of their religious beliefs, although the interests of justice remain paramount. If a person’s face is almost fully covered, a judge may have to consider if any steps are required to ensure effective participation and a fair hearing – both for the woman wearing a niqab and for other parties in the proceedings. This is not an issue that lends itself to a prescriptive approach – we have drawn on a wealth of cases that demonstrate that, and we have drawn up guidance for different court personnel and parties. If the wearer is appearing as a victim, it should not be automatically assumed that the niqab would create a problem, the guidelines said. Nor should it ever be assumed without good reason that it is inappropriate for a woman to give evidence in court wearing the full veil, it added. If a judge felt it necessary to ask a victim to remove her veil, he or she should consider the request carefully, and be thoughtful and sensitive. The courtroom could even be cleared of anyone not directly involved in the case for her to proceed with her evidence, it said. Asking a witness or defendant to remove the garment may be appropriate but careful thought should be given to any such request, the guidelines said. Regarding a Muslim woman appearing as a barrister, solicitor or other advocate, judges should assume they are entitled to wear the veil, it went on. There are few instances where an advocate or representative appearing in a niqab would be likely to present any real issue, it said. Just as in any case where a judge might have difficulty in hearing any party, witness or advocate, sensitively inquiring whether they can speak any louder or providing other means of amplification should suffice and such measures should be considered with the advocate before asking her to remove her veil. Regarding jurors in niqabs, a judge may wish to consider excusing her if a challenge is made by one of the parties, it said, providing there is a genuine basis for the objection. The guidelines come after widespread concern over the wearing of the niqab in schools – by both children and staff – as well as in other areas. In February, a 12-year-old Muslim girl who wanted to wear a full-face veil in class lost her legal battle when a High Court judge dismissed a challenge to her school’s uniform policy. Mr Justice Silber rejected her claim that the school in Buckinghamshire had interfered with her right to freedom of religion under the Human Rights Convention.

Girl’s rape lie destroyed taxi driver’s life

Aftab Ahmed, 44, of Allerton, Bradford, lost his home, livelihood, reputation and found his family relationships and marriage under strain in the 14 months it took for the lies of his 17-year-old accuser to be exposed in court. Mr Ahmed, who has a degree in political science and once worked as a police officer in Kashmir, told how a group of girls negotiated a _13 fare to take the drunken girl home to Baildon, north of the city. He gave her sister his registration and name before driving off. The trip, which should have taken 15 minutes, took three quarters of an hour because she vomited over the seats six times and Mr Ahmed was forced to stop repeatedly. Unable to find her home address, he had to knock on doors and ask for directions. At one stage, he stopped a bus to ask the driver. He also phoned the girl’s sister to tell her that she was in a poor state of health, that he was worried about leaving her at home alone and said that he would leave her in the care of neighbours. Once home, the girl called the police. The court was told that the girl had initially made the allegation because she had felt a pain in her groin area and had assumed that she had been raped. As soon as she sobered up, she realised her mistake but continued with the pretence. Mr Wilcock said: These allegations have had a profound effect on Mr Ahmed and his family. He is no longer prepared to work as a taxi driver in the evenings for fear of other allegations against him. His wife is taking tablets for depression and it has affected his position within the community. Mr. Ahmed’s life has been virtually destroyed by the allegations. The accusations have destroyed my family. It has impacted on myself, my wife and my children. To be accused of rape is the most serious crime in my religion of Islam. It is seen as worse than murder, because we are told to honour women and that they are sacrosanct. The girl was sentenced to four months in jail.

Muslim Women Glad Hirsi Ali Left Netherlands

For three years Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali galvanised Dutch society with a frank account of her traumatic past and her conviction that Islam is a violent, misogynous religion. That conviction led to death threats, the murder of her associate, filmmaker Theo van Gogh and, her critics say, the alienation of precisely those she aimed to engage as relations between Muslims and non-Muslims deteriorated as never before. Now almost a year since the former Dutch parliamentarian hit headlines worldwide for admitting she lied to gain asylum in the Netherlands, many of the Dutch-Muslim women Hirsi Ali sought to stir and inspire state bluntly they are relieved she is gone. The 37-year-old now works for a U.S. think-tank, while her international profile as an ex-Muslim critic of Islam soars. “I am glad that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is gone, because now the tone has softened, it has become less extreme and tensions have eased,” said Nermin Altintas, who runs an education centre for migrant women.

Americans on Hold

New York University (NYU) School of Law’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) today released a new report on causes and impacts of the US Naturalization process. According to the report, the US government is illegally delaying the naturalization applications of thousands of immigrants by profiling individuals it perceives to be Muslim and subjecting them to indefinite security checks.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a novel by Mohsin Hamid, published in 2007 in over 16 languages. The story takes place over the course of an evening in an outdoor Lahore cafe as Changez, a bearded Pakistani man, tells a nervous American stranger about his love affair with, and eventual abandonment of, America.

Mohsin Hamid grew up in Lahore, Pakistan, and attended Princeton and Harvard. His first novel, Moth Smoke, was a Betty Trask Award winner, PEN/ Hemingway Award finalist, and New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His writing has also appeared in Time, The New York Times, and other publications. He lives in London.

Full-text New York Times Magazine interview with the author available here.(Some news sites may require registration)

The Islamic Threat to Europe: By the Numbers

http://counterpunch.org/larsson04212007.html Weekend Edition April 21 / 22, 2007 A Neglected Report from Europol The Islamic Threat to Europe: By the Numbers By KRISTOFFER LARSSON Some things interest the media, others don’t. Since the fall of the USSR, the United States has sought another menace to designate as the ultimate evil, a world threat the Americans desperately need to take on. The 9/11 attacks gave them that enemy. And when the White House speaks, the media listens obediently. Over the last number of years the “Islamic threat” has become one of the favourite issues for media coverage. It’s all over the news–Muslims leaders pronouncing threats against the countries participating in occupying Muslim land. While America is the Western country most succumbed to the fear of Islamism, things aren’t much better in Europe. Its media is highly Americanised and thus eager to reiterate U.S. governmental positions towards the non-Western world. Islamic terrorism is subsequently a theme close to the hearts of European journalists as well. Following this, you might think the journalists would be beside themselves with joy when the European Police Office (Europol) releases its first report on terrorism in the EU. I can assure you they weren’t. In fact, to my best knowledge, not a single Swedish paper or news-channel has paid any attention to it whatsoever. I haven’t seen it receiving much attention in other EU countries either (kudos to the EUobserver for having the decency to report on it). The report is namely a grave disappointment for the anti-Islamic campaigners. There were 498 incidents in eleven EU countries last year labelled as “terrorist attacks.” The Basque separatist group ETA did best (136 terrorist attacks) and was responsible for the only deadly attack, killing two in Madrid. The remaining 497 fortunately cost no human lives. How about the Islamic terrorists then? Considering the perpetual warnings in our daily papers, the findings in the Europol report is, to say the least, surprising. The truth is that Islamists only carried out one out of the 498 terrorist attacks in the European Union in 2006. Don’t believe me? The entire report is available on Europol’s website. Had Islamic fundamentalists been behind a higher number of attacks-say 136-it would have been front page news at every big daily. One attack is simply too few–it won’t do if the image of an “Islamic threat” is to live on. The Europol report devotes several pages to Islamist terrorism, despite the low number. Except for the one attack in Germany this group was responsible for (which, by the way, failed and resulted in no victims), also Denmark and the United Kingdom reported that Islamists plotted to carry out one attack in each country respectively (incidentally, all three countries are accessory to the illegal occupation of Iraq). However, since these plans in both cases were exposed before they were set to work, they were not included among the 498. Either way, even after taking these plots into account, the report proves the genuine magnitude of Islamic terrorism in Europe–it’s not exactly a huge threat. If we look at the people arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences, the figures are rather disproportionate; about half of them arrested were Muslim. In plain English: Muslims are a group causing very little terrorism in Europe, while at the same time much more likely to be arrested on suspicion of it. The constant media coverage of Muslims being arrested creates the false image of a serious threat in order to benefit the imperialist world-view Washington wants us to adopt. Meanwhile the Americans and their accomplices are carrying out genocide in Iraq. Clearly, something needs to be done about the media. Kristoffer Larsson lives in Sweden. He can be reached at: kristoffer.larsson@sobernet.nu Anna Bigelow