Music of Arab composers goes to Europe concert halls

The works of 25 modern Arab composers are to be performed in major European concert halls for the first time, with London hosting a preview in June, organizers said on Wednesday. After London, the programme will go to festivals in European capitals, including Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen and Amsterdam, and then, from 2009, to the respective native countries of the composers. “All of these musicians deserve international exposure and recognition, and most are underappreciated in their own communities,” said the statement. The concert series has been named after Islamic philosopher and scholar Abu Nasr al-Farabi (870-950), who wrote a major treatise on music and taught in Baghdad, Cairo and Damascus.

Islam in the European Union: What’s at Stake in the Future?

This report presents the current stakes concerning the Muslim presence in Europe. It adresses four main areas: organizational processes underway within Muslim communities; the questions of education and leadership; the juridical profiles and political management of Muslims; cohabitation as a decision to live together. Based on the findings of the study, proposals are made.

Niqab in court

Sir, The Judicial Studies Board has added to what it calls the Equal Treatment Bench Book guidance to judges and others on wearing in court the Muslim niqab, which involves the full covering of the woman’s face (Court veil approval, April 25 ). The guidance says (oddly) that to ask for the removal of this veil would likely serve to exclude and marginalise further women with limited visibility in courts and tribunals. The guidance says that if the veil is required to be removed the woman’s discomfiture may be lessened by clearing the public gallery, and asks for the court to be cleared of anyone other than those strictly involved with the case. This advice is of doubtful legality, since it contravenes the open court rule laid down in Scott v Scott (1913), where Lord Halsbury said every court of justice is open to every subject of the King. The advice is likely to cause resentment among members of the public affected. I suggest it should be withdrawn. FRANCIS BENNION Former parliamentary counsel; author of Statutory Interpretation Budleigh Salterton, Devon

Holy water, ablution cans and infection hazard

According to Gillian Hodgson, an infection control nurse at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Holy water can be dangerous. She told nurses at a Royal College of Nursing Congress fringe meeting about a child in a paediatric oncology unit who developed the bacterial infection pseudomonas after his lips were wiped with holy water. Nursing Standard (April 25) reports that holy water sprinkled on or near intravenous catheter sites can also be dangerous, particularly for patients who are immuno-compromised . Holy water has also been causing problems for patients in Bradford. Gwen Horn, a ward manager at the city’s Cygnet Hospital, told nurses about a mental health inpatient whose behaviour was worse after his family brought in sealed bottles of blessed water for him to drink. The water was analysed and found to be spiked with drugs, she told the delegates. After a risk assessment and consultation with a local imam the nurses were told that the water was not necessary for the patient’s wellbeing and the bottles were confiscated, the magazine reports. Concern was also raised by a number of nurses at the meeting that the sharing of ablution cans, for washing, or wudhu, by Muslim patients could also pose an infection hazard. Moulana Ilyas Dalal, a Muslim chaplain at Dewsbury and District Hospital, advises nurses that when they are faced with problems concerning religious practice they should contact the hospital chaplain or local religious leaders.

They want the Iberian Peninsula back

A presenter of the Palestinian television channel Al-aqsa affirmed during a children’s programme that the Andalusia, current region of the Iberian Peninsula will be soon under Islamic rule. In the video of the programme The Pioneers of Tomorrow (now available at the YouTube site) he refers that the Islamic dominium through the will of Allah promotes love, justice and the good. More, he added that Christians and Jews had never had a better life than the one they had under Islamic power. At the end of the programme he left a message to his young viewers: they should contribute to the recovery of the Islamic glory.

Dutch lawmaker calls for the closure of all Muslim schools

Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders, the controversial leader and founder of the Freedom Party (PVV), has called for the immediate closure of all Muslim schools in the Netherlands in an article published Tuesday. The move was necessary “to protect children against the ongoing spreading of Islam,” Wilders wrote on Dutch news websitem, Nieuwsnieuws. “We have too much Islam in the Netherlands. Islam is effectively more a violent political ideology than a religion,” he wrote. During the 2006 elections, Wilders’ PVV surprised everyone by gaining nine seats in the 175-seat Dutch parliament. Wilders had been an MP for several years – first for the Liberal-right VVD party and then as an independent member. Last year was the first time he contested the elections with his own party. Yassin Hartog, interim director of the ISBO, the umbrella organization of Muslim schools in the Netherlands, considers Wilders’ words to be a “provocation.” “I don’t think there is much reason for another controversy about Muslim schools in Holland. Muslim education in Holland is well-rooted in the national school system,” Hartog said. Holland is known for its uniquely broad range of schools and educational systems. Public schools are fully funded by the government, and special schools receive substantial government funding. Some 40 per cent of Dutch schools are public. The remaining 60 percent are special schools, some of which are based on specific educational systems such as Montessori, while others are based upon a religious denomination. In the last 15 years a few dozen Muslim schools have been established, predominantly elementary schools. In recent months, however, several Muslim schools made the Dutch headlines after school inspections found they did not meet the minimum educational standards, especially for the Dutch language and integration into Dutch society.