Five hundred officers at Toronto’s Pearson International, Canada’s busiest airport, will receive sensitivity training to guarantee better treatment of Muslim and Arab passengers. Patrizia Giolti, spokesperson for the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) said, The CBSA constantly takes steps including outreach and training to ensure our services are not discriminatory or perceived to be discriminatory. The courses will take place from September to March 2009 to help officers effectively perform their enforcement responsibilities in a respectful manner, according to the CBSA. Mohamed Elmasry, president of the Canadian Islamic Congress has hailed the courses as an excellent idea. The courses are similar to the seminars and workshops his organisation has put together for federal employees in the past two years. Mohamed Boudjenane, executive director of the Canadian Arab Federation agrees, adding that That sort of proactive act, or measure, didn’t come out of the blue, but was the result of an intensive lobby.
After an almost century-long wait, Muslims in the Republic of Montenegro will finally receive their first secondary school to accommodate students and parents wishing the youngsters to receive an Islamic education. Construction of the facility has been completed, with help from the Saudi bases Islamic Development Bank and a number of charities in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. The school is now scheduled to open for the 2008-2009 school year, with facilities including dorm rooms, a library, computer lab, gymnasium, and theater. However, enrollment in the first year will be comprised entirely of boys; girls are expected to be added to the student body in the following school year.
The UK’s first-ever insurer to comply with Islamic law has been launched today to enable Muslim motorists to secure cover for their vehicle. Salaam Halal insurance is targeting the 1.6 million British Muslims with its products, which differ from other cover in that the risk is spread between all policyholders registered with the company. Standard non-Sharia-compliant companies move the risk from the driver to the insurer. The policy works through the investors paying money into a pool, which is then invested in companies which do not contravene Islamic tenets, with money that is surplus at the end of the financial year is then distributed among policyholders. Abdulaziz Hamad Aljomaih, the chairman of Salaam insurance, told the AFP news agency: “The launch of Salaam insurance – the first independent, fully sharia-compliant Takaful operator available in this country – is a significant step for the growth of Islamic finance in the UK.”
A Marseille man who punched his wife in the face, fracturing her nose, because she removed her headscarf because of the heat was condemned to at least six months in prison. The couple, who live in Lille, France and were married in November 2007, were on holiday in Marseille. The 24 year-old French female victim stated, “I can’t handle the heat. I had my headscarf but I wasn’t covering my neck.” She claims to have explained to her husband that in Islam, a husband cannot tell his wife what to do.
According to Le Figaro, 2007 saw an increase of 31% over 2004 of reported domestic violence in the country.
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There has been a substantial Muslim community in the UK for at least 300 years, so UK financial companies may have been a little slow to cater for their monetary needs. But mainstream financial groups are quickly waking up to the fact that there are some 2 million Muslims in the UK whose financial needs must be met, as well as many more non-Muslims who agree with the ethics promoted by Islamic law, or sharia. Sharia governs, among other things, a Muslim’s economic and social life, dictating how believers should conduct themselves. It forbids certain activities and transactions: those involving alcohol and pork-related products, but also armaments, gambling, pornography and other activities deemed socially detrimental. Crucially, Islam places no intrinsic value on money, so earning or paying interest (riba) is prohibited – ruling out the majority of traditional mortgages, investments, savings and insurance products. So financial providers have had to do some creative thinking. The result, however, has been the launch of a wealth of new interesting and innovative products – some of which are now starting to capture the attention of non-muslims as well.
International investment services compliant with Islamic financial law are competing for a slice of the oil revenue in the Middle East. With the price of crude oil almost doubling in the last year, countries with large Muslim populations and connections – including Singapore, Hong Kong, London, Birmingham and Paris – are vying to act as key centres of expertise in the new boom. A spokesperson for the British Standard & Poor’s claims that, “By preparing the ground for Islamic finance, France can help financial innovation and benefit from the deep pockets of Middle Eastern investors as liquidity has dried up elsewhere in the global financial markets.”
Generally, more and more businesses have come forward to meet demand for Shariah-compliant services. Approximately two-thirds of the world-wide market for Islamic bonds (sukuks), an estimated $100 billion, is currently based in Malaysia, where the industry first took off. Outside of Asia and the Middle East, Britain in particular, is seen as the clear leader, worth about $6.5 billion.
Dutch author Leon de Winter talks with SPIEGEL about his new novel, which is set in 2024, the threats mounting against Israel and the assimilation of Muslims in Europe.
SPIEGEL: Mr. de Winter, your new book — “The Right of Return” — is a novel, but it actually describes a political vision. In the book, it is the year 2024, and Israel has shrunk to just a few square kilometers around Tel Aviv, which is surrounded by enemies. Are you simply playing with some ideas here or is this a serious prediction?
Leon de Winter: Both. Israel is menaced by two threats. On the one hand, by the hatred of its enemies, which today is primarily stirred up by Iran, and on the other hand, by the erosion spreading throughout Israeli society. There are three groups that have little in common: the Orthodox Jews, the Israeli Arabs and the secular Jews, who currently make up the majority of the population. But this majority is dwindling. The conflict between these three lifestyles is every bit as much of a threat — if not even more dangerous — to the existence of Israel as its outside menaces […]
International investment services compliant with Islamic financial law are competing for a slice of the oil revenue in the Middle East. With the price of crude oil almost doubling in the last year, countries with large Muslim populations and connections – including Singapore, Hong Kong, London, Birmingham and Paris – are vying to act as key centres of expertise in the new boom. A spokesperson for the British Standard & Poor’s claims that, By preparing the ground for Islamic finance, France can help financial innovation and benefit from the deep pockets of Middle Eastern investors as liquidity has dried up elsewhere in the global financial markets. Generally, more and more businesses have come forward to meet demand for Shariah-compliant services. Approximately two-thirds of the world-wide market for Islamic bonds (sukuks), an estimated $100 billion, is currently based in Malaysia, where the industry first took off. Outside of Asia and the Middle East, Britain in particular, is seen as the clear leader, worth about $6.5 billion.
A unique and groundbreaking 1000 Sisters’ voices survey carried out by Ummah Foods, a new generation British Muslim food company, and by SISTERS, the inspirational new magazine for Muslim women, has found that, while an overwhelming majority view Islam as their guide to life, read the Qur’an and observe hijab, they also shop at high street stores, go out to eat and travel regularly. The picture that emerges is one of a population balancing the demands of their faith with the opportunities afforded by life in the UK. Khalid Sharif, founder of Ummah Foods, and Na’ima B. Robert, editor of SISTERS Magazine, began asking some interesting questions about the lives of Muslim women in the UK so they could improve their products for them. The result has been a groundbreaking look at the thoughts, opinions and ideas of Muslim women in the UK. The survey, which is the largest ever, gathered respondents from all walks of life, from around the UK, all eager to give their views on issues as diverse as their relationship with Islam, their opinions of hijab, halal shopping, Internet use, entrepreneurship and of course Muslim men and marriage. One of the most surprising findings was that British Muslim women, married and unmarried, are still romantics at heart.
Na’ima B. Robert is a Muslim author, a wife and mother living in Britain. In the first of her regular articles for Faith Online she discusses the challenge of living the Islamic faith in a secular democracy. As a Muslim woman living in the embrace of a vibrantly secular, liberal democratic society, you are constantly caught between two very different worlds. On the one hand, there is your faith, Islam, a religion and way of life revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) over 1400 years ago, a religion that affects the way you think, the way you act, the way you speak, dress and eat. It is the world of worship and sacrifice, of duties and voluntary charity. It is the world of faith. Then, on the other hand, there is the dunya, the “worldly life”, where you live, work, study, shop, entertain and unwind. It is a world of trends and societal pressures, deadlines and promotions, summer sales and summer holidays. It is, in a nutshell, the world that almost everyone else lives in full-time. And, interestingly enough, it is one that many non-Muslims are surprised that religious Muslim women inhabit at all. Despite the number of observant Muslim women active in public life in Britain (Respect party vice-chair Salma Yaqoob, editor and OBE Sara Joseph, activist and journalist Yvonne Ridley, novelist and dramatist Leila Aboulela to name but a few), media representations often fail to be anything more than stereotypes with subtle and not-so-subtle messages that Muslim women are oppressed, powerless, ghettoised, uneducated, devoid of ambition, with an unhealthy addiction to black clothes.