German Muslims to revive “Open Day Mosques”

Muslims Coordination Council is now planning to introduce Islamic teachings in German schools after approval by the German government to teach Islam in schools by German speakers and teachers. The Muslims Coordination Council . The spokesman also noted that the 12th open mosques day will be conducted under the slogan “mosques, places for worship and peace.” The council is now planning to introduce Islamic teachings in German schools after approval by the German government to teach Islam in schools by German speakers and teachers.

World Bulletin

German Terror Arrests: From the Rhine River to the Jihad

The arrest of two Muslim extremists at the Cologne-Bonn airport last week shows that German converts continue to volunteer for the jihad. Investigators fear that some are on their way back now that they’ve received training. It was Friday morning, shortly before 7:00 a.m., and all passengers had boarded KLM flight 1804 at the Cologne-Bonn airport. The small Fokker 50 was ready for takeoff. This particular Friday was a special day for devout Muslims, being one of the last days of the holy month of Ramadan. According to the literature distributed by radical Islamists, anyone who completes his journey to Jihad during Ramadan will go straight to paradise. At least two of the passengers — Abdirazak B., 24, and Omar D., 23, both Germans with Somali backgrounds — were aware of this.

But they weren’t the only ones. Criminal investigators from the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia had been trailing the two men — and when officials found a letter from a relative of Omar D. in the physics student’s luggage indicating that he had decided to join the “holy war,” they decided to strike. The plane was prevented from taking off and the pair’s path to Jihad came to an end on the Cologne-Bonn runway. The arrest of the duo was the result of an ongoing covert operation run by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany’s domestic intelligence agency. Investigators have long been keeping tabs on Islamists from Germany as they head for the Hindu Kush to train for the Jihad. For a number of weeks now, agents have maintained surveillance on a group of young fanatics in the Bonn region who are closely linked to the two detained German-Somalis. All these men are preparing to leave their lives in Germany behind them. Some have already given notice for their apartments, others have said farewell to friends. Abdirazak B. and Omar D. were more or less the vanguard of this group. At times the investigating agencies had even considered confiscating their passports. The suspects wanted to travel to Entebbe in Uganda, and investigators have reason to believe that they planned to continue from there to Pakistan. There was even talk of a possible attack against one of Uganda’s many well known Jewish institutions, a development that led German officials to alert the US government and the Israelis.

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Muslim graves desecrated as Austria swings to the right

Police are blaming far-Right extremists for desecrating a Muslim cemetery in Austria, in the same weekend that the political parties of the far-Right made huge gains in the country’s general election. More than 90 graves were severely damaged at the cemetery in Traun, near Linz, some time between Friday night and this morning, in what police believe was an organised action. The offenders sprayed Jewish symbols such as the Star of David over some of the graves, but detectives believe that this may have been a bid to disguise the motives of extremists driven by a hatred of Muslim immigrants. It is not clear whether the incident was in any way related to the elections. A spokesman for the local Islamic Community said that they were deeply shocked at the news of the desecration, which comes as the Muslim religious month of Ramadan nears its end. Austria is meanwhile embarking on a round of soul-searching following its swing to the right in yesterday’s parliamentary elections. The two far-Right parties that captured almost 30 percent of the vote, the Freedom Party and the Alliance for the Future of Austria, have campaigned on an vehemently anti-immigration ticket and some of their slogans were deemed xenophobic by critics. Bojan Pancevski reports.

Muslim graves defaced after far-right election win

Over 90 Muslim graves were desecrated on Sunday in the central Austrian town of Traun, near Linz, close to the Czech border. The gravestones were knocked over and in certain cases painted with black spray paint, Austrian security authorities said in a statement. Jewish symbols such as the star of David were also painted on the graves, as well as “Menorah” or Jewish candelabra. Austrian authorities suspect right-wing extremist neo-Nazis were responsible for the violence. The cemetery’s undertaker said a sticker of a right-wing organisation was removed from the entrance of the cemetery last week. The incident took place the same day as two far-right political parties made substantial gains in Austria’s parliamentary election. At the weekend the far-right Freedom Party and the New Alliance for the Future of Austria received a combined 29.1 percent of the vote. The Social Democrats won the polls with 30 percent but they and the conservative People’s Party suffered their worst results since 1945.

Terrorism: Politicians Warn of Increased Terror Threat in Germany

Politicians in Germany warned Saturday of the dangers posed by Islamists, following the arrest of two terrorist suspects and a police search for two others. The arrests took place in Cologne on Friday when a Somali and a German of Somali descent were escorted off a plane bound for the Dutch city Amsterdam. German prosecutors on Saturday were granted arrest warrants for the two men by a local court. Chief prosecutor Fred Apostel said evidence provided by police showed the pair “were planning to carry out an attack in the near future.” Security sources said the pair had been under observation for months and were planning to travel via the Netherlands to a training camp for militants on the Pakistan-Afghan border. A search of their apartment had turned up letters in which the two men, who are in their 20s, had declared their readiness to die in a jihad or holy war, the sources said. Police apparently stepped in to prevent them from joining their comrades in the Islamic Jihad Union, (IJU), often described as a successor to the terrorist network al Qaeda.

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Changing Ramadan rituals: American Muslims Shifting Focus From Food to Community

The Washington Post highlights the change in Ramadan rituals and traditions over the course of moving from predominantly Muslim countries to the United States. Particularly since September 11th, 2001, Muslim Americans are using the holy month to engage in activism, organizing community iftars, holding Islam-related film viewings, lectures, and inter-faith events. These changes reflect the differences of being the minority in a majority Christian country, where Ramadan festivities are not made visible by default, but encourage Muslim Americans to actively organize such events. The article follows the cases of several Muslim Americans from various backgrounds, who discuss not the Americanization of Ramadan, but ways in which they have melded the two in their own lives.

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Religion Study: ‘There Is Absolutely No Reason for Islamophobia’

Germany’s Muslims are pious and yet more tolerant than most assume, a new study has found. Its authors are urging authorities to draw the country’s Muslim children away from Koran schools by offering public religious instruction. Dr. Martin Rieger of the Bertelman Stiftung thinks Muslim children should have their own religion classes. Rieger was the director of the study “Muslim Religiosity in Germany,” which was provided to SPIEGEL ONLINE ahead of its scheduled publication on Friday. The study reveals that 90 percent of Muslims define themselves as religous. In contrast a separate survey by the nonprofit German think tank found that only 70 percent of the entire population admitted to being religous. “We need to get the younger Muslims out of the Koran schools,” Rieger urges, “and offer them professionally taught classes on Islam.” Calls like that are welcome news to Yunus Ulusoy from the Center for Turkish Studies in Essen, which keeps track of the religiosity of Turkish Muslims. It’s a demand, Ulusoy says, “that we’ve been making for decades because, for Muslims, faith is a very important part of their identity.” In his opinion, if the school system doesn’t pay any attention to this fact, it only hurts the chances of successfully integrating Muslims into German culture. Even Robert Zollitsch, president of the German Bishops’ Conference, the body responsible for the country’s Catholic Churches, backs the plan. On Thursday, Zollitsch voiced his support for the call for Islamic religious instruction and the construction of “fitting Muslim houses of worship that are well-integrated into their respective urban plans.” Peter Wensierski and Christina Hebel report.

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Credit Crunch ‘Will Help Islamic Banking’

The religion-based system’s attitude to risk stands it in good stead compared to Western banks.
Islamic finance is set to be a big winner in the current financial crisis, BDO Stoy Hayward said today.
The financial advisor claimed that the religion-based system retains large amounts of money available to borrowers. This is in contrast to mainstream lenders, many of whom depend on inter-bank loans for revenue and have therefore been forced to make cutbacks due to the frozen money markets.

Invented in the mid-20th century by muslims looking for a system of finance that was in-keeping with the tenets of their religion, Islamic finance also has a radically different attitude to risk than other forms of banking. Commonly, the system works on a “risk-sharing” model. For example, Islamic insurance works by policyholders paying into and claiming from a central pool, which is used by all – in contrast to the common Western model. With usury from loans banned by Islam, the leverage – or, more simply, the amount of money owed – by Islamic financial institutions also tends to be lower.
Speaking to FT Advisor Dan Taylor, head of banking at BDO Stoy Hayward, explained: “As the risk profile of Islamic Banks is generally lower than conventional western banks, this presents a more solid option for both retail and institutional investors and suggests that dealings with Islamic financial institutions will grow dramatically as people switch to more secure products in this environment.

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La Reussite Islamic School Outside of Paris Threatened To Close

This video piece by Katrin Bennhold of the International Herald Tribune reports on the possible closing of La Reussite Islamic School in Aubervilliers because of its difficulty in self-financing. Yvonne Fazilleau, the school’s principal, claims that without any state subsidies the school may close in February 2009. The school’s yearly tuition is approximately €5000; the school is no longer able to pay its teachers due to declining enrollment. Fazilleau explains that La Reussite teaches the required national curriculum and that all religious-related events and classes are optional (both requirements for state subsidies to private religious schools), but that the school’s physical education classes are sex-segregated. All other classes are mixed.

Video available here.(5:10)

Dutch ministers take action on street youth

Dutch ministers pledged to meet with local officials in neighborhoods where many immigrants live, in an effort to curb the “nuisance” caused by gangs of Dutch Moroccan youth. A heated debate in parliament erupted between home affairs minister Guusje ter Horst and justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin – this following growing unease about the behavior of Dutch-Moroccan youth who appear to be creating “no-go” areas in the city of Gouda. The ministers pledged that no-one ought to get away with making the streets unsafe. Verbal harassment, spitting, and swearing are some of the activities that the Dutch-Moroccan youth are accused of. Unemployment and leaving school early are citied among the reasons why these youth may be engaging in such activities.

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