NCC issues statement upon large-scale distribution of free Obsession DVDs

The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) has issued a statement condemning the film Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West. While the film, which equates Islam with terrorism, was originally released in 2006, 28 million free DVDs were sent to homes in September as part of an anti-Democratic, anti-Obama fear tactic.

“We are deeply troubled by the apparent intent of a film that presents a barrage of violent images, pieced together with the voices of commentators who move from speaking of “radical Islam” to impugning Islam and Muslims more generally and presenting fear-mongering parallels between today’s extremist terrorists and the Nazis. The National Council of Churches and its member churches consistently and adamantly denounce anti-Semitism in all its forms and condemn all forms of ethnic, racial, and religious hatred, including the Islamophobia typified in this film.”

The NCC brings together thirty-five national Protestant and Orthodox churches.

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Italian Mosque Football League Formed

A multi-faith football (soccer) league has been recently organized by an Islamic Center in the city of Milan. The league intended to see several teams vie for the “mosque cup” in the Milan stadium. Eight teams from across the northern Lombardy province completed in a one-day competition organized by the mosque. The initiative is part of celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of its Al-Rahman mosque – the first mosque built in Italy. Teams represented local mosques, Catholic churches, and one team was comprised of inter-faith members.

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New Muslim Party in Antwerp

Two Antwerp residents are making plans to set up a leftist Islamic party with hopes of participating in the 2012 municipal elections.  The party – simply called “Moslem” is being created because its founders feel that the traditional parties neglect the local Muslim community, and call on them only when it is convenient for politicians, said Mohamed Sidi Habibi.  Habibi added: “We are a democratic party that has respect for the law; the law of Belgium and the law of Islam. The spirit of Islam has respect for everything that lives, and that is the heart of Green.”  The new party will also oppose the ban on headscarves for civil servants in Antwerp, saying that “that ban hinders the emancipation of women.”  Habibi’s comments were in reference to a wholly emancipated female Muslim doctor, who was rejected by the University of Antwerp when they were made aware that she wore a headscarf.

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Banned extremists will be named and shamed

Extremists banned from entering the UK will be “named and shamed” under plans to be announced by the Government this week.

In the last three years, 230 people have been barred from entering the country because of their extreme views but they are not currently named publicly. However, the Home Office is expected to issue quarterly figures on exclusions and name some of those who are banned. A Home Office official said: “These measures are aimed at preventing anyone who will stir up tensions in the UK from entering the country. We have not named them in the past but now, when it was in the public interest, we will. They will also be placed on international watch lists which tell other countries that they have been banned and why they were not allowed in. Coming to the UK is a privilege. We don’t want people abusing that by stirring up tensions.”

The bans on high profile figures, including radical Isalmist cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrkhan, only became known after the individuals themselves spoke out against the decisions. Omar Bakri Mohammed was banned from the UK in the wake of the 7/7 terror attacks in London in 2005.

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East London mosque voted top in UK

The Muslim Centre in London’s East End has been voted top mosque in Britain in a national contest. It beat off stiff competition from the prestigious Central London Mosque in Regent’s Park in a poll organised by Islam TV Channel, held at Sunday’s Global Peace and Unity event at the London Excel Arena.

The £50,000 prize money is going towards a centre for Muslim women and girls. The mosque in Whitechapel is in the planning stages of building a new section which will house dedicated services for women.

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Mixed-Gender Swimming Worries Swiss Muslims

A recent Swiss ruling against exempting Muslim students from compulsory, mixed-gender swimming classes has sparked debate over respect of the religious belief of minorities.

On October 24, a Swiss court turned down a request by a Muslim father to exempt his two sons from taking part in mixed swimming classes. The ruling stated that equality between the sexes and the success of integration should be given a priority over religious considerations. Chakib Benmakhloud, head of the Federation of Islamic Organizations, condemned the ruling saying that Muslim students in Europe should be allowed the right to take swimming classes in accordance to their religious beliefs, and that some Western countries violate such principles of religious freedom through courts and laws.

Sheikh Ounis Guergah who heads the fatwa section of the Union of French Islamic Organizations said that people ought to strike a balance; parents must teach their children modesty and dress Islamically, but if this might lead to expulsion from school, it would be in the best interest of students to attend integrated swimming classes.

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National Muslim youthwork coordinator appointed

The Scottish-Islamic Foundation have appointed Scotland’s first national Muslim youth development officer. Faisal Hussein has been selected to fulfil the role for the next three years. The job’s remit is to support, extend and network current provision for Muslim youth across Scotland. This includes working with local groups as well as mosques. The post was created through funding gained by SIF through the Scottish Government’s Race, Religion and Refugee Integration fund. Hussein has had a longstanding experience in Muslim youth work. Formerly he was the driver behind the establishment of the Yusuf Youth Initiative in Dundee, where he, along with other local young Muslims, established a multi-functional youth centre within a couple of years with very little public or voluntary sector funding.

Welsh Tories bid for Muslim vote

Welsh Tories are making an attempt to bring the country’s Muslims into their fold. In the past, these communities have mostly seen the Labour Party as their natural home but this is now changing, Welsh Conservative leader Nick Bourne told the inaugural meeting of the Welsh Conservative Forum in Cardiff. “Following our landslide defeat in 1997, the Conservative Party recognised that it had to change,” Mr Bourne said. “If we were to regain power, we had to become more representative of the people we wanted to serve in government. A party capable of representing all Britain and all Britons. “On his election as Leader, David Cameron promised to reach out to minority ethnic communities and to recognise the contribution immigrants have made to our prosperity and culture. “And I am determined that we should do so in Wales as well. I believe the Welsh Conservative Muslim Forum marks an important milestone on the road to increasing Conservative engagement with the Muslim community. “In many ways, Muslim values are Conservative values. We all believe in strong families, in enterprise, in self reliance and in individual responsibility.

Oldham MP named as new immigration minister

The Greater Manchester MP at the centre of a row over Muslim women wearing a veil has been named the new immigration minister. Phil Woolas, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, prompted anger in some sections of the Muslim community two years ago when he said some people could find veils `frightening and intimidating’. And earlier this year he suggested that the practice of first-cousin marriage in Britain’s Pakistani community was leading to birth defects. Mr Woolas – who is one of Labour’s most vocal critics of the British National Party – has said his efforts to raise awareness of first-cousin marriages won support from doctors and members of the Asian community. He takes on his new Home Office job as part of the wide-ranging government reshuffle announced by Gordon Brown.

The Madina Mosque is undertaking a 4 million-dollar renovation in Toronto

Toronto architect Zak Ghanim designed the upgraded 25,000 square-foot mosque to accommodate the tremendous growth of the central Toronto Muslim community and to give the location a traditional Islamic look with minaret, domes, and adorning crescents. The new mosque will feature a large prayer hall for thousands of worshippers, an upper mezzanine for segregated women’s prayer, and seven domes on the roof — six of them glass skylights. Thus far, Hanif Shaikh, president of the Madina Mosque, notes the changes have been readily accepted within the broader community. There has been no community protest over its renovations, no rejection by the city, no contentious appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board, and no vandalism. The remodelling is expected to take two years.

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