Halal food on US University campuses

Islam Online examines the availability of halal, or Islamically permissible foods on various US university and college campuses. At Stanford University, halal food is widely available on several places of the campus – though it is not already made, but must be done so on-demand. At Harvard University, already-made halal meals on campus have been stimulated by support from wealthy Arab countries. However, such availability is not always the case on other campuses with growing a growing Muslim student body. A Yale student reflects on the dining halls of the university’s New Haven, Connecticut campus. “I didn’t find any halal grocery or meat store on the campus. I had no car and we were frustrated,” reported Imtiaz Ali. Georgia Tech students reported sticking to vegetarian meals, without a halal option at school.

Full-text article continues here. (Some news sites may require registration)

Vatican Thanks Muslims for Faith Return

Senior Vatican cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran has thanked Muslims for brining religion back into the public life in Europe. “Muslims, having become a significant minority in Europe, were the ones who demanded space for God in society,” said Tauran. Vatican officials have long bemoaned the increasing absence of religion in secular Europe. Tauran echoed calls for inter-faith dialogue citing the rise of Islam being discussed, and Muslims becoming active in public life. “Inter-religious dialogue rallies all who are on the path to God or to the Absolute,” said Tauran.

Full-text article continues here. (Some news sites may require registration)

British Muslims have become a mainstay of the global ‘jihad’

More than 4,000 British Muslims have passed through terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to security agencies, providing a fertile recruitment pool for the Islamist international jihad. Men from the UK’s Kashmiri community have joined groups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba, the prime suspects in the Mumbai attacks, which have been fighting against Indian forces in Kashmir. Others from a Pakistani background are in the ranks of the Taliban and other groups taking part in action against British and Nato forces in Afghanistan. A former commander of the British force in Helmand, Brigadier Ed Butler, has revealed that his troops had come across British Muslims in southern Afghanistan. “There are British passport holders who live in the UK who are being found in places such as Kandahar,” he said. “There is a link between Kandahar and urban conurbations in the UK. This is something the military understands, but the British public does not.” Last year, RAF Nimrod intelligence-gathering aircraft tracking Taliban radio signals in Afghanistan heard insurgent fighters speaking with Yorkshire and Midlands accents. As well as fighters joining their ranks, groups such as Lashkar also benefit from funds raised on their behalf in the UK by the Muslim community. It has also been claimed that some of the aid money donated for the earthquake disaster relief three years ago was siphoned off for militant groups. Lashkar, previously known as Jaish-e-Mohammed, has forged links with al-Qa’ida in Pakistan and are said to have shared training camps. One of their most famous recruits was Rashid Rauf, accused of being a key member in the plot to blow up transatlantic airliners, who was recently reported to have been killed in an American missile strike. Kim Sengupta reports.

Full-text article continues here. (Some news sites may require registration)

Uneasy Peace for Berlin’s New Ahmadi Mosque

Berlin’s first Ahmadi mosque opened its doors in the former eastern side of the German capital last month. The building and the religious group are putting religious tolerance to the test. A 13-meter-high (43-foot) minaret competes for attention alongside pillars advertising the fast food outlets at a busy intersection in Pankow, a north-eastern suburb of Berlin. Inside the mosque, the call to Friday prayer echoes as men fall to their knees. Upstairs, women turn to the loudspeakers relaying the imam’s chant. It is not audible from the streets, where the mosque draws suspicious disapproval. The Khadija Mosque, which opened on Oct. 16, has met with strong opposition ever since its inception in 2006. The first purpose-built mosque to open in former East Germany, it provides a new center for Berlin’s Ahmadi community. Ahmadiyya Islam is a reform movement founded in India in the 19th century. The Ahmadi are not recognized by mainstream Muslims, and many have left Pakistan where they face religious persecution.

Full-text article continues here. (Some news sites may require registration)

Mumbai attacks: How young Britons are radicalised in Pakistan

Reports that some of the terrorists who attacked Mumbai were British has focused attention on the UK Muslims who receive military training at extremist madrassas in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In this report, filed three years ago, Telegraph correspondents expose how young Britons travel to al-Qaeda camps to learn how to destroy the West: Deep inside an anonymous office building at the heart of the Pakistani Army’s sprawling Rawalpindi headquarters last week, a metal door swung open and two smartly dressed British officials stepped into a spartan, windowless room. Sitting before them at a bare table, clad in traditional attire of shalwar kamis, loose trousers and shirt, was a slight, bearded figure who was handcuffed and flanked by stern-faced armed guards. The visitors were members of MI5, Britain’s security service. Officers of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) assumed that their business suits, worn despite the sweltering heat, concealed pistols and recording devices.

One spoke fluent Urdu, the other was a veteran anti-terrorism specialist. They had flown into Pakistan’s main airport outside the capital, Islamabad, to interview two terror suspects who they believed could hold the key to preventing further deadly al-Qaeda attacks on London. The handcuffed man in front of them was Zeeshan Hyder Siddiqui, 25, who had been captured two months earlier in Peshawar, in the war-torn north-west Frontier Province. When interrogated by the ISI, he revealed that he had been involved in a failed plot to bomb pubs, restaurants and railway stations in London while he was living in Hounslow. Awaiting the MI5 officers in an adjoining questioning room was Naeem Noor Khan, alias Abu Talha, 26, who was arrested in Lahore a year ago. He had confessed to interrogators that his al-Qaeda cell had been planning to attack Heathrow and paralyse London by carrying out explosions across the Tube network. Although not a British citizen, he had visited the country several times, renting a flat in Reading in late 2003 beneath a main Heathrow flight path.

A note found in Siddiqui’s possession stated that one of his accomplices had been unwilling to proceed with the attack, which the terrorists had called Operation Wagon, and it had been called off. Now the MI5 officers were hoping Siddiqui might provide valuable information about the mission that probably replaced it: the dispatching of suicide bombers on to the streets of London that left 56 people dead on the morning of July 7, Almost all roads in the inquiry to track down the extended al-Qaeda network behind the 7/7 atrocities lead to Pakistan. The country has become, as one senior Pakistani intelligence official told The Sunday Telegraph last week, an “incubator where al-Qaeda and Taliban remnants continue to flourish and regroup”. Many of the young British-born Muslims who return to the land of their parents and grandparents come simply to visit relatives or to discover their roots. But some come to learn how to destroy the West. Toby Harnden and Massoud Ansari report.

Full-text article continues here. (Some news sites may require registration)

Wilders: Champion of freedom or anti-Islamic provocateur? Both.

The Wall Street Journal takes a look at Geert Wilders, controversial Dutch lawmaker and creator of the inflammatory anti-Islam film ‘Fitna.’ It examines the dualistic conceptions of Wilders – as an advocate of free speech and secular values, or an anti-Islam and anti-Muslim provocateur. While Wilders acknowledges that the majority of Muslims in the West are not terrorist or violent people, he believes this “doesn’t matter that much” because Muslims in America and Europe are mostly immigrants, and are unable to leave their own cultures behind, which results in a loss of European and national identity and culture. More about the recent debates about Islam and Muslims in the Netherlands, with particular interest to Mr. Wilders, can be read at the link below.

Full-text article continues here. (Some news sites may require registration)

‘Terror Acts Belong to Daily Life in India’

On Friday, residents in Mumbai, India were still dealing with the aftermath of the terror attacks that left 143 dead. In Germany, commentators were wondering whether the incident puts India’s rising economy in jeopardy — and whether it was a harbinger of more violence to come. On Friday, the battle to regain control of the city of Mumbai was continuing as special forces regained control of one of the luxury hotels attacked by militants on Wednesday. Commando units stormed a Jewish center and are soldiers are deployed at another hotel, where at least one militant is still holed up. While most of the 143 killed in the coordinated attacks were Indians, there are some Europeans among the dead. On Friday France sent a special flight to Mumbai to bring back up to 150 Europeans caught up in the terror attacks. Ties between Europe and India have been increasingly close in recent years — a fact underscored by the presence of seven EU members of parliament who were in Mumbai on a trade delegation at the time of the attacks. On Friday some German commentators wonder whether this relationship needs to be reevaluated in the light of this week’s events. Some editorialists suggest treating India with more caution in the near future.

Full-text article continues here. (Some news sites may require registration)

Sikh man loses right to wear turban in driving license photo after EU court ruling

A Sikh man who wanted the right to wear a turban while being photographed for his French drivers’ licence has lost his case in the European Court of Human Rights.

Shingara Mann Singh, a French national, lost a series of appeals in France against the authorities who refused to issue a new license with a photograph of him wearing a turban.

Under French regulations, motorists must appear ‘bareheaded and facing forward’ in their license photographs, but the Sikh religion requires men to wear a turban at all times.

Full text article continues here. (Some news sites may require registration)

Detroit billboard says religious law imposed by Islam threatens rights

Officials with the non-profit United American Committee (UAC) have erected a 48-foot long billboard just outside of Detroit, Michigan. “Sharia Law Threatens America,” says the sign. The UAC says that the billboard’s erection is “dedicated to awakening the nation to the threats of radical Islam (and) educate Americans on the nature of Islamic extremism.” A spokesperson for the organization said that he hopes the billboard’s message inspires Muslims in the US to escape and stand up to the Sharia legal system.

Full text article continues here. (Some news sites may require registration)