Fox Receives Overwhelming Response to ‘Simpsons’ Episode on Islamophobia

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on Muslims and other people of conscience to thank the creator of “The Simpsons” and the Fox television network for a recent episode that used comedy to challenge Islamophobia. The recently aired episode, titled “Mypods and Boomsticks” features a Muslim character named Bashir and his family, who face prejudice after moving to Springfield. While the character of Homer Simpson wrongly suspects Bashir’s family in a terror plot, the character of Bart befriends Bashir and defends him from bullies. “Because of its acceptance in popular culture, comedy is often one of the best vehicles for challenging stereotypes and intolerance. Fox and Matt Groening are to be congratulated for tackling the disturbing phenomenon of Islamophobia,” said CAIR Executive director Nihad Awad.

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Muslim fiesta to given official status in Spain

The government of Melilla announced that in 2 years time, the Muslim religions celebration of Eid will be given official status in Melilla. This marks the first time that part of the territory of Spain will give official status to a non-Catholic religion celebration. It is expected that Cueta will also begin to officially recognize Eid shortly.

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Muslim police ‘are in short supply’ – survey

Muslims are in short supply in the police force, particularly in specialist units like counter-terrorism, a survey by the National Association of Muslim Police (NAMP) and Demos has revealed. Of the 2374 officers working in counter-terrorism, just 27 are Muslims. And of the 4,630 inspectors and chief inspectors, just 30 are Muslims. The survey pointed out that while 3.3 per cent of the UK population are Muslims, they only make up 0.75 per cent of the police service. “Muslim officers are primarily concentrated in lower ranks, mainly constable. In specialist departments Muslim officers are largely absent. The obvious point is the lack of Muslim officers involved in countering terrorism, given the threat at the present time from violent extremist Islamist groups linked to al-Qaida,” NAMP said.
While acknowledging that it was not only Muslims that could understand terrorist activity, NAMP added that “officers with a cultural, religious or linguistic understanding of the individuals most likely to be involved in these groups could be an invaluable head start”. Recruiting more Muslim officers in this sector was “a matter of priority”.

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Anti-Muslim Attitudes Rise in Europe

Winter 2008

Prejudice against Jews and Muslims is increasing in Europe amid heightened worries about globalization and immigration, according to a new international poll. Nearly half of Spanish respondents reported unfavorable attitudes toward Jews, followed by 36% of Poles, 34% of Russians, 25% of Germans and 20% of French people interviewed, according to a spring 2008 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. In all of those countries, the percentage of people with a poor opinion of Jews has risen since 2006. While much of the upswing in anti-Jewish sentiment has occurred in the past two years, the increase in anti-Muslim feeling has taken place over a longer period of time, according to the Pew report. In addition, anti-Muslim attitudes are far more pervasive than anti-Jewish attitudes in most of the countries surveyed. Fifty-two percent of Spanish people expressed a negative opinion of Muslims, a view shared by 50% of Germans, 46% of Poles, 38% of French people and 32% of Russians. “There may be some backlash toward minority groups going on in Europe as a consequence of the EU’s [European Union’s] expansion and globalization,” Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center, told the International Herald Tribune. The attitudes reflected in the Pew survey have found expression in such events as an anti-Islam conference that took place Sept. 19-20 in Cologne, Germany’s fourth-largest city. But that gathering did not come off as its organizers had planned. Backers of Pro-Cologne, which had set up the “Anti-Islamization Congress,” found themselves massively outnumbered by roughly 40,000 protesters, some of whom obstructed train lines and roads into the city. Although the protests were mostly nonviolent, a small group of demonstrators smashed the windows of a riverboat where Pro-Cologne had scheduled a press conference. Because skirmishes continued between members of both sides, police shut down the event about 45 minutes into the Sept. 20 Pro-Cologne rally, according to Der Spiegel.

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Muslims and city politics: When town halls turn to Mecca

In cities all over Europe, mayors are fretting about the coming religious festivities. No, not just Christmas lights. They want to ensure hygiene and order in the slaughter of sheep for the feast of Eid al-Adha on December 8th. This remembers the readiness of Abraham—the patriarch revered by all three monotheistic faiths—to sacrifice his son. Muslims often sacrifice a lamb, whose meat is shared with family members and the poor.

In the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek, where the dominant culture is that of Morocco, a circular from the district authorities reminds residents not to kill animals at home. It invites them to a “temporary abattoir” that will function for 48 hours in a council garage. Molenbeek is one of four areas of Brussels which have set up makeshift slaughterhouses, each with a capacity of at least 500 sheep. In practice, home killing is hard to stop, despite vows by the city authorities to prosecute offenders.

In places like Molenbeek, a few miles away from the European Union’s main institutions, talk of the continent’s transformation into Eurabia doesn’t sound absurd. Although Muslims make up less than 4% of the EU’s total population, their concentration in urban areas is altering the scene in some European cities.

In some of these places bad relations between Muslims, non-Muslims and the authorities are creating political opportunities for the far right. In east London, for example, arguments are raging over plans for a “mega-mosque” near the site of the 2012 Olympics. In rough parts of northern Paris, there are fights between Muslims and Jews. In Italian cities, where Muslims are numerous but not many can vote, Catholics and secularists have united to stop the erection of mosques.

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More mosques to be built in France

In the next several years, the construction of large mosques will accelerate in France, in Marseille, Strasbourg, Nantes, Paris, Tours, Saint-Denis, Cergy-Pontoise, and other French locations. Le Monde suggests that approximately 200 large mosques will open, leading to the closure of 2000 small prayer rooms around the territory.

At the same time, the Catholic Institute of Paris will graduate their second class of Muslim students destined to be imams familiar with “French secularism.”

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Muslims criticize ‘Lego’ Islamic terrorist toys

A range of Lego-style fighting figurines – including an Islamic terrorist militant – has sparked outrage among Muslims. The toy mini-figures, made by American Will Chapman, includes a masked terrorist bandit with an assault rifle, grenade launcher and belt of explosives. Shocked by the playthings, British Muslim organisation the Ramadhan Foundation has branded the figurines “absolutely disgusting”. Chief executive Mohammed Shafiq said the figures were “glorifying terrorism”. He said: “I don’t think there’s any difference between someone that shouts hatred through a megaphone and someone that creates a doll that glorifies terrorists.”

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DNA study shows Spain’s Jewish and Muslim ancestry

The genetic signatures of Spaniards and Portuguese are providing evidence of the mass conversion of Muslims and Sephardic Jews to Catholicism during the 15th and 16th centuries. Eleven percent were found to have DNA reflecting Moorish ancestors, according to geneticists. The finding bears weight on two different views of Spanish history – that Spanish civilization is Catholic and other influences are foreign, or that Spain has been thoroughly enriched by drawing from all three of its historical cultures, including Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim. The genetic studies were based on examining the Y-chromosome in people, as the Y-chromosome remains unchanged from father to son, detecting similarities in those in the present population with those just after the expulsions of the 15th and 16th centuries.

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Terror threat in the Netherlands ‘substantial’

According to Dutch government counter-terrorism chief Tjibbe Joustra, the threat of a terrorist attack in the Netherlands is higher than ever. At present, the threat level rests at its second highest level – “substantial.” Justra, however, said that he believes the level should be set to “substantial plus.” He dies not say what specific threats have lead to this occasion.

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Vatican backs right of Muslims to build mosques in Italy

As long as mosques are used as places of worship, Italy’s Muslims should have the right to build more mosques, said Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi, Vatican Cultural Council chief. “If (the mosque) becomes something different, civil society has a right to intervene. Here we are talking about a western society that distinguishes between religious and political spheres, however the mosque carries out a charitable function which is a special quality so that religion also has a social function,” said Ravasi. He added that a mosque ought not to turn into a social center, because this leads to a loss of its intended function.

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