CAIR commends Florida Jewish group for condemning hate speech

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) commended the Florida office of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) concerning the anti-Islam hate of Dutch politicial Geert Wilders, who was recently given a standing ovation at a Florida synagogue.

At the end of April, CAIR called on members of the Jewish community to condemn “Nazi-like” statements by Wilders, who claimed that “Islam is not a religion” and “the right to religious freedom should not apply to this totalitarian ideology called Islam” at a Palm Beach, FL synagogue. He received applause and a standing ovation from his statements. In a statement released by the ADL Florida Regional Director, Andrew Rosenkranz said: “The ADL strongly condemns Geert Wilders’ message of hate against Islam as inflammatory, divisive and antithetical to American democratic ideals. This rhetoric is dangerous and incendiary, and wrongly focuses on Islam as a religion, as opposed to the very real threat of extremist, radical Islamists.”

Islam in the Nordic and Baltic Countries

Although Muslims are now an important presence in Europe, little is known about the Muslim communities that exist in the Nordic and Baltic regions of Europe. This is the first comprehensive and detailed study of the history, context and development of Islamic institutions and Muslim groups in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, and includes chapters on Islam in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

With contributions by academics with long experience of the Muslim communities in question based on original research, this volume presents new and important perspectives within a comparative and regional framework. Islam in Nordic and Baltic Countries will be an important reference work for students of European history and Islamology, and will be valuable to all researchers and scholars interested in the development of Islam and Muslim communities at the strategic heart of Northern Europe.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
1. Islam and Muslims in the Nordic and Baltic Countries 2. The Faroe Islands and Iceland 3. Norway 4. Denmark 5. Sweden 6. Finland 7. Estonia 8. Latvia 9. Lithuania List of Contributors

Contributors
Aysha Özkan is a PhD student in Religious Studies at Södertörn University College in Sweden. She is currently writing her doctorate thesis about Muslim women in Estonia. Her main scholarly interests are contemporary expressions of Islam in Europe and issues concerning identity.

Tuomas Martikainen, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Researcher of the Academy of Finland working at the Department of Comparative Religion in Åbo Akademi University, Finland. His areas of speciality include religion in modern Europe, especially Finland, and religion in diaspora. His current project is from First to Second Generation Islam in Finland (2007-2010). His publications include Immigrant Religions in Local Society (2004, Åbo Akademi University Press) and several articles in international journals and books.

Christine M. Jacobsen is a post doctoral fellow at the department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo. Her work is in the field of international migration and ethnic relations with a focus on Muslim minorities in Europe. Jacobsen has published Tilhørighetens mange former. Unge muslimer i Norge (Pax: Oslo, 2002), and several articles the role of Islam in the lives of young Muslims in Norway. She defended her thesis Staying on the Straight Path: Religious Identities and Practices among Young Muslims in Norway in 2006.

Göran Larsson is post-doctoral researcher in the national research program, LearnIT, funded by the Knowledge Foundation. He earned his Ph.D in religious studies at Göteborg University, Sweden, in 2000. He has published several articles and books on Muslim in the West (both in history and present time), media and religion, youth culture and religion in Swedish and English. His book, Ibn García’s shu’ubiyya, Letter: Ethnic and Theological Tensions in Medieval al-Andalus, appeared from Brill Academic Press in the spring of 2003 and in 2006 he published an introductory book on the Koran in Swedish. Currently Larsson is an associate professor in the history of religions at the department of religious studies and theology, Göteborg University

Ingvar Svanberg is Lecturer at Södertörn University College and Senior Research Fellow at Department of Eurasian Studies, Uppsala University. His research interests includes Eurasian culture, religion and history. He has written numerous books and articles.

Emin Poljarevic is a Ph.D. student in Political and Social Science at the European University Institute (Italy) and a junior research fellow at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and the Silk Road Studies Program (Sweden). His primary research field is the development of Islamic movements in the post-Soviet space. He has previously published reports and articles on security and organized crime in Central Asia, Baltic region and the Balkans.

Egdunas Racius is currently an Associate Professor at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science of Vilnius University, Lithuania, where he chairs Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies section. He also is an Adjunct Professor in Islamic Studies at the Baltic Defence College, Tartu, Estonia. Racius earned his PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Helsinki, Finland.

Iceland: First full Icelandic Muslims marry in the country

For the first time in Iceland, a fully Icelandic Muslim couple was married. The occasion is an important moment for the Muslim community in Iceland, where previously, the country’s very small Muslim population had only seen converts married in the mosque. The country’s first “all-Icelandic” couple married at the Muslim Association Mosque. The had of the association, Salmann Tamimi, cited the occasion as significant because “two or three years ago you could count (the number of Muslims) more or less on the fingers of one hand, but now there are between 30 and 40 (Muslims in the association).” Tamimi says that he looks forward to a bright future for Muslims in Iceland, and hopes to see an “increase in the faith.”

Muslim women allowed to swim in private swimming pool in northern Italy

Muslim women in the northern Italian province of Bergamo will now have private access to a local swimming pool, where they are able to swim freely without traditional clothing and without the company of men. At the Siloe pool, men are not permitted to swim at designated times each week, when women’s-only hours are in effect. During such times, Muslim women can swim without their veils, burqas, or other garments usually worn in the company of non-relative males. The Siloe pool is owned by the diocese of Bergamo, who made the arrangement with local Muslim women; but the pool is also open to all Italian women during designated times.

CAIR asks US Muslim prayer leaders to urge swine flu precautions

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on Islamic Religious Leaders and Imams to use daily and Friday prayers in the nation’s mosques and Islamic centers as a platform for providing information about preventing the spread of swine flu, or the H1N1 virus. CAIR said that imams are in a unique position to offer public health information, and suggests that religious and spiritual leaders stay up-to-date on the spread of the virus in their areas. “In times of crisis, public health and safety takes precedence over normal actions and activities that could lead to the spread of infection,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. “Imams, because of their access to those attending mosques every day, are well-placed to offer advice to community members based on input from public health authorities.” Awad added that the prophet Muhammad encouraged actions designed to prevent the spread of contagious diseases, and that there is a religious obligation to take part in striving to protect human health.

Accused ringleader says “Allah Will Be Victorious” as Halimi trial begins in France

Ilan Halimi was kidnapped Jan. 20, 2006, tied up in a cellar and tortured for 24 days in the suburb of Bagneux. His kidnappers tried unsuccessfully to extort a $600,000 ransom from his family. Halimi was found naked, handcuffed and covered with burn marks near railroad tracks south of Paris Feb. 13, 2006. He died en route to a hospital.

His murder case went to trial in Paris last week, with 27 people charged with participating in the abduction, torture and killing of Halimi, a 23-year-old mobile-phone salesperson. The lead defendant, Youssouf Fofana, is said to have admitted that he set out to kidnap a Jew and hold him for ransom. There are 27 accused in the case. On April 30 Halimi’s family walked out after Fofana made intimidating comments, saying he had friends in the courtroom who would “take pictures to identify people.” The case has been called a symptom of growing anti-Semitism in the suburban ghettos where the defendants, most of them the children of black and Muslim immigrants, live. The trial is expected to last 10 weeks.

Europe unfriendly to Muslims, Princeton scholar says

Many Muslims today struggle to integrate into Western society, but those in the U.S. are better off than those in Europe, said Islamic scholar Ralph Ghadban during a lecture Monday at Ohio State. “Many of the millions of Muslims that have moved to the West wish not to integrate into society,” Ghadban said. As a member of the Institute for Advanced Studies of Princeton University, Ghadban spoke in a small conference room in Hagerty Hall, with only 15 people in attendance. The lecture, “Islamic Law of Muslim Minorities in the West” was sponsored by the Middle East Studies Center and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. “[Ghadban] is not a traditional scholar,” said Arabic professor Georges Tamer. “He has practical experience that combines Islamic studies with political science and philosophy.” Ghadban said that during their integration to the West, Muslims are confronted with new norms and customs, as well as a new structure of society. Most importantly, they must abide by a secular law system, which they have never or barely been confronted with in their home countries, he said. A third of the 1.2 to 1.4 billion Muslims in the world are minorities in 149 non-Islamic countries, and 25 to 30 million of them live in Western Europe and North America, he said. With the exception of black converts, the majority of Muslims living in the West came to the Western world during the modern migration period of the second half of the 20th century. He said that Muslim immigrants follow Sharia law, which is a form of Islamic justice often criticized for its brutal physical punishments, including flogging and execution by stoning. Sharia punishment is often enforced against women found guilty of offenses such as premarital sex and adultery. Mariam Khan reports.

General: ‘Swine’ flu name causing some offense to Jews and Muslims

According to some Muslims and Jewish people of faith, the common name of the H1N1 virus, “Swine Flu,” is offensive in its reference to pigs, because the animal is considered unclean to Muslims and Jews. Some Israeli health officials have urged changing the name to “Mexican flu.” In the United States, the Center for Disease Control has recommended identifying the strain by its official and scientific name. Eating pigs and pork products is forbidden in both the Jewish and Muslim traditions.

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Swiss high court rules UDC Muslim posters not racist

The Swiss federal high court has ruled that posters of Muslims prostrating in front of the Swiss federal palace, with the slogan “use your heads” is not racist. The court argued, with one judge noting reservations, that the posters do not fulfill legal requirements for racial discrimination.

The court said, in its decision not to hear a case brought by public authorities in Valais, that the interpretation of the law should not be so narrow as to endanger freedom of expression. The law makes it illegal to humiliate or use racial prejudice against others via images, text and other means of communication. The judges noted that no member of the Muslim community pressed charges.

“Arab House” intuition publishes Spain’s first Muslim guide

Spain has released a guide on the Muslim community in the country. The guide includes such data such as demographic information and information about mosques and/or places of worship. According to the guide, there are approximately 1.3 Muslims in Spain, with Moroccans, Algerians, Pakistanis, and Senegalese making up the majority. Previous estimates put the number at about 1.5 million out of a total of 40 million in the country. Approximately 300,000 Muslims live in the north-eastern province of Catalonia, 120,000 in Andalusia, and 80,000 in the capital city of Madrid. The guide also shows that there are nearly 400 mosques and prayer spaces in the country, but only 13 “big” mosques and Islamic centers. The guide was released by the Arab House Institution of the immigration Ministry.