Sam Kadri Becomes Second Muslim to Play in the National Hockey League

Eighteen year-old centre Sam Kadri will be the second Muslim to play in the NHL when he suits up for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who selected him with the seventh pick in the 2009 draft. Canada’s increasing diversity hasn’t been quickly reflected in the nation’s favourite sport. Born and raised in Montreal, Ramzi Abid was the first Muslim to play in the NHL after being selected in the second round by the Phoenix Coyotes 11 years ago. He played 68 games for the Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, Atlanta Thrashers and Nashville Predators. But his brief foray into the NHL received little attention. Kadri has received far more attention in Toronto.

“If this has a ripple effect on the young players in the Muslim community to take up hockey, then that’s a wonderful side effect,” Leafs GM Brian Burke said. “If that increases our player pool in a part of society we’re not touching right now, that’s great.”

New Study Finds that Arabs and Blacks Face Biases from Paris Police

An investigative study has found that police in the French capital use racial and ethnic profiling against Arabs and blacks, triggering warnings from officials and experts on the risk of creating a sense of injustice among minorities. The Open Society Justice Initiative carried out the study from November 2007 to May 2008, analyzing police records to find that young Arab and black men are stopped for identity checks far more often than young whites. Nathalie Duhamel, general secretary of the National Commission on Security Ethics, which investigates complaints against the police, says the problem with police profiling is that identity checks leave no trail to call officers to account.

Ottawa Muslim Woman Dies in Yemini Plane Crash

Ensumata Abdoulghani, mother of three, was a passenger on a Yemenia Airbus that crashed into the Indian Ocean. The wife of Muslim teacher Youssouf Mahamoud, left Ottawa just over a week ago to visit her ailing mother in Comoros, her family said. The family is extremely active in the Ottawa Muslim Community. Mahamoud is a well-known teacher at Ecole Ibn Batouta, a French-language Islamic school, and also organizes summer camps and youth-oriented activities.

The Case of Vincent Geisser, Scholar of Islam in the CNRS, divides the University Community

Written by Esther Benbassa, director of the EPHE (École Pratique des Hautes Études), this article claims that the case of French academic Vincent Geisser, currently under investigation for a “lack of obligatory reserve” is dividing the French university system. Detractors claim Geisser is an Islamicist, apologetic for the extremist positions he studies; his defenders point to the necessity of free speech in the academy.

Muslim mayor flies flag for gays in Dutch suburb

A harassed gay minority in a conservative suburb in otherwise tolerant Amsterdam has found a guardian angel in the local Muslim mayor. Ahmed Marcouch, 41, is on a self-appointed mission to end homophobia in Slotervaart, just a stones’ throw from the capital but light-years away from its anything-goes mentality. To make his point, Mayor Marcouch recently invited Amsterdam’s annual Gay Pride parade to pass through his constituency when it takes place in August. “It is necessary to confront this issue, to say that homosexuals are normal people like all of us and that we require them to be respected,” Marcouch told AFP.Slotervaart’s population is mainly of immigrant origin, many of the Muslim faith, like Moroccan-born Marcouch himself who came to the Netherlands in 1979 at age 10. The suburb has recently been in the news for homophobic incidents, with gays being called names, spat on and generally bothered. The community grew particularly restless over gay men using Slotervaart’s De Oeverlanden public park as a place to meet and have sex, a practice known as “cruising”. After gay lobbyists made complaints over incidents of homophobic violence, the local council erected signs in the park indicating the spots where gay sex is known to take place, in a bid to avoid any unfortunate encounters. “For cultural or religious reasons, some people reject homosexuals and compare them to animals,” said Marcouch, who has been Slotervaart’s mayor since 2006 and was a former spokesman for Amsterdam’s mosques. “They don’t see homosexuals as humans. These people can be orthodox Christians, Muslims or immigrants,” he said. On Marcouch’s initiative, the city council recently adopted an action plan for 2009 to 2011 that allows for the opening of a gay cultural centre. It will also permit gay associations to give briefings at schools and will take measures to teach mothers in immigrant households about gay rights in the Netherlands. The mayor has asked municipal police to be extra vigilant about homophobic aggression, and has even organised debates on the topic in mosques to press home his message. More than 55 percent of the 45,000 inhabitants of Slotervaart are of immigrant origin and 22.4 percent are younger than 17 — two groups that Marcouch says are the least tolerant towards homosexuals. Gays themselves make up about 7.5 percent of the population of Amsterdam. “I always say: your freedom to be an orthodox Muslim is the same as that of a homosexual to be homosexual,” said Marcouch, himself heterosexual. “Freedom is guaranteed in the constitution” of the Netherlands. Alix Rijckaert reports.

Integration, a national initiative in Germany [4:32]

When German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble called a conference to open dialogue with the country’s Muslims in the autumn of 2006, aims were set high. Schäuble said then he wanted to send a signal that Muslims were welcome in Germany. At the same time, the dialogue was also intended to prevent the radicalization of the Muslim community. Representatives of Germany’s federal government, and Muslim organizations addressed the issues of Islamic religious instruction at German schools, education in accordance with Western values and ways to prevent young Muslims from drifting into militant circles. On Thursday, the German-Islamic Conference will meet for its final session.

85 sharia courts in UK, says Civitas report

There are as many as 85 sharia courts operating in Britain, according to a new report, published by the think-tank Civitas. Academic Denis MacEoin, the report’s author, said the existence of the courts practising Islamic law could lead to different legal standards being applied to Muslim and non-Muslim citizens. He said many of the courts operate out of mosques and their rulings are closed off to non-Muslims.

In previous reports it was claimed there were only five sharia courts in the UK, working in London, Manchester, Bradford, Birmingham and Nuneaton. His report includes a list of previous sharia judgements which he believes give an indication of the type of ruling being handed down by the courts working in the UK.

Muslims protest Belgian school ban on veil

About a hundred people gathered in Antwerp Sunday to protest a ban on veils imposed over the weekend at the only remaining high school in Belgium that permitted them, according to press reports over the weekend. High schools in Antwerp and Hoboken announced over the weekend they intended to, follow in the footsteps of other Belgian schools and prohibit Muslims from wearing the veil starting with the next academic term. The school said the ban refers to all religious and political symbols. The protesters held placards bearing slogans like “Freedom for all, except us” and “Democracy not discrimination,” according to a local TV station. It is expected affect about 50 percent of the school’s female students according to Nordin al-Taweel, former president of the Muslim Executive of Belgium, the official national organization of Muslim Belgians, told the London-based daily Asharq al-Awsat. School administrators, however, said the number of veiled girls in the school did not exceed five and that they would have reconsidered the matter if it affected more people.

Many Muslims want to leave due to Wilders

The rise in support for anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders means many Dutch Muslims are considering emigrating, according to a poll for NCRV tv. While 75% of Dutch Muslims said they still feel at home in the Netherlands, 57% say they feel less welcome, the poll shows, according to the Telegraaf. And 51% are thinking more often about leaving. In addition, 75% feel they are judged more negatively since the rise of Wilders and four out of 10 say they are more often discriminated against.

Nevertheless, 18% say Wilders does make some good points, the Telegraaf says.

The Volkskrant carries an interview with Rotterdam city council executive Hamit Karakus who warns that well-educated young Muslims are increasingly asking themselves if they have a future in Holland.

‘My children don’t understand it,’ he told the paper. ‘You cannot say they do not speak Dutch, do not understand the habits and culture, and that they are not well-educated. But they still have the feeling that they are not accepted,’ he said. The rise of Wilders’ PVV party, which emerged as the biggest in Rotterdam after the European elections, means that a growing group of second and third generation immigrants do not feel welcome and a small but growing group are turning to radical Islam, he said.

Abdelrazik Returns to Canada After Six Years of Exile in Sudan

Abousfian Abdelrazik ended six years in exile in Sudan, where he faced torture at the hands of Sudanese authorities, several thwarted attempts to return and spent over a year stranded at the Canadian embassy in Khartoum. Mr. Abdelrazik was born in Sudan but fled the country in 1990. He received refugee status in Canada in 1992 and Canadian citizenship in 1995. In 2003, Mr. Abdelrazik traveled back to the country to visit his ailing mother. He was repeatedly imprisoned by Sudanese authorities and tried to return to Canada several times but was denied a passport because he was put on a United Nations no-fly list at the request of the United States.

Both CSIS and the RCMP have said publicly that they have no evidence that Mr. Abdelrazik has been involved in terrorist activities.