Police Enter Mosque in Majorca

Three men were arrested when police entered Palma’s main mosque. Police arrested the mosque’s caretaker and the president of the Muslim Defence League when they attempted to prevent the police entry, saying that the sanctuary of a mosque should be respected in the same was as that of Christian churches and Jewish synagogues. Local Muslims have protested the arrests on the grounds that the police became violent and used force. An internal enquiry is to be launched to establish the happened during the incident.

Closing Schools for Two Muslims Holidays

The City Council overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling on the Department of Education to incorporate two major Muslim holidays into the city school calendar.

The resolution, which passed 50 to 1, bears no legal weight; it is simply a formal request that the DOE schedule school holidays for Eid al-Fitr, which celebrates the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha, which commemorates Ibrahim’s sacrifice of his son Ishmael.

More than 800,000 Muslims live in the city, and at least 10 percent of the city’s school students are followers of Islam.

“This is an opportunity for the city to uphold American ideals of inclusion and diversity,” said Faiza Ali, community affairs director of the NY branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and a steering committee member of the Coalition for Muslim School Holidays. “The Coalition urges Mayor Bloomberg to ensure that a significant population of Muslim students does not have to make an unfair choice[…]”

Dutch Trained Imams Unable to Find Work in Mosques

Imams graduating from Dutch government training programs are unable to find work in mosques, Trouw reports. Three educational institutions offer courses for qualification, an initiative of the cabinet to train imams familiar with Dutch language and culture. However mosques do not have the funds to hire graduates of the program and locally trained imams are not necessarily popular with the older generation of worshippers. To date, no mosques in the Netherlands have hired an imam from the program.

Study finds broad consent for educating Imams in Switzerland

A Swiss National Science Foundation program has found that most Muslims living in Switzerland—the second largest religious community here—advocate bringing Imam training here, as do Swiss authorities, universities and legal experts. It’s a question that points to larger issues regarding social integration for an immigrant community. Christoph Uehlinger is a professor of religious studies at the University of Zurich. He shared what was most surprising about the finidngs with WRS’s Carla Drysdale.

Theatre Review: Hanif Kureishi’s play “The Black Album” at Cottesloe Theatre, London

Hanif Kureishi has turned his own vibrant 1995 novel into a play. The result is a busy, hectic affair that raises all kinds of issues about religious and political faith, fatwas and censorship and the purpose of art. But, as so often with adaptations, you get the bones without the thickness of texture that was part of the original’s charm.

The Black Album, for all its allusions to Prince, is actually a very literary book: there’s more than a hint of Balzac’s Lost Illusions in its story of Shahid, a young Sevenoaks Asian who, in 1989, is exposed to the temptations of London. The play follows the novel in showing Shahid torn between conflicting values.

As a student he is eagerly adopted by a fundamentalist Muslim brotherhood led by the charismatic Riaz. But he also embarks on a passionate affair with a lecturer, Deedee Osgood, who in her devotion to sex, drugs and rock’n’roll embodies the seductions of liberalism.

Matters come to a head with the campaign against The Satanic Verses where Shahid is forced into deciding where his allegiance lies. The play throws up a whole heap of ideas: Muslim orthodoxy confronts Marxist-Leninist ideology and there is even a debate about postmodernist teaching versus canonical criticism.

The Black Album, a co-production between the National Theatre and Tara Arts
Cottesloe, London SE1 9PX, until 7 October 2009
Website here

PVV Wants to Calculate Cost of Immigration

Geert Wilders’ PVV (Party for Freedom) has asked that Dutch ministries conduct a “cost benefit analysis” of the presence of non-western immigrants in the Netherlands. Member of Parliament Sietse Fritsma has requested that each ministry calculate how much immigrants contribute in taxes and how much of the departments’ expenses are due to immigrants. Figures are requested for the past year and five years, as well as forecasts for the upcoming year and five year period. It remains unclear whether the ministries will respond to Fritsma’s request individually or provide a collective statement.

Non-Muslims turning to sharia ‘courts’ in Britain to resolve disputes

Growing numbers of non-Muslims are turning to Sharia “courts” to resolve disputes in Britain, it has been claimed. Up to five per cent of cases heard by the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (MAT) involve people who do not follow the Islamic faith, it has been estimated.

The body operates court-like arbitration hearings in London, Bradford, Birmingham, Coventry and Manchester, mainly dealing with disputes between business partners and mosques. Those who use the service agree voluntarily to submit to its adjudication but its rulings are considered to be legally binding and can be enforced in county courts under the 1996 Arbitration Act. A separate body, the Islamic Sharia Council, has been operating for several years, hearing divorce cases with a panel of seven “judges” based in London.

The MAT said that the greater weight attached to oral agreements in its hearings than the courts was making its service attractive to non-Muslims in Britain, who it estimates are now involved in one in 20 of its cases. “We put weight on oral agreements, whereas the British courts do not,” said Freed Chedie, a spokesman.

Protesters Gather Outside Islamic Conference Near Chicago

Roughly 500 members of Hizb ut-Tahrir — a global Sunni network with reported ties to confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Al Qaeda in Iraq’s onetime leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — met inside a Hilton hotel in Oak Lawn, Ill., to host “The Fall of Capitalism and the Rise of Islam.”

Hizb ut-Tahrir insists that it does not engage in terrorism. The organization is not recognized by the State Department as a known terror group. Its supporters, however, blasted capitalism while calling for a rise of Islam during Sunday’s conference. “Free market, organization, capitalization — all has failed and brought disaster to America,” said one of the group’s speakers.

Dozens of protesters outside the hotel — many of whom held American flags — shouted as attendees left the conference late Sunday. No arrests had been made.

Moroccan Immigrants Most Unhappy in the Netherlands

According to a survey conducted by the Council of the Moroccan Community Abroad (http://www.ccme.org.ma/) that Moroccan immigrants to Europe are the least happy in the Netherlands. NRC reports that, according to the survey, “the relationship between society as a whole and second generation immigrants is ‘significantly more tense’” than in the other countries surveyed. Conducted in Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, the survey also indicated that in the Netherlands children are more likely than their parents to actively practice religion. The news follows a recent poll by NCRV television indicating that many Dutch Muslims may consider leaving the Netherlands due to the rise in support for politician Geert Wilders.