Ex-Guantánamo guard and now US-critic has been denied UK entry

A former Guantánamo guard who had flown to the UK to address a support group for inmates of the camp is to be deported back to the US this morning after being denied entry on arrival at Heathrow airport yesterday.

Terry Holdbrooks, who has been an outspoken critic of the US government over the treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo, said that immigration officials told him he was being refused entry because he was unemployed and living in rented accommodation in the US, raising suspicions he would not leave the UK. The former soldier, who converted to Islam after discussions with prisoners at Guantánamo, was due to address a meeting tonight by Cageprisoners, a support group that had paid for his ticket.

Holdbrooks told the Observer that he had also been detained and questioned by US airport officials on Thursday, as he attempted to complete the first stage of his journey by air via Arizona and Minnesota.

Amsterdam Public Schools Will Not Give Islam Classes

Public schools in Amsterdam’s Slotervaart district will not offer Islam classes, Telegraaf reports. The classes were requested a year ago by district mayor Ahmed Marouch, who hoped that offering the classes outside the regular school-day would offer parents an alternative to religious education in the mosques. Currently, in-school Islamic classes are offered to children in Rotterdam and Lelystad. While the education is possible if parents request the classes, it is unclear whether a lack of demand for the classes stems from lack of awareness among parents or a disinterest in the classes themselves.

Fethullah got his hands on Germany

“Alliance for Peace and Fairness” launched as “the first Muslim party” in Germany is said to have ties with AKP and Gülen community. Yesterday, Zaman newspaper published a news article titled “Muslims founded a Party in Germany” to herald the emergence of a new political party named “Alliance for Peace and Fairness” which will be on the ballot for the upcoming elections in North Rhein Westphalia, Germany. Fethullah Gülen community and AKP’s organizations in Germany are said to stand behind the Party. Starting out three years ago with the formation named “Muslim Council” in Bonn to embrace the other Muslim groups together with Turks, “Muslim Party” as Zaman calls it, was consequently restructured as a Party and is now headed by Chairman Haluk Yıldız.

Haluk Yıldız spoke about the formation as follows: “First of all, we brought the Muslims together. We had talks with the Municipality for a Muslim cemetery. We will obtain the result soon. There are plans for two mosques. Permission for one of them has already been received. Talks continue for the other one. We are involved in the problems at the schools. We have handled headscarf issue and participation of Muslim students in school trips and swimming lessons. We have formed a team of 6 for this purpose. We have appointed two lawyers. Since we are an institution, the municipality and the school administration takes us into consideration. This way it became easier to solve the problems.”

According to what Yıldız said, there was a discussion within Muslim Arabs in the city “as to whether voting in the elections is permissible according to Islam or not”, but, the formation which is believed to have relationship with Gülen Community interfered in the discussion. Yıldız says this: We have convinced Imams. They gave a fatwa and Arab countries also supported the idea of a Party.”

An independent formation? New formation, of course, doesn’t say that it has an organic relationship with any one of the groups in Turkey. But, Gülen community and AKP support to the group is plainly discussed in Germany. For instance, German journalist Gudrun Eussner is of the opinion that “The word justice in the name of the Party refers to AKP. In addition to this, expressions like, “No to assimilation and discrimination’ show a parallelism with the speech Prime Minister Erdoğan had made in Cologne last year.” The news published two days ago with the signature of Ulrike Hummel in Deutsche Welle says that “Alliance for Peace and Fairness” has 50 members at the moment. Considering their forming a special team of six and appointing two lawyers to follow up a very specific issue like participation of Muslim students in school trips and swimming lessons, according to what Chairman Haluk Yıldız said in the interview he gave to Zaman, it ‘s not quiet convincing to say such an organized group has 50 members only.

The Ottawa Citizen Profiles Zijad Delic

The Ottawa Citizen profiles Dr. Zijad Delic, who immigrated to Canada in 1995 from Bosnia and received his PhD from Simon Fraser University ten years later. Delic is currently an imam at British Columbia’s largest Sunni Mosque as well as an administrator at the B.C. Muslim school. He is coordinating “Islamic History Month Canada,” proclaimed by the Canadian federal government in the month of October.

Tarek Fatah Responds to Ottawa Citizen Article Highlighting the Victimization of Local Muslims

The sub-headline of a recent Ottawa Citizen feature report about Muslims in the capital city claimed: ‘Surrounded by suspicion and ambivalence, Ottawa Muslims wonder, When will we belong? And on whose terms?’The author suggests that all 30 or so of the Muslims who were interviewed asked some variation of the question “When will we belong?” — the premise being that they don’t belong yet. Canadian Muslim Tarek Fatah responds in the Globe and Mail highlighting the number of Muslim parliamentary representatives in the Ottawa region. Fatah concludes that, “I have been to Ottawa numerous times and have close interaction with Muslim Canadians. Never once have I heard them say that they felt victimized.”

Drop in Support for Wilders’ Party

The latest poll by Politieke Barometer indicates that support for Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration PVV party has dropped in the last month. Polls suggested last month that the party would take 32 seats in a parliamentary election, a figure which has dropped to 24.

Meanwhile, research by Synovate for television show Nova shows that almost 40% of Wilders’ supporters back the PVV because they have lost faith in the government and other political parties. Just under 20% support Wilders because of his stand on Islam; the party leader has called for a ban on the Koran and an end to Muslim immigration.

Largest Muslim Cemetery in Ontario to Open

The largest Muslim cemetery in Ontario, and one of the biggest in Canada, is about to open near Manotick. It will accommodate about 10,000 graves, says Abu Nazir, president of the Ottawa Muslim Cemetery. There is a small Shia cemetery near Toronto, of less than half a hectare, as well as a larger cemetery serving the general Muslim population in Montreal. The Manotick site will serve all Muslims. Trees are being cleared now for roads, culverts, and some landscaping. Burials could begin as early as this autumn.

Nazir’s group has been working towards this for more than 15 years, looking at about 160 sites. In 2004, it paid $185,000 for a 12-hectare plot at 1668 Manotick Station Road. The group has spent the last five years getting approvals from the city, the province and the medical officer of health. Nazir estimates there are about 100 to 200 deaths a year among the city’s community of about 65,000 Muslims. He believes this cemetery should last at least 60 to 70 years. The group will likely prepare the land in five stages of 2,000 plots each.

HQC Certifies New Halal Wine

Taner Tabak has created a 0% alcohol wine which has passed the Halal Quality Control (HQC) test and received a certificate as halal wine. Wereld Journalisten reports that Tabak managed to make the alcohol-free wine in cooperation with a German company through a new technical process, for which a patent is pending.

Over 30 Radio Ramadan stations have popped up this month

For Britain’s 1.7 million Muslims, tuning into Radio Ramadan has become an important part of the holy month of fasting and prayer. This year, some 30 stations across Britain have been granted a temporary licence to broadcast around the clock for 32 days on issues of belief, daily life, entertainment and politics.

Broadcasts, phone-ins and panel discussions range from spiritual matters to advice on education, anti-smoking campaigns, tax matters and current world conflicts. This year, the escalation of the conflict in Afghanistan and its effect on Pakistan are expected to be uppermost on the minds of listeners, contributors and panelists. But phone-in sessions also deal with everyday concerns. Health experts are on hand to advise listeners on the effects of a “guilty cup of coffee” during Ramadan, on how to handle fasting and breastfeeding, or how to enjoy the benefits of yoghurt during Ramadan. Weight loss is traditionally a big theme.

Dutch Government Cuts Funding To As Siddieq Islamic School

The Amsterdam city council and the national government will reduce funding for the As Siddieq Islamic school, which has three locations in Amsterdam. The school faces cuts because it has ‘failed to meet agreements on citizenship and social integration’. State Secretary of Education Sharon Dijksma said she is reacting to a critical report by the government’s Education Inspectorate which found that the As Siddieq school is not doing enough to integrate its pupils in society. In addition to the move by the national government, Amsterdam education councilor Lodewijk Asscher withdrew the municipal subsidy to As Siddieq. He has lost confidence in the school board, he told board members in a town hall meeting.

As Siddieq drew attention earlier this month when Hennie Metsemakers, a former teacher who was suspended by the school a year and a half ago, publicly claimed that the school encouraged children not to integrate and treated non-Muslim teachers as inferior.