French gay soccer team snubbed by Muslim team

A French gay soccer team says its members were victims of homophobia when a team of Muslim players refused to play a match against them.

The Paris Foot Gay team (PFG) claims it received an e-mail from the Creteil Bebel club canceling a match. “Because of the principles of our team, which is a team of devout Muslims, we can’t play against you,” the e-mail said, according to Paris Foot Gay. Paris Foot Gay said in a statement that it asked the amateur league to sanction Creteil Bebel. Zahir Belgarbi, identified as a spokesman for Creteil Bebel apologized if “anyone felt upset or hurt.”

Increasing number of Black British converts to Islam

By Richard Reddie, author of “Black Muslims in Britain: Why are a growing Number of Young Black people are Converting to Islam?”:

Black conversion or “reversion” to Islam is not new; it has been taking place in the African diaspora since time immemorial. However, I looked deeper into the phenomenon to find out why a growing number of Black Britons, especially younger ones, are embracing Islam. Although I am not a Muslim, I have always been interested in Islam — three of my all-time heroes, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X and Jamaican singer Prince Buster were Muslim converts, and I was intrigued by the way Islam inspired all three to transcend their respective vocations to become icons.

My research reveals that there is no one, straightforward reason for conversions, but a plethora of theological, emotional and cultural motivations. Practically all those interviewed suggested that Islam had given their lives meaning and woken them from a spiritual malaise. Others said that their faith provided inspiration and strength to engage with a society they regarded as corrupted by materialism and moral relativism. And for those whose lives had previously been errant, Islam’s decisiveness on a range of religious and socio-cultural matters had given them a focus and an anchor. Equally, many of the women interviewed suggested that the Islamic focus on modesty had liberated them from the rampant fashion-related consumerism that objectifies all women, and sexualises pre-pubescent girls.

Barcelona exhibits Islamic art

An exhibit showcasing Islamic art, organized in collaboration with The Aga Khan Trust for Culture, has opened in Barcelona. The CaixaForum exhibition, titled “The Worlds of Islam” runs through January 2010 and showcases, for the first time in Barcelona, 190 pieces bound by “the common denominator of the Arabic language and Muslim religion”, QNA reports.

The exhibit travels to Barcelona from Madrid, where the pieces were seen by 160,000 people. It contains 190 objects spanning 1,400 years of history, “artistic markers of a world that stretches from ancient Al-Andalus to India”.

Somalia President condemns Minnesota terror recruiting

The president of Somalia on Sunday denounced the recruiting of young men from Minnesota’s huge Somali community for terrorist activity in his war-ravaged homeland, and said he plans to work with the U.S. government to bring those still alive back home.

President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed spoke with The Associated Press while visiting the Minneapolis area, where authorities believe as many as 20 young Somali men — possibly recruited by a vision of jihad to fight — returned to the impoverished nation over the last two years.

At least three have died in Somalia, including one who authorities believe was the first American suicide bomber. Three others have pleaded guilty in the U.S. to terror-related charges.

”We believe this is a wrong action, that these young men were wronged, they were robbed out of their life. Their parents were wronged,” Ahmed told the AP through an interpreter. ”The laws of the United States were violated. The security of Somalia was violated. So we condemn (them) without reservation.”

As the burqa commission continues in France, 5 suburban mayors are interviewed

As the commission into the wearing of the burqa in France led by André Gerin continues, five banlieusard mayors from Monfermeil, Cachan, Rillieux-la-Pape, Clichy-sous-Bois and Gonesse were interviewed to express their positions on French secularism and the impact of a possible ban.

Generally, they noted an increase in the number of parents and students who wear the burqa and niqab in their suburbs (even if at the national level only reflects 0.5% of the population) and express concern about the effects on women’s access to public services (should a law come into place) and integration into French society (should it not).

Opposition to mosque subsidies fails

An opposition movement against the Dutch cabinet’s support for mosques has failed. The Home Affairs Ministry and Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) assert that government subsidies for religious organizations are permissible on the basis that it fosters integration. The failed opposition bid was supported by the conservatives (VVD), Party for Freedom (PVV) and centre-left D66, as well as the Socialist Party who argued that the “government cannot be a little bit neutral”, and should “tackle segregation via training and work, not via subsidies to mosques”.

Ex-Muslim joins rightwing Freedom Party

Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders confirmed Thursday that ex-Muslim Ehasan Jami, 24, has joined the party, which is highly critical of Islam. DPA reports that the self-identified ex-Muslim and critic of Islam may run for a council seat in The Hague in the upcoming 2010 local elections, or may enter politics following the general elections of 2011.

Jami was previously a member of the left-wing Labour party, but was expelled in 2007 after writing an op-ed essay together with Wilders in which they compared Mohammed with Adolf Hitler.

Terror plot in Quebec undone by online activities

Saïd Namouh thought his apartment in Trois-Rivières, Québec was an ideal location to plot jihad, far from the prying eyes of anti-terrorism investigators. But the Internet that allowed him to spread hatred from the boondocks also proved his undoing. The 36-year-old Moroccan was convicted of four terrorism charges.

Quebec Court Judge Claude Leblond ruled that far from simply exercising free speech, as the defense had argued, Namouh participated with “zeal and enthusiasm” in the planning of terrorist acts and the distribution of jihadist propaganda. The man described in court as a “spokesman for al-Qaeda” was found guilty of conspiring to commit a bomb attack in Europe, attempting to extort the governments of Austria and Germany with video threats, participating in a terrorist group and aiding a terrorist activity. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Namouh, who moved to Canada in 2003 after marrying a Quebec woman, was on the verge of leaving Canada when he was arrested. Online conversations showed he was headed for Egypt to meet with co-conspirators in a plot to carry out a terrorist bombing at an unknown location in Europe.