Ban Against niqab and burqa rejected by Canadian conservative government

The federal government has turned down the proposal of a Toronto-based Islamic organization to introduce legislation prohibiting Canadian female individuals from wearing niqabs and burqas.

The Muslim Canadian Congress had called upon the Stephen Harper’s Conservative government to ban the wearing of niqabs and burqas in all public dealings by introducing new laws.

Studying all the aspects, the Conservative government last week refused to consider the proposal, contending “in Canada people are free to make their own decisions”. “In an open and democratic society like Canada, individuals are free to make their own decisions regarding their personal apparel and to adhere to their own customs or traditions of their faith or beliefs,” said a statement issued by the office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Key Words –

Dutch Muslims sending children to Egypt for education

NRC Handelsblad has run a feature article exploring why Dutch-Egyptian parents are sending their children to school in Egypt. Three hundred children from Amsterdam were sent to schools in Egypt last year- twice as many as to Morocco. Education minister Sharon Dijkstra is concerned by the trend, which is “undesirable” because it presents an obstacle to integration if the children return to the Netherlands later in life, according to the minister.

Parents interviewed by NRC Handelsblad say that they educate their children in Egypt because they prefer the education system, find it more economically feasible, and feel that it offers their children more opportunities. They also note the hostile environment and “the freedom and rights granted to children in the Netherlands” as factors influencing their decision.

Ex-Guantanamo detainees resettled in Palau, face issues

Six Uighurs formerly detained in America’s Guantanamo Bay have been resettled to the small Pacific nation of Palau upon the request of the US.

“They are happy to enjoy the beautiful environment of Palau,” Mampimin Ala, an Australian flown to Palau to act as a translator for the freed Uighurs, told Agence France Presse (AFP).

However, they arrive just as 200-300 Bangladeshi Muslims’ work visas expire, forcing them to face possible deportation. Any further immigration from the country was banned just last month.

Palau’s Muslim community of about 500 consists mostly of Bangladeshi migrant workers, and the shrinkage in that community could make the Uighurs’ transition hard.

“They need a community of Muslims,” Mujahid Hussain, the only Pakistani in Palau, said of the Uighurs.

“They need to sit together and pray together. So if they send home a lot of the Bangladeshis, that’s going to be a problem,” Hussain, 36, told The Associated Press on Monday.

Nonetheless, they will enjoy sea-views and a five-minute walk to one of Palau’s two mosques. Their lawyer Eric Tirschwell stated: “These men want nothing more than to live peaceful, productive lives in a free, democratic nation safe from oppression by the Chinese…thanks to Palau, which has graciously offered them a temporary home, they now have that chance. We hope that another country will soon step forward to provide them permanent sanctuary.”

Leaked report labels Dutch PVV party “extreme-right wing”

Geert Wilders’ PVV party is an ‘extreme right-wing’ grouping and a threat to social cohesion and democracy, according to a report leaked by Volkskrant. The report, which has yet to be finalized, was created by three academics for the home affairs ministry and looks at polarization and radicalism in the Netherlands.

Ministers and the researchers are still discussing the final changes. Volksrkant notes that as it now stands, the report describes the PVV as an “extreme right-wing party which is mobilizing anti-Islam sentiment and hatred of governmental system”.

Media coverage around the leak has tracked responses to the report throughout the week. Wilders responded furiously to the report, calling Integration minister Eberhard van der Laan and D66 leader Alexander Pechtold, who had publicly responded to the report, “accomplices” of Mohammad B., Theo van Gogh’s murderer.

Meanwhile, a poll conducted in the aftermath of the report found 50 percent of the Dutch think the PVV is on the extreme right of the political spectrum and 66 percent think Wilders is stimulating a fear of Islam. A further 46 percent think Wilders is encouraging a hatred of the government.

A protest demonstration against party leader Geert Wilders was held Monday evening in the city of Arnhem. 200 protestors marched peacefully while the PVV met behind closed doors.

US appeals court dismisses Canadian Maher Arar’s lawsuit

Maher Arar cannot sue the United States after being mistaken for a terrorist when he was changing planes in New York a year after the 2001 terrorist attacks, a federal appeals court ruled Monday. The judges of the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals voted 7-4 to uphold a decision by a lower court judge dismissing a lawsuit brought by Maher Arar, a Syrian-born man who was detained as he tried to switch planes in 2002.

Arar sued the US government and top Justice Department officials, saying the United States purposely sent him to Syria to be tortured days after he was picked up at John F. Kennedy International Airport on a false tip from Canada that he had ties to Islamic extremists. The lawsuit said Arar was allowed to see a lawyer only once despite his repeated efforts to receive representation. Syria has denied he was tortured. The Canadian government agreed to pay him almost $10 million after acknowledging it had passed bad information to U.S. authorities.

Netherlands marks five years since Theo van Gogh’s murder

This week marks five years since the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. Van Gogh was killed on an Amsterdam streetcorner in 2004 by Mohammad B., a Muslim of Dutch Moroccan origin, in retaliation for his film Submission.

The city organized a tour for journalists of the Slotervaart neighborhood in which Mohammad B. grew up. During the tour, the borough chairman, Moroccan-Dutch youth workers, mosque representatives, and integration experts presented material “aimed at connecting different ethnic groups in the city” to prevent over-simplified stories from making international headlines, NRC Handelsblad reports.

Media outlets marked the occasion with a series of commentaries and interviews. Radio Netherlands Worldwide noted the anniversary with an evaluation of the “debate on the influence of Islam on Dutch society” which the incident generated, noting that “it is a debate between indigenous Dutch in which Muslims hardly participate. The fierce criticism of Islam does not tempt them to respond.”

RNW also published a commentary likening van Gogh to populist right wing politician Geert Wilders. Het Parool published an interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, with whom van Gogh made Submission. Ali commented that, “after the murder it became clear that there was a very nasty confrontation between Islam and the ethnic [white] population.”

IslamOnline.net covered Holland’s attempts to “grapple with immigration” on the occasion, highlighting developments since van Gogh’s murder including Amsterdam’s “emergency plan” to fight extremism through immigrant subsidies and dialogue building with mosques, the “hardening” of debate through right wing political figures such as Wilders, and the election of Rotterdam’s Muslim mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb.

Dutch man sentenced to community service for offending Muslims

A 60 year old from Nieuwegein (Utrecht) was sentenced for insulting Muslims Friday. The court in Utrecht gave him forty hours of community service and two weeks suspended sentence, Trouw reports. The man was also charged for threatening a member of the Amersfoort city council.

In February 2009 the man turned his back on the Muslim woman who attempted to serve him at a pharmacy. He said he thought it was revolting to look at ‘them’, referring to Muslims, public prosecutors claimed. The court decided that ‘offending a group based on religion’ had been demonstrated in this case.

Staten Island Muslim woman kills husband, raises questions on possible violence increase amongst US Muslims

In what may be the first recorded instance of a Muslim wife attempting to murder her husband for not being pious enough, a Staten Island woman was charged this week with attempted murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon. Rabia Sarwar, a 37-year-old Muslim, said she did it because her husband, a 41-year-old Pakistani native, enjoyed booze and pork and wanted her to dress in revealing clothes. (She held fabric over her face and threw a shawl over her head before leaving court on Thursday.) “He made me do so many things that are against Islam,” she said in a police statement. “I did all that just to make him happy, but inside of me there was a war.”

“This is not a reverse honor-killing — it’s martyrdom,” says Islamic apostate and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, herself the target of death threats.

“The kind of American Muslim you’re seeing now is changing — not because America is changing, but because the world is. Someone from Pakistan is coming here not for freedom, but to escape a horrible situation. [Once here], they are being radicalized,” she says.

“The vast majority of honor killings do appear to be cases where there is some attempt to violate or leave [Muslim] cultural norms,” says David Bryan Cook, associate professor of religious studies at Rice University. “They’ve been going on in the US and Britain for a number of years, but in the recent past they’ve gotten a lot more publicity.”

Some believe that the sheer vastness of the US has kept such incidents largely off the radar. “We’ve not been seeing it yet because our country’s so big,” says Amil Imani, who was born in Iran but raised in the US, and is the founder of Former Muslims United.