Germany to start new de-radicalization programm combatting “home-grown” Islamists

Germany is to set a new focus on persuading radical “home-grown” Islamists who are flirting with terrorism to moderate their views, according to the news magazine Der Spiegel on Saturday. The efforts are to be directed mainly at people who have been raised in Germany, both converts to Islam of German parentage and German-schooled Muslims whose parents were immigrants.

In a report to appear in its issue to appear Monday, Der Spiegel said a “forum” was being set up next month at a national anti-terrorism agency, the Joint Anti-Terrorism Centre (GTAZ), in Berlin to coordinate those efforts. It said the 16 states would also discuss this week how to prevent persons serving jail time for terrorist offenses from recruiting other prisoners to their cause. Der Spiegel said Germany would ask moderate Islamic communities and clergy to speak to them.

Prisons and sports clubs were common places for spreading radical ideas, another news magazine, Focus, reported Saturday. It said police knew of 185 German-raised Islamists who received training in terrorism methods in central Asia, Afghanistan or Pakistan over the past decade, and about 90 men with such military training were currently living in Germany.

Lord Pearson plays the Islam card to win leadership of UK Independence Party

A millionaire peer was elected leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) yesterday after putting “the growing threat of Islamism” and curbing immigration at the heart of his campaign.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch, who defected from the Conservatives two years ago, comfortably beat four rivals to assume command of the anti-European Union party.

One of two UKIP peers, he has protested that the “political class” is complacent about Islamism and claimed that some of “our people” were “strangers in our own land”.

The 67-year-old former insurance broker invited the right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders in February to screen a controversial film about radical Islam. He has called for a zero net increase in immigration, arguing that the issue was the main concern for many voters, and strongly supports the party’s main idea that the UK leave the European Union.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman reflects on the Islamic world’s radical narratives

Thomas Friedman discusses implications of the radical stories circulating the world of Islam, stories that America is waging war against the religion and it is single-handedly responsible for all the problems of the Arab and Muslim world. He urges President Obama, in the wake of Fort Hood to begin asking mainstream Muslims to tell the world what Islam is when they speak out about what it is not.

Valencia mosques too small to meet demand

Facing a mosque shortage, worshippers in Valencia have had to resort to praying outside. The Muslim community of the city has doubled in the past four years, making many of the mosques too small to accommodate the demand by worshippers. When mosques reach capacity, some have to pray outside while others drive up to 80 kilometers to available mosques.

Dutch Muslims organize charity donation

An initiative organizing the donation of meat from the Eid al-Adha festival is gaining populatity in the Netherlands. The Joint Muslim Aid Organization (SMHO) collects meat during the festival and distributes it to the needy in the Netherlands.

During the festival of Eid al-Adha, which commemorates the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Isaac to God, Muslims sacrifice sheep. Donating the meat to the poor is a longstanding custom, but Veyiz Gungor of the SMHO tells Radio Netherlands Worldwide that it has taken Dutch Muslims “a long time to wake up to the fact that there are poor people in the Netherlands”.

Started four years ago, the initiative is Turkish, but increasing numbers of non-Turkish Muslims are participating. “It is easy to communicate… through the Turkish mosques. But in the past years, more and more Surinamese, Moroccan and Indonesian Muslims call us to ask where they can bring their meat”, says Gungor.

Cordaid, a Catholic organization, helped collect almost 3,400kg of meat which will be processed into sausages for distribution to food banks and restaurants for the homeless nationwide.

Afghan-Canadian Muslim academic survives assassination attempt

Tooryalai Wesa, an Afghan-Canadian academic who returned to Afghanistan to serve as governor of the volatile Kandahar province, has survived an assassination attempt.

Wesa, who lived in Coquitlam, B.C., before he was appointed to the post in late 2008, was on his way to a mosque for prayers marking the Muslim holiday of Eid.
Zelmai Ayubi, a spokesman for Mr. Wesa, says a remote-controlled roadside bomb detonated as the governor’s three-car convoy passed through the center of Kandahar city.

Mr. Ayubi says Mr. Wesa’s vehicle was damaged in the attack but the governor was not hurt.

When Mr. Wesa took over last year at the age of 58, he was the third governor of the volatile province in less than a year and he acknowledged the dangers of the job.

Eid al-Adha festival draws 12,000 in Toronto

An estimated 12,000 Muslims are expected at Exhibition Place to celebrate Eid al-Adha, which commemorates the end of Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. “These celebrations are intended to be enjoyed as a community, families coming together,” said Ahmad Attia, event coordinator for the Eid Festival.

In September a similar event to commemorate the end of Ramadan attracted more than 14,000 people, he said.

Attia said a main goal was to make Friday’s event accessible, so admission is free. The day will begin with prayers and speeches and will finish with a carnival and bazaar.

French commission on the burqa to hear Tariq Ramadan

The national parliamentary commission investigating niqab and burqa-use in France will receive testimony from Tariq Ramadan on December 2nd.

Le Figaro reports that according to André Gerin, there is increased division among the UMP on the importance of a law banning their use.

The report is expected to be made public in January 2010.

French UMP Minister pushes for headscarf ban in National Assembly

Northern UMP deputy member Françoise Hostalier has proposed a similar legislation against headscarves in the National Assembly to the 2004 prohibition of conspicuous religious signs in public schools.

Hostalier’s request comes in the wake of students who “provocatively” wore hijabs in the National Assembly in a recent visit. On November 19 in response to protest among its members, the National Assembly president Bernard Accoyer stated that no regulations authorize persons to be refused into the tribunal based on their dress. Mohammed Moussaoui, the president of the CFCM (French Council of the Muslim Faith) responded that while several members have pushed for the invisibility of Islam in the public sphere that the issue has to be faced moderately.