African Muslim thrives as ordained Catholic

Firmin Adamon, of African origin arrived in Cesena more than one year ago, was ordained on the 16th of January, 2009. He converted to Catholicism as an adult and wants to be a priest. Although his family is Muslim, they didn’t oppose his choice; on the contrary, they were supportive to the point that some of his brothers followed his example converting to Catholicism and moving to Italy. Since he arrived in Italy in 2001, he started his ecclesiastical studies in Rome at the Università Pontificia Salesiana. He was welcomed in Cesena, he says, and plans to become a deacon and serve the community there.

Saudi-funded Islamic school in Virginia seeks expansion, meets protests

Protesters of the expansion of a Saudi government- funded Islamic school say they fear an increase in traffic in the area. But debates usually transform into hot discussions about the spread of radical Islam through the school.

The Islamic Saudi Academy is seeking to serve more students, and area residents are concerned. “I submit no Catholic textbook has anything near the venom and demonstrated incitement to murder as these Saudi textbooks,” one resident says.

One parent of a student of the academy says there are no problems with radicalism: “If we were breeding terrorists, you would be hearing about it from the students.”

However, the school does have problems. A former valedictorian is currently serving a life sentence for plotting to assassinate President Bush.

Counterfeit document makers exposed in Netherlands

Counterfeiters in the Netherlands have provided false documents in preparation for an attack on a Western ally in Afghanistan and for Jihadists preparing bomb-attacks elsewhere in Europe, a report from the Ministry of Justice reveals.

The counterfeit trade uses stolen documents robbed from foreign countries, as well as producing complete forgeries, to produce passports and false identification documents.

Junta Islamica prepares a conference about Islamic banking practices

The Halal Institute, an organization created by the Islamic association Junta Islamica, is organizing an international conference on the Islamic banking system. The aim of this event, according to the organizers, is to promote the Islamic banking system as an alternative to the economic crisis and discuss the experiences of different countries.

The Halal Institute is an entity responsible for Halal Certificate, a privately held brand of halal food sold in Spain. The Halal Institute is an initiative of the Junta Islamica, a Muslim association established in 1989 and composed primarily of Spanish converts to Islam.

Controversial Muslim leader Mulla Krekar attacked

Controversial Muslim leader Mulla Krekar was attacked this week. Shots rang through a window to Krekar’s appartment in Oslo, injuring his son-in-law in the arm.

Mulla Krekar, or Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad, is an Iraqi Kurd and has been living in Norway since 1991. He has not been granted Norwegian citizenship. Krekar is known as one of the founders and the original leader of the Kurdish Islamist group Ansar al-Islam. Since 2006 he has been on the UN terror list.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) is suspected to be behind the attack. But some also speculate about Islamophobic forces in Norway as possible perpetrators. The Norwegian Secret Police (PST) were criticized for not being able to protect Krekar.

Work contracts terminated for Muslim employees

Lega Nord Trentino terminated a cleaning contract with a firm composed of Islamic employees.

Don Giuseppe Caldera, in charge of Migrantes and Director of the Missionary Diocesan Centre says it is discrimination and risks instigation of religious hatred. Assou El Bariji, coordinator of immigrant workers for CGIL (left wing Trade Union) in Trentino, denounced the Lega Nord initiative as racist and against the basic principles of the Human Rights’ Charter and the Italian constitution. He accuses the Lega Nord of bigotry and deplores its incapacity to recognize the value and contribution of foreigners to Trentino. The facts are raising political clashes and protests in the region and beyond.

Alessandro Savoi, head of the Lega Nord group explained that their request is motivated by security concerns: it is, indeed, neither secure nor appropriate to allow Islamic workers to move freely within their offices and to have access to their computers. Moreover, they were found sleeping on the office’s sofas.

Digital Islamic channel in Spain

The first Islamic digital TV channel in Spain is going to be launched next August, coinciding with the beginning of Ramadan. The channel is promoted and financed by the Saudi sheikh Abdelaziz Al Fawzan. It might be called “Cordoba” and its headquarters are to be in Andalusia, most likely in the city of Granada or in Cordoba itself. The content on the channel is going to be similar to other religious channels promoted by Saudi Arabia including Iqraa or Saudi Channel. The channel is also going to broadcast in other Spanish speaking countries.

Interview with the president of PRUNE, the first Islamic party in Spain

The Party for the Renaissance and Union of Spain (PRUNE) is the first Islam-orientated political party in Spain. The Party was founded in Granada and party organizers are trying to present candidacies in three cities (Granada, Barcelona and Oviedo) for the next local elections in 2011. The article is an interview with Mustafá Bakkach El Aamrani, the president of PRUNE. In the interview, he explains the main points of their political program. He defines PRUNE as a party with an “Islamic orientation” much like the way “the Popular Party (PP) has a Christian orientation”. “This is different from an Islamic party”, Mustafá Bakkach adds. The PRUNE was legalized in July 2009. The party identifies itself as a conservative party which aspires to represent all the minorities of Spain.

9/11 trial moved out of Manhattan

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was set to be tried in a civilian court in Lower Manhattan. But after an assessment on the costs, logistical and security measures that would be required, the Obama Administration has decided to move it. The new location has yet to be disclosed.

NYC is responding with mixed reactions: some don’t want a vivid reminder of the event, some are concerned about security. Some want him tried in a military tribunal, others want justice for victims in a federal courtroom where the attack occurred.

Mayor of the small upstate city of Newburgh says his community would be a perfect place for the trial. They have a new courthouse, security could be easily implemented, and it is only a 90 minute drive from Manhattan.

German education of Islamic schoolteachers and imams remains source of conflict

Educating Islamic theologians – schoolteachers and imams – at German universities has caused a lot of discussion in the past. Now the Wissenschaftsrat (German Council of Science and Humanities) has proposed a concept to grant both universities and Muslim associations a say in the education, but it is still likely to stir controversy.

So far, Muslim associations had little influence on the curriculum of Islamic education at universities, but some faculties do seek advice with local mosques or national Muslim associations. In 2008, a case at the University of Münster has caused a large debate: Muhammad Kalisch, Professor of Islamic Religion, publicly doubted the real existence of Prophet Mohammed, which in turn caused an outcry among Muslim associations. They called for Prof. Kalisch to step down and discouraged students to take up Islamic teacher training in Münster. Because they had no say, Kalisch still continues to teach.

The new proposal seeks to guarantee acceptance of Islamic teachers and Imams among the believers, and therefore allows associations to have more influence. Together with the universities, they may take part in decision-making on what will be taught and by whom. While it is certainly necessary to consult Islamic expertise in this matter, the question is whether the largely conservative associations would be the best partners. In the case of Kalisch, this would certainly have lead to his replacement by a very conservative scholar, which undermines independent academic research and teaching. On the other hand, it is a positive sign of the Wissenschaftsrat to incorporate Islamic theology into German state universities instead of leaving it to the Muslim associations or even to Islamic countries.