Gay Men Approaching Minors Extorted by Dutch Moroccans

Trouw reports that Moroccans who extorted money from gays in the area of Bergen op Zoom targeted men who had initiated contact with minors in internet chat sites, threatening them with police action. When confronted with printouts of the chats targeting 16 year olds, the men handed over cash, watches and phones in values up to 750 euro. The men were wary of reporting the extortion because of the illegality of the initial online contact with minors.

Dutch Moroccans “Feel at Home”

According to a poll reported in newspaper NRC, Moroccan Dutch in the Netherlands feel more at home than Moroccans in other European countries. The poll, which canvassed 2,600 people aged 19-34, indicates 81% of young Moroccan Dutch feel at home in the Netherlands, compared with an average of 76% among Moroccans in other European countries. It was conducted in the Moroccan city of Irfane, at a conference bringing together young Moroccans living in Europe. The poll canvassed the opinions of participants regarding family life, language, culture, and their experiences in Morocco and Europe.

A Turkish-German policewoman mediates between both worlds

Superintendent Gülay Köppen grew up in a Turkish home in Duisburg, Western Germany, and got socialised with both Turkish and German culture. In 2006, the local government created a position for a police officer to build confidence between the police headquarters and Muslim institutions.

Gülay Köppen has filled the position since, and enjoys being the contact person to the police for Muslim communities, which allows her to draw on her own experience of living in both worlds. And the job requires such experience: Köppen recounts many instances where members of one or the other culture would have given up. For example, when visiting a mosque for the first time, she cannot always come straight to the point, but may take a few more visits in order to create mutual trust – this makes her German colleagues nervous. Or, during a conversation between her and a Muslim male, he might not meet her eyes, something which is required as an expression of respect in the German context, but is in fact his way of showing respect to her in the Muslim context.

German-Afghani scholar founds publishing house for Islamic children’s literature

Milad Karimi, 31, scholar of philosophy, Islamic studies and languages has launched a publishing house in Freiburg, specialising in Islamic children’s literature. The books are aimed at supporting parents in educating their children about Islam and about the framework of the German society. Basic questions of Who was the prophet? What is the Quran? Why do we pray? are complemented with informing about living Islam in Germany and about human rights and democracy.

Karimi, who is currently finishing his PhD on Hegel, has also published a new translation of the Quran into German, which was widely acclaimed.

Turkish primary school plans stir controversy in Freiburg

An association of Turkish academics plans to open a primary school in Freiburg, which ideally caters for all children, but bears a particular Turkish and Islamic outlook. The association would not be the first to open an educational institution for mainly Turkish children, but this time the project is influenced by a particular ideology, that of Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen. Critics warn of a school that enforces the isolation of Turkish children and impedes their learning German. Fethullah Gülen is accused, for example by Necla Kelek, of promoting an “Islamic chauvinism”. The city council is currently evaluating the plans and might grant permission to go ahead with the project already this coming school year.

Anti-Racist Group Finds Racial Biases at French Holiday Venues

An undercover operation by the French anti-racism group, SOS Racisme, has exposed racism at some bars and clubs on campsites in the south of France. The group found two campsites and three clubs in the Alpes-Maritimes, out of a total of around 20 establishments tested, turned away ethnic minorities before allowing whites inside.

The organization has named Le Camp du Pylône in Antibes Juan-les-Pins and Le Green Park at Cagnes-sur-mer as campsites which discriminated between the two young men of North African origin and two young white men sent to try and stay there. Both establishments deny the accusations. A spokesman for Green Park told the site 20 Minutes that there was no basis for the allegations and that SOS Racisme “hears what it wants to hear.” The president of SOS Racisme Dominique Sopo told 20 Minutes that they had video and sound recordings of the incidents.

Sarkozy Condemns Killing of Michel Germaneau Suspected al-Qaeda Militants in Mali

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has confirmed the death of a French hostage killed by suspected al-Qaeda militants in north-west Africa. Sarkozy condemned the killing of 78-year-old Michel Germaneau as “odious”, saying it would not go unpunished. The leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) had earlier said Mr Germaneau was killed in revenge for a failed rescue raid in Mali.

Mr Germaneau was kidnapped in Niger in April. A retired engineer, he was in the region as a volunteer aid worker. AQIM leader Abdelmalek Droukdel said in a statement broadcast by al-Jazeera that Mr Germaneau had been killed in revenge for a raid in which six militants died.

Halal Haute Cuisine Growing in France

Traditional French dishes are becoming increasing available in halal versions in Paris. hat he could never taste because they were forbidden by Muslim precepts. The website paris-hallal.com, dedicated to promoting halal restaurants, lists 250 sit-down places serving only halal meat and no alcohol. As well as traditional Middle Eastern and North African cuisine, they include 26 French restaurants and dozens that serve Thai, Chinese, Italian and other international cuisines.

The rapid growth in halal restaurants in the Paris region is part of a trend that has swept France in the last few years, says Abbas Bendali, president of the market research firm Solis, which studies developments among minority populations. The typical customers are the grandchildren of Muslim immigrants who arrived in France in the 1950s to help rebuild the country after the Second World War. They tend to be cultural rather than religious Muslims and have embraced halal food as their “sign of identity.”

The market for halal products started to grow in the late 1990s, and has “exploded” in the last three years, Mr. Bendali said. His most recent study shows it is increasing by 20 per cent a year and will be worth an estimated €5.5-billion ($7.5 billion) this year.

Saudi Clerics Declare Women in France Exempt from Full-face Covering

Two Saudi clerics have declared Muslim women are exempt from wearing full veils in France, which is planning to ban them, but added they should avoid visiting it as tourists. The comments, by Islamic jurisprudence scholar Mohamed al-Nujaimi and author and cleric Ayed al-Garni, come two weeks after French lawmakers passed a bill under which women could be fined for appearing in public with the all-covering burqa or the niqab, which leaves the eyes exposed.

Muslim scholars are divided over the veil, disagreeing on whether and how much of a woman’s face should be covered. Saudi clerics widely recommend it. Every summer, tens of thousands of Saudi holidaymakers leave the kingdom and its searing heat to spend their vacation abroad, with many travelling to European countries.

British Muslim Women Pay Tribute to Soldiers

A group of Muslim women honored soldiers who died fighting for the UK by placing a wreath at the National Memorial Arboretum in England, according to the BBC. The early July ceremony occurred on the anniversary of the death of Lance Cpl. Jabron Hashmi, the first British Muslim soldier to die in a Taliban attack in Afghanistan on July 2006.

The Armed Forces Muslim Association organized the event. Members said 500 Muslims are currently serving in the British armed forces. Muslims soldiers served the UK in World War I and World War II.