Anti-Islam colloquium faces protests in Paris

December 18, 2010
Approximately 200 left-wing protesters gathered near the Espace Charenton in Paris to protest the anti-Islam colloquium organized recently in Paris (See this article). The protesters include members from SOS Racisme and a number of other anti-discrimination groups.

Canadian Diplomat’s Grave Moved in Turkey after Muslim Complaints

The National Post – December 14, 2010

The remains of a Canadian diplomat buried in Turkey were reportedly forcibly removed from a local cemetery after a prominent Muslim family said they weren’t comfortable praying next to a Christian grave. Hans-Joachim Himmelsbach, 65, a retired trade commissioner from Vancouver who was living in Turkey, died about three weeks ago after suffering a blood clot to his brain while he was recovering from a throat operation, his stepfather, Heinz Koletzko, said in an interview.
Mr. Himmelsbach was buried in a Christian ceremony at a local cemetery in Bodrum, a tourist resort community on Turkey’s south Aegean coast. Mr. Himmelsbach’s family obtained permission from the municipality for a priest to perform the ceremony, Mr. Koletzko said, as is required in Turkey for religious groups not officially recognized by the state.
But his wife, Ilknur Himmelsbach, a Turkish citizen, told the Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review that Mr. Himmelsbach’s grave was recently moved against her wishes to a remote area of the cemetery at the request of a local Muslim businessman who felt Mr. Himmelsbach was buried too close to the family plot.

Muslim Council of Montreal responds to ban on religious instruction to toddlers in Quebec

The National Post – December 17, 2010

After eliminating denominational education from schools, the Quebec government announced plans to extend its ban on religious instruction to toddlers. The new policy will make it illegal for workers in the province’s network of subsidized daycares to teach their charges, aged five and under, about a specific religion. Teaching religious songs, including many Christmas carols, will be off limits, as will crafts with a religious connotation. Government inspectors will enforce the rules beginning next June.

The initiative was sparked by media reports last spring that some subsidized daycares in the province were offering Muslim and Jewish programs to toddlers.
Under a system created in 1997, parents pay just $7 a day to send their children to state-subsidized daycare. The government covers the balance, approximately $40 a day. There are currently about 2,000 subsidized daycares in the province offering spaces for more than 120,000 children. Ms. James said a tiny minority of those facilities — about 100 — currently offer some degree of religious instruction.

The Muslim Council of Montreal said it hopes to mount a legal challenge to the new policy. “We view it as explicit discrimination against the rights of religious communities to educate their children in the values and principles they hold dear,” said Salam Elmenyawi, the council’s president.

Canadian Appeal Court Hikes Sentences for Terror Convictions

News Agencies –

Ontario’s highest court has restored Canada’s anti-terror law to full strength and sent an unmistakable message that terrorists acting on Canadian soil “will pay a very heavy price.” The Ontario Court of Appeal released six major decisions in terrorism cases on 17 December 2010. In its leading judgment, the court dismissed an appeal from Ottawa software engineer Momin Khawaja, the first person convicted under Canada’s anti-terrorism legislation, increasing his sentence from 10 ½ years to life in prison.

The court also upheld — and, in two instances, increased — prison terms handed to three members of the Toronto 18 in connection with the plan to detonate bombs at the Toronto Stock Exchange, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) headquarters on Front Street and an unspecified military base east of Toronto.

Farzana Hassan responds to niqab controversy in Canada

The Toronto Star – December 17, 2010

In Quebec in March 2010, provincial premier Jean Charest initiated legislation that would ban the niqab in public. Ontario’s Court of Appeal, meanwhile, said that the niqab must be removed in a court of law if the accused’s right to a fair trial requires it.

Farzana Hassan, a scholar and activist from Pakistan and the former president of the Muslim Canadian Congress, advocates a ban on the burqa and niqab, both of which obscure all of a woman’s face and head except her eyes. Hassan says the Qur’an does not demand adherence to these garments, and that even though some women say they “choose” to wear them, both represent a form of intolerable subjugation.

“The burqa is steeped in patriarchy,” says Hassan. “It is not a legitimate choice.”

Poll suggests 39% of French agree that Muslim prayer is like German occupation

News Agencies – December 18, 2010

Almost 40% of the French agree with National Front Marine Len Pen’s statements on Muslim prayer in the streets, according to France Soir. The vice-president of the Front National compared Muslim prayer to occupation. Among voters of Sarkozy’s UMP, 54% agree with Le Pen. In total, 61% of the French disagree with Len Pen: 82% of left-wing voters and 46% of UMP voters.

French President Sarkozy Targets Muslim Prayers

News Agencies – December 20, 2010
It is expected that French President Nicolas Sarkozy will take another lurch to the Right with a speech on New Year’s Eve calling Muslim prayers in the street “unacceptable”.
After his expulsions of gypsies and a crackdown on immigrant crime, the French President will warn that the overflow of Muslim faithful on to the streets at prayer time when mosques are packed to capacity risks undermining the French secular tradition separating state and religion.
He will doubtless be accused of pandering to the far Right: the issue of Muslim prayers in the street has been brought to the fore by Marine Le Pen, the charismatic new figurehead of the National Front, who compared it to the wartime occupation of France.
Marine Le Pen’s approval rating has risen to 33 per cent in recent weeks, according to one poll, only three points behind Mr Sarkozy’s, as she has criss-crossed the country articulating what a lot of older people believe: that France has been invaded by Muslims and betrayed by its elite.

Anti–Muslim groups descend on Paris

New Agencies – December 19, 2010

Groups from across Europe gathered in Paris to give voice to increasingly pronounced anti-Islam sentiments on the continent. Claiming to represent a wide range of political opinion, from Marxists and feminists to hardcore secularists and right-wing activists, the groups said they would coordinate their fight against what they call the Islamisation of Europe.

French Muslim and left-wing groups denounced the gathering that drew about 500 people as divisive. The president of the mainstream French Council of the Muslim Faith, Mohammed Moussaoui, said, “We are strongly in favour of the right to free expression but we feel that such a meeting is a threat to national unity and to our ability to live together.” Moussaoui accused the organizers of incitement to hatred but the authorities rejected the council’s appeal to have the meeting banned. The police cordoned off the area near the hall where the gathering took place but only a few dozen people showed up for a counter-demonstration.

Last week, Marine Le Pen, daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen and his likely successor as leader of the ultra right-wing Front National, caused outrage by comparing the overflow of Muslims from mosques into the streets of French cities during Friday prayers with the Nazi occupation during the Second World War.

The Mayor of the City of Reus Issued a Decree Forbidding the Burka in Municipal Areas

December 14, 2010

The Mayor of the city of Reus, Lluís Miquel Pérez (Catalonian Socialist Party /PSC) has issued a decree forbidding the use of the burka in municipal areas. The regulation of this outfit was debated in Reus last July, but Convergencia I Unio (CiU) and the Popular Party (PP) asked to ban its use everywhere and not only in municipal facilities as advocated PSC and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC). Lluis Miquel Pérez promised to study the issue and requested a legal report that concludes that the city hall can only ban the use of the burka in municipal areas an not in the streets according to the Spanish law.

Commemoration of Ashura in Barcelona

December 17, 2010

On Friday December 17th, about 200 people celebrated the Ashura day in the Arc de Triomphe in Barcelona (near the downtown). The day of Ashura is a Shia Islamic holiday that commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussein. The most important Islamic Shia community is the islamic center Al Qaim is located in Barcelona although Muslims Shia have a minority presence in Catalonia. This community is formed mostly of people from Pakistan.

The City Council allows this holiday’s public celebration since 2004. However, new rules were imposed. For instance, city government not allows the participation of children, show the back naked or the use of swords or whips that could produce blood. All this things are common during the celebrations in public spaces of many countries where Shiites have a significant presence.