16 April 2011
The Muslim Council of Britain, supposedly representing all Muslim groups and voices in the UK, has published a policy statement on their website saying that it is obligatory for Muslim women to cover their face. The statement read: “We advise all Muslims to exercise extreme caution on this issue, since denying any part of Islam may lead to disbelief. Not practising something enjoined by Allah and his Messenger… is a shortcoming. Denying it is much more serious.” The statement was signed by 27 “Islamic groups and scholars”, all male, including a spokesman of the extremist group Hizb ut Tahrir.
Haras Rafiq, of the moderate Muslim think tank Centri, said that by this statement “the MCB have put themselves at the opposite extreme of the spectrum”. The debate stirred up at the time of the implementation of the French face-veil ban.
19 April 2011
A recently formed group, Muslims Against Crusade, have called for a forceful protest on the wedding day of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The group was formed after radical Islam4UK was banned last year, which in turn was a successor to the outlawed group Al Muhajiroun, and although radical Anjem Choudary plays a role in all three movements, Muslims Against Crusade claim to have no links with Al Muhajiroun. The group’s plans of protesting outside Westminster Abbey on 29 April – ironically together with the English Defence League – were banned by the Metropolitan Police. Muslims Against Crusade announced that they would still go ahead with their demonstration, possibly in a different location, in order to protest the Royal Family’s support of the war in Afghanistan.
The Muslim Council of Britain has strongly condemned the radical group’s plans, called them “silly antics” who disregarded the teachings and the ethos of Islam.
21 April 2001
From the new academic year, three German universities will offer courses to train imams. It is a novelty in Germany, if not Europe, and aims at integrating Islam into society via secular state institutions. The German Science Council had initially proposed this plan, and it was highly welcomed by the media and also the Churches. This article now explores the question of whether it is actually the state’s task to be involved in the training of religious leaders.
21 April 2011
German security forces expelled radical Islamist preacher Bilal Philips from Germany. Philips participated in a rally, “Islam – the misunderstood religion”, organised by Salafists in Frankfurt and gave a speech together with his German radical counterpart Pierre Vogel. The Interior Ministry was not aware of when or where Philips had entered Germany, and he was asked to leave within three days.
The rally had been cancelled at first and was only permitted at the last minute with 16 requirements, including a prohibition to force gender segregation upon the audience – although the event turned out to be segregated in the end. Philips and Vogel adhered to keeping to a peaceful rally without inciting hatred or issuing any condescending or discriminatory remarks about people of different faith, knowing that they were closely watched. In the past, Philips has called for the death penalty for homosexuals, which he did not repeat at this occasion, however he underlined that homosexuality was a sin, but that he did not hate these people. Salafist groups have been increasingly monitored after the Frankfurt attack in March, in which two US soldiers were killed by a radicalised Islamist who had previously had contacts with Salafists in Frankfurt.
An Ashburn man who federal prosecutors said plotted to “kill as many Americans as possible” by bombing Washington Metro stations was sentenced Monday to 23 years in prison.
Farooque Ahmed, 35, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, pleaded guilty to two terrorism-related charges in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. Federal authorities said Ahmed conspired with people he thought were al-Qaeda operatives to bomb Metrorail stations at Arlington Cemetery, Pentagon City, Crystal City and Court House. In reality, he was dealing with people working for the U.S. government.
According to court documents, Ahmed “surveilled, photographed, videotaped, diagramed” and helped gather information to plan “multiple bombings to cause mass casualties” at Metrorail stations.
Sharia law is quickly becoming a hot-button topic on the campaign trial, as conservatives debate the role of Islam in the United States and the conservative movement. The exact mechanics of how sharia, or Islamic jurisprudence, is threatening the United States are unclear, but some conservatives point to cases in New Jersey and Florida that they say underscores the need for a blanket ban on using foreign law in the United States.
The issue resonates with many GOP primary voters and legislators in the early primary state of South Carolina is considering a ban on sharia law that might force some more 2012 contenders engage on the issue. Here is how the various 2012 candidates have positioned themselves on the issue so far.
One of the more striking things about the current anti-sharia craze is how often state legislators who introduce anti-sharia bills can’t answer basic questions about Islamic law or why they see it as a threat.
How could all these legislators be so uninformed about their own bills? A big part of the reason is that most of them did not actually write the legislation in question. Rather, many of the anti-sharia bills being considered around the country are either based on or directly copied from model legislation created by an obscure far-right Arizona attorney and activist named David Yerushalmi.
11 April 2011
In this piece, the BBC presents different European countries’ approaches to the Islamic veil and explains the various forms of hijab, niqab and burka. The compilation was updated recently after the French face-veil ban.
6 April 2011
In a piece for Qantara, Lamya Kaddor, scholar of Islamic studies in Germany, vividly explains why the Islamic veil in her opinion is no longer required in contemporary Germany and how it has become obsolete over time. She writes that the original purpose mentioned in the Quran (33:59), i.e. that the veil protects women from male desire, is no longer relevant today. Instead, wearing a headscarf may only expose the woman to harm in the form of discrimination. A well-functioning legal system is the modern day equivalent of social rules on protection of the individual.
In the course of her discussion, Kaddor gives a variety of evidence why the headscarf no longer serves its original purpose, ranging from the fact that the sight of hair no longer is a sexual stimulous per se and that a moral life does not depend on head covering to regretting the often very male perspective of Quran exegesis.
12 April 2011
Hans-Peter Friedrich, German Minister of the Interior, has recently denied that Islam belonged to Germany. At a discussion in Regensburg, he has now began to open up to German Muslims. At the “Regensburger Religionsgespräch”, at which predecessor Wolfgang Schäuble declared in 2009 that Islam is indeed a part of Germany, Friedrich has spoken in favour of supporting religious groups, because religion in his view fostered society cohesion, and that also extended to Islam. An Islam, he qualified, that recognises the inviolability of human dignity. He also emphasised that Christianity has deeply shaped German culture up to the language, but he was eager to avoid the term “Leitkultur” or guiding culture, which is often employed by conservative politicians. Reactions at the event were positive, but it was highly regretted that the only Muslim participant had fallen ill and was unable to attend.