March 27 2011
Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-Islam Freedom Party which currently supports the coalition minority government in the Netherlands, gave a speech for the Magna Carta Foundation in Rome in which he called for a “Leave Islam Day”. Wilders’ suggestion for the day “in which we can honor the courageous men and women who want to leave Islam” formed one of several strategies to “turn the tide of Islamization” in Europe.
Back in the Netherlands on March 31, Wilders called in an interview with HP/De Tijd for public debate on the “real nature and character of Mohammed.” The parliamentary leader for the CDA, the party Wilders’ PVV supports in the parliamentary coalition, called the statements “unnecessary and tasteless.”
31 March, 2011
The Islamic Council of Norway (IRN) asks for the legal right to for Muslim pupils to refrain to visiting synagogues as part of schooling. It should not be obligatory, says the Council, to visit the houses of worship of other religions as part of one’s education. Christian or Jewish children shouldn’t be forced to visit the mosque either, says Mehtab Afsar, secretary General of IRN. But he also wants to make clear there is no Islamic rule that forbids Muslims from visiting other religion’s houses of worship, as long as they do not partake in the rituals.
31 March 2011
When for the first time new Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich convened the German Islam Conference, there was palpable opposition and anger at his approach. First organised in 2006 by then interior minister Wolfgang Schäuble and subsequently by his successor Thomas de Maizière, the assembly was considered a sign of progress, telling of improved relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims, and the state. When Friedrich came into office in March 2011, he seemed to destroy all previous attempts by stating that there was no historical evidence for Islam to be part of Germany.
Having inherited the Islam Conference by his predecessors, Friedrich had no choice but to convene it, but managed to dictate his own agenda, to which participants reacted with outrage. Friedrich proposed a “security partnership” with Muslim representatives, who he urged to work more closely with the authorities in fighting extremism.
The Central Council of Muslims strongly criticised this move. Chairman Aiman Mazyek said that the Conference was not meant for security politics. Islamic studies scholar Armina Omerika said this would trigger a culture of denunciation among Muslims and would not be beneficial to integration. Also the Green Party criticised Friedrich’s approach, which will not foster a peaceful way of living together but rather use Muslims as voluntary police resource.
*Call for proposals for papers and discussants*
*Making European Muslims:*
*Islam and the Struggle over Beliefs, Perceptions and Identities among
Children and Young People in Western Europe*
*Two-day conference in Copenhagen, Denmark*
*Friday 28 to Saturday 29 October, 2011*
*Organized by the Arab and Islamic Studies Unit and the Child and Youth
Unit, Aarhus University*
As states and politicians in North-Western Europe focus more and more on
the “integration” of Muslim populations, the religion of Islam becomes
ever more controversial. While the focus of attention is often
elsewhere, it is among children and young people that the struggle over
the making of Europe’s Muslim citizens is most intense. Although some
European Muslim children attend private schools catering to students of
Muslim background, most attend public schools operated by the states in
which they reside, and it is in these schools, above all, that religious
beliefs, perceptions and identities are contested and constructed. The
conference explores the processes and interests involved and their outcomes.
Previous studies have pointed out the importance of Islam as an identity
marker and as a common point of reference for schoolchildren with
minority backgrounds. Less attention, however, has been paid to ways in
which Islam is constructed in changing social, intellectual and cultural
contexts, and how boundaries between religion and culture are negotiated
and shifted. These, along with the construction of identities, are among
the focal points of the conference. For further information, see