On Friday 27 a Salafist congress was opened in Sestao (Vizcaya, Basque Country). Around 2000 people have attended it, many of them from Senegal and Morocco. The Congress has been closed on Sunday. As in previous years, the congress hosted spiritual leaders of Europe and the Middle East. A total of 6 sheikhs from Belgium, Germany, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, were responsible for providing conferences and meetings.
21 May 2011
Protests against a new mosque in Göteborg attracted approximately 150 nationalist and far right wing protesters, and maybe 300 people supporting the mosque. Amongst the initiators of the demonstration against the mosque was Björn Cederström of the newly started Defense Corps for Sweden’s Self-defense. In his speech at the rally he said Muslims force native Swedes to flee their own country and that we must prepare for civil war. Marc Abrahamsson of the National Democrats said Sweden is being occupied by Arabs and Muslims.
There were also representatives from the English Defense League present, while the Swedish Defense League was not allowed to participate as Cederström regards them as being “too Zionistic”.
The demonstrations resulted in quite a rumble and four persons were arrested by the police.
Bradford has appointed the UK’s first Muslim woman to hold a Lord Mayor title. Coun Naveeda Ikram, of Pakistani origin and born in the UK, had been a Labour councillor on the Bradford Council since 2004. In addition to being the UK’s first female Muslim Lord Mayor, she was also the first woman of Pakistani origin to become councillor in Bradford.
24.05.2011, 26.05.2011, 27.05.2011
A group of four Muslim men have been jailed for attacking Gary Smith, a religious education teacher, on his way to work at a Girls’ School in East London in July last year. According to media reports about the trial, the four men assaulted Smith, as they did not approve of him (a non-Muslim) teaching Muslim girls; furthermore, they perceived his religious teaching to “mock Islam”.
Smith, who was severely injured in the attack and did not regain consciousness for two days, has lost his sense of smell and still suffers from long- and short-term memory loss as well as depression and anxiety.
The judge ordered the young men to serve jail sentences of four to ten years. He believes that they remain a danger to the public due to their extremist beliefs. The Telegraph even reports that the four had been terrorist suspects.
In July 2010, Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution initiated the project “Hatif”, a hotline to support those who want to put Islamist extremism behind them. Even before its launch, experts on Islam and security matters voiced their concerns both about the programme itself as well as the fact that it is run by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. Almost a year after its initiation, the hotline has not had any success in fighting violent-prone Islamism in Germany. The programme is therefore now extended and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution is hoping that imams will play a more active role in the de-radicalisation process in Germany.
The offer of halal foods in German supermarkets is scarce and many of them are reluctant to widen their range of food that meets the requirements of practicing Muslims, even though the demand is increasing and the potential for future sales promising. It is estimated that approximately 80% of Germany’s 4 million Muslims conform to Islam’s dietary requirements. Many of them consume what local Turkish and Arabic shops, rather than supermarket chains, have on offer.
The reluctance on the side of the supermarkets to introduce a wider range of halal foods is based on the “problematic image” of halal slaughter, which many associated with cruelty to animals. The process of halal butchering has changed, however, and the animals are now sedated before they bleed out.
On Monday, representatives of the Orthodox Rabbi-Conference Germany (ORD) and the Central Council of Muslims in Germany came together in a first meeting of what is meant to be a future dialogue between the two groups. This exchange between Muslims and Jews is meant to enhance the relations between the two. In the meeting, they agreed to intensify this form of dialogue in the future. While similar initiatives have successfully been implemented on both local and European level, this now also applies to the federal German level.
The radical Islamic preacher Pierre Vogel has planned a rally in the city of Koblenz on May 29th, which was expected to be attended by approximately 3,000 people. On May 26th, however, the city’s regulatory office prohibited the event. The rationale behind the ban is to protect children and youth, as Vogel’s speech was expected to contain content inappropriate for or even harmful to young people.
25 May 2011
The trial for Freedom Party (PVV) leader Geert Wilders on charges of inciting hatred and discrimination is concluding and media coverage tracks its closing stages. The public prosecution department called on Wednesday for the politician to be found not guilty on the basis that his remarks are directed against Islam and not individual Muslims. However the trial heard this week from a representative of ethnic minority organizations that Moroccan and other minority groups felt attacked by Wilders and noted a that the attitude towards these communities had ‘hardened’ due to Wilders’ statements.
Wilders’ lawyer is due to make his closing statements on Monday.
20 May 2011
During a parliamentary debate anti-Islam politician and leader of the Freedom Party (PVV) Geert Wilders accused the Labour party of filling the country with “Islamic voting fodder”. Socialist Party leader Emile Roemer left the chamber in protest of the offensive remarks. Prime Minister Rutte called the term ‘inappropriate’. Wilders made the remark during a discussion about the provision of financial aid to Greece.