The Islamic Community of Calahorra opens its new Mosque

23 June 2012

The opening day of the new Mosque of Calahorra with capacity for 400 believers was chaired by the President of the Union of Islamic Communities in Spain, Riay Tatary, accompanied by the delegate to the region of La Rioja, Tarik Azouau Tajja. Azouau expressed that “more than a Mosque, we can speak of an Islamic center, because besides being a place of worship, it also seeks to educate children about the Islamic faith and behavior, and also will also participate in the guidance of the community members”.

3.000 euros fine for 4 councilors of the Plataforma per Catalonia after attending a soccer match wearing a burka

20 June 2012

The Department of Interior has fined 4 councilors and 19 supporters of Plataforma per Catalonia (PxC) with 3,000 euros each, for going to a match of FC Barcelona and L’Hospitalet in burqas. The incident occurred during a match of the Copa del Rey on November 9, 2011 when a group of people appeared in the area of L’Hospitalet wearing burkas and a banner reading ‘First the home ones’.
PxC leader whose hallmark is the radical fight against illegal immigration, has insisted that the protest is directed specifically to criticize the sponsorship of ‘Qatar Foundation’ to the soccer team FC Barcelona.

Catalonia will receive the II Iberian-American Interreligious Summit

21 June 2012
Starting on Monday, the 25th of June, Barcelona hosts the II Iberian-American Interreligious Summit.
Among others, the program will address issues such as freedom and human rights, brotherhood and solidarity, dialogue and coexistence, inclusion and equity. The findings aim to provide the XXII Iberian-American Summit with proposals to achieve stable and equitable funding of the states, improving social cohesion and strengthening public safety. Also, this second summit wants to consolidate the Iberian-American Interfaith Network as a forum for exchange between the confessions and to follow up the conclusions and recommendations of the Iberian-American Interreligious Summit.

Conservative movements are spreading in Spain

23 June 2012

In a survey conducted by the Ministry of Interior in 2010, 40% of Muslims rejected the ban on the niqab or the burqa in public spaces. The survey also revealed that the number of Muslims that are “very observant” has continued to grow in the last five years and only 40% of respondents were against “the existence of Islamic courts in non-Muslim countries.”The Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies (IEEE) has recently released an analysis[1] of these movements in Spain. “They seek the establishment of a universal caliphate, the placement on a purely religious activity and an ultraconservative morality; and these circumstances make the integration of the faithful into our society more than difficult,” said Oscar Perez Ventura, an analyst of Jihadist terrorism and radical Islamic movements and co-author of the IEE document.

Gardell: Breivik is not a mystery

June 4, 2012

 

Mass murderer Breivik is no mystery – are the words of History of Religion Professor Mattias Gardell (Uppsala University). Gardell was a witness called for by Breivik’s defense team on Monday (June 4). Breivik could also tell what formed him into a terrorist. The Swedish Professor (Gardell) analyzed Breivik’s over 1500-long manifesto. It mainly consists out of large chunks of text collected from various extreme right-wing and anti-Muslim forums and internet sites. Gardell was summoned as an expert witness who argued that Breivik’s ideas are shared by many people. “If they are to be incarcerated for (psychiatric) treatment, then you (the authorities) will have to build a very large care facility”, he said.

 

In the first psychiatric examination before the trial Breivik was diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. These findings were primarily built on the assumption that he had delusionary images that the Islamic world is on the verge of taking over Europe. The psychiatrists also pointed out that Breivik had created new concepts, out of which national Darwinism  is prominent in his manifesto. These claims were dismissed by Gardell.

 

“It seems that they (psychiatrists) did not bother with making a web search of words such as cultural Marxism and national Darwinism. You would get a massive amount of hits,” Gardell said after the testimony. According to the Professor, Breivik is at his ideological core a fascist, who had built his ideology from ideas such as islamophobia, antifeminism, cultural conservative nationalism, and even white-power ideology. “Breivik is no mystery”, he said during the proceedings.

 

This analysis has been used by the defense team to demonstrate that Breivik is mentally sane, and therefore should be sentenced to prison and not psychiatric care. “If my expert opinion would contribute to sentencing (Breivik) to the hardest punishment mandated by the law, I would not lose any sleep over it”, Gardell comments.

 

The mass murderer himself was completely calm during Gardell’s presentation. One of the jurors even played a computer game during the proceedings, which was broadcasted by a TV-camera. Many of the defense’s witnesses have declined to appear in court. For that reason Breivik received extra time to present his personal experiences which had added to his hatred of Muslims. As a seven years old boy Breivik remembers getting his bicycle damaged by his friend’s father. Later his negative experiences were dominated by fights with Pakistani and Albanian gangs during the night life in downtown Oslo. Many of his accounts could not be verified.

 

Breivik had also mentioned that his political views were formed by the age of 15 when he had noticed that the media did not care much for the (social) problems he had seen. Breivik has a theory about why he had come to find himself in this situation of being accused of terrorism. He argued that his honor, as well the honor of the Norwegian people is vital to his worldview. “There are not many Norwegians who share this feeling.”

Signed: Peter Wallberg/TT

A Swede was a secret agent working for three different countries

June 11, 2012

Spying against Sweden is increasing according to the Swedish Intelligence Agency (SÄPO). The Agency also suspects that at least 15 states are doing illegal surveillance in the country. The Daily News has reported that a Swedish man have been a secret informer for Libyan, British and Swedish intelligence services simultaneously. His code name is “Joseph” and he has on the regular basis reported Muslims as suspected terrorists.

Usually foreign spies target large Swedish firms and sensitive information on Swedish policies/politics. Another focus is given to spying on recent immigrant communities, and usually those who are political activists seeking asylum in Sweden. Regime critics and opposition activists who live in Sweden have regularly been threatened and their movements and activities traced.

 

The information about Joseph’s activities today is uncertain – he lives in a city in Sweden, he has children and officially his financial circumstances are highly limited. Despite that, he is regularly traveling across the world. AS recently as couple of weeks ago, he had visited his former homeland, Libya. This we his second trip since the fall of the regime. Moreover, according from the information from DN he had met with one of the rebel leaders Abdel Hakim Belhaj on his last trip.

 

Joseph claims that he is not an informant working for any of the mentioned states. “You are talking to the wrong guy here. Alright. You know nothing what this is all about,” he was reported to have said to a DN’s reporter. Howoever, a fax message from the British intelligence agency MI6 from 2003 is contradicting his claims. The message is a part of a set of documents gathered by Human Rights Watch in Libya in the wake of administrative vacuum followed by the fall of Qaddafi regime.

 

The MI6 document starts with the words, “Greetings from MI6 in London” and it is a four pages long document describing a meeting with “Joseph” in Manchester. It is dated December 11, 2003 with an address of the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The fax message gives details about Joseph and how he was recruited by MI6. He had names of 11 Muslims from Sweden who he described as possible terrorists and accomplices. He also had a list of names of individual board members in a Muslim association in Sweden. The document further shows that Joseph had contacts with Qaddafi’s intelligence services (ESO) and the Swedish security agency (SÄPO). The document further hints that his first step has been to hand over the list of names to (MI6). The names of people he suspected to be “jihad sympathizers” in Sweden. MI6 in turn sent the list to Libya.

 

The DN had investigated the list and, at least, two individuals from the list more closely. The two persons have been in Joseph’s immediate closeness. Another individual was now deceased Muhammad Moumou (Abu Qaswarah) listed as a terrorist by both the United Nations and the European Union in 2006.

 

One of the most important question Joseph had posed is how is he to handle his contacts with the Swedish SÄPO. Joseph further wanted to inform MI6 about his contacts (with SÄPO), something MI6 was not interested in him doing. The Libyan ESO has, according to the document, been deeply aware of his informant status and work. Joseph had also been firmly instructed not to reveal his cooperation with other agencies to SÄPO. ESO and MI6 agreed that Joseph shall cancel his meetings with Swedes and inform them that he was ill.

 

”Joseph” is protected as a source by DN, however the newspaper’s reporters investigated into his real identity and could establish it after some time.  He is a 45-year old male who immigrated to Sweden in the end of 1980s from Libya. A few years later be became a citizen. He is registered to reside in a two-room apartment in a well-kept residential building. During some periods he worked as a store assistant. People familiar with Joseph describe him as secretive and suspicious of others. He could disappear without any explanation despite his limited funds on long expensive trips. He has even been convicted of domestic violence for beating up two of his earlier girlfriends. He has also been sentenced for theft and for making threats. Most recently he has been convicted of shoplifting.

 

Despite all of these issues he has established himself as a known figure in the Muslim community. “He knows people everywhere, in Stockholm, Malmö, Göteborg,” one of his acquaintances comments.

 

SÄPO never comments any individual cases, however, according to their annual rapport for 2011 Libya is one of the countries which has conducted intelligence gathering in Sweden during several years. On several occasions the Swedish authorities have deported Libyan spies. Furthermore, according to SÄPO persons as information sources are tremendously important in intelligence gathering (counterterrorism etc.)

 

According to Magnus Ranstrorp (researcher at the Swedish Defense College) it is unusual to be an agent for three separate intelligence agencies. “It is unusual since there are so many states involved, that is, that the Libyan regime and the British agency and even the Swedish (SÄPO) seem to have bilateral relationships to him (Joseph).”

Signed: Mattias Carlsson

Four are convicted for terrorist plot

2012-06-11

 

Four men from Sweden have been convicted on the basis of terrorist plot in Denmark. They were supposedly conspiring to attack the offices of the newspaper   Jyllands-Posten with weapons. The attack was planned to take place at the building that houses the two major newspapers, Jyllands-Posten and Politiken, just days before the New Year’s Eve 2010.

 

The men were arrested on December 29th 2010, three of them in Copenhagen and the fourth in Stockholm. Both Swedish (SÄPO) and Danish (PET) intelligence services have followed the three men traveling the entire car trip from Stockholm to Copenhagen. Prior to that the police has had the four men under surveillance for a long period of time. The fourth man, who stayed in Stockholm after deciding to discontinue the journey was convicted by as well.

 

According to the director of PET, Jakob Scharf, the men were only hours away from attacking the offices of the newspaper(s). according to the information given by the police, the men had an automatic weapon, a handgun and 200  of so called PlastiCuffs. A large amount of material used as evidence has been presented throughout the trial. The Prosecutor has relied heavily on hours of recordings from police surveillance of a Stockholm apartment where the attack have seemingly been planned. The recordings indicate that the men had planned to cause maximum destruction with their attack. All of them are between 31 and 46 years of age and according to the Prosecutor the men planned the attack as a part of a reprisal plot against the newspapers’ distribution of the so called Muhammed Caricatures.

 

All of the men have been sentenced to 12 years in prison, a highest possible sentence in this type of cases. The Prosecutor wanted the sentence to be extended between 14 and 16 years.

Measuring Prejudices

June 4, 2012

 

Attitudes towards Islam are being explored. A study on the public’s attitudes regarding Islam has been started in the wake of a mosque building project in Luleå (a capital of one of the northernmost districts in Sweden).

 

The idea has been to examine people’s opinions concerning Islam. This is an attempt to build better understanding regarding the Muslim community in the district, which could help the authorities to identify the different (Muslim) community needs. The study has been initiated by the adult educational association – Sensus and Norrbotten County Islamic Center (NiC). “We know from the experience in other parts of the country that racism and intolerance increase with building of mosques. We are therefore initiating some preventive effort by mapping the community’s needs by collecting knowledge (about social attitudes)”, says Anna Waara, a project leader at Sensus. The study should be completed within six months and it will hopefully lead to a longer (research) project thereafter.

Signed: Catharina Isberg

Poll: Most Americans do not identify Obama as Christian

Republicans from time to time have accused President Obama of playing identity politics. Here’s the problem: The electorate remains confused about his identity.

The problem is most famously manifested in persistent conspiracy theories, driven by conspiracy-loving “birthers,” about Obama’s birthplace and citizenship. But voters remain muddled about his religion as well, as a new Gallup poll confirms.

The poll released Friday shows that just 34% of Americans can identify Obama as a Christian or, more specifically, as a Protestant. Eleven percent remain convinced that he is Muslim, and 44% say they don’t know.

That is striking, because few presidents have spoken and written as much about their faith as Obama. His Christianity, in fact, ignited the biggest controversy of his 2008 campaign when incendiary videos of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s longtime pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, went viral on the internet. Obama eventually severed ties with Wright, and since then has attended a variety of Christian churches. He uses Christian language and imagery often in speeches

The Gallup findings were remarkably consistent with those of a Pew Research Center poll in August 2010, in which 34% of those surveyed said Obama was Christian, 18% said Muslim and 43% said they didn’t know.

It is also notable that the matter is even an issue. Randall Balmer, a professor of American religious history at Columbia University and the author of “God in the White House: How Faith Shapes the Presidency — from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush,” has noted that there was a time in American politics when the electorate didn’t pay any attention to the president’s religion and didn’t particularly care.

How many Americans, he has asked, knew the religious denomination of Lyndon Johnson? (He was a member of the Disciples of Christ.)

The Gallup poll was based on telephone interviews conducted June 7-10 with a random sample of 1,004 adults nationwide. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Jewish group cancels speech by controversial author Pamela Geller

Hours before the activist was set to give a lecture, the Jewish Federation cancels the event. She later speaks at a hall a few miles away.
Pamela Geller, the controversial author and activist, was set to deliver a lecture Sunday morning to the Zionist Organization of America that she had given many times before, billed by organizers as a revelation of the “root cause of war in the Middle East.”
But instead of taking her place before the few dozen people inside the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Geller and those who had come to see her milled around the sidewalk on Wilshire Boulevard. The Jewish Federation, just hours earlier, canceled the event.
Cancellations, just like death threats — “I have a huge file of death threats,” Geller says — are something of an occupational hazard, particularly after the Southern Poverty Law Center deemed her organization a hate group. Both Jewish and Islamic associations have condemned her as a “fear-monger.”
But in this instance, she said, the Jewish Federation “cravenly submitted to Islamic supremacists who wanted to suppress free speech.”
Officials with the federation declined to comment Sunday.