Al Jazeera to launch French language channel

18.03.2013

Liberation

The Qatar based TV news channel Al Jazeera has recently announced the launch of a French news channel based in the United Kingdom. Al Jazeera French aims to build a bridge to the cultures and people of Europe, Africa and North America, according to the networks CEO Sheikh Ahmed Ben Jassem Al-Thani.

The French news channel follows Al Jazeera’s attempts to provincialise its network by opening branches in the Balkan region, Turkey, the US and in the near future the United Kingdom as well. The Qatari channel aims to expand as a media network that addresses different cultures in a number of languages. Localized media should help to attract larger audiences around the globe and aid to diversify Al Jazeera’s media profile. The Al Jazeera network was launched in 1996 as a pan-Arabic satellite station before opening its English branch, Al Jazeera English, in 2006 and is financed by the Emir of Qatar.

Meeting Featuring Anti-Gay Islamist Canceled by University of East London

20 March 2013

 

A meeting featuring Khalid Yashin, an anti-gay Islamist preacher, scheduled to be hosted by the University of East London (UEL) last Friday, 15 March, was canceled after lobbying by the UEL LGBT Society and the Peter Tatchell Foundation. The meeting was scheduled to be held on the UEL Stratford campus.

 

Khalid Yashin has previously said that homosexuality and lesbianism are sins and aberrations and has endorsed the execution of gay people. Yahin’s controversial positions and the insistence of the event organizers on gender segregated seating prompted a backlash by university groups and human rights organizations, who claim that such events are contrary to the tolerant university environment.

 

The UEL student union issued a statement announcing the cancelation of the event, but neither they nor the UEL administration issued a public denunciation of Khalid Yashin’s positions or of his invitation to speak on campus.

Scottish Church Opens Doors To Muslim Community

18 March 2013

 

A Scottish Episcopal Church in Aberdeen is now open for members of the local Muslim community to pray alongside Christians, a decision that has been hailed as an unprecedented example of inter-faith cooperation in the United Kingdom. Rev. Isaac Poobalan, rector of St. John’s Church in Aberdeen, made the decision to allow more than 100 Muslims to pray in portions of his church after witnessing dozens of Muslims praying outside of the nearby Syed Shah Mustafa Jame Masjid mosque due to overcrowding. Regarding his decision, Rev. Poobalan said, “Religion does not play a role when it comes to friendship and hospitality.”

 

Though similar arrangements have been made in the United States, this is thought to be the first time that an active church in the UK has been used as a place for Muslim worship. Said a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, “I’ve never heard of this before, of any other case where active churches are also used as mosques.”

Rapper of Moroccan origin from Bologna: “Through Rap I can express myself”

March 20, 2013

Issam Mrini, aka Lama Islam, was born in Morocco and raised in Bologna, where, from an early age, he was exposed to the hip hop culture. Today, thirty years, Lama Islam is a well-known rapperand known throughout the Italian underground scene.

In 2002 Lama Islam opened a hip hop clothing store in Bologna. The store has become a center for the the hip hop scene in Bologna. “It was not easy to do this project” said Lama Islam “I have made many sacrifices but thank God things are going well and, despite the crisis, I also created my own label ‘Renim.'”

Pope Francis encourages “friendship between different religions”

March 20, 2013

Pope Francis wanted to give a strong signal to representatives of other faiths, “the Catholic Church is aware of the importance of the promotion of friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions” said the Pope.

Francis greeted and thanked all those who belong to other religious traditions, “first and foremost Muslims, who worship the one God, those who are merciful and call upon him in prayer. I really appreciate your presence and your new willingness to grow mutual respect and cooperation for the common good. ”

The Islamic world gave a positive response, with the International Union of Muslim scholars who said they were ready to resume dialogue with the Vatican after the election of the new pope. The organization led by Yusuf Al Qaradawi had previously cut off all communication with Pope Ratzinger because of his position on Islam was considered hostile.

Racism: Muslims are the people most affected by discrimination in Europe according to the 2012 ENAR report on discrimination in Europe

Italy discrimination reportMarch 21, 2013

Muslim citizens are most affected by episodes of discrimination in Europe. This is what emerges from the report on racism in the EU 2011-2012, published by the European Network Against Racism (ENAR). The report was released on March 21, International Day for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Particularly affected are women, accounting for 85 percent of reported cases of Islamophobia. The latter in fact suffer from gender discrimination as well as religious discrimination.

The report notes, Islam is often used as a scapegoat by politicians to divert public attention from other, more serious problems. Islamophobia makes it difficult for many Muslims in all Member States, to access education, housing, employment and other services. In addition, Muslims are treated differently by the police and are often unable to access justice.

Several recommendations are made for Italy, where the economic crisis seems to have significantly reduced if not nullified the little progress made in previous years including adopting a specific law on freedom of religion, providing more places of worship for non-Catholics, passing a new amnesty for illegal immigrants already working in Italy, allowing better access to housing and education, and adopting a law on the right to vote in local elections.

The report does note a decrease in reports of discrimination in access to goods and services by immigrants, this declined between 2010 and 2012 from 3.3 to 1 per cent. The report blames media operators that in Italy, seem to be less able to cover unbiased news regarding immigration and minorities.

Italy discrimination report

Rai Film about Islam

March 19, 2013

A Capuchin monk from Friulana, Marco D’Aviano, who energized Christians troops before the Battle of Vienna in which Ottoman army of 300,000 warriors was stopped in their besiegement of Vienna on September 11, 1683. The film explains that this was the first September 11; 300 years ago. Produced by RAI the film will premier on  April 11 and will be distributed by Microcinema. The distribution of the film has already been postponed once due to the film’s political incorrectness according to RAI leadership.

The film, which cost over € 5 million, was filmed with great battle scenes in Romania and Italy. The director’s aim was not necessarily to show that there is evidence to support a comparison between September 11, 1683 and that of 2001. The director stresses that “is not a film against Islam but on the total senselessness of the wars of religion. It’s a movie that focuses on a figure from the depths of history that of a great Christian priest: Marco D’Aviano. Marco D’Aviano was canonized a few years ago by Pope John Paul II, who aware of the priests importance in the history of Europe. Yet, inexplicably, no one knows who is Marco D’Aviano.” The film also focuses on Kara Mustafa, a great Muslim leader (played by Enrico Lo Verso). Both characters are convinced that their God will bring them a superhuman feat: Kara Mustafa wants to destroy Vienna and come to Rome to transform the St. Peter’s Basilica into a mosque. Marco D’Aviano wants to prevent this plan.

Pope Francis has been ‘a friend’ to Jews and Muslims in Buenos Aires

Pope Francis has always been open to dialogues with other religions. During his time in Buenos Aires, he continually supported open avenues of communication with non-Christian communities. The ex-Cardinal would visit other religious centers before major holidays. The secretary of the Islamic Center of Argentina (CIRA), Sumer Noufouri, said he considers Pope Francis’ a sincere friend of the Islamic community. Sheik Ali Mohsen, head of the House for the Spread of Islam, also describes the Pope as “a true friend of our community and he visited my mosque.” Ali also recalls the proverbial austerity of the new Pope when he visited the Cardinal’s headquarters, “his humility impressed me: the room was a small wicker chair and a few soft chairs. He sat in the wicker chairs and left us the comfortable armchairs.”

Interview with Matenia Sirseloudi: What Drives Young People to Jihad?

What is behind the Islamicisation and radicalisation of young people in Europe? To what extent do European foreign policies and military interventions abroad play a role in this? Albrecht Metzger spoke to sociologist Dr Matenia Sirseloudi about politically motivated violence and radicalisation processes

Why are jihadists attacking the West? Do they hate us for what we are or for what we do?

Matenia Sirseloudi: There is, of course, a part of the jihadist ideology that wants to attack us for what we are. On the other hand, the impetus to take action and attack us comes from a declaration of defensive jihad against us. This relates to our actions and in particular to our foreign policy actions. The jihadists consider these actions to be an attack on the Muslim world.

You are conducting research into something known as “spill-over effects”, in other words the extent to which western intervention in Muslim countries could contribute to the radicalisation of Muslims in Europe. What led you to this subject?

Sirseloudi: After the attacks in Madrid and London, the European Commission decided to invest more in prevention and to focus on radicalisation processes in the Islamist environment that could lead to terrorist acts in Europe. Within this context, I conducted an initial study of the impact of external conflicts on Islamist radicalisation processes in Europe.

In our project, which is supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), we are now researching the effect that these external factors – including Germany’s foreign and security policy behaviour – have on the jihadist discourse and on three different radicalised environments: the jihadists, the Islamists, and vulnerable youths.

As you know, the argument used by the jihadist-inspired perpetrators to justify the attacks on the commuter trains in Madrid in 2004 was that they wanted to force Spain out of the alliance of countries that had been involved in the military intervention in Iraq. Similarly, the French gunman Mohammed Merah used external conflicts – in his case the Middle East and Afghanistan – to justify his targeted murders.

 

Extremists in GermanyRight-wing Agitators versus Islamist Fanatics

They agitate, they incite, they are relentlessly intolerant: Salafists and those hostile to Islam continually whip each other into a frenzy with their mutual hatred. But no matter how much cold calculation the rightist rabble-rousers bring to their provocations, the law must protect them from persecution. A commentary by Hans Leyendecker

Islamists and Islam-haters are different in many ways, yet they also have much in common. They are blinded by hatred, they incite, they provoke, they want to escalate the conflict at any price and they are relentlessly intolerant.

Ever since radical militant Salafists and the Islam-hostile right-wing populists from the fringe party Pro NRW had at each other in May 2012, fighting in the streets and injuring 29 policemen in the process, it was only to be expected that this would not be the end of the violence.

The news that a group of extremist Salafists was allegedly planning the assassination of Marcus Beisicht, the head of Pro NRW, and other members of the far-right party does not come as a complete surprise, but that doesn’t make it any less disturbing. Is a religious war in the offing, to be waged with knives, guns and explosives?

Pitiful provocateurs

There is no doubt about it: Beisicht and his splinter group are pathetic provocateurs. They have sought out every possible opportunity to sow hatred and challenge Islamist fanatics to a fight by holding anti-Islam rallies and displaying Mohammed caricatures outside mosques. They wanted to provoke an escalation and coolly calculated that the fanaticism of their opponents would play into their hands.

Beisicht, a lawyer, is their mastermind. He has represented the right-wing party The Republicans on the Cologne City Council and defended a neo-Nazi who was indicted for sedition and using anti-constitutional symbols – in short, he is no ordinary populist.

He is a radical who enjoys playing the “persecuted innocent”, as Karl Kraus once dubbed agitators of his ilk. Beisicht complained early on about death threats and a fatwa that Islamic scholars had allegedly decreed against him. Now, a few crazed backroom Islamists have apparently done just that.

The state must protect the right-wing firebrands

But no matter how coldly calculating and idiotic the plans hatched by the agitators on the extreme right may be, the rule of law must nonetheless protect them from persecution. No religion, no confession of the supposedly true faith justifies attacks. Holy warriors are not blood-stained saints but criminals.

The state must do everything in its power to contain the Salafists. This might include banning associations, conducting raids and continuous surveillance. In official reports, Salafism is generally described as a kind of instantaneous fomenter of terrorism, which is not quite the case. The majority of the 4,000 Salafists in Germany aim only to spread their faith; only a minority dream of inciting war.

It was a good sign that the major Islamic associations distanced themselves from this group in the past. Islamist extremists are the true enemies of Islam, because their actions spark regularly recurring discussions among the general populace that all Muslims are backward and violent. Islam is part of Germany, but the country must not let itself be provoked by fanatics and firebrands.

Hans Leyendecker