New Reports from the Andalusian Observatory

21 June 2013

 

The Andalusian Observatory presented at the library of the Central Mosque of Abu-Bakr in Madrid, the Annual General Education Report Annex (2012), the 2012 Report on Islamophobia incidents in Spain and the Special Report on Islamophobia incidents.

Annual General Education Report Conclusions:

  1. The Muslims students represent approximately 3% of the total of students in Spain;
  2. 35% of the Muslim students are Spanish and 65% are immigrants (50% Moroccan and 15% of other nationality);
  3. 95% of the Muslim students does not have religious classes at school;
  4. 90% of the Islamic Religious teachers are unemployed.

 

The 2012 Report on Islamophobia incidents conclusions:

  1. The Spanish society in general accepts the Muslim presence, while a remaining percentage (which varies according to different places), does not accept it.
  2. The opening of Mosques, in some localities, is involved in polemics, obstacles and Islamophobic opposition and hostility.

 

The 2012 Special Report on Islamophobia incidents conclusions:

 

  1. Muslims related concepts are still used in an abusive and indiscriminate way by the media.
  2. Negative stereotypes (public disorder, ideological extremism, problems of coexistence, violence, terrorism, etc) disseminated by political platforms, and amplified by the media, are causing fear in the Spanish population.
  3. The State needs to be more active in the normalization of religion and also in promoting greater social cohesion.
  4. The report gives descriptions of islamophobic incidents in Spain

 

In 2003 the ‘Andalusian Observatory’ was born as an autonomous body of the Union of Islamic Communities in Spain. It is a non-profit ‘institution for observation and monitoring of the situation of Muslim citizen and Islamophobia in Spain “.
http://www.ucide.org/es/content/observatorio

Reports:

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Abercrombie Struggling To Prove Fired Woman’s Hijab Hurt Sales: Report

Abercrombie & Fitch is having a hard time proving in court that the Muslim headscarf worn by an employee who was fired in 2010 hurt the clothing company’s sales, Law360 reports.

On Tuesday, when a federal judge in California pressed attorney Mark Knueve, who is representing Abercrombie, if he or any of his witnesses had financial records to show the woman’s hijab hurt sales, Knueve said he didn’t.

“A defendant says we’re harmed but provides no real evidence?” Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers retorted, according to the report. “And you want me to grant summary judgment [in your favor]?”

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) originally sued Abercrombie in 2011 on behalf of Hani Khan, the Muslim woman who says she was fired from a Hollister store in a California mall in 2010 because she wore a hijab to work. (Abercrombie owns Hollister.)

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Khan was wearing the religious garment when she interviewed for the job in October 2009 and during the first four months she worked at the San Mateo, Calif., clothing store.

Yet in February 2010, when a visiting district manager saw her wearing it and spoke with one of the store’s human resources employees, they decided the headscarf violated the store’s controversial “Look Policy,” which critics have said is usually interpreted to mean white, muscular and thin.

On Wednesday, Abercrombie spokesman Mackenzie Bruce told The Huffington Post the company does not discriminate based on religion and that it grants religious accommodations, including for hijabs, when such accommodations are considered “reasonable.”

This isn’t the first time Abercrombie has been in trouble over this issue. In 2009 the clothing store was found guilty of discrimination and ordered to pay $20,000 to a 19-year-old Muslim college student who was refused a job because her hijab violated the store’s “Look Policy.”

D.C. imam provides counseling, weddings and prayer space for gay Muslims

Imam Dayaiee Abdullah never knows how many people are going to show up for Friday prayers.

Some weeks, nearly a dozen men and women gather at a Quaker hall in northwest Washington, D.C., where they kneel on prayer rugs laid out to transform the room into a Muslim place of worship.

 

Other weeks, Abdullah, a convert to Islam, sits alone.

 

He may be the only openly gay imam in the world, and he formed Light of Reform mosque more than two years ago so people like himself could worship without fear.

The mosque is one of just a few in the world where openly gay Muslims are welcome, but even there, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people fear harassment, and often stay away.

Life is changing for gay Muslims, even if the changes seem infinitesimally small. A gay-friendly mosque opened near Paris last year. A lesbian Muslim couple from Pakistan married in a civil service this year in England.

 

Western Muslims are leading the push for inclusiveness, said Ani Zonneveld, president of Muslims for Progressive Values, for which Abdullah serves as director of LGBT outreach.

Abdullah provides wedding ceremonies for gay Muslims and interfaith couples. He also offers counseling (available via Skype for gay Muslims living in countries where homosexuality is not tolerated), and weekly prayer services where men and women kneel side by side.

 

But while Abdullah calls his mosque “progressive,” Imam Muzammil Siddiqi, a prominent Muslim leader based at California’s Islamic Society of Orange County calls it “unacceptable.”

No legitimate imam will officiate at a same-sex wedding, Siddiqi said.

Va. cabbie pursues charges after anti-Muslim bashing

McLEAN, Va. (AP) — For the second time in as many months, a Muslim civil rights group is pursuing criminal charges on behalf of a taxicab driver who was subjected to an anti-Islamic rant caught on tape.

A civil rights organization is asking the Fairfax County, Va., prosecutor to pursue a case involving a Virginia taxi driver who was subjected to an anti-Muslim rant by a passenger.

In the most recent case, an Ashburn, Va., woman unleashed a string of expletives and called 911 to report that she was afraid for her life because she said her cabbie, Abdikar Aden of Alexandria, was “very Muslim.”

Aden says the woman also poked him repeatedly in the back of his shoulder, though that part of the confrontation was not captured in a recording provided to The Associated Press.

The Council on American Islamic Relations, which is representing Aden, wrote Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond Morrogh on Tuesday asking his office to prosecute the case.

Two accused of plot to kill Muslims with X-ray weapon

A Ku Klux Klansman working for General Electric and an accomplice are facing terrorism charges in Upstate New York for allegedly planning to build a mobile X-ray weapon to kill Muslims and other “enemies of Israel,” federal authorities announced Wednesday.

Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, of Galway, N.Y., and Eric J. Feight, 54, of Hudson, N.Y., were charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, which carries a maximum prison term of 15 years, U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian said. They were due in federal court in Albany on Wednesday.

Crawford, an industrial mechanic with GE, claimed the “Hiroshima on a light switch” device could fit in a van, be triggered remotely and deliver lethal doses of ionizing radiation that would kill its targets as they slept, the complaint stated. Feight allegedly agreed to build the electronic controls.

In April 2012, authorities were notified that Crawford had gone to an Albany-area synagogue and and contacted a local Jewish organizations “seeking out individuals who might offer assistance in helping him with a type of technology that could be used against people he perceived as enemies of Israel” and the United States. He called these perceived enemies and Muslims “medical waste” and “scumbags.”

Crawford told an informant he planned to buy or build a battery-powered, industrial-strength X-ray device and hoped to land a part-time job in a metal shop with X-ray tubes, according to the complaint.

A year later — April 15, the day of the Boston Marathon bombings — Crawford said in an e-mail exchange monitored by the FBI that he had found a power supply. He railed against President Obama, whom he derided as “your treasoness bedwetting maggot in chief,” for “bringing the muzzies here without background checks.”

McDonald’s drops halal food from U.S. menu

DETROIT — There have been only two McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S. that have offered halal food. Both were in east Dearborn, Mich., which has a sizable population of Arab-American Muslims.

But after a contentious lawsuit that accused the restaurant chain of selling non-halal items advertised as halal, McDonald’s has yanked its Halal Chicken McNuggets and Halal McChicken sandwiches off the menu. The move brings to an end a unique product that made the two McDonald’s restaurants popular with Muslims.

“Those items have been discontinued as a result of our continued efforts to focus on our national core menu,” a spokesman for McDonald’s said Friday.

At one of the two restaurants, the Ford Road location, a sign in Arabic and English on its drive-through menu informs customers that halal items are no longer available. The decision to discontinue the products after a 12-year run drew a mixed reaction in Dearborn: Some were disappointed, while others said it was a good move because McDonald’s had problems before with selling halal food.

The removal of the halal items, which was done last month, comes after a lawsuit filed in 2011 alleging that the fast-food restaurant was selling non-halal chicken it claimed was halal. Halal is the Muslim equivalent of kosher, requiring that meat be prepared according to Islamic guidelines, such as reciting a prayer while the animal is cut. In some cases, employees at the Ford Road location were mistakenly giving non-halal products to customers who asked for halal ones.

Civil rights groups sue NYPD over Muslim spying

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Police Department’s widespread spying programs directed at Muslims have undermined free worship by innocent people and should be declared unconstitutional, religious leaders and civil rights advocates said Tuesday after the filing of a federal lawsuit.

“Our mosque should be an open, religious, a spiritual sanctuary, but NYPD spying has turned it into a place of suspicion and censorship,” Hamid Hassan Raza, an imam named as a plaintiff, told a rally outside police headquarters shortly after the suit was filed in federal court in Manhattan.

The suit asks a judge to order the nation’s largest police department to stop its surveillance and destroy any related records. It’s the third significant legal action filed against the NYPD’s Muslim surveillance program since details of the program were revealed in a series of Associated Press reports starting in 2011.

The lawsuit said Muslim religious leaders in New York have modified their sermons and other behavior so as not to draw additional police attention. The suit was filed against Mayor Michael Bloomberg, police commissioner Raymond Kelly and the deputy commissioner of intelligence, David Cohen.

 

The NYPD did not immediately respond to a phone call and email asking for comment.

New York City’s law department said police intelligence-gathering tactics in Muslim communities is legal and critical to combating terrorism.

The lawsuit is the latest legal challenge to the activities of the NYPD Intelligence Division. A year ago, the California-based civil rights organization Muslim Advocates sued the NYPD over its counterterrorism programs. This year, civil rights lawyers urged a judge to stop the NYPD from routinely observing Muslims in restaurants, bookstores and mosques, saying the practice violates a landmark 1985 court settlement that restricted the kind of surveillance used against war protesters in the 1960s and ’70s.

The lawsuit describes a pattern of NYPD spying directed at Muslims in New York since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Jon Stewart Appears On Egyptian TV, Talks Movie, Political Satire, And Fox News With Bassem Youssef

Daily Show host Jon Stewart is on a hiatus from anchoring the late night comedy program to direct a feature film, but two months after “Egypt’s Jon Stewart” Bassem Youssef appeared on Comedy Central, Stewart returned the favor with an appearance on Youssef’s program Albernamegtoday. The two comedians bantered about everything from Egyptian traffic to “which pit of hell” Fox News is reporting from. They also talked a lot about political satire, with Stewart remarking, “If your regime is not strong enough to handle a joke, then you don’t have a regime.”

 

After impressing the audience with a few words of Arabic, Stewart told Youssef he is “honored” to be on his show, and mockingly announced to the audience he has been appointed to a mayorship by President Mohammed Morsi. Stewart joked that after handing off his show to John Oliver, he’s just wandering around the Middle East, because “my people like to wander the desert.”

Stewart explained the background of Rosewater, the movie he is directing based on a book written by Maziar Bahari, a Newsweek journalist who was imprisoned by the Iranian government during the post-2009 election protests a few days after he sat down for an interview with Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones

Youssef brought up Stewart’s favorite sparring partner, Fox News, and remarked, “I was wondering in which pit of hell do they do their editorials.” Stewart said he doesn’t see what they do as “hate,” but “fear,” whether it be honest or just manipulation. Youssef brought up Bill O’Reilly‘s latest Daily Showsit-down, particularly O’Reilly mockingly demanding that Stewart be replaced on the show by a Muslim host. Youssef deadpanned, “Why didn’t you think of me?”

Stewart said he never wants to single out anyone for their religious beliefs, saying there’s one thing that’s true of all people all around the world.

Arab Spring Adds to Global Restrictions on Religion

pew restrictionsIVAt the onset of the Arab Spring in late 2010 and early 2011, many world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, expressed hope that the political uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa would lead to greater freedoms for the people of the region, including fewer restrictions on religious beliefs and practices. But a new study by the Pew Research Center finds that the region’s already high overall level of restrictions on religion – whether resulting from government policies or from social hostilities – continued to increase in 2011.

 

Before the Arab Spring, government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion were higher in the Middle East and North Africa than in any other region of the world.1 Government restrictions in the region remained high in 2011, while social hostilities markedly increased. For instance, the number of countries in the region experiencing sectarian or communal violence between religious groups doubled from five to 10. (See sidebar on the Middle East-North Africa region.)

The Americas, Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and the Asia-Pacific region all had increases in overall restrictions on religion in 2011. Government restrictions declined slightly in Europe, but social hostilities increased. Asia and the Pacific had the sharpest increase in government restrictions, though the level of social hostilities remained roughly the same. By contrast, social hostilities edged up in sub-Saharan Africa, but government restrictions stayed about the same. Both government restrictions and social hostilities increased slightly in the Americas.

The new study also finds that reports of harassment or intimidation of Muslims increased worldwide during 2011. Muslims were harassed by national, provincial or local governments or by individuals or groups in society in 101 countries, up from 90 countries the year before. Christians continued to be harassed in the largest number of countries (105), although this represented a decrease from the previous year (111 countries). Jews were harassed in 69 countries, about the same as the year before (68). (For details, see Number of Countries Where Religious Groups Were Harassed, by Year chart.)

The number of countries with overall increases in restrictions compared with the previous year outnumbered those with decreases. However, a larger share of countries (35%) had a decrease in at least one of the 20 types of government restrictions or 13 types of social hostilities measured by the study compared with the previous year (28%). Examples include a relaxation of registration requirements for religious groups in Austria; efforts to overturn a centuries-old law barring the British monarch from marrying a Catholic; and elimination of a requirement in Jordan that groups, including religious groups, obtain prior permission from the government before holding public meetings or demonstrations.6 (See sidebar on initiatives aimed at reducing religious restrictions.)

In the four countries with decreases of 1.0 to 1.9 points (Bangladesh, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and the United States), some hostilities that occurred in the year ending in mid-2010 did not reoccur in 2011. In the United States, for instance, multiple religion-related terrorist attacks occurred in the year ending in mid-2010, but none occurred in 2011.15

Among countries with small changes on the Social Hostilities Index (less than 1.0 point), 69 had increases (35%) and 59 had decreases (30%).

Considering all changes in social hostilities from mid-2010 to the end of 2011, regardless of magnitude, 49% of countries had increases and 32% of countries had decreases. The level of increase in social hostilities during the latest year studied remained unchanged from the previous year (from mid-2009 to mid-2010).

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Media bias towards reporting Islam

rapport_religions_2012_orela_ulb11.06.2013

According to the The Observatory of Religions and Secularism’s (Orela) 2012 report, Islam continues to be discussed in specific and reductive ways in Belgium’s media. Events that are in any way related to Islam or Muslims are reported in the media in ways that “serve as a starting point for an ongoing debate on Muslim integration in Belgian society”. Any debate on Islam in the country’s media continues to include a discussion about the “compatibility of this cult with secularism “. According to Orela, Islam becomes in Belgium media a political but also sociological and economic issue, which serves to alienate Islam and Muslim communities from the country’s mainstream.

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