New Documentary about Italian Islam

February 23, 2014

 

The documentary “I sought to find Maradona [the famed soccer player] but I found Allah,” by Lorenzo Cioffi and Ernesto Pagano, presents two Neapolitan youth who converted to Islam, Ciro and Francesco. The protagonists discuss the reasons for conversion and anecdotes related to their choice. The documentary also includes Augustine Gentile and Massimo Cozzolino, teacher of Islamic religion and head of the Mosque in Piazza Mercato in Naples, respectively. Gentile and Cozzolino also discuss the case of the two boys within the broader phenomenon of a “return” to Islam in the city. The documentary broadcast on Rai News2.

 

Redattore Sociale: http://www.redattoresociale.it/Multimedia/Video/Dettaglio/454841/Islam-italiano-Ciro-cercava-Maradona-e-ha-trovato-Allah

A mosque and a cultural center in Venice?

February 22, 2014

 

No Islamic cultural center and mosque is complete without a minaret muezzin calling to worshippers to prayer. A Mosque would take many Venetian Muslims into the sunlight, out of garages and stairs that have been their places of worship for all this time. A cultural center could be in the future for the City of Venice. An unnamed Saudi prince has agreed to fund the center, according to the local newspapers. Now begins a battle for a place of worship.

 

Venezia Today: http://www.veneziatoday.it/cronaca/moschea-centro-culturale-islam-venezia-principe-saudita.html

A Controversial opening act at the famed Sanremo Music Festival

February 19, 2014

 

Souad Sbai, a former MP and president of the Community Association of Moroccan Women in Italy (ACMID Woman) expressed her outrage at the choice of Cat Steven to open the famed Sanremo music festival. In a note Sbai said “I’m sorry I have to note once again the inability of state television to act as a public service. I find it shameful that the Parliamentary Oversight Committee at Rai television did not intervene to avoid hosting a controversial celebrity for the opening of the Sanremo music festival” Sbai is against the British singer-songwriter Cat Stevens, because in the “in the 1970s converted to Islam and now goes by the name Yusuf Islam” and “ he continues to be on the blacklist for traveling to the United States.” Sbai then points out that “in 2006, here in Italy, the pop star was the subject of a parliamentary panel led by the Minister of the Interior, Giuliano Amato, for an interview in which he spoke about Islamic propaganda.”

 

Andkronos: http://www.adnkronos.com/IGN/News/Spettacolo/Sanremo-Souad-Sbai-Cat-Stevens-in-lista-nera-Usa-era-meglio-non-farlo-esibire_321244456940.html

An analysis piece on Islamic Feminism in France by Adriane Choukour Wali titled ‘France and Islamic feminism: intersectionality in the Republic’

February 18, 2014

 

Preview: ‘The fact is that Islamic feminists in western countries, and especially in France, struggle with identity affiliations and fight against multiple forms of oppression that bind them to post-colonial and anti-racist movements.’

Source: http://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/adriane-choukour-wali/france-and-islamic-feminism-intersectionality-in-republic

France Satirical Mag Charlie Hebdo Sued by Muslims for ‘Blasphemy’

February 19, 2014

 

French Muslims have sued satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for blasphemy in Strasbourg for publishing a cover page with the headline: “The Koran is shit – it doesn’t stop bullets.”

The League of Judicial Defence of Muslims (LDJM) led by former lawyers Karim Achoui, has brought the case before the criminal court in Alsace-Moselle’s capital.

The region, which was annexed by Germany in 1871 and 1940-45, still retained part of the old German code that includes the “blasphemy” crime – which no longer exist in the rest of France.

The LDJM has also sued Charlie Hebdo in Paris for “provocation and incitement to hatred on the basis of religious affiliation and insult”.

A further complication is that Alsace’s blasphemy laws has no redress for Islam, covering only Catholicism, three forms of Protestants and Judaism.

According to Article 166 of the Alsace-Moselle penal code:

He who causes a scandal by publicly blaspheming against God by disparaging or publicly insulting Christian cults or a religious community established in the territory of the Confederation and recognised as a corporation, or institutions or ceremonies of these cults or which, in a church or other place devoted to religious meetings, has committed offensive and outrageous acts, shall be punished with imprisonment of three years.

Charb, director of Charlie Hebdo, said: “We know in advance that the trial will not go through because Islam is not in the code.”

The last application of the blasphemy law in the region dates back to 1918.

However, Eric Sander, secretary general of the Institute of Alsace-Moselle, told Le Monde that according to by-laws “any religion, statutory or otherwise can invoke Article 166 of the local penal code which is independent of system of worship”.

Crime of blasphemy was abolished after the French revolution by article 10 and 11 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in 1789. It was reinstated under the Restoration and again deleted by the law of 29 July 1881.

French courts, however, will consider cases that provoke injury, personal and direct attack against a group of people because of their religious affiliation or incitement to racial or religious hatred in cases involving defamation of individuals.

France Pays Muslim Soldiers’ Debt

February 19, 2014

 

A century after their sacrifices to France, long forgotten French Muslim soldiers have been remembered by President Francois Hollande who said France “owed a debt” to Muslim soldiers who died in World War I, pledging to fight racism and discrimination targeting the religious minority.

“France will never forget the price of the blood shed” by Muslim soldiers, Hollande said at a ceremony in Paris’s Grand Mosque on Tuesday, February 18, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.

Holland’s visit to the mosque, the first since being elected president in 2012, comes ahead of events planned later this year to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the war.

About 600,000 troops from France’s colonies took part in the 1914-18 war and about 70,000 Muslims lost their lives at the battle of Verdun in 1916, according to figures released by the Defence Ministry in 2010.

Hollande unveiled a plaque paying tribute to the 100,000 French Muslims who died fighting in the two world wars.

His presidential predecessors Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy also presented memorials and plaques remembering Muslims who fought for France.

Islam is “perfectly compatible with the values of France,” Hollande said.

“This homage is a call for respect,” Hollande said, urging a “fierce fight against discrimination, inequality and racism” as well as against “anti-Muslim words and acts.”

France is home to a Muslim minority of six million, Europe’s largest.

According to a poll published in April last year, three out of four French people have an negative image of Islam.

French Muslims have been complaining of growing restrictions on their religious freedoms.

In 2004, France banned Muslims from wearing hijab, an obligatory code of dress, in public places. Several European countries followed the French example.

France has also outlawed the wearing of face-veil in public.

The Grand Mosque of Paris, the largest mosque in France, was built between 1922 -1926.

French Muslim leaders have welcomed Hollande’s move to remember Muslim fighters.

“Even if this is not new, it’s good that François Hollande again reminds those who reject Muslims that thousands of natives died for France,” said Abdallah Zekri of the CFCM coalition of Islamic groupings, RFI reported on Tuesday.

“He should seize the chance to discuss the present worrying atmosphere with us,” he added.

On the other hand, Louis Aliot, the vice-president of the far-right Front National, slammed the visit as a “crude attempt at manipulation”.

“These comments are totally irresponsible because France has never forgotten the soldiers who died for France,” he stormed, claiming that the ceremony is exploiting them for the sake of “sectarian lobbyists”.

“If increasingly radical political Islam poses a problem […] of republican compatibility in our country, it’s not up to France to adapt and to provide answers it’s up to that religion,” Aliot said.

French media has also interpreted the visit as being aimed at gaining the favor of Muslims, who currently constitute five percent of the country’s voters, ahead of the March local elections.

 

Source: http://www.onislam.net/english/news/europe/469391-france-pays-muslim-soldiers-debt.html

 

German Jihadists in Syria

February 21, 2014

 

According to security authorities, a number of 270 German Jihadists have travelled to Syria to participate at the civil war. US and European intelligence estimate 2000 fighters from Europe in the Arab country. Among them, Abu Talha Al-Almani, aka Deso Dogg, aka Dennis Cuspert, a German rapper who converted to Islam a few years ago. Almani has been seen in syria, singing a cappella Jihadi songs (Nasheed) for the cause of the Jihad. A music video was released by the German Islamist site Tawhid, after Al Almani was reported to be injured in combat.

Dennis Cuspert was born  in 1975 in Berlin. A public „Gangsta Rapper“ a changed his appearance and became an Islamist preacher by the name of Abu Maleeq. He is said to be connected to Mohamed Mahmoud, aka Abu Usama al-Gharib, an Austrian of Egyptian origin. Mahmoud is said to be the founder of the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF), a jihadist propaganda platform.  Mahmoud was sentenced to four years in prison for by an Austrian court for terrorism offenses.

He reportedly left Austria for Berlin shortly after his release in September 2011. Mahmoud and Cuspert left to the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia and founded the Salafist association Millatu Ibrahim, which was banned by the Minister of Interior in 2012. The clashes between Salafist activists and police shocked the German authorities. The riots broke out within the context of an “anti-Muhammad” cartoon campaign, initiated by the extreme right-wing Pro NRW. Al- Almani calls Muslims to leave Germany and to join the Jihad in Syria. A full interview with the German Islamist is available (see link).

With regard to the mobilization of Jihadi action in Syria, Al-Almani calls Muslims with German citizenship to ask for German unemployment benefits and donations to support the cause of the Jihadi and their companions in the State of Iraq and al-Sham.

 

Al Monitor: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/02/deso-dogg-germany-salafists-syria-jihad.html?utm_source=Al-Monitor+Newsletter+%5BEnglish%5D&utm_campaign=284febf6ef-January_9_20141_8_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-284febf6ef-93074789#

Interview with Al-Almani English subtitles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rm5CQOUrhYo#t=71

Office for the Protection of the Constitution: http://verfassungsschutz-bw.de/,Lde/Startseite/Aktuelles/Neue+Internetpraesenz+von+deutschen+Jihadisten+in+Syrien+zeigt+die+Nutzung+aktueller+Moeglichkeiten+von+Propaganda+und+Kommunikation+auf

Major challenges for German Islam Conference

February 10, 2014

 

According to experts such as Islam Scholar Michael Kiefer, the German Islam Conference has not made progress, since it was found by former Minister of Interior Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) in 2006. The initial success was the creation of an institutional connection to Islamic representatives and the foundation Islamic studies in schools.

Since then, the dialogue between State and religion representatives has gone through difficult obstacles such as the debate on selection processes through home affairs politicians and constitution protection authorities. The exclusion of extreme Islamic organizations like the Turkish Milli Görüs represented.

Further challenges are questions related to the understanding and representation of Islam in Germany. The current Minister of Interior Thomas de Maizière (CDU) seeks a pragmatic oriented approach to Muslim associations with a “goal-oriented” and “issues-driven” agenda. Muslim associations have welcomed the Ministers approach by sidelining security policy issues, focusing mainly on issues such as the recognition of Islam as a statutory body under public law.

Again, there will be questions related to the representativeness of associations. The growing Islamophobia will be a further challenge to the German Islam Conference. Critics fear the conference to remain an event of political symbolism. The politician Lale Akgün (SPD) claims more representative rights for women. Female teachers of Islamic studies, female Imams would be necessary to enhance a feminist view of Islam, deliberately strengthening a “liberal” Islam in Germany.

 

Qantara: http://en.qantara.de/content/changing-the-orientation-of-germanys-islam-conference-new-agenda-same-old-faces

The Muslim vote

February 26, 2014

 

The polling firm OpinionWay conducted a poll for the French newspaper Le Figaro and surveyed 10,000 French voters.

According to its findings 93% of French Muslims voted for François Hollande while only 7% voted for the incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy. An estimated 2 million Muslims participated in the 2012 election and approximately 1.7 million Muslims voted for Hollande rather than Sarkozy. Hollande defeated Sarkozy by 1.1 million votes, which suggests that Muslims provided critical votes that led to Hollande’s victory. However, it should be noted that voting abstention among the Muslim population is greater than within the average population.

The Muslim vote is believed to be a social vote rather than a religious vote and is very traditional concerning social matters such as family. During Hollande’s 2012 presidential campaign he offered amnesty to 400,000 undocumented immigrants from North African countries, many of who are Muslim. Hollande additionally vowed to extend municipal voting rights to residents without French citizenship by the year 2014. These promises prompted Muslims to support the Socialist party because it favors their integration.

Source: http://opinionlab.opinion-way.com/dokumenty/Sondage_jour_de_vote_T2_SOCIOLOGIE_DU_VOTE_2_1.pdf

 

IFOP (Département Opinion et Stratégies d’Enterprise) tracked the evolution of the Muslim vote using data from surveys collected during the 2002, 2007 and 2012 elections to accumulate a sample of 14, 200 voters.

In the first round of the 2012 elections 57% of Muslims voted for Hollande while 7% voted for Sarkozy. According to IFOP in the second round of voting 86% of the Muslim vote went to Hollande while 14% went to Sarkozy.

There is a similar pattern in the 2007 election, which shows that Muslims overwhelmingly supported Royal with 58%, Bayrou with 15% and the Far-left with 10% of the total possible votes.

The 2002 elections display the same trend with 49% voting for the Socialist Party and 19% for the Far-left.

Source: http://www.ifop.fr/media/pressdocument/482-1-document_file.pdf

 

A comprehensive survey entitled “Français comme les autres” published in 2008 polled French of North African and African descent.

Among those who identified as Muslim, 64% declared they voted for the Left in the 2005 election. However after posing the same question to those who identified as nonreligious the results were roughly identical, with 67% voting for the Left. The publication suggests that ethnic origin, the migration process and discrimination within France have created a cultural identity among the population which was the primary factor that influenced the vote.

Source: http://www.fasopo.org/reasopo/n7/societespolitiquescomparees7_livre.pdf

German rapper, now jihadist still alive in Syria

February 21, 2014

 

The video shows the apparently lifeless body of a man on a stretcher. His shirt is pulled up, and a rescuer pumps his chest as if the man’s heart has stopped. The shirt is soaked in blood. Additional footage reveals a deep wound to the top of the man’s head. His face is clearly visible and instantly recognizable — Abu Talha al-Almani, aka Deso Dogg, the much-celebrated German rapper-turned-jihadist. Almani turned up in Syria last summer as a sort of poet-mujahid, singing a cappella (in keeping with Sharia) the praises of jihad against President Bashar al-Assad in the land of al-Sham.

The images of Abu Talha were originally posted in mid-November by the German Islamist website Tauhid-Germany. Emerging two months after Abu Talha was reportedly wounded in an attack by the Syrian air force in rebel-controlled territory in northern Syria, the video quickly sparked reports in both the German and international media that the former rapper was dead. Video has surfaced in the meantime, however, indicating that he is still very much alive.

Al-Monitor: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/02/deso-dogg-germany-salafists-syria-jihad.html?utm_source=Al-Monitor+Newsletter+%5BEnglish%5D&utm_campaign=284febf6ef-January_9_20141_8_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-284febf6ef-93074789