Number of Muslims in France Largely Overestimated [PDF Download]

The French and British greatly overestimated the number of Muslims in their countries, according to a study by the Ipsos Mori Institute, which found similar results in many European countries. The Institute published its “Index of Ignorance,” a survey conducted in 14 countries about the public’s perception concerning sensitive issues.

The survey’s results were first published in The Guardian, and shows that citizens in 14 countries overestimated the size of their countries’ Muslim population.

In France, those interviewed believed that 31% of the population was Muslim, while the actual figure is only 8%. In Britain, the actual percentage is 5% but those interviewed believed 21% of the country was Muslim. The overvaluation is “23 points in Belgium, 16 points in Italy, 13 points in Germany and 4 points in Poland.”

Switzerland is not included in the survey. The study also demonstrated erroneous beliefs about “immigration in general,” and adolescent pregnancy.

[DOWNLOAD:Ipsos Mori Infographic (English)]

Islamophobia: Increase in Actions Against Muslims, Drop in Threats [PDF Download]

On the whole, the number of Islamophobic acts has decreased by around 30% in France between January and September 2014, in contrast to figures from 2013, according to The National Observatory Against Islamophobia. The Observatory notes, however, that there has been an increase in actions (+12.5%) and a decrease in threats (-44.9%). It reports 110 acts (actions and threats) for the first nine months of 2014, compared with 158 during the same period in 2013.

Based on registered complaints, these numbers “do not reflect reality, because numerous Muslims do not want to continually complain when subject to xenophobic acts, convinced that there will be no follow-up, which very often is the reality,” contends the Observatory’s president Abdallah Zekri in a published statement.

In addition, the overall decline in acts masks a rise in actions (defacement of places of worship by insults and Nazi tags, pigs’ heads left in front of mosques, letters mailed to Muslim leaders with ham slices enclosed, harassment of veiled women, etc) for which the number has risen from 40 to 45.

While threats have dropped from 118 to 56 reported incidents, “Even the National Observatory Against Islamophobia no longer files complaints when the CFCM receives hate mail and insults, because these complaints are still filed without action by the prosecution on the grounds that those who have committed these offenses are not identified,” said Zekri.

Although it is impossible to quantify, Islamophobic “cyber hate” has increased, especially within email chains. “With the Muslim community’s increasing concern, Islamophobia must be fought and denounced not only by Muslims, but also by the national community in its entirety,” Zekri affirmed.

While it is a member of the CFCM, the Observatory is often in contention with the actions of the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), which “takes a more militant position.” Adding to the complaints registered by the Minister of the Interior, the CCIF submits a list called “Islamophobia of the State,” which lists discriminatory acts committed by public servants.

[PDF DOWNLOAD: CCIF Annual Report on Islamophobia in France (ENGLISH)]

‘Let jihadists go to Syria to fight’

Dutch fighters in Aleppo warn that preventing Muslims from going to Syria or Iraq increases changes of attacks in the Netherlands, like what have happened in Canada. Experts still believe it’s better to withdraw passports and to prevent further radicalisation.

“You don’t want hundreds of angry potential jihadists in your back yard,” says one of the fighters in Aleppo. They label military and police as legitimate targets for an attack.

Terrorism-researcher De Graaf thinks that if you let these fighters go and they come back, they’ll be more trained and determined. According to Dick Schoof (Dutch National Coordinator Terrorism Prevention) withdrawing passports is a way of preventing them to go into the next phase of radicalisation.

Child Protection Council: ‘jihadi children’ are doing fine

In June Azzedine C. was suspected to leave to Syria together with his (ex-) wife and their sons. Thereupon their passports were withdrawn. An investigation began, to the risk of leaving to Syria and the general circumstances in the family. Police officers told that the situation was not good: the father was said to be aggressive and to inject his sons with radical-islamic and anti-western ideas.

The end conclusion is however that the circumstances are fine and that the police has ‘made up stories.’ Conversations have led to the conclusions that the boys are not being raised with jihadist ideas. The parents are described as ‘responsible.’ Although the children might learn about the ideas their father has. Azzedine C. is still being hold in custody. The only worries the researchers have is the well-being of the children who haven’t seen their father since June.

‘I was one of those radical guys, IS laid it’s eyes on’ [Opinion by Celal Altunas]

IS recruits youth and promised them paradise when they offer themselves for the caliphate. Would I’ve been younger, I would have believed them. I used to be a radical guy, without understanding/respect for unbelievers and other religions. No criticism on Islam or the prophet was acceptable. Islam was the only thing I hold on to.

Not only islamists have become radicalized, but the Western society too. Nobody is born radical. We learn norms and values through socialisation and our culture. We are like hardware and radicalised youth are infected with a virus – it’s too late for them mostly. But we can help the ‘doubtful’ ones.

We can take away factors that can lead to radicalisation: negative education advise, discrimination in the labour market, ethnic profiling, judicial inequality and the harsh polarizing discourse in politics and media. The caliphate seems to be the alternative for youth that is not good in sports, school or at work.

Some Muslim youth may feel caught in between Western society and their own cultural (Islamic) society. This makes them prone to recruiters. Is it really surprising that these youth becomes radicalised and even commits crimes?

I understand their feelings of powerlessness. I felt that way. But my parents kept talking to me, which helped me to open up to my cultural ‘inner’world and the western ‘outside’ world.

British Muslim Women wear a Poppy Hijab for Remembrance Day

British Muslim women wearing the "Poppy Hijab" designed to commemorate Armed Forces Day and the WWI Centenary. (Photo: Georgie Gillard/ The Daily Mail
British Muslim women wearing the “Poppy Hijab” designed to commemorate Armed Forces Day and the WWI Centenary. (Photo: Georgie Gillard/ The Daily Mail

British Muslims are being urged to wear a new ‘poppy hijab’ as a challenge to extremist groups who ‘spout hatred’ towards the Armed Forces. The campaign is being backed by the Islamic Society of Britain (ISB), and profits from its sale will be donated to Poppy Appeal. Sughra Ahmed, President of ISB, said it’s a way for “ordinary Muslim citizens to take some attention away from extremists… This symbol of quiet remembrance is the face of everyday British Islam – not the angry minority who spout hatred and offend everyone.”

The headscarf is patterned with poppies, and has been created specifically for Remembrance Day this year. Tabinda-Kauser Ishaq, 24, a student at the London College of Fashion and a British Muslim, designed the hijab. She says, “the idea to do a headscarf came from knowing that many Muslims generally mark Remembrance Day. We felt it wasn’t that widely known. The number of Muslim soldiers who fought in World War One was even less known. We wanted to create something that illustrated this history.”

More than a million Indian soldiers and 400,000 Muslims fought alongside British troops in 1914, but it is a fact that is little known or talked about. It’s why the Islamic Society of Britain and integration think tank British Future, which is selling the hijab online, approached Tabinda to help them find a symbol of Remembrance that would appeal to. It’s also where the idea of the poppy hijab came from. “I thought it was a really simple and clean way of saying that I’m very proud of being British and Muslim without it being in anyone’s face,” she says.

However, some have attacked this initiative. The Huffington Post scathingly criticises the campaign. It argues that the poppy hijab is a counterproductive and patronising since it singles out Muslims as being a suspect community whose allegiance lies elsewhere. Many British Muslims, they claim, do put their religion before their nationality but that doesn’t make them any less integrated. What that means, is that there is a significant percentage of Muslims who practice Islam holistically as a comprehensive way of life, which includes speaking the truth, standing up for justice, speaking up for the oppressed and accounting their government.

Jamshed Javeed admits terror offences in Syria

A chemistry teacher has pleaded guilty to two Syria-related terror offences. Jamshed Javeed, 30, of Levenshulme in Manchester, accepted he intended to travel to Syria to join rebels fighting against the government. Prosecutors say Javeed was arrested by counter-terrorism officers last December while preparing for a trip to Syria to join terror group Islamic State (IS).

His family had earlier tried to stop him by taking and hiding his passport but he obtained a replacement document. The teacher is said to have become rapidly radicalised from living an ordinary Western lifestyle to becoming someone determined to fight in the Middle East, having changed his appearance and behaviour from August 2013.

At the time of his arrest, Javeed said he felt the British government was not doing enough to help the situation in Syria and that his actions were “honourable”. In a basis of plea submitted by his lawyers, Javeed insisted he is not an extremist and “has never supported and does not support the aims of Isis as now revealed and understood”.

Portsmouth: how did one English city produce six young fighters for Isis?

Portsmouth’s Jami Mosque and Islamic Centre was attended by the “al-Britaini Brigade Bangladeshi Bad Boys”, also known as the Pompey Lads. The group of six flew to Turkey in October last year and ended up fighting for the Islamic State (Isis). One is now in a British jail, four of them are dead – one confirmed killed on Tuesday and another is with the Isis offensive on the Syrian town of Kobani, where the remaining member of the group is presumed to still be fighting.The issue of why the lads are a product of Portsmouth is a topic of heated discussion within the city.

Here, 57% of children live in income-deprived families: the average estimated household income is £430 per week compared with the British average of £670.
The Bangladeshi community is singled out as enduring particular hardship with more than half of all households headed by a Pakistani or Bangladeshi experiencing poverty. In addition, a recent survey named Portsmouth as among the most stressful places to live.

One resident, retired restaurateur Muhammed Badruz Zaman, 78, who arrived in the city from Sylhet in Bangladesh, never thought he would witness the day that young Bangladeshis would voluntarily leave the UK to fight in the Middle East. He says: “It seems totally crazy, their brains have been washed to leave this safe city, and for what?”
Another man stated: “There’s not that much to do around here, they probably wanted excitement. Whatever they were after, it was nothing to do with Islam,”

But the equation that economic hardship and alienation equals radicalisation is not straightforward. Some of the Pompey six had reasonable jobs, after all. Other city residents believe that the animosity experienced by Muslim youths from the port’s far-right fraternity could have driven some to Syria.

Yet some say it has nothing to do with Portsmouth. Instead they point out how they are radicalised online, often through Isis’s skilled use of social media. “It happens in their bedrooms, no one can reach them,” says Thakur, mimicking manic typing on the bonnet of a parked car. “Anyway boys will be boys, some will always want a fight,” he adds.

Jihadist children in Spain

More and more young individuals (under 14 years old0 are being intercepted by Spanish authorities for being involved in cyber Jihadism. Two of them (young girls from Ceuta) were arrested when they were getting ready to departure to Syria.
According to the local experts, the Internet works perfectly for the radicalization of youth and their preferred means are either Facebook or Whatsapp.