Monitoring Muslim Discrimination [PDF Report]

This research titled ‘Monitoring Muslim Discrimination’ is the second publication in a research on anti-Muslim discrimination and builds upon an earlier publication: ‘Islamophobia and Discrimination’. It is part of IMES Report Series and has been financially supported by Open Society Foundations, PALET, Registration Point Discrimination Amsterdam. The author dr. Ineke van der Valk studied pedagogy/education theory and ethnical studies. She received her Ph.D. in 2002 in the field of Humanities at the University of Amsterdam. She wrote on different topics, such as: migration, human rights, minorities and integration.

Motive for conducting this research was to gain more/better insight in anti-Muslim discrimination. The researcher writes that monitor studies are useful in revealing patterns with regards to Muslim discrimination. Which is important, since it has often been thought that this was ‘just’ a form of critique on their religious beliefs. The research has three aims, namely:

·An increased insight into Islamphobia, its causes, incidence, impact and consequences

·To obtain public and official recognition of Islamophobia as a form of racism, which will make monitoring in the future easier

·To contribute to developing counter policies and practices of among civil society organizations and national governments.

The research reveals several numbers related to anti-Muslim Discrimination. 39% of the 475 mosques in the Netherlands have experienced discriminatory aggression, for example arsons. 68% of the mosque organizations that filled in a survey stated they have experience with aggressions, mainly the smashing of windows. This has caused both material and psychological damage to these specific Muslim communities. 85% of the mosques reported to the police, but 51% didn’t feel they were helped or taken serious by the police. One can thus state that anti-Muslim discrimination is a serious issue. The research further delves into the reasons behind the aggression. Reasons that are mentioned are for example the imaging of Muslims/Islam in the media, lack of knowledge about Islam among the public and reactions to terrorist attacks.

Research Muslim Discrimination University of Amsterdam.compressed [Download PDF here]

François Hollande explains the difference between Charlie Hebdo and Dieudonné

During an episode of Le Supplement, Francois Hollande debated with a group of five high schoolers. The students, who were not all Muslims, called out the newspaper for being Islamophobic and argued there was a double-standard concerning Charlie Hebdo and comedian Dieudonné.

 

“In France, we can mock religion. It’s even a principle of freedom. There is no prohibition of blasphemy in French law like there is in other countries. However, no one has the right to spread hate. That’s why Charlie, when there was a doubt, was brought before the courts and was not convicted, and why Dieudonné, due to certain circumstances, after certain remarks, was convicted,” Hollande said. He even distinguished between “freedom of expression pushed to its limits” and “advocating hatred.”

 

One of the students responded, “Should we hide laughing at Dieudonné? Should we be ashamed of liking his shows?” Surprised, Hollande responded: “We must think…why do we laugh at that? When he dresses up as a Nazi and says we must kills Jews, is it funny?” He continued, “If he mocked Hitler, it’s not a problem. If he mocks Jews who escaped concentration camps or who died in gas chambers, that is advocating hatred.”

 

 

Demand for more French mosques causes backlash

A conflict of interests between the Muslim community and the rest of the world is once again at the forefront of heated discussion as Muslim leaders this week called for the number of mosques in France to be doubled just three months after the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

 

Rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, declared that the 2,200 mosques already established within France need to be doubled within the next two years. While this announcement was warmly received by applauding French Muslims, the same however cannot be said for the rest of its population – with many insisting that no possible good can come from this development.

 

Such an announcement comes at a time when many Muslims believe local authorities in France are deliberately ignoring their proposals to open more mosques and prayer-rooms – leading to a growing resentment within the Islam community. According to French Muslim leaders however, doubling the number of mosques within France is exactly what the country needs. In creating a greater space for Muslims to develop and learn, leaders believe that there will be more opportunity to encourage the future Muslim generation to channel their beliefs through reason and understanding and not extremity- thus combating Islam radicalism once and for all.

 

However, for the conservative daily Le Figaro paper, Dr Boubakeur and other “mainstream” Muslim leaders have already “lost control” of increasingly radical young French Muslims and “it is not the mass construction of new mosques that will change things.”

 

Earlier on this year, Conservative parliamentarian Baroness Sayeeda Hussain Warsi confidently voiced, “we will all fight extremism better if we all feel like we are all in the same team.” Under this creed, the French government therefore faces the struggle of finding a way to appeal to the needs of the Muslim community while also catering to those of the overall French population.

 

In the aftermath of the ruthless attacks carried out by Muslims – most notably the Charlie Hebdo shootings of this year – it is impossible to deny that Muslims across the world have been placed under increased scrutiny and suspicion. Yet as David Cameron so rightly put it – ISIS Militants “are monsters, not Muslims.”

 

One anonymous resident from Harrow said: “Unfortunately the extremist acts of the minority has led to a society in France where Muslims overall – for the moment at least – are painted with the same brush as those who have wreaked political disorder through their inhumane acts.

 

“Until a sense of faith in the Islam community can be restored – apprehension and fear is what is to be expected. ”

 

An anonymous resident from Wellingborough added: “The French population need to feel safe again in their own country and building more mosques isn’t going to achieve this since many are fearful of further radicalisation. On the other hand, given the high volume of Muslims in Europe, I think many may feel like they are putting themselves in danger by standing up against the building of more mosques. So it is a conflicting situation. ”

 

Commentator Yves Threard said French Muslim leaders had “no one but themselves to blame” as they had only whole-heartedly condemned violence after the January shootings.

 

He added: “Their disorganization, their rivalries and their silence are guilty and they explain, in part, the growing influence of the most fanatical ideas.”

 

Another anonymous resident from Stanmore built upon this in saying: “It is not the mosques themselves that are feared but what is being taught within them. There is no control and this lack of control is what scares society.”

 

However, for a 23-year-old Muslim student from Wembley, both the Muslim community and the rest of the world share an equally important responsibility when it comes to such a sensitive issue.

 

She said: “The real solution is for youths to be educated on what Islam really teaches. But in order for this to be achieved, the leaders in the mosques have to know the values first so as to properly preach them.

 

“Conversely, the media has to change too. It is constantly attacking Islam and it needs to stop. I think that is partly the reason why youths retaliate the way that they do.”

 

She added: “It seems like a vicious cycle but at the end of the day I am a young practicing Muslim and I don’t see why I should be made to feel like I should apologize for the actions of other Muslims with whom I have no connection.”

French suicide bombers carry out attacks in Syria and Iraq

France’s prime minister revealed Monday that seven French nationals or residents, including six converts to Islam, had committed suicide attacks in Syria and Iraq.

Speaking in parliament as he defended controversial draft spy laws, Manuel Valls said that of the hundreds of French people who had made their way to Islamic State-held territory, seven had died staging the suicide operations.

 

“The youngest was not yet 20,’ he said.

 

“Is Daesh (ISIS) deliberately sacrificing these types of people as a matter of priority? Do the candidates for suicide attacks have to prove their ideological zeal to vouch for their conversion?” Valls said. “In any case, this illustrates Daesh’s formidable ability to indoctrinate.”

 

On Monday, MPs debated whether to allow spies to gather data from suspected jihadists.

Valls’s comments came a day after French daily Le Figaro published an interview with EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova, who said that an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 Europeans were fighting with jihadist groups in Syria.

 

ISIS declared a “caliphate” in large swaths of territory stretching across the Syria-Iraq border last June. It has committed some of the worst abuses in Syria and Iraq’s wars.

 

Islamophobia soars in France since Charlie Hebdo

A leading French anti-racism observatory warned of an unprecedented increase in Islamophobic attacks in France during the first three months of the year, rising by six-fold than in 2014.

 

“Never since the establishment of the Observatory in 2011 have Islamophobic acts known such an implosion of actions or threats, especially on social networks Abdallah Zekri, head of the Observatory said in a statement cited by Anadolu Agency on Thursday, April 16.

 

According to Zekri, Islamophobic actions soared by 500% compared to the same period in 2011.

 

He added that out of 222 anti-Muslims acts in the first quarter of 2015, the total number of documented attacks was 56, while 166 were identified as threats.

The observatory also noted that more than 222 separate acts of anti-Muslim behavior were recorded in the first month after the January attacks.The situation for French Muslims has been deteriorating recently, especially after Paris attacks killed 17 civilians. Following the attacks, the National Observatory Against Islamophobia said over 100 incidents have been reported to the police since the Charlie Hebdo attacks of January 7-9. The rise in attacks over the last two weeks represents an increase of 110% over the whole of January 2014, the organization said.

 

Moreover, a Muslim father was stabbed to death at his own home in southern France last January by a neighbor who claimed to be avenging Charlie Hebdo.

 

“This is simply racism and rejection of men and women who aspire to just be respected,” said Zekri while citing attacks against Muslim women and mosques in the European country.

 

“Does the motto of the Republic ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’ make any sense? Unfortunately, the question (must be asked),” added Zekri.

 

Condemning the rise of the anti-Muslim attacks in France, Zekri argued that the latest terror attacks cannot be used as a pretext to justify Islamophobia.

“However, those horrific and terrifying crimes cannot justify, under any circumstances, the steep rise of hatred or revenge against Muslims in France,” stressed Zekri.

 

“They [Muslims of France] are not responsible or guilty of committing these terrorist acts that devastated the country.”

 

Zekri also criticized what has been viewed as resounding political silence on the issue.

“All this happens without any reaction from politicians, who, instead of denouncing, try to find excuses,” he stated.

 

A day after the Islamophobia report, France’s prime minister unveiled plans to pour €100 million (RM391 million) into efforts to fight racism.

 

“Racism, anti-Semitism, hatred of Muslims, of foreigners, homophobia are increasing in an unbearable manner,” Manuel Valls said in the Paris suburb city of Creteil, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

 

France is home to a Muslim minority of seven million, Europe’s largest. Seeing the Charlie Hebdo attack as a betrayal of Islamic faith, leaders from Muslim countries and organizations have joined worldwide condemnation of the attack, saying the attackers should not associate their actions with Islam.

 

Later on, French Muslims called for criminalizing insulting religions amid increasing anger around the Muslim world over Charlie Hebdo’s decision to publish new cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.

D66 and VVD: register anti-Muslim discrimination

Political parties D66 and VVD want the police (in Amsterdam) to specifically register anti-Muslim discrimination, to gain knowledge about the extent of this problem. Two out five mosques in the Netherlands have experienced a form of violent incidences during the past 10 years.

A research conducted by the University of Amsterdam revealed that now, when a mosque makes a declaration, the police often registers the incidence not under the heading of ‘discrimination’, but for example ‘vandalism’.

D66 Chairman Jan Paternotte: “No one Amsterdam should be afraid to practice his or her faith”.

France provides first weapons to Lebanon for Islamic State fight

The first French weapons from a $3 billion Saudi-funded program will arrive in Lebanon on Monday as allies seek to bolster the country’s defenses against the Islamic State group and other jihadists pressing along its Syrian border.

 

Anti-tank guided missiles are set to arrive at an air force base in Beirut, overseen by French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Lebanese counterpart, Samir Mokbel.

 

France is expected to deliver 250 combat and transport vehicles, seven Cougar helicopters, three small corvette warships and a range of surveillance and communications equipment over four years as part of the $3 billion (2.8 billion-euro) modernization program.

 

It is being entirely funded by Saudi Arabia, which is keen to see Lebanon’s army defend its borders against jihadist groups, particularly the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra, instead of leaving the job to Hezbollah militants, who are backed by its regional rival, Iran.

 

The contract also promises seven years of training for the 70,000-strong Lebanese army and 10 years of equipment maintenance.

 

“This project is to help us re-establish a Lebanese army capable of responding to new security realities,” said a French defence official.

Since the conflict in neighbouring Syria broke out in 2011, Lebanon has faced mounting spill-over threats, first from the millions of refugees pouring across the border and increasingly from jihadists.

 

“There are an estimated 3,000 armed militants based on our border, waiting for the moment to penetrate into the Bekaa valley,” said Hisham Jaber, a former general now at the Middle East Centre for the Study of Public Relations in Beirut.

 

“They haven’t come for tourism or to go skiing.”

 

Former colonial power France is actually a late-comer to the conflict, with almost all Lebanon’s international support coming from the United States and Britain in recent years.

 

France only won the contract to supply the Lebanese army, argued analyst Aram Nerguizian, because Saudi Arabia had been frustrated by US and British refusal to attack the Syrian regime in 2013.

 

“It was good fortune for the French, but they have a lot to prove. The momentum of the US and UK defence programmes in Lebanon is far more consolidated,” said Nerguizian, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

The challenge has been to find French military equipment that Lebanon actually needs, he said, and to ensure it can be integrated with their existing weapon systems. Nerguizian said Lebanon had turned down France’s Gazelle attack helicopter, Leclerc tank and larger warships, either because they were too expensive to maintain or not suited to the combat environment.

 

Instead, the focus is likely to be on radar capabilities, and command-and-control systems, which the Lebanese army currently lack, as well as transport aircraft.

 

“We urgently need helicopters. We are currently trying to transport elite units by truck,” said Jaber.

 

The Cougar helicopters and corvette warships must first be built, and the first are not expected for at least 30 months.

 

A key problem has been France’s unexplained reluctance to discuss the details of its modernization program with the US and Britain, said Nerguizian.

 

“They have perplexed their UK and US partners by not being clear about what is on the list,” he said. “They need to be complementary or it becomes a problem.”

 

Washington has provided around three-quarters of Lebanon’s foreign military aid over the past decade — some $700 million — as well as Special Forces teams to train its elite units, according to IHS Jane’s, a London-based think tank.

 

Britain has provided training facilities as well as watch towers and forward operating bases along the border with Syria. This has led to a dramatic improvement in the Lebanese army’s capabilities, said Nerguizian.

 

“Compared with just three years ago, it’s like night and day. They have gone from a constabulary police force to being the only military in the world that is defending its frontiers against ISIS,” he said.

 

But working with Lebanon is never simple. The sharp divisions between its religious and ethnic communities have been deepened by conflicting views on the Syrian war.

Hezbollah, which is a powerful political force in Lebanon, sent its fighters to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last year, but many Lebanese still deeply resent the Assad regime which effectively colonised the country up to 2005.

 

Meanwhile, Israel remains concerned about any military assistance that might bolster a regional rival or fall into the hands of Hezbollah, which fought a short and brutal war against Israel as recently as 2006.

 

“The Lebanese army is already well-infiltrated by Hezbollah,” said an Israeli official on condition of anonymity. “But we understand the necessity of reinforcing the capacity of the Lebanese army.”

In France, more women than men reported planning to wage jihad

For the first time, the number of young women reported leaving to wage jihad outnumbered men, according a BFMTV report. In examining the statistics since the government introduced a number for families to report those suspected of leaving, the proportion of women reported was 45%, compared to 55% men. However, in March 2015 the numbers were nearly reversed: 136 women compared to 125 men reported.

Since April 29, 2014, 3,670 cases were reported. 67% of reports came from the government hotline, while 33% were reported using the Internet. According to Pierre N’Gahane, charged with terror prevention, “women are significantly involved and, by its scope, this signals a new phenomenon.”

According to the Interior Minister this development is a result of the Islamic State’s propaganda directed at women. Despite the new statistic, the increase in reports in March 2015 was minimal. Alain Chouet, former director of security intelligence, argued there is a “bias effect” because “parents are more aware of their daughters’ wrongdoings than their sons.’” The “relative freedom” that boys are allowed permits them to organize their travel plans, in contrast to young girls who are “subject to their families’ attention.”

Book by Charlie Hebdo editor published posthumously

In a short book by Charlie Hebdo editor Charb – whose real name is Stéphane Charbonnier – expressed concern that the fight against racism is being replaced by a struggle against “Islamophobia,” which he argued defends Islam more than it does Muslims.

 

He also defended Charlie Hebdo, which stirred outrage in much of the Muslim world after publishing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed on numerous different occasions.

“One day, for a laugh, I will have to publish all the threats I received at Charlie Hebdo,” Charb wrote.

 

In the book, which is titled “Letter to the Islamophobia swindlers who play into the hands of racists,” Charb asked why Islamophobia, which technically means “fear of Islam,” is being used to denounce hatred of Muslims and wondered why “Muslimophobia” is not used instead, or simply “racism.”

 

He argued that “a lot of those who campaign against Islamophobia don’t actually do it to defend Muslims as individuals, but to defend Prophet Mohammed’s religion.”

 

He blamed the media for helping popularize the term, because “any scandal that contains the word ‘Islam’ in its title sells.”

 

“A terrorist is scary, but if you add that he’s an Islamist, everyone wets themselves,” he wrote.

 

Charb also questioned organized religion, and particularly some of its followers.

“To be afraid of Islam is without a doubt moronic, absurd and many other things as well, but it’s not an offense,” he wrote. “The problem isn’t the Qur’an, nor the Bible, [two] badly written, incoherent and soporific novels, but the believer who reads the Qur’an or the Bible like one reads an instruction manual on how to assemble an Ikea shelf.”

 

He defended Charlie Hebdo‘s controversial depictions of the Prophet over the years, which have been criticized as Islamophobic.

 

“By what twisted logic is humor less compatible with Islam than with any other religion? … If we let it be understood that we can laugh at everything except certain aspects of Islam because Muslims are much more susceptible than the rest of the population, isn’t that discrimination?”

 

“It’s time to end this disgusting paternalism of the white, bourgeois, intellectual ‘left’ who seek to exist among the ‘unfortunate, under-educated poor,’” he wrote.

 

He also chillingly wrote about a list published by the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) Inspire magazine in 2013, which identified 11 people wanted “dead or alive” for committing “crimes against Islam”.

 

“I find my name, badly spelled but accompanied by a photo where you can recognize my alarmed face” — a picture he said was taken when the newspaper’s offices were burnt down in 2011 shortly after a special edition was published under the banner “Charia Hebdo.”

“The skillful montage is titled ‘YES WE CAN’ and below you can read: ‘a bullet a day keeps the infidel away.’”