Journey into Europe

Writing any type of survey book on Islam in Europe is not a task for the faint of heart. Islam’s long-term presence in Europe, combined with its myriad expressions and trajectories across the continent in modern history, makes such a project a daunting one. Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, the Pakistani high commissioner to the United Kingdom and Ireland and the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University, takes up this challenge and produces a masterpiece in Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity (Brookings Institution Press, 2018). The book is a magisterial examination of Islam’s place in Europe’s historical, cultural, and political landscape.

The book is the last of a four-volume series from Ahmed devised and written after the September 11 attacks to address the relationship between Islam and the West. Of the four, this is the only one specifically devoted to Islam in Europe. Ahmed’s methodological approach can best be described as anthropological, though he readily acknowledges the book does not reflect “standard textbook anthropology” (34). Ahmed weaves participant observation, ethnographic descriptions, case studies, and personal interviews into a larger narrative amply informed by historical research.

Journey into Europe is both descriptive and prescriptive. What Ahmed describes is a continent at a crossroads as it struggles to determine how, or whether, Islam factors into its own identity formation. Ahmed illuminates this struggle by arguing Europe is best characterized by three competing identities. The first is its primordial identity, a type of tribalism in which Europeans come to value their own unique culture and traditions. The second is its predator identity, an aggressive, exclusivist, and even militaristic form of expression that defines what it means to be European in narrow religious, ethnic, or racial terms. The third is its pluralist identity. This identity moves away from tribe and blood by drawing on the shared history of diverse peoples in Europe. Ahmed uses the Spanish term la convivencia to capture this strand of European identity and lifts up Jewish, Muslim, and Christian co-existence and cooperation in historic Andalusia as an example of this pluralist model.

What Ahmed prescribes is an elevation of the pluralist identity as more central to what it means to be European. But he recognizes Europe faces enormous pressures to choose a more dangerous path. As large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers cross into Europe, as a virulent strand of Islamophobia fueled by the Far Right spreads, and as a small minority with a Muslim background turns to violence or terrorism, the temptation for many in Europe is to revert to a tribal or, even worse, an exclusionary European identity based on blood and lineage. Many have already given in to this temptation, and the result has been a rise in anti-Muslim hatred and violence along with the implementation of policies that jeopardize human rights, civil liberties, and democracy—the very foundations of European modernity. The hope for a peaceful, prosperous Europe lies in imagining and implementing a New Andalusia. Only a pluralist Europe that recognizes the gifts and contributions of its diverse populations can maintain its core values as it moves further into the twenty-first century.

One of the greatest strengths of Journey into Europe is that it does not censor perspectives on Muslims that might give the reader pause concerning the realization of a New Andalusia. In addition to presenting stories of Muslims collaborating and cooperating with the non-Muslim majority for the common good, Ahmed also tackles sensitive topics pertaining to Europe’s Muslims, including instances of anti-Semitism, cases of foreign fighters joining ISIS, and expressions of anger or resentment toward the majority population.

In one notable account, he describes how three researchers on his team, while parked outside a mosque in Bradford, England, as they were preparing to film a documentary, were verbally harassed by large numbers of British-Pakistani students coming out of a nearby school. At one point, some students pounded on the vehicle in an act of physical intimidation. The proximity of the researchers to the mosque was seen as an act of provocation, and the students responded accordingly. It was an ugly scene and a most unfortunate experience given the purpose of the research project.

Ahmed could have kept this story to himself since the incident was an exception to the overall hospitable welcome his team received from Muslims throughout Europe. He didn’t. He puts it out there as something readers must come to terms with in trying to make sense of the anger Europe’s Muslim youth sometimes feels toward the majority population, particularly in light of policies that contribute to their marginalization and alienation in countries like Britain.

Journey into Europe succeeds admirably in giving voice to a diverse array of Muslim perspectives and experiences in Europe’s past and present, and to telling the stories of how Muslims from many walks of life are contributing to their communities while navigating the obstacles that prevent them from full inclusion in Europe. It also presents a bold vision of what Europe has the potential to become not in spite of its religious diversity but because of it. Ahmed’s study is a tremendous and timely contribution to the academic literature on Islam in Europe and is essential reading in these tense, difficult times.

http://readingreligion.org/books/journey-europe

Over 130 imams in the UK Refuse to Perform Funeral Prayers for the London Attackers

 

More than 130 imams in the Uk have refused to perform the traditional  prayer for the terrorists of the London attack – and have called on other religious authorities to do the same. This is an excerpt of their declaration:

“(..)we will not perform the traditional Islamic funeral prayer over the perpetrators and we also urge fellow imams and religious authorities to withdraw such a privilege. This is because such indefensible actions are completely at odds with the lofty teachings of Islam.”

Over 130 Imams & Religious Leaders from diverse backgrounds refuse to perform the funeral prayer for London attackers in an unprecedented move

Trump’s statement on Ramadan is almost entirely about terrorism

The Washington Post reports that President Trump issued a statement on Ramadan — a holy month of fasting and prayer for Muslims around the world — that focused primarily on violence and terrorism. In his statement, Trump called recent terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom and in Egypt, “acts of depravity that are directly contrary to the spirit of Ramadan. Such acts only steel our resolve to defeat the terrorists and their perverted ideology.”

Read the entire article here

 

Why do the French Fear Islam?

Although Marine le Pen did not win the French presidential elections, the anti islamic discourses and practices will not abate. This essay explains why, focusing in particular on the lack of symbolic integration of Islam in France.

 

https://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/forum/religious-freedom-in-france-s-presidential-elections/responses/why-do-the-french-fear-islam

Elected Politicians with a Muslim Background in the UK, France and Germany


The UK

Information collected by euro-islam contributor Shayna Solomon

In the most recent elections, in 2015, the 13 Muslims were elected (or reelected) to the House of Commons, of which 6 were women. Only one Muslim former MP, Anas Sarwar lost the election in his Glasgow constituency. In 2015, Sadiq Khan also was elected to become the mayor of London, making him the first Muslim mayor of a major Western city. The current Muslim members of parliament are as follows:

Imran Hussain

Born 1978 in Bradford, West Yorkshire to a working class family, he started his political career in 2003 at the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council. In his first run for Parliament, he unexpectedly lost to George Galloway in 2012. He mostly fits within the Momentum branch of the Labour party.

Labour since 2015
Khalid Mahmood

Born in 1961, trained as an engineer. 1990-1993 Birmingham City Councillor. He entered the parliament in 2001, failed to be re-elected in 2005, but won his seat back in 2010.

Labour 2001-2005 since 2010
Naseem ‘Naz’ Shah

Shah is the Labour MP for Bradford West. She is a women’s rights activist, advocating for policies to protect women from domestic violence and stopping forced marriage. She has also challenged the Prevent policy.

Labour since 2015
Yasmin Qureshi

Born in 1963 in Gujrat, moved to Britain in 1972, qualified as a barrister. Was the Head of the Criminal Legal Section of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the Director of the department of Judicial Administration in Kosovo. She served as the London Mayor’s Human Rights advisor and entered parliament in 2010 as one of the three first female Muslim MPs.

Labour since 2010
Shabana Mahmood

Born in Birmingham, she was educated at Oxford and worked as a barrister. In 2010 she entered the parliament as one of the first three Muslim women to become British MPs.

Labour since 2010
Rushnara Ali

Born in Bangladesh, moved to Britain at age of seven, grown up in London’s East End, educated at Oxford. She had jobs in Parliament, the Institute for Public Policy Research, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Home Office before being elected one of the first female Muslim MPs in 2010.

Labour since 2010
Sajid Javid

Born in the UK, studied economics and politics, worked as a banker. He was elected as one of the first two Muslim MPs of the Conservative Party in 2010.

Conservative since 2010
Rehman Chishti

Studied law and worked as a barrister before pursuing a political career. Along with Sajid Javid he is the first Conservative MP of Muslim background.

Conservative since 2010
Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh 

Born in Chelsea London in 1970 to a political family her father was the first Asian councilor in Scotland), Ahmed-Sheik is a lawyer, actress, and businesswoman. Ahmed-Sheikh serves as the Trade and Investment spokesperson for the SNP, as well as its National Women’s and Equalities Officer.

Scottish National Party Since 2015
Rupa Asha Huq

Dr Huq is a Sociology lecturer by training and currently serves as the MP for Ealing Central and Acton, both in London. She has also served as the former consort to the deputy mayor of Ealing.

Labour Since 2015
Tulip Rizwana Siddiq 

Siddiq was both in 1982 in London. She currently serves as the MP for Hampstead and Kilburn and the vice-chairwoman for the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism. She is also the Shadow Education Minister.

Labour since 2015
Nusrat Munir Ul-Ghani

Born in 1972 in Birmingham, Ghani is the MP for Wealdon in East Sussex.  She has worked for several charities and the BBC World Service. She lost her first parliamentary election in 2010 but won in 2015. She was the first Muslim Conservative woman to be elected to the Parliament.

Conservative Since 2015

 

There are also Muslim politicians in the immediately pre-Brexit European Parliament. In the 2014 European elections, the number of Muslim British MEPs doubled. There were previously two Conservative Muslim MEPs, Syed Kamall and Sajjad Karim. These MEPs retained their seats and were joined in the European Parliament by Afzal Khan (Labor) and Amjad Bashir (UKIP). More information about Muslims in the 2014 European elections can be found here.

 

FRANCE

Information collected by euro-islam contributor, Selene Campion

 

Muslim Parliament Members in France (out of 577)

 

  1. Ibrahim Aboubacar (Parti socialiste), Mayotte (2nd district), born 1965 in Comoros, Constitutional Acts, Legislation and General Administration Committee

 

 

  1. Pouria Amirshahi (unattached), French citizens living outside of France, born 1972 in Iran, Cultural and Education Committee

 

  1. Kader Arif, (Parti socialiste), Haute-Garonne (10th district), born 1959 in Algeria, Foreign Affairs Committee

 

 

  1. Kheira Bouziane-Laroussi, (Parti socialiste ), Côte-d’Or (3rd  district), born 1953 in Algeria, Social Affairs Committee

 

  1. M. Georges Fenech, (Les Républicains), Rhône (11th district), born 1954 in Tunisia, Constitutional Acts, Legislation and General Administration Committee
  2. 6. Razzy Hammadi, (Parti socialiste), Seine-Saint-Denis (7th  district), born 1979 in Toulon to Algerian and Tunisian parents, Financial Commission

7.  Kléber Mesquida, (Parti socialiste), Hérault (5th district), born 1945 in Algeria, Economic Affairs Committee

European Parliament

Karima Delli: Europe Écologie Les Verts (EEEV); since June 2009 in North West district, Algerian parents; born in France.

 

Tokia Saifi: Les Républicains; since 1999 North West district; Algerian father; born in France.

 

Rachida Dati: Les Républicains; since July 2009 in Ile-de-France district; Moroccan mother and Algerian

 

 

Muslim politicians in Germany

Information gathered by euro-islam contributor, Jacob Lypp

 

Following the 2013 Federal Elections, 8 Muslim representatives entered or re-entered parliament of which 4 were women. This means that 1.3 per cent of Germany’s 630 federal-level parliamentarians are Muslim. This compares to Muslim’s share of roughly 5 per cent of Germany’s 82 million inhabitants.

Sevim Dağdelen

After having worked as a journalist, Dağdelen joined the Bundestag in 2005. Since then, she has been one of the most prominent figures of the anti-capitalist wing of The Left. The professed atheist has caused a number of stirs, including by stating her support for the Kurdish PKK.

The Left Since 2005
Ekin Deligöz

After her studies of public administration, Deligöz, a long-time Green Party activist, acquired German nationality and quickly joined the Bundestag. Since then, she has been involved mostly in budgeting commissions.

Bündnis 90/ The Greens Since 1998
Cemile Giousouf

Following her studies in political science, Giousouf joined the CDU, becoming the party’s first Muslim MP in 2013. She serves as the CDU’s Commissioner for Integration.

Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Since 2013
Özcan Mutlu

Mutlu studied electrical engineering and joined the Green Party in 1990. He was elected to the state parliament of Berlin in 1999 before joining the Bundestag in 2013, serving as his party’s spokesman for education and sport. In 2013, he received negative media attention for his attendance of an event organized by the Islamic Community Milli Görüş.

Bündnis 90/ The Greens Since 2013
Omid Nouripour

He is the Green Party spokesman for Foreign Affairs in the German Parliament. Despite being the chairman of the German-American parliamentary cooperation group, Nouripour was initially targeted by the first instantiation of President Trump’s executive order on immigration due to his German-Iranian dual citizenship.

Bündnis 90/ The Greens Since 2006
Cem Özdemir

A member of the centrist wing of the Green Party, Özdemir became the first Muslim MP in the country upon his election in 1994. After a stint in the European Parliament, he returned to the Bundestag in 2013. He has been one of the co-chairs of the Green Party since 2008 and is part of the leadership duo spearheading the Green effort for the 2017 federal elections. He has been a vocal commentator on German-Turkish relations and on the role of the Turkish-dominated Islamic associations.

Bündnis 90/The Greens Since 1994
Mahmut Özdemir

Born in 1987, Özdemir interrupted his law studies to take up his parliamentary seat. He represents the northern parts of Duisburg, an area of high poverty and neglect often presented in media discourses as an epitome of ‘failed immigration’.

Social Democratic Party (SPD) Since 2013
Aydan Özoğuz

An MP since 2009, Özoğuz became one of the SPD’s six vice-chairs in 2011. She is her party’s spokesperson on issues of migration and diversity. Since 2013, she serves as the Federal Government’s Commissioner for Migration, Refugees, and Integration.

Social Democratic Party (SPD) Since 2009

 

European Parliament

Ismail Ertug

While working in the healthcare sector, Ertug joined the SPD in 1999. After a stint in the city council of Amberg, Ertug was elected to the European Parliament in 2009. He has since worked on issues of infrastructure and tourism, as well as on environmental issues and on EU-Turkey relations.

Social Democratic Party (SPD Since 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gender Issues Are a National Problem, Not Just a Muslim Problem: A Response to Baroness Cox’s Statement

Hadeer Soliman counters Baroness Cox’s statement proposing Amernment 219(C) to the Policing and Crime Bill. This bill “would require celebrants of religious marriages to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the marriage complies with the marriage laws of England and Wales.

The full article can be read on SHARIAsource, a research venture of the Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School.

Hadeer Soliman is a California-based attorney. She holds an LLM in Islamic Law, and her research interests include Islamic legal history, gender and Islamic law, and constitutional law.

Sources

Gender Issues Are a National Problem, Not Just a Muslim Problem: A Response to Baroness Cox’s Statement

Comparing Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia: The State of the Field

An article by Farid Hafez, University of Salzburg, published in ISLAMOPHOBIA STUDIES JOURNAL VOLUME 3, NO. 2, Spring 2016, PP. 16-34.

ABSTRACT
In the European public discourse on Islamophobia, comparisons of antiSemitism and Islamophobia have provoked heated debates. The academic discourse has also touched on this issue, an example being the works of Edward Said, where he alludes to connections between anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Following the 2003 publication of the Islamophobia report produced by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), which discusses the similarities between Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, scholars in various fields began a debate that compares and contrasts anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Participants in this debate include Matti Bunzl, Brian Klug, Sabine Schiffer, Nasar Meer, Wolfgang Benz, and many others. To some degree, the academias of the German- and English-speaking worlds have conducted this discourse separately. This paper surveys, to a degree, the state of the field of the comparative approach to studying Islamophobia and anti-Semitism as a pair, and also presents some central topoi and associated questions. It aims to highlight primary insights that have been gained from such a comparison, including how this comparison has been discussed and criticized, and what similarities and differences have been identified on which levels. It questions which epistemological assumptions were made in taking such a comparative approach, and which political discourses—especially regarding the Holocaust and the conflict in Israel/Palestine (which are not part of this discussion)—have shaped this debate in many forums, including academia. Furthermore, this paper discusses which possible aspects of comparative research on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia have not yet been explored, and where there could perhaps lay more possibilities for further investigation.

Read more
Hafez, Farid. “Comparing Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia: The State of the Field.” Islamophobia Studies Journal, Volume 3, No. 2 (Spring 2016): 16-34.

 

‘I am fed up with this evil’: How an American went from Ivy League student to disillusioned ISIS fighter

Washington Post:

In late October 2014, the FBI received an unusual email from a young man named Mohimanul Alam Bhuiya.

Bhuiya, then 25, had joined the Islamic State. Now the longtime Brooklyn resident was desperate and looking for a way out. He wanted the FBI to rescue him.

“I am an American who’s trying to get back home from Syria,” he wrote in his email, according to federal court documents unsealed last month. “I just want to get back home. All I want is this extraction, complete exoneration thereafter, and have everything back to normal with me and my family.”

He added: “I am fed up with this evil.”

The FBI was still verifying his identity when Bhuiya managed to escape about a week later. He returned to the United States, where he was promptly arrested and charged with providing material support and receiving military training from the Islamic State.

In a closed courtroom in Brooklyn, he pleaded guilty to both counts on Nov. 26, 2014, according to the court filings. He faces up to 25 years in prison.

Bhuiya’s name is redacted in the documents, but several U.S. law enforcement officials confirmed his identity. His lawyer did not return a message, and efforts to reach his family were unsuccessful.

Prosecutors told the judge that redacting his name was “necessary to protect the integrity of the ongoing government investigations and the safety of the defendant and his family.” But NBC News in May ran an interview with Bhuiya, with cooperation from the Justice Department, in which he appeared under the name “Mo” with his face completely unobscured.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn declined to comment.

Bhuiya was not your average wayward Islamic State recruit. Unlike many of the people the Justice Department has charged in connection with the terrorist group, Bhuiya appeared to have a bright future. He attended Columbia University before he fell under the sway of the Islamic State.

“A young man from an Ivy League school challenges the conventional wisdom of a typical American ISIS recruit,” said Seamus Hughes, the deputy director at the program on extremism at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber & Homeland Security and a former National Counterterrorism Center staffer.

Bhuiya went to high school in Brooklyn. He seemed to be a well-adjusted student who took a serious interest in Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison, according to a 2008 essay he wrote for the school newspaper entitled “Sample College Essay: My Superhero.”

He praised President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, who “fought a worldwide battle against the evil supervillain Adolf Hitler.”

In the essay, he said he wanted to major in psychology. He concluded: “I believe that I have greatness in me,” he wrote. “I want to be a superhero.”

According to a Columbia University spokesman, Bhuiya attended the School of General Studies. He was enrolled for one semester from January to May 2013 and did not earn a degree.

Bhuiya had come to the attention of the FBI before he traveled to Syria. According to court documents, investigators with the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York learned in June 2014 that the young man might be planning to travel to Syria.

When authorities interviewed Bhuiya at his home in Brooklyn, he told investigators that he was interested in events in Syria and supported “rebel groups.” But he claimed he lacked the money to travel to Syria and “did not know what he would do if he got there.”

Days later, he flew to Istanbul and then managed to enter Syria. He had little interest in fighting.

He implored Islamic State commanders not to “send me off to the front lines because I can be useful in other ways,” according to the NBC interview. “It seemed to me that it would, you know, save my skin.”

Bhuiya said he quickly became disillusioned and described the Islamic State as “dystopia.”

“You could see madness in their eyes,” he recalled. Bhuiya decided to flee. In the email to the FBI, he said he did not have a passport because the Islamic State had taken it. He asked if someone could pick him up at the border.

“Please help me get home,” he told the FBI.

According to court documents, Bhuiya managed to escape across the border into Turkey and make his way to a U.S. State Department outpost in Adana, which is in the southern part of the country.

He admitted that he had joined and worked for the Islamic State. He said he carried a weapon but had never been involved in fighting.

It is not clear where Bhuiya is being held as he awaits sentencing.

Court documents indicate that prosecutors, at Bhuiya’s request, had been exploring the possibility of going public with his story.

 

Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/i-am-fed-up-with-this-evil-how-an-american-went-from-ivy-league-student-to-disillusioned-isis-fighter/2016/06/29/155e777e-3e07-11e6-80bc-d06711fd2125_story.html

Muslim community joins Regina pride parade for 1st time

Regina held its annual Queen City Pride parade on Saturday, as the main event for pride week.
This year was special for some Muslim people in Regina, as it’s the first time a group from the religious community marched in the parade.
Sabreena Haque, a Muslim woman who took part, said many who joined the parade felt it was time to show more visible solidarity, especially in the wake of the tragic shooting in Orlando at a gay bar earlier this month.
“We are a misunderstood community ourselves, and I think you know when things like Orlando happen and things that happen in other places, I think other people always see us as being this harsh group of people. That we have only one way of thinking,” Haque said.
Haque said people were happy to see group marching, and said they’re thankful for the opportunity to take part.

Muslim theology faculties develop an ‘Islam for Germany’

(RNS) While Germany’s politicians are loudly debating whether Islam is compatible with democracy, five of its state universities are quietly developing pioneering new Islamic theology faculties to try to ensure that it is.
The five universities — in Muenster, Osnabrueck, Frankfurt, Tubingen and Erlangen-Nuremberg — recently passed their first official evaluations by Muslim and Christian experts and were granted 20 million euros (or $22 million) to continue for another five years.
The programs now have a total of over 1,800 students and plan to grow. The largest program, in Muenster, has 700 students in its three-year bachelor’s program and received more than double that number of applicants this academic year alone.