Dutch minister want to revive imam-education in the Netherlands

The Dutch Minister of Education Jet Bussemaker wants to revive the professional education for imams and mental caregivers in the Netherlands. The few educational programs that were present in the Netherlands closed down three years ago. At the behest of Bussemaker the vocational schools Inholland and Windesheim and VU University Amsterdam (VU) have initiated serious conversations about a possible restart of the educational programs.

The goal is once again to create an educational program that forms Islamic clerics in line with Dutch culture, just as the program at Inholland did three years ago. This program was terminated because it was too expensive and was hardly effective. Of the 105 candidate-clerics that started the program only a few graduated. Just one of them found work as an imam.

From the community the demand for a good educational program still exists, Bussemaker says. A ‘Dutch imam new style’ does not always have to be a theologian according to her. “Outside of the mosque people with knowledge of Islamic theology are also necessary. One could think of I minor or a major, of several trajectories. Then one could study pedagogy and follow an imam-trajectory within that program. Or the other way around: Islamic theology and within that program a minor in another field.”

Accessing the Quran: Interview with Ahmad Milad Karimi

February 10, 2016

In an interview with Qantara.de, Ahmad Milad Karimi, professor for kalam in the Faculty for Islamic Studies at Münster University, offered a survey of the state of Islamic thought and theology in Germany. Karimi, who published a German translation of the Quran in 2009 that sought to capture the book’s poetic spirit and make it accessible to a German-speaking public, identified the need to “break through the foreignness of the Koran and the Islamic tradition” as the most important objective facing Muslim intellectuals in Western Europe. According to him, “[t]he greatest challenge is that Islam is not currently communicated well enough.” In this respect, the task of Muslim scholars must not primarily be to distance themselves and their religion from atrocities committed in its name; what is needed instead is a bold vision of the religion and the richness of its tradition: “We gain nothing by continuing to distance ourselves. We can only gain if we succeed in formulating debates ourselves, launching discourse and practising responsibility.”

Germany’s Donald Trump moment: The AfD ahead of crucial state elections

February 5, 2016

Frauke Petry, chairwoman of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party opined last week that due to the continued influx of immigrants police ought to use firearms in order to defend the German border. In an interview with the local newspaper Mannheimer Morgen, Petry asserted that “[n]o policeman wants to shoot at a refugee. I don’t want to either. But part of an ultima ratio is the use of armed force.” The party’s vice-chairwoman Beatrix von Storch reaffirmed this statement in a somewhat more blunt fashion on her Facebook page: “Whoever does not accept the STOP [sign] at our borders is an attacker. And we need to defend ourselves against attacks”. Questioned by a commenter whether she would use weapons to prevent women and children from crossing the border, von Storch only replied with a curt “yes”.

After the leading AfD women boldly asserted that their suggestions were covered by existing law, they subsequently issues retractions of their statements in the face of massive public backlash. Yet while criticism of Petry’s and von Storch’s statements was fierce, arguably it did little to harm the AfD’s current political momentum. As communication scientist Frank Brettschneider contended in an interview with the news outlet Tagesschau, the AfD draws its strength from obtaining media attention through conscious provocation. Brettschneider drew an explicit parallel to Donald Trump: outrageous statements lead to condemnation on the part of the societal mainstream, yet they buttress popularity in that sector of the population that is attracted to this discourse.

So far, the AfD’s calculation appears to be working: Following Petry’s and von Storch’s statements, the AfD reached a new high of 12 per cent in the national polls. At the centre of attention are the three states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Saxony-Anhalt where new state parliaments and prime ministers will be elected in mid-March. Here, attempts to exclude the AfD from the televised debates ahead of the elections have led to the cancellation of these debates and seemingly only strengthened the AfD’s position.

Links:

Frauke Petry’s original statement: http://www.morgenweb.de/sie-konnen-es-nicht-lassen-1.2620328 (in German)

Beatrix von Storch’s comments: http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/fluechtlingskrise/beatrix-von-storch-afd-vizechefin-will-polizei-sogar-auf-kinder-schiessen-lassen-14044186.html (in German)

Interview with Frank Brettschneider: http://www.tagesschau.de/inland/interview-brettschneider-afd-101.html (in German)

AfD at a new all-time high in national polls: http://www.tagesschau.de/inland/deutschlandtrend/index.html (in German)

Conferences of Muslims in France to meet in March

February 3, 2016

A national conference of Muslims of France will be held next March in Lyon, according to the Great Mosque of Paris.

The decision to hold the conference was made during a working meeting in Paris chaired by the rector of the Great Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubaker and President of the Union of Islamic Organisations of France (UOIF) Amar Lasfar.

“In continuation of their coordination on major issues of Islam in France, the two sides agreed to organize a national congress of Muslims of France in Lyon in March,” the source said.

The two sides called on all Muslim organizations and associations to join this initiative which “became urgent against the current vacuum in the expression of Muslims of France in the context of anxiety experienced by France.”

The objective of this conference, highlight the two parties, is to “confirm citizen expression, peaceful and responsible for the Muslim community, to protect young people from all extremist or radical temptation and deliver a message of peace and hope to all of our citizens.”

They also agreed to continue work “already underway” on the agreement of the prayer calendar, fixing the dates of the month of Ramadan and religious holidays, with the forthcoming establishment of a joint theological commission between the two respective institutes for training imams.

A national conference of imams will be held at the end of the year, says the same source.

Dutch terrorism-expert Peter Knoope: “A large part of the world hates us”

The Dutch antiterrorism-expert Peter Knoope searches for the motives of terrorists and warns the West. “A large part of the world hates us. What we think is progress, they find neocolonial.”

The Dutch specialist in international relations Peter Knoope warns the West: we force our way of thinking about history upon the rest of the world. And this is going terribly wrong. “We have no idea of what is developing. The anger, the dissatisfaction, the anti-Western sentiments.”

“We still think we need to democratize, and that our secular progress-thought still holds any relevance in a word were the majority of people are anti-Western. This disconcerts me,” Peter Knoope says. Until last year he was the director of the International Center for Counterterrorism (ICCT), we he is now an associate fellow. Additionally, he is a senior visiting fellow at Clingendael. the Dutch Instituut for International Relations, and travels around the world. It is utmost cynicism. I fly to Myanmar, to Mauritania, to South Africa, I’m hyper mobility itself. Someone who is stuck in Syria or Iraq is not welcome in Europe. This angers people.”

Barbaric violence

During one of those diplomatic travels he heard a remark, as a a red tread through a lot of conversations: “The majority of people here are anti-Western.” It came from a Frenchman he met in Niger. Knoope thought: the implication of what is said here, is tremendous. He repeated the sentence once more. Those words, in a random African country: “The majority of people here are anti-Western.” They stick, they hang as a sword of Damocles above our European heads. “Because it is not only like that in Niger, but also in Nigeria and also in Chad, and in Cameroon, in the of whole Sub-Saharan Africa, and also in large parts of Asia.”

Another incident. In the Chinese Embassy in Pretoria he read a pamphlet, meant for the citizens of the South-African Republic: “China is pleased that the hundred-year long humiliation of the European barbaric dominance has finally come to an end.”

Knoope: “We have no idea of what is developing. The anger, the dissatisfaction, the anti-Western sentiments. Beneath the small group of people that is mobilized by IS and that will actually take a step toward the use of barbaric violence, exists a sea of people that can understand well why those people do it.” Knoope wants to deal with the foundation of terrorism; this he finds more important that to merely battle the phenomenon.

Terrorists’ motivation

It has been long overdue that we allowed ourselves to ask the question of what the motivations of terrorists are. It was politically incorrect to ask this question in the years after 9/11,” Knoope says. Between 2001 and 2007 that question would even make you suspect. “People believed that to would demand understanding for the perpetrators.”

He sees a change in the American war-rhetoric. The big turn came in 2011. “Thas had to do with the combination of the Arabic spring and the death of Osama bin Laden. The Arabic Sping brought a sense of hope. Just as the idea that Al-Qaeda did not play a role in it, That it was not a religiously motivated but a civil uprising. With that the demise of Al-Qaeda was proclaimed. A space developed to as the question of the motivation of terrorists. The America president Barack Obama has, inspired by Hillary Clinton, further built upon this agenda. He allocated money for it and initiated programs.”

But in the meantime the bombardments on Syria continue. Knoop: “The Pentagon has an own agenda and an own dynamic that is hard to control. While we know that to depose leaders is strategically unwise. A terrorist organization is like a pyramid. If you take away the top, other more aggressive people will replace them. Take a look at Abubakar Shekau, who succeeded Mohammed Yusuf as leader of Boko Haram in Nigeria. It is strategically more wise to take away the public support, to break away the foundation. But for the military it is a difficult message that their machinery does not lead for the full hundred percent to the result they hope to reach with it.”

What binds 5 billion people? 

The worldwide character of Al-Qaeda and IS is new. “The globalization, that started with Christoffel Columbus, has intensified itself enormously the past twenty years. The global character of terrorism was never before seen, and is not comparable with other waves,” Knoope says. It is just like a water bed. You push it don’t at one side and it comes up on the other side. This much we have learned the past few years.

But to break away the foundation, how to do that? Knoope: “The first step is to try to understand why people resist. Otherwise you cannot present an alternative. The IS has a force of attraction in China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the in the Central Asian republics, until Russia, the Middle East and North and West Africa. You could go on. What is the undercurrent here? What binds those people with the shared idea that “we have something to fight against”? As long as we don’t understand that, as long as we keep throwing bombs on it and answer the phenomenon with violence, we will not solve the question.

Pretentious view on history

A better insight into what history means for the other is a good start, he believes. Because the seed of the danger is already in our pretentious view of history. “Our Western society, with her whole modernistic view on life, is afflicted with a belief in the future. The whole idea of modernization is about the manufacturability of the future: the world will become better, the world will change, our economy will grow. But for many people in this world time is something totally different. For a large part of the population of the world the world is not about tomorrow but about yesterday: want we have gone trough, what happened in the past to me, my culture, and my ancestors. Those hundreds of years of history are the baggage on everyone’s backs. The future is a fantasy.” And this is were the problem lies. “Western modernism has the inclination to deny that view of history. And this is the cause of a tremendous short circuit.”

“A group of more than five billion people rejects that idea of modernization. They say: “What you are here for to tell us, is not our future but your future.”” Because of that short circuit youths are incited to go on a search for alternatives. Knoope: “Then appears the tradition and the history and the “true” interpretation of the Islam, and then arises a group that says: “We offer an alternative, we offer you a home in which you can live that is based on the past, in our own rich history, and that offers a kind of togetherness that runs from Indonesia until Morocco. Feel at home.” And in the meanwhile our conviction that the modern society will lead to a worldwide secularity, and to a growing market and scientific knowledge, is viewed by large parts of the world as a neocolonial agenda. The modernists have never intended it that way, but if you ask the people in Africa, they say: “This is your newest way to look at us and tell us that we are not in order.” And because the parting of ways with religion is part of the modernization plans, this causes resistance and also causes for the religious component to emerge in an even stronger way.”

So does something exist such as fundamentalist secularism? For sure, Knoope says. “It’s fanatic. People who are part of ISAF (the international peace coalition in Afghanistan) tell me without shame that people in Afghanistan are 2000 years behind. I ask then: behind what? They mean behind our modern, secular, scientific view of the future, to which according to modern thought the population of the whole world shall have to submit.

Postcolonial disappointment

The problem if modernization started, according to Knoope, with the liberation theology after the postcolonial period, that started around 1960. A lot of the people in the colonies were disillusioned: the liberation had not brought what they had expected. “The postcolonial promise of improvement – we are now going to build up our own countries, we will make something beautiful – is turned over to postcolonial rage. If you ask an average youth in North Nigeria what democracy has brought, he’ll answer: “Nothing. A corrupt police officer and a life endangering army. That is our democracy. Thank you, dear Europeans.” The democracy that was installed in large parts of our former colonies did not bring the people anything. But we keep on telling them that democracy is the wonder drug.”

What concerns Knoope most is in many of those countries the traditional systems that existed had worked. “If one stole a cow, they went under the tree and spoke with each other. Conflict was dealt with amongst the people themselves. But the traditional way of conflict resolution was supplanted by a Western system of judges and lawyers. That Western system does not function over there at all. Prisons are full of people who have never seen a judge or lawyer. The old system of justice was completely destroyed and replaced by what the West implemented under the banner of democratization, human rights and “international law.” But in their daily practice people see that it has only brought misery. And then Al-Qaeda comes by, or IS or one of those groups, and they say: “Democracy? What is that for? What has it brought you?” Those groups demand a place for themselves in politics. There are of course masses of people that have huge problems with the reprehensible and brutal violence of the terror groups, but they do understand.

Is there, then, a peaceful solution? “As a first step we must realize that we cannot anymore force our modernity upon our former colonies,” Knoope says. “We must muster the humility that modernity is not attractive enough for everyone to embrace. After that you cannot but search in non-Western society for their own solutions for justice and good governance. Look at what the tradition brings to the table, and how they then become enriched with new elements. Looking back is also immensely important. They people must from within their own history and tradition give form to their contemporary society. Their uniqueness is in their history, not in ours. We think that – after the liberation movements and the independence – colonialism is already decades old an fully over. We left it behind, but the people that it happened to have not. In their collective conscience and history it is an important part of their identity.”

History of humiliation

It is important to realize that a lot of people that joined Boko Haram and IS really view us as the enemy, Knoope stresses. “We are not in order, that is their serious conviction. They are convinced that westerners try to marginalize Muslims, to humiliate and lower them, and that we allow them no fair, no rightful position in the world. We kill them in the Middle East, Chechnya, and Bosnia, we have them tortured in Guantanamo Bay. As soon as a Muslim crosses our border, he is picked out and humiliated. And now waves of Muslims enter Europe from Syria and Iraq. Then you know how it goes.” In this way the history of humiliation is fed. We must also consider this with regards to the influx of refugees.

Knoope takes a big lesson from history: Generational solidarity plays a much more important role with us then we realize. The anger of people about what was done to their parents, is many times bigger that the anger the parents themselves have felt about what was done to them. That anger travels over the generations. What you are is for a large part influenced by solidarity with your parents. That should not be damaged, because then people are touched in their fundamental values. That can be explosive material.

 

Source: www.knack.be

Interviewer: Anna Luyter

Interview: Peter Knoope

Translated from Dutch by: Jeroen Vlug

 

For more information about Peter Knoope see: http://www.clingendael.nl/person/peter-knoope?lang=en

 

To read the full interview in its original Dutch follow this link: http://www.knack.be/nieuws/wereld/terrorisme-expert-knoope-een-groot-deel-van-de-wereld-haat-ons/article-normal-624191.html

 

 

France Restricts ‘Salafistes’, Film on Islamic Radicals

PARIS — The French Culture Ministry ruled Wednesday that a new documentary film on Islamic radicals was unsuitable for minors, saying that it offered images of violence that were “sometimes unbearable” and interviews with members of Al Qaeda and other extremist figures that provided a platform for propaganda.

The documentary, “Salafistes,” will also be accompanied by a warning about its contents. It shows one leader of the Salafists, who practice a fundamentalist form of Islam, supporting the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States and another leader justifying the amputation of hands as a punishment under Shariah, the legal code of Islam. They also speak freely about their opinions on the inferiority of women.

The decision to restrict a movie to those 18 and over is usually reserved for films with pornographic content or extremely violent scenes, and is very rare for documentaries in France, which has been grappling with how to balance freedom of speech and expression with national security after a series of deadly attacks last year. This month, the distributors of “Made in France,” a film about fictional homegrown jihadists, decided to cancel its release in theaters, citing security concerns.

The documentary starts with a tour of Timbuktu, Mali, under the occupation of jihadists in 2012 and ends with propaganda images of the Islamic State last year. The images inspired the movie “Timbuktu,” directed by Abderrahmane Sissako, which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

“We wanted to show what it was like to live under the Shariah when we started the project, but then Daesh emerged and we had to put it in the synopsis,” said François Margolin, who directed the French film with Lemine Ould M. Salem, a journalist from Mauritania, using another term for the Islamic State.

“Salafistes” was among the films to be shown at the FIPA festival in Biarritz in southwestern France. Just before the first screening the National Center of Cinematography, which assigns movie ratings, called the festival to say that the documentary was “degrading human dignity” because it showed images of a police officer killed in the attacks of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo last year.

In response, the festival restricted the screening only to those with credentials, like reviewers and journalists.

The cinematography center recommended that the film receive an under-18 restriction and a warning message. Mr. Margolin and Mr. Ould Salem cut that scene and submitted the new version Tuesday.

But after watching the second version, the culture minister, Fleur Pellerin, who has oversight on ratings, agreed with the center, which argued that the film did not provide any counterpoint to the extremists, some of whom called for the murders of Jews and Christians.

Mr. Margolin said he had not expected the film to be rated at all. “The interviews explain the ideology of these people, and the propaganda images are here to show in practice how their ideas work,” he said Tuesday. “People are intelligent enough to understand the contrast.”

At the film’s Paris premiere on Tuesday night, the audience was split, with some arguing that the movie had the courage to “look evil in the eye,” while others thought it amounted only to propaganda.

The rating is also proving to be a financial blow to the directors. “Salafistes” had been scheduled to open in 30 theaters nationwide but will instead open in just three.

“We are going to lose a lot of money despite the fact that we risked our lives to shoot some scenes,” Mr. Margolin said.

 

White Supremacists More Dangerous To America Than Foreign Terrorists, Study Says

Nine people were added to a long list of lives taken by domestic terrorism when Dylann Roof allegedly began shooting inside a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17.
 
At least 48 people have been killed stateside by right-wing extremists in the 14 years since since the September 11 attacks — almost twice as many as were killed by self-identified jihadists in that time, according to a study released Wednesday by the New America Foundation, a Washington, D.C., research center. The study found that radical anti-government groups or white supremacists were responsible for most of the terror attacks.
 
The data counters many conventional thoughts on what terrorism is and isn’t. Since Sept. 11many Americans attribute terror attacks to Islamic extremists instead of those in the right wing. But the numbers don’t back up this popular conception, said Charles Kurzman, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Kurzman is co-authoring a study with David Schanzer of Duke University, set to be published Thursday, that asks police departments to rank the three biggest threats from violent extremism in their jurisdiction.

Number of Incidents Targeting U.S. Mosques in 2015 Highest Ever Recorded

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 12/17/15) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today released a preliminary report on incidents targeting American mosques and religious institutions in 2015 that shows a greater frequency of damage, destruction, vandalism, and intimidation than in any other year since CAIR started tracking such cases in 2009.

VIEW GRAPHIC OF 2015 MOSQUE INCIDENTS

Of the total of 71 incidents to date in 2015, 29 occurred since the November 13 terror attacks in Paris. Of those 29 incidents, 15 occurred prior to the December 3 San Bernardino killings and 14 took place after that attack.

CAIR’s preliminary data is being issued in advance of a soon-to-be-released comprehensive report on Islamophobia in the United States.

[Report Located Here]

The Islam debate: The dual consciousness of Muslims

Muslims today can no longer think, or ultimately exist, outside the widespread lore about Islam, which links them to discussions about terror, violence and the separation of religion and society. They can never be free of the neverending stream of projections about Islam. An essay by Farid Hafez

Has anything changed for Muslims, since the latest in a long line of so-called jihadist terrorist attacks claimed the lives of 130 people on 13 November 2015? As in the aftermath of any terrorist act, there have been debates on Islam as a religion and on ″its″ role in the attacks. Europe has responded not only with tighter security measures, including calling a state of emergency in France, but also by declaring war.

The attack in Paris was probably not the last: European societies must now face the kind of day-to-day life that has long since become normal elsewhere, complete with attacks and dead civilians. In future, European societies in general and their Muslims in particular will have to deal with issues such as trade-offs between security and freedom. Muslims will continue to discuss what reaction is the most sensible and expedient. Distancing themselves from the attacks? Or condemning them? Do we need the umpteenth fatwa against terrorism in general and Daesh in particular? And if so, who actually needs it?

The European citizens who ascribe to Islam a fundamental affinity for violence? Or the young Muslims who are seeking religious orientation in the face of racial exclusion and the piecemeal return to their Islam? Presumably we will be revisiting these questions again and again in the near future.

What’s the impact on Muslims?

In this article, though, I would like to touch on something else that is in reality ubiquitous but scarcely ever addressed explicitly. Namely: what impact does such debate have on Muslims? What traces does it leave behind, what scars are inflicted on the Muslim self-image as a result of this discussion about Islam and terrorism? To illustrate, let′s start with a Facebook post. Recently, a well-educated, politically active adult Muslim woman posted on the occasion of the birth of her child:

“I gave birth to a boy in the Christian hospital XY, with nuns as nurses and a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf at the reception desk; I named him for the most beautiful person and prophet XY, with the most beautiful character and an exemplary life story. Above my bed hung a cross and a picture of the Virgin Mary and her son, the prophet Jesus. Religious symbols? For me, it was the perfect accompaniment for a wonderful new life!”

Farid Hafez accepts the Bruno Kreisky Recognition Prize 2010 (photo: cc-by/Fatih Ozturk)

Farid Hafez is a doctor of political science and currently does research at the University of Salzburg. He is the editor of the Yearbook for Islamophobia Research and of the European Islamophobia Report, which will be published for the first time in 2016

The post was probably prompted by the announcement by the editor-in-chief of an Austrian newspaper just a few days before that he was considering reviving the headscarf ban debate, at the suggestion of a representative of the Christian Democratic Party.

The post raises many questions: what causes a woman who is giving birth to new life for the first time and is likely to feel emotions of indescribable happiness to cast this unique experience in a political context? What is happening in the mind of this person? The answer to this question may lead us to one of the biggest challenges faced by Muslims today all over the world and especially in the West: Muslims are trapped in the discursive spider web of a pervasive discourse on Islam.

By this, I mean that it is no longer conceivable for Muslims today to think, or ultimately to exist, outside the widespread lore about Islam, which links them to discussions about terror, violence and the separation of religion and society. Simply to exist. To be a human being. To experience a birth without having to interpret the cross, the nuns and Muslim nurses apart from their humanity. To experience and live through a birth. To be free of everything that is constantly projected onto them.

Dual consciousness

In ″The Souls of Black Folk″, the pre-eminent African-American thinker W.E.B. DuBois (1868–1963) describes a condition he dubs “double consciousness”, by which blacks are only able to see themselves through the eyes of others (whites). They can thus never regard themselves as fully fledged human beings because they are always caught up in a dichotomy, wanting to be human – i.e. normal – but being black – and thus outside the norm.

Many passed down this inferiority complex to their children, encouraging them to make life easier for themselves by becoming invisible, as Jean-Paul Sartre shows in his preface to Fanon’s ″The Wretched of the Earth″. Today there are many Muslims who try to make themselves invisible because they want to be humans, in other words, normal.

And then there are those who publicly avow Islam and thus take on all the challenges and discursive conflicts that this entails. In their effort to counter the hegemonic discourse, they overlook how trapped they are in exactly this discursive web. They have to take a stand. They cannot remain silent. Because silence could be taken as tacit consent to this or that terrorist attack.

Trend towards self-discipline

Recently, a former class representative wrote on the Facebook wall of a Muslim girl who used to be a pupil of his: “To remain silent on the terror in Paris (and elsewhere) means to accept or even to endorse it”. If Muslims avow their faith, they are then compelled to answer for it. If they make themselves invisible, they escape that pressure.

In a second stage, this discursive pressure leads to Muslims beginning to discipline themselves. Parents avoid giving their children toy guns in order not to be perceived as radical. Mothers and in particular fathers do not allow their young daughters to wear a headscarf on the way to the mosque, so as not to attract disparaging glances from those who regard this as a sign of subjugation.

Parents begin to bring up their children according to standards that attempt to counter the negative stereotypes, conspiracy theories and horrific imaginings that are part of the discourse.

Caught in the discursive web, it would seem difficult to breathe the air of freedom, to be human, to live a life apart from all the allegations, innuendo and suspicion. And yet it is this very freedom that is the first and most fundamental condition for thinking and living as a human being. In dignity.

Farid Hafez

© Qantara.de 2015

Translated from the German by Jennifer Taylor

The submissive subject tries to evade this discursive pressure by making himself invisible. Psychoanalyst Frantz Fanon spoke in relation to Algeria of the desire of the formerly colonised subjects to be white.