German Turks gear up for upcoming election

As Germany prepares to go to the polls on September 24th, the public debate has zoned in on questions of immigration, integration, and Islam. Consequently, German Muslims are under particular scrutiny in the run-up to an election that will most definitely hand a good number of parliamentary seats to the openly Islamophobic AfD party.

German Turks: the largest part of the Muslim voter bloc

German Turks continue to be the largest group of predominantly Muslim voters. To be sure, their share in Germany’s overall Muslim population has been falling – not least because of the arrival of several hundred thousand refugees from the war-torn Middle East.

Yet by virtue of having lived in Germany for many decades, Muslims from a Turkish background are much more likely to hold German citizenship and thus to be allowed to vote: of the three million German Turks, 1.3 million will be able to go to the ballot box in nine days’ time.(( http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/doppelte-loyalitaet-die-deutsch-tuerken-und-die.724.de.html?dram:article_id=388019 ))

A ‘Muslim vote’?

Scientists observing electoral behaviour of Muslims in Germany nevertheless warn of a simplistic conceptualisation of a ‘Muslim vote’. Muslims are not only in themselves a heterogeneous group; they also tend to focus on a whole set of diverse issues that other German voters are also concerned about – ranging from education and employment to security, healthcare, or taxation.(( http://www.islamiq.de/2017/09/05/wahlverhalten-von-muslimen-in-deutschland/ ))

Beyond that, many Muslim voters traditionally voice strong demands when it comes to equality of opportunity and anti-discrimination. This concern does not arise out of their Islamic religiosity per se but rather out of their experiences in the German context: recent studies have highlighted the continued impact of discriminatory practices to the disadvantage of individuals with ‘foreign-sounding’ names on the housing market,(( https://www.hanna-und-ismail.de/ )) in job applications,(( http://www.spiegel.de/lebenundlernen/schule/auslaendische-vornamen-migranten-diskriminierung-durch-firmen-bestaetigt-a-960855.html )) and even when dealing with the state bureaucracy.(( https://www.welt.de/politik/video168461476/Mitarbeiter-von-Jobcentern-neigen-zur-Diskriminierung.html ))

Traditional affiliation with the political left

In the past, these particular concerns meant that German Turks’ political affiliations were clear: at the last elections in 2013, 64 per cent of voters with Turkish roots supported the Social Democrats (SPD). Undoubtedly, an additional factor playing in favour of the SPD was the blue-collar identity of a large share of German Turks – a socioeconomic position that many of the former Gastarbeiter have passed down to their children.

In 2013, another 24 per cent of German Turkish voters chose two other left-wing parties, with 12 percent supporting The Left – a conglomerate of political factions to the left of the SPD – and another 12 per cent coming out in favour of The Greens.(( http://www.migazin.de/2013/10/30/bundestagswahl-2013-so-haben-deutsch-tuerken-gewaehlt/ ))

While the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) obtained 41.5 per cent of the overall vote in 2013, only 7 per cent of German Turks put their trust in Chancellor Merkel’s party. And although Muslims have sought to organise in the CDU, the Conservatives count far fewer men and women of Muslim faith or of immigrant extraction among their representatives than other parties.

Diverging electoral preferences in Germany and in Turkey

By contrast, those members of the German Turkish community who are still eligible to vote in Turkish elections regularly deliver resounding victories to conservative and Islamically-oriented President Erdoğan – rather than to the leftist opposition.

This might be due to the fact that political and ideological preferences diverge fundamentally between those German Turks who still hold Turkish citizenship and those who have acquired a German passport.

Yet it is perhaps more likely that, in the past, German Turks were perfectly capable of balancing an emotionally-driven support for Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s agenda in Turkey with a rational cost-benefit analysis of the political game in Germany.(( http://www.bild.de/politik/inland/bundestagswahl2017/tuerken-wollen-nicht-waehlen-52799904.bild.html ))

Ending EU accession talks with Turkey

After years of degrading relations, however, German Turks are finding this balancing act harder to accomplish. More particularly, there are indications that they are feeling less and less represented by the SPD and their traditional, leftist political home in Germany.

Although SPD Foreign Minister Gabriel sought to reassure German Turks of their continued importance to the German government and to his party, the SPD’s relationship to its formerly staunchly loyal clientele is increasingly fraught.

This trend culminated in the TV debate between incumbent chancellor Merkel and her SPD Challenger Martin Schulz on September 3rd: Schulz – somewhat surprisingly and perhaps ill-advisedly – sought to be ‘tough’ on Turkey and announced that, if elected to the Chancellery, he would immediately end EU accession talks with Turkey.(( http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/ausland/tv-duell-martin-schulz-ueberrascht-spd-mit-hartem-tuerkei-kurs-15182702.html ))

Detachment from the SPD

Schulz’s statements may resonate with dominant public opinion in Germany, which is increasingly sceptical of Turkey and its authoritarian President. Yet his brash and somewhat populist stance may also turn out to be politically unwise: Chancellor Merkel noted that talks over EU membership could only be ended if there was agreement among the 27 member states to do so, and that they constituted an important political lever to influence developments in Turkey.(( http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/ausland/tv-duell-martin-schulz-ueberrascht-spd-mit-hartem-tuerkei-kurs-15182702.html ))

In any case, Schulz’s outburst during the TV debate may have done considerable harm to his party’s standing among German Turks. Interviewed by news magazine Tagesschau, a Cologne resident of Turkish extraction who had previously supported the Social Democrats stated that he would not go to the polls on September 24th. Voicing his disillusionment with the SPD, who had always claimed to be the voice of German Turks, he said:

I prefer to have someone who tells me openly and honestly that he doesn’t like me – instead of someone who pretends to like me and at the end of the day does nothing that is in accordance with my wishes and interests.(( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9prj-3VZ44 ))

Mainstream parties “hostile to Turkey”

In this way, Schulz’s announcement, which was ostentatiously aiming to curtail President Erdoğan’s standing in Europe, may actually end up fostering the loyalty German Turks feel towards ‘their’ President.

Erdoğan himself has already called upon his countrymen in Germany not to cast a ballot in favour of parties who are “hostile to Turkey” – a list which, according to him, includes CDU, SPD, and Greens.(( http://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/erdogan-und-die-bundestagswahl-wie-stimmen-die-deutsch-tuerken-ab/20294522.html ))

The Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD), an affiliate of the AK Party in Europe, has echoed this statement: in a press release, it condemned (albeit in somewhat broken English) not only the AfD for stoking populist hatred but also The Greens and The Left for supporting “known […] terrorist organizations”. This swipe aims not only at Gülenists but also the PKK, whose secularist struggle for independence is indeed seen in a positive light in some quarters.(( https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DJds1nUWAAImIKd.jpg ))

Pro-Erdoğan splinter parties

The political home of German Turks thus appears to be in considerable flux. As a response, a new Erdoğanist splinter party has been set up in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW), home to the largest number of German Turks.

The Alliance of German Democrats (ADD) uses the portrait of President Erdoğan on its election posters calling for solidarity with the friends of Turkey. Yet the party only managed to obtain 0,1 per cent of the vote at recent state elections and thus has no political significance beyond the purely symbolic.(( https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article168473921/Mit-diesem-Erdogan-Plakat-wirbt-eine-Partei-im-Bundestagswahlkampf.html ))

Another pro-Erdoğan faction, the Union for Innovation and Justice (BIG), recently announced its decision to boycott the elections. BIG seeks to unify the German Turkish vote; a quest that has so far remained elusive: in most of its electoral attempts, the party did not manage to attain as much as one per cent of the popular vote – even in constituencies with large numbers of German Turkish voters.(( https://dtj-online.de/big-boykott-bei-den-bundestagswahlen-87268 ))

A more limited influence?

The failure of these attempts to constitute a quasi-AKP as a viable political force in Germany also points to the limitations of President Erdoğan’s appeal. Some of Germany’s largest ethnically Turkish immigrant organisations continue to be opposed to Turkey’s authoritarian turn.

The Turkish Community in Germany (TGD), as well as the Federation of Democratic Workers’ Unions (DIDF), called upon German Turks to vote in the elections and to defy President Erdoğan’s demand to reject the established political system. This statement was echoed by the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD), a predominantly non-Turkish Islamic umbrella association.(( http://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/erdogan-und-die-bundestagswahl-wie-stimmen-die-deutsch-tuerken-ab/20294522.html ))

Ultimately, how German Turks will decide to deal with these competing pressures will only become clear after polls close on the evening of September 24th. One respondent on the street stressed the need to retain a modicum of calm: Mustafa Karadeniz, entrepreneur from Berlin, asserted that

We should do neither Erdoğan nor German politicians the favour that the Turkish President becomes the main topic of the electoral campaign. There are really bigger Problems in Germany: the climate, the automotive industry, the old-age pension system.(( http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/bundestagswahl-wie-viel-einfluss-hat-recep-tayyip-erdogan-a-1165992.html ))

François Fillon’s comments on race, Jews, and Muslims (official statement)

An official statement from The French Jewish Union for Peace:

“Supporters of Les Républicains have chosen a worrying figure to represent the party as the official candidate for President of the Republic. On November 25, François Fillon declared in a speech that ‘patriotism is the only way to transcend our origins, our races, our religions,’ (he expressed similar sentiments in 2013.)

Thus, we have a candidate for the ‘republican’ right who calmly speaks of “our races” after accusing Muslims, while simultaneously asking them to ‘defeat the fundamentalism within [their communities].’ This is the same candidate who this summer supported the racist and needless campaign against the burkini.

He has also expressed his intentions to foster a sense of equality among citizens by recalling how the Republic required the Church’s submission, ‘and how it was necessary to demand that Jews accept the laws of the Republic.’

When evoking the 1806 Sanhedrin established by Napolean to integrate Jews, he used the same vocabulary of submission and presented the Jews as outlaws and rebels, stating that it was necessary to ‘demand’ that they accept the laws of the Republic.

He also forgets that the principle of equality for Jews was often constructed against the institutions of the Republic, such as the Dreyfus Affair, and that political actors in the III Republic wallowed in anti-Semitic abjection under Vichy rule.

As such, the first official speech given by the Republican presidential candiate is one of division and stigmatization, and reminiscent of the Republic’s colonial history and post-colonial racism.”

The National Bureau of the French Jewish Union for Peace

ISLAMOPHOBIA AND ITS IMPACT IN THE UNITED STATES, CONFRONTING FEAR

Key Findings
This report presents a national strategy that aims to arrive at a shared American understanding of Islam in which being Muslim carries a positive connotation, and in which Islam has an equal place among the many faiths which together constitute America’s pluralistic society. The strategy has four priority areas of focus:
1. Advancing Islam’s principle of “be a benefit to humanity, avert harm from humanity” by enhancing Muslim involvement in the issues of other domestic communities which face challenges to full and equal protection and participation in society.
2. Establishing in the public conscience that Islamophobia is identical to other forms of prejudice and undermines American ideals. 3. Empowering a diverse range of legitimate voices to persuasively contribute, particularly in the news media, to the views of Islam and American Muslims within public dialogue. 4. Enhancing community ability to impact U.S. political and policy life through public service, voting, and meaningful political contributions. The report also examines Islamophobia in the United States and offers the following key findings: Key Finding 1: Seventy-four (up from sixty-nine in 2013) groups are identified as comprising the U.S. Islamophobia network. Key Finding 2: The U.S.-based Islamophobia network’s inner core is currently comprised of at least thirty-three groups whose primary purpose is to promote prejudice against, or hatred of, Islam and Muslims.
Key Finding 3: Between 2008 and 2013, inner-core organizations had access to at least $205,838,077 in total revenue.
Key Finding 4: An additional forty-one groups whose primary purpose does not appear to include promoting prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims, but whose work regularly demonstrates or supports Islamophobic themes, make up the network’s outer core. $205,838,077 Total Revenue: 2008 – 2013 33 INNER CORE GROUPS ISLAMOPHOBIA AND ITS IMPACT IN THE UNITED STATES | CONFRONTING FEAR viii U.C. Berkeley Center for Race and Gender
Key Finding 5: As of the writing of this report, anti-Islam bills are law in ten states. This is one-fifth of the nation. To date, however, none of these laws have been invoked in legal proceedings.
Key Finding 6: At least two states, Florida and Tennessee, have passed laws revising the way they approve textbooks for classroom use as a direct result of anti-Islam campaigns. In many instances, teachers simply informing students of the tenets of Islam’s central belief system generated backlash and allegations of attempts to indoctrinate students to become Muslims.
Key Finding 7: In 2015, there were 78 recorded incidents in which mosques were targeted; more incidents than ever reported in a single year since we began tracking these reports in 2009. Incidents in 2015 have more than tripled compared to the past two years in which there were only 22 mosque incidents reported in 2013 and 20 incidents in 2014. In fact, in both November and December of 2015, there were 17 mosque incidents reported during each of these months, numbers almost equivalent to an entire year’s worth of reports from the previous two years. Additionally, 2015 saw the largest number of cases in both the Damage/Destruction/Vandalism category as well as the Intimidation category.
Key Finding 8: Progress has been observed in the reduction in frequency and shrinking acceptability of anti-Islam law-enforcement trainings
Key Finding 9: Two new phenomenon—Muslim-free businesses and armed anti-Islam demonstrations—raise deep concerns.

Funding Islamophobia: $206m went to promoting ‘hatred’ of American Muslims

Council on American-Islamic Relations and University of California Berkeley report names 74 groups they say contributed to Islamophobia in the US
Inciting hate toward American Muslims and Islam has become a multimillion-dollar business, according to a report released on Monday.
Released by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair) and University of California Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender, the report names 74 groups it says contribute in some way to Islamophobia in the US. Of those groups, it says, the primary purpose of 33 “is to promote prejudice against, or hatred of, Islam and Muslims”.
The core group, which includes the Abstraction FundClarion ProjectDavid Horowitz Freedom CenterMiddle East ForumAmerican Freedom Law Center, Center for Security PolicyInvestigative Project on TerrorismJihad Watch and Act! for America, had access to almost $206m of funding between 2008 and 2013, the report said.

Muslim Officer Sues New York Police Dept. Over No-Beard Policy

The department’s no-beard policy, as it is known, is at the center of a federal class-action lawsuit filed on Wednesday on behalf of a Muslim police officer who says he was suspended during the fasting month of Ramadan for refusing to shave his one-inch beard. The lawsuit, brought by Masood Syed, 32, aims to force the Police Department to change a policy that his lawyers say infringes on the rights of more than 100 officers seeking to exercise their religious freedoms without fear of discrimination or retaliation.
Officer Syed, a 10-year veteran assigned to the office that handles disciplinary proceedings against officers, was suspended without pay on Tuesday. At an emergency hearing on Wednesday in Federal District Court in Manhattan, Judge P. Kevin Castel ordered the department to continue paying Officer Syed until his next court date on July 8, when the court will decide whether he can return to work.
Officer Syed’s complaint cites a 2013 ruling in Federal District Court in favor of a Hasidic Jewish police officer who was fired during his probationary period for refusing to shave his beard. The officer, Fishel Litzman, was reinstated in 2014 and remains on the job.
The complaint also describes another 2013 case of Mohsin Aftab, a Muslim police officer who was suspended and ultimately agreed to leave the department after 10 years of service rather than shave his beard. Mr. Aftab, according to the complaint, has not been able to work in law enforcement since his departure, and his family has had to accept food stamps.

British Islamic scholar faces ban from Australia for preaching ‘death is the sentence’ for homosexuality

Australia is urgently reviewing the visa of a British Islamic scholar who toured

Orlando in March and had preached that “death is the sentence” for homosexual

acts.

Farrokh Sekaleshfar, a senior Shi'ite Muslim scholar, is currently giving a series

of lectures at an Islamic centre in Sydney on the topic of spirituality throughout

the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Sekaleshfar said in a lecture in Michigan in 2013 that in an Islamic society, the

death penalty should be carried out for homosexuals who engaged in sodomy

and that in Islam this was “nothing to be embarrassed about.”

“We have to have that compassion for people. With homosexuals it’s the same.

Out of compassion, let's get rid of him now, because he's contaminating society,”

he said in a lecture.

There is no evidence of any link between his comments and the American

Muslim man, Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando

on Sunday – the deadliest mass shooting in the United States – or that Mateen

attended Sekaleshfar’s lectures.

Sekaleshfar said he condemned the Orlando shooting as a “barbaric act of terror

that was in no way justified.”

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he has “zero tolerance for

people to come to Australia who preach hatred” and his government was

reviewing Sekaleshfar's visa “as we speak.”
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/australasia/islam-scholar-

australia-visa- ban-orlando- shooting-farrokh- sekaleshfa-a7081096.html

Omar Mateen, Twice Scrutinized by F.B.I., Shows Threat of Lone Terrorists

The son of Afghan immigrants, Mr. Mateen was born in New York in 1986, moved to Florida with his family in 1991 and spent his early years there in the Port St. Lucie area near the state’s east coast. He made friends as a child at a local mosque, and built friendships during slumber parties and basketball games, and playing video games. He bounced between jobs in high school and college. In court documents connected to a 2006 name change — from Omar Mir Seddique to Omar Mir Seddique Mateen — he said he had held eight jobs in about four years, including work as a grocer and as a salesman at a computer store.
He came to the F.B.I.’s attention in 2013, when some of his co-workers reported that he had made inflammatory comments claiming connections to overseas terrorists, and saying he hoped that the F.B.I. would raid his family’s home so that he could become a martyr.
The F.B.I. opened an investigation and put Mr. Mateen on a terrorist watch list for nearly a year.
James Comey, the F.B.I. director, said during a news conference on Monday that agents used various methods to investigate Mr. Mateen, including sending an undercover informant who made contact with the suspect, wiretapping his conversations and scrutinizing his personal and financial records.
They also sought help from Saudi intelligence officials to learn more about his trips to the kingdom in 2011 and 2012 for the Umrah, a sacred pilgrimage to Mecca made by Muslims. More than 11,000 Americans make pilgrimages to Mecca each year, and Mr. Comey said the F.B.I. found no “derogatory” information about his trips.
“Why did he do this?” his father asked. “He was born in America. He went to school in America. He went to college — why did he do that?”
“I am as puzzled as you are.”
NY Times: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/06/14/us/politics/orlando-shooting-omar-mateen.html

Magnanville: CFCM condemnation

Source: http://www.lecfcm.fr/?p=4353

France has once again been hit by an act of cowardly and barbaric terrorism. A police couple was killed Monday night in Magnanville (Yvelines). An assailant who had previously been sentenced in 2013 for terrorist related activity stabbed the policeman and his partner to death.

 

The CFCM condemns in the strongest this act of horror, which was odious and despicable.  The CFCM expresses its profound sympathy and presents its sincere condolences to the families of the victims.

 

The CFCM also calls on the Muslims of France to profit from the month of Ramadan to pray that France may live in Peace, Unity, and Security.

Lawyer: NYC hopes surveillance deal alters image of police

NEW YORK — A New York City lawyer said Wednesday that the city hoped to improve the image of its police department when it reached a deal with civil rights advocates to allow a civilian to serve on a committee of high-ranking police officials as they discuss investigations relating to surveillance of political activities.

City attorney Peter Farrell made the comment as he urged a federal judge in Manhattan to approve a deal settling lawsuits contending that the police department had violated constitutional rights in its infiltration and surveillance of Muslim communities after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

As part of the deal, an attorney chosen by the city’s mayor and police commissioner would serve for five years on a committee along with a dozen New York Police Department officials to discuss the initiation, continuation and closing of investigations pertaining to political activities.

The deal grew in part from a 2013 lawsuit in Brooklyn federal court by mosques, a charity and community leaders alleging that the department was discriminating against Muslims.

Several years ago, The Associated Press revealed that New York City police spied on Muslims, infiltrated student groups and sent informants to mosques.

A report launched on ethnic and religious discrimination against Somalis in Finland

The mission of Finnish Somali League held a press conference on May 27th to launch their newly published report on discrimination. The report is based on a survey directed at residents and citizens of Finland of Somali origin and tackled issues of verbal harassment, violent attacks and discrimination in the public sector. The aim of the survey was not to offer generalizing figures but to identify and investigate diverse discrimination experiences.

Out of 105 participants 80% had experienced discrimination and 80% reported having witnessed discriminative behavior towards other individuals of Somali origin. Moreover, 61% reported that the discrimination had been due to their Islamic religion and 31% reported their clothing to be the cause of discrimination. The survey’s narratives in open-end questions provide accounts of everyday struggles that residents and citizens of Finland with Somali origin experience. Especially racist accusations and verbal harassment were frequently reported. Yet, accounts on discrimination in public spaces such as denying access to services, being barred from entry to supermarkets and explicitly rejecting a job application due to the applicants head cover depict a detrimental picture of the current situation.

The full report in Finnish language can be downloaded from the official website of the League:

http://somaliliitto.fi/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Selvitysraportti.pdf