The Islamic secondary school in Rotterdam which has been involved in a scandal over unauthorized early access to final exams, now faces different management. There had been calls for the school, which also faces financial problems, to close down. Rather, NOS reports that the school is to be run by a Christian secondary school association for the coming years.
Muslim citizens are most affected by episodes of discrimination in Europe. This is what emerges from the report on racism in the EU 2011-2012, published by the European Network Against Racism (ENAR). The report was released on March 21, International Day for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Particularly affected are women, accounting for 85 percent of reported cases of Islamophobia. The latter in fact suffer from gender discrimination as well as religious discrimination.
The report notes, Islam is often used as a scapegoat by politicians to divert public attention from other, more serious problems. Islamophobia makes it difficult for many Muslims in all Member States, to access education, housing, employment and other services. In addition, Muslims are treated differently by the police and are often unable to access justice.
Several recommendations are made for Italy, where the economic crisis seems to have significantly reduced if not nullified the little progress made in previous years including adopting a specific law on freedom of religion, providing more places of worship for non-Catholics, passing a new amnesty for illegal immigrants already working in Italy, allowing better access to housing and education, and adopting a law on the right to vote in local elections.
The report does note a decrease in reports of discrimination in access to goods and services by immigrants, this declined between 2010 and 2012 from 3.3 to 1 per cent. The report blames media operators that in Italy, seem to be less able to cover unbiased news regarding immigration and minorities.
Since its launch in 2006, al-Jazeera TV’s English-language news channel has racked up prestigious journalism awards for its reporting on international issues, including the Arab Spring uprisings. The problem: Hardly anyone sees al-Jazeera English (AJE) because few cable TV operators carry it.
On Wednesday, al-Jazeera’s owner — the emir of the oil- and natural gas-rich Persian Gulf state of Qatar — sought to change that.
Al-Jazeera will pay an undisclosed sum — unconfirmed reports said $500 million — for Current TV, the little-watched but widely distributed cable network co-founded by former vice president Al Gore. Al-Jazeera doesn’t want Current for its name or programming; it wants Current’s entree into American households. Al-Jazeera will start a new channel called al-Jazeera America that will produce news for and about Americans. It will instantly have access to about 50 million cable homes that Current reaches, more than 10 times AJE’s distribution.
The deal could mark a new era in a new hemisphere for a news organization that helped smash government control of information in the Arab world. Al-Jazeera — the name means “the peninsula” in Arabic — transcended national censors when it began broadcasting across the Middle East via satellite in 1996.
But its attempts to enter the rich media markets of the West haven’t been quite as revolutionary.
Six major American banks were hit in a wave of computer attacks last week, by a group claiming Middle Eastern ties, that caused Internet blackouts and delays in online banking.
Frustrated customers of Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo and PNC, who could not get access to their accounts or pay bills online, were upset because the banks had not explained clearly what was going on.
A hacker group calling itself Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters — a reference to Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, a Muslim holy man who fought against European forces and Jewish settlers in the Middle East in the 1920s and 1930s — took credit for the attacks in online posts.
The group said it had attacked the banks in retaliation for an anti-Islam video that mocks the Prophet Muhammad. It also pledged to continue to attack American credit and financial institutions daily, and possibly institutions in France, Israel and Britain, until the video is taken offline. The New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq were also targeted.
Last week, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said in an interview on C-Span that he believed Iran’s government had sponsored the attacks in retaliation for Western economic sanctions. The hacker group rejected that claim. In an online post, it said the attacks had not been sponsored by a country and that its members “strongly reject the American officials’ insidious attempts to deceive public opinion.”
Such attacks are fairly common and generally don’t compromise sensitive data or do any lasting damage. Still, they can be a huge headache for companies that rely on their websites to interact with customers.
The hackers maintained that they were retaliating for the online video. “Insult to the prophet is not acceptable, especially when it is the last Prophet Muhammad,” they wrote.
The Toronto Star – June 23, 2012
Clichy-sous-Bois, which most French people know only as the place where the worst wave of riots in contemporary France began; a place where young people from immigrant families clashed with police and started hundreds of fires among the dilapidated, overcrowded bunkers; a place few French recognized as their own country is undergoing a transformation.
Clichy’s startling makeover is part of an “urban renovation” plan worth billions. It appears to be France’s answer to the well-known plight of people in the banlieues, the infamously segregated suburbs, synonymous with poverty and France’s failure to integrate its immigrants. But walk five minutes to a part of town where the buildings appear condemned and people still live inside. You will see young people who don’t have jobs, who can’t access good schools. You will see that public transit is so scarce, it can take two hours to get to Paris, 10 kilometres away.
You will also see that makeshift prayer rooms are overflowing. There aren’t enough mosques at a time when a major study has found the difficult conditions — poverty, unemployment and lack of access to education — are contributing to a rise in Islamic orthodoxy. Youth unemployment stands at 43 per cent in Clichy (22 per cent in France as a whole), and the chance at finding a job is even worse for a dropout.
Nicolas Sarkozy made efforts to address the problems in the suburbs after his election in 2007. His 2008 Suburbs Hope program, a kind of Marshall Plan, sought to pair young people with jobs and improve access to education. More bursaries were created to send disadvantaged young people to prep schools for the elite universities. But for the most part, it failed, according to the former secretary of state who was in charge of it. Funding for programs didn’t materialize.
Queen’s University (Canada) Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) gives France an overall score of 51 out of 100, down slightly from 2007, and criticizes French laws that make non-European Union residents ineligible for about 7 million jobs in both the public and private sectors.
The lack of jobs and feelings of rejection, accompanied by poor political participation, is leading many Muslims to embrace stricter forms of Islam, said French academic Gilles Kepel. It’s “a piety,” Kepel found in a major year-long study published in 2011 (http://www.euro-islam.info/2012/02/06/gilles-kepels-new-book-quatre-vingt-treize-93-released/), “that seems exacerbated by the particular circumstances” in Clichy.
CHICAGO — The tip was a surprise when it arrived on the desk of Ted Wasky. Had it not come, the former FBI agent fears five Muslim men in northwest Ohio might have pulled off a plot to kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
The source of the tip? A fellow group of Muslims living in Toledo.
The tipsters trusted the police enough to help the FBI infiltrate the group with an informant, and Wasky said that relationship was the “best thing that ever happened” to the local joint terrorism task force when he was the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Cleveland office.
That’s what police investigators, prosecutors and mayors in cities nationwide say the New York Police Department is putting at risk by conducting clandestine surveillance of Muslims in the city and across the Northeast. All cite their experience in serving communities that are home to large Muslim communities and other minority populations that have become isolated by events.
SANTA ANA, Calif. — The FBI must pay the legal fees of Muslim activist groups that sued the federal agency for access to its files, according to a U.S. District Court ruling filed Thursday.
Judge Cormac Carney made clear that the financial sanction was not based on the merits of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California’s Freedom of Information Act case, but it was to punish a government that chose to lie to its own judicial system.
“The Court must impose monetary sanctions to deter the Government from deceiving the Court again,” Carney wrote. He gave the Islamic Shura Council 14 days to provide an affidavit detailing its costs.
After a nearly five-year court battle, Carney ruled in April that the council could not review additional records of FBI inquiries into its activities, but he berated the government for misleading the court about the existence of the files.
“And the Court rejects the Government’s suggestion that it initially had to deceive the Court to protect national security. The Government could have availed itself of routine court procedures without compromising national security,” Carney wrote.
The Islamic Shura Council is composed of six Muslim-American community organizations and five community leaders.
July 22, 2011
France’s highest administrative court handed down a final ruling on five cases involving the public use of funds for religious purposes. In June 2007 an administrative court blocked 380,000 Euros the city of Le Mans wanted to use to set up a Muslim slaughterhouse. The court ruled that the space was meant for religious practices and, according to France’s 1905 law on the separation of church and state, it could not be built with taxpayer money. The city of Le Mans appealed the ruling to France’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, arguing that the slaughterhouse served local obligations to ensure public health and hygiene.
On 19 July 2011, the Council handed down a final ruling on the Le Mans slaughterhouse and four other cases, favouring religious groups. The rulings, which also considered disputes over the installation of an access elevator for a Catholic basilica, the restoration of a church organ and the use of public spaces for two different mosque projects, have gone mostly unnoticed. The slaughterhouse project is back on track.
The town of Trélazé can keep and use public funds to restore a church organ, the Council said, but the organ must be made available to non-members of the congregation for music classes and concerts. Muslims in Le Mans can have a slaughterhouse, but must share this space with non-Muslims who also want to use the premises.
Two reports elaborated by the Parent-Teacher Association of a public school in Álava (in the Basque Country) try to show how migrant parents feel about their relationship with the school administration. Among the difficulties put forward by the parents are: the access to specific information about the composition of the food provided to the children at the school cafeteria, the possibility to adapt the children’s school vacation to the Muslim holidays, and the idiomatic problems that Arabic-speaking students face when arriving at a region where the dominant language at school is the Euskera. Still, the reports are positive as they refer to a 60% of schools in the Northern region offering a Muslim appropriate diet to their students and an open dialogue between parents and the schools administrations.
According to a new study by Ifop, almost 60 percent of Muslims in France regularly purchase halal meats. Generally, about ¾ of the sample claimed to purchase halal. Those who are most apt to eat halal are the older generation, who appear to have more access and possibility to purchase these meat products. Interestingly, 44 percent of those who prefer halal meats are not regular mosque attenders.