Just like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, Republican Governor Sam Brownback had a feeling he was not in Kansas anymore. At least not the Kansas that he once knew. His Sunflower State was teeming with unfamiliar creatures and though not tin-men or scarecrows or wicked witches, they were nonetheless outsiders and were apparently so unsettling that a law was required to prevent their influence: They were Muslims.
Last Friday, Brownback signed a bill prohibiting local courts from relying on sharia, or Islamic law, as well as other non-U.S. laws when making decisions. The fact that such a thing had never occurred in the Midwestern wheat capital did not matter. The bill was approved in a landslide vote: 33-1 in the Senate and 120-0 in the House.
Like other similar bills in 20 states, including recently enacted laws in Arizona, Louisiana and Tennessee, the blueprint for the controversial Kansas legislation comes from a familiar and influential source: a growing right-wing network of anti-Muslim fear mongers. They are the Islamophobia industry and laws such as this are hallmark achievements in their quest to frighten the American population about a minority group they view with great suspicion and scorn.
Spencer and Geller co-founded Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA) in 2010, an American offshoot of Stop the Islamization of Europe (SIOE), a hate group that the European Union calls a “neo-Nazi organization.” They also led the protests in 2010 to the Park51 Community Center (remember the Ground Zero Mosque?) in New York City. Yerushalmi and Gaffney serve as their legal counsel. When the Kansas bill was signed, Geller reacted with her usual flamboyance: “U Da Best,” she wrote. “What a disaster defeat for Hamas-CAIR,” she added.
An East London-based charity (Maslaha) is looking for Muslim women to participate in arts exhibition that illustrates the achievements of everyday Muslim women. Rather than targeting the most prominent female Muslims in the country, the charity is intentionally looking for those ‘whose stories are yet to be told’ (BBC). The exhibition aims to challenge negative portrayals of Islam and to counter the current lack of information about Muslim women’s contribution to British society and life in the UK. Through this, the charity hopes to improve the understanding of Islam in the UK and to dismiss the stereotype of “submissive” Muslim women.
The French party Front National is advertising their rightwing agenda on election posters that very much resemble those of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) during their campaign against minaret construction. The SVP’s poster showed a Muslim woman, almost completely veiled in black cloth, next to an “army” of minarets, covering the Swiss flag. The poster of the National Front’s youth organization shows a similar lady next to a map of France, which is also pierced by minarets and additionally bears colors and symbols of Islamic countries’ flags.
Apparently there is a copyright even on supremacy, and so the SVP now claims violation of copyright. Front National assert that the poster was their idea and even postulates that the People’s Party are building on the “achievements” of the Front National. Furthermore, the French party claims, there are only a few images that can be employed to depict the “creeping Islamisation” of France.
The Prince of Wales has praised the “energy, dynamism and selflessness” of British Muslims. He attended the 25th anniversary dinner of the charity Islamic Relief, in the Grosvenor House Hotel in central London, which he acknowledged helped to bring together people of different faiths.
The Prince said: “We hear rather too much misleading information about a small minority of your community and not nearly enough about the vastly more numerous acts of compassion and commitment which characterize the work of Islamic Relief and its supporters.”
French Muslims want new blood injected into the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), the country’s main representative body, to redress deficiencies and start a new chapter. “Five years after the council came into being, it is time for a second reading to its policies,” Larbi Kechat, the rector of the Ad Dawa mosque in Paris, told IslamOnline.net. On June 8th, the CFCM will hold its third general elections, which will see some 5,232 mosque representatives casting the ballot to choose a 65-member general assembly; 14 days later, the new assembly will elect 17 members to the council’s board, who will then elect a president. Incumbent CFCM president Dalil Boubakeur, the rector of the Paris Grand Mosque, has expressed desire for third 3-year term – but sources say he is lacking in support. Criticism abounds over the CFCM’s poor achievements over the past five years, and its mishandling over key issues like the hijab and Islamophobia. Many members also believe that it did not respond properly to the reprinting of Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad.
Germany’s interior minister has called for an EU-wide dialogue with Muslims in an effort to integrate them better. Wolfgang Schaeuble suggested that the EU should promote the training of imams to encourage Muslim leaders who were comfortable with European values. He compared parts of the Islamic world to pre-Enlightenment Europe, and criticised both the burka veil and traditional Muslim attitudes to women. He pledged to use his country’s EU presidency to promote integration. He wanted training for imams that could “strengthen those who can live with the European rule of law, universal rights and the achievements of the Enlightenment”, he said, referring to the 17th Century European movement that put reason and universal rights ahead of tradition. “There are still parts of the Muslim world where historical enlightenment still needs to be implemented,” he told Brussels-based journalists on Thursday. “We should not be arrogant but only helpful. After all, Christianity waged terrible conflicts for a few centuries until the process of Enlightenment took root.” He echoed senior British politician Jack Straw when he said he thought the all-over burka worn by some Muslim women was “an element that hinders communication”. But he said he did not believe it was politicians’ role to decide what people should wear. However, equal rights for women was a universal principle that should be defended everywhere, he said, not just “some peculiarity” of Europe.
BY NIRAJ WARIKOO, FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER Abed Hammoud had an OK life in France. After graduating with an engineering degree from a top university in Lyon, the Arab immigrant secured a job at a heating and cooling company. But despite his achievements, Hammoud sensed he would never be considered French. At work, he said, he was referred to as “the Lebanese guy.” His Arab friends struggled to find work. And Hammoud saw how hard it was for people like him to enter politics and start businesses. So in 1990, he left France for the United States. In just over a decade, the Dearborn resident earned master’s degrees in law and business, became a Wayne County assistant prosecutor and emerged as an activist recognized nationwide for politically organizing Arab Americans. “It’s easier here,” said Hammoud, a 39-year-old married father of two sons. “People are more open. … In France, you’re never considered French” if you’re of Arab descent. That sense of alienation among France’s large Arab and Muslim populations — among the largest in Europe — may help explain the outbreak of violence this month that resulted in thousands of torched cars and a lingering unease that the country had failed its minority communities. That violence, coupled with last summer’s suicide attacks in London, has raised the question: Can Arabs and Muslims integrate into Western countries? Arab Americans say their success proves that they can. Indeed, across metro Detroit, many have found success in a number of fields — a marked contrast to the high unemployment and unrest that pervades much of Europe’s Arab and Muslim communities. […]