“Alliance for Peace and Fairness” launched as “the first Muslim party” in Germany is said to have ties with AKP and Gülen community. Yesterday, Zaman newspaper published a news article titled “Muslims founded a Party in Germany” to herald the emergence of a new political party named “Alliance for Peace and Fairness” which will be on the ballot for the upcoming elections in North Rhein Westphalia, Germany. Fethullah Gülen community and AKP’s organizations in Germany are said to stand behind the Party. Starting out three years ago with the formation named “Muslim Council” in Bonn to embrace the other Muslim groups together with Turks, “Muslim Party” as Zaman calls it, was consequently restructured as a Party and is now headed by Chairman Haluk Yıldız.
Haluk Yıldız spoke about the formation as follows: “First of all, we brought the Muslims together. We had talks with the Municipality for a Muslim cemetery. We will obtain the result soon. There are plans for two mosques. Permission for one of them has already been received. Talks continue for the other one. We are involved in the problems at the schools. We have handled headscarf issue and participation of Muslim students in school trips and swimming lessons. We have formed a team of 6 for this purpose. We have appointed two lawyers. Since we are an institution, the municipality and the school administration takes us into consideration. This way it became easier to solve the problems.”
According to what Yıldız said, there was a discussion within Muslim Arabs in the city “as to whether voting in the elections is permissible according to Islam or not”, but, the formation which is believed to have relationship with Gülen Community interfered in the discussion. Yıldız says this: We have convinced Imams. They gave a fatwa and Arab countries also supported the idea of a Party.”
An independent formation? New formation, of course, doesn’t say that it has an organic relationship with any one of the groups in Turkey. But, Gülen community and AKP support to the group is plainly discussed in Germany. For instance, German journalist Gudrun Eussner is of the opinion that “The word justice in the name of the Party refers to AKP. In addition to this, expressions like, “No to assimilation and discrimination’ show a parallelism with the speech Prime Minister Erdoğan had made in Cologne last year.” The news published two days ago with the signature of Ulrike Hummel in Deutsche Welle says that “Alliance for Peace and Fairness” has 50 members at the moment. Considering their forming a special team of six and appointing two lawyers to follow up a very specific issue like participation of Muslim students in school trips and swimming lessons, according to what Chairman Haluk Yıldız said in the interview he gave to Zaman, it ‘s not quiet convincing to say such an organized group has 50 members only.
The film “A Jihad for Love” by American Muslim director Parvez Sharma following gay Muslim men and women in twelve countries, gas won numerous awards, and most recently received the ‘Best Documentary’ award in the GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance against Defamation) awards in March. Sharma traveled through Iran, Egypt, Turkey, India, South Africa, and others – to examine the experiences of being gay and lesbian in an “intensely Muslim community.” He consciously decided against pursuing his project in America or a Western country in which homosexuality has a markedly different experience of acceptability, but cautioned against wanting to save gays and lesbians in predominantly Muslim countries. Sharma found that many are happy where they are, and do not desire asylum, displacement, or change to a different paradigm. “We tend to assume the Western model of this GLBTQ identity. Unless there’s a pride parade you’re not really free. These ideas are way more complicated than that. Sexuality is so complex in Eastern and Islamic cultures,” he says.”
Spain announced last Tuesday that it was ready to help the United States in reaching out to Muslim countries that President Barack Obama announced in his speech to the Turkish parliament. “The United States knows that Spain has the ability, influence, understanding and experience (in the Muslim countries) and, therefore, we’re going to work in that regard,” Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.
The strengthening of Spanish-Muslim ties was one of the major issues discussed by President Obama and Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero. “I think that the Obama administration’s focus on international relations – supporting multilateralism, dialogue and respect for others and intelligent diplomacy – fully coincides with the Alliance of Civilizations,” said Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.
A police chef is suing Scotland Yard after being threatened to cook pork sausages and bacon for morning fry-ups despite his claim that the Yard said he would not have to touch food derived from pigs when he joined. Devout Hasanali Khoja has alleged that managers threatened to sack him if he refused to cook the pork-based products, which are banned under Islam, and has started proceedings for religious discrimination.
Mr Khoja, 60, said that they refused to write a “no-pork” guarantee into his contract and told him to wear gloves when he cooks the breakfasts – dubbed “999 breakfasts”. The TaxPayers’ Alliance’s campaign director Mark Wallace said: “The Met’s personnel department has obviously made a serious error and they should never have recruited someone who won’t cook what the job requires.”
The Pakistan-born chef, from Edgware, north London, joined the Met three years ago as senior catering manager at Hendon Police College in north London, where he was excused from touching the meat. But he said the offending orders came when he was given a new job at the Empress State Building in Hammersmith, west London, which is occupied mainly by Met Police staff.
His lawyer Khalid Sofi reportedly said: “This is far from a trivial claim. It is fundamental to Mr. Khoja’s beliefs that he should not handle pork. Mr. Sofi’s case raises the general question of the Met accommodating the needs of the Muslim community at a time when there is a lack of confidence in the police among Muslims.” After complaining about the proposed move, Mr. Khoja was put on special paid leave for a year but was brought back and given a third, lower-ranking job, where he does not handle foods that breach his faith.
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While many things have changed for Muslim Americans since the September 11th terrorist attacks, one remarkable and positive change is currently unfolding – more Muslims, particularly Muslim women, are running for political office.
Agha Saeed, founder of the American Muslim Alliance, has tracked Muslim candidates for over a decade. Before September 11th, less than 5 percent of the candidates were women, and now one in three Muslim candidates is a woman.
On local levels, there is Jamilah Nasheed, a female Missouri Democratic state representative vying for re-election. Ferial Masry is facing a tough state assembly race in a heavily conservative district near Los Angeles.
While dozens of Muslim Americans hold seats on city councils and are busy in Washington, only two serve in Congress – Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Andre Carson of Indiana. “9/11 had a big impact. We kind of came to the conclusion that sitting on the sidelines… was not going to be a successful strategy, and that people needed to get involved,” said Ellison.
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International Herald Tribune
Outspoken Austrian far-right leader Joerg Haider, who sparked international outrage with comments praising Nazi policies, died on Saturday when his car veered off the road. Haider, 58, suffered serious head and chest injuries when his car flipped over several times and died en route to hospital, police said. Tributes were paid by Austrian politicians of all sides despite his notoriety. Haider grabbed international attention after his anti-immigration, anti-EU party won more than a quarter of the vote in a 1999 general election and became part of the government. The governor of Carinthia province and leader of the Alliance for Austria’s Future (BZOe) party was driving his official car on a road south of the provincial capital, Klagenfurt, when the accident happened. He had just overtaken another vehicle when his car came off the road for unknown reasons, according to police quoted by the APA news agency. Haider was to have attended a family celebration Saturday for his mother’s 90th birthday. “For us this is the end of the world,” BZOe deputy leader Stefan Petzner said. Austria’s President Heinz Fischer called Haider a “politician of great talent” who had “aroused enthusiasm but also strong criticism”.
Over 90 Muslim graves were desecrated on Sunday in the central Austrian town of Traun, near Linz, close to the Czech border. The gravestones were knocked over and in certain cases painted with black spray paint, Austrian security authorities said in a statement. Jewish symbols such as the star of David were also painted on the graves, as well as “Menorah” or Jewish candelabra. Austrian authorities suspect right-wing extremist neo-Nazis were responsible for the violence. The cemetery’s undertaker said a sticker of a right-wing organisation was removed from the entrance of the cemetery last week. The incident took place the same day as two far-right political parties made substantial gains in Austria’s parliamentary election. At the weekend the far-right Freedom Party and the New Alliance for the Future of Austria received a combined 29.1 percent of the vote. The Social Democrats won the polls with 30 percent but they and the conservative People’s Party suffered their worst results since 1945.
Police are blaming far-Right extremists for desecrating a Muslim cemetery in Austria, in the same weekend that the political parties of the far-Right made huge gains in the country’s general election. More than 90 graves were severely damaged at the cemetery in Traun, near Linz, some time between Friday night and this morning, in what police believe was an organised action. The offenders sprayed Jewish symbols such as the Star of David over some of the graves, but detectives believe that this may have been a bid to disguise the motives of extremists driven by a hatred of Muslim immigrants. It is not clear whether the incident was in any way related to the elections. A spokesman for the local Islamic Community said that they were deeply shocked at the news of the desecration, which comes as the Muslim religious month of Ramadan nears its end. Austria is meanwhile embarking on a round of soul-searching following its swing to the right in yesterday’s parliamentary elections. The two far-Right parties that captured almost 30 percent of the vote, the Freedom Party and the Alliance for the Future of Austria, have campaigned on an vehemently anti-immigration ticket and some of their slogans were deemed xenophobic by critics. Bojan Pancevski reports.
The Spanish Ministry of Justice, Mariano Fern_ndez Bermejo, has announced the creation of a Watch Group for Cultural and Religious Pluralism following the mark of the National Plan for the Alliance of Civilizations. The goal is to certify the principle of equality between all religions and to build constructive relations among those religions in accordance with the Spanish Constitution.
A Muslim man has successfully requested the removal of a crucifix from the room where his daughter was being cared for in a Catholic clinic in Bourgoin-Jallieu (Isère). The director of the Saint-Vincent de Paul Clinic, Marie-Thérèse Besson, staed “When people choose to be cared for in our establishment . . . they know they’re in a catholic care space.” The case will be further discussed at the next ethics committee meeting of the Alliance des maternités catholiques (Alliance of Catholic Caregivers).
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