Music of Arab composers goes to Europe concert halls

The works of 25 modern Arab composers are to be performed in major European concert halls for the first time, with London hosting a preview in June, organizers said on Wednesday. After London, the programme will go to festivals in European capitals, including Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen and Amsterdam, and then, from 2009, to the respective native countries of the composers. “All of these musicians deserve international exposure and recognition, and most are underappreciated in their own communities,” said the statement. The concert series has been named after Islamic philosopher and scholar Abu Nasr al-Farabi (870-950), who wrote a major treatise on music and taught in Baghdad, Cairo and Damascus.

Dutch Muslims Seek a Fresh Start

Mohammed Farjani says that since his arrival in the Netherlands 38 years ago he has wanted nothing more than to be integrated. Living among many other Moroccan immigrants in Slotervaart, Amsterdam, he became concerned that the groups of dark-skinned youths sometimes congregating on street corners would intimidate native Dutch. “We created an association to work for children in order to help them be like Dutch children, not different,” he says. He and other members of his group, the Buurtvaders (neighbourhood fathers), would patrol the streets, trying to persuade the boys to go to school or back to their homes at night. His organisation has been copied in other Dutch cities, and has been held up as a model of good citizenship.

Space for Islam? Urban policy, resources, and organizations

Published in Dutch only: “Ruimte voor de islam? Stedelijk beleid, voorzieningen, organisaties”

In deze minutieuze studie legt Marcel Maussen de gecompliceerde verhoudingen in de samenleving met `de’ islam bloot. Hij doet dit door de toon van het publieke en politieke debat, het gevoerde beleid en de relaties tussen islamitische groeperingen en instellingen en de gemeentelijke overheden nader te bekijken in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht en Zaanstad. Hij groepeert die onder vier beleidsvisies — marginalisering, pluralisme, dialoog en assimilatie — en laat de consequenties van die visies zien. Als contrast toont hij hoe men in vroeger tijden in Nederland met ‘de’ islam omging en, vergelijkenderwijs, hoe de dagelijkse praktijk in Frankrijk is.

Uit dit onderzoek blijkt dat er regelmatig afhankelijk van de politieke samenstelling van gemeentecolleges en van het Iandelijke politieke klimaat breuklijnen zijn in het gevoerde beleid. Veelal blijkt ook dat hoe directer het beleid bij en met burgers en organisaties op buurt of stadsdeelniveau wordt ontwikkeld en in praktijk gebracht, hoe minder ruis en confrontaties tussen de stad en haar islamitische bewoners voorkomen.

De opname van een relatief nieuwe godsdienst in onze samenleving raakt niet alleen aan fundamentele staatsrechtelijke waarden, maar vereist ook pragmatische regelingen. Lezing van deze studie helpt gemeentebestuurders en alien die hen bijstaan om vooral met gezond verstand, burgermansfatsoen en liefde voor democratie en burgerparticipatie zowel de rechtsstaat te beschermen als hun eigen stadsbewoners in deze rechtsstaat in te sluiten.

About the author:
Marcel Maussen is politicoloog en verbonden aan de afdeling Politicologie en het Instituut voorMigratie en Etnische Studies CIMES) van de Universiteit van Amsterdam.

Anti-Islam: Mosques Tucked Away

ROTTERDAM – Almost 70 new mosques will be built or extended in the next four years. AD’s own research of 485 municipalities found that most of them will be built on the outskirts of residential districts, in industrial areas, or other out-of-the-way places. According to Marcel Maussen, a researcher in Amsterdam, this is partly because prayerhouses, with their additional facilities, are simply too large for some residential districts, and “few people would want 2,000 people outside their door on a Friday afternoon”; on the other hand, the “banishment” of mosques to industrial areas and roadside pastures is also a sign of growing anti-Islamic sentiment. {(continued below in Dutch} Maar er is volgens hem ook een andere verklaring voor de _verbanning’ naar industrieterreinen en weilanden naast snelwegen. ,,Dat heeft te maken met een groeiende anti-islamstemming.” Nederland telt binnenkort zeker 450 offici_le moskee_n, waarvan er 115 zijn gevestigd in de vier grote steden. Ze bieden onderdak aan ?_n miljoen gelovigen. Het aantal kerken neemt intussen gestaag af. Het zijn er volgens schattingen van kerkverzekeraar Donatus nu nog ongeveer 4500. Maar vooral katholieke kerken krijgen de komende jaren andere functies. Op verzoek van het AD leverde bijna driekwart van de gemeenten een overzicht van de talrijke nieuwbouw- en uitbreidingsplannen voor moskee_n. De bouwgolf wordt vooral veroorzaakt door een nijpend ruimtegebrek in bestaande moskee_n. Met de vastenmaand ramadan worden in veel gemeenten provisorisch tenten en bouwketens geplaatst om de toeloop aan te kunnen. De te krappe moskee_n leverden in veel gevallen een jarenlange strijd voor een nieuw, groter gebedshuis. De nieuwbouw levert meestal een verdubbeling van de vloeroppervlakte op. In Amsterdam, Utrecht, Den Haag en Rotterdam wordt een deel van de moskee_n aan het oog van gemeentebesturen onttrokken. Het gaat om nieuwe gebedshuizen van vaak jonge, ontevreden moskeebezoekers. Tegen de trend in beginnen zij juist weer in kleine ruimten de islam te prediken.

Almost Half Of Young Moroccans Are Anti-West

AMSTERDAM – Forty percent of young Moroccan immigrants reject Western values and democracy. 6-7 % are prepared to defend Islam with force. These are the findings of the still-confidential report “Radicals and democrats”, prepared by the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies (IMES) for Rita Verdonk, Minister for Integration and Immigration. The majority of young Moroccans are against the right of free expression, especially when it comes to unfavourable judgements on Islam.

Immigrants Have To Pass A Racy Test; Netherlands Shows Its Liberal Culture

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — Want to go Dutch? The Netherlands now has a test for would-be immigrants to see whether they’re ready to participate in the liberal Dutch culture. It includes watching a film of gay men kissing in a park and a woman, topless, emerging from the sea to walk on a crowded beach. Can’t stomach that, don’t apply. Despite whether they find the film offensive, applicants must buy a copy and watch it if they hope to pass the Netherlands’ new entrance examination. The test — the first of its kind in the world — became compulsory Wednesday, and was made available at 138 Dutch embassies. Taking the exam costs $420. The price for a preparation package that includes the film, a CD-ROM and a picture album of famous Dutch people is $75. The test is part of a broader crackdown on immigration that has been gathering momentum in the Netherlands since 2001. Anti-immigration sentiment peaked with filmmaker Theo van Gogh’s murder by a Dutch national of Moroccan descent in November 2004. Both praise and scorn have been poured on Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk, the architect of the new test and other policies that have reduced immigration by at least a third. “If you pass, you’re more than welcome,” Verdonk said. “It is in the interest of Dutch society and those concerned.” Not everyone is happy with the new test. Dutch theologian Karel Steenbrink criticized the 105-minute movie, saying it would be offensive to some Muslims. “It is not a prudent way of welcoming people to the Netherlands,” said Steenbrink, a professor at the University of Utrecht. “Minister Verdonk has radical ideas.” But Mohammed Sini, the chairman of Islam and Citizenship, a national Muslim organization, defended the film, saying that homosexuality is “a reality.” Sini urged all immigrants “to embrace modernity.”

Dutch Virtue Of Tolerance Under Strain

By Roger Cohen AMSTERDAM In the Dutch interiors painted by the great artists of the Golden Age, all appears in order: the ruffs of white linen and polished surfaces speak of a luminous calm. But often a furtive glance caught in a mirror, or a keyhole view of another world, suggests a charged tension behind the elegance. The Netherlands today can still offer a picturesque tranquillity, with its swarms of straight-backed bike riders and its canals reflected in the handsome windows of gabled homes. But cut a keyhole through Dutch decorum and violence appears: a filmmaker shot and stabbed by an Islamic fanatic, politicians in hiding from jihadist threats, a newspaper columnist menaced into silence, people living in fear. Immigration, particularly of Muslims, has long been an issue in Europe, a challenge to overburdened welfare systems and to the self-image of countries where every village hoists a church spire to the sky. But what was once a subject of worthy debate is now more a matter of survival. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Netherlands, where a familiar European combination of troubled history and quiet hypocrisy, wrapped in a veneer of tolerance, has yielded unexpected bloodshed. “We see that our much-vaunted tolerance toward immigrants was often just indifference and we are left wondering: What have we become?” said Job Cohen, the mayor of Amsterdam. The murders, in 2002 and 2004 respectively, of the taboo-trampling politician Pym Fortuyn and the Islam-bashing movie director Theo van Gogh have left the Dutch bereft of certainties. They are not alone in their questioning. Islam is now of Europe, a European religion. But Europe, after terrorist killings in Madrid and Amsterdam and London, sees more threat than promise in the immigrant tide from its Muslim fringes. Geert Wilders is a rightist member of the Dutch Parliament living in a secret location under police protection because Islamic radicals say they will kill him. That, in what was until recently the placid Western democracy par excellence, is extraordinary. “All non-Western immigration must be stopped,” Wilders said. “Pure Islam is violent.” Other politicians, like Cohen, see the solution more in building bridges than barriers. They argue, like Tony Blair and George W. Bush, that a perversion of Islam, not Islam itself, threatens the West. But nobody, even in laid-back Amsterdam, is indifferent to immigration any longer. That Europe needs immigrants, and that they will seek to come from adjacent North Africa and other poor Muslim areas, is evident. It needs them to do jobs, from asparagus picking to care of the elderly, that others do not want to do. […]

Dutch Mosques Develop Strategy Against Extremism

Three mosques in Amsterdam have presented the Jan Peter Balkenende, the prime minister of the Netherlands, with a plan to combat religious extremism. The plans explain how they will detect extremists and lay out how they will cooperate with authorities in confronting the problem. The plans are a result of agreements between teh city of Amsterdam and the mosques following the murder of Theo Van Gogh. {(continued below in French)} Trois mosqu_es d’Amsterdam devaient pr_senter lundi au Premier ministre n_erlandais Jan Peter Balkenende un code de conduite contre l’extr_misme, selon le Service d’information du Royaume (RVD). Dans ce code, ces mosqu_es du quartier du Baarsjes, _ forte population immigr_s, expliquent comment elles comptent d_tecter des comportements extr_mistes parmi les fid_les, ce qu’elles font pour contrer l’extr_misme et comment elles impliquent les autorit_s dans la lutte contre ce ph_nom_ne. C’est le r_sultat d’un accord entre mosqu_es et la ville d’Amsterdam, conclu apr_s le meurtre au nom de l’islam radical du cin_aste Theo van Gogh, destin_ _ d_tecter l’extr_misme islamique et _ d_fendre la libert_ d’expression. Plusieurs imams aux Pays-Bas ont appel_ les fid_les _ ne pas prot_ger d’_ventuels membres du r_seau islamiste Hofstadgroep accus_ de pr_parer des attentats aux Pays-Bas, et dont l’assassin de van Gogh aurait fait partie. Selon le quotidien amstellodamois Het Parool, un imam de Tilburg (sud) les a m_me qualifi_s “d’apostats”, consid_rant qu’ils sont infid_les au “vrai Islam”. Un imam de La Haye a r_dig_ une fatwa (avis religieux) autorisant tous les t_moignages contre les membres de ce groupe.

Moroccans, Turks Rally Against Dutch Immigration Plans

AMSTERDAM – Moroccan and Turkish groups in the Netherlands have set up a new action committee named “Genoeg is genoeg” (enough is enough) to organise a campaign against the Dutch government’s tough immigration and integration policies. The organisers are calling for a national demonstration on 17 September in Amsterdam. Two spokesmen for the new organisation outlined the plans for the demonstration during a press conference in the Moroccan capital of Rabat on Monday. Dutch Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk arrived in Rabat for an official visit on Monday. She toured the Dutch embassy where modifications have been made to house the new integration tests that are to be introduced for would-be immigrants to the Netherlands. While there was news on Monday that other European countries are interested in the immigration policies being pioneered by Verdonk, the spokesmen for the new action committee described her policies as discriminatory and racist. “These policies are creating a greater rift between ‘us and them’, one of the representatives said. The ‘Genoeg is genoeg’ group wanted to hold a demonstration in Rabat to coincide with Verdonk’s visit but the authorities did not grant them a permit to do so. The group says there should be no difference between the treatment of Muslims and non-Muslims. It argues that the Cabinet’s integration plans as well as limitations on family reunification and dual nationality hits at the principle of equal rights for all dutch citizens. “We don’t want a separate policy for one group as that leads to Apartheid,” one of the spokesmen said.

First Women-Only Mosque Opens In Amsterdam

A number of Dutch Muslim women opened Saturday, March 19, a women-only mosque in the metropolitan city of Amsterdam. Inaugurated by controversial Egyptian feminist writer Nawal El-Saadawi, the mosque is a part of a project carried out by the De Balie cultural center and the cultural development institute of the Forum organization, both financially backed by the government. The mosque is run by women from A to Z, with a woman leading the prayer and another raising the Adhan (call to prayer). The traditional curtains separating male and female worshipers in mosques disappeared from the novel mosque. Men were conspicuous by their absence though a few of them attended the inauguration ceremony out of curiosity and sat at the back. The project sponsors argue that it is a milestone as it will meet the “spiritual needs of Muslim women” and serve as a meeting point for “isolated” women away from male dominance. Saadawi took the podium, preaching against what she called the “oppression” of Muslim women and urging women to “resist” for equal rights with men. Saadawi faced an apostasy case in 2001 before an Egyptian court after she had been quoted by Egyptian newspapers as saying that hajj, which is one of the five pillars of Islam, was “a vestige of a pagan practice” and that Islamic inheritance law should be abolished. A spokeswoman for the De Balie center, who requested anonymity, told IslamOnline.net that Saadawi has been selected because “she set herself up as a paradigm for women liberalization and their struggle to lift the oppression.” She, however, said that the mosque has nothing to do with the woman-led mixed-gender Friday prayer in New York City on March18 . IOL correspondents says the project fits within the government’s tendency to boost what it sees as “liberal” Muslims against “extremists”. Diverting Attention Ahmad Al-Rawi, the chairman of the Union of Islamic Organizations in Europe (UIOE), said things like the woman-led prayers and the new women-only mosque are western attempts to distract Muslims’ attention from pressing issues facing them in the West. “Muslims [in the West] should rather be preoccupied with educating the young generations about their religion and protecting them from moral aberration,” he told IOL. Rawi underlined that Muslim women in Europe are in no way inferior to their male partners. “They [women] play a leading role in our organization and face no discrimination whatsoever,” he added. Marzouk Abdullah, professor of Shari`ah in the Islamic European University in the Netherlands, urged Muslim women in Europe to display good intentions, cautioning them against committing wrongdoing unabashedly. “We can never deny them their right to form an assembly to raise the awareness of the rights and responsibilities of women under Islam, if they are really for that,” he told IOL. It is a sort of clich_ to say that women are oppressed under Islam, but it is a fact to say that immigrant women in the country – particularly Muslims – are being discriminated against, Dutch Muslim female lawyer Famille Arslan told IOL on Monday, March14 . She said that Muslim women in the Netherlands take the brunt of religious discrimination and racial profiling in the labor market because of their attire and names. Muslims make up one million of the Netherlands’s 16 million population. Turks represent 80 percent of the Muslim minority. There are some 450 mosques in the Netherlands,1,000Islamic cultural centers, two Islamic universities and 42 preparatory schools, according to recent estimates. Press reports have underlined that Dutch Muslims were subjected to religious discrimination and racist attacks on their places of worship in 2004.