Following the recent attacks in Barcelona and the Catalan town of Cambrils that left 15 dead, Muslim figures in Germany have expressed their condemnation of the events and their solidarity with the victims.
Germany’s main Islamic associations condemn the attacks
DİTİB, the country’s largest Islamic association, issued a press release rejecting all forms of terrorism. Fellow organisations VIKZ and IGMG made similar moves. ZMD chairman Aiman Mazyek also denounced the attacks and called for unity in the face of the common terrorist threat.(( http://www.islamiq.de/2017/08/19/religionsvertreter-bestuerzt-nach-anschlaegen/ )) Other Islamic movements, such as the German Ahmadiyya community, followed suit.(( http://www.n-tv.de/politik/Die-Welt-trauert-mit-Barcelona-article19989536.html ))
These routine condemnations did little, however, to conceal the enduring divisions among Islamic organisations and leaders that continue to preclude a fresh and concerted approach against violent Islamism.
A superficial show of unity
A tweet under the #Barcelona hashtag by Ercan Karakoyun, chairman of the Foundation Dialogue and Education, central institution of the Gülenist movement in Germany, puts this division into dramatic relief.
Taking aim at the current repression of his movement in Turkey, Karakoyun pugnaciously asserted that “as long as many a state can designate an educational movement a terrorist organisation no common fight against terror is possible!”(( https://twitter.com/ercankarakoyun/status/898239034169974784 ))
Against this backdrop, calls to withstand the attackers’ attempt to play off Muslims against non-Muslims ring somewhat hollow: the Muslim figures making these statements have so far failed even to mend the rifts among their own associations. How they could meaningfully contribute to healing the divisions within European societies is therefore anyone’s guess.
Grassroots activism vs. stagnation at the top
To be sure, there are many Muslim grassroots movements in Germany that seek to stand in the way of violent ideologies: they range from Jewish-Muslim educational projects and neighbourhood initiatives to important de-radicalisation schemes aiming to offer an exit perspective from the Salafi scene. Overall, German Muslims’ civil society activism is high.
Yet at the level of the country’s Islamic associations, the picture is one of stasis. Unfortunately for German Muslims, those most likely to be heard as their representatives in the aftermath of any attack have little by way of a constructive response to offer.
After terrorist attacks in the Spanish cities of Barcelona and Cambrils, British Muslims have responded in various ways. Independent British Muslim journalist, Abbas Nasir, noted that Barcelona was attacked despite its previous strong opposition to the Iraq war. For him, this indicates that terrorism is not about the West but about “spiritually defunct” individual Jihadis.
Leading Britain’s Conversation radio host, Maajid Nawaz, compared the Spanish terrorist attacks to the Charlottesville’s white supremacist violence. He said that people “don’t want to challenge neo-Nazi ideology and yet every time there’s a jihadist those on the far-right do want to talk about ideology.”
Farrukh Younus, the article’s author, decries U.S. President Trump’s false story about General Pershing deterring terrorism by shooting perpetrators with pigs blood. Younus writes, “It is a sad day when the President of the United States needs to understand that pigs are not a ‘Muslim-kryptonite.'”
Younus suggests that Muslims should be naturally against terrorism. As terrorism contradicts “Prophet Muhammad’s own design for city living: a place where people of all faith, can live together in peace.”
He also notes that Las Ramblas, the name of the road on which the terrorist attack occurred, has an Arabic origin meaning “river bed that is dry.” Following on this, he writes, “these terrorists who casually took innocent lives, harming others, have an empty, dry soul, devoid of the spirit that gives life beauty, meaning or purpose.”
March 5, 2014
The Judge of a Barcelona Court, María Pilar Calvo, has condemned Jaime T., the website administrator of “denunciascivicas.com”, to two years in prison for inciting hate and violence against Islam and for disseminating anti-Islamic beliefs. The condemnation is the first Islamophobia related condemnation in Catalonia.
Denunciascivicas.com, which has received at least 21,240 visits, contains material praising the Third Reich in Germany. It also encourages readers to carry out similar crimes against Muslims.
Police arrested the IT administrator in March 2011 and seized all kinds of xenophobic paraphernalia, such as photos of Adolf Hitler and swastikas, along with numerous videos from his computer which show him making anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim speeches.
But the man’s two-year sentence judgment — the first for Islamophobia in Catalonia — may be suspended if the defendant agrees to attend a human rights course and does not commit a new crime within three years.
In Catalonia the legal framing of anti-racist and anti-xenophobic laws is defined by the Spanish Constitution of 1978, by the Autonomous Status of Catalonia, Organic law 6/2006 from 19 of July 2006 and by the Organic Law of 4/2000.
December 16, 2013
In response to the expansion of Salafi-Wahabi extremism across Europe, Spanish State security has deployed a dense network of agents throughout Catalonia that have woven a stealthy early warning system for detecting terrorist threats from radical Islamist groups that have arrived to gain new supporters in the Catalan community. Several “conferences” held by Salafists in Catalonia during 2013 confirm the growing importance of Islamic extremism in Catalonia.
The general situation is as follows: although there has not been any recent terrorist activities in Spain, the danger posed by extremists has not disappeared. Instead, the jihadist message grows, especially in Catalonia. For example, security forces in the Barcelona area have calculated that the number of extremists willing to promote elaborate, violent actions is in the hundreds.
La vanguardia: http://www.lavanguardia.com/sucesos/20131215/54396209083/centenar-yihadistas-catalunya-dispuestos-actuar.html
November 11, 2013
Alberto Fernandez, deputy of the Popular Party (PP) in Barcelona has asked the mayor Xavier Trias to close all Muslim centers that have no license.
Fernandez has also denounced a Pakistani cultural center located in the Poble Sec (Barcelona) as an illegal center.
Finally, he has asked the City Hall to ensure the legality of these centers, as well as to ensure that they respect the values of coexistence and democracy and that these centers “do not cause the formation of ghettos in some neighborhoods.”
Abc.es : http://www.abc.es/local-cataluna/20131115/abci-alberto-fernandez-reclama-cierre-201311151844.html
June 7, 2013
A collaboration between Macrame, Zimbro and the association of Barcellonesi Muslims, Romanian Orthodox Parish-Messina and the Sunni Mosque in Barcelona, and the artistic contribution of the photographer George Special, have all supported the creation of a photographic exhibition, entitled “Glimpses of Interculturality”
Hundreds of Shiite Muslims in Spain commemorated this weekend the day of Ashura, the anniversary of the martyrdom of the third Shiite Imam, Imam Hussein along with his 72 companions.
In Spain’s capital, Madrid, the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran organized religious ceremonies from the first day of the month of Moharam which hosted both Muslims and Christians of Spain.
In the capital of the of Catalonia, Barcelona, also similar acts where staged such as religious processions, despite the process of Catalan elections were held on Sunday.
19 October 2012
One detainee was stopped at the airport of El Prat de Llobregat (Barcelona) with about 100 passports while preparing to take a flight to Greece.
On 13 October, the Guarda Civil via Operation “KOMETA” dismantled a criminal group that had provided false documents to an al Qaeda cell based in Germany, where it is believed they were preparing a terrorist attack.
In the operation six people were arrested, five of which were sent to prison, and house searches were conducted in Barcelona. Computer equipment, various documents and passports of various nationalities numerous allegedly stolen in Spain were confiscated by the police.
The detainees are Moroccan, Algerian and Belgian. Some of the detainees, at the time of their arrest, possessed several identity documents (passports and identity cards) with their photos but with different data and different nationalities. In fact, the terrorist network had been active in Austria and Belgium being then transferred to Spain, where the main activity was to provide false documentation.
21 September 2012
Some 800 Muslims, mostly of Pakistani origin, protested in the streets of Barcelona for the film ‘Innocence of Muslims’, the two-hour American film that parodies the life of Muhammad.
Under the slogan “We want more the prophet Muhammad than our lives, parents and children”, the march started at the Arc de Triomf and ended in the Ciutadella Park, with a prayer.
01 July 2012
The Islamic community in Torrejon, with about 200 members, has been installed for more than a decade in a central garage two blocks away from the Plaza Mayor. They have purchased land and they have the architectural plans for the facade of its new building composed of two floors and a small minaret. But the new mosque of An Nur (The Light), is not welcome.
The neighbors (who have collected over 2,000 signatures, according to the City Council) say it is not racism, but a question of space. The story follows a common pattern. “The problem is to fit places of worship of minorities, such as Islam, in areas where they are already present,” says Jordi Moreras, member of the Research Center for Risk Governance at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Moreras, a mediator in conflicts recommends priority to the “legal dimension” of the case against “unfounded rumors and fear of the neighbors of having to down the price of their homes or to be involved in violence.” He asked for an effort by the municipal officials of Torrejon, “Managing the coexistence sometimes entails to be contrary to what you have voted for.”