Ramadan Poses Test to Muslim Players at World Cup

June 27, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO — Down the quiet, tree-lined Rua Gonzaga Bastos, less than half a mile from Estádio do Maracanã, the custodian of this city’s only mosque was preparing for the busiest time of the year.

Mohamed Zeinhom Abdien, the custodian, was sitting at a desk opposite messy piles of boxes containing thousands of leaflets about Islam written in Portuguese, English and Arabic.

The observance of Ramadan, one of Islam’s five pillars, is a religious obligation in which Muslims fast and forgo any liquids from dawn until dusk over the course of a month. The month begins Saturday night, and Abdien’s usually quiet mosque has been inundated with newcomers.

“Normally we have 100, maybe 150 people here every Friday to pray, after the imam gives the call to prayer in Portuguese,” said Abdien, an Egyptian-born tour guide who moved to Rio 21 years ago.

“But the World Cup,” he said, spreading his arms at the dozens of boxes, “it means there have been many Algerian fans, TV presenters, even a few players.”

This World Cup in Brazil has drawn thousands of Muslim fans — from Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria and beyond — and Ramadan, which is pegged to a lunar calendar and begins a bit earlier in the Gregorian calendar each year, is due to start just as the second round opens.

The month, however, should be more complicated for the dozens of Muslim players still in the tournament, including the French striker Karim Benzema and Germany’s Mesut Özil. With the humidity and high temperatures in Brazil, especially along the northern coast and in the Amazon, an inability to stay hydrated would appear to put those players, and the teams featuring Muslims, like Algeria, at a disadvantage in the knockout stage.

Still, “we know very little,” said Ron Maughan, a professor of sports nutrition at Loughborough University in England.

Maughan led a working group that examined the effects of fasting on athletes at the 2012 London Olympics, the last time Ramadan coincided with a major sporting event. He found that fasting had an effect on athletes competing in the events requiring the greatest strain, like the marathon, but that the impact was relatively small over all.

The Swiss team has several Muslim players, including Xherdan Shaqiri, who scored a hat trick in his team’s 3-0 win over Honduras, which earned it a place in the knockout stage. A team spokesman said that it had made no special provision for Ramadan and that none of its players would fast until after the tournament.

The French team acknowledged that Ramadan had caused a debate among its players.

Dutch Man Fined for Selling Horsemeat as `Halal Beef`

2 May 2013

A Dutch businessman under investigation in a Europe-wide probe into a horse-for-beef food scandal has been given a suspended sentence and fined 50,000 euros by a district court in Den Bosch for selling horsemeat as Islamic halal-slaughtered beef in France.

Jan Fasen, 63, bought horsemeat in Brazil and Mexico which was sold on paper as halal-slaughtered beef to French suppliers. Specific names of suppliers were not provided in the court brief. A broader investigation against Fasen and his company is still underway.

Waiting for an Arab Spring of Ideas

By Tariq Ramadan

DURING a recent visit to the United States, I was asked by intellectuals and journalists: Were we misled, during the Arab awakening, into thinking that Muslims could actually embrace democratic ideals?

The short answer is no. Participants in the recent violent demonstrations over an Islamophobic video were a tiny minority. Their violence was unacceptable. They do not represent the millions of Muslims who have taken to the streets since 2010 in a disciplined, nonviolent manner to bring down dictatorships.

Many Americans were nonetheless shocked by the chaos and bloodshed across Muslim countries, believing that they had come generously to the aid of the Arab peoples during the uprisings. But Arabs, and Muslims in general, have a longer memory and a broader view. Their mistrust is fueled by America’s decades-long support for dictators who accommodated its economic and security interests; by the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan; by the humiliating treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay; and by America’s seemingly permanent and unconditional support for Israel.

The timeworn dichotomy of “Islam versus the West” is giving way to an era of multipolar relations. The world’s economic center of gravity is shifting eastward. But the growing prominence of China, India and Russia, and of emerging powers like Brazil, South Africa and Turkey, does not automatically guarantee more justice and more democracy. Some Muslims are too quick to rejoice at the decline of American power. They seem unaware that what might replace it could well lead to a regression in social and human rights and to new forms of international dependency.

The Arab world has shaken itself out of its lethargy after decades of apparent resignation and silence. But the uprisings do not yet amount to a revolution. The Arab world must confront its historical demons and tackle its infirmities and its contradictions: when it turns to the task, the awakening will truly have begun.

First Muslim Model to Represent Britain at Miss Universe Beauty Contest

10 March 2011

Model and English graduate Shanna Bukhari from Rochdale wants to become the first Muslim to represent Britain at the Miss Universe contest in Brazil. Along with 60 other women, she is hoping to come first in the British final fighting. Bukhari also hopes to be a role model for Muslim girls, who do not dare entering contests for fear that it is not permitted by Islam. She has also had to face harsh criticism from radicals: three men advised her to “rot in hell” because her actions were sinful, but thanks to the support from her family and friends, Bukhari does not abstain from participating in the contest.

Hunger Striking Illegal Immigrants in Belgium in Critical Condition

Eighty asylum-seekers in Brussels are nearing death after going for eighty days without food. The hunger strikers are protesting the government’s refusal to grand them resident permits in the country. The asylum-seekers come from a variety of places – Nepal, the Ivory Coast, Congo, Iran, Algeria, Guinea, and Brazil, and whose applications have either been rejected, or remain pending. 70 immigrants on hunger strikes agreed to abandon their dangerous measures pending a deal from the Alien Registration Office. The deal would allow the individuals to recuperate from the ordeal with a 90-day visa. However, clear guidelines have not been set, prompting many refugee and religious organizations to pressure the government to come up with a program concerning allowing illegal aliens to reside in the country.

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