Muslims in Brescia Begin Ramadan

July 9, 2013

Faith and integration. Starting today, in private homes and mosques in via Corsica and in via Volta. One month of great celebrations but also of “abstentions” says Bar Abdoulaye Diouf, a 28 year resident of Italy: “I would like the mayor to give us best wishes, as in Senegal”

“I wish a happy Ramadan to the whole Islamic community of Brescia and launch a message of peace and serenity to the Christian Brothers, to overcome this difficult time of crisis.” Saar Abderrazak from Tunisia, who has been in Italy for 26 years, began his Ramadan, the holy month for Muslims, during which the faithful are obliged to abstain from food and drink and sexual activities from dawn to dusk. Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and is traditionally observed in Brescia, where there are 48.6 percent Muslims and 38.1 percent Christians (between Orthodox and other rites), 2.2 percent Buddhists, the 1.4 percent Hindus, .7 percent Sikhs and 2.6 percent non-believers.

Percentages come from the 12th report on immigration in Lombardy, debunking the idea of ​​the alleged “Islamic invasion,” because the faithful of Allah are only 10 percent more than the faithful of Christ. The city has had historically high immigration. Slowly Brescia is getting used to, if not fully accepting, Ramadan the feast and sacrifice, the moment of spiritual elevation and solidarity, as it was at one time, for Christmas. Comparison is not risky, since both religions, if genuinely understood; convey messages of peace and love, even for those who do not believe. And comparing Ramadan and Christmas is not risky from the point of view of tradition: both parties provide opportunities for sharing of food, gifts, affections, as well as traditional dishes which are specially cooked during holy times. The main difference is in the period, Christmas is always celebrated at the same time (but it does change for the Orthodox) whereas Ramadan changes each year, because the Muslim calendar refers to the lunar cycle.

BRESCIA observes today the beginning of this feast, which for Muslims holds a deep sense of faith and spirituality, this is obviously different from the way they lived in their own homeland, where all (or almost all) follow the precepts of Ramadan. “The ugly part of Ramadan in Brescia is when people continue to ask annoying questions and when they do not understand why I do not eat and do not drink, and so, I always have to justify myself” explains Ak-ram Harrane, who has been in our city after being born and raised in Morocco. In Brescia, Harrane spends Ramadan with family, sometimes with other Muslim friends, especially in the last days of the month, when the final party is approaching, Eid el Fitr, which in some country lasts three days. Of course, in Italy Ramadan has another flavor: Iftar for example, the daily breaking of the fast at sunset for Muslims from all backgrounds from Bangladesh to Palestine – the ritual includes eating dates and drinking sweet syrup as the first action just after the prayer.

Monia Ali knows the differences well, a college student with a Sicilian mother and a Tunisian father: “The best thing about Ramadan is to be with the family, the sharing of the hardest times of the day and the smiles we exchange when it finally comes time for dinner. The half-hour before eating is the most fun… In Tunisia, Ramadan is magical, I live with more enthusiasm with my cousins ​​and my relatives and we are closely linked. In Brescia is not the same thing because it’s just me and my father and it’s not the same effect: the air is different, the sky is different and there is no contact with nature and the earth.”

Trial set to begin for 21-year-old suspect in Portland Christmas tree-lighting bomb plot

PORTLAND, Ore. — For more than two years, the only image the public has had of the man accused of plotting to detonate an 1,800-pound bomb at a Portland Christmas tree-lighting ceremony is this: A sullen-faced, sunken-eyed terrorism suspect in a mug shot taken just hours after his arrest.

At the trial that begins Thursday, Mohamed Mohamud’s attorneys will attempt to present a different image, one of an impressionable teenager lured by undercover agents with the FBI, which snared one of its youngest terrorism suspects with his arrest in November 2010.

At issue is whether Mohamud was entrapped, as his defense claims, when he gave the go-ahead for the detonation of what he thought was a bomb at the Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. The bomb was a fake, provided by FBI agents whom the 19-year-old thought were his jihadist co-conspirators.

As a senior in high school, Mohamud had begun writing articles for an online English-language jihadist magazine called “Jihad Recollections” under the pen name Ibn al-Mubarak, advocating physical fitness for the mujahedeen in places where they couldn’t find exercise equipment.

Journalist Trevor Aaronson found a common thread in such sting cases, documented in a forthcoming book, “The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism,” which spends a chapter on elements of the Mohamud case.

“(The stings) all have minor variations, but they’re all pretty much the same in that they involve people who don’t have the capacity to commit the crimes” for which they’re prosecuted, Aaronson said.

Aaronson said Mohamud didn’t have access to bomb-making materials and, while he espoused anti-Western views, showed no capacity for carrying out acts of terror.

“If you’re going to prosecute every loudmouth,” Aaronson said, “our courts would be clogged.”


Montgomery County school leaders to discuss closing for Muslim holidays

When Montgomery County Council member George L. Leventhal sent a letter to school leaders late last month asking for schools to be closed on two Muslim holidays, he cited the county’s significant Muslim population and religious fairness.

But school systems in the state cannot declare days off — in this case, Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr — solely because they are religious holidays, no matter population demographics, said Rochelle Eisenberg, of Towson-based Pessin Katz Law P.A., a lawyer who specializes in education and employment law.

Leventhal (D-At Large) asked Superintendent of Schools Joshua P. Starr and Board of Education President Shirley Brandman in his letter to consider fairness, respect and inclusion.

Dana Tofig, a schools spokesman, said the board would consider Leventhal’s request.

County schools are closed on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Christmas Eve and Christmas, Good Friday, the day after Easter and other nonreligious holidays.

State law requires the Christian holiday closures. The county school system requires the Jewish high holy day closures.

No school systems in the Washington area take days off for Muslim holidays, but some school systems across the country have decided to, such as in Cambridge, Mass., Burlington, Vt., Dearborn, Mich., and Trenton, N.J.

Cardiff’s Muslim Community Commemorates their Leader

13 May 2012


Yemeni sailors were some of the oldest Muslims who migrated to the UK more than a century ago. They mostly dwelled around Cardiff and opened the first mosque in the city as late as 1860. The Muslim community in the city is well established and formed strong community ties with the host Welsh.


Their religious ceremonies are welcomed by the non-Muslim groups and their century old annual procession had been dubbed by the wider community as a “Muslim Christmas”. The Muslim community has now decided to revive their annual procession for the memory of late Sheikh Said Hassan Ismail, founder of South Wales Islamic Centre.

Four Radical Islamists Admit to Christmas Terror Plot


On Wednesday, four British men have pleaded guilty to involvement in plotting to bomb the London Stock Exchange as part of a series of al Qaeda-inspired attacks across London leading up to Christmas 2010. In total, a group of nine men, fuelled by radical Islamic thought, were brought together through radical Islamist groups and developed the plans to attack the stock exchange and other high-profile targets, such as Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, London Eye, and the US Embassy. However, British authorities had learned of the plot and put the men under surveillance. They were arrested in raids in December 2010. Initially, they had denied all charges.

The four men who pleaded guilty emphasised that they had not planned to kill anyone, but only to cause terror and economic harm and disruption. They could now face a prison-sentence of up to 18 years, with actual time in jail of around 6 years. They will be sentenced next week.

Judges Rule: Muslim Baby Adopted to Prevent “Honour Killing”


On Wednesday before Christmas, Britain’s Court of Appeal ruled that a baby at risk of becoming the victim of an “honour killing” must be adopted to keep her safe. The baby was the result of her unmarried Muslim mother’s secret affair with a married man and now had to be adopted to save it from being murdered by her mother’s family.

The child was conceived in 2009; when the mother found out she was pregnant, she was terrified of her family’s reaction and, with the help of sympathetic relatives, hid her pregnancy from most male family members and gave birth in a hospital far away from her home. When she returned home, she left the baby with adoptive Muslim parents. When the father found out about the pregnancy and the baby, however, he began proceedings to win custody. A High Court ruled, though, that the risk of retribution was too great and, in light of the danger that the mother’s family would kill the baby and her, the baby should stay with its adoptive parents. The Court of Appeal essentially confirmed this decision and regarded the risk of physical harm to the baby and its mother as being of major importance. The judges ruled that the desire amongst the mother’s relatives to preserve the family’s honour was simply too dangerous; therefore, the child has to be brought up by Muslim foster parents.

Germany’s Far-Right Campaigns with Xenophobic Posters & Islamophobic Video

20./ 21.12.2011

Officers of Berlin’s Federal Police Department searched the offices of Germany’s extreme right-wing Nationalist Democratic Party (NPD) shortly before Christmas. The search was a reaction to the party’s xenophobic and islamophobic campaign for the Berlin state elections in September. The party used various posters that violated the dignity especially of Muslims living in Germany; one poster, for instance, showed a cartoon drawing of a woman with a headscarf, a man with a turban and a black person on a “magic carpet” with the comment “Have a nice trip home”. Furthermore, the party published an islamophobic video on their website. However, the police search for evidence against the two leading members of the party was not successful.

The search of the party’s offices in Berlin was shortly after the second attempt to ban the party altogether. Following the arrest of a former NPD member suspected of being involved in the murder of nine foreigners, the interior ministers of Germany’s 16 federal states had agreed to set up a working group to launch a new legal case against the party. Germany’s Interior Minister Friedrich explicitly articulated the aim to outlaw the party.

Dutch MP Angered at Welcome for Mecca Pilgrims

26 November 2011

The Schipol Airport’s practice welcoming pilgrims returning from Mecca with a small room providing mint tea and sweets has angered MP Hero Brinkman of the PVV Freedom Party. Brinkman contrasted the practice with an apparent lack of Christmas decoration at the airport. A Schipol spokesperson explains that due to the upcoming festival of Sinterklaas the airport is not yet decorated for Christmas, but will soon “go all out”. The airport emphasized it is a tradition of many years to welcome pilgrims returning home from Mecca “out of a spirit of hospitality”.

US citizen believed to be on no-fly list detained in Britain following trans-Atlantic cruise

McLEAN, Va. — An Oregon man who traveled by train and boat from the West Coast to England because of his apparent placement on the no-fly list has been detained in Great Britain.

Michael Migliore, a 23-year-old Muslim convert, tried unsuccessfully for months to fly to Italy, where he planned to live with his mother.

Migliore says he was told he is on the no-fly list, though U.S. officials refuse to confirm it. He believes he’s on the list because he refused to cooperate with FBI agents who wanted to question him after an acquaintance was charged in a plot to bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland.

“Multikulti” or Assimilation? The Question of European Identity

7 February 2011

In this opinion piece, Paul Schulmeister argues that despite the doubts raised by debates concerning the integration of foreigners in Europe, the notion of European identity does exist, and must be promoted. While on the one hand, we should not exaggerate concerning the difficulties that foreigners have had in integrating, on the other hand we should not shy away from wishing someone a “Merry Christmas” or giving a piggy bank as a present.

According to Schulmeister, European identity ultimately rests on the concepts of freedom and justice; the rationality of the Enlightenment; and a striving towards the absolute, which is tempered by scientific relativism. While the German Chancellor Merkel says that “‘Multikulti’ has failed,” what she means is that the ideology of multiculturalism has failed, given that multiculturalism has become a part of everyday life. Schulmeister states that “lip service to European leitkultur” is simply not enough: for immigrants that choose Europe as their new homeland, there must be an unreserved recognition of democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and equality of the sexes.