Quebec Mosque Attack Forces Canadians to Confront a Strain of Intolerance

QUEBEC — In a world often hostile to migration, Canada has stood out, welcoming thousands of refugees fleeing war and seeking a haven. It has been a feel-good time for Canada, proud of its national tolerance.

On Sunday, that was upended when a man walked into a mosque and started shooting, killing six people and wounding eight. The man accused of being the gunman, Alexandre Bissonnette, was charged with six counts of murder on Monday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it an act of terrorism, and there was a collective outpouring of remorse and empathy. But the attack also forced Canadians to confront a growing intolerance and extremism that has taken root particularly among some people in this French-speaking corner of the country.

“Certainly Islamophobia has been increasing for some time,” Samer Majzoub, president of the Canadian Muslim Forum, said by telephone from Montreal.

But he said the attack was nonetheless shocking. “It is overwhelming, unthinkable,” he said.

Boston Muslims Struggle to Wrest Image of Islam From Terrorists

To be Muslim in America today means to be held responsible, or to fear you may be, for the brutal acts of others whose notion of what Allah demands is utterly antithetical to your own. For the diverse crowd that prays at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, where professors at nearby universities mix with freshly arrived immigrants from Somalia and Egypt, it means hearing the word “Islamic” first thing each morning in news reports on an infamous extremist group. It means a kind of implied collective responsibility, however illogical, for beheadings in Syria, executions in Iraq and bombs in Boston.
Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist for The New York Times
Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist for The New York Times
The Obama administration, worried about recruiting of young Americans by Islamic State extremists, chose Boston last fall as one of three cities for aCountering Violent Extremism pilot program. The idea is to brainstorm ways to combat recruitment by all militants, including antigovernment groups and white supremacists. But the plan has divided Muslims in Boston and the other two cities, Minneapolis and Los Angeles.

France is 32% Muslim: The chimera that terrifies the French

32% of the French population is Muslim, and the country is composed for 28% immigrants. These are the estimations of the French based on a public opinion survey published in The Guardian. The actual figures show that France is made up of about 10% immigrants and 8% Muslims. Sociologist Nacira Guenif-Souilamas discusses the reasons for these disproportionate results.

“This distorted view takes place within the context of evident misinformation. It allows for a racist ideology to develop and to transform into a self-fulfilling prophecy, that’s to say that one has created problems where there weren’t any. The Muslim becomes an ideal culprit, that which is inexorably linked… to crime, to the monopoly of social benefits, to the failure to comply with republican values or to the equality of men and women.”

Guenif-Souilamas also points to the very real consequences of these collective representations of French Muslims. She argues that a young woman who has a Muslim-sounding last name would have less of a chance of getting a job than another candidate whose last name sounds more Christian. “When we see that veiled mothers are prohibited from accompanying their children on school field trips because they could potentially be guilty of proselytizing, we can say that Islamophobia has invaded all strata of our society,” she says.

However according to demographer Michele Tribalat, the overestimation does not only concern Muslims or immigrants. She argues, “Public opinion has an extremely limited culture and statistical understanding…It is wrong about almost everything and not only about the proportion of Muslims or immigrants.”

“Actions or substantive arguments that enter into conflict with our convictions would not be important if our opinion came from knowledge and was not founded on social proof, that’s to say, on the beliefs of many,” said Tribalat.

However, she adds that “As the Islamic State triumphs in Syria and Iraq it is hard to deny the reality of worries that relate to Islam. The exaggeration of the Muslim presence in public opinion is at the center of these worries.”

Debating Islam: Negotiating Religion, Europe, and the Self

Conspicuously, Islam has become a key issue in most European societies with respect to issues of immigration, integration, identity, values and inland security. As the mere presence of Muslim minorities fails to explain these debates convincingly, new questions need to be asked: how did Islam become a topic? Who takes part in the debates? How do these debates influence both individual as well as collective self-images and image of others? Introducing Switzerland as an under-researched object of study to the academic discourse on Islam in Europe, this volume offers a fresh perspective on the objective by putting recent case studies from diverse national contexts into comparative perspective.

Link to the book’s website and publisher: http://www.transcript-verlag.de/ts2249/ts2249.php

Collective makes appeal to Muslim shop owners during Ramadan

RTBF

11.07.2013

Egalite, sans guillements (Equality without quotation marks), a social collective, has decided to make an appeal to Muslim show owners to offer cheaper aliments to socioeconomically weak Muslims during Ramadan. The month of Ramadan is traditionally coined by high expenditures for festive iftar meals following the breaking of the day-long fast after sunset. A Muslim family in Belgium spends in average 60 to 70 Euro for one iftar meal.  A significant amount of Belgian Muslims are, however, unable to afford such expensive meals during Ramadan.

Egalite, sans guillements argues that Ramadan is the month of sharing and conviviality, thus shop owners should in this tradition enable all Muslims to participate in the iftar celebrations. Due to a sharp rise in earnings during Ramadan, in average three times more halal products are sold during the month, shop owners should be able to still make profits whilst making concessions to help fiscally restraint Muslim families.

Veiled women protest against exclusion

Liberation

Veiled Muslim women protested on Saturday in Central Paris against the exclusion of mothers who wear veils (hijab) from public institutions. The Muslim women joint together with the ‘Mamans toutes égales’ (Mothers are all equal) collective, which was founded in 2011 by Muslim and non-Muslim parents in Montreuil, following the exclusion of a Muslim mother from an elementary school because of wearing the Muslim veil.

The collective of mothers demand the retreat of the Chatel decision of 2004, which they consider as discriminatory. The decision was mainstreamed by the centre-right Sarkozy government, which advocated against the wearing of religious symbols in schools to safeguard public schools as secular institutions. According to the Chatel decision, schools are allowed to regulate their own internal policies in regards to religious symbols, which provides inconsistent everyday practices as well as confusion and room for selective discrimination.

The current centre-left government under President Francois Hollande has sent, according to the group, ‘worrisome signals’ in regards to a future legally applicable amendment.  A spokeswoman of the group said ‘We can’t be fooled. There is a tendency to fabricate laws of exception against Muslims in general and for Muslim women in particular. The left has taken the same path as the right in this game’

Immigration: A Study in Italy shows there are more Christian Immigrants than Muslim.

In Italy there are 836 different religions and more Christian than Muslim immigrants, shows some of the data from a study of Cesnur (Center for Studies on New Religions) which was presented today in Turin. As for information about immigrants, Cesnur reviewed data from annual reports of the Caritas / Migrantes.

”We counted different things” explained Massimo Introvigne and Pier Luigi Zoccatelli, Director and Deputy Director of the Center, respectively, “Caritas counts immigrants on the basis of religion they had in their country of origin, we looked specifically at those practicing in Italy.” So based on information from Caritas, Muslim immigrants in Italy number approximately 1,651,000 however,  Cesnur found that this was actually closer to 1,360,000 and immigrants Orthodox Christians fell from 1,483,000 to 1,295,000.” While in some collective imagination” explain Introvigne and Zoccatelli “an immigrant is most likely non-Catholic  and almost by definition a Muslim is wrong, most immigrants are now non-Muslims, the majority of them are non-Catholic Christians, Orthodox and Pentecostal Protestants adding that these groups now number more than Muslims.” As a whole, immigrants who are other religions (non-Catholic) number 3,218,000. In other words, those belonging to religious minorities are 2.5% of Italian citizens and 7.6% of non-citizens. Among Italian citizens, according to the same data, the largest  minority is Protestant, with 435,000 faithful. The second religious organization among Italian citizens after the Catholic Church is Jehovah’s Witnesses, with a little more than 400,000 faithful, followed by Buddhists (135,000).  The Italian Jewish are “of great historical and cultural importance, but only constitute 36,000 people.”

First Muslim anti-same-sex marriage group founded

Lyon Capitale

13.03.2013

For the first time in France a group of 20 Muslims men and women came together to found a collective against the proposed same-sex legislation. The group named ‘Les musulmans pour l’enfance’ (Muslim for childhood) aims to “sensitivise French citizens of Muslim faith of the consequences of the law”.

The group remains unaffiliated with larger French religious authority and puts emphasis on being a citizen initiative. Members criticise that the proposed law on same-sex marriage didn’t take children into account, whose opinion remain outside of the debate. Les musulmans pour l’enfance claims to protect the traditional institution of marriage and has already called for rallies in Paris and other French cities. According to them, French Muslims who oppose same sex marriage do so in line with convictions and not as a move against the French government or its President.

Muslims, our neighbors (Spain)

26 May 12

The Muslim community in the Murcia region consists of more than 90,000 citizens coming from the most varied backgrounds and sharing a desire: to improve their level of integration. This is one of the conclusions reached by the official of the Municipality of Murcia, Teresa Martin Melgarejo, one of the most active Murcian citizen working at social networks and civic organizations, and who has spent the last two years of her life living with a collective, socially stigmatized community in Spain. The result is a photographic work, entitled ‘Muslims, our neighbors’, and coordinated by Monica Lozano, Professor of Photojournalism at the University of Murcia, who has earned, by popular vote, the first prize of the first Festival of Photography organized by the Cienojos Collective and the Museum of Fine Arts.
Apart from worshipers in mosques, Teresa Martin has portrayed the leaders of Islamic communities, young Spanish speakers learning Arabic, traders in the district of San Andrés, doctors in hospitals and health centers, cultural mediators, butchers, cooks, pharmacists, nurses, journalists, lawyers, farmers, housewives … Curiously she also discovered Muslims who do not practice their religion. “An estimated 18% of the so-called second-generation Muslims born in Spain do not practice their religion. “

New Book: Jennifer Selby, “Questioning French Secularism”

Based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, this book examines how contemporary secularism in France is positioned as a guarantor of Muslim women’s rights. Selby analyzes public discourses on secularism in France to consider how Islam becomes subsumed under the fetishized headscarf, how women’s bodies come to represent collective identities, and how the activism and engagement of suburban Muslim women with secular politics is ignored.