Canadian House of Commons votes for apology to Muslims tortured abroad

A majority in the House of Commons says the Canadian government must apologize for the torture ordeals of three Muslim-Canadian men detained in Middle East jails and immediately overhaul the country’s national security review regime. The New Democratic Party brought a motion to have the full Commons endorse a June parliamentary committee report that urged the government to implement recommendations from two earlier judicial inquiries.

The committee had examined the government responses to inquires by Justice Dennis O’Connor into the Maher Arar scandal, and Justice Frank Iacobucci into the detentions abroad of three other men who were tortured in Syrian or Egyptian jails.

The Conservative government has already apologized to Maher Arar, and awarded him $10.5 million in compensation after O’Connor found he was deported to torture in Syria largely because of faulty Canadian intelligence. While there were similar findings of inflammatory labelling by Iacobucci in the cases of Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El-Maati and Muayyed Nureddin, the government has denied liability in civil lawsuits filed by the men.

Anti-Islam congress counterproductive to interfaith dialogs

Indonesia, the world`s largest Moslem country, considers the pro-Koln group`s plan to hold an anti-Islam congress in Cologne, Germany, on Sept 19-20 to be counterproductive to interfaith dialogs, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said. “Any plan to organize an anti-Islam congress would be counter-productive to interfaith dialogs which also involve European nations,” Teuku Faizasyah said on Thursday. The Indonesian government, along with other ASEAN members and other countries through bilateral relations had been active in holding interfaith and cultural dialogs to solve differences and avoid misunderstanding, he said. “We hope there will be sensitivity (on the part of the congress` organizing committee) because such an event will only worsen misunderstanding,” he said. He said the German government had yet to confirm the group`s plan to hold such a congress. “So, we have heard the plan only from a news report,” he said. Last week, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) expressed deep concern about the plan to organize the anti-Islam congress.

Muslim Man Requests Crucifix Removal at Catholic Clinic

A Muslim man has successfully requested the removal of a crucifix from the room where his daughter was being cared for in a Catholic clinic in Bourgoin-Jallieu (Isère). The director of the Saint-Vincent de Paul Clinic, Marie-Thérèse Besson, staed “When people choose to be cared for in our establishment . . . they know they’re in a catholic care space.” The case will be further discussed at the next ethics committee meeting of the Alliance des maternités catholiques (Alliance of Catholic Caregivers).

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Mosque plans on hold again

Plans for a controversial new mosque in Fulwood, in Lancashire, have been put on hold by members of Preston City Council’s planning committee. The councillors voted to defer the plans, to replace the Masjid-e-Salaam mosque in Watling Street Road with a new purpose-built building, amid concerns over traffic – despite the proposals being recommended for approval by the council’s planning officers. Now members of the Preston Muslim Society are considering appeal against the decision. Mosque trustee Munaf Patel said he was baffled by the committee’s stance, despite the plans getting the approval of the Fulwood Conservation Group, which described the newly submitted plans as a vast improvement’, and local residents. He said: “I really do not know what else we could have done. We have worked very hard to appease everyone and now the plans will have to go on hold again.” He added: “A place of worship should not be something that angers the local community and we have had that in mind since the start of this process. We want to live in the area and work with the local residents and that is what we will do.”http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=4F329F44D143621301626367&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

British doctors told to keep beliefs out of surgery

Muslim doctors have been advised not to wear a veil because it could restrict free communication and serve as a barrier to building relationships of trust with patients, a medical council has said. The guidelines, developed by the General Medical Council (GMC), cover topics including abortion, wearing a face veil and male circumcision. The call is similar to the controversial reasons given by the then home Secretary Jack Straw who said the veil served as a barrier to intergration. Doctors have been told to keep their personal beliefs out of the surgery to ensure they do not compromise patient care. The GMC says doctors “must be prepared to respond to a patient’s individual needs”. “In some situations this may require you to set aside your personal and cultural preferences in order to provide effective patient care,” the guidelines said. Although doctors are advised not to discuss personal beliefs with patients they can do so if they are directly relevant to patient care. The guidelines direct: “Whatever your personal beliefs may be about the procedure in question, you must be respectful of the patient’s dignity and views.” Dr John Jenkins, chair of the GMC standards and ethics committee, said: “The GMC recognises that personal beliefs, values, and cultural and religious practises are central to the lives of doctors and patients.

Muslims of Europe Charter

Since early 2000, the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) debated the establishment of a charter for the Muslims of Europe, setting out the general principles for better understanding of Islam, and the bases for the integration of Muslims in society, in the context of citizenship.

The FIOE formed a committee to prepare the charter, which was discussed at the organisations leadership level. The charter was then presented to many European Islamic bodies at a seminar attended by their representatives and held in Brussels in January 2002. The project was then disseminated widely, to include the greatest possible number of Muslim organisations in order to add their comments and suggestions.

After amendments were approved, and duly incorporated, the final version of the charter was ready. It was signed by Muslim organisations from 28 European states; these are listed in the accompanying document.

Thereafter, signature of the charter will remain open to all organisations that decide to adopt it.

Introduction to the Charter:

Despite their diversity, Muslims of Europe share common values and principles. In order to portray this to European society they need to clearly express their religious convictions and the nature of their presence in Europe.

This charter aims to define a number of principles in accordance with the common understanding of Islam within the European context and to set thenceforth the foundations of greater positive interaction with society.

The rationale for such a charter includes:

The contribution of Islam to modern Europe as well as the rooted Islamic presence as represented by Muslims in many of the Eastern European states. Likewise, the establishment of Muslim communities in several Western European countries has witnessed a shift from a transitory presence of foreign migrants to a more permanent presence.

The Muslim presence in Europe requires a framework of citizenship based on justice, equality of rights, with respect for difference, and the recognition of Muslims as a European religious community.

In line with the expansion and development of the European Union, there is a need for greater co-operation among Muslims of Europe.

The need to enhance the values of mutual understanding, working for peace and the welfare of society, moderation and inter-cultural dialogue, removed from all inclinations of extremism and exclusion.

The importance of Islam in the world and its spiritual, human and civilisational potential requires a rapprochement with the West, and Europe in particular, in order to ensure justice and peace in the world.

These considerations have led European Muslim organisations to formulate this charter in the hope of enhancing the role of Muslims in benefiting European society and to help it build bridges with the rest of the Muslim world.

Articles of the Charter

Section one: on the understanding of Islam:

1. Our understanding of Islam is based on immutable, basic principles that are derived from the authentic sources of Islam: the Qur’an and the Prophetic traditions (Sunnah), within the framework of Muslim scholarly consensus and with consideration for the time factor as well as the specifics of the European reality.

2. The true spirit of Islam is based on moderation as extended from the Universal Objectives (Maqasid) of this religion. This moderation avoids both laxity and excessiveness and reconciles reason and divine guidance, taking into consideration the material and spiritual needs of man, with a balanced outlook on life which brings together the reality of the next life with constructive work in this world.

3. In its principles, rulings and values, Islam can be structured around the following three areas: the creed as expressed in the six pillars of faith – Belief in God, the Angels, the revealed books, the messengers, the Hereafter and Divine Decree; the Shari‘ah as expressed in acts of Worship and human interaction; and the Ethical code which lays down the foundations for living a good life. These three interconnected areas are complementary and aim to fulfil the Interests (Maslaha) of humanity and avert harm from it.

4. The emphasis on the human dimension, legislative flexibility and respect for diversity and natural differences among human beings are general characteristics of Islam.

5. Islam honours human beings. This honour embraces all the children of Adam, both male and female, without discrimination. By virtue of this honour, human beings are to be protected from anything that is an affront to their dignity, is harmful to their mental faculties, is damaging to their health or which abuses their rights by exploiting their vulnerabilities.

6. Islam gives particular emphasis to the social dimension and calls for compassion, mutual support, co-operation and brotherhood. These values apply particularly to the rights of parents, relatives and neighbours but also to the poor, the needy, the sick, the elderly and others, regardless of their race or creed.

7. Islam calls for equality between man and woman within the framework of human dignity and mutual respect and views that a balanced life is one in which the relationship between man and woman is harmonious and complementary. It unequivocally rejects all notions or actions that undermine women or deprive them of their legitimate rights, regardless of certain customs and habits of some Muslims. Islam rather confirms women’s indispensable role in society and strongly opposes the exploitation of women and their treatment as mere objects of desire.

8. Islam considers that a family based on the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman is the natural and necessary environment for the raising of future generations. The family is an indispensable condition for the happiness of the individual and stability of society. Thus, Islam emphasises the significance of taking all measures in order to reinforce the family and protect it from all things that will weaken or marginalise its role.

9. Islam respects human rights and calls for equality among all human beings; it rejects all forms of racial discrimination and calls for liberty. It condemns compulsion in religion and allows the individual freedom of conscience. However, Islam encourages that freedom should be exercised in accordance with moral values, such that it does not infringe upon the rights of others.

10. Islam calls for mutual acquaintance, dialogue and co-operation among people and nations so as to enhance stability and guarantee peace in the world. The term Jihad that occurs in Islamic texts means to exert all efforts towards good, starting from reforming oneself to spreading truth and justice between people. Jihad in its understanding as warfare is regarded as one of the means available to any sovereign state when it needs to defend itself against aggression. The teachings of Islam, in this respect, are in line with international law. Based on such an understanding of Jihad, Islam rejects violence and terrorism, supports just causes and affirms the right of all people to defend themselves by legitimate means.

11. Islam enjoins Muslims to be honest and to respect their pledges; forbidding treason and treachery. It also commands them to pursue excellence in dealings with other people, as well as with the rest of creation.

12. Given the virtues of consultation (Shura) and with consideration to human experience in the political, legislative and constitutional realms, Islam affirms the principles of democracy based on pluralism, freedom to choose one’s political institutions and peaceful alternation of power.

13. Islam urges human beings to use nature in a responsible manner. This requires the preservation of the environment and its protection from all causes of pollution and harm as well as from anything that may destroy the delicate balance of nature. Likewise, it requires the protection of natural resources and forbids cruelty to animals, over consumption and wastage of wealth.

Section two: the Muslim Presence in Society:

The principles of interaction among Muslims:

14. Despite their ethnic and cultural diversity and their affiliations to various schools of Islamic law and thought, Muslims of Europe constitute one religious entity within the framework of Islamic principles, united by fraternity. They are also tied with each other, in each European country, by their belonging to the same national entity. Any discrimination arising between them based on ethnic origin is against the value of Islam which emphasises unity.

15. Considering the basic principles of their religion and their common interests, Muslims of Europe are urged to come together, co-operate and co-ordinate the efforts of their different institutions and organisations. This should not fail to recognise the natural diversity that exists among them, within the framework of Islam as generally agreed by scholarly consensus.

16. In addition to their belonging to the country in which they reside and their commitment to the demands of citizenship, Muslims of Europe retain their links with fellow Muslims by virtue of the normal relationship which exists between members of the same community.

On Citizenship:

17. Muslims of Europe respect the laws of the land and the authorities that uphold them. This should not prevent them from individually or collectively defending their rights and expressing their opinions based on their specific concerns as a religious community or on any general matter that concerns them as citizens. Whenever there is a conflict with regard to certain laws and matters that are specific to religion, the relevant authorities should be approached in order to arrive at suitable and viable solutions.

18. Muslims of Europe adhere to the principle of neutrality of the state regarding religious affairs. This means dealing fairly with all religions and allows those who hold religious values to express their beliefs and practise the rites of their religion either as individuals or groups, in conformity with European and international human rights charters and treaties. Muslims have, therefore, the right, as religious communities, to establish mosques, religious, educational and welfare institutions, to practise their religion in day-to-day affairs such as diet, clothing and other needs.

19. As European citizens, Muslims of Europe consider it their duty to work for the common good of society. Their endeavour for the common good is as important as defending their rights. Finally, an authentic understanding of Islam requires of Muslims to be active and productive citizens who are useful to society.

20. Muslims of Europe are urged to integrate positively in their respective societies, on the basis of a harmonious balance between preservation of Muslim identity and the duties of citizenship. Any form of integration that fails to recognise the right of Muslims to preserve their Islamic personality and the right to perform their religious obligations does not serve the interests of Muslims nor the European societies to which they belong.

21. Muslims of Europe are encouraged to participate in the political process as active citizens. Real citizenship includes political engagement, from casting one’s vote to taking part in political institutions. This will be facilitated if these institutions open up to all members and sections of society, an opening up which takes into account competence and ideas.

22. Muslims of Europe emphasise their respect for pluralism and the religious and philosophical diversity of the multicultural societies they live in. They believe that Islam affirms the diversity and differences that exists between people and is not discomforted by this multicultural reality. Rather, Islam calls for members of society to appreciate and enrich one another through their differences.

Islam’s Contribution to Europe:

23. Through its universal and humane principles, Islam adheres to the rapprochement of all people who respect the rights of others and their particularities, who abide by the rules of fairness among people in matters of dealings and co-operation. Starting from these principles, Muslims of Europe consider it their duty to participate in strengthening relations between Europe and the Muslim World. This requires the removal of all the prejudices and negative images which stand between Islam and the West in order to build bonds of rapprochement between people and to establish bridges of fruitful exchanges among different civilizations.

24. Given its culturally rich heritage and emphasis on humanity, Islam, through its presence in Europe, can participate in enhancing important values in contemporary society such as justice, freedom, fraternity, equality and solidarity. Islam gives primacy to moral considerations as well as to scientific, technical and economic progress. This participation can be beneficial and enriching for the whole of society.

25. The Muslim presence in Europe represents a key element in establishing better communication and co-existence between the different religions and beliefs by encouraging discussion between different faiths and ideologies. This will no doubt bolster the path towards global peace.

26. Through their religious and cultural legacy as well as their presence in many European states, Muslims of Europe represent an enhancing element to the efforts of strengthening the European Union. With its diverse religious and cultural make up, Europe can act as an important civilisational signpost with a key role in maintaining international stability between influential world powers.

“O Mankind, indeed we created you from a male and female and have made you different nations and tribes so that you may get to know one another.” (Qur’an; Chapter 49: Verse 13)

Netherlands: Attitudes towards leaving Islam

Three quarters of Muslims regard turning away from Islam as a personal choice, but there are few that applaud that choice. A survey commissioned by television programme Nova indicates that 38 percent of the Muslims questioned disapprove of apostasy. 24 percent say they cut off all contact with a fellow Muslim who has turned their back on Islam. 6 percent is of the opinion that it is acceptable to use violence against an apostate. The survey presented on Tuesday also indicates that 11 percent of Muslims feel that Ehsan Jami’s committee for former Muslims is necessary. A large majority – 66 percent – does not think his committee serves a good purpose.

Controversial Former MP Hirsi Ali Defends Committee for Ex-Muslims

{Some prominent Dutch personalities have recently collided over how to respond to the newly created Committee for Ex-Muslims. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former MP and Dutch intellectual, supports the Committee and its chairman Ehsan Jami, also a current MP. For more information about Hirsi Ali and the Committee for ex-Muslims, see the [Netherlands country profile.->http://www.euro-islam.info/spip/article.php3?id_article=294} Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the controversial former Dutch MP who now works for a conservative American think-tank in Washington, has strongly criticised the Labour party for its attitude towards Labour councillor and chairman of the ex-Muslim committee Ehsan Jami. Hirsi Ali, who has the same spokeswoman as Jami, told the Dutch press that the Labour party seems to have more solidarity with intolerant fundamentalists than _freedom fighters’ such as Jami. Hirsi Ali said she supports Jami and condemned the _barbarians’ who attacked him. Jami was placed under police protection last week following an attack by three men believed to be Islamic fundamentalists. Jami has made a number of controversial statements about Islam. Labour leader Wouter Bos has made it clear that his party will not support the ex-Muslim committee and said he was unhappy with the way Jami has chosen to attract attention for problems within the Muslim community.

Islamic cultural center gets the go-ahead in Serra Mesa

A local Afghan group won unanimous approval last night from a San Diego community advisory board to open an Islamic religious and cultural center in Serra Mesa. More than 65 residents filled a library meeting room for the issue before the Serra Mesa Community Planning Group. Last June, when the Afghani Community Islamic Center first proposed moving into a former bank building on Sandrock Road near Gramercy Drive, anonymous fliers on lampposts and in mailboxes had proclaimed “No Terrorists in Our Community.” But no anti-Islamic fears were voiced last night, only concerns common with any potential high-use project: traffic and parking. Leaders of the Afghan group, which has leased spaces in Kearny Mesa and Miramar since 1994, assured the committee that their center would rarely draw more than a few dozen people at a time, even during its main prayer services on Friday afternoons. Joseph Jawed Hayat, a board member and spokesman for the center, said one of its main aims will be to promote cross-cultural understanding between Afghan Muslims and the broader community. “Our goal is to create a dynamic so we can share information about each other,” he said. The group expects to open the center in two to three months, after obtaining design approvals and a conditional-use permit from the city planning officials.