Ehsan Jami, a municipal council member for Labour in Leidschendam, has joined forces with Loubna Berrada, a member of the Conservative (VVD) Party, to form the Central Committee for ex-Muslims. Jami has given up the life of Islam for one of freedom. He became increasingly disillusioned with his faith after 9/11. Though he has nothing against Muslims generally, he no longer respects Islam because of its role in terrorism, the oppression of women, and the oppression of citizens under tyrannical regimes. The Central Committee for ex-Muslims will primarily work to address the greatest taboo in Islam: saying goodbye to one’s faith. The intolerance of Muslims, he claims, has limited their willingness to accept women and gay rights. The Committee will be active in debating these issues with Muslims, providing information to schools, and advising the government-whether solicited or unsolicited.
Dutch ex-Muslim youth have united under a new organization in Amsterdam, the Central Committee for Ex-Muslims, according reports on Wednesday. Ehsan Jami, one of the founders of the committee and a city council member for the PvdA Labour Party in Leidschendam-Voorburg, a small city near The Hague, said the committee aimed to help other so-called Muslims apostates. According to Jami, people who officially renounced their Muslim faith often received death threats from former co-religionists. The committee also aims to discuss issues like domestic violence and the violation of women’s rights in the Muslim world, Jami said on Wednesday in the news radio broadcast De Ochtenden. The organization called on the Dutch government to assist former Muslims receiving death threats. Former Iranian refugee Afshin Ellian, a well-known professor in international law and philosophy who plays an active role in the ongoing public debate about Islam, immigrants and democracy in the Netherlands, has agreed to help the Committee.
Robert Redeker’s life has changed a lot in the past four months – since the 19th of September, to be exact. Until then, his students in Toulouse knew him as a philosophy teacher, his friends from the Temps Modernes knew him as a member of their editorial committee, and the main Parisian editors knew him as the author of eclectic and provocative pieces. Until the fatal 19th of September: on this date, Le Figaro published an article by Redeker that violently denounced Islam as a religion that exalted “violence and hate”, and Mohammed, “the impitiable war-monger, pillager, killer of jews, and polygamist.” The next day, he was called out vindictively by an influential Muslim newscaster (on al-Jazeera), referred to as the “islamophobe du jour”, and deluged with letters and messages that became more and more violent, and finally issued a death threat by a website considered close to al-Qaida.
By Liz F. Kay A Baltimore County school board committee has made recommendations about religious holidays for the school system’s calendar, and a leader of the Muslim community said he is disappointed that it didn’t suggest closing for two Islamic holy days. One of the recommendations is to allow students to have two “excused absences” from school for religious holidays. But Bash Pharoan, president of the Baltimore County Muslim Council, has been lobbying to close schools on two Islamic holy days since 2004 because the system closes for the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. “The main issue is that the ad hoc committee failed again to recognize that the issue is about equality,” he said. “We want equal treatment.” State regulations already deem religious observance a “lawful absence,” along with illness or death of a family member. But the committee suggests that the county school system go a step further by petitioning the State Board of Education to amend its regulations so “religious observance would not mar a student’s official attendance record nor prevent any student from obtaining perfect attendance.” “Currently they are penalized de facto by the fact that their record indicates an excused absence,” committee Chairman Luis E. Borunda said. A state steering committee on minority achievement made a similar recommendation to the state board in 2004. Individual school districts set policies for recognizing perfect attendance, said William Reinhard, spokesman for the State Department of Education. For example, in Howard County, students are eligible for perfect attendance regardless of religious absences, according to published reports. Baltimore County schools spokeswoman Kara Calder said Friday that she was “not aware at this time of any schools in this system that calculate attendance using the lawful absence of religion as an exception.” Board members will discuss the recommendations tomorrow. If there is consensus, the recommendations will be sent to Superintendent Joe A. Hairston, said school board President Tom Grzymski. The committee’s other recommendations include: – Noting the Muslim holidays Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha on the calendar block of the days they are observed. – Having the school system refrain from scheduling exams on the two Muslim holidays. – Having the superintendent “make an effort to educate the county’s students on the significance of these holidays during the week preceding these holidays, or at an appropriate time during the school year.” – Having the superintendent monitor attendance at schools in areas where Muslims live. Grzymski said this is the first time during his four years on the school board that members have given the superintendent any direction before the calendar is set. Hairston has not yet appointed a calendar committee to develop recommendations for the 2007-2008 school year, Calder said. According to a school system rule, the committee should include representatives from the PTA Council of Baltimore County, the area education councils, the county student council and the teachers union. The superintendent is required to send his proposal to the county school board for approval a year before it takes effect, Calder said.
WASHINGTON, Nov 20: The US Senate has wrapped up a high-profile investigation into US Muslim organizations and terrorism financing, saying it found no evidence to suggest a link between the two. The finance committee of the Senate, which went to a two-week break this weekend, concluded that none of nearly two dozen Muslim groups investigated raised funds for terrorist activities. This highly unusual inquiry took two years to complete the investigation during which the Senate committee was allowed to go through private financial information held by the government. The US Internal Revenue Service had provided the panel with financial records and donor lists of Muslim charities, think tanks and other organizations. Nine were based in the Washington area. We did not find anything alarming enough that required additional follow-up beyond what law-enforcement agencies are already doing, said Sen Charles E. Grassley, a Republican from Iowa who headed the inquiry. Since the Sept 11, 2001, attacks, the US government has frozen millions of dollars in assets allegedly linked to Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups and shut down some of the biggest US-based Islamic charities. Even mainstream Muslim organizations, like the Islamic Society of North America and the Islamic Circle of North America, were investigated but have now been absolved of any involvement with terrorist activities. In September, when ISNA was still under investigation, Karen Hughes, the US undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, attended its annual convention. Some charities, such as the Illinois-based Global Relief Foundation, had their assets frozen. In 2002, the GRF was also designated a terrorist-financing entity by the US Treasury Department. In launching their inquiry in December 2003, Senators Grassley and Max Baucus, the committee’s ranking Democrat, had expressed concerns that charities and foundations play a crucial role in terror financing. Some Muslims, however, protested that the Senate investigation unfairly cast a cloud over many groups. It was really just a fishing expedition, said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman at the Council on American-Islamic Relations. They didn’t catch any fish. ISNA’s executive director, Louay Safi, said the group always knew there was nothing wrong with its finances. But it is good to see that they have come to that conclusion as well. Mr Safi regretted that many innocent Muslim groups have been smeared in the investigation. In August 2003, US President George Bush froze the assets of five pro-Palestinian charities abroad, depriving Palestinian orphans of their much-needed aid. Thousands of Palestinian orphans and destitute families took to the streets the same month to protest President Bush’s decision. We’re very pleased but not surprised, as there’s never been any funding of anything remotely related to terrorist activities, said Nancy Luque, an attorney for Muslim charities and institutes in Herndon, near Washington. Wendell Belew, an attorney for a Muslim charity association, said: We’re very pleased that their examination uncovered no problems on the part of our members. His group includes two Falls Church nonprofits: the World Assembly of Muslim Youth and the Muslim World League. Several of the organizations targeted in the inquiry remain under investigation by the FBI or the Department of Homeland Security.
By MICHAEL McDONOUGH LONDON – A prominent British Muslim warned lawmakers Monday that proposals for tough new anti-terror laws could undermine the Muslim community’s willingness to cooperate in fighting terror. Abdurahman Jafar, a senior member of the Muslim Council of Britain, expressed concern about the Terror Bill, which was drawn up in the wake of the July attacks on London’s transit system. The bill would extend the maximum 14-day detention for terror suspects without charge to three months, outlaw attending terrorist training camps and make it an offense to glorify or encourage terrorism. Addressing a meeting of Parliament’s joint committee on human rights, Jafar told lawmakers that he feared a “really horrific counter-productive effect” from the bill, partly because of the proposed glorification offense. He said the measure threatens to merge “the issue of illegitimate attacks against peaceful democracies, with legitimate acts of resistance against illegitimate regimes around the world.” Jafar, who is vice chairman of the legal affairs committee of the Muslim Council of Britain, also voiced concern about the plans to lengthen the detention period for terror suspects who haven’t been charged. He said the legislation risked weakening the wider Muslim community’s commitment to fight terrorism in the wake of the July 7 attacks, which killed 52 commuters and four suicide bombers, who were devout Muslims. The House of Commons voted last week to back the Terror Bill. But before the bill can become law, it faces further scrutiny by a committee of lawmakers, a further vote in the Commons, and votes in parliament’s upper chamber, the House of Lords.
AMSTERDAM – Moroccan and Turkish groups in the Netherlands have set up a new action committee named “Genoeg is genoeg” (enough is enough) to organise a campaign against the Dutch government’s tough immigration and integration policies. The organisers are calling for a national demonstration on 17 September in Amsterdam. Two spokesmen for the new organisation outlined the plans for the demonstration during a press conference in the Moroccan capital of Rabat on Monday. Dutch Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk arrived in Rabat for an official visit on Monday. She toured the Dutch embassy where modifications have been made to house the new integration tests that are to be introduced for would-be immigrants to the Netherlands. While there was news on Monday that other European countries are interested in the immigration policies being pioneered by Verdonk, the spokesmen for the new action committee described her policies as discriminatory and racist. “These policies are creating a greater rift between ‘us and them’, one of the representatives said. The ‘Genoeg is genoeg’ group wanted to hold a demonstration in Rabat to coincide with Verdonk’s visit but the authorities did not grant them a permit to do so. The group says there should be no difference between the treatment of Muslims and non-Muslims. It argues that the Cabinet’s integration plans as well as limitations on family reunification and dual nationality hits at the principle of equal rights for all dutch citizens. “We don’t want a separate policy for one group as that leads to Apartheid,” one of the spokesmen said.