Imams across Britain will give simultaneous sermons condemning sexual grooming next month, as part of a grass-roots Muslim campaign to tackle the problem of abuse. The co-ordinated event on 28 June will follow a conference organised by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) to discuss ways of preventing further cases of abuse after seven men – all Muslim – were convicted this week for the grooming and sex trafficking of girls as young as 11 in Oxford. The case is one of several in recent years in which gangs of men, predominantly from a Pakistani Muslim background, have groomed young girls for sex. Julie Siddiqi, executive director of the Islamic Society of Britain, was one of the first Muslim figures to speak out on the issue. She said that although children were exploited in all communities, “the number of street-grooming convictions in the past few years involving Omars, Ahmeds and Faisals means the time has come for action. But if there are patterns emerging – and I think there are – of people from a certain background engaging in this type of activity, then that can’t be ignored either. I’m not saying all Pakistani men are prone to this, or Islam says that; of course that’s nonsense. But if we ignore these patterns we’re going to do an injustice against the victims.” A separate MCB conference, on 20 June, will include speakers from child protection and the police. It will be attended by senior Muslim clerics from around the country. A spokeswoman for the MCB said: “All communities should be tackling this and we’re doing our part to address this.”
Tariq Ramadan is an Islamic scholar who teaches at Oxford University and a former member of a working group on extremism set up by Tony Blair. Time magazine once described him as the “leading thinker” among Europe’s second and third-generation Muslim immigrants. Yet two French ministers have suddenly announced that they will not attend a conference in Florence tomorrow on the future of the European Union because of the presence of the scholar, Tariq Ramadan. He is due to be a panellist at the conference, entitled The State of the Union, speaking about “migration, identity and integration”. The French Interior Minister Manuel Valls and Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the Women’s Rights Minister who is also a government spokeswoman, informed organisers that they were pulling out, saying they had “not been informed” of Professor Ramadan’s attendance. The philosopher is a controversial figure who has been accused of advocating violence and for some years was banned from entering France.
The Reggio Emilia Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem continues to present informational and cultural activities, including three new events open to the public, admission is free.
The first meeting, scheduled for Friday, May 10 at 6 p.m., at the Hall of the “Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo” in Reggio Emilia, will be with Dr. Giorgio Morini Mazzoli, who will moderate a conference entitled “Islam little known”.
A testimony of faith is necessary for a dialogue with all. In Europe today, both to the east and the west, south and in the north the dialogue between Christians and Muslims is inescapable, creating a need for a deeper understanding. Only proper dialogue allows one to approach the Muslim believer free of prejudice. In a secular and plural society, the challenge of education for a diverse audience must also be integrated with a deep understanding of faith and identity. At the same time, a plural society exists only on the condition of mutual respect, and the desire to know each other through an ongoing dialogue. These are some of the reflections made by the bishops and delegates about relations with Muslims during the Episcopal Conferences in London for three days.
The two main themes addressed in the conference were “dialogue and proclamation” and “the question of identity construction of young Christians and Muslims.” The meeting was led by Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard the archbishop of Bordeaux. The conference attracted the participation of bishops and delegates from 20 different organizations including catholic delegates, episcopal organization leaders and cultural organizations.
(RNS) Leading U.S. Catholic bishops on Monday (April 22) denounced efforts to use the Boston Marathon bombings to derail the push for immigration reform, saying it is wrong to brand all immigrants as dangerous and that a revamped system would in fact make Americans safer.
“Opponents of immigration … will seize on anything, and when you’ve got something as vivid and as recent as the tragedy in Boston it puts another arrow in their quiver,” New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told reporters.
“To label a whole group of people – namely, the vast population of hard-working, reliable, virtuous immigrants – to label them, to demean them because of the vicious, tragic actions of two people is just ridiculous,” he said. “Illogical. Unfair. Unjust.”
Dolan was joined on the conference call by Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles and Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, both top spokesmen for the bishops on migration, in pushing for passage of a landmark immigration reform bill introduced in the Senate last week.
In the wake of the April 15 attacks and the identification of two young men of Chechen origin as the suspects, some conservative politicians have argued that immigration reform should be put on the shelf.
Immigration reform advocates counter that having a better, more comprehensive system would have enabled authorities to maintain better records on immigrants like Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, who was killed after a shootout with police, and his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who remains hospitalized.
That history of religious bias is also why the bishops are especially sensitive to efforts to brand all Muslims as suspect.
“They are going through now what we did in the 1840s and 1850s,” said Dolan, a student of church history. “Whenever a group is painted with a wide brush we begin to bristle.”
Union of French Islamic Organisation
Following a controversy, this year’s conference by the Union of French Islamic Organisations in Bourget (Seine St-Denis) refrained from inviting the Egyptian celebrity preacher Yousself al-Qaradawi who is closely associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The appeasement politics played by the organizers follows last year’s French Presidential election campaign during which the event became the spotlight for the polemics of French security and identity politics. This year’s speakers list was accordingly altered and toned down in order to prevent potential controversy.
The event, which is comparable to the World Catholic Youth Day, covered the Easter bank holidays and was attended on its opening day alone by over 160.000 people.
Federal President Joachim Gauck has met young Muslim immigrants prior to the annual young Islam conference. During the conference, young Muslims are given the opportunity to show their societal engagement and discuss political and social issues with politicians and local experts.
Albeit, most participants expressed their satisfaction about the event, some see the need for action towards more tolerance and acceptance of diversity. Stereotypes in media would increase Islamophobia. Arman Kuru a student candidate for the police department and participant of the conference understands “plurality as a treasure”. A further issue is the legal equal treatment of Islam as a religion in Germany.
Dr. Naika Foroutan from the Humboldt University of Berlin understands integration as a commitment for all members of the society. Hence, the conference members demand the acceptance of dual citizenship.
19 February 2013
Dutch politician Geert Wilders, known for his anti-Islam platform, has cancelled a speech planned during his visit to Australia. Wilders’ speech was cancelled when no venue in Perth was willing to host the event. During a press conference Wilders reiterated his view that Islam cannot be integrated into western societies. Although some 40 people appeared to protest Wilders’ speech in Melbourne last week, none were present at the press conference. Muslim and other organizations had encouraged individuals not to protest the event but rather to ignore Wilders’ presence.
Early last month, a conference was held in London, entitled “Have Muslims Misunderstood Evolution?” under the auspices of The Deen Institute, an organization which aims at promoting engagement between the Islamic tradition and modernity. The event sparked off a debate on social media and op-ed columns regarding the place of evolution in the Islamic worldview.
The conference, whose lectures were recently published online, brought together scientists like Prof. Ehab Abouheif and Prof. Fatimah Jackson with theologians like Dr Usama Hasan and the prominent Shaykh Yasir Qadhi. Also invited was Dr. Oktar Babuna, representing the hardcore creationist ideas of Harun Yahya, who is deemed by many Muslim scholars to be a charlatan. Sadly, by the end of the day, Babuna was reduced to such a laughing stock that even Qadhi distanced himself from him.
Some commentators have described this conference as marking a Galileo moment for Muslims. I would argue that this isn’t quite the case, as Islamic religious authority is decentralized, and there is no formal ‘religious establishment’ that has binding authority over Muslims. With even the historic center for Sunni learning, al-Azhar University, and influential scholars like al-Qaradawi accepting that Muslims could believe in evolution–though neither seems to–it doesn’t seem like this is a serious issue in theology. Rather it seems to be so only in the popular Muslim consciousness. As Muslims continue in the path of learning, as encouraged by the Prophet, I hope that a more nuanced attitude to this issue will emerge at a popular level, and then we can focus on more important discussions like that of climate change or alleviating poverty. This conference was an important step in that direction.
11 February 2013 reported an important meeting between the Genovese Muslim community and high-level Genovese officials (including the Mayor) for a conference called “Hate and Prejudice: Citizens Promise to Allow a Place of Worship.” The meeting, which took place on February 7th, built on previous talks about the construction of a mosque in Genoa. The conference also sought to combat prejudice and was a continuation of talks that begin in 2008, in which the selection of location was near the major train station in Genoa. As of now, Muslims in Genoa have no central place to pray and are confined to basements and shops for Friday prayers.