Dounia Bouzar claims that to Refuse the Burqa is to Respect Islam

Dounia Bouzar, a French anthropologist who specializes in examining French-born and raised Muslims and former member of the French Council for the Muslim Faith (CFCM), claims that Muslim sects, particularly the conservative Salafists, take advantage of the general ignorance about Islam in France to multiply within families. Bouzar claims that these conservative Muslim groups become most powerful when they alienate individuals from those who are normally central to their socialization – their teachers, educators, parents and even, imams. Author of L’Islam, l’intégrisme et nous (Plon, 2007), Bouzar concludes that being shocked by the burqa is to respect Islam, because it means that the religious tradition does not espouse such “archaic practices”.

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Probe into Threats Over Cable Pornography Visible in North Africa

Anti-terrorism investigators in Paris are examining threats against a leading French cable TV channel over pornographic films that can be viewed in North Africa. Canal-Plus, the pay-TV channel, received letters from people claiming to be Muslim and threatening to blow up its headquarters if it continues to broadcast a once-a-month pornographic film Saturday evenings. The threats began in September 2006.

Canal-Plus shows a range of programming, much of it family-friendly. As a new broadcaster in 1983, Canal-Plus introduced X-rated films on the first Saturday of the month to distinguish itself from other channels. It can be viewed via satellite in North Africa, where French is widely spoken but where social standards are vastly more conservative than in France. In the past, French regulators and other critics have also expressed concern about the films, citing the degradation of women and their encouragement of unprotected sex.

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Muslim Integration: Most Imams in Germany Lack Academic Qualifications

Muslim immigrants looking for advice on integrating into mainstream society in Germany, won’t find much help in their mosques. According to a new study, the majority of imams in Germany are ill-prepared for their own stay in Germany and most lack any academic training. A study on Islamic preachers in Germany has found that most imams are unable to help Muslim immigrants integrate into mainstream German society because they are insufficiently prepared for their stay in Germany. According to the study “Imams in Germany,” up to 20 percent of preachers belong to the more conservative, fundamentalist strand of Islam. The study also discovered that only one fifth of imam’s possess academic qualifications.

Greece: Greece to Pay Muslim Imams

The conservative government in Greece announced Thursday its decision to give a salary to 240 imams who serve the Muslim minority in Thrace, in the north-east of Greece, in a gesture of goodwill towards this population, which will also serve to better regulate the sermons. At present, only Orthodox priests are salaried by the Greek state. A commission made up of three government representatives, two university scholars of Islam, and two muftis from Thrace, also nominated by the state, will choose the imams to be salaried. “In principle, the reform is positive, but it’s important that there is not too much interventionism”, said the Muslim deputy Ilhan Ahmet, member of the conservative majority party.

Iranian group plans counter-documentary

An Iranian organization has begun to work on a documentary called _Beyond Fitna,’ aiming to do to the Bible what Geert Wilders did to the Quran in his film. _Beyond Fitna’ will use Bible passages, and clips from right-wing politicians and commentators including conservative US talk show host Bill O’Reilly. No further details or release estimates are known as of posting.

The Muslim Vote

American Muslims have tended to vote for Republican candidates, aligning themselves with traditionally conservative political values such as abortion, homosexuality, and same-sex marriage. However, in this year’s election, it seems that many American Muslims are favoring Democratic candidates. The Iraq war, religious and ethnic profiling, and foreign policy concerns are among the frustrations that many Muslim voters are feeling concerning the politics of the past eight years. Muslim voters are feeling motivated in this election to make their voices heard, in line with values that have an impact on their lives.

Republican Congressman King: terrorists will “Dance In the Streets” with Obama victory

Speaking to a local Iowa radio station, Representative Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, said that terrorist would dance in the streets if Barack Obama is elected president. Just before making that statement, King said I don’t want to disparage anyone because of their, their race, their ethnicity, their name – whatever their religion their father, father might have been. King clarified that his prediction is based on Obama’s pledge to remove troops out of Iraq, and that his heritage and middle name will strike a resonance in people in Muslim countries. In criticizing King, a spokesperson for Obama said that comments such as these have no place in our politics. He also called on Republican nominee John McCain to repudiate them. King is currently backing McCain, though McCain has condemned emphasis on Obama’s middle name, most recently when conservative talk show host Bill Cunningham repeatedly used Obama’s middle name in an introduction for McCain.

Debate on Muslim integration

The debate about the integration of immigrants continues in Spain as the conservative opposition is pledging to toughen integration requirements if they win the March 9th elections. The main opposition, the conservative People’s Party (PP) plans to push schools to ban the Islamic headscarf with the exception of the North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, which have large Muslim populations. The party would also oblige Muslim girls to attend physical education classes, allow male doctors to examine female Muslim patients, and make immigrants seeking residence permits sign contracts in which they would agree to respect Spanish laws and customs, language, and tax duties. The idea was inspired by French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Spain opposition wants to restrict Islamic veil

Spain’s conservative opposition is seeking to make immigration a major issue ahead of next month’s elections, says it wants to restrict use of the Islamic veil. In an announcement on it’s immigration policy, the conservative Popular Party’s justice spokesperson Ignacio Astarloa said: It’s going to deal with defending equality between men and women and ensure that the veil isn’t used for discrimination in schools or anywhere else. Astarloa also said that he wanted to enforce bans on genital mutilation and polygamy. Whether or not these are merely ideas or potential strictly enforced policies, Ali el Moaffati, a Moroccan man who has lived in Spain for 32 years said: The most important thing to us is that they leave us in peace.

Xenophobia and Islamophobia at the Heart of German Politics: Central Council of German Muslims warns of “agitation”

A German state governor has won applause from fellow conservatives for demanding a crackdown on “criminal young foreigners.” Immigrant groups and political rivals say he is playing with fire in a debate that reveals the widespread xenophobia obstructing integration in Germany. An assault by two foreign youths on a German pensioner has triggered conservative calls for a crackdown on “criminal young foreigners” and exposed deeply entrenched xenophobia that casts doubt on this country’s ability ever to fully integrate its 15 million inhabitants with an immigrant background. David Crossland reports. The Chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, K_hler blames Koch for generating Islamophobia with his _agitation”.