In France, an increase in conversions to Islam in 2015

The Great Mosque of Paris has recorded 40 conversions to Islam in January 2015, compared to 22 in January 2014.  Conversions to Islam have thus doubled, and increased mosque attendance has been reported in Strasbourg, Aubervilliers and Lyon, where conversions have increased from 20% to 30%. (Photo: Pangea Today)
The Great Mosque of Paris has recorded 40 conversions to Islam in January 2015, compared to 22 in January 2014. Conversions to Islam have thus doubled, and increased mosque attendance has been reported in Strasbourg, Aubervilliers and Lyon, where conversions have increased from 20% to 30%. (Photo: Pangea Today)

The Great Mosque of Paris has recorded 40 conversions to Islam in January 2015, compared to 22 in January 2014. Conversions to Islam have thus doubled, and increased mosque attendance has been reported in Strasbourg, Aubervilliers and Lyon, where conversions have increased from 20% to 30%.

The media has reported that since the Charlie Hebdo attacks there has been an increase in sales of Qur’an.

The results may appear strange considering the recent Charlie Hebdo attacks and the tense climate following the Averroès high school controversy, where a former teacher accused students of harboring Islamist tendencies.

“The school’s director plays a double game with our secular Republic: from one angle he shows its credentials to the media…and also continues to profit as a result of its contract with the state, and from another angle, perniciously disseminates an interpretation of Islam which is none other than Islamism, that’s to say, a dangerous mix of religion and politics,” said former teacher Soufiane Zitouni.

One of the recent converts explained his decision to convert: “It makes me want to convert to Islam and show the world what it’s not.” The phenomenon of conversion is all the more notable because it is present on several socio-professional levels. Imams who were interviewed on the radio stated that recent converts include doctors, professors, police officers, and even school directors.

Perspectives on Being Muslim in Dutch Society [Video]

The Dutch current affairs program Nieuwsuur (News Hour) has dedicated a special program to Muslim perspectives on integration and Islam in the

Unidentified muslims visit Keukenhof, South Netherlands.
Muslim women visit Keukenhof gardens in Lisse, Netherlands.

Netherlands. Middle East reporter Jan Eikelboom and editor Milena Holdert for several months interviewed Dutch Muslims on issues related to Islam currently debated on in Dutch society.

In Dutch media coverage about Islam the Muslim perspective is seldom portrayed. In an attempt to discover how Muslims themselves think about current issues such as integration and Islamophobia in the Netherlands the program interviewed a wide array of Muslims with different ethnic backgrounds and also Dutch converts to Islam.

The program in addition shows a debate on integration between parliamentary member Malik Azmani of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and Nourdin el Ouali, the political leader of the young and upcoming local Islamic Party NIDA.

[Click here to view film.]

Secular France Moves to Confront Jihadism After Slow Start (Reuters)

France has been slow to respond to the spread of jihadist ideology because strict state secularism forbids any incursion into individuals’ religious affairs. This has created a breeding ground that has pulled in converts like Guillaume, radicalized while in prison for assaulting a police officer.(Reuters)

Kev Adams says stop to making automatic associations between Muslims and Terrorists

Kev Adams did not hesitate to defend French Muslims, who are “constantly in the spotlight” because of the Islamic State’s actions. His statement of support happened during his program On n’est pas couché on November 22.

He apologized for any associations between terrorism and Islam. “There are young adults that listen to me and one must not make automatic associations, Muslims are not terrorists, Muslims are good people,” he said.

“I’ve been lucky to tour in France, I like being able to visit different communities and I’ve been to many mosques where I saw that the discourse there is to tell the kids: ‘be proud to be Muslims…and to be French Muslims.’” Adams says it is “completely wrong” to say that they are terrorists, and added, “It’s important for me to say it on television.”

Before his show, journalist Elise Lucet highlighted the work done in mosques to combat radicalization. “In mosques there are people who are doing everything they can so that young adults, converts or Muslims, have a different vision of Islam, thanks to what they are taught.”

Adams’s sentiments were not all well-received by his fans. However, there have been many congratulatory messages that have multiplied after significant media coverage. “Thank you for your kind messages (and even the mean ones) about #OPNC or #VTEP! It is truly touching! #Love,” he wrote.

 

Targeted Islamic outreach to Hispanics achieving results

February 28, 2014

 

PEARLAND, Texas (RNS) Carlos Lopez works in the United States to earn money and send it back home to his family in Mexico. But he sends back something else, too: pamphlets and personal testimonies about his new faith.

On Dec. 22, 2013, Lopez took the “shahada” — the profession of the Islamic faith — and joined the ranks of what the American Muslim Council estimates is a 200,000 strong Hispanic Muslim community across the U.S.

Unlike previous generations of Hispanic Muslims who were attracted to the faith by their own spiritual explorations, Lopez and many others like him are converting as a result of targeted Islamic outreach efforts.

This new form of Islamic “da’wah,” or outreach, aims to translate being Muslim into the Spanish cultural and linguistic vernacular.

“To reach Hispanics, we have to be practical,” said Imam Daniel Abdullah Hernandez who teaches an Islam in Spanish course in Pearland, Texas, where Lopez converted. “Islam is practical, it’s social, it’s very easy to translate it into Hispanic culture, and it’s even easier to communicate it in the Spanish language.”

According to the Pew Research Center, just 4 percent of Muslim Americans are of Hispanic ancestry, though one of 10 native-born U.S. Muslims are Hispanic. “The American Mosque 2011″ report said the number of Latino converts has been steadily increasing since 2000, more so than any other racial or ethnic group.

As they convert, many face ostracism from their families who are predominantly Christian, often Catholic, and feel the converts are abandoning their Hispanic identity. Likewise, many Hispanic Muslims do not find a ready welcome in masjids that are largely made up of Middle Eastern, North African, South East Asian and African-American Muslims.

Islam In Spanish is not the first organization to focus its efforts on reaching Hispanics. Another group, the Latino American Dawah Organization, existed before it and paved the way.

Shafiq Alvarado helped found LADO, which offers help and support to new Hispanic Muslims. Born into a Catholic family and of Dominican ancestry, Alvarado converted when he was 25 through the efforts of Allianza Islamica (Islamic Alliance) in New York City.

“People who become Muslims inevitably become ambassadors for Islam,” said Alvarado. “Hispanic Muslims are not sitting on the sidelines; they learn Arabic, the Quran, Islamic jurisprudence, and many other things to take that knowledge and give it back to their communities, their families,” he said.

 

RNS.com: http://www.religionnews.com/2014/02/28/targeted-islamic-outreach-hispanics-achieving-results

Islam in Spanish.com: http://islaminspanish.org/

LADO: http://www.latinodawah.org/

Lee Rigby killing: two British Muslim converts convicted of murder

The first Islamist terrorists to carry out their plan to murder on British soil without killing themselves in the process have been convicted of mutilating and attempting to behead a soldier, as the prime minister vowed to step up efforts to defeat the al-Qaida ideology of violence.

British-born Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale (Adebolajo has asked to be known as Mujahid Abu Hamza in court, and Adebowale has asked to be called Ismail Ibn Abdullah) were convicted of murdering Lee Rigby last May, after scouring an area around the Woolwich barracks hunting for a soldier to kill. One was set on the path to murder by a deluded belief that 9/11 was a Western conspiracy. The other told of his disgust at watching television in 2003 as Western missiles rained down on Baghdad in the battle to remove Saddam Hussein from power. The savagery of the murder, in which Rigby, 25, was repeatedly stabbed and hacked at the neck by a cleaver, shattered community relations when mosques were attacked. It was the first murderous attack in Britain by those motivated by the al-Qaida ideology of violence since the 7 July 2005 bombings of London’s transport system by four suicide bombers.

While convicting them of murder, the jury accepted their defence to a charge of attempting to murder armed officers who turned up to arrest them. Adebolajo and Adebowale claimed they charged at the armed officers clutching a machete and unloaded gun, not because they wanted to kill them but because they wanted to be shot dead and achieve martyrdom. The brother of one of the men convicted on Thursday of murdering Lee Rigby has told the Guardian that he believes the killing of the soldier in the street was justified by their Islamic faith. In remarks that a majority of British Muslims would regard as an extremist mutation of their religion, Jeremiah Adebolajo claimed his brother Michael had sought to “please Allah by fighting in his cause” in the barbarous attack in Woolwich, south London.

Witness Amanda Donnelly Martin was passed a warped handwritten note by one of Fusilier Lee Rigby’s murderers. Ms Donnelly Martin was at the soldier’s side, attempting to comfort him as he lay in the road when Michael Adebolajo handed her the note. It appears to be an attempt at explaining or justifying the barbaric murder – urging the removal of “so-called politicians” and making bizarre references to “international armed robbery” and “bewitching tongues”.

In full it read:

“To my beloved children, know that to fight Allah’s enemies is an obligation. The proofs of which are so numerous that but a handful of any of them cuts out the bewitching tongues of the Munafiqeen (hypocrites). Do not spend your days in endless dispute with the cowardly and foolish, if it means it will delay you meeting Allah’s enemies on the battle field. Sometimes the cowardly and foolish could be those dearest to you so be prepared to turn away from them. When you set out on this path do not look left or right. Seek Shaheed Ala oh my sons, so that you might be raised together and if it is Allah’s decree that you’re not to be in the hearts of green birds then be ready for to enter the university of Joosuf Sijn (sic) be patient there and be firm there and Inshallah you will meet your lord with him pleased with you. Verily Allah is with those who are patient. If I live beyond this day and you find me talking other than this then know that perhaps Allah has left me to stray. If you find yourself curious as to why carnage is reaching your own towns then know it’s simply retaliation for your oppression in our towns. Many of your people are aristocrats that directly benefit from invasion of our lands without material loss. Whereas the average Joe Bloggs working class man loses his sons when they’re killed by our brothers, when the heat of battle reaches your local street it’s unlikely that any of your so-called politicians will be at risk or caught in crossfire so I suggest you remove them. Remove them and replace them with who will secure your safety by immediate withdrawal from the affairs of Muslims. Muslims will trade with you on fair terms but understand that the days of your international armed robbery is (sic) drawing to a close. To humble yourselves willingly is better for you. May Allah guide your nation to the truth.

Michael Adebolajo “slayed” the soldier Lee Rigby in broad daylight in an attack meant to wreak carnage , a jury has been told. The jury went out shortly after 11am yesterday, returning to deliver unanimous verdicts which were greeted by sobs. Rigby’s stepfather, Ian, wiped away tears and put his arm around the soldier’s mother, Lyn, who was crying.

The mother of Michael Adebowale, one of the two men convicted of hacking soldier Lee Rigby to death has blamed “the evil ones” of Islam for luring her son into a world of fanaticism. Juliet Adebowale also spoke of her sorrow for the fusilier’s family, saying: “That poor, poor family have lost a son – but so have I”. His brother’s defence contrasts with the stance taken by their parents – of Nigerian Christian heritage – who have condemned their son’s attack. Jeremiah said he was close to his brother, and that their upbringing in Romford had not been deprived and there was a strong family focus on education. He dismissed claims Michael Adebolajo might have had a troubled family life.

They were “polite, nice guys” from strict Christian families. Michael Adebolajo’s passions were “music and football and girls”. Michael Adebowale was a “lovable, quiet boy” who enjoyed cooking Jamie Oliver recipes. Yet, during their teens, these two east London boys descended into a life of petty street crime and drugs, before converting to Islamic extremism which drove them to commit the brutal murder of Drummer Lee Rigby.

Jeremiah also sought to argue that the brutal murder of a young man was motivated by anger at western foreign policy – but dismissed the possibility that MI5 could be blamed because the security service had repeatedly tried to recruit his brother as an informant. The attack raised questions for MI5 and police, who had known of the men for eight years. Adebolajo has told those who have seen him since his arrest that repeated alleged attempts by MI5 to turn him into an informant had not played a part in the murder, which he blames purely on anger at western foreign policy. In 2010 Adebolajo had been arrested in Kenya, a gateway to terrorist areas in Somalia and it was claimed he was ill-treated with British complicity.

In the interview, Jeremiah – who says he was converted to Islam by Michael – adopted many of the views his brother expressed when he gave evidence at the Old Bailey. Asked if he was proud of his brother, Jeremiah said: “In that he is a Muslim and that he sought to please Allah by fighting in his cause and dying in his cause, then to this extent yes.”

Interviewed by the Guardian before the jury returned its guilty verdict on Michael, Jeremiah said he loved his brother more than he did a year ago, despite the Woolwich events. Counterterrorism officials continue to assess 2,000 individuals in the UK as posing a terrorist threat, a number that they say has remained roughly constant since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US.

Adebolajo became more extreme and took part in numerous Islamist protests in London. He also fathered six children, one born just four days before Mr Rigby’s murder. In 2006 he was arrested during a violent demonstration outside the Old Bailey, where fellow fanatics were on trial accused of soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred following the publication of a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper. In 2007 he was filmed by the BBC protesting outside Paddington Green police station after the arrest of another fanatic. He was holding a placard which complained of a “Crusade Against Muslims”. In 2008 he spent three months in custody after assaulting a police officer. The following year a video showed him ranting on a platform in front of young Muslims outside north London mosque. He told them: “Do not be scared of the filthy kuffar [non-believers]. They are pigs.”

Jeremiah argued that his brother’s act of murder was a “military strike” by a “soldier”, and in keeping with the teachings of the Qur’an. It is a claim British Muslims dispute, but he mocked them too, saying Muslims in the rest of the world regard Britain as having “blood on its hands”. He claimed his brother had been forcibly brought back to Britain from Kenya in 2010 after he tried to reach areas of Somalia controlled by extremist groups affiliated to the al-Qaida ideology. Jeremiah said: “My brother left to Kenya, to go and live in Somalia under the sharia. This was his choice. What the British government did is brought him back.”

The security services face questions over whether they underestimated the threat posed. The intelligence and security committee is investigating how much MI5 knew of the men’s activities. The men are believed to have acted alone. Adebolajo told jurors that he was a “soldier of Allah” and was obliged to obey the command of Allah. He described how he held the soldier’s hair as he hacked at his neck in a motion described by one witness as like a “butcher attacking a joint of meat”. Adebowale did not testify in his own defence and his police interviews were not heard by the court. Adebolajo’s barrister, David Gottlieb, began his closing speech by complaining that his client had been demonised as a “total monster” by the press and politicians. “I suggest to you this background of religion, race, class and politics has been a toxic mix and when you add in the word terrorism, as we have in this case, it made it impossible for rational people to think straight,” he told the jury.

Until recently Woolwich and nearby Plumstead hosted extreme Islamist preachers, such as Omar Bakri Mohammed, the self-styled sheikh responsible for Adebowale’s conversion to Islam, and Anjem Choudary, the founder of Al Muhajiroun who once counted Adebolajo in his following. The crossroads where Drummer Rigby was slain is also a five-minute drive from HMP Belmarsh, the high-security prison where many of Britain’s most committed Islamist terrorists are housed.

Killing to make a political point, to frighten the public and put pressure on the government of the day or as an expression of anger is murder and remains murder whether the government is a good one, a bad one or a dreadful one. What happened was designed to tear apart the oneness of Woolwich. It didn’t happen – people were brought closer, regardless of race or creed. And the reason that happened was because of what pre-existed this attack. People were disconcerted by what might happen afterwards but we had the links and the structures in place to show unity between Muslims, Christians, Sikhs – everybody. The community can remember [Lee Rigby] but it can also move on. Work by police and community leaders has indeed outwardly smoothed the troubled waters created by the murder. Farooq Murad, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “Muslim communities then, as now, were united in their condemnation of this crime. This was a dishonourable act and no cause justifies cold-blooded murder.”

Mr Justice Sweeney, the trial judge, said he would pass sentence after a key ruling by the court of appeal in January on the use of whole-life terms. He is considering sentencing the men to die in jail. In two recent cases he rejected crown demands for whole-life sentences, including a terrorist case where a Muslim man was murdered by a Ukrainian man who also staged a bombing campaign, who received a minimum term of 40 years.

 

The Independent:

The Telegraph:

The Guardian:

Lee Rigby murder: UK’s street gangs are the next breeding ground for new brand of extremist’

December 19, 2013

 

Young urban gang members have been targeted by charismatic preachers for conversion to a radical form of Islam, in a development not being properly addressed by the Government’s security programme, community leaders claimed in the wake of the Woolwich trial.

The case of two black Muslim converts, both from criminal backgrounds and with a highly tuned sense of grievance, has highlighted concerns that efforts to prevent radicals are focused too much on universities and so-called middle-class converts.

Michael Adebowale was a member of a gang at the time of his conversion at the age of 17, police confirmed, but his path to radicalisation remained unclear. MPs found that converts to Islam were at particular risk of radicalisation. In April, Richard Dart, a white security guard converted by Anjem Choudary – former leader of the now-banned al-Muhajiroun group – was jailed for six years for plotting to attack soldiers at Royal Wootton Bassett.

“In the urban environment, being Muslim carries a bit of street cred. It’s the urban religion of choice,” he said. “It’s about religion sticking two fingers up at the establishment. It’s an attractive mix. It validates criminality.”

“These kids’ constant experiences are of being victims, and then the radicalised movement comes along and offers them the opportunity to be heroic,” said Camilla Batmanghelidjh, the founder of Kids Company, which works with vulnerable children in the capital. “The radicalisers are identifying the most vulnerable kids…  They’re showing them videos that are getting progressively worse, alleged atrocities by the British. Then they’re sending them to training camps abroad.”

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/lee-rigby-murder-uks-street-gangs–are-the-next-breeding-ground-for-new-brand-of-extremist-9016698.html

Muslims in Britain: Seeking to Combat Extremism

The brutal killing of Lee Rigby in London in May by two Muslim converts was widely condemned by Muslim religious leaders, but still led to a rise in threats made against Muslims and mosques. Many Muslims in Britain, however, work to try to counter extremism. Joanna Impey reports.

Qantara: http://en.qantara.de/content/muslims-in-britain-seeking-to-combat-extremism

Islamic converts threatened to ‘kill non-believers’ in vigilante patrol

November 11, 2013

 

Two Islamic converts threatened to stab members of the public and “kill non-believers” as they roamed the streets of east London in the early hours of the morning. Ricardo McFarlane, 36, and a 23-year-old man who cannot be named for legal reasons joined a self-styled “Muslim Patrol” attempting to impose Sharia Law. Alongside a ginger-haired white convert called Jordan Horner, 19, the pair confiscated alcohol and berated non-Muslims for their alleged anti-Islamic behaviour as well as uploading YouTube videos criticising inappropriate dress.

Last month Horner, who wants to bring Sharia law to Britain, pleaded guilty to two charges of assault and two charges of using threatening words and behaviour.

Today the prosecution accepted pleas from MacFarlane to affray and the 23 year-old to using threatening words and behaviour. Both men refused to stand in the dock as they pleaded guilty.

 

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/10

“I’ll tell you why I chose Islam” by Anna Assumma

October 30, 2013

 

By Anna Assumma

An Italian girl like many others. But she converts to Islam and decides to veil herself from head to foot. Hers is a choice that disturbs everyone: except her.

She’s a girl like any other, or perhaps she was a little brighter than others. She studied humanistic scientific studies before this, getting good grades and dreaming of dedicating her life after graduation to biotechnology, looking for new drugs to eradicate deadly degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Until a few years ago she always wore jeans. Sure, the pants were always accompanied with a tunic just above the knee and a headscarf. And then what? “Then there was the devotion to a new science,” she says smiling, Because she, Fatima – Giulia, smiles a lot.

Here is where our story begins. My interview began with a sinking heart. Seeing her completely covered in layers of black fabric (the white was only for marriage), no mouth, nose, eyes, hands only – which were gloved – her voice like a bearer of sunlight. Her gaze was clear, and even more with the youthful liveliness that makes its way from under the blanket that obscures her person.

 

L’Espresso: http://espresso.repubblica.it/visioni/societa/2013/10/30/news/vi-racconto-perche-ho-scelto-l-islam-1.139529#gallery-slider=1-139086