Brother Faces First-Degree Murder Charge in Death of Teen who Shed Headscarf

The brother of a teenage girl from Mississauga, Ontario who was strangled to death, apparently for failing to wear a hijab, was charged with first-degree murder. Waqas Parvez, 27, was initially charged with obstruction of justice in the death of Aqsa Parvez, 16, in December 2007. Aqsa is the youngest of eight children. Her father, Muhammed Parvez, 57, was initially charged with second-degree murder; earlier this month, the charge was upgraded to first-degree. Police have refused to comment whether the death was over the headscarf and a fight over traditional culture. Muhammed Parvez’s lawyer, Joseph Ciraco, has said there is more to the story than just cultural issues.

Degree to attract Muslim youth workers

A pioneering course offered at the University of Chester’s Padgate campus is set to combat the shortage of Muslim youth workers. British-born Muslims represent 54 percent of the total Muslim population of almost two million in the country – a quarter under the age of 25. The Muslim youth work degree is the first course of its kind in the country and has received a positive response from Muslims both nationally and internationally. Sadek Hamid, a lecturer with a professional background in Muslim youth work, helped develop the two-year foundation degree course. He said: “Our non-Muslim youth working colleagues don’t always know how to work with the young Muslim population. “Part of the rationale behind this degree is that young people in Muslim communities face a number of socio-economic disadvantages – our course enables students to understand how that has taken place and the best way to work in the community to help address this.http://themuslimweekly.com/(X(1)S(cl2oemukrtvlwfbsqnhuml45)F(222c0IfR9GZQ41fhU4O93a2XKv9XZ0iidZ2pHPSKVELxYsS6Rftn47adFw5b5CTrDdj48Lbprs3tVQndMvuCJayUnquOb8_l6teDNl-MYQl5lxIDRFAbmfXuoAYwsw9p0))/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=F160B162E37150051F544150&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

Al-Qaida will take decades to eradicate, thinktank says

By Mark Tran Al-Qaida has retained the ability to plan and coordinate large-scale attacks in the west, a leading thinktank warned today. The terrorist group has proved adaptable and resilient, the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) in London said in its annual survey, six years after the group became a household word with its attacks on America’s World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. “The United States and its allies have failed to deal a deathblow to al-Qaida; the organisation’s ideology appears to have taken root to such a degree that it will require decades to eradicate,” IISS said in its 2007 strategic survey.

Where French Muslims battle to integrate

Leila Laouati is leaving France. At 30, she still lives in her home town of Dreux, 60 miles west of Paris, in her childhood room in her parents’ apartment. But in September she starts work teaching French in the Japanese prefecture of Osaka. The multilingual Ms Laouati has a degree in international relations from the Sorbonne. However, she is also the daughter of Algerian immigrants, and in 10 years of looking for work encountered an overt racism familiar to Muslims in France. One job interviewer expressed doubt that she could work with French people. But I am French, Ms Laouati replied. It did no good. She never found permanent work. France doesn’t need me, so I don’t need it, she says now…

Austria: Islam As A High-School Subject

VIENNA – Experts believe that Islamic religious education in state schools could be the way to the better integration of Muslims. Now students can even take Islam as a high-school degree subject. Critical thinking and social issues like women’s and human rights, social responsibility, the compatibility of Islamic, Austrian and European identities are parts of the curriculum, which also aims to dispel the prejudices and ignorance of non-Muslim students and teachers. Can this be a model for Germany? {(continued in German)} Islamischer Religionsunterricht an _ffentlichen Schulen k_nnte ein Weg zur besseren Integration von Muslimen sein, so Experten. In _sterreich gibt es das seit mehr als 20 Jahren. Hier k_nnen die Sch_ler sogar Abitur im Fach “Islam” machen. Ein Modell f_r Deutschland? Der 18-j_hrige Ishak _r_n ist geborener Wiener, Sohn t_rkischer Eltern. Er hat gerade Abitur gemacht, oder “Matura”, wie es in _sterreich hei_t, auch im Fach islamische Religion. Das ist f_r viele auch nach mehr als zwei Jahrzehnten immer noch etwas Besonderes, hat Ishak festgestellt, weil so viele Lehrer aus Neugierde dabei waren. “Normalerweise sind die Lehrer an unserer Schule nicht gewohnt, dass jemand im islamischen Religionsunterricht maturiert”, erz_hlt Ishak. “Das kommt eigentlich sehr selten vor. Normalerweise hat zum Beispiel der Vorsitzende bei unserer Matura nie Fragen gestellt, oder die Frau Direktor. Nur beim islamischen Religionsunterricht gibt es wirklich so ein Eigeninteresse auch der Lehrer.” Aufr_umen mit Vorurteilen – auch bei den Lehrern Ishak hat dann Fragen beantwortet zu Menschenrechten im Islam, zu Sozialabgaben, die Muslimen abgefordert werden: Eine muslimische Mitsch_lerin hat _ber die Zwangsehe gesprochen, die sie genau wie Ishak unislamisch findet. Frauen werden auch nicht vom Islam unterdr_ckt, meint Ishak, sondern von M_nnern, die den Islam vorschieben. Er habe mit einigen Vorurteilen aufger_umt bei den neugierigen Lehrern, berichtet er. “Und da, glaube ich, haben sie dann gesehen, dass der Islam eigentlich nicht so eine Religion ist, wie sie das vorher geh_rt haben oder wie sie sich das vorher vorgestellt haben.” Die Note “Sehr gut” bekam Ishak daf_r von seiner Lehrerin, G_lmihiri Aytac. Sie machte Ende der 80er Jahre selbst Abitur im Fach Islamische Religion – als einer der ersten Jahrg_nge. Sie tr_gt ein elegantes seidenes Tuch um den Kopf, auch im Unterricht. “Nat_rlich”, sagt sie, “ich bin sogar verpflichtet dazu. Als Religionslehrerin muss ich irgendwie auch die Ideale der Religion f_r mich selber leben.” Kopftuchverbote wie in Deutschland seien reine Machtdemonstrationen des Staates, findet die Lehrerin. Der Islam zwinge Frauen weder ein Kopftuch zu tragen noch es zu lassen. Sie unterrichtet an ganz normalen staatlichen Schulen, nachmittags kommen die muslimischen Sch_ler in den regul_ren islamischen Religionsunterricht. Anerkennung schon zu Kaisers Zeiten Schon zu Kaisers Zeiten wurde der Islam als offizielle Religion staatlich in _sterreich anerkannt, heute vertritt die islamische Glaubensgemeinschaft in _sterreich ganz offiziell die Interessen der Muslime und legt Lehrinhalte fest, die dann an _ffentlichen Schulen vermittelt werden. “In meinem Klassenzimmer kann der Direktor jeder Zeit reinkommen und den Unterricht mitverfolgen”, sagt die Lehrerin. “Die T_r steht offen, es kann jeder mith_ren. Wir vermitteln den offiziell von der islamischen Glaubensgemeinschaft abgesegneten Islam.” Kritisches Denken und gesellschaftliche Verantwortung Im Unterricht sollen die Lehrer nach diesen Richtlinien Wert legen auf “eigenes kritisches Denken” der Sch_ler, auf “gesellschaftliche Verantwortung”, auf Friedenserziehung und darauf, dass sich der Islam selbstverst_ndlich mit einer europ_ischen und _sterreichischen Identit_t verbinden lasse. Genau das sei auch eine Funktion des Religionsunterrichts, sagt Lehrerin Aytac: “Ich halte es f_r sehr bedeutend, sehr wichtig, weil die Kinder dort irgendwie auch ein St_ck Pers_nlichkeit und Identit_t wiederfinden, im Normunterricht. Das, finde ich, ist sehr bedeutend, weil dann sehen sie, ich bin akzeptiert, ich bin ein Teil dieser Gesellschaft, und ich kann sogar meine Religion im Unterricht finden.” Ishak m_chte nach seinem _sterreichischen Wehrdienst _sterreichisches Recht studieren. Er f_hle sich aber immer noch als T_rke, sagt der geb_rtige Wiener, weil ihn die meisten _sterreicher so s_hen. Alkohol hat er nicht mal nach seiner Abiturfeier getrunken. Terrorismus, Fundamentalismus, Schleierzwang, Steinigungen und K_rperstrafen, die es in manchen muslimisch gepr_gten L_ndern gibt, h_lt er f_r unislamisch. Empfehlung f_r Deutschland Ishak pr_sentiert sich als kritischer, demokratisch gesinnter Mitteleurop_er muslimischen Glaubens. Dazu hat ihn wohl auch der Religionsunterricht in der Schule gemacht. “Wir h_ren ja auch, dass es Imame gibt, die zum Beispiel zum Dschihad aufrufen und solche Sachen und das, glaube ich, kann in einem Religionsunterricht in der Schule nicht passieren.” Islamischen Religionsunterricht an ganz normalen Schulen, das empfiehlt Ishak auch f_r Deutschland.

Cultural Workshop To Bridge West-Muslim Divide

France is launching a “cultural workshop” starting in September in a bid to promote understanding between the West and the Islamic world, the diplomat in charge of the project said Thursday. The workshop, which is the brainchild of French President Jacques Chirac, will hold its first session in Paris on September 13-15, ambassador-at-large Jacques Huntzinger told AFP. Huntzinger, in Doha to attend an inter-faith dialogue, said the workshop aims at “countering the risk of the development of misunderstandings, prejudices and fear among peoples and civil societies” on the two banks of the Mediterranean. According to a presentation of the project, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, the second session will be held in the Spanish city of Seville February 7-9, 2007 and the third in the Egyptian port of Alexandria in June next year. Participants in the “dialogue of peoples and cultures” will come from non-governmental organizations although organizers will seek the support of the governments concerned. “The platform must be given to historians, educators, researchers and new thinkers on both banks. With the help of the media, satellite channels and the Internet, they will know how to fight stereotypes,” the document says. The series of workshops will be open to Arab countries of the Maghreb, Levant and Gulf, in addition to Israel, Turkey and member states of the European Union. Themes to be debated will range from the role of media to the relationship between society and religion in secular systems and those based on sharia, or Islamic law. The need for an inter-cultural dialogue was highlighted by the crisis sparked by the publication of cartoons of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed in European papers, which infuriated Muslims across the world, according to the document. The cartoons row showed the degree to which “the Arab-Islamic world resents the West, notably Europe,” a feeling which can resurface any time, the document warns. Preparations for the dialogue are taking place in close cooperation with Spain and with the backing of Egypt, it said.

Us Muslims Fear The Enemy Within After London Attacks

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Muslim leaders watched with foreboding as their worst nightmare played out in Britain, where home-grown suicide bombers were blamed for London’s worst attacks since World War II. Now they are hoping their community is not next in line to face the chilling scenario of one of its own turning against the country of his birth. “The fact that these young men were British-born Muslims creates a degree of a different kind of anxiety within the community,” said Edina Lekovic of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), a group that presses for American Muslims’ civil rights and for the peaceful integration of Islam into US society. “If this could happen in the UK, it is our worst nightmare that it could happen here.” British police said four young British Muslims possibly operating under a foreign “mastermind” carried out attacks on three Underground trains and one bus in London on July 7 which killed 54 people. Their actions shocked the Muslim community in Britain, as they all appeared well integrated into society, several came from middle-class families and they had shown little history of radicalism. US Muslim leaders acted swiftly after the attacks, issuing condemnations and asking imams in America’s mosques to highlight the horror of terrorism in Friday prayers. Now they are hoping that special characteristics of the Muslim population in the US demographic “melting pot” will head off London-style attacks on the US mainland. America’s Muslims, community leaders say, are typically more integrated, socially and politically, than their counterparts in Britain and other European nations. “What we understand of the European Muslim community and even in the UK, there is a greater degree of Muslims living in enclaves,” Lekovic said. “Muslims (in the United States) are living alongside their Christian and Jewish neighbours.” Some 35 percent to 40 percent of US Muslims are African Americans, 25 percent are South Asians and 15 percent are Arabs, according to MPAC, which notes that most British Muslims live in South Asian enclaves. Even so, some Islamic leaders say, there is no guarantee that a few disgruntled members of the community will not taint the vast majority of peaceful Muslims. “The problem is that one or two criminals can create an impression that an entire community is to be blamed, and so you are always subject to those one or two people,” said Ibrahim Hooper, head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). “If you know the reality, you can see these handful of people as the aberration that they are — the same way that we didn’t say Catholicism was bad when the IRA was blowing up things in London.” Debate intensified over militancy within the US Muslim community on Wednesday, when an Islamic studies professor was jailed for life, for attempting to recruit for the Taliban. Ali al-Timimi, a teacher in his 40s from the Washington suburb of Fairfax, Virginia, was accused of encouraging at least five men to support the militia, and urging them to wage war against the United States. Timimi’s family and friends denied that he was guilty. The exact number of Muslims living in the United States has been a matter of dispute, since the US Census Bureau does not sort people by religion. Estimates have ranged as high as seven million by CAIR, and as low as just over one million within the past five years. The US Muslim community came under scrutiny as never before after the September 11 attacks in 2001, when Islam faced heavy criticism and President George W. Bush launched his global anti-terror campaign. Some American Muslim leaders complained this week that their frequent denunciations of terrorism had not filtered through to the US public. CAIR responded by issuing a public service announcement to local television stations across the country, featuring Muslims speaking directly to the camera. “We will not allow our faith to be hijacked by criminals,” said one of the speakers.

Dutch Mulling Limits On Freedom Of Expression

Many Dutch Decision-Makers Wondering Whether Reactions, Particularly Criticism Of Muslims, Did Not Go Too Far. By Isabelle Wesselingh Reeling from the slaying of a controversial filmmaker by a suspected Islamic extremist and a resulting backlash against Muslim institutions, the traditionally tolerant Dutch are mulling the limits of freedom of expression. “It is important today that we have a debate on freedom of expression: What are its limits, what is the meaning of tolerance, to what degree can you provoke someone and in this context I think it is important to look at what is being done abroad,” Foreign Minister Ben Bot told foreign correspondents here Monday.