Construction of a Muslim cemetery in Amsterdam is on hold for the time being due to the costs, ND reports. Three years ago the city of Amsterdam set aside 416,000 euro for a Muslim cemetery to be placed in the Nieuwe Ooster cemetery. Although the process included much deliberation with the Islamic community, a committee reached an agreement in which the municipality and the Nieuwe Ooster cemetery itself contributed to the project. Construction was supposed to start last spring but has been put on hold due to the cost. When the project goes through, the cemetery would serve for at least twenty years, since most of the deceased Turks and Moroccans are buried in their homeland.
Tough economic times in the United States is having an effect on American Muslims looking to perform the pilgrimage of Hajj. Many report that saving up money to make the trip is becoming difficult, as some have even weighed taking out loans – but Hajj is not supposed to be a huge financial burden for the faithful. Nair Al-Jubeir, spokesperson for the Saudi Arabian embassy said that 11,801 visas have bee issued this year for those wishing to make the pilgrimage – down nearly 2,000 from last year. Travel agents also report that the economy has taken a toll. An agent in New Jersey specializing in Hajj packages says that the economic crisis has resulted in a nearly 40 percent drop this year.
U.S. publishing company Random House will not publish a planned novel by Sherry Jones, called The Jewel of Medina, that was expected to hit stores on August 12th. The Islamically-themed novel explores Aisha, the child bride of the prophet Muhammad, who overcame a number of obstacles to reach her potential as a revered woman and leader in Islam. Random House said that it has been advised that the fictional novel, might be offensive to some Muslims, and could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment. The Jewel of Medina traces the life of Aisha, who is often cited to have been Muhammad’s favorite wife, and is believed to have been engaged to the prophet from the age of six. Muslim writer and feminist Asra Nomani published a column in the Wall Street Journal, saying that she was saddened by the book’s scrapping, saying that the move is a window into how quickly fear stunts intelligent discourse about the Muslim world. Others, including Denise Spellberg, a professor from the University of Texas in Austin, said that the book was ugly, stupid, and was soft core pornography. The decision to indefinitely delay the novel’s release was made in consideration for the safety of the author, employees of the publisher, booksellers, and others involved in the distribution or sale of the novel.
After a long delay of CIA operatives and former Italian intelligence officials, a judge ruled that Prime Minster Silvio Berlusconi could be called to testify about the abduction of a radical Muslim cleric, in Italy, in 2003. Testimony began Wednesday with the cleric’s wife, Ghali Nabila, who said that her husband was taken from Italy and transferred to a prison in Egypt, where he was repeatedly tortured. I found him wasted, skinny – so skinny – his hair had turned white, he had a hearing aid, Ms. Nabila said. While the Bush administration has admitted to programs of extraordinary rendition and abducting terrorism suspects outside of the United States, the administration has denied that persons are sent to nations that torture. Last year, and Italian prosecutor brought charges against 26 Americans, including 25 CIA agent operatives, citing a train of incriminating evidence prior to the cleric’s kidnapping.
The Belgian Muslim Executive hopes for a quick solution to the delay in the 2008 subsidies. Minister of Justice Jo Vandeurzen announced the delay the need to wait for reliable information about the financial situation of The Executive. Coskun Beyazgul, president of the Muslim Executive, says that they are in a financial crisis, and that he has hope that a solution would be found quickly. The Executive has no other means of income other than the Justice ministry subsidies, which are needed to pay rent and employees.
After a two-year delay, a French fund to help build mosques and finance Muslims projects will get underway next week. The foundation, called _Foundation for Islamic Works’ had been in limbo due to politics between Sarkozy and then interior minister Dominique de Villepin, who initially launched the project.
The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today announced the resolution of a citizenship delay case that has been pending for the past five years. Despite successfully passing his citizenship exam in 2002 and taking part in repeated interviews, CAIR-Chicago’s client had his naturalization delayed pending a background check. The client was recently sworn in by the presiding Northern Illinois District Federal Court judge instead of in the usual group oath ceremony. His case was resolved before a June 15th court hearing. “Law-abiding Muslims throughout the nation are facing unreasonable delays in being granted citizenship,” said CAIR-Chicago attorney Bitta Mostofi. “CAIR-Chicago will continue to advocate for and represent individuals who have experienced these unnecessarily lengthy delays.” CAIR-Chicago launched an ongoing class action complaint again the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2005 seeking to place a cap on the amount of time allotted to conduct the background checks necessary for acquiring citizenship and to prohibit discrimination based on religion in applying for citizenship. CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 33 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
By ANWIL DAWAR in London RELIGIOUS hate crimes have soared by almost 600 per cent in London since the July 7 bombings, it was revealed yesterday. Scotland Yard figures show 269 crimes, motivated by religious hatred, have been reported since the suicide attacks. That compared with only 40 in the same 3 1/2 week period last year. The figures include minor assaults, abuse in the street and by email and criminal damage to property, including mosques. In the three days after the bomb attacks, there were 68 such crimes in the capital compared to none in the same period 12 months ago. Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur said most of the incidents were minor, but had a great “emotional impact” on communities. “It can lead to these communities retreating and not engaging at a time when we want their engagement and support,” he said. Police officers have stepped up patrols and are working with community groups to reassure Muslims. It is not thought the incidents are part of a concerted campaign. Finsbury Park mosque, which has made a break from its associations with such radical clerics as Abu Hamza, has received more than 30 threatening phone calls in a fortnight. The first place of worship to be attacked after the bombings was a Sikh temple in Erith, south east London. Jagtar Singh of the Sikh Federation said: “We have had numerous reports of race-hate crimes targeting Sikh taxi drivers, bus drivers and even tube workers who interact with the public in providing essential services.” Police, in general, have been praised by Muslim groups for their attempts to stop any racist backlash and protect Asian communities following the bombings. Officers are having to deal with the difficult task of defeating terrorism while, at the same time, facing accusations young Muslims are being targeted in stop-and search operations. Home Office Minister Hazel Blears has said Muslims would not be discriminated against by police in the battle against terrorism. She insisted officers’ actions would be “intelligence led”. British police yesterday released another man who was detained in connection with the failed July 21 bomb attacks on London’s transit system. A police spokesman said officers were continuing to question 16 suspects. Of the 37 people detained over the attempt to set off bombs on three subway trains and a double-decker bus, 21 no longer were being held. British authorities say those still in custody include three of the failed bombers. They are trying to extradite the fourth suspected attacker, Hamdi Issac, from Italy, but his lawyer said Italian investigations could delay any extradition to Britain.