Imams cooperate against extremism

Feb 3

 

Düsseldorf, capital city of the German State North-Rhine Westphalia was the location for the first meeting between mosque centers and the German police to discuss extremism among young Muslims.

 

The Imams and the central council for Muslims underline the necessity of Imams and Islamic representatives through dialogue and discourse when approaching young Muslims. Religious authorities would be more promising in speaking to Muslims than State authorities. State initiated “Exit programs” would deter young Muslims and offer them no incentives to discuss their motivations and frustrations.

 

Two thirds of French defy Islam according to poll

24.01.2012

According to a recent survey conducted by Ipsos commissioned by the French daily Le Monde, two in three French (74%) reject Islam as “intolerant” and “incompatible” with French society.  While 70% of the survey participant judged that there are “too many foreigners in France”, 62% said they “don’t feel like at home anymore”. The results mirror French society’s sense and understanding of identity, which since three decades has intersected with the question of immigration in France. The rising Islamophobia and xenophobia exemplified by these polls reflects upon the existence of a massive populist movement, which exceeds the electorate of Le Pen’s Front Nationale.

Whilst formerly articulating their rejection against labour migrants who were alleged to “take away jobs from the French”, the rejection has now shifted to target both Islam and Muslims. Accordingly, 74% of French reject Islam and Muslims as intolerant and incompatible with the “values of French society”. The rejection entails all Muslims, whether they may be fully integrated, even assimilated or fundamentalists. Le Monde describes this poll as a rare moment of visualization of French defiance towards Islam.

Further, eight out of ten French accuse Islam to attempt to “impose its way of living upon others”. The survey also shows that more than half of the French population (54%) thinks that Muslims are either in majority (10%) or partially (44%) “fundamentalist” without “us knowing”. These figures vary according to both age and political allegiance, but remain at large majoritarian and help to illustrate the depth of rootage of such perceptions amongst the imagined collective. 61% of the left leaning voters and 66% of those who are younger than 35 years old accuse Islam to be incompatible with the “republican values”.

Le Monde concludes that survey after survey the results show how the image of Islam in France continues to drastically degrade since a number of years. The paper reasons such a decline of public opinion on Islam and Muslims with external and internal reasons that are often of imaginative but also objective nature. On the one hand there is “the increasing visibility of Muslims in French society, the rise of new group claims accompanied by a scaremongering discourse on the ‘Islamisation’ of Europe and the political instrumentalisation of these questions’.

On the other hand, beyond the issues deemed legitimate by the government like “building mosques, taking account of Islam in the military, prisons, hospitals, condemnation of anti-Muslim violence”, other questions relating to Islam and Muslims in France still face an exorbitant response in public opinion; such as the hijab (headscarf) as an attack against France’s secularism, the demand for halal food, religious practices at the workplace. As a result, the survey finds 72% of the French to oppose food at school in line with religious dietary regulations.

Geopolitical, global concerns and  acts of violence on a national scale such as those of Mohamed Merah in Tolouse in 2012, as well as public fears in relation to ‘terrorist groups fighting in the name of Islam’ are also identified by Le Monde to hold the influence on forming negative public opinion on Islam and Muslims.

The paper continues to assess that so far French Muslim authorities were content with demanding the avoidance of the “amalgam between moderate Islam and Islamism,”, which just recently made the news again when the French Council of Muslim Faith advocated the abandonment of the term in the public and media discourse (http://www.euro-islam.info/2013/01/23/french-council-of-the-muslim-faith-commends-french-president/).

Adennour Bidar, a scholar in Islam and Secularism, warns that “beyond the context of diffusing anxieties or irreducible intolerance, these figures are a warning to Muslims. They must critically interrogate Islam”. He continues by asserting that these figures are “also the result of the multiculturalist orthodoxy, which left the far right the opportunity to seize these subjects. Yet, the left and the Republican right can find a balance between the refusal to stigmatize Muslims to hold Islam accountable in respect of republican tradition. “

US media helped anti-Muslim bodies gain influence, distort Islam

A study published by a sociologist has revealed that fear-mongering non-governmental anti-Muslim organisations have been heavily influencing US media since 9/11, their messages seeping into news articles and television reporting and drawing their ethos from the fringes, straight into the mainstream.

 

What’s perhaps most troubling about the results is how these minor groups, which would ordinarily receive little or no air time, have gained an element of respect that has led to them receiving more funding and coupling with influential bodies. Their influence is such that they have even been able to paint mainstream Muslim organisations as radical, says the study.

“The vast majority of organisations competing to shape public discourse about Islam after the September 11 attacks delivered pro-Muslim messages, yet my study shows that journalists were so captivated by a small group of fringe organisations that they came to be perceived as mainstream,” the paper’s author, University of North Carolina assistant professor of sociology Christopher Bail, told Wired.co.uk

 

“Anti-Muslim fringe organisations dominated the mass media via displays of fear and anger. Institutional amplification of this emotional energy, I argue, created a gravitational pull or ‘fringe effect’ that realigned inter-organisational networks and altered the contours of mainstream discourse itself.”

“The only major US Muslim organisation that has achieved a high level of media influence is the Council on American Islamic Relations, which is now working to rebuff the recent rise in anti-Muslim messages within the American public sphere,” said Bail.

 

Today, more than a decade since 9/11, evidence of that anti-Muslim influence still seeping into government habits is highly concerning.

 

“Muslim-American organisations have not been adequately represented within our policy process. For example, only one large Muslim-American organisation was invited to participate in recent Senate and Congressional hearings about the threat of radicalisation within the Muslim-American community.”

UK Muslims Reconsider the Compatibility of Secularism and Islam

22 May 2012

 

Living in a secular environment has been a challenge for Muslims in the West. Islam is a religion that does not accept the separation between the public and private space. Thus it expects believers to adhere to its rules regardless of their environment; this inevitably positions it in a fundamental conflict with the secular system that has been fashioned to keep religion out of the public space.

 

However, recently the rigid interpretation of secularism has been put to question. Prominent scholars like Tariq Modood (1997, 2005) have suggested that secularism and Islam can co-exist provided that the former soften ups its radical discourse on religion and tries to recognize and support the religious needs of people.

 

The article published by Tehmina Kazi further examines the issue in the light of recent events and research and examples from the past, in order to find answers regarding the compatibility of the two concepts.

Ceuta is in the mind of the terrorist jihadist

11 May 2012

Coming from Seville, Professor at the University Pablo de Olavide, Manuel Ricardo Torres Soriano[1], offered yesterday at the UNED a conference on the danger of terrorist organizations where he answered some questions about this subject:

Q -Do Ceuta and Melilla have to be especially concerned?
A- Terrorism affects mainly Algeria, which has numerous criminal organizations, then it is true that there are terrorist activities in Morocco and Mauritania but with less intensity. Ceuta and Mellia is part of these organizations radical discourse as a vindication and as an attempt to legitimize their aspirations expelling the alleged Western invasion of a territory they consider Islamic.
Q- What role must Spain play?
A – There must be cooperation among democratic countries, wherever part of the world they are from, and all together we may reach a successful conclusion.

 

 

Princess Badiya of Jordan calls for more co-operation between Muslims and Christians

8 May 2012

 

While some Christian groups are joining in the Islamphobic discourse, Princess Badiya of Jordan was invited by Biblelands, a Christian charity to lecture in London’s St James’s Church about Muslim-Christian relations. In her lecture she pointed out the similarities between the two Abrahamic religions and called for more co-operation between the members of the two religions.

New Book: Muslims in Poland and Eastern Europe. Widening the European Discourse on Islam

While Islam has been firmly placed on the global agenda since 9/11, and
continues to occupy a prominent place in media discourse, attention has
recently begun to shift towards European Muslims, or “as some would
prefer to say” Muslims in Europe. Apart from the usual concerns, mostly
articulated in the media, on the radicalization of Muslim youth, their
failure to integrate into mainstream society and so forth, a vast body
of academic literature on Islam and Muslims in Europe has sprung up
since the late 1990s. This discourse and body of literature on Muslims
in Europe, however, are confined to the west of the continent, viz. the
old EU. This gives the impression that Europe stops at the banks of the
Oder. Central and Eastern Europe – both new EU members and other
countries – has been placed outside the realm of discourse, i.e. outside
Europe. This book aims to fill this gap by describing Muslim communities
and their experiences in Central and Eastern Europe, both in countries
with marginal Muslim populations, often not exceeding 1% (e.g. Hungary
and Lithuania), and in countries with significant Muslim minorities,
sometimes proportionally even larger than in France (e.g. Bulgaria).
Some of these countries have a long history of Muslim presence, dating
back to the 14th century in the case of the Tatars (e.g. Poland and
Ukraine) and the 16th century in the case of the first Muslim arrivals
in the Balkans (e.g. Romania, Slovenia) during the Ottoman era. In other
countries (e.g. Slovakia), Muslims have arrived only recently. What all
these countries have in common is a Communist past inside the former
Eastern bloc.

Fighting Islamophobia with Rational Arguments: Interview with Gudrun Krämer

4 February 2011

Renowned scholar of Islam Gudrun Krämer regularly contributes to the public debate on Islam in Germany. She is director of the Institute of Islamic Studies at the Free University Berlin and director of the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies. Her special research subjects include religion, law, politics, society and the modern age of Islam. According to Prof Krämer, the problem with the discourse on Islam and Muslims in Germany is that it generally focuses on “problem areas”, completely ignoring the positive aspects of Muslim life and integration.

Tariq Ramadan on Fort Hood

In this interview, Tariq Ramadan discusses the possible causes of the Fort Hood incident, the multiple identities of Western Muslims, the creation of spaces of trust, and moving on from a discourse on the ‘integration’ of Western Muslims to a conception of a new ‘we’. He also discusses his US immigration status.

Rarefied Islamophobia

There is an increasing trend among European intellectuals, politicians, and essayists to describe Islam as a major cause of the current identity crisis of most European countries. Christopher Caldwell’s book, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West [see “New Book Stokes Fear of a Muslim Europe” by Bruce B. Lawrence], is based on the same simple premise that permeates today’s political and public discourse on Islam: Europe’s Muslims are responsible for the radical transformation and increased vulnerability of the continent’s culture and identity.