EDL Protest in East London – Islamophobia, Islamism, and Multicultural Diversity

03./ 04.09.2011

On September 3rd, the English Defence League (EDL) went ahead with their plan to march through Tower Hamlets, despite a ban on marches issues by Home Secretary Theresa May prior to the event (as reported). Roughly 3,000 police officers tried to maintain control and created “no-man zones” between the estimated 1,000 EDL supporters and the 1,500 anti-EDL protesters. The police also made an effort to keep the EDL outside of Tower Hamlets. As the BBC reports, 16 EDL members were arrested during the demonstrations.


The fact that the EDL chose to march through Tower Hamlets seems to be a reaction to the boroughs multicultural character; Tower Hamlets, home to over 70,000 Muslims (the largest proportion of Muslims to live in any English local authority), has recently seen increasing signs of radical Islamism, with signs declaring the borough a “Sharia controlled zone” and public libraries providing texts by renowned Islamic extremists such as Abu Hamza al-Masri (as reported). It is this context that offered potential to be attacked by the EDL, which aimed to challenge the “Islamification” of the borough. As the Internet portal Qantara notes, the support of the Muslim community expressed by the anti-EDL protesters, which included representatives of the Lesbian and Gay Coalition against Racism and the Jewish Orthodox Community, illustrated that, despite official announcements of the failure of multiculturalism, multiculturalism in Tower Hamlets is, in fact, well and alive. 

The Intercultural City of Berlin-Neukölln: Image Change through Cultural Diversity

The northern part of Neukölln is an urban district of superlatives. More than 60 per cent of its inhabitants have a “migration background” and 73.5 per cent of the children live in poverty. Nowhere else in Germany do so many inhabitants draw unemployment benefit, government transfer payments or Hartz IV welfare benefits. The number of aggressive and hardcore criminals has trebled since 2006.
Since 1999, parts of Neukölln have received special funding, for instance for environmental and cultural projects, security measures, the construction of playgrounds and sports areas and the redesign of house entrance areas. Two years ago, a group of European Commission and Council of Europe delegates were impressed by the diversity and quality of educational projects in Neukölln. Council of Europe expert Phil Wood was very enthusiastic in his praise for the district, saying: “Neukölln is a view of the future of many cities in Europe and around the world that will be shaped by immigration. The interculturalism that is already normal here will be the reality of many cities in the years to come.”

In 2008, Neukölln was selected to be a German partner in the European Intercultural Cities Programme, a network of eleven cities with a high proportion of immigrants that was to develop joint strategies for dealing positively with interculturalism.

European Muslims Perceptions of the Holocaust

International Conference Religions and Migrations

Local Diversity and Global Challenges
Religions and Migrations in Southern Europe

September 30 –October 1, 2010

Faculty of Arts of the University of Porto
(Via Panorâmica, s/n, 4150-564 Porto)
Porto, Portugal

Religions and Migrations in Southern Europe

International Conference

Local Diversity and Global Challenges
Religions and Migrations in Southern Europe

Keynote Speakers
Prof. Enzo Pace, University of Padua
Religion and Migration. The Impact on the Social Change and the
Social Theory

Prof. Liliane Voyé, Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve
The Images of Islam in Belgium and France

September 30 – October 1 | 2010

Faculty of Arts of the University of Porto
Organized by Institute of Sociology | University of Porto

Study on Moroccans in Belgium Reveals Diversity

The King Baudouin Foundation has recently released findings from a quantitative and qualitative study on Moroccan communities living in Belgium. The 2009 study is based on a survey of 400 Belgian Moroccans alongside focus groups and in-depth interviews and focused on topics such as: identity and integration, the family, and their feelings of confidence toward government institutions and the media.

One of the key findings of the study conducted by the University of Rabat is the diversity of the Belgo-Moroccan community. Reasons for migration – initially related to work and family-reunification – are also shifting. Data demonstrates strong links to the country of origin. Socio-demographic information reveals that 86.4% of informants had spouses of Moroccan-origin, compared to 8.5% who had married Belgian nationals. 30% of those interviewed owned their own homes in Belgium, while 60% had invested in purchasing property in Morocco.

Economic data demonstrates the socio-economic marginality of the community, although there are important regional differences. Women and young people remain the most marginal, especially in southern region of Wallonia.

The report also sheds light on differing religious identities in the community, ranging in degree of religiosity and the intensity of religious practices. The study reveals the emergence of a more secularized and individualized Islam, while also signally a strengthening of religious beliefs for others, as well as intra-community pressure to obey religious precepts.

Charity concert to raise awareness about immigrants

Two concerts were held on the island of Lampedusa to raise awareness about the plight of illegal immigrants. International Organization for Migration (IOM) spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo said that “the concerts can do that little extra bit to help the Italian public and institutions understand the problems these people face.” Di Giacomo added that the migrants, who arrive to Lampedusa almost daily, are likely trying to achieve political asylum, and many are fleeing war and political persecution. IOM regional representative Peter Schatzzer said that he hopes the concerts will send a message of solidarity between Italy and other Mediterranean countries.

Full-text article available here. (Some news sites may require registration)

First UK Sharia court up and running in Warwickshire

A Muslim college in Warwickshire is running the UK’s first official sharia law court. The Muslim Arbitration Tribunal has used sharia law to settle more than 100 civil disputes between Muslims across the UK since it opened last December. The tribunal, which runs along side the British legal system, was set up by scholars and lawyers at Hijaz College Islamic University in Watling Street, Nuneaton.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, recently said there was no reason why sharia law, derived from several sources including the Koran, could not be used for contractual agreements and marital disputes. Cases already heard in Nuneaton include an inheritance dispute between three sisters and their two brothers, a divorce and a neighbour dispute. In the inheritance case, the men were given double their sisters’ inheritance. The divorce hearing ruled that a Somalian woman should be granted an Islamic khula (annulment) despite her husband’s strong objections. And in the neighbourhood dispute, the tribunal ruled that the losing party – a group of young Muslim graduates – should teach the winning party, who had young children. Les Reid reports.

Full-text article available here. (Some news sites may require registration)