Muslim Center’s Developer to Use Islamic Loan Plan

Sharif el-Gamal, the developer, of the planned Muslim community center and mosque near ground zero envisions raising $140 million project by utilizing instruments developed to allow many Muslim investors to comply with religious prohibitions on interest. Most of the financing, Mr. Gamal said on Wednesday, would come through religiously sanctioned bondlike investments known as sukuk, devised in Muslim nations to allow religious Muslims to take part in the global economy and increasingly explored by American banks. Sukuk and other Islamic banking instruments are tracked on the Dow Jones Islamic Market Index.

Of the $140 million, Gamal, is hoping to raise $27 million through a nationwide campaign which will focus on small donations from Muslims and other supporters. The remaining bill will be financed, to build the 15-story center, which will eventually have about 4,330 paying members. Most of that core group, Mr. Gamal expects, would be non-Muslim neighborhood residents and commuters. Muslims from around the region would make up a larger but less frequently visiting group — what he calls the “dinner and a date” crowd — many of them choosing the cheapest $375 family membership for cultural programs.

Mr. Gamal and Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam who is his planning partner in the project, have promised that they will invite the federal government to review all the donations.

New book: Werner Schiffauer’s ethnographic study of the Milli Görüs movement

27 August 2010

Werner Schiffauer, who has pioneered cultural anthropological research into Turkish people in Germany, has taken the Islamic movement Milli Görüs as the subject of his new book. His analysis is more balanced than his critics claim, reviewer Susanne Schröter finds.

Secular revolutionaries who embarked on their long march through enemy institutions were ultimately absorbed, shaped, and moulded by the institutions they joined, and their subversive rhetoric watered down into easily digestible reform programmes. Does the same fate await Islamist fanatics? Werner Schiffauer, professor of cultural anthropology at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt an der Oder who specialises in migration research, is convinced that it does. Schiffauer makes a case for his theory in his new book, which is revealingly entitled Nach dem Islamismus (After Islamism).

On the basis of an in-depth analysis of Milli Görüs’ history, Schiffauer outlines the considerable ground covered by this Islamic movement in its transition from an anti-Western organisation that focussed on Turkey and upheld a crude Islamist ideology to a pragmatic lobby group that represents the interests of German-Turkish Muslims and has found its place in democratic society.

This development is primarily the work of young intellectuals who were born and raised in Germany and who feel very much at home with the German language and the prevailing political culture. Schiffauer’s protagonists are still devout Muslims; however, they appreciate the political system in the Federal Republic or even claim to have discovered that democracy and the social market economy are the epitome of the Islamic ideal of justice.


Dutch Newspaper Poll Supports Forced Integration

A poll in newspaper the Volkskrant suggests 50% of Dutch back the forced integration of foreigners into Dutch society, while 19% support a multicultural approach. Further, while 31% say they are “negative” about Muslims and 52% “neutral”, this figure has been stable for years. The poll was conducted in the run up to national elections on June 9, 2010, and suggests that integration takes a backseat to other issues such as health care, social security and the economy. Integration is only a major issue for the anti-immigration Freedom Party (PVV).

French voters punish Srkozy in regional elections

French voters went to polling stations Sunday, March 14, in regional elections forecast to punish French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s party in the last ballot-box test before the next presidential vote. French voters cast ballot in a two-round election to choose 1,880 councilors for 26 regional councils, which are responsible for regional transport, secondary education and local economic development.
Resentment has been growing at Sarkozy’s policies over the sluggish economy and skyrocketing unemployment, which soared above 10%, with nearly three million people now out of their jobs in 2009. Social tensions are also being felt. The government’s public debate on “national identity” has raised racial sensitivities and been widely slammed as a divisive project that stigmatizes immigrants.

Muslim/Christian interfaith efforts build a house for a homeless family in Longview, Washington

Muslim Americans and Christians came together to raise $45,000 for Habitat for Humanity in an effort to build a home for a homeless family, helping those suffering amidst the economic recession and express who Muslims “really are.”

The family is very excited and will be moving into the house in March.

“We’ve moved a lot, and trying to keep up with the economy. Things have been hard. So this is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Struggling B.C. City Aims to Attract Muslim Professionals with new Islamic Center

The northern British Columbia city of Prince George (population 70,000) 800 kms from Vancouver is getting its first mosque, and with it a sense of new life in the struggling city. Civic leaders hope the multimillion-dollar Islamic cultural and educational centre will be a beacon that draws highly skilled professionals to a city that badly needs to diversify its forestry-dominated economy. For the city’s roughly 200 Muslim families, the mosque is a welcome change to the non-permanent prayer locations in past years.

The B.C. Muslim Association’s Prince George chapter approached the city six years ago with a pitch that a mosque could attract desired professionals. In 2003, the group approached the city to buy and rezone a piece of land to build a mosque. The city unanimously approved the request. The projected cost is between $1.5- and $2-million. About $500,000 has been raised from private donors across the province.

Tough economy forces many US Muslims delay hajj

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.

Poll: 89 percent of Muslims Voted for Obama

According to a poll by the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections, an estimated 89 percent of Muslim Americans voted for Barack Obama in the Nov. 4 2008 presidential elections. Just two percent of Muslim voters cast their ballot for John McCain. Of the 637 people polled on the election, the economy was the most important issue (63 percent), while 13 percent said that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were of the utmost importance to them.

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Barack Obama Holds Lead Among Arab American Vote

Democratic US presidential candidate Barack Obama holds a substantial 21-point lead over Republican candidate John McCain among Arab American voters. Obama’s lead is one of the findings of a recent poll taken in the second week of September of Arab American voters, by Zogby International. The poll also found that Obama’s 54% to 33% lead over McCain was related to important issues – from jobs/economy, Iraq/peace/foreign affairs, and health care – in this particular order.

Zogby poll page available here.

Sarkozy’s immigration policy is ‘racist,’ commission says

On Wednesday, January 23rd, a member of a French commission on social and economic reform said that President Nicolas Sarkozy’s proposed policy of using quotas for immigrants is racist. Herve Le Bras said: If we will have quotas for specific nationalities and specific professions it will lead to a racist policy.” Also a concern, was that the restrictive policy would prevent important sectors of the economy from finding enough workers.