Report: left-wing think tank urges days off for Muslim and Jewish holidays

The French left-wing think tank Terra Nova recently published a report in which it urges a “less centralized Islam” in France, as well as additional days off for Muslim and Jewish holidays. The study, entitled “the Emancipation of French Islam,” notes the limits to the French Council of the Muslim Faith’s ability to represent the country’s Muslim population.

The study suggests two additional days off for Muslim and Jewish holidays instead of the usual the days allotted after Christian holidays. Researchers argue that this change would ensure “that all religions are treated equally.” Yom Kippur and Eid al-Adha would replace the Mondays off following Easter and Pentecost Monday.

To view the full report click here.

 

 

Amidst political controversy, German DITIB association vows greater emancipation from Turkish state

 

DITIB: a pawn of the Turkish government?

Recent weeks and months have witnessed growing pressure on Germany’s largest Islamic association, DITIB. As a subsidiary of the Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), DITIB has been charged with being a pawn of the Turkish government and with seeking to render German Turks loyal to President Erdoğan. As Euro-Islam reported, these accusation have become ever louder since July’s failed coup in Turkey, in the aftermath of which DITIB appeared to participate in anti-Gülenist agitation.((http://www.euro-islam.info/2016/08/01/tensions-supporters-erdogan-partisans-gulen-rise-germany/))

These developments now jeopardise the slow progress DITIB has made in its quest to be recognised as a ‘religious community’ or even as a ‘public law corporation’, legal statuses provided by the German constitution. The bestowal of such a status would enable DITIB to have a greater say in the organisation of religious education in public schools, and would eventually also open up new financial possibilities – e.g. through the granting of state subsidies or even through the power to tax Muslim community members via the Muslim equivalent to the Christian ‘church tax’.

Current political turmoil threatens DITIB’s institutional and political gains

In recent years, DITIB had made some headway in this regard in several of Germany’s 16 federal states: in Lower Saxony as well as in Rhineland-Palatinate, DITIB is negotiating state treaties with the regional governments that seek to open new areas of cooperation in education, social services, and ritual matters. In North Rhine-Westphalia, DITIB is even attempting to become a ‘public law corporation’.

Recent events, however, have rendered the success of these initiatives doubtful. The Lower Saxon oppositional Christian Democratic Party (CDU) has withdrawn from the state treaty negotiations with DITIB, arguing that an association controlled by the Turkish government is no legitimate discussion partner.((https://www.ndr.de/nachrichten/niedersachsen/hannover_weser-leinegebiet/CDU-Fraktion-steigt-aus-Scheitert-Islamvertrag,islamvertrag106.html)) In a similar move, the Social Democratic government of Rhineland-Palatinate halted treaty negotiations, asserting that it was necessary to await further developments in Turkey and DITIB’s reaction to them.((http://www.swr.de/landesschau-aktuell/rp/dreyer-aeussert-sich-zu-umstrittenem-islamverband-die-tuerkei-krise-folgen-fuer-rheinland-pfalz/-/id=1682/did=17903846/nid=1682/5yt4qj/index.html))

Finally, the minister president of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hannelore Kraft (SPD), noted that it was increasingly unlikely that DITIB would meet the necessary criteria in order to be recognised as a ‘religious community’ or ‘public law corporation’ in the constitutionally relevant sense.((http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/hannelore-kraft-geht-auf-distanz-zu-tuerkischem-islamverband-ditib-a-1107293.html)) This comes after her government had been relatively well-disposed towards DITIB’s quest for legal recognition in the past.

Emancipation from Turkish state and government?

These events have apparently prompted the DITIB leadership to publicly distance their organisation from events in Turkey and from the Turkish government. In the past, DITIB had repeatedly emphasised its claim to political neutrality.((http://www.euro-islam.info/2016/08/01/tensions-supporters-erdogan-partisans-gulen-rise-germany/)) Going beyond this, the organisation’s spokesman Zekeriya Altug now broached the sensitive issue of DITIB’s financial ties to the Turkish state apparatus: in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Altug asserted that “the question is how long Turkey will still give support to DITIB-Imams. We need to look for alternative sources of funding in the long run.”((http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/f-a-s-exklusiv-ditib-will-unabhaengiger-werden-14386218.html))

Altug added that in the future DITIB’s Imams “shall and will” no longer be Turkish citizens sent by the Turkish government; instead, Imams would be from Germany and be native German speakers.((http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/f-a-s-exklusiv-ditib-will-unabhaengiger-werden-14386218.html))

DITIB’s dilemma between Germany and Turkey

This move is a strong indicator of the pressure DITIB is under in the current political situation. While the organisation usually simply denies that any control is exercised by Ankara, its spokesman now apparently felt compelled to declare that DITIB would seek to emancipate itself from Turkish governmental influence. It is not yet clear whether DITIB will act upon this announcement and progressively eliminate the financial links to Turkey. Nor is it clear, for that matter, how the resulting shortage in funds could be replaced: as long as the legal status of the association is in limbo in Germany, DITIB would most likely struggle to attain adequate funding – a fact that is generally not mentioned by all those criticising DITIB for its continuing ties to the Turkish state.

Altug’s statements do reveal, however, DITIB’s predicament: on the one hand, DITIB is deeply embedded in Turkish institutions and politics. It cannot simply extricate itself from these ties to Turkish state and government. On the other hand, however, DITIB wishes to remain an influential player on the German political scene, also in order to retain its position in the large Turkish immigrant community in the country.

Amidst the current turmoil, it has become increasingly difficult to reconcile these two objectives. For German Islamic associations, this is not an unheard-of situation: in the past, the Islamic Community Milli Görüş in Germany (IGMG) gradually chose to loosen the ties to its Turkish parent, because too close an affiliation with the Turkish Milli Görüş movement proved too detrimental to IGMG’s attempts to gain a foothold on the German political and institutional scene. What is new is that DITIB, for a long time the preferred partner of successive German governments, should be faced with this dilemma.

Muslim Campaigners for Gay Rights Join Minister for Amsterdam Parade

30 July 2013

 

Campaigners for gay rights within Muslim groups will join Amsterdam’s Emancipation Minister in the city’s Gay Parade. Invited passengers on Bussemaker’s boat include representatives of Turkish, Moroccan, Surinamese, Antillean and Hindustani consultative bodies and partnerships and support points for homosexual immigrant youths. Additionally, the Turkish Dutch homosexual activist Done Fil will be on board.

 

New book – Islam in the West: Iraqi Shi’i Communities in Transition and Dialogue

430905_cover*Islam in the West: Iraqi Shi’i Communities in Transition and Dialogue*

By Kieran Flynn

Oxford: Peter Lang

259 pp. | ISBN 978-3-0343-0905-9 | £40.00

This book studies the historical, religious and political concerns of the Iraqi Shi‘i community as interpreted by the members of that community who now live in the United Kingdom and Ireland, following the 2003-2010 war and occupation in Iraq. It opens up a creative space to explore dialogue between Islam and the West, looking at issues such as intra-Muslim conflict, Muslim–Christian relations, the changing face of Arab Islam and the experience of Iraq in the crossfire of violence and terrorism – all themes which are currently emerging in preaching and in discussion among Iraqi Shi‘a in exile. The book’s aim is to explore possibilities for dialogue with Iraqi Shi‘i communities who wish, in the midst of political, social and religious transition, to engage with elements of Christian theology such as pastoral and liberation theology.

Contents: Shi‘i Muslim Migration and Settlement in Ireland and the UK – Shi‘i Religious Narratives in History and Ritual Memory – The Narrative of Emancipation Among Shi‘a in Iran – Narrative Shi‘i Opposition and Emancipation in Iraq – Shi‘i Political Empowerment in Iraq – Shi‘i Sermons and Narratives – Catholic Theology in Dialogue with Shi‘i Narratives.

German military draws on expertise from female Muslim soldiers

Since the German armed forces, the Bundeswehr, opened its doors to women in 2001, their ranks have grown to a modest, yet proud seven percent. But of the 13,000-strong female force, very few are Muslims. Staff Sergeant Narima H. speaks five languages, wears a uniform, takes part in dangerous foreign missions and believes in Allah. And as a woman of Islamic faith, the 29-year-old is precisely the kind of asset the Bundeswehr needs when trying to bridge the cultural gaps that the security of its soldiers and the success of its operation depend on. At present, the Bundeswehr is almost exclusively active in countries where the majority of the population is Muslim, and Narima’s next mission is no exception. She is currently preparing for another deployment to Afghanistan. “I am learning Dari,” she told Deutsche Welle. “My company is based in Kundus and that is one of the languages spoken in Afghanistan – specifically northern Afghanistan.” The trip will be her fourth foreign assignment.

“If we have migrants from countries where we are on a mission, we can learn a lot,” said Lieutenant Colonel Ulrich Kirsch of the Federal Armed Forces Association. “We can draw on their intercultural expertise.” Although Narima H. does not come from Afghanistan – she is of Moroccan descent but was born and raised in Germany – she shares her belief in Allah with the majority of the population in Hindu Kush. And that mutual faith has already proved useful in dealing with local people.

“I was in Kundus in Afghanistan last year and it was quite easy for me to communicate with people there, especially with Afghani women,” the young soldier said, adding that as soon as they realized she was Muslim, they opened doors for her.

Muslims should not take the Quran literally

Education, Culture, and Emancipation Minister Ronald Plasterk is hoping that Muslims would take a similar view to that of many Dutch Christians, in that everything in their holy books ought not to be taken literally. Citing the Bible’s creation stories and his own Catholic upbringing, Plasterk is encouraging Muslims in the Netherlands to have an open world-view. “If you have to take everything literally, you go mad in our times. I therefore wish Muslims the same as what happened with Protestants and Catholics he said. Plasterk made the comments in the Hague’s caf_ during a dialogue in intercultural issues.

Immigrant Emancipation ‘A Growing Trend’

AMSTERDAM – Young Turkish and Moroccan mothers have the same opinions about combining work and family duties than women from other ethnic groups, research indicates. But the Dutch Family Council also said that the husbands of Turkish and Moroccan man have different opinions regarding emancipation, newspaper Trouw reported on Tuesday. The results of the study were being presented during a ‘Family Parliament’ at the Rotterdam city hall also on Tuesday. Dozens of immigrant families were to discuss with politicians the issue of parenthood in a multicultural city.