The Hague Mosque Received a Threat Letter: A Truck Might Strike

The As-Soennah Mosque in The Hague received a threat letter together with a toy truck.

Between 2005 and 2015, 175 mosques were target of  violence or aggression in the Netherlands.The city of The  Hague drew up a special Manual with tips for a safer environment for mosques. The Netherlands does not have exact numbers of islamophobic incidents unless these are reported as a criminal offense.

Unsettling U.S. Political Climate Galvanizes Muslims to Vote

These are unsettling times for many American Muslims. “People are losing their sleep,” said Naeem Baig, the president of the Islamic Circle of North America. “The political environment is creating a divide in America” by race, language, gender and religion.
But it has also had an unintended consequence: galvanizing Muslims to vote.

Islam should have a ‘quintessentially British’ version with minoret-less mosques and no burqas, Warsi says

British mosques should be built without minarets, former Conservative party chairwoman Baroness Warsi said yesterday, in a speech outlining her vision for a “quintessentially British” form of Islam.

Speaking at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, where she was giving her inaugural lecture as a Visiting Professor, Baroness (Sayeeda) Warsi called on Muslims to develop “a very British Islam” in line with Islamic tradition.

The former Minister for Faiths, who resigned from the Government last year over its failure to condemn Israeli strikes on Gaza, said: “Islam is different whenever and wherever it is found. If Islam always takes its cultural references from where it finds itself, British Islam must take cultural reference points from where it grows.”

Part of this, she said, meant building quintessentially British mosques. She argued that minarets, towers built alongside mosques from which the call to prayer is broadcast, were not culturally necessary in modern Britain.

“There is no need for a minaret. There is no need for a mosque to look like it doesn’t fit into its environment. It doesn’t need to be like that. I would love for there to be English-designed mosques.”

She also denied that Muslim women were obliged to wear full Islamic dress, such as the burqa, the full body covering, where it was not part of their social cultural tradition.

“I defend my right to dress modestly – but that doesn’t have to look like it would in Yemen. I cannot understand why you would want to look like someone who walked out of Yemen, unless your parents lived there,” she said. She called on the Government to reach out to Muslim groups from across the spectrum.

Why citizens of Gouda don’t want a ‘mega mosque’

Citizens in the neighbourhood where this so-called ‘mega mosque’ is planned being build are not happy with this plan.

Edward Uittenbroek is one of the initiators of ‘Gouda Noord zoals het Hoort’ [‘Gouda North, how it should be’] and is worried about a dense Islamic concentration in the neighbourhood. Because this mosque ought not only to be a mosque but an Islamic centre as well, providing space for 1500 visitors.
Besides that, more con’s are being heard. The mosque, if its build, will share its location with institutions for autistic and handicapped persons. People are questioning if it’s a good idea that a busy Islamic centre will share its location with institution where a calm environment is preferred.

The mosque will be build on a old barrack site and some people are afraid that an underground bunker will be used by returnees from Syria. The municipality however denies that such a bunker even exists.

Other critiques or fears are: a decline in the value of the houses in this area, a suspicious funding of this mosque (by international Salafi networks), possible traffic problems and ‘hate preaches’.

Green Islam – The fair mosque

by Ulrike Hummel

June 4, 2014

Mosques with solar panels, fair trade products and a guide to living an eco-friendly life during the Hajj … Eco Islam is gaining momentum. Ulrike Hummel reports on a project that seeks to develop environmental awareness among Muslims in Germany

Various organic teas, lovingly prepared vegetarian dishes as well as porcelain plates and cups are arranged on a buffet table laid out for the midday break. Small sample bottles of high-quality argan oil products have been placed on the tables in the meeting room – all fairly traded and “halal”.

On this particular Saturday afternoon, some 20 young Muslims have gathered in Dortmund to create something new: a “fair mosque” concept that the local mosque association, Wali e.V., has agreed to try out. There’s a pioneering spirit in the air. Today’s workshop is the outcome of a conference on fair trade that took place last year.

“What the Solingen meeting showed is that it is above all young people who want to get involved, young people who regard the subject of climate protection and Islam as one of burning importance, and who have just been waiting to get started,” says project leader Hafssa El Hasbouni from the Forum for Social Innovation (FSI). The people in question are young Muslims who have grown up with the debate over environmental destruction and who are now developing an Islamic perspective on this.

Changing social structures

The aim of the pilot project’s kick-off event is to hammer out fundamental ideas regarding what a “fair mosque” is. “The aim is that the concept we come up with, which will then be trialled at the Wali mosque, will serve as a model for other mosques,” says the 24-year-old, adding that the eventual aim is to establish a “fair mosque” label. “But this is all still in up in the air and depends on many factors,” she adds.

So what do young people think a fair mosque should be like? Solar panels on minarets, adherence to the “Green Hajj Guide” or simply a reduction in meat consumption? Not a bit of it. Evidently, the issue closest to the hearts of this generation of young Muslims is the social dimension of mosque communities.

“I would make a basic distinction between ‘hardware’ and ‘software'”, says Hafssa El Hasbouni. ‘Hardware’ refers to the use of environmentally friendly paper or the purchase of fairly-traded goods, in other words, a more responsible utilisation of resources.

“But something that many people brought to the table – and this is what I call the ‘software’ dimension – was fair treatment of one another, in particular of women,” she says.

People would like to see mosques where women are not discriminated against and where they are accepted whether they choose to cover their heads or not. At the Wali mosque in Dortmund, for example, men and women are already allowed to attend prayers together. Suggesting this as a possibility to other mosques is, however, certain to meet with considerable resistance.

An open, tolerant attitude

Fair wages, financial transparency, flat hierarchies in association structures as well as the regular rotation of German-speaking preachers for Friday prayers are all important aspects that could feature in the “fair mosque” concept for the future, says Hasbouni.

An absolute no-go would be to close the community off from non-Muslims, she continues. Instead, the focus should be on openness and tolerance. The latter could also mean not excluding gay and lesbian Muslims from mosque communities.

“What’s important to us is that the label goes hand in hand with a certain attitude: in other words, that we’re not running around, wagging a finger and telling others what is fair and what is not. What we really want is an open, positive attitude, an invitation to other mosque communities to join us in this project,” says the project manager.

The Muslim eco-activists believe that a “fair mosque” would essentially be built on its social dimension. Building on this, concrete measures affecting the protection of animals and the environment should be developed. “Inter-faith exchange with our partners in the Protestant and Catholic Churches made us aware of the issue of ‘fair trade’,” says Mohammed Johari from the I.I.S. Mosque in Frankfurt.

This led to a search through the Koran and Sunna for sources from which to derive a Muslim commitment to fair trade and environmental protection, he continues. “We’ve had a selection of fairly traded products at our mosque since 2011. We source our products from all over the world and even manage to break even,” says Johari.

It is now hoped that the “fair mosque” concept will benefit from the positive experience with the One World Shop in Frankfurt. Moreover, the positive side effects of environmental protection from an Islamic perspective should not be under-estimated: “Islam is so often associated with negative things. Our commitment to environmental protection is a big opportunity to correct this negative image,” says Johari, adding that coverage of the One World Shop story showed this.


Raising awareness in the Muslim community

A group of young Muslims who joined forces to form an association named “Hima” in 2011 is convinced that respect for Creation is deeply anchored in Islam, and that this should naturally result in an ecologically-sound way of life.

“Hima”, a term from Islamic teachings that can be translated as “conservation zone”, sees itself as a participation forum for Muslims who are interested in environmental issues. “Our main task is to raise awareness. In other words, we want to encourage Muslims to take an interest in the issue of environmental protection, initially through educational work and then through simple yet concrete projects,” says Kübra Ercan.

It is also hoped that the experiences of “Hima” will also be incorporated into the “fair mosque” concept. One of the forum’s first nationwide activities was fair trade brunches. “These gave us the opportunity to debate the responsible utilisation of resources from an Islamic perspective,” says Ercan.

“Hima” is now involved in the pan-European “Green Up My Community” project. By the end of 2014, 20 eco-friendly European mosques will be presented as part of the campaign. “There are some lovely garden projects in England. Suggestions in Germany include fitting mosques with solar panels or fitting minarets with wind turbines,” says Kübra Ercan.