IslamOnline.net examines experiences shared by Muslim converts in the EU

IslamOnline.net follows the changing face and of European Muslim converts, and the development of new organizations and meetings where new EU Muslims can share and discuss their experiences and faith.

NEMA, the Native European Muslim Assembly, recently launched its second annual meeting for EU Muslim converts at the beginning of April. The meeting lasted for three days, and was aimed at reinforcing a European-scale network for new Muslims. “NEMA has already held two important meetings; the first took place in Brussels which aimed at getting accurate view of new Muslims, determining the main challenges, and setting an action plan for NEMA’s task while the second one was in Birmingham, UK, where the reverts’ monitors had a series of training sessions,” said Dr. Hany El-Deeb, NEMA’s president.

Members and conference attendants came form a variety of countries – though Greek Muslim participants represent the majority. Lectures during the meeting range from discussing isolation felt by converts, issues of integration, living a balanced Islam, and how to deal with controversial questions about Islam.

Head of the UOIF rebuffs Bin Laden’s European Threat

Among the European Muslims to respond to Osama Bin Laden’s threats to punish European countries over the reprinting of cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad was Lhaj Thami Breze, head of the UOIF (Union of French Islamic Organizations). Breze stated, His [Bin Laden] threats are unacceptable in letter and spirit. Other European Muslim leaders, like Ibrahim Al-Zayyat of the Islamic Assembly in Germany, Kamal El-Helbawi of the London-based Center for the Study of Terrorism, Abdel Hamdi Hamdy of the Danish Islamic Shura Council and Abu Saed Ali of the Islamic League for Dialogue and Reconciliation in Spain, concurred.

Breaking Through: Europe’s Muslim Success Stories

By Carla Power When Famile Arslan showed up for her first day of work, the receptionist pointed her toward the broom closet. “‘The cleaning supplies are over there,'” Arslan recalls being told. “I had to say, ‘No, I’m not the cleaner. I’m the lawyer.'” In fairness to the receptionist, Arslan was making history that morning, as the first attorney to wear a hijab in the Netherlands. Ten years on, she has her own practice in the Hague. Her name’s on the door, her cat Hussein pads around and a veiled assistant fields phone calls. “People keep telling me how successful I am,” says Arslan. “But I’m not all that successful. Had I not been a migrant woman in a hijab, I could have gone much further.” Still, when younger Muslims ask Arslan how to climb the professional ladder, she’s optimistic. “If you think strategically, this is a great time to be a European Muslim,” she argues. “Everyone’s focused on us, so it’s an opportunity – if you take it.”

Ceremony for the late Salim Azzam

The Fatiha Ceremony and Consolation gathering for late Ustaz Salim Azzam took place in London last Saturday at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Regent’s Park. Representatives from different Islamic organisations attended to offer their condolences to the family and close friends of Mr Azzam. Some representatives gave short speeches about the bravery, generosity and involvement of Mr Azzam in support of different Islamic causes and issues all over the world. These included Palestine, Bosnia, Somali, Afghanistan, Kashmir and many others. He also founded the European Islamic Council, Britain’s first European Muslim Institution in UK. Mr Salim Azzam, was born in Cairo, Egypt, in the District of Helwan on 8 July 1924. He was from a distinguished family well known over the Muslim world. His uncle Abdul Rahman Azzam is the founder and the first President of the Arab League. His uncle Abdulwahab Azzam is the well known scholar, poet and thinker who translated Mohammad Iqbal into the Arabic language. Although Mr Azzam was born into a wealthy family, he was said to be very kind and merciful to the poor and lower classes in society.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=BFA2EF14A133127014DEA4D7&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News (link temporary; some news sites may require registration)

Europe: Over 400 groups sign European Muslim ‘charter of values’

More than 400 Muslim groups gathered in Brussels to sign a ‘charter of values’ at the European Parliament, pledging tolerance and respect for the laws of the countries in which they live. “The charter amounts to a code of good conduct for Muslims in Europe which commits them to taking part in building a united society,” said European Parliament vice-president Mario Mauro. The document was prepared by the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe and amounts to a code of conduct for Muslims in Europe and is a show of commitment to building a united society.

The New Frontiers of Jihad: Radical Islam in Europe

Following the terrorist attacks on London and Madrid, radical Islam is presumed to be an increasingly potent force in Europe. Yet beneath the media hysteria, very little is actually known about it. What radical movements are there? How do they operate? What is driving them? Who are their recruits? What is their relationship, if any, to Al Qaeda? Alison Pargeter has spent three years interviewing radical Islamists throughout Europe to find answers to these questions. She examines how radical ideology travels from East to West, and how the two contexts shape each other. She finds that contrary to what some analysts have claimed, the European Muslim community has not become radicalised en masse. What has happened is that in a globalised world, Middle Eastern power struggles are now being played out in the mosques of Birmingham, Paris and Milan. This is a must-read book for anyone who wants to know the real story of the jihad which has apparently arrived in our back yard.

The Muslim creatively expresses

A creativity festival was held in Brussels last week, launched as an initiative by FEMYSO to call upon the creativity of young European Muslims. The Muslim community does not always have the opportunity to be heard, FEMYSO (Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations) organized the event to encourage diversity and creativity in religious expression. Among the events, included artistic expressions in song, film, and recitation of the Quran – showing that in practicing their religion, Muslims in Brussels (and throughout Europe as well) maintain strong commitments towards the arts and creativity in their adherence.

Sweden: EU Muslims scoff at Qaeda Sweden bounty

CAIRO – European Muslim leaders have scoffed at a bounty offered by Al-Qaeda in Iraq on the heads of a Swedish cartoonist and a reporter for publishing a cartoon lampooning Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). “We don’t think like this at all. It is criminal to call to kill somebody,” Helena Benouda, chairwoman of the umbrella Muslim Council of Sweden, said in statements. “It is really unnecessary and it’s ugly, especially in the moment of Ramadan,” she added, referring to the Muslim holy fasting month.