Green Light for a Minaret in Langenthal

21 September 2010

The canton of Bern has confirmed the construction permit for a minaret in Langenthal. Despite the minaret ban that exists in Switzerland since the referendum of 29 November 2009, local officials stated that the project had been approved before the referendum took place, and thus the prior legal situation should take precedence. The president of the Langenthal Islamic Religious Community, Mutalip Karaademi, has called a “victory for the rule of law.”
However, canton officials also judged valid complaints by neighbors with regard to the expansion of the Islamic center, namely a lack of parking spaces, an overuse of the land, and wheelchair inaccessibility. Consequently, the expansion of the center will not be allowed, leaving the Langenthal Islamic Religious Community with doubts over whether they will continue with the project in its current location, or whether they will attempt to move it somewhere else.
No matter what the religious community decides, local activists from the “Stop the Minarets” movement have announced that they are ready to fight the decision to allow the minaret in Langenthal, and will take the issue to the constitutional court if necessary.

The Muslim party ‘signs up’ a Christian woman as their leader in Catalonia

PRUNE (Partido Renacimiento y Unión de España) has elected a Christian woman as a leader in Catalonia. PRUNE is a political party lead by Mostafa Bakkach, a Spaniard with Moroccan origins. PRUNE members have a different type of political ideology; with different religious skills and they are open to considering everyone who wishes to participate in this new project based on Islam for moral and ethical regeneration of the Spanish society. The party is working on the expansion of their ideas with a high participation of women in its leadership. PRUNE is particularly focused on the reform of public administration to avoid corruption and as well as limiting the banking interests’ rates.

Saudi-funded Islamic school in Virginia seeks expansion, meets protests

Protesters of the expansion of a Saudi government- funded Islamic school say they fear an increase in traffic in the area. But debates usually transform into hot discussions about the spread of radical Islam through the school.

The Islamic Saudi Academy is seeking to serve more students, and area residents are concerned. “I submit no Catholic textbook has anything near the venom and demonstrated incitement to murder as these Saudi textbooks,” one resident says.

One parent of a student of the academy says there are no problems with radicalism: “If we were breeding terrorists, you would be hearing about it from the students.”

However, the school does have problems. A former valedictorian is currently serving a life sentence for plotting to assassinate President Bush.

Wilders trial to go ahead with expanded charges

A court in Amsterdam ruled on Wednesday that Geert Wilders’ trial on hate crime charges will proceed as scheduled on January 20.

Earlier this week, the public prosecution service announced the expansion of charges against Wilders. Initially charged for religious insult and anti-Muslim hatred evidenced in his online movie Fitna and his public statements, Wilders now faces additional charges of inciting hatred against Muslims, Moroccans, and non-Western immigrants following his claim that Moroccan youths are violent and calling for Holland’s borders to be closed to all non-western immigrants, Volkskrant reported.

Following the expansion of charges, Wilders and his lawyer Bram Moskowicz attempted to appeal the court date. On Wednesday the court ruled Wilders’ appeal inadmissible, saying the defense had not produced any new facts or evidence.

According to AFP, Wilders faces up to one year in jail if convicted.

Valencia mosques too small to meet demand

Facing a mosque shortage, worshippers in Valencia have had to resort to praying outside. The Muslim community of the city has doubled in the past four years, making many of the mosques too small to accommodate the demand by worshippers. When mosques reach capacity, some have to pray outside while others drive up to 80 kilometers to available mosques.

Belgian Prime Minister and EU President says Muslim country cannot be EU member

Herman Van Rompuy has become the first president of Europe. Mr. Rompuy is a hard-line opponent of Turkey’s bid to join the European Union because it is an Islamic country.

Van Rompuy, Belgium’s Prime Minister and a Christian Democrat, has in the past spoken out against Turkish EU membership because, he warned, it would dilute Europe’s Christian heritage. His position on the issue is so strong that he has won the support of Vlaams Belang, the controversial far-right and racist Flemish anti-immigrant party in Belgium.

“Turkey is not a part of Europe and will never be part of Europe. An expansion of the EU to include Turkey cannot be considered as just another expansion as in the past. The universal values which are in force in Europe, and which are fundamental values of Christianity, will lose vigour with the entry of a large Islamic country such as Turkey” he said.

Fourteen Muslims sue U.S. government over lengthy citizenship application delays

Fourteen Muslims who have been waiting 2 to 5 years for their applications to be processed, are alleging that the US government has stalled their citizenship applications with indefinite background checks. In a lawsuit filed in February 19th in Florida’s Middle District federal court, the plaintiffs do not allege religious discrimination. However, they say that the CIS’ expansion of FBI background checks required for naturalization has ensnared several Muslims.

Minarets in Paris: a tolerance too far?

A cluster of far-right groups allied under the name Stop the Islamisation of Europe holds rallies in London, Copenhagen and Marseilles to demand an end to what they call “the overt and covert expansion of Islam in Europe”. Although the events attract only a handful of protesters, their message resonates widely. In October, the rightwing People’s Party, notorious for its virulent hostility to ethnic minorities and Muslims, emerges as the victor in the Swiss elections, taking 29% of the vote, the best electoral performance by a party in the country’s elections since 1919. What had been traditionally confined to the margins of dominant political discourse is progressively penetrating its mainstream, with parties of the centre absorbing much of the far right’s populist rhetoric. This underlies the complaint by Jean-Marie le Pen, leader of France’s explicitly racist National Front, that Nicolas Sarkozy has “stolen his clothes”. Across the Channel, the Conservative candidate in the contest for mayor of London, Boris Johnson, believes that “to any non-Muslim reader of the Qur’an, Islamophobia seems a natural reaction”.Soumaya Ghannoushi reports.

Return of the Muslim other: The far right is reviving the prejudices that used to dominate mainstream European politics

In a few days time a cluster of far-right groups under the name the Stop the Islamisation of Europe alliance will hold rallies in London, Copenhagen and Marseilles to demand an end to what they call “the overt and covert expansion of Islam in Europe”. Although the events are likely to attract no more than a handful of protesters, their message resonates widely. On Saturday the rightwing People’s party, notorious for its virulent hostility to ethnic minorities and Muslims, emerged as the victor in the Swiss elections, taking 29% of the vote, the best electoral performance by a party in the country’s elections since 1919. Soumaya Ghannoushi reports.