PALERMO – The Confederation of Italian Islam, a network of mosques founded two years ago by the Imam Wahid el Fihri, landed in Sicily today. An event is scheduled for Saturday, December 14 and will include a meeting with the Regional Federation of Sicily, who will join other regional leaders of the organization in the confederation. The confederation now represents more than 200 mosques throughout Italy.
El Fihri – “After founding the confederation in all regions of the north and center of Italy” explains Fihri “we now have members in the south of the country. After our visit to Campania, led by Abdullah Cozzolino over the weekend, we will start our event in Sicily.”
The Consulate of Morocco will also participate in the event, scheduled for the morning in Piazza Santa Chiara. The guest of the day will be the consulate of Morocco in Palermo, Sabri Ahmed, who will lead a welcome to his fellow citizens that are part of the Federation.
The Islamic federation of Campania in collaboration with Avis, on June 4, will collaborate for a blood donation day near the headquarters of the Cultural Association Zayd Ibn Thabit in Naples, in via Corradino. This initiative, in conjunction with Charter of Values of the Italian Islamic Confederation are meant to pursue harmony between the Muslim community and all members of the Italian society.
Editor’s note: Jocelyne Cesari is the senior visiting professor of International Relations at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University and director of the Islam in the West Program, Harvard University.
(CNN) — For the first time, Saudi Arabia sent two women to the Olympics — Wojdan Shaherkani and Sarah Attar, who will compete in judo and track and field. But their participation is far from a groundbreaking step for Saudi women.
It was touch and go whether one of the Saudi women, Shaherkani, would even participate this year when the president of the International Federation of Judo said women wearing headscarves would not be allowed to compete for fear of choking and injury. The issue has been resolved and she will participate in a form of headgear that complies with Saudi’s strict Islamic dress codes for women.
But if Shaherkani had withdrawn, it would not have been a setback for Saudi women because her inclusion was not a sign of advancement. The presence of Saudi women is the result of several months of pressure by the International Olympics Committee on Saudi Arabia to include women competitors or face being banned from participation.
The situation for female athletes in Saudi Arabia is bleak.
Saudi women in general are denied the right to practice sports. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that prevents girls from taking part in sports in government schools. Physical education is allowed only in private schools. Women are not allowed to play in official sports clubs or even watch matches in stadiums. Girls’ football, volleyball and basketball games in private schools and colleges are held secretly.
Because of this ban, finding women with Olympic level training was a kind of mission impossible. Only a few days before its July announcement that the two women would attend, the Saudi National Olympic Committee said it could not find a woman qualified enough to compete.
Most Muslim-majority countries have sent female athletes to compete in the Olympics for decades. More Muslim women are competing in sports today than ever.
But even when women are included, competition remains a challenge, particularly because of athletic dress codes. In 2007, the International Federation of Association Football issued a ban on the hijab or headscarf. But this year, FIFA has lifted the ban after testing new hijabs specifically designed for athletes.
In sports and in daily life, women have few rights in Saudi Arabia.
The country, according to a Human Rights Watch report, has one of worst records on women’s rights in the world. Women are treated as legal minors and often must have a man’s permission to leave their homes, seek medical care, participate in public life, study, go to government offices and courts or even make decisions for their children. The genders are strictly segregated. Women cannot drive.
It would be tempting to see the Saudi’s decision to include women in the Olympics as a big step forward.
But as Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, said: “An 11th hour change of course to avoid a ban does not alter the dismal and unequal conditions for women and girls in Saudi Arabia.”
The signs of change for Saudi women are yet to come.
The French Football Federation (FFF) said that it would “not authorise players to wear a veil” while playing for France or in organised competitions, a day after world footballing authorities said the hijab could be worn on the pitch.
The FFF’s announcement came after a French MP had urged the government earlier yesterday to ban the Islamic headscarf for women soccer players. The International Football Association Board (IFAB), custodians of the rules of football, overturned its 2007 ban on the Islamic headscarf, a garment it had argued was unsafe and increased the risk of neck injuries. Critics said the ban promoted inequality at the highest level of the world’s most popular game.
French lawmaker Gerald Darmanin wrote to Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron asking that Paris denounce the U-turn “in the name of universal and republican values”.
At 2,000 square metres, it has capacity for 1,500 people and cost 3.75 million euros to build. The town of Cergy pitched in by guaranteeing half of a 2.2 million loan taken out by the Cergy Muslim Federation, and by leasing the land at a nominal price for 99 years. The rest came from donations from Federation members.
”We want it to be clear that we paid for this, through donations,” Imam Tahar Mahdi said. There have been projects to build a mosque in Cergy since the 1980s. The new mosque also has a cultural center, a tea room, a funeral parlor, and schoolrooms.
Hours before the activist was set to give a lecture, the Jewish Federation cancels the event. She later speaks at a hall a few miles away.
Pamela Geller, the controversial author and activist, was set to deliver a lecture Sunday morning to the Zionist Organization of America that she had given many times before, billed by organizers as a revelation of the “root cause of war in the Middle East.”
But instead of taking her place before the few dozen people inside the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Geller and those who had come to see her milled around the sidewalk on Wilshire Boulevard. The Jewish Federation, just hours earlier, canceled the event.
Cancellations, just like death threats — “I have a huge file of death threats,” Geller says — are something of an occupational hazard, particularly after the Southern Poverty Law Center deemed her organization a hate group. Both Jewish and Islamic associations have condemned her as a “fear-monger.”
But in this instance, she said, the Jewish Federation “cravenly submitted to Islamic supremacists who wanted to suppress free speech.”
Officials with the federation declined to comment Sunday.
The Federation of Islamic Council of Catalonia Cultural asked all Catalan municipalities to enable the Muslim prayers outside the mosque, where they did on 1st of April a special prayer to invoke the rain (Salat Istiska) in this community.
For this reason, the Islamic council has asked all municipalities in Catalonia “to facilitate religious spaces for occasional use presented by the request of the Muslim community in the town to celebrate this act of solidarity.”
In light of changes to the tuition and student loan system in the UK, which lead to higher tuition fees and interest rates on loans, Muslim student groups are calling for a separate student loan system, as paying interest conflicts with some interpretations of Islamic (Sharia) law. This conflict may prevent some Muslims from applying for university – unless a scheme is in place allowing them to finance their studies in a way that is compatible with Islamic law. As the Independent reports, the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) called the interest rate increase was a “pressing issue”. The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills is currently negotiating with student groups. However, so far, it is uncertain how this issue will be resolved.
Family and friends of a 22 year old Turkish man found dead in his detention cell in the Netherlands are accusing police of brutality. Dutch officials claim the young man died of a heart attack. The man was arrested in Beverwijk after a fight with a bistro owner regarding use of the restrooms. He was detained by police using physical force after attempting to resist, and was found dead 12 hours after being taken to custody. Arif Yakisir, head of the Federation of Turkish Islamic Culture Associations commented that the organization would send a letter of condemnation to the police department and the Ministry of the Interior. Mehmet Yaramis of the Islamic Federation of the Netherlands commented that racism was involved in the incident.
The Federation of Muslim Communities of Castilla La-Mancha has warned in a press release of a new type of scam that affects the Muslim Communities of the autonomous region of Castilla La-Mancha. The mafia modus operandi is to offer help for the fundraising in Saudi Arabia in exchange for an in advance payment from the communities for the “financial costs” of the operation, money that never is given back.