Giuliano Amato, Italy’s outgoing interior minister, was expected to unveil a proposed federation of Italian mosques in Italy. The federation is intended to replace the Consulta Islamica, a body set up in 2005 by the Italian government, to represent various Muslim groups in the country. Amato put the Consulta Islamica on hold after several members fro Italy’s largest Islamic group, the UCOII, refused to sign a _charter of values’ in 2007 for Italy’s religious minorities. Under Amato’s proposition, the federation would contain 25 mosques – in addition to the 22 represented and headed by Rome’s mosque – which are linked to the Union of Italian Muslims, led by the imam of Turin. Amato was expected to present blueprints of the plans to journalists last week. It has the support of most members of the Consulta Islamica, who signed the Charter of Values.
The Islamic Federation wants everyone who receives instruction on preaching to better understand the contest in which he lives, and to correct possible misinterpretations of Islam. This is the objective set out from the Islamic Federation of the Murcia region, which comprises around twenty of the thirty officially registered mosques in the autonomous region. The intent of the federation is the ensure that those who speak in the mosque do so with a correct understanding of Islam and climate of integration that is needs for the community’s Muslims. To achieve this, courses for imams are being offered in the region. The federation’s secretary Abderrahim Nahid said that it’s important to understand that there are concepts that other countries can find normal, but it can not be used here because they can e misread. Nahid also emphasizes the necessity of understanding trans-national and cross-cultural context and awareness of religious practice.
Since early 2000, the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) debated the establishment of a charter for the Muslims of Europe, setting out the general principles for better understanding of Islam, and the bases for the integration of Muslims in society, in the context of citizenship.
The FIOE formed a committee to prepare the charter, which was discussed at the organisations leadership level. The charter was then presented to many European Islamic bodies at a seminar attended by their representatives and held in Brussels in January 2002. The project was then disseminated widely, to include the greatest possible number of Muslim organisations in order to add their comments and suggestions.
After amendments were approved, and duly incorporated, the final version of the charter was ready. It was signed by Muslim organisations from 28 European states; these are listed in the accompanying document.
Thereafter, signature of the charter will remain open to all organisations that decide to adopt it.
Introduction to the Charter:
Despite their diversity, Muslims of Europe share common values and principles. In order to portray this to European society they need to clearly express their religious convictions and the nature of their presence in Europe.
This charter aims to define a number of principles in accordance with the common understanding of Islam within the European context and to set thenceforth the foundations of greater positive interaction with society.
The rationale for such a charter includes:
The contribution of Islam to modern Europe as well as the rooted Islamic presence as represented by Muslims in many of the Eastern European states. Likewise, the establishment of Muslim communities in several Western European countries has witnessed a shift from a transitory presence of foreign migrants to a more permanent presence.
The Muslim presence in Europe requires a framework of citizenship based on justice, equality of rights, with respect for difference, and the recognition of Muslims as a European religious community.
In line with the expansion and development of the European Union, there is a need for greater co-operation among Muslims of Europe.
The need to enhance the values of mutual understanding, working for peace and the welfare of society, moderation and inter-cultural dialogue, removed from all inclinations of extremism and exclusion.
The importance of Islam in the world and its spiritual, human and civilisational potential requires a rapprochement with the West, and Europe in particular, in order to ensure justice and peace in the world.
These considerations have led European Muslim organisations to formulate this charter in the hope of enhancing the role of Muslims in benefiting European society and to help it build bridges with the rest of the Muslim world.
Articles of the Charter
Section one: on the understanding of Islam:
1. Our understanding of Islam is based on immutable, basic principles that are derived from the authentic sources of Islam: the Qur’an and the Prophetic traditions (Sunnah), within the framework of Muslim scholarly consensus and with consideration for the time factor as well as the specifics of the European reality.
2. The true spirit of Islam is based on moderation as extended from the Universal Objectives (Maqasid) of this religion. This moderation avoids both laxity and excessiveness and reconciles reason and divine guidance, taking into consideration the material and spiritual needs of man, with a balanced outlook on life which brings together the reality of the next life with constructive work in this world.
3. In its principles, rulings and values, Islam can be structured around the following three areas: the creed as expressed in the six pillars of faith – Belief in God, the Angels, the revealed books, the messengers, the Hereafter and Divine Decree; the Shari‘ah as expressed in acts of Worship and human interaction; and the Ethical code which lays down the foundations for living a good life. These three interconnected areas are complementary and aim to fulfil the Interests (Maslaha) of humanity and avert harm from it.
4. The emphasis on the human dimension, legislative flexibility and respect for diversity and natural differences among human beings are general characteristics of Islam.
5. Islam honours human beings. This honour embraces all the children of Adam, both male and female, without discrimination. By virtue of this honour, human beings are to be protected from anything that is an affront to their dignity, is harmful to their mental faculties, is damaging to their health or which abuses their rights by exploiting their vulnerabilities.
6. Islam gives particular emphasis to the social dimension and calls for compassion, mutual support, co-operation and brotherhood. These values apply particularly to the rights of parents, relatives and neighbours but also to the poor, the needy, the sick, the elderly and others, regardless of their race or creed.
7. Islam calls for equality between man and woman within the framework of human dignity and mutual respect and views that a balanced life is one in which the relationship between man and woman is harmonious and complementary. It unequivocally rejects all notions or actions that undermine women or deprive them of their legitimate rights, regardless of certain customs and habits of some Muslims. Islam rather confirms women’s indispensable role in society and strongly opposes the exploitation of women and their treatment as mere objects of desire.
8. Islam considers that a family based on the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman is the natural and necessary environment for the raising of future generations. The family is an indispensable condition for the happiness of the individual and stability of society. Thus, Islam emphasises the significance of taking all measures in order to reinforce the family and protect it from all things that will weaken or marginalise its role.
9. Islam respects human rights and calls for equality among all human beings; it rejects all forms of racial discrimination and calls for liberty. It condemns compulsion in religion and allows the individual freedom of conscience. However, Islam encourages that freedom should be exercised in accordance with moral values, such that it does not infringe upon the rights of others.
10. Islam calls for mutual acquaintance, dialogue and co-operation among people and nations so as to enhance stability and guarantee peace in the world. The term Jihad that occurs in Islamic texts means to exert all efforts towards good, starting from reforming oneself to spreading truth and justice between people. Jihad in its understanding as warfare is regarded as one of the means available to any sovereign state when it needs to defend itself against aggression. The teachings of Islam, in this respect, are in line with international law. Based on such an understanding of Jihad, Islam rejects violence and terrorism, supports just causes and affirms the right of all people to defend themselves by legitimate means.
11. Islam enjoins Muslims to be honest and to respect their pledges; forbidding treason and treachery. It also commands them to pursue excellence in dealings with other people, as well as with the rest of creation.
12. Given the virtues of consultation (Shura) and with consideration to human experience in the political, legislative and constitutional realms, Islam affirms the principles of democracy based on pluralism, freedom to choose one’s political institutions and peaceful alternation of power.
13. Islam urges human beings to use nature in a responsible manner. This requires the preservation of the environment and its protection from all causes of pollution and harm as well as from anything that may destroy the delicate balance of nature. Likewise, it requires the protection of natural resources and forbids cruelty to animals, over consumption and wastage of wealth.
Section two: the Muslim Presence in Society:
The principles of interaction among Muslims:
14. Despite their ethnic and cultural diversity and their affiliations to various schools of Islamic law and thought, Muslims of Europe constitute one religious entity within the framework of Islamic principles, united by fraternity. They are also tied with each other, in each European country, by their belonging to the same national entity. Any discrimination arising between them based on ethnic origin is against the value of Islam which emphasises unity.
15. Considering the basic principles of their religion and their common interests, Muslims of Europe are urged to come together, co-operate and co-ordinate the efforts of their different institutions and organisations. This should not fail to recognise the natural diversity that exists among them, within the framework of Islam as generally agreed by scholarly consensus.
16. In addition to their belonging to the country in which they reside and their commitment to the demands of citizenship, Muslims of Europe retain their links with fellow Muslims by virtue of the normal relationship which exists between members of the same community.
17. Muslims of Europe respect the laws of the land and the authorities that uphold them. This should not prevent them from individually or collectively defending their rights and expressing their opinions based on their specific concerns as a religious community or on any general matter that concerns them as citizens. Whenever there is a conflict with regard to certain laws and matters that are specific to religion, the relevant authorities should be approached in order to arrive at suitable and viable solutions.
18. Muslims of Europe adhere to the principle of neutrality of the state regarding religious affairs. This means dealing fairly with all religions and allows those who hold religious values to express their beliefs and practise the rites of their religion either as individuals or groups, in conformity with European and international human rights charters and treaties. Muslims have, therefore, the right, as religious communities, to establish mosques, religious, educational and welfare institutions, to practise their religion in day-to-day affairs such as diet, clothing and other needs.
19. As European citizens, Muslims of Europe consider it their duty to work for the common good of society. Their endeavour for the common good is as important as defending their rights. Finally, an authentic understanding of Islam requires of Muslims to be active and productive citizens who are useful to society.
20. Muslims of Europe are urged to integrate positively in their respective societies, on the basis of a harmonious balance between preservation of Muslim identity and the duties of citizenship. Any form of integration that fails to recognise the right of Muslims to preserve their Islamic personality and the right to perform their religious obligations does not serve the interests of Muslims nor the European societies to which they belong.
21. Muslims of Europe are encouraged to participate in the political process as active citizens. Real citizenship includes political engagement, from casting one’s vote to taking part in political institutions. This will be facilitated if these institutions open up to all members and sections of society, an opening up which takes into account competence and ideas.
22. Muslims of Europe emphasise their respect for pluralism and the religious and philosophical diversity of the multicultural societies they live in. They believe that Islam affirms the diversity and differences that exists between people and is not discomforted by this multicultural reality. Rather, Islam calls for members of society to appreciate and enrich one another through their differences.
Islam’s Contribution to Europe:
23. Through its universal and humane principles, Islam adheres to the rapprochement of all people who respect the rights of others and their particularities, who abide by the rules of fairness among people in matters of dealings and co-operation. Starting from these principles, Muslims of Europe consider it their duty to participate in strengthening relations between Europe and the Muslim World. This requires the removal of all the prejudices and negative images which stand between Islam and the West in order to build bonds of rapprochement between people and to establish bridges of fruitful exchanges among different civilizations.
24. Given its culturally rich heritage and emphasis on humanity, Islam, through its presence in Europe, can participate in enhancing important values in contemporary society such as justice, freedom, fraternity, equality and solidarity. Islam gives primacy to moral considerations as well as to scientific, technical and economic progress. This participation can be beneficial and enriching for the whole of society.
25. The Muslim presence in Europe represents a key element in establishing better communication and co-existence between the different religions and beliefs by encouraging discussion between different faiths and ideologies. This will no doubt bolster the path towards global peace.
26. Through their religious and cultural legacy as well as their presence in many European states, Muslims of Europe represent an enhancing element to the efforts of strengthening the European Union. With its diverse religious and cultural make up, Europe can act as an important civilisational signpost with a key role in maintaining international stability between influential world powers.
“O Mankind, indeed we created you from a male and female and have made you different nations and tribes so that you may get to know one another.” (Qur’an; Chapter 49: Verse 13)
Elections in the Islamic Commission of Spain (CIE) will hold elections concerning the consideration of five Muslim federations to join the CIE. The CIE is the highest organ of communication and representation of Muslims in the Spanish government. Currently, they include only two federations – the Union of Islamic Communities in Spain (UCIDE) and the Spanish Federation of Islamic Organizations (FEERI). However, not all Muslims in Spain feel represented by these two entities, hence the consideration of including five more federations (The Federation of Muslim Spain, Islamic Council of Catalonia, the Islamic Federation of Murcia, the Belearic Federation, and the Higher Islamic Council of the Community of Valencia).
The president of the National Federation of Muslims in France, Muhammad Bechari, has been sent to a new office. Contested in his own party, he was at the origin of the impasse.
The president of the Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Organizations, Mansur Escudero, gave his endorsement yesterday to the policy to allow gay marriage. However, he protested to the executive who also regulates polygamy as a marriage option, which is allowed in countries where the Islam is the majority religion. Escudero says that the question already was broached in 1992, when the agreement of cooperation between Islam and the Spanish government was negotiated. One of the warnings contained in the report approved yesterday by the CGPJ is therefore coming true, that it is now possible that other minority groups also want to see legalized in Spain their particular forms of coexistence.
The SPD/Party of Democratic Socialism coalition wants to reform the Berlin model of religious education, in order to contain the influence of the Islamic federation. Isn’t it sufficient to control their instruction more strongly? (continued in German) _Diese Ideologie sch_rt Aggressionen Islam-Expertin warnt: Islamische F_deration an den Schulen unkontrollierbar Die SPD/PDS-Koalition will das Berliner Modell des Religionsunterrichts reformieren, um den Einfluss der Islamischen F_deration einzud_mmen. Reicht es nicht aus, ihren Unterricht st_rker zu kontrollieren? Die F_deration _ber Unterrichtsbesuche und strengere Lehrerauswahl kontrollieren zu wollen, wird ins Leere gehen. Das bringt nichts und bewirkt nur, dass sich die F_deration und die betroffenen Familien in der Opferrolle sehen. Das ist kontraproduktiv und f_hrt nur zu einer Solidarisierung. Ich halte das f_r gef_hrlich. Auch deshalb, weil es auf alle Muslime so wirkt, als wenn es nicht nur gegen die F_deration ginge, sondern gegen die Muslime als Ganzes. Was schlagen Sie statt dessen vor? Es m_sste ein neues Pflichtfach zur Religions- und Wertevermittlung geben, das von staatlich ausgebildeten Lehrern unterrichtet wird. Im Rahmen dieses Faches sollten Vertreter der Glaubens- und Weltanschauungsgemeinschaften die M_glichkeit erhalten, ihre Vorstellungen authentisch zu vermitteln. Das wird den Gemeinschaften aber nicht reichen. Immerhin erreichen alle zusammen zurzeit rund 150 000 Sch_ler. Falls es beim jetzigen Modell bliebe, m_sste es f_r die Muslime neben den Alewiten noch eine Alternative zur F_deration geben. Bereits unter Schulsenatorin Ingrid Stahmer wurde an einem Lehrplan f_r ein Fach Islamkunde gearbeitet. Darauf sollte man zur_ckgreifen. Allerdings w_re das nur eine Notl_sung. Besser w_re ein gemeinsames Fach f_r alle. Die F_deration ist seit drei Jahren in den Schulen pr_sent. Wie wirkt sich das aus? Das h_ngt sehr von dem jeweiligen Lehrer ab. Generell kann man sagen, dass sich die Kinder st_rker religi_s abgrenzen. Sie nehmen auch h_rbarer Positionen ein, die sie mit ihrer Religion verbinden. Das betrifft etwa die Ansicht zum Kopftuch, zur Teilnahme am Schwimmunterricht oder an Klassenfahrten. Aber die F_deration beteuert, dass sie in der Hinsicht keine Vorschriften macht und den Familien die Entscheidung _berl_sst. Dann muss man sich mal die Arbeitsbl_tter ansehen, die verteilt werden. Da gibt es etwa zum gleichen Thema getrennte Arbeitsbl_tter f_r Jungen und M_dchen. Auf dem Blatt f_r Jungen ist ein Junge abgebildet, auf dem f_r M_dchen ist es ein kleines M_dchen mit Kopftuch. Das beeinflusst die Kinder doch. Ganz abgesehen davon, dass in den Unterrichts-Materialien fast alle Frauen ein Kopftuch tragen. Und Lehrerinnen auch. Was bedeutet es, wenn schon kleine Kinder Kopftuch tragen m_ssen? Sie werden sexualisiert. Eigentlich ist das Kopftuch doch daf_r gedacht, dass geschlechtsreife M_dchen und Frauen ihre Reize bedecken sollen. Wenn schon siebenj_hrige M_dchen ihre _Reize bedecken sollen, bedeutet dies, dass sie sexualisiert werden. Muss Berlin sich langfristig damit abfinden, dass die F_deration in ihrem Sinne die Kinder in den Schulen aufs Staatskosten beeinflussen kann? Die F_deration darf nur deshalb an den Schulen unterrichten, weil sie vor Gericht die Anerkennung als Religionsgemeinschaft erk_mpft hat. Dabei muss es nicht bleiben. Das Land k_nnte versuchen, erneut vor Gericht zu ziehen und zu beweisen, dass es sich eben nicht um eine religi_se, sondern um eine politische Organisation handelt. Aber warum sollte es dieses Mal klappen? Man muss sich sorgf_ltiger vorbereiten. In den fr_heren Verhandlungen hat es der Senat vers_umt, die politische Dimension der F_deration darzulegen. Das muss man nachholen. Man muss die Organisation auseinander nehmen und genau hinsehen. Und was wird man dann sehen? Man wird sehen, dass es sich nicht um eine harmlose Glaubensgemeinschaft handelt, sondern dass sie die islamistische Ideologie verbreitet und Teil dieser Szenerie ist. Dass sie Teil einer gef_hrlichen Ideologie ist, nicht kompatibel mit den Grundlagen unserer Gesellschaft. Wie konkret ist diese Gefahr? Sehr konkret. Zum Beispiel suggeriert die islamistische Ideologie den jungen Leuten, dass sie benachteiligt werden, weil sie Muslime sind. Nun muss man sich vor Augen f_hren, dass 70 Prozent der m_nnlichen Muslime in Berlin kaum eine berufliche Chance haben. Wenn man ihnen einredet, dass das keine Folge mangelnder sprachlicher oder gesellschaftlicher Integration ist, sondern eine Folge religi_ser Diskriminierung, dann sch_rt man damit nat_rlich Aggressionen. Das ist ein Einfallstor. Dann fangen Jugendliche an, sich _ber ihre religi_se Identit_t zu definieren. Aber die Vertreter der F_deration werden nicht m_de, die Gleichwertigkeit der Religionen zu postulieren. Man sollte sich ansehen, was die F_deration den Teilnehmern des Islamunterrichts auf die Zeugnisse schreibt. Dort hei_t es: _Es gibt zwei Arten von Menschen. Die einen sind unsere Geschwister im Glauben, mit den anderen sind wir durch das Mensch-Sein verbunden. Das Gespr_ch f_hrte S. Vieth-Entus