Hooligans against Salafism

Throughout October, hooligans from different football clubs marched in German cities against radical Islam and Salafism. Building a coalition and network under the heading “HoGeSa”, Hooligans Against Salafists (Hooligans gegen Salafisten), they demonstrated by the end of October in Cologne. Police and intelligence services were not only surprised by the number of attendees, which was tripled by the estimated 1500, but unable to cope with the violence involved. The demonstrations planned in Hamburg and Berlin for mid-November both were canceled. In case of Hamburg the organizers themselves withdraw the demonstration while in the case of Berlin the network never registered the demonstration properly. Now “HoGeSa” is planning another demonstration for the 15th November which is going to take place in Hannover.

 

Austria: Attacks during a soccer game

July 25, 2014

The Austrian newspaper der Standard is reporting, that soccer players from an Israeli soccer club were attacked during a friendship game in Austria. According to the newspaper the attackers had a Palestinian and Turkish background. They wanted vengeance for the Israeli attacks on Gaza – the newspaper said.

Ramadan Poses Test to Muslim Players at World Cup

June 27, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO — Down the quiet, tree-lined Rua Gonzaga Bastos, less than half a mile from Estádio do Maracanã, the custodian of this city’s only mosque was preparing for the busiest time of the year.

Mohamed Zeinhom Abdien, the custodian, was sitting at a desk opposite messy piles of boxes containing thousands of leaflets about Islam written in Portuguese, English and Arabic.

The observance of Ramadan, one of Islam’s five pillars, is a religious obligation in which Muslims fast and forgo any liquids from dawn until dusk over the course of a month. The month begins Saturday night, and Abdien’s usually quiet mosque has been inundated with newcomers.

“Normally we have 100, maybe 150 people here every Friday to pray, after the imam gives the call to prayer in Portuguese,” said Abdien, an Egyptian-born tour guide who moved to Rio 21 years ago.

“But the World Cup,” he said, spreading his arms at the dozens of boxes, “it means there have been many Algerian fans, TV presenters, even a few players.”

This World Cup in Brazil has drawn thousands of Muslim fans — from Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria and beyond — and Ramadan, which is pegged to a lunar calendar and begins a bit earlier in the Gregorian calendar each year, is due to start just as the second round opens.

The month, however, should be more complicated for the dozens of Muslim players still in the tournament, including the French striker Karim Benzema and Germany’s Mesut Özil. With the humidity and high temperatures in Brazil, especially along the northern coast and in the Amazon, an inability to stay hydrated would appear to put those players, and the teams featuring Muslims, like Algeria, at a disadvantage in the knockout stage.

Still, “we know very little,” said Ron Maughan, a professor of sports nutrition at Loughborough University in England.

Maughan led a working group that examined the effects of fasting on athletes at the 2012 London Olympics, the last time Ramadan coincided with a major sporting event. He found that fasting had an effect on athletes competing in the events requiring the greatest strain, like the marathon, but that the impact was relatively small over all.

The Swiss team has several Muslim players, including Xherdan Shaqiri, who scored a hat trick in his team’s 3-0 win over Honduras, which earned it a place in the knockout stage. A team spokesman said that it had made no special provision for Ramadan and that none of its players would fast until after the tournament.

The French team acknowledged that Ramadan had caused a debate among its players.

Ramadan in Austrian media

June 28, 2014

Because the fasting month of  Ramadan starts today, the ORF tried the enlighten some of its readers, who are not familiar with the Muslim religious tradition. The story tries to show the different ways that Muslims handle the month of Ramadan. For example, the report tells the reader, that because of exceptional rules soccer players do not have to obey rules of fasting during the soccer world cup games.

Football fans who ripped up the Koran ‘like confetti’ convicted of public order offence

Two football fans who ripped up pages of the Koran, the Islamic holy book, “like confetti” at a game have been found guilty of a religiously-aggravated public order offence.

Middlesbrough supporters Julie Phillips, 50, and Gemma Parkin, 18, denied knowing the book was a copy of the Koran. Parkin told Birmingham Magistrates’ Court she was given the book at a Birmingham market and did not know what it was. Philips claimed she was simply trying to make “confetti” to throw during the game.

 

Passing sentence, court chairman Gordon Sayers said: “This was a very unpleasant offence and there was a degree of pre-planning involved.”

The FIFA permits the wearing of the headscarf; the wrath of French football

March 1, 2014

 

The option to wear the headscarf or turban has officially been approved within the practice of football, the FIFA announced on March 1st. At the request of certain Muslim countries, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), which handles legal aspects of football, had agreed to a tentative trial allowing the headscarf on strict conditions two years ago. The headscarf question had become more prominent in recent years, with Iran having gone as far as pressing charges against the FIFA because its female players, prevented from covering their heads, had to forgo the London Olympics in 2012.

 

The French president of the FIFA, Jerome Valcke, said during a press conference that a trial had been undertaken and ‘a decision has been made: female players can have their heads covered while playing.’ The Board saw no valid reasons to ban it if strict conditions are met. The headscarf must be tightly fitted around the player’s head, be coordinated with the player’s uniform, not be attached to the maillot, must not have any loose parts, and must not constitute a danger to the player nor to others.

 

However, if the new authorization of head-coverings is valid for the whole world, it does not mean that it will be applied everywhere.

 

Two years ago, the Federation Francaise du Football (FFF) had  banned its players from wearing the headscarf, ‘in order to respect the constitutional precepts of secularism’ in France. The FFF reiterated that the principle of secularism remained valid including in regards to the participation of French selections in international competitions, and upheld the prohibition on all religious signs in the country.

 

The President of the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP), Frederic Thiriez, deplored the ruling as a ‘grave mistake.’ ‘I regret the decision of the FIFA which undermines the principal of universality of football in which all players, male and female, are supposed to be subject to the same rules and match conditions. Whereas the Olympic chart bans all religious symbols, this decision goes against women rights and threatens the neutrality of football that is safe from religious and political conflict.’

 

Source: http://www.lemonde.fr/sport/article/2014/03/01/la-fifa-autorise-le-port-du-voile-colere-du-foot-francais_4376137_3242.html

Football fan fined for ripping up Qur’an at match

February 28, 2014

 

A football fan that ripped up pages of the Qur’an during a match has been fined. Mark Stephenson, a Middlesbrough season-ticket holder, was ordered to pay £235 by magistrates who opted not to impose a football banning order.

The 25-year-old from Shrewsbury committed the religiously aggravated public order offence last December during Middlesbrough’s Championship fixture at Birmingham City. The purchasing manager was among a group of about 20 visiting supporters who were handed pages of the Qur’an by a woman during the match.

Jonathan Purser, prosecuting, told Birmingham magistrates court that Stephenson, who had no previous convictions or cautions, was seen with a lighter, apparently pretending to set fire to some of the pages. Stephenson told a steward who asked what the book was: “It’s the Muslim bible: we hate Muslims.” Other fans were shouting and chanting at the time of the offence, and the words Qur’an, Muslims and burning were overheard by a steward.

Defence solicitor Ash Mistry told magistrates that his client had been drinking alcohol before the match and at half-time, and had very little recollection of his actions.

 

The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/feb/28/football-fan-fined-ripping-up-quran-match-middlesbrough

Shehneela Ahmed, football agent

January 26, 2014

 

The first Muslim woman to qualify as an FA-approved football agent, Shehneela Ahmed, has announced that she is on a mission to open up the sport to more female players and people from ethnic minorities. Her sentiments exactly. The daughter of Pakistani immigrants, Ms Ahmed, 42, who moved from Rochdale to London after graduating from Staffordshire University and also works as a duty solicitor, said: “This will have a big impact on my career as I intend to promote more people from the Asian background to encourage their children to take part in the sports industry.”

“After spending all day dealing with criminals, footballers are a doddle,” Ms Ahmed explained. Ms Ahmed, who received her license in September added: “I’ve had clients approach me, from players, managers and clubs, and I’ve had some really good feedback so far.”

With only eight of the 4,000 players in the Football League of Asian descent, you find Ms Ahmed is not resting on her laurels. “I want to prove to ethnic minorities and females that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything,” she said.

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/i/page-3-profile-shehneela-ahmed-football-agent-9073254.html

 

Best Buy commercial points way to greater Muslim acceptance

January 24, 2014
(RNS) Viewers watching the American Football Conference championship game between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots earlier this month may have seen a Best Buy commercial for a Sharp 60-inch television that seemed ordinary, but in one way was extraordinary.
The ad shows a young, clean-shaven salesman named Mustafa talking about the television, advising customers and relaxing at home watching movies and football with his friends.

“I’m never going to get these guys out of here,” he jokes to his girlfriend at the end.
While the commercial never identifies Mustafa as a Muslim, many might assume that given his name, a diminutive for Muhammad. For viewers used to seeing negative images of Muslims on television, the commercial was a rare exception.

“He has all the right stuff,” said Timothy de Waal Malefyt, a longtime advertising executive who now teaches at Fordham University in New York. “He has a girlfriend. He has Anglo friends. And he’s watching ‘Despicable Me’ and football. It’s very American.”

Muslims in commercials are still rare, but that could be changing as the acceptance of Muslims accelerates across America.

The Best Buy commercial, scheduled to run through Feb. 1, sparked a flurry of Twitter chatter after it debuted.

Best Buy spokesman Jeffrey Shelman said the ad featured actual Best Buy employees, chosen based on their tech knowledge and on-camera performance. As for Mustafa, he works one day a week at Best Buy’s El Segundo, Calif., store.

RNS.com: http://www.religionnews.com/2014/01/24/best-buy-commercial-points-way-greater-muslim-acceptance/

Stop playing political football with black and ethnic minorities

A study carried out by cross-party organisation Operation Black Vote showed the number of black and minority ethnic (BME) voters had grown by 70% since the last election. Using the 2011 census, it calculated that in England and Wales there are168 seats where the black and ethnic minority population holds greater sway than the majority. It is a significant number that means that not only is the BME vote increasing but with this growth comes a variance in voting patterns. A growing class of educated, affluent British Asians has grown up over the past decade who are concerned about the community they live in and the current political climate.

 

For example in Bradford the Respect campaign recruited Asian women, targeted community centres, visited homes, sent campaigners who spoke Punjabi and Urdu and most importantly asked the constituents what they wanted from their representatives. This one-to-one strategy empowered a sector of the community that had for too long been marginalised and disenfranchised. Up until then, the men of the house decided which party the family as a collective would vote for. The women of Bradford seized this opportunity and quickly spread the word that there was finally a party that appreciated their involvement.

 

Let this serve as a lesson to mainstream parties: you can win the votes of the Asian women by engaging them in dialogue, by addressing their concerns and assuring them that their voices are valuable. And by Asian women I mean ALL Asian women, those who are educated, uneducated, those who work and those who are stay-at-home mums and carers. Mainstream parties also need to engage BME youth, many of whom worry about rising tuition fees, lack of employment opportunities, the glass ceilings they will encounter because of their backgrounds, racism and the discrimination they face.

 

There is a growing interest in politics within the BME communities, it is time to respect and engage with them in the most effective manner possible so our multicultural society can take the most benefits from their respective contributions.