New Dutch think-tank initiated to analyze integration in the Netherlands

In the coming years a new Dutch think-tank called Knowledge Platform Integration & Society (Kennisplatform Integratie & Samenleving) will develop a new program pertaining to integration issues in the Netherlands. It will stimulate and facilitate current debates and present concrete solutions for inquiries by governments, business world, and societal organizations. The Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment will finance the program that will be executed by the Verwey-Jonker Institute and Movisie. In the past similar projects were executed by Forum, a knowledge institute for multicultural issues, that ceased to exist last year.

Muslim Charities lose government grants due to accusations of extremist links

Muslim Charities Forum (MCF) is one of two Muslim charities in Britain to have lost their government grants following allegations of links to Islamic extremist activities.
Muslim Charities Forum (MCF) is one of two Muslim charities in Britain to have lost their government grants following allegations of links to Islamic extremist activities.

Two Muslim charities have lost their government grants following allegations of links to Islamic extremist activities.

Birmingham based ‘Islamic Help’ and the London based Muslim Charities Forum (MCF) protested the government’s decision, after the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) revoked their grants. The government informed the charities it did not want to support groups “linked to individuals who fuel hatred, division and violence.” The decision could affect a number of Muslim charities across the country, particularly those working with groups in Syria and Iraq.

The action follows a report produced by the think tank Claystone, which earlier this year found that more than a quarter of charities being investigated by the government were Muslim advocacy organizations. The think tank criticized what it saw as the “targeting” of Islamic organizations, particularly following the appointment of Sir William Shawcross as head the Charity Commission. Shawcross has also been criticized by Muslim groups for claiming “Europe and Islam” are among the world’s most “terrifying” problems, and that Islamic extremists were infiltrating British charities.

 

Canadian Muslims encounter increasing hostility: Siddiqui

October 13, 2013

By Haroon Siddiqui

 

Jews have historically been falsely accused of wielding too much power. Now Canadian Muslims are, especially in Quebec.

A national poll has taken a measure of bigots who exaggerate the power of those they dislike. Nearly a third of Canadians believe Muslims have too much influence in their province. In Quebec, 43 per cent think so. This is ironic, given that Canadian Muslims report feeling under siege and helpless to stop the demonization directed at them because of Muslim mayhem elsewhere in the world.

A second poll corroborates the increasing hostility toward Muslims — again, more so in Quebec.

The findings come amid an ugly debate in Quebec over its plan to ban religious symbols and clothing, especially the hijab, for those on the public payroll. And there are increasing incidents of hijabi women being harassed — not just in Quebec but in Ontario and elsewhere.

Islam is the fastest growing religion in Canada, as it is in the U.S. and Europe. The 2011 national census estimated the Canadian Muslim population at 1,053 million, up 73 per cent since 2001. In Quebec, it is 243,500.

This week on Tuesday and Wednesday, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha, the festival that marks the annual Haj pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, a gathering of about three million, including an estimated 1,500 from Canada.

Forum Research Inc. asked a representative sample of 1,527 Canadians about theirperception of the power of minorities.

Thirty per cent say Muslims have too much power. Twenty-one per cent think that about the Sikhs. And 18 per cent each say that about Jews and “Asians” (Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, etc.)

In Quebec, suspicion of Muslims and Jews is much higher. While 43 per cent think that Muslims are too powerful, 32 per cent think that of Jews. Tellingly, more separatists think that way than others. “Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia common among Indépendendistes,” reads the headline on the Forum findings.

“If the Charter of Quebec Values is an example of the Parti Québécois practising dog whistle politics, it appears there are plenty of ears tuned to that particular frequency,” says Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum.

I presented him with an argument: The poll merely quantifies the bigotry that’s always present in society; that he asked leading questions (“Do Muslims have too much influence in your province?”); and that respondents mouth off against whatever group is in the news negatively.

Bozinoff had a crisp answer: “Respondents had a right to say no but a great many didn’t. It was an IVR (interactive voice response) poll — people were pressing 1 and 2 on their phones in response to questions. There was no human being influencing them.

“The results are shocking but informative.”

An Angus Reid poll asked a sample of 2,025 Canadians — divided into Quebec and the rest of Canada — their views about different faiths.

Nearly 70 per cent of Quebecers don’t like Islam. In the rest of Canada, 54 per cent don’t.

Next on Quebecers’ hit list is Sikhism, disliked by 43 per cent, followed by Judaism, disliked by 41 per cent.

In the rest of Canada, 39 per cent view Sikhism negatively, 29 per cent Hinduism and 22 per cent Judaism.

Who holds the most negative views? Both polls point to the old, the less educated and the less wealthy.

Forum also shows that across Canada, Conservative supporters are more likely, 36 per cent, than supporters of other parties to presume that Muslims are too powerful. In Quebec, 47 per cent of PQ and 53 per cent of Bloc Québécois supporters think so.

Angus Reid shows that younger and university-educated Canadians hold more favourable opinions of non-Judeo-Christian religions.

We may shrug off all this as a passing phenomenon.

After all, similar views have been held in the past against Catholics, Japanese, blacks and, especially, Jews. Over time, prejudices shift toward newer minorities, including by those who had once been victims of just such prejudice.

Or it may be that more people these days are willing to admit their biases and do so with a stridency we used to think of as un-Canadian.

Still, Shachi Kurl of Angus Reid says that leaving aside Quebec, the results do suggest that the rest of Canada, while more open-minded than Quebec, “may be operating under a veneer of acceptance rather than actual acceptance” of religious minorities.

For sure, Canada is not immune from post-9/11 fear of Muslims. We see that in the crude public discourse, especially in right-wing media and among some politicians, especially in Quebec, who feed at the Islamophobic trough.

 

The Star: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2013/10/13/canadian_muslims_encounter_increasing_hostility_siddiqui.html

East London mosque awaits EDL march with fear and frustration

Among staff at the East London mosque, the sense of anger at plans by the English Defence League to demonstrate nearby on Saturday is amplified by their belief that there are more constructive things they could be doing with their time than planning how to respond to the far-right group. The far-right group’s latest attempt to march into Tower Hamlets has been banned from entering the heart of the borough, where the mosque is, but it will still pass too close for comfort.

 

The EDL is expected to muster between 1,000 and 2,000 supporters, while the court heard that several thousand people were expected to turn out to oppose it, making it one of the biggest anti-fascist demonstrations of recent years. The EDL’s failure to overturn the route restriction was some relief to Khan given that EDL marches have a tendency to descend into violence and when they have previously attempted to enter the area thousands of young Muslims have gone out on to the streets to oppose them.

 

Khan says the EDL first focused on East London mosque after an investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches into the mosque and the group that runs it, the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), in 2007. The programme accused the IFE of seeking to change society in accordance with Islamist values and the mosque of hosting hate preachers, including people who voice homophobic views, accusations which continue to be levelled at it. Khan rejects outright any suggestion that the mosque harbours or condones extremists. While acknowledging there have been instances in the past where people with unpalatable views have preached at the mosque he insists that these were usually at events organised by outside groups and that the mosque has tightened up its vetting procedures. But he said it was impossible to check on every previous statement of every possible preacher, especially when they are sometimes in Arabic (which he does not speak).

 

‘You’re a Stooge and a Frontman!’:Hannity Guest Explodes at Million Muslim March Organizer

If you thought things got heated during last week’s Hannity discussion on the Million Muslim March, tonight took things to an entirely new level. Chris Phillips, one of the organizers of the march faced off in a contentious back and forth with Dr. Zuhdi Jasser of American Islamic Forum for Democracy, which advocated for the “separation of mosque and state.”

Phillips said the march is not only about supporting “victimized” Muslims in the United States, but also the innocent Muslims who have died all over the world since 9/11. Asked for an example of how America “villain-izes” Muslims, Phillips asked Hannity, “aren’t you villain-izing them with this broadcast? These people are not radical Islamists. these are innocent Americans practicing their constitutional liberties, brother.”

“I haven’t met a Muslim that isn’t offended by the exploitation of 9/11,” Jasser said when it was his turn to speak. He suggested renaming the upcoming event, “How to radicalize Muslims in one march.” Calling the march a 9/11 “truther movement,” he accused Phillips of promoting the same ideology that produced the Boston Marathon bombing and the Fort Hood attack.

Hannity proceeded to bring up a picture of him dressed as a clown that Phillips posted online. “How would you feel if someone did that to the Prophet Mohammad?”

“I don’t worship Islam and I would be offended if friends of mine were offended,” Phillips said, shocking the other two men. “I’m not a Muslim.”

“So you’re a stooge,” Jasser responded. “You’re a stooge and front man for an organization that is destroying the mission to fight radical Islam around the globe.”

Why is the left so blinkered to Islamic extremism?

The result, a new report by the One Law for All campaign: Siding with the Oppressor: The Pro-Islamist Left notes, has been an anti-war movement working enthusiastically with those advocating the murder of homosexuals, a left-wing Mayor of London embracing a man who said Adolf Hitler had been sent by Allah to punish the Jews, and a group set up ostensibly to oppose fascism warmly welcoming religious fascists into its own ranks. Because the left doesn’t police its borders in the way that the right has learned to do – social democrats like to pretend the far-left are on the same side as them – extremists regularly sneak into the mainstream on the back of ostensibly progressive front groups.

 

A good example is Unite Against Fascism. Launched in 2003 as a response to the electoral activity of the British National Party, UAF spends most of its time these days organising counter demonstrations against the EDL. An honourable way to pass the time, you might think. UAF’s definition of what constitutes fascism, however, is a peculiar one. Not only are those advocating the resurrection of a fascistic Islamic caliphate seemingly not worth opposing, they have been actively welcomed into the UAF fold by the leadership. One of UAF’s vice-chairs is Azad Ali, affairs co-ordinator for the Islamic Forum of Europe, an offshoot of the far-right Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami. As well as quoting an Islamist militant on his website in 2008 who claimed it was a religious obligation to kill British and American soldiers, Ali is on record as saying of democracy that “if it means, you know, at the expense of not implementing the Sharia, no-one’s gonna [sic] agree with that. Of course no-one agrees with that”.

 

On telephoning UAF’s office to clarify the group’s position on Islamic fascism, One Law for All was told by a UAF representative that there was “no such thing”.

 

As you make your way through the report you notice that the people who have brought Islamists inside the progressive tent crop up in various left-wing campaigns again and again – usually to accuse those expressing concern about extreme religious conservatism of Islamophobia. The individuals mentioned in the report ever been disowned by the political left. On the contrary, they remain ubiquitous and their organisations are still treated as if they were respectable progressive outfits.

 

In a disastrous irony, the pro-Islamist left has ended up in the same place as the white far-right. The perception of Muslims as synonymous with Islamism – criticism of Islamism is characterised as criticism of Muslims – is precisely the view taken by groups such as the EDL.

 

3 Simple Charts That Explain What Muslims Believe

The Pew Forum recently released a 226-page report exploring opinions and beliefs from Muslim communities around the world. The survey, which was conducted through more than 38,000 face-to-face interviews in more than 80 languages, delves into the Muslim world’s insights on everything from Sharia law to alcohol consumption. The findings were simple: Just as all religions, Islam is subjective in many ways and the few who interpret it in a radical and dangerous way are in no way indicative of the overwhelming majority who don’t.

 

The first finding — and one that intrigues the Western world the most — is that the majority of Muslims want to implement sharia law, but almost no one was in consensus as to what exactly sharia means.

Support for sharia is highest in Afghanistan, where 99% of the people support sharia. The Palestinian territories, Malaysia, Niger, and Pakistan follow Afghanistan, also holding a high preference for sharia law. Central Asia and Europe, on the other hand, rank amongst the lowest for support for sharia.

But, before all the Islamophobes get up in arms about how Sharia law is taking over the world, Pew notes that there is little agreement even within the Muslim world as to what Sharia law actually is. There is a major split, for example, amongst Muslims as to whether or not corporal punishment is acceptable — religiously, legally and socially – for issues such as adultery, divorce, and thievery. And the reason for that is simple. As Wajahat Ali explains in his article,Understanding Sharia Law, Sharia is neither static nor is it easily defined.

It is open to interpretation in terms of serving as a moral compass, and is largely concerned with religious duties such as praying and fasting, and, most importantly, ensures a welfare state. Because of this, he says, “Any observant Muslim would consider him or herself a sharia adherent. It is impossible to find a Muslim who practices any ritual and does not believe himself or herself to be complying with Sharia.”

 

In the end, it is clear that Islam is practiced differently with different cultural contexts throughout the world — a clear indication that, just as with all religions, Islam is subjective and can be interpreted very differently by everyone.

Multi-Faith Coalition Issues Call to Reclaim St George

22 April 2013

 

A coalition of a number of religious organizations issued a statement on Monday calling for the reclamation of the patron saint of England and “demanding he becomes a representative of all English peoples.” The statement was signed by, among others, the Christian Muslim Forum, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, and the Muslim Council of Britain.

 

Of particular issue for the coalition is the employment of St George as a rallying symbol for many right wing extremist groups in the U.K. The association of the Cross of St George with the Crusades has, according to the statement, led some to inappropriately use St George to legitimize ethnic and religious discrimination, particularly against the Muslim community. To counter this narrative, the coalition asks that St George be held up as a symbol of inclusivity and endeavors to “promote a new, relaxed and confident, English national identity. A place where a hijab is as welcome as bangers and mash, and no-one is attacked for their race, religion (or lack thereof) or any other belief.”

 

Some, like Fiyaz Mughal, head of Faith Matters, point out the inappropriateness of using St George as a symbol for right wing hatred. Said Mughal, “The Far Right do not realize that St George was part Greek and his mother came from the city of Lydda in Palestine.” Similarly, the statement issued by the multi-faith coalition points out that St George lived before the birth of Islam and therefore should not be employed as a symbol justifying intolerance toward Muslims.

 

St. George’s Day is celebrated in England on the 23rd of April.

The Media, Religion and the 2012 Campaign for President

December 14, 2012 

A striking feature of the 2012 race for the White House – a contest that pitted the first Mormon nominee from a major party against an incumbent president whose faith had been a source of controversy four years earlier – is how little the subject of religion came up in the media. According to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, just 1% of the campaign coverage by major news outlets (including broadcast and cable television, radio, newspaper front pages and the most popular news websites) focused on the religion of the candidates or the role of religion in the presidential election. Only 6% of the election-related stories in major news outlets contained any reference to religion.

Media attention to religion’s importance in the campaign peaked during the primaries, when several Republican candidates spoke about their Christian beliefs. The prominence of religious rhetoric in speeches by Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and others fueled speculation about whether white evangelical Protestants – who made up about one-third of all Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters in 2012 – would withhold support from Mitt Romney because of his Mormon faith. Indeed, the biggest single religion-related campaign story came more than a full year before the election, when a Texas minister publicly called Mormonism a “cult.” That incident, in October 2011, generated fully 5% of all coverage of religion in the presidential campaign.

When Romney captured the GOP nomination and named Rep. Paul Ryan, a Roman Catholic, as his vice presidential running mate in August 2012, they became the first non-Protestant ticket in the Republican Party’s history. But as the primaries gave way to the general election campaign, the subject of religion subsided in the media, in part because neither Romney nor President Barack Obama made much effort to raise it. Fewer than one-in-seven religion-related stories in the campaign (13%) resulted from statements or actions by either candidate.

Rather than focusing on the religious beliefs and practices of the candidates, media coverage of religion during the 2012 campaign frequently centered on the political clout of white evangelicals and their electoral choices – a topic that accounted for 29% of religion-related coverage overall. Talking about evangelicals became a way for the media to address the question of what impact Romney’s Mormon faith could have on the race, confronting religion as a tactical “horse-race” concern.

Romney was the subject of about twice as much religion-related coverage as Obama, and 45% of all religion-related stories in the campaign took the horse-race approach, dealing with how religion might impact the vote. In all, 34% of the religion coverage focused on faith as a character issue, or mentioned it in passing as part of a candidate’s identity. There was far less coverage (16%) of how religion might impact policymaking or governance.

These are among the key findings of the new study conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) and the Pew Forum, both of which are part of the Pew Research Center. The study examined nearly 800 religion-related stories from cable television, network broadcast television, radio, newspaper front pages and the most popular news websites in the country between August 2011 and Election Day (Nov. 6, 2012). In addition, the study involved a sample of specialized religious publications and an analysis of hundreds of thousands of messages about the candidates’ faith on Twitter and Facebook; the social media analysis relied on technology developed by Crimson Hexagon. (For more details on how the study was conducted, see the Methodology.)

In the end, the basic contours of religion in U.S. politics remained unchanged in the 2012 election, according to a Pew Forum analysis of exit poll results. In particular, white evangelical Protestants voted as overwhelmingly for Romney (79%) as they did for Republican candidates John McCain in 2008 (73%) and George W. Bush in 2004 (79%). Indeed, white evangelicals voted as strongly for Romney as Mormons did (78%), according to the Pew Forum analysis of exit poll data.

 

Muslim Action Forum holds a major demonstration outside Google headquarters in London over the anti-Islamic movie

14 October 2012

 

Muslim Action Forum, which was formed by Muslim groups in the UK in response to the anti-Islamic movie held a fresh demonstration outside the Google headquarters in London. Around 10000 Muslims attended the demonstration to urge Google to ban the anti-Islamic movie, Innocence of Muslims.

 

Buckingham Palace Road in Victoria was closed for three hours on Sunday afternoon by police during the peaceful protest. As many as 800 imams in mosques across Britain helped to organise the protest. The protesters outside Google headquarters carried placards reading “Campaign for Global Civility” and “Don’t they teach manners in Google”.

 

One of the speakers, Sheikh Faiz Al-Aqtab Siddiqui, said: “Terrorism is not just people who kill human bodies, but who kill human feelings as well. The makers of this film have terrorised 1.6 billion people. Organisations like Google are key players and have to take responsibility for civility. You can’t just say it doesn’t matter that it’s freedom of speech. It’s anarchy.”

 

Google said the video is “clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube”, although it has been removed Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and India.

 

Meanwhile, according to the Telegraph the makers of the movie, along with the Pakistani Minister who has offered a bounty for the killing of the makers of the movie have now been banned from entering the UK.