Islam: risk of fundamentalism

The Home Secretary Roberto Maroni, representative of the Lega Nord Party, has expressed his concern towards Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism that is creeping especially in the North of Italy. In this sense, he interprets the Swiss vote as the natural outcome of a legitimate preoccupation that he fully subscribes. The
minarets, in fact, are the symbols of the political ambition of Islam. Politics has the role, in his perspective, to challenge the dangerous union of Politics and religion that pertains specifically to Islam.

He alluded to the possibility of running consultative referenda about the building of Islamic worship spaces. He also expressed the intention to subscribe a security agreement between the Police forces and the local governments in the area of Como, Lago Maggiore and Lago di Lugano (North) in order to prevent possible terrorist attacks.

Increasingly fundamentalist views among Belgian Muslim youths

This documentary shows the increasing fundamentalism in Belgium among Muslim youth. A young female researcher has conducted covert research in Molenbeek, Brussels, and discovered strong Islamisation and isolation of the Muslim community, and to a strong extend also among young women.

Youth can become addicted to extremism

Islamic extremism should be regarded as a potential addiction for vulnerable young people in the same way as alcohol, drugs or gambling, according to Scotland’s counter-terrorism co-ordinator. Allan Burnett wants to introduce rehabilitative measures similar to addiction support to prevent youngsters from becoming radicalised by fundamentalists, instead of sending them to prison. Speaking on the eve of the first anniversary of the Glasgow airport attack, Mr Burnett told The Herald that he wants to develop restorative justice and early intervention initiatives for young people as part of the strategy to stop future attacks. The Assistant Chief Constable of Fife is clear that there will be no leniency for those committing acts of serious violence. However, for young people susceptible to being led astray by extremist propaganda, he believes the emphasis should be on prevention. For that to work, he wants to build the trust of parents and the wider community so that if they come forward with concerns, their children will not be automatically penalised. “One of the things we are trying to do is early intervention, which we would use in other areas of behaviour to put a stop to it,” he said. “Just like any other perversion, the primary people who will stop (radicalisation) are parents. It happens with people concerned about their kids drinking, taking drugs or gambling. It happens right across the board and we shouldn’t be surprised that sometimes parents don’t have the knowledge or the skill to intervene in a positive way.

Full-text article continues here. (Some news sites may require registration)

Stereotyping in Flanders schoolbooks

The Center of Diversity and Learning from Ghent University recently investigated twelve schoolbooks for stereotyping. Among the assumptions include one textbook that uses all Flemish names, except for one story about an unruly student named _Hassan.’ In another instance, a book about fundamentalism brings up articles about the French headscarf ban as an illustration. According to a report, the book unintentionally labels a religious symbol as problematic.

Interview with Islam Expert Dietrich Reetz: ‘Muslims Have a Right to Be Different’

Islam expert Dietrich Reetz of Berlin’s Center for Modern Oriental Studies (ZMO) speaks to SPIEGEL about Muslims in Germany, social tensions and the prospects for dialogue between the communities. SPIEGEL: Mr. Reetz, recently the debate about the propensity to violence, among young Muslim men in particular, has heated up in Germany. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung co-editor Frank Schirrmacher wrote that, the mixture of youth criminality and Muslim fundamentalism is the closest thing today to the deadly ideologies of the 20th century. He is drawing an analogy to fascism and Stalinism. Is that excessive dramatization or is there a real threat?

Artists too frightened to tackle radical Islam

Britain’s contemporary artists are f_ted around the world for their willingness to shock but fear is preventing them from tackling Islamic fundamentalism. Grayson Perry, the cross-dressing potter, Turner Prize winner and former Times columnist, said that he had consciously avoided commenting on radical Islam in his otherwise highly provocative body of work because of the threat of reprisals. Perry also believes that many of his fellow visual artists have also ducked the issue, and one leading British gallery director told The Times that few major venues would be prepared to show potentially inflammatory works. Ben Hoyle reports.

Islamic Creationist and a Book Sent Round the World

By CORNELIA DEAN In the United States, opposition to the teaching of evolution in public schools has largely been fueled by the religious right, particularly Protestant fundamentalism. The book says that creatures today are just like creatures that lived in the fossil past, so evolution must be impossible. Now another voice is entering the debate, in dramatic fashion. It is the voice of Adnan Oktar of Turkey, who, under the name Harun Yahya, has produced numerous books, videos and DVDs on science and faith, in particular what he calls the deceit inherent in the theory of evolution. One of his books, Atlas of Creation, is turning up, unsolicited, in mailboxes of scientists around the country and members of Congress, and at science museums in places like Queens and Bemidji, Minn.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a novel by Mohsin Hamid, published in 2007 in over 16 languages. The story takes place over the course of an evening in an outdoor Lahore cafe as Changez, a bearded Pakistani man, tells a nervous American stranger about his love affair with, and eventual abandonment of, America.

Mohsin Hamid grew up in Lahore, Pakistan, and attended Princeton and Harvard. His first novel, Moth Smoke, was a Betty Trask Award winner, PEN/ Hemingway Award finalist, and New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His writing has also appeared in Time, The New York Times, and other publications. He lives in London.

Full-text New York Times Magazine interview with the author available here.(Some news sites may require registration)

Living Apart Together

Policy Exchange has released Living Apart Together: British Muslims and the paradox of multiculturalism, a major new survey of the attitudes of Muslims in Britain and the reasons behind the rapid rise in Islamic fundamentalism amongst the younger generation. The research finds that there is a growing religiosity amongst the younger generation of Muslims and that they feel that they have less in common with non-Muslims than do their parents. Significantly, they exhibit a much stronger preference for Islamic schools and sharia law and place a greater stress on asserting their identity publicly, for example, by wearing the hijab.

Le Figaro Review (below)

Selon une étude indépendante, les 16-24 ans sont de plus en plus séduits par les formes politiques de l’islam. Un phénomène qui porte un coup aux politiques multiculturalistes de l’ère Blair.

Charia, écoles coraniques et port du voile : en Grande-Bretagne, de plus en plus de jeunes musulmans se prononcent en faveur d’un islam radical et politisé, révèle une étude de l’institut indépendant Policy Exchange, intitulée «Vivre ensemble séparément: les musulmans britanniques et le paradoxe du multiculturalisme».

Effectuée auprès de 1.003 musulmans de tous âges, cette étude illustre le renforcement de leur identité religieuse dans le pays. Pour 9 personnes sur 10, la foi est la chose la plus importante dans leur existence. Mais les positions se radicalisent chez les plus jeunes : plus d’un tiers des 16-24 ans préfèrent vivre selon la charia, la loi islamique, contre seulement 17% des plus de 55 ans. Autant de personnes interrogées préfèrent envoyer leurs enfants dans des écoles musulmanes, et 74% souhaitent que les musulmanes portent le voile en public. Ces chiffres tombent respectivement à 19 et 28% chez les plus de 55 ans.

Autre phénomène inquiétant : 13% des 16-24 ans, contre 3% des 55 ans et plus, déclarent “admirer des organisations comme al-Qaida qui sont prêtes à combattre l’Occident.”

Britannitude

Pour l’auteure du rapport, Munira Mirza, ces chiffres illustrent l’échec des politiques gouvernementales à l’encontre du 1,8 million de musulmans du pays. «L’émergence d’une identité musulmane forte en Grande-Bretagne est, en partie, le résultat des politiques multiculturelles mises en place dans les années 80, qui ont mis l’accent sur la différence au détriment d’une identité nationale partagée et ont divisé les gens selon des lignes de partage ethniques, religieuses et culturelles», explique-t-elle. «Il y a manifestement un conflit au sein de la communauté musulmane britannique entre une majorité modérée qui accepte les règles de la démocratie occidentale et une minorité croissante qui ne les accepte pas», poursuit-elle.

Face à ce constat, plusieurs personnalités politiques à l’instar du secrétaire à l’Education, Alan Johnson, se prononcent en faveur de la “britishness,” ou “britannitude,” comme un socle de valeurs communes qui fonderaient la société britannique.

Italy’s ‘Theo-Cons’ Rally Against ‘Islamist Threat’

ROME: Senior politicians in Italy’s government launched a policy manifesto on Thursday vowing to protect Western civilisation from what they said were the twin threats of Islamic fundamentalism and a moral vacuum. Marcello Pera, speaker of the Senate and a friend of Pope Benedict, said people in the West were ashamed to stand up for their values and often blamed themselves for being victims of terrorism. The West has difficulty recognising itself, Pera told a news conference to launch the manifesto. As Pope Benedict said: _the West doesn’t love itself any more’, he said. The document, entitled For the West, Force of Civilisation, begins: The West is in crisis. Attacked externally by fundamentalism and Islamic terrorism, it is not able to rise to the challenge. Undermined internally by a moral and spiritual crisis, it can’t seem to find the courage to react. Pera, a member of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, wants centre-right politicians to sign up to the manifesto ahead of an April general election which polls say the centre left, led by Romano Prodi, is more likely to win. Many politicians and some business and media figures have expressed support for the text, which calls for the spread of Western civilisation’s universal and inalienable principles. Berlusconi himself has yet to sign the document, Pera said, adding however that the prime minister backed the project. Pera’s manifesto was launched to a background of protests throughout the Muslim world against cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) published in European newspapers. Many of the protests have turned violent and at least 11 people died in a riot outside an Italian consulate in Libya last week. Pera said the bloodshed could not be blamed on Europe. I don’t think this can be seen as a response to something which happened in Italy and the West, he said. In those places, fundamentalism was already getting ready and waiting for someone to put a match to the gunpowder. Violence by Islamist extremists in Britain and France had shown those countries had failed to integrate immigrants into society, Pera said, insisting Italy must make newcomers respect the Italian way of life. Pera denied any suggestion that his rallying cry to the tendency Italy’s media has dubbed the theo-cons – available online at www.perloccidente.it – was in any way inflammatory. There’s nothing that suggests a clash of religions or a clash of civilisations in this document, he said. . Berlusconi, who in September 2001 outraged Muslims by saying the West was a superior civilisation, gave an interview to Arab TV station Al-Jazeera on Wednesday where he dismissed talk of any clash of civilisations and condemned the Muhammad (PBUH) cartoons.