AMSTERDAM (ANP) – The monument to Theo van Gogh in the Oosterpark in Amsterdam was vandalised last week. ‘Al Qaeda’ was written on the statue in black letters, the police said on Saturday. The date ’27-11-2007′ was also written on the monument in black marker. It is still unknown who is responsible for the deed. The statue De Schreeuw (The Screen) is on the edge of the Oosterpark, close to where Van Gogh was murdered by an Islamic fundamentalist on 2 November 2004. The monument was unveiled in March this year.
The leaders of the Union of Islamic Organizations in France (UOIF) were stunned by a press release from “the offensive of the Socialist Party” against their federation. After the French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM) became concerned about “the political and electoral usage of the debates surrounding Islam in France”, the UOIF denounced the platforms contained in a document published by the Socialist Party in the course of the electoral campaign; this document describes the UOIF as “fundamentalist”.
Seventy-two Roissy airport employees were asked to give up their badges on the grounds that they belonged to or were close to fundamentalist Islamist organizations. For Nicolas Sarkozy, the main concern is “to take precautions in a zone where there are millions of passangers.” The following morning, Phillippe de Villiers, president of the Movement for France, opined that there are “probably still reserves of Islamist baggage carriers at Roissy.” De Villiers published a book last April stating that Islamists had taken control of entire zones of Roissy airport, most notably the baggage area. The employees’ lawyer, on the other hand, was livid. He claimed that the airport had no proof at all that the employees had done anything inappropriate. He called the whole incident base discrimination.
Due to the lack of adequate channels of Islamic education, from mosque-centered activities to websites run by mainstream, non-fundamentalist Muslims, second- and third-generation Muslim youth in Germany are increasingly losing touch with their origins. Small local initiatives set up to fill this gap are gradually cohering into wider, national institutions like the Lifemakers. In a bid to recapture Islamic youth, such groups are also increasingly involved in youth activities more social than religious, such as sports, films, debating, and placements in higher education.
Police raids on Islamic schools may shake up fundamentalist cells, but officials agree that the right teachers are the best way to root out radical Islamic leanings among Germany’s Muslim youth. Weeks separated news of a police raid on an Islamic school in Frankfurt and the announcement that the University of M_nster had set up a department dedicated to educating Islamic teachers. But the two items reveal the two-pronged approach taken in Germany on what is becoming an increasingly important front in the country’s fight against terrorism: the battle for young Muslim minds. After being tipped off by a 9-year-old student, police in Frankfurt seized Jihadist literature and videos, among them one showing a beheading, from the school hosted in a Moroccan cultural center. The news follows efforts by officials in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia to shut down a private Saudi-financed school after fundamentalist leanings were detected in the textbooks. “The state has absolutely no authority in these schools, they can do what they want and that is very troubling,” Lutz Irrgang, who heads the Hesse State Office for the Protection of the Constitution, told DW-WORLD. Educating The Next Generation Of Islam Teachers Officials know that raids alone can’t root out radicalism in pockets of Germany’s 3.2 million-strong Muslim community. One of the best hopes remains ending the monopoly on Islamic teachings held by dubious Imams and teachers in courtyard mosques, and bringing Muslim children back into the educational mainstream. This week, the University of M_nster took a step in that direction when it announced the appointment of Mohammed Sven Kalisch, a Muslim theologian who converted to Islam as a teen, to head the university’s new department dedicated to educating future generations of Islamic teachers. The department, the first of its kind in Germany, is designed to bridge the mistrust between German educational authorities and the country’s myriad Muslim organizations. Kalisch, a favorite of both German educators and Muslim leaders, said he is fully aware of the way fundamentalist Imams use the Koran to send the wrong message. “By educating Islamic teachers we, of course, hope to work against extremist tendencies,” Kalisch said. Problems Begin After School School authorities in Berlin, Bremen, Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia have already added Islam religion classes as an option to similar course offerings in Judaism and Catholicism. Lower Saxony recently announced similar plans to test out Islam religion courses. The classes, taught by teachers who are practicing Muslims, offer Germany’s estimated 800,000 Muslim students the possibility of learning about their religion in a way that officials can keep tabs on. “It’s like our classes on Catholicism and Protestantism,” said spokeswoman Nina Schmidt. “By doing it in our school we can make sure that it’s taught from an academic point of view, that no fundamentalist teachings slip in.” The problems begin after school is over for the day, when many parents send their children to private Koran lessons. It is at these schools that the seeds of fundamentalism are planted, say law enforcement officials. Raids by police across Germany routinely turn up the type of videos and literature found at the Frankfurt school. Jihadis “rely more on indirect communication nowadays, like videos and tapes,” said Kai Hirschmann, co-director of the Essen-based Institute for Terrorism Research and Policy. “That communication often takes place through the Koran schools. Holy War At The School’s Friday Prayers But not only there. School officials in North-Rhine Westphalia were appalled at the material found in textbooks seized at the King Fahd Academy in Bonn. The academy, funded by the Saudi Arabian government, caters to the sons and daughters of diplomats, Arabic families who stay in Germany for long periods as well as children with German citizenship or permanent resident status. More than 300 textbooks were confiscated as part of a police investigation into the school’s fundamentalist tendencies in October 2003. The academy (photo), which opened in the quiet Bonn neighborhood of Bad Godesberg in 1995, had already suspended one teacher after he had allegedly called for Holy War against the West in Friday prayers. Bonn school officials reviewing the teaching material found in a study that students were taught that “the Muslim people’s existence has been threatened by Jews and Christians since the crusades and it is the first duty of every Muslim to prepare to fight against these enemies.” Though powerless to close the school, school officials were able to force at least 53 children with German citizenship or permanent residency status to leave the academy based on what they study. The cooperation between law enforcement and school authorities is by no means typical, but can sometimes be useful. Still, investigators say that the best methods are not frequent raids but education. “One of the best tools,” said Irrgang, “remains enlightenment.”
Muslims divided on Brotherhood: A group aiming to create Islamic states worldwide has established roots here, in large part under the guidance of Egypt-born Ahmed Elkadi By Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Sam Roe and Laurie Cohen Tribune staff reporters Over the last 40 years, small groups of devout Muslim men have gathered in homes in U.S. cities to pray, memorize the Koran and discuss events of the day. But they also addressed their ultimate goal, one so controversial that it is a key reason they have operated in secrecy: to create Muslim states overseas and, they hope, someday in America as well. These men are part of an underground U.S. chapter of the international Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most influential Islamic fundamentalist group and an organization with a violent past in the Middle East. But fearing persecution, they rarely identify themselves as Brotherhood members and have operated largely behind the scenes, unbeknown even to many Muslims. Still, the U.S. Brotherhood has had a significant and ongoing impact on Islam in America, helping establish mosques, Islamic schools, summer youth camps and prominent Muslim organizations. It is a major factor, Islamic scholars say, in why many Muslim institutions in the nation have become more conservative in recent decades (…)
BRUSSELS – A group of alleged Islamic fundamentalist militants arrested in Belgium and Italy earlier this week may have been plotting to blow up Nato headquarters or the European Parliament, both of which are housed in Brussels. According to the Wednesday edition of Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Italian investigators say one of the militants, Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed or ‘Mohamed the Egyptian’, may have been plotting to bomb a “symbolic target” in the Belgian capital.