Emine Aydemir is a devout Muslim woman, living in Cologne. She runs a fitness studio for Muslim women — no men are allowed. The women can train with or without a veil. There are no men around so their husbands generally have no objections to them going there. It’s a welcome change of pace from domestic life and many say it’s helped boost their confidence. But Aydemir says she doesn’t want to run a ghetto: courses are given in German and women can attend whether they are Muslims or not.
Renowned French-Algerian writer Malika Mokeddem has stated that she opposes the Italian government’s move to introduce separate classes for immigrant children, saying that it would ghettoize them, and “gives the children a bad self-image” in addition to sending a negative image of Italy. Mokkedem said that the children need to integrate, and do so not by separating – but by urging children to “jump in the deep end and (start) socializing.” Mokeddem was in the southern Italian town of Otranto to receive the 2008 Grinzane Terra D’Otranto prize for literature.
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Canada is more tolerant of immigrants than Europe and less afraid of terrorist attacks than the United States, meaning it could be a model for faithful Muslims trying to integrate into Western society, a controversial Islamic scholar says. Tariq Ramadan has two reservations: Canada must stop thinking of itself as peripheral to the debate and it must not knuckle under to U.S. policies. Ramadan spoke to CanWest News Service from his office in London, England, just before leaving for Ottawa, where he will speak to the Islamic Society of North America conference this weekend. About 3,000 Muslims from across Canada and around the world are expected at the event. Ramadan will be speaking with Ingrid Mattson, the first female and first Canadian to become president of the society. The worst thing the Muslim community can do, he says, is isolate itself from the society around it, making itself a ghetto. “We are living in a state of fear, on both sides. You need to promote what I call a revolution of trust.” Public policy gets warped by this mistrust until “it’s all about control and security. It’s wrong. (Muslims) are citizens, they have the same rights.” He said the community needs to pool its leaders in all faiths and walks of life, so co-operation is already established before a crisis erupts.
Contrary to popular stereotypes, Muslims in London have almost twice as much confidence in the Government as the general public and are noticeably more trusting of the judicial system, elections and the police. More than half identify very strongly with Britain, and about four in every five believe that it is important for integration to master the English language, get a better education and find a job. The findings, to be revealed tomorrow, are the result of an independent survey of Muslim attitudes by the Gallup Organisation, and point to a much more hopeful outlook for integration than recent reports of extremism, alienation and a ghetto mentality have suggested.