Ex-Michigan congressman sentenced to more than a year in prison in terrorism financing case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A former Michigan congressman and U.S. delegate to the United Nations has been sentenced to a year and one day in prison for lobbying for a Missouri-based Islamic charity that had been identified as a global terrorist organization.

Mark Deli Siljander, 60, a Republican who served in Congress from 1981-1987, pleaded guilty in July 2010 to obstructing justice and acting as an unregistered foreign agent in connection with his work for the Islamic American Relief Agency, based in Columbia, Mo.

In his plea agreement, Siljander acknowledged that he lobbied between March and May 2004 on behalf of the IARA for the organization to be removed from a U.S. Senate Finance Committee list of charities suspected of funding international terrorism. The charity closed in October 2004 after being designated a global terrorist organization by the U.S. government.

Four co-defendants also were sentenced Wednesday. Among them were former IARA executive director Mubarak Hamed, who sent more than $1 million to Iraq through the charity in violation of U.S. sanctions. He pleaded guilty in June 2010 to illegally transferring the money and obstructing the administration of laws governing tax-exempt charities.

Mathias Rohe on Islamic Theology in Germany *Triggering Global Debates*

In Germany, Islamic theology is being introduced as a university course – a much debated issue in academic terms, but also politically.
In this interview, Mathias Rohe, Germany’s most renowned academic expert on Sharia law, talks about what this means for the development of Islam in Germany and, potentially, on a global level

Why Yasir Qadhi Wants to Talk About Jihad

To many young Muslims wrestling with conflicts between faith and country, Yasir Qadhi is a rock star. To law-enforcement agents, he is also a figure of interest, given his prominence in a community considered vulnerable to radicalization. Some officials, noting his message of nonviolence, also see him as an ally. Others were wary, recalling a time when Qadhi spouted a much harder, less tolerant line.

Qadhi’s platform is the AlMaghrib Institute, where he serves as academic dean. Founded in 2002 by Muhammad Alshareef, a Canadian cleric then living in Alexandria, Va., AlMaghrib is now an international enterprise, offering seminars in the United States, Canada and Britain. It reported nearly $1.2 million in revenue in 2009 and aspires to become a full-time Islamic seminary, albeit with an air of corporate America.

In the spectrum of the global Salafi movement, Qadhi, who is 36, speaks for the nonmilitant majority. Yet even as he has denounced Islamist violence — too late, some say — a handful of AlMaghrib’s former students have heeded the call. In addition to the underwear-bomb suspect, the 36,000 current and former students of Qadhi’s institute include Daniel Maldonado, a New Hampshire convert who was convicted in 2007 of training with an Al Qaeda-linked militia in Somalia; Tarek Mehanna, a 28-year-old pharmacist arrested for conspiring to attack Americans; and two young Virginia men held in Pakistan in 2009 for seeking to train with militants.

There are several kinds of jihad, which is translated to mean “striving in the path of God.” While progressive Muslims emphasize the spiritual form, Qadhi and other conservatives say that the majority of the Koran’s references to jihad are to military struggle. Qadhi’s interpretation makes him neither a hardline militant nor a pure pacifist. While he unequivocally denounces violence against civilians, he believes Muslims have the right to defend themselves from attack. But he says “offensive jihad”— the spread of the Islamic state by force — is permissible only when ordered by a legitimate caliph, or global Muslim ruler, which is nonexistent in today’s world.

Muslim population in Canada to triple in next 20 years

News Agencies – January 27, 2011

The Muslim population of Canada will nearly triple over the next 20 years, according to a new study of global demographic trends focusing on the faith. The number of Canadians who identify themselves as Muslim will reach 2.7 million by 2030, up from approximately 940,000 today, and will make up 6.6 per cent of the total population.

The projections were released Thursday by the Pew Research Center Forum on Religion & Public Life, the first in a series of population projections of major world religions.

Around the world, the Muslim population is expected to increase by about 35 per cent, rising to 2.2 billion by 2030 and increasing at about twice the rate of the non-Muslim population.

Wahida Valiante, national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, said she is concerned that the numbers will be used by some to stoke the flames of anti-Islamic rhetoric.

Before this study, which relies on census data and other national demographic records from more than 1,500 sources worldwide, there was no reliable global population data for the Muslim faith.

In Canada, Muslims are expected to make up 6.6 per cent of the total population in 2030, up from 2.8 per cent today. In the United States, the Muslim share of the population will rise to 1.7 per cent in 2030 from 0.8 per cent in 2010. The sudden growth is partly explained by a higher fertility rate among Muslim Canadians, and the large percentage who are approaching their child-bearing years.

European Muslim Population to Reach 8% by 2030, Report Finds

The number of Muslims in Europe has grown from 29.6 million in 1990 to 44.1 million in 2010. Europe’s Muslim population is projected to exceed 58 million by 2030. Muslims today account for about 6% of Europe’s total population, up from 4.1% in 1990. By 2030, Muslims are expected to make up 8% of Europe’s population. Although Europe’s Muslim population is growing, Europe’s share of the global Muslim population will remain quite small. Less than 3% of the world’s Muslims are expected to be living in Europe in 2030, about the same portion as in 2010 (2.7%).

Number of Converts to Islam in Britain has Doubled in the Past 10 Years, Study Finds

The number of Britons choosing to become Muslims has nearly doubled in the past decade, according to one of the most comprehensive attempts to estimate how many people have embraced Islam. Following the global spread of violent Islamism, British Muslims have faced more scrutiny, criticism and analysis than any other religious community. Yet, despite the often negative portrayal of Islam, thousands of Britons are adopting the religion every year.

Estimating the number of converts living in Britain has always been difficult because census data does not differentiate between whether a religious person has adopted a new faith or was born into it. Previous estimates have placed the number of Muslim converts in the UK at between 14,000 and 25,000.

But a new study by the inter-faith think-tank Faith Matters suggests the real figure could be as high as 100,000, with as many as 5,000 new conversions nationwide each year. Asked why people were converting in such large numbers, Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, replied: “I think there is definitely a relationship between conversions being on the increase and the prominence of Islam in the public domain. People are interested in finding out what Islam is all about and when they do that they go in different directions. Most shrug their shoulders and return to their lives but some will inevitably end up liking what they discover and will convert.”

Lessons From The Whole Quran Episode

When Terry Jones, a Florida pastor, announced his plan to burn Qurans on 9/11 with a tweet and an “International Burn a Koran Day” page on Facebook, he ignited an international conflagration of outrage.

As news spread, worldwide condemnation and anxiety mounted. At least two people died in a demonstration in Afghanistan. It seemed this obscure self-proclaimed pastor in Gainesville, Florida, was determined to carry out an action of catastrophic global consequences.

Now that the crisis is over, CNN asked contributors to write their observations of what happened, and what lessons the pastor’s threat and the events that followed can teach us.

Europeans Back French Veil Ban, Americans opposed

While most Americans oppose banning face-covering Islamic veils, most western Europeans questioned in a new global poll say the garments should be forbidden — especially in France, where a ban may soon be a reality.

A survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that an overwhelming 82 percent of French respondents support a ban. The poll found 71 percent support in Germany, 62 percent in Britain and 59 percent in Spain. In the United States, 28 percent of those questioned said they would approve a ban.

The pollsters questioned more than 4,000 people by telephone in the five countries as part of a larger poll on global attitudes conducted in April and May. The pollsters said there was no variation along gender lines in any of the five countries and little variation depending on income and education levels.

Islam and Muslims in a plural world: the local and the global in the Middle East, Europe and North America

Organized by:

– The Danish Institute in Damascus

– Centre for European Islamic Thought, University of Copenhagen

– The New Islamic Public Sphere Programme, University of Copenhagen

– Department of Near and Middle East Civilizations, University of Toronto

Applications are invited from graduate students working on their Masters
or PhDs for up to 12 places on a research ‘master class’ to take place
at the Danish Institute in Damascus  4-15 April 2011. The research
school will be staffed by four senior academics, one from each of the
organizing institutions. Each participant will submit a research paper
in advance, which will normally be a draft chapter from their
thesis/dissertation, plus an overall outline of the research project
identifying the topic, main research questions, theoretical and
methodological issues and a tentative chapter outline.

The programme will take place over two weeks and will consist of four
elements:

– Workshops led by a staff member in which each participant will have an
extended session to present and discuss the pre-submitted papers.

– Four plenary sessions at which each of the staff members will present
current research-in-progress for open discussion.

– A series of discussion meetings with significant and interesting local
researchers and personalities of relevance to the field.

– Excursions to sites and institutions of interest within and outside
Damascus.

“The Radicalization of Diasporas and Terrorism”

Throughout history, diasporic communities have been susceptible to a variety of forms of radicalization. Indeed, even in the pre-Christian era, ethnic and religious diasporas were prone to religious and separatist radicalization. Since the end of the Cold War, ethnonationalism has continued to fuel radicalization within some diasporic communities. With respect to contemporary global terrorism, militant Islamism, and in particular, its Salafist-Jihadist variant, serves as the most important ideational source of radicalization within diasporas in Western Europe and North America. Within the global North, this radicalization has frequently pitted the political desirability of relatively liberal immigration politics against the core requirements of internal security.

© 2009 Center for Security Studies (CSS), ETH Zurich