Dutch politician calls for headscarf ban in the Hague

Right wing PVV (Freedom) Party leader Geert Wilders announced that a ban on headscarves for city council workers and in all institutions and clubs receiving local authority support will form the basis of negotiations during governing coalition talks in the upcoming months.

Wilders made the comments during a lengthy speech in Almere, one of the centers of support for his party. The ban will not apply to other religious items such as Christian crosses and Jewish skull caps, Wilders claims, because they are symbols of Dutch culture. Dutch News reports that the speech received a standing ovation.

Catalonia Passes Law Governing Houses of Worship

The Catalan Parliament has passed a law governing houses of worship in the region. The law has a triple objective: to facilitate the exercising of the right to freedom of worship, to provide support to city councils when guaranteeing this right and to ensure adequate conditions with regards safety and hygiene in places of worship. It thus obliges city councils to set aside spaces for religious use and also a municipal license for the opening and use of places of worship. Mohamed Halhoul, spokesperson for the Islamic Cultural Council of Catalonia, said the new policy is useful and necessary to ensure religious freedom and the fundamental right to worship. He stressed the law requires municipalities to provide public land for religious facilities, also to minorities.

American Muslims; an invitation to a national conference in Dallas

RSVP Required by 7/14 to: Confirmattendance@gmail.com

Focus of Conference:
1. To consolidate our diverse community and raise a visionary leadership.

2. To engage with the due process, the governing institutions, and the civil society to create a dialogue of change.

3. To promote conflict resolution and constructive engagement that can offer diplomatic alternatives to military endeavors.

4. To work towards the common interests and welfare of both America and the Muslim world — a win-win situation.

5. To work against Islamophobia and the negative stereotypes of Muslims in the West, and to help uplift the image and position of Muslims and their respective work in America and beyond.

6. To help raise a moderate and effective voice to invalidate extremism and bigotry.

The Meeting Agenda

09:00 Introduction, Open Forum of Goal Setting and Consensus Building
12:00 Lunch Break
01:00 Establishing Resolutions
03:00 Fund Raising
04:30 Election of the Steering Committee Members and Election/Selection of Officers
06:00 Dinner and Discussion – Future Vision

For more information, go to event website here.

UK Leaders Question British Pakistani Cousin Marriage Practice After Shariah Flap

Pronouncements by politicians and religious leaders are again spotlighting the cultural divide between the Muslim community and the rest of British society. This time, the issue is people who marry their cousins. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan William suggested last week that the adoption of some form of Islamic law was “unavoidable” _ a remark that sparked protests from commentators and politicians who said Muslims must abide by British law. Then, as that furor subsided, two governing Labour Party lawmakers called for a frank discussion of the health risk posed by Pakistanis who marry their cousins. Lawmakers Phil Woolas and Ann Cryer, citing high rates of birth defects, said Britons must question the practice of arranging marriages between first cousins. Both warned of grave public health consequences if the custom continues.

Immigration, a Polarizing Electoral Issue

In the campaigns for Spain’s March 9th elections, there are two opposing positions concerning the hot topic of immigration. On the left, is the predominant viewpoint that immigrants must be accepted and that comprehensive global solutions are needed; on the right, is the attitude to at best cold-shoulder, and at worst to harass them. The first stance, with variations, is supported by the governing Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and by the United Left coalition, as well as non-governmental organizations. The second is held by the main opposition force, the centre-right Popular Party (PP).

Sarkozy reshuffles French government

President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday sent a strong signal to France’s disaffected minorities by appointing an outspoken advocate of Muslim women and a woman of Senegalese origin Tuesday to his government – among France’s most diverse ever. As junior minister for city policy, feminist activist Fadela Amara will oversee the renovation of dilapidated housing estates where many immigrants live – neighborhoods similar to the one she grew up in with her Algerian immigrant parents. Senegalese-born Rama Yade was appointed to a new post of junior minister for human rights, an area Sarkozy has identified as a priority for his month-old government, which he reshuffled and expanded Tuesday after his governing conservative party did not fare as well as expected in weekend parliamentary elections.

Blair Promises to Improve Teaching of Islamic Studies

By Stephen Bates and James Meikle — PM says politicians should listen to moderate voices — Report calls for more UK-trained Muslim clerics Tony Blair yesterday pledged to spend _1m improving the teaching of Islamic studies at universities, as Downing Street said more imams should be trained in Britain to reduce reliance on foreign-trained clerics. In a speech to a conference of moderate Muslims in London, the prime minister accepted that British politicians should listen more carefully to the views of “the calm voice of moderation and reason” within the community. He insisted that his government’s foreign interventions had not been based on religion. Mr Blair said: “The voices of extremism are no more representative of Islam than the use in times gone by of torture to force conversion to Christianity represented the teachings of Christ.” Among those invited by the Cambridge inter-faith programme were the grand muftis of Egypt and Bosnia, but not representatives of more extreme or politicised lobbying groups. The guest list was criticised by the radical Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir, and also by the Labour peer Lord Ahmed, who told the BBC: “The conference is fronted by Cambridge University but organised by Downing Street, the Foreign Office and the communities department, who have deliberately chosen to exclude those Muslims who disagree with Government policy … It’s a colonial style of governing.”

Netherlands Considers Burqa Ban

The Dutch immigration minister says she will look into the legality of banning the burqa, the robes worn by some Muslim women to cover their bodies. Rita Verdonk made the pledge after a majority in parliament said it would support such a ban. The proposal was put forward by independent politician Geert Wilders. “That women should walk the streets in a totally unrecognisable manner is an insult to everyone who believes in equal rights,” he said. “This law is a comfort to moderate Muslims and will contribute to integration in the Netherlands,” he added in a statement. His proposal is supported by two of the parties in the governing centre-right coalition, as well as the opposition right-wing party founded by the late Pim Fortuyn. Mrs Verdonk did not say when she might complete her investigation. If the Netherlands does decide to ban the burqa, it will be the first European country to do so.