There is no Islam in France, says Marine La Pen

News Agencies – October 8, 2012

 

There is no Islam that belongs to France, far-right National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen said in response to comments to the contrary from Interior Minister Manuel Valls. Le Pen said it was clear that the activities of radical Muslims were not being monitored on French soil, adding that all French Muslims that had become victims of Islamism had to accept the country’s secular system and combat radicalism.

Richard Prasquier, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF), also expressed his concerns about the growth of what he called an increasingly bellicose Islam, calling on the entire national Jewish community to defend itself against radicalization. Police detained 12 people suspected of involvement in radical Islamist activities mainly in Paris, Cannes and Strasbourg in other raids across the country. The Interior Ministry has said the raids will continue.

In America, Shiite Muslims Establish A Foothold

QUINCY, Mass. (RNS) Sayed Mohammad Jawad Al-Qazwini was 12 years old when his family fled Iran and settled in Los Angeles. Now 28, he sat with some 70 Shiite Muslims at the Iman Islamic Center on a recent Friday night, preaching about the Mosque of the Trash Picker in Iran, and a Turkish mosque peculiarly named “As if I have eaten.”

The variation in the proper way to pray is one among several differences that exist between Shiites, who make up about 15 percent of Muslims globally and in America, and the majority of Sunnis. Until recently, those differences mattered little in the United States, where the two groups bonded as Muslim minorities and prayed in the same mosques.

“There weren’t enough of either to justify the cost of building sectarian mosques, and because in general, early generation immigrants were less focused on establishing formal houses of worship,” said Andrea Stanton, a religious studies professor at the University of Denver.

That is changing, however, as American Shiites are increasingly establishing their own mosques. According to “The American Mosque 2011,” a survey sponsored by several Muslim American organizations, 7 percent of roughly 2,100 mosques in America are Shiite, and most have been built in the last 20 years.

One reason: Shiites have become numerous and financially strong enough to manage the expensive process of buying or building their own mosques. Another factor: the growth in Shiite populations as immigrants flee persecution in Iraq, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, where Taliban gunmen recently executed at least 22 Shiite bus passengers.

Many Shiite Muslims say that while American mosques profess to be open to any and all Muslims, they tend to be Sunni in practice and can be hostile to Shiite beliefs and practices.

While American mosques once offered a reliable refuge from this persecution, Shiite immigrants who have come more recently have found some mosques unwelcoming to their creed.

Muslims From Abroad Are Thriving in Catholic Colleges

DAYTON, Ohio — The flow of students from the Muslim world into American colleges and universities has grown sharply in recent years, and women, though still far outnumbered by men, account for a rising share.

 

No definitive figures are available, but interviews with students and administrators at several Catholic institutions indicate an even faster rate of growth there, with the Muslim student population generally doubling over the past decade, and the number of Muslim women tripling or more.

 

Arriving from Kuwait to attend college here, Mai Alhamad wondered how Americans would receive a Muslim, especially one whose head scarf broadcasts her religious identity.

At any of the countless secular universities she might have chosen, religion — at least in theory — would be beside the point. But she picked one that would seem to underline her status as a member of a religious minority. She enrolled at the University of Dayton, a Roman Catholic school, and she says it suits her well.

 

“Here, people are more religious, even if they’re not Muslim, and I am comfortable with that,” said Ms. Alhamad, an undergraduate in civil engineering, as several other Muslim women gathered in the student center nodded in agreement. “I’m more comfortable talking to a Christian than an atheist.”

 

At those schools, Muslim students, from the United States or abroad, say they prefer a place where talk of religious beliefs and adherence to a religious code are accepted and even encouraged, socially and academically. Correctly or not, many of them say they believe that they are more accepted than they would be at secular schools.

Washington Post Blog: Heeding Romney’s words on religious liberty

Recently, President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney gave interviews with “Cathedral Age,” a magazine produced by the Washington National Cathedral, in which they reflected on the role of faith in America.

As religious leaders from distinct Abrahamic faith traditions, we were pleased to read this statement from Romney:

“Every religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These should not be bases for criticism, but rather a test of our tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Because we concur with these sentiments we were very concerned when reports circulated that the Republican Platform, which was approved Tuesday at the Republican National Convention, includes support for federal legislation barring judges from consulting foreign, international or religious law when deciding cases.

A number of states have already considered legislation similar to this RNC plank, each based on framework legislation entitled “American Laws for American Courts,” which initially openly targeted sharia law (Islamic law). Passing this legislation has been a major goal of the American Public Policy Alliance and the author of the legislation, David Yerushalmi. Similar bills have been introduced in at least 23 states and Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arizona and Kansas have passed the legislation

Rather, the entire anti-foreign law movement is an effort to whip up anti-Muslim sentiment through fear-based rhetoric. Given the wave of anti-Muslim attacks across the U.S.in the early part of this month – at least 10 in two weeks – we are deeply concerned about the tremendous growth in violence aimed at American Muslims and those perceived to be Muslims, and are working hard to stop it.

Certainly, this platform does not help “Americans of different faiths meet and stand as a nation, united,” as Romney says he desires. Rather, it only serves to divide us.

As religious leaders, we urge all Americans to reject this movement, which dangerously stigmatizes American Muslims, and to uphold the vision so strongly articulated in Romney’s recent “Cathedral Age” interview:

“I believe that while we are a country with so many differences in creed and theology, we can all meet in service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common worldview.”

Anti-Islamic Activist Dumps $100 K into Tennessee Primary

A new super PAC targeting a Tennessee House primary has raised all its funds from a board member of a local anti-Islamic conservative group who is also the one-time finance chairman of one of the candidates in the race.

Citizens 4 Ethics in Government registered as a super PAC with the Federal Election Commission on July 2. Its first disclosure, filed today, shows that it has raised all of its $105,000 in funds from Andrew Miller, the owner of Nashville-based Healthmark Ventures and a conservative activist who helps lead the anti-Islamic Tennessee Freedom Coalition. The group has spent more than $30,000 so far on the 6th Congressional District primary contest between incumbent Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and tea party activist Lou Ann Zelenik.

Miller worked briefly with Zelenik’s campaign before quitting abruptly, according to Zelinek’s campaign manager Jay Heine. Zelenik, who has made opposition to the building of an Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, Tenn. a major issue in her campaign, was the executive director of the Coalition before leaving to run for congress.
The Coalition lists opposition to the growth of radical Islam and the promotion of “cultural cohesion” among its goals, among other conservative causes. In April 2011 the group hosted Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders as a speaker; Wilders is known across Europe for his anti-immigration and anti-Islamic politics. He has called for the banning of the Quran and called Islam a totalitarian ideology rather than a religion.

Numbers of Muslims, Mormons rising sharply: report

(Reuters) – American Muslims grew in number over the past decade, outnumbering Jews for the first time in most of the Midwest and part of the South, while most mainline churches lost adherents, according to a census of American religions released on Tuesday.

The number of Muslim adherents rose to 2.6 million in 2010 from 1 million in 2000, fueled by immigration and conversions, said Dale Jones, a researcher who worked on the study by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.

“Christians are the largest group in every state, but some of the things we found interesting was the growth of the Mormons, who reported the largest numerical gain in 26 states,” said Jones, who presented the report to a conference in Chicago.

The number of Mormons, whose Utah-based church’s formal name is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, grew by 45 percent to 6.1 million in 2010, according to the census, which asked 236 religions to count their own adherents. Family members of adherents were generally included in the numbers.

Religious groups spend nearly $400 million on D.C. advocacy

WASHINGTON — The number of religious advocacy groups in the nation’s capital has more than tripled since the 1970s, with conservative groups seeing the biggest growth, according to a new report.

Together, faith-based lobbying and advocacy groups spend $390 million a year to influence lawmakers, mobilize supporters and shape public opinion, according to the report, released Monday (Nov. 21) by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

There are now as many Muslim advocacy groups as mainline Protestant groups, and evangelicals and Roman Catholics constitute a strong 40 percent of religious lobbyists in and around Washington.

“Religious advocacy is now a permanent and sizable feature of the Washington scene,” said Allen Hertzke, a political scientist at the University of Oklahoma and the primary author of the report.

Hertzke’s report surveyed 212 religious advocacy groups, ranging from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to the American Jewish Committee to the American Friends Service Committee (the Quakers).

Using financial reports from public tax forms, Hertzke said the biggest spender is the pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which spent $87 million on advocacy in 2008. U.S. Catholic bishops were second, with $26.6 million spent in 2009, followed by the Family Research Council, with $14 million in 2008.

The Muslim American Society boosted its budget by 29 percent, and the American Islamic Congress by 41 percent, between 2008 and 2009 as Islamophobia intensified in the form of opposition to mosque building and the so-called Ground Zero mosque.

New study: Swedish Muslim Congregation

Islam is the fastest growing religion in Western Europe today. As a consequence, the emergence and growth of Muslim religious congregations is one of the most important changes that have taken place within the European third (or voluntary) sector in the last 20 years. However, more often than not, these congregations are described as “enclaves” or “integration traps” isolating new citizens from the rest of society, a picture that has remained largely uncontested due to a lack of more extensive research. 

The intention of the Swedish Muslim Congregation project is to present – for the first time in Europe – nationally representative data about the activities and roles of local Muslim congregations. We have concentrated primarily on three problem areas:

Our aim, first, has been to map the congregations’ demography and activities (especially the extent of voluntary social work). Second, we have investigated Muslim experiences of the reactions of others in their surrounding environments, as reported by congregation representatives. To what extent do Muslim congregations encounter local opposition and support? Third is our focus on Muslim congregation collaboration with other organizations and public institutions. The Scandinavian welfare model boasts a long established emphasis on collaboration between third sector, municipal and state organizations. Are the Muslim congregations able – and willing – to connect to the established forms of cooperation that already exist in Sweden between the public and third sectors?

An essential part of the project is the nationwide questionnaire sent to the 147 local Swedish Muslim congregations that we identified, to which we received 105 replies (a 71 percent response rate). Non-response analysis showed no

statistically significant differences in response propensity that could be connected with the different existing schools of Islam, nor with the type of municipality (metropolitan, small town, rural district, etc.)

German Interior Minister Warns of Violent Islamist Group

02.07.2011/ 04.07.2011

Germany’s Interior Minister Friedrich warned of an increasing danger posed by Salafi groups in Germany. Salafi Muslims follow a violent and ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam and generally aim at fundamentally re-structuring the liberal democratic order of Western states. According to estimates, there are currently approximately 2500 Salafi Muslims in Germany, who allegedly receive (financial) support from Saudi Arabia. Friedrich warned of a potential growth of this radical group and expressed the need to strengthen the “security partnership” between Muslim organizations and German authorities. This agenda had top priority during the prevention summit held at the end of June.

Switzerland not a Top Target for Terrorism

A recent conference held by the Center for Security Studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich has restated the belief that Switzerland is not a top target for international terrorism.
While some participants called for caution concerning the very term “terrorism,” Guido Steinberg from the Berlin Foundation of Science and Politics warned that given the growth of the Islamist terrorist scene in Germany and the close connections between German-speaking countries, Switzerland ought to remain vigilant. In addition, the vice-director of the Swiss intelligence services Jürg S. Bühler spoke about so-called “control crimes,” and the need to be able to keep watch over the concerned segments of society.