Dutch Ministry Figures on Female Circumcision

6 February 2013


According to the Dutch Health Ministry, efforts in the Netherlands to eradicate female circumcision are proving effective. While exact figures are unavailable, Pharos research institute estimates some 40-50 girls living in the Netherlands may undergo female circumcision every year, during visits to their country of origin. In total some 30,000 women in the Netherlands have undergone the procedure, usually before arriving in the country. The research showed Somalia and Egypt as the countries of origin in which the practice was most common.

In a statement, Junior Health Minister Martin van Rijn commented, “these remain confrontational figures but the fact the risk to girls who have lived here for some time is low is a good sign.” Female genital mutilation is a criminal offence in the Netherlands, and constitutes child abuse when carried out on underage girls.

Giving advice regarding the risks of the Muslim (Ramadan) fast

July 19, 2012


The (Norwegian) Health Institute, (Norwegian) Islamic Council and (Norwegian) Diabetes Association continue their partnership.


It is on Friday (July 20) that the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is starting. That is the reason why some health experts fear that many Muslims are not sufficiently informed regarding the risks with fasting the long summer days.


Almost 100.000 persons in Norway will commence their fasting period on Friday which means that they will willingly abstain from food and water (smoking etc.) from sunrise to dawn. Bernadette Kumar, the director of the National Center for Minorities Health (NAKMI), means that “sometimes there are people with immigrant background who do not receive the necessary information about nutrition. This means that they do not fully understand the consequences of fasting regarding their levels of ‘blood sugar’ and the complications related to these issues.” She stresses however that the fast does not lead to any particular health risks for most people.


In order to spread the necessary information NAKMI have cooperated with the Islamic Council and Diabetics Association for some years now. They have worked for spreading fact-based information to Muslim minorities and also offered professional help regarding health issues in general. For instance, NAKMI has formulated a brochure on “meal plans” where recommendations are given to fasting Muslims how to maintain healthy diet during the fast period. This initiative is first in its form where specific advice is given.


“We are very enthusiastic over this cooperation. We know that there are many sick people who choose to fast despite that they are religiously permitted to abstain from fasting. This can result in serious health risks.” says Björn Guldvog, the assisting director of the Norwegian Directorate of Health (NDH) and university proifessor at University of Bergen. He continues “It is important that they (NAKMI and the Islamic Council) send out the information to people in the risk group advising them to discontinue fasting if they have a health condition which could get worse if one is to abstain from food and water (including medicine) intake. This is particularly important regarding people with chronic diseases, pregnant women, and people who’s health depends on some medications. In any case, the information really focuses on more general advice regarding nutrition.”
He further says that the NDH, “as a public institution works to inform the entire population about health issues including Muslims who fast. This certainly means that the Muslim religious leaders need to get the information out to their congregations. People who choose to fast and worry about their health should consult their physicians for more specific advice.” The NDH has distributed the necessary information to all of the country’s health clinics regarding the health challenges during Ramadan. The Islamic Council has in turn distributed similar information to all of their member congregations. The information is presented in a most delicate and positive fashion. Islamic congregations are regularly discussing issues related to nutrition and which foods contain which nutritional elements.


Medical Doctor Naeem Zahid at the Akershus University Hospital says that the young Muslims are often more concerned with what they eat during Ramadan. “My impression is that the youth has changed their food habits in relation to the older generation. Before, most of those who fasted ate deep fried dishes, and that changed for a while to more healthy alternatives. Today, the trend seems to be the return of fried stuff. Some just overeat, too much fatty foods and spices, which contributes towards bad food digestion. Moreover, eating eggs, lenses, and drinking carbonated beverages lead to buildup of gases.” He adds, “On the other hand Ramadan (lasts 29-30 days) is only once a year and this type of food consumption do not have any long-term consequences if one eats healthy during the rest of the year”


Some of the vendors and stores throughout the Oslo city center are well stocked with the season specific goods. Nadeem Iqbal’s store is ready for Ramadan. “There is no doubt that we like to eat fried food.” He answers the question, ‘Do you think that people will follow the nutrition advice from the NDH?’, that “youth are far more conscious about health and foods. For us who are a bit older it is not very easy changing our habits which have come to be viewed as tradition.” Even Iqbal eats samosa, chicken and paratha, all of it fried. After long fast the food is first thing that comes to mind.


Canadian Blind Muslim sisters recognized with Jubilee medals

On Islam – June 24, 2012


Rabia Khedr and her younger sister Uzma Khan were awarded Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medals for their efforts in advocating for disabled people. The blind Muslim sisters were among more than 600 Canadian receiving the medals at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall last week.

Khedr is a well-known Canadian Muslim who has worked tirelessly to raise awareness around disability issues. At university, she became actively involved with the Muslim Students Association (MSA) where she played a leadership role within the association but never stepped into the limelight. Her activism increased after university. Within days of graduation, Khedr started wearing a hijab.

Khedr, who is married and has four children, runs her own consultancy company and she has consulted for the Canadian Association for Community Living and Providence Health Care. She sits on the board of the Ontario Women’s Health Network and is a member of the City of Mississauga Accessibility Advisory Committee.

Khedr’s younger sister, Uzma Khan, has also been active in disability issues. Khan works in information technology with a Canadian bank and was vice-chair of the former Accessibility Advisory Council of Ontario. In keeping with the tradition of honoring Queen Elizabeth II milestone years of service, the commemorative medal has been created to mark the 60th anniversary of Queen’s accession to the Throne.

Demand for marking of meet slaughtered without the stunning

May 11, 2012-05-13


Meet which comes from animals that have been slaughtered without the prior stunning should be marked. This is the opinion of the Swedish Ministry for Rural Affairs (Department of Agriculture). The Swedish Radio reports that the Ministry will propose changing of the EU rules on animal slaughter on the next meeting of the EU ministers of agriculture next week.  The reason for such proposal is that many slaughterhouses in the EU member states misuse the judicial exemption which allows slaughter without prior stunning due to the religious regulations in primarily Islam and Judaism. These slaughterhouses produce far more meet (slaughtered without anesthesia) than there are consumers of such meet. According to the EU Commission report (Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection) 75 percent of all meet produced within the EU comes from animals slaughtered without the prior stunning.

Amsterdam Religious Leaders Train in Sexual Health

November 29 2011

Religious leaders from Amsterdam’s Christian, Hindu and Muslim communities have participated in the development of a sexual education course. The municipal health center (GGD) created the course as a means for ‘trianing the trainer’, to provide sexual health education to religious leaders in order that they would then educate other leaders as well as their congregations about issues such as sexuality and HIV. The course was developed along with six of the city’s clergy.

Turkish Dutch Women’s Health Hinders Employment

February 15 2011

Dutch News reports that Turkish Dutch women have poorer health than other immigrant women in the country, which has contributed to fewer jobs among this segment of the population. Only half of Turkish Dutch women are employed, compared with 72% of Dutch women. Moroccan Dutch women, the article reports, also face higher unemployment and poorer health.

CAIR asks US Muslim prayer leaders to urge swine flu precautions

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on Islamic Religious Leaders and Imams to use daily and Friday prayers in the nation’s mosques and Islamic centers as a platform for providing information about preventing the spread of swine flu, or the H1N1 virus. CAIR said that imams are in a unique position to offer public health information, and suggests that religious and spiritual leaders stay up-to-date on the spread of the virus in their areas. “In times of crisis, public health and safety takes precedence over normal actions and activities that could lead to the spread of infection,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. “Imams, because of their access to those attending mosques every day, are well-placed to offer advice to community members based on input from public health authorities.” Awad added that the prophet Muhammad encouraged actions designed to prevent the spread of contagious diseases, and that there is a religious obligation to take part in striving to protect human health.

General: ‘Swine’ flu name causing some offense to Jews and Muslims

According to some Muslims and Jewish people of faith, the common name of the H1N1 virus, “Swine Flu,” is offensive in its reference to pigs, because the animal is considered unclean to Muslims and Jews. Some Israeli health officials have urged changing the name to “Mexican flu.” In the United States, the Center for Disease Control has recommended identifying the strain by its official and scientific name. Eating pigs and pork products is forbidden in both the Jewish and Muslim traditions.


Muslim American Physicians Congratulate President-Elect Obama and Looks Forward to a More Compassionate Health Care System Under Obama-Biden Administration

The Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) has congratulated President-elect Barack Obama, saying the organization looks forward to an improved and more compassionate health care system under the new administration. IMANA shares Obama’s plan for an inclusive health care system as a right of all Americans, and concern for uninsured Americans in a deteriorating American economy. IMANA has issued a statement saying that the organization asks “President-elect Obama to consider a robust partnership between government, health care industry and community based organizations to reform the health care system.” The Islamic Medical Association of North America was founded over 40 years ago, in 1967.

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