Between Black and Immigrant Muslims, an Uneasy Alliance

Only 28 miles separate Imam Talib’s mosque in Harlem from the Islamic Center of Long Island. The congregations they each serve – African-Americans at the city mosque and immigrants of South Asian and Arab descent in the suburbs – represent the largest Muslim populations in the United States. Yet a vast gulf divides them, one marked by race and class, culture and history. For many African-American converts, Islam is an experience both spiritual and political, an expression of empowerment in a country they feel is dominated by a white elite. For many immigrant Muslims, Islam is an inherited identity, and America a place of assimilation and prosperity. For decades, these two Muslim worlds remained largely separate. But last fall, Imam Talib hoped to cross that distance in a venture that has become increasingly common since Sept. 11. Black Muslims have begun advising immigrants on how to mount a civil rights campaign. Foreign-born Muslims are giving African-Americans roles of leadership in some of their largest organizations. The two groups have joined forces politically, forming coalitions and backing the same candidates. It is a tentative and uneasy union, seen more typically among leaders at the pulpit than along the prayer line. But it is critical, a growing number of Muslims believe, to surviving a hostile new era. Muslims will not be successful in America until there is a marriage between the indigenous and immigrant communities, said Siraj Wahhaj, an African-American imam in New York with a rare national following among immigrant Muslims. There has to be a marriage. The divide between black and immigrant Muslims reflects a unique struggle facing Islam in America. Perhaps nowhere else in the world are Muslims from so many racial, cultural and theological backgrounds trying their hands at coexistence. Only in Mecca, during the obligatory hajj, or pilgrimage, does such diversity in the faith come to life, between black and white, rich and poor, Sunni and Shiite (…) African-Americans possess a cultural and historical fluency that immigrants lack, said Dr. Khan; they hold an unassailable place in America from which to defend their faith. For Imam Talib, immigrants provide a crucial link to the Muslim world and its tradition of scholarship, as well as the wisdom that comes with an unshattered Islamic heritage. Both groups have their practical virtues, too. African-Americans know better how to mobilize in America, both men say, and immigrants tend to have deeper pockets. (…)

From the Court to the Imam: Praise for a New Policing Idea

Politicians endorsed an initiative of co-operation with mosques in the fight against juvenile delinquency. A good idea is born, now we must see to it that it’s implemented. This was the reaction yesterday from Berlin’s Senator of the Interior and from the Youth and Justice Senators to the proposal that the police and mosque associations unite in dealing with juvenile delinquency.

Denmark: Danish Imam Says Aim Was Peace In Cartoon Row

The controversial Danish imam accused of stirring uproar in the Muslim world over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed has defended his actions, saying they were aimed at forging peace, not causing bloodshed. “History will give us credit because of our efforts to keep Europe away from any further violence,” said Ahmed Abu Laban, the leader of the Islamic Community in Denmark, in an interview with AFP. Abu Laban, who is accused of instigating a mass campaign against Denmark in the Arab-Muslim world which sparked deadly riots that killed more than 50 people, said the protests were not the start of a clash of civilizations. “Some people would presume it is the beginning of a clash of civilization, but we call it the engagement of civilizations,” said Abu Laban. He spoke to AFP while attending the “International Conference for the Defense of the Prophet” organized by Muslim religious leaders and being held Wednesday and Thursday in Bahrain. Abu Laban brought the cartoon matter to Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, the top Islamic scholarly institution, shortly after caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed were published in a Danish newspaper in September 2005. Abu Laban and other Danish imams then took a 43-page dossier on a tour of the Middle East, including the 12 controversial cartoons and three other pictures that had been sent to Muslims by anonymous people. “We sent our delegation to Egypt, we were trying to expand the platform of dialogue to the concerned people and more countries,” he said. In his view, Denmark became the focal point of Muslim rage because of the refusal of Danish leaders to heed the Muslim point of view in the controversy that pitted Western values of free speech against religious beliefs. Muslims believe any images of the prophet are blasphemous. “Denmark paid for the Islamic-European conflict,” said Abu Laban, the leader of the Muslim Faith Society in Copenhagen. Despite widespread calls for a formal apology, the Danish government refused, citing its belief in protecting freedom of speech. However, the editor of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper that initially published the cartoons eventually issued an apology. The cartoons included portrayals of the prophet wearing a time-bomb shaped turban and showed him as a knife-wielding nomad flanked by shrouded women. Initially passing with little comment, they were later reprinted in a Norwegian magazine and then by European, Arab and online media, prompting international uproar. Many Danish products were also the subject of widespread boycotts in the Muslim world. Abu Laban stressed that Muslims in Denmark, who make up about three percent of the population, suffer discrimination and that he was made a “scapegoat” by the Danish press for his role as a Muslim community leader. “We suffer marginalization… In the subconscious of most of the leaders in Denmark they reject us. This is the name of the game. They don’t like to deal with us like partners,” he said. “Our center (Muslim Faith Society) is the most important one,” he said. The Danish press “cannot attack somebody who is not known, so they decided to choose me as a scapegoat,” he said. “I predicted that the government will face trouble and will search for a scapegoat.” Five other Danish imams attended the conference with Abu Laban, which organizers said brought together around 300 scholars, preachers, heads of Islamic associations as well as Arab and Muslim community leaders from Europe. The aim was to explore a strategy that could prevent a possible repeat of the crisis sparked by the publication of the cartoons. “We are in the focal point in Denmark, under the constant attack by the global media. We are here because it has become a global issue for Muslims,” said Abu Laban. “This conference is not meant to expose or blackmail Denmark, it is a rather progressive attitude on how Muslims can be united in this noble cause, to honor and to guarantee the respect their Prophet deserves. Abu Laban also blasted Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen for his “ineffective” response to the crisis. “I am more concerned with the interests of Denmark than the prime minister. He is playing in a very ineffective way.” Abu Laban criticized the premier’s reaction to advertisements put out over the weekend by Arla Foods, a Danish-Swedish dairy firm, which was a victim of a Danish boycott. “The Arla Foods company denounces and rejects the cartoons published by the Danish newspaper, mock the Prophet Mohammed and refuses any justifications for the act,” the corporation said in full-page advertisements taken out in papers across the Middle East. Rasmussen said he “disagreed” with the campaign. “Yesterday, he criticized Arla Foods,”said Abu Laban. “If this campaign shows some respect… it should be encouraged, not the opposite.”

Salafist Imam to be Deported

A Salafist imam was arrested in Brest Monday morning and should be expelled to Morocco by Monday evening. Hassan Belabid, 26 years, born in Agadir, was accused “for having encouraged discrimination and violence towards non-Muslims and women” during sermons at the mosque of Pontan_zen, a district of Brest. {(article continues below in French)} Un imam salafiste a _t_ arr_t_ _ Brest lundi matin pour “propos attentatoires aux principes de la R_publique” et devrait _tre expuls_ d_s lundi soir vers le Maroc, a-t-on appris lundi au minist_re de l’Int_rieur. Hassan Belabid, 26 ans, n_ _ Agadir, a _t_ arr_t_ lundi _ la sortie de son domicile, selon des sources proches du dossier _ Brest. Frapp_ d’un arr_t_ d’expulsion en urgence, cet imam doit quitter la France dans la soir_e pour le Maroc, a pr_cis_ le minist_re. Selon une source polici_re, il lui est reproch_ “d’avoir incit_ _ la discrimination et _ la violence envers la population non-musulmane ainsi qu’envers les femmes” lors de pr_ches _ la mosqu_e de Pontan_zen, un quartier populaire de Brest. Une proc_dure d’expulsion avait d_j_ affect_ le milieu salafiste de la ville le 15 avril 2004 avec la reconduite vers Alger de l’imam Abdelkader Yahia Cherif, de nationalit_ alg_rienne, pour “menace _ la s_ret_ de l’Etat”. L’arr_t_ minist_riel d’expulsion faisait _tat d’un “pros_lytisme en faveur d’un islam radical” et de “relations actives avec la mouvance islamiste nationale ou internationale en relation avec des organisations pr_nant des actes terroristes”. Par ailleurs, un ressortissant marocain naturalis_ en janvier 2004, proche de M. Abdelkader Yahia Cherif, a _t_ d_chu fin 2004 de sa nationalit_ fran_aise en raison de “relations _troites avec des islamistes activistes”.

An American Imam: Moderate Muslim Clerics In The U.S. Tend To Their Faithful–And Help The Fbi Fight Terrorists

By DOUGLAS WALLER STERLING IT WAS ON SEPT. 10, A DAY SHY OF THE fourth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center, that Imam Mohamed Magid met terrorism’s victims face to face. He was presiding at the funeral on Long Island for the daughter and son-in-law of Bangladeshi Americans from his Sterling, Va., mosque. The children, who were at work in the North Tower, perished in the Sept. 11 attack, but not until this past August had medical examiners identified enough of their charred tissue and bone fragments for the parents to hold a funeral. Staring at the two wooden boxes covered with green embroidered cloth and surrounded by grieving family members, the Muslim cleric was gripped by both sadness and rage. “The terrorists who kill in the name of Islam claim they are the martyrs,” Magid told TIME later, the anger still roiling him. “But the victims are the martyrs. The terrorists are the murderers, and God will deal with them on Judgment Day.” From his mosque in Virginia, Magid, like many of the some 600 full-time imams across the country, is fighting his own war against radicals trying to hijack his religion. For Magid that has meant not only condemning terrorism but also working closely with the FBI in battling it. He regularly opens doors for agents trying to cultivate contacts in his Muslim community, and he alerts the bureau when suspicious persons approach his congregation. That puts him in a precarious position: How does he maintain credibility as a spiritual adviser while, in effect, he is informing on fellow Muslims? To understand that balancing act, TIME spent two weeks following Magid as he raced from prayer to prayer, meeting to meeting, in the strange new world of American Muslim ministry. Breaking with tradition hasn’t bothered Magid. Born 40 years ago in the northern Sudanese village of Alrakabih along the Nile River, he studied Islam under African Sunni scholars, who included his father. Magid immigrated to the U.S. in 1987, when his ailing father came seeking medical treatment. Unlike many foreign imams, who find America’s open society too jolting and withdraw to their mosques, he reveled in the cultural diversity. “I never had a Jewish friend until I came to the U.S.,” says the gregarious imam. “And the questioning of all religions here helped me strengthen my own beliefs.” Magid reached out, taking college courses in psychology and family counseling, teaching classes on the Koran at the Islamic Center and Howard University in Washington. One of his African-American students at Howard–Amaarah Decuir, who had recently converted to Islam from Catholicism and was getting a master’s degree in education–eventually became his wife and educated him on women’s issues. In 1997, Magid became imam of a mosque just west of Washington called ADAMS, an acronym for All Dulles Area Muslim Society. An imam can be a layman sufficiently versed in the Koran to lead daily prayers, but larger, more established mosques hire professional imams, comparable to Christian ministers or Jewish rabbis, who are trained in Islamic seminaries or mentored by scholars. Of the some 1,500 mosques in the U.S., ADAMS is one of the more progressive. Its $5 million center in Sterling serves 5,000 mostly middle- and upper-middle-income Sunni and Shi’ite families from more than a dozen ethnic backgrounds. In many mosques abroad and in the U.S., women are required to pray in rooms separate from the men. At ADAMS, women not only pray in the same room with the men (although in a partitioned-off section in the back), they hold four of the 13 seats on the mosque’s board of trustees and chair a majority of its committees. An American imam becomes de facto mayor of his Muslim community. A line of congregants often stretches outside Magid’s office filled with followers asking for all kinds of help. Finding love, for example, can be difficult for observant Muslims scattered in U.S. cities; Islam forbids physical contact in dating or cruising for mates in nightclubs that serve alcohol. A breathless young man once phoned Magid in the middle of the night to ask if he could perform a marriage in a parking lot “right now” so the suitor and the woman in his car wouldn’t feel guilty about what they wanted to do next. “I’m not a 7-Eleven,” the imam barked into the phone. To help with romances, Magid and his wife run a matchmaking service, holding daylong retreats at which young Muslim men and women can mix under the watchful eye of chaperones. Magid has no qualms about grappling with problems that Muslim families often don’t deal with openly. He has organized mosque programs to treat depression among Muslim teens and stocks the women’s restroom at ADAMS with brochures on where to get help if they have an abusive husband. Teenagers and young adults come to him with questions about everything from underage drinking to premarital sex to whether the Koran allows a woman to have a bikini wax. He advises abstaining from alcohol and sex before marriage but knows his advice won’t always be followed, so he also counsels on safe sex and the health dangers of binge drinking. As for the bikini wax, Islam’s rules on female modesty allow it, he decided–if a wife’s husband will be the only one to see the result. “He’s not some big, scary imam sitting in his office passing judgment,” says Zohra Atmar, a 25-year-old legal assistant who is a mosque member. But Sept. 11, 2001, “changed the role of the American imam for good,” Magid believes. Muslims in this country found their religion under attack. His female congregants who wore the hijab, or traditional scarf, on their head were harassed at shopping centers. Last year a man shouted “Terrorists!” at the mosque’s Girl Scouts as they sold cookies at a nearby grocery store. And since 9/11, the ADAMS center has been vandalized four times and the graffiti GO HOME painted on its walls. But this is home, and Magid began mobilizing his mosque to protect it. “There’s no way you can be a quarter-citizen in this country,” he told his congregants during Friday prayers soon after the Sept. 11 attacks. “You have to be a full citizen and defend it.” For Magid, that meant working with the FBI. In early 2002, leaders of two Arab-American organizations who had been conferring with the agency on counterterrorism programs asked Magid and other local imams if they too would work with the bureau. The lawmen badly needed contacts among Washington’s Muslims to help them check out leads and alert them to anything out of the ordinary, but they were getting nowhere in setting up those ties because “there was so much fear and animosity toward the FBI in that community,” says an agent. Magid was willing to cooperate, but he knew he would have to convince his congregation that getting cozy with the FBI was in their interest. Some members–particularly those who had come from countries with repressive regimes where the security service was an organization to be avoided–were uneasy. The imam invited agents to the mosque to explain how Muslims could help, but the initial meetings were heated, and the lawmen had to sit through “some very harsh questioning,” says Uzma Unus, vice president of the ADAMS board of trustees. The congregants vented about law-enforcement profiling, which they felt targeted all Muslims as suspects. Agents were showing up at their workplaces to make routine inquiries about anyone they might want to report, and some Muslims were fired because of the public stigma of being questioned by the FBI. The agents promised to be less heavy-handed in investigations, and over the next three years relations improved. Now Magid often serves as an intermediary, coaxing reluctant congregants who might have useful information about unusual activities in their neighborhoods into meeting with the FBI and advising the bureau on how to be more culturally sensitive–for example, by having male agents schedule interviews with women only when their husbands could be present. Magid regularly tips off the bureau when a stranger with a questionable background wanders into his center. In one case, mosque members alerted him to a newcomer who deal
t only in cash and wanted to list the ADAMS-center address as his home on his driver’s license application. The next time the imam saw the man in his mosque, he kept the newcomer in his office until agents showed up to question him. In the end, the FBI cleared the man. It turned out he had gone through a messy divorce in another state and was simply trying to start a new life in Virginia. So far as Magid knows, no terrorist has tried to infiltrate the mosque, but he always worries that one might. ADAMS prides itself on being an extremist-free zone. Newcomers who mutter thoughts of jihad quickly discover they are not welcome. During Ramadan, guest speakers for evening prayers were carefully screened to make sure they preached religious tolerance. Magid keeps close watch on younger members of the mosque who might be drawn to the diatribes of radical clerics. Before 9/11, he recalls, a teenager who had read a fatwa on an extremist website walked into his office and asked whether the Koran sanctioned suicide bombings. “Absolutely not!” he sternly told the boy. Since the attacks, no young person has approached him with that kind of question, but Magid constantly lectures in Koran classes: “Don’t blindly follow how any religious leader interprets Islam–even me.” After last July’s bombings in London, which were carried out by young British-born Muslims who had turned to extremism, ADAMS parents came to him fearful that their children could be similarly swayed. Magid says he convened more classes with his younger congregants to talk “about using democratic means–not violence–to convey their frustrations and disagreements with U.S. foreign policy.” As riots by mostly disaffected young Muslims swept France this month, he preached the same message of nonviolence in his youth classes. Distrust remains. The collaboration between the FBI and the imam “has not been popular in certain wings,” concedes Michael Rolince, the Washington field office’s special agent in charge of counterterrorism. The bureau has come under fire from hard-line pundits, who charge that it is reaching out to American Muslim leaders sympathetic to extremists. “They are providing an endorsement of these individuals, which enhances their credibility,” says Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, a conservative think tank in Philadelphia. (The FBI insists it works only with moderates like Magid.) But some ADAMS members are still uncomfortable about their imam’s talking to an intelligence service, while other conservative clerics have complained to Magid that he is selling out. Although they keep those reservations private for fear they will be investigated, Magid says, “they ask, ‘How can you open a dialogue with the government when it has been so hostile to Muslims?'” But progressive imams like Magid realize they are on the front line between the Muslim community and a country awakening–often fearfully–to the knowledge that it has a Muslim community. “It’s time for Islam in America to be American,” he says. For the FBI, that kind of thinking may be one of its best weapons in the war on terrorism.M2509

Muslims ‘Want Sermons In English’ Friday Prayers At East London Mosqu: Many Believe Multiculturalism Improves UK Society

A majority of British Muslims say clerics should preach in the English language, a BBC survey suggests. The Mori poll for the BBC found 65% of Muslims backed such a move, compared with 39% of the national population. More than half of UK Muslims were born in the country and younger generations, backed by progressive leaders, have long advocated more English in mosques. Many believe English-speaking imams helps break down cultural divides between Islam and mainstream society. Backing for multiculturalism Commenting on the poll, imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid, chair of the Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony, said it was important for “integration and communication” that imams in the UK spoke English. The Koran commanded imams to speak in the “language of the nation” and those that did not were “not actually performing their duties” as community leaders, he added. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme “nobody knows” how many imams could not speak English, but added: “My feeling is that only 10% are well versed in English and 90% probably speak in their own mother tongue – Turkish, Bengali, Urdu, Hindi, Arabic and so on.” ‘Home-grown imams’ He said the “majority of people” in mosques did not understand the imams because “56% of our young people are born British and the only country they know of is England, the United Kingdom”. He said British Muslims needed “home-grown imams” who “can be the real leaders of the community not just simply preachers”. ISLAM AND INTEGRATION There are enormous numbers who go to mosque and colleges at the same time; they don’t have a problem integrating while sticking to their religious principles Imam Saeed Ahmed Dawn to dusk: Life of an imam Increasing numbers of imams are British-born and educated in the country. Many pursue their higher education in both British universities and the Islamic seats of learning in the Middle East. Muslim leaders also supported a Home Office move to impose language tests on all religious ministers coming to the UK, saying they regarded it as key to imams being able to do their job. Sadia Hussein of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, an organisation that has campaigned for reform of mosques – particularly over access for women – welcomed the poll results. “The poll further reinforces the need for ‘Mosque reform’, ackowledged by many Muslims who are requesting Imams to deliver educational programmes and sermons in English with a wider knowledge of British society and politics,” she said. “Mosques [should] open their doors to improve relations and celebrate British multiculturalism.” The BBC survey, which was carried out to test attitudes towards multiculturalism in the wake of the 7 July bombings, also suggests the majority of British people think multiculturalism makes the country a better place. But 32% think it “threatens the British way of life” and 54% think “parts of the country don’t feel like Britain any more because of immigration”. International sport The survey questioned 1,004 people in the UK. A booster survey of 204 British Muslims was conducted for comparison. The overwhelming majority of Muslims surveyed – 89% – said they feel proud when British teams do well in international sports competitions, a similar figure to the national population. And the survey suggests broad agreement between the two groups on immigrants being made to learn English and accept the authority of British institutions. But the survey suggests a more confused attitude to the concept of multiculturalism. Some 62% of the national population believe “multiculturalism makes Britain a better place to live”, according to the poll. At the same time, 58% thought “people who come to live in Britain should adopt the values of and traditions of British culture”. Among Muslims, 87% thought multiculturalism improved British society, but only 28% thought people coming from abroad should adopt British culture and values. Both Muslims and the broader population disagreed strongly with the suggestion that the policy of multiculturalism had failed and should be abandoned. Only 2% of the national population described themselves as “very racially prejudiced”, but a third said they thought Islam was “incompatible with the values of British democracy”.

Pressure Is Growing On Muslims In Italy

By Elisabeth Rosenthal ROME As a second wave of London bomb attacks hit the news Thursday, Imam Khaldi Samir clicked nervously at his office computer, next to the prayer hall at the Alhuda Islamic Cultural Association on the outskirts of Rome. Bombs in London, he has seen, produce fallout for him. Just two days earlier, with Italy stepping up surveillance after the first round of London attacks, 10 plainclothes police officers with a search warrant turned up at 7 a.m. at the imam’s home in Latina, 70 kilometers, or 40 miles, south of Rome. During a three-hour raid, while his children slept, they scoured the home he shares with his Italian wife, and then downloaded numbers from his cellphone. The police explained that they were looking for clues related to the London bombings, although they found nothing, said the imam, who preaches to up to 800 mostly poor immigrant worshipers each week. The search warrant did not indicate that the imam himself was suspected of a crime. Instead, the police politely explained, the search was “preventive” – the warrant stating he might have “unknowingly” had contact with people connected to terrorism. Five other leaders of the Italy’s Muslims were searched the same day, he said. “The state is punishing its best links to the Muslim community – we never expected that the Italian state would do something like this,” said Samir, a soft-spoken man in a shirt and slacks, clearly shaken by the course of events. “Every day I stress the need for moderation and integration,” Samir said, “but these searches bring into question my credibility in our community. People will say, ‘This is your payback for your moderation.'” He said such events served to radicalize young people. As antiterrorism officials across Europe are intensifying their hunt to root out sleeper cells, they walk a delicate line between thwarting terrorists and radicalizing innocent Muslims who are already largely isolated and marginalized in many European nations. The challenge of controlling terrorism without creating new terrorists, is particularly acute in countries like France and Italy. In those two countries, large and growing Muslim populations are kept by law and by custom on the fringes of mainstream society. There are an estimated 1.5 million Muslims in Italy, a country of about 58 million people. The vast majority of the Muslims are immigrants, who have little chance of getting citizenship. Less than 10 percent have an Italian passport. An official at Italy’s law enforcement agency, the Ministry of the Interior, said that he did not know specifics of recent raids, but that he was “not surprised” that such searches were occurring. “This is an ongoing process,” he said. On Friday, Italy’s Council of Ministers adopted a series of new antiterrorism provisions, which are likely to take effect soon. These include new registration requirements for Internet caf_s and cellphone users, new limits on pilots licenses, and quick expulsions for foreigners considered a danger to national security or who assist in terrorist activities. But the search on the imam’s house occurred legally under the current rules, which give judges wide leeway in issuing warrants. “What if I had reason to believe that a terrorist had gone to your house and was worried he left something – some documents or even a suitcase?” said a senior Italian antiterrorism official, explaining the search. In 2001, the police searched the Alhuda center, which includes a prayer hall and a cultural center and where Arabic and Islamic culture are taught to children. Last year, they searched the home of Ben Mohamed Mohamed, the center’s president. But since the attacks in London, the Italian government has beefed up security measures and has also attempted to reach out to Muslims. In Michelangelo’s beautiful Campidoglio, on the afternoon of the second London bombings, the city of Rome invited prominent Muslims to convey a message of coexistence. “Rome is a city that it open to everybody,” said Giuseppe Mannino, chairman of the City Council. “You are our brothers.” He shared the podium with Mahmoud Hammad Sheweita, imam of Rome’s only official mosque, the Grand Mosque – an architectural masterpiece filled with light and soaring arches, which operates with the permission and cooperation of the Ministry of the Interior. Samir and Mohamed listened from the back row. Unlike the Alhuda center, a subterranean former warehouse where young men wander in and out all day, the luxurious official mosque is open to worshipers only on Friday. For the rest of the week, its primary function is to serve as a sort of liaison between Islam and the Italian government. From here, Mario Scialoja, a former Italian diplomat and convert to Islam, who is head of the Italian branch of the World Muslim League, meets with Islamic ambassadors and lobbies Italian politicians, pushing them to allow Muslims better access to citizenship, and religious education for Muslim children. Scialoja said that the worshipers in his mosque, filled on Fridays, were typical Italian Muslims – poor immigrants who come to Italy for a better existence. He said that “99.7 percent of them couldn’t care less about fundamentalism” and that only 4 percent of Italy’s Muslims attend mosque on a regular basis. While he has noted some acts of intolerance since the London bombings, he praised Giuseppe Pisanu, the interior minister, whom he meets with regularly, and he called Italy’s new antiterrorism proposals “very responsible.” And though he blames the U.S. invasion of Iraq for creating terrorism, he does not support an immediate withdrawal. Italy has troops in Iraq in support of the U.S.-led invasion. “To stay is to feed this anger, but to leave now would create a mess,” he said. But his official version of Islam seems to have little resonance or even connection with Samir’s prayer hall, where many worshipers speak halting Italian and the lingua franca is Arabic. When Scialoja tried to form a national association of Muslim groups five years ago, “the experiment was a failure,” he said, “since some groups had views I couldn’t support.” In 2003, when the Grand Mosque expelled its new Imam for a fiery sermon that justified Palestinian bombings in Israel (though not in Italy), Alhuda’s Web site posted an article defending his right to free speech. In part because Italy does not recognize Islam as a religion, Samir’s flock does not have a real mosque. Italian Muslims must work on their religion’s holy days. As aliens, the vast majority have no right to vote. “Now, with the increasing security, they search our houses – this is a very bad sign,” Samir said. “We hear all about the policies on integration, but we never seen any concrete measures.” They remain largely outsiders and, especially now, visitors to the Alhuda center and the surrounding Islamic shops were greeted with intense suspicion. Requests to interview the Imam were met with deflections and questions: Where are you from? Why do you want him? Samir, a Tunisian who has lived in Italy for 15 years, insists that he would report suspicious activity to the police. Asked if anyone from the Alhuda had attended the religious schools in Pakistan that have been a breeding ground for terrorists, he said: “Not that I know of, but they certainly wouldn’t tell me if they had.”

France Deports Algerian Imam For Anti-Women Statements

Paris (AFP) – Wegen islamisch-fundamentalistischer und frauenfeindlicher _u_erungen schiebt Frankreich einen algerischen Imam ab. Wie die Profektur in Lyon mitteilte, wurde der Vorbeter Abdelkader Bouziane am Dienstagmorgen festgenommen. Nach Angaben seines Anwaltes sollte der Imam noch am Nachmittag mit einem Linienflug von Lyon nach Algerien gebracht werden. Der Pariser Staatsrat als h_chstes franz_sisches Verwaltungsgericht hatte die Ausweisung am Vortag endg_ltig f_r gerechtfertigt erkl_rt. Bouziane war am 21. April ein erstes Mal des Landes verwiesen worden, nach einer Entscheidung des Verwaltungsgerichts Lyon jedoch kurz darauf zur_ckgekehrt.

French Court Quashes Imam Deportation

By Hadi Yahmid PARIS, April 27 (IslamOnline.net) – A French court quashed Monday, April 26, a government decision to deport an Imam to his native Algeria for statements seen by the secular country as violence-inciting. “The ruling has done justice to Imam Abdelkader Bouziane, given the expulsion was neither convincing nor justifiable,” his lawyer Mahmmoud Hibia told IslamOnline.net. “Now Bouziane can return back to France at any time to reunite with his family and sons.” Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin ordered the deportation of Bouziane, imam of a mosque in the eastern city of Lyon, after press statements that Muslim husbands can beat their unfaithful wives.

Former Imam Of Finsbury Park Mosque Has Lost Appeal

The Former Imam Of The Finsbury Park Mosque, London, Has Lost His Appeal Against Detention Without Trial. Abu Qatada, described as an “inspiration” for terrorists both here and abroad, has been held for more than a year under emergency powers introduced after the September 11 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York.