Germany Copes With Integrating Turkish Minority; Immigration Reform On Agenda After Decades Of Separate, Unequal Treatment

Robert Collier, Chronicle Staff Writer In the streets of Kreuzberg, a Berlin neighborhood known as Little Istanbul, a cultural tug-of-war is plain to see. Women with Muslim head scarves and long cloaks linger in doorways of kebab and spice shops, young Turkish men play video games in Internet parlors, while German hipsters sip espresso in ultra-modern cafes. Turks remain a separate and unequal population in Germany. “People don’t feel accepted,” said Safter Cimar, a spokesman for the Turkish Union of Berlin. Cimar, a secularist who represents the decades-old anti-religious bent of mainstream Turkish society, laments that conservative religious views are spreading quickly. “People are going back to nationalism, to Islam, to the worst combination of both,” he said. “Young people especially are becoming radical. Many of them are deciding, ‘OK, if they want us to be foreigners, we will act like foreigners. We don’t like German society.’ ” About 2.5 million Turks or people of Turkish descent live in Germany. While the country has not been beset by the riots France has experienced among its frustrated immigrant communities, Germany is grappling with questions that echo the debate in Washington over immigration reform: How can millions of foreigners be brought in as a cheap workforce without becoming a resentful underclass? Should immigrants mold themselves to the dominant culture, or should the country adopt a lenient multiculturalism? Unemployment among Turks is estimated at 25 percent, more than twice the national average of 11 percent, and in Berlin it reaches 42 percent. About 30 percent of Turkish students drop out of high school, and another 40 percent graduate in the hauptschule, or vocational program, which trains them for industrial jobs that are becoming increasingly scarce. Discrimination against Turks and other Muslim immigrants is widely reported to be common in jobs and housing. Anger among Turks is rising, although most observers agree that a France-style explosion is unlikely. Five cars were burned in Berlin on Monday, in apparent arson attacks intended to echo France’s violence. Germany’s Turkish leaders condemned the violence, but warned that alienation is deep-seated. “With Turks, the government has no problem, but with Muslims, the government has a very big problem,” said Burhan Kesici, president of the Islamic Federation, which represents conservative mosques catering to 250,000 Muslims in Berlin, of whom 200,000 are Turks and most of the rest are Arabs. “No institution wants to talk with Islamic groups. There is no cooperation with the government. There are a lot of problems with police officers.” Although some Turks are middle-class shopkeepers and small business owners who are integrated into German society, what grabs public attention are cases highlighting poor Turks and their traditional ways. Kesici’s organization won a long court battle to teach Islam in Berlin public schools alongside the Catholic and Protestant theology classes that have long been part of the traditional curriculum. Kesici, who was born in Germany, also has lobbied for swimming classes to be divided by sex so that boys could not see girls in their swimsuits. Meanwhile, millions of Germans are fixated on TV coverage of the trial for the “honor killing” in February of a 23-year-old Turkish woman by her three brothers, who said she “lived like a whore.” These issues have been heavily covered in the nation’s media and have led to a public backlash. Angela Merkel, the conservative Christian Democrat leader who completed a deal Friday with rival Social Democrats to become Germany’s next chancellor, rode a wave of anti-Turkish public sentiment by promising a tougher stance toward immigrants and by pledging to block Turkey’s bid to join the European Union. Public opposition to EU entry for Turkey is high — 74 percent, according to a major poll in July. Similar sentiments were found elsewhere, with 80 percent opposed in Austria, 70 percent in France and 52 percent throughout the EU. Like nearly every European nation, Germany has insisted that immigrants either remain separate from local society or assimilate fully into it. Since Turks were first recruited in the 1960s and early 1970s as temporary workers, Germans have rejected the American-style concept of multiculturalism and demanded that newcomers who want permanent residence absorb the leitkultur, or mainstream German culture. “For 40 years, we have been a country of immigration, but we have denied this,” said Rita Suessmuth, a former Christian Democratic federal legislator who chaired a government commission in 2000-01 that helped shape an immigration reform law that took effect in January this year. The law broadened Germany’s welcome for asylum seekers and made government-funded German-language and civics courses obligatory for newcomers, but kept tight limits on new immigration. “There are so many prejudices,” Suessmuth said. “In Germany, there is a desire to be similar. We are very suspicious of others.” Cimar, the Turkish Union spokesman, said his fellow immigrants bear some of the blame for the failure to integrate. “Until the 1990s, nobody demanded that the Turks speak German, because they were just expected to do the dirty jobs, and everyone thought they would go back to Turkey and not stay here,” he said. “So people didn’t bother learning the language or putting down roots. They didn’t integrate, they didn’t adapt.” Mehmet Okyayuz, a migration expert and professor of political science at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, the Turkish capital, said many Turks in Germany are “caught in a time warp,” clinging to traditions that in many parts of Turkey no longer exist. “The majority of Turks in Germany are more traditional than many Turks here,” said Okyayuz, who lived for 33 years in Germany and returned to his native country in 1994. He cited the case of a friend who has long lived in Germany, “a normal Turk, not an intellectual,” and who has visited his home country several times in recent years. “I invited him to speak to my classes, and he was astonished by what he saw there among the students — young men with long hair and earrings, women in the same kind of dress you probably see in San Francisco.” Compared with many European countries, Germany has taken a more welfare-state-oriented, less law-and-order approach to immigrants and Islam. In France, wearing Muslim head coverings has been banned in state schools. The government routinely arrests and deports foreign imams accused of supporting holy war against the West or espousing anti-Semitism. The domestic intelligence service closely monitors radical mosques, immigrant organizations and even Islamic butcher shops and travel agencies. Anti-terrorism judges have wide-ranging powers enabling them to jail suspects for as long as four years without trial. French police officers — the vast majority of whom are white — have a long-held reputation for tough tactics in immigrant neighborhoods. In Britain, 10 extremist clerics were arrested recently and targeted for deportation under Prime Minister Tony Blair’s new anti-terrorism measures, instituted after bombings in London killed more than 50 people in July. Because of Germans’ sensitivity to their history of ethnic and religious hatred, culminating in the Holocaust, government leaders have tried to avoid accusations of discrimination and thus have not aggressively policed immigrant neighborhoods. The new immigration law allows the government to deport foreigners for security reasons. A Muslim imam in Berlin was ordered expelled in March for calling Germans “useless, stinking atheists,” although the move was later blocked by the country’s constitutional court. In Washington, the Bush administration and Congress are expected to begin debate early next year on immigration reform, including a temporary-worker program that would be similar to the program that brought Turks to Germany and other European nations in the 1960s and 1970s. Lines are being drawn in Congress over whether to offer illegal immigrants, most of them Mexican, temporary U.S. visas that coul
d last, depending on the proposal, as long as six years before the holder is obligated to return home. “The greatest lesson that Americans need to understand up front is that when you design a temporary guest worker program, no matter how much you intend the workers to return (to their home countries), one-third to 50 percent of the guest workers eventually will become permanent,” said Demetrios Papademetriou, president of the Migration Policy Institute in Washington. “The objective should not be to keep up the lie that they will all go back, but … to find a smart way to select people who really try hard to stay. What makes for a successful immigrant? Do you want him to learn our language, pay taxes, play by the rules? If so, he should have all of the labor rights and standards of a citizen. If you do those things well, you don’t have problems,” Papademetriou said. “In Europe, they didn’t do one or the other, and they wound up with extreme resentment.”

Dutch Virtue Of Tolerance Under Strain

By Roger Cohen AMSTERDAM In the Dutch interiors painted by the great artists of the Golden Age, all appears in order: the ruffs of white linen and polished surfaces speak of a luminous calm. But often a furtive glance caught in a mirror, or a keyhole view of another world, suggests a charged tension behind the elegance. The Netherlands today can still offer a picturesque tranquillity, with its swarms of straight-backed bike riders and its canals reflected in the handsome windows of gabled homes. But cut a keyhole through Dutch decorum and violence appears: a filmmaker shot and stabbed by an Islamic fanatic, politicians in hiding from jihadist threats, a newspaper columnist menaced into silence, people living in fear. Immigration, particularly of Muslims, has long been an issue in Europe, a challenge to overburdened welfare systems and to the self-image of countries where every village hoists a church spire to the sky. But what was once a subject of worthy debate is now more a matter of survival. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Netherlands, where a familiar European combination of troubled history and quiet hypocrisy, wrapped in a veneer of tolerance, has yielded unexpected bloodshed. “We see that our much-vaunted tolerance toward immigrants was often just indifference and we are left wondering: What have we become?” said Job Cohen, the mayor of Amsterdam. The murders, in 2002 and 2004 respectively, of the taboo-trampling politician Pym Fortuyn and the Islam-bashing movie director Theo van Gogh have left the Dutch bereft of certainties. They are not alone in their questioning. Islam is now of Europe, a European religion. But Europe, after terrorist killings in Madrid and Amsterdam and London, sees more threat than promise in the immigrant tide from its Muslim fringes. Geert Wilders is a rightist member of the Dutch Parliament living in a secret location under police protection because Islamic radicals say they will kill him. That, in what was until recently the placid Western democracy par excellence, is extraordinary. “All non-Western immigration must be stopped,” Wilders said. “Pure Islam is violent.” Other politicians, like Cohen, see the solution more in building bridges than barriers. They argue, like Tony Blair and George W. Bush, that a perversion of Islam, not Islam itself, threatens the West. But nobody, even in laid-back Amsterdam, is indifferent to immigration any longer. That Europe needs immigrants, and that they will seek to come from adjacent North Africa and other poor Muslim areas, is evident. It needs them to do jobs, from asparagus picking to care of the elderly, that others do not want to do. […]

Purge On Extremists Uk To Deport 500 Muslims In Phases

LONDON, Aug 7:-In a massive crackdown on extremists following the London terror attacks, British authorities will deport in phases as many as 500 radical Muslims, out of which a dozen clerics will be sent to their homelands over the next two weeks, reports PTI. The move follows British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s announcement last week of a purge on terrorists and extremists. Immigration officials have already been given a list of names, compiled by MI5, and told to begin proceedings. Among the first to be deported will be a dozen radical clerics. But, hundreds of other foreign extremists, including some Islamic bookshop owners, writers, teachers and website operators will also go, the ‘News of the World’ report said. “Just as the police operation over the past four weeks has been dynamic and fast-paced, so will our response,” a senior home official was quoted as saying. All 500 names have been taken from a “watch list” of extremists compiled over the past five years by the Intelligence Service. Their identities are being kept secret so that they will not be able to go into hiding or mount a legal challenge. The deportation process will begin after Home Secretary Charles Clarke returns from holiday this week. An initial wave of up to 100 people will be booted out in the next month, officials at both the Home Office and the Foreign Office revealed. Another 100 foreign nationals will then be sent home by the end of the year. And 300 more will be sent home next year once the government has new laws in place to strip them of their British citizenship. Over the next week agreements will be completed with ten African and Middle Eastern countries to make sure they will accept the extremists.

In American Cities, No Mirror Image Of Muslims Of Leeds

By NINA BERNSTEIN After the four suicide bombers in London were identified last week, news accounts focused on life in the old mill town of Leeds, where they grew up: the immigrant enclaves, the high unemployment, the rising anger and alienation of Muslim residents. Some Britons grasping for an explanation pointed at those conditions, however tentative their link to homegrown terrorism. Mahendra Kumar Patel, the manager of Patel’s Cash and Carry in Jersey City, has immigrants of many ethnic groups as customers. That rough sketch of Leeds had a familiar ring for many residents of the Northeastern United States, where old mill towns in New Jersey and upstate New York have also drawn many immigrants to faded neighborhoods teetering between blight and renewal. Three of the suspects were raised in immigrant families from Pakistan and one from Jamaica. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are now home to at least 20 percent of the nation’s 219,000 Pakistani immigrants, and more than half of the 513,000 immigrants from Jamaica. But the differences between the suspects’ hometown and the depressed cities around New York are actually stronger than the similarities. Social conditions among British immigrants, for example, appear to be considerably worse than they are in the United States. The 747,000 Pakistanis in Britain, counted among its nonwhite residents, are three times more likely to be out of work than white Britons, according to one of several bleak statistics showcased in the 2001 British census. Forty percent of Pakistani women and 28 percent of Pakistani men are listed as having no job qualifications, and school failure among Caribbean blacks is triple the rate for white Britons, who constitute 92 percent of the population. In America, where few surveys even break out ethnic origins, a much rosier picture emerges from available figures. Pakistani household incomes in New York are close to the $43,393 median and exceed it in New Jersey – $56,566 compared with $55,145, according to 1999 figures, the most recent available. Jamaicans fare a little less well statewide, but have robust rates of household income and educational success in New York City, where they are concentrated. They have a clear edge: English proficiency in a place where one in four residents cannot speak it well, and where nearly half of the work force is foreign-born. While South Asian immigrants to Britain began arriving soon after World War II, they were part of a stream of temporary workers to a small, culturally homogenous country where they remained outsiders. In the United States, the pioneer immigrants from predominantly Muslim lands arrived mainly after 1980, many as university students, and like Caribbean blacks, entered a diverse country built on immigration. But demographics fall short of explaining terrorism. As details emerged about the British suspects’ relatively prosperous lives, experts and immigrant parents alike wondered how much collective benchmarks mean in predicting the extremism of a handful of angry people. Compared with Britain, “We definitely have a different dynamic going on here in the United States,” said Peter Skerry, a political scientist at Boston College. “I don’t know that that necessarily means we’re out of the woods – it doesn’t take very much for a set of individuals to adopt attitudes that could lead to a terrorist act.” Others, like Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center of Immigration Studies, which favors more restriction on immigration, point out that this important demographic difference is temporary: Since most immigrants to the United States from Muslim countries arrived after 1990, few of the children born to them here have reached adulthood yet. He found that more than 85 percent of the 100,000 children born in America to Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are under 20. In a Jersey City shop where fresh goat meat and comic videos in Urdu compete for shelf space, Zafar Zafar, a Pakistani father of three, echoed such concerns last week. Mr. Zafar, whose oldest child is 13, struggled in imperfect English to convey his horror at the case of Shahzad Tanweer, 22, the suspect described as a pious but fun-loving youth whose father owned a fish-and-chips shop in Leeds.

Moroccans, Turks Rally Against Dutch Immigration Plans

AMSTERDAM – Moroccan and Turkish groups in the Netherlands have set up a new action committee named “Genoeg is genoeg” (enough is enough) to organise a campaign against the Dutch government’s tough immigration and integration policies. The organisers are calling for a national demonstration on 17 September in Amsterdam. Two spokesmen for the new organisation outlined the plans for the demonstration during a press conference in the Moroccan capital of Rabat on Monday. Dutch Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk arrived in Rabat for an official visit on Monday. She toured the Dutch embassy where modifications have been made to house the new integration tests that are to be introduced for would-be immigrants to the Netherlands. While there was news on Monday that other European countries are interested in the immigration policies being pioneered by Verdonk, the spokesmen for the new action committee described her policies as discriminatory and racist. “These policies are creating a greater rift between ‘us and them’, one of the representatives said. The ‘Genoeg is genoeg’ group wanted to hold a demonstration in Rabat to coincide with Verdonk’s visit but the authorities did not grant them a permit to do so. The group says there should be no difference between the treatment of Muslims and non-Muslims. It argues that the Cabinet’s integration plans as well as limitations on family reunification and dual nationality hits at the principle of equal rights for all dutch citizens. “We don’t want a separate policy for one group as that leads to Apartheid,” one of the spokesmen said.

Immigration Law Used In Antiterror Fight: Us Sees Easy Route To Detain Suspects

By Mary Beth Sheridan WASHINGTON — The federal government is waging part of the war against terrorism with a seemingly innocuous weapon: immigration law. In the past two years, officials have filed immigration charges against more than 500 suspects who have come under scrutiny in national security investigations, according to previously undisclosed government figures. Whereas terrorism charges can be difficult to prosecute, Department of Homeland Security officials say immigration laws can provide a quick, easy way to detain people who could be planning attacks. Authorities have used routine charges such as overstaying a visa to deport suspected supporters of terrorist groups. ”It’s an incredibly important piece of the terrorism response,” said Michael J. Garcia, who heads Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. And although immigration violations might seem humdrum, he said, ”They’re legitimate charges.” Muslim and civil liberties activists disagree. They argue that authorities are enforcing minor violations by Muslims and Arabs, while ignoring millions of other immigrants who flout the same laws. They note that many of those charged are not shown to be involved in terrorism. ”The approach is basically to target the Muslim and Arab community with a kind of zerotolerance immigration policy. No other community in the United States is treated to zero-tolerance enforcement,” said David Cole, a Georgetown University law professor and critic of the government’s antiterrorism policies. Before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, immigration agents were minor players in the world of counterterrorism. That changed during the investigation of the hijackings, when 768 suspects were secretly processed on immigration charges. Most were deported after being cleared of connections to terrorism. Unlike that controversial roundup, most of the recent arrests have not involved secret proceedings. Still, they can be hard to track. A few cases have turned into high-profile criminal trials, but others have centered on little-known individuals processed in obscure immigration courts, with no mention of a terrorism investigation. In some cases, the government ultimately concludes a suspect, while guilty of an immigration violation, has no terrorism ties. Authorities are often reluctant to disclose why an immigrant’s name emerged in a national security investigation, because the information is classified or part of a continuing inquiry. Homeland Security officials turned down a request for the names of all those charged in the past two years, making it difficult to assess how effective their strategy has been at thwarting terrorism.

German Immigration Law Targets Muslims

German states race to enforce the new immigration law on Muslim immigrants in Germany as if it was especially tailored for them. Days after the law went into effect at the beginning of this year, German states rushed to prepare lists of thousands of Muslim immigrants — whom the German authorities dubbed as suspects — for immediate deportation. In no time, German states have started deporting dozens of the so-called “suspects.” Bavarian Prime Minister Gunter Beckstein, told Der Spiegel magazine earlier in the week that his state has already begun shipping out immigrants under the new law. Beckstein was in the vanguard of officials attacking Muslims, accusing the sizable Turkish community of living in “parallel societies” with their own cultural and social activities. The state of Hessen followed suit deporting ten imams since the beginning of this month. Authorities charged the imams of preaching religious hatred. Other immigrants were also expelled from the state for being involved in “extremist activities.” Last week, a spokesman for the German Interior Ministry in Metropolitan Berlin boasted that the new law makes it easy for federal authorities to deport any “suspect.” Under the new immigration law, German authorities are entitled to kick out foreigners, especially Muslim imams, back to their countries of origin if security agencies view them as posing a threat to national security. The measure restricts the deportees’ right to appeal or challenge any expulsion decision. Under the law, immigrants are additionally bound to attend language and culture classes. Pundits believe that the law is quite vague as it falls short of giving a clear definition of “suspects” and the whole thing is based on authorities’ speculations and premonitions. It further gives sweeping powers to anti-Muslim and xenophobic officials as state premiers and interior ministers can use it without having to consult first with the federal government. It seems as if the law regards all imams in the country as suspects until proven otherwise, which undermines earnest Muslim efforts to integrate into German society, IslamOnline.net correspondent says. He adds that the absence of an official body speaking in unison in the name of the Muslim community helped pass the new “draconian” law. Raids The deportations’ drive, which was passionately welcomed by right-wing politicians and media, came in parallel with massive police raids on resident Islamists. Earlier in the month, police stormed 35 homes owned by 24 Arabs, arresting 20 of them. They have been accused of receiving funds from bodies suspected of having links with “terrorist groups”. A German intelligence report has revealed that only one percent of Germany’s Muslim population are members of organizations that pose serious threats to the country’s national security. In 2004, German Muslims had been, in effect, caught in an anti- and pro-Islam battle with anti-Muslim voices speaking louder than ever. Dealing with the Muslim community became the overriding concern of German officials, who jumped on the anti-Islam bandwagon across Europe and came up with plans and ideas on the best way to contain the Muslim community security-wise. All of a sudden, Muslim issues like hijab and integration were deliberately brought to the fore as if Muslims were a thorn in the government’s side, according to IOL correspondent. Though German Minister of Economics and Labor Wolfgang Clement said in June that Turkish investments help create 300,000 new jobs for Germans a year, 80 percent of the Turkish community feel discriminated against, according to a recent study. Islam comes third after Protestant and Catholic Christianity. There are some 3.4 million Muslims in Germany, including 220,000 in Berlin alone. An estimated two thirds of the Muslim community are of Turkish origin.

Fear of Islamists Drives Growth of Far Right in Belgium

ANTWERP, Belgium – Filip Dewinter, a boyish man in a dark blue suit, bounds up two flights of steep stairs in his political party’s 19th-century headquarters building where posters show a Muslim minaret rising menacingly above the Gothic steeple of the city’s cathedral. “The radical Muslims are organizing themselves in Europe,” he declared. “Other political parties, they are very worried about the Muslim votes and say let’s be tolerant, while we are saying – the new political forces in Europe are saying – no, we should defend our identity.” From the Freedom Party in Austria to the National Front in France to the Republicans in Germany, Europe’s far right has made a comeback in recent years, largely on the strength of anti-immigration feelings sharpened to a fear of Islam. That fear is fed by threats of terrorism, rising crime rates among Muslim youth and mounting cultural clashes with the Continent’s growing Islamic communities. But nowhere has the right’s revival been as swift or as strong as in Belgium’s Dutch-speaking region of Flanders, where support for Mr. Dewinter’s Vlaams Belang, or Flemish Interest, has surged from 10 percent of the electorate in 1999 to nearly a quarter today. Vlaams Belang is now the strongest party in Flanders, with support from a third of the voters in Antwerp, the region’s largest city. Many people worry that the appeal of antiIslamic politics will continue to spread as Europe’s Muslim population grows. “What they all have in common is that they use the issue of immigration and Islam to motivate and mobilize frustrated people,” said Marco Martiniello, a political scientist at the University of Li_ge in the French-speaking part of Belgium. “In Flanders all attempts to counter the march of the Vlaams Belang have had no results, or limited results, and no one really knows what to do.” Fear of Islam’s transforming presence is so strong that even many members of Antwerp’s sizable Jewish community now support Mr. Dewinter’s party, even though its founders included men who sympathized and collaborated with the Nazis during World War II. Many of those supporters are Jews who feel threatened by a new wave of anti-Semitism emanating from Europe’s growing Muslim communities. The friction is acutely felt in central Antwerp, where the Jewish quarter abuts the newer Muslim neighborhood of Borgerhout. There, Hasidic diamond traders cross paths daily with Muslim youths, for many of whom conservative Islam has become an ideology of rebellion against perceived oppression. Israeli-Palestinian violence produces a dangerous echo here: anti-Israel marches have featured the burning in effigy of Hasidic Jews, and last June a Jewish teenager was critically wounded in a knife attack by a group of Muslim youths. “Their values are not the right values,” said Henri Rosenberg, a Talmudic scholar and lawyer who is an Orthodox Jew, speaking of the Muslim community. Though he is the son of concentration camp survivors and his grandparents died in camps, he campaigned on behalf of Vlaams Belang, then named Vlaams Blok, in regional elections last year. As the right rallies beneath an anti-Muslim banner, European Muslims themselves have become increasingly politically engaged. The community is far too divided along religious, racial and national lines to present a unified political force, so most of Europe’s Muslim politicians have allied themselves with socialists or other left-leaning parties. But radical Muslims are also getting involved, and in many ways they are helping to validate the fears that keep parties like Vlaams Belang alive. Behind the wooden door of a brick Brussels town house, Jean-Fran_ois Bastin, 61, a Belgian convert to Islam, holds court before a steady stream of Islamic activists. His fledgling Young Muslims Party is one of the new groups aggressively pursuing pro-Muslim agendas in Europe. He calls Osama bin Laden “a modern Robin Hood,” and the World Trade Center attacks “a poetic act,” “a pure abstraction.” His 23-year-old son is in jail in Turkey on charges that he was involved in the bombings there that killed 61 people in November 2003. But Mr. Bastin argues that his son’s troubles are evidence that Muslim youths feel politically excluded in Europe. He says political engagement is an antidote to militancy. “There is deviance because people don’t find their place here,” he said, a long, hennaed beard falling over the front of his Arab-style tunic, his graying hair tucked beneath a turban fashioned from a multicolored head scarf. “If we deny that political voice that can judge and determine what is good for Muslims, from the point of view of their religion and their citizenship, their children are going to look for adventures elsewhere.” Mr. Bastin, who converted to Islam in 1972 after a spiritual quest led him to Morocco, dismisses the far right’s fears of an Islamization of Europe, even if he does dream of an Islamic theocracy governing the Continent someday. “Were not talking about Shariah now,” he said, referring to the Islamic legal code that fundamentalist Muslims believe should be the foundation of society. “Were talking about Belgian Muslims being recognized on the same footing as other confessions and ideologies.” In many ways radical Islamists like Mr. Bastin are holding Europe’s broader, moderate Muslim population hostage, attracting attention disproportionate to their numbers. “You have, in the current context, people who feel legitimized being anti-Muslim,” said Mr. Martiniello, the political scientist. He cited the case of a Belgian man who had received death threats for employing a woman who wore a Muslim head scarf. Many of the extreme right’s supporters see Islam’s growing European presence as the latest, most powerful surge of a Muslim tide that has ebbed and flowed since the religion spread to the Continent in the eighth century. They warn that lax immigration policies, demographic trends and a strong Muslim agenda will forever alter Europe. The Continent’s Muslim population, now 20 million, grew from a postwar labor shortage that was filled with workers from North Africa and Turkey. By the 1980’s economic malaise and rising unemployment had created tension between the largely Muslim immigrants and the surrounding societies. But family reunion policies, which granted visas to family members of immigrants already in Europe, fueled another, more sustained wave of immigration that continues today. “We were very na_ve,” Mr. Dewinter said of the liberal policies. He called tolerance Europe’s Achilles’ heel and immigration Islam’s Trojan horse. The trend is even more distressing to the far right when considering the low birthrate of Europe’s traditional populations and the likelihood that more workers will need to be imported in the coming decades to broaden the tax bases of the Continent’s aging societies. Already about 4,000 to 5,000 Flemish residents are leaving Antwerp every year, while 5,000 to 6,000 non-European immigrants arrive annually in the city, Mr. Dewinter said. Within 10 years, he predicts, people of non-European backgrounds will account for more than a third of Antwerp’s population. “It’s growing very, very fast,” Mr. Dewinter said. “Maybe that will be the end of Europe.”

‘Muhammad’ Is Growing Popular In Britain

LONDON, Jan. 6 (Reuters) – Muhammad joined the perennial favorites Jack and Joshua in 2004 as one of the most popular names given to British boys, a sign of growing ethnic diversity and a legacy of Muslim immigration decades ago. The Office of National Statistics said Thursday that Muhammad, meaning “one who is praiseworthy” or “exalted,” had moved up two places, to enter the top 20 for the first time. “It is all about demographics,” said Dr. Jamil Sherif, of the Muslim Council of Britain, an umbrella group of 400 organizations. “There are now more Muslims being born in Britain than previously. About 40 percent of Muslims here are under 25; there are a lot of young families.” Immigration from Asia and Africa surged during the 1960’s and 70’s and Britain, with about 61 million people, is home to about 1.6 million Muslims. But despite its increased popularity, Muhammad has a long way to go before it takes the laurels from Jack, which has topped the charts for 10 years. Joshua was No. 2, Thomas at 3, James at 4 and Daniel at 5. For girls, Emily held the top spot for the second year running, and Ellie was again No. 2.

Id Cards Needed Urgently To Fight Terror – Top Policeman

By John Deane, Chief Political Correspondent Britain’s most high profile police officer has called for the rapid introduction of a national identity card scheme as a tool in the struggle against terrorism. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens said there was an urgent need to enhance the authorities’ ability to check identities – and ID cards should be introduced “the sooner, the better.” At his monthly press conference on Thursday, Prime Minister Tony Blair indicated that ID cards were moving up the political agenda rapidly. Mr Blair said: “I think that the whole issue of identity cards, which a few years ago were not on anyone’s agenda, are very much on the political agenda here, probably more quickly even than we anticipated.” In an interview for GMTV’s Sunday Programme, Sir John was asked whether the security of Britain’s borders is a problem. He said: “It is a problem. I think it is a recognised problem. This is why I think identification cards would be of great assistance. “Up to a year-and-a-half ago I would have been against identification cards because we had no certainty that the documentation used for identification cards could actually prove with certainty the identification of someone. “Biometrics, the use of eyes, the use of fingerprints is now a certainty in a way that never was before, so therefore identification, either whether it be on border controls or whether we have to deal with stop and search in the street, anti-terrorism kind of activity … would give a certainty we need. “And I’m very much in favour of that as is the Association of Chief Police Officers.” Reminded that last week Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt suggested that compulsory ID cards were “many, many years away”, Sir John replied: “Well, I disagree with her totally. “I think the sooner they’re brought in the better and as a professional police officer I have to tell you we need them … I’m afraid the minister is wrong. I have to say that we do need those ID cards now.” Sir John stressed that “proper border controls” were needed to help combat terrorism and crime. “We do need proper border controls, we do need proper immigration controls in this country. “The borders of this country have been porous and we can prove that with a number of cases which have had high profile recently. “I think that the drive towards ensuring that immigration, customs and the police are working together and on occasions working together with some of the excellent work done by MI5 in particular and MI6 is the way forward. “You’ve got to have some border controls which are there, which are obvious and which work.” Sir John was asked about Islamic fundamentalist preachers living in Britain who make provocative remarks about relations between the Muslim community and the rest of society. Sir John said: “We monitor what people say on a regular basis. If they in fact obviously break the law then we will do something about it there and then. “But a lot of these cases are on the very edge of the law in terms of breaking the law and in those cases we submit these comments to the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Crown Prosecution Service to see whether people have breached the law. If they have breached the law we will take action.” Asked if the police were keeping a close eye on controversial London-based Muslim cleric Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri, Sir John replied: “Very much”. Sir John was also asked about Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, leader of the London-based group Al-Muhajiroun, who this week said Muslims should not cooperate with their local authorities against other members of the faith. Sir John said: “I think any comments that talk about not assisting the police – because we’re there for the public, we’re there to ensure their safety – is not helpful.” Asked whether Sheik Omar should be deported, Sir John said: “Well again you can only deport people if they’re breached the law.” Sir John was also asked about this week’s major anti-terrorism operation in south east England. He said: “Well I can’t talk about the specific arrests because that would be totally wrong. But I think what we have to acknowledge is that we have to look at the reasons why people do want to come to this country – or are in this country – and do want to bomb people. “I think we’ve got to try and understand it more because unlike the IRA there is no kind of political head, no political people that we can negotiate with – this Al Qaida.”