Baden-Württemnerg’s Integration Minister Bilkay Öney (SPD) has called on church-run care institutions to hire more Muslim staff. She is hoping to remove barriers for Muslim caregivers who are not invited to interviews, as their names give away their background. This initiative is one of Öney’s central objectives for 2012.
Baden-Württemberg’s Integration Minister Bilkay Öney held the first “Round Table Islam” last week, which was initiated to improve the dialogue with Muslims (as reported). Öney invited more than 30 Muslim representatives of organisations, associations, and ministries to discuss topics such as the public perception of Islam, Islam and education, Islam and basic liberties, and Islam and gender roles. The participants of the round table did not only discuss these topics, but also searched for concrete measures to improve the integration of Muslims and Islam in Baden-Württemberg. Following the meeting, Öney stressed the need to train more teachers for Islamic education to meet the needs of more than 70,000 Muslim students. Furthermore, she expressed empathy for veiled Muslim women who feel discriminated against due to their headscarf. While Öney herself has been against the headscarf for women in civil service positions, she said she was willing to reconsider her opinion and re-open the debate about the headscarf. The next Round Table Islam is planned for May 2012.
More than 500 mosques throughout the Germany opened their doors to non-Muslims on October 3rd, the “Day of the Open Mosque”. Since 1997, many Muslim communities have been inviting visitors and given them an opportunity to learn about Islam and their culture on October 3rd, which is also the day of German Reunification. The day constitutes a key event to promote better understanding and inter-faith dialogue. Politicians such as Baden Württemberg’s Integration Minister Öney emphasized the symbolic importance of the even taking place on the same day as German Reunification – it shows that Muslims, too, are a part of Germany.
As reported earlier, Baden Württemberg’s Integration Minister Biklay Öney (SPD) is planning on establishing a dialogue forum for Muslims in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg. The plans for this “round table Islam” are now more concrete: The first meeting, dedicated to the public perception of Islam, is to take place in Stuttgart on November 24th. Following the criteria for selecting participants for the German Islam Conference, Öney invited roughly 30 people to the meeting, both representatives of Muslim organizations as well as Muslim individuals not affiliated to any specific association or organization. Interestingly, non-Muslims have not been invited at this stage.
Baden Württemberg’s Integration Minister Biklay Öney (SPD) initiated a “round table Islam” to improve the dialogue with Muslims. Topics to be discussed at these meetings range from “Islam and its social perception”, “Education”, and “Basic rights” to “gender roles”. The first meeting is planned for November; then, the round table is to be held twice a year.
Germany’s Jewish community has reacted with shock to a stone-throwing attack by Muslim children as young as 10 on a Jewish dance troupe performing at a Hanover festival, media reported Thursday.
About 30 children and youths, largely of Lebanese, Palestinian and Iranian descent, threw stones at the dancers on Sunday, shouting “Jews out!” daily Berliner Morgenpost reported. The youths were aged from 10 to 15, the paper reported. The dance troupe, named Chaverim – Hebrew for “friends” – broke off their performance after one of their members was hit in the leg by a stone and lightly injured.
Lower Saxony Integration Minister Aygül Özkan said through a spokesman she was “deeply shocked” by the incident. Charlotte Knoblauch, president of the German Jewish Council, said the incident showed “a new social provocation, which already in the past weeks is clearly visible as it hasn’t been before.” Anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic feelings were evidently simmering among Muslim youths living in Germany, she said, adding that this case “saddens me especially because these anti-Semitic attitudes are encountered already in children and youths with this vehemence.”
Aiman Mazyek, chairman of the Central Council of Muslims, condemned the incident in the strongest terms in an interview with Spiegel Online. He called for Islamic solidarity with anyone – whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim or Atheist – who has suffered from injustice. Mazyek also pointed out that hatred and anti-Semitism had no place in Islam.
Approximately five hundred people attended a recent conference in the Viennese Burgtheater organized by the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) on the subject of immigration and integration, which brought together four prominent speakers: former Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato; Yale professor Seyla Benhabib; Armin Laschet, Integration Minister for the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia; and Roger Köppel, editor-in-chief of the Swiss weekly magazine, Die Weltwoche.
Amato criticised the idea restricting immigration to highly-qualified candidates, and stated that Islam had much less to do with the current problems, than the exploitation of immigrants who in general do not possess good enough language capabilities or education. Benhabib highlighted the conflict between worldwide migration and the nation-state, while stating that European politicians have not done enough to help their societies accept “the Other,” resorting instead to populism which has increased the levels of insecurity and uncertainty. Köppel, on the other hand, claimed that integration was a question of individual choice, and that Islam’s evident political undertone was the real reason for the Swiss minaret ban.
Though Laschet praised the benefits of immigration, according to Benhabib, Europeans have a particular problem positively evaluating immigration due to the fact that “the Other” is most enough seen as a Muslim immigrant. Amato and Köppel maintained that this was because Muslim immigrants in general have problems with modernity, the former referring especially to the lack of separation between state and religion in the countries of origin. Benhabib rejected this argument however, finding that religion and “backwardness” had nothing to do with another, and along with Laschet concluded that the focus on Islam was overrated and counterproductive.
Integration Minister Eberhard van der Laan has announced that Dutch health authorities will investigate reports of child abuse during Qur’an lessons in mosques.
The investigation, which had already established that corporal punishment was used in the Hague, will now extend to other cities.
Participation in the investigation is voluntary, as authorities can only intervene in cases of child abuse, Expatica reports. Mosques in Amsterdam and Tilburg have refused to cooperate with the inquiry.
Forum, a Dutch institute for multicultural development, confirmed on Friday it is to carry out a cost benefit analysis of immigration in the Netherlands, ANP reports. The Amsterdam-based multicultural institute will conduct the study following the government’s refusal to do so. The investigation follows considerable political controversy, as earlier this summer the right-wing Freedom Party (PVV) demanded a calculation of the costs of immigration, which Integration Minister Eberhard van der Laan refused on “matters of principle”.
Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports that Forum director Sadik Harchaoui says he does not want to stray into a political minefield, but rather to get the facts out in the open. That would keep the discussion unbiased and “prevent navel-gazing and strained debates” in the lower house, Mr. Harchaoui told Trouw.
Debate continues in Dutch parliament regarding the request by the Freedom Party (PVV) to undertake a study of the impact of non-Western immigrants on the nation’s budget. Integration Minister Eberhard van der Laan refused, saying the government does not compile figures on specific groups in society. Van der Laan is accused of making his refusal to name a figure partly a political decision, thus dodging his constitutional obligation to provide information.
But while the government has an obligation to supply information, what preoccupied many MPs in the parliamentary debate was the intention behind the Freedom Party’s request in the light of its anti-Islam and anti-immigrant political agenda. Freedom Party MP Sietse Fritsma would say no more than that “the tax payer has a right to information”.