New Dutch think-tank initiated to analyze integration in the Netherlands

In the coming years a new Dutch think-tank called Knowledge Platform Integration & Society (Kennisplatform Integratie & Samenleving) will develop a new program pertaining to integration issues in the Netherlands. It will stimulate and facilitate current debates and present concrete solutions for inquiries by governments, business world, and societal organizations. The Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment will finance the program that will be executed by the Verwey-Jonker Institute and Movisie. In the past similar projects were executed by Forum, a knowledge institute for multicultural issues, that ceased to exist last year.

Mobilizing German Muslims against extremism

Minister of Integration, Bilkay Öney, emphasized on the role of Muslims communities in combatting radical Islamism. Arguing that Islamic extremism being not only a general threat to the German society but also a threat to the security of Muslims, Islamic organizations and communities should take adequate measures as well as support state authorities.

Lorraine opens new Muslim burial plot

Between 150 and 200 people assisted at the inauguration of the Barthou cemetery, the new cemetery of Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy. The new cemetery contains a section of plots for Muslims that is over 2,000 m². The new burial plot is the result of “a long process,” according to Saïd Derbani, President of the Association of Muslims of Lorraine (AML), that, for ten years, has supported the project. While the city’s primary cemetery has a section of plots for Muslims, it has been full for many years.

The cemetery is responding to a “real need,” stated Derbani. He explained that in recent years there has been a shift from believers wanting to be buried in their home countries, to a new generation that wishes to be buried in France. “A 90 year-old woman who converted [to Islam] would ask me every time she saw me where she would be buried,” he said. As a result the new section is a source of “relief” for many.

“Integration takes place during active life. But also in the ground,” Derbani contended. “According to the Ministry of the Interior’s statistics, between 75% and 80% of Muslims who died in France are repatriated to their home countries to be buried. But it is clear that the number of those wishing to be buried in France has not stopped growing, notably within the new generations.

“It is more normal for citizens who have spent the majority of their life on French soil and for their children who have only known the homeland of France,” declared Amine Nedji, president of the Lorraine Regional Council of the Muslim Faith.

There are more than 200 Muslim plots in France. However, “This number is less than the growing need. It’s often due to the lack of political willingness that the memorandum is not found in certain towns. This is due to two reasons: certain politicians have a truncated and biased reading of the principle of secularism…Others simply prefer simply to close the discussion on the subject,” said Nedji.

The need is growing as there are estimated to be over five million Muslims living in France.

Mainstreaming Immigrant Integration Policy in France: Education, Employment, and Social Cohesion Initiatives [PDF download]

Mainstreaming Immigrant Integration Policy in France: Education, Employment, and Social Cohesion Initiatives [PDF download]

Germany: Assaults on Mosques and Anti-Muslim Racism

July 2014

In a recent interview Aiman A. Mazyek, chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, emphasized the increase of anti-Muslim racism in Germany. Mazyek stressed that assaults on mosques have increased in significant ways and urged to address this issue. First and foremost it would be necessary to accurately capture anti-Muslim racism. For this, it would be essential to have a distinct category which captures anti-Muslim offences. Other than that he suggested to implement special departments in political-administrative bodies of the state, dealing with and monitoring anti-Muslim racism in Germany.

In a different incident Nicolaus Fest, vice editor-in-chief for Bild am Sonntag, forwarded Islamophobe and anti-Muslim comments leading to a public outcry about his racist theses. In an op-ed article Nicolaus Fest not only stereotyped Muslim youth as being criminal in general, but equated Islam with oppressing women and homosexuals as well as encouraging forced marriage and honor killings. The editors-in-chief of the tabloid newspaper Bild, Kai Diekmann and Marion Horn, distanced themselves from these comments.

Turkish Ambassador to Germany wishes an official Ramadan Gala

July 8, 2014

The ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to Germany, Hüseyin Avni Karslioglu, expressed that he would like to see an official Ramadan gala hosted by the Federal Government. Recognizing the many events taking place within Germany’s constituent federal states, Hüseyin Avni Karslioglu referred particularly to the USA and the Obama administration as one positive example he could think of. He stated that such an event would be symbolic for the arrival of Islam in Germany. Thomas De Mazière as well, Federal Minister of the Interior, upheld Iftar for its capacity to overcome boundaries and described it as an event fostering “reconciliation”.

The need for more Muslims in the German Public Sector

July 3, 2014

Sigmar Gabriel, currently Minister of Economic Affairs and Vice Chancellor of Germany, believes that Germany needs more Muslims in the public sector. He said that we are lacking Muslim judges, prosecutors, policemen, principals. One important reason for the underrepresentation of Muslims in the public sector, according to Sigmar Gabriel, is the presence of prejudice against Muslims; especially the perception that that they are fanatics.

The lack of recognition for the Turkish language

July 6, 2014

According to the Brigitta Busch, Professor of linguistics at the University of Vienna, Austria is generally paying low or no attention and offers no recognition to language diversity inside its borders. In particular, the Turkish language, Busch stresses, does not enjoy any positive reputation; however, since some parts of the government want to establish a Turkish Matura at the Gymnasiums, some politicians from the right are openly showing their assessment.

Erdogan’s visit to Vienna and the Austrian Foreign Minister’s reaction

June 20, 2014

The upcoming visit of the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan ensures that some Austrian politicians will react very emotionally. Beside the Austrian Foreign Minister, however, some rightwing politicians criticize the Turkish Prime Minister. Nonetheless, some politicians are accusing Erdogan of splitting the Turkish community in Austria. The Austrian Foreign Minister already tweeted that Erdogan should choose his words carefully towards his fellowmen and he should not influence the integration process of Turkish migrants in Austria in a negative way. Soon afterwards a Turkish politician reacted; he tweeted that the “young” Austrian Foreign Minister should apologize for his words addressed towards the Turkish Prime Minister.

Discussion about the Turkish “Matura”

June 11, 2014

Austrian gymnasiums are going to establish Turkish “Matura” (general qualification for university entrance). Apart from the rightwing party FPÖ there is no resistance against that effort. The FPÖ opinion in that case is, that a Turkish Matura will negatively affect the integration process of the Turkish migrants.