Spanish Muslims ask not to generalize isolated terrorist acts and fear even more Islamophobia

Levante-EMV – 31/03/2012

On Friday sermon at the Islamic Cultural Center of Valencia,
the Toulouse killings in France were condemned and it was highlighted that this violent behavior had nothing to do with Islam. Just four days later, the Muslim communities of Valencia were painfully surprised by the arrest of the Al Qaeda Librarian, a Saudi ‘jihad’ accused of capturing terrorists through the Internet and encouraging the implementation of terrorist acts.
With “fear” that this will result in “an increase in Islamophobia” in the Region Valencia, the president of the Islamic Cultural Center of Valencia, Abdelaziz Hammaoui, launched yesterday “an appeal for calm to the whole society”, and “not generalize” these isolated attitudes because “that can do great damage not only to the Muslim community, but to the Spanish society as a whole, and can break down the work of awareness and approach we have been doing in recent years. Do not fall in what these people precisely want to plant: discord and hate. “

Muslim women requested to remove headscarf for new Irish immigration card

Several Muslim women were asked to remove their headscarves for a new type of the Irish immigration certificate, known as Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) card which is issued by the Garda (Irish police). This card includes the name, a photograph and other details of the card holder and serves as proof that the card holder is a legal resident in the Republic of Ireland.

The women approached the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland (ICCI), the major Sunni mosque in Ireland, located in Dublin, which has raised the issue with the police. According to Ali Selim, spokesperson of the ICCI, “the Garda representative showed understanding and acted promptly. Soon afterwards he confirmed to us that Muslim women would not be asked to remove their hijab. We are grateful for this prompt response. This is the inclusive Ireland that we are proud to be part of.”

The press office of the police referred to problems resulting from the implementation of the new system, while emphasising the police’s commitment to engage with various communities and to ensure that their particular needs are met.

Muslim families claim discriminatory admission policies of Catholic schools in Dublin

Four Muslim families claim that their sons were refused admission to secondary schools run by the Catholic Church in South Dublin due to their religious background. The denominational educational system of the Republic of Ireland, in which most primary and secondary schools – though state-funded – are under the patronage of the Catholic Church, allows for discriminatory admission policies based on religion and for giving preference to pupils of a Catholic background.

While the four families did not encounter any problems in securing places for their daughters in Catholic girls’ secondary schools in the area, their recent applications on behalf their sons at boys’ secondary schools were rejected on the grounds of the limited availability of places. Two families appealed to the decisions at the Department of Education which upheld their appeals.

Furthermore, one family complained about impingements on freedom of religion as its son had to attend Catholic Religious Education classes and participate in religious services held at the school.

The spokesperson of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland, Ali Selim, confirmed the rising number of complaints by Muslim parents who experience difficulties in finding places for their children in secondary schools in Dublin. Selim demands immediate action by the Department of Education which needs to provide clear guidelines on admission policies that prevent discrimination against on religious grounds: “All of us are taxpayers and preference should not be on the basis of religion or race. This is not a Muslim issue, it affects all non-Catholics.”

Local councillor calls for ban of full face veil in Ireland

Cork city councillor and former city mayor, Joe O’Callaghan, has called for a complete ban on the full face veil in Ireland. Following similar legislation in other European countries, O’Callaghan has submitted a motion in this respect to be debated at next month’s Cork city council meeting. His rejection of the full face veil is based on two grounds: he describes the full face veil as an “affront to women” incompatible with modern society and considers them to be a security risk. Representatives of the main mosque organization, the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland, rejected the proposal as discriminatory, while stating that the full face veil is not mandatory in Islam. Representatives of Irish immigration organizations characterized the motion as “childish, opportunistic and irresponsible” while doubting its seriousness.

Qaradawi unable to attend annual meeting of ECFR in Dublin due to ill-health

23 June 2011

Yusuf Qaradawi (b. 1926), the prominent Egyptian-born Islamic scholar who is based in Qatar and considered to be the spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood, cancelled his participation at the annual meeting of the European Council of Fatwa and Research (ECFR) to be held in Dublin next week due to ill-health. The secretariat of the ECFR is based in the premises of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland, in Clonskeagh, South Dublin, the largest mosque in Ireland. Qaradawi visited Ireland several times in the past to attend the regular meetings of the ECFR, held in Dublin.

US State Department asked Dublin embassy to assess threat of Islamic extremism in Ireland

29 April 2011

A leaked cable of the US embassy in Dublin, sent to the US State Department in July 2006, responds the Department’s request to assess the threat of Islamic extremism in Ireland and “to look at the role of Islamic thinkers across Europe”. The cable, published in WikiLeaks on April 25 2010, provides a survey of the major mosque organisations in Ireland and comes to the conclusion that only few Muslim leaders call for integration of Muslims into Irish society.
The European Council for Fatwa and Research whose secretariat is based in the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland in Clonskeagh, South Dublin, is depicted as “little more than a paper tiger”. The cable also notes the close connection of the Islamic Cultural Centre with the Muslim Brotherhood and Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
As one of the most pro-American voices among Muslim leaders in Ireland, the cable identifies the leader of the Iraqi Shii community, Dr Ali Al-Saleh, who tries “to provide the Irish public a balanced view of USG [US government] efforts in Iraq…”. The Dublin embassy assisted Al-Saleh in writing an opinion piece in the Irish Times, published March 18, 2006, on the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq which points in particular at the democratic benefits the US invasion has brought to Iraq.
In response to the leaked cable, the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland downplayed its links with the Muslim Brotherhood, emphasising its openness for all Muslim worshippers and its rejection of the promotion of particular political agendas. Ali Al-Saleh, the clerical leader of the Shii community, confirmed the assistance he received from the US embassy in writing the opinion piece stating: “The Shias were supportive of the role the US played in getting rid of Saddam Hussein. We were pro-US in terms of their role in promoting democracy in the region.”

Seminar of the European Council of Moroccan Ulema held in Barcelona

Under the title “Islam and European values”, was held in Barcelona a seminar organized by the European Council of Moroccan Ulema and the Union of Islamic Cultural Centers of Catalonia. The seminar aimed to analyze and discuss ways to promote dialogue and communication between different cultures and religions within European societies, respecting their historical, cultural and spiritual baggage. The seminar covered topics such as religious freedom and secularism, Muslims and European values, Islam and public spaces, European Muslims and their contribution to European societies and the role of the authorities in promoting inter-religious understanding.

Islamist Groups Raided in Three German Cities

14 December 2010

German authorities mounted raids against two Islamist groups suspected of seeking to overthrow the government and establish a religious state, the Interior Ministry said.

The searches targeted homes and religious schools linked to Salafist jihadist group Invitation to Paradise (EZP) in the northwestern cities of Braunschweig and Mönchengladbach, and the Islamic Cultural Center Bremen (IKZB).

“The EZP and the IKZB are accused of opposing the constitutional order with the aim of replacing it in Germany with an Islamic religious state,” the ministry said in a statement.

The raids were part of a long-running investigation against the groups and had no link to warnings of potential impending terrorist attacks issued last month by Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, it added.

The groups reject parliamentary democracy and believe that Islamic law should replace the constitution, the ministry said.

Report: decline in mosque and church attendance in the Netherlands

Mosque and church attendance in the Netherlands has dropped over the past ten years, according to a publication from the Central Statistics Bureau (CBS) outlining religion at the beginning of the 21st century. Last year 29 percent of the Netherlands’ 825,000 Muslims attended mosque at least once a month, a decline from 35 percent in 2004-2008 and 47 percent in 1998-1999. The study found analogous pattern in attendance at other religious institutions, noting that attendance at Catholic churches has also declined. Mosque and church attendance differed in terms of age demographics, as 40 percent of those attending mosques are under the age of 18.

Researchers attribute the decrease in mosque and church attendance to a “general shift towards individualization” in religious practice. However Emin Ates of the Turkish Islamic Cultural Federation has not noticed a decline in mosque attendance and reports that imams cannot complain about a lack of listeners: “For us it’s just not a matter for discussion.”

Decline in Mosque and Church Attendance in the Netherlands

Mosque and church attendance in the Netherlands has dropped over the past ten years, according to a publication from the Central Statistics Bureau (CBS) outlining religion at the beginning of the 21st century. Last year 29% of the Netherlands’ 825,000 Muslims attended mosque at least once a month, a decline from 35% in 2004-2008 and 47% in 1998-1999. The study found analogous pattern in attendance at other religious institutions, noting that attendance at Catholic churches has also declined. Mosque and church attendance differed in terms of age demographics, as 40% of those attending mosques are under the age of 18.

Researchers attribute the decrease in mosque and church attendance to a “general shift towards individualization” in religious practice. However Emin Ates of the Turkish Islamic Cultural Federation has not noticed a decline in mosque attendance and reports that imams cannot complain about a lack of listeners: “For us it’s just not a matter for discussion.”