Fawaz Jneid, a Syrian-Dutch imam who preached until 2012 in the As-Soennah mosque in The Hague, became a controversial figure after cursing Islam-critics Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Theo van Gogh in a speech at the mosque. The years after, Fawaz was heavily criticized for being considered part of the Salafi branch in the Netherlands and for preaching an ‘intolerant message’. Recently, the imam was given a restraining order for six months in certain areas of The Hague. This is possible because of a new anti-Terror law that makes it possible for terror-suspects to be detained longer without rock-solid evidence.
According to the Dutch security services, because Fawaz preaches an ‘intolerant’ message in a neighborhood prone to radicalization, he is a potential safety danger. The security services received support from Paula Krikke, the mayor of The Hague, who in addition requested the restraining order against Jneid. She stated: “(…) Together with many citizens of The Hague, I work hard to make living in the city as free and safe as possible for everyone. A stage for Fawaz Jneid and his extremist opinions is at odds with this. Because of that, we try to do everything to prevent him from getting a foothold in this city.”
Not only did Fawaz Jneid himself appealed against the sentence, a few Dutch Muslim organizations and (Salafi) Muslims have protested against the restraining order. Fawaz called the restraining order ‘propaganda against Islam’ and argues that he has worked with the security services to prevent young people from radicalization. The organizations and individuals that protested Fawaz’s sentence, have called the restraining order an “illegitimate form of oppression” and targeting Fawaz in particular a ‘witch hunt’. The sentence is considered illegal by the protesters, because Fawaz was never convicted of sedition or hate-speech. They also believe – like Fawaz – that in reality, the sentence is a concealed anti-Islam measure. In a pamphlet circulating on the Internet, an anonymous writer stated: “We regret to note that this is a case of (…) a selective anti-Islam measure that does not only affect imam Fawaz, but also the Dutch Muslim in his rights and freedoms.”
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Canada Free Press – June 21, 2012
B’nai Brith Canada has called on the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and the Calgary police to monitor next weekend’s Power of Unity conference organized by the Muslim Council of Calgary, and in particular, the scheduled address by conference headliner Bilal Philips. Philips is an Islamic lecturer who has reportedly expressed anti-Semitic and homophobic views including a call for the murdering of gays. He has been banned from a number of countries due to concerns regarding radicalization of Muslim youth and allegations concerning links to terrorism.
A research report submitted to the Dutch parliament this week recommended the government counter Islamic radicalization by promoting marriage and family life. The study by the national intelligence service analyzed data on 22 men who were committed to jihad in the past but had since stopped. The service emphasizes the importance of a job and family, as opposed to the effect of “ideological contra-messages,” in countering violent intentions.
In the radical Islamic milieu in Denmark being charged with or convicted for terrorism means high status. Two researchers from the Danish Institute for International Studies, PhD fellow Ann-Sophie Hemmingsen and senior researcher Manni Crone have investigated the Danish radical Islamic milieu and their conclusion is that persons who have been charged with terrorism typically follow two paths after they have been in the limelight of the police and the intelligence service. Some try to build a new life outside the radical circles and some enjoy the prestige they gained by being charged or convicted of terrorism. The latter stay in the radical circles and it becomes their identity that they are militant or the ‘vanguards’ of radical Islam in Denmark. Hemmingsen and Crone deem this as worrying because the idolization could motivate some to plan terrorist activities. On the other hand the Swedish researcher Magnus Ranstorp, who is a leading researcher on Islamic radicalization, doesn’t think the possibility of gaining prestige by being radical appeals to people outside the radical milieu but he agrees that the idolization of radical Muslims is worrying.
The German government has published a comic book designed to dissuade Muslims from turning to Islamist extremism, although U.S. officials say the effectiveness of the effort is questionable. The comic was issued by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia that seeks to educate young people about the differences between Islam and Islamic extremism and danger posed by Islamic terrorism.
The comic book has been met with both praise and skepticism. “On balance, it represents an innovative way to reach a vulnerable but cynical audience,” said a U.S. government report on the comic book. “Although the Europeans are engaged in a variety of programs to prevent or counter Islamic radicalization on their soil, it is unclear if the comic book is a unique initiative or if it might represent a wave of new efforts to employ nontraditional or experimental media in addressing the problem.”
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A German study has revealed that while many Muslims in Germany have fundamentalist viewpoints, a large majority rejects terrorist attacks.
Commissioned by Germany’s Interior Ministry, the study found that four out of 10 Muslims in Germany would justify the use of violence in case Islam was threatened by the West. The study, which questioned 1,750 Muslims all over the country, was carried out by the Institute of Criminology at the University of Hamburg.
It also found that nearly half of all Muslims living in German believe they will be granted entry to paradise if they die defending their religion.
However, an overwhelming majority of Muslims living in Germany reject terrorism. More than 80 percent reject the idea of suicide bombings, with nearly 9 percent claiming such attacks are cowardly and damaging for Islam.
Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, Germany’s top security official, told the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper the findings showed a “serious potential for Islamic radicalization.” Sociology experts, however, argue that the high level of social marginalization experienced by young Muslims and their lack of chances to succeed in society drive them toward radical views.