Three of Germany’s Islamic associations forge an “Islamokemalist” front

Amidst escalating political tensions between Germany and Turkey, three of Germany’s Turkish-dominated Islamic associations have made clear their perspective on the causes of the current diplomatic spat.

Joint press release

On the anniversary of last year’s military coup attempt in Turkey, the DİTİB, IGMG, and ATİB organisations issued a joint press release, calling for a “about-face in German-Turkish relations”.(( http://ditib.de/detail1.php?id=610&lang=de ))

In this document, the three signing associations bemoan that “Europe’s highly reserved reaction” to the attempted putsch had “deeply unsettled the people of Turkish descent. It is more necessary than ever to lift German-Turkish relations to the usual, cordial level.”

“Lack of solidarity”

The core message of the statement centres on Europe’s failure to “recognise the great trauma of July 15 [2016]”. DİTİB, IGMG, and ATİB criticise what to them appears to be “widespread disappointment at the failure of the coup”. They castigate the “lack of solidarity with the Turkish people, considering 249 dead and thousands injured”.

The three organisations greeted the conciliatory signals made by Germany’s Vice Chancellor and Sigmar Gabriel, who had in the past repeatedly stressed the need to be supportive of Turkish democracy against the coup plotters.

The Gülenist foe

Overall, the statement paints a picture of Turkey as beleaguered by internal and external enemies, ranging from a PKK terror campaign to instable neighbouring states. It is against this backdrop that DİTİB, IGMG, and ATİB see the coup attempt as having been committed by “a sect-like parallel state, which has infiltrated nearly the entire state apparatus through illegitimate networks and unlawful means” – i.e. the Gülenists.

Implied in this argument is always the suspicion that Germany is either too soft on Gülenists or that it even actively endorses the movement. In fact, a Turkish tabloid recently claimed that the Gülen organization was “Germany’s long arm”.(( https://twitter.com/ercankarakoyun?lang=de ))

Bridging old divides between DİTİB, IGMG, and ATİB

Yet it is not only the statement itself that is of interest but also the entente of the three organisations responsible for its drafting. DİTİB, IGMG, and ATİB joining hands represents the convergence of previously disparate groups under the shared commitment to a strong Turkey led by an increasingly authoritarian President.

DİTİB, the subsidiary of the Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) and thus an indirect organ of the Turkish statem has always pursued a line broadly sympathetic to current Turkish governments. Recently it has come under increasingly tight control of the AKP administration.

Islamists and nationalists

IGMG – in its full name “Islamic Community Millî Görüş” – is an offshoot of Necmettin Erbakan’s Islamist movement. As such, it did not use to be on good terms with DİTİB, as long as the old Kemalist elites were in charge of the organisation. This changed after Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s arrival in power: Erdoğan’s own AK Party is a spin-off of Erbakan’s movement.

Finally, ATİB – the “Union of Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations in Europe” – represents a stridently nationalistic version of Turkish Islam. Whilst some of the Union’s funding is derived from the Turkish state and Diyanet, it also has long-standing ties with hardline Turkish nationalism as incarnated by the “Grey Wolves.”

The rise of “Islamokemalism”

As such, ATİB’s co-signing of the press release with DİTİB and IGMG mirrors the rallying of Turkey’s far-right MHP party to Erdoğan’s persona and his authoritarian leadership style. In this respect, the agenda of the three associations is not as much Islamic as it is concerned with projecting a strikingly nationalistic picture of Turkish greatness.

Şahin Alpay, one of Turkey’s leading intellectuals arrested since the coup attempt, has referred to this marriage of authoritarian nationalism with Islamist references as “Islamokemalism”.(( http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2016-10/sahin-alpay-journalist-gefaengnis-silivri-tuerkei-putsch )) This term perhaps better than any other captures current developments in Turkey.

Sweden : An official report targets the Muslim Brotherhood

The controversy around the Muslim Brotherhood has now reached Sweden. A report on the influence of the network in the country was just published by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (Myndigheten för samhällsskydd och beredskap, MSB).

A ”parallel society”

According to the report – based on a study realised in November-December 2016, the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the Swedish society and its political parties through numerous Muslim organisations and individuals since the 1970’s.

The authors of the report – Magnus Norell, Aje Carlbom and Pierre Durrani – accuse the Muslim Brotherhood of striving to become the natural representatives of the Muslim minorities for the authorities. For the authors, by promoting a distinct identity for Muslims and creating a “parallel society”, the network implements its political agenda of islamization.

A controversial report

22 Swedish scholars specializing on religious studies have published a post against the report, criticizing the methodology used by its authors. The researchers point out a blatant lack of evidence and of serious references.

However the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency has stood for its report, describing it as a feasibility study on the influence of the islamist network on the Swedish society and its impact on the security of the country. For Anneli Bergholm Söder, head of the Operations Department of the MSB, the aim of this study is to determine which areas of research and study should be developed in that field.

By Farida Belkacem

Sources :

http://www.thelocal.se/20170303/debate-rages-in-sweden-over-muslim-brotherhood-report

The report :

https://www.msb.se/Upload/Kunskapsbank/Studier/Muslimska_Brodraskapet_i_Sverige_DNR_2107-1287.pdf

The researchers’ declaration :

http://religionsvetenskapligakommentarer.blogspot.it/2017_03_01_archive.html

 

“It’s us or them” Sarkozy speaks out against Islamists

Speaking to thousands of cheering supporters in Nice on Tuesday night, the candidate lashed out at François Hollande’s Socialist government, and presented himself as the saviour of France before promising to “re-establish authority”.

He said: “On May 7, 2017, playtime will be over. France is in such a critical position right now because it has been led by a weak and arrogant leader whose government has lost all authority and has no control over its people.”

 Sarkozy likened himself to ‘populist’ Republican Donald Trump and said that he, as the “people’s president,” would put French interests above all else.

“Mr Trump wants to protect American interests, which is great news, because I want to protect French interests. Listening to people is the president’s duty. How many more Brexits and Trumps do we need before government officials realise that people are angry?”

The right-winger’s war on radical Islam and immigration also intensified ahead of this weekend’s election.

He said: “We live in France. Here, the state comes first, religion comes second. People should be discreet about their religious beliefs. We live in a country where women are equal to men and I will not tolerate medieval behaviour.”

The presidential hopeful added that political Islam was incompatible with French values: “France faces a very high threat from terrorism and I, as president, will wage an unrelenting war against provocative jihadists. Against inhumane extremists who promote mass violence. Against Islamic barbarians who hate us, hate what we love and what we stand for. It’s us or them.”

Sarkozy also promised to crackdown on illegal immigration by re-establishing border controls within the Schengen area, and said that France was no longer in the position to welcome migrants and could no longer help them integrate into French society.

“We need a powerful head of state, a commander-in-chief, a man of experience, and that man is Nicolas Sarkozy,” Eric Ciotti, a right-wing lawmaker for the department of Alpes-Maritimes, said.

President Obama Slams ‘Yapping’ Over ‘Radical Islam’ And Terrorism

He called it yapping, loose talk, and sloppiness. President Obama dismissed criticism of his administration’s avoidance of the term “radical Islam” and urged America to live up to its founding values Tuesday, speaking at length about inclusiveness and religious freedom.
Obama called out Republicans for criticizing the way he discusses terrorism and extremist groups — which follows the same logic as his Republican predecessor — and he directed particular attention at the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump.
Regarding terms such as “radical Islam” and “radical Islamists,” Obama said, “It’s a political talking point. It’s not a strategy.”
NPR.org: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/06/14/482041137/president-obama-slams-yapping-over-radical-islam-and-terrorism

Investigations against Salafists in Bremen

March 30, 2014

 

The district attorney of the City State of Bremen had initiated investigations against four Salafists for “diffusing heavy criminal offenses against the State”. These four men are said to have left Germany towards Syria to fight for Salafist groups. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Bremen assesses religious and cultural associations near the mosque Masjidu-I-Furqan as extremists. They are suspected to recruit and mobilize young pupils for the Jihad in Syria. Some of these associations offer social activities such as sports to attract young Muslims. Many of them are underage.

According to the security authorities, approximately 300 German Islamists including converts have left Germany to fight in Syria. They are expected to commit violence such as the beheading of prisoners in front of the camera. These cruel rituals are interpreted as tests of courage and a means to radicalize the young men.

 

Spiegel: http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/salafisten-aus-deutschland-im-dschihad-in-syrien-a-961514.html

Muslim Women more likely to suffer Islamophobic attacks than men

November 19, 2013

 

Muslim women are more likely to be subjected to Islamophobic attacks than men, especially if they are wearing the niqab or other clothing associated with their religion, a study has found.

Maybe We Are Hated, a report on the impact of Islamophobic attacks, written by Dr Chris Allen, a social policy lecturer at the University of Birmingham, will be launched in the House of Commons on Wednesday. It is intended to look beyond the statistics and, for the first time, give a voice to the female victims of Islamophobia.

Allen interviewed 20 women aged between 15 and 52 about their experiences. Fiyaz Mughal, from Faith Matters, which commissioned the report, said: “This is the first time Muslim women’s voices have been given life in terms of anti-Muslim prejudice. We keep hearing people saying: ‘What are the numbers?’ We can understand that, but it’s important to recognise the actual impact on people.”

Tell Mama, a hotline for recording Islamophobic crimes and incidents, found that, excluding online abuse and threats, 58% of all verified incidents between April 2012 and April 2013 were against women and that in 80% of those cases the woman was wearing a hijab, niqab or other clothing associated with Islam.

According to Allen, some of the women said their experiences had made them question their Britishness, with one saying her husband wanted them to leave the country. He said a refusal to take Islamophobia seriously risked giving credence to the “clash of civilisations” narrative promoted by Islamists and the far right.

“It feeds into the rhetoric of the Islamists saying: ‘No matter how hard you try, you will never belong here, they hate you,” he said. “When it comes to Muslims, they won’t tackle these issues. It adds fuel to the fire.”

 

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/20/muslim-women-islamaphonic-attacks

 

‘Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism’ by Karima Bennoune

Whenever a terrorist attack happens in the West, one of the standard responses in some media circles is to denounce Muslims for not doing enough to speak out against extremism. In “Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here,” University of California at Davis law professor and human rights activist Karima Bennoune shows that in fact, thousands of Muslims fight extremist violence every day.

Those who look under every rock for evidence of creeping sharia in the United States might be surprised to learn that most fundamentalist violence disproportionately affects people in Muslim-majority societies. Bennoune leverages surprising statistics, such as a 2009 study by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point that found that only 15 percent of al-Qaeda casualties between 2004 and 2008 were Westerners. And between 2006 and 2008, 98 percent of al-Qaeda’s victims were Muslim.

Bennoune offers a compelling, meticulously researched account of the legions of Muslims whose struggles against fundamentalist violence are almost never reported in our media. She cites her father, Mahfoud Bennoune, as her inspiration for writing this book. An outspoken Algerian social science professor and critic of extremists, he was placed on a death list during that country’s civil war in the 1990s, a conflict in which more than 150,000 people were killed. “My father’s country,” she writes, “showed me . . . that the struggle waged in Muslim majority societies against extremism is one of the most important — and overlooked — human rights struggles in the world.”

Bennoune feels that academics are overly sympathetic to the notion that “Islamists represent ordinary people, and their opponents are simply elite.” Throughout the book, she describes numerous occasions when Western liberals have championed Islamists as the democratic choice of the masses, even when there has been documented evidence of the same Islamist groups violating human rights or ignoring democratic principles once elected.

Stephen Fry hits back at accusations of Islamophobia

Stephen Fry has spoken of his frustration at being labelled an “Islamophobe” for criticising the violent acts committed by some Islamists.

In a strongly worded blog post, the actor and comedian lamented that the “squeezed liberal finds himself in the position that he cannot criticise Islamofascism because it’s somehow ‘racist'”. He continued: “It is a topsy-turvy smothering of debate and an Orwellian denial of free speech to declare that speaking out against violence will cause violence.”

 

Fry decided to write the piece after attracting criticism for giving his support for the prominent atheist and evolutionary biologist Professor Richard Dawkins, a noted critic of Islam. In on online exchange last week, Fry said Prof Dawkins was justified in singling out Islam for more criticism than other religions, tweeting: “Wonder why. Oh, have a look around the world and see them slaughtering each other, let alone others. So charming to women too …”

 

Clarifying his views in a blog post titled “Am I an Islamophobe?” Fry wrote: “Do I hate Muslims? Absolutely not. Any more than I hate Christians. Or Jews, or Hindus, or anyone on account of their beliefs, or lack of them. I am simply not interested in laying into one religion or another. To me they are all as untrue as the next, which is the point and the only point of being an atheist.” Fry, 56, continued: “I am afraid of anyone who hates me and everything I stand for and wants me and the civilisation I grew up in destroyed.”

 

However, he added: “Do I believe that all Muslims want to see my civilisation destroyed? That they are all bombers in the making? Of course I don’t.”

Lose the Lads Mags: It’s not about the nudity

How can covering up women at one time oppress them, and at other times empower them? Why, when some women take their clothes off for money, are they objectifying themselves, and at other times simply performing? Why are some images of women objectification and others simply art? Essentially, how can the same action mean two different things? One thing must be understood: it’s not about nudity.

 

The recent Lose the Lads’ Mags campaign is spearheaded by two organisations which fight for gender equality (UK Feminista and Object), but some have argued that covering up lads’ mags in shops is actually a misogynistic action. However at the same time, there is a similar case made by Islamists that the hiding-away of lads’ mags should be done to preserve modesty. The hiding-away is being done for two very different reasons, and people need to realise this.

 

Authoritarian Islamists use gaffer tape on lads’ mags for the same reason they want to cover up real women’s bodies- but Lose the Lads’ Mags wants to do it to protect not only children but the female salespeople who must handle this material. The critique that the campaign is promoting a ‘weak, meek’ image of women suggests that he has failed to grasp the difference between a woman seeing another woman’s naked breasts, and a woman being forced to handle and sell sexist material. As Sophie Bennett, a spokesperson for the campaign, explains, ‘The issue for the thousands of people who have called on shops to lose the lads’ mags is absolutely not about nudity. It’s about sexism.’

 

The concealing of lads’ mags in shops in the UK is far removed from the ‘sticky handmade burqa’ that is used by Islamists to cover up such magazines as the author points out it’s not about the nudity.

Islamists Suspected in Woolwich Attack

23 May 2013

 

A shocking machete attack on Lee Rigby, a military drummer and veteran of Cyprus and Afghanistan, was perpetrated in the Woolwich area of South East London Wednesday afternoon. One of the two suspected attackers, Michael Olumide Adebolajo, is a native of London and a convert to Islam, leading some to characterize the attack as an act of Islamist terrorism. The second attacker has been identified as Michael Adebowale, a native of Greenwich. The Daily Telegraph is calling the attack, “the first terrorist murder on the British mainland since the 7/7 suicide bombings of 2005.”

 

Accounts differ as to the nature of the attack, but witnesses claim that Adebolajo and Adebowale first struck Drummer Rigby with a vehicle, then attempted to decapitate him with a machete. Witnesses report hearing one of the attackers shout “Allahu akbar” (God is great) as they attacked Drummer Rigby. A group of women reportedly came to the aid of Drummer Rigby, covering his body and attempting to protect him.

 

The brazen nature of the murder, carried out around 14:00 GMT, suggests that the assailants wanted their actions to be witnessed. A video taken of Mr. Adebolajo shortly after the attack shows him justifying the murder by saying: “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone. Your people will never be safe. The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying by British soldiers every day.”

 

Instead of fleeing the scene, the attackers, one of whom may have been armed with a handgun, waited for armed police response unites to arrive, apparently hoping for a confrontation. Unconfirmed reports indicate that approximately 15-20 minutes elapsed between the attack and the arrival of authorities and that once on the scene, armed police were charged by the attackers. A female officer confirmed that both men were shot by police.

 

Reports on Thursday suggested that officials in MI5, the domestic security service, were aware of both men alleged to have carried out the attack. Officials insist that there was no evidence that either of the men were planning this attack, but one of the men was apparently prevented from traveling to Somalia to join the Islamist group Al-Shabaab last year. The Independent is reporting that at least one of the attackers was inspired by sermons delivered by the banned Islamic cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed, who established Hizbut-Tahrir in the UK and now lives in Lebanon. The Guardian is reporting that Mr. Bakri Mohammed claims to have tutored Mr. Adebolajo after he converted to Islam in 2003. The BBC has obtained footage apparently showing Mr. Adebolajo standing next to Anjem Choudary, leader of the banned al-Muhajiroun group, at an Islamist rally in 2007. Mr. Choudary appeared on Newsnight on Thursday, claiming Adebolajo “went his own way” in 2010 and that he was surprised by the attack.

 

Mr. Adebolajo and Mr. Adebowale are being treated in separate hospitals and both are too injured to be questioned by authorities.