Teachers in Islamic school accused of child abuse

Two teachers and one supervisor at a Quran school in Borgerhout (Antwerp) have been sent to court on charges of child abuse, accused of having given a number of student corporeal punishment. The accused taught in a Quran school associated with the Bilal mosque. The investigation began in June 2006 after a complaint from the Sint-Norbetus Institute, where several of the involved kids were studying. They had complained to their teachers about the corporeal punishment they had received at the Quran school whenever they didn’t know their lessons or talked in class. The accused were arrested and held in detention for two weeks before being conditionally released. Their lawyer denies that their clients’ actions constitute child abuse.

Paris court hears appeal in “Charlie Hebdo” case of the Muhammad drawings

A Paris court heard an appeal brought by Muslim groups against the satirical Charlie-Hebdo newspaper, which was acquitted last year of defamation charges following its publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. The groups, which included the fundamentalist Union of Islamic Organizations of France were seeking thirty thousand euro in damages. During the appeal proceedings in January 23, the lawyer for the organization said the drawings portrayed Islam as a religion of violence. Last year, the court ruled that Charlie-Hebdo showed no intention of insulting the Muslim community with the images, several of which appeared first in a Danish newspaper and sparked angry protests.

Patriot Act Faulted in Denial of Visa for Muslim Scholar

A lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal judge yesterday to declare unconstitutional a part of the Patriot Act that he says allowed a prominent Muslim scholar to be denied a visa. The lawyer, Jameel Jaffer, told Judge Paul A. Crotty of Federal District Court in Manhattan that the provision, allowing the federal government to deny visas to people who ”endorse or espouse terrorist activity,” was a primary reason that the scholar, Tariq Ramadan, was denied a work visa to enter the United States in 2004…

Ramadan radio raps Muslim ignorance of Islam

A nightly radio phone-in show in Paris has opened up a forum for French Muslim youth to ask questions about religious practice. The show is hosted by Ahmed el Keiy, a lawyer-turned-journalist, who invites imams to help answer questions a wide range of topics, from perfume and hair gel, to prayer. Citing a lack of men and women who know how to teach religion properly, illiterate elders, and do-it-yourself Islam, the radio show encourages callers to find a medium between total liberalism and extremism.

One-legged terrorist to reveal the truth

One of the suspects in the terrorism trial currently underway in Brussels has promised to tell the court the truth about his part in fighting with Al-Qaeda terrorists in Iraq. Prosecution investigators are convinced that Youness Loukili lost is leg while fighting for leading terrorist Al Zarqawi. Loukili however, denies having ever been to Iraq. On Thursday however, Loukili’s lawyer asked for the session to be adjourned – sources suggest that he is now willing to admit all.

Scottish student convicted on terror charges

A 21-year-old student was convicted today of possessing CDs and computer material linked to Islamist terrorism, along with threatening to become a suicide bomber and other offences. He faces a potential jail sentence of up to 15 years, the trial judge has warned. Following the verdict, police said Mohammed Atif Siddique, from Alva, Clackmannanshire near Stirling in central Scotland, had been found guilty of “serious terrorism offences” that posed a genuine threat. Siddique’s lawyer said he would appeal, arguing the student’s actions amounted to nothing worse than “what millions of young people do every day – looking for answers on the internet”.

Cleric ‘not preaching’ to inmates

The lawyer for a Muslim preacher fighting extradition from the UK has denied her client has been preaching hate to fellow inmates. Abu Qatada, who once preached at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London, is being held at a specialist unit at Long Lartin jail in Worcestershire. A prison union has said he could be radicalising other inmates via prayers. Qatada’s lawyer Gareth Peirce said that Qatada, also known as Omar Othman, did not preach to other inmates. Steve Gough, vice-chairman of the Prison Officers Association, has warned that Qatada could be using prayer meetings for indoctrinating the next generation of terrorists, as guards were unable to decipher what he was saying.

No Breakthrough for Minority Candidates in French Vote

French parliamentary elections failed to provide the hoped-for boost in the number of black and Arab lawmakers, with voters returning just one minority candidate from the mainland. President Nicolas Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party had 12 minority candidates running for election, mostly in the Paris region, and the opposition Socialists had 20 vying for seats. But the only one to win was George Pau-Langevin, a black lawyer from the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, who was elected to a seat in eastern Paris on a Socialist Party ticket. Fifteen other black deputies were elected to the 577-seat National Assembly, all in overseas territories where the majority of the population is black. Although France is home to Europe’s biggest Muslim community, with about five million people, mainly descendants of immigrants from north and sub-Saharan Africa, no candidates of African origin were elected. “We regret that the republic’s diversity will not be represented in the National Assembly, because political parties did not give it enough importance,” the French Council of Muslim Democrats said in a statement Monday.

Netherlands government sworn in

The new Dutch government has been by sworn in by Queen Beatrix after meeting for the first time to formally adopt its policy guidelines. (…) The new governing coalition, led by Jan Peter Balkenende, the incumbent prime minister and head of the Christian Democrats party, will be further to the political left than the previous government which sought to limit non-Western immigration to the Netherlands. (…) The new cabinet contains the first Muslims to reach the inner core of political power in the Netherlands. Ahmed Aboutaleb, the son of a Moroccan imam, was sworn in as a state secretary, or junior minister, while Nebahat Albayrak, a Turkish-born lawyer, becomes junior justice minister. Balkenende’s previous coalitions, dominated by the Christian Democrats and free market VVD, had tried to reduce immigration in a country which once had the some of the weakest controls on immigrants and asylum seekers of any European country. Softer line on immigrants The new government has already demonstrated its leftwards shift by allowing thousands of illegal immigrants due for deportation to remain in the country. But it also will keep in place policies designed to force new arrivals to integrate, such as mandatory assimilation classes and Dutch language lessons.

Keith Ellison, a Democratic state lawmaker and lawyer, has become the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress

On the campaign trail in his urban Minneapolis district, Ellison, 43, talked little about his religious background, focusing instead on his call for an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and his support for single-payer health care. He broke from more conservative Muslims by favoring gay rights and abortion rights.