Muslim women’s dress takes centre-stage again in German debate

Counterterrorism and the burqa

Following the twin attacks in Würzburg and Ansbach in July, a group of conservative interior ministers from Germany’s federal states have published a manifesto demanding enlarged competences for police, army, judiciary, and intelligence services. The politicians from the CDU/CSU party also demand the retraction of laws easing the acquisition of dual citizenship, passed by the red-green government of Gerhard Schröder in 2000.((http://www.haz.de/Nachrichten/Politik/Deutschland-Welt/Innenminister-der-Union-fordern-Burka-Verbot )).

While the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the conservatives’ coalition partner in Berlin, has flatly rejected calls to abolish dual citizenship, responses to added security measures have been more mixed. Yet what has taken centre stage in recent days is another demand from the manifesto – a proposed ‘burqa ban’. This is in spite of the fact that the precise security benefit from such a ban has remained largely unexplored. The initially security-focused discussion has thus gradually morphed into a debate with vaguely ‘civilisational’ overtones.

Echoing many of his colleagues in an opinion piece for the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, leading CDU politician Jens Spahn deems burqa and niqab to be incompatible with the values of an open society and with the kind of public interaction such a society necessitates. According to him, these items of clothing also undermine the integration of recently arrived refugees. ((http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/warum-burka-und-niqab-nicht-nach-deutschland-gehoeren-14393282.html )) In an interview in late July, Spahn had struck a distinctly more polemical note, declaring himself to be a “burkaphobe” and accusing Muslims of being sexually repressed. As a remedy, Spahn encouraged Muslims to shower in the nude while at the gym.((http://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article157398148/Ein-Verbot-ist-ueberfaellig-Ich-bin-burkaphob.html ))

Constitutional hurdles

Yet whether a blanket ban on the burqa as Spahn and others demand it would even withstand scrutiny by the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) is uncertain at best. In the past, the court has generally set high hurdles to potential state regulation of religious practices. Consequently, already in 2010 a German parliamentary committee came to the conclusion that a straightforward burqa ban would be unconstitutional. ((http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/verbotsdebatte-burka-verbieten-geht-das-ueberhaupt-1.3123311 ))

In view of this fact, politicians not just from the CDU but also from the SPD appear to move away from a general ban to more targeted restrictions: more recent interventions in the debate propose prohibiting women from wearing burqa or niqab when appearing in front of a judge or when driving a car.((http://www.n-tv.de/politik/Burka-am-Steuer-soll-verboten-werden-article18438906.html ))

The calmer voices in the often agitated discussion have sought to critique the focus on the burqa as a false debate obscuring the real issues. Indeed, the number of burqa-wearing women in the country  is very small, ranging between a few dozen and several hundred.((http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/verbotsdebatte-burka-verbieten-geht-das-ueberhaupt-1.3123311 )) As the Muslim CDU politician Cemile Giousouf stated, “I am against the burqa but it is not the core problem – an extremist understanding of religion is.” Moreover, according to her, “the experience in France shows that a burqa ban does not provide greater security.”(( http://www.haz.de/Nachrichten/Politik/Deutschland-Welt/Cemile-Giousouf-Burkaverbot-bietet-nicht-mehr-Sicherheit ))

From burqa to burkini

France itself, among the pioneers of a burqa ban, has since moved on to debate the ‘burkini’, a piece of swimwear covering all of a woman’s body with the exception of face, hands, and feet.(( http://europe.newsweek.com/burkini-swimsuits-spark-anti-muslim-outrage-sales-488138?rm=eu )) This debate has been considerably more muted in Germany, where the focus has remained on face-covering burqas and niqabs. Indeed, the German Constitutional Court has implicitly legitimised the burkini in the past, when it ruled that co-educational swimming classes in public schools were mandatory, and that those Muslim girls uncomfortable with a co-educational arrangement could wear burkinis.((http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/bundesverwaltungsgericht-schwimmunterricht-in-burkini-fuer-muslimische-maedchen-zumutbar-12569208.html ))

In spite of this, in mid-August German Muslim woman reported an incident in which she and one of her daughters were asked to leave a water park near Berlin since their burkinis were deemed to be “inappropriate clothing”. Speaking to Berliner Zeitung, the mother asserted that wearing the burkini was her own independent choice; a choice that one of her daughters had also made while her other daughter had stuck to regular Western swimsuits. Interestingly, she went on to add that she disliked full-body veiling and that she agreed with a burqa ban, but noted that a burkini for her was a completely different thing.((http://www.berliner-zeitung.de/berlin/streit-in-bad-saarow–was–bitte-schoen–ist-an-einem-burkini-so-schlimm—24599592 ))

All of this amply demonstrates that the body of Muslim women is back at the centre of attention. After the string of attacks in Europe and amidst unresolved questions regarding immigration, however, a nuanced engagement with this topic seems to have become even more difficult to achieve.

Mustafa Maya, a convert that defended the Taliban treatment of women

March 15, 2014

 

Mustafa Maya Amaya, alleged leader of the Al Qaeda terrorist cell dismantled yesterday by a police operation is an old acquaintance in Malaga. His name came to the fore a month after the attacks of September 11, 2001. All eyes turned also to him when he placed outside a local Mosque a pro-Taliban manifesto that among other things, defended the status of Afghan women and the use of the Islamic headscarf.

He converted in prison in 1996 while serving sentences for burglary. Rafael Amaya Maya was born 51 years ago in Brussels and is the son of Spanish immigrants.

Diario Sur: http://www.diariosur.es/v/20140315/malaga/mustafa-maya-converso-defendio-20140315.html

Mastermind of 9/11 says Koran ‘forbids’ violence to spread Islam

January 10, 2014

 

The self-proclaimed mastermind of the September 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, has released a manifesto claiming that the Koran forbids the use of violence to spread Islam. The document, published Tuesday by The Huffington Post and Britain’s Channel 4 News, marks Mohammed’s first public communication since 2009, when the US government officially accused him of terrorism.

In a major departure from his previous position, Mohammed said that “the Holy Koran forbids us to use force as a means of converting!” He also tried in the 36-page document to convince his American captors, prosecutors, lawyers and members of his military tribunal to convert to Islam.

“It is my religious duty in dealing with any non-Muslims such as the people in the court (the judge, the prosecution, attorneys, etc.) to invite them to embrace Islam,” Mohammed wrote.

“I realise very well that you have heard about Islam and know much about it. But it is my own belief that Allah will ask me on the Day of Judgment why I did not invite these people to Islam?”

Mohammed said he was “very happy” in his cell, adding: “My spirit is free even while my body is being held captive.”

Mohammed said he has been “neither sad nor distressed” in his confinement “because I have been with the Only One True God.”

The document was declassified last month by military judge James Pohl.

Defence lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment

 

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10574052/Mastermind-of-911-says-Koran-forbids-violence-to-spread-Islam.html

Gardell: Breivik is not a mystery

June 4, 2012

 

Mass murderer Breivik is no mystery – are the words of History of Religion Professor Mattias Gardell (Uppsala University). Gardell was a witness called for by Breivik’s defense team on Monday (June 4). Breivik could also tell what formed him into a terrorist. The Swedish Professor (Gardell) analyzed Breivik’s over 1500-long manifesto. It mainly consists out of large chunks of text collected from various extreme right-wing and anti-Muslim forums and internet sites. Gardell was summoned as an expert witness who argued that Breivik’s ideas are shared by many people. “If they are to be incarcerated for (psychiatric) treatment, then you (the authorities) will have to build a very large care facility”, he said.

 

In the first psychiatric examination before the trial Breivik was diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. These findings were primarily built on the assumption that he had delusionary images that the Islamic world is on the verge of taking over Europe. The psychiatrists also pointed out that Breivik had created new concepts, out of which national Darwinism  is prominent in his manifesto. These claims were dismissed by Gardell.

 

“It seems that they (psychiatrists) did not bother with making a web search of words such as cultural Marxism and national Darwinism. You would get a massive amount of hits,” Gardell said after the testimony. According to the Professor, Breivik is at his ideological core a fascist, who had built his ideology from ideas such as islamophobia, antifeminism, cultural conservative nationalism, and even white-power ideology. “Breivik is no mystery”, he said during the proceedings.

 

This analysis has been used by the defense team to demonstrate that Breivik is mentally sane, and therefore should be sentenced to prison and not psychiatric care. “If my expert opinion would contribute to sentencing (Breivik) to the hardest punishment mandated by the law, I would not lose any sleep over it”, Gardell comments.

 

The mass murderer himself was completely calm during Gardell’s presentation. One of the jurors even played a computer game during the proceedings, which was broadcasted by a TV-camera. Many of the defense’s witnesses have declined to appear in court. For that reason Breivik received extra time to present his personal experiences which had added to his hatred of Muslims. As a seven years old boy Breivik remembers getting his bicycle damaged by his friend’s father. Later his negative experiences were dominated by fights with Pakistani and Albanian gangs during the night life in downtown Oslo. Many of his accounts could not be verified.

 

Breivik had also mentioned that his political views were formed by the age of 15 when he had noticed that the media did not care much for the (social) problems he had seen. Breivik has a theory about why he had come to find himself in this situation of being accused of terrorism. He argued that his honor, as well the honor of the Norwegian people is vital to his worldview. “There are not many Norwegians who share this feeling.”

Signed: Peter Wallberg/TT

Reactions on the Carnage in Norway

29 July

Much of this week’s news in Norway and Sweden has dealt with the Islamophobic discourse inspiring Anders Behring Breivik’s acts of terror and manifesto. The manifesto published online by Breivik just hours before the detonation in Oslo and the massacre at Utøya borrows extensively from, amongst others, the UNA bomber Theodore Kaczynski, and so called “Anti jihadists” such as Bat Ye’or (Gisèle Littman), Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. Littman, Geller and Spencer have rejected all responsibility for inspiring the Norwegian terrorist and claim that these accusations are a strategy used by “the Leftists” to silence all critique of Islam.

 

Similar reactions have been seen and heard amongst right wing populists and Islam critics in Norway and Sweden. Apparently Breivik was a member of the right wing populist party Fremskrittspartiet (FrP), focusing most of its politics and rhetoric against multiculturalism and, especially Muslim, immigration. Two days after the detonation in Oslo and the shooting spree at Utøya, Siv Jensen, leader of FrP, announced that she thought the atrocities executed by Behring Breivik was horrible, but that “the fact that some media wants to find a connection between Anders Behring Breivik and FrP is just as horrible.” She later claimed that she had been misunderstood. The political attack on FrP cannot in any way be compared to the killing of innocents, she said.

 

The Norwegian journalist Øyvind Strømmen, specialized in right wing extremism, has collected some of the reactions from the far right on last week’s act of terror. He shows how a number of more or less well knows bloggers and writers say they support Breivik ideologically, but reject violence and the taking of lives. But some even seem to agree also to violent methods in what is conceived as a war between “the West” and Islam. Strømmen also shows that a common opinion is that what happened is a natural reaction on immigration and Muslim presence in Norway. In the end the Muslims and their leftist allies are, according to a number of voices, to blame for what happened in Oslo and Utøya.

 

Also in Sweden similar reactions have been noticed. A number of far right wing and nationalist bloggers and politicians have stated that they reject the killings in Norway, but can support the ideological stand of Breivik. Amongst the most noticed is former Sweden Democrat (SD) Isak Nygren, today spokesperson for the Swedish Defense League. Nygren was amongst a number of persons who received the manifesto in an email sent directly from Anders Behring Breivik himself, less than two hours before the detonation in Oslo. On his blog Nygren states that he to some extent does agree with Breivik ideologically, but does not support his methods:

 

Even though this terrorist is anti-Islam, anti-Multicultralism and so on, like me, I don’t really have something in common with this guy. I don’t support violence.

 

Another Sweden Democrat, Erik Hellsborn, received national attention writing on his blog that “Islamisation” and “multiculturalism” more than anything else lies behind the carnage in Norway. “In a Norwegian Norway this would never have happened.” The blog post was later removed after pressure from party members.

 

Yet another noticeable strategy amongst fellow right wing extremists is to claim that Breivik is to be regarded insane, and that the acts of terror are not ideologically informed. Some has also tried to find other discourses which, rather than the Islamophobic or nationalist, can explain the reasons why. Another member of the Sweden Democrats, Thomas Karlsén, claims Behring Breivik was used as a tool in the hands of the Freemasons, conspiring against the world. Asked to clarify his statement by EXPO, a Swedish magazine covering issues regarding racism, nationalist and right wing extremism, Karlsén says: “You are fucking retards. It is you that’s behind what has fucking happened!” Karlsén seems to think that the journalists at EXPO, as representatives of “the Left”, can somehow be held responsible because of them wanting to “put the lid on all critique against Islam”.

 

In an online article EXPO claims that the ideological stands of Anders Behring Breivik are reflected by the politics of the Sweden Democrats (SD). By comparing statements and blog posts on “the islamisation in Europe” by leading Sweden Democrats, to quotes from Breivik’s manifesto they want to show how it is all part of the same Islamophobic ideology.

 

Jimmie Åkesson, leader of SD, as well as Kent Ekeroth, the party’s international secretary, is enraged that media and “the Left,” by their understanding, are using the atrocities in Norway to silence “the discussion about the failed politics of immigration and integration.” Both are wound up by having their own ideological stands compared to those expressed in the manifesto of Behring Breivik, and claim there is no connection between the two. “It is a fact,” writes Ekeroth, “that Breivik does not have anything to do with the growing Islam- and immigration-critic movement what so ever.”

Voices have also been heard, as well in Norway as in Sweden, that the secret police has been focusing too much on possible threats from Muslim terrorism, neglecting the far right and nationalist extremism, and demands are put forward that these milieus are to be more carefully investigated and supervised.

Pat Buchanan: Norwegian Mass Murderer’s Anti-Islamic Xenophobia ‘May Be Right’

It is far too soon after the tragedy to define Norweigian psychotic mass murderer Anders Breivik as bearing any mainstream political stripe, and yet his rambling, incoherent manifesto has landed him a number of adjectives– from “Christian fundamentalist” to”xenophobic anti-Islamist.” At least this much is clear: Breivik thought immigration was a threat to national identity and he’s apparently found one ally on that front in America: Pat Buchanan.

Buchanan penned an editorial on this Breivik monster for World Net Daily today (where else?), where he in no uncertain terms labeled Breivik “a cold-blooded, calculated killer,” “evil,” “coward,” and “deluded.” What he refuses to call Breivik, however, is “insane,” because he exhibited “some intelligence” in identifying what Buchanan agrees is the main threat to civilized European culture: Islamic immigration.

Quebecois academics support dueling manifestos on religious accommodation

A new type of warfare – albeit perfectly peaceful – has taken form in Quebec, as intellectuals and academics weigh in on the issue of accommodating religious minorities. The debate has been reignited recently with the “ niqab ” incident, in which a woman who refused to show her face to her language teacher and disrupted the class with her many demands was finally – after months of attempted compromise – expelled from French classes for immigrants.

On one side are the “pluralists,” who call for more openness to immigrants, and for what is called in French a “ laïcité ouverte ” (a secular regime that allows for some compromise with religious fundamentalists). The initiators of their manifesto, “for a pluralist Quebec,” are mostly professors of philosophy.

The authors of this second manifesto, eager to dissociate themselves from those who use the concept of secularism to cover up their dislike of the recent waves of Muslim immigration, argue that “ laïcité ” has always been part of Quebec history, an argument that is a considerable exaggeration.

Dutch-Moroccans publish manifesto on youth criminality

A group of 38 Dutch-Moroccan professionals and organizations has published a manifesto calling for the cessation of criminality among Moroccan youths, intended to break the passivity in their community regarding crime among young Dutch people of Moroccan descent.

The group says it wants to increase awareness of the high crime rate among young Dutch-Moroccans being a major social problem for which their own community needs to take responsibility. The manifesto states that “our society is increasingly confronted with crime and violence committed by young Dutch-Moroccans…The criminal behavior of these young people has led to Dutch people of Moroccan descent increasingly being regarded as second-rate citizens, who more and more often are merely being tolerated, rather than accepted. In addition, the violent behavior of these young people is taking on ever more serious forms and claiming an increasing number of victims.”

The signatories plan to meet regularly to advise organisations and policy-making officials. Social worker Ibrahim Wijbenga says: “We want to emphasize that Dutch-Moroccan juvenile delinquents are not just our problem, they are a burden on society as a whole but receive too little quality attention… We lose more young people to crime than to Salafism.”

French Comic Dieudonné Loses Support in Quebec

As his native France cooled in recent years to his increasingly publicly strident criticism of Jews, the French comic Dieudonne M’bala M’bala has been able to count on Quebec for a soft landing. He has been the toast of French-language comedy festivals in the province and in 2008 chose to debut his latest show in Montreal. “Dieudonne: the clown isn’t funny anymore,” read a headline in Saturday’s Le Devoir. A senior aide to French President Nicolas Sarkozy last week mused about having Dieudonne’s party and its “overtly anti-Semitic manifesto” barred from running in the election. Dieudonne is also facing legal action under French hate-speech law for a show in December 2008 in which he brought on stage notorious French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson and awarded him a prize for “unrespectability.”

Italy’s ‘Theo-Cons’ Rally Against ‘Islamist Threat’

ROME: Senior politicians in Italy’s government launched a policy manifesto on Thursday vowing to protect Western civilisation from what they said were the twin threats of Islamic fundamentalism and a moral vacuum. Marcello Pera, speaker of the Senate and a friend of Pope Benedict, said people in the West were ashamed to stand up for their values and often blamed themselves for being victims of terrorism. The West has difficulty recognising itself, Pera told a news conference to launch the manifesto. As Pope Benedict said: _the West doesn’t love itself any more’, he said. The document, entitled For the West, Force of Civilisation, begins: The West is in crisis. Attacked externally by fundamentalism and Islamic terrorism, it is not able to rise to the challenge. Undermined internally by a moral and spiritual crisis, it can’t seem to find the courage to react. Pera, a member of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, wants centre-right politicians to sign up to the manifesto ahead of an April general election which polls say the centre left, led by Romano Prodi, is more likely to win. Many politicians and some business and media figures have expressed support for the text, which calls for the spread of Western civilisation’s universal and inalienable principles. Berlusconi himself has yet to sign the document, Pera said, adding however that the prime minister backed the project. Pera’s manifesto was launched to a background of protests throughout the Muslim world against cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) published in European newspapers. Many of the protests have turned violent and at least 11 people died in a riot outside an Italian consulate in Libya last week. Pera said the bloodshed could not be blamed on Europe. I don’t think this can be seen as a response to something which happened in Italy and the West, he said. In those places, fundamentalism was already getting ready and waiting for someone to put a match to the gunpowder. Violence by Islamist extremists in Britain and France had shown those countries had failed to integrate immigrants into society, Pera said, insisting Italy must make newcomers respect the Italian way of life. Pera denied any suggestion that his rallying cry to the tendency Italy’s media has dubbed the theo-cons – available online at www.perloccidente.it – was in any way inflammatory. There’s nothing that suggests a clash of religions or a clash of civilisations in this document, he said. . Berlusconi, who in September 2001 outraged Muslims by saying the West was a superior civilisation, gave an interview to Arab TV station Al-Jazeera on Wednesday where he dismissed talk of any clash of civilisations and condemned the Muhammad (PBUH) cartoons.