As September 11th is looming, Islamophobic protests grow

Brussels’ mayor has forbidden a demonstration that several anti-Muslim associations wanted to organize on September 11th. These associations called their sympathizers to come anyway. They plan to stand in the 2009 European elections. The reasons invoked to forbid this gathering – it was considered as a threat to public order, and an incitement to discrimination and hatred – raised a heated debate, that recalled the debate that surrounded the publication of Mahomet’s cartoons in a Danish daily two years ago.

The End of Tolerance in Amsterdam: Moroccan-Born Mayor Dispenses Tough Love to Immigrants

By Erich Wiedemann For one Amsterdam mayor, the Netherlands’ famous tolerance has gone too far. Morrocan-born Ahmed Marcouch is taking the tough cop approach in a rough Amsterdam neighborhood, pushing his fellow immigrants to integrate. But some consider him a traitor. A street festival is in full swing in Amsterdam’s Slotervaart neighborhood. The occasion is the dedication of a new community center for Christians and Muslims designed to foster interaction between the two groups. As the crowd listens to music, munches on fish snacks and Arab pastries and drinks fruit juice, Ahmed Marcouch, the district’s 38-year-old mayor, holds a speech. He talks about progress and mutual understanding between different ethnic communities. At the end of his talk, Marcouch poses for pictures with an attractive young woman wearing a headscarf. The festival and the speech are nice gestures, but atypical. Normally life in Slotervaart isn’t nearly as convivial as the speakers paint it. Crime and unemployment are significantly higher than the national average, and one in three of the neighborhood’s young people are high-school dropouts.

BNP Accused Of Exploiting Cartoons Row With Muslim Leaflet

The far-right British National party was yesterday accused of deliberately ramping up racial and religious tensions by launching a leafleting campaign with anti-Muslim messages, including controversial cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. The depiction of the prophet with a bomb as a turban was one of several images that sparked protests across the world earlier this year. The BNP’s move was criticised as a blatant attempt to reignite the controversy. Azad Ali, of the Muslim Safety Forum, said: “This is a deliberate ploy to create huge tensions … and it is adding to the isolation, fear and frustration felt by many people in the Muslim communities.” The BNP said the leaflet was part of a “coherent campaign to alert people to the Islamification of Great Britain”. It has produced another leaflet on immigration and a second on Islam, which describes the faith as “a threat to us all”. The leaflet was handed out in Sutton in south-west London. Politicians and community leaders said the BNP was trying to exploit a debate about plans to build a mosque in the area. Lal Hussain, a former Sutton councillor and the area’s first Asian mayor, said residents had been shocked. “This is not the sort of thing we expect round here but there is not a chance they will make any headway with these tactics. People here are far too literate and tolerant.” Nick Lowles, of the anti-fascist group Searchlight, said the BNP had run a concerted campaign designed to exploit anti-Muslim feeling since the London bombings last year. “Everywhere the BNP appears racist attacks increase and this leaflet will make it more difficult for Muslims and others to go about their day to day business without being threatened and intimidated.” The row began after a Danish newspaper, the Jutland Post, published cartoons mocking Muhammad. When a group of Danish imams travelled to the Middle East with the cartoons, the affair exploded into a worldwide cultural controversy. The BNP leaflet of Muhammad first appeared earlier this year. The party has also called on Muslims to be banned from flying into or out of the country. Yesterday Phil Edwards, a BNP spokesman, denied it was trying to stir up anti-Muslim sentiment and defended the “no-fly” policy. “Rather than inconvenience everybody we should ban all Muslims from flying in and out of Britain,” he said. The BNP gained 32 councillors in May’s local elections, including 11 of the 13 seats it contested in Barking and Dagenham, east London.

Legal sanctions come into force against female genital mutilation performed outside Spanish borders.

Some cases of individuals performing the operation while abroad on trips have been noted, and the Spanish government moved to make these prosecutable, as with other crimes such as genocide, terrorism, piracy, prostitution, and the corruption of minors with drugs. {(continued below in Spanish)} El Pleno del Congreso de los Diputados dio luz verde el pasado 23 de junio a esta norma que permite la persecuci_n extraterritorial de este delito cuando se realiza en el extranjero, ‘como sucede en la mayor parte de los casos, aprovechando viajes o estancias en los pa_ses de origen’ de los inmigrantes. Esta pr_ctica, que va desde la extirpaci_n del cl_toris hasta el cosido de los labios vaginales ya est_ tipificada en el C_digo Penal, con una pena de entre 6 y 12 a_os de c_rcel. Sin embargo, ahora se modifica la Ley Org_nica 6/1985 del Poder Judicial para que pueda ser perseguida fuera de Espa_a. A partir da ahora, la jurisdicci_n espa_ola ser_ competente para perseguir estos hechos, tal y como sucede con delitos como el genocidio, el terrorismo, la pirater_a, la prostituci_n, la corrupci_n de menores o el tr_fico de drogas. Pa_ses Subsaharianos Y Asi_ticos En Espa_a se tuvo constancia de estas pr_cticas a ra_z de varios casos en los que ni_as inmigrantes pidieron auxilio a sus profesores en el colegio, ante el temor de que sus familiares les mutilaran durante un periodo de vacaciones en su pa_s de origen. El Defensor del Pueblo tambi_n se ha hecho eco de casos en los que inmigrantes acudieron a centros sanitarios para que procedieran a la mutilaci_n genital de sus hijos. Este tipo de pr_cticas se realizan en cerca de 25 pa_ses de la franja subsahariana y en algunos de Asia por parte de distintas culturas y confesiones religiosas (el Islam, animistas y cristianas), como un rito de iniciaci_n a la pubertad, tal y como explic_ la diputada de CiU Merc_ Pigem, responsable de la ponencia por parte de su grupo. Los expertos calculan que un total de 135 millones de ni_as han sufrido mutilaci_n del cl_toris y que cada a_o se producen 2 millones de casos nuevos; esto es 6.000 al d_a y 5 cada minuto.

Strasbourg Lays The First Stone Of Its Large Mosque

By Thomas Calinon It is perhaps the end of an old alarm. After two decades of reflection, including four years of impassioned debates, the first stone of the large mosque of Strasbourg was placed Friday, during Ramadan, in muddy ground near the downtown area. “It is time!” said the mayor of Strasbourg, Fabienne Keller, as the ceremony of more than 500 faithful Moslems concluded with “Allah Akbar!”. The event included representatives of the four faiths (Catholic, Reformed, Lutheran and Jew) recognized by the right of Alsace-Moselle, which excuses Alsace from the law on separation of Church and State since 1905.