Islam not Compatible with German Constitution, says far-right AfD party

April 18, 2016

The anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) said on Sunday Islam is not compatible with the German constitution and vowed to press for bans on minarets and burqas at its party congress in two weeks’ time.

The AfD punished Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats in three regional elections last month, profiting from popular angst about how Germany can cope with an influx of migrants, over a million of whom arrived last year.

“Islam is in itself a political ideology that is not compatible with the constitution,” AfD deputy leader Beatrix von Storch told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

“We are in favor of a ban on minarets, on muezzins and a ban on full veils,” added Storch, who is a member of the European Parliament.

Merkel’s conservatives have also called for an effective ban on the burqa, saying the full body covering worn by some Muslim women should not be worn in public. But they have not said Islam is incompatible with Germany’s constitution.

The AfD’s rise, which has coincided with strong gains by other European anti-immigrant parties including the National Front in France, has punctured the centrist consensus around which the mainstream parties have formed alliances in Germany.

Last month, the party grabbed 24 percent of the vote in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, surpassing even the Social Democrats (SPD), Merkel’s coalition partner in Berlin. The AfD, founded in 2013, also performed strongly in two other states.

The party’s rise has been controversial. Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat, has said Germany’s far-right, led by the AfD party, is using language similar to that of Hitler’s Nazis.

Such accusations have not swayed the party from its anti-immigration course.

“Islam is not a religion like Catholic or Protestant Christianity, but rather intellectually always associated with the takeover of the state,” said Alexander Gauland, who leads the AfD in Brandenburg.

“That is why the Islamization of Germany is a danger,” he told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

Islam should have a ‘quintessentially British’ version with minoret-less mosques and no burqas, Warsi says

British mosques should be built without minarets, former Conservative party chairwoman Baroness Warsi said yesterday, in a speech outlining her vision for a “quintessentially British” form of Islam.

Speaking at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, where she was giving her inaugural lecture as a Visiting Professor, Baroness (Sayeeda) Warsi called on Muslims to develop “a very British Islam” in line with Islamic tradition.

The former Minister for Faiths, who resigned from the Government last year over its failure to condemn Israeli strikes on Gaza, said: “Islam is different whenever and wherever it is found. If Islam always takes its cultural references from where it finds itself, British Islam must take cultural reference points from where it grows.”

Part of this, she said, meant building quintessentially British mosques. She argued that minarets, towers built alongside mosques from which the call to prayer is broadcast, were not culturally necessary in modern Britain.

“There is no need for a minaret. There is no need for a mosque to look like it doesn’t fit into its environment. It doesn’t need to be like that. I would love for there to be English-designed mosques.”

She also denied that Muslim women were obliged to wear full Islamic dress, such as the burqa, the full body covering, where it was not part of their social cultural tradition.

“I defend my right to dress modestly – but that doesn’t have to look like it would in Yemen. I cannot understand why you would want to look like someone who walked out of Yemen, unless your parents lived there,” she said. She called on the Government to reach out to Muslim groups from across the spectrum.

European conundrum: Integration of Muslims or securitisation of Islam?

December 2, 2013

 

Across Europe, the general feeling is that integration of Muslim immigrants has failed and that multicultural policies are responsible for this failure.

However, a closer look at data on integration of Muslims reveals a more nuanced reality, writes Jocelyne Cesari, Senior Research Fellow at the Berkley Center of Georgetown University and Director of the Islam in the West programme at Harvard University.

First, it is important to distinguish between socio-economic, cultural and political integration.

On the economic front, the results are daunting. Despite the emergence of a Muslim middle class, the high number of Muslims in lower socio-economic groups is reaching the point that some talk of a Muslim underclass.

This means that Muslims are affected by lower social mobility and persistent discrimination, even when their levels of education or resources are comparable to other immigrant groups. In other words, discrimination seems to exist for immigrants or citizens with a Muslim background.

When it comes to political integration however, data gathered across European countries show that Muslims do participate politically and on some occasions even more so than their ‘non-Muslim’ peers. They also present specific features. For example, they tend to participate less in formal politics (vote/party membership) than in informal political activity like civic action or voluntary work.

Muslims also display higher left-leaning political identification than their non-Muslim fellow citizens.

The most striking finding is that they not only identify themselves highly with Islam, but also to European citizenship. The opposite is true for non-Muslims who do not express the same attachment to their religious tradition. This difference does not exist in the United States, where Muslims perform at the same level as other religious groups when it comes to religious self-identification.

Therefore, the alarming political discourse on the lack of cultural and religious integration of Muslims is ill-placed.

The perception of Islam as a threat is one reason for this gap between the social reality of Muslims and the political discourse on Islam. Anti-terrorism and security concerns fuel a desire to compromise liberties and restrict Islam from the public space.

The outcome is an increasing securitisation of Islam that includes a number of actions through which the normal rule of law is suspended in favour of exceptional measures. This is justified by extraordinary situations that threaten the survival of the political community.

This securitisation aims to respond to Islam as if it were an existential threat and therefore justifies extraordinary measures to contain it. Securitisation of Islam is discernible in speech and rhetoric, such as the justification for the War on Terror and the persistent linking of Islam with political violence.

Our research shows, however, that securitisation not only encompasses speech acts but also administrative and political measures not directly related to terrorism. For example, limitations on Islamic practices (minarets, the hijab, the burqa, male circumcision) as well as the restriction of immigration and citizenship. In this regard, these measures reinforce the perception of Islam and Muslims as ‘others within the West’.

Consequently, Muslims are under increased political scrutiny and control, especially those who assert their religious affiliation through their dress and engagement in public religious activities. Furthermore, the signs of these activities, such as mosques and minarets, have become highly suspect. In these conditions, not only radical groups are seen as a threat but also all visible aspects of the Islamic religion.

Securitisation of Islam regards Islam as a monolithic ideology spreading from Europe all the way to Iraq and Afghanistan. According to this perception, Muslims are determined by history and fit a mold from which they cannot escape. They are defined by their so-called conformity to the past and their inability to address the current challenges of political development and liberal religious thinking.

This perception justifies the imaginary creation of an insurmountable boundary between modern and pre-modern times, between secularism and Islam, and therefore supports exceptional political measures to fight against supposedly anti-modern and anti-Western forces. It leaves very little space for Islam in liberal democracies and it fuels the extreme polarisation of Islam versus the West on which European and Muslim extremist groups thrive.

One way to overcome the exclusion of Muslims in the West would be to include Islam in the narratives of European countries through a reframing of national history textbooks to locate this religious tradition and its diverse cultures within the boundaries of each national community. Another proven way to increase the legitimacy of any given group is through greater political representation in mainstream institutions (political parties, assemblies, and governmental agencies). Concrete action on these ideas has yet to materialise.

 

World Review: http://www.worldreview.info/content/european-conundrum-integration-muslims-or-securitisation-islam

Prince Charles visits shrine to Sufi saint

November 11, 2013

 

The Prince of Wales laid flowers on the tomb of one of India’s most revered Sufi saints today as its imam prayed for the health and happiness of Britain’s royal family. The visit to the shrine or ‘dargah’ of Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, one of Mumbai’s most celebrated landmarks, was to support the restoration of its 500 year old building and to promote dialogue between different faiths.

The shrine commemorates the devotion of Haji Ali, a wealthy merchant who migrated from Bukhara and died while making his Haj pilgrimage to Mecca.

The Prince entered the shrine to the sound of Sufi devotional music, celebrating the saint’s miracles, to pay his respects and inspect the extensive renovation works under way. ‘Haji Ali’ is a tiny mosque-like shrine with arches and minarets at the end of a promontory, surrounded by the sea.

 

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/prince-charles/10440860/Prince-Charles-visits-shrine-to-Sufi-saint.html

Hamburg Muslim Community inaugurates minarets

Dec 6

 

The Islamic Ahmadiyya community has inaugurated two minarets for the Bait-ul-Rasheed-mosque in Hamburg-Schnelsen, a district of the North German city. Both minarets are 14 meters high and visible.

 

Mirza Masroor Ahmad, head of the Ahmadiyya community in London attended the ceremony.  Also, representatives of the Christian and Jewish community of Hamburg, members of the Senate of Hamburg and members of the German parliaments participated at the ceremony.

 

During his speech, Mirza Masroor Ahmad called Muslims to maintain their loyalty to the State. Unlike other German cities, the construction of the Ahmadiyya mosque was not accompanied by protests. The mosque is open to Muslim and non-Muslim Germans. Asif Malik, speaker of the Ahmadiyya community in Hamburg, expressed the relevance of transparence for the community to decrease fear and mistrust toward Muslims.

 

First Minaret in Saarland

18.02.2012

The Turkish Muslim community in the city of Volklingen celebrated the completion of the first minaret in the federal state of Saarland last week. The plans to build a minaret on top of the Selimiye Mosque, a former cinema, had divided Volklingen’s population last year. While the argument was reminiscent of the ban of minarets in Switzerland, opponents of the minaret in Volklingen could, however, not enforce a similar ban.

Dutch Political Party Aims to Ban Minarets

The Dutch Freedom Party (PVV), known for its anti-islam, anti-immigrant platform, is calling for a referendum on the presence of minarets in the Netherlands. According to the party minarets symbolize the domination of Christianity by Islam.

 

Wilders Calls for Minaret Ban in Netherlands

21 September 2011

Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party (PVV) are calling for a referendum against the construction of new minarets in the Netherlands. The politician, stating that ‘Minarets… are the towers of a rising desert ideology’, announced that he will submit draft legislation to parliament to move towards a public vote on the matter.

More Debate About Cologne’s New Central Mosque

27.07.2011

A few months before completion of Cologne’s new central mosque early 2012, the public debate about the building continues, now focusing more on its architecture and location rather than political or social issues. In previous years, critics of the mosque, such as the right-wing group Pro Köln (Pro Cologne), had campaigned to stop the building’s construction, at times with xenophobic slogans; social commentator Ralph Giordano used it as an opportunity to comment on the failure to integrate the Turkish Islamic community. Paul Böhm, the mosque’s architect, counters, however, that “the mosque is itself an act of integration”. Its architecture has an “open”, “inviting”, and “light” characters, which communicates “a sense of openness and invitation”. These characteristics are in opposition to enduring criticisms about the mosque’s design, with complaints focusing about the height of its minarets and its alleged resemblance to nuclear reactors. In fact, the height of the mosques minarets, which were taller in the original plans, had been a problem in the past, as the threatened to overshadow Cologne’s famous Cathedral. Subsequently, their size had to be reduced to protect the Cathedral’s visual integrity.

“We’re not planning an Islam-Center”

8 February 2011

An Albanian Muslim association has recently bought a plot of land in Hollabrunn, in the Weinviertel northeast of Vienna, raising speculation that they may build a mosque. However, according to the head of the association Zeadin Mustafi and his wife Nadire Mustafi, they not are planning a building with a dome and minarets, but rather an “intercultural meeting centre,” with space to pray, and where non-Muslims are welcome as well.

They have already spoken with the city priest, and the backgrounds of their members show their commitment to diversity: aside from Albanians, among the 70 members of the association are also Turks, Macedonians, Bosnians and Arabs. The association, which is run on the donations of its members, was formerly located in a 30m2 room. “It was much too small, and moreover cold and damp – there was mold all over the place,” said Nadire Mustafi.