First “Round Table Islam” in Baden-Württemberg

Baden-Württemberg’s Integration Minister Bilkay Öney held the first “Round Table Islam” last week, which was initiated to improve the dialogue with Muslims (as reported). Öney invited more than 30 Muslim representatives of organisations, associations, and ministries to discuss topics such as the public perception of Islam, Islam and education, Islam and basic liberties, and Islam and gender roles. The participants of the round table did not only discuss these topics, but also searched for concrete measures to improve the integration of Muslims and Islam in Baden-Württemberg. Following the meeting, Öney stressed the need to train more teachers for Islamic education to meet the needs of more than 70,000 Muslim students. Furthermore, she expressed empathy for veiled Muslim women who feel discriminated against due to their headscarf. While Öney herself has been against the headscarf for women in civil service positions, she said she was willing to reconsider her opinion and re-open the debate about the headscarf. The next Round Table Islam is planned for May 2012.

Dutch Declaration Against Female Circumcision

March 3 2011

A joint declaration stating explicitly that female circumcision is against the law in the Netherlands has been presented by Dutch ministries, migrant organizations and health authorities. The intent of the declaration is that those under pressure to circumcise their daughters can use the document as ‘proof’ against the procedure. Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports that most circumcisions occur among women in African countries, and that sometimes the practice is linked to Islam and faith, and sometimes a ‘cultural practice’. Because the practice is banned in the Netherlands, some girls are circumcised “during holidays to their country of origin”.

Taboos and Fear among German Muslim Girls

Young Muslim women are often forced to lead double lives in Europe. They have sex in public restrooms and stuff mobile phones in their bras to hide their secret existences from strict families. They are often forbidden from visiting gynaecologists or receiving sex ed. In the worst cases, they undergo hymen reconstruction surgery, have late-term abortions or even commit suicide.

Hardly any other issue is as fraught with prohibition and fear among Germany’s Muslim immigrants as sex. Many Muslim families adhere to moral values from a pre-modern era, and the separation of the sexes affects almost all aspects of daily life. At the same time, young female immigrants are faced with the temptations of a free life unrestrained by religious and cultural traditions. Their daily lives are a constant tug-of-war between two value systems.

Many of them suffer from this contradiction, and some crack under the strain. Doctors and social workers report on desperate young women coming to them with requests to reconstruct the hymen or perform late-term abortions. The elevated risk of suicide among young immigrant women even prompted Berlin’s Charité Hospital to establish a suicide prevention initiative for women from Turkish immigrant families. In a multi-year study, the group hopes to discover why the suicide rate within this population is apparently twice as high as it is among ethnic German women of the same age.

The consequences of living this double life have been poorly studied. Almost no governmental and non-governmental organizations, from family and education ministries to immigration authorities and self-help groups, can offer reliable figures or well-founded conclusions on the issue.

French Students Protest Burqa Ban With High Heels, Mini-Shorts

News Agencies – October 1, 2010
Two French female students have made a film of the pair of them strolling through the streets of Paris in a niqab, bare legs and mini-shorts as a critique of France’s recently passed law. Calling themselves the “Niqabitches,” the veiled ladies can be seen strutting past prime ministerial offices and various government ministries with a black veil leaving only their eyes visible, but with their long legs naked bar black high heels.
Bemused passers-by can be seen gawping at the pair or asking to take photographs in the clip. At one stage in the video, the two women approach the entrance to the ministry of immigration and national identity, only to be told by a policeman to go elsewhere. However, a policewoman also present is delighted by their clothes. “I love your outfit, is it to do with the new law?” she asks. “Yes, we want to de-dramatise the situation,” one girl replies. In an opinion piece published on the news website, rue89, the anonymous duo – political science and communication students in their twenties – said the film was a tongue-in-cheek way of criticising France’s niqab ban, which the Senate passed last month and is due to go into force early next year.

PVV Wants to Calculate Cost of Immigration

Geert Wilders’ PVV (Party for Freedom) has asked that Dutch ministries conduct a “cost benefit analysis” of the presence of non-western immigrants in the Netherlands. Member of Parliament Sietse Fritsma has requested that each ministry calculate how much immigrants contribute in taxes and how much of the departments’ expenses are due to immigrants. Figures are requested for the past year and five years, as well as forecasts for the upcoming year and five year period. It remains unclear whether the ministries will respond to Fritsma’s request individually or provide a collective statement.