Dutch army recruits two imams as army chaplains; parliament poses questions about their backgrounds

The Dutch defense ministry and parliament clashed over the appointment of a Muslim imam as an army chaplain. The defense ministry appointed two imams of Turkish and Moroccan origin to serve as army chaplains, who were supposed to be sworn in on Thursday, but the swearing-in ceremony was postponed after the parliament objected the appointment of one of the men, citing his “radical” views.

One of the chaplains – Ali Eddaoudi, has had questions raised about his political views, including defending the right of Muslim neighborhood stewards to refuse to shake hands with members of the opposite sex. In a 2007 column, he criticized the Dutch mission in Afghanistan, citing the Taliban as “a proud people” that will never give up.

Because of questions raised about his views, defense minister Jack de Vries was forced to postpone the appointments – a decision is said to be made in about two weeks time. The defense ministry said that the Muslim chaplains could be sent in missions outside the Netherlands, to aid an undetermined number of Muslims serving in the Dutch army. The army currently employs 150 chaplains – including 50 Protestant pastors, 40 Roman Catholic almoners, humanist representatives, two rabbis, and two Hindus.

Sweden: Muslim group: “Make halal slaughter legal”

The Muslim Association of Sweden (SMF) is renewing calls for the legalization of religious slaughter practices, such as halal and kosher dietary requirements. SMF chairperson Mahmoud Aldebe is challenging the government to respect the democratic rights of Sweden’s Muslims, to exercise their “religious freedoms” and help find a way to permit the practice.

At stake is the key issue of pain killers administered to the animal; the agriculture ministry requires that an electric shock be made to an animal before a cut is made. This method is prohibited by most Muslim and Jewish slaughter practices, as the risk of the animal dying before the cut is made is high.

The ban on slaughtering animals by cutting the jugular vein has been in force since 1937 in Sweden.

Fraud found at 86 percent of Islamic schools

Almost 9 out of every 10 Islamic schools in the Netherlands has been found to spend government subsidies unlawfully. According to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, illegal spending at 86 percent of Islamic schools ranges from salaries to ‘teachers’ who were not properly trained, but often ended up being wives of management board members, and unlawful payments for transport, including a trip to Saudi Arabia. The education ministry is attempting to reclaim 4.5 euro back in unlawfully spend school subsidies.

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Iran claims links with British universities

Officials from the country’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology said they were in talks with a number of universities in Britain, the United States and Germany. Reports from Tehran claim they will provide teaching materials and scholars after striking up deals with several unnamed institutions.

Gholamreza Khajesarvi, a government official, told the Islamic Republic News Agency: “The ministry is currently studying proposals by numerous world academic centres and universities, including several universities from Britain, the United States, and Germany. The departments will be set up to train and educate experts on Islam so as to assist in the introduction of Islam and its realities to the world in a proper academic setting,” Graeme Paton reports.

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Hundreds of potential terrorists live in Germany, official says

There are roughly 700 people in Germany who the interior ministry believes may be involved in extremist Islam circles, the ministry’s deputy head said. Of the some 700 people in Germany suspected of being Islamic terrorists, a “double digit” number of them have been classified by the country’s 16 states as dangerous and are “under especially intense surveillance,” Hanning said. Radical Islamists in Germany have also taken part in terror training camps in the mountainous region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, added Hanning, who previously served as the head of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency.

Terrorists’ targets tend to be crowded, public areas that are difficult to secure, Deputy Interior Minister August Hanning told the Sunday, Nov. 2, edition of Berlin’s BZ am Sonntag. “Suspects plan inhuman forms of attacks against so-called soft targets,” he told the paper in comments made available ahead of publication.

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Moroccan-born politician becomes first-ever Muslim mayor in Holland

Social Affairs State Secretary Ahmed Aboutaleb will succeed Ivo Opstelten as the mayor of Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands. Aboutaleb is a member of the Labour party, and has been nominated by the local council to seat the position. He has both Moroccan and Dutch nationality, and is known for combining his Muslim faith with a political style that is characteristically Dutch. The appointment, of the first Muslim nominated for a mayoral position, still needs to be formally confirmed by the home affairs ministry.

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Over 170 preachers to lecture Moroccan expats during Ramadan

Morocco will dispatch over 170 preachers to Europe to provide training and give lectures during the holy month of Ramadan (fasting month) to the Moroccan expatriates, according to a press release of the ministry of Habous (Endowments) and Islamic Affairs. The decision to send 176 preachers, including 100 to France alone, reflects Morocco’s will to “meet the needs of the Moroccan community abroad for spiritual guidance”, “protect them from all kinds of extremism and deviance”, and “foster the values of citizenship in them,” said French daily “La Croix” quoting the document.

35 Egyptian illegal immigrants deported

Thirty-five illegal immigrants from Egypt were deported from Italy, said the Italian interior ministry. The migrants had been held in the identification and expulsion centre on the island of Lampedusa, before being put on a charter flight to Cairo. An Egyptian police probe in 2007 revealed that international trafficking rings, operating from Libya, were smuggling Egyptians into Europe at the price of $3,000 per person. Just last week, another 38 illegal Immigrants had been repatriated.

Alleged al-Qaeda-linked Islamists arrested

Spanish police broke up a cell of suspected Islamic militants, and arrested four people accused of fundraising for terrorist activities. The men, all of Algerian origin, were arrested in the southern province of Huelva and the Basque region in the north. Authorities said that the cell had been under investigation since 2005, and was directly linked to Al Qaeda. However, the interior ministry said that there is no evidence that the suspects were preparing for an imminent attack.

Indonesia Blocks Web Access Over Film

Internet companies in Indonesia blocked access to YouTube and Myspace on Tuesday, heeding a government order aimed to stop people from watching a film critical of Islam and the Quran. The Indonesian ministry ordered internet service providers to block sites where Wilders’ film appears, stating that it could disturb relations between the faiths. The internet providers said that the block was temporary, and included also Google Video, and other file-sharing sites.