Muslim league chairman says Italy “full of dangerous fundamentalists”

Text of report by Italian newspaper La Stampa on 22 July [Interview with former Italian ambassador Mario Scialoja, chairman of Muslim League in Italy, by Giacomo Galeazzi in Rome; date not given: “‘Too Many Fanatics. Italy, Look Out'” – first paragraph is La Stampa introduction] Rome – “We are looking at real criminal activities here. It is no coincidence that the imam of Perugia is a Moroccan. Italy is full of dangerous fundamentalists who flee moderate Islamic countries and come over here to commit crimes, dealing in drugs and work permits.” [Former] Ambassador Mario Scialoja, chairman of the Muslim League in Italy, and a member of the Consultative Committee for Islam, was “very worried,” and made no secret of the fact. “The Perugia affair is a huge case of the inappropriate use of a place which ought to be devoted to religion – he said – Within the Islamic community there is a lack of any control, only the secret services can uncover such serious violations of the law.” He added: “An official register is needed for imams in Italy. And a training course is necessary. Monitoring of the Muslim community is needed. But this does not prevent an individual from carrying out illegal activities, such as those in Perugia, or as happened in Britain. In these instances, it is the intelligence services and the police which can intervene.” {[Galeazzi] So do you agree with the alert at the Viminale [interior ministry] over fundamentalism?} [Scialoja] Yes, without doubt [Interior] Minister Giuliano Amato has every cause. The Perugia investigation shows that threatening, underground networks are in action. Fortunately, the intelligence services and the DIGOS [Division for General Investigations and Special Operations] are proving to be efficient, and are being fairly successful in preventing crime, and bringing the crimes to light. According to information from my friends at the interior ministry, in Italy there 630 mosques and prayer rooms. Five have ended up under investigation for illegal activities, but often the examining magistrates have acquitted the people who have had reports made out against them. This is the point: the fact that the cases which have emerged are isolated, to date, does not make the phenomenon less worrying. They are extreme and dangerous fringe groups which take action in the shadows.

Germany Worried About Increased Terrorism Threat

Concerned about reports of German Islamists being trained in terrorist camps in Pakistan and an increased danger level, security officials and politicians are pushing to expand the catalogue of anti-terrorism measures. Security officials voiced concern over the weekend about a growing terrorism threat after a newspaper reported that German Islamists, who had been trained in camps in Pakistan, had returned to Germany in June. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung said the German interior ministry knew about 14 Islamists from Germany who had been in Pakistan or were still there. It added that authorities were calculating that more individuals from Germany would be trained in al Qaeda-run terrorist camps.

More Moroccans than Italians in Belgium

The Italians are no longer the largest group of immigrants to Belgium. The Moroccan immigrants have managed to outnumber them for the first time, according to sociologist Jan Hertogen. He says it is a “historic moment.” Hertogen based his analysis on figures from the General Department of Statistics and Economic Information of the federal ministry for the economy. Belgium counted 264,974 Moroccan and 262,120 Italian immigrants as of 1 January 2006. This includes both foreigners and naturalised Belgians. For the first time Italians are not the largest group of migrants in the country, but the second largest. After the Moroccans and Italians, the Turks are the next largest group, with 159,336 immigrants. The French (145,556) and Dutch (126,447) are once again the largest groups of European migrants. Hertogen says there are a total of 1,569,909 migrants. The statistics department was more cautious about Hertogen’s numbers. “The figures Hertogen is using are more or less accurate, but they are not the comprehensive official figures. He counted the naturalisations but did not take into account deaths or people who had re-emigrated,” they say.

Patrick Weil and 7 other scholars resigned from the Cité nationale de l’Immigration’s board

The historian Patrick Weil and 7 other scholars announced that they will resigned from the Cit_ Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration’s board (CNHI – French National Museum of the History of Immigration) as a way to protest against the creation of a ministry of immigration and national identity, recently instaured by France’s new president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Netherlands turns back Hamas minister

The Netherlands turned back a Palestinian minister with the Islamist movement Hamas on Friday who was headed for a conference on refugees, the minister said. Speaking to Arab news channel Al-Jazeera from his plane, sports and youth minister Bassem Naim said he was stopped at Brussels airport where he was to have made a stopover and told his Netherlands visa had been revoked. Belgian police told him that the justice ministry in the Netherlands had cancelled the entry visa on the grounds that he was “dangerous for the security of the Dutch people”, the minister said. Since the formation of a unity government in March between Hamas, which is branded a terrorist group in the EU and United States, and the mainstream Fatah party, some countries have restored contacts but only with non-Hamas ministers. In the West Bank political capital of Ramallah, information minister Mustafa Barghouti said: “We are surprised by this decision and we expect the Netherlands to take a balanced stand between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Muslims are Waging War Against Us, Claims Police Union

Radical Muslims in France’s housing estates are waging an undeclared “intifada” against the police, with violent clashes injuring an average of 14 officers each day. As the interior ministry said that nearly 2,500 officers had been wounded this year, a police union declared that its members were “in a state of civil war” with Muslims in the most depressed “banlieue” estates which are heavily populated by unemployed youths of north African origin. It said the situation was so grave that it had asked the government to provide police with armoured cars to protect officers in the estates, which are becoming no-go zones.

Denmark: Denmark Reopens Syria Mission

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Denmark on Tuesday reopened its embassy in?Syria more than two months after it was set ablaze by demonstrators protesting the publishing of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, the Danish foreign ministry said. The ministry said the Damascus mission was now open to the public but cautioned Danes in Syria to be vigilant as the cartoon row could still induce negative reactions in the country. “Recently, there have been several instances of verbal threats against Danes and other Westerners,” it said in a statement on its Web site. On February 4, several thousand Syrian demonstrators set the Danish and the Norwegian embassies on fire in violent protest over 12 caricatures of the Prophet first published by Danish Daily Jylland-Posten in September. The fire badly damaged the building that housed the Danish mission but no one was hurt as the embassy was closed. The cartoons were later reprinted in other European papers and sparked violent protests worldwide by Muslims, many of whom believe it is blasphemous to depict the Prophet. Last month, Denmark reopened its mission to Indonesia saying the security situation there had improved, but embassies in several other Muslim nations remain closed.

Denmark: India, Denmark Agree To Delay Danish Pm’s Visit

A visit to India by Denmark’s leader has been delayed, the Indian foreign ministry, amid reports New Delhi feared the trip could provoke new anti-Danish protests by Muslims. “The two sides have found that the proposed timing for the visit was not optimal,” the ministry said in a statement. “India and Denmark look forward to the visit of the Danish prime minister to India at an early date.” Newspapers said the Danish government had agreed, at New Delhi’s request, to delay Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s visit which the reports said was due to begin April 2. India, the reports said, was worried the controversy surrounding the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed would overshadow the visit. In February, large but peaceful protests were staged in several cities against controversial images of the Prophet Mohammed by Danish cartoonists that sparked anger among Muslims worldwide. The protests created tension in some flashpoint areas of India known for communal violence between Hindus and Muslims. Police blamed the increased temperatures for providing the spark which saw demonstrations against the visit to India of US President George W. Bush in early March degenerate into rioting in the north Indian city of Lucknow, in which four people were killed. The caricatures were first published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September and later reprinted in other mainly European dailies. They have sparked protests and riots worldwide that have left dozens of people dead. Muslims consider any depiction of the prophet to be blasphemous. Last month, an Indian Islamic court in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh issued a fatwa, or religious decree, condemning to death the 12 artists who drew the cartoons. A minister in the state government also offered a reward of 11.5 million dollars for the beheading of any of the cartoonists. Muslims make up around 130 million of mainly Hindu India’s billion-plus population.

Denmark: Caricature Of Prophet Mohammed Outrages Muslim World

TUNISIA, (AFP) – Cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Mohammed in the Danish and Norwegian press provoked boycotts and angry protests across the Muslim world yesterday as interior ministers from 17 Arab countries called on the Danish government to punish the authors. “The council of Arab interior ministers strongly denounce the offence to Islam and the prophet published in the Danish press and ask the Danish government to firmly punish the authors of these offences,” the council said in a statement after a meeting in the Tunisian capital. Saudi Interior Minister Nayef Ben Abdel Aziz called on other Arab countries to recall their ambassadors from Copenhagen. Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador last week and a boycott of Danish products is under way in the kingdom. Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa said before the meeting that the European press “fears being accused of anti-Semitism, but invokes freedom of expression when it caricatures Islam.” The Moroccan Islamist newspaper Attajdid praised protests across the Arab world. “A strong cry of fidelity to this great prophet must emanate from Morocco,” the paper said. A council of 15 senior Moroccan theologians condemned the association of Mohammed with “execrable” actions “diametrically opposed to what the messenger of God came to fight against”. The 12 cartoons, entitled “The Faces of Mohammed”, originally published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September, were reproduced in the Norwegian magazine Magazinet on January 10. They include a portrayal of Mohammed wearing a time bomb-shaped turban and show him as a wild-eyed, knife-wielding Bedouin flanked by two women shrouded in black. The Algerian foreign ministry denounced the “outrageous injuries” to the prophet and warned that the cartoons were harmful to religious dialogue and relations between nations. Sudan turned down a visit by Denmark’s defence minister and urged all firms to boycott Danish products, the official news agency SUNA reported. In Gaza, a picture of Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen was set alight during a protest outside the UN compound in Gaza City. Protestors also torched pictures of Israel’s acting prime minister Ehud Olmert and US president George W Bush while gunmen fired bullets into the air. “This barbarous offensive on Islam is the result of a campaign of incitement against Islam waged by Bush,” Nafez Azzam, a Jihad leader, told reporters.

Germans To Put Muslims Through Loyalty Test

By Kate Connolly Muslims intent on becoming German citizens will have to undergo a rigorous cultural test to gauge their views on subjects ranging from bigamy to homosexuality. Believed to be the first test of its kind in Europe, the southern state of Baden-W_rttemberg has created the two-hour oral exam to test the loyalty of Muslims towards Germany. It is to be taken on top of the standard test for foreigners wishing to become German citizens, which includes language proficiency skills and general knowledge. It also requires applicants to prove that they can provide for themselves and their families. Those applying must also have resided in Germany for the previous eight years and have no criminal record. Germany’s 15 other states will monitor the progress of the policy when the tests begin this week before deciding whether they wish to adopt similar legislation. The 30 questions, which have been set by a special commission, range from sexual equality to school sports and are meant to trigger a more detailed discussion between the applicants and officials. Until now, all applicants have simply had to tick a Yes or No box to answer whether they felt loyalty to Germany. But now they will be quizzed on their attitudes to homosexuality and western clothing for young women, and whether husbands should be allowed to beat their wives. Other questions covering topics such as bigamy and whether parents should allow their children to participate in school sports have been called “trick questions”, meant to catch people off guard. The state interior ministry said the test would be used to filter out Muslims who were unsuited for life in Germany. Those who answered “correctly” but later acted against expected behaviour, such as wife-beating, could have their citizenship removed. Critics say that the test is biased and discriminatory and that if Muslims are obliged to take it, so should all applicants for citizenship. Brigitte L_sch, a leading member of the Green party in the Baden-Wurttemberg parliament, called for the oral exam to be dropped, arguing that it inferred from the outset that all Muslims were “violent per se” and unable to abide by German law. “This list of questions is only to be used for applicants from Islamic countries. It is an unbelievable form of discrimination,” she said. “If Germans were asked some of the questions, they would find it difficult to answer them.” The European Assembly of Turkish Academics rejected the questionnaire as “strongly discriminatory and racist” against Germany’s three million-strong Muslim population, most of whom are Turkish. Kerim Arpad, an assembly spokesman, said: “The test is shaped by stereotypes and damages integration.” But Dieter Biller, of the foreign ministry in Stuttgart, the state capital, said the test would help bureaucrats to form opinions as to whether citizenship applicants were suitable or not. “It covers everything from sexual equality, violence, school sports and religious freedom,” he said. “How the applicants stand on the question of the attacks of September 11 will also be a key question.” Holland announced yesterday that it was introducing ceremonies for new immigrants as part of efforts to reduce racial tensions and to integrate immigrant communities. The government is worried that immigrants who do not move outside their ethnic or religious groups hamper integration and stoke fears of militancy. New Dutch citizens will also have to take an “oath of allegiance”.