Lady Warsi: Pakistan’s treatment of women fails Islam

Muslim Tory minister Sayeeda Warsi criticized Pakistan for denying women rights that were granted in the Qur’an 1,400 years ago. Therefore, according to Warsi, “Pakistan is failing to live up to one of the tenets of Islam which guarantees rights to all women” (Guardian). While preparing to become the first British minister to address the Organisation for the Islamic Conference, Warsi made these comments in an interview with the Guardian. Warsi, who has Pakistani origins herself, had already raised the issue of women’s rights last year. During the interview, Warsi said her heritage allowed her to openly raise these concerns; what is more, she considers herself to be able to deliver a “tough message to Pakistan because she is unencumbered by “colonial baggage””. In addition to the lack of rights for women, Warsi had also voiced concerns about the treatment of minorities in Pakistan.

Muslims to join Copts in Christmas mass

The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) president Mohammed Moussaoui recent noted that the organization “decided to send a delegation to attend the Christmas mass of our Coptic brothers Friday, in France.” He added that “These Christian minorities should be able to practice their religious safely.”

Message to Muslims: I’m Sorry


“…I hereby apologize to Muslims for the wave of bigotry and simple nuttiness that has lately been directed at you. The venom on the airwaves, equating Muslims with terrorists, should embarrass us more than you. Muslims are one of the last minorities in the United States that it is still possible to demean openly, and I apologize for the slurs.”

Iben Helqvist

Iben Helqvist
Research Assistant
Centre for Social Entrepreneurship
Roskilde University
Universitetsvej 1
4000 Roskilde

Area of Expertise:
– Muslim interest groups
– Political representation of Muslim minorities
– Muslim civil societies in Scandinavia, Germany and the US

CV available here
Narrative bio:
Iben Helqvist holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Roskilde University, Denmark. She has pursued her interest in Muslim minorities in Europe and the US by studying German integration politics at Freie Universität in Berlin, as well as ‘Contemporary Islam’ at American University in Washington DC. In DC she also did an internship with Muslim Public Affairs Council and gained valuable insight into national American politics relating to the Muslim-American community.

In her master’s thesis Iben studied Muslim interest groups in Denmark. She analyzed how these groups interact with politicians and the public administration and why it is difficult for Muslim interest groups to establish themselves as credible and reliable partners of the public administration in Denmark.

Quebecois academics support dueling manifestos on religious accommodation

A new type of warfare – albeit perfectly peaceful – has taken form in Quebec, as intellectuals and academics weigh in on the issue of accommodating religious minorities. The debate has been reignited recently with the “ niqab ” incident, in which a woman who refused to show her face to her language teacher and disrupted the class with her many demands was finally – after months of attempted compromise – expelled from French classes for immigrants.

On one side are the “pluralists,” who call for more openness to immigrants, and for what is called in French a “ laïcité ouverte ” (a secular regime that allows for some compromise with religious fundamentalists). The initiators of their manifesto, “for a pluralist Quebec,” are mostly professors of philosophy.

The authors of this second manifesto, eager to dissociate themselves from those who use the concept of secularism to cover up their dislike of the recent waves of Muslim immigration, argue that “ laïcité ” has always been part of Quebec history, an argument that is a considerable exaggeration.

Columnist Haroon Siddiqui responds to latest demographic forecasts in Canada

Statistics Canada has released its population projections to 2031. The population of visible minorities is expected to rise from one in every five Canadians to one in three – potentially to 14.4 million. In 2031, the Toronto CMA (census metropolitan area, Oshawa to Burlington) would be nearly two-thirds non-white – 5.6 million. Among them, South Asians would have tripled to 2.1 million. Chinese would be 1.1 million. Vancouver also would be almost two-thirds non-white. Montreal would continue to lag in diversity. Only one in three would be non-white. Blacks (mostly Haitians, like Michaëlle Jean) would double to 381,000.
While immigration would remain a big-city phenomenon, mid-size cities would change as well. “VizMins” would double their numbers in Barrie, Guelph, Hamilton, Kitchener, Oshawa, Peterborough, etc. Similarly, there have always been two Canada’s – urban and rural. What is different today is that most non-whites live in cities. Lastly, immigrants and visible minorities will remain better educated than the native-born and also much younger

US government assures the confidentiality of census data

On Thursday, the US government assured that all information provided in 2010 census will remain confidential. Some minority groups including Muslim Americans had raised questions regarding the confidentiality of their census data given the broad scope of national security federal laws such as the Patriot Act. In a note to Congress, the Obama administration ruled out the disclosure of 2010 census data under the Patriot Act assuring Americans and particularly minorities once again that their information will be kept confidential.

New Quebec poll suggests reasonable accommodation too accommodating of Muslims

According to a new poll from Léger Marketing-Le Devoir, three-quarters of Quebecers feel that the Charest provincial government is too lenient in its “reasonable accommodation” of religious minorities. 57 percent of respondents agreed that the provincial government should ban religious signs in government-related offices.

The poll results are not yet available to the public through Léger Marketing’s website.

The War against the unbelievers

In the religion section of the Swiss weekly magazine Die Weltwoche, Pierre Heumann describes the plight of Christian minorities in Muslim countries across the world. As he hops from Algeria to Egypt, and from Malaysia to Pakistan, Heumann recounts how local Christians become the scapegoats for Muslim anger against the West. Muslim countries account for 80 percent of discrimination worldwide against those of different faith, and rumours about missionary activities or Koran desecration can quickly lead to violence against local Christian populations.

Heumann criss-crosses the Muslim world, noting how the construction of churches is prohibited in Iran and Saudi Arabia, and commenting on the recent armed attacks in Egypt on a Coptic Christmas celebration. This discrimination includes even Turkey, tells us German sociologist Tessa Hofmann, where since the beginning of the 20th century and the Armenia genocide the state has often been involved in the repression of non-Muslims.

According to the (Swiss) bishop of Saudi Arabia, Paul Hinder, this is because Christians in Muslim-majority countries are seen as ‘foreigners,’ as are treated as second-class citizens. Heumann explains how this intolerance has grown even in birthplace of Christianity, as threats and discrimination have led to the dwindling of the Christian population in Bethlehem and Nazareth.

The only place worse for Christians outside of Muslim countries is North Korea, according to the organization Open Doors. In Muslim countries simple rumours can lead to the burning of churches and attacks on the population, which Egyptian political scientist, Emad Gad, attributes to a systemic Islamic indoctrination in politics, schools and mosques.
This fanaticization has become dangerous for Christian minorities, and especially for the Coptic population in Egypt. Women are often the victim of kidnappings, forced conversions and forced marriages, says Coptic activist Mary Abdelmassih. The police, if they take any action at all, more often punish the victims than protect them. Radical Islamists are financially encouraged in these attacks and kidnappings by Islamic welfare foundations, which offer rewards for every Christian girl forced to convert to Islam.

Heumann concludes morosely that these Christian minorities cannot expect any help from the Christian West, which does not wish to further jeopardize its already strained relations with the Muslim world. Not even the Vatican lends its support to the oppressed minorities. During Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Bethlehem he attempted to win over the Palestinians by denouncing the Israeli West Bank barrier and supporting the Palestinian right of return. As for the Christians in Bethlehem, he remained silent.

“They kill Christians and call us racist”

The Egyptian government has asked the Italian state and the International community to prevent racial and religious discrimination and hatred against Arab and Muslim immigrants and minorities.

This journalist calls Egypt’s accusation of being a racist country unacceptable.

The journalist, accuses Egypt of butchering minorities in its territory. Egypt, he points out, is on Amnesty International’s black list for human rights violations, armed rejections at borders, tortures employed by the State Security Intelligence and forced repatriations. Egypt, as it asks for tolerance and protection for minorities, must recall that it killed eight Christians at Christmas and built a fence to prevent Palestinians from restocking primary goods.

Italians, he concludes, cannot accept criticisms from an inhumane government.