Reactions to multicultural Finnish society: Fear of social marginalization of ethnic Finnish men and bad vibes about sports

The newly report of the Finnish Government dealing with Finland’s internal security was discussed in the plenary session at the Parliament on the 24th of May. During the discussion, MP Teuvo Hakkarainen (Finns Party, Perussuomalaiset) expressed his concerns about the connection of Islamization to the internal security of the country. In his speech, which can be found in its full length in the verbatim transcriptions of the Parliament plenary session, Hakkarainen posed a question to the Minister of the Interior Petteri Orpo, asking, whether Orpo had considered the fact that due to the resettlement policies of immigrant refugees to certain rural areas the ethnic Finnish bachelors there could be marginalized in the society where as the immigrant Muslim men would take their place.

Furthermore, Hakkarainen argued that the biggest threat to Finnish internal security is the spread of Islamization. He doubts possibilities of integration for current Muslim immigrants, of whom most are men, based on demographic discrepancies between men and women especially in rural areas. Hakkarainen advocated in his speech rejecting further immigration and continued to argue, that the best way to fight Islamization is to secure the borders with barbed wire.

In May, Finnish media’s attention was also on another politician from the Finns Party, Seppo Huhta. The Green Party (Vihreät) and a local sports club in the town of Espoo announced a sports event, to which participants regardless of their national, political background were invited to enjoy a “multicultural baseball day”. Baseball in its Finnish version, is a very popular sports in the country and thus the event is aimed at teaching foreigners about this piece of Finnish culture.

Following the announcement, as a news article notes, Huhta had commented on the events facebook-page that the whole idea of a multicultural baseball was ridiculous since baseball, rather than ice hockey, is a national game. Moreover, in his comment – which, he maintains, he had made as a private person – Huhta wonders, how is it then even possible to make out of such a national game “multicultural” or “Mohammedean”. He claims that in reality the word “multicultural” now is restricted to mean only events and activities targeting Muslims and hence such events would not attract any Russian or even German immigrants.

Representatives of the Green Party noted that the object of the event is not to politicize sports. Huhta was criticized for his choice of words which allegedly have been harsh also before, for instance he is said to use the word “beard-child” to speak about Muslims. Afterwards Huhta commented that has nothing against anyone playing any sports, and actually sports would do good to Finns as well.

Islam does have a problem with homosexuality. But so do western conservatives

Omar Mateen – who shot dead 50 people in an Orlando gay club – was both an

Islamist terrorist and a violent homophobe.

These things are not mutually exclusive. They are concomitant. Mateen attacked

the West in general but targeted gay people in particular. Inevitably some people

say Islam is incompatible with Western life because it is incompatible with our

attitudes towards sexuality.

Are they right? Well, it’s complicated. And on a matter as sensitive as this, there

is nothing wrong with admitting that it’s complicated.

Liberals, say the Right, must find themselves in a terrible quandary. As

supporters of both gay liberation and multiculturalism, how do they process the

fact that many Muslims believe homosexuality is a crime?

Conservatives insist that their confident defence of Western history and

philosophy is more gay-friendly than liberal multiculturalism.

Liberals listening to Trump and Spahn might choke on their tofu. When, they

would counter, did Western conservatives suddenly become fans of sexual

freedom? Haven’t they spent decades fighting gay rights?

Marco Rubio, the Florida senator, was one of the first Republicans to say that

Orlando was an attack on gay people – and good for him. But Left-wing critics

argued that his outspoken opposition to gay marriage was part of the cultural

environment in which Mateen’s bigotry grew.

Islam wasn’t the only religious authority that Mateen would have encountered in

Florida telling him that gay people are going to Hell. He could have tuned in to

any evangelical radio show to hear that.

When we ask Muslims to interrogate attitudes towards sexuality in their

community, we do so assuming that our own culture is 100 per cent gay friendly.

It is not.

Polls suggest that around a third of Americans still believe that homosexuality

should be discouraged. Homosexual acts have only been legal in the West since

the 1960s. Gay marriage has only been on the agenda for a decade and is still

bitterly resented by social conservatives.

The conservatives are right: Islam does have a problem with homosexuality. Yet

so do many conservatives. And it would be an inversion of Western values to

insist that any individual suddenly rethink their religious beliefs if they want to

be accepted into society.

But Muslims, I’m sure, would welcome a social contract requiring everyone to

obey the law and respect the distinction between church and state. And, most of

all, live and let live.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/13/islam-does- have-a- problem-

with-homosexuality- but-so- do-western- c/

The British Muslim is truly one among us – and proud to be so

April 3, 2014

Those who believe in a clash of civilisations, in which British values are pitted against those of the Muslim world, have not been short of examples in the past few days. The BBC reports on an “Islamic takeover plot” by hardliners to seize control of several Birmingham state schools. Two Morrisons workers are suing the supermarket for not being able to take holiday during Ramadan, after being told that they submitted their applications too late. Such stories do make the blood boil, and may lead the less charitable to ask if such people should move to a country that better reflects their prejudices.

But one hears such complaints rarely, and this is what marks us out in a Europe that is paranoid about Islam and identity. Britain is, through empire, the original multi-ethnic state. When Churchill was writing for The Daily Telegraph as a war correspondent, his criticism of the Afghan tribesmen was that their behaviour was un-Islamic. “Their religion – fanatic though they are – is only respected when it incites to bloodshed and murder,” he wrote in December 1897. Then, the Queen had tens of millions of Islamic subjects and her ministers boasted of running the greatest Muslim power on earth. The integration of Muslims can now be seen as one of the great success stories of modern Britain. While the Dutch and the French have huge troubles with integration, and are caught in agonised struggles about their national identities, Britain is marked out by the trouble that we are not having. Dig a little deeper, and the real story is the striking amount of harmony.

Last year, for example, the Jews of Bradford were facing the closure of their synagogue. Its roof was leaking, and the few dozen remaining regulars could not afford the repairs. Its chairman, Rudi Leavor, made the decision to sell the building and face up to it being transformed into luxury flats. As things turned out, the synagogue was saved after a fundraising campaign led by a local mosque. Zulfi Karim, the secretary of Bradford’s Council of Mosques, now refers to Leavor – who fled the Nazis – as his “newfound brother”. He gave his support, he says, to protect the diversity of Bradford.

Such stories can be found the length and breadth of Britain, for those with an eye to see them. St John’s Episcopal Church in Aberdeen last year agreed to accommodate neighbouring Muslims, who had outgrown their mosque and had taken to worshipping outside it. The Rev Isaac Poobalan said that allowing Muslims to pray in the wind and rain would mean abandoning “what the Bible teaches us about how we should treat our neighbours”. He argued that his church was empty on a Friday lunchtime, when Muslims needed to pray.

Anyone serious about either religion will know that they both worship the same God – and their stronger ties are, in part, forged by the knowledge that they have a common enemy in secularism. The kind of secularism that would stop people wearing crucifixes and skullcaps in public, as well as the niqab. When the Council of Europe came out against religious circumcision, it was natural that Manchester’s sizeable Jewish community would protest. But less expected for Manchester’s Muslims to join them.

The attempts by extremists to speak for Muslims in Britain is made a lot easier by the lack of an Islamic hierarchy, it’s also made easier by the understandable reluctance of ordinary British Muslims to get involved in the political side of their religion. When Channel 4 said that its 2006 Christmas message would be given by a Muslim in a full-face veil, it fitted the BNP narrative of a clash of civilisations. This is all the more surprising given the serious problems that Britain still faces with integration. British Muslims don’t really feel a sense of otherness. In fact, polls show they’re much more likely to identify with Britishness than the general population. The Citizenship Survey found that most Muslims agree with two propositions: that Islam is the most important thing in their life, and that their primary loyalty lies with the British state. Most are baffled by the idea of a tension between the two.

Court rejects Islam-influenced post-marital agreement

I have long argued that American courts should deal with Islam-related religious issues by simply applying existing American law, without any special rules either favoring or disfavoring Islam or Muslims. Sometimes that means Muslim claimants might win, for instance when they claim reasonable religious exemptions under existing American religious exemption rules (which are available to people of all religions), or when they enforce valid contracts or wills inspired by Islamic legal principles. Sometimes they should lose, for instance when their religious exemption claims are treated as unreasonable under existing American law, or when their contracts violate established American legal principles.

The court held that the contract was unenforceable — not because there’s something improper about working religious principles, or Islamic principles, into a contract, but because it violated established religious-neutral principles of family law:

As I’ve argued before, this is exactly the right approach for courts to take. Muslims are entitled to enter into contracts or leave wills that reflect Islamic religious principles — such as wills that leave more property to sons than daughters, or union contracts that provide for days off on Islamic holidays, or arbitration agreements that call for Islamic arbitration — just as Christians or Jews may enter into contracts or leave wills that reflect Christian or Jewish religious principles. But Muslims are bound by the same limits on contractual freedom as Christians, Jews, and others are. We can debate what those limits should be, especially in the complicated area of family relationships, but they shouldn’t be Muslim-specific limits.

We’re all in this together: How Leicester became a model of multiculturalism (even if that was never the plan…)

You couldn’t ask for a better symbol of the present, paradoxical state of multicultural Britain than Jawaahir Daahir. She is a vigorous example of female empowerment: a Somali refugee in the Hague, she learnt Dutch and studied for seven years to become a social worker there, while bringing up her six children. She is also a conservative Muslim, like most of her compatriots. She combines the two – feminism and religious piety – with no apparent strain. And it was because that combination is one that Britain can deal with, while the Continent finds it unacceptable, that she is now happily settled in Leicester.

 

“When the Somali community came to Leicester there was a sense of support and a welcoming environment. For example, now there are lights, welcoming Ramadan. When I registered my children for school, there were welcome signs in so many languages, including Somali. It was a culture shock, because you don’t expect a Western city to welcome you in your own language. In Holland, even though I participated actively in all sorts of different areas, I still felt separate, different. But here in Leicester you feel a sense of belonging. You are not a foreigner, you are not an outsider. The society and the system acknowledge you and consider you.”

 

David Goodhart, founding editor of Prospect magazine, asks hard questions about the economic and political rationale for the mass immigration that has transformed the ethnic profile of so many of our towns and cities. Britain obtained its dazzling array of new citizens with little conscious planning. And, as Goodhart describes, in places such as Bradford and Tower Hamlets, the mixture of declining local industry and a large, tight-knit population of immigrants from rural parts of Pakistan and Bangladesh has produced severe social tension, culminating in the mill-town riots of 2001. But as Jawaahir Daahir’s story reveals, that is not the whole picture. Slap in the middle of England there is a city where an improbably rich mix of people and religions seems to be working rather well. Nobody planned for Leicester to become the most multicultural city on the planet. It just happened that way. And for the early immigrants, too, there was little thought that they might make their lives here.

 

In the past 40 years, Leicester has become the poster city for multicultural Britain, a place where the stunning number and size of the minorities – the 55 mosques, 18 Hindu temples, nine Sikh gurudwaras, two synagogues, two Buddhist centres and one Jain centre – are seen not as a recipe for conflict or a millstone around the city’s neck, but a badge of honour.

 

But in the 12 years since the attacks on America, punctuated by 7/7 and the Woolwich atrocity, Britain’s faith in multiculturalism has begun to erode. After every act of Islamist terrorism, there has been a spasm of revulsion. This is one of the conundrums of our age, one which laid-back, permissive Holland epitomises: how are the super-tolerant children of the European Enlightenment to react to the arrival of newcomers who refuse to adopt the uniform of secular liberalism? How far do you tolerate those who themselves have strict limits on what they will tolerate?

 

As atheists – who account for 23 per cent of Leicester’s population – like to point out, religion is not a reliable recipe for communal harmony. Quite the reverse: as every religion enshrines an exclusive explanation of the world, each has the potential to oppress and persecute those who think differently. And often that’s how it works out. Muslims are often treated like second-class citizens in India, Christians in Pakistan, Hindus in Bangladesh and Muslims in Burma.

 

While the mill towns of Burnley, Oldham and Bradford experienced race riots in 2001, Leicester has ridden out its multicultural decades in considerable peace and harmony. The white population, guided by the likes of Peter Soulsby, has responded with maturity and imagination to these epochal demographic changes. And while there will always be grumbling about the “cosseting” of immigrants, the facts speak for themselves. In the mid-1970s, the National Front was active in Leicester, and on one occasion came close to winning a single council seat. But since then, they and their successors have been notably unsuccessful in the city. If the minority of British whites are seething about the way the city is changing, they are keeping it very much to themselves.

New book: Building a Shared Future: Religion, Politics and the Public Sphere

During the last decade, debates on the role of religion in the public space, migration, social cohesion and other issues have revealed increasing social tensions and polarisation in public opinion. Misperceptions and misinformation often dominate public dialogue about relations between Muslims and others. Although they don’t speak with the loudest voice, academics, scholars and thought leaders have a key role to play in helping to rebalance these debates by providing fact-based opinion and informed arguments. In the ‘Building a Shared Future’ series, these opinion leaders offer insights into the issues facing Muslims through American and European communities today.

How successful have European models of integration been compared with the American model of multiculturalism? How can multiple layers of identity be accommodated in pluralistic societies? This volume explores a selection of these questions.

The book is available for download here.

Ten Years after 9/11: The Threat Remains

11.09.2011

The 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks has stirred up debate as to whether the response to the attacks by the West was effective in diminishing the threat of terrorism. The Telegraph concludes that some elements were effective (such as improvements to the work of security services, which have succeeded in frustrating several attacks), but others were not. It is, therefore, a fact that the threat of attacks from terrorists inspired by Islam is as real as ever. For Islamism to wither into insignificance, more needs to be done ‘to ensure that Muslim communities within the West embrace the values of tolerance and respect that we cherish’. According to Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, it was vital to break up structures of isolation that were allegedly fostered by the state’s political multiculturalism. Similar plans were communicated by PM David Cameron earlier this year, when he claimed that state multiculturalism had to be replaced by a national identity that all can embrace (as reported).

Addressing the same issue, the Mirror reports that, on Saturday, Tony Blair warned on Radio 4 that the war on terror was not over yet. He said it was naive to believe that the West’s response to the 9/11 attacks had radicalised Muslims extremists. According to Blair, “(t)hey believe in what they believe in because they believe their religion compels them to believe in it”. The threat would only end, once this ideology was defeated.

EDL Protest in East London – Islamophobia, Islamism, and Multicultural Diversity

03./ 04.09.2011

On September 3rd, the English Defence League (EDL) went ahead with their plan to march through Tower Hamlets, despite a ban on marches issues by Home Secretary Theresa May prior to the event (as reported). Roughly 3,000 police officers tried to maintain control and created “no-man zones” between the estimated 1,000 EDL supporters and the 1,500 anti-EDL protesters. The police also made an effort to keep the EDL outside of Tower Hamlets. As the BBC reports, 16 EDL members were arrested during the demonstrations.

 

The fact that the EDL chose to march through Tower Hamlets seems to be a reaction to the boroughs multicultural character; Tower Hamlets, home to over 70,000 Muslims (the largest proportion of Muslims to live in any English local authority), has recently seen increasing signs of radical Islamism, with signs declaring the borough a “Sharia controlled zone” and public libraries providing texts by renowned Islamic extremists such as Abu Hamza al-Masri (as reported). It is this context that offered potential to be attacked by the EDL, which aimed to challenge the “Islamification” of the borough. As the Internet portal Qantara notes, the support of the Muslim community expressed by the anti-EDL protesters, which included representatives of the Lesbian and Gay Coalition against Racism and the Jewish Orthodox Community, illustrated that, despite official announcements of the failure of multiculturalism, multiculturalism in Tower Hamlets is, in fact, well and alive. 

French Prime Minister Opposes Debate on Islam if it stigmatizes Muslims

News Agencies – February 28, 2011

French Prime Minister François Fillon is opposed to a proposed debate about the place of Islam in France, if it would lead to the stigmatisation of Muslims. “If this debate must be focused on Islam and if it seems to lead to the stigmatisation of Muslims, I oppose it. I say it clearly: I oppose it,” Fillon told French radio station RTL.

The president of the ruling UMP party, Jean-François Copé, recently announced plans to launch a debate about religion, “especially Islam”.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared on 10 February that multiculturalism was a failure in France. He called for “an Islam of France and not an Islam in France”.

Cameron: Multiculturalism Speech Not Attack on Muslims

23 February 2011

David Cameron has insisted he was not “singling out Muslims” in a recent speech on multiculturalism. Mr Cameron’s call for an end to “state multiculturalism” sparked debate around the world, with some accusing the UK prime minister of attacking Islam.

Explaining his words to students in Qatar, he backed a “multiracial” society but not a “super tolerant” one in which people lived separate lives. Mr Cameron, who is touring the Middle East, also spoke up for gay rights.

In a speech on the causes of terrorism and radicalisation in Munich last month, Mr Cameron blamed “state multiculturalism” for a “weakening of our collective identity” and said it encouraged different cultures to live “separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream”.