Questions surround Islamic Chair position at Huron University College, affiliate of University of Western Ontario

The National Post: May 13, 2011
This article chronicles critics of a proposed Islamic Chair position at Huron University College, an affiliate of University of Western Ontario (UWO) Southern Ontario. Huron offers post-baccalaureate and professional degree programs in theology. The College recently accepted a $2-million endowment for a new Chair in Islamic Studies within the College’s historically Anglican Faculty of Theology. About half the money is to come via fundraising facilitated by the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC), and the other, matching half from the Virginia-based International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT).
On April 5, 26 self-identified “alumni, friends and faculty” of the university signed on to a letter written by UWO associate professor of economics John Palmer, protesting acceptance of the endowment. In it, Palmer contends that although MAC and IIIT claim they are moderate and democratic organizations, their approach is influenced by Imam Hassan Al-Banna, founder and even decades after his death still ideological guru of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), who, according to the MAC website, “best exemplifies [a] balanced, comprehensive understanding of Islam.”

Former minister guilty of slander

October 27, 2010

The Copenhagen City Court has ruled that statements made by former Minister of Welfare Karen Jespersen against the spokesman for The Muslim Association of Denmark were unjustified.
In early 2009, while still minister, Jespersen said Zubair Butt Hussain, spokesman for The Muslim Council of Denmark, advocated the stoning of women. The comments were made in connection with the government’s cooperation with the association on preparing teaching materials about Islamic extremism. Jespersen was ordered by the court to pay Hussain damages of 11,000 kroner. In addition to the comments about stoning, Hussain sued Jespersen for her calling him an ‘extremist’. The court, however, did not believe the second remark warranted any libel payment.
Hussain says he is satisfied with the verdict, saying it demonstrated that despite Denmark’s strong support of freedom of speech, people cannot simply say whatever they want. He added, however, that the court’s failure to consider calling someone an ‘extremist’ as being slander was ‘unfortunate’. Jespersen did not comment on the ruling, but stated on her website that she was not engaged in a battle against Islam: ”On the contrary – we need to stand together with those Muslims who are supporters of the values and freedoms our society is built upon. But we shouldn’t accept that new reactionaries’ beliefs continue to spread and we can’t bow to demands for special treatment of religious considerations in the public sector” Jespersen says.

British Muslim Women Pay Tribute to Soldiers

A group of Muslim women honored soldiers who died fighting for the UK by placing a wreath at the National Memorial Arboretum in England, according to the BBC. The early July ceremony occurred on the anniversary of the death of Lance Cpl. Jabron Hashmi, the first British Muslim soldier to die in a Taliban attack in Afghanistan on July 2006.

The Armed Forces Muslim Association organized the event. Members said 500 Muslims are currently serving in the British armed forces. Muslims soldiers served the UK in World War I and World War II.

Montreal-area Mosque vandalized

A Mosque in Dorval, in Montreal’s West Island, has been vandalized for the fourth time this year. The mosque’s doors were spray painted with the words “Koran 511” in orange graffiti.

In June 2008 and April 2009, the same mosque, the Turkish Muslim Association of Montreal mosque in Dorval, was vandalized in a similar manner, with similar messages. In all of instances, the mosque was spray painted with the word “Koran 511”, which references verses of the Quran that are often taken out of their historical context and misinterpreted as implying that Islam teaches Muslims to wage wars against non-Muslims.

Struggling B.C. City Aims to Attract Muslim Professionals with new Islamic Center

The northern British Columbia city of Prince George (population 70,000) 800 kms from Vancouver is getting its first mosque, and with it a sense of new life in the struggling city. Civic leaders hope the multimillion-dollar Islamic cultural and educational centre will be a beacon that draws highly skilled professionals to a city that badly needs to diversify its forestry-dominated economy. For the city’s roughly 200 Muslim families, the mosque is a welcome change to the non-permanent prayer locations in past years.

The B.C. Muslim Association’s Prince George chapter approached the city six years ago with a pitch that a mosque could attract desired professionals. In 2003, the group approached the city to buy and rezone a piece of land to build a mosque. The city unanimously approved the request. The projected cost is between $1.5- and $2-million. About $500,000 has been raised from private donors across the province.

Iceland: First full Icelandic Muslims marry in the country

For the first time in Iceland, a fully Icelandic Muslim couple was married. The occasion is an important moment for the Muslim community in Iceland, where previously, the country’s very small Muslim population had only seen converts married in the mosque. The country’s first “all-Icelandic” couple married at the Muslim Association Mosque. The had of the association, Salmann Tamimi, cited the occasion as significant because “two or three years ago you could count (the number of Muslims) more or less on the fingers of one hand, but now there are between 30 and 40 (Muslims in the association).” Tamimi says that he looks forward to a bright future for Muslims in Iceland, and hopes to see an “increase in the faith.”

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.

UK Muslim convention to be used as ‘a rallying call for peace’

One of Britain’s oldest Muslim communities will use its annual gathering this weekend to show how it could provide a model for other Muslims of how to live in perfect harmony with others. This weekend, 30,000 members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community will gather for the biggest annual gathering of UK Muslims. This is the 42nd Annual Ahmadiyya Muslim Convention to take place in Britain and will be based in a huge temporary village of 200 marquees at a site near Alton, Hampshire on July 25-27. Khalifa Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who is based in London, will invite the world to reflect on the true message of all religions, including Islam. It will be a rallying call for peace, to be replicated by Ahmadi Muslims in 190 countries across the world. Mr Rafiq Hayat, president of the UK Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, said the UK Government, which earlier this year launched a fund to support work that helps individuals, organisations and communities to tackle violent extremist influences, should first look at the good practices that already exist in Muslim communities such as the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. Jon Land reports.

Inquiry into £18m mosque complete

A decision is due to be made on whether an application to build an $18m mosque in the West Midlands will be allowed. Dudley Council turned down the application to build the mosque in the town on the grounds the land had been designated for employment purposes. The town’s Muslim Association appealed to the government’s Planning Inspectorate which held an inquiry into the matter. The inspectorate is due to reveal its decision later. The council received hundreds of letters from residents opposing the mosque.

Just 50 allowed in to mosque inquiry

The public gallery at an inquiry over Dudley’s controversial _18million mosque plans will be limited to just 50 seats. Those who want to be at the hearing, scheduled to start on June 10 at 10am and last four-days, are now being urged to arrive early for a seat. The inquiry is being held after Dudley Muslim Association lodged an appeal against the council’s decision to reject their plans for for a mosque and community centre on derelict land in Hall Street. A total of 70 petitions containing more than 22,000 signatures have been handed to the council from people protesting against the plans. There is expected to be scores of people vying to be in the public gallery but the council will have to turn some away. People wishing to speak during the course of the inquiry are also warned they need to contact the council by June 7 to register their intention or they will not be allowed to have their voice heard. Dudley Council spokesman Phil Parker said: “The inspectorate, however, makes it clear that if there are several people with the same views a spokesperson should be appointed to speak on behalf of the others to avoid repetition of arguments.” At the start of the inquiry the inspector will outline the formal procedure. The barrister appointed by Dudley Muslim Association will make a number of opening remarks followed by the council’s barrister. Witnesses for both parties will give evidence and will be open to cross examination. After closing statements, the inspector will close the inquiry and then carry out a site visit, during which there will be no further discussion.