A new initiative of the Ministry of Interior of Lower Saxony raised concern among German Muslim associations. The Bremen and Lower Saxony branches of the Muslim associations Ditib and the Shura of Lower Saxony cancelled a scheduled meeting for Monday with the local Ministry of Interior Uwe Schünemann (CDU). The reason for such concern is the publication of a checklist, which has been released in a booklet by the Ministry. The publication, titled: “Radicalization processes in the fields of Islamist Extremism and Terrorism”, is part of the “anti-radicalization concept”, implemented by the Lower Saxony institutions. The checklist includes behavioral and visible “indices” for the public to recognize Muslims who would potentially lean to terrorism, including weight loss, evident interest in sports and the insistence for privacy.
The Minister of Interior Schünemann has showed his willingness to discuss some of the issues. However, Muslim associations reject the checklist as a conceptual failure and request the cancellation of the whole project.
Avni Altiner, a representative of the Lower Saxony Mosque Association, warned that “such generalization would lead to a climate of fear”. The migration policy speaker of the Lower Saxony Green party, Ms. Filiz Polat, has asked Schünemann to send his apologies to Muslim associations and criticized the Minister of Interior for his attempts to forge ahead against the Muslim community. Polat sees the Extremism checklist as the rock bottom of the relationship between Muslims and the government of Lower Saxony. Laws that allow investigations of mosques without a given suspicion, she declared, would diminish religious rights and hinder any effort for dialogue.
Muslim associations such as the Central council for Muslims in Germany and the Council for Coordination for Muslims in Germany (KRM) have criticized the comments of German Federal president Joachim Gauck about Muslim and the belonging of Islam to Germany. President Gauck took repeatedly distance from the declaration of his predecessor Christian Wulff (CDU), who pointed at Islam as an integral part of Germany.
In an interview with the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Gauck has said to accept Muslims as part of Germany but denied the statement of his predecessor about Islam being part of German society.
The Council for Coordination has declared his statement as irritating and disturbing. The chairman of the Turkish community Kenan Kolat has invited president Gauck to a revision of books on European history, while rejecting an ideological debate.
News Sources – March 16, 2012
The UMP, the party led by Nicolas Sarkozy, is courting Muslims, and reportedly made long-distance buses available to them with separate sections for women and men. The buses were used to bring them to the large elections rally the presidential candidate held on Sunday in Villepinte. The head of the ”Diversities” section of Sarkozy’s election campaign Patrick Karam, brusquely denied the news. ”We have never engaged in this type of separation. We simply made specific buses available to some Muslim associations.”
News Agencies – December 5, 2011
A broad coalition of Muslim leaders, some of them shaken by allegations emanating from the Shafia family murder trial, have seized on the Dec. 6 anniversary of the killings at Montreal’s École Polytechnique to speak out about violence against women. Nearly 60 Muslim associations have issued a statement condemning domestic violence, particularly honour killings, saying the practice has nothing to do with Islamic teachings and “[violates] clear and non-negotiable Islamic principles.”
As a first step, it encourages imams to address the issue during Friday prayers.
News Agencies – July 30, 2011
A week after a massacre in Norway fuelled by anti-Islamic sentiment claimed the lives of 77 people, Muslims preparing for Ramadan across Canada are being urged to install surveillance cameras and bars on mosque windows, and to talk to police and school principals about emergency plans should an “incident” arise. The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, based in Ottawa, is calling for these and other measures as part of its “Muslim Community Safety Kit” sent out to Muslim associations across the country this week.
There have been reports of mosques being vandalized and other incidents in Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Waterloo – some following the 9/11 attacks, others after the uproar over a cartoon depicting Mohammed in a Danish newspaper in 2005, and more recently around the well-publicized burning of a Quran in Florida. According to a Statistics Canada report released in June, the number of hate crimes increased by 42 per cent from 2008 to 2009, the last year for which statistics are available.
Mosques here have been taking safety precautions for years, said Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal. But along with locking doors and trimming shrubs around buildings to stop culprits from hiding out in them, Montreal mosques have also been opening their doors to the non-Muslims.
Lower Saxony’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution is planning on stepping up efforts to counteract radical tendencies within Muslim communities. During the 4th “extremism-symposium” in Hannover, the President of the Office, Hans-Werner Wargel, emphasised the pressing need to prevent the radicalisation of young Muslims. To counteract radical tendencies, the security services aim to collaborate with Muslim associations. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution is especially concerned about the Salafi stream within Islam due to their anti-constitutional views and attitudes.
The Federation of Muslim Communities of Castilla La-Mancha has warned in a press release of a new type of scam that affects the Muslim Communities of the autonomous region of Castilla La-Mancha. The mafia modus operandi is to offer help for the fundraising in Saudi Arabia in exchange for an in advance payment from the communities for the “financial costs” of the operation, money that never is given back.
22 Oct 2010
In Germany, centres for Islamic studies are to be set up in three universities in order to train imams and religion teachers. Muslim associations like the Schuras, or associations of mosques, in northern Germany have been calling for years both for the introduction of Muslim religious education in schools and for the training of Muslim clerics in Germany.
All the same, there’s a substantial difference between the aims of the associations and those of the politicians making the decisions. The politicians have been led to make this historic decision by considerations of integration and security policy.
For the Muslim associations there have been other issues: equal rights; the development of an authentic Muslim theology in a European context; independence; and the emancipation from the Muslim countries of origin.
21 August 2010
The German state of Hesse is unlikely to introduce religious education for Muslim school children any time soon. The Liberal Democrat Party (FDP) insists on Muslim associations to comply with the guidelines by the Central Council of Muslims, such as to ensure the full equal status of women, the acknowledgement of religious freedom and full commitment to pluralism and democracy. The state however wants to introduce a Muslim option for school children from 2013/14, but with no teachers training in place as yet and these issues unresolved, this might at first be a course about Islam rather than Islamic instruction by a religious teacher.
Interior Minister De Maizière has called for establishing Islamic degree programmes at German universities. Politics, academia and Muslim associations should aim for progress and compromises. In the long run, the minister would like to see an institutionalised cooperation with Muslims on the basis of the constitutional law on religion. The science council had proposed to incorporate Islamic associations into the advisory board for new Islamic degree programmes, which has been controversially discussed. Critics put forward that the associations do not represent all Muslims, while others feared too big an influence by the associations on the freedom of academia.