‘Halal days’ for French Muslims

The fourth annual “halal days” were held May 18-21 and took place in schools, associations, and other Muslim organizations. The event aimed to “raise awareness about the importance of eating halal and eating well.”

Participating organizations agreed to open their doors to the public to better understand “the foundations of halal food, its culture, and its characteristics, as well as the processes used by all to guarantee that products are halal compliant.” Last year, 1,250 people signed up for the events.

“It was mostly attacks by the National Front on the halal market in 2014 that made us think of this event, to create a zone conducive to debate,” explained Lynda Ayadi, the director of the marketing company Heaven Strategy which organizes the “halal days.”

“We felt a strong demand from the Muslim community to provide perspective and information on the halal market,” she added. “More recently, this feeling was reinforced following the polemic sparked by the animal protection association L214’s video of French slaughterhouses, which they blamed for animal suffering.”

Ayadi insisted that the event’s goal was not to “spread propaganda,” and invited those who oppose halal “to come and participate in the debates.”

Muslim organizations celebrate Macron victory


Following the announcement of Emmanuel Macron’s victory, the Grand Mosque of Paris released the following statement:

“The Grand Mosque of Paris sees signs of a France that has reconciled its spiritual and religious differences in order to respond in unity to the threats of division that weigh on our Nation. It’s a sign for France’s Muslims of a clear endorsement of the vivre-ensemble that is grounded in republican, humanist, patriotic, democratic, and secular values.”

The Grand Mosque of Lyon thanked those who were “conscious of the danger a discourse of hate and rejection of the other has caused France.” The French Council of the Muslims Faith congratulated Macron “for his victory, which opens our country to a future of fraternity and solidarity.”


Muslim organizations have plans to address hate preachers

In three weeks Islamic organizations will reveal their plans aimed at the tackling of hate preaching and to respond to the glorification of terrorism on social media. They agreed on the matter with minister of Social Affairs, Lodewijk Asscher. From both sides there is said to be respect with regards to the responds to the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the social tensions that were the consequence of it.

In Austria, an amendment to the “Islam Law.”

In Austria, Islam was recognized as a religious corporate body by the Hapsburgian Monarchy in 1914, later on it was also recognized by the Austrian state.

However, since recent upcoming radical terrorist groups like IS, the Austrian government partly changes or adds new provisions to the existing Islam law. For example Muslim holidays will be included into the “Christian” calendar. However, the new law forbids Muslim clubs in Austria to accept money from Muslim organizations outside Austria; additionally it also forbids Muslim clubs to support Muslim organizations outside Austria financially. Several Professors in constitutional law, like Theo Öhlinger, criticized the new amendment; according to him the new law would be against the freedom of Religion. Christians, Jews and Buddhists clubs are not facing the same requirements.The mentioned groups are allowed to support their religious groups outside Austria financially and also receive financial support from outside. The Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz defended the states decision by arguing, that currently some Muslim groups are a great threat to the Austrian government.

Local Police agents break into a Mosque in Mataro

05 August 2013


The local Police (Mossos d’Esquadra) of Mataro broke on Sunday into the mosque of Rocafonda coinciding with the celebration of Laylat al-Qadr, the Night of Destiny, which occurs between the twenty-sixth and twenty -and-seventh day of Ramadan.

The police was following a group of young people that was previously manifesting in the city center about an alleged attack to one of their members by the local security forces. After the manifestation the group headed to the mosque causing the Mossos, d’Esquadra to follow them and consequently forcing the entrance into the religious space.
The day after these events, and after a meeting between the city Mayor representatives, delegates of the Autonomous Police of Catalonia, the local police, and some Muslim organizations, a brief statement, condemning the event.

A Mosque in Reykjavík “Threatens” Icelandic Culture

10 July 2013


Former mayor of Reykjavík claims a mosque will threaten Iceland’s culture and safety. Ólafur F. Magnússon, who was mayor for little less than 7 months in 2008, is highly pessimistic about plans of a mosque being built in the open space of in the eastern part of Reykjavík.
City council approved of the plans last week, after Muslims in Iceland having waited 13 years to get a property to raise the first mosque in Iceland. Ólafur writes in Morgunblaðið today, expressing his concern about the matter.
“It is worrying that Muslims here don’t seem to have any difficulties financing the project, receiving aid from Muslim organizations abroad. Those organizations might want to increase the influence of Islam in Iceland, as well as in other countries.”
Instead of a mosque, Ólafur suggests a temple of the Nordic gods to be built in the plot. “Such a cultural gem would bring joy to the majority of the city’s residents, as well as other Icelanders, and wouldn’t be as out of place as a mosque would.”

GOP Asked to Reach Out to Muslim Voters, Reject Anti-Islam Bias

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 12/5/12) — A coalition of 11 major American Muslim organizations today called on the Republican Party to reach out to Muslim voters by rejecting anti-Islam bias and discriminatory legislation.
At a noon news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., the coalition announced the publication of a full-page advertisement in the conservative Washington Times newspaper outlining recent examples of intolerant speech and actions by Republicans and offering recommendations to help improve GOP relations with the Muslim community.
That open letter to the GOP states in part:
“We are writing to offer an open invitation to reassess your party’s current relationship with American Muslims. As with other demographics, American Muslim support for Republicans has dropped precipitously in recent years. This shift away from the GOP is not set in stone, but its future direction is dependent on choices your party makes.”
Recommendations for GOP leaders outlined in the open letter include:
 The party establishment should speak out strongly against biased speech within its ranks.
 The party should make a concerted effort to engage Muslim voters.
 The party establishment should oppose efforts to pass discriminatory legislation.
 The party establishment should reject any member’s effort to use official public forums to smear a minority.
 Party officials should end the persistent witch-hunt targeting legally operating Muslim institutions.
The coalition’s letter concludes by stating:
“Let us all work together to maintain America’s leadership in support of emerging democracies and the rule of law worldwide by promoting the humanitarian principles enshrined in our Constitution’s Bill of Rights. May God Almighty bless the United States of America.”

Study Shows Increase in Negative Messages About Muslims in the Media

WASHINGTON, DC, November 29, 2012 — Organizations using fear and anger to spread negative messages about Muslims have moved from the fringes of public discourse into the mainstream media since the Sept. 11 attacks, according to new research by a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sociologist.


Titled, “The Fringe Effect: Civil Society Organizations and the Evolution of Media Discourse about Islam since the September 11th Attacks,” the study appears in the December issue of the American Sociological Review.


Christopher Bail, an assistant professor of sociology in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, used plagiarism detection software to track the influence of 1,084 press releases about Muslims from 120 organizations on more than 50,000 television transcripts and newspaper articles produced from 2001 to 2008.


“I found that organizations with negative messages about Muslims captivated the mass media after the Sept. 11 attacks, even though the vast majority of civil society organizations depict Muslims as peaceful, contributing members of American society,” said Bail, who also is a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar at the University of Michigan. “As a result, public condemnations of terrorism by Muslims have received little media attention, but organizations spreading negative messages continue to stoke public fears that Muslims are secretly plotting to overthrow the U.S. government.”


Bail said the mass media has not only contributed to the spread of negative messages about Islam, but also given fringe organizations the opportunity to raise funds and build social networks within elite conservative circles.


“They are now so much a part of the mainstream that they have been able to recast genuinely mainstream Muslim organizations as radicals,” he said.

Most importantly, Bail added, “The rising tide of anti-Muslim sentiment in the American media not only tests foundational principles about religious tolerance, but may also validate foreign extremists who argue that the United States is at war with Islam, since American media messages routinely travel to the Middle East.”

Bail is working on a book that expands on this study. The book will explain how fringe groups not only create cultural change in the mass media, but also public policy and public opinion more broadly.

Backlash for the anti-Islamic movie grows as Muslim organizations call for blasphemy law

25 September 2012


On the 19th of September 2012, around 100 leading Muslim scholars, spiritual leaders and representatives of major Muslim organizations gathered in Birmingham, “in response to the vilification of Islam by the outrageous film ‘Innocence of Muslims’”. In the gathering, a body called The Muslim Action Forum (MAF) formed to take united action against the movie.


One of the first actions of the MAF was to organize a protest outside the US Embassy in London.  The protest took place last Sunday and gathered together around 7,000 Muslims to condemn the movie. Aside from the US government, the MAF also raised criticism against the UK government and politicians for not condemning the movie publicly. Also, they called on the UK government and the UN to take appropriate measures to legislate a law against religious defamation.


MAF spokesman Saraj Murtaza told the Huffington Post UK: “We are genuinely horrified that the government, the Prime Minister and Muslim MPs have not condemned this film or spoken out about it. Even Salman Rushdie has condemned it. It’s absolutely disgraceful. The only route left is the legal route. Petitions and protests can only go so far. We want to ask politicians here in the UK and the UN to take action to protect against religious defamation – any religion, not just insults to Islam.”


Further, the chief executive Mohammed Saleem Khan said: “We have set up to write to the Government, to the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and the Minister of Communities and call for a law to protect religious rights. We will also be writing to Bishops to the Sikh, Hindu and Jewish faiths asking them to call for this protection from blasphemy. We work closely together on many issues and we need their support on this. We need protection for our faiths in law.”


In another development, around 100 Muslims gathered in the city of Cardiff to protest the movie. Demonstrators, standing under the Aneurin Bevan statue, waved anti-American and French banners.


On the other hand some Muslim organizations such as Oldham Mosques Council (OMC) ruled out the option of protesting against the movie. Instead they decided to lobby MPs and MEPs for international action against attempts to incite religious hatred.


UK Muslims react against the provocative movie that insults the Prophet

23 September 2012


As the reactions against the despicable movie the Innocence of Muslims continue around the World, UK Muslims also join the condemnation of the movie. However, their reactions remain diverse; mainstream Muslim organizations such as Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) and Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) have preferred to keep a low profile due to the killing of the US Ambassador to Libya, and limited their reactions to issuing press releases that condemn the movie. They also demanded that the US ban the movie and bring the producers before justice.

Dr Omer El-Hamdoon, President of MAB which is known to be the UK branch of Muslim Brotherhood, said, “As the international community prepares to propagate messages of peace by celebrating the International Day for Peace (21/9/2012); we find that there are still evil elements who seek to offend, insult and ridicule others; and hence cause instability in the World.”


Further, the statements seemed to be were more focused on condemning the killing of the US Ambassador to Libya. In this regard MCB, a major UK Muslim umbrella organization that represents hundreds of UK mosques, stated that:


“The violence we saw is not in keeping with the teachings of the Prophet, whose honour these people wish to defend. Those who carried out these attacks are in a minority and do not speak for Muslims, or our faith. The death of the US ambassador to Libya is a deep tragedy, particularly as the country is taking its first steps towards democratic transition following the overthrow of dictatorship last year. Whilst this in no way justifies these attacks, the film-maker responsible for this defamatory video mocking Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, should be ashamed of his actions. That Pastor Terry Jones, the so-called Qu’ran burner, in Florida should also be promoting this film is deeply worrying.”


The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), the largest Muslim student body in the UK higher education system, also condemns the violent protests against the movie.


The attitude of mainstream Muslim organizations has prompted heavy criticism from UK Hizb ut-Tahrir. Dr Abdul Wahid, spokesperson of the organization, expressed their criticism on the reaction of the UK Muslim organizations in a video posted on Youtube.  Hizb ut-Tahrir played a leading role in the protests against the movie by organizing a demonstration in front of the US Embassy in London. Around 1000 people joined in the demonstration. Nazreen Nawaz, a spokeswoman for the group said,


“We’re very clear today in saying that no violence against any ambassador or civilians is accepted in Islam. We’re not calling for violent actions here. What we’re saying is that Muslims must protest, and you must understand the anger of the streets in the Muslim world.”


Hizb ut-Tahrir also set up a Facebook campaign called “Our Prophet, Our Honour”. The group is being supported by around 8600 people.


On the other hand, some organization showed a completely different reaction against the movie. Discover Islam UK, a charitable organization, dedicated to promote a better understanding of Islam and clear the common misconceptions, distributed copies of the Qur’an and other Islamic books recounting the life of the Prophet Muhammad and explaining Islamic precepts, in London and some other UK cities to raise awareness about Islam.


Naif Sheikh is a volunteer with Discover Islam stated that “By encouraging non-Muslims to read about Islam, we’re hoping to dispel certain false ideas, which have unfortunately been further disseminated by this awful video.”