Cambridge University Professor: “Scorning the Prophet is an act of violence.”

Cambridge Professor and British Muslim theologian, Abdul Hakim Murad (Timothy Winters), argues that the Paris attacks were the acts of criminals with troubled pasts and little religious knowledge, and have been condemned by a rare show of unity among Muslim leaders in France and worldwide. Globally, Muslims admit that such lawlessness is an increasing worry. No significant Muslim scholar supports the radicals in Iraq and Syria, but some young people simply pay no heed. In an age of individualism, angry minds tend to ignore established religious leaders.

But, he states, there is more at stake here. Charlie Hebdo, like the Danish magazine Jyllands-Posten several years ago, did not simply publish images of the Prophet. That, on its own, would probably have occasioned little comment. The difficulty lay in the evident intention to mock, deride and wound. To portray the Prophet naked, or with a bomb in his turban, was not the simple manufacturing of a graven image. It was received, and rightly so, as a deliberate insult to an already maligned and vulnerable community. Mosque burnings and a raft of legal disadvantages are increasingly a fact of life for Muslims in Europe.

The English legal tradition recognises not only the right to free speech, but the right to protection from agonising insult, slander and abuse. In the case of vulnerable minorities that legal concern seems particularly appropriate. It is also in line with the tolerant and courteous national character.

Millions of Muslims join online dating

In the last decade online dating became a mainstream activity, in Europe and North America at least. It is therefore not surprising that Western Muslims adapted the idea to their needs. For many, online dating offers a low-stress solution to the daunting challenge of finding a partner for marriage in countries where few share their faith, and in communities where matchmaking is considered a family affair.

Adeem Younis, founder of the matchmaking site SingleMuslim.com, which he created above a fast-food shop in Wakefield while still a lowly undergraduate, now boasts more than a million members. However, the young entrepreneur stresses that the term “Muslim online dating” would be inaccurate. The goal of such sites is often far more ambitious than the average hook-up website. Instead of hazy morning-after memories and hopes of receiving a follow-through text message, sites like SingleMuslim.com aim to provide clients with a partner for life. It is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. “In Islam, marriage is equal to half of your religion,” he says, quoting a saying thought to have been uttered by the Prophet Mohammed, “so you can imagine how important it is… Islam teaches us that marriage is the cornerstone of society as a whole.”

SingleMuslim.com now claims a success rate of about four matches per day. But the site is just one example of a booming market serving Muslims of all ages and degrees of religiosity.

VIDEO: Single Muslim Celebrates 1,000,000 Members

Online dating services are increasingly popular with Muslims in Europe and North America. SingleMuslim.com recently celebrated its 1,000,000th member.
Online dating services are increasingly popular with Muslims in Europe and North America. SingleMuslim.com recently celebrated its 1,000,000th member.

Muslims fare better in America than in Europe

A recent Pew Study revealed that Muslims in America fare better than Muslims in Europe. The results of the study illustrate American Islam as diverse, integrated, well-educated and economically successful. Additionally, American Muslims are more tolerant of other sects within Islam. Their experience and situation in America is in stark contrast to the experiences of Muslims in Europe like the Turks in Germany and North African immigrants in France. As a community, they overwhelmingly reject terrorism and identify as first as Americans and then as Muslims. 20140906_USC635

A final document is produced in London after three meetings of Bishops and Delegates regarding relations with Muslims in Europe

A testimony of faith is necessary for a dialogue with all. In Europe today, both to the east and the west, south and in the north the dialogue between Christians and Muslims is inescapable, creating a need for a deeper understanding. Only proper dialogue allows one to approach the Muslim believer free of prejudice. In a secular and plural society, the challenge of education for a diverse audience must also be integrated with a deep understanding of faith and identity. At the same time, a plural society exists only on the condition of mutual respect, and the desire to know each other through an ongoing dialogue. These are some of the reflections made by the bishops and delegates about relations with Muslims during the Episcopal Conferences in London for three days.

The two main themes addressed in the conference were “dialogue and proclamation” and “the question of identity construction of young Christians and Muslims.” The meeting was led by Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard the archbishop of Bordeaux. The conference attracted the participation of bishops and delegates from 20 different organizations including catholic delegates, episcopal organization leaders and cultural organizations.

Interview with Matenia Sirseloudi: What Drives Young People to Jihad?

What is behind the Islamicisation and radicalisation of young people in Europe? To what extent do European foreign policies and military interventions abroad play a role in this? Albrecht Metzger spoke to sociologist Dr Matenia Sirseloudi about politically motivated violence and radicalisation processes

Why are jihadists attacking the West? Do they hate us for what we are or for what we do?

Matenia Sirseloudi: There is, of course, a part of the jihadist ideology that wants to attack us for what we are. On the other hand, the impetus to take action and attack us comes from a declaration of defensive jihad against us. This relates to our actions and in particular to our foreign policy actions. The jihadists consider these actions to be an attack on the Muslim world.

You are conducting research into something known as “spill-over effects”, in other words the extent to which western intervention in Muslim countries could contribute to the radicalisation of Muslims in Europe. What led you to this subject?

Sirseloudi: After the attacks in Madrid and London, the European Commission decided to invest more in prevention and to focus on radicalisation processes in the Islamist environment that could lead to terrorist acts in Europe. Within this context, I conducted an initial study of the impact of external conflicts on Islamist radicalisation processes in Europe.

In our project, which is supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), we are now researching the effect that these external factors – including Germany’s foreign and security policy behaviour – have on the jihadist discourse and on three different radicalised environments: the jihadists, the Islamists, and vulnerable youths.

As you know, the argument used by the jihadist-inspired perpetrators to justify the attacks on the commuter trains in Madrid in 2004 was that they wanted to force Spain out of the alliance of countries that had been involved in the military intervention in Iraq. Similarly, the French gunman Mohammed Merah used external conflicts – in his case the Middle East and Afghanistan – to justify his targeted murders.

 

Swedish Defense League (SDL): “Majority of young Muslims in Europe do not want democracy”

August 1, 2012

 

On Saturday several Islamophobic organizations from all around the world gather on Norra Bantorget (a square in downtown Stockholm). English Defense League participate among other groups. They plan to gather in order to protest what they view as increased Islamization of Europe. These organizations choose to gather in Sweden primarily due to the failed terrorist attack in Stockholm in December 2010, this according to one of the organizers and the SDL’s spokesperson Isak Nygren.

 

“We want to show that we are not alone in our resistance to Islam. We want to show that we are many, and the more numerous we are the better it is (for our cause). We want to protect the democratic and open society, which Islam is against. There are no Muslim democracies,” says Isak Nygren.

 

‘Isn’t Kosovo democratic?’

 

Nygren answers, “I have never heard that they held any elections in Kosovo.” (NOTE: Kosovo has held four parliamentary elections since 1991, in the latest election, Social Democrats won – PDK).

 

‘What about the recent elections in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya?’

 

“The elections have been arranged by the West, soon they will abolish voting and elections, just what they did on the Gaza strip in 2006.”

 

‘Don’t you think that young people in the Arab world want democracy?’

 

”No, it is the same in Europe, majority of the young Muslims in Europe do not want democracy.”

 

‘What evidences support your claims that Muslims do not want democracy?’

”If you consider that the Islamist movement has grown since the 1980s, that is reflected in that many Muslim states has receded in development. The most obvious example is Afghanistan.”

 

‘Wasn’t it the desire for democracy that fueled the Arab Spring?’

 

“It had nothing to do with democracy. They (the people) were fed up with the secular state power. Majority of the Egyptians do not want democracy, (if so) they wouldn’t have voted for the (Muslim) Brotherhood.”

 

‘So, a regular Muslim does not want democracy?’

 

“Well they allow themselves to be ruled by certain groups which are against democracy. The silent majority allows the loud majority to rule.”

 

‘What are the signs that Sweden is being Islamized?’

 

“Couple years ago, a first Sharia court was formed in Malmö. And we are witnessing increase in building of Islamic centres. Also, there is gender apartheid in pool houses where they are closed for access to the public except for the Muslim women who also pull the drapes over the windows.”

 

‘But the so called Sharia court in Malmö has only counseling rights no judicial function.’

 

“Not according to the Swedish law, but it is how everything starts. First we have family jurisprudence than it develops.”

 

‘What is the problem (more specifically)?’

 

”These are small steps and in the long run these (steps) can lead to decreased rights of expression. If you criticize Islam you are automatically called an Islamophob and all other kinds of names.”

 

‘But isn’t the demonstration this Saturday a sign of freedom of expression?’

 

“There is still some freedom (allowed), but the media will lie about us.”

Call for Papers: special issue for the Journal of Muslims in Europe

Call for Papers

for a special issue for the Journal of Muslims in Europe

“Europe with or without Muslims – narratives of Europe”

Guest editors:             Göran Larsson, University of Gothenburg

Riem Spielhaus, University of Copenhagen

We are seeking papers for a special issue of the new double blind-peer reviewed Journal on Muslims in Europe by BRILL to come out in Spring 2013. This special issue seeks to take up tensions in conflicting stories about and different perspectives on Europe’s history and identity that present Europe without Muslims or contrastingly portray Muslims as part of Europe’s past and present.

Under the headline “Europe with or without Muslims – narratives of Europe” we aim to bring together a number of perspectives from multiple disciplinary fields such as history, religious studies, cultural anthropology, political science and sociology in an analysis of diverging accounts and notions of Europe over time and places throughout the continent, open as well to external perspectives. The initial question thereby is, what role Islam and Muslims have played and still play in the imagining of what Europe means. (See more details on different possible themes for contributions below.)

This way we aim to direct our view at the nexus between constructions of Europe and developments within contemporary European Islam providing space both for a critical review of academic approaches and the development of new impulses for future research.

Besides empirical papers we strongly encourage theoretical papers that challenge current research on Islam and Muslims in Europe and reflect on the own position of the researchers and his or her contributions to the construction of Europe and the role and function of Islam and Muslims.

We invite papers that address one of the topics of two sessions described below. Deadline for sending your abstracts: July the 1st, 2012. Accepted participants will be notified by July 20, 2012. If your paper is accepted, you must submit the final paper (max 10,000 words inclusive of footnotes) by 20 October 2012.

Applications to submit a short paper should include: 1. Proposer’s name and affiliation, 2. a title for the paper, 3. a ca. 500 word abstract.

All abstracts and paper should be written in English.

Time frame:
Deadline for abstracts (ca. 500 words) 1.July 2012
Deadline for sending final papers  20.October 2012
Publication               15.March 2013

Paper proposals should be send electronically in Microsoft Word formats to Göran Larsson, University of Gothenburg: goran.larsson@religion.gu.se and Riem Spielhaus, University of Copenhagen: rsp@teol.ku.dk.

For this special issue we invite papers on the narratives imagining Europe with and without Muslims analyzing contents, actors and setting of those narratives that relate to one or several of the following questions:

1. Localizing debates connecting Europe and Islam:

•     In what way are debates about Europe and its identity mentioning the European past with reference to Muslim’s presence in Europe on the local, regional, national or European Union level? How do these different levels (local, regional, national, transnational) intersect?

2. Imagining Europe without Muslims:

•    What are the main patterns of the dominant constructions of Europe’s heritage like notions of a Judaeo-Christian heritage? Where and by whom are these narratives told? To what extent are they embedded in European integration or projects of community or nation-building?

3. Narratives of Europe inclusive of Muslims:

•    In what cases is the Muslim history of Europe used as counter narrative to question the construction of Europe as a Christian continent? What groups of people insist on an imagination of Europe with Muslims? How are these narratives used to strengthen a feeling of belonging and responsibility of current Muslims?

4. Contextualizing Islam debates in European history of thought:

•    Is it possible to make any comparison between current debates about Islam and Muslims and previous debates about ties between religions and national identities e.g. different Christian denominations in early modern Europe?

5. Imagining Europe from outside:

•    How is the relationship between Europe and its Muslim inhabitants viewed beyond the Mediterranean? Do accounts of European history and presentations of the contemporary Europe from within and without bear considerable differences?

New Book: Muslims in Poland and Eastern Europe. Widening the European Discourse on Islam

While Islam has been firmly placed on the global agenda since 9/11, and
continues to occupy a prominent place in media discourse, attention has
recently begun to shift towards European Muslims, or “as some would
prefer to say” Muslims in Europe. Apart from the usual concerns, mostly
articulated in the media, on the radicalization of Muslim youth, their
failure to integrate into mainstream society and so forth, a vast body
of academic literature on Islam and Muslims in Europe has sprung up
since the late 1990s. This discourse and body of literature on Muslims
in Europe, however, are confined to the west of the continent, viz. the
old EU. This gives the impression that Europe stops at the banks of the
Oder. Central and Eastern Europe – both new EU members and other
countries – has been placed outside the realm of discourse, i.e. outside
Europe. This book aims to fill this gap by describing Muslim communities
and their experiences in Central and Eastern Europe, both in countries
with marginal Muslim populations, often not exceeding 1% (e.g. Hungary
and Lithuania), and in countries with significant Muslim minorities,
sometimes proportionally even larger than in France (e.g. Bulgaria).
Some of these countries have a long history of Muslim presence, dating
back to the 14th century in the case of the Tatars (e.g. Poland and
Ukraine) and the 16th century in the case of the first Muslim arrivals
in the Balkans (e.g. Romania, Slovenia) during the Ottoman era. In other
countries (e.g. Slovakia), Muslims have arrived only recently. What all
these countries have in common is a Communist past inside the former
Eastern bloc.

Conference on Diversity and Islamophobia

17.10.2011

In light of growing Islamophobic tendencies across Germany, the Bavarian Red Cross celebrated its 125th anniversary with a conference dedicated to the topics “diversity” and “Islamophobia” in Nuremberg on October 15th. The backdrop to the Red Cross’ engagement in the debate about Islamophobia is its guiding principle of promoting the respectful co-existence between immigrants and the native population. The conference, entitled “Promoting Diversity, Equality and Integration – Challenging Islamophobia in Europe”, is organized to discuss the current situation of Muslims in Europe and, according to the Bavarian Red Cross, aims to identity strategies to effectively counteract Islamophobia. The conference programme also includes the presentation of a number of practical examples from various European cities.