Annual Reviving the Islamic Spirit convention takes place in Toronto

News Agencies – December 19, 2012

 

Thousands of Muslims from across North America gathered in Toronto from December 21 through December 23 for the annual Reviving the Islamic Spirit convention. “The conference has always been about uniting and joining hands with scholars, journalists, academics, representatives from other faiths, and artists to promote messages of peace and tolerance,” RIS spokeswoman Farhia Ahmed told OnIslam.net.

Themed “Divine Light for Living Right: The Light of Prophetic Guidance in the Midst of Modern Darkness”, the convention is organized and managed by approximately 400 young Canadian volunteers. It brings a galaxy of prominent Muslim scholars including Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, Karen Armstrong and Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, an Islamic studies professor at George Washington University. Also attending are the Grand Mufti of Bosnia Mustafa Cerić, scholar Habib Ali Al-Jifri, Swiss professor Tariq Ramadan, Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled, Dr. Aisha al-Adawiyya; Dr. Tawfique Chowdhury; Yasmin Mogahed and Edina Lekovic.

Reviving the Islamic Spirit convention was first launched in 2003 by Muslim youth to tackle the backlash on Islam and Muslims after the 9/11 and to build a bridge of understanding with non-Muslims. Last year, over 20,000 people attended the event and for the first time tickets were sold out by the second day of the 3-day program.

 

Canadian top court rules judges may order witnesses to remove niqab

News Agencies – December 20, 2012

 

A Muslim woman who is the complainant in a sexual assault trial in Toronto has lost her bid before Canada’s top court to have an unimpeded right to wear her niqab while testifying. In a split Supreme Court of Canada decision, the seven judges largely upheld a lower court’s ruling that the woman, known only as N.S. to protect her identity under a court-ordered publication ban, may have to remove her niqab.

The woman, known as N.S.in the court, appealed to the Supreme Court arguing her sincere religious beliefs meant that her face must be covered before all males who are not close relatives. Lawyers for the two men accused of sexually assaulting her when she was a child argued that a fair and open trial means the face of a witness must be seen because facial cues are important to establish credibility.

Susan Chapman, lawyer for LEAF, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, reads the case differently. “The starting proposition here is that she’s entitled to wear it [the niqab] until somebody demonstrates, namely the accused, that it will impact adversely on his fair trial rights …The onus I see is on the accused.”

Part of the court evidence is that the woman did remove her niqab to be photographed for a driver’s licence, in front of a female photographer. Lawyers for the accused men point out that her religious convictions were not so strong that she refused to go through the licensing process, even though the photo could be demanded by any number of police officers who might be men.

 

Canadian politician defends speaking engagement at Islamic convention

News Agencies – December 12, 2012

 

Canadian politician Justin Trudeau is brushing off criticism about his upcoming keynote speech at an Islamic convention, saying he’s proud to be participating in the event. His planned Dec. 22 appearance at the Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference in Toronto has been attacked by an anti-Islamism website and those complaints have been picked up by some mainstream media outlets. The critics have raised concerns about radical views and the alleged affiliation of other speakers at the event later this month; they have also pointed to alleged ties between major conference sponsors and the Islamic militant group Hamas.

When asked about the controversy, Trudeau said he doesn’t share the critics’ concerns and he accuses them of trafficking in misinformation. He said politicians from all parties have spoken at the annual Toronto event — including former New Democrat leader Jack Layton a few years ago. The convention had 30,000 attendees in 2011 and at least 20,000 are expected this year. The working title of Trudeau’s speech is: “Being Inclusive in Canada: Our Story, Our Politics, Our Future.” The event, founded by young Canadian Muslims a decade ago, aims to promote a forum for people to hear different viewpoints related to Islam.

 

French Muslim groups sue magazine over Prophet Mohammed cartoons

News Agencies – December 7, 2012

 

Two Muslim organizations launched legal proceedings against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, accusing it of inciting racial hatred after it published provocative cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. The allegations concern cartoons that caricatured the Prophet, including two drawings which show him naked, published at a time, on September 19, when violent anti-Western protests were flaring across the Muslim world in response to an US anti-Islam amateur film. The Algerian Democratic Union for Peace and Progress (RDAP) and the Organization of Arab Union are claiming a total of €780,000 in costs and damages. According to the complainants’, the drawings were “damaging to the honour and reputation of the Prophet Mohammed and the Muslim community”.

 

Thousands of extra copies of the weekly had to be ordered after the publications usual print-run of 75,000 sold out within hours of going on sale. The first hearing in the case has been scheduled for January 29 at a court in Paris.

 

Muslim war graves attacked in Carcassone, France

News Agencies – December 27, 2011

Thirty war graves of Muslim soldiers who fought in World War I have been attacked and defaced in the southern city of Carcassonne. Racist insults and swastikas were painted on the graves, which are identified by the Islamic symbols of the star and crescent.

Slogans including “France for the French” and “Arabs out” were painted on some of the gravestones, reported daily newspaper Le Figaro.

Woman in Brittany, France fined for full-face veil while driving

News Agencies – December 29, 2011

 

A woman in Brittany, France was given a €35 ($45) fine after police spotted her driving her car wearing a full-face veil.The woman, who was visiting family in the northwest coastal town of Saint-Brieuc, was wearing the face-covering niqab.

Police stopped the woman who “seemed hesitant in her driving,” said local police spokesman Laurent Dufour. “On closer inspection, they realized she was veiled,” he said.

 

Muslim women must show faces when taking Canadian citizenship oath

News Agencies – December 12, 2011

 

A requirement for new Canadians to show their faces while taking the oath of citizenship puts the federal government on one side of a simmering debate over how far the state should go to accommodate minorities. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced that Muslim women who wear burqas or niqabs must remove the garments when they are becoming citizens.

The decision comes as the Supreme Court of Canada considers whether a woman should be allowed to testify in court with her face covered. And Quebec is debating a bill to ban face coverings for people receiving some government services, and those providing them. Two federal Conservative attempts to ban veiled voting have stalled before becoming law in recent years.

Former French Muslim Minister Dati Accuses French Prime Minister of Prejudice

News Agencies – December 14, 2011

 

Rachida Dati, the first Muslim woman of North African origin to hold a senior French government post, focused a public complaint against the prime minister, François Fillon, in whose cabinet she served as justice minister. Fillon, she wrote in a scathing letter to Le Monde, represented a staid political elite that “never favoured women” and stopping ethnic-minority candidates from running for election.

Dati said she had a “duty of resistance” against the “lone ambition of the powerful”. The ferocious language stems from a row over who will run for a safe Right-wing parliamentary seat representing the affluent 5th, 6th and 7th arrondissements on Paris’s Left bank.

Canadian Muslim leaders speak out against violence towards women

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.

Neither Whores nor Submissives (NPNS) seeks new president

News Agencies – December 9, 2011

French feminist organization Ni Putes Ni Soumises (NPNS, Neither Whores nor Submissives) is seeking a new president to revitalize the organization. Jamila Alla and Asma Guenifi are the two candidates most likely to be elected as the new leader following meetings in Dourdan. Sihem Habchi has been president since 2007 having followed the group’s 2003 creator, Fadela Amara.