Businesses’ newly affirmed ability to ban headscarves likely to continue in Post-Brexit UK

On Tuesday (14 March), the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled against two Muslim women who claimed employment discrimination after being fired from their jobs for wearing hijab, modest religious dress which includes a headscarf.

British legal experts say that the ruling will automatically remain enforced in the UK until it has actually split from the EU. This process will take about 2 years. After this period, it is unlikely that a British court would overturn the ruling.

A related British court case in 2012 had the opposing outcome. A guard at Buckingham Palace successfully opposed the military’s opposition to his turban. While this court case does not directly overturn this ruling, it opens possibilities for future opposition.

A 2007 British airways ban on Christian crosses was also struck down in court because headscarfs and turbans were permitted for religious reasons. The grounds for this decision were that the ban did not treat religious groups equally.

UK employers and legal experts, however, do not see the ruling as a major reversal of British legal approaches of the past. One reason for this is that companies still cannot ban religious garb for any reason other than “neutrality” of uniforms, including if customers complain. The courts in the UK will still likely avoid extreme positions on individual cases.

Muslims organisations in the UK, including the Muslim Council of Britain, see the ruling as an affront to equality.

 

Ramadan in Finnish refugee reception centers – compromises and opposition

Ramadan in summer times poses a dilemma for Muslims in the Northern countries. Daylight times are long and in some cities the sun does not even set at all. Different courses of action were taken in the the refugee reception centers in Finland to facilitate the fasting for the Muslim refugees currently waiting for their asylum decisions. For instance, In the reception center of Evitskog, run by the Finnish Red Cross, Muslims observing the fast were of 26 different nationalities, which caused discrepancies for their individual wishes in the times to start and to end their daily fast. Many of the men would namely fast according to the respective times of their home countries, and some according to the times in Finland – although in the high summer it would mean a more or less 20 hour fast. The director of the center commented in an interview that the staff was prepared to work extra hours to offer meals even in the night times, despite the lack of extra payment for those taking on extra night shifts.

In the reception center of Hennala however, the approach was slightly different. Special arrangements to serve food were not made, although there, unlike in many other centers where refugees have kitchen facilities to prepare their own foods, the daily meals are included in the service. Instead, those who wanted to fast were given “lunch packs” which they could warm up in microwaves and ovens for their evening meals and breakfasts.

Although the arrangements in some reception centers have not always been as flexible as they were in the case of the Evitskog center, the representative of the Finns Party Youth Wing Juha Karjalainen expressed his discontent with the fact, that even arrangements of any kind to facilitate and respect the refugees religious traditions and practices were made. In his post in the blog platform “Uusisuomi” he argued that the task of reception centers is to offer accommodation for the time of the asylum application is processed and not to facilitate special religious or cultural demands. Hence, Karjalainen maintained that as no one had forced the refugees to choose Finland as their destination country, the refugees are the ones who should make compromises and be flexible, not those working in the centers. Facilitation of religious practices such as fasting in Ramadan would in his view have a negative impact on integration as it sends the wrong message about the necessity of being flexible in one’s religious practices in a Christian but secular country such as Finland.

Austria Passes ‘Law on Islam’ Requiring Austrian Muslim Groups To Use German-Language Qurans

Austria’s parliament passed a law on Wednesday that seeks to regulate how Islam is administered, singling out its large Muslim minority for treatment not applied to any other religious group.

The “Law on Islam” bans foreign funding for Islamic organizations and requires any group claiming to represent Austrian Muslims to submit and use a standardized German translation of the Koran.

The law met with little opposition from the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic population, was backed by Austria’s Catholic bishops, and was grudgingly accepted by the main Muslim organization. But it upset Turkey’s state religious establishment.

“We want an Islam of the Austrian kind, and not one that is dominated by other countries,” said Sebastian Kurz, the 28-year-old conservative foreign minister – formally the minister for foreign affairs and integration – who is easily Austria’s most popular politician.

Austria’s half a million Muslims make up about 6 percent of the population and are overwhelmingly the families of Turkish migrant workers. Many of their imams are sent and financed by Turkey’s state religious affairs directorate, the Diyanet.

Mehmet Gormez, head of the Diyanet, said before the law was passed that “with this draft legislation, religious freedoms in Austria will have fallen back a hundred years.”

Austria’s biggest Islamic organization, IGGiO, accepted the law, but its youth arm opposed it, as did the Turkish-financed Turkish-Islamic Union in Austria (ATIB), which runs many mosques and has vowed to challenge the bill in the Constitutional Court.

RELATIONS UNPROBLEMATIC

While the government has said Islamist militancy is on the rise, and around 170 people have left Austria to join jihadists in Syria or Iraq, Austria has experienced no Islamist violence of note, and relations with the Muslim community have been relatively unproblematic. Unlike France, Austria has not banned Muslim women from wearing full-face veils in public.

Nevertheless, the opposition far-right Freedom Party, which opposed the bill as too mild, attracts about 25 percent support with an anti-immigrant stance that is also highly critical of Islam. Meanwhile, the ruling Socialist and conservative parties struggle to muster a majority together.

Austria’s neighbor Germany has also experienced an upsurge of anti-Islam sentiment in the form of the weekly PEGIDA protests in Dresden.

These have, however, been met with much larger anti-racism demonstrations and a robust response from Chancellor Angela Merkel, mindful of Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews, who asserted that “Islam belongs to Germany.”

The Austrian government says the new law strengthens Muslims’ legal status, for example by guaranteeing Islamic pastoral care in hospitals and the army, and protecting Muslims’ rights to eat and produce food according to Islamic rules.

The bill updates a “Law on Islam” dating from 1912 that was intended to guarantee the rights of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Muslims in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Turkey’s Gormez, who had attended centenary commemorations for the 1912 law, said its replacement would disregard the “morals and laws of coexistence” that Austria had established a century ago. (Additional reporting by Tom Heneghan in Paris and Ece Toksabay in Istanbul; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

No Mosque yet: A Divided Community is the Problem

March 25, 2014

 

It is an uphill struggle for the Muslim community to build a place of worship in Milan, many hoped it would ready for Expo 2015, instead the building has been delayed. According to Paolo Branca, advocate and Associate Professor at the Catholic University of Milan, the real problem, rather than the opposition of some in the Conservative Party, is the divisions within the Muslim community, split into two major areas of thought: Caim (Coordination of Islamic associations in Milan) which has never made ​​a secret of being close to the Muslim Brotherhood and Coreis (Islamic Religious Community), which is more secular and supported by the Diocese. “Many have advanced their concerns, not the mosque, but on its future management in the case that it incorporates close ties to the Brotherhood” explains Branca “ This could complicate the creation of a place open to all Muslims as well as Milanese.”

 

Il Fatto Quotidiano: http://tv.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2014/03/25/moschea-di-milano-branca-i-problemi-sono-le-divisioni-nella-comunita-islamica/271559/

 

One million Muslims will wear Remembrance poppies despite extremists’ opposition, say researchers

November 6, 2013

 

More than one million Muslims will be sporting poppies this weekend to mark Remembrance Sunday despite the bitter opposition of Islamist hardliners, research disclosed tonight. Some radical voices argue that poppy-wearing, ceremonies to commemorate the fallen dead and the one minute’s silence on Armistice Day are all forbidden to devout Muslims. But a new survey shows large numbers of people from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds, who comprise about two-thirds of the Muslim population, support the sale of poppies.

The think-tank British Future said the findings equated to some 800,000 poppy-wearers from these two groups alone and calculated the overall figure for the Muslim community to be well over one million. It released the research in an effort to counter charges that British Muslims are unpatriotic because of protests against UK troops returning from war zones.

Although they acknowledge many Muslims are uncomfortable about military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, several major mosques have set up poppy stalls this week. They argue that thousands of Muslims were killed in the First World War serving in the British Indian army. The radical Islamist Anjem Choudray retaliated this week by denouncing supporters of Remembrance Sunday as hypocrites, bootlickers and sycophants and said Muslims who sell poppies today will “burn in hellfire tomorrow”.

The survey found 62 per cent of ethnic minority Britons said they would wear a poppy on Sunday. That included 69 per cent of people of Indian heritage, 53 per cent from Pakistani backgrounds, 46 per cent of Bangladeshi heritage, 74 per cent of Black Caribbeans and 55 per cent from Black African background. There are no figures for white Britons although researchers believe they would not be significantly higher than for other groups.

Dilwar Hussein, Chair of the charity New Horizons in British Islam, said: “These figures show most ordinary British men and women of Muslim background are just like the rest of us when it comes to Remembrance Day. As they go about their daily business as British citizens we should acknowledge this quiet yet profound form of integration.

The figures emerged as the Islamic Society of Britain (ISB) joined imams and the London Faith Forum this week to urge more British Muslims to wear poppies and support tributes to the war dead. The ISB says on its website: “Remembrance Day will be taking place throughout the country with many different approaches of appreciation. We urge and encourage you to become involved by participating in your local areas.”

It says: “It is easy to forget that millions of Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and people of other minority faiths have served in the British Armed Forces across two World Wars, facing down the hatred of Nazism and helping keep Britain safe in its direst hours of need.”

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/one-million-muslims-will-wear-remembrance-poppies-despite-extremists-opposition-say-researchers-8924933.html

Criticisms of Immigrants, Islam, the EU and Minister Kyenge in Italy

October 28, 2013

 

“We are not moderates” says Giorgia Meloni, but he did not need to specify this. You can tell immediately when Marina Ruffoni, part of the Venetian Brothers of Italy, begins by quoting Ezra Pound: “What you love will not be stripped.” Manuel Negri, of the National Project, referenced Flavio Tosi from Northern League of yesteryear talking about “immigrants who add nothing invade our shores asking for only rights and no contribution.” He continues: “Immigrants are not a resource because they work illegally or they do not work and engage in criminal acts, our jails are full of immigrants who should be transferred to prisons in their own countries.”

These are times in which the MEP Egyptian-born Magdi Cristiano Allam, a journalist who converted to Catholicism during the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, and who has now left the church because it is “too relativist and open to Islam” says Negri. When discussing Pope Francis, Allam says he lauched his crusade in defense of “our civilization from immigration, doing good while the Islamic invasion continues and he [Pope Francis] naively favors the proliferation of mosques and places of indoctrination–so that there is no Islamic terrorist who has not attended a mosque [in Italy].” And amongst the ovation of those present, he concludes: “We should be proud of our Judeo-Christian roots, we will not allow Italy to become a land of African conquest.”

This position did not disappoint the lawyer and former Minister of Defense Ignazio La Russa, defying logic, and claiming a determined opposition to every kind of technical government, and then questions why Cécile Kyenge has been appointed health minister. And, emphasizing Kyenge’s opposition to the abolition of the crime of illegal immigration, La Russa says: “They made a Minister of Integration [who is not Italian], that person would be better as a person of Italian origin if nothing else because of the color of his skin.”

 

L’Arena.it: http://www.larena.it/stories/Cronaca/581862_critiche_agli_immigrati_allislam_alla_ue_e_al_ministro_kyenge/?refresh_ce&scroll=1710

Pineda de Mar buys a place to set a mosque to the Muslim community

31 July 2013

 

The municipality of Pineda de Mar (Maresme) has bought a place to set in a civic center for the Muslim community[1].
Jordi Masnou, Town Planning, has argued that the goal is “to provide a suitable place to the entities and associations to develop all kinds of activities.”
For more than half a year that the City and the Muslim community have been searching for a site in the industrial park suitable to be an Islamic worship center, once discarded the option of moving the site to a warehouse in the district of Les Creus due to the neighborhood’s opposition.


[1] According to the Organic Law of Religious Freedom  “Ley Orgánica de Libertad Religiosa (7/1980); autonomous regions have full legislative powers in what concerns urban planning and funding. Therefore specific construction and legality of each of the mosques or places of worship will depend on the specific legal implementation by regional and local administrations.

 

Minister of Integration considers the position of the Northern League on Islam as “dangerous”

July 30, 2013

The Minister of Integration, Cécile Kyenge, “affirms that the notion that the Islamic population wants to impose Islam on the Italian civilization and this is dangerous.” said Lorenzo Fontana, leader of the Northern League in the European Parliament, just before Kyenge’s visit to the European Parliament in Verona scheduled for next Sunday. “The Northern League” says Fontana “challenges Kyenge and the EU parliment. The European Parliament has stated that it wants to abolish the crime of illegal immigration and to teach, by law, Italian children Arabic, so they are able to integrate better with their classmates from the Arab world.” Fontana also reiterates opposition to integration is different than in other part of the world especially in under populated countries that need new citizens. Fontana asserts that “this is not the case in Italy and in the Veneto region, where the population density is high and young people are unemployed or underemployed.”

For his part, another Northern League Minister, Mario Borghezio, says that inviting Kyenge to party functions as “laudable and understandable” but also “unnecessary.” For Borghezio “the League militants who are hard-core – even electorally – are the living soul of the Movement and do not change even in response to acts or invitations.” “Racism” concludes the minister “does not matter at all: it is just a matter of Northern common sense.”

PSOE breaks relationships with Muslim Party, Caballas

23 July 2013

The Socialist Party of Ceuta has decided this afternoon to “break” their relationships with Caballas, the first group in the opposition of Ceuta’s political Assembly, for their defence of Koranic scholar Malik Ibn Benaissa[1]. Benaissa had been denounced by the Socialists for classifying as a “fornicator” the woman who wears perfume and stilettos.

Caballas issued in a note that Malik Ibn Benaissa is a “person trained not only in Islam, but that he is also a committed citizen”. They expressed their support for Benaissa and demanded an apology from the PSOE to all the Muslim community.

This has led to the PSOE response announcing in a statement that they break all relations with Caballas limiting them exclusively to the “essential” for the government’s control of Ceuta.


[1] Benaissa is an Imam, a Qur’an expert who dedicates his life to give conferences and sermons. He has his own youtube channel:  http://www.youtube.com/user/willymaliik. The following video called: “The Queens of Islam” is the own referred to in these new: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rnc0vRP4GsY&feature=c4-overview&list=UUqbEEqkYbvkMZcNkVkykqbw

Burka Avenger: the Pakistani cartoon challenging the Taliban on girls’ education – video trailer

Watch a trailer for Burka Avenger, the first animated series to be produced in Pakistan. The cartoon was created by local pop star Haroon and stars a burka-clad female superhero who takes on her enemies using a martial art called Takht Kabaddi, which uses books and pens as weapons. The series is intended to provide a positive role model for girls in the face of the Taliban’s opposition to female education.