Channel 4 announces return of Undercover Mosque

Three months after Dispatches: Undercover Mosque won a police apology and libel damages, Channel 4 has announced it is returning to the subject in Undercover Mosque: The Return. Earlier this year West Midlands police and the Crown Prosecution Service paid out a six-figure sum to Channel 4 and Undercover Mosque Hardcash, the independent producer responsible for the documentary, after falsely accusing the programme of misleading viewers. The documentary, an undercover investigation into extremism in mainstream British mosques, featured preachers calling for homosexuals to be killed, espousing male supremacy, condemning non-Muslims and predicting jihad. Last August, West Midlands police referred the critically acclaimed programme to media regulator Ofcom and, in conjunction with the CPS, issued a statement saying the words of three preachers featured had been “heavily edited” so their meaning was “completely distorted”. However, Ofcom cleared Channel 4 and Hardcash of any TV fakery and ruled they “dealt with the subject matter responsibly and in context”. The two companies subsequently launched their libel action. Tara Conlan reports. It has now emerged that the same Hardcash production team have revisited the subject to “see whether extremist beliefs continue to be promoted in certain key British Muslim institutions”.

Europe: Morocco sends moderate Muslim preachers to Europe

According to the Ministry for Religious Affairs, Morocco is planning to send moderate Muslim clerics to Europe this September, coinciding with the holy month of Ramadan, to help fight extremism among Moroccans abroad. 167 men and 9 women will be part of the mission of clerics instructed to answer the religious needs of the Moroccan community abroad, to protect it from any speeches of extremism or irregular nature, and to shelter it from extremism and fanaticism. The ministry said that 100 preachers would go to France and Belgium, while 10 each would be sent to Spain and Germany, and 7 will be sent to the Netherlands. The remaining others will be sent to Scandinavia and Britain, with one imam going to Canada.

Muslim Integration: Most Imams in Germany Lack Academic Qualifications

Muslim immigrants looking for advice on integrating into mainstream society in Germany, won’t find much help in their mosques. According to a new study, the majority of imams in Germany are ill-prepared for their own stay in Germany and most lack any academic training. A study on Islamic preachers in Germany has found that most imams are unable to help Muslim immigrants integrate into mainstream German society because they are insufficiently prepared for their stay in Germany. According to the study “Imams in Germany,” up to 20 percent of preachers belong to the more conservative, fundamentalist strand of Islam. The study also discovered that only one fifth of imam’s possess academic qualifications.

Cameron seeks ‘hate preachers’ ban

Conservative leader David Cameron has called for a ban on “preachers of hate” entering the United Kingdom. Mr Cameron accused Prime Minister Gordon Brown of dithering over the case of Islamist cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, following press reports that he is to be granted permission to come to London for medical treatment. The Tory leader branded Mr al-Qaradawi – and the head of Hezbollah’s TV station Ibrahim Moussawi, who recently spoke in Manchester – “dangerous and divisive” and said they should not be allowed in the country. And he called for a complete ban on Islamist political movements Hizb-ut-Tahrir and Hezbollah.The Wharf

Channel 4 under fire over film on mosque preachers

Channel 4 came under fire from Muslim groups yesterday after the Crown Prosecution Service accused it of “completely distorting” an edition of its documentary strand Dispatches that went undercover in some of Britain’s biggest mosques. Following the latest allegation of underhand editing to hit broadcasters, Channel 4 defended the film and said it was “shocked and baffled” at the accusations from West Midlands police and the CPS. The police force said that after investigating three preachers featured in the film for potentially inciting racial hatred and concluding there was insufficient evidence, it turned its attention to the programme makers. Bethan David, a CPS lawyer, reviewed 56 hours of footage and concluded: “The splicing together of extracts from longer speeches appears to have completely distorted what the speakers were saying.” While the CPS said there were not sufficient grounds for charges against Channel 4, it had passed the matter to media regulator Ofcom as an official complaint.

Most British Muslims back the government’s plans to deport radical Islamist “hate preachers”

Most British Muslims back the government’s plans to deport radical Islamist “hate preachers” it says could inspire bombers like those who attacked London in July, a poll published on Sunday showed. The ICM poll found that 65 percent of Muslims backed the new government measures and 27 percent opposed them. Ninety percent said they would immediately tell police if they suspected someone was planning or had carried out a terrorist attack. Just over two thirds of those questioned said Britain’s 1.8 million Muslims bore “a lot” of responsibility for rooting out Islamist extremists, 19 percent said they bore “a little” responsibility and nine percent said they bore none. ICM interviewed 500 Muslims by telephone between Sept. 1 and 7 for the poll, published in the News Of The World newspaper. Home Secretary Charles Clarke has published a list of “unacceptable behaviours” which would prompt immediate action — either deportation or a ban on entry. Last month, Britain said it was detaining 10 people, including the alleged spiritual leader of Al Qaeda in Europe, Jordanian national Abu Qatada, and would deport them. It has also barred hardline Muslim cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed, who left for Lebanon last month, from returning to Britain. Civil liberties campaigners say they are worried Britain will deport people to countries where they might be tortured. The government responds that it is seeking agreements with other governments — like one it struck recently with Jordan — to guarantee the safety of deportees.

German Muslims Feel Sidelined

By Stefan Nicola Muslim organizations in Germany say they feel sidelined after last week’s terrorist attacks on London’s mass transit system amid calls from lawmakers for greater integration by the community and more vocal criticism of Islamic militancy. “There is no strategy for the integration of Muslims in Germany,” Ali Kizilkaya, head of the Islamrat (Islam Council), which with 140,000 members is Germany’s largest Muslim group, said Friday in a telephone interview with United Press International. For integration to succeed, Kizilkaya said, German politicians should foster an increased dialogue with the estimated 3.5 million Muslims living in the country. He criticized German politicians for “ignoring the German Muslims.” Kizilkaya’s remarks come eight days after British-born Muslims detonated bombs in several subway trains and one bus in London. Fifty-four people were killed and several hundred injured in the worst terrorist attacks on European soil since the Madrid train bombings last year. The situation in Germany immediately turned tense. On the day of the attacks, security in Berlin was tightened. After the explosions, several lawmakers, security experts and police organizations demanded tougher anti-terror laws. Calls for countrywide video surveillance, as already implemented in Britain, were put forward by interest groups but show down by major parties. Several lawmakers, among them Bavaria’s Interior Minister Guenther Beckstein, called on the Muslim community to distance itself from the attacks. Cardinal Karl Lehmann, head of the German Catholic church, Thursday told a German radio station Muslims living in Germany should “actively acknowledge” the values embodied in the German constitution. That’s a one-sided and ineffective approach to integration, Muslim leaders say. “You can’t impose integration,” Kizilkaya said. “It’s a process that needs to come from both sides: the German society and the Muslims. There needs to be more dialogue.” Beckstein also said he would like to see intelligence personnel in German mosques. “We have to know what happens in each and every mosque,” the politician of the Christian Socialist Union (the conservative version of the Christian Democrats in Bavaria) is quoted in Thursday’s edition of the Berliner Zeitung. “Wherever extremist ideas are preached, we have to be present with our intelligence,” he said. Kizilkaya called the current political discussion in Germany “hysterical” and criticized Beckstein’s proposals. “Comments like the ones from Mr. Beckstein don’t help,” he told UPI. “They lead to increased mistrust against the Muslim community, which is poison for the integration process.” Kizilkaya, born in the Turkish city of Kayseri, emigrated to Germany with his family more than 34 years ago. At the time, Germany’s economy was thriving and thousands of so-called “Gastarbeiter” (“guest workers”) were asked to enter the country and fill the many available jobs. After the German economic miracle slowed down, the Gastarbeiter stayed. They had married, raised their children in Germany and often had blended into German culture in a way that — in some cases — alienated them from their home country. Kizilkaya, who entered the country without knowing a single word of German, is an example of successful integration. But there is the other extreme. Large secluded Turkish communities have formed in recent years in Berlin and Hamburg, where German remains the second language. The children of the second and third generation — though born in Germany — are hardly integrated into society and are only slowly able to learn German, reports MDR, a public broadcaster based in Berlin, the nation’s capital. Social tensions and unemployment (according to MDR, more than 40 percent of Turks in Berlin are jobless) are because of ethnic ghettos. So far, German politicians have not done enough to tackle the problem, observers say. And attacks like the one in London hurt the already troubled integration process, experts say. Oguz Uecuencue, head of the Muslim organization Milli Goerues, known by its acronym IGMG, told the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung “every shameful attack in the name of Islam reduces the trust in our community.” Uecuencue told the newspaper German politicians avoid talking about concrete measures to integrate Muslims because these topics are “unpopular” with most voters. But Muslim imams who preach hate and encourage terrorism remain an obstacle. Dieter Wiefelspuetz, the interior spokesman for the Social Democrats, told UPI in an interview Thursday that the SPD will use “every possibility our constitutional state gives us to expel these people.” Lehman and Beckstein both called on Muslims to work with authorities to eradicate extremist elements in the German Muslim communities. They said Muslims need to do more to distance themselves from hate preachers and acts of terror. Nadeem Elyas, head of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, told the FAZ his organization had repeatedly condemned acts of violence, as they are contrary to the teachings of Islam. The council furthermore organized imam seminars where Muslim preachers were sensitized to peaceful preaching, he said. Kizilkaya said there is no room for hate preachers in German mosques. “Preaching that disturbs the peaceful living of Muslims in Germany is not tolerated,” he said. But by repeatedly asking the Muslim community to distance itself from acts of terror, officials communicate that Muslims have not done so in the past, which is wrong, Kizilkaya said. “How many times will we have to apologize,” Kizilkaya asked. “It’s very hard to overcome that kind of mistrust.” Kizilkaya told UPI that German society has “cooled off” to Muslims since the London attacks. “It’s not explicit, but you can sense it,” he said. The integration process is not in its best state, but it is far from dead, Kizilkaya said. “We shouldn’t forget that Muslims have lived here for nearly half a century now,” he said. “We are open to integration, but we would like to see more help from the other side.” There is no reason why German politicians shouldn’t come forward and push for an increased dialogue with the Muslim community, he said. “Our mosque is not in Istanbul or Saudi-Arabia,” he said. “It’s here, right around the corner.”

Imams To Be Taught About The French Way Of Life

By Colin Randall in Paris France is to intensify efforts to integrate its large Muslim minority by trying to create a generation of French-speaking, socially aware imams equipped with some knowledge of law and diplomas from Parisian universities including the Sorbonne. Dismayed by calculations that a third of the imams practising in France do not speak the language of their adopted country, the interior minister, Dominique de Villepin, wants to launch a foundation early next year. A two-year course at the Sorbonne and Assas universities, starting next autumn, would take the initiative further, giving aspiring Muslim preachers instruction in French law and society.

Switzerland: Imams Face Swiss Integration Test

Islamic preachers and other spiritual leaders from abroad could soon have to take courses to help them integrate better into Swiss society. The government proposal comes at a time of growing public debate about the role of Muslims in a multicultural society such as Switzerland’s. The justice ministry is planning to submit the plan to the cabinet within the next few weeks, according to the Federal Office of Immigration, Integration and Emigration (IMES).

Danes Restrict Imams To Stifle Muslim Radicals

By Julian Isherwood, Scandinavia Correspondent Denmark will crack down on the immigration of Islamic preachers to try to stifle radicalism among its Muslims. A parliamentary bill does not mention the Islamic faith, but Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Danish prime minister, has made the target of the legislation clear in announcing restrictions on “foreign missionaries”. The bill is expected to be passed by parliament within weeks. To cater for the Danish constitution, which bans any form of religious discrimination, the legislation will affect all religious persuasions. About 30 organisations under the banner of the Danish Missionary Society reacted strongly to the proposals yesterday, saying the government was “stifling the freedom of religion and thought”. The new laws are expected to curtail seriously the activities of some imams, who have been at the centre of controversy for making statements alleged to be anti-Semitic, or against current legislation.”