On his trip to Doha, Qatar, the German President Wulff has called on Muslims and Christians around the world to tackle existing prejudices and unite in a fight against violence. According to Wulff, religious pluralism was an important foundation for a peaceful coexistence in diverse societies. In particular religious leaders should make some efforts to improve mutual respect. Wulff made his appeal during the “Alliance of Civilizations”-meeting in Doha, an initiative by the United Nations to combat mutual suspicion, fear and misunderstanding between Islamic and Western societies.
In Solingen, the beginning of Ramadan is clouded by the news that the two German Muslims, who were recently arrested on terror charges at the port of Dover (as reported), were originally from Solingen and members of a regional group of Salafis. Solingen’s Muslim communities distanced themselves from any radical Islamic tendencies and, instead, emphasized their interest in promoting successful integration. Eray Ünver, the Ditib’s local commissioner for integration and also responsible for the local inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue, criticized that news about arrests of radical Muslims disrupt the process of dialogue and integration, as they trigger fear and feed prejudices. Similarly, members of the local Islamic Center distanced themselves from radical preachers such as (Salafist) Pierre Vogel.
The National Post – May 28, 2011
Peter Beyer, a professor of Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa, has conducted a study to gather insights from about 350 second-generation Canadians aged 18 to 30 through 36 focus groups in Sydney, N.S., Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver. Muslim young adults attributed the discrimination they felt to racial or cultural prejudices rather than religious issues, saying they felt they could follow their faith unfettered in Canada. “They feel that they’re perfectly free to practise Islam here in Canada, unlike some of the Christians who feel that their ability to practise their religion is restricted in this country,” Prof. Beyer said. “But they did feel Islamophobia.”
Second-generation Canadians are both optimistic and critical of the concept of multiculturalism in Canada, he said. They believe integrating and learning from each other could be a hugely positive experience that too often turns into immigrant communities living in “silos” side by side -and they blame their immigrant parents, not the rest of society, for that.
24 October 2010
The association for the Development of Feminist Upbringing and Educational Models (EfEU) will be holding two seminars on 24 November in order to fight stereotypes surrounding young Muslims. The first seminar, given by Hikmet Kayahan and entitled “Young/Muslim/Macho, looking for Young Submissive Female Breeding Machine,” hopes to tackles the prejudices that continue to follow young Muslim men. The second seminar, “Young – Muslim – Female: Areas of Conflict and Challenges when working with Muslims Girls” and given by Amani Abuzahra, aims to go behind the scenes and present the spectrum of roles with which young Muslim girls grow up.
30 September 2010
The association WienXtra has published a brochure called “Da mach’ ich nicht mit!” (“I’m not going to join in on that!”), in an effort to combat everyday prejudices and stereotypes. The brochure is aimed at youths, and has ready-made counterarguments to coffee table assertions, such as “all foreigners are criminals,” or “Islam wants to come to power in Austria.” Nonetheless, the author of the brochure, Marion Wisinger of the League for Human Rights, maintains that it is just as relevant for adults as for youths in the fight against discrimination.
More than one in 10 French people admit to being racist and many have prejudicial views of immigrants, homosexuals, blacks, Arab and Jews, according to a poll by the BVA institute for two anti-discrimination groups. 28 percent of those polled think that Arabs are more likely to commit crimes than members of other groups, a number that has more than doubled since a similar poll was conducted last year.
Almost half of respondents, 49 percent, thought that immigrants are better able to exploit the social welfare system than are the native French. “In the past few months we’re seen racist speech entering the mainstream,” said Dominique Sopo of SOS Racisme, criticising the identity debate and the government’s attempt to ban the full-face Islamic veil.
The BVA poll was carried out between May 21 and 22 on a representative sample of 1,029 subjects aged 15 or more.
In the ongoing debate of German Muslim integration, two politicians have asserted that Germany does not need a “liberal racism” as propagated by Geert Wilders in the neighboring Netherlands. Both conservative politician Alois Glück and social democrat and interior minister of Berlin, Erhart Körting, talk about accommodating Muslims, including potential worries, without drawing on prejudices.
Glück emphasizes the importance of recognizing the cultural process Islam is going through, consisting of many different currants and moving towards a tolerant form of, for instance, equal gender rights. He is in favor of working together with Islamic associations and of educating Imams in Germany. Körting calls for actively promoting integration especially among those who do not share a “European cultural identity” and who live in large numbers with migrants from the same country, such as those of Turkish background. These people are just as much eligible for integration, but may need more help and should also realize the effort they need to put in for the sake of their children.
The liberal and traditionally secular weekly The New Statesman dedicates its latest issue to prejudices against Islam in Britain. The issue, entitled “Everything you know about ISLAM is wrong”, features articles by ex-extremist Ed Husain, Tariq Ramadan and Ziauddin Sardar. The lead article calls for supporting British Muslims who are being alienated due to terror alerts and sensational reports. Strong prejudices prevail, as the last British Social Attitudes Survey has shown, and the article demands better integration models and ending the negative news coverage about Muslims.
Tariq Ramadan in his article deconstructs the simplistic portrayal of “bad” Muslims versus “good” Muslims, which people turn into visible and invisible Muslims. He explains how it is possible to be a moderate and openly practicing Muslim, who embraces democracy and is capable of giving reasonable political criticism. Ed Husain describes his Islamist past and the difficult journey away from the radical worldview and argues for a secular version of political Islam. Finally, Ziauddin Sardar reflects on the orientalism in Christopher Caldwell’s book on Islamic immigration, while Mehdi Hasan interviews Dalia Mogahed, Obama’s adviser on inter-faith relations.
Switzerland recently passed a controversial referendum to ban minarets in the country, provoking uproar, intense debate and even protest. The move is regarded by many as “deeply divisive,” says UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, as well as a major setback for American and European public diplomacy in the Arab world.
Sweden, which currently holds the presidency of the European Union, commented that the United Nations “should reconsider its presence in Geneva,” according to an Associated Press article. “Even if this is Switzerland, it sends a very unfortunate signal to large parts of the rest of the world about attitudes and prejudices in Europe,” Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt wrote on his blog. He continued to observe that the ban is a “poor act of diplomacy” from the Swiss, whose neutrality on globally divisive issues is renowned.
Analysts and commentators are also pointing to the ban as a serious complication for dialogue with Muslims around the world, even among those who are non-practicing, because the minaret is largely seen as a symbol of Arab and Muslim identity.
The Bielefeld Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence has conducted a Europe-wide study on prejudices and enmity against various social groups. The representative study saw 8000 participants (1000 people respectively in the UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, Poland and Hungary). They were interviewed about their view on Islam, homosexuality, immigration, an alleged “hierarchy between white and black people” or the allegedly “strong influence of Jews”. About fifty percent agreed to the statement that Islam was a religion of intolerance.
Many of the prejudices are shared in the different European countries, although the degree to which people agree, varies. Generally, stronger prejudices are held in Poland and Hungary, while the Netherlands and Britain showed the lowest. The longitudinal study of Wilhelm Heitmeyer, Andreas Zick and their research team is a first in its European-wide approach.