European Conditions: Findings of a Study on Group-Focused Enmity in Europe

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.

Study reveals prejudices against Islam all over Europe

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.

Ambassador Cuntz: Teach Germans about Islam to overcome prejudices

The German ambassador to Turkey, Dr. Eckart Cuntz, has urged young Turkish theologians to teach German citizens about Islam while serving in Germany to help conquer people’s prejudices. Cuntz received 100 theologians from the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs who will work in Germany for four years, at the German Embassy on Wednesday. The theologians have attended a four-month course where they were taught German and familiarized themselves with German culture. “I congratulate you on your success in this course. During your service in Germany, you will teach Islam to Germans as well, to overcome their prejudices and try to awaken their interest in your religion. You will experience the importance of mutual respect in German society for yourselves,” said Cuntz. After the German ambassador, Deputy Director of Religious Affairs Mehmet Görmez addressed the young theologians and gave them advice regarding their term of employment in Germany. “I would like to identify you as volunteers of religion rather than workers of religion. Never cease your search for knowledge while you are working there. Teach our noble religion and its principles for peace to our citizens. Teach them that they are sons and daughters of a civilization who has hosted different religions side by side,” Görmez told the theologians. Ali Aslan Kilic reports.

Immigrants, ‘source of strength for nation’ says President

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has said that Italian immigrants are a new source of strength for the country. Napolitano made the remarks while receiving a group of immigrants who recently acquired Italian citizenship. “This influx of new energy coming from every part of the world that has established itself here is a factor of freshness and strength for the Italian nation,” he said. Napolitano has also said that he would like to see ‘old prejudices’ against immigrants disappear.

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School boosts integration among immigrant students

Students at the Marius Torres school in Barcelona are studying the cultural traditions of their peers in an attempt to boost integration among the high immigrant population in the school. Approximately 90% of students at the school come from immigrant families who hail from South America, China, and North African countries. Students have shared food and clothing on special days, as part of the introduction to each others’ cultures. “Looking at how the kids get on, it’s as if they were all from the same country,” said one teacher. “We should learn from them, because they don’t have any prejudices.” The teacher also stressed that the lessons about each other are also passed from the students to their parents, resulting in a positive community strengthening.

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Many Muslims turn to home schooling

Across the United States, Muslims who are finding that a public school education clashes with religions and/or cultural traditions are turning home schooling as an alternative. Motivations range from wanting to build a solid Muslim identity away from the prejudices Muslim children may face in school, to specific concern about adolescence and teenage pressures to conform, specifically concern over young Muslim girls in the corrupting influences of American life. The subject of home schooling is a contentious one in all communities, including Muslim ones. Opponents of home schooling argue that Muslim children are better off staying in the system and fighting for their rights and a valid presence in challenging school systems. However, other parents, would rather their children learn in less difficult environments.

Opinion: Islam Classes a Commendable but Long-Term Project

The teaching of Islam is to be added to Germany’s school curricula, but Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble admits the country’s 16 states as well as the Muslim community have yet to agree on the plan’s finer points. It’s hard to imagine Saudi Arabia’s interior minister inviting representatives from the country’s immigrant Christian community to a “Christianity Conference” to discuss social values and the Constitution. And then, moreover, taking the opportunity to promote better integration of Saudi Arabia’s Christian minority, ignoring public prejudices and protests against the building of new, strange-looking churches in their neighborhoods to emphasize the principle of religious freedom and call for Christianity classes in Saudi schools. Rainer Sollich reports.

Return of the Muslim other: The far right is reviving the prejudices that used to dominate mainstream European politics

In a few days time a cluster of far-right groups under the name the Stop the Islamisation of Europe alliance will hold rallies in London, Copenhagen and Marseilles to demand an end to what they call “the overt and covert expansion of Islam in Europe”. Although the events are likely to attract no more than a handful of protesters, their message resonates widely. On Saturday the rightwing People’s party, notorious for its virulent hostility to ethnic minorities and Muslims, emerged as the victor in the Swiss elections, taking 29% of the vote, the best electoral performance by a party in the country’s elections since 1919. Soumaya Ghannoushi reports.

Islam – the link between the spread of Islam in Europe and the conflicts in the Broader Middle East

By Dieter Farwick With our publications on Islam we experience a lot of prejudices and generalizations on both sides. There is a need to clarify the terms used in this discussion. We want to make a clear distinction between what we call moderate Muslims and radical Islamists and Jihadists. We expect that visitors and immigrants who come voluntarily to our European countries accept our culture and its framework, which is characterized by democracy, pluralism, equal rights, no discrimination because of gender, race and religion, freedom of speech and free media, the partition of power and the partition of state and religion. I think that moderate Muslims can accept these principles without losing their identity. The majority of our population is ready to integrate these people. On the other hand, we have to fight against the radical Islamists and Jihadists who want to abolish our constitution, our laws and rules as well as our way of life. They often use moderate Muslims as a camouflage and cover. A new kind of threat derives from the so-called homegrown radicals – European citizens of the third or fourth generation. Based upon these assumptions, this interview conducted by Dieter Farwick, Global Editor WSN, with Jonathan S. Paris, a most acknowledged, London-based Broader Middle East and Islamic movement analyst, covers both burning issues – the Islamic movement in Europe and the Broader Middle East – that are closely intertwined. They fuel each other.

Muslim’s Lawsuit Alleges Humiliation; Aim is to Increase Tolerance, Attorney Says

Just before he was scheduled to undergo surgery to treat oral cancer, Mohammed A. Hussain went to the bathroom at the hospital — and that’s when he says the humiliation began. Inside the restroom at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, the 61-year-old Muslim performed the Islamic ritual of washing his hands and feet. The private ritual, known as wudhu, was to purify his body and soul before praying. But Hussain never got to pray. A hospital security guard saw him washing himself in the sink, Hussain said, and proceeded to manhandle him, yell racial epithets at him, push him down the corridor and order him to exit the hospital. “He was just very loud and yelling at me,” Hussain said. “He pushed me and literally dragged me into the lobby. . . . It was very terrifying.” Hussain filed a $30 million lawsuit Friday against the hospital, alleging assault, battery and emotional distress from the incident about 10 a.m. March 22. Because the case is in litigation, hospital officials would not comment other than to release a brief statement saying that hospital executives contacted Hussain on several occasions before the suit was filed to discuss his concerns. Hussain’s lawsuit was first reported by the Baltimore Examiner. Hussain, who lives in Upper Marlboro and is a practicing physician and radiologist in Waldorf, described his experiences in an interview yesterday with The Washington Post. He said he was treated as if he were homeless or a criminal. It was “humiliating,” he said. “People who are coming in the bathroom and treating you so harshly and thinking everybody is either a terrorist or somebody who you don’t recognize of your color or your race — this is something that is a very emotionally tortured experience,” Hussain said. The guard, identified in the suit as Rodney Corban, yelled at Hussain to “get out here!” Hussain said. Corban “was extreme and outrageous, and beyond the bounds of decency in society,” according to court filings. Hussain said he repeatedly told Corban that he was a patient at the hospital and a licensed physician, but he said Corban did not seem to listen. Hussain said a crowd — including his wife, who is a psychiatrist, and their two adult daughters — witnessed the scene in the lobby. “Everybody in the lobby, including my family, was stunned as to why I had been treated like this,” Hussain said. “They were very devastated.” Hussain said he underwent the oral cancer surgery later that day and has returned to the hospital for other procedures. Hospital officials would not say yesterday whether Corban was disciplined after the incident. Corban worked a shift yesterday, a hospital receptionist said, but he did not respond to a message left for him there yesterday afternoon. Hussain’s attorney, David Ellin, said his client sued the hospital because he did not think executives were taking his case seriously enough. “He felt the only way to get their attention and make any changes was to really put their feet to the fire and file a lawsuit,” Ellin said. Ellin said Hussain’s aim with the suit is not to win compensation but to raise awareness about Islam and religious prejudices. “This is really done to try to educate people on the religion of Islam and make people more tolerant and just educate them on different religious backgrounds,” Ellin said. Hussain said he immigrated to the United States from India in 1972 and has been a U.S. citizen for two decades. He said he blames his experience at the hospital on a general lack of education about his religion. “People are so much ignorant about this and deal with it so harshly,” Hussain said. A survey by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based civil rights and advocacy group, found last year that just 2 percent of Americans were “very knowledgeable” about Islam and that 60 percent were “not very knowledgeable” or “not at all knowledgeable” about the religion. A Washington Post-ABC News poll last year found that nearly half of Americans had a negative view of Islam. Ibrahim Hooper, communications director for the council, said education is the key to overcoming the kind of prejudices Hussain faced. “I think it’s just a lack of knowledge of Islam and basic Islamic practices that led to this unfortunate misunderstanding,” Hooper said. “With the filing of this lawsuit, there may be more awareness in the general society about what to Muslims is a fairly routine practice but to others who don’t know what it is might be something that they would be concerned about.” Staff researcher Rena Kirsch contributed to this report.