Progressive Muslims seek to open Islamic Academy in Berlin

As Euro-Islam reported, the political disputes of the past months have taken a heavy toll on Turkish-dominated DİTİB, numerically still Germany’s largest Islamic association.

German politicians have castigated the organisation for its proximity to the Turkish government, particularly when it was revealed that some of its Imam’s had spied on suspected members of the Gülen movement on behalf of Turkish state authorities.

Internal pressures

Internally, DİTİB has been rocked by successive waves of dissent, dismissals, and disputes. While some functionaries left the organisation of their own accord, others were de facto purged upon Ankara’s request. Out of protest, DİTİB’s entire youth board resigned in May 2017, signalling a generational split within the association.

Ender Çetin, former chairman of Berlin’s Şehitlik mosque, was one of the victims of the purge. Deemed too progressive and too disloyal to the Turkish point of view, Çetin was ousted from his post at the mosque in December 2016. In the past, he had gained renown for gradually turning the mosque into an open space for encounters and debates, including on controversial matters such as homosexuality.

A forum for debate

Now, Çetin and around 30 predominantly younger Muslims formerly active in DİTİB communities in Berlin seek to build an Islamic institution to their liking out of DİTİB’s reach. They have announced plans to open an Islamic Academy that is to serve as a forum for discussions and cultural events.((https://www.rbb-online.de/politik/beitrag/2017/06/berlin-muslimische-akademie-geplant.html ))

The Academy is to be modelled upon other comparable confessional institutions in Germany: both Catholic and Protestant churches have their “academies” – open centres that bridge the divide between religion and society by hosting conferences, debates, and projects on contemporary issues.

Aiming at a young audience

The Academy aims at catering primarily to a younger audience. Its initiators noted that young Muslims were in desperate need of a modern and societally open spiritual forum. As of late, DİTİB’s internal clampdown and the association’s rigid hierarchies had made open debate all but impossible, or so they argued.

As of now, the initiators are still organising the logistics of their project. Making the Academy real will necessitate overcoming many challenges, not least of a financial nature: in the past, a number of progressive endeavours that sought to establish themselves beyond the purview of the conservative associations have foundered on insufficient funding.

Nevertheless, the idea of a Muslim Academy holds the promise of building a genuinely open and proactive civil society institution that is capable of asking hard questions and of projecting progressive Muslim voices – without falling into the trap of a “liberal Islam” that remains a chimaera.

Fillon wants French Muslims to express their ‘anger’

François Fillon wants to see a “cry of anger against extremists” he said during a visit to the Saint-Denis mosque in Reunion.

He wants to see “the same French citizens of the Muslim faith give a cry of anger and protest against extremists, not only against terrorists,” but “against those who have deformed Islam’s message and who call for division from within the Muslim community.”

“I will not allow those who contradict the values of the Republic…the Republic has the right to defend itself against those who call for its destruction,” he insisted.

“If coexistence between religions is exemplary in Reunion, it’s not the same case throughout the country,” he said during the visit.

He also wished that “we had a CFCM that would be more of a religious authority. I don’t think that we need an organization for the Muslim faith in France that is political.”

 

 

 

Germans demonstrate in solidarity with Kobane

Throughout October, there have been various demonstrations in solidarity with the tragic situation of Kurds in Kobane. The high point of this was the organization of nation-wide demonstrations scheduled for the 1st November. People in Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Hannover or Frankfurt came out into the streets to protest. Approximately 25000 participated at these nation-wide demonstrations organized by Kurdish organizations.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations: Muslim leaders call for calm

July 16, 2014

Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Great Mosque of Paris, called for peace and “strongly recommends respect for places of worship” following the incidents on Sunday, July 13 in front of two synagogues in Paris.

His statement condemned the “misbehaviors” that “should not disrupt the lives of Frenchmen, no matter their religious beliefs.”

His speech came in the wake of a pro-Palestinian demonstrations responding to the current conflict between Israel’s government and Hamas, some of which ended in violence. “The current Muslim opinion concerning this conflict must remain calm and work for peace in this blessed month of Ramadan,” wrote Boubakeur. “The escalation of violence has already caused several casualties and we call for all national and international authorities to stop the violence,” he declared. The Great Mosque of Paris announced that it would hold a “prayer for the absent” to honor the victims. The mosque “called for all other mosques to do the same.”

The president of the Union of French Mosques, Mohammed Moussaoui believes that peaceful demonstrations in support of Palestinians are “legitimate and justified,” while reaffirming that “nothing justifies an action that harms our Jewish citizens, their institutions, or their places of worship. Such an action, strongly condemnable and morally unjust and unacceptable, would also affect the interest of the Palestinian people and the support that they could have in French public opinion.”

The president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France, Roger Cukierman, expressed his “utmost concern” to Hollande concerning the demonstrations. The Jewish community views the incidents “as a break from the republican pact…the Jewish community feels isolated within its national community,” stated Cukierman after meeting with the president. “No pro-Palestinian supporter should confuse anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Because today there is identification between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.”

Five people were sent to criminal court for violence and for disruption of public order after the demonstrations on July 13.

French Muslims Protest Islamophobic Laws

March 16, 2014

 

Marking the tenth anniversary of banning hijab in public places in France, hundreds of Muslims and rights activists have protested in Paris to demand abolishing Islamophobic laws and offering more protection to the religious minority.

“All political parties contribute to the current climate of Islamophophia, but so does the media,” a El Hamri, a Muslim activist, told Press TV during the protest held on Saturday, March 15. “They all create a false reality which creates real problems.”

Saturday’s protest was organized by the Campaign of Elimination of Islamophobic Laws which urged French Muslims and rights activists to take part in the anniversary march in Paris. Campaigners aimed to overturn Islamophobic status in France by highlighting Muslim rights to freedom of expression and religious practices.

Citing anti-Islam campaigns led by difference factions of French politicians, Muslim activists expressed concerns that with a broad political backing of anti-Islam laws, it’s not easy to counter what they dubbed as ‘discriminatory laws’. These political groups include the far-right National front, the conservative UMP and even the ruling Socialists.

Lamenting the anti-Muslims polices in France, El Hamri asked:  “What will be the next Islamophobic law; the law which bans Muslims from living here? I’m exaggerating… but it will be another law which tries to make Muslims even more invisible! And we want to be visible. Not to create differences, because we have to define our dignity and identity.’’

France is home to a Muslim community of nearly six million, the largest in Europe. French Muslims have been complaining of restrictions on performing their religious practices. In 2004, France banned Muslims from wearing hijab, an obligatory code of dress, in public places. Several European countries followed the French example. France also outlawed the wearing of face-veil in public in 2011.

Last December, a French government report has proposed ending the ban on Muslim headscarves, teaching Arabic and emphasizing the ‘Arab-Oriental’ dimension of French identity. The report stressed that France, with Europe’s largest Muslim population, should recognize the “Arab-oriental dimension” of its identity. Yet, in the same month the French minister of education has maintained the 2004 ban on hijab for Muslim volunteers in school trips, ignoring a legal advice from France’s Council of State.

 

Source: http://www.onislam.net/english/news/europe/470305-french-muslims-protest-islamophopic-laws.html

Muslims join Paris protest against gender equality drive in schools

February 2, 2014

 

Tens of thousands of supporters of the conservative “Manif pour Tous” movement (Protest for Everyone) gathered in Paris on Sunday February 2nd to protest against gender equality teaching in schools. The “Manif Pour Tous” (MPT) mounted huge protests before legislation was passed in 2013 allowing gay marriages, and its focus now is on medically-assisted procreation for same-sex couples.

Sunday’s march included a prominent Muslim contribution in a protest movement that has so far been overwhelmingly linked to far-right political parties and to conservative Catholic groups.

Many protesters also told FRANCE 24 they were worried about the state’s role in sex education, and the supposed “gender theory” lurking behind an “ABCD of equality” initiative aimed at breaking down gender stereotypes in schools.

The demonstrators claim the move is a deliberate attempt to brainwash children from an early age against what they consider the “natural” differences between men and women, boys and girls.

“The state has no business lecturing children on subjects as private as sexual identity or of imposing adult preoccupations on young children,” said MPT leader Ludivine de la Rochère, voicing a concern shared by many of the Muslim associations that joined Sunday’s march through central Paris.

Among the heads of the various groups was Samir Driss, of the Muslims for Childhood group.

He told FRANCE 24 that increasing numbers of Muslims were joining the MPT movement, despite its Christian and far-right reputation, attracted to its traditional and conservative view of family life.

“Education should be about teaching children skills so that they can get jobs,” he said. “Sex education is not going to get them into work. Sexuality is a subject that I will raise in front of my children when I see fit.”

His words were echoed by Camel Bechikh, who heads the ‘Sons of France’ association of patriotic French Muslims. “The state is responsible for practical instruction of children in schools, not their moral education, which is the business of the family,” he told FRANCE 24. “When I take my children to school I expect them to be taught history and geography. I don’t want them to be told the state’s idea of what is morally right or wrong. That is my job as their father and head of the family.”

At the very front of the march, which was dominated by middle class ethnically French demonstrators, Najib Guarraz was among a group holding a huge banner bearing the words, in French and in Arabic:

“French Muslims opposed to same-sex marriage.” The 54-year-old father of two told FRANCE 24 he was protesting because “I am opposed to gender theory lessons in schools, I am opposed to same-sex marriage. We are in the process of destroying the fundamentals of French life.’’

Sunday’s protest comes a week after several thousand people marched through Paris in a violent “Day of Anger” against the policies of President François Hollande’s Socialist government, including last year’s law allowing gay marriage.

 

Source: http://www.france24.com/en/20140202-thousands-french-conservatives-march-family-values/

Islam: Santanche sentenced to 4 days of arrest and a fine

December 2, 2013

 

Daniela Santanche has been sentenced to four days of prison and payment of a fine of 1,100 Euros. The sentence came from Maria Luisa Balzarotti, a Milan judge, for Santache’s unauthorized anti-burka protest in September 2009. Santanche as the leader of the “Movement for Italy” promoted an anti-burka protest in front of the Steam Factory in Milan, the place chosen by the Muslim community to celebrate the end of Ramadan. The garrison had provoked a strong reaction from Muslims in Milan, to the point that one of them, Egyptian Ahmed El Badry, struck her.

El Badry is accused of aggravated injury, the single judge in Milan ordered him to pay 2,500 euro fine and to compensate Santanche 10,000 euro.  Santanche has played the dual role of the defendant and injured party in this case.

 

ASCA: http://www.asca.it/news-Islam__Santanche__condannata_a_4_giorni_di_arresto_commutati_in_multa-1342609-ATT.html

Islamophobia and Racism in France: Shocking Indifference

November 27, 2013

 

Attacks on Muslim establishments are on the increase in France. Most recently, the Grand Mosquée in Paris was daubed with racist slogans. Islamophobia and xenophobia are also featuring more prominently in the public discourse. Bernhard Schmid reports

A shockwave – or just a ripple of surprise? On 23 November the French news agency AFP published a report stating that the number of “Islamophobic acts had risen again”. The report is based on data from the “National Monitoring Centre for Islamophobia” which claims that attacks on Muslims and Islamic establishments in the first nine months of this year have increased by 11.3 percent on the same period last year.

Attacks such as this one, among others: On 19 November, the walls of the Grande Mosquée de Paris – the capital’s oldest mosque established in 1927 – were sprayed with abusive statements. The warden of the mosque, Dalili Boubakeur, expressed his most profound regret at this expression of what he called “racist violence and hostility”.

This is no isolated incident: Recently in the southern French town of Lesparre-Médoc near Bordeaux, police arrested two men aged 24 and 39 alleged to have been responsible for daubing swastikas on the walls of the local mosque last summer. Both men confessed the following day.

New Quality of Racism

As though that were not enough: In early November the news broke that two mosques in Besançon had also been daubed with inflammatory slogans. The perpetrators had scrawled statements such as “Arabs Out!” and “France for the French!” on the walls, as well as swastikas. Similar slogans had been painted on the walls of a mosque in the southern French town of Carpentras two weeks previously – along a total length of 30 metres.

Racially motivated, anti-Islamic vandalism such as this is not the only cause for concern at the monitoring centre set up some time ago by the French “Representative Council of Muslims” (CFCM). An increase in physical attacks on Muslim women wearing a veil or other head covering is also “a new phenomenon”, as the centre ascertains in its latest report.

Attacks on Muslim women

The first incidences of this nature emerged in early 2013 in the satellite town of Argenteuil, northwest of Paris. There, unknown attackers beat up several Muslim women; a 19-year-old suffered a miscarriage in June as a direct result of her ordeal. Two protest rallies then took place in Argenteuil.

But because it was Salafist groups, among others, that tried to capitalize on the sense of outrage and took to the streets in protest, the demonstrations attracted little national interest. This meant that any sense of solidarity among elements of the population failed to emerge, to the chagrin of many of those affected, but also of anti-racist groups – even though the victim who had suffered a miscarriage was given the opportunity to present her complaint in person to the interior ministry in late June 2013, as a gesture of sympathy.

The monitoring centre has documented a total of 14 cases of physical violence against women wearing a Muslim headcovering in the Paris suburbs of Argenteuil, Trappes and Reims. The wave of attacks occurring in the Parisianbanlieus is probably attributable to rightwing extremist skinheads, although police have so far been unable to apprehend any perpetrators.

But in the meantime, cases are being observed of acts of violence committed against Muslim women by people with no rightwing extremist background. Last July, the trial began in Orléans of a motorist who attacked three Muslim women following a traffic dispute. The man was accused of hurling racist taunts at the three women – a woman from the Maghreb region, her 15-year-old daughter and her sister – and pulling them out of their car. He was eventually sentenced to two months in prison.

At the annual national rally against violence against women, held on 24 November, for the first time Muslim women wearing headscarves formed their own bloc. They said they were taking a stand against domestic violence perpetrated by men, as well as expressing their growing fear of being attacked in the public sphere.

Dashed hopes

Many believed that the waves of outrage connected to the public perception of Muslims had been primarily incited by campaigning in the run-up to the French parliamentary and presidential elections in early 2012. During the campaign, the rightwing extremist “Front National”, but also elements of the conservative camp, had voiced objections to the “increased presence of halal meat in school canteens”, sometimes openly portraying this as evidence of the fact that the nation was being overrun with foreigners. Many people believed that the public debate over Islam would die down after the elections. But they were very wrong.

But assertions that the racism prevalent in French society is first and foremost taking on “culturalising” forms and being mainly directed at symbols and expressions of the Islamic faith have not been borne out. This is because racism against Romany communities in France has increased, as well as racism against black politicians such as the French Minister of Justice, Christiane Taubira, who was repeatedly and publicly insulted by her political opponents who called her a “savage” and a “monkey”.

In the meantime, this increase in racist violence has triggered a counter movement: Large-scale protest events against racism and xenophobia are expected to be held in France at the end of this year. These are to mark the 30th anniversary of the spectacular “March for Equality and Against Racism”, when from October to December 1983, the sons and daughters of Maghreb immigrants marched on foot from Marseille via Lyon to Paris, to demonstrate for better rights and more foreigner-friendly policies.

 

Qantara.de – http://en.qantara.de/content/islamophobia-and-racism-in-france-shocking-indifference

Muslim students pray in the rain after Queen Mary University denies them access to facilities

November 1, 2013

 

Hundreds of students at Queen Mary University in London, braved the rain today to pray outside, in protest against what they claim is inadequate resources for Muslims on their Mile End campus. It was their second ‘prayer protest’ in two weeks, with the student union counting 350 demonstrators last Friday.

Previously, the college’s 20-year-old Islamic Society had been able to book several large communal spaces for congregational Friday prayers. But from the start of this academic year, students have been told the rooms are unavailable. Principal Professor Simon Gaskell suggested students attend local mosques for the mass prayer, and denied any change in policy adding that the facilities are unavailable due to demand.

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/student/news/muslim-students-pray-in-the-rain-after-queen-mary-university-denies-them-access-to-facilities-8918293.html

“Islam Must Stop:” Forza Nuova Organizes a Protest against a Mosque

It is a black October in Ravenna. Forza Nuova’s local militants are now promoting a protest in front of a new Mosque on the afternoon of Saturday, October 26. “Lepanto taught us, Islam must stop,” it’s that black and white. The first blitz against the Muslim community was carried out on October 10, a day marked in history by the neo-fascist Romagna group. It was carried out three days after the historic battle of 7 October 1571, which saw the defeat of the Ottoman fleet by the Holy League of Pope Pius V. Now the intention is to proceed with a second protest rally in front of the second largest mosque in Italy, assuming that the police grant the gathering.

Two days before the commemoration of the March on Rome, Ravenna Forza Nuova is keen to “declare their total opposition.” The group’s Facebook page states “we are always firmly against both the Islamic invasion and against the establishment of Islamic cultural centers and mosques; places of worship. Aggregation and integration of Catholicism is only a facade. The dialogue between Christians and Muslims will never exist, there can be no constructive dialogue with a religion based on hatred. Islam is a scourge of which we can and must respond and fight with our Roman and Christian roots.” It is clear that dialogue with the followers of Allah, fascists think like the chaplain Giulio Maria Tam, who every year harangue for those nostalgic days led by Duce Mussolini.

For now, the members of the garrison of 26 October number little more than fifty, but the event was created announced a few days ago. Desideria Raggi, provincial manager of Forza Nuova, ensures that many people will take part, “if state institutions filibuster my first request then we will be forced to move the garrison to another day. In that case the state will unleash anger from members and sympathizers of the movement, as happened in June with the procession in Rimini against the ius soli.”

The militants of Forza Nouva defaced a banner on October 10. When the defaced banner was discovered by Basel Ahmed, an Iraqi architect and the president of the center of culture and Islamic Studies in Romagna he was limited to stigmatize the act as “rude.” A balanced reaction, whose act was condemned by the council of Ravenna.

“The mosque was inaugurated in the presence of the prefect and all the heads of law enforcement” says the mayor of the Democratic Party Fabrizio Matteucci “because everyone has a right to pray to the god they believe. After the raid on October 10, I heard that someone is thinking of organizing a counter-demonstration, but my invitation is to ignore and isolate the initiative of Forza Nuova. The police will maintain order. The same Basel Ahmed has said he wants to completely trust the authorities; this is an example of great seriousness on the part of the Muslim community of Ravenna. Now we have to wait for a decision to be made on whether the demonstration will be allowed.

Il Fatto Emilia Romagna: http://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2013/10/15/ravenna-forza-nuova-organizza-manifestazione-contro-moschea-islam-va-fermato/744925/