Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar supporting Salafi radicals in Germany, according to German intelligence report

Recurring scrutiny of religious activities of the Gulf States

The two main German domestic and foreign intelligence agencies (the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz and the Bundesnachrichtendienst) are accusing Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar of financing Salafi missionary activities in Germany. Practices scrutinised include the construction of mosques and educational centres, as well as the sending of Imams.((http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/extremismus-saudis-unterstuetzen-deutsche-salafistenszene-1.3290991 ))

These findings are gathered in a report by the two agencies, which had been commissioned by the German government. In the context of the recent arrival of Syrian and other Arab immigrants, the authorities’ concerns about the influence of religious exports from the Gulf have been growing. A number of Salafi missioning attempts in asylum centres have been highly mediatised and led to fierce public discussions.((http://www.faz.net/aktuell/krude-missionierung-salafisten-werben-nahe-fluechtlingsheimen-13793462.html ))

Earlier this year, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel had scolded Saudi Arabia for funding Wahhabi offshoots and institutions the world over. The Social Democratic politician claimed that “the time of looking away is over”.((http://www.euro-islam.info/2016/01/14/german-vice-chancellor-accuses-saudi-arabia-of-funding-islamic-extremism-in-the-west/ ))

Focus on Turkey

However, not much by way of official action has perspired since then. One of the most controversial Saudi-funded educational institutions in the country – the Bonn-based King Fahd Academy – was shut down and the Saudi government announced that it intended to cut back on its religious activities in Germany. Yet it was not immediately obvious that these Saudi steps had been taken due to mounting pressure by the German government.((http://www.euro-islam.info/2016/10/17/closure-controversial-king-fahd-academy-bonn-shifting-saudi-religious-politics-germany/ ))

Indeed, during 2016 public attention shifted back to Erdoğan’s Turkey and its control over DİTİB, Germany’s single largest Islamic association. As the diplomatic climate between Germany and Turkey worsened, authorities began to perceive DİTİB as a Trojan horse, suspending decades of close cooperation with the organisation ((http://www.euro-islam.info/2016/08/26/amidst-political-controversy-german-ditib-association-vows-greater-emancipation-turkish-state/ ))

The present intelligence report might put the Gulf back at the centre of the attention. It warns that the presence of Saudi Arabia and other wealthy religious players from the Gulf will lead to a further growth of the Germany’s 10,000-strong Salafi scene. A particular concerns it the potential for radicalisation among recently arrived refugees.

The precise linkage between missionary activities and violent jihad

While organisations such as the Kuwaiti Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS), the Shaykh Eid Charity Foundation from Qatar, or the Saudi-led Muslim World League reject violence, the intelligence reports asserts that, at least in the practice of the RIHS, “no clear distinction between missionary and jihadist Salafism” can be observed.

At the same time, the report notes that evidence capable of demonstrating these organisation’s active support of jihadists in Germany remained inconclusive.((https://www.tagesschau.de/inland/salafisten-verfassungsschutz-101.html )) Thus, the precise linkages between missionary foundations and jihadist networks still remain somewhat murky.

The role of the governments of the Gulf States

A particularly delicate matter are the connections between these organisations and the governments of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar. While for instance Saudi Arabia has continued to insist on the ostentatious independence of the Muslim World League, the intelligence report asserts that these associations are “closely connected to state authorities in their countries of origin”.((http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/extremismus-saudis-unterstuetzen-deutsche-salafistenszene-1.3290991 ))

In other words, in spite of steps such as the closure of the King Fahd Academy, “worldwide missionary activity continues to remain raison d’état and part of foreign policy” of the Gulf States. Consequently, the report expects a further expansion of missionary activities in the future. As a response, the report demands that a European registry of Salafi missionary organisations and preachers be created, so as to prevent their entry to the Schengen zone.((http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/extremismus-saudis-unterstuetzen-deutsche-salafistenszene-1.3290991 ))

Manuel Valls preaches unity to combat “Islamo-fascism”

Prime Minister Manuel Valls launched an appeal on February 16 for unity in order to combat “Islamo-fascism.” Following the deadly attacks in Copenhagen, Valls stated: “We must not give in to fear nor to division. But at the same time we must also deal with the problems: combating terrorism, mobilizing society in support of secularism, combating anti-Semitism…Islam of France must take full responsibility, this is what is demanded of the large majority of our Muslim compatriots.”

Valls felt it was necessary to conduct “a war” against Islamo-fascism,” “outside, but also inside,” of the country, to combat jihadism. He stressed that every country in the region should act, militarily and financially, including Qatar and Turkey. Monday morning the Egyptian army bombed several ISIL locations in Libya.

Paris denies French school is teaching sharia law in Qatar

February 5, 2014

 

France’s Foreign Ministry has denied media reports that a French international school in Qatar has agreed to teach Islamic sharia law and separate boys and girls into different classrooms.

A recent agreement between the Lycée Voltaire in Doha and French authorities does not involve changes to religion classes or dividing classes by sex, Paris said after reports of the accord sparked outrage in France.

Under French law, state-run schools are barred from providing religious education. However, the state does subsidize private schools, like Doha’s, provided they follow the French state curriculum, do not force religious teaching upon students, and do not discriminate according to religion or sex.

“By signing the accord, the [Doha] school has committed itself to respecting the “Charter of French Teaching Abroad”, which outline the principles of secularism and religious neutrality in education,” the Foreign Ministry said on its website. “The school, which goes from kindergarten to sixth grade, is mixed-sex. All of its classes include both boys and girls, in accordance with the spirit and practices of French education,” it added.

Prominent French news outlets, including the left-leaning weekly Marianne, blasted the country’s international school agency last week for allegedly allowing the Doha school to teach strict Muslim sharia law and place boys and girls in separate classrooms from a certain age.

France’s Foreign Ministry, which helps oversee hundreds of French international schools around the world, said that while religion classes were taught at the Lycée Voltaire, they were part of an after-school program, as is the case in many other international French schools.

Religious education was compulsory for Qatari students at the school, as per Qatari law, but not students of other nationalities, it said.

However, some observers said French officials were not being completely transparent about the situation at the Lycée Voltaire, which boast an enrollment of around 1,000 students, roughly 40% of which are Qatari nationals. Marianne journalist Martine Gozlan said the school’s sixth grade class would not open until next year, and that discussions were ongoing over the question of separating pupils by sex at that level.

“Voltaire come back, Qatar is driving them crazy!” Gazlan wrote in the left-wing magazine, referring to the Enlightenment philosopher famous for his advocacy of secularism and his fierce attacks on religious dogma.

This is not the first time the Doha-based school makes headlines in France. In November 2012, the eviction of the school’s director prompted accusations of repeated interference by Qatari authorities.

 

Source: http://www.france24.com/en/20140205-france-qatar-education-sharia-mixed-sex-classes-agreement/

France-Qatar Agreement

January 28, 2014

 

France and Qatar signed an agreement to regulate problems that had emerged in the Lycée Voltaire in Doha. The agreement stipulates that Islamic studies and Arabic will be implemented in the school, and separation between male and female students will be reinforced in its future secondary school.

The president of the school’s administration board declared, ‘our French friends have been understandings, since it is essential is to let French-speaking Qataris remain close to their language and religion.’

The school, founded in 2007 by the Mission Laique France, had already experienced conflicts over the nature of the curriculum with their Qatari counterparts disagreeing with some of the science and history books. The Lycée Voltaire, numbering a thousand students, is now run by Qatar.

 

Source: http://www.lefigaro.fr/flash-actu/2014/01/28/97001-20140128FILWWW00408-le-lycee-francais-de-doha-conforme-a-l-islam.php

Prayer, Culture, meetings all within the glass house of Islam

We begin with a five-story building (possibly six), with the mosque or prayer hall on the ground floor, a tea room on the second, a large Islamic bookstore with books in more than ten languages ​on the third, a museum of Islamic culture and cultural center on the fourth and offices and international centers on the fifth. The space will be six thousand square meters, all in glass, steel and stone, as proposed by the architectural designers (who remain anonymous).

 

And no minaret, to avoid changing the profile of the waterfront in Darsena, the only building still to be finalized is the House of Islamic Culture. Or rather, the House of Peace, as it might be called.

 

Designs were directed by Alfredo Maiolese, a Genovese Muslim and president of the League of European Muslims who helped to create the possible home of the Islamic culture. These are the same designs that will be presented next week in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for the Islamic Development Bank. This is the bank that maintains an international Muslim presence abroad, likely funded by the governments of Kuwait and Qatar, and could make available the 12-15 million euro needed to buy the building and renovate it.

 

And Genoa? Available. “If indeed there is a need then doors are open to all” says Stefano Bernini, Deputy Mayor and Councilor for Urban Planning “If Maiolese and the European Muslim League will be able to find the resources, the municipality would support the project including town planning procedures and helping to convince the ‘neighbors’ who have doubts that this is a major accomplishment, which would be a great for the entire city.”

 

Bernini explains that the center would be a point of reference for the thousands of Muslims, but it could also be appealing as a cultural point of attraction for cruise passengers. And the claim that this may jeopardize security? “If there is a place that is controlled, it is the port area” replies Bernini “not to mention it is where the state police headquarter is.”

 

“In every home there are those that pray but this does not mean that every home is a mosque,” says Maiolese , which he discusses is the point of the “Moussala” on the ground floor, a place of prayer, it is more than a “majid,” meaning mosque. The space could accommodate between 5 and 600 people, and it would be the only space exclusively for Muslims. The rest of the building, however, will be welcome to everyone.

 

“The tea room will express welcome by offering Arab tea and cakes” explains Maiolese “but in the 240 square meter space we will also sell cakes and tea from the entire Arab world, which will help people better understand different food cultures” Upstairs will hold 750 square meters of Islamic books. Books will be in Italian, English, Arabic, and also French, Albanian, Urdu, Persian, Bengali, this will be a store for the visitors of the Museum of Islamic Culture,

 

Another 2,400 square meters will host works of art, manuscripts, and also cultural events. “We have already established contacts with universities in Medina, and also Qatar and others, in order to have works exhibited” says Maiolese. Finally, going even higher, there will be 1,230 square meters of diplomatic and commercial offices.”

Al-Jazeera America faces steep climb among U.S. viewers

RNS) Al-Jazeera and America, two name brands often at odds since 9/11, were wed as one on Tuesday (Aug. 20) when the Qatar-based media network began broadcasting its U.S. news channel Al-Jazeera America from New York.

 

This is not the first time Al-Jazeera has tried to find a home on American TV. Al-Jazeera English debuted with an international focus in 2006 but was never picked up in major media markets outside the Northeast.

 

From CNN to MSNBC to Fox, the leading cable and satellite news channels all struggled to gain and hold viewers, credibility and profit for years after their launch. But for Al-Jazeera America, deep-seated prejudices among some U.S. audiences are likely to make this uphill slog even steeper.

 

With some 800 journalists and staff and bureaus in 12 U.S. cities, Al-Jazeera America bills itself as a network committed to “rebalancing global media by respecting the diversity and humanity of the world” and “giving a voice to the voiceless.”

Although once ranked among Apple, Google, Ikea and Starbucks as one of the world’s most influential brands, many Americans still view Al-Jazeera with suspicion — in part because of  Al-Jazeera’s decision to air messages it received from Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks.

The take-away for many viewers was that Al-Jazeera was nothing more than a mouthpiece for terrorists.

Some influential commentators continue to label Al-Jazeera anti-American or to imply the network is somehow a front for terrorism. For many Americans, perceptions of the network are tied up with negative feelings toward the Middle East, Arabs and Islam.

“I’m afraid the terms Middle East, Arab and Muslim are all often lumped together under Muslim,” said Roger Owen, professor of Middle East history at Harvard University.

John Esposito, director of Georgetown University’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understandingand the author of several books on contemporary Islam, said Al-Jazeera America will have to deal with a segment of the population that is biased against Islam.

The Tampa-based Florida Family Association, which opposes what it perceives to be the “Islamization” of America, recently launched a campaign demanding major companies stop advertising on the channel.

The Palasharp complex in Milan a mosque? Loans are also ready from Qatar and other Gulf countries, lending their hands to the Lombard capital, not only for economic reasons

By John Giacalone

May 20, 2013

Prayer at Palasharp 250×149 complex might make it a mosque? Funding is ready from Qatar and others. Qatar Holding has officially announced the purchase of 40% of Porta Nuova, the real estate development plan of more than two billion euro currently under construction in the city’s center, the complex is about 290 thousand square meters. The remaining 60% will continue to be held by the current sponsor, the Texan group Hines. The Qatari holding company is, in fact, known to have holdings ranging from Porsche to Harrods, from Credit Suisse to Paris Saint Germain and has recently supported some of the most famous hotels .

Will the PalaSharp soon be turned into a mosque? There are also rumors of possible funding by private individuals from Qatar and Kuwait, supporting the transformation of the Palasharp Lampugnano, which could become the first large mosque in Milan. The PalaSharp has been used as a place of prayer for many Muslims on Fridays, many of them from the Islamic Cultural Institute in Viale Jenner that could not accommodate all the faithful so many were forced to pray on sidewalks adjacent to the Islamic center, thus creating problems for the circulation and commercial activities.

Milan has no mosque. The fact that Milan still has no large mosque despite the large presence of Muslims in Lombardy (340,000 according to some estimates, but probably more) is inexplicable. It is permissible to ask the question: given that funding most often goes hand in hand with political and ideological conditioning, is it healthy for Italian Muslims to take advantage of funds from abroad, particularly from countries where there is an interpretation of Islam that is ideologically closer to positions that would be out of place in Italy?
The Italian Islamic communities, as such, should be free from external influences in order to foster an Islam that can thrive in harmony within the Italian socio-cultural context, thus facilitating the integration process?

Qatar attempts to manage Islam in France

26.4.2013

In a recent article, the left wing paper Liberation reports on the growing influence of the Gulf state Qatar on France’s Muslim communities. The state’s fiscal support network is named as one of the prime drivers to assert Qatari political and cultural influence on religious institutions and the larger community in France.

Prof Brahimi el-Mili (Sciences-Po Paris) considers Islam in France ‘always to have been instrumantalised’ by certain fractions. France’s Muslim community has often come under the influence of outsiders due to its ‘young, abandoned and volatile’ character. According to him, it’s unsurprising that Qatar plays a role in the community, what is however more interesting is the fact that the country ‘invests via the French Council of the Muslim Faith’.

Al Jazeera to launch French language channel

18.03.2013

Liberation

The Qatar based TV news channel Al Jazeera has recently announced the launch of a French news channel based in the United Kingdom. Al Jazeera French aims to build a bridge to the cultures and people of Europe, Africa and North America, according to the networks CEO Sheikh Ahmed Ben Jassem Al-Thani.

The French news channel follows Al Jazeera’s attempts to provincialise its network by opening branches in the Balkan region, Turkey, the US and in the near future the United Kingdom as well. The Qatari channel aims to expand as a media network that addresses different cultures in a number of languages. Localized media should help to attract larger audiences around the globe and aid to diversify Al Jazeera’s media profile. The Al Jazeera network was launched in 1996 as a pan-Arabic satellite station before opening its English branch, Al Jazeera English, in 2006 and is financed by the Emir of Qatar.

‘It goes in one ear and out the other’: Prince Charles reveals he’s been having Arabic lessons for six months so he can read the Qur’an

With Prince Charles and Camilla in Qatar as part of their Middle East trip it has been reported that Prince Charles has been seeking private Arabic tuition and is hoping to reach a level where he can read the Qur’an in Arabic. The article continues by discussing the various events the Prince and Duchess of Cornwall had been attending in Qatar. With Prince Charles spending his time at scientific development initiatives and the Duchess attending to issues and events related to women’s issues such as women’s education and self-development projects.