Bomber burial: Tsarnaev funeral planned after widow releases body

The uncle of the two men authorities say were behind the Boston Marathon bombing contacted a mosque to arrange a funeral for the older suspect killed shortly after the incident, the Islamic Society of Boston said.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body has been at the medical examiner’s office in Massachusetts since he died after a gunfight with authorities more than a week ago.
Amato DeLuca, the Rhode Island attorney for his widow, Katherine Russell, said Tuesday that his client had just learned that the medical examiner was ready to release Tsarnaev’s body and that she wants it released to his side of the family.
In addition to declining to claim the body herself, which is her right as his spouse, Russell has taken other steps to distance herself from Tsarnaev since taking refuge at her family’s home on April 19, hours after her husband was killed. Her family released a statement shortly after she was escorted home by federal agents that day saying they “never really knew” Tsarnaev. Russell has also reverted to using her maiden name instead of the name listed on her marriage certificate, Tsarnaeva.

“Of course, family members will take possession of the body,” uncle Ruslan Tsarni of Maryland told The Associated Press on Tuesday night. “We’ll do it. We will do it. A family is a family.”
Tsarnaev has been dead for nearly two weeks, with his body unclaimed at the medical examiner’s office. Sharia, or Islamic law, requires the dead to be buried as soon after death as possible after a funeral ritual that includes bathing and shrouding of the body, followed by prayers. Cremation is prohibited.
Security officials suspected ties between Tsarnaev and the Canadian – an ethnic Russian named William Plotnikov – according to the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, which is known for its independence and investigative reporting and cited an unnamed official with the Anti-Extremism Center, which tracks militants. The newspaper said the men had social networking ties that brought Tsarnaev to the attention of Russian security services for the first time in late 2010.

Number of converts to Islam rises in France

03.01.2013

The New York Times

The New York Times reports of a rise in conversions to Islam in France. According to the paper, a virtual doubling of conversions took place within the last 25 years in the country. Of the estimated six million Muslims in France about 100,000 – 200,000 are thought to be converts. It is said to pose a challenge to both state and society’s relation to Muslim faith and community, specifically in respect to national and international anti-terrorism policies

Converts are named critical elements for the rise of terrorism in Europe by being prone to be more invisible, mobile and in need to overcompensate their novelty to faith. The article names prisons to be fertile grounds for conversions where according to reports 1/3 of the inmate population in France are Muslim. Gordard, who is responsible for religious affairs in the Office of the Secretary of State and a former intelligence office, identifies the forms of conversions to have come under change.  As such, conversions today often take place as means of “reverse integration” that aid to socially integrate  non-Muslims into predominantly Muslim neighbourhoods in the metropolitan suburbs. The population most susceptible to conversions are men beyond the age of 40 who were born in former French colonies or overseas territories.

According to scholars and converts themselves, “Islam has come to represent not only a sort of social norm but also a refuge, an alternative to the ambient misery”.

French “Refuge” centre helps Muslim gays

For many gay and lesbian young people in France, Le Refuge is a lifesaver — literally. Since 2003, the organization has helped hundreds of desperate youths, most of them from Muslim families, who have been rejected by their families and forced onto the streets. But the charity is overwhelmed by the number of people seeking assistance. The organization, France’s only refuge for gay and transsexual youth who are abandoned by their families, offers 22 rooms to desperate young people like Amine. For up to six months, 18- to 25-year-olds can live in one of Le Refuge’s homes in Paris, Lyon and Marseille, complete with educational, medical and psychological support. They can finish their schooling, search for jobs and start to build a new life.

Since its founding in 2003, Le Refuge has cared for about 200 young people, including 80 in the last year alone, says Nicolas Noguier, 33, who is the organization’s founder. About 70 percent of the people living there are young men. Most come from Muslim families.

Ben Ali relatives in Disneyland Paris: security source

A group of relatives of deposed Tunisian leader Zine Abidine Ben Ali have taken refuge in a hotel at Disneyland Paris, just outside the French capital. Ben Ali fled Tunisia on Friday as he and members of his family and inner circle escaped a street uprising against his 23 years of authoritarian rule. He is himself now in Saudi Arabia after France refused to allow him entry.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a French security official said that a group of his relatives accompanied by their own security detail had taken VIP accommodation at the Disneyland resort, which is just east of Paris. They had been there for “several days” before Ben Ali’s flight.

Police Enter Mosque in Majorca

Three men were arrested when police entered Palma’s main mosque. Police arrested the mosque’s caretaker and the president of the Muslim Defence League when they attempted to prevent the police entry, saying that the sanctuary of a mosque should be respected in the same was as that of Christian churches and Jewish synagogues. Local Muslims have protested the arrests on the grounds that the police became violent and used force. An internal enquiry is to be launched to establish the happened during the incident.

Muslim Convert Now on Trial in “Toronto 18“ Case

A young Hindu man, now 20, who converted to Islam from Hinduism, has been deemed ignorant of Islam in his court trial. His lawyer claims that the alleged nefarious plot to « cripple Canada » was nothing more than an unrealistic “delusion.”

His conversion to Islam has been well-charted. Muhammad Robert Heft, who was approached by the young man at Paradise For Ever, a non-profit centre he runs in Toronto for recent Muslim converts told the Globe and Mail, « He’s a kid who doesn’t know very much, if at all, about the religion. » The accused’s father told the court, « By force they were taking him. At that time itself I would’ve alerted police and he would’ve been saved. » Mr. Heft claims that the young man (who cannot be named because he was a minor at the time of the incident) came to Paradise For Ever seeking refuge in the organization’s emergency shelter and claiming he was abused at home.

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The Globe and Mail

The National Post

Muslim Convert Now on Trial in Toronto 18 Case

A young Hindu man, now 20, who converted to Islam from Hinduism, has been deemed ignorant of Islam in his court trial. His lawyer claims that the alleged nefarious plot to cripple Canada was nothing more than an unrealistic delusion. His conversion to Islam has been well-charted. Muhammad Robert Heft, who was approached by the young man at Paradise For Ever, a non-profit centre he runs in Toronto for recent Muslim converts told the Globe and Mail, He’s a kid who doesn’t know very much, if at all, about the religion. The accused’s father told the court, By force they were taking him. At that time itself I would’ve alerted police and he would’ve been saved. Mr. Heft claims that the young man (who cannot be named because he was a minor at the time of the incident) came to Paradise For Ever seeking refuge in the organization’s emergency shelter and claiming he was abused at home.

‘They didn’t take me seriously’

If the police and social workers had only listened to 12-year-old Ruksana when she told them her father had threatened to send her to Pakistan to be married against her will, then she says life might have been very different. But they did not take her seriously, she says. She ended up in a foreign country and married to a violent partner who raped her and made her pregnant, aged 15. Although she managed to escape, Ruksana (not her real name) now lives alone with her young child in a refuge somewhere in England. Ruksana believes that by taking her away from school so early her parents robbed her of her education. And she says having a child at such a young age has hindered her career. Julian Joyce reports

Keeping the Faith

Most critics of Pope Benedict XVI’s University of Regenburg speech draw attention to his misrepresentation of Islam; these criticisms overlook his more passionate dismissal of European secularism–an area ironically in which he and many Muslims may find common ground. Muslims in Europe have brought to the surface the anti-religious nature of European secularism. Both struggle against the hostility of European secularism; there is a sense in which Christians and Muslims in Europe see themselves as being in the same boat. Many Catholics act sympathetically toward Islam. The Vatican, as protector of the weak, supports churches which have provided refuge to Muslim asylum-seekers. Ratzinger’s positions on Islam are mixed: on one hand, he scathingly compared contemporary Europe with resurgent Islam as examples of extremism; on the other, he seems to admire the omnipresence of Islam in the lives of most Muslims. Islam today is capable of offering a valid spiritual basis for the life of the peoples, a basis that seems to have slipped out of the hands of old [declining] Europe.” The pope’s eurocentric vision involves faith and reason coming together; the Catholic Church, as a tradition filtered through the Enlightenment, will be a bridge between “godless rationalism and religious fundamentalism.” In this vision, the Church sits between rabidly secular Europe and violent, zealous Islam. This seeming jealousy may reflect sensitivities of a Catholic Church in decline that is increasingly upstaged by the prominence of European Muslims. Many are looking to the Catholic Church as the only Institution to restore the credibility of religion in Europe; sexual abuse scandals of the past decade and the tension between Church hierarchy and modern individualism have created a crisis of authority. Sexual abuse scandals, high divorce rates, and the social acceptability of homosexuality and birth control are indications of a church having long lost its grip. The pope’s efforts to revitalize European society by integrating faith and rationality may be compromised by his assertion of the absolute authority of Rome. The suppression of discussion and debate and anxiety about orthodoxy and loyalty make his end goals that much more difficult to achieve.