From refugee to world champion: Kosovar German footballer Fatmire Bajramaj

Fatmire Bajramaj is one of Germany’s most successful female footballers. Having escaped from the Kosovo during her childhood, she and her family settled in North Rhine-Westphalia. “Lira”, as she calls herself, started to play football secretly against her father’s will, who found football was just for men. But after watching her first official match, he supported her throughout. From the age of 17 she has played for the national team.

With only 22 years old, Bajramaj has already published an autobiography about her childhood in the Kosovo, the intensifying conflict and asylum seeking in Germany. She claims that sports helped her integrate and hopes that her book will inspire girls from ethnic minority backgrounds to see what they can achieve. Her Kosovar roots are important to her, as is living out her Muslim faith. She practices a moderate Islam; she prays, does not eat pork, but neither practices Ramadan — because she could not afford it as a sportswoman. She does not wear a headscarf and likes putting on a girlie image, contrasting that of female footballers, when she wears make-up on the pitch or shoots a goal at a TV show in high heels. The head of the German Football Association, Theo Zwanziger, calls her a shining example of successful integration.

Father issues fatwa on son, now refugee claimant in Canada

Lamine Yansané has been denied refugee status and is seeking a last-ditch reprieve in Federal Court on the grounds that he faces certain harm if he is deported from Canada. In his hometown of Boké in Guinea, his father is a revered imam called for his death after having married a Catholic woman and abandoned Islam for Christianity. “If you return him to his country, he is going to die,” Mr. Yansané’s lawyer, Stewart Istvanffy, told the court. He called his client “a victim of radical Islam, who is threatened by the imam of his town, his own father.”

Mr. Yansané, 37, arrived in Canada from Guinea in the fall of 2005. He told the Immigration and Refugee Board that he fled the West African nation after his father and uncle tracked him down in the country’s capital of Conakry, confronted him about his church attendance and threatened him as a traitor to Islam. His wife and three children remain in Guinea. Mr. Yansané had been issued a new Guinean passport and preparations were underway to deport him last January when Federal Court Justice François Lemieux issued a stay pending a further review of the case. It has yet to be decided whether the first judgement will be revoked.

Paris ‘Little Kabul’ shelters Afghan boys

According to, every evening as many as 100 Afghan refugee boys arrive at the Villemin Square, in Paris’ trendy 10th district, to roll out their blankets and sleeping bags. Exhausted and without resources, they are struggling to rebuild their lives in the West. According to the refugee advocacy group France Terre d’Asile (France Land of Refuge), there were 683 migrants under the age of 18 have in the French capital in 2008, up from 480 in 2007. The group complains of lack of enough help to the Afghan refugees.

Dominique Bordin, the director for protection of minors at the group, said there are only 28 beds to shelter the boys.

The number of Afghan asylum seekers rose by 85 percent compared to an average of 12 percent for other migrants. France ranks third in the world in 2008 for the number of asylum requests, after the United States and Canada.

Palestinian hijacker freed in Rome

One of the hijackers of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro has been released, after serving more than two decades in an Italian jail. Ibrahim Fatayer Abdelatif was one of a group of Palestinian militants who hijacked the ship in 1985. Authorities have ordered Ibrahim to leave Italy, though his lawyer says that he has nowhere to go. Although Ibrahim has officially been expelled from Italy, he cannot leave until he finds another country that will accept him. Ibrahim was born in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, though is not a citizen of Lebanon. Of the three other involved in the ship’s hijacking, one disappeared in 1994 while on parole, one died in 2004, and the third – Youssef Al-molqi is still serving part of his 30-year sentence.

Limiting Immigration Access Angers Canadian Muslims

Canadian Muslims and refugee advocacy groups have rebuked calls by a right-wing think tank, the Fraser Institute, to restrict the arrival of immigrants from Muslim countries. The spokesperson for the Canadian Islamic Congress, Mohamed Elmasry, in response, stated, Canadian Muslims contribute to the wealth of this country more than the average and have higher levels of education than the average.

Palestinian makes music the answer to peace

Ramzi Aburedwan, a Palestinian living in Italy is working towards using the power of music to bring people together and aid the Middle East peace process. Aburedwan recently performed in two shows entitled ‘Al Kamandjati’ (The Violinist) at the prestigious Auditorium in Rome, with accompanying Israeli, Italian, and Muslim writers and actors to support him. In 2005, Aburedwan created a school of music that holds workshops for more than 400 children in refugee camps.

Netherlands Not So Dutch Anymore

THE HAGUE – One was a Somali refugee, the other an Argentine investment banker. Both are now high-profile Dutch women challenging this country to rethink its national identity. Princess Maxima, the Argentine-born wife of Crown Prince Willem Alexander, triggered a round of national soul-searching with a speech last month about what exactly it means to be Dutch in an age of mass migration. “The Netherlands is too complex to sum up in one cliche,” she said. “A typical Dutch person doesn’t exist.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: A refugee from Western Europe

By Sam Harris and Salman Rushdie As you read this, Ayaan Hirsi Ali sits in a safe house with armed men guarding her door. She is one of the most poised, intelligent and compassionate advocates of freedom of speech and conscience alive today, and for this she is despised in Muslim communities throughout the world. The details of her story have been widely reported, but bear repeating, as they illustrate how poorly equipped we are to deal with the threat of Muslim extremism in the West. Hirsi Ali first fled to the Netherlands as a refugee from Somalia in 1992 after declining to submit to a forced marriage to a man she did not know. Once there, in hiding from her family, she began working as a cleaning lady. But this cleaning lady spoke Somali, Arabic, Amharic, Swahili, English and was quickly learning Dutch, so she soon found work as a translator for other Somali refugees, many of whom, like herself, were casualties of Islam…