Muslims will be searched by sniffer dogs despite objections, say police

Questions have been raised over using sniffer dogs to search Muslim passengers at train stations following complaints that it is against their religion. Some Muslims had raised objections over being searched by the explosive-detecting animals, but British Transport Police have said they will continue to use the specially trained animals. The saliva of dogs, and not dogs per se, is considered to be unclean in Islam. The complaints came after a rail security trial at Brighton station, the Government revealed. The Muslims reported that it was not permissible for them to have direct contact with dogs due to their religious beliefs. Asked if the findings would lead to certain measures not being used on certain people, a BTP spokesman said: “The legislation applies to everyone. It’s not a case for exemptions. “Officers will be sensitive where appropriate but obviously there are practical implications.”

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Muslim summit in Rome looks at ways to fight radicalism

Members of Italy’s Muslim community met on Friday to find new ways to combat extremism. The meeting, held in Rome’s main mosque, was the first of its kind to be organized by the Association of Muslim Intellectuals. “We placed attention on the need to implement strategies to prevent Islamic radicalism and foster initiatives that aim to create a more accurate image of Islam,” said in a statement by the group. The group also asserted that it would support an initiative by Pope Benedict XVI who intends to read from parts of Genesis in a televised speech to be given in October. The president of the organization, Ahmad Gianpiero Vincenzo said that the group is “happy to participate in a moment of great religious and civil significance.

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Czech Republic: Country’s first mosque celebrates 10-year anniversary

Czech Muslims are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the first mosque built in the country, built in the city of Brno. While the Islamic Foundation in Brno faced protests and opposition concerning the mosque’s construction, and the facility was built without a minaret, the community is now thriving and is planning to build a new, and larger mosque. Islamic Foundation head Muneeb Hassan Alrawi said “we are celebrating ten years of the Brno mosque but we consider it a success of the society, of the people in the Czech Republic. Two different entities agreeing on a common principle of co-existence is definitely a success.” Brno’s Muslim community currently has some 800 members, comprised of both Czechs and foreigners.

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Ukraine: Introducing Muslim Fashion to Ukraine

Olga Kokalits, a 25-year old Ukrainian Muslim convert, won a fashion contest as the best fashion designer contest last week in the Ukraine. Kokalits said that she felt that “it was a duty” to take part in a fashion show sponsored by the state, presenting a selection of 10 different Islamic attires varying from wedding gowns, sports outfits, and evening dresses. “I was concerned that Muslim clothes, which cover the whole body except for face and hands, will look odd and funny to an audience who are not familiar with such wearing,” said Olga. Her designs, on the contrary, received a warm welcome from audience members and judges alike. “I was surprised to see the audience showing great interest in my creations,” she said.

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Nicolas Sarkozy Defends the Notion of “Positive French Secularism”

French president Nicolas Sarkozy recently defended the notion of “positive secularism” which allows place for religion in the public sphere. While Sarkozy has not introduced any real reform, making the statement in speeches in Rome in December 2007 and in Riyad in January 2008, the suggestion has created fierce debate. In the past Sarkozy has read the 1905 law separating Church and State broadly, notably in allowing the new construction of religious spaces for Muslims and in the controversial creation of the CFCM (French Council of the Muslim Faith) in 2003.

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Muslim Geographies

Speakers include: Tahir Abbas, Ziauddin Sardar, Claire Dwyer, Sarah Glynn, Peter Hopkins, Arun Kundnani, Reina Lewis, Anoop Nayak, Rachel Pain, Jane Pollard…

This event aims to provide a forum for debate about spaces that shape Muslim lives: 

  •   Everyday spaces: campus, home, street, city, workplace, etc
  • National and transnational spaces
  •  Past and present, real and imagined spaces
  •   Geographies of connection, relationships with non-Muslims
  •   Establish informed dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims, and between academics and activists
  • The format includes:

  •   Presentations by researchers, panel discussions, round-table debate
  •   Lunch and drinks reception
  •   Public lecture and debate by Tahir Abbas and Ziauddin Sardar
  •   Invitation to participate
  • Abstracts for short presentations or other forms of participation such as proposals for panels are invited; Informal participation is also encouraged: simply register and attend.

    Deadline for receipt of participation proposals: Fri 7 December, 2007*

    Pre-registration required for catering and room planning; registration free before January 31; £10 thereafter.

    Convened by Richard Phillips (University of Liverpool), Naima Bouteldja (Transnational Institute) and Jamil Iqbal (Leeds Met University).

    Merseyside Maritime Museum, Albert Dock, (Liverpool)

    VB: “Stop Islamisation”

    BRUSSELS – Extreme right wing Vlaams Belang is going to launch a campaign to “stop Islamisation,” first in Antwerp and later in other cities. The party is calling for a stop to the registration of newcomers in the city, a restriction on the number of mosques, and the expulsion of radical imams. VB faction leader in the Flemish Parliament Filip Dewinter says that Islam is pursuing a deliberate strategy to conquer Flemish cities. That is being done through increasing concentration, the formation of ghettos, and the refusal to integrate, he says. More and more native Belgians are leaving the cities and the government is making the situation worse, Dewinter says.

    Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy

    In the spirit of Edward Said’s Orientalism, this book graphically shows how political cartoons-the print medium with the most immediate impact-dramatically reveal Americans demonizing and demeaning Muslims and Islam. It also reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the Muslim world in general and issues a wake-up call to the American people.

    Full-text New York Times Book Review (January 6, 2008) available here. (Some news site may require registration)