Officials in Calgary Allow Hijabs, Saris and Other Religious Clothing at City Pools

Residents of Calgary, Alberta will now be allowed to swim in city pools wearing saris, hijabs and other clothing deemed religious in a new policy designed to encourage the participation of ethnic and religious minorities. For safety reasons, saris will be banned from the deep end. The city’s superintendent for aquatics and fitness stated that the policy clarifies what before had been a grey area, typically handled on a case-by-case basis. Ms. Bruce stated, We wanted to make sure that everyone feels comfortable and they can participate with dignity when they use our facilities. Clothing must be clean and swimmers must shower in the garments before entering the pool. Similarly, last winter, the Alberta Soccer Association changed its rules to, like in the provinces of British Colombia and Ontario, allow female soccer players to wear the hijab while playing. The headscarf is banned on Qu_bec soccer fields.

Federation of Italian mosques mooted

Giuliano Amato, Italy’s outgoing interior minister, was expected to unveil a proposed federation of Italian mosques in Italy. The federation is intended to replace the Consulta Islamica, a body set up in 2005 by the Italian government, to represent various Muslim groups in the country. Amato put the Consulta Islamica on hold after several members fro Italy’s largest Islamic group, the UCOII, refused to sign a _charter of values’ in 2007 for Italy’s religious minorities. Under Amato’s proposition, the federation would contain 25 mosques – in addition to the 22 represented and headed by Rome’s mosque – which are linked to the Union of Italian Muslims, led by the imam of Turin. Amato was expected to present blueprints of the plans to journalists last week. It has the support of most members of the Consulta Islamica, who signed the Charter of Values.

Integrating Islam into the West 1: Opinion by Phillip Blond and Adrian Pabst

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Rowan Williams – the titular head of the 77-million strong worldwide Anglican Church – ignited a huge controversy last week when he suggested in a lecture in the Royal Courts of Law that Britain should adopt certain aspects of Shariah law. This was done with the benign intention of integrating into British law the practices and beliefs of Britain’s 1.8 million Muslims. However, the archbishop’s apparent suggestion that Muslims could opt out of secular common law for separate arbitration and judgement in Islamic religious courts created the impression of one law for Muslims and another for everybody else. This incendiary idea (subsequently corrected by the archbishop) provoked a furor about states within states and a widespread fear that any license granted to Shariah law would also license its more extreme aspects. Unfortunately, the media storm masked the real message of the speech, which concerned the authority of the secular state and its impact on religious minorities in general and Muslims in particular.

Christian and Muslim minorities in Transition in Europe and the Middle East

Through the process of globalisation, in which increased migration and advanced possibilities of communication are major factors, the socio-cultural and religious landscape has undergone major modifications worldwide. Religion and religious movements in general have come to the fore, but also religious minorities have gained importance in influencing cultural, social, juridical, political and economic issues of the societies in which they are imbedded. Through the processes related to globalization, people are informed of and connected with events happening all over the world and feel affected and influenced by them. Religious minorities – be they recent or century old communities – are no longer encapsulated within their local communities, but connected through global mechanisms that form the contemporary religious landscape. From a religious historical perspective, the relation between Europe and the Middle East has been for more than a thousand years important, yet tumultuous. In both regions, Europe and the Middle East, religious minorities found their place and often stayed connected through historical and/or religious ties to the other region. Several large Christian communities remained in the Middle East after the islamization of the region. Recent migration flows from Mediterranean countries brought Islam back into Europe.

Muslim communities with diverging regional and ideological backgrounds are becoming more and more part of the European landscape. The influence of globalisation gives way to a shift in position of minorities in their relationship to the majority culture, in which religion is played out as a key element. We also witness a reinterpretation of the minority issue in itself and a repositioning of minority communities within the dominant strand of society. The interaction between global and local contexts incite new dynamics in the minority issue and demands for a renewed academic analysis.

Must the rainbow turn monochrome in parliament?; Minorities and legislatures

{Racial and religious minorities tend to be under-represented in legislatures} The political representation of racial minorities troubles in almost every country, rich or poor. At one end of the income scale, Switzerland held an election on October 21st that turned on the treatment of foreigners-perhaps understandably in a country where a fifth of the population is foreign-born but which has hardly any minority members of parliament. At the other end of the scale, Sudan took a jolt recently when a party representing the black, mostly Christian south pulled out of the predominantly Arab and Muslim coalition that runs the government…