Lyon Tribunal Refuses to Stop Progress on Muslim High School in Decines

The administrative tribunal of Lyon, presented with the opposition of the rectorate to the opening of a Muslim junior high and high school in Decines (Rhone region), can refuse to make a decision, leaving the way clear for the opening of the second and largest Muslim scholastic establishment in France. Only the Academic Council of National Education (CAEN) or the Superior Educational Council (CSE) (in the case of an appeal) can make the decision to authorize or prohibit the opening of a high school, said the Lyon tribunal Wednesday. The CSE sent the rectorate’s case to the Lyon tribunal in Novmeber, having decided that it oculd not oppose the opening of a high school except for questions of sanitation or morality, which were not raised by the rectorate. The Lyon rectorate opposes the opening of the Muslim school for reasons of security and becuase of the supposed absence of effective direction.

Muslims in Europe and in the United States. A Transatlantic Comparison

Friday December 15, 2006

Panel One: Consequences of 9/11 on Muslims in Europe and in the United States: Legal and Political Aspects

Chair/Discussant: Louise Richardson, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

  •   Europe: The Consequences of European Security Laws after 9/11 on Muslims in Europe Presenters: Jose Maria Ortuño Aix, University of Barcelona Didier Bigo, Institut d’Études Politiques, Paris
  •   America: The Situation of Immigrant Muslims after the Patriot Act: Legal Ramifications Presenter: Philip B. Heymann, Harvard Law School
  •   The Situation of Arab Muslims and Christians: Political Ramifications Presenter: Wayne Baker, University of Michigan
  • Panel Two: Islam and Muslims in the Western Public Sphere

    Chairs/Discussants: Diana Eck, Harvard University Ali Asani, Harvard University

  •   Europe: Anti-Islamic Discourses in Europe: Agents and Contents Presenter: Yasemin Karakasoglu, University of Bremen
  •   America: Status of Islam in the American Public Sphere after 9/11 Presenter: Emran Qureshi, Harvard University
  • Panel Three: Religious Life of Muslims in the West: Legal and Political Dimensions

    Chair/Discussant: Peter Skerry, Boston College

  •   Europe: Legal Status of Islamic Religious Practices in Europe after 9/11 Presenters: Marcel Maussen, University of Amsterdam Frank Peter, University Viadrina Frankfurt-Oder
  •   America: Religious Practices of American Muslims Presenter: Louise Cainkar, Marquette University
  • Saturday December 16, 2006

    Panel Four: Relations Between the State and Muslims

    Chairs/Discussants: Kishwer, Baroness Falkner of Margravine, John F. Kennedy School of Government Jocelyne Cesari, CNRS-Paris and Harvard University

  •   Europe: Muslims in Europe: Between Secularism and Multiculturalism Presenter: Farhad Khosrokhavar, École des Hautes Études en Sciences, Paris
  •   America: The Debate on Religious Freedom and Civil Liberties after 9/11 Presenter: José Casanova, New School for Social Research
  •   Muslims and American Secularism Presenter: Jane Smith, Hartford Seminary
  • Concluding Round Table

    Chair: Jocelyne Cesari, CNRS-Paris and Harvard University

    Muslim Teacher Defends Her Veil

    A Muslim support teacher suspended for wearing a veil in class says it was never a problem for her pupils. Headfield Church of England Junior School, in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, said pupils found it hard to understand her during English language lessons. But Aishah Azmi, 24, said: “They never complained.” She added she was willing to take the veil off in class, but not in front of any male colleagues.

    Linz School Scandal Continues Unabated

    LINZ – In the latest twist in the Linz primary school scandal Dietmar Keck, SP_ MP for Linz, called for a parliamentary inquiry and the resignation of Fritz Enzenhofer, Head of the State Education Department, for his role in the controversy started by three Muslim fathers, recent immigrants from Chechnya and Bosnia, who wrote a public letter demanding that the school head mistress and all female teachers at the school wear the hijab, be informally addressed, and that their children may not participate in performances (which would be “prostitution”) or take swimming lessons. {(continued in German)} Parlamentarische Anfragen, Drohung mit dem Staatsanwalt und R_cktrittsaufforderungen auf der einen, Wurschtigkeit auf der anderen Seite. Tief fliegen derzeit die Hackln zwischen Linzer SP und Landesschulratspr_sident Fritz Enzenhofer. Aber – zumindest vordergr_ndig – nicht etwa wegen der geplanten und dann geplatzten Schulschlie_ungen, die die SP nicht durchsetzen konnte. Es ist der “Kopftuchstreit” vom J_nner an der Linzer Otto-Gl_ckel-Schule, der Nachwehen zeigt. Der Pr_sident habe erstens Moslems verleumdet, zweitens falsch informiert und drittens die Aufkl_rung der Vorkommnisse behindern wollen, schie_t die SP in Richtung Enzenhofer. Sie ortet eine durchchoreografierte Anti-Ausl_nder-Kampagne der Linzer VP. Und belegen will sie die Anschuldigungen mit den Aussagen von zwei VP-Ministerinnen. Die Fakten: Moslemische V_ter sollen Kopftuchpflicht f_r Lehrerinnen gefordert haben (die O_N berichteten). Was die Moslems sp_ter von sich wiesen – aber geh_rig Staub aufwirbelte. Wof_r, so die SP, auch Aussagen Enzenhofers, einer der V_ter sei dem Verfassungsschutz bekannt und dem extremistischen Lager zuzuordnen, gesorgt h_tten. Das soll ihm im Rahmen einer “Amtshilfe” durch die Sicherheitsdirektion gemeldet worden sein, wie er Bildungsministerin Elisabeth Gehrer (VP) auf die parlamentarische Anfrage des Nationalratsabgeordneten Dietmar Keck (SP) mitteilt. Doch durch Innenministerin Liese Prokop (VP), deren Polizei die Auskunft _ber die Moslem-V_ter gegeben haben soll, h_tten sich die Widerspr_che offenbart, so die SP. Laut Ministerin sind keine Daten bekannt gegeben worden. “Irgendwer l_gt”, sagt Dietmar Keck und fordert Enzenhofers R_cktritt. Skandal_s und aufkl_rungsw_rdig findet auch der Linzer Schulstadtrat Johann Mayr (SP) die Vorg_nge und die Rolle Enzenhofers. “Die SP soll uns nicht immer vom Arbeiten abhalten”, sagt dieser dazu im Gespr_ch mit den O_N. Er habe schlie_lich die Situation an der Schule beruhigt, seine Taten w_rden f_r ihn sprechen. Mehr wolle er zu diesem Thema nicht sagen. “Das ist mir einfach zu bl_d.” Die Drohung mit dem Staatsanwalt? “Schreckt mich nicht.” Und die R_cktrittsforderung? “Ist mir wirklich wurscht.”

    Austria: Islam As A High-School Subject

    VIENNA – Experts believe that Islamic religious education in state schools could be the way to the better integration of Muslims. Now students can even take Islam as a high-school degree subject. Critical thinking and social issues like women’s and human rights, social responsibility, the compatibility of Islamic, Austrian and European identities are parts of the curriculum, which also aims to dispel the prejudices and ignorance of non-Muslim students and teachers. Can this be a model for Germany? {(continued in German)} Islamischer Religionsunterricht an _ffentlichen Schulen k_nnte ein Weg zur besseren Integration von Muslimen sein, so Experten. In _sterreich gibt es das seit mehr als 20 Jahren. Hier k_nnen die Sch_ler sogar Abitur im Fach “Islam” machen. Ein Modell f_r Deutschland? Der 18-j_hrige Ishak _r_n ist geborener Wiener, Sohn t_rkischer Eltern. Er hat gerade Abitur gemacht, oder “Matura”, wie es in _sterreich hei_t, auch im Fach islamische Religion. Das ist f_r viele auch nach mehr als zwei Jahrzehnten immer noch etwas Besonderes, hat Ishak festgestellt, weil so viele Lehrer aus Neugierde dabei waren. “Normalerweise sind die Lehrer an unserer Schule nicht gewohnt, dass jemand im islamischen Religionsunterricht maturiert”, erz_hlt Ishak. “Das kommt eigentlich sehr selten vor. Normalerweise hat zum Beispiel der Vorsitzende bei unserer Matura nie Fragen gestellt, oder die Frau Direktor. Nur beim islamischen Religionsunterricht gibt es wirklich so ein Eigeninteresse auch der Lehrer.” Aufr_umen mit Vorurteilen – auch bei den Lehrern Ishak hat dann Fragen beantwortet zu Menschenrechten im Islam, zu Sozialabgaben, die Muslimen abgefordert werden: Eine muslimische Mitsch_lerin hat _ber die Zwangsehe gesprochen, die sie genau wie Ishak unislamisch findet. Frauen werden auch nicht vom Islam unterdr_ckt, meint Ishak, sondern von M_nnern, die den Islam vorschieben. Er habe mit einigen Vorurteilen aufger_umt bei den neugierigen Lehrern, berichtet er. “Und da, glaube ich, haben sie dann gesehen, dass der Islam eigentlich nicht so eine Religion ist, wie sie das vorher geh_rt haben oder wie sie sich das vorher vorgestellt haben.” Die Note “Sehr gut” bekam Ishak daf_r von seiner Lehrerin, G_lmihiri Aytac. Sie machte Ende der 80er Jahre selbst Abitur im Fach Islamische Religion – als einer der ersten Jahrg_nge. Sie tr_gt ein elegantes seidenes Tuch um den Kopf, auch im Unterricht. “Nat_rlich”, sagt sie, “ich bin sogar verpflichtet dazu. Als Religionslehrerin muss ich irgendwie auch die Ideale der Religion f_r mich selber leben.” Kopftuchverbote wie in Deutschland seien reine Machtdemonstrationen des Staates, findet die Lehrerin. Der Islam zwinge Frauen weder ein Kopftuch zu tragen noch es zu lassen. Sie unterrichtet an ganz normalen staatlichen Schulen, nachmittags kommen die muslimischen Sch_ler in den regul_ren islamischen Religionsunterricht. Anerkennung schon zu Kaisers Zeiten Schon zu Kaisers Zeiten wurde der Islam als offizielle Religion staatlich in _sterreich anerkannt, heute vertritt die islamische Glaubensgemeinschaft in _sterreich ganz offiziell die Interessen der Muslime und legt Lehrinhalte fest, die dann an _ffentlichen Schulen vermittelt werden. “In meinem Klassenzimmer kann der Direktor jeder Zeit reinkommen und den Unterricht mitverfolgen”, sagt die Lehrerin. “Die T_r steht offen, es kann jeder mith_ren. Wir vermitteln den offiziell von der islamischen Glaubensgemeinschaft abgesegneten Islam.” Kritisches Denken und gesellschaftliche Verantwortung Im Unterricht sollen die Lehrer nach diesen Richtlinien Wert legen auf “eigenes kritisches Denken” der Sch_ler, auf “gesellschaftliche Verantwortung”, auf Friedenserziehung und darauf, dass sich der Islam selbstverst_ndlich mit einer europ_ischen und _sterreichischen Identit_t verbinden lasse. Genau das sei auch eine Funktion des Religionsunterrichts, sagt Lehrerin Aytac: “Ich halte es f_r sehr bedeutend, sehr wichtig, weil die Kinder dort irgendwie auch ein St_ck Pers_nlichkeit und Identit_t wiederfinden, im Normunterricht. Das, finde ich, ist sehr bedeutend, weil dann sehen sie, ich bin akzeptiert, ich bin ein Teil dieser Gesellschaft, und ich kann sogar meine Religion im Unterricht finden.” Ishak m_chte nach seinem _sterreichischen Wehrdienst _sterreichisches Recht studieren. Er f_hle sich aber immer noch als T_rke, sagt der geb_rtige Wiener, weil ihn die meisten _sterreicher so s_hen. Alkohol hat er nicht mal nach seiner Abiturfeier getrunken. Terrorismus, Fundamentalismus, Schleierzwang, Steinigungen und K_rperstrafen, die es in manchen muslimisch gepr_gten L_ndern gibt, h_lt er f_r unislamisch. Empfehlung f_r Deutschland Ishak pr_sentiert sich als kritischer, demokratisch gesinnter Mitteleurop_er muslimischen Glaubens. Dazu hat ihn wohl auch der Religionsunterricht in der Schule gemacht. “Wir h_ren ja auch, dass es Imame gibt, die zum Beispiel zum Dschihad aufrufen und solche Sachen und das, glaube ich, kann in einem Religionsunterricht in der Schule nicht passieren.” Islamischen Religionsunterricht an ganz normalen Schulen, das empfiehlt Ishak auch f_r Deutschland.

    Plan For New British-Muslim Identity Islamic School Offers Antidote To ‘Modern’ Extremism

    LONDON: Two hundred students, giggling and gathering on the playground, are the best antidote to Islamic extremism, although they may not realise it yet. Students at Britain’s first state-funded Islamic school are pint-sized but carry the huge responsibility of forging a new identity for Muslims, one which is neither secular nor extremist, but “organic, dynamic and chaotic”, according to their headmaster. “We’re creating a British-Muslim identity and ethic, and we’re not in the business of preserving any particular culture,” Abdullah Trevathan said, describing the motley group of 23 nationalities, mostly of mixed descent, that make up the Islamiya Primary School. The youths are famous across Britain, and not just because their north London school was founded by the folksinger Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam, in 1983. A decade after winning state funding-a right long accorded to Protestant and Catholic schools-they now attend one of the top primary schools in the country, learning the required state curriculum, plus religion and Arabic. At seven, pupils begin attending services at the mosque. Headscarves are optional for the youngest, and become part of the uniform at nine years of age. Cartesian analysis, questioning and debate are encouraged, replacing madrassa-style rote learning of the Quran. At its founding, during the era of Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher, there were “fears about us having Molotov cocktail classes”, Trevathan told AFP in a recent interview. Such blatant Islamophobia has been largely silenced in the wake of Islamiya’s successes and in some ways the school has become iconic of the diversity touted by Britain’s Labour-led government. But the chief English schools inspector touched off fresh debate in January, worrying publicly that Islamic schools could pose a “challenge to our coherence as a nation”. Five of some 100 Muslim schools in England are now state funded, with the rest independent, and are joined by more than 50 Jewish schools and about 100 Evangelical Christian schools-in addition to existing Catholic and Protestant structures. Far from teaching radicalism and separatism, Islamiya has become a model of diversity, preaching tolerance not only to students but their families and the larger community, assembled from a jumble of Sunni and Shiite Muslim, Arab, Asian and European, privileged and poor backgrounds. “Islam is not served by centralization, it is served by diversity,” Trevathan said. The school’s adherence to traditional classical Islam, or the “scholastic approach responding to the problems of modern-day Britain”, contrasts with the “modernist” stand he said was embodied by both secularists and fundamentalists seeking to impose their uniform, universal view.

    The Battle For German Muslim Minds

    Police raids on Islamic schools may shake up fundamentalist cells, but officials agree that the right teachers are the best way to root out radical Islamic leanings among Germany’s Muslim youth. Weeks separated news of a police raid on an Islamic school in Frankfurt and the announcement that the University of M_nster had set up a department dedicated to educating Islamic teachers. But the two items reveal the two-pronged approach taken in Germany on what is becoming an increasingly important front in the country’s fight against terrorism: the battle for young Muslim minds. After being tipped off by a 9-year-old student, police in Frankfurt seized Jihadist literature and videos, among them one showing a beheading, from the school hosted in a Moroccan cultural center. The news follows efforts by officials in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia to shut down a private Saudi-financed school after fundamentalist leanings were detected in the textbooks. “The state has absolutely no authority in these schools, they can do what they want and that is very troubling,” Lutz Irrgang, who heads the Hesse State Office for the Protection of the Constitution, told DW-WORLD. Educating The Next Generation Of Islam Teachers Officials know that raids alone can’t root out radicalism in pockets of Germany’s 3.2 million-strong Muslim community. One of the best hopes remains ending the monopoly on Islamic teachings held by dubious Imams and teachers in courtyard mosques, and bringing Muslim children back into the educational mainstream. This week, the University of M_nster took a step in that direction when it announced the appointment of Mohammed Sven Kalisch, a Muslim theologian who converted to Islam as a teen, to head the university’s new department dedicated to educating future generations of Islamic teachers. The department, the first of its kind in Germany, is designed to bridge the mistrust between German educational authorities and the country’s myriad Muslim organizations. Kalisch, a favorite of both German educators and Muslim leaders, said he is fully aware of the way fundamentalist Imams use the Koran to send the wrong message. “By educating Islamic teachers we, of course, hope to work against extremist tendencies,” Kalisch said. Problems Begin After School School authorities in Berlin, Bremen, Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia have already added Islam religion classes as an option to similar course offerings in Judaism and Catholicism. Lower Saxony recently announced similar plans to test out Islam religion courses. The classes, taught by teachers who are practicing Muslims, offer Germany’s estimated 800,000 Muslim students the possibility of learning about their religion in a way that officials can keep tabs on. “It’s like our classes on Catholicism and Protestantism,” said spokeswoman Nina Schmidt. “By doing it in our school we can make sure that it’s taught from an academic point of view, that no fundamentalist teachings slip in.” The problems begin after school is over for the day, when many parents send their children to private Koran lessons. It is at these schools that the seeds of fundamentalism are planted, say law enforcement officials. Raids by police across Germany routinely turn up the type of videos and literature found at the Frankfurt school. Jihadis “rely more on indirect communication nowadays, like videos and tapes,” said Kai Hirschmann, co-director of the Essen-based Institute for Terrorism Research and Policy. “That communication often takes place through the Koran schools. Holy War At The School’s Friday Prayers But not only there. School officials in North-Rhine Westphalia were appalled at the material found in textbooks seized at the King Fahd Academy in Bonn. The academy, funded by the Saudi Arabian government, caters to the sons and daughters of diplomats, Arabic families who stay in Germany for long periods as well as children with German citizenship or permanent resident status. More than 300 textbooks were confiscated as part of a police investigation into the school’s fundamentalist tendencies in October 2003. The academy (photo), which opened in the quiet Bonn neighborhood of Bad Godesberg in 1995, had already suspended one teacher after he had allegedly called for Holy War against the West in Friday prayers. Bonn school officials reviewing the teaching material found in a study that students were taught that “the Muslim people’s existence has been threatened by Jews and Christians since the crusades and it is the first duty of every Muslim to prepare to fight against these enemies.” Though powerless to close the school, school officials were able to force at least 53 children with German citizenship or permanent residency status to leave the academy based on what they study. The cooperation between law enforcement and school authorities is by no means typical, but can sometimes be useful. Still, investigators say that the best methods are not frequent raids but education. “One of the best tools,” said Irrgang, “remains enlightenment.”

    Belgian School Accepts French Veil Refugee

    BRUSSELS – A 12-year-old French girl who was expelled from school for wearing a headscarf is to be educated in Belgium, it emerged on Wednesday. Hilal was excluded from her school in the east of France because she refused to take off her Islamic headscarf, which has now be banned in schools by the French authorities. She will now attend a Belgian boarding school that allows more religious freedom, said her lawyer, Mrs Boukara.

    Creation Of An “Islamic” Classroom In A Secondary School In Milan

    {Un liceo di scienze sociali apre una sezione riservata. Il preside: _Ragazze con il velo, toglieremo il crocifisso_} MILANO – Una classe per soli ragazzi islamici. In un liceo milanese. Pubblico, laico, con insegnanti italiani. Niente Corano n_ Vangelo, ma programmi ministeriali come quelli degli altri studenti. _Al limite toglieremo il crocifisso dall’aula e permetteremo alle ragazze di fare ginnastica di pomeriggio, come chiedono i genitori_. Pochi giorni dopo la decisione della Regione Campania di concedere alle scuole la possibilit_ di festeggiare anche le ricorrenze religiose non cristiane, l’istituto superiore Gaetana Agnesi di Milano, vicino all’universit_ Bocconi, concede a venti ragazzi islamici (17 femmine, 3 maschi) di frequentare la prima classe del liceo di scienze sociali. _Con il velo, certo, e tutti in un’unica sezione – conferma il preside, Giovanni Gaglio – ma questo _ il primo passo verso l’integrazione_.