Grand Mosque of Lyon’s rector calls on Muslims to vote

Kamel Kabtane, rector of the Grand Mosque of Lyon, published a communiqué before the first round of the elections in which he called on the Muslim community to assume its “duty” to vote.

“Our responsibility, as citizens of this country, commands us to take part in France’s future at a time when certain irresponsible persons attempt to convince us to desert the voting booths and separate us from our fellow citizens,” he wrote. “Those who advocate retrograde beliefs, contribute to the image of a community who is uninterested in the Future of its country. The Muslims of France are in fact concerned, about the future of their country, just as they are concerned about the future of their children.”

Contacted by Lyon Capitale, Kabtane stated that salafist places of worship have attempted to dissuade Muslims from voting. “All the mosques are on alert and the sermons will call on Muslims to fulfill their duty as citizens. That is our objective,” he concluded.

 

 

New French documentary on radical Islam sparks controversy

A new documentary on the rise of radical Islam in France has sparked controversy among the French public, with viewers’ opinions ranging from praise to outrage. The filmmaker has been slammed as ‘sensationalist’ and ‘provocateur’ by the head of the town in which part of it was filmed.

The first episode of new show “Dossier Tabou” titled “Islam in France: the failure of the Republic” was aired on Wednesday, September 28 on the M6 channel. Watched by some 2.4 million viewers, it immediately grabbed public attention, topping of Twitter discussion trends.

The documentary revolved around the financing of Islamism by foreign powers, such as Saudi Arabia, its organization and its internal divisions, as well as the training of imams. In a manner of illustration, it showed excerpts from sermons by a confirmed radical cleric named Mohamed Khattabi, who had been under house arrest for nearly three months after the attacks in France in November 2015.

A part of the documentary was filmed in the northern French city of Sevran, in the department of Seine Saint Denis. The city has been regarded as a place of widespread Islamist recruitment, after at least 15 young men left it to go and fight within the ranks of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria and Iraq since 2014. Six are known to have died there.

Bernard de La Villardiere, the French journalist, radio and television presenter who authored the documentary, could be seen getting into a heated argument with local youths outside the town’s mosque which is suspected of links to Islamism and is currently being probed by authorities. The argument ended in a brawl.

Escalation between Sunnis and Shiites also threatens The Netherlands

June 29, 2014

“Of all the groups in the world that are known for their lies, they are stabbing head and shoulders above the rest. Lying is in their nature. This
people want to destroy Islam.” This is a quote from one of the many Salafi sermons in Dutch mosques circulating on the Internet. The “they” in these quotations refer to Shiites, alleged enemies of the Sunnis who are worse, according to other quotes, in the hierarchy, than “Zionists.” One Salafi Facebook page reads: “Shi’ite Islam is pure and total terror.”

Shia organizations held a demonstration last Sunday against terrorism in Iraq before and invited everyone, including Sunnis.

Jihadist Dutch elements were arrested for intervening with a counter-demonstration.

PSOE breaks relationships with Muslim Party, Caballas

23 July 2013

The Socialist Party of Ceuta has decided this afternoon to “break” their relationships with Caballas, the first group in the opposition of Ceuta’s political Assembly, for their defence of Koranic scholar Malik Ibn Benaissa[1]. Benaissa had been denounced by the Socialists for classifying as a “fornicator” the woman who wears perfume and stilettos.

Caballas issued in a note that Malik Ibn Benaissa is a “person trained not only in Islam, but that he is also a committed citizen”. They expressed their support for Benaissa and demanded an apology from the PSOE to all the Muslim community.

This has led to the PSOE response announcing in a statement that they break all relations with Caballas limiting them exclusively to the “essential” for the government’s control of Ceuta.


[1] Benaissa is an Imam, a Qur’an expert who dedicates his life to give conferences and sermons. He has his own youtube channel:  http://www.youtube.com/user/willymaliik. The following video called: “The Queens of Islam” is the own referred to in these new: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rnc0vRP4GsY&feature=c4-overview&list=UUqbEEqkYbvkMZcNkVkykqbw

In life and words, Muslim leader bridges cultures

imamwebb0512-4.rWilliam Suhaib Webb, imam of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury, has been a target of conservative Muslims on the Internet, who call him a sellout, and of other critics who say he is an extremist.

He has tried, for better or for worse, to respond to all of it — in his sermons, on CNN, on Twitter. At the same time, he has endeavored to improve the mosque’s relationships with Jewish and Christian leaders in Boston.

“I’m just exhausted,” the 40-year-old Webb said, sipping a flask of coffee in his book-lined office overlooking the busy intersection of Tremont Street and Malcolm X Boulevard. “I don’t have days anymore. I just have . . . smears.”

Webb, who memorized the Koran while living with his parents in Oklahoma and became an advanced Islamic legal scholar after years of study in Cairo, has in recent years become among the most famous imams in America.

He has 34,000 Twitter followers and a “virtual mosque” website that gets some 13,000 page views a day. In his sermons and in social media, Webb — many followers call him “sheikh,” an honorific for a respected teacher — toggles effortlessly between English and Arabic, dropping words like “baller” and references to “The Walking Dead,” a television show about zombies, into exegeses of Sufi poetry.

When he came to the cultural center 18 months ago, he faced significant challenges. He had to connect with immigrants from all over the world, as well as their US-born children and converts from other faiths. He also had to be a bridge to the city’s other faith communities, someone who could help the city move beyond concerns, particularly among some Jewish leaders, that the mosque’s leadership had extremist ties.

Webb, for his part, had his own big plan — to establish one of the first Muslim seminaries in the country. He wanted to nurture a new generation of American imams and Muslim women scholars — orthodox, but culturally conversant and civically involved — and to educate more casual students about their faith.

The Marathon bombings cast Webb and his mission into a crucible. In the media, Islam was on trial again, and Webb was, too.

Muslims Students angry over the closure of the prayer room at City University

22 February 2013

City University has recently announced its decision to shut down the Muslim prayer room at the campus. The decision followed a statement from the university saying it needed to be sure of the “appropriateness” of what was being discussed in sermons as authorized university events. It said it also needed to be assured that all “students eligible to deliver” prayers and sermons “are considered equally and given the opportunity to do so”.

 

“The university could not continue to condone an activity taking place on its premises where it cannot exercise reasonable supervision,” the statement added.

Suspicions surrounding the content of the sermons followed a report released three years ago by Quilliam Foundation. The report claimed that hard line views and a confrontational atmosphere were being encouraged.

 

However, Muslim students argued the report was baseless and there was no evidence that hard line views were being spread. In order to campaign against the decision, Muslim students formed a group called Muslim Voices on Campus, calling on the university to reverse its decision.

 

“All of our sermons are open, we welcome all students and all staff… But when you start submitting your sermons to be monitored and scrutinized then there’s a chance for it to be dictated what’s allowed and what’s not allowed.”

 

There are 400,000 Muslim students in British schools, according to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). There are nearly 90,000 Muslim students studying in higher education institutions in European countries.

Three Muslims convicted for bomb plot

British born Muslims Irfan Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, 27, and Ashik Ali, 27, were convicted last week for plotting to launch bomb attacks across Britain.

 

Inspired by the online sermons of Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed last year by a US drone attack, the trio planned a huge series of explosions at crowded shopping centres and railway stations across Britain.

Judge Justice Henriques said: ‘You were seeking to recruit a team of suicide bombers to carry out a spectacular bombing campaign, one which would create an anniversary along the lines of 7/7 or 9/11.

According to the police, the bomb plotters had the means, the will and the know-how to carry out mass murder in the biggest terror attack on the British mainland ‘in a generation’.

Naseer was found guilty on five counts preparing for terrorism, Khalid was convicted of four, and Ali was convicted of three, all between Christmas Day 2010 and September 19 2011.

Although willing to cause havoc in the UK, the operational capabilities of the convicts are highly disputed by the media. Despite the long surveillance period the police report admitted that the trio did not identify any targets. More importantly, despite their attempts they could not get hold of any explosive.

The trio is expected to receive the highest sentence.

Former U.S. solider sues NYPD over Muslim surveillance

At 26, Syed Farhaj Hassan was a devout Muslim, and a man who took a lot of pride in being one of the relatively few Muslim Americans to join the military and then go to war in Iraq.

Hassan signed on recently to be the lead plaintiff in the first lawsuit to challenge any portion of the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslims — a systematic program that has gone on both in New York and across state borders.

“I was upset that this was happening to a community, simply based on their faith,” Hassan said.

“The same thing can happen to Jewish Americans; the same thing can happen to Shinto Americans; the same thing can happen to Buddhist Americans,” he went on, leaning across a table and slicing the air with his hands to emphasize his point. “In this case, it happened to Muslim Americans.”

Hassan, now 35, claims that if his name or license-plate number, for example, were to be discovered by the Army on an NYPD surveillance dossier, “it would only be detrimental to my future in government and to my military career, in my opinion.”

When he joined the military, he noted, officials did a background check on him. “I know I wasn’t on a list of people being watched over” at the time, he said. A simple speeding ticket can be a “derog” in the Army, he added, and “derogs” can affect a soldier’s clearance or the standing he or she has worked to achieve.

Hassan claims in the civil rights suit that the NYPD has spied on four mosques he’s attended in New Jersey over the years — scaring him away from attending one of those mosques, in particular.

The suit also contends the NYPD deploys plainclothes officers called “rakers,” who monitor daily life in heavily Muslim neighborhoods. And, the suit says, the NYPD also uses undercover informants inside of mosques called “mosque crawlers,” who keep tabs on sermons and conversations.

In May New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa announced he had determined the NYPD’s actions in New Jersey did not violate any state civil or criminal laws. And a Quinnipiac University poll released in April found New Jersey voters said, by a margin of 70 percent to 21 percent, that the NYPD is “doing what is necessary to combat terrorism” in the Garden State.

Religious Pluralism in Swiss Prisons

A recent study by the Swiss National Sciences Foundation has found that religious pluralism in Swiss prisons does not lead to the same kind of conflicts that occur in French and British prisons. Catholic and Protestant prison chaplains have long been integrated into the Swiss institutional framework; however, given that the number of Muslim prisoners has risen significantly over the last years, prisons have been facing increasingly diversified challenges to respond to Muslim concerns.
Certain practices have led to more difficulties than others: halal meat (sometimes only provided if the prisoners can pay for it themselves); fasting during the month of Ramadan; appropriate spaces for daily prayers; and the organization of regular religious services. In the latter case, in a number of prisons imams do come to deliver sermons, however they are not integrated into the prison system. For example, in one prison in the canton of Vaud, one third of the prisoners are Muslims and two imams come to deliver sermons on Fridays. However, neither of them is officially recognized and their work is entirely voluntary.
Furthermore, the study found that although religious diversity might not lead to interfaith conflicts, Muslims remain stigmatized. This was found to be the case especially among the prison personnel, who would frequently bring up stereotypes concerning Islam and Muslims without having been explicitly asked a question on the subject.
The study concludes by recommending greater religious understanding on the part of the personnel; an adaptation of the legal framework to better reflect the current demographic reality; and finally conceptualizing the role of prison chaplains so as to encourage more interreligious capacities. The latter would benefit greatly from encouraging special prison chaplain courses of study at universities, such as the Master’s program that exists at the University of Bern.
Swiss National Science Foundation – National Research Program 58:
Communiqué
Report on the Sociological Challenges of Religious Plurality in Swiss Prisons (French)

Theologians sent to the region of Veneto to ‘moderate’ Imams

August 11, 2010

The vice president of the regional committee for immigration and the leader of Moroccan Communities of Treviso have been informed by the Consul of Morocco in Verona; of an initiative undertaken by the Moroccan government to send two theologians to the regions Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia. The two envoys will travel around these regions during the period of Ramadan to teach to Imams the correct Sunni interpretation of the doctrine. They will focus on moderation, openness and dialogue with all religions. The aim of the initiative is to counter the widespread stereotypes surrounding Islam as a violent, extremist and threatening religion. The meetings will be open to Islamic and non Islamic audience in order to promote the idea of Islam as a tolerant and peaceful faith. The initiative has been welcomed even by the Northern League’s regional assessor. However, he has urged the Muslim community to ensure that the sermons are delivered in Italian in order to discern the contents conveyed, and to work on an official register for imams.