The Bigotry That Armed the Quebec Mosque Attacker

TORONTO — On Sunday night, a gunman opened fire in a mosque in Quebec City, killing six people and wounding eight. Our prime minister, Justin Trudeau, called the shootings a “terrorist attack on Muslims.”

Worshipers gunned down in a mosque — people here more readily associate such news with the United States than with Canada. That this happened in Quebec City has shocked many of us, myself included.

In Quebec, Islamophobia manifested itself in a series of sensational cases, in 2007 and 2008, over the “reasonable accommodation” of religious minorities, Muslims in particular. The provincial soccer federation barred hijab-wearing girls on the pretext of safety. It took an official commission to calm public nerves. Its 2008 report, which had the eminent philosopher Charles Taylor as an author, found there was no crisis: Sensationalist media coverage had distorted perceptions, but Muslims were not making unreasonable demands.

I remain an incurably optimistic Canadian, and I want to believe that Canada is still not the United States. But as Sunday’s attack showed, we face the challenge of undoing the damage of years of suspicion and bigotry.

Disbelief at Pontarlier mosque attended by Salhi

Naceur Benyahia was surprised to hear the name Yassin Salhi regarding the terror attack in Isère. The president of the local Islamic association in Pontarlier (Doubs) knew the man arrested by a fireman after the attack at the US owned factory in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier. “It’s a man that I’ve known for ten years. A calm man who played soccer,” remembers Benyahia.

At the beginning of 2000, radicalized youths attempted to take over the Philippe Grenier mosque, reported L’Est Républicain. “It was one person,” Naceur Benyahi corrects, “He tried to change the inner structure. He was done away with quickly, he was kicked out.”

Portarlier’s mayor Patrick Genre, elected in 1999, adds: “The religious association was very well run and knew how to stop a takeover of the mosque.” He added that there was no radicalization problem in the town of 20,000.

“There is no radical movement in our mosque,” Benyahi announced. “Our religion is based on a sound book and on the Prophet. If someone tries to change that, they leave the religion.”

The president noted that Salhi now lives in Besançon. “He left Pontarlier when his father died and his mother returned to live in Morocco. His brothers and sisters dispersed. I didn’t know he was married, that he had three children.”

Austria: Attacks during a soccer game

July 25, 2014

The Austrian newspaper der Standard is reporting, that soccer players from an Israeli soccer club were attacked during a friendship game in Austria. According to the newspaper the attackers had a Palestinian and Turkish background. They wanted vengeance for the Israeli attacks on Gaza – the newspaper said.

Ramadan Poses Test to Muslim Players at World Cup

June 27, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO — Down the quiet, tree-lined Rua Gonzaga Bastos, less than half a mile from Estádio do Maracanã, the custodian of this city’s only mosque was preparing for the busiest time of the year.

Mohamed Zeinhom Abdien, the custodian, was sitting at a desk opposite messy piles of boxes containing thousands of leaflets about Islam written in Portuguese, English and Arabic.

The observance of Ramadan, one of Islam’s five pillars, is a religious obligation in which Muslims fast and forgo any liquids from dawn until dusk over the course of a month. The month begins Saturday night, and Abdien’s usually quiet mosque has been inundated with newcomers.

“Normally we have 100, maybe 150 people here every Friday to pray, after the imam gives the call to prayer in Portuguese,” said Abdien, an Egyptian-born tour guide who moved to Rio 21 years ago.

“But the World Cup,” he said, spreading his arms at the dozens of boxes, “it means there have been many Algerian fans, TV presenters, even a few players.”

This World Cup in Brazil has drawn thousands of Muslim fans — from Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria and beyond — and Ramadan, which is pegged to a lunar calendar and begins a bit earlier in the Gregorian calendar each year, is due to start just as the second round opens.

The month, however, should be more complicated for the dozens of Muslim players still in the tournament, including the French striker Karim Benzema and Germany’s Mesut Özil. With the humidity and high temperatures in Brazil, especially along the northern coast and in the Amazon, an inability to stay hydrated would appear to put those players, and the teams featuring Muslims, like Algeria, at a disadvantage in the knockout stage.

Still, “we know very little,” said Ron Maughan, a professor of sports nutrition at Loughborough University in England.

Maughan led a working group that examined the effects of fasting on athletes at the 2012 London Olympics, the last time Ramadan coincided with a major sporting event. He found that fasting had an effect on athletes competing in the events requiring the greatest strain, like the marathon, but that the impact was relatively small over all.

The Swiss team has several Muslim players, including Xherdan Shaqiri, who scored a hat trick in his team’s 3-0 win over Honduras, which earned it a place in the knockout stage. A team spokesman said that it had made no special provision for Ramadan and that none of its players would fast until after the tournament.

The French team acknowledged that Ramadan had caused a debate among its players.

Ramadan in Austrian media

June 28, 2014

Because the fasting month of  Ramadan starts today, the ORF tried the enlighten some of its readers, who are not familiar with the Muslim religious tradition. The story tries to show the different ways that Muslims handle the month of Ramadan. For example, the report tells the reader, that because of exceptional rules soccer players do not have to obey rules of fasting during the soccer world cup games.

New Documentary about Italian Islam

February 23, 2014

 

The documentary “I sought to find Maradona [the famed soccer player] but I found Allah,” by Lorenzo Cioffi and Ernesto Pagano, presents two Neapolitan youth who converted to Islam, Ciro and Francesco. The protagonists discuss the reasons for conversion and anecdotes related to their choice. The documentary also includes Augustine Gentile and Massimo Cozzolino, teacher of Islamic religion and head of the Mosque in Piazza Mercato in Naples, respectively. Gentile and Cozzolino also discuss the case of the two boys within the broader phenomenon of a “return” to Islam in the city. The documentary broadcast on Rai News2.

 

Redattore Sociale: http://www.redattoresociale.it/Multimedia/Video/Dettaglio/454841/Islam-italiano-Ciro-cercava-Maradona-e-ha-trovato-Allah

Jews versus Muslims (for Fun)

March 12, 2013

By Roberto Rizzo

 

The article discusses a soccer tournament which took place on March 13. The tournament includes a number of team that represents many religions. In 2011, the All United Cup created the Kids United which will play a game between Maccabi Milano which is Jewish community team and Primus which represents the Muslim community on March 13, 2013.

3.000 euros fine for 4 councilors of the Plataforma per Catalonia after attending a soccer match wearing a burka

20 June 2012

The Department of Interior has fined 4 councilors and 19 supporters of Plataforma per Catalonia (PxC) with 3,000 euros each, for going to a match of FC Barcelona and L’Hospitalet in burqas. The incident occurred during a match of the Copa del Rey on November 9, 2011 when a group of people appeared in the area of L’Hospitalet wearing burkas and a banner reading ‘First the home ones’.
PxC leader whose hallmark is the radical fight against illegal immigration, has insisted that the protest is directed specifically to criticize the sponsorship of ‘Qatar Foundation’ to the soccer team FC Barcelona.

French women’s soccer match called off over hijab

March 19, 2012

A referee refused to officiate a French women’s football match, when players for one of the teams took the pitch wearing Muslim headscarves, the club involved said. The official sent a report to the Languedoc-Roussillon league in the south of the country about the incident involving players from Petit-Bard Montpellier, who had been due to play Narbonne in the regional promotion tie. The league must now decide whether to order the match to be replayed or to award a win to Narbonne.

Football’s world governing body FIFA banned players from wearing the Islamic headscarf in 2007, claiming it is unsafe. But football federations and even the United Nations have urged FIFA to lift the ban, maintaining that concerns about safety are baseless and that it discriminates against Muslim players, particularly when no such restrictions apply in other sports.

Quebec teen told she cannot referee and wear her hijab

News Agencies – June 21, 2011

A Quebec teen has been told she can no longer referee soccer while wearing her hijab. Sarah Benkirane, 15, said her Montreal-area soccer association informed her she could no longer referee games wearing her traditional Muslim headscarf after someone filed a complaint with the league. Benkirane said she’s contacted the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations and plans to put pressure on the Canadian Soccer Association to force Quebec’s governing soccer body to overturn its decision.
The president of the Quebec Soccer Federation told reporters it is simply applying FIFA’s international rules, which stipulate referees and players may not wear religious symbols on the pitch. In 2007, an 11-year-old Ottawa girl was ejected from a soccer game in Laval after she refused to remove her hijab, which violated FIFA’s no-headgear rule.