David Cameron: Democracy and Islam are compatible

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has warned against Islamic extremism and praised Indonesia as living proof that Islam is compatible with democracy.

Speaking to students in Jakarta on the latest stop of his trade mission to South East Asia, he said extremists only wanted to impose a particular and radical version of Islam on society.

Muslims of Europe: Perspectives on Gender and Relgion 27-28 January 2011

International Conference
27-28 January 2011
Facoltà di Scienze Politiche
Sala Poeti, Strada Maggiore 45, Bologna
Gender, Migration and Intercultural Interactions
in the Mediterranean and South East Europe
(European Commission FP7 project)
Dipartimento di Politica, Istituzioni, Storia Swedish Research Council
Stefano Allievi, Schirin Amir-Moazami, Raffaella Baritono, Gaia Giuliani,
Nilüfer Göle, Jeanette Jouili, Helen Kambouri, Pia Karlsson Minganti,
Laura Lanzillo, Angela Liberatore, Mila Mancheva, Sandro Mezzadra,
Vincenzo Pace, Renata Pepicelli, Anne Sofie Roald,
Evgenia Troeva-Grigorova, Stefano Zan
Co-ordinators
Sandro Mezzadra, Pia Karlsson Minganti, Renata Pepicelli (University of Bologna)

Administration of Islamic Affairs in Secular States Southeast European Experience

Call for Papers for the International Conference
The administration of Islamic affairs and representation of Muslims in secular states have become hot issues in Western European debates on the social integration of Muslim citizens. South East Europe has over a century of experience in this area. Muslim communities in the region have developed well-established autochthonous Islamic religious administrations. While this experience cannot simply be transplanted elsewhere, it offers many insights for policy-makers in an enlarging and ever more diverse Europe. Also important are alternative Islamic structures in the region. Heterodox Sufi organizations exist in parallel with official Sunni establishments. Both pan-Islamists and secularists have criticized clerical leaderships, and the established order is now facing a more radical challenge by Salafi networks. Independent Muslim women groups, too, are springing up. Leadership contests within the religious establishments, often tied to broader political conflicts, have led to schisms, parallel organizations, and local violence. All this calls for a systematic investigation of the Islamic administrations in the region. In recent years, there has been heightened interest in Islam in South East Europe in the context of European integration. The proposed conference is however the first to focus specifically on these key structural aspects, which have immediate social and political implications.

Papers are invited along the following thematic clusters:

1. Islamic Administrations in SE Europe – State of affairs, common features and issues, relations with the state: Country overviews for Albania, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece, Romania, Croatia, and Slovenia (one researcher may combine more than
one);

2. Alternative, Parallel, Independent, and “Anti-Establishment” Groups: Pan-Islamists, Sufis, Salafis, women’s organizations

3. Leadership Contests and Organizational Schisms: esp. Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece

The following two themes will be covered by invited conference guests. However if you feel strongly about any of these please submit your abstract.

1. The SEE Model in Comparative Perspective: Between Turkey’s Diyanet and Western Europe’s mosque federations;

2. The SEE Model: Integration and Security Challenges: Islamic leadership and the containment of radicalism

Deadlines & Submission

Proposals (Abstracts) – 5 January 2009. Accepted proposals will be announced within two weeks. To submit a proposal, send an abstract (200 words) to: jusicm2000@yahoo.com or cns@bih.net.ba. Please supply a short biographical profile (150 words) with your abstract.

Papers – 27 March 2009.

Conference language: English

Travel & Accommodation

ISEEF has received a grant from the King Baudouin Foundation to pay travel and accommodation expenses in addition to symbolic honoraria (200 EUR) for selected presentations. However we would appreciate if your organization or institution could cover your travel and accommodation costs to allow us to invite more researchers who cannot afford to cover their expenses.

Jailed terrorists are using the internet to contact supporters

Terror suspects held at one of Britain’s most secure jails are secretly accessing the internet to contact their supporters. The discovery raises fears that some of the UK’s most dangerous terrorists could be plotting new attacks from inside prison. The serious security breach was revealed last week after The Mail on Sunday was alerted to messages on a “private” website linked to militant Islamic movement Al-Muhajiroun, which has been banned under anti-terror laws. The threatening emails were apparently sent from inside Belmarsh high-security prison in South-East London, which houses some of Britain’s most feared terror suspects. It is thought inmates are sending the illicit messages using smuggled mobile phones, many of which now allow access to the internet. The jail’s current prisoners include Abu Doha, who is accused of plotting to bomb Los Angeles Airport, and Dhiren Barot, who was jailed for life for planning terror attacks, including one using a radioactive “dirty” bomb. Jason Lewis reports.

Plan To Rename Minorities In Bid To Strengthen Ties To UK

By ANDREW WOODCOCK BRITAIN’S ethnic minority communities might be given new names in an effort to strengthen their ties to this country. Home Office minister Hazel Blears is to ask representatives of Muslim and other minorities whether they would prefer to be known by US-style hyphenated terms such as Asian-British, Pakistani-British or Indian-British, rather than simply ‘Asians’. The idea is one of a set of proposals to be floated at meetings that Ms Blears is holding around the country to discuss how to steer young Muslims away from radicalism. Ms Blears – appointed head of a new Government commission on integrating minorities by Prime Minister Tony Blair – said today: “In America, they do seem to have the idea that you’re an Italian-American or you’re an Irish-American, and that’s quite interesting. “I am going to talk to people and ask ‘how does that feel?’ It is about your identity and I think it’s really important.” She added: “If you want a society that is really welded together, there are certain things that unite us because you are British, but you can be a bit different too.” The proposal is seen as an indication that the Government is considering claims that some second-generation Asians find it difficult to identify with Britain or the country of their roots. Mrs Blears was backed by the Commission for Racial Equality but it also warned of problems ahead. A spokesman said: “She’s hit the nail on the head when she says it’s about how people feel and refer to themselves. “But one person might be happy being classified as one thing and someone of the same race or religion might not.” Muslim groups also responded with caution to the idea, while Conservatives branded it “fatuous”. Sir Iqbal Sacranie, general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “What of the second generations? Why should they be defined as other than British? “These forms of identity based on ethnic background have been tried in the past and have failed.” And Ghayasuddin Siddiqui of the Muslim Parliament said: “Nobody cares for labels. We have to create a stakeholding society and an inclusive society.” Shadow home affairs spokesman Edward Garnier said: “This is a fatuous idea. “I’ve got a growing number of Asian British people in my constituency. They think of themselves as British. They don’t need a Government minister to tell them how to describe themselves.” And Greg Mulholland, the Lib Dem MP for Leeds North West, where the July 7 bombs were created, said a rebranding exercise would “not be remotely helpful”. “I think it’s another gimmick. I’m afraid we need some rather more intelligent and far-reaching solutions.” Councillor Shami Khan, a leading member of Edinburgh’s Pakistan community, said the proposals might go some way towards helping to integrate migrants into the community. He added: “We have to keep our culture but, at the end of the day, by coming here, people are accepting the British way of life and must adopt a British value and must have a respect for that citizenship. “I think this is a good idea and if you call people from South East Asia “British-Asian” that’s okay. I feel Scottish-Asian and I have a loyalty to Britain. “But what we really need to do is to teach people about citizenship and loyalty to this country.”

Mosques In Appeal To Help Police

A number of mosques across the UK have appealed to worshippers at Friday prayers to co-operate with the police in the fight against terrorism. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) urged imams to make the appeal but some are thought to be angry their religion has been linked with terrorism. Meanwhile, police are questioning a ninth man following anti-terror raids in the South East. Tony Blair welcomed the appeal and said new anti-terror laws could be drawn up. At Regent’s Park Mosque, the largest in the country, spokesman Abdesselam Daoud said although the MCB’s letter would not be read out in full, its sentiments and concerns would be reflected in the day’s sermon. “It’s not practical to read a letter to a large audience but the sermon will focus on concerns of brotherhood and security of the community,” he said. But as several thousand prayer-goers left the London mosque, fringe radical group Al Muhajiroun staged a protest and burning of the union flag. The overwhelming majority ignored the protest, while some of the prayer-goers shouted abuse at the radicals. Others complained that the media at the scene were hyping the situation. During his Downing Street briefing to press on Thursday, Mr Blair indicated identity cards would be brought in soon and further anti-terrorist legislation was being drawn up. The MCB drew up a letter to mosques in the wake of the Madrid bombings, although news of its unprecedented step came at the same time as the raids in the South East, which led to the seizure of half a ton of fertiliser used in bombings. Police have until Saturday to question the first eight men – thought to be Britons of Pakistani descent – arrested over an alleged bomb plot. The latest man to be arrested was a 27-year-old Briton held in Crawley, West Sussex – the fourth in the town. He was held on Thursday evening on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. A man has also been detained by police in Canada in connection with alleged terrorist offences in London, although police have not indicated whether the arrest is linked to the British raids. Mohammed Momin Khawaja is due to appear via video link before a court in Ottawa on Friday. ‘Major crisis’ The Muslim Council of Britain said there had been an “overwhelmingly positive” reaction to its calls for mosques to help in the fight against terror. And it dismissed the comments of Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, a cleric who on Thursday said the MCB was being unfair and advised Muslims not to co-operate. MCB general secretary Iqbal Sacranie said: “The message that is going out is not in any way associating mosques with terrorism.” Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, he said: “Mosques are an important institution in the country. “The imams and chairmen and secretaries are playing a very important role in society. “We are facing a major crisis in the country and world over. We have to exercise our duty, an Islamic duty, which is to convey the message to the community that they have responsibilities as well.” As well as Friday’s sermons, booklets are being printed that will remind Muslims of their obligation to help safeguard Britain’s security.