Kebab, Yoghurt, and Prayer

28 October 2010

Seen from the outside, other than a sign on a wooden door, nothing seems to indicate that the Eyüp Sultan Camii in Graz is a mosque. The local imam, Fevzi Karatas, explains that a mosque is simply a space for prayer, and “in the time of the prophet Muhammad, the mosque was a tent.”
Karatas comes from Vorarlberg, though his parents are from Turkey, where he also studied theology and statistics before returning to become an imam in 2000. In his opinion there are no tensions, either with the local community or the authorities. However, in order to fight the fear that some people have of Islam they open the doors three times a year and invite the neighbors. “We are a part of Graz, we aren’t foreigners, we aren’t extremists, we pay taxes and just want to be practice our religion.”
After prayer the canteen serves kebab and ayran – “many people come here not just to pray, but to talk as well,” says Karatas.

Recent update to the British country profile

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Jobless Rate Rises Among Ethnic Minorities in Holland

According to a study released by multicultural research institute Forum, some 25% of youngsters with a Turkish, Moroccan, Surinamese or Antillean background in the Netherlands are without a job. Compared with a 5.1% unemployment rate among white Dutch, 14% of people with a non-Western background are jobless. However, Forum director Sadik Harcahoui notes that the cause is not necessarily discrimination- lower education levels and a tendency for ethnic minority youth to work on flexible contracts contribute to the statistics.

Opinion column claims that anti-Niqab positions in Quebec are unfounded

In his editorial column in the Toronto Star Haroon Siddiqui points to the errors within the two commonly cited reasons for supporting the anti-niqab bill in Quebec. Siddiqui states that the two most cited reasons in support of Quebec’s anti-niqab bill are that the veil is an imposed oppression since no woman would ever voluntarily wear it and, second, that the province’s proposal to deny public services to niqabi women is far less punitive than the strictures imposed on non-Muslims in some Muslim countries. Siddiqui concludes, with reference to statistics on women around the world and an argument of cultural relativism, that the first proposition is conjecture while the second is misguided moral equivalency.

Dutch of non-Western backgrounds becoming mothers later

First generation, non-western immigrants to the Netherlands are becoming mothers at a later age, Statistics Netherlands reported Thursday. According to statistics women of this cohort are having children at an average of 27.5 years of age, a full year older than averages from 1996. Average age for Dutch women rose by six months over the same period.

Despite 2009 difficulties, promising horizons for German Muslims

In this article, the author sums up the major 2009 events concerning German Muslims. She refers to surprising statistics and remarkable conferences as well as political progress, pointing to the increased goodwill and determination of politicians to improve German Muslim living conditions.

The most painful event was, without doubt, the racist murder of Egyptian Marwa el-Sherbini in a Dresden courtroom. However, the author closes on a positive note and welcomes the start of Cologne’s mosque construction and the fact that minarets are present at many mosques throughout the country.

Yearbook of Muslims in Europe

The Yearbook of Muslims in Europe will provide an up-to-date account of the situation of Muslims in Europe. Covering 37 countries of western, central and south-eastern Europe, the Yearbook will consist of three sections. The first section presents a country-by-country summary of essential data with basic statistics with evaluations of their reliability, surveys of legal status and arrangements, organizations, etc. providing an annually updated reference source. The second section will contain analysis and research articles on issues and themes of current relevance written by experts in the field. The final section will provide reviews of recently published books of significance.

Debunking the Claims of Muslim Demographics

The BBC News Magazine reports this weekend on Muslim Demographics, a seven and a half minute video posted on YouTube. The video, which has had more than 10 million views, uses slick graphics, punctuated with dramatic music, to make some surprising claims, asserting that much of Europe will be majority Muslim in just a few decades. It says that in the past two decades, 90% of all population growth in Europe has been Muslim immigration.

Yet the sources for the figures regarding immigration and fertility statistics in individual European countries are not provided in the video and in some nations, such as France, the government does not collect statistics by religion. So it is impossible to say what the precise fertility rates among different religious groups in France are. Population projection is an inexact science. The current trends suggest that by 2050 Europe will have a bigger proportion of Muslims, although nothing like the level suggested in the video.

According to demographer Dr. Andrew Hinde, while true that immigrant communities often have higher fertility rates, over time these usually fall into line with the indigenous population. This might not happen with Muslim immigrants. But nobody can know and that’s why, according to Dr Hinde, it is so hard to guess the future.

Germany Has 1 Million More Muslims than Previously Thought

A new Interior Ministry study has revealed that Muslims in Germany are much more integrated than previously thought: Around half are German citizens and 70 percent of women never wear a headscarf. There are also many more Muslims in the country than was previously estimated.

Poor, uneducated and living in a “parallel society” of headscarf-wearing women and criminal youth: The common stereotype of Muslims in Germany is not an all-too-positive one. But a new study reveals a surprisingly different picture of the reality — including the fact that many more Muslims live in Germany than was previously believed. The study, which was commissioned by the Interior Ministry together with Germany’s Islam Conference, is the first country-wide study that gives a representative overview of Muslim life in Germany. Researchers from the Nuremberg-based Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) interviewed around 6,000 Muslims from 49 different countries about the role of religion in their everyday life and various aspects of integration. A summary of the study was published Tuesday and the full study will be presented Thursday at the last meeting of the Islam Conference, which Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble initiated in 2006 in a bid to launch a dialogue between the German state and the Muslim community.

New poll reveals that “Belgians discriminate too much, too often” against Turkish and North African minorities

According to a survey recently revealed by the European Fundamental Rights Agency, 75 percent of Turkish or North African origin feel the are discriminated against too much and too often. Also of note, is that 80% of those surveyed said that they did not go to the police when the were victims of a racist incident, citing that such action is largely “pointless.” These statistics essentially reveal that there are far more crimes based on racism, than reflected in the official statistics, when taking into account those incidents that go unreported. More than 1,000 people living in Brussels and Antwerp were interviewed in the survey.