Comments by Rector of Islamic University Rotterdam Draw Attention

October 18, 2013

 

The rector of the Islamic University of Rotterdam (IUR) has become the target of press attention after publishing an article stating his views on various aspects of Islamic practice for Sunni and Alevi Muslims and his perspectives on current political events in Turkey. The publication appeared on the personal website of rector Ahmet Akgündüz in Turkish. It has been summarized in Dutch and English news sources in the Netherlands with considerable variation.

Newspaper Trouw notes that Akgündüz states the impossibility of dialogue with anyone who does not adhere to the six principles of faith and five pillars of Islam, and that it is not permissible to intermarry with or eat food slaughtered by some Alevi Muslims. According to Trouw, he further opposes the building of a Sunni-Alevi mosque complex nearby Ankara.

The English publication NIS news claims that Akgündüz’s publication calls opponents of Turkish Premier Erdogan “enemies of Islam”. Their quotation of Akgündüz’s statement that stoning is “one of the prescribed punishment within Islam” is amplified as material for the headline of their article “Islamic University Dean Supports Stoning”.

The unclarity over Akgündüz’s position and the controversial article prompted attention from the Dutch government, with members of the Liberal (VVD), Labour (PvDA), and Christian Democrat parties citing concern about the article, primarily due to the role of the Islamic University of Rotterdam in training Imams in the Netherlands.

In response to the controversy, the IUR has issued a press release stating that it stands in solidarity with the rector, emphasizing his academic qualifications and asserting that the views he presents in his writings are sufficiently neutral and not politically motivated. The press release also asserts that the statements in the media misquote Akgündüz’s position, directly contradicting the quoted positions regarding the acceptability of marriage to or eating meat slaughtered by Alevi Muslims.

Conversation in the press, and clarifications of Akgündüz’s position, is ongoing.

 

 

Personal website post of Ahmet Akgündüz (Turkish)- http://new.ahmetakgunduz.com/?p=112

NIS News (English)- http://www.nisnews.nl/islamic-university-dean-supports-stoning.html

Trouw (Dutch)- http://www.trouw.nl/tr/nl/5091/Religie/article/detail/3528817/2013/10/17/Rector-Islamitische-Uni-dialoog-met-niet-moslims-is-onmogelijk.dhtml

Press release IUR (Dutch)- http://www.nieuwwij.nl/nieuws/iur-onjuiste-berichtgeving/

“Beating a Woman is a right”

The phrase on live TV from the President of the Central Islamic Council, a convert to Islam was heavily criticized by the main Muslim organizations in the country, has raised an immense controversy in the Swiss media.

Invited to a political debate on Swiss television, Central Islamic Council President Nicolas Blancho, argued that “beating a woman is a human right,” attracting a controversy in today’s Swiss media.

After Blancho said this, he did go pale in reaction to the realization of other guests in the studio, including National Councillor Oskar Freysinger. And another director sitting in the audience, Gerhard Pfister, invited Blancho to apologize publicly, both distanced themselves from Blancho’s statement as it is inconsistent with the values of Swiss law.

“This is not far from stoning and FGM, and other things like that,” shouted the two politicians against the president of the Islamic Central Council of Switzerland.

Blancho, local media reported, and ‘was silent for a while,’ and was visibly embarrassed after he yelled “Beating women is part of the freedom of religion.”

“I will not provide any justification” said Blancho “because I have not committed any crime. Everyone is free to believe what they want, as long as they respect the law.”

 

Former minister guilty of slander

October 27, 2010

The Copenhagen City Court has ruled that statements made by former Minister of Welfare Karen Jespersen against the spokesman for The Muslim Association of Denmark were unjustified.
In early 2009, while still minister, Jespersen said Zubair Butt Hussain, spokesman for The Muslim Council of Denmark, advocated the stoning of women. The comments were made in connection with the government’s cooperation with the association on preparing teaching materials about Islamic extremism. Jespersen was ordered by the court to pay Hussain damages of 11,000 kroner. In addition to the comments about stoning, Hussain sued Jespersen for her calling him an ‘extremist’. The court, however, did not believe the second remark warranted any libel payment.
Hussain says he is satisfied with the verdict, saying it demonstrated that despite Denmark’s strong support of freedom of speech, people cannot simply say whatever they want. He added, however, that the court’s failure to consider calling someone an ‘extremist’ as being slander was ‘unfortunate’. Jespersen did not comment on the ruling, but stated on her website that she was not engaged in a battle against Islam: ”On the contrary – we need to stand together with those Muslims who are supporters of the values and freedoms our society is built upon. But we shouldn’t accept that new reactionaries’ beliefs continue to spread and we can’t bow to demands for special treatment of religious considerations in the public sector” Jespersen says.

Rediscovery of the first truly European Muslim Muhammad Asad

Murad Hofmann, a German Muslim scholar and former ambassador, fosters the rediscovery of Muhammad Asad, one of the first European Muslim thinkers. Muhammad Asad, born 1900 in Austria as Jewish Leopold Weiss, converted to Islam during his trips to the Arabian Peninsula as a journalist. He soon distanced himself from traditional Islam and sought to reconcile it with human rights and democracy.

Asad provided a new translation of the Qur’an into English, a very modern one (too modern for some), with some notions deliberately left ambiguous, fluctuating and West-compatible. He also demanded of Muslims to question the interpretations of established scholars and rejected the punishment of stoning and beating women. Murad Hofmann has now republished Asad’s Qur’an interpretation in German. He claims that Asad’s reformist Islam is essential for European Islam today and hopes that more people will be open to this view that during Asad’s lifetime.

Princess facing Saudi death penalty given secret UK asylum

A Saudi Arabian princess who had an illegitimate child with a British man has secretly been granted asylum in the UK after she claimed she would face the death penalty if she were forced to return home. The young woman, who has been granted anonymity by the courts, won her claim for refugee status after telling a judge that her adulterous affair made her liable to death by stoning.

Her case is one of a small number of claims for asylum brought by citizens of Saudi Arabia which are not openly acknowledged by either government. British diplomats believe that to do so would in effect be to highlight the persecution of women in Saudi Arabia, which would be viewed as open criticism of the House of Saud and lead to embarrassing publicity for both governments.

Europe unfriendly to Muslims, Princeton scholar says

Many Muslims today struggle to integrate into Western society, but those in the U.S. are better off than those in Europe, said Islamic scholar Ralph Ghadban during a lecture Monday at Ohio State. “Many of the millions of Muslims that have moved to the West wish not to integrate into society,” Ghadban said. As a member of the Institute for Advanced Studies of Princeton University, Ghadban spoke in a small conference room in Hagerty Hall, with only 15 people in attendance. The lecture, “Islamic Law of Muslim Minorities in the West” was sponsored by the Middle East Studies Center and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. “[Ghadban] is not a traditional scholar,” said Arabic professor Georges Tamer. “He has practical experience that combines Islamic studies with political science and philosophy.” Ghadban said that during their integration to the West, Muslims are confronted with new norms and customs, as well as a new structure of society. Most importantly, they must abide by a secular law system, which they have never or barely been confronted with in their home countries, he said. A third of the 1.2 to 1.4 billion Muslims in the world are minorities in 149 non-Islamic countries, and 25 to 30 million of them live in Western Europe and North America, he said. With the exception of black converts, the majority of Muslims living in the West came to the Western world during the modern migration period of the second half of the 20th century. He said that Muslim immigrants follow Sharia law, which is a form of Islamic justice often criticized for its brutal physical punishments, including flogging and execution by stoning. Sharia punishment is often enforced against women found guilty of offenses such as premarital sex and adultery. Mariam Khan reports.

What Role for Sharia in the West

When the Archbishop of Canterbury announced last month that British authorities should accommodate Sharia, he placed the Anglican church in the middle of a heated controversy. For many Brits, sharia is associated with amputation, whipping and stoning for even small infractions. Though others reject these associations, the prospect of a “plural jurisdiction” in which Muslims could choose to resolve disputes in secular or Muslim courts is no less appalling. The Archbishop’s statements have triggered debate about whether individuals have the option to “opt out” of secular institutions, as would be the case with the establishment of a parallel sharia legal system in Britain. This debate is closely watched by other Western countries who will be affected by Britain’s precedent.

Quebec’s Panel on Immigrant Relations Adds to Din of Discord

By Ian Austen MONTREAL – Viewed separately, the incidents seemed relatively insignificant. Members of a Hasidic synagogue here wanted a neighboring Y.M.C.A. to block or tint the windows of an exercise room used by women. A Muslim girl was barred from playing soccer for wearing a hijab on the field. And, in Quebec, some Muslims and Orthodox Jews refused to deal with police officers and physicians of the opposite sex. Then came the decision in late January by H_rouxville, Quebec – a town of French-speaking Catholics – to create a code of conduct for immigrants that prohibited, among other things, the covering of women’s faces except for on Halloween and the use of public stoning as a form of punishment. This despite the fact that there are no Muslims in the town and no modern history of stonings.

40 Pct Of Uk Muslims Back Sharia – Poll

LONDON (Reuters) – Four out of 10 British Muslims want sharia, or Islamic law, introduced in predominantly Muslim parts of the country, a poll showed on Sunday. One in five of those polled for the Sunday Telegraph also said they sympathised with the “feelings and motives” of suicide bombers who killed 52 people in attacks on the London transport system last July. British Muslims emerged from the poll as becoming more radicalised and alienated from mainstream society but 91 percent did say they feel “loyal” to the United Kingdom. Sharia is implemented to varying degrees in several Muslim countries including Iran and Saudi Arabia, where religious courts can impose punishments including stoning, amputation and execution. In other countries sharia is applied to specific areas such as family law, banking, or religious rituals. The poll came just one day after 10,000 Muslims took to the streets of London to express their anger and hurt over the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad. They were first published in September in a Danish newspaper and were then reprinted by papers in other countries but not Britain. The publication prompted uproar in the Islamic world, with thousands taking to the streets to protest. Five people were killed in protests in Pakistan and 10 people were reported to have died in clashes in Libya. Sixteen died in Nigerian riots. Many Muslims believe it is blasphemous to depict the Prophet. In London, a small demonstration in front of the Danish embassy earlier in the month provoked outrage as masked men called for those who insulted Islam to be beheaded.