In France, an increase in conversions to Islam in 2015

The Great Mosque of Paris has recorded 40 conversions to Islam in January 2015, compared to 22 in January 2014.  Conversions to Islam have thus doubled, and increased mosque attendance has been reported in Strasbourg, Aubervilliers and Lyon, where conversions have increased from 20% to 30%. (Photo: Pangea Today)
The Great Mosque of Paris has recorded 40 conversions to Islam in January 2015, compared to 22 in January 2014. Conversions to Islam have thus doubled, and increased mosque attendance has been reported in Strasbourg, Aubervilliers and Lyon, where conversions have increased from 20% to 30%. (Photo: Pangea Today)

The Great Mosque of Paris has recorded 40 conversions to Islam in January 2015, compared to 22 in January 2014. Conversions to Islam have thus doubled, and increased mosque attendance has been reported in Strasbourg, Aubervilliers and Lyon, where conversions have increased from 20% to 30%.

The media has reported that since the Charlie Hebdo attacks there has been an increase in sales of Qur’an.

The results may appear strange considering the recent Charlie Hebdo attacks and the tense climate following the Averroès high school controversy, where a former teacher accused students of harboring Islamist tendencies.

“The school’s director plays a double game with our secular Republic: from one angle he shows its credentials to the media…and also continues to profit as a result of its contract with the state, and from another angle, perniciously disseminates an interpretation of Islam which is none other than Islamism, that’s to say, a dangerous mix of religion and politics,” said former teacher Soufiane Zitouni.

One of the recent converts explained his decision to convert: “It makes me want to convert to Islam and show the world what it’s not.” The phenomenon of conversion is all the more notable because it is present on several socio-professional levels. Imams who were interviewed on the radio stated that recent converts include doctors, professors, police officers, and even school directors.

At Averroès Muslim High School in Lille “we feel betrayed and humiliated”

Averroès high school says it has nothing to hide. Former teacher Soufiane Zitouni accused certain students of “cultural anti-Semitism” and others of harboring Islamist tendencies. Following the accusations, the school’s director opened its doors to Metro News.

Even as two inspectors of the academy of Lille came to verify that the school continued to respect its contract with the state, the students appeared carefree and enjoyed themselves in the hallways.

“This inspection, we asked for it,” said the school’s assistant director Eric Dufour. “It’s important that the truth be established.”

“Soufiane Zitouni never told us what he told the media,” stated a current teacher. “We don’t understand his attitude.” Even students were shocked. “We feel betrayed and humiliated,” said Zainab, a first-year student. “How could he say he spent five challenging months here?” His friend Sondos added, “It’s hypocritical on his part. He was always smiling. And why would he talk about his experience? Are we in a zoo?”

Dufour admitted he had one encounter during which the teacher complained. “When I asked him the names of his students who held tendentious beliefs, he refused to specify and left without us being able to take the necessary measures,” he said.

For the moment, the high school affirms its intention to press charges for defamation. The teacher, who confirmed having resigned from his post, is on sick leave until February 21. The classes are now taught by Stephen Urani, who says he is “happy and enthusiastic” to be at Averroès.

The Union of French Muslim Democrats Presents Eight Candidates

Established in November 2012, The Union of French Muslim Democrats (UDMF) claims more than 900 members and 8,000 supporters. Most are Muslims who do not identity with the current political parties and who are “fed up” with bipartisan politics. This year, the party will present eight candidates in departmental elections in Lyon, Nice, Pas-de-Calais, and others.

Directed by Najib Azergui, the party hopes to promote Islamic finance, an alternative form of traditional finance, as a method to avoid future economic crises. The party also hopes that certain “tragic chapters” in French history (Algeria, colonization, etc), which are “silently passed by” in certain schools, will be made part of their curricula. They also hope to provide Arabic classes, which are “unfairly banned” in secondary schools.

The party most notably defends the right for girls to wear headscarves in schools, as well as civic and philosophic education to teach students to “think and debate.”

Students late for school because of prayer?

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said that in Mulhouse, numerous Muslim students arrive late to school because of daily prayer.
Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said that in Mulhouse, numerous Muslim students arrive late to school because of daily prayer.

Jean Rottner interviewed Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, who said that in Mulhouse, numerous Muslim students arrive late to school because of daily prayer. She claims that Mulhouse’s UMP mayor Jean Rottner first discussed the issue with her. Rottner originally stated that several teachers had complained that parents who attended morning prayers with their children brought them to school late.

An inspection by the department of education refutes NKM’s allegations and Rottner clarified his remarks following an internal meeting of UMP members, contending that it is not the students themselves who go to pray but rather their parents.

Municipal leaders released a statement asking that the mayor to “discuss these questions with the Municipal Council et Malhousiens” rather than “confiding in Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet.”

Thierry Sother, who represents the group Europe Ecology-The Greens deplores “elected representatives who stigmatize their town as well as portraying a false and negative image of Mulhouse.”

New Book: The Oxford Handbook of European Islam (Jocelyne Cesari, Editor)

European Islam CoverThe Oxford Handbook of European Islam is the first collection to present a comprehensive approach to the multiple and changing ways Islam has been studied across European countries. Parts one to three address the state of knowledge of Islam and Muslims within a selection of European countries, while presenting a critical view of the most up-to-date data specific to each country. These chapters analyse the immigration cycles and policies related to the presence of Muslims, tackling issues such as discrimination, post-colonial identity, adaptation, and assimilation. The thematic chapters, in parts four and five, examine secularism, radicalization, Shari’a, Hijab, and Islamophobia with the goal of synthesizing different national discussion into a more comparative theoretical framework. The Handbook attempts to balance cutting edge assessment with the knowledge that the content itself will eventually be superseded by events. Featuring eighteen newly-commissioned essays by noted scholars in the field, this volume will provide an excellent resource for students and scholars interested in European Studies, immigration, Islamic studies, and the sociology of religion.

Repealing the Chatel Circular, campaign to allow veiled mothers on school trips

A group of signatories have called for a repeal of the Chatel Circular:

“We ask for the removal of the Chatel Circular, which prohibits veiled mothers from accompanying their children on school trips. We ask for its removal because it is discriminatory, because it only targets Muslim women," reads a petition to abolish the Chatel Circular banning veiled women from accompanying their children on school trips.
“We ask for the removal of the Chatel Circular, which prohibits veiled mothers from accompanying their children on school trips.
We ask for its removal because it is discriminatory, because it only targets Muslim women,” reads a petition to abolish the Chatel Circular banning veiled women from accompanying their children on school trips.

“We ask for the removal of the Chatel Circular, which prohibits veiled mothers from accompanying their children on school trips.

We ask for its removal because it is discriminatory, because it only targets Muslim women.

We ask for its removal because it discriminates against women.

We ask for its removal because it is traumatizing for children who do not understand why their mothers are less worthy and capable than other parents of accompanying school groups.

We ask for its removal because it teaches children that discrimination is ‘normal,’ that it applies to mothers in their class, or their classmates.

We ask for its removal because this ban contributes to excluding families who wish to become involved in schools.

We ask for its removal because it is part of a growing movement of discriminatory measures that threatens to spread from primary school to college, to the workplace, to different sectors of society, to those who practice other religions, to the ban of all political action in high schools.

To support these mothers’ fight to accompany their children on school field trips is to defend the freedom of all men and women.”

The Chatel Circular states: “Please be advised that in the rules the secular principles of teaching and neutrality of public services are entirely applicable to public educational institutions. In particular, these principles prevent parents of students or any other party, by their conduct or their words, from expressing their religious, political or philosophical beliefs when they accompany their students on outings and school trips.” Guidelines and instructions in preparation of the 2012 school year, n° 2012-056 du 27-3-2012.

First signatories:

Participation et spiritualité musulmanes (PSM), Collectif Féministes pour l’égalité (CFPE), Mamans Toutes Égales (MTE), Association pour la reconnaissance des droits et libertés aux femmes musulmanes (ARDLFM), Collectif des musulmans de France (CMF), Commission Islam et laïcité, Union juive française pour la paix (UJFP), Mouvement du christianisme social, Front uni des immigrations et des quartiers populaires (FUIQP), Parti des indigènes de la République (PIR), Collectif enseignant pour l’abrogation de la loi du 15 mars 2004 (CEAL), Collectif antifasciste Paris-Banlieue (CAPAB), Union des organisations islamiques de France (UOIF), Institut de recherche et d’études sur la Méditerranée et le Moyen-Orient (iReMMO), Cedetim/Ipam, ATTAC France, Front thématique antiracismes du Front de gauche, Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA), Ensemble, Sortir du colonialisme, Fondation Frantz Fanon, Collectif Stop le contrôle au faciès, Studio Praxis, Femmes plurielles, AFD International, International Jewish Antizionist Network (IJAN), Tayush (Belgique), Bruxelles Panthères.

 

 

 

Ex-honor student gets 5 years in terrorism case

April 17, 2014

 

An immigrant teen who had earned a scholarship to an elite U.S. college but helped solicit support for Jihadists he met online was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison.

Mohammad Hassan Khalid had earned a full scholarship to Johns Hopkins University after just a few years in the United States, where his family was building a new life after leaving Pakistan.

As his parents and siblings worked to achieve the American dream, he retreated to his bedroom in the family’s cramped apartment near Baltimore, and joined radical Islamist chat rooms by the time he was 15. He was soon conversing with Coleen LaRose, a troubled Pennsylvania woman who called herself “Jihad Jane,” and other extremists.

“The upheavals of my life were distorted into a force of hate so strong that it wrapped me in its claws,” Khalid, now 21, told U.S. Judge Petrese B. Tucker. He said he had trouble speaking without being misunderstood.

Defense lawyers argued that Khalid was isolated and vulnerable because he was young, an immigrant and had Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder diagnosed since his arrest.

Federal prosecutors say Khalid used his “brilliance and eloquence,” along with his computer and video skills, to help them translate documents and try to recruit westerners. That got the attention of the FBI, which visited Khalid repeatedly.

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/ex-honors-students-terror-sentencing-scheduled/2014/04/17/14cd9ab8-c5f7-11e3-b708-471bae3cb10c_story.html

Muslim parent upset over school flyer promoting church’s Easter egg hunt

April 4, 2014

 

Some Muslim parents are concerned about public schools in Dearborn handing out flyers to all students advertising an Easter egg hunt, saying it violates the principle of church and state separation.

A flyer headlined “Eggstravaganza!” was given to students this week at three elementary schools in the Dearborn Public Schools district, which has a substantial number of Muslim students. The flyer described an April 12 event at Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church in Dearborn featuring an egg hunt, relay race, and egg toss. It asked students to RSVP “to secure your free spot” and included images of eggs and a bunny.

“It really bothered my two kids,” said parent Majed Moughni, who is Muslim and has two children, ages 7 and 9, in Dearborn elementary schools. “My son was like, ‘Dad, I really don’t feel comfortable getting these flyers, telling me to go to church. I thought churches are not supposed to mix with schools.’ ”

Moughni said he’s concerned about “using school teachers paid by public funds … to pass out these flyers that are being distributed by a church. I think that’s a serious violation of separation of church and state.”

David Mustonen, spokesman for Dearborn Public Schools, did not respond Thursday to several requests by the Free Press for comment.

The pastor of Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church defended the flyer, saying it was approved for distribution by Dearborn Public Schools and is not promoting a religious event.

“It’s designed to be an opportunity to invite the community to come for a day of activity,” said Pastor Neeta Nichols of Cherry Hill. “There is not a religious component to this event.”

And in recent years, other Muslim parents have complained about what they say are attempts to convert their children. The Conquerors, a Grandville-based group of Christian athletes who display feats of strength to spread the message of Jesus, have performed in Dearborn schools, drawing some concern. In 2009, there was controversy over an assistant wrestling coach who some parents said was trying to convert Muslim wrestlers, which the coach denied.

Moughni said he greatly respects Christianity, but believes that schools should not promote events related to religious holidays. He said he would oppose flyers that promoted events at mosques as well.

Detroit Free Press: http://www.freep.com/article/20140404/NEWS05/304040016/Muslim-parents-upset-over-flier-promoting-Easter-egg-hunt-at-church

Civil Rights Groups Protest Closures Of Muslims’ Bank Accounts

March 5, 2014

 

A Minneapolis-based bank has been closing the accounts of its customers in the Islamic community for years, but nobody can figure out why.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.– For years, Twin Cities’ residents who identify as members of the Islamic community say they have had their bank accounts closed unnecessarily and without reason by the Minneapolis-based TCF Financial Corp.

In one case, an American citizen — born and raised in Minneapolis — had his bank account closed, along with his sister’s account. The client used the account he opened in 2002 for his dental practice. He reportedly did not have any international transactions on his account, nor did he ever bounce a check or fail to keep a minimum balance. But he says that didn’t stop TCF from issuing a letter notifying him that the bank was “exercising its right under the terms of your account contract to discontinue our banking relationship.”

“A letter notified me that my account is closing, then after visiting and calling them I was notified by phone that TCF will not keep me as a customer even if I open a new account,” the former TCF customer told MintPress News. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations Minnesota chapter, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, the closure of bank accounts belonging to Minnesota Muslims of Somali, Middle Eastern and South Asian origin, largely occurred between 2012 and 2013. CAIR-MN says it first got involved after it was reported in January 2013 that several Iranian students at the University of Minnesota had their accounts closed.

As the group’s Civil Rights Director Saly Abd Alla told MintPress, “None of these individuals have been charged with any crimes or engaged in any transaction that violates U.S. law. The only thing these individuals have in common, aside from TCF abruptly and without explanation closing their bank accounts, is that they have Muslim names. “All of the clients are American citizens,” she added. “Some are converts to Islam, others were born into a Muslim family; they are various ages and professions; different ethnicities and races.”
Mint Press: http://www.mintpressnews.com/cair-mn-welcomes-minneapolis-civil-rights-directors-probe-muslim-tcf-bank-account-closures/185615/
CAIR.com: http://cair.com/press-center/cair-in-the-news/12399-cair-mn-protests-closures-of-muslims-bank-accounts.html