Dutch minister want to revive imam-education in the Netherlands

The Dutch Minister of Education Jet Bussemaker wants to revive the professional education for imams and mental caregivers in the Netherlands. The few educational programs that were present in the Netherlands closed down three years ago. At the behest of Bussemaker the vocational schools Inholland and Windesheim and VU University Amsterdam (VU) have initiated serious conversations about a possible restart of the educational programs.

The goal is once again to create an educational program that forms Islamic clerics in line with Dutch culture, just as the program at Inholland did three years ago. This program was terminated because it was too expensive and was hardly effective. Of the 105 candidate-clerics that started the program only a few graduated. Just one of them found work as an imam.

From the community the demand for a good educational program still exists, Bussemaker says. A ‘Dutch imam new style’ does not always have to be a theologian according to her. “Outside of the mosque people with knowledge of Islamic theology are also necessary. One could think of I minor or a major, of several trajectories. Then one could study pedagogy and follow an imam-trajectory within that program. Or the other way around: Islamic theology and within that program a minor in another field.”

Muslim students in France condemn attacks, saying ‘we are united’ (video)

Etudiants Musulmans de France, a national association of Muslim students, issued a video statement condemning the Paris attacks and expressing grief and solidarity. The message is composed in an almost poetic style, and is being shared with the hashtag #NousSommesUnis — We Are United.

“One for all and all for humanity.

Nearly 120 dead. A hundred wounded.

Three days of mourning because of eight suspected terrorists.

France is plunged into chaos and terror.

And I’m speechless …

They think they are waging war against the Crusaders,

and invoke the Quran and rely on its verses.

But shedding the blood of the innocent does not follow any law.

If they do not understand, I do not understand.

Will my heart have enough time to heal?

With Charlie Hebdo, Thalys and Paris attacked.

“I feel so sad for France,” my heart screams out loud,

and my faith follows my heart.

My faith, whose foundations are shaken.

By 120 deaths and millions of wounded hearts.

By what the terrorists did, convinced they made the right choice.

But the right faith will always condemn these attacks.

They wanted to weaken France.

They have strengthened the heart of the French.

A cry will be stronger: it is the cry of brotherhood.

One for all, and all for humanity.

We are and remain united forever.”

Near completion of new mega mosque “De Westermoskee” in Amsterdam

The building of the Netherland’s largest mega mosque (800 square meter and room for 1700 worshippers) has sparked some controversy over the last two decennia of its establishment. For years the building process was frustrated by several conflicts between the initiating Islamic foundation and the municipality of Amsterdam and housing cooperatives. Despite these obstacles the mega mosque is planned to be ready for interior design and decoration by the end of November.
The mosque board is already in communication with artists from Turkey for the realization of classical Islamic calligraphy in the mosque’s interior. A salient feature of the mosque will be the incorporation of indigenous influences from the artistic style and local culture of Amsterdam on ceilings and walls as well as in the tapestry. According to the mosque board the “Westermoskee” was build with the intention of opening up to not just practicing Muslims but also for the general public. The mosque intents to organize guided tours, expositions, and seminars on Islam. It also intends to involve neighborhood inhabitants in the development of social activity programs.

Return of the Jesus Wars

BEFORE “The Da Vinci Code” and “The Gospel of Judas,” before Mel Gibson’s “Passion” and Martin Scorsese’s “Last Temptation,” before the Dead Sea Scrolls were unearthed and the Gnostic gospels rediscovered, there was a German scholar named Hermann Samuel Reimarus.

 

Today there are enough competing “real Jesuses” that it’s hard for a would-be Strauss to find his Shaftesbury. Which is why every reinterpreter of Jesus not named Dan Brown is probably envious of Reza Aslan, the Iranian-born academic and author of “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” who achieved Strauss-style liftoff thanks to 10 painful minutes on Fox News.

 

Those minutes were spent with the interviewer, Lauren Green, asking Aslan to explain why a Muslim would write a book about Jesus — with Aslan coolly emphasizing his credentials and the non-Islamic nature of his argument — and then with Green asking variations on the Muslim question, to increasing offense and diminishing returns.

 

The video quickly went viral, turning Aslan into a culture-war icon, a martyr to Fox’s biases … and soon enough (as these things tend to go) a martyr with a No. 1 best seller.

 

The irony is that Aslan’s succès de scandale would be more deserved if he had actually written in defense of the Islamic view of Jesus. That would have been something provocative and — to Western readers — relatively new.

 

Instead, Aslan’s book offers a more engaging version of the argument Reimarus made 250 years ago. His Jesus is an essentially political figure, a revolutionary killed because he challenged Roman rule, who was then mysticized by his disciples and divinized by Paul of Tarsus.

 

Baroness Flather’s anti-Muslim comments spark debate

26 November 2012

 

Baroness Flather, who was an influential member of the Conservative party, has come under heavy criticism after her remark that that all Muslims in Britain live on benefits.

 

She made the comments in support of a Conservative party adviser Lynton Crosby. Crosby led London Mayor Boris Johnson’s two election campaigns. He is of Australian origin and known to be a master of dirty political games; it was reported that one piece of advice he gave Johnson was not to canvas the votes of “f***ing Muslims”. People close to him later insisted that it was not a racist remark but rather just his style.

Film Investigates Immigrant Involvement in Dutch Prostitution

15 May 2012

 

A new film tells the story of a Dutch-Moroccan social worker fighting the ills of sex-trafficking within his community. The country’s 2000 legalization of prostitution and sex trafficking was intended to reduce health and exploitation hazards for sex workers, but filmmaker reports in al-Jazeera coverage of the movie that the country has seen a move away from “old style” Dutch pimps and towards the involvement of some members of immigrant communities. The movie is named after these “Lover Boys”

History’s Hands: Transporting visitors from Fifth Avenue to Fez

After 30 years, the Met museum has embarked on the most ambitious rethinking and rebuilding of its Islamic art galleries in its history, a $50 million endeavor. At the heart of those galleries, which will open in the fall after being closed six years, it dreamed of showcasing the defining feature of Moroccan and southern Spanish Islamic architecture: a medieval Maghrebi-Andalusian-style courtyard, which would function in much the same way such courtyards still do in the traditional houses and mosques of Marrakesh or Casablanca, as their physical and spiritual center.

With world attention focused on the Middle East, the courtyard has taken on an unforeseen importance for the museum; for the Kingdom of Morocco itself, which has followed the project closely; and for a constituency of Muslim scholars and supporters of the Met. They hope it will function not only as a placid chronological way station for people moving through more than a millennium of Islamic history, but also as a symbol, amid potent anti-Islamic sentiment in the United States and Europe, that aesthetic and intellectual commerce remains alive between Islam and the West.

Speed-Dating, Muslim Style

The ultimate oxymoron: Islamic matrimony speed dating. It is a twice-yearly conclave started in 2007 by a Pakistani-American financial adviser from Long Island who was tired of being asked by Muslim clients if he knew anyone suitable for their children.

“It’s a combination of East and West,” said the organizer, Jamal Mohsin. He was inspired by an article in Newsweek about Jdate.com, a Jewish online dating service, which also arranges face-to-face events for singles. “Back in Pakistan, everything is arranged. Here, on the other extreme, individuals pick everything and parents, who raised you, aren’t involved. So I’ve created an event with both of these extremes. I’ve kept parents in the loop so they feel involved–at the same time, its speed dating. We’re being American. ” In Pakistan — and in parts of the Pakistani-American community — it is often said that you don’t marry a person, but their family.

This entrepreneurial idea has had its share of criticism, from conservative religious leaders, who pleaded with Mr. Mohsin to use teleconferencing, so men and women would meet via video chat, not in person. One of his friends condemned his events, calling them “an American-style meat-market.”

Female administrator for Amsterdam’s Polder Mosque

The Associated Press releases a profile this week of Yassmine el Ksaihi, leader of Amsterdam’s Polder Mosque. At age 24 she is the administrator of the large mosque. AP reports that in appointing a woman to this position, conducting sermons in Dutch, welcoming non-Muslims, and bringing men and women together for prayer (thought they remain segregated), the Polder Mosque is an example of a search for “if not a European style of Islam, at least grounds for coexistence with European norms”.

Possible burqa ban gains support in France

A report drawn up by French MPs calls for a ban on Afghan-style burqas and other garments that cover a woman’s face. The proposal has strong public support. According to an opinion poll by Ipsos for the magazine Le Point, 57 percent of voters favor a ban while 37 percent are opposed.

The recommendations of a parliamentary commission, to be published next week, are expected to include a bar on wearing full veils on public transport and in schools, hospitals and public-sector offices including post offices. The commission is thought likely to call for a total ban after further consultation.
President Nicolas Sarkozy launched a debate on veils last June, telling a special sitting of both houses of parliament that they were “not welcome” in France. He said last week the full veil was “contrary to our values and to the ideals we have of women’s dignity”.

André Gerin, the Communist MP who heads the commission, predicted the ban would be “absolute”. He has denounced what he called “French-style Talibans”. “The veil is only the visible part of the iceberg,” he said.

Opponents of a ban argue it would stigmatize Muslims. “France would be the only country in the world that sends its policemen … to stop in the street young women who are victims more than they are guilty,” wrote Laurent Joffrin, editor of the left-wing newspaper Libération. Police officers in some areas with large Muslim communities have warned that stopping women wearing veils would provoke riots.