German Muslim leaders react to Barcelona attacks

Following the recent attacks in Barcelona and the Catalan town of Cambrils that left 15 dead, Muslim figures in Germany have expressed their condemnation of the events and their solidarity with the victims.

Germany’s main Islamic associations condemn the attacks

DİTİB, the country’s largest Islamic association, issued a press release rejecting all forms of terrorism. Fellow organisations VIKZ and IGMG made similar moves. ZMD chairman Aiman Mazyek also denounced the attacks and called for unity in the face of the common terrorist threat.(( http://www.islamiq.de/2017/08/19/religionsvertreter-bestuerzt-nach-anschlaegen/ )) Other Islamic movements, such as the German Ahmadiyya community, followed suit.(( http://www.n-tv.de/politik/Die-Welt-trauert-mit-Barcelona-article19989536.html ))

These routine condemnations did little, however, to conceal the enduring divisions among Islamic organisations and leaders that continue to preclude a fresh and concerted approach against violent Islamism.

A superficial show of unity

A tweet under the #Barcelona hashtag by Ercan Karakoyun, chairman of the Foundation Dialogue and Education, central institution of the Gülenist movement in Germany, puts this division into dramatic relief.

Taking aim at the current repression of his movement in Turkey, Karakoyun pugnaciously asserted that “as long as many a state can designate an educational movement a terrorist organisation no common fight against terror is possible!”(( https://twitter.com/ercankarakoyun/status/898239034169974784 ))

Against this backdrop, calls to withstand the attackers’ attempt to play off Muslims against non-Muslims ring somewhat hollow: the Muslim figures making these statements have so far failed even to mend the rifts among their own associations. How they could meaningfully contribute to healing the divisions within European societies is therefore anyone’s guess.

Grassroots activism vs. stagnation at the top

To be sure, there are many Muslim grassroots movements in Germany that seek to stand in the way of violent ideologies: they range from Jewish-Muslim educational projects and neighbourhood initiatives to important de-radicalisation schemes aiming to offer an exit perspective from the Salafi scene. Overall, German Muslims’ civil society activism is high.

Yet at the level of the country’s Islamic associations, the picture is one of stasis. Unfortunately for German Muslims, those most likely to be heard as their representatives in the aftermath of any attack have little by way of a constructive response to offer.

Grand Mosque of Paris pulls out of Foundation for Islam in France

The Grand Mosque of Paris will pull out of a new, state-sponsored Muslim foundation, criticizing “interference” in how Islam is exercised, at a time of simmering tensions surrounding France’s second-largest faith, its spokesman said.

The mosque, which represents some 250 Muslim associations, called in a statement for other Muslim groups to follow suit and “reject all attempts of stewardship” by the state.

“We’re happy to have the state create a foundation, but the president must be Muslim and it must be done in collaboration with Muslims, we don’t want it imposed,” said Slimane Nadour, the mosque’s communications director.

But Abdallah Zekri, secretary-general of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, an umbrella body, suggested the mosque was peeved that its head, Dalil Boubakeur, was not tapped as foundation president. “We need a foundation,” he said.

 

Muslim leaders critique burkini controversy

Amar Lasfar, President of the Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF) and rector of the mosque in southern Lille, disapproved of the recent burkini controversy in a recent 20 Minutes interview. “For years, we have tried to attack radical Islam and terrorism, to tell Muslims that France does not target them, and this type of debate and decision has the inverse effect.”

In a letter addressed to Manuel Valls, Christian Estrosi, First Deputy of the Republicains to the mayor of Nice, wrote that “the complete covering of the face or body to go to the beach does not correspond with our ideal of social relations.”

Lasfar states that “the burkini is not part of the Muslim religion” and that he does not advocate wearing a burkini. But for religious leaders, that is not the point of the debate. “For me it’s not a question of religion, but of liberty,” says Lasfar. “But someone tell me what the difference is between a diving suit and a burkini.”

“That’s enough. It’s been blown out of proportion,” deplores Abdullah Zekri to BFMTV. The President of the Observatory Against Islamophobia stated he is “exasperated by everything I hear, Muslims, halal, the burka…”

 

Families of Drone Strike Victims in Yemen File Suit in Washington

WASHINGTON — The families of an anti-Qaeda cleric and a police officer killed in an American drone strike in Yemen filed suit in federal court in Washington on Sunday night, asking the court to declare that the strike was unlawful. 
The lawsuit asks for the same consideration for the families of Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber, the cleric, and Waleed bin Ali Jaber, his cousin, the sole traffic police officer in their village of Khashamir. Both men were Yemeni citizens.
The lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court here by Faisal bin Ali Jaber, an engineer and the brother-in-law of the cleric and the uncle of the police officer, with the assistance of the international human rights group Reprieve.