Still a Long Road towards Recognition for Islam

The Federation of Swiss Islamic Organizations (FIDS) and the Coordination of Islamic Organizations in Switzerland (KIOS) announced recently their intention to merge and create a “religious parliament” in order to represent the Muslims of Switzerland and receive official recognition from the state.
Andreas Tunger-Zanetti, specialist of Islam and coordinator of the Center for Religious Studies at the University of Lucerne, believes however that there are still too many obstacles in the way before recognition on the state level would be possible. He highlights especially the low degree of institutional organization in Islam, while also pointing out that the issue concerns perhaps only 15% of “Muslims” in Switzerland, i.e. those who practice their faith. Moreover, given the ethnic cleavages among Muslim immigrant groups which still persist, he states that it is still too early to begin speaking of a unified movement.

New Muslim Organization under Discussion

13 March 2011

Two of Switzerland’s largest Muslim federations have announced their plans to found a new religious organization with the goal of representing all Muslims in Switzerland. According to the president of the Federation of Swiss Islamic Organizations (FIDS) Hisham Maizar, the new organization is to be called the “Swiss Umma,” and will be formed together with the Coordination of Islamic Organizations in Switzerland (KIOS).
Maizar stated as well that another of the main goals would be to improve the image of Islam in Switzerland. The two organizations plan to create a type of parliament, whose members would be voted in by the 400 000 Muslims in Switzerland. The first election is planned for the beginning of 2012 at the latest, while a commission has already been established so as to ensure that the statutes of the new organization are in accordance with both Islamic and Swiss public law.

Master of Islamist doublespeak

The Swiss Islamic activist Tariq Ramadan has been invited by Griffith University to be the keynote speaker at its conference opening in Brisbane today. The fact that Australia is allowing Ramadan to enter the country at all will raise eyebrows in security circles elsewhere. Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood: the spiritual backers of al-Qa’ida and Hamas and whose goal is to Islamise the world. While it is, of course, unfair to tar someone with his grandfather’s views, there is ample reason to think that in the case of Tariq Ramadan the apple has not fallen far from the tree. Ramadan has been banned from entering the US because of his alleged association with extremists. The Geneva Islamic Centre, with which he is closely associated, has been linked to terrorists of the Algerian FIS (Islamic Salvation Front) and the GIA (Armed Islamic Group). A Spanish police report claimed that Ahmed Brahim, an al-Qa’ida leader jailed in Spain, was “in frequent contact” with Ramadan, a claim he has denied. Yet the Swiss activist has not only been allowed into Britain but is ensconced at St Anthony’s College, Oxford as a research fellow and is much lionised by the British establishment, appearing at security seminars on Islamism and even serving as an adviser to the British Government on tackling Islamic extremism. So how to explain this wild divergence of views about Tariq Ramadan? And does Australia have cause to be concerned?