Terror threats against Norway

During the Muhammed cartoon reprint demonstrations last Friday, Mohyeldeen Mohammad from Larvik, Norway, (currently studying shari’a in Media, Saudi Arabia) spoke. Mohammad allegedly supported the stoning of homosexuals in his speech, and threatened Aftenposten. “When are the Norwegian authorities to understand this? Maybe not until it is to late. Maybe we’ll see a 9/11 or a 7/7 on Norwegian soil. This is not a threat, but a warning,” he also said. He also allegedly threatened to shoot, or stated that some people were coming to shoot, journalists who waited outside of his home in hope of getting an interview.

After the incident Mohammad is to have gone to the police to report the journalists, but was himself taken in to questioning. In a press conference the Norwegian police said they had searched his home without finding anything out of the ordinary. Mohammad is to have said the threat were a mistake, and that he didn’t know the people outside his house was journalists, but a mob wanting to hurt him.

We have seen a lot of tension in the last couple of weeks, and there is much speculation about how great the threat against Norway is. Politicians and Muslim representatives both are worried about the current situation. Minister of Justice, Knut Storberget, says there are signs of a radicalization amongst Muslims in Norway. Usman Rana, columnist in Aftenposten, is one of many Muslims who repudiate Mohyeldeen Mohammad’s opinions and calls for a “Norwegian interpretation” of Islam.

New Dissertation makes the news

When Mosa Sayed, researcher at the Faculty of Law at Uppsala University, defended his thesis, “Islam och arvsrätt i det mångkulturella Sverige. En internationellt privaträttslig och jämförande studie” (“Islam and inheritence law in multicultural Sweden”) it was spoken about as controversial already, and as a result the hall was packed and had to be guarded by watchmen. Even so the disputation ran without interruptions.

Dr. Sayed himself says the dissertation is to be considered a contribution to the debate of multiculturalism in Sweden.

In a response, well known debater on Islam related subjects Dilsa Demirbag-Stan says Sayed is pleading for the introduction of Shari’a inheritance laws for Muslims in Sweden – and this, she states, would give women half the inheritance of men. “Eager to express their sympathy for multiculturalism, the faculty of law in Uppsala have let Sayed’s sniper-shooting at the Swedish constitution and the citizen’s equal rights pass as law.”

In a response to Demirbag-Sten, Torbjörn Andersson – Dean of the Faculty of Law at Uppsala University – states that “Sayed’s thesis is a pioneering work in a field in need of exchange of opinions and research, but which also is charged with political tension. To discuss multi- and mono-cultural value structures, equality issues, and people need to be able to arrange their family affairs in a predictable way, requires nuance and objectivity. Sayed shoulders his responsibility.”

Integration and society

Tito Boeri, a famous Italian economist, analyzes the meaning of the terrible events in Rosarno. The integration of immigrants, from his point of view, is a crucial issue in Italy. Migrants are an economic benefit, but they are also a source of social tension for hosting communities.

The events in Rosarno proves that confining the problem of integration solely into a religious dimension is reductive and intellectually dishonest. He criticizes the thesis of the impossibility of integrating Muslims, and historical arguments of three facts (according to a representative survey carried out by Fondazione Rodolfo Debenedetti, Nov-Dec 2009):

1. One out of every three Italians don’t want Muslims as neighbors. They also don’t want Jews, right or left wing extremists, or AIDS sufferers.
2. Muslim immigrants speak Italian, send their children to public schools and have contact with Italian citizens more than other minorities.
3. Most immigrants work more than Italian citizens.

The answers to issues raised by Muslim immigration, although complex and challenging, cannot be nourished by prejudices. On the contrary, we have to be humble and doubt. We have to observe in order to learn, and to rely on facts and figures to put effective and non discriminatory policies in place.

Tensions erupt between Moroccans and Moluccans in Culemborg, Netherlands

A series of confrontations have erupted in recent weeks between Moroccan and Mollucan communities in the central Netherlands town of Culemborg.

Conflict between youths of the two communities began on New Years Eve and have continued, with police making several arrest, erecting physical barriers between the communities, and banning public gatherings of over three people for a period of two weeks.

Although tensions continue, the city held a march of reconciliation on January 7, which was attended by 250 people.

News reports address a number of sources for the conflict. NRC assigns the responsibility for the “race riots” to competition among young men, while Radio Netherlands Worldwide stresses ethnic divisions, though also noting that most Moluccans in the Netherlands are Christian while the Moroccan community is predominantly Muslim.

Neighbourhood tensions around Amersfoort Mosque

De Stad Amersfoort reports this week on ongoing tensions between the El Fath mosque and the wider community in in Liendert (Amersfoort). After several incidents of confrontation the local party BPA is pressing in the local council for police supervision, however the mosque administration says the unrest is exaggerated in the media.

Disagreements in recent months between mosque-visitors and residents have arisen regarding bicycling on the footpath parallel to the Valleikanaal, cars being double parked in the neighborhood, and dogs being let loose near the mosque. Abdelkarim Elkarti, the El Fath spokesperson and former board member says that a small number of residents are attempting to draw undue attention to the mosque on political grounds. He explains, “There’s absolutely no issue here of the situation escalating. We’re doing many activities for and with the neighborhood and we’ve received many expressions of support and positive reactions.”

Fears of an Islamic Revolt in Europe Begin to Fade

Five years ago bombings and riots fuelled anxiety that Europe’s Muslims were on the verge of mass radicalisation. Those predictions have not been borne out.

A district of derelict warehouses, red-brick terraces, and vibrant street life on the canals near the centre of Brussels, Molenbeek was once known as Belgium’s “Little Manchester”. These days it is better known as “Little
Morocco” since the population is overwhelmingly Muslim and of North African origin.

By day, the scene is one of children kicking balls on busy streets, of very fast, very small cars with very large sound systems. By night, the cafes and tea houses are no strangers to drug-dealers and mafia from the Maghreb.

For the politically active extreme right, and the anti-Islamic bloggers, Molenbeek is the nightmare shape of things to come: an incubator of tension and terrorism in Europe’s capital, part of a wave of “Islamisation”
supposedly sweeping Europe, from the great North Sea cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam to Marseille and the Mediterranean.

FBI director says Muslim-American relations good

FBI Director Robert Mueller acknowledged tension between his department and some in Muslim-American community over recent anti-terrorism tactics, but said that cooperation remains strong toward the shared goal of preventing attacks. “I would say we’re on the same page… While there may be some bumps I the road periodically, overall the relationship is exceptionally good,” said Mueller. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has been recently critical of FBI tactics it says only alienate Muslim-Americans, such as sending paid informants, some with criminal pasts, into mosques to try to identify members who might be swayed by fiery rhetoric or financial gain.

Sarwar opposes Brown’s anti-terror plans

Previously loyal backbench Muslim MP Mohammed Sarwar turned against Gordon Brown’s counter-terrorism plans and prepared to deliver the first parliamentary defeat of his premiership. Sarwar warned that tension in Muslim communities was rising as a result of the plans. Opponents said they were “reasonably optimistic” they would be able to throw out plans to extend the time terror suspects can be held without charge from 28 to 42 days. Their case has been strengthened by around a dozen MPs who voted in favour of similar laws in 2005, including Sarwar, who have changed their minds. Speaking about his decision for the first time, Sarwar reportedly said that he regretted supporting a 90-day limit and was concerned the legislation would unfairly target the Muslim community. The Glasgow Central MP said: “Last time I voted out of loyalty with the Government. “But since then there has not been a single case where prosecutors or the police have asked for an extension beyond 28 days. Only six people have been held for 28 days – three of whom were released without charge. The Government should think twice about doing this.”http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=D38ED310950F262F352E2733&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

When religious needs test company policy

Companies find that accommodating the faith needs of workers can be a delicate issue. The increasing visibility of religion in society, from a president who speaks openly about his faith to the proliferation of religious television programming, has consequences in the workplace. Increasing demands are placed on companies to create environments that are comfortable and welcoming for employees of all faiths — and of none. It is a matter of retaining employees and avoiding lawsuits. Complaints of religious discrimination to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission increased 20 percent, to 2,541, from 2001 to 2006. The figures of discrimination unreported may be much higher. Research by the Tanenbaum Center indicates that only 23 percent of employees who believe they are experiencing religious bias complain — but of those who feel that way, 45 percent are looking for new jobs. Employers are required by law to make substantial accommodations for their employees’ religious practices, as long as doing so does not create a major hardship for them. Company responses are diverse. Some companies serve as hosts of employee-run groups that hold discussions on different faiths and the like. Other companies take a more hands-off. Particular areas of tension include photo id’s for veiled women, prayer rooms, and religious symbols worn visibly over company uniforms. Clashes sometimes end in litigation; otherwise, companies work discretely with employees toward resolution.