Experts, Catalans betting on an inclusive school

While adolescents in Catalonia are raising questions about their identity, and children of immigrants are wondering about what it means to belong to two or more cultures, the proposition of integrative schools is making its way into community discourse. Psychologist Said El Kadaoui Mossaoui is asking for structural changes, especially in schools, to become a reality that actually (represents) Catalans living in Catalonia. Among the suggestions of his proposals include introducing Arab literature and authors in classes, to better understand the complexities of people. The secretariat for Immigration raised the need for educators to work self-esteem, cultural and religious empathy, and mutual understanding in the curriculum for adolescents.

Dialogue: A debate about the experience of faith

In the dossier entitled To understand Islam, Henri de La Hougue, professor of the Catholic institute of Paris gives some useful advice for Christians and Muslims who wish to establish a dialogue. The image of Muslims depicted in the media and in our imaginary concepts, favours stereotypes about their way of living and believing. In the same way, many Muslims carry false ideas about Christians and their beliefs. The professor insists in the advantages of dialogue to reach inter-religion understanding.

The Muslims of Ceuta plead for the understanding with Rabat

Persons in Spanish occupied territories of Ceuta and Melilla in Morocco have declared themselves to be enemies of the Spanish state, asking for several demands, including mosques, schools, Islamic professors, and sovereignty of the population. More than 30,000 Muslims live in Ceuta, where they comprise almost half of the population in the Spanish enclave, similar to Melilla. In response to surfacing tensions, Spain first settled in Melilla in 1496 and Ceuta in 1580. Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rabalcaca said on public television these two towns are Spanish, and Spanairds who live there want to see their king.

Muslim scholars reach out to Pope

More than 130 Muslim scholars have written to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders urging greater understanding between the two faiths.

The letter says that world peace could depend on improved relations between Muslims and Christians.

It identifies the principles of accepting only one god and living in peace with one’s neighbours as common ground between the two religions.

Are UK’s imams modern enough?

A week after the failed attacks in London and Glasgow, the Muslim Council of Britain has called an emergency meeting of imams and Muslim community activists to work out a strategy for combating extremism. Their particular concern will be young Muslims, and the radical groups trying to recruit them to their hard-line understanding of Islam, with all its disdain for the Western way of life. Those meeting in London on Saturday – and in a separate gathering in Oxford – are likely to see imams as a vital part of the task. They are the official interpreters of Islam, and the public officials of the Muslim world whose word should carry maximum authority. But a BBC study has led some influential figures in British Islam to doubt their imams are equal to this most urgent of tasks.

The Status of Muslim Civil Rights in the United States, 2007

A report released today by a prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group indicates a 25 percent increase in the total number of complaints of anti-Muslim bias from 2005 to 2006, with citizenship delays being the major issue.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) report — the only annual study of its kind — outlines 2,467 incidents and experiences of anti- Muslim violence, discrimination and harassment in 2006, the highest number of civil rights cases ever recorded in the Washington-based group’s report. (Hundreds of anti-Muslim incidents reported immediately following the 9/11 attacks were detailed in a separate report.)

According to the study, called “Presumption of Guilt,” that total is a 25.1 percent increase over the preceding year’s total of 1,972 cases. One of the most significant increases is in the category dealing with government agencies, which rose sharply from 19.22 percent of total reports in 2005 to 36.32 percent in 2006. This increase was due primarily to the number of cases related to immigration issues such as citizenship and naturalization delays.

CAIR also received 167 reports of anti-Muslim hate crime complaints, a 9.2 percent increase from the 153 complaints received in 2005.

Nine states and the District of Columbia accounted for almost 81 percent of all civil rights complaints to CAIR in 2006. They include (in descending order): California (29 percent), Illinois (13 percent), District of Columbia (7 percent), Florida (7 percent), Texas (6 percent), New York (5 percent), Virginia (4 percent), Michigan (3 percent), New Jersey (3 percent) and Ohio (3 percent).

This year, most categories of reported cases remained relatively unchanged from last year’s report. There were a few decreases, in both real and proportional terms, in certain categories from the previous year. For example, civil rights complaints involving the workplace declined significantly from 25.41 percent in 2005 to 15.57 percent in 2006.

In the report, CAIR offers public policy recommendations to address anti- Muslim sentiments in American society. Those recommendations include: 1) asking elected representatives and religious and community leaders to speak out strongly against Islamophobia and to repudiate anti-Muslim bigots, 2) urging American Muslims to increase outreach and education efforts, 3) holding congressional hearings on the rising level of Islamophobia in America, 4) expediting the processing of citizenship/naturalization applications, and 5) adopting domestic and foreign polices that reflect American traditions of justice and respect for the human dignity of all people.

“Like the history of other minority groups in America, the experience of the American Muslim community after the tragedy of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is seen by many as the next chapter in American civil rights history,” said CAIR Legal Director Arsalan Iftikhar, the report’s author. “The findings in this report should serve as a reminder that discrimination is still a major issue in our nation.”

CAIR began documenting anti-Muslim incidents following the 1995 attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The council is America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, with 33 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

Chicago Muslim Granted Citizenship After Five-Year Delay

The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today announced the resolution of a citizenship delay case that has been pending for the past five years. Despite successfully passing his citizenship exam in 2002 and taking part in repeated interviews, CAIR-Chicago’s client had his naturalization delayed pending a background check. The client was recently sworn in by the presiding Northern Illinois District Federal Court judge instead of in the usual group oath ceremony. His case was resolved before a June 15th court hearing. “Law-abiding Muslims throughout the nation are facing unreasonable delays in being granted citizenship,” said CAIR-Chicago attorney Bitta Mostofi. “CAIR-Chicago will continue to advocate for and represent individuals who have experienced these unnecessarily lengthy delays.” CAIR-Chicago launched an ongoing class action complaint again the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2005 seeking to place a cap on the amount of time allotted to conduct the background checks necessary for acquiring citizenship and to prohibit discrimination based on religion in applying for citizenship. CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 33 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

Muslim diversities: communities and contexts

“Muslim diversities: communities and contexts” seeks to bring together a collection of academic works that extends and informs knowledge and understanding about the diversity of communities and groups that constitute the contemporary Islamic and Muslim social, political, economic and theological landscapes in the UK, Europe and beyond.

To do this, chapters are required that focus upon a specific community (understood in terms of a community, organisation or group) that is then considered within a very specific contemporary context. It is vitally important that a specific context is therefore identified and established from the outset, as it is this that will provide the necessary framework from within which the necessary critical engagement of that community will be undertaken.

In being interdisciplinary and innovative in your approach, you may wish to consider some of the following communities (a list that is indicative rather than exhaustive):

  • Long established ethnic communities, e.g Turkish, Pakistanis
  •   Newly established communities, e.g. Eastern Europeans, Somalis
  •   Theological groups and movements, e.g. Shi’a (broad), Tablighi Jamaat (more specific)
  •   Political or politicised groups, e.g. Hizb ut-Tahrir, Stop the War (Muslim contingent)
  •   New and emergent communities, e.g. the Muslim Boys, converts/reverts
  •   Splinter and/or non-mainstream communities, e.g. Nation of Islam, Ismailies
  • In approaching these communities, you might wish to consider some of the following themes as a means of contextualisation:

  •   Political issues, e.g. integration, assimilation, belonging
  •   The media, e.g. how the community use the media, how the media represent the respective community
  •   Security, terrorism and associated legislation, e.g. responses both to and by Muslims organisations following major events such as 9/11, 7/7 and so on
  •   Theological differences, e.g. from orthodox forms of Islam, how these impact upon intra-community relationships and understandings
  •   Inter-faith perspectives and relationships
  •   Cultural aspects, e.g. music, art, literature, film
  •   The influence and effect of geography, e.g. from the simplest understanding of a given geographical location through to the perspective of minority status and all that this entails
  • Both established academics as well as postgraduates from across a variety of disciplines are encouraged in the first instance to submit an abstract of no more than 500 words that clearly sets out both the community concerned and the context within which the proposed chapter will undertake its exploration. Accompanying your abstract should be a short biography, full contact details and any academic affiliation. Submissions from suitably qualified practitioners outside the traditional academic environment will also be considered where appropriate.

    The deadline for submission of abstracts is 31 May 2007. For those whose abstracts are successful, you will be required to submit a first draft of your chapter by 1 September 2007.

    To submit abstracts or to request further information, please contact Chris Allen at: info@chris-allen.co.uk / christopherallen@blueyonder.co.uk

    Muslims big players in American economy

    Arab Americans comprise 6 million to 8 million people in the U.S. and Muslim Americans’ purchasing power is estimated to be $170 billion annually, but businesses often fail to recognize their economic power, recent reports suggest. A J. Walter Thompson survey called “Marketing to Muslims” and a study of Arab Americans in southeast Michigan provide a fuller picture of the economic contributions of Arabs and Muslims. Although often associated with Arabs, Muslims represent dozens of ethnic groups, including whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians. Understanding the differences between ethnicity and religion is one barrier that often confounds advertisers interested in selling to Muslim populations. “We need to educate ourselves and gain a broader understanding of the Muslim population,” said Ann Mack, director of trend spotting for Thompson and one of the authors of the study. The study, which was conducted earlier this year, interviewed 350 Muslim Americans in 20 states. It found: Muslims make up at least 2 percent of the U.S. population and two-thirds are under the age of 40. About 21 percent of Muslim Americans between the ages of 25 to 34 are registered voters, compared with 15 percent of people in that group across the country. Nearly 30 percent of U.S. Muslims are converts to Islam. 71 percent of Muslims believe advertisers rarely show anyone of their faith or ethnicity in advertising. That compares with 34 percent of the general population that believes the same thing. Around 70 percent of American Muslims over 25 have a college education, compared to 26 percent of the general U.S. population. Nationally, the food, finance and apparel industries appear to be the most influential markets for consumers who follow Islam. According to the Thompson study, the global market for halal – food prepared in accordance with Islamic law – is worth an estimated $580 billion annually. A study released by Wayne State University in Detroit titled “Arab America Economic Contribution Study” examined that population in southeast Michigan, finding that Arab Americans account for 6 percent of the work force and between $5.4 billion and $7.7 billion in earnings there. “In the U.S., the Arab and Muslim communities are small but generally very affluent and highly entrepreneurial,” Nasser Beydoun, chairman of the Dearborn, Mich.-based Arab American Chamber of Commerce, said last week. Michigan is home to the largest concentration of Arabs outside the Middle East – about 400,000 in metropolitan Detroit and 500,000 throughout the state.

    Radicalization in the West

    The NYPD’s understanding of the threat from Islamic-based terrorism to New York City has evolved since September 11, 2001. While the threat from overseas remains, terrorist attacks or thwarted plots against cities in Europe, Australia and Canada since 2001 fit a different paradigm. Rather than being directed from al-Qaeda abroad, these plots have been conceptualized and planned by “unremarkable” local residents/citizens who sought to attack their country of residence, utilizing al-Qaeda as their inspiration and ideological reference point.

    Some of these cases include:

    • Madrid’s March 2004 attack
    • Amsterdam’s Hofstad Group
    • London’s July 2005 attack
    • Australia’s Operation Pendennis (which thwarted an attack(s) in November 2005)
    • The Toronto 18 Case (which thwarted an attack in June 2006)

    Where once we would have defined the initial indicator of the threat at the point where a terrorist or group of terrorists would actually plan an attack, we have now shifted our focus to a much earlier point-a point where we believe the potential terrorist or group of terrorists begin and progress through a process of radicalization. The culmination of this process is a terrorist attack.

    Understanding this trend and the radicalization process in the West that drives “unremarkable” people to become terrorists is vital for developing effective counter- strategies and has special importance for the NYPD and the City of New York. As one of the country’s iconic symbols and the target of numerous terrorist plots since the 1990’s, New York City continues to be among the top targets of terrorists worldwide.

    In order to test whether the same framework for understanding radicalization abroad applied within the United States, we analyzed three U.S. homegrown terrorism cases and two New York City based cases:

    • • Lackawana, New York
    • Portland, Oregon
    • Northern Virginia
    • New York City – Herald Square Subway
    • New York City – The Al Muhajiroun Two

    The same radicalization framework was applied to a study of the origins of the Hamburg cluster of individuals, who led the September 11 hijackers. This assessment, almost six years after 2001, provides some new insights, previously not fully-grasped by the law enforcement and intelligence community, into the origins of this devastating attack.