MCB instructed on engaging with Muslims

UK’s largest Muslim Umbrella body has welcomed Sadiq Khan MP’s “incisive and thoughtful analysis” of the Muslim community in his Fabian Society pamphlet Fairness not Favours: How to reconnect with British Muslims. Mr Khan proposed a number of recommendations for The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) in the pamphlet published on Wednesday. “Some may be challenging, and will require debate – and the Muslim Council of Britain seeks a dispassionate discourse devoid of the usual rhetoric that comes with discussion about Muslims. MCB supports Mr Khan’s proposal that government should deal with Muslims on the basis of ‘engagement’ rather than ‘endorsement’, on a fair and equal footing,” it said in response. Khurshid Drabu, Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee of the MCB, said: “This is an insightful and candid contribution to a challenging and much misunderstood agenda. Sadiq Khan’s experience, intellect and standing can be trusted to voice the legitimate expectations of the political establishment from Muslims as citizens and of Muslims for fair and equal treatment. “His analysis of relevant issues is courageous and his recommendations require positive action from all sides. The MCB welcomes this excellent intervention. We are very pleased to note that Sadiq Khan asks for introduction of positive duty in the legislative framework for elimination of discrimination on grounds of religion in the areas of the provision of goods, facilities and services. The MCB has for many years been campaigning for this pressing need. Muslims do not seek favours. We seek fairness.”

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Muslim bodies cut links to Germany’s only professor of Islam

Germany’s main Muslim bodies cut their links Friday to Germany’s only professor of Islamic religion, charging that Muhammad Kalisch had questioned the existence of the Prophet Mohammed and Muslim beliefs about the origin of the Koran. Kalisch teaches at the University of Muenster in northern Germany. The four main Muslim groups had been represented on a board of advisors to his Centre for Islamic Religious Studies (CRS) since the chair was established, but there has been friction over his academic publications. In a joint statement in Cologne on Friday, the council of Muslim organizations said it was concerned at the “discrepancy between fundamentals of Islamic teaching and the published positions of the head of the CRS.” Ayyub Axel Koehler, a German Muslim who is president of one group, the Central Council of Muslims, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa: “Kalisch calls fundamental teachings into question in such a stark way that it’s not possible to go along with him.” He said Kalisch had questioned whether the Prophet really existed and what Muslims believed about the Koran’s origin. “We support the freedom of scholarship and teaching and we have no wish to gag him,” said Koehler. “But we cannot advise people to learn from him.” In a response published by the university, Kalisch said, “I regret the decision of the Muslim organizations. “A university is not there to teach the content of faith, nor to approve the opinions of a professor as correct. “Rather, the task of a university is to conduct independent, open- ended research.” He said a university should equip students “to reflect critically and achieve intellectual independence.”

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Faced with religious claims, the town of Gonesse proposes a charter

A rise in religious claims by communities is causing embarrassment for a number of mayors in France, and concern on how to balance the principals of secularism with respecting the religious adherence of members of their communities. The mayor of Gonesse, Jean-Pierre Blazy, attempted to reconcile these claims by proposing a charter emphasizing the importance of secularism for social cohesion, to be approved by major religions present in the township. Recently, the town has faced pressures concerning the visibility of religion on public schools – including requests for halal or Islamically permissible food in the cafeteria, and a ban on girls wearing scarves in schools.

Public Expresses Mixed Views of Islam, Mormonism: Benedict XVI Viewed Favorably But Faulted on Religious Outreach

Summary of Findings

The Muslim and Mormon religions have gained increasing national visibility in recent years. Yet most Americans say they know little or nothing about either religion’s practices, and large majorities say that their own religion is very different from Islam and the Mormon religion.

A summary of this poll and the full report are available for download on the Pew Research Center website.

Politics of Visibility: Young Muslims in European Public Spaces

This book takes into view a large variety of Muslim actors who, in recent years, made their entry into the European public sphere. Without excluding the phenomenon of terrorists, it maps the whole field of Muslim visibility. The nine contributions present unpublished ethnographic materials that have been collected between 2003 and 2005. They track down the available space that is open to Muslims in EU member states claiming a visibility of their own. The volume collects male and female, secular and religious, radical and pietistic voices of sometimes very young people. They all speak about “being a Muslim in Europe” and the meaning of “real Islam”.