Media coverage related to immigrants and its effects on public opinion

March 19, 2014

 

The reactions of German media towards the result of the Swiss referendum were immense. Most  comments by German media outcried their “shock” about the negative attitudes of parts of the Swiss population towards immigrants. Some journalists were caught off guard, without reflecting their own work, asking how biased media coverage on immigrants has become. While selecting topics for the news, majority of media representatives choose issues such as the “headscarf”, “migration into the welfare system” and “minarets” issues. Just as “bad news are good news”, contributions that mirror the economic, cultural and social vibrant lives of immigrants are hard to find. Immigrants and their issues are relatively represented at the local level, speaking out their claims in local media. They are clearly underrepresented in media at the national, which has a greater influence on the German public opinion.

Recent German media coverage on immigrants and Islam has been very negative. With regards to the upcoming elections for the European parliament, media representatives are responsible to report fair, balanced and comprehensive when covering stories about immigrants. This is said to be the only path for media to avoid the indirect support for right-wing populist parties, which scapegoat immigrants for their political interests.

 

 

MiGAZIN: http://www.migazin.de/2014/03/19/die-geister-die-sie-selbst-mit-rufen/

3 Simple Charts That Explain What Muslims Believe

The Pew Forum recently released a 226-page report exploring opinions and beliefs from Muslim communities around the world. The survey, which was conducted through more than 38,000 face-to-face interviews in more than 80 languages, delves into the Muslim world’s insights on everything from Sharia law to alcohol consumption. The findings were simple: Just as all religions, Islam is subjective in many ways and the few who interpret it in a radical and dangerous way are in no way indicative of the overwhelming majority who don’t.

 

The first finding — and one that intrigues the Western world the most — is that the majority of Muslims want to implement sharia law, but almost no one was in consensus as to what exactly sharia means.

Support for sharia is highest in Afghanistan, where 99% of the people support sharia. The Palestinian territories, Malaysia, Niger, and Pakistan follow Afghanistan, also holding a high preference for sharia law. Central Asia and Europe, on the other hand, rank amongst the lowest for support for sharia.

But, before all the Islamophobes get up in arms about how Sharia law is taking over the world, Pew notes that there is little agreement even within the Muslim world as to what Sharia law actually is. There is a major split, for example, amongst Muslims as to whether or not corporal punishment is acceptable — religiously, legally and socially – for issues such as adultery, divorce, and thievery. And the reason for that is simple. As Wajahat Ali explains in his article,Understanding Sharia Law, Sharia is neither static nor is it easily defined.

It is open to interpretation in terms of serving as a moral compass, and is largely concerned with religious duties such as praying and fasting, and, most importantly, ensures a welfare state. Because of this, he says, “Any observant Muslim would consider him or herself a sharia adherent. It is impossible to find a Muslim who practices any ritual and does not believe himself or herself to be complying with Sharia.”

 

In the end, it is clear that Islam is practiced differently with different cultural contexts throughout the world — a clear indication that, just as with all religions, Islam is subjective and can be interpreted very differently by everyone.

The British Dream by David Goodhart – review

A disingenuous approach is all too common in Goodhart’s disappointing book on immigration and diversity, which is strewn with similar straw-man arguments such as the idea that Britain’s civil servants care more about people in Burundi than those living in Birmingham. “To put it bluntly – most of us prefer our own kind.” remains the core of his argument – that human beings favour their own sort and are suspicious of outsiders, so mass immigration fragments society, strains the welfare state and loosens the ties of the nation. He makes a few fair although far from original points, about the weakening of communal links and the way our nervous multiculturalism ignored Islamic extremism and overlooked intolerable practices. But essentially the British Dream is just the stale suspicion of foreigners dressed up in intellectual clothing and given a slight twist to the left. Goodhart picks on the usual soft targets, such as recently arrived Somalis; perhaps he should visit Somaliland before saying “their particular brand of Islam” and “notorious” clan systems are not suited to modern democracy. Indeed, this insular book shows surprising ignorance of overseas development, with its claims that migration damages poor countries despite so many recent studies to the contrary, while also disgracefully downplaying the impact of racism. For all the optimism of the title, this books drips with misplaced pessimism. By the conclusion, its author is still alleging his opponents see immigrants as morally superior people, placing their interests above those of existing citizens. Yet so contorted are his arguments he ends up happily seeking restrictions on Britons bringing in family members, higher costs of care for old people and religious quotas in schools, together with an ill-defined “integration index” for the nation.

The Circumcision Debate in Germany: A Miscalculation

Is it possible to justify a Cologne court’s ruling on the legality of circumcision on the basis of Germany’s Basic Law? In this essay, Patrick Bahners takes a closer look at both the Basic Law and the ruling and concludes that the judges in Cologne must have made a serious error of judgement

Anyone who toils over his tax returns, painstakingly adding up write-offs and tax-free contributions, and finally comes to the conclusion that he can expect to receive a refund the size of the federal budget will instantly realise that the result cannot possibly be correct. Such obviously absurd conclusions also occur in the field of practical reason.

A ruling by a German regional court, which, if observed, would mean that all Jews would have to leave the country, cannot possibly be correct. Our human faculties of reason, better known as common sense, tell us so. This also explains the prompt and unequivocal reactions of leading politicians to the Cologne circumcision ruling. Their intuition is intact, which is certainly a relief.

German Court Ruling over Ritual Circumcision: Kulturkampf against Muslims and Jews

A court in Germany has ruled that circumcision on religious grounds amounts to bodily harm, making it potentially punishable by law. Sociologist of religion Rolf Schieder says this is an unacceptable move that questions the right to religious freedom

Upon first glance, the Cologne district court is correct: any medical intervention in the case of a child amounts to bodily harm in Germany. The same applies to the removal of a wart, just as it does to the removal of a boy’s foreskin. The state has both the right and the duty to assess whether the medical treatment carried out on the child is in the interests of that child. If for example the removal of a child’s tonsils is in the interests of the child’s welfare, then despite the fact that this is amounts to bodily harm, the actions of the doctor are justified.

As a rule, medical reasons are accepted as justification. So if the Muslim parents in Cologne had explained to the doctor that they wanted a circumcision for reasons of hygiene, the case would not have come as far through the courts as it eventually did.

Furthermore, until the Cologne district court ruling, the commonly-held view among lawyers competent in such religiously sensitive legal matters was that adherence to a religious tradition is an acceptable basis for justification. This was even the assumption of the first court to deal with the matter, the Cologne magistrates’ court.

Ritual Slaughter Reforms Established in Netherlands

June 5 2012

Religious leaders in the Netherlands have signed an agreement with Deputy Minister Henk Bleker amending the terms of ritual animal slaughter in the country. The agreement states that an animal must be unconscious within forty seconds of the cut to its throat, or else must be stunned. The minister, interest groups and the slaughterhouse association have all signed the agreement.
The accord, Bleker states, provides “a good balance… between religious freedom and the improvement of the welfare of animals.” Rasit Bal, chair of the Muslim and Government Contact Group, stated that he is happy the agreement enables Muslims to continue to practice halal ritual slaughter in the country.
The agreement comes into force next week, ending negotiations over a proposed ban on ritual slaughter which have carried on since June 2011. A scientific advice committee has been established to answer any questions about the new procedures.

Muslims Fighting over Halal Meat

6 May 2012

 

Finding Halal meat is one of the most problematic issues for European Muslims and they are increasingly becoming a target of animal welfare originations. Similar to Judaism, Islam decrees upon practicing Muslims to eat only the meat of animals slaughtered according to Islamic rituals. Anything other than this is not edible for Muslims, save for life threatening situations. However, slaughtering animals is considered to be inhumane by animal welfare organizations thus the issue becomes a matter of tension between Muslims and the host communities.

 

The French Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fishing published a report in 2008, on Religious Slaughter and the Welfare of Animals which was based upon scientific research including a French veterinary PhD. According to the report, if executed properly religious slaughter causes less trauma to the animal than the conventional ways of killing, thus it is more humane.

 

According to reports, a leading veterinarian, Professor Bill Reilly has recently criticised the rise in the number of animals slaughtered according to religious laws and suggested it should be either curbed or banned. This sparked a harsh reaction from the Muslim community who considered it an attempt to interfere with their religion.

New study: Swedish Muslim Congregation

Islam is the fastest growing religion in Western Europe today. As a consequence, the emergence and growth of Muslim religious congregations is one of the most important changes that have taken place within the European third (or voluntary) sector in the last 20 years. However, more often than not, these congregations are described as “enclaves” or “integration traps” isolating new citizens from the rest of society, a picture that has remained largely uncontested due to a lack of more extensive research. 

The intention of the Swedish Muslim Congregation project is to present – for the first time in Europe – nationally representative data about the activities and roles of local Muslim congregations. We have concentrated primarily on three problem areas:

Our aim, first, has been to map the congregations’ demography and activities (especially the extent of voluntary social work). Second, we have investigated Muslim experiences of the reactions of others in their surrounding environments, as reported by congregation representatives. To what extent do Muslim congregations encounter local opposition and support? Third is our focus on Muslim congregation collaboration with other organizations and public institutions. The Scandinavian welfare model boasts a long established emphasis on collaboration between third sector, municipal and state organizations. Are the Muslim congregations able – and willing – to connect to the established forms of cooperation that already exist in Sweden between the public and third sectors?

An essential part of the project is the nationwide questionnaire sent to the 147 local Swedish Muslim congregations that we identified, to which we received 105 replies (a 71 percent response rate). Non-response analysis showed no

statistically significant differences in response propensity that could be connected with the different existing schools of Islam, nor with the type of municipality (metropolitan, small town, rural district, etc.)

Long-Awaited Response to Sarrazin’s Book Hits German Bookshelves: A Review

25 March 2011

Patrick Bahners, editor-in-chief of the arts and culture pages of the conservative FAZ, has published a book about the hysteric German debate around Islam. In this article, the reviewer of “Die Panikmacher” (“The Alarmists”) finds that Bahners shrewdly dismantles the arguments of prominent Islam critics like Thilo Sarrazin, Henryk M. Broder and Necla Kelek. Bahners sheds light on the strategies of Islam critics, who oftentimes argue from an absolutist point of view, rejecting any form of dialogue as well as the model of the welfare state. Despite missing a few amendments, such as a comparison with neighbouring countries like Austria, the reviewer welcomes the publication very much.

Patrick Bahners: “Die Panikmacher. Die deutsche Angst vor dem Islam”. C. H. Beck Verlag, München 2011.

Dutch Tax Investigation Targets Turkish Bakeries

February 22 2011

The Netherlands’ anti-fraud agency (FIOD) has completed a study of 500 bakeries with owners of non-western origin, and found instances of irregular bookkeeping, illegal employment, tax fraud, or hygiene issues in many of the Turkish bakeries investigated. The tax authority began the investigation last fall together with the justice ministry and welfare authorities. According to the Telegraaf’s coverage of the investigation, 85% of the bakeries investigated were Turkish, and of these 60% displayed cause for concern. Responding to the study, the Turkish business association pointed out the problematic nature of a study which targeted non-western businesses, stating that a study limited to Turkish bakeries “doesn’t make sense”.