Low support for radicalism among European Muslims

15 September 2010
Support for radical Islamist groups is low among European Muslims and some leading groups with overseas roots are now cooperating with local governments and encouraging Muslims to vote, according to a new report. European groups linked to wider Islamist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-i-Islami now focus more on conditions for Muslims in Europe than their original ideologies from Egypt and Pakistan, according to the report by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, on “Muslim Networks and Movements in Western Europe”.
The report also cited tensions between “jihadists” and peaceful Islamists in Europe, saying some groups linked to the Muslim Brotherhood were working with police to counter militants. “By most accounts, support for radical extremist groups is relatively low among Muslims in Europe,” it said. “Nevertheless, such groups have been central to the public discussion of Islam in Europe, especially in recent years.”
The report said supporters of European groups with links to foreign Islamist movements often showed little interest in their founding ideologies, which critics say are radical and anti-Western. Although some groups promoted militant views, others dealt only with religious issues or education, making it difficult to generalise about Muslim organisations in Western Europe.

Concerns mount over French halal meat procedures

News Agencies – August 16, 2010

The lack of a central body in France to oversee the authenticity of halal meat has made some experts doubt that animals have been slaughtered following the correct Islamic procedures.
Estimates of the amount of meat labeled halal that does not meet the strict religious standards range from 40 to as high as 80 percent. France has Western Europe’s biggest Muslim population and producers are battling for a piece of the 5.5 billion euro ($7.05 billion) halal meat market.

Ala’a Gafouri of the Halal Institute of Food Management Industry (HIFMI) in Paris estimated that up to 80 percent of meat and other products labelled as halal may not meet these criteria.
“They’re self-certified,” Gafouri, who trains halal butchers and inspectors, said.
Kamel Kabtane, rector of the Grand Mosque of Lyon, estimates about 40-50 percent of halal products sold in France have not been rigourously verified. France’s official Muslim council (CFCM) wants the country’s mosques and Islamic groups to come together to agree on a national charter that lays out clear guidelines for halal meat to help French Muslims when they are making purchases.

Widespread Support for Banning Full Islamic Veil in Western Europe

A survey by the c, conducted April 7 to May 8, finds that the French public overwhelmingly endorses the face veil ban; 82% approve of a ban on Muslim women wearing full veils in public, including schools, hospitals and government offices, while just 17% disapprove.

Majorities in Germany (71%), Britain (62%) and Spain (59%) would also support a similar ban in their own countries. In contrast, most Americans would oppose such a measure; 65% say they would disapprove of a ban on Muslim women wearing full veils in public places compared with 28% who say they would approve.

“The Radicalization of Diasporas and Terrorism”

Throughout history, diasporic communities have been susceptible to a variety of forms of radicalization. Indeed, even in the pre-Christian era, ethnic and religious diasporas were prone to religious and separatist radicalization. Since the end of the Cold War, ethnonationalism has continued to fuel radicalization within some diasporic communities. With respect to contemporary global terrorism, militant Islamism, and in particular, its Salafist-Jihadist variant, serves as the most important ideational source of radicalization within diasporas in Western Europe and North America. Within the global North, this radicalization has frequently pitted the political desirability of relatively liberal immigration politics against the core requirements of internal security.

© 2009 Center for Security Studies (CSS), ETH Zurich

Franck Frégosi notes rise in fear of Islam in France

Franck Frégosi, director of research at the CNRS and author of Penser a l’islam dans la laïcité (Fayard, 2008) (“Considering Islam Within French Secularism”) claims that the French have “lost their habit of being confronted with religions which are not relegated to the private sphere”.

Frégosi explains that there are old fears in Western Europe which stem back to the initial encounters between Muslims and Christians. He notes that in Europe today, with the pressures of globalization and immigration, there is a new strain around identity which is emerging.

Frégosi notes that while the Qur’an does not discuss secularism, neither do the Gospels. He argues that the goal should not be to find notions of French secularism in the revealed text but to rethink the tradition more generally in this context.

Silencing Bosnia’s minarets

In the eastern Bosnian town of Bjeljina, 1,200 Serb residents signed the petition which calls for the reduction of the volume of the ezan (call to prayer) as it apparently creates a disruptive “noise” for the local Serb population. Harun Karcic, a graduate researcher at the Roberto Ruffili Faculty of Political Science thinks that this new move following a citizens’ petition demonstrates that Switzerland’s referendum has more far reaching implications than was first obvious.

“This move, which will most probably go unnoticed in most parts of the world, shows that the Swiss referendum and growing Islamophobia in Europe will have more serious consequences for Europe’s autochthonous Muslims than for the largely North African, Turkish and South Asian Muslim immigrants of Western Europe”, states Karcic among other things.

Video: Should the Netherlands ban the minaret?

A Rotterdam mosque is currently building what will be the largest minaret in Western Europe. This video features some Dutch politicians suggesting that the Netherlands follow the Swiss in banning the minaret, while others point out that very few mosques in the Netherlands are visibly identifiable, and that banning the minaret is discriminatory.

Muslims in the West After 9/11

This book is the first systematic attempt to study the situation of European and American Muslims after 9/11, and to present a comprehensive analysis of their religious, political, and legal situations.

Since 9/11, and particularly since the Madrid and London bombings of 2004 and 2005, the Muslim presence in Europe and the United States has become a major political concern. Many have raised questions regarding potential links between Western Muslims, radical Islam, and terrorism. Whatever the justification of such concerns, it is insufficient to address the subject of Muslims in the West from an exclusively counter-terrorist perspective. Based on empirical studies of Muslims in the US and Western Europe, this edited volume posits the situation of Muslim minorities in a broader reflection on the status of liberalism in Western foreign policies. It also explores the changes in immigration policies, multiculturalism and secularism that have been shaped by the new international context of the ‘war on terror’.

“Muslims of Europe: The ‘Other’ Europeans”

The interchange between Muslims and Europe has a long and complicated history, dating back to before the idea of ‘Europe’ was born, and the earliest years of Islam. There has been a Muslim presence on the European continent before, but never has it been so significant, particularly in Western Europe. With more Muslims in Europe than in many countries of the Muslim world, they have found themselves in the position of challenging what it means to be a European in a secular society of the 21st century. At the same time, the European context has caused many Muslims to re-think what is essential to them in religious terms in their new reality.

In this work, H.A. Hellyer analyses the prospects for a European future where pluralism is accepted within unified societies, and the presence of a Muslim community that is of Europe, not simply in it. He draws upon his academic expertise in a variety of disciplines, including sociology, politics and religious studies, in order to give the reader a thorough theoretical backdrop. Uniquely, he combines this knowledge with his background as an independent scholar engaged in policy networks and institutions. The result is a work that has drawn critical acclaim from some of the most noted scholars in the West on a very important topic.

This is the first of a series of events that will be held on the themes of Dr. Hellyer’s book in 2009/10 in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Pluralism is certainly one of the key issues facing us today, and Dr. Hellyer’s book is a fresh perspective on an age-old topic.