More Young Dutch Muslims Are Travelling To Mecca For the annual Hadj

With the annual Hajj starting on the 30th of August this year, the Dutch pilgrims have become increasingly younger. In the past, the Hajj was usually undertaken by elderly Muslims. Nowadays, elderly Muslims are still the main age group among Hajj pilgrims, but there has been an increase in younger Muslims fulfilling this important religious obligation. Marjo Buitelaar, a Dutch academic on contemporary Islam, has done research on the developments regarding the Hajj and also noticed this important shift in age demographics.

“The pilgrimage used to be seen mainly as a final religious obligation one had to fullfill, and ask for forgiveness of the sins you have committed. Young Muslims also feel the need for this, but because they are standing in the midst of life, they experience the Hajj and the period after differently,” Buitelaar stated. She added that young people are practicing their faith more and do not longer want to wait until they are in their sixties and seventies before fulfilling this religious obligation. In addition, she believes that not only is the individualization of religion a factor in these new developments, but ‘identity issues’ are also playing a role: as most young Dutch Muslims have a Moroccan or Turkish ethnical background, they are confronted with questions as to where they belong. Since they are not  only not fully accepted in the Netherlands, but also not in Morocco or Turkey, they appreciate the feeling of being ‘just’ a Muslim in Saudi-Arabia.

A few travel agencies can attest to the fact that more young Dutch Muslims are deciding to set out for the pilgrimage. Zaakaria Bouhkim, a 29-year-old Muslim from Amsterdam, runs a travel agency with his father. While they guide a group of 235 pilgrims to Mecca this year, Bouhkim also noticed that the pilgrims are becoming increasingly younger. He states that more than half of these pilgrims are younger than 40 years old. In addition, he claims that the ‘umrah is becoming increasingly popular among young Dutch Muslims. He believes that a lower threshold to go to Mecca is contributing to the trend. In addition, the younger Muslims with these ethnic backgrounds have more money than their parents had, which also contributes to a lower threshold. Naoufal El Ghaouty, the owner of travel agency Diwan Travel, has about 200 people going with him to Mecca each year. He confirms that the typical Dutch pilgrim is getting younger: “In the past, only ten or fifteen percent of the pilgrims were young people, now that has become between forty and fifty percent: a big difference.”

Because the Dutch Muslim pilgrims are becoming increasingly younger, the travel agencies see the need to change their offer accordingly. They offer outings for example; like crossing through the desert with squad cars. It also becomes clear that there is a strong influence of social media in how these young Dutch Muslims experience their Hajj. Muslims post ‘snaps’ on Snapchat for example, where one can temporarily share images and video’s. A young Muslim from Rotterdam, the 20-year-old Hoedayfa Flillou, also agrees that social media plays an important role in the contemporary Hajj experience of young Dutch Muslims. He claims that young Muslims have more access to actual images of the Hajj through social media, because of the ‘selfies’ young Muslims make when they are in Mecca. He also believes that the modern Mecca has become more attractive city-wise for young Muslims, with the new buildings that have been built.

Sources:
https://nos.nl/artikel/2190474-je-hoeft-niet-meer-zestig-te-zijn-om-naar-de-hajj-te-gaan.html https://fd.nl/werk-en-geld/1212837/verplicht-op-reis https://www.rtlnieuws.nl/nederland/steeds-meer-jongeren-naar-mekka-ze-zijn-nieuwsgierig-geworden-door-selfies-van-anderen

UK Communities Secretary says Muslims need to do more to stop radicalisation

In response to the recent terror attacks in London and Manchester, UK Conservative Party politician, Sajid Javid argued that Muslims have an added responsibility to limit extremism than that of other British residents. Javid is a Muslim himself and services as the Communities Secretary.

He argues against the “well-meaning” idea that the attacks have nothing to do with Islam, saying that the Muslim community needs to do more “soul searching” to find the links between Islam and terrorism.

He believes the only people who can stop terrorism are young Muslims speaking out and showing that “this is not their fight and they want no part of it.”

 

UK Communities Secretary says Muslims need to do more to stop radicalisation

In response to the recent terror attacks in London and Manchester, Muslim Communities Secretary Sajid Javid argues that Muslims have an added responsibility to limit extremism.

He argues against the ‘well-meaning’ idea that the attacks have nothing to do with Islam, saying that the Muslim community needs to do more ‘soul searching’ to find the links between Islam and terrorism.

He believes the only people who can stop terrorism are young Muslims speaking out.

In a second Scottish independence referendum, young Muslims would be likely to vote for independence

Scottish Muslims are likely to support independence from the UK due to British anti-terrorism policies, according to a qualitative study by scholars at Newcastle University. The UK government’s ‘Prevent’ strategy, which aims to stop Muslims from becoming radicalised, has been heavily criticised for encouraging Islamophobic suspicion.

Based on interviews and focus groups that included more than 600 Muslim Scottish participants, the researchers concluded that Muslims see Scottish nationalism as more inclusive than other types of nationalism. Its multicultural focus may provide ways for Muslims to engage politically.

The minority of Muslims who support continued union with England, Wales, and Northern Ireland cited economic and security factors.

Journey through an Islamic Germany: A book seeks to give diverse Muslims a voice

Providing a counterpoint to the black-and-white narrative

Karen Krüger, journalist at culture desk of the conservative weekly Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, has released a new book in which she embarks on a journey through what she terms an ‘Islamic Germany’, portraying diverse Muslim Germans in their daily lives.

Krüger’s self-professed goal is to show the diversity of the country’s Muslim population and the multifaceted nature of their religion, against the backdrop of a public perception of Islam as a monolithic unit: “My aim was to enable those Muslims to speak up whom you otherwise don’t hear because their religion simply is not bellicose.”((http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/islam-in-deutschland-syrische-muslime-koennten-eine-chance.886.de.html?dram:article_id=361756))

Pre-empting potential criticism claiming that she hand-picked ‘liberal’ Muslims to portray in her book, Krüger states that “I only show liberal Muslims because the large majority of Muslims living in Germany is liberal. One just doesn’t notice them that often because they don’t appear as talk show guests, because they don’t attract attention through spectacular demonstrations.”((http://www.br.de/radio/bayern2/kultur/diwan/karen-krueger-reise-durch-das-islamische-deutschland-100.html))

Krüger thus seeks to work against a news cycle focused on terrorism and security concerns: “I wanted to confront this [focus] by showing that Muslims are not this homogeneous mass they’re often presented as in the media. It is really worth to look in people’s faces, to find contacts and to start a conversation with people – and then you will see that many [allegations] are not justified.”((http://www.br.de/radio/bayern2/kultur/diwan/karen-krueger-reise-durch-das-islamische-deutschland-100.html))

Deficits in incorporating Islam into society

The author also notes the toll that the ongoing barrage of media scrutiny and public suspicion is taking on German Muslims: “With most Muslims you can feel a great deal of hurt because due to the worldwide political situation many Muslims often experience rejection, even though they feel as a part of German society.” Krüger notes that among many Muslims this rejection leads to a latent yet perceptible state of grief.((http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/islam-in-deutschland-syrische-muslime-koennten-eine-chance.886.de.html?dram:article_id=361756))

For Krüger, this state of affairs is a powerful driver of radicalisation: for young German Muslims, the starting point on the slippery slope towards jihadism is a situation in which “religion is transformed into an identitarian place of refuge” – a place particularly appealing to the children and grandchildren of Muslim immigrants who are neither deemed to be ‘properly German’ nor can simply claim to belong to their parents’ country of origin. Islam in general, and jihadist Islam with its transnational ideological and organisational structures in particular, appears to offer a way out of this dilemma.((http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/islam-in-deutschland-syrische-muslime-koennten-eine-chance.886.de.html?dram:article_id=361756))

What is required, Krüger argues, are better educational efforts, in order to offer relevant and theologically sound instruction to young Muslims. This would pre-empt the need for an auto-didactic and haphazard engagement with Islam on shady online fora. More importantly, however, Krüger calls upon mainstream society to allow and enable a Muslim German identity to grow: “Surely not for everyone but at least for wide sections [of the population] it is not yet imaginable that ‘being German’ and ‘being Muslim’ do not have to exclude each other but can come together.”((http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/islam-in-deutschland-syrische-muslime-koennten-eine-chance.886.de.html?dram:article_id=361756))

Krüger’s call comes at a particularly sensitive moment, as a number of conservative interior ministers of Germany’s federal states are putting forward drastic national security proposals. Among other measures on their list, they demand the prohibition of dual citizenship, a burqa ban, and tighter supervision of mosque finances.((http://www.n-tv.de/politik/Union-will-Anti-Terror-Gesetze-verschaerfen-article18381011.html))

Criticism of the Turkish-dominated Islamic federations

Yet in Krüger’s view, the emergence of a Muslim German identity has not just been hampered by fears and prejudices on the part of mainstream society. She is acutely critical of the existing Islamic associations and federations in the country whom she deems unable to develop a way of thinking about Islam that resonates with the experience of ordinary German Muslims. Whatever progress has been accomplished in this regard has not been attained because of the work of the federations but rather in spite of them.

Krüger reserves her particular ire for DITIB, still the most powerful Islamic association in Germany. A subsidiary of the a Turkish government agency – the Presidency for Religious Affairs – she accuses DITIB of importing a kind of Turkish state Islam that is backward and ill-equipped to develop a constructive vision for Muslim life in Germany. Against this backdrop, the author conceives of the arrival of Syrian and other refugees as an opportunity to break the dominance of Turkish governmental Islam.((http://www.br.de/radio/bayern2/kultur/diwan/karen-krueger-reise-durch-das-islamische-deutschland-100.html))

This last point is of great salience in current German political debates. Diplomatic rows with the Erdogan administration have undermined the trust in the previously convenient arrangement that had outsourced Islamic religious services to Turkish government agencies. Unfortunately, however, virtually none of the voices present in these discussions offer constructive proposals as to how the gridlocked Islamic institutional landscape ought to be reformed. Krüger’s book appears valuable not as such an institutional blueprint but as a document of the diversity of Muslim life in Germany.

Karen Krüger, “Eine Reise durch das islamische Deutschland”, 352 pages, Rowohlt Berlin, 19,95 Euro

One-in-four French Muslims follow ‘hardline’ Islam

A study showing that more than a quarter of French Muslims follow hardline Islam is causing discomfort for the political class, which is united in ignoring its conclusions.

Among the survey’s findings are that 28 percent of Muslims questioned follow an “authoritarian” interpretation of texts advocating a break with French society; or that more than 40 percent of young Muslims (aged 15-25) consider Islamic Sharia law more important than the secular law of France.

“They (young French Muslims) feel rejected,” Hakim El Karoui, who co-authored the report for the Institut Montaigne think tank said. “French society is sending them the message: you are not French. In a way they are getting revenge by hanging on to the identity they have.”

The embrace of hardline Islam was strongest among young Muslims who lacked jobs or strong qualifications, added El Karoui. Overall, a plurality of French Muslims — 46 percent — considered the practice of their religion totally compatible with local rules and customs.

The study should be causing waves. It’s the first major snapshot of how French Muslims view their own beliefs to be published in France, and it comes after a wave of Islamist-inspired terrorist attacks.

And yet, public reaction to the study is partial, and strained.

Robert Ménard, a far-right mayor known for his provocative positions, tweeted a link to the report, followed by the question: “Is a confrontation [with Islam] inevitable?”

Left-wing magazine Télérama took a sarcastic stance, calling the findings “unsurprising” and criticizing the study’s methodology.

“For the time being it’s total silence from the administration,” Fanny Anor, one of the study’s co-authors, said. “What we are trying to do is create data that allows us to analyze these questions based on solid evidence, so we can avoid debating purely on impressions.”

“But that’s a very uncomfortable position for the government,” she added.

While Prime Minister Manuel Valls has repeatedly voiced alarm over the spread of “political Islam” in France, the Montaigne study shows where it’s coming from: young Muslims who lack jobs and professional skills, and feel as though the French state has turned its back on them.

To rekindle faith in the French system, the study’s authors argue, France should bring the alienated population into the workforce by overriding hiring discrimination through the use of ethnic and religious statistics.

“They [politicians] feel trapped,” added Anor. “After the terrorist attacks, it’s an awkward camp to be in, arguing for measures to fight discrimination.”

 

Young Muslims do not try to isolate themselves from society

In contrast to what we often read in the media, young Muslims feel part of society. They listen secular pop music, watch the same television programs as non-Muslims and find study and career of utmost importance. This is concluded by anthropologist Daan Beekers – who says that his research shows that it is possible to be Muslim ánd Dutch.

His research thus differs from the one conducted by Elsbeth Visser, who stated that (strict) religious Muslims try to isolate them from the wider society. According to Beekers the researches do not contradict each other. There is possibly a group that indeed wants to isolate themselves, but this excludes the majority of Muslims.

© anp
© anp

 

 

Suggestive questions in anti-semitic research

According to research by Jonkers-Verwey Institute and Anne Frank Foundation 12% of young Muslims in the Netherlands hold negative views on Jews. However, according to political corresponden Joost de Vries, some critique on the methods of the researchers seems legitimate.

It was for the respondents for example not possible to bring in some nuances in their answers. To the question what they think of Jews, they could only answer ‘positive’, ‘neural’ and ‘not so positive’. Apparently 12% chose the last answer. But ‘not so positive’ says in itself nothing about what the respondents really think and to claim that they hold discriminatory or even anti-semitic views seems premature.

 © ANP
© ANP

Muslim Leader asks for ‘gesture’ from Roger Cukierman

A leader in the French Council of the Muslim Faith, Mohammed Moussaoui, hoped for a “gesture of appeasement’ from the President of the CRIF, whose comments about young Muslims and anti-Semitism have caused controversy. In a recent interview Roger Cukierman stated that all anti-Semitic violence was committed by “young Muslims,” which caused the CFCM to boycott the annual dinner. “Dialogue never ceased with the CRIF as an organization,” declared the CFCM’s President Dalil Boubakeur. “The two communities are mature enough to find common ground and to overcome any disquiet which was created by these unacceptable remarks.”

“I think it’s necessary for him to make a gesture, appeasing remarks, which would allow for dialogue,” said Mr. Moussaoui. He denounced “all extremism, no matter what type it is,” and condemned “terrorism which claims to be Islam,” deploring amalgamations between extremism and Islam.

Following the January attacks Prime Minister Valls invited Muslim representatives to take part in the fight against terror. “Taking responsibility is to ensure that there is a debate within Islam,” he stated. “It’s what we ask of the main majority of our Muslim compatriots who can no longer be confused with this terror.”

Muslims of Créteil: whoever harms a Jew will face the Prophet

After a Jewish couple was attacked by three young Muslims in Créteil, the Muslim community condemned “a shameful act that is contrary to Islam,” and hoped both communities could live together in harmony.

While the local mosque’s imam did not bring up the recent attack at Friday prayer, it was on the minds of many attendees. “It’s disgusting. It’s a shameful act that is contrary to Islam,” declared 30 year-old Abdel. “Whoever harms a Jew will face the Prophet. It says in the Quran,” added 27 year-old Icham, who said that many of his neighbors are Jewish and are “far from being rich.”

“Our remarks are not always the same as our young ones who are 20 years-old. They talk differently. They don’t think about what they say,” said an older man who attended Friday prayer.

23 year-old Aïcha added, “as a woman and as a Muslim, I’m ashamed of what happened to that young woman. We all must carry peace in our hearts, not hatred.”