Cultural tolerance ‘is not enough,’ says EU culture commissioner

Jan Figel, the EU’s Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture, and Youth asserted that tolerance of different cultures is no longer enough, and that Europeans should create an inter-cultural society for interaction across cultural boundaries as a new norm. Figel said: “We want to go beyond multi-cultural societies, where cultures and cultural groups simply coexist side by side: mere tolerance is not enough any more.” European officials announced recent plans to be held in member countries to showcase the interaction of cultures, histories on European immigration and cross-border relations, deepening of religions, and dialogue of solidarity among all EU citizens.

UK’s first regional youth interfaith council launched

16 young people drawn from seven different faith communities in Yorkshire and Humber was officially launched as founding members of _United Faiths’, the UK’s first Regional Interfaith Youth Council this week. The group has been brought together by the Yorkshire and Humber Faiths Forum (YHFF) as part of its work to provide a voice for young people. The launch was a highlight of the YHFF’s annual conference on Thursday at the Thornbury Centre in Bradford and focused on working in partnership to create harmonious communities. Members from the Youth Council also lead a workshop at the conference on listening and engaging with young people at a local and regional level. They will continue to have an active role in the Forum’s through events such as the ‘Faith in the Media’ conference planned for April 24th 2008 which aims to challenge misconceptions and negative faith stereotypes in the media [Full-text here.->

The Muslim creatively expresses

A creativity festival was held in Brussels last week, launched as an initiative by FEMYSO to call upon the creativity of young European Muslims. The Muslim community does not always have the opportunity to be heard, FEMYSO (Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations) organized the event to encourage diversity and creativity in religious expression. Among the events, included artistic expressions in song, film, and recitation of the Quran – showing that in practicing their religion, Muslims in Brussels (and throughout Europe as well) maintain strong commitments towards the arts and creativity in their adherence.

US Officials Engage Muslim Youth

CAIRO – Officials from the Homeland Security, State and Justice departments have been engaged in “unprecedented” meetings withtwo dozen young Muslims on several issues, topped by reports about the radicalization of Muslim American youth. “For me, this conference is about trying to find out what it means to be an American Muslim in terms of political and civic engagement,” Omar Sarwar, the Columbia University graduate who ditched a career in banking to go back to school and study politics and religion, told The Washington Post on Sunday, July 15. Organized by the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the National Muslim American Youth Summit was held over the weekend in Capitol Hill.

Islam in the European Union: Transnationalism, Youth, and the War on Terror

This book is about Muslims in Europe and the ‘War on Terror’: its causes and consequences for European citizenship and exclusion particularly for young people. The rising tide of hostility towards people of Muslim origin is challenged in this collection from a varied and multinational perspective. The chapters illustrate the diversity of societies with Muslim majority populations and challenge the dominant paradigm of what has become to be known since the War on Terror as ‘Islamophobia’.

L’islam, un recours pour les jeunes

Based on a long ethnographic study, L’Islam, un recours pour les jeunes focuses on the Islamic identities of French youth with North African or Turkish origins and working-class backgrounds. It asserts that young men and women’s religious paths are linked to experiences at school, within immigrant families and in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Young men complain of being labelled negatively at school and being pushed toward low-skilled jobs instead of the professional vocations and lifestyles for which they yearn. They are often in conflict with teachers or with career advisers and engage Muslim symbols to protest against school judgments. The book also insists on the deep differences between Turkish and North-African populations with working-class backgrounds. The Turkish populations settled in France later than North-Africans and subsequently their settlement has been more fragile. They want to preserve traditions and customs from their country of origin, a phenomenon reinforced by the high concentrations of Turkish populations in urban areas. Turkish parents’ aspirations influence their goals for their children, especially in relation to school, professional life and marriage. The second part of Kapko’s book discussed the response of local authorities to Muslim religious claims. For over a decade, changes in Muslim demands of local policitians in relation to religious practice have been noticed. In comparison to demands made in the 1980s by immigrant fathers which focused on the need for prayer space, the 1990s have seen new demands such as the right to wear the headscarf in public spaces, the participation of local politicians to seminars held by religious leaders, and accommodation of religious arguments during negotiations with local political leaders. This investigation shows that council representatives often only select the aspects of the demands that seem to suit their objectives -keeping public order, social integration-and ignore the religious content of the demands. In other cases discussed, religious intonations are not ignored but rather exploited by the local government. Government officials, who fear confrontations between ethnic groups in disadvantaged areas, are tempted to turn religious militants into unofficial mediators between immigrant populations and public authorities.

From the Court to the Imam: Praise for a New Policing Idea

Politicians endorsed an initiative of co-operation with mosques in the fight against juvenile delinquency. A good idea is born, now we must see to it that it’s implemented. This was the reaction yesterday from Berlin’s Senator of the Interior and from the Youth and Justice Senators to the proposal that the police and mosque associations unite in dealing with juvenile delinquency.

No to Headscarf, Yes to Nun’s Habit

The judgement that allowed the Muslim teacher to wear her headscarf in school in a showcase trial is about to be challenged again. Helmut Rau (CDU), Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport for Baden-W_rttemberg, announced that he will file an appeal against the recent judgement in favour of Doris G. by the Stuttgart Administrative Court. “A nun’s habit”, argues Rau, “is her working clothes, and moreover a permissible expression of Western Christian culture.”

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”.

Muslim Students Opt Out of Gym Class

As a rule, German schools offer three hours of sports instruction each week. In Berlin, many students are refusing to partake — especially Muslim girls. Berlin Senator for Youth, Education and Sports Klaus B_ger is back in the hot seat, this time for implying that Muslim society is behind the steady decrease in girls taking part in physical education classes.