12 April 2018

Turkey says plans to place quarter of top students in Islamic schools

Nearly a quarter of top-performing students entering Turkish upper schools are expected to be placed in religious Imam Hatip schools, the education minister said on Thursday, a level which secular critics say unfairly prioritises Islamic education.

The top 10 percent of students currently in their final year of middle school are set to win places in selected schools under a new entrance exam system in June, part of education reforms drafted on President Tayyip Erdogan’s orders.

Erdogan has said one of his goals is to forge a “pious generation” in largely Muslim Turkey and the number of pupils at Imam Hatip schools, founded to train future imams and preachers, rose five-fold to 1.3 million students in the last six years.

According to the exam system guide posted on the education ministry website, nearly 300 of the 1,367 schools selected to receive students who pass the exam are Imam Hatip schools. [Reuters] Read more

Muslim Accused of Strangling Daughter’s Boyfriend Arrested Over Religion Motivated Attack

French police arrested a man after he attempted to strangle his daughter’s boyfriend, apparently enraged at having found out that the young man was not a Muslim.

The attack occurred in the commune of Givors on the outskirts of Lyon on Tuesday morning and saw the Muslim man, described to be in his 50s, enter the house of the boyfriend of his daughter. The father later said to police that he had gone on the pretext that the boyfriend had been physically violent to his daughter Le Progrès, a regional newspaper in Lyon, reports.

Once he got to the home of the young man, the father barged through the door and struck his daughter’s boyfriend several times before getting an electric cable and attempting to strangle him with it.

The young man was eventually able to escape his attacker and called the police. [Breitbart London] Read more

11 April 2018

'Islam shouldn't culturally shape Germany' - Alexander Dobrindt claims

.... Speaking with Funke media group, Dobrindt said:

"Muslims who want to integrate into our society are part of our country, but Islam is not part of Germany."

Islam "has no cultural roots in Germany and with Sharia as a legal system, it has nothing in common with our Judeo-Christian heritage."

Islam "doesn't culturally shape our country" and "it should not" be culturally influential in Germany.

"No Islamic country on earth has developed a comparable democratic culture like the ones we know in Christian countries."

Dobrindt also defended a plan to dramatically limit refugee family reunifications, saying: "Refugees should return to their home countries whenever this is possible. Family reunifications can also take place in pacified home regions and not only in Germany." [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Teachers: 'Racist' parents pull children from RE classes because they don’t want them learning about Islam

“Prejudiced” parents are pulling their children from Religious Education classes because they don’t want them learning about Islam, teachers have warned.

Mothers and fathers are abusing their right to withdraw children from the classes, and this is hampering schools' attempts to "prepare a child for life in modern Britain", the Association of Teachers and Lecturers’ annual conference heard.

Delegates have agreed a resolution urging the Government to take steps to prevent parents from selectively withdrawing their children, specifically from the teaching of individual religions.

Proposing the motion, Richard Griffiths from the union's Inner London branch, said that RE today has developed into a subject "that allows for critical thinking, big questions, allows children to explore their own and other religious beliefs and non-beliefs". [The Telegraph] Read more

Will Saudi Crown Prince reform Wahhabism in Europe?

Saudi Arabia's crown prince has pushed to curb the power of hardline clerics and prominent sheikhs who promote the kingdom's uncompromising version of Islam but analysts warn that moderating the exportation of Wahhabism could be more difficult.

Currently in Europe as part of a drive to woo the West, Mohammed bin Salman has recognised his country's association with Wahhabism is a problem and moved to impose a more open form of Islam.

The draconian religious ideology has been accused of fuelling intolerance and global terrorism. Dozens of conservative Saudi religious figures have been detained under a crackdown initiated by the prince.

But when asked last month about his decision to break away from the Wahhabists, MBS, as he is often called, denied they even existed.

"What's Wahhabist?", the 32-year-old said in an interview with Time magazine. "There is nothing called Wahhabist." [Daily Mail] Read more

10 April 2018

Girls' headscarf ban debate ties Merkel's conservatives in knots

A debate over whether to ban Muslim girls under 14 from wearing headscarves in public, prompted by a similar proposal in Austria, has divided Germany’s governing conservatives.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, already struggling to paper over cracks in her month-old coalition cabinet, is unlikely to welcome a call for action from members of her own camp that exposes the country’s uneasy attempts to integrate its 4 million Muslims.

That process has taken on added complexity following the influx of over one million mostly Middle Eastern and North African migrants in 2015 and 2016, and sharp election gains for the far-right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Germany’s parliament already passed a law last year preventing civil servants, judges and soldiers from wearing full-face veils at work. [Reuters] Read more

Global Muslim body urges Europe to assimilate migrants better

Europe must do more to assimilate Muslim immigrant populations and criminalise religious hate speech, said the head of a global Muslim missionary society trying to help Saudi Arabia mend its reputation as a promoter of intolerant ideology.

The Muslim World League (MWL) and the kingdom itself have been accused for decades of spreading the strict Wahhabi strain of Islam, often criticised as the philosophical basis for radical Islamist militancy worldwide.

.... Critics say the mosques and Islamic centres around the world controlled by the MWL promote intolerance and hatred of some religions and Muslim sects — a charge the group denies.

Secretary-General Mohammed al-Issa said the organisation, headquartered in Mecca, could assist in assimilation and the eradication of extremist ideology abroad.

“We believe that European countries, where there is much debate now, and other countries around the world ... need to enhance national assimilation programmes and criminalise hatred and contempt for adherents of religions because this threatens the safety of the community,” he told Reuters in an interview.

“The League has programmes and curricula that enhance national assimilation and which can courageously and forcefully confront all forms of extremism, as well as special programmes to thwart efforts to infiltrate the Muslim community.” [Reuters] Read more

German state looks to ban headscarves for girls

A regional government in Germany has provoked national debate after it announced it was considering a ban on girls under the age of 14 wearing Islamic headscarves.

The initiative comes as neighbouring Austria is set to prohibit headscarves in primary schools and kindergartens. But the proposals in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, go much further, and call for a complete ban.

“More and more primary school teachers are reporting than girls as young as seven are coming to class with headscarves,” Serap Güler, integration minister in the regional government said. “Putting a headscarf on a child is perverse. It’s sexualising the child.”

Ms Güler, who is of Turkish heritage, said her own mother wears a headscarf. “But she made that choice as an adult woman.”

Angela Merkel’s government weighed in on the debate on Tuesday as Annette Widmann-Mauz, the national integration minister, warned a ban could be counter-productive. I completely understand where this is coming from,” Ms Widmann-Mauz said. [The Telegraph] Read more

09 April 2018

German headscarf ban for children met with mixed response

One of Germany's states is considering plans to ban girls under the age of 14 from wearing headscarves. The Islamic Council has criticized the proposal, but some teachers say it's a good idea.

Germany's Teachers' Association on Monday welcomed a proposal from the government of the country's most-populous state North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) to prohibit girls under the age of 14 from wearing headscarves to school.

"A headscarf ban would help, at least generally speaking, to undermine discrimination on religious grounds and anti-religious bullying," the association's president, Heinz-Peter Meidinger, told the mass-circulation daily Bild newspaper.

He acknowledged that the reality may be different for older girls, but called for an end to the "deliberate display of religious symbols among children with religious backgrounds."

NRW Integration Minister Joachim Stamp announced the initiative over the weekend, saying young children should not be made to cover their hair for religious reasons.

Susanne Lin-Klitzing, the head of the German Philological Association, told Bild that in a democracy no sex should be subordinate to another. "A headscarf can be seen as a symbol of that, and so there's no place for it in the classroom." [Deutsche Welle] Read more

08 April 2018

Outrage at Irish visit by hate preacher who praised Bin Laden

A hate preacher who called Osama Bin Laden a ‘brother and ally’ who should be ‘raised in rank’ following his death, visited two mosques in Ireland in the past two weeks, Extra.ie has learned.

Sudanese sheikh Dr Abdul Hai Yousuf, who works at Khartoum University in Sudan and is the vicepresident of the Sudan Scholar Corporation, addressed children in the South Circular Road mosque, Dublin over the weekend of March 24 and 25. He later spoke at a questions and answers session in Dundalk Islamic Centre on Sunday afternoon, March 25, which was filmed and posted to YouTube.

Dr Hai Yousuf sparked controversy following Osama Bin Laden’s death in 2011 when he spoke at a gathering and called for Bin Laden’s face to be ‘ennobled’ and for him to be given a place with ‘the righteous and the lofty ones’. [EXTRA.ie] Read more

Islam, Not Social Factors, Driving Radicalisation in France

Sociologist Olivier Galland has slammed many of his fellow academics for having a myopic view of radicalisation in France, saying that the effect of Islam is more important than social factors like poverty.

After the Bataclan attacks in 2015, Galland launched a survey of high school pupils on the subject of radicalism and found that Muslim students, in particular, were the most tolerant of violence committed in the name of religion Libération reports.

The results of the study, which were published earlier this week, showed that Muslim pupils were often much more illiberal than their non-Muslim counterparts and Galland has claimed that it is the effect of the religion of Islam, rather than simply social factors that drive radicalisation among them.

“We find a divergence and the existence of a cultural divide between young Muslims and their comrades. For them, religion dominates the secular world: this is what we have called ‘religious absolutism’,” Galland said.

“This conception of religion is linked to cultural anti-liberalism, which we measured with several questions, including one on homosexuality: more young Muslims than others do not see it as a normal way of living one’s sexuality,” he added, but stressed: “This does not mean, of course, that all are ultra-radical or that they are potential terrorists.” [Breitbart London] Read more

07 April 2018

Belgian Islamic Party Announces ‘100 Per Cent Islamic State’ as End Goal

The Belgian Islamic party Partij Islam is set to run candidates in 28 municipalities in the upcoming Belgian municipal elections, and have declared their intention to create an Islamic State in which women and men have to ride in separate buses.

The Partij Islam is likely hoping to do well in highly Muslim-populated areas like Molenbeek and Anderlecht where the party already has some representation, HLN reports.

Anderlecht municipal councillor Redouane Ahrouch, the treasurer of the party, told Belgian media: “Our goal is a one hundred percent Islamic state.”

Ahrouch, who works also as a bus driver in Anderlecht, said that many women have complained to him that men were trying to sexually harass and grab them. His solution to the problem, he said, is to separate public transport by sex so that women have their own buses. [Breitbart London] Read more

06 April 2018

Humour and Hot Water: Should Islam be a Target of Satire?

After noticing a dearth of Islam-related comedy, Waleed Wain decided to make low-budget satire skits mocking popular Salafi televangelists like Zakir Naik and Dawah Man, both of whom promote ideas that are anti-science and anti-democracy. He’s so far garnered effusive praise from Maajid Nawaz, the UK-based Muslim reformer, and has had his work noticed by the Clarion Project and the National Secular Society.

Islam is a subject few comedians in the West want to broach. While Western Christianity is seen as an easy target for ridicule, the other great monotheism rarely gets the same treatment. Many fear coming across as bigoted for poking fun at a faith associated primarily with non-whites, while others are perhaps wary of a credible threat of violence after the Danish cartoon affair and Charlie Hebdo.

With the global spread of austere, fundamentalist Wahhabism, however, the need for humour as a counterbalance to the sort of humourless fanaticism we’re seeing now has never been greater. At least one man in the UK is attempting to change all that. [Conatus News] Read more

05 April 2018

Austrian Muslims condemn hijab ban proposal

Austrian Muslims and a number of other civil society associations on Thursday strongly condemned a legal proposal to impose a ‘hijab’ ban after it was announced by the Austrian prime minister.

Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz on Wednesday said that legal preparations were under way to ban the hijab (headscarf worn by Muslim women) in elementary schools.

He said the legal proposal was called “the child protection law” and was aimed at preventing the formation of “a parallel political ideology” in the country.

Ibrahim Olgun, the head of the Islamic Religious Authority of Austria (IGGO), described the proposal as “unacceptable” in his interview to Anadolu Agency. He said the proposed ban was merely aimed at creating an agenda in which children would be used as political tools and the headscarf would be portrayed as an Islamic political symbol. [Anadolu Agency] Read more

04 April 2018

Austria plans headscarf ban for primary school pupils

Austria's government announced on Wednesday its intention to bring in a ban on the headscarf for girls in kindergartens and primary schools.

Education Minister Heinz Fassmann said that the draft law would be ready by the summer. He added that it would be a "symbolic" act, regardless of how many children were actually affected.

Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache of the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) had floated the idea of a ban over the weekend, saying that girls "under the age of 10 must be protected" and be able to "integrate and develop freely".

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of the centre-right People's Party (ÖVP) also backed the idea, telling the Oe1 radio station: "We want all girls in Austria to have the same opportunities", and that he wanted to avoid the development of "parallel societies".

The Kurier newspaper reported that neither the education ministry nor various experts asked by the paper were able to provide figures for how many girls currently wear the headscarf in kindergartens and primary schools. [The Local] Read more

Proposed police uniform changes set off alarm bells in Quebec

Suggestions the Montreal Police should change its uniform to accommodate Sikh and Muslim officers have stoked the embers of a fiery debate in Quebec.

Montreal politician Marvin Rotrand is urging the city to allow Sikh cops to wear turbans and Muslim officers to wear hijabs while on duty in order to attract more diverse recruits and build a force that better reflects the population it serves. He received an unexpected boost this week.

“It’s something we have to think about,” said Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante, who was elected last fall. “We know that other Canadian cities have done it so I’m very open to the proposition.”

Plante’s comments were only a passive endorsement. Though most big-city police forces, the RCMP and the Canadian Armed Forces have already adopted inclusive uniform policies, she has not set any actual change in motion in Montreal. A spokesperson for the mayor said the decision is up to the police force to make. [Toronto Star] Read more

Number of Salafists in Germany has doubled in past five years

The number of individuals in Germany recognized as adherents of Salafism has reached a new all-time high, the interior ministry said. The growth is particularly fast in Germany's smallest states.

The number of Salafists in Germany has increased twofold since 2013, the interior ministry said Wednesday, surpassing December's "all-time high."

The number of individuals classified as Salafists by regional authorities in state offices for the Protection of the Constitution reached 11,000, the ministry said, confirming an earlier report from German newspaper Tagesspiegel.

Five years ago the German intelligence agency BfV placed this number at 5,500 — half of the current total.

Salafism is a fundamentalist Islamic ideology. Security authorities see Salafism as a potential entry point to Islamist terrorism. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Swedish court sentences parents for trying to force girl, 13, into marriage

Two Syrian parents in central Sweden have been found guilty of trying to marry their 13-year-old daughter to a man in his twenties against her will.

Shortly after arriving in Sweden in the autumn of 2015, the parents wrote what was referred to as a "marriage contract" on behalf of their teenage daughter, linking her to the then 24-year-old man, said the court.

But the girl contacted the police, who helped her leave her family.

The three adults denied the criminal charges, claiming that the contract, despite its title "Marriage contract under Islamic law" and references to wedding gifts, was similar to an engagement and not legally binding.

The prosecutor however argued that the contact was similar enough to a "marriage-like relationship" to be considered a forced marriage under Swedish law, which generally does not permit under-18s to marry. [The Local] Read more

Austria's government aims to ban headscarves in kindergarten

Austria’s right-wing government announced plans on Wednesday to ban girls from wearing headscarves in kindergarten and primary schools to combat what it sees as a threat to Austrian mainstream culture from some Muslims.

Austria took in more than one percent of its population in asylum seekers during Europe’s migration crisis, an issue that helped Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s conservatives win an election last year by taking a hard line on immigration.

“Our goal is to confront any development of parallel societies in Austria,” Kurz told ORF radio, using a term he and the far-right Freedom Party (FPO), the coalition partner, favour to describe what they see as a threat posed by some Muslims to mainstream culture.

“Girls wearing a headscarf in kindergarten or primary school is of course part of that.” [Reuters] Read more

How Pakistani school textbooks mould its students’ skewed worldview

Prior to 1977, no textbook contained any mention of the “Pakistan ideology.” But after that, the construct became the starting point and the central premise of high school Pakistan Studies texts. The description of Pakistan Studies textbooks that follows is based on my reading and analysis of textbooks from the mid-1990s to today, from all four provinces.

The books state, quite simply, that the Pakistan ideology is Islam, and begin by describing the five pillars of Islam—shahada (the declaration of faith), namaz (prayer), zakat (charity), hajj (pilgrimage), and fasting—that, together, form the basis of Islamic practice. But this material in the textbooks violates the constitutional provision that non-Muslims do not need to study Islam. In addition, defining the Pakistani identity solely in the form of Islam excludes non-Muslims from that identity. [Quartz] Read more

03 April 2018

Why are so many left-wing progressives silent about Islam’s totalitarian tendencies?

As a lifelong feminist, and firmly on the political Left, I am appalled at so-called progressives that capitulate to Islamist men, and make an exception for Islam as a religion – when being (rightly) critical of Judaism and Catholicism. What is behind this hypocrisy? From where I am standing it is simple: the fear of being labelled ‘Islamophobic’.

As Anna Pak, an Iranian exile to France, and staunch secularist feminist explains, the Islamophobic term originated from 1979 when Ayatollah Khomeini came to power. “Women went to the streets and marched to be free of the veil,” she says. “Khomeini and the Islamists obliged them to wear the veil, and that’s when they started calling these women Islamophobic.”

I campaign against sexual and domestic violence alongside secularist feminists, many of whom have fled to the UK from countries such as Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. They are furious with those white liberals who are more afraid of being labelled ‘Islamophobic’ than of giving more power to conservative Muslim men who seek to impose Islamic law on women and girls. [UnHerd.com] Read more

'They don't want you to criticize Islam': Controversial speaker Zuhdi Jasser talks about combating 'Islamism'

After days of controversy, a location change and a counter-protest event, Zuhdi Jasser visited Duke to give a talk about Islam. And despite fears of protest that necessitated five security guards at the event, the talk proceeded smoothly.

Jasser, a medical doctor and the president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, is a Muslim American whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Syria. The speech, originally entitled, “The American Muslim Identity: Patriot or Insurgent,” emphasized the need to reform Islam, curb Islamism and promote liberty and Americanism.

"Ideas don't have rights, human beings do,” Jasser said. “They call it Islamophobia because they don't want you to criticize Islam.”

He discussed how Islam is over 1,400 years old, but that there have been over 500 years of stagnation of Islamic thought. This period has seen the rise of political Islam—the belief that Muslim-majority countries should be governed based on Sharia or Islamic law. Jasser spoke staunchly against Islamism and Islamic fundamentalism, as he believes it is the root of “radical Islamic terrorism.” [The Chronicle] Read more

Bulgarian Muslim leadership calls urgent meeting over prosecutor’s statement

Bulgaria’s Muslim Supreme Council has called an urgent meeting in response to a reported statement by a prosecutor that should the number of Muslims in the country reach 30 per cent of the population, “the state will be in jeopardy”.

Prosecutor Nedyalka Popova was reported to have made the statement in a recent interview. Popova is the prosecutor in the case of 14 Muslims from the town of Pazardzhik who were accused of preaching religious hatred. The principal accused, Ahmed Musa, has been jailed for a year.

Chief Mufti Mustafa Hadji, spiritual leader of Bulgaria’s Muslim minority, told public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio on April 3 that Popova’s words were “disturbing” and “discriminatory”. [The Sofia Globe] Read more

01 April 2018

Iraqi courts seeking out atheists for prosecution

Arrest warrants have been issued for four Iraqis on atheism charges, according to Dhi Qar province's Garraf district judiciary. The announcement garnered quite a reaction on media and social networks, as some say these hunts infringe on the rights of the Iraqi people, whose constitution guarantees them freedom of belief and expression. Other observers say the campaign has political aspects.

Dhidan al-Ekili, the chief Garraf judge, told local Iraqi newspapers March 11 that security forces had been able to arrest one of the four indicted, as the search for the remaining three continued. Ekili said they are being pursued for “holding seminars during social gatherings to promote the idea of the nonexistence of God and to spread and popularize atheism.”

According to Ekili, the local court administration has tasked intelligence agencies with cracking down on the “atheism phenomenon.” Ekili said the crackdown is in accordance with the Iraqi Penal Code. [Al-Monitor] Read more

Children report parents after being ‘forced to watch beheading video’

Four siblings have been taken into care after reporting their parents to the authorities for allegedly supporting Isis and forcing them to watch a beheading video.

The children include a 10-year-old boy with learning difficulties who has been so traumatised by the alleged “physical and emotional abuse” that he is unable to speak, court papers state.

Police intervened after the eldest sibling, a teenage girl, contacted Childline to say they “were kept at home, did not attend school and were kept socially isolated, only being allowed out once in every three weeks”.

Dame Esther Rantzen, the Childline founder and president, said the case was “horrific” and applauded the girl’s courage. The details emerged last week after a hearing in the family division of the High Court. Last Sunday this newspaper disclosed the extent of Isis-linked child radicalisation in the UK, including a two-year-old boy who has returned from Syria with an interest in “shooting people”. [The Times (£)] Read more