Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

From the Telegraph:

While the SVP’s anti-immigrant campaigns, including calls to ban minarets and expel foreign criminals, have drawn sharp criticism on the international arena including from the United Nations, the party has managed to increase its vote share in successive Swiss elections.

In 2003, the party obtained 26.6 per cent of votes case. At the last elections that improved to 28.9 per cent.

Those 1997 results were the highest for any Swiss party since the introduction of the proportional representation system in 1919, an SVP spokesman said.

Crossing the 30 per cent mark “would therefore be a new record,” he added.

The latest opinion polls showed 29.3 per cent of voters planning to back the SVP, far more than the next most popular party the Socialists, with just 19.9 per cent…

Can be found here, at the Financial Times: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/65cfabe4-d965-11e0-b52f-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1XhVxmAdM

By Geoff Mortimore, from The Local:

As religious tensions continue to cause friction in Sweden and elsewhere, Lutherans, Catholics, and Muslims in a small Stockholm suburb have come together to present a new model for religious tolerance, The Local’s Geoff Mortimore discovers.On the other side of the Atlantic, an emotional debate rages about the suitability of building a mosque near the Ground Zero site in New York City.

At the same time, the recent political upheaval in North Africa and the Middle East has raised concerns in some quarters that religious fundamentalism may fill the void.

(more…)

From France 24:

France will start enforcing a ban next month on full Islamic face veils, officials said on Thursday, meaning any veiled woman can be summoned to a police station and asked to remove her face-covering or pay a fine.

Officials say the law is mainly symbolic and police will not call in every veiled woman they see to avoid stigmatising Muslims.
But a Paris imam said forcing veiled women to present themselves at a police station would be just as uncomfortable.
When France passed the ban on full face veils last year, Muslim leaders voiced concern it could lead to veiled women being unfairly treated by police or singled out for harassment.
“My gut reaction is to say this is all a bit clumsy,” said Moussa Niambele, the imam of a mosque in the north of Paris.

(more…)

by John L. Esposito and Sheila B. Lalwani, for the San Francisco Chronicle:

The Pew Center on Religion & Public Life recently released a comprehensive study of Muslim populations around the world that should allay fears among many of an impending global Muslim takeover and debunk widely held beliefs about Muslims. The findings of “The Future of the Global Muslim Population: Projections for 2010-2030” should also challenge the public to reconsider its perception of Islam and Muslims.

Skeptics, particularly those in Europe and North America, have long sounded alarm bells regarding the growth of the Muslim population.

(more…)

by Sarah Posner, for the Religion Dispatches:

The emails started popping into my inbox: First, supposed “ex-terrorist” Walid Shoebat would be available for an interview about how “regime change” in Egypt would elevate the Muslim Brotherhood. “The Muslim Brotherhood, a group to which I once belonged, is supporting these protests,” says Shoebat, “and when you know what the long term goals of the Brotherhood are, you come to realize it’s not good.” He then goes on to compare what’s happening in Egypt to the Islamic revolution in Iran — a theory that Haroon Moghul has ably debunked here at RD. Then Christian talk radio host and evangelist Michael Youssef announced that he would be appearing on CNN through out the day:

“Before you judge the motives of the protesters, you must know who is really behind those young people on the streets,” stated Michael Youssef, Ph.D. “The Muslim Brotherhood has been thirsting for power in Egypt for many, many years. Should they succeed, it will not only spell disaster to the west and to Israel, but also to the Christians and the secular-minded Muslims.”

From the BBC:

The Israeli army has demolished a number of buildings in West Bank, including one that Palestinians said was a long-established mosque.

Israeli officials said the structures were temporary and built without permits in a military fire zone.

Palestinian villagers said the mosque was built before 1967 when Israel occupied the West Bank.

The UN has criticised Israel for demolishing Palestinian property and prohibiting construction in the zone.

(more…)

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