April 2010


By Lizzy Davies, from the Guardian:

Of France’s estimated five million Muslims, only a tiny minority wears the full veil. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images

Nicolas Sarkozy has ordered the French government to prepare legislation paving the way for a total ban on the full Islamic veil.

The move comes despite concerns over the stigmatising effect it could have on western Europe’s largest Muslim population.

Government spokesman Luc Chatel said today that proposals for a full ban on the niqab and burqa would be submitted to parliament in the coming months and could theoretically be made law by summer.

Plans to outlaw the garments, he added, were “in line with the wishes of the head of state”, who has repeatedly made clear his aversion to face-covering veils.

“The ban on the full veil must be total in all public places because women’s dignity cannot be watered down,” said Chatel, keeping to the official line that a ban would be in keeping with republican French values of gender equality and secularism.

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By Robert Wielaard, for the Associated Press:

Chances of seeing a burqa in Belgium are only a little better than spotting a liquor shop in Saudi Arabia. Yet Belgium soon may be the first European nation to outlaw the burqa and other Islamic garb that completely hides a woman’s body and face.Neighboring France and the Netherlands may also outlaw attire that is viewed by many in western European societies as demeaning to women. It also is considered a gateway to radical Islam, a fear that is stoking rightwing sentiment across the continent.

“There is all-party public support for this,” says Leen Dierick, a conservative member of the Belgian parliament’s Interior Affairs committee that unanimously backed the proposed ban March 31. The initiative is expected become law in July and would apply to all public places, including streets.

Anxieties that visible signs of Islam erode national identity are combining with complaints that immigrants are stealing jobs amid the worst economic slump in decades to deepen a sense of unease in many European countries, small and large alike, over the role of Muslims in society.

Threats against cartoonists and artists over depictions of the prophet Muhammad have also raised fears that Islam is not compatible with Western values of freedom of speech.

Swiss voters recently voted to ban the construction of new minarets. In recent years, both mosque and minaret construction projects in many European countries, including Sweden, France, Italy, Austria, Greece, Germany and Slovenia have generated protests, some of them violent.

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Kinda old news, but still relevant. From CNN:

(CNN) — The terrorist threat posed by radicalized Muslim- Americans has been exaggerated, according to a study released Wednesday by researchers at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

A small number of Muslim-Americans have undergone radicalization since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, the study found. It compiled a list of 139 individuals it categorized as “Muslim-American terrorism offenders” who had become radicalized in the U.S. in that time — a rate of 17 per year.

That level is “small compared to other violent crime in America, but not insignificant,” according to the study, titled “Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim-Americans.”

To be included on the list, an offender had to have been wanted, arrested, convicted or killed in connection with terrorism-related activities since 9/11 — and have lived in the United States, regardless of immigration status, for more than a year prior to arrest.

Of the 139 offenders, fewer than a third successfully executed a violent plan, according to a Duke University statement on the study, and most of those were overseas. Read the report:”Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim-Americans”

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By Baczynska, Gabriela, for Reuters:

WARSAW (Reuters) – In a sight familiar in some west European countries but new to Poland, dozens of protesters demonstrated in a Warsaw suburb last weekend against the construction of a mosque.

Plans by Poland’s tiny Muslim community to build a place of worship and an Islamic cultural center face opposition in a sign that concerns about Islam may be spreading eastwards to the staunchly Catholic European Union member.

Between 15,000 and 30,000 Muslims, many of them immigrants from Chechnya, live in Poland — the biggest ex-communist EU state where more than 90 percent of the 38-million population declare themselves Catholics.

Some 150 people protested at the half-finished building site, a 30-minute drive from the city center, where the Muslim League, a religious organization established in Poland in 2004 is building what will be only the country’s fifth mosque with government permission.

“Such centres are very often sources of radicalization,” said one protester, who like most of the demonstrators was happy to be filmed but unwilling to give his name.

He brandished a banner depicting minarets as missiles that resembled a stark image used in a Swiss referendum when electors voted last year to ban new minarets.

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By Robert A. Pape, Lindsey O’ Rourke, and Jenna McDermitt, for the New York Times:

ALMOST every month for the past two years, Chechen suicide bombers have struck. Their targets can be anything from Russian soldiers to Chechen police officers to the innocent civilians who were killed on the subway in Moscow this week. We all know the horror that people willing to kill themselves can inflict. But do we really understand what drives young women and men to strap explosives on their bodies and deliberately kill themselves in order to murder dozens of people going about their daily lives?

Chechen suicide attackers do not fit popular stereotypes, contrary to the Russian government’s efforts to pigeonhole them. For years, Moscow has routinely portrayed Chechen bombers as Islamic extremists, many of them foreign, who want to make Islam the world’s dominant religion. Yet however much Russia may want to convince the West that this battle is part of a global war on terrorism, the facts about who becomes a Chechen suicide attacker — male or female — reveal otherwise.

The three of us, in our work for the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism, have analyzed every Chechen suicide attack since they began in 2000, 42 separate incidents involving 63 people who killed themselves. Many Chechen separatists are Muslim, but few of the suicide bombers profess religious motives. The majority are male, but a huge fraction — over 40 percent — are women. Although foreign suicide attackers are not unheard of in Chechnya, of the 42 for whom we can determine place of birth, 38 were from the Caucasus. Something is driving Chechen suicide bombers, but it is hardly global jihad.

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