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…)

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…)

Article entitled, “Mixed Message: The testimony of a self-described former terrorist,” by Doug Howard, for ChristianityToday.com:

On Christmas Day 2009, our youngest son, Jay, found himself on Delta Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit. Toward the end of the flight, Jay’s seatmate, a Nigerian Muslim about his age named Umar abd al-Muttalib, tried to blow up the plane using a bomb hidden in his underwear. Reflecting on Jay’s experience, and on Umar and the failed efforts by his father to warn authorities, has helped me clarify my attitude toward American Christian anti-Islamic literary polemics, including Kamal Saleem’s “memoir,” The Blood of Lambs. The book fits the familiar pattern of reassuring Christians of the superiority of their own faith tradition by negative comparisons with a dehumanized Islam. But Kamal Saleem’s titillating dance with violence and fame makes the book more complicated and more uncomfortable than most like it. By embracing the glamorous violence it claims to abhor, it raises readers’ hopes of touching secret human meanings through it.

I first encountered Kamal Saleem when he appeared at Calvin College in November 2007. A look at his website told me immediately that he was not who he said he was. The signature of his deception was his statement that “in my family was the Grand Wazir of Islam.” The term is ridiculous, a spurious title meant to mislead the innocent with an aura of authority. The audience, including many from the Grand Rapids Muslim community, watched Kamal Saleem’s performance with quiet restraint. He told stories, now repeated in The Blood of Lambs, of being recruited as a child for missions against Israel via tunnels under the Golan Heights, disguised as sheep; of visions of a rider on a white horse who, drawn swords in hand, commanded him to sever the heads of the infidels. In one painfully disturbing account, the mother of his friend screamed with joy that her little boy had met a violent death and joined the martyrs in heaven. He continued with the story of his immigration to America to recruit for jihad. Instead he was converted to Christianity as the result of a car accident, when he was taken into the home of a Christian physician and cared for out of selfless love. These tales were interspersed with exhortations for America to “wake up” to the threat of radical Islam and testimonials to the power of Christ in helping him forsake his old life.

(more…)