Islamic finance has faced scrutiny in the United States, with critics suggesting the $1 trillion industry was a front to funnel funds to terrorists or a plot by Muslims to spread a system of Islamic principles known as sharia, which includes a ban on interest.
The Center for Security Policy, a US think tank, last month issued a report titled “Sharia: The Threat to America“, which said that practices promoting sharia were “incompatible with the constitution” and should be “proscribed.” The report was presented on Capitol Hill and endorsed by some Republicans.
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich has also been busy on the speaking circuit, calling for a federal law to ensure sharia, and sharia-compliant finance by extension, is not recognised by any U.S. court.
“If there’s a choice, and the return and risk analysis is comparable but one place is opening their arms to Muslims while politicians in another country are making them feel unwelcome, of course Muslims will go to the jurisdiction that is more welcoming,” said Jawad Ali, managing partner and deputy global head of Islamic finance at King & Spalding.
German President Christian Wulff will pay a visit to Turkey on Monday at the invitation of his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gül, to hold talks on the Turkish community’s difficulties integrating in Germany as well as with Turkey’s European Union membership talks. This will be the first visit from a German head of state to Turkey in 10 years.
…Muslims in Germany, including the Turkish community, highly regard the newly elected German president, particularly after his remarks earlier this month that “Islam also belongs in Germany.” Wulff delivered the remarks at a festival in Bremen celebrating the 20th anniversary of Germany’s reunification.
Tensions between Muslim immigrants, estimated to number 4 million and mostly ethnic Turks, and the German government have been simmering since an outspoken board member of Germany’s central bank, Thilo Sarrazin, accused Muslim immigrants last summer of leeching off the welfare state, refusing to integrate and lowering the nation’s intelligence. Wulff’s warm remarks relieved the Muslim community in the country.
Wulff is scheduled to meet with Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan next week. The details of the Erdoğan-Wulff meeting were also discussed during the former’s visit to Germany to have talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Oct. 8.
Germany adamantly opposes Turkey’s full European Union membership and proposes a “privileged partnership” for the candidate countries as an alternative to the membership. Turkey claims the EU leaders have pledged Turkey that membership talks will lead to only full membership and it claims the promises should be honored.
According to Merkel, “multiculturalism in Germany has failed miserably“.
She said the so-called “multikulti” concept – where people would “live side-by-side” happily – did not work, and immigrants needed to do more to integrate – including learning German.
The comments come amid rising anti-immigration feeling in Germany.
A recent survey suggested more than 30% of people believed the country was “overrun by foreigners“.
The study – by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation think-tank – also showed that roughly the same number thought that some 16 million of Germany’s immigrants or people with foreign origins had come to the country for its social benefits.
Germany: 69% against Turkish entry in the EU, poll shows.
CDU politician calls to stop Muslim immigration.
“Muslims should obey Constitution, not Sharia”, Merkel says.
Conservative leaders reject Wullf’s remarks on Islam.
Germany agrees in making easier for Turks to get visas.
A Christian protestant church, GKI Taman Yasmin in the regency of Bogor, Indonesia was forced to cease activities by Bogor’s regency on Sunday night. The police and Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) surrounded the church, disbanded a church meeting, then sealed the building by the city’s order.
The Public Order Agency’s main purpose is to help the police and local government maintain public order. However, given the rather militaristic and sudden action, some fear the church closing is actually inspired by a broader Islamist campaign against Christians and church groups in the Muslim majority nation. Last week, two church leaders were stabbed in Bekasi Regency, on the eastern border of the capital city, Jakarta.
…The church building permit was first revoked by the Bogor Administrative government on February 14, 2008, two years after the issuance of their permit. The administrative government cited public disturbance as an excuse to close down the place of worship. However, the court of justice overturned the Bogor administration’s decision, and the church was reopened August 27 only to be re-closed a few days after.
Hillary Clinton praised Indonesia for the “protection of individuals’ professing different religions”. Very timely.
Indonesia: Court upholds blasphemy law.
Indonesia: Muslim leader arrested in anti-Christian attack.
Indonesian cleric comes to Europe to give voice to “great silent majority” of peace-loving Muslims.
“Homosexuality is an abuse of Human Rights”, top Muslim body says.
The number of mosques has increased fivefold in the Balearic Islands in recent years. In 2005 there were only six mosques in the islands and is now accounted for 30, as shows the registration of religious communities in the Ministry of Justice. The most important municipalities of the Balearic Islands have already a temple to practice Islam and Islamic groups now want also to have cemeteries to bury their dead by Muslim rites. For this reason, they plan to apply for land to the municipalities.
The real expansion of mosques has occurred since 2006, being the year 2008 when opened more Islamic centers were opened in the islands, especially in Mallorca. In most cases the faithful themselves have decorated the places with Arab tapestries. The faithful have also chosen a magnet in order to fulfill their religious obligations every Friday, the day of worship.
The reasons that Islamic groups give for the significant increase of places of worship in the municipalities is that gradually and over the years, Muslims have settled and integrated, losing the fear of showing religious affiliation. Many of the faithful flocked to nearby towns or Palma to pray, but over the years they have decided to launch their own temples in the towns where they reside.
Francisco José Giménez, president of Mallorca’s Lliga Musulmana and representative of the Islamic Platform states that “Muslim groups of municipalities were reluctant at first to set up their mosques, but once you have settled have changed their way of seeing things and even people of Mallorca has helped offering some places“. Islamic organizations complain that at a regional level there is no a group that unites the entire Muslim community.
In 2005, on the island of Mallorca, there were only two mosques in Palma, one in sa Pobla and another in Manacor. Now there are centers of Islamic worship in Inca, Lloseta, Pollença, Alcúdia, Felanitx, Maria de la Salut, Muro, Santa Margalida, Soller, Vilafranca, Ses Salines, Inca, Santanyi, Porreres or Campos.
The Lliga Musulmana and the Islamic Council of Islands, who is chaired by Lounis Meziani, think one step further. Since mosques are already implemented in most counties, they have decided to ask the councils to provide land for the construction of Islamic cemeteries. It turns out that the Police Act which governs Islands’ Mortuaries prohibits the burial of the deceased without coffins. Muslims do not use them and their religion requires burial in contact with soil, incineration is considered an act of selfishness. Mallorca cemeteries are not eligible to meet this ritual.
At the moment, they only have an area within the municipal cemetery in Palma for about 40 corpses. The municipality of the capital and has informed them that it has no more land to expand this space. In this situation, they are thinking of going through the villages of the islands with the aim they are assigned to build enclaves where Muslim cemeteries.
Chief of the Religious Affairs Directorate Ali Bardakoğlu has responded to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s call for cooperation in solving the headscarf issue by asking politicians to solve the problem themselves.
“Don’t leave the headscarf issue to us, let the politicians solve it through dialogue,” Bardakoğlu told daily Habertürk on Friday.
Erdoğan had previously called for a solution to the issue through the involvement of the Religious Affairs Directorate, a department within the Prime Ministry.
Bardakoğlu responded by saying the directorate does “not make statements on order.”
Wearing a headscarf is a matter of personal choice, said the religious chief. “Wearing a headscarf does not make you Muslim, just as not wearing a headscarf does not mean that you are not Muslim.”
Moroccan security services today dismantled a drug ring that did get cocaine and cannabis resin to Europe by land, sea and air and had branches in Latin America, Africa and Europe.
According to the note, the network had its headquarters in Mali, from where they carry out their activities “in collusion with terrorists belonging to the Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).”
The Moroccan Interior Ministry said in a statement that the operation resulted in seven arrests, two of whom are Spanish, and the seizure of “significant sums” in Moroccan and foreign currency, vehicles and tear gas, in addition to caches. Drug Investigations reveal that the network could have introduced the drug in Morocco from Mali, and other quantities of the same substances would have been transported to European countries, which also would have to spend large sums of money in foreign currency.
The detainees have been brought to justice and have already begun investigations under the supervision of the prosecution, the statement said.
…Jasmin Merdan, a young Bosnian who wrote a book after disassociating himself from Wahhabis groups in Bosnia, warned that “they express their convictions with violence, introduce anarchy in mosques and preach intolerance.” Women in the Albanian city of Skadar have reportedly started covering their heads or wearing the niqab, a full body covering that hides everything but the eyes, in newly found religiosity.
The video posted on YouTube is one of several produced by home grown jihadists in the Balkans and circulating in the region. “Oh Osama, annihilate the American army. Oh Osama, raise the Muslims’ honor,” a group of Macedonian men chant in Albanian on the video. “In September 2001 you conquered a power. We all pray for you.” Similar songs calling on Southeastern European Muslims to join the jihad have been produced in Bosnian.
Governments and security forces fear that that increased Wahhabi activity will produce committed jihadis that could destabilize already fragile nations in southeastern Europe and, in the case of Bulgaria – where one sixth of the country’s 7.6 million people is Muslim – produce a pool of jihadists whose EU passports would grant them easy access to Western Europe and allow them to blend into society.
…Bulgaria is the only EU member whose Muslim population are not recent immigrants. Most Bulgarian Muslims like those elsewhere in the Balkans are descendants of ethnic Turks who arrived during five centuries of Ottoman rule.
…The analysts say militant Islam is gaining ground on the fringe of a more general return to religion in the Balkans. Several thousand Orthodox Christian Bulgarians demonstrated in Sofia recently demanding that religious instruction be made compulsory in schools – a demand supported by mainstream Muslim organizations.
Muslim organizations are believed to have spent large amounts of money over the last decade to build some 150 new mosques and educational centers in predominantly Orthodox Bulgaria. A minority are believed to promote Wahhabism.
Analysts say that radical Islam has gained ground in southern and northeastern Bulgaria where militant Islamists, according to former Bulgarian chief mufti Nedim Gendzhev, are seeking to create a “fundamentalist triangle” in areas of Bosnia, Macedonia and Bulgaria’s Western Rhodope mountains.
…Bulgarian authorities last year arrested a mayor and a village teacher in the south of the country on charges of preaching radical Islam. In 2003, authorities shut down several Islamic centers because they were financed by Saudi-funded Muslim groups believed to have links to militant Islamic organizations and “to prevent terrorists getting a foothold in Bulgaria.” Some analysts estimate that 3,000 young Muslims have graduated from militant schools still operating in Bulgaria; it was not immediately clear what they went on to do following their graduation.
…(In Bosnia) Gornja Maoca was home to some 30 families who lived by strict Shariah laws, organized schooling in Arabic for their children outside the state system and opposed the primacy of Bosnia’s mainstream Islamic Community. Nusret Imamovic, the town’s self-proclaimed Wahhabi leader, endorsed suicide attacks on the group’s Bosnian language website, saying they should be launched only in “exceptional circumstances.” The site features statements by al-Qaeda and Islamic groups fighting in the Caucasus and celebrates suicide bombers as joyful Muslims.
Serbian officials say 12 alleged Wahhabis convicted last year to prison terms of up to 13 years for planning terrorist attacks, including on the US Embassy in Belgrade, had close ties to their brethren in Gornja Maoca. One of the convicted, Adnan Hot, said during the trial that Imamovic was one of only three Muslim leaders that he followed. Four other Wahhabis were sentenced in a separate case to jail terms of up to eight years on charges of planning to bomb a football stadium in the southern Serbian town of Novi Pazar.
In Macedonia, Suleyman Rexhepim Rexhepi, head of the official Islamic Religious Community (IVZ), recently called on the government and the international community to crack down on increasingly influential Wahabbi groups. Rexhepi is locked into a bitter battle with Ramadan Ramadani, the imam of the Isa Beg mosque in Skopje, that has caused a rift in the country’s Muslim community
Bulgaria: Extremist imam arrested linked to Saudi extremist Al Waqf Al Islami Foundation.
Bosnia: Wahabbism spreading, experts say.
Macedonia: “Wahabbism is becoming a concern but doesn’t represent a security threat”.
Denmark’s foreign minister denied Thursday that she had apologized on a Middle East trip for cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, initially published by a Danish newspaper in 2005, that angered many Muslims.
Middle East media, including the English-language Egyptian Gazette and Arabic television network Al-Arabiya, said Lene Espersen had apologized for the cartoons during her visit to Cairo Wednesday.
But Espersen said on Danish TV 2 News Thursday she had not issued any apology for the drawings.
“I can clearly deny that I have given an apology,” Espersen said. “But I can confirm that I have said that freedom of expression is not so extensive that it would not have any limits.”
…The Egyptian Gazette cited Egypt’s Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb as saying that Espersen “renewed her country’s apology for the publication of these cartoons and pointed out Denmark’s efforts to issue a law criminalizing contempt of religions.”
Espersen said that she told the Sheikh that the Danish government found it regrettable that many people were offended by the drawings and that the government condemns demonizing of groups of people based on their religion or ethnic background.
But Espersen, who faces a general election before the end of November next year, also said that citizens had a right to express themselves within the limits of the law without interference from the government, TV 2 News said on its website.
“Carlos,” a new movie about Venezuela-born Ilich Ramirez Sanchez – who gained fame in the 1970s under his nom de guerre, Carlos the Jackal – portrays the terrorist as a committed Marxist revolutionary and remorseless killer who mixes his murderous business with a substantial degree of pleasure. Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez grippingly portrays the Jackal as a narcissistic sociopath free of “bourgeois” baggage like guilt or shame that could slow his killing spree. He’s the perfect romantic (sic) villain: charismatic, intelligent and ruthless. One reviewer described a scene in which Carlos bombs a London bank and then takes a luxuriously steamy bath as “the most disgustingly sexy thing you’ve seen in a while.”
…”Carlos” is a window on another time, 35 years ago, when the threat of international terrorism was overshadowed by the reality of Cold War competition and nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union. The current mania for anti-terrorism measures and building security was nonexistent. It was a time when a gang of rough-looking characters with duffel bags filled with weapons could walk into a building hosting a ministerial meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and be directed by the staff to the conference room. It was an era when it was perfectly reasonable for terrorists to use a rocket launcher to attack an airplane on an airport runway and, a week later, make the same type of attack at the same airport.
Today, because of the efforts of the generation of terrorists inspired by the Jackal, metal detectors are a way of life and passengers can’t board airplanes without removing their shoes and surrendering their juice boxes. Thanks, Carlos.
Romantic? This is something romantic:
A killer? What does have to do with romanticism?
The 19-year-old’s mother told The Associated Press on Friday she is furious that her daughter quit high school and married the 52-year-old.
Mary Aoko Ouma says her daughter tried to marry Malik Obama two years ago, but the mother says she would not give permission.
Malik Obama, who is Muslim, has two other wives. Polygamy is legal in Kenya if it falls under religious or cultural traditions.
In an interview broadcast by Kenya’s NTV that was filmed without his knowledge, Malik Obama says he married the 19-year-old but didn’t say when.
|Bishop Luigi Padovese|
The president of the Turkish bishops’ conference has charged that the June killing of Bishop Luigi Padovese was an act of “premeditate murder” arranged by “ultra-nationalists and religious fanatics.”
Archbishop Ruggero Franceschini of Izmir, in an address to the Synod of Bishops, said that he felt compelled to speak out frankly to address the “intolerable slander” against the murder victim, Bishop Luigi Padovese. Shortly after Bishop Padovese was killed by his driver, Turkish media sources spread rumors about a homosexual affair between the two men. Archbishop Franceschini denounced those rumors, saying that they were “circulated by the very organizers of the crime.”
The driver who confessed to the killing, witnesses observed, shouted Islamic slogans immediately after his assault on Bishop Padovese. He had been employed by Bishop Padovese on the recommendation of government officials. Although the motivation for the killing remains unclear, Church officials are convinced that the murderer was affiliated with extremist groups.
Archbishop Franceschini noted, in his address to the Synod, that before his death Bishop Padovese had raised questions about the murders of several other Christians in Turkey, including Father Andrea Santoro. The string of killings, Archbishop Franceschini said, “is a murky story of complicity between ultra-nationalists and religious fanatics.”