Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

May 2012
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ISLAM IN THE WEST

New Study on Muslims and Integration in Germany
Berlin
A significant minority of Muslims in Germany i.e., 48 % are skeptical about integration. 52% of non-German Muslims favoured integration. Those who expressed skepticism, preferred to live in separation from the German mainstream. These figures change slightly when taking into account German Muslims: While, then, 78% of Muslim favour integration, 22% prefer a more separatist approach. Overall, about 24% of non-German Muslims reject integration, question Western values, and tend to accept violence.
These are the highlights from a report released by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in March 2012. The study has triggered intense debate about Muslims and the role of Islam in Germany.
The study, entitled The Daily Life of Young Muslims in Germany, surveyed Muslims between 14 and 32, both German citizens and non-citizens. In addition, several group interviews were conducted with young living in Germany, Internet forums were analyzed, and TV news reports evaluated. The aim of the study was to find out how Muslims living in Germany view German culture as well as their attitudes towards integration.
Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich expressed his concern about the study’s findings and emphasised that those who reject democratic values and constitutionally enshrined freedoms do not have a future in Germany. Similarly, Hans-Peter Uhl, domestic affairs spokesman of the government’s CDU faction, said the high number of Muslims who refuse to integrate was alarming. The rejection to integrate may provide a fertile ground for religious fanaticism and terrorism.
While many CDU politicians were concerned about the study’s findings, the Liberal Democrats criticized the study for producing “headlines”, but no actual findings beyond the religious commitment of young Muslims, which cannot automatically be connected with violence. Furthermore, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP) questioned the study’s validity and significance. Green-Party politician Volker Beck went even further and criticized the Interior Ministry for viewing Muslims solely in the light of the potential danger they pose – according to Beck, this alludes to the Interior Minister’s lacking willingness to fully integrate them.
Germany’s Muslim communities have also expressed criticism. Kenan Kolat, for instance, head of the Turkish Community in Germany, accused Friedrich of populist behaviour. Instead of publishing the study’s findings, they should have been discussed during the Islam Conference. The Chair of the Central Council of Muslims, Aiman Mazyek, by comparison, was more concerned about the potential radicalisation of young Muslims. He called on politicians for support preventive work more strongly.


Positive Role of Islamic Bodies Highlighted
Amsterdam
The Netherlands

A research project by members of the University of Amsterdam has concluded that religious organizations provide a source of de-escalation in tensions around Islam in the Netherlands. Commissioned by the justice ministry’s Scientific Research and Documentation Centre (WODC), the project studied five cases of criticism of Islam in western countries, including the Swiss minaret ban (2009), the anti-Islam film Fitna (2008), the Danish cartoon affair (2005-2006). Researchers analyzed the public reactions of Islamic, Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist organizations and their leaders. Researcher Gerard Wiegers commented that in their responding to these instances of criticism, “the original and inventive approach of some Islamic organizations has pleasantly surprised us.”
Salaamworld
Amsterdam
A Facebook like Platform will provide young Muslims a media devoid of uncomfortable features.
Salaamworld, a social media platform akin to Facebook which is to debut in June, during Ramadan has been featured on the Radio Netherlands. The site provides a platform for young Muslims who feel uncomfortable with the content of Facebook, as well as enabling access to a collection of Islamic e-books, products and services. The project is currently headquartered in Istanbul with branches in Russia and Egypt, and an ambitious expansion plan for the coming three years. The site is not the first alternative to Facebook targeting the Muslim people, and joins al- Millatfacebook, a Pakistani initiative.
Dutch-Moroccan publicist Mohammed Jabri comments on Salaamworld that while it provides a potentially fruitful, though undoubtedly commercial, enterprise, it does not reply a ‘pure’ alternative to an ‘impure’ Facebook. Jabri predicts that those who sign up with Salaamworld will not revoke their Facebook profiles, as they will not want to lose contacts not shared between the two platforms.
Muslim Groups Offer Reward for Arrests for Crimes
Philadelphia (USA)
A recent wave of bank hold-ups and a homicide committed by men dressed as Muslim women has prompted the Philadelphia-area Muslim community to offer a $20,000 reward for tips that lead to the arrest and conviction of the suspects. The Majlis- e- Shura, an organisation representing the membership of 71 mosques and congregations in the Philadelphia area held a press conference on this last fortnight. “Philadelphia is a unique city in that Islam is not new here,” said Aliya Khabir, a public relations official representing the national United Muslim Masjid. “It’s up to us to set the tone for how this is addressed.” Since December, there have been at least five bank robberies in Philadelphia in which the suspects wore Muslim women’s hijab. On April 18, a suspect dressed in Muslim garb entered an Upper Darby barber shop and fatally shot Michael Turner, 35. Sharif Wynn, 27, of Philadelphia has been arrested. Both members of the Majlis –e- Shura and Councilman, Curtis Jones Jr. said other major U.S. cities have not faced this issue. Jones said he did not believe a single group was responsible for the hold-ups, but rather that some “not-too-smart criminals” were using the disguise to get closer to their victims.Amir Imam al-Atharee, a member of the Majlis –e- Shura said this kind of activity makes it dangerous for Muslim women and the community. “You put everyone in danger,” Jones said, referring to the criminals. “We’ve been through enough since 9/11.


FBI Training - Manual 876 Pages Found Offensive
Washington
An FBI review of agent training material critical of Islam uncovered 876 offensive or inaccurate pages that had been used in 392 presentations, including a PowerPoint slide that said the Bureau can sometimes bend or suspend the law.
The Bureau has not released the material, but Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois described a few pages of it in a letter asking FBI Director Robert Mueller to institute five changes so that inappropriate FBI training on Islam doesn’t happen again. The FBI confirmed the number of inaccurate or offensive pages and presentations on April 6.
The Bureau also said the documents that are either offensive or inaccurate have been taken out of training presentations. Earlier this month, the FBI posted on its website a set of training principles which said that training must emphasize that religious expression, protest activity and the espousing of ideological beliefs “are constitutionally protected activities that must not be equated with terrorism or criminality” in the absence of other information about such offenses.
Finding True Faith
P.K. Abdul Ghafour
“Religion is a man-made institution, but faith is the relationship between man and God”,
... Professor David Roy Woelke


Photo: Professor David Roy Woelke of King Abdulaziz University is helped by Sheikh Abdul Elah Al-Ajlan of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth to recite the Shahadah during a brief ceremony at WAMY headquarters in Jeddah (AN photo)

David Roy Woelke, a Canadian English language instructor at King Abdulaziz University, embraced Islam at the World Assembly of Muslim Youth’s (WAMY) headquarters last month.
Abdul Elah Al-Ajlan, deputy director of dawa programs at WAMY, assisted Woelke to recite the Shahadah (Lailaha Illallah Muhammad Rasulullah “there is no god but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God” during a brief ceremony at the organization.
Woelke, whose new name is Dawood, said he embraced Islam after he was fully convinced that it is the true divine religion. He conducted a comparative study of Islam and his former religion Christianity and noticed a lot of differences.
“When I came to Saudi Arabia, I realized how wrongly the Western media portrays Islam as a religion of violence and terrorism. In fact, it’s a religion of peace and universal brotherhood,” he said.
Woelke said it was this biased portrayal of Islam that prompted him to learn more about this religion and read the holy Qur’an. “When I came to know that Islam is the true religion I decided to cut my relations with Christianity.” The Canadian said he saw a totally different picture of Islam and Muslims in Saudi Arabia, adding that it was quite opposite of what has been projected in the Western press.
“Many Muslim friends encouraged me to accept Islam as my religion. Once a Pizza salesman told me he wished to see me becoming a Muslim very soon,” he said, adding that deeper studies about Islam made him closer to the religion.
Asked what would be the response of his family, Woelke said: “Mine is a tolerant and open family. However, they may find it a bit strange in the beginning because of their wrong perception of Islam painted by the Western media.”
He expected his family members would ask him about the Islamic teachings and how he would adapt with them. “There are a lot of misunderstandings about Islam in their minds. But I am quite sure that their impressions about Islam would change when I explain to them its various teachings,” he pointed out. “There is a vast distinction between faith and religion,” said Woelke.
“Religion is a man-made institution, but faith is the relationship between man and God,” he told Arab News. “I want to be busy working on my own relationship with God and not so busy about another man’s relationship with God,” he added.