Islam

CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS, JEWS BREAK BREAD IN INTERFAITH MOROCCO INITIATIVE

 

When Moroccan students got together to explore the rich cultural legacy the Jewish community contributed to the North African country, they named their association Mimouna, the name of a Moroccan Jewish tradition which marks the end of Passover with inviting Muslim neighbors for shared meals.

They never guessed they’d end up creating such meals themselves.

 

Together with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) and Jeunesse Chabad Maroc the students provided 1,500 needy Muslim families with meals in Marrakesh to help them celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan. The collaboration also included a festive interfaith dinner at the Slat al Azama synagogue in the Jewish quarter of Marrakech.

IFCJ Vice president Yael Eckstein was present at the event and stated that, since WWII, Morocco had set an example among North African societies for its treatment of Jews. She said she is honored to stand with the people of Morocco.

“We can overcome divisions and intolerance”, said Eckstein, “by building bridges of empathy.”

This is not the only example of the children of Abraham coming together around the dinner table this time of year.

In Cairo, Copts, who comprise the largest Christian minority in the Middle East, had set up tables outside their homes and invited Christians and Muslims alike to enjoy a meal as the sun sets and fasting Muslims are able to eat and drink.

Dawoud Riyad, who is Coptic, set up the tables near his Cairo home and invited Tarek Ali, a local resident, to celebrate together.

“They invited me and my kinds, and I was surprised”, said Ali, “with no difference between sheikhs, Christians, or Muslims.”

“We’re all brothers and friends”, said Riyad and pointed to another neighbor, “I’ve raised this man’s son (alongside my own son) and he’s Muslim.”

The spirit of sharing and providing for one another can also be found in Israel, where IFCJ provides food and clothing vouchers to Muslim Arab families for Ramadan, all part of the fellowship’s $5.6 million yearly aid program.

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‘We don’t need them’: Austrian FM wants to end Islamic kindergartens to boost integration

Shutting down Islamic kindergartens where children have little or no command of German would be an efficient way to ensure the integration of migrants, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said.
The comment was made at a public event set up by Kurier newspaper.

“Of course, we don’t need them. There should be no Islamic kindergartens,” Kurz said when asked whether he would agree to completely get rid of such facilities.

According to the foreign minister, proficiency in German must become a gateway to Austrian society.

Immigrant children and others “who have little or no command of German” would have to attend kindergarten one year longer than their Austrian peers, he said.

Consequently, many Arab or Chechen kindergartens will fail to meet the requirements for state benefits and will be left with no choice but to close, Kurz said, adding, “This is the easiest way in terms of the law.”

In the meantime, the government “does very much” to improve integration efforts, Kurz said. He added, however, that success “depends very much on the number of those [who should be] integrated.”

Opposition parties say it is the policy of the current government, which Kurz is a part of, that has led to a situation in which the state sponsors childcare facilities that contribute to the creation of parallel societies.

It was Kurz’s Austrian People’s Party (OVP) that “always voted for more subsidies for those kindergartens and it was his party and his [policy] that tried to cater all these Muslim and radical Islamist movements in Austria,” Johann Gudenus, the Vice Mayor and a City Council of Vienna, told RT.

Gudenus, who is a member of the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPO), went on to say that the current “sudden” change of heart of the Austrian government is just an attempt to gain more support ahead of parliamentary elections which are scheduled for October 2017.

The foreign minister’s initiative also drew criticism from the Austrian Muslim community, which called it “institutionalized discrimination.”

If one “just forbids a religious minority, the Muslims, [to establish kindergartens] but allows other [communities] to do that … than this is a very clear institutionalized discrimination of a religious community,” Tarafa Baghajati, the chairman of the Austrian Muslim Initiative group, told RT.

Baghajati further accused Kurz of using Islamophobia to advance his political interests.

Controversy regarding Muslim kindergartens was recently stirred when a study by Austrian-Turkish Professor Ednan Aslan found more than 10,000 children aged from two to six attend around 150 Muslim preschools in Vienna which teach the Koran and pave the way for “parallel societies,” according to AFP.

“Parents are sending their kids to establishments that ensure they are in a Muslim setting and learn a few suras (chapters from the Koran),” Aslan, who researches Islamic education at Vienna University, told AFP.
“But they are unaware that they are shutting them off from a multicultural society,” the scholar said. According to his estimates, up to a quarter of Islamic kindergartens were being sponsored or supported by ultraconservative Salafist groups or organizations.

The study, published last year, resonated widely in the community, but some rejected the findings citing the unreliability of Aslan’s methodology. Biber, a local magazine, dispatched an undercover reporter who posed as a Muslim mother looking for a place for her son at an Islamic kindergarten.

She found no evidence of Aslan’s claims that Islamic preschools were nurturing future Salafists, but acknowledged many of those kindergartens were cutting off or isolating children from mainstream society. There were also questions about the “openness” of some staff and their command of German.

Kurz, the youngest foreign minister in the EU at the time of his swearing-in back in 2013, has previously advocated putting more curbs on immigration. In March, he proposed the opening of refugee centers outside the European Union, suggesting the Republic of Georgia and countries of the Western Balkans as possible locations.

Last year, he also made some incendiary remarks on refugees being rescued on their way across the Mediterranean, saying a rescue from a boat in distress should be “no ticket to Europe.”

Refugees who are rescued from boats in the Mediterranean Sea “must be returned immediately, ideally to their country of origin,” Kurz vowed at the time.

Muslims skeptical about ‘road rage’ in Virginia girl’s death

FAIRFAX, Va. — Police in Virginia on Monday blamed road rage for the killing of a teenage Muslim girl who was allegedly attacked by a driver while walking with friends to her mosque between Ramadan prayers this weekend.

The girl’s father, Mohmoud Hassanen Aboras of Reston, said he doesn’t understand how this could have happened, because he said his daughter, 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen, was a friend to everyone.

Police charged 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres with murder after pulling a young woman’s body from a pond.

Detectives have so far found no indication of a link “between the victim’s faith or religious beliefs or the mosque and the crime itself,” Fairfax County Police Spokesman Don Gotthardt told The Associated Press.

“This tragic case appears to be the result of a road rage incident involving the suspect, who was driving and who is now charged with murder, and a group of teenagers who was walking and riding bikes in and along a roadway,” a police statement said.

The lack of a hate crime investigation provoked deep skepticism among some American Muslims.

Abas Sherif, a spokesman for the victim’s family, said Nabra and all the other girls in her group were wearing Muslim head coverings and loose Islamic robes when the driver approached.

“Road rage. Indeed. If you think for a minute that her appearance had nothing to do with this crime, you’re lying to yourself,” tweeted attorney Rabia Chaudry, a prominent Muslim activist who lives in the Washington suburbs.

The Anti-Defamation League also urged a hate crime probe.

“We urge the Fairfax County Police Department to investigate the murder as a possible bias crime,” Doron Ezickson, the ADL’s Washington, DC, director, said in a statement Monday.

“ADL has communicated that to law enforcement and we have reached out to [the local Muslim community] to offer any assistance.”

According to police and witnesses, the attack happened as Hassanen and her friends were walking back to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society mosque from a McDonald’s in the Sterling area between 3 and 4 a.m. on Sunday.

ADAMS is one of the largest mosques in the country, and is particularly busy during Ramadan. Observant Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, and since Ramadan this year overlaps with the summer solstice, and sunrise occurs well before 6 a.m., some Muslims will eat large meals in predawn hours.

Two boys in their group who spoke with The AP after paying condolences to the family on Monday said they didn’t witness anything to make them think it was a hate crime. They said that when the car pulled up beside them and slowed down, they thought the driver might even be a friend, playing a joke.

Then the car hopped the curb, they perceived hostile intent and they began to run. The group of more than a dozen kids did not immediately realize Hassanen was missing. Once they did, they told security officials at the mosque, who contacted police. The boys declined to give their names.

During an intense search for the missing girl on Sunday, an officer stopped a suspicious car. The driver, Martinez Torres, was taken into custody, police said.

WRC-TV reported that Martinez Torres was questioned near the scene of the attack, and led officers several miles away to a retention pond across the street from his apartment complex where a female body, believed to be the girl’s, was found at about 3 p.m. Sunday.

“What investigators told the father and the mother, he hit her in the head and put her in the car and he threw her in the water,” Sherif said.

Martinez Torres was arraigned Monday and denied bail pending a July 19 court appearance. A judge appointed him a public defender, whose office declined comment. Immigration authorities put a detainer on him, saying he’s a citizen of El Salvador and there’s probable cause to believe he lacks permission to be in the U.S.

Aboras immigrated from southern Egypt and has three younger daughters, who like Nabra were born in the U.S. He’s not particularly interested in knowing why his daughter was attacked or whether it could be considered a hate crime. His daughter is gone, regardless.

“My daughter is dead, and I don’t want anyone to feel what I feel, to lose your 17-year-old daughter … Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hispanic, whatever,” he said, surrounded by more than a dozen friends and family in his apartment.

Van driver mows down worshippers leaving London mosque, Muslim leaders say

http://www.timesofisrael.com/woshippers-mowed-down-leaving-london-mosque-muslim-leaders-say/

 

LONDON — One person has been arrested after a vehicle hit pedestrians in north London, injuring several people, police said Monday, as Muslim leaders said worshippers were mowed down after leaving a mosque.

Metropolitan Police said officers were called to the scene on Seven Sisters Road in Finsbury Park in north London at 12:20 a.m. local time Monday. Police said in a statement there were “a number of casualties”, adding that they were called to reports of “a vehicle in collision with pedestrians.

They confirmed that one person was arrested and that “a number of casualties [were] being worked on at the scene.”

The neighborhood has two mosques, and several hundred worshippers would have been in the area after attending prayers as part of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and end the day with an iftar meal at sunset.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing police give emergency medical treatment to at least one of the injured.

Police officers man a cordon at Finsbury Park where a vehicle struck pedestrians in London Monday, June 19, 2017. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)

“We have been informed that a van has run over worshippers as they left #FinsburyPark Mosque. Our prayers are with the victims,” the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an umbrella body, said on Twitter.

Harun Khan, the head of the MCB, said the van had “intentionally” run over people leaving night prayers.

BREAKING: Reports of a van knocking over more than 10 people near  mosque in London, police everywhere.

The president of the Jewish ultra-Orthodox private security group Shomrim, Rabbi Herschel Gluck who rushed to the scene told the Guardian: “It seems the van went onto the pavement people were there drinking coffee after their fast. We are here to support the local community. The hurt are predominantly Muslim.”

A witness, Boubou Sougou, 23, told the Guardian that the collision “was not an accident, I saw everything. People were badly injured. The van driver tried to escape but people grabbed him. He did not say anything.”

An AFP reporter could see a helicopter and many emergency vehicles at the scene, which was closed off by a large police cordon.

“We saw lots of people shouting and lots of people injured,” David Robinson, 41, who arrived just after the accident, told AFP.

Traffic was shut down on a section of Seven Sisters Road, where the incident happened.

The London Ambulance Service said it had sent “a number of resources” to the scene.

Video shows the scene where officers are responding to reports of a vehicle collision with pedestrians in London http://cnn.it/2sgjwOf 

The mosque near Seven Sisters was once a notorious hub for radical Islamists. Its former imam Abu Hamza was jailed for life in New York on terrorism charges in 2015. He preached there from 1997 to 2003 before being jailed for inciting violence. He was later extradited to the United States.

In 2015, the mosque was one of around 20 that took part in an open day organized by the MCB to promote better understanding of Islam following the deadly terror attacks in Paris that year.

Police man a cordon at Finsbury Park where a vehicle struck pedestrians in London Monday, June 19, 2017. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)

Britain has been on high alert following a pair of attacks in recent weeks that claimed the lives of some 30 people. Its terror alert has been set at “severe” meaning an attack is highly likely.

Earlier this month, three terrorists carried out a vehicular attack followed by a stabbing spree in London that left eight people dead and dozens wounded. The attackers were killed by police.

In Manchester in late May, a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including many children, at an arena where a pop concert had just ended.

Both attacks were claimed by the Islamic State terror group.

In March, a terrorist drove into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in London, killing four, and fatally stabbed a policeman guarding the gates of parliament before being shot dead by armed officers.

Jewish groups oppose US ‘anti-sharia’ marches

An array of liberal Jewish groups has signed on to letters to 29 mayors urging them to denounce planned “anti-sharia” marches this weekend.

“Timed during the Islamic month of Ramadan, when Muslims around the world fast during the daylight hours, these protests have been disingenuously branded ‘March Against Sharia’ and explicitly target Muslims at a time when hatred and bigotry has swept the nation,” said the letters, which went out Thursday to the mayors of cities including Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Indianapolis, New York and Orlando.

Sharia refers to Muslim religious law. Among the 129 signatories to the letters, which were organized by a group called Muslim Advocates, are the Union for Reform Judaism, Bend the Arc, the Anti-Defamation League, the National Council of Jewish Women and Jewish Voice for Peace, as well as the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, an umbrella body for Jewish public policy groups.

ACT for America — an organization that calls itself “the NRA of national security” — has organized the marches, which are set to take place Saturday in 28 cities across the US. The non-profit is billing the marches as “against sharia law and for human rights.”

On Thursday, ACT for America canceled a scheduled march in Arkansas after it learned a partner organization there was white supremacist. “We stand firmly opposed to any actions by individuals or organizations that seek to attack or intimidate based on race, religion, or sexual orientation,” the organization said in a statement.

Jewish groups across the spectrum have generally opposed bids to ban sharia law, arguing that Muslim Americans apply sharia in much the same way Orthodox Jewish communities apply halacha, or Jewish law, through religious courts: to grant divorces and to settle disputes of religious matters, while always deferring to civil courts.

Jewish groups that address civil society issues, like the ADL, have also said that the movement to ban sharia often masks an anti-Muslim bias.

Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council pushes bill aimed at curbing hate crimes

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council has urged Congress to pass legislation aimed at strengthening efforts to combat hate crimes.

The Protecting Affiliated Institutions Act, which has bipartisan sponsors, was introduced in both the Senate and the House on Tuesday. The Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council, which works to curb hate crimes within religious communities and to promote “the contributions of religious minorities in the United States,” has lobbied on behalf of the legislation.

The legislation would enhance the Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996, which made attacks against houses of worship a federal crime. The new bill expands this resolution to include other religiously affiliated institutions, such as schools and community centers. It would also broaden the the purview to include threats, and would make damaging protected property a felony, rather than a misdemeanor.

“Burning down a mosque or vandalizing a Jewish cemetery is intolerable. Now is the time to take action against hate crimes in our country,” Council Co-Chair Stanley Bergman said.

In a letter sent to members of Congress, the Council emphasized the severity of hate crimes toward both Muslim and Jewish groups. “There was a 67 percent increase in hate crimes against Muslim Americans in 2015, according to FBI data, while Jews remain the targets of the most hate crimes based on religion,” the letter stated.

Muslim Population in England Increases 6900% from 1939 to 2017

In Muslim Population in Europe: 1950 – 2020 by Houssain Kettani, we learn the England had a Muslim population of .1 percent in 1939.

(Stuff Black People don’t Like)

Estimates for the Muslim population increased from 50,000 or 0.1% in 1939, to 100,000 or 0.2% in 1951, to 750,000 or 1.2% in 1971, to 1.25 million or 2.2% in 1981, to 1.5 million or 2.6% in 1991. According to the 2001 census, the total population was 58,789,187, out of which 1,591,000 or 2.71% were Muslims. [International Journal of Environmental Science and Development, Vol. 1, No. 2, June 2010 ISSN:2010-0264]

In England today, there are more than 3 million Muslims, with the greater London area boasting more than 1 million Muslims. [Muslims in UK top 3 million for first time… with over 50% born outside Britain: Number in country doubles in a decade as immigration and birth rates soar, Daily Mail, 1-30-2016]:

 

– In some parts of London, close to half of the population are now Muslims
– On current trends they will be the majority in those areas within a decade
– More are under ten years old than any other age group, indicating future generations

Just a 6900% increase in the Muslim population of England from 1939 to 2017.

Demography is destiny.

China bans Ramadan observance in Muslim region

Authorities in China’s predominantly Muslim province have enacted a series of measures to prevent observance of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, with one official saying that those caught fasting “will be dealt with.”

An official government notice stated that the region has adopted many measures to “ensure social peace and harmony,” including ordering all restaurants to remain open for Ramadan, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) website reported on Monday.

An official from the Zawa township, speaking on condition of anonymity, was quoted as saying that teachers, public servants and employees in the service sector are “not allowed to fast” during Ramadan.

“It is strictly prohibited and if they are found fasting during this period, they will be dealt with,” he said.

Communist China has tried for decades to replace religious observance with allegiance to the party, particularly among the Uyghur people, most of whom are Muslim, and who live in the Xinjiang province of northwest China.
The region also borders several Muslim-majority countries including Afghanistan and Pakistan where Islamic terrorist groups have strongholds. Islamic State have recruited terrorists from within the Chinese province.

The “2017 Work Conclusion on the Stability Maintenance of Xinjiang during the Ramadan Period” notice warns that the Industrial and Commercial Bureau of Aksu which regulates business and alcohol licenses for restaurants, will “strengthen leadership,” “control,” and “inspection” in the county, and “widen the scope of propaganda [to] focus on prevention,” the site reported.

In addition, the authorities are forcing party activists to do marathon shifts, requiring them to “stand on 24-hour uninterrupted guard,” making fasting all but impossible.

In the neighboring Hotan county, students will gather on Fridays, the day when many Muslims attend prayer services in the mosque, and will “collectively study, watch red [communist propaganda] films, and conduct sports activities” in a way to “enrich their social life during the summer vacation,” according to the notice.

An official refused to answer whether the measures were specifically targeting Muslims observing Ramadan. “I cannot give you any details on this matter,” the official who spoke on condition of anonymity, said. “You’d better inquire about it with the public security sectors.”

Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam during which Muslims are supposed to devote themselves to praying, giving to charity and fasting from dawn to dusk.

It is sacred because tradition says the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad during that month.

Ramadan is a month generally marked by piety and sacrifice, and during which Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and having sex from dawn to dusk.

This Israeli ex-Salafist is one of Europe’s most outspoken critics of radical Islam

BERLIN — Once a fundamentalist Salafist, Ahmad Mansour has turned into one of Europe’s most outspoken critics of radical Islam.

Born and raised in the Israeli-Arab village of Tira (northeast of Kfar Saba), Mansour studied psychology at Tel Aviv University before moving to Berlin. In the German capital, he made it his mission to fight the radicalization of young Muslims in Germany.

“One of the reasons why the redemption offered by the Islamists is so attractive to people with a Muslim cultural background is that it rests on religious ideas and cultural motives they are familiar with,” Mansour told The Times of Israel in a recent Berlin interview.

“So the challenge to German society is not only to respond to the problems of these young people before the Salafists and Islamists catch them, but also to educate them in a Western attitude that will make them immune to Islamist incitement,” he said.

A frequent guest on German television talk shows and a regular newspaper contributor, Mansour argues that Europeans should not be overly tolerant of the outdated values prevalent in Muslim subcultures throughout the Continent. To do so, he says, would come at the expense of Western democratic ideals.

Mansour warns that these ghetto societies are breeding grounds from which jihadist organizations recruit terrorists that execute assaults inside and outside of Europe.

Pictures of victims are placed behind candles outside the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Christoph Ena)

Indeed, many of the recent terror attacks on European targets were committed by locals — citizens of Great Britain, Belgium, France, and Germany — including the November 2015 Paris attacks, the March 2016 Brussels bombings, the April 2016 stabbing of a German police officer in Hannover, and this week, Manchester.

British-born Salman Abedi was identified as the suicide bomber who killed 22 people, including several children, on Monday at a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, northwest England.

What’s more, a significant number of Europeans travel to the Middle East to fight alongside IS, Al Qaeda and other Islamist militias in countries like Afghanistan, Syria or Pakistan. Therefore, Mansour insists, jihadism is not only a foreign policy problem but a domestic one as well, given the amount of European homegrown terrorism.

As a program director, counselor and educator, Mansour educates young people growing up in insular Muslim communities and tries to immunize them against inciters seeking to recruit them for jihadism.

Ahmad Mansour lecturing at Campus Muengersdorf University. (Marc Neugroeschel/Times of Israel)

He works with organizations such as the European Foundation for Democracy, HAYAT, which offers counseling to those at risk of influence by violent radicals, and the HEROES educational initiative for immigrants.

He also counsels families and peers of mostly young radical Muslims with the goal of helping them influence their loved ones for the better.

His recent book “Generation Allah,” which is a bestseller in Germany, has been celebrated as a wake-up call to German society and a courageous critique — not only of radical Islam, but also of German attitudes towards it.

Mansour is the recipient of a number of awards, but he is also the target of hostility by radical Muslims and actors on the political left who accuse him of Islamophobia. He requires heavy protection by police and personal bodyguards when appearing in public, but remains undeterred in spreading his message. He expounds on this in the following interview with The Times of Israel.

'Generation Allah,' by Ahmad Mansour (published in German). (Courtesy)

In your book “Generation Allah” you describe how you fell for Salafism and how you eventually left this radical ideology behind. You grew up in the Arab-Israeli village of Tira. Are the reasons for the radicalization of Muslims in Israel different from reasons why young Muslims in Germany become Islamists?

Essentially, no. The pattern is always the same. Young people experience an upbringing that combines family problems with an authoritarian education. This, along with exposure from a young age to certain forms of Islam, causes fear and insecurities that make people susceptible to the redemption-promises of Salafist and Islamist preachers if they experience some kind of emotional, moral, psychological or social crisis.

I think that similar to what is happening in Germany, Israeli society is also increasingly ignoring radicalization among Muslim Israelis and isn’t doing anything about it. Israel is focused on the conflict with Hamas, with Gaza and with the Palestinians, and forgets about the problems of Muslim civil society in Israel. Also, Israeli society has to understand that Islamism cannot only be fought on the battlefield.

You write that your high school graduation marked a crossroad in your life at which you began to turn your back on radical Islam. Does this mean that something can be done by Israel’s education system to fight radicalization?

What was decisive for me was not so much the Bagrut [Israeli high school diploma], but rather the experience that I created during that time and afterwards. I moved to Tel Aviv, I met new people, I encountered new ideas. I studied psychology at Tel Aviv University and widened my horizon. All this encouraged me to question my old convictions and to change them eventually.

In particular you write that the interaction with Jews was helpful to overcome anti-Semitic stereotypes.

This is certainly true.

So could it be a good idea to promote more Jewish-Arab coeducation in Israeli high schools in order to fight Muslim radicalization among Israeli Arabs?

Well… I haven’t lived in Israel for 10 years and my expertise is more on German society… but possibly this might be a promising approach.

How many Europeans are currently fighting for Islamist militias in the Middle East?

‘There is a whole subculture of Salafists and of Muslims who are not radical yet, but who are highly susceptible to Islamist incitements’

Intelligence services registered 1,960 Islamist fighters, but suggest that the true estimate is likely two or three times that. Given the number of inquiries I get from desperate peers and parents who call me when they suspect that their friends or children have disappeared to some Middle Eastern war zone, I wouldn’t be surprised if the number were even much higher than that.

However, those who leave Europe are just the tip of the iceberg. The much bigger problem is that there is a whole subculture of Salafists and of Muslims who are not radical yet, but who are highly susceptible to Islamist incitements and who could potentially be recruited for jihadist activities. I think that we are a looking at tens of thousands of people in Germany alone. This is what I call the “generation Allah.” And these are the people who should be the focus of political attention and educational initiatives.

What caused this Islamist ideology to become so influential in Europe?

I don’t think that we are talking about a particularly European problem here. Islamism and jihadism are global phenomena that have finally reached Europe as well. But while Europe didn’t do anything in particular to create the problem, it is exacerbating it by its inaction.

Ahmad Mansour advocates for better integration of first and second generation immigrants into European society. (Franziska Richter)

What exactly do you mean?

Islamism cannot be explained solely as a reaction to racism or discrimination against Muslim minorities, which certainly exists here in Germany, as it does elsewhere. Yet a lack of effort to integrate migrants and the children of migrant families who have lived in Germany for two or three generations means that we are missing the opportunity to spread Western values to people who were been born in this country but that we leave their socialization to Muslim subcultures, where they are often educated in a spirit contrary to German democratic ideals. That alone does not necessarily turn them into radicals. But it makes them more susceptible to Islamist propaganda once they experience a personal crisis.

You write that Salafists are better social workers?

People who subscribe to Islamism don’t explicitly look for a religious ideology from the beginning. Instead, they seek redemption from all kinds of social and psychological problems. The Salafists and Islamists approach these people, they listen to them, they invite them to their mosques and integrate them into communities, where they experience a sense of solidarity and belonging that they are desperate for. They also give them the feeling that they are part of an elite that understands a divine revelation others are ignorant of. In doing so, they give them a sense of superiority that compensates for experiences of marginality often encountered by members of the Muslim minority in Western societies.

Ahmad Mansour. (Heike Steinweg)

German society needs to integrate these young people and provide them a sense of identity based on Western values, rather than one based on an anti-Western counter-culture and patriarchal, archaic values that, regrettably, are often tolerated by Germans in the name of multiculturalism.

We just saw in the recent referendum on Turkey’s constitution, in which Turkish expats in Germany were allowed to vote, that 450,000 Turkish people living in Germany voted for the establishment of a dictatorship. Is that a sign of failed integration?

Most certainly. These voters displayed their disregard for the democratic values of the German constitution. Moreover, they were also attracted by Erdogan’s Islamist rhetoric that presents the West as an enemy of the Muslim world. This proves their susceptibility for Islamist world views.

What can be done to improve the integration of Muslims into German society?

First of all, the job starts with the Muslim community itself. Muslims have to accept the values of the society in which they chose to live. And that is what I am dedicating my all my efforts to. However, such endeavors are often undermined by the German government and by the dominant forces in Germany society who sideline liberal Muslims and cooperate with Islamists instead.

How so?

I’ll give you two examples: At the commemoration service for the victims of last December’s Berlin Christmas market terror attack, Islamist imam Ferid Heider preached, surrounded by German chancellor Angela Merkel, former German president Joachim Gauk, and other high ranking officials from the German government and Church.

Candles, flowers and individual messages are placed at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the Christmas market attack near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin on December 24, 2016. (AFP Photo/John Macdougall)

Heider disseminates anti-Western and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. On his Facebook page he recommends a book by the Egyptian-Qatari theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who is one of the leading voices of Islamism worldwide and who condones Palestinian suicide bombing. Not only is this a slap in the face of the victims of the terror attack, it lends legitimacy to an Islamist who preaches anti-Western values. Think about what must be going on in the head of a young Muslim in Germany who sees on TV that this Islamist preacher is promoted by the German chancellor and the German president.

‘Think about what must be going on in the head of a young Muslim in Germany who sees on TV that this Islamist preacher is promoted by the German chancellor and the German president’

In another incident in 2015, today’s German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who back then served as the German government’s minister for economy, was joined by Aiman Mayzyek, the chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, on his trip to the Gulf states. Mayzyek’s association, like the other established Islamic organizations in Germany, promotes Islamism. Sadly, the German government prefers to speak with them rather than with representatives of Germany’s liberal Muslim community.

But how come that Salafists and Islamists in Germany are organized so well, while liberal Muslims aren’t?

First of all, liberal Muslims don’t have such a desire to congregate, because for them religion is a private matter and they don’t pursue a political agenda as the Islamists do. Second, we liberal Muslims lack funds, since we don’t get any money from Saudi Arabia or Turkey, who sponsor the established Muslim organizations in Germany to influence German policy and to promote their Islamist agenda.

Illustrative: A protest held by Muslim Salafi groups against the French military attack on Mali, in front of the French embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, January 18, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Khalil Hamra)

What role does the Middle East conflict play in the radicalization of young Muslims?

‘People don’t subscribe to the ideology of Islamism because they grieve the experience of Palestinians in Gaza’

None at all. People don’t subscribe to the ideology of Islamism because they grieve the experience of Palestinians in Gaza.

Demonization of Israel and Jews is an expression of anti-Semitism deeply intertwined with Islamists ideas. It has very little to do with the actual Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

You also criticize German society’s inaction in regard to Muslim anti-Semitism.

Muslim anti-Semitism is a real problem in German society. In many schoolyards the term “Jew” is used as a curse word. Just a few weeks ago a student at a Berlin high school was beaten by his classmates after he revealed that he was Jewish. But while there are strong efforts to fight anti-Semitism from the political right, many Germans are cynically inclined to accept Muslim anti-Semitism in the name of a problematic understanding of multicultural tolerance.

It is unacceptable that a German principal, when informed about anti-Semitic acts committed by Muslims students at his school, says something like, “Don’t be so upset. This is just normal among these folks.”

This is not just a slap in the face of the Jewish victims, but also of liberal Muslims who are equated with Islamists and radicals.

Jew and Muslim in viral Manchester photo tell of decade-long friendship

http://www.timesofisrael.com/jew-and-muslim-in-viral-manchester-photo-tell-of-decade-long-friendship/

 

A Jewish woman and a Muslim man, whose photo mourning together in the aftermath of the Manchester terror attack went viral and symbolized hope for coexistence to many, have been good friends for over 10 years.

Renee Black, a 93-year-old Jewish woman and Sadiq Patel, a Muslim man, traveled to Manchester on Wednesday from the nearby town of Blackburn to mourn the victims.

The pair were captured on video and in photos talking and joining in prayer next to a makeshift memorial in Albert Square, in the city’s center.

“When we were walking through Albert Square I kept asking Sadiq: ‘Why is everyone looking at us?’ I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about us being there together. All I could think about was that poor little eight-year-old girl,” Black said, referring to one of the victims.

“God’s been good to me. I am at the edge of life now, while hers should have been spread out before her.”

According to the Daily Mail, the two Blackburn natives have been close friends for more than a decade and are members of an interfaith group.

Renee Rachel Black, right, is comforted by Sadiq Patel in front of flower tributes at Albert Square central Manchester, England Wednesday May 24 2017, two days after more than 20 people were killed in a suicide bombing following an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

The death of Black’s partner Harry three years ago, and several minor strokes that she suffered, have led the two to become even closer, with Patel visiting Black every few days and driving her into Manchester to buy Kosher food, the pair told the newspaper.

Black was born in Blackburn in 1924 to a Lithuanian Jewish father, while her maternal grandfather was a Russian Jew. Despite the town once having a synagogue and a Jewish community, Black told the Mail she believed she was now the only Jew remaining there.

She told the British daily that as a result of the Holocaust and a number of experiences of anti-Semitism in her youth, she always felt it was important to build bridges with other immigrant groups.

“I was 15 when World War II started and I remember being horrified when we learned of the gas chambers and death camps,” she said, while adding that “I have always felt I owe something to the millions of Jews who were murdered, to make a stand against hatred.”

Patel, meanwhile, was born in Blackburn to a family of Muslim immigrants from India.

He said that while his friendship with Black may seem “unusual,” it is a testament to their ability to focus on what they have in common, rather than their differences.

“It’s unusual for a Muslim man in a robe with a hat and beard and a Jewish lady to be friends, but let’s celebrate what we have in common with a vengeance. We all share the same things, births, marriage and deaths, so let’s reflect and tolerate each other’s differences,” the Mail quoted him as saying.

A beautiful moment in Manchester. Renee Black, 93, and Sadiq Patel, praying together in Albert Square. She is Jewish, he is Muslim.

Black and Patel told the daily that he was only Muslim at the funeral of her Jewish partner Harry, while she in turn was the only Jew at the funeral of his mother.

Patel said that he was “humbled” that Black attended his mother’s funeral, even though it was on Shabbat.

“That was iconic for me,” he said. “Renee has never broken the Sabbath for one day in her life.”

Patel said that “As a Muslim, I felt quite nervous about going to Albert Square. You are never sure how people might react to you, because these radicalized terrorists have tarnished the Islam faith.

“I was worried we might attract attention, but I was surprised by how much. The atmosphere was so sombre and quiet and we both felt very emotional. Renee was really upset thinking about the poor children who died.”

Patel added: “For both us it felt incomprehensible that someone could take all those innocent lives in the name of faith. It’s certainly not a faith either of us recognizes.”

Responding to all the attention given to the images of the two of them together at the Manchester memorial, Patel said he hoped it could serve as an opportunity to bring people together.

“We never expected those pictures to go round the world, but I really do hope people will look at them and see that two people from different faiths can come together in harmony and stand united,” he said.

“Ours is just one example of the thousands of friendships and acts of kindness we don’t see.”