Content about Europe

November 16, 2013

Ankara - Symbolizing the emerging trend of rejuvenation of the letter and spirit of Islam in practice, four Turkish Members of Parliament, who happen to be Muslim ladies, broke a decades-old veil ban by wearing their headscarves to work.

The ladies’ entrance into Turkey's parliament chambers in Ankara began their term in office, marking an end to the early 1920s ban on the Muslim symbol of female modesty imposed in the early days of the Turkish Republic, when secularist dictator Kemal Ataturk sought to transform Turkey into a progressive and prosperous nation by removing religious practice and effects from outward public expression.

The symbolic action highlights an emerging trend in Turkey where the issue of headscarves remains highly sensitive, as it is viewed by secularists as a sign of political Islam in stark contrast to the republic's strongly secular traditions, reported Agence France Presse (AFP).

The four Members of Parliament (MP)  - Sevde Beyazit Kacar, Gulay Samanci, Nurcan Dalbudak and Gonul Bekin Sahkulubey are members of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) which has [religious] roots and has gained a strong following in this nation of 74 million.

The main secular opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), which had previously said it would contest any parliamentarians seeking to wear headscarves in the chamber, did not officially respond to the move, reported Reuters, mentioning that a few of its members did jeer as the four women entered the assembly, while another wore a T-shirt depicting the face of the Turkish Republic's secular founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who also founded the CHP.

Other fellow members of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) greeted the four female lawmakers with hugs and kisses when they entered the chamber.

November 16, 2013

Germany authorities are ready to deport several US diplomats if the information that they wiretapped on phone calls is confirmed, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich has claimed. “It’s quite clear that if US embassy or other agencies employees are involved in the case, they will be punished. Speaking of diplomats, they will be deported,” Friedrich said in an interview to the ARD,  Allgemeine Rundfunk Deutschland news network in Berlin, Germany. Voice of Russia also reported that Washington still didn’t have answers to many questions Germany had asked the US in relation to the scandal.

The Jurist website stated that  Germany and Brazil have proposed a draft resolution within the UN General Assembly calling for member states to take measures to put an end to "gross invasions of privacy" such as excessive electronic surveillance and data collection. Although the resolution does not specifically indicate any countries, recent events such as allegations that the National Security Agency (NSA)has spied on more than 60 million phone calls made in Spain indicate that the resolution is directed at the US and its various surveillance programs.

According to European media reports, the US NSA eavesdropped on phone calls of 28 EU countries representatives, including Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. American secret services also spied on these countries’ embassies in Washington, the UK Guardian newspaper says. Earlier this month, German Der Spiegel magazine reported that US intelligence had allegedly tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone. The complete outrage of the Germans has manifested in discussions about requesting Edward Snowden to verify the allegations of the German chancellor’s mobile phone surveillance in a Guardian UK news report:

“ The justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, told the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper: "If the allegations build up and lead to an investigation, one could think about calling in Snowden as a witness."

Thomas Oppermann, of the Social Democrats, said: "Snowden's claims appear to be credible, while the US government has blatantly lied to us on this matter. That's why Snowden could be an important witness, also in clearing up the surveillance of the chancellor's mobile."

November 16, 2013

When Malala Yusufzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen simply because she wanted to gain an education it sent shockwaves around the world.

Straight away the Western media took up the issue. Western politicians spoke out and soon she found herself in the UK. The way in which the West reacted made me question the reasons and motives behind why Malala's case was taken up and not so many others.

There is no justifying the brutal actions of the Taliban or the denial of the universal right to education, however there is a deeper more historic narrative that is taking place here.

This is a story of a native girl being saved by the white man. Flown to the UK, the Western world can feel good about itself as they save the native woman from the savage men of her home nation. It is a historic racist narrative that has been institutionalized. Journalists and politicians were falling over themselves to report and comment on the case. The story of an innocent brown child that was shot by savages for demanding an education and along comes the knight in shining armor to save her.

The actions of the West, the bombings, the occupations, the wars - all seem justified now, "See?  We told you. THIS is why we intervene to save the natives."

The truth is that there are hundreds and thousands of other Malalas. They come from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other places in the world. Many are victims of the West, but we conveniently forget about those as Western journalists and politicians fall over themselves to appease their white-middle class guilt, also known as the white man's burden.

Gordon Brown stood at the UN and spoke words in support for Malala, yet he is the very same Gordon Brown that voted for the war in Iraq that not only robbed people of their education but of their lives. The same journalists that failed to question or report on the Western wars in an intelligible manner now sing the praises of the West as they back Malala and her campaign without putting it in context of the war in Afghanistan and the destabilization of the region thanks to the Western occupation of Afghanistan.

Malala's message is true, it is profound, it is something the world needs to take note of; education is a right of every child, but Malala has been used as a tool by the West. It allows countries like Britain to hide their sins in Afghanistan and Iraq. It allows journalists to report a feel good story whilst they neglect so many others, like the American drone strikes that terrorize men, women and children in Pakistan's border regions.

The current narrative continues the demonization of the non-white Muslim man. Painting him as a savage, someone beyond negotiating with, beyond engaging with, the only way to deal with this kind of savage is to wage war, occupy and use drones against them. NATO is bombing to save girls like Malala is the message here.

Historically the West has always used women to justify the actions of war mongering men. It is in the imagery, it is in art, in education, it is even prevalent in Western human rights organizations. Amnesty International's poster campaign coinciding with the NATO summit in New York encouraged NATO to 'keep the progress going!' in Afghanistan.

Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz were also shot along with Malala, the media and politicians seem to have forgotten about them. Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi - how many of the Western politicians and journalists know about this name? She was the 14-year-old girl violated by five US soldiers, then she and her family, including her six-year-old sister were murdered. There are no days named after her, no mentions of her at the UN, and we don't see Gordon Brown pledging his name to her cause.

I support Malala, I support the right to education for all, I just cannot stand the hypocrisy of Western politicians and media as they pick and choose, congratulating themselves for something that they have caused. Malala is the good native, she does not criticize the West, she does not talk about the drone strikes, she is the perfect candidate for the white man to relieve his burden and save the native.

The Western savior complex has hijacked Malala's message. The West has killed more girls than the Taliban have. The West has denied more girls an education via their missiles than the Taliban has by their bullets. The West has done more against education around the world than extremists could ever dream of. So, please, spare us the self-righteous and self-congratulatory message that is nothing more than propaganda that tells us that the West drops bombs to save girls like Malala.

November 10, 2013

Poland asks court to hear CIA secret jails case in private  Poland's government has asked the European Court of Human Rights to exclude the media and the public from a court hearing next month on whether Poland hosted a secret CIA prison on its territory. The request for a private hearing was criticized by a Polish human rights group, which accuses the state of trying to conceal its involvement in the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program behind a veil of secrecy. The Strasbourg-based court scheduled a public hearing for Dec. 3 to hear arguments in the cases of two men who say they were held in a CIA-operated jail in Poland.

October 27, 2013

Protests in the Biryulyov neighborhood, on Moscow’s southern fringes, were apparently triggered by the fatal stabbing of a 25-year-old, Yegor Shcherbakov. Police have described the alleged attacker – captured on grainy CCTV footage – as "not a Russian citizen." Russian media, meanwhile, have described him as a migrant.

Labor migrants [who are predominantly Muslim] in Russia number in the millions, and have become a focus of public discontent and divisive political rhetoric.

RIA Novosti reported that  Russian police detained 1,200 people in Moscow at a vegetable warehouse targeted by anti-migrant rioters during violent clashes in the area the night before. During demonstrations in Biryulyov, protesters called on police to detain the suspect in Shcherbakov’s murder and tighten migration laws, according to local media reports.

By the next day, the crowd turned violent, when a group of young men began smashing windows in a shopping centre and briefly set it on fire. A video posted on Youtube showed them chanting "White Power!" as they forced their way in, attacking police and local businesses, including the vegetable warehouse. Helicopters and over a thousand police officers were dispatched to Biryulyov. Observers cite that the peaceful protest may have been targeted by political instigators who seized an opportunity to ignite an already volatile situation.

Police called the latest round of arrests “preventative,” saying they would check the thousand-plus people taken into custody “for involvement in criminal activity.”

Preliminary reports suggested that the initial detentions targeted people, mostly migrant Muslims,who worked at the vegetable warehouse which had come under attack the previous day, while the earlier detentions focused on those taking part in the weekend’s violence. Russia's top investigative agency said it was looking into the killing. Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, a close ally of President Putin, called for a thorough investigation and said those behind riots must also be held responsible for their actions.

 

The rioting in Biryulyov was the worst outbreak of unrest over a racially-charged incident in Moscow since December 2010, when several thousand youths rioted just outside the Kremlin.

While Russia's overall population is dropping, the number of Muslims in the country is on the rise. The population of indigenous Muslims, mainly hailing from the Russian Caucasus, in Russia has risen since the fall of the Soviet Union, including a 69 percent increase in Dagestanis, a 50 percent increase in Chechens and a 100 percent increase in Ingush. Similarly, the number of Muslim immigrants is also rising. According to official state data, some 240,000 immigrants enter Russia annually -- Russia's Center for Migration Studies puts this number at more than 400,000 after accounting for illegal immigration. Federal Migration Service head Konstantin Romodanovsky has said 3 million immigrants work illegally in Russia every year.

Increased anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment has accompanied these demographic changes. The opinion research center poll in January suggested that 55 percent of Russians reported feelings of enmity toward other ethnicities, and 63 percent believed that Russians should have more rights than other ethnicities.

The Russian government faces several problems with tensions stemming from these demographic trends. Early in his tenure, Russian President Vladimir Putin exploited ethnic Russian xenophobia of the Muslim populations. But now that the Muslim populations have become larger and have moved from the borderlands into Russia's interior, the Kremlin is having more difficulty balancing the interests of all its constituencies. In the lead-up to the 2011 elections, Russia saw protests of more than 100,000 in the streets of Moscow calling for immigration reform and a cessation of government subsidization for the Russian Muslim republics.

October 27, 2013

Protests in the Biryulyov neighborhood, on Moscow’s southern fringes, were apparently triggered by the fatal stabbing of a 25-year-old, Yegor Shcherbakov. Police have described the alleged attacker – captured on grainy CCTV footage – as "not a Russian citizen." Russian media, meanwhile, have described him as a migrant.

Labor migrants [who are predominantly Muslim] in Russia number in the millions, and have become a focus of public discontent and divisive political rhetoric.

RIA Novosti reported that  Russian police detained 1,200 people in Moscow at a vegetable warehouse targeted by anti-migrant rioters during violent clashes in the area the night before. During demonstrations in Biryulyov, protesters called on police to detain the suspect in Shcherbakov’s murder and tighten migration laws, according to local media reports.

By the next day, the crowd turned violent, when a group of young men began smashing windows in a shopping centre and briefly set it on fire. A video posted on Youtube showed them chanting "White Power!" as they forced their way in, attacking police and local businesses, including the vegetable warehouse. Helicopters and over a thousand police officers were dispatched to Biryulyov. Observers cite that the peaceful protest may have been targeted by political instigators who seized an opportunity to ignite an already volatile situation.

Police called the latest round of arrests “preventative,” saying they would check the thousand-plus people taken into custody “for involvement in criminal activity.”

Preliminary reports suggested that the initial detentions targeted people, mostly migrant Muslims,who worked at the vegetable warehouse which had come under attack the previous day, while the earlier detentions focused on those taking part in the weekend’s violence. Russia's top investigative agency said it was looking into the killing. Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, a close ally of President Putin, called for a thorough investigation and said those behind riots must also be held responsible for their actions.

 

The rioting in Biryulyov was the worst outbreak of unrest over a racially-charged incident in Moscow since December 2010, when several thousand youths rioted just outside the Kremlin.

While Russia's overall population is dropping, the number of Muslims in the country is on the rise. The population of indigenous Muslims, mainly hailing from the Russian Caucasus, in Russia has risen since the fall of the Soviet Union, including a 69 percent increase in Dagestanis, a 50 percent increase in Chechens and a 100 percent increase in Ingush. Similarly, the number of Muslim immigrants is also rising. According to official state data, some 240,000 immigrants enter Russia annually -- Russia's Center for Migration Studies puts this number at more than 400,000 after accounting for illegal immigration. Federal Migration Service head Konstantin Romodanovsky has said 3 million immigrants work illegally in Russia every year.

Increased anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment has accompanied these demographic changes. The opinion research center poll in January suggested that 55 percent of Russians reported feelings of enmity toward other ethnicities, and 63 percent believed that Russians should have more rights than other ethnicities.

The Russian government faces several problems with tensions stemming from these demographic trends. Early in his tenure, Russian President Vladimir Putin exploited ethnic Russian xenophobia of the Muslim populations. But now that the Muslim populations have become larger and have moved from the borderlands into Russia's interior, the Kremlin is having more difficulty balancing the interests of all its constituencies. In the lead-up to the 2011 elections, Russia saw protests of more than 100,000 in the streets of Moscow calling for immigration reform and a cessation of government subsidization for the Russian Muslim republics.

October 16, 2013

In Europe’s poorest country, young people are turning to occult religious practices—even exorcisms—to escape everyday life.

Northern Moldova, which shares borders with Romania and Ukraine, is one of the poorest regions in the poorest country in Europe. Two decades after the hardly-remembered War of Transdnistria, the battered region stands on little more than dust and remittances. What it does have—in ample quantity—is religion.

As in other former Soviet republics, spirituality has filled the material void, and the Orthodox Church is thriving. According to the Moldova Foundation, roughly 98 percent of Moldova’s population belongs to a church. But in Moldova one must ask—what kind of church? Is it European? Russian? Something else? You will find a smattering of Catholic churches, a handful of Sunni mosques, a few groups of Mormons, and of course the Moldovan Orthodox Church, which is dominant. On this particular summer night in early August, as the sun darkens the Dniester River, the country’s intense religiosity is the main event. It is Thursday evening, and like every Thursday, the Saharna Monastery, one of the most well-known monasteries in the country, opens its cloister gates to allow the public inside to attend a mass exorcism.

I watch a dozen of the faithful dunk themselves in holy water and kiss the base of a steel cross, preparing to purge themselves of demons.

Past the wooden crucifixes that dot the crumbling townships, inside the monastery, around 200 people have gathered to expel their demons. I watch a dozen of the faithful dunk themselves in holy water and kiss the base of a steel cross, preparing to purge themselves of demons—dyavoli, as they are called here. The mystically devout that are present this evening are surprisingly young: The vast majority are teenagers. They huddle together in little packs, whispering over candles.

American University’s Elizabeth Worden, an expert on Moldovan national identity, says she has witnessed an intense rise in the society’s religiosity in the past 15 years. “In the ’90s, there was a curriculum on spiritual and moral values,” says Worden. “But by 2008 … the school assemblies had these crazy religious overtones.”

As Moldova enters its third decade of independence since the collapse of the Soviet Union, religion may be the only social force that is as rampant as the corruption that has swallowed the public and private sector. University students, almost without fail, must bribe professors to pass courses. Malls and shopping centers, such as the one in the heart of Balti, Moldova’s second-largest city, undergo abrupt, massive expansions—not in the name of commerce, but in the pursuit of money laundering. Even those organizations and offices that were set up to combat the country’s corruption are accused of being part of the racket. Amid this sea of corruption, the Orthodox Church has become one of the few remaining institutions with something approaching respectability. “What you have is [the Orthodox Church] standing up and apart from a lot of institutions that aren't respected, emerging within this illiberal democracy,” says Tanya Domi, a researcher at Columbia University.

deed, the religious yoke of Moscow has a long history. In 1812, the Russian Orthodox Church seized the Moldovan church, and the latter has remained subservient ever since. And so, a few months after currying favor with Brussels, the Moldovan parliament passed a law that was nearly identical to Russia’s much-maligned anti-gay statute. The U.S. State Department noted that the Orthodox Church had “welcomed” the local ordinances the new law was based on.

The country’s young people are the first generation to grow up without the security of the old Soviet safety net—and nothing has replaced it. Job prospects are incredibly bleak. According to the World Bank, unemployment for young men surpassed 20 percent in 2010. Most of the work that is available is low-wage. The International Monetary Fund’s most recent report on the country’s wealth disparity put Moldova’s overall poverty rate at 26.3 percent. As a result, many head abroad in search of work, sending their earnings back home to take care of family and loved ones. (As the UNDP reported, nearly 40 percent of Moldovans working abroad were under the age of 30.)

And so, they come to this exorcism. If the government can’t help, then perhaps the church can fill the vacuum.

October 16, 2013

In Europe’s poorest country, young people are turning to occult religious practices—even exorcisms—to escape everyday life.

Northern Moldova, which shares borders with Romania and Ukraine, is one of the poorest regions in the poorest country in Europe. Two decades after the hardly-remembered War of Transdnistria, the battered region stands on little more than dust and remittances. What it does have—in ample quantity—is religion.

As in other former Soviet republics, spirituality has filled the material void, and the Orthodox Church is thriving. According to the Moldova Foundation, roughly 98 percent of Moldova’s population belongs to a church. But in Moldova one must ask—what kind of church? Is it European? Russian? Something else? You will find a smattering of Catholic churches, a handful of Sunni mosques, a few groups of Mormons, and of course the Moldovan Orthodox Church, which is dominant. On this particular summer night in early August, as the sun darkens the Dniester River, the country’s intense religiosity is the main event. It is Thursday evening, and like every Thursday, the Saharna Monastery, one of the most well-known monasteries in the country, opens its cloister gates to allow the public inside to attend a mass exorcism.

I watch a dozen of the faithful dunk themselves in holy water and kiss the base of a steel cross, preparing to purge themselves of demons.

Past the wooden crucifixes that dot the crumbling townships, inside the monastery, around 200 people have gathered to expel their demons. I watch a dozen of the faithful dunk themselves in holy water and kiss the base of a steel cross, preparing to purge themselves of demons—dyavoli, as they are called here. The mystically devout that are present this evening are surprisingly young: The vast majority are teenagers. They huddle together in little packs, whispering over candles.

American University’s Elizabeth Worden, an expert on Moldovan national identity, says she has witnessed an intense rise in the society’s religiosity in the past 15 years. “In the ’90s, there was a curriculum on spiritual and moral values,” says Worden. “But by 2008 … the school assemblies had these crazy religious overtones.”

As Moldova enters its third decade of independence since the collapse of the Soviet Union, religion may be the only social force that is as rampant as the corruption that has swallowed the public and private sector. University students, almost without fail, must bribe professors to pass courses. Malls and shopping centers, such as the one in the heart of Balti, Moldova’s second-largest city, undergo abrupt, massive expansions—not in the name of commerce, but in the pursuit of money laundering. Even those organizations and offices that were set up to combat the country’s corruption are accused of being part of the racket. Amid this sea of corruption, the Orthodox Church has become one of the few remaining institutions with something approaching respectability. “What you have is [the Orthodox Church] standing up and apart from a lot of institutions that aren't respected, emerging within this illiberal democracy,” says Tanya Domi, a researcher at Columbia University.

deed, the religious yoke of Moscow has a long history. In 1812, the Russian Orthodox Church seized the Moldovan church, and the latter has remained subservient ever since. And so, a few months after currying favor with Brussels, the Moldovan parliament passed a law that was nearly identical to Russia’s much-maligned anti-gay statute. The U.S. State Department noted that the Orthodox Church had “welcomed” the local ordinances the new law was based on.

The country’s young people are the first generation to grow up without the security of the old Soviet safety net—and nothing has replaced it. Job prospects are incredibly bleak. According to the World Bank, unemployment for young men surpassed 20 percent in 2010. Most of the work that is available is low-wage. The International Monetary Fund’s most recent report on the country’s wealth disparity put Moldova’s overall poverty rate at 26.3 percent. As a result, many head abroad in search of work, sending their earnings back home to take care of family and loved ones. (As the UNDP reported, nearly 40 percent of Moldovans working abroad were under the age of 30.)

And so, they come to this exorcism. If the government can’t help, then perhaps the church can fill the vacuum.

October 16, 2013

In Europe’s poorest country, young people are turning to occult religious practices—even exorcisms—to escape everyday life.

Northern Moldova, which shares borders with Romania and Ukraine, is one of the poorest regions in the poorest country in Europe. Two decades after the hardly-remembered War of Transdnistria, the battered region stands on little more than dust and remittances. What it does have—in ample quantity—is religion.

As in other former Soviet republics, spirituality has filled the material void, and the Orthodox Church is thriving. According to the Moldova Foundation, roughly 98 percent of Moldova’s population belongs to a church. But in Moldova one must ask—what kind of church? Is it European? Russian? Something else? You will find a smattering of Catholic churches, a handful of Sunni mosques, a few groups of Mormons, and of course the Moldovan Orthodox Church, which is dominant. On this particular summer night in early August, as the sun darkens the Dniester River, the country’s intense religiosity is the main event. It is Thursday evening, and like every Thursday, the Saharna Monastery, one of the most well-known monasteries in the country, opens its cloister gates to allow the public inside to attend a mass exorcism.

I watch a dozen of the faithful dunk themselves in holy water and kiss the base of a steel cross, preparing to purge themselves of demons.

Past the wooden crucifixes that dot the crumbling townships, inside the monastery, around 200 people have gathered to expel their demons. I watch a dozen of the faithful dunk themselves in holy water and kiss the base of a steel cross, preparing to purge themselves of demons—dyavoli, as they are called here. The mystically devout that are present this evening are surprisingly young: The vast majority are teenagers. They huddle together in little packs, whispering over candles.

American University’s Elizabeth Worden, an expert on Moldovan national identity, says she has witnessed an intense rise in the society’s religiosity in the past 15 years. “In the ’90s, there was a curriculum on spiritual and moral values,” says Worden. “But by 2008 … the school assemblies had these crazy religious overtones.”

As Moldova enters its third decade of independence since the collapse of the Soviet Union, religion may be the only social force that is as rampant as the corruption that has swallowed the public and private sector. University students, almost without fail, must bribe professors to pass courses. Malls and shopping centers, such as the one in the heart of Balti, Moldova’s second-largest city, undergo abrupt, massive expansions—not in the name of commerce, but in the pursuit of money laundering. Even those organizations and offices that were set up to combat the country’s corruption are accused of being part of the racket. Amid this sea of corruption, the Orthodox Church has become one of the few remaining institutions with something approaching respectability. “What you have is [the Orthodox Church] standing up and apart from a lot of institutions that aren't respected, emerging within this illiberal democracy,” says Tanya Domi, a researcher at Columbia University.

deed, the religious yoke of Moscow has a long history. In 1812, the Russian Orthodox Church seized the Moldovan church, and the latter has remained subservient ever since. And so, a few months after currying favor with Brussels, the Moldovan parliament passed a law that was nearly identical to Russia’s much-maligned anti-gay statute. The U.S. State Department noted that the Orthodox Church had “welcomed” the local ordinances the new law was based on.

The country’s young people are the first generation to grow up without the security of the old Soviet safety net—and nothing has replaced it. Job prospects are incredibly bleak. According to the World Bank, unemployment for young men surpassed 20 percent in 2010. Most of the work that is available is low-wage. The International Monetary Fund’s most recent report on the country’s wealth disparity put Moldova’s overall poverty rate at 26.3 percent. As a result, many head abroad in search of work, sending their earnings back home to take care of family and loved ones. (As the UNDP reported, nearly 40 percent of Moldovans working abroad were under the age of 30.)

And so, they come to this exorcism. If the government can’t help, then perhaps the church can fill the vacuum.

September 27, 2013

A Russian Islamic organization has called upon the Muslims of Egypt to protect Coptic Christians who are being victimized by terrorist extremists seeking to sow discord between the Christian and Muslim population in Egypt who have co-existed peacefully for centuries.

Mufti Salman Farid, head of the Ulema Council of the Russian Association of Islamic Accord, which is also known as the All-Russian Muslim Board, called on the Egyptian Muslim population to maintain the safety of churches in the country, to protect Muslim and Christian clergy and to "severely punish the extremists who sowed the seeds of chaos and revolt,” as reported by Interfax-Religion news service.

The mufti’s comments were made in response to atrocities being committed by Wahhabi extremists and mercenary terrorists gangs who have “burned down several dozens of churches and have looted monasteries recently in an attempt to further fan the flames of this fratricidal war, [Muslims are called upon to ] cease the efforts of those to desecrate, destroy and loot numerous mosques and madrasahs."

In the Holy Qur’an, the revelation sent down through the Archangel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, Almighty God declares that Christians and Muslims are close in spiritual kinship:

“…nearest among them in love to the Believers you will find those who say: "We are Christians"; because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant. “ Qur'an 5 : 82

The Ulema Council leader recounted that  there was a strong heritage of  abiding  fellowship between Muslims and Christians in the Middle East and Africa, and in Egypt, in particular.  The Copts once "opened the gates of Egypt to Islam and Muslims," and Allah ordered the Muslims to take care of this country, its heritage and people,” he said.

 

"We urge the brave Muslim sons of Egypt to always remember that Almighty Allah put you in charge of this blessed land and that you bear the responsibility for its residents, especially the Copts," he said.

 

The mufti accused the Muslim Brotherhood movement of using pseudo-Islamic slogans to "open the gates of chaos and disaster: people are being killed, beaten or assaulted, mosques and churches are being set on fire and desecrated, museums are being looted and the heritage belonging to all civilizations is being destroyed."

 

"The modern history of Syria, the Palestinian territories, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt today vividly demonstrates what happens to countries when an unholy, false movement called the Muslim Brotherhood appears," he said.

July 31, 2013

(KABUL) More British soldiers and veterans took their own lives in 2012 than died fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan over the same period. BBC Panorama learned that 21 serving soldiers killed themselves last year, along with 29 veterans. The Afghanistan death toll was 44, of whom 40 died in action. Some of the soldiers' families say the men did not get enough support. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said every suicide was a "tragedy".

The Panorama program obtained the figure of 21 through a Freedom of Information request to the MoD. The MoD said that rates of suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) within the serving military were lower than comparative rates in the civilian population. Seven serving soldiers have been confirmed as having killed themselves last year, and inquests are pending for a further 14 deaths where suicide is suspected.

The British government, unlike its American counterpart, does not record the suicide rate among ex-soldiers. But Panorama has independently established that at least 29 veterans took their own lives in 2012. It wrote to every coroner in the country to ask for the names of soldiers and veterans who killed themselves last year and also analysed newspaper reports of coroners' inquests.

'Hell on earth'

One serving soldier who killed himself was L/Sgt Dan Collins, who had fought in Operation Panther's Claw in Helmand province, Afghanistan, in the summer of 2009. L/Sgt Collins, a Welsh Guardsman, twice survived being shot and was blown off his feet by a roadside bomb. His friend, L/Cpl Dane Elson, was blown to pieces just yards away from him.

L/Sgt Collins's mother Deana had noticed a difference in her son during his time in Afghanistan. "The phone calls changed and I remember him telling me, 'Mum, this place is hell on earth and I just want to get out of here'," she said. After a six-month tour, L/Sgt Collins came home, returning to his girlfriend Vicky Roach's house. Miss Roach said: "Obviously, then I started noticing things. Nightmares were the main thing. It was pretty clear he was back there reliving everything."

The Army diagnosed L/Sgt Collins with PTSD. After 10 months of intermittent treatment, the Army told L/Sgt Collins he had recovered and would soon be ready to return to duty. Over the next three months, he twice tried to kill himself. He started missing his weekly NHS appointments and told his girlfriend his flashbacks were getting worse. "I wanted to help him but I didn't know what to do," said Miss Roach. "It takes a toll on your relationship and I just asked him to leave."

On New Year's Eve in 2011, L/Sgt Collins left her house, put on his Army uniform, and drove into the Preseli mountains in Pembrokeshire. He recorded a farewell video on his phone and then hanged himself. He was 29. The inquest into his death is still to be held.

A 'natural response'

Clinical psychologist Dr Claudia Herbert said PTSD is the body's "natural response" to distressing events. It can take years to emerge but is treatable if caught early. Symptoms include flashbacks, severe anxiety and depression.

The MoD said 2.9% of serving soldiers developed PTSD, which is lower than the general population. The number of soldiers with PTSD has more than doubled in the past three years among those who served in Afghanistan, according to MoD figures obtained via Panorama's FOI request. But Dr Herbert said: "Post-traumatic stress disorder in itself should not lead to suicide." "PTSD is a condition that indicates something has deeply disturbed the system and is a warning that the system needs help and needs to regulate again."

Nobody can be sure how many of the 21 soldiers and 29 veterans who took their own lives in 2012 were suffering from PTSD as the reasons for suicide are complex. "The evidence suggests there's more of a problem than the government and the MoD are admitting to," said Colonel Stuart Tootal, a former commander of 3 Para.

The former head of the British army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, wants the suicide rate among veterans to be monitored.

'Victims of war'  

The MoD said it was not prepared to talk about individual cases, but has committed £7.4m to ensure there is extensive mental health support in place for everyone who needs it. It said 134,780 soldiers have been deployed to Afghanistan since 2001. The National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire honours the military casualties of every conflict since WWII. The names of soldiers who killed themselves in Afghanistan are engraved on the wall, but those who took their own lives after returning home are not mentioned. L/Sgt Collins was a serving soldier at the time of his death on 1 January 2012, but his name will not be on the memorial. "It's heartbreaking because Daniel would have been so proud to have his name carved somewhere," said Mrs Collins. "Soldiers with PTSD are exactly the same. They're victims of war and they should be treated exactly the same." (The Nation)

Islamic Post Editor’s Note:

Love of one’s country, or patriotism, is in itself a commendable quality; it is a natural inclination imbued within people by The Almighty Creator to defend one’s honor, rights, property, family and nation, which has been sanctioned by Him. However, young men and women today have been recruited into a military machine that has become a mechanism used in the slaughter of innocent human beings for profit. Murder is a major sin in all religions and an affront upon the Almighty Creator of all life, Who states in the Holy Quran that unjustified killing of one person is tantamount to the killing of all humanity.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the direct result of the indiscriminate killing of and assaults upon innocents. The symptoms are the physical expressions of the violently disturbed soul of the perpetrator caused by the sin connected to their offensive actions.  This is why the toxic drugs prescribed by the doctors who attempt to treat these soldiers, which have been shown to exacerbate psychiatric problems, fail miserably and even induce manic and suicidal behaviors.

Overwhelmingly, soldiers report that the carnage and savagery of the wars in occupied lands was ‘not what I signed up for’ and are filled with regret  and sorrow.  For those individuals, an invitation is being extended that healing may be obtained through EGM – the El Gilani Methodology, a unique method of therapy that addresses the source of psychiatric maladies – the soul. EGM has been the only clinically proven modality that affects the complete cure of spiritual and physical diseases. The founder of EGM, His Eminence Sheikh Mubarik Ali El Gillani, invites that person who believes in One Almighty Creator, is willing to live by the Ten Commandments and commit to reforming all actions which are forbidden or offensive to the Almighty to partake of this opportunity to regain their health and a renewed life filled with peace, hope and blessing.

July 25, 2013

(IP) Muslims in France are alarmed and angry about the escalation of hate attacks against Muslims  there.  The town of Argenteuil has been the scene of protests by Muslims who have demanded expedient action by authorities in the wake of a deplorable attack by two assailants on a Muslim woman in front of a medical clinic. She was thrown to the ground, her headscarf was yanked off, her hair cut and clothing torn, as reported by the NY Times. When the woman screamed that she was pregnant, the assailants allegedly  began to kick her in the lower body area. She miscarried, causing a firestorm of protest by outraged Muslims, however, she is not the first Muslima to have been accosted there.

Press TV reported that the mayor of Argenteuil  strongly condemned the attacks, and responded to reports linking the attacks to  Neo-Nazis (identified as having shaven heads)  seen congregating in Argenteuil by stating that ‘Islamophobia has no place’ in his town.

A portion of the outrage of the protesters was due to the arrest of the husband of a Muslim lady who had allegedly been physically abused in the course of an ‘identity check’ by police officers.

June 26, 2013

 

In a world where Europe and the United States are struggling, both East Asia and Latin America are outperforming the pack, even if they, too, face challenges.

And yet, more than 12 years since it started, the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC) has not grabbed headline attention — not in the way, say, the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) have. Still, the relationship has grown.

Notwithstanding the considerable distances, inter-regional trade has grown at an average of 20.5 per cent over the past decade, projecting to reach US $500 billion (S$626.9 billion) this year. The full range of goods crosses the oceans, from manufactures to agricultural products, with resources especially important.

Global conditions are pushing the two regions closer. With the developed markets of the West still soft, the search is on for new markets and South-South cooperation. As the meeting’s host, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said FEALAC can assist in “the next major shift in the world’s geopolitics and geo-economy”.

Yet, this cannot happen overnight — and if left to market forces, relations would be dominated by the larger or more developed countries. China, for instance, accounts for nearly 50 per cent of East Asia’s trade with Latin America. Japan, too, has substantial ties.

Among the Latin Americans, Brazil attracts the most interest despite a recent slowdown. Mexico, too, is considerable in its own right and provides access to the US market through the North American free trade area.

But smaller economies on each side tend to be less noticed. Yet, Peru and Colombia rack up impressive growth rates, after making political changes and policy reforms. The recently-formed Pacific Alliance brings them together with Chile, Mexico and Costa Rica, accounting for US$445 billion in exports.

On the Asian side, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) — whose collective population of 650 million is more than all of Latin America — deserves more attention. As they integrate as an ASEAN community, their competitiveness will further improve, and the group could do more to link with the Pacific Alliance.

Individual countries, too, can further their ties. An estimated 100 Singaporean companies are present in Latin America, including Keppel, Sembcorp, Olam and Wilmar. Latin American companies venturing into Singapore include petrochemical company Braskem and mining giant Vale.

Thailand has a free trade agreement with Peru and has seen its exports to Latin America more than double in recent years. The efforts of different countries and sub-groups can serve as building blocks for FEALAC to become the premier forum for the inter-regional relationship and broaden the connections for all 36 participating countries. This is where governments can make a difference.

There remain gaps in business connectivity — information, infrastructure, logistics and trade facilitation. Progressively, the aim must be to fill these gaps, so that even the smaller and medium-sized enterprises, and not only the larger corporations, can access the inter-regional opportunities.

A broader foundation for engagement is also needed. This is difficult given the lack of historical interaction between the two regions.

Nevertheless, networks between universities and cultural institutions, and using the media and tourism, can foster better understanding and increase people-to-people contact. Building for the future, efforts are needed to interest the youth of both regions and help them develop intercultural skills.

These were among the recommendations put forward in Bali by a ‘Vision Group’ appointed by the FEALAC ministers. Some ideas aim to jump-start a new stage in relations with iconic projects — such as a regular business forum and a network among universities. The longer-term goal is to deepen and broaden the inter-regional relationship, so that it can take its place alongside ties with the US and Europe.

Cliches about revolutions and drug smuggling may persist when Asians think about Latin America, and vice versa. The realities of trade and changes in global politics are, however, pushing both sides to rethink old assumptions.

The opportunities are real and substantial — more than when FEALAC began. But for these to be realized, Asians and Latin Americans must increasingly give attention to each other as a new frontier for engagement.

June 6, 2013

As for the characteristic features that indicate the arrival of the Night of Power, they are present in a night when the atmosphere is comfortable, the sky is jet black, and the temperature is neither hot nor cold.  We may also quote this anonymous saying on the subject;  “It is a night in which no barking of dogs can be heard.  When the sun rises on the following morning, it appears as a disk without rays, rather like a copper bowl.”  As for the marvels and wonders of the Night of Power, they are revealed to those who possess the qualities of spiritual development and sainthood, to those who are committed to worshipful obedience, and to whomever Allah wishes among those of His servants who are true believers, in accordance with their spiritual states, their allotted portions, and their degrees of nearness to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He).

June 5, 2013

 

Girl Scouts of are being offered a new range of clothing, following requests from Muslim scout members. The range was designed to ensure Muslim girls felt comfortable without being restricted and blends sporty style with modest tradition. Both prototypes are loose fitting and include print graphics inspired by scout badges and the spirit of adventure.

Around 600 Muslim girls are expected to benefit, although the range is being made available to all girl scouts. British designer Sarah Elenany, 27, from London, created the new range out of her fashion label Elenany. She said she aimed to make them fun to wear, so that youngsters would relax while doing activities. “I wanted the scouts to be really involved in the design process – the girls told me what they wanted to wear and what issues they had with the existing range,” she said.

UK Chief Scout Bear Grylls said: “With this new clothing range, scouting is continuing to move with the times and adapt to the growing number of people from different communities who are choosing to be a part of the movement.Scouting has something to offer everyone, no matter your religion, ethnicity or belief, and I’m so proud that we offer an environment for people of all backgrounds to come together and enjoy themselves.”

Around 40 UK scout groups have a predominantly Muslim membership.

June 4, 2013

SURRY, Britain – Following the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him), Muslims and mosques in the southern British country of Surry are reviving the centuries-old sport of horseback archery at weekly sessions, which attract many young Muslims.

"Archery is one of those sports that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him) specifically recommended that we do, likewise horse riding, and it also helps you to overcome certain fears as well," Coach Jehad Shamis, of organization Archery for All, told the BBC.

"British Asians and Muslims in general are not that good with animals either and it's something that we really need to overcome."

Participating in horseback archery competitions all over the world, coach Shamis now gives weekly archery lessons in a hall at the Woking's Shah Jahan Mosque.

He also oversees the students' riding lessons at local stables.

Currently, the students are learning the two skills separately before combining them next summer.

Recommended by the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him), the sport has witnessed a revival in Britain with the establishment of the British Horseback Archery Association in 2007.

During the lessons, Shamis reads out a sayings of the Holy Last Messenger (peace and blessings upon him), better known as Hadith, in which archery or horse riding is mentioned.

Students are learning the standard finger release method of archery, but also the more eastern or "Mongolian" thumb draw.

“Initially, when people learn archery we teach them with the finger release,” Shamis said.

“It's very similar to what you'll see in the Olympics. But then, with those that are wishing to do traditional archery, we do the thumb draw.

“Although there is disagreement over this, it lends itself to horseback archery because it's a little bit more efficient and easier to release.”

Mosque Role

Shah Jahan Mosque was praised for its role in encouraging young Muslims to play a sport, while observing the daily prayers at the mosque.

“More than anything else I think in our community we never had these facilities before,” Sajida Rehman, a qualified instructor, told the BBC.

“People can come and pray in the mosque but also there are other activities on offer." she said.

Ambar Rachad, 16, is one of the students who learn both skills and is pointed out as "the best" by her mostly female fellow students.

Understanding the significance of archery in Islam, Rachad managed to overcome first difficulties in the games.

“When we first started our lessons, we went back into the history of archery," says Ambar.

“Basically, it's a 'Sunnah' (a practice of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him) which is recommended.

“We've done competitions which are really fun, but every lesson is a competition because we try and beat each other.”

Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.5 million.

May 30, 2013

MADINAH – Former Dutch Islamophobe and a former leading member of far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ party Arnoud Van Doorn visited the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah to pray and say sorry for becoming part of a blasphemous film.

Doorn was among the Freedom Party leaders who produced the blasphemous film, “Fitna”. Last month he reverted to Islam after an extensive study about the religion and the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him).

He said that the worldwide outrage against the film made him study about the Holy Last Messenger (pbuh) and that eventually led to his conversion.

He headed for Makkah to perform Umrah after meeting the two imams of the Prophet’s Mosque, Sheikh Ali Al-Hudaifi and Sheikh Salah Al-Badar, who enlightened him on how to lead the life of a good Muslim and confront challenges facing Islam in the West.

A member of the Dutch parliament and The Hague City Council, Doorn announced his decision to accept Islam on his Twitter profile. He also posted a tweet in Arabic declaring that “there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet.”

At first, other users took the news as a joke. After all, an active supporter of a notorious Dutch hater of Islam, Wilders, he repeatedly approved Islamophobic statements and public actions, and personally participated in them.

But Doorn, who now serves as a regional adviser at the City Hall in The Hague, personally confirmed his decision to practice Islam in an official letter to the city mayor.

Most recently, the politician filed a formal application to the mayor of the city to allow him to perform prayers obligatory for Muslims during his working hours.

“I can understand people are skeptic, especially that it is unexpected for many of them,” Doorn told Al-Jazeera English satellite channel.

“This is a very big decision, which I have not taken lightly.”

“In my own close circle people have known that I have been actively researching the Qur’an, Hadith, Sunnah and other writings for almost a year now,” he said.

“In addition, I have had numerous conversations with Muslims about the religion.”

Driven by his party’s anti-Islam discourse, Doorn decided to dig in for the truth about the religion himself.

“I have heard so many negative stories about Islam, but I am not a person who follows opinions of others without doing my own research,” he said. “Therefore, I have actually started to deepen my knowledge of Islam out of curiosity.”

The 46-year-old has continued on The Hague Council as an independent candidate since splitting from Wilders’s party. Doorn’s decision to embrace Islam has won mixed reactions in the Netherlands.

“According to some people I am a traitor, but according to most others I have actually made a very good decision,” he told Al-Jazeera.

“The reactions are generally positive and I also received quite some support via twitter.

“It feels good that people who do not know me personally have understanding of my situation and support me in my choice.”

Asked if he now regretted joining the Freedom Party, he replied: “I have learned that every experience in life has a purpose. However, with the knowledge I have today, I would have undoubtedly made a different choice.”

For the Dutch politician, finding Islam was finally guiding him to the true path in his life. “I have made mistakes in life as many others. From these mistakes I have learned a lot,” Doorn said.

“And by my conversion to Islam I have the feeling that I finally found my path. I realize that this is a new start and that I still have much to learn as well.”

 

See Also : Ex-Islamophobe to produce film on Prophet

May 25, 2013

The British government is harboring a criminal, Altaf Hussain, leader of the Pakistan Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), who has been convicted of multiple murders related to organized extortion schemes against honest citizens and who has now further incriminated himself by hurling violent threats of murder and intrigue at the members of political parties who have verbally opposed his reign of criminal terror on the citizens of Karachi, Pakistan and elsewhere.  During his most recent, nearly deranged tirade, he went so far as to foment the suggestion of separating Karachi from the rest of Pakistan.

It is unthinkable that a person of such character would be granted full British citizenship, when he has been implicated as the chief suspect in over 100 murder cases, yet apparently, Britain selectively protects individuals who perpetrate terrorism and  advocate separatist action in Muslim countries. At a time when the innocent are being persecuted for alleged crimes without evidence, witnesses, trial or conviction, this culprit , deemed ‘the Godfather of Karachi’ by British MP George Galloway, has sought and received asylum and basically unconditional acceptance in exile in England.  

American Muslims urge the government of England to put Altaf Hussain on trial for inciting insurgency amounting to separating Karachi from Pakistan.

Although the MQM party emerged victorious in recent elections, Hussain responded to protests against alleged rigging of votes by MQM in a fuming, enraged speech in which he bragged on his ability to ‘cause havoc in the city (Karachi)’, threatened to ‘break the arms’ of his party’s opponents, and speaking of the young protesters, he ‘ would have them cut down with swords.’

In a speech to the British House of Commons, MP Galloway queried : “Why is Altaf Hussain being allowed to mastermind terrorist operations in Pakistan from London, in full view of the authorities and why was he awarded British citizenship?  Mr. Galloway has yet to receive a reply.

Altaf Hussain’s connection with ‘mob culture’ precedes him, for when attempts to spread the tentacles of corruption, targeted killings, and criminal dealings to Lahore and the Punjab regions, the people in those areas have responded by rejection of the MQM – to the extent that in Lahore their offices were attacked and burned to the ground multiple times.

American Muslims deem it necessary for the British government to prosecute Altaf Hussain and to refuse to provide him a safe haven.  He has murdered thousands, extorted money from merchants and murdered the genius physicist Hakeem Muhammad Saeed, former governor of Sindh and others.

We advise the government of England that the political winds have changed.  Currently, the youth have become reactant to such strategies adopted by the West which have led to the destruction of Islamic unity.  These acts have led to the deployment of United Nations ‘peacekeepers’ that are, in actuality, occupational forces in Muslim lands. We are shocked by the horrendous death and destruction that is taking place in Myanmar, Burma; however, in response to that crisis, the United Nations has been want to assume an authoritative, mature, and responsible role in dispatching aid and encouraging peace there, and in other nations where minority groups are being systematically targeted and exterminated.

May 22, 2013

Where does Halloween come from? Every year, on the evening of October 31st, millions of children across the world paint their faces, dress up in costumes, and go door-to-door collecting treats. The adults often decorate their houses with ghostly figures, carve scary faces on pumpkins, and put candles in them to create "Jack-O-Lanterns." Unfortunately, among the millions of North Americans indulging in this custom, many are also Muslims. This article will shed some light on the significance and origins of Halloween, and why Muslims and even others should not participate in it.

Origins of the Halloween Festival.

The ancient Celtic (Irish/Scottish/Welsh) festival called Samhain is considered by most historians and scholars to be the predecessor of what is now Halloween. Samhain was the New Year's Day of the pagan Celts. It was also the Day of the Dead, a time when it was believed that the souls of those who had died during the year were allowed access into the "land of the dead". Many traditional beliefs and customs associated with Samhain continue to be practiced today on the 31st of October. Most notable of these customs are the practice of leaving offerings of food and drink (now candy) to masked and costumed revelers, and the lighting of bonfires.

Elements of this festival were incorporated into the Christian festival of All Hallow's Eve, or Hallow-Even, the night preceding All Saint's (Hallows') Day. It is the glossing of the name Hallow- Even that has given us the name of Halloween. Until recent times, in some parts of  Europe, it was believed that on this night the dead walked amongst the living, and that witches and warlocks flew in their midst. In preparation for this, bonfires were built to ward off these malevolent spirits.

By the 19th century, witches' pranks were replaced by children's tricks. The spirits of Samhain, once believed to be wild and powerful, were now recognized as being evil. Devout Christians began rejecting this festival. They had discovered that the so-called gods, goddesses, and other spiritual beings of the pagan religions, were diabolical deceptions. The spiritual forces that people experienced during this festival were indeed real, but they were manifestations of the devil that misled people toward the worship of false idols. Thus, they rejected the customs associated with Halloween, including all representations of ghosts, vampires, and human skeletons - symbols of the dead, the devil and other malevolent and evil creatures. It must also be noted that, to this day, many Satan-worshippers consider the evening of October 31st to be their most sacred festival. And many devout Christians today continue to distance themselves from this pagan festival. Islam strongly forbids Muslims to follow the idol-worshippers or those who worship the devil. The Holy Last Messenger (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "By Him in Whose hands is my life, you are ordered to enjoin good and forbid evil, or else Allah will certainly afflict you with torments. Thereafter, even your du'a (supplications) will not be accepted." (Tirmithi).

From the Islamic standpoint, Halloween is one of the worst celebrations because of its origins and history. It is haraam (forbidden), even if there may be some seemingly good or harmless elements in those practices. As evidenced by a statement from the Holy Last Messenger (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) "Every innovation (in our religion) is misguidance, even if the people regard it as something good" (ad-Daarimee.). Although it may be argued that the celebration of Halloween today has nothing to do with devil-worship, it is still forbidden for Muslims to participate in it because it may lead to worshiping idols and devil-worship. Islam seeks to cleanse the Muslim of all immoral conducts and habits, and thus paving the way for the Holy Qur'an and Sunnah or the traditions of the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) to be the correct and pure source for original Islamic thought and behavior. A Muslim should be a model for others in faith and practice, behavior and moral character.

Some reasons behind certain Halloween traditions.

 

Most of the Halloween activities participated in today can be traced back to occult symbolism. For example: 1. Dressing up in costumes: This was done so that the spirits of the dead would not recognize people. The Druids would actually sacrifice animals and sometimes humans and dress in these animal skins. Wearing these clothes, they would engage in fortune-telling. Another explanation is that today, children who dress up represent these spirits. 2. Trick-or-treating: The Druids would go from house to house on October 31 and demand specific types of food. If their demands were not met, it was believed the people and their homes would be cursed with trouble, sickness and death. Prosperity was promised to those who generously donated. Today, when kids are offered treats by neighbors, this goes back to the time people would offer food to appease the spirits. 3. Jack-o'-lantern: This started off as a legend associated with a man of Irish origin named Jack who supposedly enjoyed playing pranks on the Devil. After his death, Jack did not go to Heaven or Hell and therefore, had to wander the earth carrying a lantern which gave him some light to see where he was going. Pumpkins that were hollowed out and had candles lighted inside did the job and they were also supposed to scare evil spirits away.

What to do on Halloween.

We have established, beyond doubt, that the celebration of Halloween is absolutely forbidden in Islam. It is haraam. The question arises as to what to do on this night. Muslim parents must not send their kids out "trick-or-treating" on Halloween night. Our children must be told why we do not celebrate Halloween. Most children are very receptive when taught with sincerity, and especially when shown in practice the joy of their own Islamic celebrations and traditions. In this regard, teach them about the two Islamic festivals of Eid, preferably, before these holidays is the perfect time to start preparing them for it.  It must also be mentioned that even Muslims who stay home and give out treats to those who come to their door are still participating in this festival. In order to avoid this, leave the front lights off and do not open the door. Educate your neighbors about our Islamic teachings. I was pleased to learn from Christian neighbors that they also are against the Celebration of Halloween for the above mentioned reasons. Inform them in advance that Muslims do not participate in Halloween, and explain the reasons why. They will respect your wishes, and you will gain respect in the process. "A person who calls another to guidance will be rewarded, as will the one who accepts the message." (Tirmithi).

Finally, we must remember that we are fully accountable to Allah for all of our actions and deeds. If, after knowing the Truth, we do not cease our un-Islamic practices, we risk the wrath of Allah as He, Himself warned us in the HolyQur'an: "Then let them beware who refuses the Messenger's order lest some trial befall them, or a grievous punishment be inflicted upon them!" (Holy Qur’an, 24:63). This is a serious matter and not to be taken lightly. And Allah knows best. May Allah guide us, help us stay on the right path, and save us from all deviations and innovations that will lead us into the fires of Hell. "Remind!  May reminding benefit the believers".

May 22, 2013

Isabella having left, Umar Lahmi and Muaz  went to their houses and began to study the Holy Qur’an and the Bible and noted down important points to be discussed. Next morning on Sunday, the news of this discussion was known all over the city. The Christians had made arrangements that only a few Muslims should be allowed to enter the church. So many Muslims had to return disappointed. Umar Lahmi, and Muaz, and some Muslim divines came to the church and entered on getting permission. They found eminent priests of Cordova present there busy in their worship. After some time, however, the discussion began. Isabella and all her companions were present.

Michael (Isabella's teacher): We have learnt that you have some doubts about Christianity and have come here to resolve them and that you have promised that on getting convincing replies you will forsake Islam and adopt Christianity.

Umar Lahmi: We have not the least doubt about Christian beliefs and teachings but are fully convinced their doubts are baseless. But if you satisfy us and convincingly explain your belief, we are all certainly ready to become Christians.

 

Then Michael reckoned to an elderly man to take up the question. He came forward and sat near Umar Lahmi . His name was Peter and he was known as an expert in Arabic learning and Islamic literature and had to his credit many books against Islam. He was supposed to be the most efficient debater against Muslims. He addressed Umar.

Peter ( in a superior, rather commanding, tone): I am told that your great objection is why St. Paul has called religious law a curse. But this is a minor and side issue. You are Muslims and believe in the Quran and, therefore, the decision about Lord Jesus Christ and Christianity should be according to the Qur’an.

Umar Lahmi: I had clearly defined the subject of discussion in my letter as you yourself admit, but now you want to discuss other matters. When I have written that the discussion should be on the religion law and curse, what objection do you have?

Peter: We will answer your question also, but first let us deal with the basic issue and that too from your Qur’an. Does not your Quran say about our Lord Jesus is to be Ruhullah (the Spirit of God) Kalimatullah (the word of God )? Has it not been mentioned in it that he used to bring the dead to life? Then if you believe in the Qur’an,  how can you doubt Lord Jesus being the son of God?

Umar Lahmi : You have started a quite different discussion which is not even remotely concerned with our object. What I want is to understand the significance of religious law and the curse. If you are prepared to discuss it, then do it, otherwise let us take leave.

Peter: I put up the Qur’an before you and want  that the basic issue should be decided first. If you want to avoid the basic question and enter into side issues, it means that you have no answer to it.

Umar Lahmi: Well, you want to discuss the basic issue apart from your religion and taking the cover of the Qur’an. If you want to discuss the basic issue, let us first decide whether Adam did commit a sin or and if it is decided that he did, then we should discuss whether it passed from one generation to generation to the entire humanity, that is one account of Adam’s sin all human beings became naturally sinners. If this had happened, we will discuss how the blot of sin can be removed. Then we may discuss the chastity of Prophet Jesus (according to the Bible). Thereafter you shall have to prove that Jesus was God and he only can absolve humanity of sin. When all this is proved, you shall have to prove that Jesus was crucified and for all the sin he remained in hell for three days. This is to be discussed and not what the Qur’an says about him.

Peter: All this is irrelevant. What I want is to prove from the Qur’an that Jesus was the” Spirit of God” and the” word of God” and he brought the dead to life. Therefore Christian religion is just.

Umar Lahmi (pointing to Isabella): Now I appoint her the judge and ask her why we were called here. (To Isabella:) Sister, you have to say now what I wrote in my letter and why you brought us here.

Isabella: In fact the real talk was as to whether religious law is a curse or not. If it is a curse, why do the Christians by following it become accursed? But the objection of our holy father (Peter) is also justified and my judgment is that first your objection should be met and then the holy father may put questions on the Qur’an.

Umar Lahmi: This is for me to leave the ground open for you. Now, I give you the promise that when you have dealt with our objection we will immediately allow you to put general questions. But when, as I promised, I embrace Christianity, what need then there will be of any further questions?

Peter: Well, sir, then you state your question clearly.

Umar Lahmi : You go on replying each of my questions one by one and the matter will be clear. First, let me know whether not to steal, not to kill, not to oppress the neighbor , etc. are religious commandments and whether they are concerned with religious law.

Peter: Surely, all of these are related to the religious law.

Umar Lahmi: And what is Saint Paul's decree about religious law?

Peter: What decree? I do not follow.

Umar Lahmi: You do understand it well, but you want to evade the answer. Just say if Saint Paul has called religious law a curse.

Peter: Saint Paul has called religious law a curse in this respect that the core of religious law came in the form of Jesus Christ and it is a folly to leave the core and run after the skin.

Umar Lahmi: This is what I also mean that Saint Paul, taking Jesus as the soul and religious law as the body, has called religious law a curse, and then, as you said, the commandments of Old Testament are related to religious law, therefore to refrain from killing and fornication is also a curse.

Peter: The thing is that you cannot understand these mysteries without the help of the “Holy Ghost” and it is not necessary that a matter which you cannot understand is in fact wrong. Saint  Paul has called physical religious law a curse and not all kinds of religious law.

Umar Lahmi: Agreed. Granted that Saint Paul has called physical religious law a curse. Now just tell me if not to steal, not to fornicate, not to oppress parents, etc.,  are physical religious law or simply internal, spiritual and moral.

Peter: You are hitting on the same topic. Just listen. What Jesus Christ has said is more preferable to what Saint. Paul said and our Lord had asked us to follow the commandments of the Old Testament.

Umar Lahmi: That is, to obtain salvation it is necessary to follow the Old Testament. If this is so, why did you raise the problem of Atonement by crucifying the “Son of God”? Why this boggle of Atonement when it is necessary to follow the Old Testament? Is it necessary to follow the commandment of the Old Testament even after the atonement of Christ?

Peter: We know nothing except that our Lord has directed us to follow the Old Testament. But salvation cannot be gained by merely following the Old Testament without Atonement.

Umar Lahmi : So Prophet Moses (Musa), David (Dawud), Soloman (Sulaiman), and Joseph ( Yusef),  and Noah ( Nooh) and other prophets must have been deprived of salvation, for their means of  salvation was just following of the religious law. So also must their communities have been deprived.

Peter: Before the advent of Christ the only means of salvation was following the religious law, but the Lord's Atonement changed it and now the only means is Atonement.

Umar Lahmi: First you rejected what Saint Paul had said that religious law was not a curse and then you rejected the religious law as the basis of salvation. Can you quote anything to prove that Saint. Paul saying that religious law is a curse is not true?

A person: Gentlemen, in fact it is apostasy and disbelief to talk on these matters. All these relate to unseen mystery. Saint Paul has certainly called religious law a curse and it is really so, but you people are able unable to understand the mysteries. Our means of salvation is the Divinity of Christ and and Atonement, because Jesus was free from sins and the embodiment of God, who by his grace and benevolence suffered on the cross in lieu of us and gave us salvation.

Another person: Do not indulge in mutual quarrels. You have begun  to refute Saint Paul.

Umar Lahmi: This is the result of the untrue and baseless talk . Now, this other gentlemen has broached the subject of Divinity and Atonement. First let the discussion of religious law and curse be concluded.

Peter: You have been given a conclusive reply. Now you may take eight days to ponder on the matter. If your doubts  are not resolved during this time, you may come here again.

Umar Lahmi: You do not regard religious law a curse and your colleague says it is a curse and Saint Paul was correct. Which of you to is on the right?

Peter: Those who say this are not acquainted with the mysteries of the Christian religion. You should not attend to what they say.

Umar Lahmi: (to Isabella): Now, you say which of them is on the right and whether Saint Paul was wrong in calling religious law a curse.

Isabella: I came here to listen to your discussion and cannot intervene in any matter. But I will request my teacher Michael to resolve this question by his great learning and intelligence, since, apart from our honored guests, I myself have not yet understood it.

These words of Isabella felt like a bolt from the blue on the entire assembly and everyone begin to look askance at one another. Just then Michael got up.

Michael: Brethren, we have assembled here to search faith and it is certainly very auspicious. But for it, it is necessary that there should be a sincere heart and an urge to accept the truth. The question of faith is such that no one can succeed by his own effort without divine help. We should, therefore, earnestly pray to God that He should manifest the truth to us through the help of the “Holy Ghost” and reveal to us the mysteries of the Christian faith. (Loud cries of Amen from all the Christians.) Gentlemen, whether religious law is a curse or not is an irrelevant question. The real thing is that our Muhammadan brethren have no knowledge of Christian creed and principles and so they are indulging in polemics. The essence of our religion can be stated in just two words, i.e. the Divinity of Christ and Atonement. One who has understood these two has understood all the secrets of the Christian faith. How gracious is God that He sent His only son for our salvation to suffer all the troubles of this world and then at last he was killed on the cross as an atonement for our sins. So I will request my friend Umar Lahmi and his associates to give up the useless discussion of religious law and curse and think of the holy personality of our Lord Jesus and his matchless atonement and embrace Christian faith.

Umar Lahmi: We have not come here for mere talk. We follow a principle and want to discuss a basic problem. We have already defined the subject of our talk in my note, as witness is our sister Isabella here. Now, if you want us to give up the real subject matter and discuss the Divinity of Christ and Atonement, I am ready for that also, providing you give me in writing that we give up the subject of religious law and should talk of the Divinity of Christ and Atonement.

Peter: We do not mean to say that you should not discuss these problems, but that we may leave aside marginal issues and discuss basic problems.

Umar Lahmi:Then why did you call us here? Churches and Mosques are not necessary for discussion. If you do not want to discuss, then say so clearly that our time is not wasted.

Michael: You have misunderstood holy Peter’s talk. He did not mean that we should close the dialogue altogether. He only wanted to stress that you should put questions by thinking over the basic problem. But it is already noon and you may have to take lunch. Say when it will be convenient for you to come once again.

Umar Lahmi: This time is very convenient. No one can say whether we shall have this auspicious occasion again.

Michael: But you have also to offer your prayer.

Umar Lahmi: We can offer our prayer and in this very church.

Peter: I think we better take up the discussion again next Sunday.

Umar Lahmi: I think the discussion should not be put off for so long. Possibly we may be guided by Allah.

Michael: All right, we restart the discussion tomorrow at this time and continue till midday.

Isabella: if the discussion to be put off for tomorrow, then it should not end at noon but continue to the evening so that we may come to some conclusion

Michael: Not at all, have we no other business?

Isabella: I think, no other business can be more important than this.

It was, however, decided that the discussion should begin in the morning and continued till noon.

This concluded the first meeting. Umar Lahmi, thanking all Christians, leaves for his home while the priest and Isabella remained sitting in the church.

One priest: It is regrettable that you gave the opportunity to these “unbelievers” to raise objections and that the Christian faith be ridiculed. The only way to treat these heathens is to put the Qur’an before them. Holy Peter did this in the very beginning but, unfortunately, they cleverly wriggled out and took up the discussion of religious law. If the same is done tomorrow also, we will be badly let down, because what they inquire about the Divine secrets that which no one except saints can understand.

Michael :In fact, the discussion went into wrong channels in the very beginning, otherwise they would have been let down by their own Qur’an. Does not the Qur’an say that our Lord Jesus is the “ life giver” and brings the dead to life? Does not the Qur’an call him the “Spirit of God” and the “Word of God”?

Peter: But, now, the subject of discussion for tomorrow has been defined. It will be on the Divinity of Christ and Atonement. See how cleverly I wanted them to divert from it, but Michael put them again on it.

Michael: Do not blame me. It is all your handiwork.

Another priest: What is the use of indulging in mutual quarrels. It will be seen tomorrow, when Divinity of the Lord will come under discussion that our Christian religion is not a soft morsel which anyone can swallow at a gulp.

After this conversation all the Christians left the church and dispersed. Isabella also left with her companions and made for her home. On her way she spoke to her companions.

Isabella: Just see, behind the back of Muslims they boast that Muslims cannot stand before them, but when they were faced with Muslims they were thoroughly exposed. I am sorry that my father had to leave immediately after leading the prayer as he had full confidence in the ability and learning of Michael and Peter, otherwise he would have silenced these Muslims.

One companion: In fact, the problem is a bit too tough. What even your father could have done?

Another campanion:  In fact, our beliefs and dogmas are poor. Otherwise our priests would have not been so beaten.

Isabella: God forbid! Just a single discussion has upset you. Our beliefs are certainly well-founded, but there should be someone to explain them. Now, tomorrow the Divinity of Christ will be discussed and  you will see how badly they will fare.

They had now reached a crossroad where all the girls turned towards their respective homes.

May 21, 2013

British Psychological Society to launch attack on rival profession, casting doubt on biomedical model of mental illness. There is no scientific evidence that psychiatric diagnoses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are valid or useful, according to the leading body representing Britain's clinical psychologists. In a groundbreaking move that has already prompted a fierce backlash from psychiatrists, the British Psychological Society's division of clinical psychology (DCP) will on Monday issue a statement declaring that, given the lack of evidence, it is time for a "paradigm shift" in how the issues of mental health are understood.

The statement effectively casts doubt on psychiatry's predominantly biomedical model of mental distress – the idea that people are suffering from illnesses that are treatable by doctors using drugs. The DCP said its decision to speak out "reflects fundamental concerns about the development, personal impact and core assumptions of the (diagnosis) systems", used by psychiatry.

Dr Lucy Johnstone, a consultant clinical psychologist who helped draw up the DCP's statement, said it was unhelpful to see mental health issues as illnesses with biological causes. "On the contrary, there is now overwhelming evidence that people break down as a result of a complex mix of social and psychological circumstances – bereavement and loss, poverty and discrimination, trauma and abuse," Johnstone said.

The provocative statement by the DCP has been timed to come out shortly before the release of DSM-5, the fifth edition of the American Psychiatry Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The DSM is used in a number of countries to varying degrees. Britain uses an alternative manual, the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) published by the World Health Organization, but the DSM is still hugely influential – and controversial.

The manual has been attacked for expanding the range of mental health issues that are classified as disorders. For example, the fifth edition of the book, the first for two decades, will classify manifestations of grief, temper tantrums and worrying about physical ill-health as the mental illnesses of major depressive disorder, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder and somatic symptom disorder, respectively. Some of the manual's omissions are just as controversial as the manual's inclusions. The term "Asperger's disorder" will not appear in the new manual, and instead its symptoms will come under the newly added "autism spectrum disorder".

The writer Oliver James, who trained as a clinical psychologist, welcomed the DCP's decision to speak out against psychiatric diagnosis and stressed the need to move away from a biomedical model of mental distress to one that examined societal and personal factors. Writing in today’s Observer, James declares: "We need fundamental changes in how our society is organized to give parents the best chance of meeting the needs of children and to prevent the amount of adult adversity."

But Professor Sir Simon Wessely, a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and chair of psychological medicine at King's College London, said it was wrong to suggest psychiatry was focused only on the biological causes of mental distress. And in an accompanying Observer article he defends the need to create classification systems for mental disorder. "A classification system is like a map," Wessely explains. "And just as any map is only provisional, ready to be changed as the landscape changes, so does classification."

May 20, 2013

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned Monday that further cuts in defense spending by European nations risk reducing the continent’s defense and security to “hot air,” turning the alliance into what he called a “global spectator” rather than a real force on the world stage.

“The only way to avoid this is by holding the line on defense spending and to start reinvesting in security as soon as our economies recover,” he told a meeting in Brussels of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Rasmussen said European nations should not become absorbed by their own domestic issues, including sluggish economies that have contributed to defense cuts, and instead develop a “truly global perspective” to respond to crises further away from home. “Having the right capabilities is important, but it is not enough,” he said. “We must also have the political will to use them, to deal with security challenges on Europe’s doorstep, to help manage crises further away that might affect us here at home, and to better share the security burden with our North American allies.”

Meanwhile, he said, European nations need to make better use of what they have – “to do more together as Europeans – within the European Union and within NATO – to deliver the critical defense capabilities that are too expensive for any individual country to deliver alone.”

It was the latest in a series of warnings over the past several years by Rasmussen that further cuts by European governments in defense spending could put NATO’s viability at risk. In 2011, Rasmussen said the trend suggested the continent was headed toward getting out of the security business entirely, pointing out that European nations had cut their defense budgets by $45 billion – the equivalent of Germany’s entire annual defense budget – while U.S contributions to NATO had increased from about half of total alliance spending to close to 75 percent.

Those comments were followed by a blunt warning from then-U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who said NATO risked “irrelevance” and a “dismal future” if alliance members were not seen as “serious and capable partners in their own defense.”

Today, Rasmussen said soft power alone really is no power at all.“Without hard capabilities to back up its diplomacy, Europe will lack credibility and influence,” he added. “It will risk being a global spectator, rather than the powerful global actor that it can be and should be.”

May 20, 2013

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned Monday that further cuts in defense spending by European nations risk reducing the continent’s defense and security to “hot air,” turning the alliance into what he called a “global spectator” rather than a real force on the world stage.

“The only way to avoid this is by holding the line on defense spending and to start reinvesting in security as soon as our economies recover,” he told a meeting in Brussels of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Rasmussen said European nations should not become absorbed by their own domestic issues, including sluggish economies that have contributed to defense cuts, and instead develop a “truly global perspective” to respond to crises further away from home. “Having the right capabilities is important, but it is not enough,” he said. “We must also have the political will to use them, to deal with security challenges on Europe’s doorstep, to help manage crises further away that might affect us here at home, and to better share the security burden with our North American allies.”

Meanwhile, he said, European nations need to make better use of what they have – “to do more together as Europeans – within the European Union and within NATO – to deliver the critical defense capabilities that are too expensive for any individual country to deliver alone.”

It was the latest in a series of warnings over the past several years by Rasmussen that further cuts by European governments in defense spending could put NATO’s viability at risk. In 2011, Rasmussen said the trend suggested the continent was headed toward getting out of the security business entirely, pointing out that European nations had cut their defense budgets by $45 billion – the equivalent of Germany’s entire annual defense budget – while U.S contributions to NATO had increased from about half of total alliance spending to close to 75 percent.

Those comments were followed by a blunt warning from then-U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who said NATO risked “irrelevance” and a “dismal future” if alliance members were not seen as “serious and capable partners in their own defense.”

Today, Rasmussen said soft power alone really is no power at all.“Without hard capabilities to back up its diplomacy, Europe will lack credibility and influence,” he added. “It will risk being a global spectator, rather than the powerful global actor that it can be and should be.”

May 18, 2013

 

 

(IP) A group of Belgian lawmakers have proposed a bill that would deem Islamophobia a crime punishable by fines and/or imprisonment.  Six senators of the Belgian Parliament drafted the resolution that would  categorize a person who “ considers Islam to be violent, threatening or supportive of terrorism”or “considers Islam to be a political ideology used for political and military purposes to establish its hegemony” as an islamophobe, and liable for prosecution under this law, if passed.  Opponents of the bill say it would be a ‘devastating blow to free speech’ in Belgium.

The French-speaking region of southern Belgium known as Wallonia has officially assigned the four major Christian holidays (Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and All Saints Day – known as Halloween in the US) secular names in a move that critics claim is catering to the atheistic views of the Socialists and the influence of the Muslim elements of its population.  Removal of religious paraphernalia and reference to religious holidays and practices by government and within government buildings and proceedings has rapidly proliferated globally, with pointed reforms taking place in the United States. Prayers are no longer said at the start of the school day in most public schools and events in efforts to avoid offending those who profess no religious persuasion.

The French Community of Belgium has jurisdiction over five provinces, including the Francophone population of Brussels, the Belgian capital and has adopted ‘a framework decree that formally establishes the new secularized names on the public school calendar in the interests of “administrative simplification”, according to a report by Soeren Kern on the RightSidenews.com website.  The Belgian French-language newspaper La Libre stated: “…school calendars  within Belgium's French speaking community will permanently use the following terminology: the Christian holiday previously known as All Saints Day (Congés de Toussaint) will now be referred to as Autumn Leave (Congé d'automne); Christmas Vacation (Vacances de Noël) is now Winter Vacation (Vacances d'hiver); Lenten Vacation (Congés de Carnaval) is now Rest and Relaxation Leave (Congé de détente); and Easter (Vacances de Pâques) is now Spring Vacation (Vacances de Printemps).”

Right-wing groups who are opposed to the proliferating multiculturalism in Belgium are criticizing the permanent holiday name changes, some accusing the government of attempting to ‘de-Christianize’ the traditional Christian holidays, the most vocal of which is the Reformist Movement (Mouvement Réformateur, MR), an alliance of four center-right parties that together comprise the largest classical liberal political formation in French-speaking Belgium.  The MR fears that reforming the holiday names will facilitate the eventual introduction of Muslim holidays into the school and public calendars and cultural expression; the holiday name-change decree already provides Muslims with a waiver by which Islamic holidays will be recognized legally.

The mayor of Brussels, Freddy Thielemans,  is a Socialist and more than half of the eleven council members are either Socialists or Muslims – or both.  The Council has moved to refrain from the display of any religious holiday décor in the city, and replaced some with modern art works to give the metropolis a more ‘avant – garde character’; although, according to the Brussels Nieuws, one Council member from the Christian Democratic and Flemish Party, Bianca Debaets,  argued that  it was the ‘religious sensitivities of the Muslims’ that prompted the display of the cubical ‘light’ sculpture in place of a religious-toned  display - a Christmas tree.

The efforts of making Belgium more ‘Islam-friendly’, however,  leaves many Muslims still feeling alienated from the greater Belgian society.  The article by Soeren Kern states: “According to a new survey of Muslim youth in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern half of Belgium, only 30% of Muslim males between the ages of 15 and 25 feel as though they are accepted by Flemish society. This figure drops to 25% for Muslim females in the same age group.”

“The survey, which was published by the daily newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen on April 19, shows that 60% of Muslim youth believe that they will never be integrated into Belgian society. One in three of those surveyed say that he or she has been discriminated against at school, and one in five say they have been discriminated against at work. More than 50% say they have been victims of racism. Although 93% of those surveyed have Belgian citizenship, 42% of them say they consider themselves to be foreigners.”

“The results are virtually unchanged from a similar survey conducted in 2005, and imply that years of government efforts to make Belgium more multicultural have done nothing to change the minds of Muslim youth.  According to the Flemish Minister for Integration, Geert Bourgeois, Muslim youth should work harder and complain less. "That so many young people feel discriminated against and do not feel accepted means that our society still has a lot of work to do. It's actually an 'us-them' story. We as a society can and should still make an extra effort, but conversely, Muslim youth should do more as well. Perhaps an inverted research shows that we just think that young Muslims do not belong because they do not want to belong," Bourgeois said.

According to the authors of the resolution, a person would be guilty of Islamophobia if he or she:

  • Considers Islam to be a single monolithic bloc, closed and static, incapable of adapting to new situations;

  • Considers Islam to be separate and "different," devoid of having any aims or shared values ​​with other cultures, not influenced by other cultures and not influencing other cultures;

  • Considers Islam to be inferior to the West, to be barbaric, irrational, primitive and sexist;

  • Considers Islam to be violent, threatening and supportive of terrorism, actively engaged in a 'clash of civilizations';

  • Considers Islam to be a political ideology, used for political and military purposes to establish its hegemony;

  • Rejects out of hand criticisms made by Islam of 'the West';

  • Shows hostility towards Islam to justify discrimination and social exclusion of Muslims;

  • Accepts hostility toward Muslims as natural and normal.

Mr. Kern states further:  “This definition of Islamophobia, which is based on a 1997 report published by the London-based Runnymede Trust, would effectively outlaw any critical discussion of Islam in Belgium [and label it as] ‘combating racism’.

The draft resolution has outraged free speech activists, who are demanding more public scrutiny of what they say is a "draconian" measure  that is contrary to liberal democratic values. But the sponsors of the text remain unapologetic.In an interview with the daily newspaper Le Soir, Senator Richard Miller from Wallonia accuses critics of the resolution of trying to make the draft text say things it does not say.”

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group.