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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘mosque’

Islam Overtaking Catholicism as Dominant Religion in France

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

A majority of people in France, according to a new poll, believe that Islam is too influential in French society, and almost half view Muslims as a threat to their national identity.

The survey reveals a significant degradation of the image of Islam in France. The findings also show that French voters are growing increasingly uneasy about mass immigration from Muslim countries, which has been encouraged by a generation of political and cultural elites in France dedicated to creating a multicultural society.

The survey conducted by the French Institute of Public Opinion (or Ifop, as it is usually called) and published by the center-right Le Figaro newspaper on October 24, shows that 60% of French people believe that Islam has become “too visible and influential” in France — up from 55% in an earlier survey two years ago.

The poll also reveals that 43% of French people consider the presence of Muslim immigrants to be a threat to French national identity, compared to just 17% who say it enriches society.

In addition, 68% of people in France blame the problems associated with Muslim integration on immigrants who refuse to integrate (up from 61% two years ago), and 52% blame it on cultural differences (up from 40% two years ago).

The poll also shows a growing resistance to the symbols of Islam. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of French people say they are opposed to Muslim women wearing the veil or Islamic headscarves in public, compared to 59% two years ago.

Furthermore, the survey shows that only 18% of French people say they support the building of new mosques in France (compared to 33% in 1989, and 20% in 2010).

“Our poll shows a further hardening in French people’s opinions,” Jerome Fourquet, head of Ifop’s opinion department, told Le Figaro. “In recent years, there has not been a week when Islam has not been in the heart of the news for social reasons: the veil, halal food, dramatic news like terrorist attacks or geopolitical reasons,” he said.

France, which is home to an estimated six million Muslims, has the largest Muslim population in the European Union. There are now, in fact, more practicing Muslims in France than there are practicing Roman Catholics.

Although 64% of the French population (or 41.6 million of France’s 65 million inhabitants) identify themselves as Roman Catholic, only 4.5% (or 1.9 million) of these actually are practicing Catholics, according to a separate survey on Catholicism in France published by Ifop in July 2009.

By way of comparison, 75% (or 4.5 million), of the estimated six million mostly ethnic North African and sub-Saharan Muslims in France, identify themselves as “believers;” and 41% (or 2.5 million) say they are “practicing” Muslims, according to an in-depth research report on Islam in France published by Ifop in July 2011.

Taken together, the research data provides empirical evidence that Islam is well on its way to overtaking Roman Catholicism as the dominant religion in France.

This trend is also reflected in the fact that mosques are being built more often in France than are Roman Catholic churches; nearly 150 new mosques are currently under construction in France.

The total number of mosques in France has already doubled to more than 2,000 during just the past ten years, according to a research report, “Constructing Mosques: The Governance of Islam in France and the Netherlands.” The rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, has called for the number of mosques in the country to be doubled again — to 4,000 — to meet growing demand.

By contrast, the Roman Catholic Church has built only 20 new churches in France during the past decade, and has formally closed more than 60 churches, many of which are destined to become mosques, according to research conducted by La Croix, a Roman Catholic daily newspaper based in Paris.

In recent weeks, tensions have flared over the proposed conversion of an empty church into a mosque in the central French town of Vierzon. The controversy involves Saint-Eloi’s, a small church located in a working class neighborhood that has been taken over by immigrants from Morocco and Turkey.

With six churches to maintain and fewer faithful every year, Roman Catholic authorities in Vierzon say they can no longer afford to keep Saint-Eloi’s. They now want to sell the building for €170,000 ($220,000) to a Moroccan Muslim organization that wants to convert the church into a mosque.

Iranian Woman Strikes a Few Blows (and Kicks) For Freedom

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Reported:

Iran Cleric Pummeled by ‘Badly Covered’ Woman After Warning

An Iranian cleric said he was beaten by a woman in the northern province of Semnan after giving her a warning for being “badly covered,” the state-run Mehr news agency reported.  Hojatoleslam Ali Beheshti said he encountered the woman in the street while on his way to the mosque in the town of Shahmirzad, and asked her to cover herself up, to which she replied “you, cover your eyes,” according to Mehr. The cleric repeated his warning, which he said prompted her to insult and push him.

“I fell on my back on the floor,” Beheshti said in the report. “I don’t know what happened after that, all I could feel was the kicks of this woman who was insulting me and attacking me.”

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Bacon Hate Crimes and Islamophobia Witch-Hunts

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

The NYPD is taking a break from investigating multiple shootings in four of New York City’s boroughs, including the attempted murder of an NYPD Sergeant, to head down to the city’s much overlooked fifth borough, Staten Island, to investigate a case of littering.

Muslims arriving at the New Dorp football field, a few blocks away from the New Dorp High School, discovered some bacon lying on the ground. The field is usually home to the New Dorp Central Cougars and the Staten Island Tech Seagulls, but that day instead of boys and girls running around joyfully in the sun, robed men had come to attend a Ramadan event. The media and police were quickly summoned and now the NYPD is investigating the bacon as a hate crime.

The Ramadan event had been organized by a local chapter of the Muslim American Society. The Muslim American Society is a front for the Muslim Brotherhood, and some of its chapters have called for the murder of Jews. Calling for the murder of Jews however falls under freedom of speech. Unlike bacon which is a hate crime.

Staten Island had 226 robberies, 342 felonious assaults, 380 burglaries and 1,129 misdemeanor assaults last year. The figures are probably even worse this year and the NYPD has better things to do than train bacon-sniffing dogs to track down litterers. But the case of the lost bacon is not New York’s most absurd Islamophobia witch-hunt to date.

Last year Osman Daramy, an 11-year-old boy, was charged with a hate crime for trying to pull off a girl’s hijab in school. Osman had a long history of violent misbehavior but no real disciplinary action was taken against him until he went too far and pulled off a hijab. Newspapers, which generally avoid printing photos of children being arrested unless they murdered someone, gleefully ran pictures of him being led away in handcuffs and leg irons.

Somewhere in the middle of all the madness, Osman’s stepfather explained to the press that the Daramy family is Muslim and that Osman participates in Muslim prayers. “How could a Muslim have (committed) another hate crime against a Muslim?” he asked.

The year before that, New York City was treated to an even more horrifying Islamophobic hate crime. On a hot August day, the wire services reported that a man had invaded a mosque, accused the worshipers of being terrorists and then urinated on their prayer rugs. “Start of a bigger trend?” MSNBC asked. “Without a significant response by mainstream political leaders, this disturbing trend will only continue to grow,” a CAIR spokesman warned.

But the disturbing trend of mosque carpet urinators did not take off. The perpetrator, Omar Rivera, had been drinking for five straight days after the death of his sister and had never mentioned terrorists. His only crime was accidentally soiling some prayer rugs lying outside the mosque. The only hate came from inside the mosque which had an article on its website accusing the Jews of being responsible for homosexuality and AIDS.

Omar Rivera and Osman Daramy were swept up in the Islamophobia witch-hunt. But they weren’t the only ones. Innocent New Yorkers, like Eddie Crespo, an off-duty MTA officer who tried to break up a fight involving a Muslim Imam, have also been caught up in the Islamophobia hysteria. And now the NYPD is hunting for bacon-lovers while prosecutors wonder how to convince a jury that littering is a form of intimidation, just like a swastika or a burning cross.

The Islamophobia witch-hunt is not the NYPD’s fault. The NYPD is under severe political pressure to fight Islamophobia and it has to make the requisite number of arrests to show that it is serious about it. The Islamophobia establishment and its media allies are the ones responsible for unleashing the witch-hunt that led to a Latino MTA officer nearly losing his career and a grieving Latino man nearly being locked up for a minor offense. And even Muslim children, such as Osman Daramy, can be caught up in the hysteria of the Islamophobia witch-hunt when there aren’t any actual bias crimes against Muslims to be found.

In the last five years there have been multiple Muslim plots to bomb synagogues. The NYPD is investigating bombs in synagogues, not bacon, because there really is a disturbing trend of anti-Semitic hate crimes. The best evidence that there is no similarly disturbing trend of Islamophobic attacks is that the NYPD is bagging and tagging bacon at a Staten Island football field.

The New Mega-Mosque in Paris: ‘Building a French Islam’

Friday, July 20th, 2012

The Socialist government in France has inaugurated a new mega-mosque in Paris as a first step towards “progressively building a French Islam.”

The new mosque, located in the northern Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise, is not only vast in its dimensions (photo here), but is also highly visible and symbolic: its towering minaret, which has purposely been designed to change the suburb’s skyline by being taller than any church steeple in the neighborhood, is supposed to become the “new symbol of Islam in France.”

The blue-domed mega-mosque also has an important political dimension. French President François Hollande owes his May 6 electoral victory to the large turnout by Muslim voters, who cast the deciding votes that propelled Hollande into the Élysée Palace. It is now political payback time, and the mosque at Cergy is one of at least 150 new mosque projects that the Socialist government has pledged to support.

Speaking on behalf of President Hollande at the inauguration ceremony of the mosque in Cergy, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls articulated the Socialist government’s policy vis-à-vis the construction of new mosques in France. He declared: “A mosque, when it is erected in the city, says a simple thing: Islam has its place in France.”

The 2,000 square meter (21,500 square foot) three-story mega-mosque in Cergy can accommodate up to 1,500 worshippers at a time; it has two main prayer halls (one for men and one for women), ablution rooms, two kitchens, a tea room, an apartment and office for the imam, a funeral hall, classrooms and a multipurpose room.

The mayor’s office in Cergy, which is controlled by the Socialist Party, has tried to downplay local concerns about the size of the mosque, which has a price tag of €3.7 million ($4.5 million). It has justified the project by arguing that the mosque is being financed exclusively through local donations (many if not most of the major mosques in France and other European countries are financed by foreign governments such as Morocco and Saudi Arabia).

But the Socialist Mayor of Cergy, Dominique Lefebvre, has actively worked to make the mosque project a reality by circumventing French laws on secularism. Under his leadership the town council agreed to provide the mosque with a lease of land at very low rent for a term of 99 years. The town council also agreed to provide the mosque with a bank guarantee so it could obtain a €2.5 million loan for construction.

Lefebvre has justified his efforts on behalf of the mosque by saying he wants to “ensure the free exercise of religion.” But at the ceremony inaugurating the mosque, he also joked: “I am often asked if the minaret is higher than the steeple of the church.”

Separately, a French appeals court has granted permission for the construction of a mega-mosque in the southern city of Marseille, home to the largest Muslim community in France.

The ruling, which overturns an October 2011 decision by a lower court to annul the construction permit for the mosque, represents a major victory for proponents of the mosque, long touted as the biggest and most potent symbol of Islam’s growing place in France.

The €22 million ($27 million) project would have the Grand Mosque – boasting a minaret soaring 25 meters (82 feet) high, and room for up to 7,000 worshippers in a vast prayer hall — built on the north side of Marseille’s old port in the city’s Saint-Louis district, an ethnically mixed neighborhood that suffers from poverty and high unemployment.

Several decades in the planning, the project was granted a construction permit in November 2009. At the time, city officials said the new mosque would help the Muslim community better integrate into the mainstream and foster a more moderate form of Islam.

The first cornerstone of the 8,300 square meter (90,000 square foot) project was laid in May 2010. The elaborate stone-laying ceremony was attended by Muslim religious leaders and local politicians, as well as more than a dozen diplomats from Muslim countries.

Full-scale construction of the Grand Mosque — which will include a Koranic school and a library, as well as a restaurant and tea room — was scheduled to begin in February 2012.

Mosque’s Loud Prayer Generates Mega-Decibel ‘Battle of the Bands’

Monday, July 16th, 2012

After the French Hill neighborhood of Jerusalem has decided to play very loud music, in defiance of the volume and disturbance of the sound of the muezzin at the mosque in nearby Al-Issawiya, two additional Jewish neighborhoods, Pisgat Ze’ev and Har Choma, have announced that they, too, will take up a similar approach. French Hill also decided to go with hard rock, and not Mediterranean tunes, as had originally been planned, because, as they put it, hard rock is more likely to deliver the message.

According to Yediot Jerusalem, the French Hill neighborhood has recently approached an amplification company with an order for four huge speakers to be directed at Al-Isawiya. As soon as the village muezzin will start his exceedingly loud prayer, it will be responded to with ear shattering Rock n’ Roll, letting local Arabs understand how disturbing the loud prayers have been to their Jewish neighbors.

Har Choma and Pisgat Ze’ev residents are waiting to see the results from the French Hill “pilot.” If the protest via rock blasts succeeds, the other two neighborhoods, situated on the border of the Jerusalem municipality, will follow suit.

Har Choma residents are coping with the sound of the muezzin from the villages of Umm Tuba and Sur Baher. Pisgat Ze’ev residents receive their 5 daily Muslim inspiration calls from Beit Hanina, Shuafat and Anata.

Jerusalem’s city hall has attempted to negotiated between Al-Issawiya village head Darwish Darwish and the residents of French Hill. Darwish promised to regulate the noise level, but the French Hill residents are saying nothing has changed, and the muezzin call continue to reach unbearable decibels.

Hamas: Morsi Will Protect Gaza from Israel

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

The head of Hamas in Gaza said Egypt’s new president would shield Gaza from attacks by Israel and would lift the blockade.

Ismail Haniyeh told worshippers in a mosque Friday that he is confident Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi “will never provide cover for any new aggression or war on Gaza,” Reuters reported. “We are confident that Egypt, the revolution led by Morsi, will not take any part in blocking Gaza,” he added.

Morsi is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist party.

Israel maintains a blockade on Gaza in an effort to keep weapons out of the strip.

So far, Hamas has seen no policy shift since Morsi’s election, and, according to Reuters, diplomats are saying the Egyptian leader had so many domestic problems that he could scarcely afford to spend much time on the Palestinians.

Both President Abbas and Hamas are expected to be urged by Morsi to end their conflict, which resulted in a civil war in Gaza a few years ago.

“No one can help the Palestinians more than they can help themselves. They should take daring steps to end their rifts,” an official in Cairo told Reuters.

JTA contributed to this report.

Finland’s Iranian Mega – Mosque

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

new mega-mosque has been inaugurated in the Finnish capital, Helsinki. Unlike most mosques in Europe, which cater to Sunni Muslims, the mosque in Helsinki ministers to Shia Islam. The Helsinki mosque has been paid for by the Islamic Republic of Iran; critics say that theocrats in Tehran intend to use the mosque to establish a recruiting center for the militant Shia Muslim group Hezbollah in Europe.

The dimensions of the new mosque are enormous by Finnish standards. The 700-square-meter (7,500 square-feet) mega-mosque, located adjacent to a metro station in the eastern Helsinki district of Mellunmäki, features a massive prayer room for 1,000 worshippers. The mosque has been built by the Ahlul-Beit Foundation, a radical Shia Muslim proselytizing and political lobbying group presided over by the Iranian government. Ahlul-Beit already runs around 70 Islamic centers around the world, and has as its primary goal the promotion of the religious and political views of Islamic radicals in Iran.

Ahlul-Beit is opposed to all brands of Islam that compete with the form of Islam dictated by theocrats in Iran: the organization has called for the persecution of Sunni Muslims, Sufi Muslims, and Alawites, as well as all secular and moderate Muslims. The organization also outspokenly opposes the integration of Muslim immigrants into their host societies.

Ahlul-Beit is especially focused on spreading Islamic Sharia law beyond the Middle East; its centers in Africa and Asia, for example, have been used to radicalize local Muslim communities there. In a typical quid-pro-quo arrangement, the organization offers money to the poor, who then convert to Shia Islam and are subjected to religious training by Iranian-backed Imams. The group has been banned in at least a dozen countries.

In Europe, Ahlul-Beit mosques are usually presented to the general public as centers for cultural and sports activities; in practice, however, they are often used by Iranian intelligence to monitor Iranians living abroad and to harass Iranian dissidents.

In Germany, for instance, the Imam Ali mosque in Hamburg was linked to the September 1992 assassination of four leaders of the Iranian Kurdish Democratic Party at the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin.

In Britain, the Ahlul-Beit mosque in London was involved in issuing death threats against the British-Indian writer Salman Rushdie. The mosque has also been used to recruit terrorists and to spy on Iranian exiles living in England and Wales.

In Denmark, the city council of Copenhagen recently authorized Ahlul-Beit to build the first official “Grand Mosque” in the Danish capital. The mega-mosque, which will have a massive blue dome as well as two towering minarets, is architecturally designed to stand out over Copenhagen’s low-rise skyline.

The man set to become the main imam at the new mosque in Copenhagen, Mohammed Mahdi Khademi, is a former military officer who ran the ideology department of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps until 2004, when he was hand-picked by the Iranian regime to move to Denmark. Many Iranian exiles believe Khademi maintains close ties to Iranian intelligence and fear the new mosque will be used against them.

Although critics of the Helsinki mega-mosque have warned that the building will be used by the Iranian regime to recruit impressionable Muslim immigrant youths for service to Hezbollah, Finnish politicians have embraced the Shia mosque as a symbol of multicultural progress.

According to Egypt Today magazine, multiculturalism has turned Finland into a paradise for Muslim immigration, not only for Shia Muslims, but also for rival Sunni Muslims.

In a story entitled “Welcome to Finland,” Egypt Today writes:

“Tara Ahmed, a 25-year-old Kurdish woman, came with her husband to Finland seven years ago to work. ‘There are a lot of services offered to us here,’ she says. ‘Plus, during my seven years I haven’t had one single harassment, assault or discrimination case in any form.’ Like most immigrants, Ahmed and her husband took advantage of the free Finnish language lessons offered by the government, which pays immigrants €8 per day to attend. The government also provides immigrants with a free home, health care for their family and education for their children. In addition, they get a monthly stipend of €367 per adult to cover expenses until they start earning their own living. The government is able to pay for these services due to a progressive tax rate that can exceed fifty percent of a person’s income. Even so, officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed that Finland needs immigrants and that, in the long run, they are not a burden on society.”

After the Egypt Today story was published, Muslim immigrants began arriving in Finland in droves. There are now an estimated 60,000 Muslims in Finland, which has a total population of just over 5 million people. Muslims have arrived from Afghanistan, Algeria, China, Egypt, Kosovo, India, Iraq, Iran, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Pakistan, Somalia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Italy: ‘Mosques Springing Up like Mushrooms’

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

More than 250 mosques across Italy have reached an agreement to create a new umbrella organization, the Italian Islamic Confederation (CII). The CII will be controlled by Morocco, and will compete with an existing Muslim umbrella organization, the Union of Islamic Communities and Organizations in Italy (UCOII).

The UCOII, which is estimated to control 60% of the mosques in Italy, is closely tied to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Since its founding in 1990, the UCOII has used its virtual monopoly over the mosques in Italy to spread its Islamist ideology over the 1.5 million Muslims in the country. The UCOII has also worked to become the main interlocutor between the Muslim community and the Italian state.

But the Italian government has ruled out reaching an agreement with the UCOII because of its links to the Muslim Brotherhood. “There can be no accords with those like the UCOII, who de facto deny the existence of the state of Israel and hold ambiguous positions on terrorism at the national and local level,” according to Andrea Ronchi, Italy’s former Minister for Community Policy.

After it came to light that the majority of the mosques in Italy are controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni called for a moratorium on the building of new mosques until a new national law could be written to regulate the phenomenon.

According to Manes Bernardini, a politician with the Northern League in Bologna, “Mosques are springing up like mushrooms, and mayors can do nothing about it because there is no national law to regulate the proliferation of these structures.”

In this context, the creation of the CII on March 22 is an attempt by the Moroccan government to establish a new Muslim umbrella organization that would represent a more “moderate” face of Islam vis-à-vis the Italian government.

CII’s founding document states that it “respects the holiness of life” and “rejects every form of violence.” The document also says the CII “respects the principles of moderation, tolerance and respect towards others,” and will “promote and defend the rights of Muslim women in Italy.”

The primary motive behind the creation of the CII, which is being run by a Moroccan named Fihri Wahid, appears to be an effort to persuade the Italian government to approve and subsidize the construction of more mosques in the country. CII’s founding document states: “Creating the best conditions in order to guarantee dignity and freedom of worship, underlining the importance that places of worship reflect the creative genius and the splendor of Italian culture towards the prospect of integration and dialogue with the other religions present in the country.”

According to Hassan Abouyoub, the Moroccan Ambassador to Italy, the establishment of the CII is “an historic achievement. It will finally allow the Muslim population in Italy to have a new voice.” Abouyoub added: “The mosques which are taking part in this new confederation are only of the Maliki tradition, which respect a moderate Islam.”

The Maliki tradition refers to a school of Islamic Sharia law that is practiced in Morocco and other parts of North Africa. In fact, the “moderate” Maliki school of Islam is the official state religion in Morocco, where Christians are frequently harassed and often expelled from the country without due process, allegedly for proselytizing.

With the creation of the CII, Morocco is attempting to export to Italy a religious control strategy that is working very well in neighboring Spain, where the Moroccan government has been using an umbrella organization called the Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities (FEERI), to exert control over the religious and cultural beliefs and practices of the nearly one million Moroccan immigrants who reside in Spain.

According to a leaked secret report prepared by Spain’s National Intelligence Center (CNI), excerpts of which have been published by the Madrid-based El País newspaper, the Moroccan government is aggressively implementing “a strategy of great magnitude” that involves establishing a parallel Muslim society in Spain by discouraging Moroccans from integrating into their host country, and by encouraging them instead to live an Islamic lifestyle isolated from Spanish society.

The document also states that Rabat is financing the construction of hundreds of mosques in Spain whose imams are directly appointed by the Moroccan government. Moreover, the North African country is attempting to impose Muslim religious instruction in Spanish public schools, and is pressuring Moroccan families to remove their children from those schools that fail to comply.

A separate CNI report about financing Jihad in Spain provides other examples of how the Moroccan government is using Islam for political ends. For example, in November 2008, “the Moroccan Minister of Islamic Affairs organized and paid for a meeting in Marrakesh which was attended by a considerable number of imams and leaders of the Islamic communities in Spain,” according to the CNI.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/italy-mosques-springing-up-like-mushrooms/2012/04/02/

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