Israeli Lawmaker Wants Adhan Ban

CAIRO – Risking stoking already simmering tensions in occupied Palestinian territories, a right-wing Israeli lawmaker has proposed a new legislation that would silence Muslims’ call to prayer or adhan.

“Hundreds of thousands of citizens in Israel, in the Galilee, the Negev, Jerusalem and other locations in central Israel suffer on a regular basis from noise that is caused by muezzin [prayer caller] calls in mosques,” the bill, sponsored by Robert Ilatov, a parliamentarian with the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, states, The Telegraph reported.

The bill is also supported by Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister who is also the party’s leader.
The Adhan (The Call to Prayer)

A similar proposal, put forward by Yisrael Beiteinu, was shelved in 2011 despite having the explicit support of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister.

The latest bill is expected to be brought before the ministerial committee for legislation in the coming weeks and would give the interior minister powers to decide whether public address systems could be installed in “houses of prayer” – amounting in practice to a veto over whether a mosque is allowed to broadcast prayer calls.

Ilatov claims that freedom of religious worship was trumped by the right to “peace” and “quiet”.

“Freedom of religion and worship is a universal freedom to which everyone is entitled in every democratic state, and of course in Israel,” he told Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

“This does not mean that additional rights can be trampled, such as the right to conduct a normal daily routine that includes peaceful and uninterrupted sleep during the night.”

The Adhan is the call to announce that it is time for a particular obligatory Salah (ritual prayer).

The Adhan is raised five times a day.

Anger

According to Ilatov, the legislation to silence adhan was justified on the ground of “noise pollution”.

Yet, it was seen as bound to prompt accusations of religious intolerance and prejudice against Muslims.

“Israel is increasingly becoming a project of ethno-religious purity and exclusion. Religious Zionist and ultra-Orthodox parties occupy 30 of the 120 seats in the Knesset, and the coalition government includes members of Jewish Home, a religious Zionist party, and Yisrael Beiteinu, a right-wing nationalist party,” Rula Jebreal, an outspoken Palestinian Israeli commentator, wrote in New York Times of the increasing hardships for Arab minorities within Israel.

“Central to their politics is a program of discriminatory legislation, designed to curtail the civil rights of Palestinian Israeli citizens.”

Israel occupied the holy city of Al-Quds, the West Bank and Golan Heights in the 1967 war and later annexed them in a move not recognized by the international community or UN resolutions.

Since then, Israel has adopted a series of oppressive measures to force the Palestinians out of Al-Quds, including systematic demolition of their homes and building settlements.

There are more than 164 Jewish settlements in the West Bank, eating up more than 40 percent of the occupied West Bank.

The international community considers all settlements on the occupied land illegal.

Sweden officially recognized the state of Palestine on Thursday, the first EU country in Western Europe to do so, reflecting growing international exasperation over the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Germany to Ban Anti-Islam Rally

BERLIN – German officials have pledged to ban anti-Islam rally planned next November 15 by new-Nazis and soccer hooligans, following last Sunday’s rioting in Cologne which left scores of police officers injured.

“We will do everything we can to ban the demonstration,” Berlin’s senator for interior affairs Frank Henkel told ARD television, Reuters reported on Thursday, October 30.

“We are experiencing a new quality, a new dimension of street violence and militancy. (In Cologne) it was clear from the start that it was not about a political statement but seeking physical clashes, especially with the police.”

Hooligans Anti-Salafists Rally Turns Violent

The rally was announced by self-styled soccer hooligans to protest Islamic Salafists at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate on November 15, a week after the capital celebrates the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Henkel said he had heard talk of 10,000 people wanting to attend.

The authorities concern followed rioting that erupted last Sunday during a similar rally in Cologne that was attended by an estimated 4000 members.

The clashes erupted when some 4,000 hooligans, many drunk, and neo-Nazis hurled objects at police who responded with pepper spray and water cannons.

The incidents raised fears of violent youths with no political agenda joining forces with a racist group.

Salafis are believed to number about 4,000 in Germany, which has a total Muslim population of some four million.

Salafis has come under scrutiny in Germany following a campaign to hand out free copies of the Noble Qur’an to educate Germans about Qur’an last year.

The campaign has sparked fury from German politicians, who accused Salafis of seeking to spread radicalization in the country.

Last year, clashes erupted between Salafis and far-right Pro NRW party supporters in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia over a contest to draw cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).

Soccer Hooligans

Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the BfV, monitors neo-Nazis and the far left but does not currently keep watch on football hooligans, perceiving most as apolitical.

“They see their values, Western values, if I can put it like that, as beer drinking and beating people up,” said BfV president Hans-Georg Maassen.

“We have, however, established that there were a lot of right-wing extremists trying to mix in with the hooligans (in Cologne).”

The marchers in Cologne bellowed “Hooligans against Salafists” and “Foreigners out!”

In Sunday’s rally, some 49 officers and one protester were injured in the clashes that erupted in Sunday’s demonstration in Cologne organized by the “Hooligans against Salafists” group also known as Ho.Ge.Sa.

Hooligans’ HoGeSa, which has neo-Nazi elements among its members, is also being closely monitored by the authorities.

Although German courts regularly ban marches by neo-Nazi groups, Henkel said this should be decided on a case-by-case basis rather than trying to impose a long-term ban.

Canada Muslims Concerned About Safety

HALIFAX – Leaders of Canadian Muslim community in Halifax city, in the eastern Canadian province of Nova Scotia, have released a statement to condemn all terrorist attacks, warning Muslims to be vigilant about their safety after the latest attacks.

“On behalf of Canadian Muslims in Nova Scotia, our mosques in Halifax and its surroundings, we will address the Muslim community members to stand shoulder to shoulder with their Canadian colleagues and give assurances that we are united today more than ever and should not be intimidated or scared by the actions of a few criminals,” said the statement released by eight Muslim leaders in Nova Scotia and cited by CBC News on Tuesday, October 28.

“We also advise to our fellow Canadian Muslims to be vigilant for their safety.”

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Last week, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau stormed the Parliament building purportedly in the name of Islam after killing soldier Nathan Cirillo, 24, at the War Memorial.

The events followed the incident in which Martin Couture-Rouleau, who had reverted to Islam last year and took the name Ahmad Rouleau, rammed his car into two Canadian Forces members.

The statement, released yesterday, condemned all terrorist attacks, going on to ask for strengthening efforts to protect Muslim institutions from vandalism or attacks by others.

Expecting reprisal attacks against the community, Adam Esse, the imam at the Nova Scotia Islamic Community Centre, said security is at the top of his mind these days.

Among security measures taken, the imam said cameras have been ordered for the Bedford property. Until they’re installed, he intends to make sure all the windows and doors are locked.

Esse said the recent radicalism has put all Muslims at risk, including “the Islamic institutions or the ladies who have veils that have covered themselves, or the youngsters who are going to Islamic school and have the Islamic uniform or the elderly.”

Police Assurances

Assuring Canadian Muslims, Halifax Regional Police said they have been monitoring Muslim properties closely.

“We need to keep the lines of communication open so if somebody feels that they’ve been wronged or they feel that something’s not right, that they should be able to go to their police force and we’re the ones that are sworn to serve and protect,” said Const. Shaun Carvery.

Carvery met with Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais on Friday for a meeting to hear concerns from Muslim leaders.

“One, I’d like to see a Muslim police officer, at least one, join our ranks within the next two to five years,” Blais said.

“Two, that we’d like to be able to have a member of the Muslim clergy join our ranks as a chaplain.”

Blais added that more meetings should be held with the Muslim community, a suggestion approved by Esse.

“I’d love to see that, outreach for police to come to the Islamic institution, Islamic schools, Islamic centres and to give that kind of assurance,” he said.

Belgian Muslims Decry Islamophobia

BRUSSELS – Living for decades in Belgium, a growing number of Muslim women have been complaining about being excluded from the society because of their veil, blaming recent anti-niqab law for adding to their turmoil..

“I’m looking for a job … and here in Belgium there is a new law we cannot work with our veil,” Hind, a 31-year-old Moroccan woman living in Brussels, told Anadolu Agency.

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“We have to take it off to work,” Hind, who did not want to reveal her last name, added.

Women in Belgium risk a maximum fine of 150 euros if they wear a full face veil in public. Belgium and France both banned the wearing of full veils in public last year.

Belgium banned the wearing of face-veil in public places in 2011.

In 2012, the Belgian Constitutional Court rejected appeals and ruled that the niqab, or face-veil, ban did not violate human rights.

As a result on the new law, if any woman failed to comply with the law, she will be punished with a penalty of 137.50 euros ($195) and up to seven days behind bars in jail as a punishment.

For many Muslim women, the restrictions on niqab and even hijab resulted in excluding them from the Belgian society.

“When you graduate from any studies and you want any job, they ask you to not wear it,” Esma, a 31-year-old Moroccan doctor who wears a traditional hijab, said.

“It’s not allowed in many activities to wear the headscarf,” she said.

Belgian Muslims are estimated at 450,000 – out of a 10-million-population – about half of them are from Moroccan origin, while 120,000 are from Turkish origin.

Yet, a very small portion estimated to 200 to 300 of the country’s hundreds of thousands of Muslims wear the face veil in public.

While hijab is an obligatory code of dress for Muslim women, the majority of Muslim scholars agree that a woman is not obliged to wear the face veil.

Scholars believe it is up to women to decide whether to take on the niqab or burqa, a loose outfit covering the whole body from head to toe and wore by some Muslim women.

Islamophobia

The recent Muslim concerns were expressed during a Sunday rally protesting the mysterious death of a Muslim in his prison cell.

Youssef Tahriki, a 42-year-old father of eight was arrested Sept. 14 after an alleged family argument.

He was found dead in his cell the next day. Police have not revealed the details of his death, which is being investigated by the Charlevoix district attorney in Belgium.

Tahriki’s death highlights rising tensions in a country in which Muslims say they feel stereotyped and discriminated against.

According to the Organization for Security and Cooperation, 614 racist and xenophobic crimes were recorded by law enforcement in the first six months of 2012.

Sixty-six people were sentenced to prison for such crimes.

Moreover, the recent atrocities committed by the so-called Islamic State (ISIL) have put Muslims under pressure of biased stigmatization of the whole Muslim community.

Elodie, a French-speaking Belgian who attended Sunday’s protest, said the Western media needs to change the way it portrays Muslims in the news and “try to understand that being a Muslim is not a problem for anybody.”

Esma agreed, noting that those who leave the country to fight took such decision for feeling not accepted in the society they live in.

Western media need to be more objective and talk to more people, Esma said.

“They have to give the voice to the voiceless,” she said.

Bangladeshis Mourn Ghulam Azam’s Death

DHAKA – Professor Ghulam Azam, a key name in the history of the Islamic movement of Bangladesh and Muslim world, died earlier this week at the age of 91, leaving behind a huge vacuum in the Islamic movement in the country.

“Professor Ghulam Azam played a key role in the global Islamic movement in the world, I strongly believe that his demise does not mean the death of the Islamic movement in Bangladesh,” Brigadier General (retired) Abdullahil Amaan Azmi, his son, told OnIslam.net.

“My father, Ghulam Azam, had to travel extensively throughout Bangladesh to preach and establish Islam in Bangladesh during his whole life,” he added.

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Over the past 60 years, the late professor played a key role in Bangladesh and Pakistan politics.

He has been an active partner and ruler of Bengali language movement in 1950’s democratic movement in Bangladesh, formerly known as East Pakistan.

Promoting unity between Pakistan and Bangladesh, his role in the 1971 Bangladesh “independence” war has put him in the middle of a controversy of the claimed war crimes committed during this era.

However, he remained as a preacher, and leader of the Islamic movement in the world as well as in Bangladesh.

Azam, whose imprisonment on war crimes charges set off violent protests last year, died on October 23 at the prison ward at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical Univrsity (BSMU) in Dhaka, a state run hospital, Bangladesh; he was then buried in their family graveyard at Dhaka on October 25.

Azam, a former chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami Party,was sentenced to 90 years in prison on 61 charges of war crimes during the 1971 Bangladesh war of independence from Pakistan.

The former East Pakistan declared independence from Islamabad in December 1971 at the end of a nine-month civil war in which the government says three million people were killed.

Independent estimates put the figure much lower.

A dozen of defendants are being tried by the Dhaka-based International Crimes Tribunal, which was set up in March 2010, over their alleged role in the war.

But all the defendants are either members of the Jamaat-e-Islami party or of the main opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP), prompting accusations that the process is politically-driven.

Baseless

Mourning the Islamic leader’s departure, Bangladeshi leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami vowed to continue the message of the deceased leader.

“Professor Ghulam Azam worked to establish an Islamic society in Bangladesh for his entire life,” Professor Mujibur Rahman, Nayebe Ameer means vice president of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami said this in his brief speech before namaje janaja, funeral prayer, at Baitul Mukarram Mosque in Dhaka.

“We will continue to do what he did as he is dead now, May Allah forgives all his sins,” he added.

Dr. Abdullah Al Mamun, teacher of Bangladesh Islamic University, has also mourned the late figure.

“Professor Ghulam Azam tried heart and soul to unite all Islamic forces and parties in Bangladesh to establish an Islamic society and state in Bangladesh,” Dr. Al Mamun told OnIslam.net

He said that Ghulam Azam was the true Muslim leader and source of Muslims’ inspiration, “but secular, left forces and present government were doing false propaganda driven by political agenda only.”

Being a renowned leader of Islamic movement, Azam was also praised as a language hero in Bangladesh language movement.

“Muslim Bangladesh has lost her great leader as Professor Ghulam Azam who was leader of Islamic movement as well as a language hero in Bangladesh,” Advocate Zahangir Hossain, pleader of Bangladesh Supreme Court, told OnIslam.net.

Advocate Zahangir said that Professor Azam was a source of inspiration for Islamic movement and icon for Bangladeshi and world Muslims as well.

Who Is Ghulam Azam

Ghulam Azam was born on November 7, 1922, at Dhaka in Bangladesh.

He obtained his master degree in political science from Dhaka University in 1950. He was renowned student leader of Dhaka University in 1940’s and General Secretary of Dhaka University Central Student Union in 1947-48 and 48-49.

He started his carrier as a teacher of political science at Rangpur Karmical College in Bangladesh. During his teaching profession, he worked with Tableeg Jamaat as regional Ameer of Tableeg Jamaat up to 1954.

Professor Ghulam Azam joined Jamaat-e-Islami in 1954 as general member and served as its secretary from 1957 to 1969.

He was elected Ameer of East Pakistan [now Bangladesh] Jamaat-e-Islami in 1969-1971 and again taking responsibility of the Ameer of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami from 1978 to 2000.

He was a pioneer thinker of Care Taker Government system which is practiced in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and many other countries in the world.

“His whole life was so (full of) disciplines and true Islamic ways, his time management was 100 percent systemic,” Najmul Haque, Private Secretary of Ghulam Azam told OnIslam.net

Najmul said that Professor Ghulam Azam sincerely tried to unite all Islamic forces in Bangladesh.

“He was really a leader and soldier of the Islamic movement. We have lost our pious religious leader,” Abdullah Al Amin, 22, told OnIslam.

Calls to Restore Palestine’s Stolen History

CAIRO – Reviving calls to restore the stolen Palestinian history, Arab League chief has urged Arabs to regain thousands of Palestinian books and manuscripts,’stolen by Israel’ over the past decades, since 1948.

“Arab countries face at this phase many serious challenges, some of which are clear through attempts to obliterate its Arab and Islamic history and heritage,” Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby was quoted by the Independent.

Elaraby’s remarks were made earlier this week during an Arab League event, “Palestine in Arabic Documents”, which was attended by several Arab officials along with intellectuals and representatives of the International Council on Archives (ICA).

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Calling for more efforts to retake the historical archives in Palestine and other Arab countries, Elaraby accused Israel of stealing about 80,000 Palestinian books and manuscripts since 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Elaraby described that the stealing of historical archives as attempts by the colonial powers to “obliterate Arab heritage”.

“Some Arab countries, including Algeria, Libya and Iraq are working to regain their archives, which also contain its histories,” Elaraby was quoted by Fars News Agency.

“The Arab League is working on this in cooperation with the ICA (International Council on Archives).”

Israel was created on May 15, 1948, on the rubbles of Palestine.

Later in the 1967 Middle East War, Israel occupied other Palestinian lands along with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Syria’s Golan Heights.

Israel returned Sinai Peninsula to Egypt under the 1979 Camp David peace accords.

Stolen History

Justifying the last century’s theft of the Palestinian documents and manuscripts, Israeli librarians claimed they were saving a culture that otherwise might be lost.

“Following the War of Independence in 1948, rather than destroy all sign of ‘the other’, Israel preserved and has protected much of the documentation and manuscripts left behind by Arabs displaced in the fighting,” a spokesperson for the Israeli embassy said.

“Would it were so that some of the other forces in the Middle East would behave in such fashion rather than destroying their own heritage as new ideas have taken power.

“Accusing Israel of doing something malicious as a result of Israel respecting and valuing life and culture is precisely the distortion that prevents many in the Arab world from reconciling with Israel and pursuing conflict resolution rather than conflict.”

During the 1948 war officials from the Jewish National and University Library joined soldiers while invading Palestinian homes where they collected “as many books and manuscripts as possible”.

Estimated by tens of thousands, Al-Jazeera put the number of books gathered from Al-Quds (occupied Jerusalem), Haifa and Jaffa at more than 60,000.

As the exact number of the stolen documents still vague, Palestinians deem the decades-old theft as “a clear-cut act of cultural plunder, cultural disinheritance, which was an inseparable part of the Nakba”.

Negative View of Aussie Muslims Soars: Study

SYDNEY – A new national survey has found that a quarter of Australian population has a negative attitude towards Muslims, amid increasing racial attacks against the religious minority.

“What we’re finding is negativity towards Muslims is five times higher than towards Christians and Buddhists, so there’s quite a significant issue there,” Professor Andrew Markus, of Melbourne’s Monash University, told ABC on Tuesday, October 28.

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“In a period of increased tension, those who are very negative may, more likely, act out their negativity.

“They might abuse people on the street and so on. So we’re really just talking of a very small proportion who act out their negativity, but that’s the concern.”

The poll results have been announced after recent atrocities committed by the so-called Islamic State (ISIL) militants.

Published annually by Monash University and the Scanlon Foundation, the social cohesion report is based on a survey conducted on 2,596 people during June and July.

The survey found that people over 65 and educated to year 11 are the most likely to be highly intolerant towards Muslims, unlike young people, between 18 and 44, who have the least negative opinion.

Younger residents of Victoria are among the groups that have positive attitude towards Muslims, according to the survey.

“We have seen an increase in the number of reports in relation to those people targeting [mainly] Muslim women,” Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Andrew Crisp told SBS.

Attitudes towards multiculturalism, immigration, trust in politicians and discrimination were also measured by the national survey, showing tendency towards multiculturalism by 85%.

‘Not Surprising’

Commenting on the troubling results of the survey, leaders of the Muslim community said they were not surprised by the report.

“There has been so much negativity from the media, from the government,” Silma Irham from the Australian Muslim Women’s Association, said.

“Until the Federal Government changes its rhetoric and stops using Muslims as the cause of hardships facing the population, things aren’t going to improve.

“The Muslim community is a minority here but it is established, there are far more Australian-born Muslims, but it is like it still has to sell itself to the [rest of the] community,” she added.

Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.

In post 9/11-era, Australian Muslims have been haunted with suspicion and have had their patriotism questioned.

The anti-Muslim sentiments further increased following last week’s anti-terror raids, deemed the biggest in Australian history, in which 15 people were arrested from north-western Sydney.

The raids were followed by a huge number of anti-Muslim attacks, including a mosque being defaced in Queensland and direct threats issued against the Grand Mufti of Australia.

“The level of Islamophobia directed towards Australian Muslims has grown and it’s a result of the current public discourse, where the Muslim community here is linked to what’s happening overseas,” she said.

“This is not boat-people overtaking us, it’s not the hoards from Vietnam bringing communism. There isn’t anyone new coming in here.”

Despite the soaring number of the anti-Muslim attacks, Muslims believe that raising awareness about their faith would help in changing their negative image.

“We might be in the trough at the moment but the community will rise from that, and the Muslim community will be a far more valued member of society in the future,” she said.

“Get to know Muslims. Let’s get a bit of understanding about Islam.

“People will realize they’ve got some good reasons for what they do, they’re a pretty good faith.”

China Bans Religion in Xinjiang Schools

CAIRO – Education officials in China’s Muslim-majority province of Xinjiang have announced their plans to keep religious practices away from schools, justifying the decision as a trial to combat terrorism in the district.

“As the head of an educational institution, a principal is responsible for protecting their students from religious infiltration, and especially from extremist thoughts,” Lu Huadong, an official working in Kashgar’s education department, told Global Times, which is close to the Communist Party, on Wednesday, October 29.

“Signing their names on a banner and making such vows in front of the national flag are both ways for them to remember their duty,” he added.

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Principals at more than 2,000 kindergartens, primary schools and secondary schools in Kashgar, near China’s border with Pakistan, signed a pledge to “defend schools against the infiltration of religion”.

According to the Times, an official from Kashgar’s education bureau, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that they have been explaining the State’s policy to students

Party members, teachers and underage students should not practice religion either at school or at home, he added.

Xinjiang has been autonomous since 1955 but continues to be the subject of massive security crackdowns by Chinese authorities.

Rights groups accuse Chinese authorities of religious repression against Uighur Muslims, a Turkish-speaking minority of eight million, in Xinjiang in the name of counter terrorism.

Muslims accuses the government of settling millions of ethnic Han in their territory with the ultimate goal of obliterating its identity and culture.

And analysts say the policy of transferring Han Chinese to Xinjiang to consolidate Beijing’s authority has increased the proportion of Han in the region from five percent in the 1940s to more than 40 percent now.

Beijing views the vast region of Xinjiang as an invaluable asset because of its crucial strategic location near Central Asia and its large oil and gas reserves.

A US State Department report on religious freedom in China noted “societal discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice”.

“Authorities often failed to distinguish between peaceful religious practice and criminal or terrorist activities,” the report said.