Gang Raping, “I Love Al-Qaeda” and Who Is Advancing Islam?
The American Embassy in Prague is financing a new project aimed at promoting Islam in public elementary and secondary schools across the Czech Republic.
TWO THIRDS of Czech citizens are very fearful of Islam and …-At least two-thirds of Czechs consider a threat to Czech society and 90% are afraid of it, an Academy of Sciences Sociological Institute study of the European election calculator EUvox calculator has shown.
The new law removes the requirement that there must be a special reason to sue for defamation or insult. Swedish thought police will be able to prosecute anyone who expresses an opinion about Muslim immigration and much else if that opinion is deemed to be defamation or slander. The Swedish government is also spending 60 million krona ($9 million) to boost voter turnout in Muslim neighborhoods.
“The influx of immigrants is reaching biblical proportions. Italy is fighting a losing battle.” â€” Admiral Giuseppe De Giorgi, Head of the Italian Navy
InÂ Austria, police say they believe thatÂ two teenage girlsÂ who vanished from their homes in the capital of Vienna on April 10 may be in Turkey, and that whoever helped them get there is using them as pin-up girls to boost recruitment efforts for the “holy war” in Syria.
Friends of Samra Kesinovic, 16, and Sabina Selimovic, 15, said theÂ girls had become radicalizedÂ after attending a local mosque run by a Salafist preacher,Â Ebu Tejma, and learning about the duty of every Muslim to participate in jihad. The girls were expelled from school after inscribing “I Love Al-Qaeda” on tables and walls.
But the girls’ parentsâ€”originally Bosnian refugees who settled in Austria after the ethnic conflicts of the 1990sâ€”say that messages and photographs posted on social media networks which claim that the girls are on the front line and fighting with their new husbands areÂ fake.
In a possible break in the case, Austrian police say theyÂ traced a phone callÂ Samra made to her sister in late April to a landline based in Turkey. The search for the girls continues.
At least 100 Austrian citizens or residents have participated in the fighting in Syria, according to AustrianÂ media. Approximately 40 of them are currently on the front lines, 44 have already returned to Austria and 19 have been killed in action.
Also in April, the most senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood living in exile inÂ Britain, Ibrahim Munir,Â denied claimsÂ that the group was moving its international headquarters from London to the Austrian city of Graz. TheDaily Mail, a British newspaper, reported on April 12 that the Muslim Brotherhood was preparing to move its headquarters to Austria in an “apparent attempt to avoid an inquiry into its activities set up by the Prime Minister.”
The group was expelled from Egypt after a counter-revolution there in July 2013, and recently opened a newheadquartersÂ above a kebab shop in London. On April 1, British Prime Minister David CameronÂ announcedÂ an investigation of the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities in Britain.
A full summary of Islam inÂ BritainÂ during the month of April can be foundÂ here.
In theÂ Czech Republic, police on April 25Â raidedÂ the headquarters of Prague’s Islamic Foundation in the center of the capital and a mosque on the outskirts of the city. Police arrested 20 people, including the Czech translator and publisher of a book about Islamic theology that security officials said promotes hate speech and incites hatred toward Jews.
The bookâ€””The Fundamentals of Tawheed” [Islamic monotheism] by Bilal Philips, a Jamaican-born, Qatar-based Muslim extremist who has been banned from entering Britain and Germanyâ€”was being used, police said, to spread Salafist ideology in the Czech Republic.
Also in April, it emerged that the American embassy in Prague isÂ financing a new projectÂ aimed at promoting Islam in public elementary and secondary schools across the Czech Republic.
InÂ Denmark, police in Copenhagen on April 25 said the man they believe tried to assassinate the Danish journalist Lars Hedegaard in February 2013Â was arrestedÂ in Istanbul’s AtatÃ¼rk airport as he tried to enter Turkey on a false passport. The man, identified only by the initials B.H., is awaiting extraditionâ€”a process that could take three monthsâ€”in a high-security prison in the city’s Maltepe district.
Danish police say the suspect is a 26-year-old Danish citizen of Lebaneseâ€”possibly Palestinianâ€”origin. At the time of his arrest, he was in possession of a fake passport. He left Denmark on the same day of the assassination attempt, police said, and has been traveling between Syria, Lebanon and Turkey ever since.
InÂ Finland, the Parliament’s Constitutional Law Committee on April 4Â ruledÂ that the long-standing tradition of singing a summer hymn known as the “Suvivirsi” at end-of-school ceremonies can continue. In March, Deputy Chancellor of Justice Mikko Puumalainen hadÂ calledÂ on the Board of Education to look into the matter because the song has Christian overtones and could be offensive to the country’s growing Muslim community.
“It’s curious that the minority can so strongly influence the activities of the majority,” said Education Chancellor Pekka Iivonen. “Laws concerning religious freedom work both ways: in addition to having the right not practice religion, we also have the right to practice religion in Finland, where the majority of people belong to the Lutheran church.”
InÂ France, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve on April 23 presented a newÂ anti-radicalization planÂ aimed at preventing French citizens or residents from waging jihad in Syria and other Muslim conflict zones. The strategy includes more than 20 measures aimed not only at preventing French citizens from joining the war in Syria, but also at combatting the radicalization of young French Muslims during the earliest stages of indoctrination.
On April 22, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius toldÂ RTL RadioÂ that nearly 500 French citizens or residents are believed to have joined the fighting in Syria. “This is a very big subject,” Fabius said. “Now more and more young people are going [to Syria] … Our plan is to tackle this upstream [at the source] and all the way downstream. We will identify young people caught on this tragic path. We will monitor this online, and then we must stop them from crossing the Syrian border, and monitor their return and reintegration.”
Some believe the plan is a political ploy by French President FranÃ§ois Hollande aimed at blunting the rising popularity of the anti-immigration National Front party, which captured a record number of city council seats and mayorships in local elections in March.
National Front party leader Marine Le Pen toldÂ RTL RadioÂ that the government’s plan to fight French jihadists is cosmetic. “It does not attack the root of the problemâ€”the speech in some mosques that are genuine calls to jihad,” she said. “Nor does the plan attack recruiters and funding from foreign countries known to support terrorist fundamentalism, such as Qatar.”
Le Pen also said it might be necessary to create a new law on mercenaries that would 1) prohibit those who have French nationality from engaging in fighting abroad; and 2) revoke French nationality from individuals convicted of participating in this type of fighting.
A confidential intelligence document leaked to the French newspaperÂ Le FigaroÂ says a form of Muslim ghettoization is gaining ground within the French school system. The report says that Muslim students are effectively establishing an Islamic parallel society completely cut off from non-Muslim students.
The 15-page document, dated November 28, 2013, includes 70 examplesâ€”headscarves in school playgrounds, halal meals in cafeterias, chronic absenteeism during Muslim religious festivals, clandestine prayers in gyms or hallwaysâ€”of the Islamizing trend in schools throughout France.
The document says that Muslims are engaged in a “war of attrition” aimed at “destabilizing the teaching staff.” It adds that Muslim fundamentalists are circumventing the law that bans religious symbols in schools, and that self-proclaimed “young guardians of orthodoxy” in many schools are exerting pressure on Muslim girls.
“During the Muslim holidays, especially during the Eid-el-Kebir [Eid el-Adha], classes are abandoned by students,” with absenteeism bordering 90% in certain parts of NÃ®mes and Toulouse. A high school principal in a northern district of Marseille said that some of his pupils pray with such zeal that their foreheads bear bruises.
In Ã‰vry, a commune in the southern suburbs of Paris, policeÂ arrested four Muslim boysÂ (three Turkish brothers between the ages of 13 and 15, and one 17-year-old from Morocco) for gang raping an 18-year-old woman as she left the main train station. During police questioning, the minors said they attacked the woman simply because she was French and “the French are all sons of whores.”
The boys were jailed for rape andâ€”unusually in Franceâ€”reverse racism. Three of the minors have previously been jailed for rape and robbery, but only six months ago they were released early as part of a government plan to go easy on minors.
One French commentatorÂ asks: “Where did their hatred come from? The hatred that drove them to engage in unspeakable acts on a young girl, barely older than themselves, who symbolized their host country? What will I report? Unemployment? Poverty? Inequality?”
In Paris, the 31st congress of theÂ Union of Islamic Organizations in FranceÂ (UOIF) was turned into a platform for Muslim anti-Semitism when keynote speaker Hani Ramadanâ€”a prominent Muslim leader from Genevaâ€”blamed Jews and Zionism for a litany of maladies in France, Iraq, Rwanda, Syria and Central Africa. “All the evil in the world originates from the Jews who have only one thing in mind, realizing the dream of Greater Israel,” the French dailyÂ Le FigaroÂ quoted him as saying.
Ramadan said the media and politics are controlled by Zionists. “In the United States, no one can be elected president without having to kowtow to AIPAC,” he said. “It is the same in France, where no one can be elected without the approval of theÂ CRIFÂ [an umbrella group of French Jewish organizations], which in fact leads in the shadows. Against these international schemes of the Zionist power there is only one rampart: Islam.”
Hani Ramadan is the director of theÂ Islamic Center of GenevaÂ and is a brother of Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss professor banned from entering the United States. The UOIF congress, held from April 18-21 this year, is one of France’s largest and most prominent Islamic events.
InÂ Germany, theÂ interior ministryÂ on April 8 said it had outlawed the charity “Waisenkinderprojekt Libanon” [Orphan Project Lebanon] for allegedly raising millions of euros for Hezbollah. The group, based in the city of Essen, collected â‚¬3.3 million ($4.6 million) in donations between 2007 and 2013 for the Lebanese Shahid [Martyrs] Foundation, an “integral” part of Hezbollah. The interior ministry said the funds were used to recruit fighters “to combat Israel, also with terrorist measures” and to compensate the families of suicide bombers.
Also in April, it was reported that the 39-year-old German rapper Deso Dogg (born Denis Cuspert), operating under the alias “Abu Talha Al-Almani” [Abu Talha the German], was killed on April 20 as a result of infighting among jihadi groups battling in Syria.
Deso Doggâ€”the son of a Ghanaian father and German mother, and raised by an American stepfatherâ€”abandoned his rapping career and converted to hardline Salafism in 2010 after nearly being killed in a car crash. Soon after hisÂ conversion, he began recordingÂ nasheedsÂ [traditional Islamic devotional music] in German, praising Osama Bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Deso Dogg’sÂ nasheedsÂ inspired Arid Uka, an Albanian-German Islamist, who killed two U.S. airmen and seriously wounded two others at the Frankfurt airport in March 2011.
Before and After: Left, German rapper Denis Cuspert in 2005, then known as “Deso Dogg”. Right, Cuspert as jihadist in Syria, in 2013, operating under the alias “Abu Talha Al-Almani” [Abu Talha the German]. (Image sources: Wikimedia Commons, ISIS)
After Deso Dogg became a cult figure for Salafists in Europe, German counter-terrorism authorities, concerned about his potential to serve as a recruitment tool for radical Islamic groups, began monitoring his activities.
Despite being monitored, Deso Dogg crossed into Syria undetected in 2013, and gave his oath of allegiance to the jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIS] in early 2014. According to many media sources, he was reportedly killed by a rival al-Nusra suicide bomber in eastern Syria. Reports of his death, however, have not been independently confirmed, and ISIS fighters interviewed by the German newspaperÂ Die WeltÂ have denied he is dead.
A new survey published on April 29 shows that only half of the German population believes that Islam is a part of German culture and society. TheÂ Integration Barometer 2014, produced by the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration, found that 44% of those with an immigrant background and 53% without a migration background rejected the statement: “Islam is part of Germany.” About half of the respondents, both with and without a migration background, nevertheless advocated religious instruction in schools. About two-thirds believe Islamic theology should be offered at universities.
The situation is different when it comes to making exceptions for individual Muslims, such as exemptions from sports or swimming lessons because of religious sensitivities. A clear majority, 76% of those without a migration background, viewed such special privileges in a negative light. In addition, 63% of those without a migration background rejected the right of Muslim teachers to wear headscarves in class. “The majority of respondents obviously believe that equality and religious neutrality are more important than the granting of special treatment on religious grounds,” the study concludes.
On April 22, the Bavarian Administrative Court in MunichÂ ruledÂ that an 18-year-old Muslim student does not have the constitutional right to wear a face-covering niqab in class at her state-run vocational college. The courtÂ saidthat her school had done nothing illegal in asking her to remove the veil, and that this prohibition did not infringe on her freedom of religious worship.
The court also said that the veil acted as a barrier for non-verbal communication. “Open communication during teaching is based not only on the spoken word, but also on non-verbal elements such as facial expressions, gestures and other body language,” the court said.
Meanwhile, a German-Turkish candidate for city council elections in the town of Neuss near DÃ¼sseldorf provoked the ire of many Germans when he added theÂ Islamic crescent-moonÂ to the logo of his party, the center-right Christian Democratic Union. The Islamized logo appeared on promotional campaign products such as pens, stickers and 4,000 bags.
Irritated CDU officials ordered Yasar Calik, 37, to cease and desist. He responded by accusing them of intolerance. Calik said many Turks are skeptical of the CDU and that he wants Muslims to know they can vote for the party, which some have dubbed the “Islamic Democratic Union.”
InÂ Greece, controversial plans to build a taxpayer-funded mega-mosque in AthensÂ have been delayedÂ once again after a group of concerned citizens filed an appeal to block the â‚¬950,000 ($1.3 million) project. The government had agreed in November 2013 toÂ build a mosqueÂ at the site of a former naval base in Votanikos, near central Athens.
Aris Spiliotopoulos, a candidate for the mayor of Athens for the center-right New Democracy party, called for a referendum on the construction of the mosque. In an April 16 interview withÂ Skai TV, Spiliotopoulos, a former education and tourism minister, criticized plans to build a Muslim place of worship in the heart of Athens, saying that the capital does not need “another pole for illegal immigration” or “third-world tents under the sacred rock of the Acropolis.” Votanikos is located 3km from the Acropolis. Spiliotopoulos said: “I don’t want the mosque next to the Parthenon.”
TheÂ Friendship, Equality and Peace Party, purportedly representing Greek Muslims in region of Thrace, described Spiliotopoulos’ referendum proposals as an “insult to the hundreds of thousands of Muslims living in Athens, the only capital in the European Union without a mosque.” The group added:
“The construction of a mosque has been delayed for strange reasons for many years, which has opened a deep wound in terms of freedom of religion. Now, proposing a referendum for a place of worship has created great disappointment. We expect politicians to leave such a mentality, to avoid putting our country Greece in a difficult position within the international arena.”
Meanwhile, Muslim vandals are being blamed for aÂ spate of attacksÂ against Greek Orthodox churches on the island of Crete. Anti-Christian slogans written in Arabic were discovered on the walls of at least three churches.
InÂ Italy, Home Secretary Angelino Alfano on April 4 warned that his country is facing aÂ catastrophic wave of immigrationÂ from the Muslim world. “According to our information between 300,000 and 600,000 people are on the other side of the Mediterranean on the North African coastline, waiting to cross sooner or later,” he said at a conference on immigration in Palermo, Sicily.
In the first three months of 2014, more than 11,000 immigrants have landed in Italy, a seven-fold increase on 2013, with the high season for crossings about to begin as the weather improves. “The landings are non-stop and the emergency is increasingly glaring,” Alfano said.
On April 4, anÂ official statementÂ from the Italian Ministry of Health declared “the activation of appropriate measures of surveillance at all international access points to Italy” due to fears that at least 40 immigrants from Africa were infected with the Ebola virus.
The head of the Italian Navy, Admiral Giuseppe De Giorgi, said theÂ influx of migrantsÂ is reaching “biblical proportions” and that “Italy is fighting a losing battle.”
Justice Minister Andrea Orlando on April 1Â signed an agreementÂ with his Moroccan counterpart to have Moroccan convicts sent back home. The move is aimed at tackling chronic overcrowding in Italian prisons. The agreement will affect Moroccans who have been convicted in Italy and sentenced to one or more years in prison, according to aÂ statementÂ released by the Justice Ministry. The new plan will allow convicts to serve out the rest of their sentences in Morocco while receiving “social reintegration” there, where “they have social and family ties.” There are some 4,000 Moroccan prisoners in Italian prisons.
In theÂ Netherlands, Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk and Rob Bertholee, the head of the Dutch intelligence agency AIVD, on April 23 presented theÂ AIVD annual report for 2013. The report says that more than 100 Dutch citizens or residents travelled to Syria in 2013 with the intention of taking part in jihadist activities there.
The vast majority of Dutch jihadists joined one of two groups: the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) or Jabhat al-Nusra (JaN). A relatively small proportion of jihadists (just over 20) returned home during the course of the year. The AIVD believes that at least ten men from the Netherlands were killed in Syria in 2013, including two Dutch jihadists who took their own lives in suicide attacks.
The report warns:
“The participation of foreign jihadists in the conflict in Syria has contributed to its escalation. Their experiences there, and the contacts they establish with international networks, mean that they may well pose a threat to national security if and when they return home. For the jihadist groups active in Syria, the presence of European fighters represents an excellent opportunity to recruit individuals familiar with our region to commit acts of terrorism here. In addition, returnees could exploit their status as veterans to radicalize others in the Netherlands.
“As well as potentially posing a direct threat, returnees from Syria might also have a radicalizing and mobilizing effect upon fellow Muslims. In the Netherlands, they could act as the catalyst pushing some young people already attracted by a radical strand of Islam into militant activism. That could strengthen local radical groups and spread their message to a wider audience.”
Meanwhile, police said they had arrested a 35-year-oldÂ Dutch-Turkish nationalÂ named Aydin Coban in the case of a Canadian teenager who was blackmailed after exposing herself in front of a webcam. The 15-year-old girl, Amanda Todd, later committed suicide after detailing her harassment on aÂ YouTube videoÂ watched by millions around the world. Dutch prosecutors said the man is suspected of blackmailing girls in Britain, the Netherlands and the United States. Canadian police said they would seek extradition.
The number ofÂ people requesting asylumÂ in the Netherlands rose by more than 4,000 in 2013 to 17,190, the immigration service said on April 14. Somalia topped the list with just over 3,000 requests, followed by Syria (2,670) and Iraq (1,090).
InÂ Norway, the education ministry approved aÂ controversial planÂ to launch the country’s first Muslim-only primary school in Oslo. The school will be run by the Association of Muslim Mothers, which wants to teach its pupils Arabic and Islamic values as well as the standard subjects on the curriculum. A standard course on Religion, Philosophy and Ethics would be replaced by Islam, Religion and Philosophy.
The school aims to have 200 students, and is expected to look for premises in the east side of Oslo, home to many immigrants. Both Norway’s opposition Labour Party and the anti-immigrant Progress Party, which is part of the government coalition, have voiced opposition to the plan.
On April 28, envoys from Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries accused the Norwegian government of doing too little to protect its Muslim minority, and called for all criticism of Islam to be made illegal. The accusations against Norway were made in Geneva during a session of theÂ United Nations Universal Periodic Review, which occurs every four years. Norwegian Foreign Minister BÃ¸rge Brende told Norway’s NTB newswire: “It is a paradox that countries which do not support fundamental human rights have influence on the council, but that is the United Nations.”
InÂ Spain, a large Muslim umbrella group called theÂ Union of Islamic Communities in SpainÂ [UCIDE] sent letters to education officials in all of the country’s 17 regions asking for precise data on the number of students in primary and secondary public schools who have applied for Islamic religious training.
UCIDE is lobbying the Spanish government to expand the teaching of Islam in the public school system, and is said to be compiling the data to back up its claim that there are not enough Islam teachers to keep up with the growing demand.
On April 30, police in AlmerÃa, a port city in southern Spain, arrested a French-Algerian jihadist who was returning to Europe from combat in Syria. Abdelmalek Tanem, 25, was a member of the al-Qaeda-linked group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIS], from October 2013 to January 2014, according to aÂ statementissued by the Spanish Interior Ministry.
“During this period, Tanem is believed to have carried out the work of ‘combatant’ and as a ‘facilitator’ on the Turkish-Syrian border in order to make it possible for other European citizens to be integrated into this jihadist group,” the statement says. Tanem is the second returning jihadist who has been arrested by Spanish police; the first wasÂ Mohamed Sadik AbdeluahidÂ in Ceuta, in January.
On April 29, the Spanish government announced that it would allocate â‚¬2.1 million ($2.9 million) to try toÂ stem illegal border crossingsÂ in Ceuta and Melilla, two Spanish exclaves in North Africa. More than 1,000 African migrants attempted to reach Spain in April during nearly daily attempts to storm and scale the six-meter (20-foot) triple-layer fence separating Melilla from Morocco.
InÂ Sweden, the parliament on April 10 approved aÂ new lawÂ that will make it easier for public prosecutors to take criminal action against Swedes who criticize immigrants or government officials online. The new law removes the requirement that there must be a special reason to prosecute for defamation or insult. Critics say the new law, which takes effect on January 1, 2015, is an assault on the exercise of free speech: Swedish thought police will be able to prosecute anyone who expresses an opinion about Muslim immigration and much else if that opinion is deemed to be defamation or slander.
The measure has been pushed by Swedish parliamentarian Andreas NorlÃ©n, who in an unchallenged debate on the issue in parliament,Â said: “I do not think it takes very many prosecutions before a signal is transmitted in the community that the Internet is not a lawless country: the sheriff is back in town.”
The Swedish government is also spending 60 million krona ($9 million) toÂ boost voter turnoutÂ in Muslim neighborhoodsâ€”such as theÂ RinkebyÂ district in Stockholm, theÂ RosengÃ¥rdÂ district in MalmÃ¶, and the Rymdtorget andÂ BergsjÃ¶nÂ districts in Gothenburgâ€”ahead of European elections in May.
Separately, the government was forced toÂ drop a controversial planÂ to lower the tax rates in Muslim neighborhoods after the European Commission said that allowing immigrants to pay lower taxes than Swedes would violate EU rules on state aid.
According to theÂ latest dataÂ from Eurostat, Sweden is the EU country that receives the most asylum seekers from developing countries relative to their population. Most of the asylum seekers in 2013 were from Afghanistan, Kosovo, Pakistan and Syria.
At the same time, more than 50,000 native Swedes fled the country in 2013, according toÂ new dataÂ from Statistics Sweden (SCB). This is the highest figure since the peak years of emigration to North America in the 1880s. By contrast, immigration from the developing world to Sweden reached its highest level ever in 2013, with nearly 115,800 immigrants, according to the SCB.
On April 5, it emerged that a Swedish national of Somali origin wasÂ arrestedÂ in Kenya on suspicion of trying to recruit young men for the Islamic terrorist group, Al-Shabaab. Some 30 Swedish nationals have traveled to Somalia to join Islamic militant groups, according to the Swedish intelligence agency SÃ¤po.
InÂ Switzerland, the University of Fribourg will host the country’s firstÂ training center for imams. The center will provide courses for imams on Swiss culture and society, courses for social workers and health professionals on accommodating the Muslim community and, ultimately, a training program for new imams. The objective is to produce locally-trained imams to join the ranks of the country’s 150 imams, all of whom were schooled abroad.
The original idea for the project came from a national research program called “Religious Groups, State and Society,” which found that most of the imams and teachers of Islam did not speak Swiss national languages and did not know Swiss society, culture and laws.
Soeren KernÂ is a Senior Fellow at the New York-basedÂ Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios EstratÃ©gicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him onÂ FacebookÂ and onÂ Twitter.