by Soeren Kern:
The Vatican failed in an attempt to cover up the contents of a prayer by a Muslim cleric at an interfaith “Prayer for Peace” service held in the Vatican garden on June 8. Departing from a pre-approved script, the imam recited verses 284-286 of Sura 2 from the Koran, the latter part of which calls on Allah to grant Muslims victory over non-Muslims.
Danish police raided a mosque in the Vibevej district of Copenhagen after a passerby allegedly saw weapons being carried into the complex.
“We now have hundreds of jihadists and thousands of sympathizers. This naïve Cabinet’s inaction is inviting an attack in the Netherlands.” — Geert Wilders, Dutch Freedom Party.
Conference attendees called on the Spanish government to sponsor an official study aimed at finding ways to bring European food standards into compliance with Islamic Sharia law.
Austria accused Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan of stirring up trouble on June 19, when he urged thousands of cheering supporters in Vienna to reject “assimilation.”
Erdogan was rallying support for his candidacy ahead of Turkish presidential elections in August, and expatriate Turks have become a significant bloc of voters after changes to the electoral system now allow them to cast votes abroad.
Around 268,000 people of Turkish origin live in Austria, according to government figures, of whom nearly 115,000 are Turkish citizens.
Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, who had expressly warned Erdogan not to undermine efforts to integrate Turks into Austrian society, criticized the latest comments:
“These show very clearly that the Turkish premier has brought the election campaign to our country and created unrest with this. We reject this. And I can only say that respect for a host country looks clearly different.”
In Graz, the second-largest city in Austria, police on June 5 arrested a 41-year-old Islamic preacher from Chechnya who is believed to be involved in efforts to send Austrians to war in the Middle East.
State prosecutor Hansjoerg Bacher said that the imam is thought to be behind the radicalization and recruitment of eight Chechens resident in Austria, four of whom have died in fighting in Syria.
In Bulgaria, the Kardjali District Court on June 16 rejected a property claim lodged by the office of the Chief Mufti, the spiritual leader of Bulgaria’s Muslims, to be awarded ownership of the building housing the Regional Historical Museum. The court found that there was no basis for the claim, and ordered the representatives of the Muslim community to pay 91,062 leva ($63,000) in costs to the state.
This case was the latest in a series of lawsuits by the Chief Mufti’s office, filed under the Religious Denominations Act, which allows applications by recognized religious denominations to be awarded property believed to be historically theirs.
The building was originally intended to serve as a Muslim religious school, and it was funded in part by donations from the local Muslim community in 1920s and 1930s. However, the building was never used as a madrassa. Instead, it was nationalized during Bulgaria’s communist era and became a museum.
Lawyers for the Kardjali district administration argued that the Chief Mufti’s office is not the heir to the local Muslim community because at the time there was no such registered legal entity.
In the southern Bulgarian town of Peshtera, residents are angry over the local mosque’s powerful loudspeakers, which are blasting the Islamic call to prayer, the adhan, several times a day.
According to Radio FOCUS, the town is a model of multicultural tolerance, but residents are increasingly irritated by the adhan; the “silent discontent may escalate to petitions and protests,” the radio said.
In Britain, a new television channel aimed exclusively at British Muslims, British Muslim TV (BMTV), was launched in early June. The channel, operating under the slogan “Confidently Muslim, Comfortably British,” is airing on the British Sky digital platform; the programming content is being exclusively funded and made in the UK.
BMTV will compete with other channels, such as Islam Channel, one of the UK’s most prominent and popular English language Muslim satellite channels; Noor TV, Peace TV and Iqra TV, all of which have a South Asian focus and are usually broadcast in Urdu or Bangladeshi; and to Shia Muslim focused channels such as Hidayat TV and Ahlebait TV.
Speaking to Al Arabiya news, the marketing director for BMTV, Wasim Akhtar, said that BMTV aims to be different from the other Muslim channels by being “inclusive of all different views and open to all different types of Muslims. So the channel isn’t just about issues of faith, it’s about practical Muslim life here in Britain.”
In a trial at the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales [Old Bailey], a jury heard how police found 38-year-old Tahira Ahmed after she was decapitated in her west London home, allegedly by her husband, 41-year-old Naveed Ahmed. Tahira had been stabbed, had both her arms broken, and her head cut off. The couple, who have two children aged six and 12, had been married for 14 years.
Also in London, police launched an investigation into the origins of a sign telling dog owners to stay out of a park because it is “an Islamic area now” and “Muslims don’t like dogs.”
Meanwhile, it emerged that taxpayer money could be used to help fund a new mosque for the Muslim community in Belfast, according to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. The move came after a local pastor named James McConnell denounced Islam as “Satanic” and a “doctrine spawned in hell.”
McGuinness said he and First Minister Peter Robinson, who visited the Islamic Centre in south Belfast in June, “absolutely accepted” that the 4,000-strong Muslim community “is entitled to a mosque, if a proper site can be found which is suitable for them.”
McGuinness said McConnell’s remarks were “shameful” and could affect investments in Belfast. “This will impact, if not handled correctly by us, on our prospects of attracting foreign direct investment,” McGuinness said. “The story travelled all round the world, and I think that it was very damaging.”
In a bid to reverse negative stereotypes of Muslims in the UK, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association in Devon and Cornwall in southwestern England launched an advertising campaign in June to promote “positive awareness of Islam.”
The campaign involved banners displaying Muslim messages of peace on a fleet of more than 100 city buses. Under the slogan of “loyalty, freedom, equality, respect, peace” the community also launched a website:LoveForAllHatredForNone.org.
A regional president of the group, Muhammad Noman, said: “A true Muslim can never raise his voice in hatred against his fellow citizens, nor against the ruling authority or government of the time. He should remain loyal and fully abide by the laws of the land of which he is a subject.”
More news about Islam in Britain during June 2014 can be found here.
In Cyprus on June 3, Turkish Cypriot mufti Talip Atalay recited a prayer at the reopening ceremony of the Taht-el kale mosque in Nicosia, which had been closed for more than 50 years. Atalay visited the mosque after an invitation from the Greek Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos II as part of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process promoted by the Swedish government.
In the Czech Republic, President Miloš Zeman refused to apologize for comments he made during a speech at the Israeli Embassy in Prague on May 26 at a reception to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day.
Quoting several verses from the Koran that call on Muslims to kill Jews, Zeman said that Islam was to blame for the attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels that killed four people. He also said:
“There is a term, political correctness. This term I consider to be a euphemism for political cowardice. Therefore, let me not be cowardly.”
The new Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC], Iyad Ameen Madani, condemned Zeman’s speech, saying, “It is only appropriate that President Miloš Zeman apologizes to the millions of Muslims worldwide for his deeply offensive and hateful anti-Islam statements.”
An OIC statement said:
“The Secretary General reiterated that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance and that terrorism should not be equated to any race or religion; a stance upheld by all major UN texts on the subject of countering terrorism. He added that the OIC countries share a profound respect for all religions and condemn any message of hatred and intolerance.”
On June 10, a spokesman for the Czech government said Zeman would not be apologizing for his statements. “President Zeman definitely does not intend to apologize. For the president would consider it blasphemy to apologize for the quotation of a sacred Islamic text.”
The Gates of Vienna blog summed it up this way: “As far as I am aware, Miloš Zeman is the first Western head of state ever to tell the OIC to go jump in a lake. So this is an historic occasion.”
Read more at Gatestone Institute