Via VRT: Antwerp City Cabinet Member Monica De Coninck visits the Bosnian mosque in Deurne today at the end of Ramadan. She says that it’s especially the younger generation that wants modern, larger mosques and that this can best be achieved by pooling resources in larger but fewer mosques in the northern port city. (video here)
Non-immigrant Dutch people say they want their children to grow up in a multicultural society, but would actually prefer their own kids to live in a white neighbourhood and go to a non-mixed school.
This is the conclusion of research carried out by the monthly magazine . A cross-section of parents, 588 in all, were interviewed for the piece.
The magazine says 80 percent of the Dutch-background parents acknowledge the advantages of growing up in a society made up of different cultures. However, 57 percent worry about the position of their white children in a mixed-race society.
Why isn't Adonis considered a French poet?
Syrian-born poet Adonis has become the first Arabic-speaking author to receive one of Germany's most prestigious literary awards, the Goethe Prize of the city of Frankfurt.
The 81-year-old Adonis accepted the award on Sunday in Frankfurt.
Born Ali Ahmad Said in northern Syria, Adonis fled his homeland for political reasons as a young man. He now lives in Paris but still writes in Arabic.
Via the Local:
The government’s offer of performance-based bonuses to immigrants who learn Swedish in under a year has failed to produce results, according to a new report.
Bonuses of up to 12,000 kronor ($1,900) seem not to have been incentive enough for students in Swedish for Immigrants (Svenska för Invandrare – SFI) courses, as less than a fifth of the government’s money has been spent, Sveriges Television (SVT) reports.
“I had hoped that more would have received the bonus to allow integration,” said integration minister Erik Ullenhag to The Local.
In Bosnia, which prides itself as the home ground of "European Islam", religious fervour and relaxed joie de vivre live easily side by side, even during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
While many Sarajevans strictly observe the Ramadan fast, the cafes in the cobbled streets of the Bosnian capital's Ottoman old town still abound with tourists and locals alike.
Young veiled women walk by, crossing others with hair blowing wildly in the wind, as Bosnians' beloved beer flows freely -- and not just for visitors.
“The children of middle class migrants are fleeing mixed schools in massive numbers,” reports De Morgen.
According to the Brussels daily, the exodus has been prompted by “Moroccans who do not want their children in the same class as East Europeans.”
For Antwerp University professor Paul Mahieu, who studies segregation in primary education, schools are faced with a “black flight” that is comparable to the more well known phenomenon of “white flight,” in which parents from the indigenous population withdraw their children from schools with a large proportion of students from foreign backgrounds.
The recent Swedish Folkuniversitetet (adult education colleges) course catalog has an article about learning Arabic (h/t the Muslimska friskolan blog):
Magnus Larsson is learning Arabic at the Folkuniversitetet adult education program in Malmö and says that it's clear, as a Malmö resident and future teacher, that people should know Arabic.
"I wanted to learn a new language and today there's so much happening in the Arab world that is affecting us too. I heard from a teacher at the Malmö Teacher's College that if you're going to be a teacher in Malmö it's appropriate to know Arabic, so that shows I'm right."
Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga is determined to speed up the asylum procedure “massively”, despite criticism from the political left.
In an interview with the Tages-Anzeiger and Bund newspapers on Saturday, Sommaruga, herself a member of the centre-left Social Democratic Party, spoke of reforms lasting many years.
“Our asylum process today takes on average 1,400 days – that is much too long. A report I commissioned demonstrated that starkly,” she said.
Via HLN (Dutch):
The Muslims Television and Radio Broadcaster (MTRO) will start broadcasting September 18 on channel Eén.
Mohamed Achaibi, spokesperson for the Dutch-language department of the Muslim Executive of Belgium says they will have their first broadcast on Sunday, September 18, 9:45AM. Achaibi says they're currently working on filming two report segments, one about the Ramadan and one about the recognition of Islam in Belgium in the 1970s.
Via Austrian Foreign Ministry:
Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger met in the Foreign Ministry this afternoon with the new President of the Islamic Religious Community in Austria, Fuat Sanac, who was elected to the office in June this year. During the meeting, Spindelegger underlines the significance Austria attaches to the historically grown relations with the Islamic Religious Community.
The election of Fuat Sanac at the helm of the IGGiÖ brings great expectations, said Spindelegger, mentioning for instance the "specific development of Islam in Europe and its compatibility with the European model of life".
"We must seize the opportunity of the upcoming anniversary year to further intensify our dialogue and deal with the threats from populism and marginalisation, which we must encounter together with determination“, said the Foreign Minister, referring to the upcoming 100th anniversary of the legal recognition of Islam in Austria in 2012.
Via Dagen (h/t Jihad Watch):
"Ali" had boiling water poured on him at the Hå asylum center in Jæren, after he converted to Christianity and did not fast on the Ramadan. Now he and other converts fear for their lives.
'If you don't return to Islam, we'll kill you' "Ali" was told by fellow residents at the center. He doesn't want his name or picture published for fear of the other residents. If the Afghan authorities hear of his conversion, he risks being sentenced to death by stoning he he'll be deported back home.
Immigration authorities feel that some municipalities are poorly prepared for impending changes to integration law, reports the regional daily Savon Sanomat. A change in legislation is coming into effect at the beginning of September, bringing new responsibilities for local administrations.
The new law forces municipalities to arrange integration services for immigrants receiving social assistance—a subsidy available to those who cannot afford even the most basic necessities—and have resided in Finland under three years.
Besieged Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi diverted massive amounts of migrants to Italy as an attempted reprisal for Italy's involvement in NATO-led air strikes in Libya, Italian Foreign Minister and the Libyan ambassador to Italy said on Friday.
"I confirm that Gaddafi himself organized this flow of illegal migration," said Abdulhafed Gaddur on Italian radio. "He was the one who gave the orders".
A man believed to be a leader of the Turkish Hezbollah has requested asylum in the Netherlands, according to Dutch daily de Volkskrant. The Hezbollah movement was responsible for a large number of terrorist attacks in Turkey the 1990s.
A special unit of the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Department (IND) and the Dutch embassy in Ankara are investigating whether Abdulvahap Ekinci was involved in serious crimes.
The Turkish Hezbollah is not connected to the Lebanese Hezbollah. The movement fought to establish an Islamic state in south-east Turkey in the 1980s and 1990s. The ‘Party of God’ has been responsible for the killings of prominent intellectuals, government officials and activists of the rival Kurdish separatist movement, the PKK. The movement has not shied away from using torture and other cruel methods to deal with its opponents.
Via the Local:
Of the 4,000 people who’ve arrived in Sweden since December 2010, the Swedish Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen) has only been able to find work for ten.
No more than 50 new arrivals are currently working within an establishment plan, to integrate them into Swedish society, according to a new report.
The report, presented by the Swedish Employment Service on Tuesday, shows that a lack of housing in many areas often becomes a major hurdle for newly arrived immigrants as they try to settle in and find employment in Sweden as quickly as possible.
Via the Local:
Swedish doctors have come under fire for advice to girls born into so-called honour cultures to pierce their genitals with a needle in order to draw blood on their wedding nights to satisfy tradition and the expectations of their families.
"Society should never condone or accept or promote, give fuel to this kind of madness," Eduardo Grutzky who works with social issues such integration, racism and culture at ALMAeuropa, told The Local on Wednesday.
Grutzky expressed support for doctors on an individual level and explained that in Sweden they are faced with dual challenges on a practical and a normative level.
Via the Daily Mail (h/t Jihad Watch)
Muslim groups are calling for a separate student loan system because the interest due to be charged will conflict with rules of Sharia law.
The changes to tuition fees, which come into force next year, will see students charged higher rates of interest on the loans they take out to pay for university.
Via the Local:
The number of xenophobic web sites have almost doubled since 2007 and Jews and Muslims wearing apparent religious symbols are subjected to significant discrimination in Sweden today, according to a new report from the Living History Forum (Forum för levande historia).
“Sweden as a whole is a tolerant country but this report shows that racism is growing and is being professionalized on the internet. There is today a small but growing minority that harbour hatred against Muslims and Jews,” minister for integration, Erik Ullenhag, wrote in a statement on Monday.
Switzerland: 50% think there are too many foreigners, but majority think they're good for the economy
Nearly one in two Swiss believes there are too many foreigners in the country, but 80 percent say Switzerland would not be as economically successful without them, according to a poll published on Sunday.
The poll in the Swiss weekly Sonntags Blick showed that 48 percent of respondents think there are "too many" or "far too many" foreigners in Switzerland, up from 42 percent in a similar poll conducted in November 2010.
Via the Greek Reporter (h/t europenews):
According to an article of the Greek newspaper “Eleftherotypia”, under the scope of reforms in the Greek Family Law, the Shariah will be abolished for Greek Muslims.
This Muslim law establishes among others the right of polygamy and gives only to men the right to divorce their wives which constitutes a problem for the women in Thraki, Northern Greece. Even in Turkey, this law was abolished in 1926.
Via the Krakow Post:
Experts on Islam and Muslim activists came together for a panel at the Joseph Tischner European University in Krakow in July to share personal stories of the Muslim experience in Poland, and how it is changing with the influence of the Arab Spring.
For the last 8 years, The Guardian Newspaper has been publishing daily Ramadan time tables supplied by the Muslim Council of Britain. (h/t Al-Kanz)
Via VG (Norwegian):
Carl I. Hagen, mayoral candidate for the Progress Party (Frp), recently caused a storm by saying that almost all terrorists are Muslims. He was later supported by Frp head Siv Jensen.
Norwegian newspaper VG conducted a survey to check what Norwegians think of that statement. 67.5% of Frp voters think it's acceptable to say that all terrorists are Muslims, compared with 34% of Conservative voters and 20% of KrF voters. In total 54% think it's not OK to say that.
It's Ramadan, time for the annual "boycott Israeli dates" campaign. The Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK presents the Zionist Vampire dates (h/t Philosemitism)
Israel supplies for 7% of EU date imports. The top three importers, supplying 85% of the dates, are Tunisia (48%), Algeria (20%) and Iran (17%).
Røed announced he will go on leave.
Via the Foreigner:
In a week when Progress Party has been put under scrutiny due to Carl I. Hagen’s “most terrorists are Muslims” comments, FrP are dealing with more criticism today.
It has been revealed that Trond Røed, respected leader of the Buskerud region, was forced to apologise after admitting to send out an eleven-page document to almost 100 party members in 2004.
Contained in it are suggestions that people who follow Islam must be “deprogrammed” using psychiatric help , as well as arguments for imposing a veto on further preaching of their faith.
The founder of a French group called Don't Touch My Constitution swooped into a Brussels town hall on Wednesday to settle fines that had been slapped on two women wearing full-body Islamic dress under Belgium's new burqa ban.
'As a European citizen, I cannot accept that a democratic government can curtail fundamental freedoms,' Rachid Nekkaz, a French businessman who has set up a 1-million-euro (1.4-million-dollar) fund to help cover burqa fines, was quoted as saying by the local press.
The 50-euro fines issued in Brussels had been given to two women aged 16 and 17.
Via the Iceland Review:
Arabian television station Al Jazeera is currently making a documentary on the lives of Icelandic Muslims which will be aired in December.
The documentary features how Muslims honor Ramadan at the edge of the Arctic and then the crew will travel to New Zealand to study the religious practices of Muslims at the other end of the world during this holiest month of the Islamic calendar, Fréttabladid reports.
Among interviewees in Iceland are Ólafur Ali Halldórsson, who leads prayer at the Muslim Association of Iceland, and filmmaker Egill Noor Prunner.
The Netherlands cannot require Turkish immigrants with a residence permit to undergo integration courses. This is the ruling of the Utrecht Court of Appeals announced Tuesday.
Last year, judges from Roermond and Rotterdam ruled in three different cases that imposing integration on Turkish residents of the country is in violation of agreements between Turkey and the European Union. The appeals court has upheld these rulings.
A court says that fines imposed on Muslim parents in canton Basel-City for keeping their children out of mandatory school swimming lessons were correct.
A cantonal administrative court on Friday threw out the appeal of a Muslim couple against their fine, ruling that it was not in breach of freedom of religion and conscience.
The parents were fined SFr1,400 ($1,816) last year – in the first move of its kind - after they withdrew their daughters aged seven and nine from the school swimming lessons.
Via Le Figaro, France-Soir (h/t Bivouac-ID):
A teenager (17) who was beaten up by a family member for not fasting on Ramadan was discovered Sunday night tied up in an apartment in Miramas (Bouches-du-Rhône). Firefighters and police responded around 10pm, after neighbors heard moans and noticed a water leak from the apartment upstairs.
Young people in Switzerland continue to be most worried about the integration of foreigners, according to a Credit Suisse survey into the lives and problems of 16 to 25-year-old residents.
Almost 45 percent of 1,000 people surveyed said the issue of integration and immigration was one of the top five problems facing Switzerland, followed by unemployment and the country’s pension scheme.
Some 1,600 migrants from north Africa have arrived on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa this weekend, ANSA news agency reported Sunday.
Since the start of the year, more than 11,000 Africans fleeing conflicts in north Africa have landed in southern Italy, in increasing numbers since NATO air raids on Libya began in mid-March and the weather improved.
Around 50 people protested in Amsterdam Saturday against the Syrian regime. They held signs saying "Freedom for Syrians", "Stop the bloodshed" and "Stop killing the children."
A Turkish MP of the Berlin parliament, Özcan Mutlu (Greens), recently entered a shop and ordered pork sausages. Somehow this led to a fight and mutual complaints of assault, but what happened exactly depends on which newspaper you read.
Via HLN 1, 2 (Dutch)
Two Algerians were arrested Thursday night, after knifing a Moroccan in the Sint-Jans-Molenbeek suburb of Brussels. According to the police spokesperson, there are two nearby cafes in the area, one Moroccan and one Algerian, which regularly leads to problems.
The incident led to a confrontation between the Algerian and Moroccan communities, and the Algerian cafe was smashed up. The two attackers fled to a nearby mosque, followed by about a hundred Moroccans.
The local police managed to get the two suspects out of the mosque, which caused the crowd to direct its anger at the police as well. The crowd followed the police to the police department, with some stone throwing at the police vehicles. The police did finally manage to calm the atmosphere.
An association that brings together progressive Muslims has launched a petition in defence of multi-culturalism in society. The petition calls for greater tolerance and more openness and has come about after a Belgo-Moroccan couple suffered verbal abuse and physical abuse at the hands of Muslim youths.
The Francophone Muslim organisation ‘Musulmans Progressistes’ launched the petition to show its distain at the verbal and physical abuse suffered by the couple.
The organisation believes that “those in favour of a multi-cultural society, particularly those with a Muslim background need to be mobilised in defence of a peaceful and culturally diverse society.”
A secret network called ORG , which has sought to ‘clean’ Denmark of immigrants and have a showdown with ‘traitors’ who have made immigration possible, has been active in infiltrating political and right-wing organisations, according to documents Politiken has obtained.
ORG, which has some 100 members, was started by a small group of men, several of whom have held leading positions in the Danish People’s Party, or been candidates for the party, while at the same time taking part in Ku Klux Klan-type events and exerting influence on extreme right-wing organisations.
Via the Local:
Several people forced their way into the Libyan embassy in Stockholm on Thursday, raising the rebel flag and threatening to jump from a window.
According to police officers in attendance the atmosphere is heated and the action is a demonstration against the Tripoli regime.
“There is more than one person who has forced entry to the embassy premises. I don’t know much more than that at present,” said Lennart Löfgren, of the information department of the Stockholm Police to The Local.
Germany: "When it came to the subject of Islam, something was festering that had escaped our notice"
Via Spiegel, an interview with German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich. On the one hand, Friedrich thinks there's a problem when certain issues aren't addressed in the public discussion. On the other, he doesn't see a reason why bloggers should be anonymous.
SPIEGEL: Have politicians paid too little attention to the extremist anti-Islamic scene that has developed in Europe in recent years?
Friedrich: There are always defensive reactions against what we perceive to be foreign. We have to incorporate these defensive reflexes into a rational discussion process through prevention and education. In Germany, so far, we have been relatively successful at this. We are a cosmopolitan and open country.
Via the Guardian:
Police in Birmingham have launched a murder inquiry after three British Asian men were killed by a car in an incident that has raised fresh tensions over protection for neighbourhoods and businesses from young looters.
A tearful and resentful crowd gathered outside the City hospital following the incident early on Wednesday morning, with police protecting the building against any incursion as feelings ran high.
A man has been arrested and a car impounded following the crash near a mosque in the Dudley Road area of England's second city. Neighbours said the men had just left the mosque and were among large numbers of local people determined not to allow the fluid series of grab-and-run attacks in the city centre to spread to their area.
Confrontation with the British Asian community or inter-communal violence would take the disturbances onto a new level and police have worked rapidly on the murder inquiry.
Germany's government is granting five of its public universities up to €4 million ($5.7 million) each to develop Islamic theology programs. The Osnabrück experiment, the first German university course of its kind, has gained a great deal of attention. During a recent class, news cameras and reporters circled the students, men dressed neatly in suit jackets and a single row of head-scarved women.
Among the seminar's revelations for Selman Yavuz, who leads a small Muslim congregation in western Germany, was that according to a Roman Catholic doctrine, the church holds Muslims in "esteem." "Many of us didn't know that they believe such good things about us," said Mr. Yavuz, 32 years old. "It changes your thinking."
The approval of a Italian draft law to ban the burka is a victory for women's rights, according to some leaders of Italy's Muslim community.
"We learned of the news with great pleasure," said Gamal Bouchaib and Ahmed Bashir of advocacy group Moderate Muslims in Italy and Mustapha Mansouri, member of the Interior Ministry's Committee for Islam, an advisory group, in a joint statement.
Via De Telegraaf (Dutch):
Muslims participating in the EL CID orientation week at Leiden university, can get a refund on their meal tickets, according to a spokesperson. The university's orientation week will fall on Ramadan this year.
"Participants will get 30 euros back if they hand in all the meal tickets. That is almost half the amount that they pay for orientation week," said Laura Scholten of the EL CID committee. Orientation week at Leiden costs 65 euro.
A survey conducted by global research company Ipsos finds that nearly one half (45%) of global citizens believe ‘immigration has generally had a negative impact on their country’ compared to just one in five (21%) who believe the impact has been positive; all others (29%) are on the fence.
Via De Telegraaf (Dutch):
Angry youth in Amsterdam-West marched in protest to the police department Friday. The youth feel they're treated badly.
After afternoon prayers, about fifty youth marched to the police department to express their displeasure. AT5 reports that accordion to the youngsters, the atmosphere has been getting heated up over the past few weeks. They're constantly being stopped and fined. The police says that the new policy is a result of increasing complaints in the neighborhood. The youth say they're being badgered by the police and are 'more than sick of it' according to AT5.
Via Deutsche Welle:
A town in northern Italy has sparked outrage among migrants after it passed a ban on the sale of "foul-smelling" foreign foods, especially kebabs.
Municipal authorities' decision to ban the sale of kebabs and other "non-traditional" food in a town in northern Italy has raised the ire of local migrants.
"To ban kebabs in Cittadella is like forbidding pizza in Paris or New York," said Abdallah Khezraji, a member of the Consulta Regionale Immigrazione for Italy's Veneto region.
Via Nieuwsblad (Dutch):
A Muslim woman (34) from the Brussels suburb of Schaarbeek was attacked Wednesday night for having a relationship with a non-Muslim.
The woman left her residence with her partner at 8:30pm, when three youth turned up and started punching her. The three ran off. They were chased by a witness, who manged to catch Mohammed (19) and call the police.
Via Aftenposten (Norwegian):
Erna Solberg, head of the Norwegian Conservative Party, says that the hate campaign against Muslims today is like the one Jews suffered in the 1930s. She wants Norwegians to confront the everyday racism we see around us, at work, in clubs and on the internet, reports VG.
"The way the extreme, anti-Islamic groups talk of Muslims today is comparable to the way extreme, antisemitic groups spoke of Jews in the decades that led up to WWII," Solberg told VG.
Via the Hudson Institute:
Muslim countries in the Persian Gulf and North Africa are funnelling large sums of money to radical Islamic groups in towns and cities across Spain in a competing effort to exert control over the estimated 1.5 million Muslims in the country.
Via De Telegraaf (Dutch):
For the first time in the Netherlands, Peter Thiel, a dentist from the Hague is opening his clinic in the evenings and nights during Ramadan, to enable fasting Muslims to get dental care.
"they can't swallow their own saliva from sunrise to sunset," explains Thiel. "One of my patients told me last week that because of that he didn't want to come for a follow-up appointment. That got me thinking."
Muslims in an Albanian coastal town have protested against the opening of an exhibition of nude photographs and sculptures in a gallery a few metres from the local mosque, media reported Wednesday.
"This exhibition is unacceptable. It should not be opened next to the mosque of the town" of Durres, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) northeast of the capital Tirana, local mufti Redi Quku was quoted by media as saying.
Via AFP (French):
100-150 mosques are currently being built in France, the president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, Mohammed Moussaoui, told RTL. Moussaoui said that most are financed by the worshipers and very few from abroad.
The interior minister, Claude Guéant, said three months ago that in the past decade the number of mosques increased from 1000 to 2000. Guéant wants to stop Friday prayers in the streets.
A similar ruling was made last year.
Via the Local:
The Central Council of Muslims said it was advising professional football players in Germany that they need not fast during Islam's holy month of Ramadan ahead of the regular season resuming Friday.
"The professional player can make up the fasting days during periods when there is no match and in that way show his respect for God and the holy month of Ramadan," council president Aiman Mazyek said in a statement.
Foreigners are on average able to find work in Finland just as well -- or even better -- than native Finns, according to a study published by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy (MEE) on Tuesday.
The report says that between 2005 and 2009 the employment picture for non-Finns was improved by labour policy measures such as traineeships and preparatory vocational training.
However it says that in order to get jobs in Finland, foreigners must learn Finnish and accept preparatory support measures.
What drives families to commit 'honor killings?' Who are the killers and where do they come from? A new study commissioned by the German police has found that the killers are almost always first-generation immigrants from poor backgrounds, that cases aren't increasing and that courts are making mistakes in their handling of them.
An Italian parliamentary commission approved a draft law on Tuesday which would ban women from wearing the veils that cover their faces in public, if passed by parliament in September.
The draft law would forbid women from wearing a burqa or naqib, but also prohibit anyone from covering their faces with a motorcycle helmet or any material of "ethnic origins".
Sponsored by Souad Sbai, a Moroccan-born member of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's ruling People of Freedom Party (PDL), the draft was adopted on the back of support from the government's coalition party, the Northern League.
La Croix's big survey on Muslims found that 71% intend to fast on Ramadan. Ten percentage points higher than the 1989 survey. What the headlines don't mention is that this number has been pretty constant for the past decade. The 2009 survey showed 70% intended to fast on Ramadan.
"More practicing Muslims than 20 years ago," headlines La Croix on the occasion of the first day of the Ramadan fast. The daily cites the results of a survey which shows that 71% France’s Muslims intend to fast for the entire month. "The intention to participate in Ramadan has increased strongly, rising by 10 points since 1989, the date of the first French survey. And it is also a general sign of an upsurge of in the numbers of the 3.5-million strong French Muslim population who practice their religion," explains the Catholic daily.
In an interview to TV2 (Norwegian), the General Secretary of the Islamic Council, Methab Asfar, said that it is hard to think back to the first hours after the terror attack with the suspicions and speculations.
"The first 5-6 hours were very difficult, especially with the thought that so many Muslims were harassed both physically and verbally," Asfar says and adds, "That's a side of Norwegian society I haven't seen before, I hope that we can now unite as one nation. The time has come."
Via Dutch News:
'The truth has to be told because Islam-huggers like [Job] Cohen of the Party of the Arabs [Labour party] caused the problems and have repeatedly ignored them,' Wilders said. 'I would say to Cohen and the rest of the left in the Netherlands: it is not my words, but your silence about the dangers of Islam which has the negative influences.'
The Stockholm bomber also had Iraqi connections.
Alarabiya TV channel quotes the head of the Iraqi security police's anti-terrorist department claiming that six people have been arrested in Iraq on charges of planning terrorist attacks in Paris and Stockholm and that another two people have also been detained in Sweden.
Via the Local:
Sweden's long summer days pose problems for Muslims fasting for Ramadan, which starts on Monday, with rules over the hours of the fast under discussion across Europe.
In Umeå in northern Sweden for example, dawn broke at 3.47am on Monday and the sun will set at 9.41pm, requiring an almost 18 hour fast, in comparison to 13 hours in Mecca.
For the first time in six years, the beginning of the Muslim holy month of fasting is not being marked in the Netherlands with a Ramadan Festival.
The event was initially organised in response to the murder of Dutch film director and author Theo van Gogh by an Islamic extremist in 2004. The organisers said the aim of the festival was to counter stereotypes about Muslims and help combat fears among Muslims themselves. The organisation says it has suspended the event while it embarks on a period of reflection.
The Union of Moroccan Mosques this year wants to focus on the famine in the Horn of Africa. “If you can’t contribute money, please contribute with a prayer”, says the group’s president, Khalil Aitblal.