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Old 01-13-2005, 09:02 AM   #1
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how to deal with the european muslims

Europe has 15 million Muslims and they obviously dont know how to deal with this fact. Most of these a moderate Muslims, however there is also a very troubling fact about this population: there are fledgling fundamentalist groups who know exactly how to present themselves as the face of Islam. Does this suggest that the continent is bound for more conflict between religions? What can be done?

here is an article on the subject from newsweek int. :

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6804109/site/newsweek/

What do you think?

New Imams
European governments are trying to create a homegrown Muslim establishment.

Jan. 17 issue - It's easy to see why Dalil Boubakeur is the go-to guy for Islamic issues in France. In his wood-paneled study at Paris's Great Mosque, the head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith switches fluidly from French to English to German. He enthuses about his visit to Abraham Lincoln's log cabin in Kentucky. And he's frank about the short and troubled history of his council, set up by the French government in 2003 to give Islam "a seat at the table of the Republic," in the words of then Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. Would he prefer radical fundamentalists to be inside or outside his tent? "I would rather not have them inside or outside," says the Algerian-born Boubakeur. Then, in a faux Bond villain accent: "They have to disappear." How, exactly? He laughs. "I don't know. Maybe a virus?"

Across Europe, governments are scrambling to find people like Boubakeur: moderate Muslims, in sync with Western media and mores—and harboring scant sympathy for the radicals in their midst. Call them the new Muslim establishment. Fearing that fundamentalist imams (often imported from abroad) are filling young Muslim ears with poisonous interpretations of Islam, everyone from Swiss bishops to Danish ministers are calling for Europe to invent its own brand of modernized, Europeanized Islam. Governments should train their own imams, many say. Spain's Interior minister has called for the regulation of mosques—and the sermons given inside of them. Muslims, too, know they need more of an official imprint, a matter that's growing more urgent as European Islamophobia grows. The November murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Dutch-born Islamic radical triggered 174 racially motivated attacks in the following month, according to the Anne Frank Center in Amsterdam. In 60 percent of the cases, Muslims were the target.

Yet creating a Muslim establishment has proved as tough as boxing moon—beams. Time and again, European governments seem to pick the wrong champions. Often, they end up favoring more-conservative groups over moderate Muslims or independent thinkers. The French Council of the Muslim Faith, for example, is drawn from associations that run the country's mosques. But since only 5 percent of French Muslims attend mosque weekly, the remaining 95 percent of Muslims have no say in who officially speaks for them. Last week one of the council's two women resigned, saying the group was too influenced by foreign-born Muslims to properly serve French-born ones. At best, many Muslims complain, the new imams are unrepresentative of the larger population. At worst, they're seen as state flunkies. Traditionally, the British and Dutch governments relied on "village strongmen" to control and represent their communities, says Gilles Kepel, author of "The War for Muslim Minds." "But the village strongman has disappeared because young people don't give a s—t about them anymore."

Demographics make the job even harder. Europe's 15 million Muslims range from the secular to hard-core fundamentalists, from jet-set Gulf billionaires to semiliterate Afghan and Moroccan migrants. Unlike Christianity, Sunni Islam lacks a clerical hierarchy. A Muslim "leader" can thus be anyone who declares himself such. Even a mosque is hard to define, requiring not minarets but merely a few faithful at prayer. Governments often mistakenly assume that educated, European-born Muslims will necessarily be moderate, notes Olivier Roy, the French author of "Global Islam." They're wrong. "In Holland," says Roy, "the guy who killed Van Gogh was Dutch."

Within this bedlam, the loudest voices are often those of suspected Islamists. Take Nadeem Elyas, head of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, tapped by politicians from Gerhard Schröder on down as the official face of German Islam. No official meeting, talk show or Muslim-Christian dialogue seems complete without him. Yet the council represents only 2 to 3 percent of the country's 3.5 million Muslims. Moreover, half its member mosque associations are under observation by German intelligence for known Islamist activities. "The government is speaking to the Islamists instead of the silent majority of moderate or secular Muslims," says Ursula Spuler-Stegemann, a professor of religious history at the University of Marburg. "The government is always looking for organizations to talk to, and the Islamists are the ones coming forward."

The result: all too often, European governments end up bolstering the very extremists they hope to marginalize. When a German court recently awarded Muslims the same right to public-school religious instruction as Christians, the Berlin city government had to find a partner to organize classes on Islam. Who stepped forward? Only the ultraorthodox Islamic Federation, which now runs Turkish-language Islam classes for 4,300 children at three dozen Berlin schools. In France, the picture is similar. When the —Council of the Muslim Faith launched in 2003, a third of the organization's seats were grabbed by foreign-backed, old-guard fundamentalists. Despite the council's conservative cast, the moderate Boubakeur became its president—but only because of an agreement hammered out by the government months before the elections. New elections are set to take place this June, but critics say the council has already lost any attraction for the Muslims the French government says it needs most—the younger generation, the Muslim middle class and those who separate their mosque from politics.

For all their coziness with governments, few of these new Muslim establishments have much say in state policy. France's fledgling council was unable to prevent the recent ban on headscarves in public schools. In Belgium, Muslims complain that they have made little headway in securing long-promised funds for building mosques or appointing homegrown imams. "None of our rights have materialized," says Mohamed Boulif, acting president of the Executif des Musulmans de Belgique. "The government worries about being targeted as racist and xenophobic by the Muslims, but it also doesn't want to increase right-wing fears," notes Marco Martiniello, a political scientist at the University of Liege. "So it always tries to move one foot left, one foot right."

Perhaps the only thing everyone seems to agree on is that Europe's Muslims need more European imams. Parents want imams who won't turn off their European-born kids; governments want ones schooled in Western values. And yet, even after 9/11, most mullahs still come from abroad. In Germany, more than 90 percent of the country's 2,250 imams are "imported," either from Turkey, Saudi Arabia or Morocco. Turkey has its own system of dispatching imams to Europe, paying and sending scholars from its Diyanet, or directorate of religious affairs, to serve in Germany, Denmark, Scandinavia and the Netherlands. For decades, governments didn't mind this influx of what were, essentially, Turkish civil servants. Unlike the Wahhabis the Saudis sent, they're all moderates. Unlike the rural mullahs South Asians frequently import for themselves, they're well educated. But increasingly, both Muslims and European governments are asking why Ankara—or Riyadh or Algiers, for that matter—should be funding and shaping European Islam.

Creating a cadre of European Muslim scholars won't be easy. Governments talk about establishing European seminaries, but nobody's quite sure who will fund and run them. There are private imam-training courses in Britain, the Netherlands and France, but no systems for regulating them. Since 2001 the Dutch government has established courses to school foreign imams in local values. By law, they're supposed to be conducted in Dutch, but in practice the instruction has been in Arabic or Turkish, since most subjects don't speak enough Dutch to study in it. And the chasm between Old World and New World expectations can be massive. One December workshop, intended to prepare imams for the role religious figures play in Dutch society, included a discussion of what to do if a member of your mosque confesses to being gay. That's not part of the job description back home.

Europe's preoccupation with religious leaders may be misplaced, however. Reason: they're less and less important to the younger generation. In 2001, when Muslim youths rioted in cities in northern England, the police turned to mosque elders. Steven Vertovec, author of "European Islam in Europe," recalls that "the youths' response was 'These guys don't represent us.' " A Guardian/ICM poll of young British Muslims this fall found that only 36 percent felt that either the Muslim Council of Britain or Islamic leaders reflected their views.

This is a potentially dangerous disconnect. The more governments try to codify a European Islam, the more they risk re-creating the situation found in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, for example, where official religious scholars have lost credibility—often to radical and underground movements—because they were seen as the agents of repression. By trying to craft their own brands of Islam, says British Muslim Lord Ahmed of Rotherham—a Pakistani-born, British-raised peer—European governments make themselves targets. "You'll get a young, educated man. He'll think his religion has been messed up by the state—and so he'll try to take revenge on the state."

It's Western-educated Muslim parliamentarians like Lord Ahmed who provide hope that a genuine Muslim establishment will indeed eventually evolve. Brandeis University sociologist Jytte Klausen, who's writing on Europe's Muslim political elites, says Muslim integration has been smoothest in countries like Sweden and Britain, which have worked hard to include Muslims in the political process. Watching Lord Ahmed tease staff and pour tea in the hushed and plush House of Lords, you know he's not just in the Muslim establishment. He's made it to the British one.
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Old 01-13-2005, 09:07 AM   #2
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Gosh, these people have their work cut out for them.
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Old 01-17-2005, 03:03 AM   #3
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Europe is beginning to turn into a very scary place indeed...
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Old 01-17-2005, 03:39 AM   #4
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I have no problem with a genetic drift into Europe however the idea of Western culture being slowly eroded and eventually supplanted by Islam in Europe is frightening. When enough citizens desire to see their social values reflected in government problems may arise. It would be a great shame if universal sufferage, freedom of expression and religion were crushed under the slow moving hammer of demographics.

Of course the opposite is also a very real possibility, if the demographics continue on their current course the response by governments may well become mass deportation and a rise in anti-Islamic violence.

These problems need to be dealt with without instant cries of Islamophobia, surely the citizens of free nations can sort out differences and find mutually agreeable solutions. State enforced multiculturalism that allows migrant communities to be so cut off from change helps create the conditions for trouble, free exchange of idea's and frank discussion between citizens will create solutions.

May I also say that there is a distinction between European Muslims and Muslims who live in Europe. There is a difference between a European who is Muslim but sees themselves as a European - no matter what their ethnic background - and a Muslim who lives in Europe but wants to import their own society and culture into Europe without any leeway.
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Old 01-17-2005, 07:00 AM   #5
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this thread has existed for 12 hours....and no one claimed mulsim bashing?

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Old 01-17-2005, 07:32 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
however the idea of Western culture being slowly eroded and eventually supplanted by Islam in Europe is frightening.
For Australians maybe, but not for the majority of us Europeans - we know our cultural values quite well, thank you.
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Old 01-17-2005, 07:40 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by stagman
Europe is beginning to turn into a very scary place indeed...
Is that meant to be cynicism?

I´d be more afraid to live in the U.S. (Patriot Act, thousands killed by guns each and every year, citizen control, the TSA, no public healthcare).

If you meant it seriously, may I ask you how often have you been to Europe, how many mosques did you visit, and how come that the Australian government/ media apparently fuels the fire towards Europe?

Very strange, indeed.
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Old 01-17-2005, 07:51 AM   #8
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Many European Muslims vote in their country's elections and go to Parliament, as in the case of the British one in the article. I'm not worried about these people. It's those nutjobs like the militants in Iraq who are telling people that democracy and voting are un-Islamic that concerns me. These guys claim that democracy is un-Islamic because it substitutes people for God. These people do frighten me.
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Old 01-17-2005, 04:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
For Australians maybe, but not for the majority of us Europeans - we know our cultural values quite well, thank you.
Check back in a century or two, birthrates are the underlying factor here and in their current shape things could turn out very different over the course of a few generations. If europeans are not having children at replacement level then immigrant communities that are able to grow have the long term advantage. As I said check that statement in a century or two because I think that there is a possibility however slight that Islam could become the dominant cultural force in Europe and judging by the majority of Islamic countries where religion is not marginalised from politics concepts of universal sufferage and democracy become incompatible with religion - this is a phenomena that occurs with all religions when they are not forced out of influencing the government, religion is a retrograde force when it is the form of government for a society.

A news article on the demographic issue within France here http://www.moslem.org/topic.asp?TOPI...lamic+state%3F
Quote:
and how come that the Australian government/ media apparently fuels the fire towards Europe?
I think that you will find not at all, most people dont have cable television, there is no FoxNews or anything like it, the only news sources worth anything are
ABC (www.abc.net.au) and SBS (http://www20.sbs.com.au/sbs_front/index.html) and each of them can aptly be described as left of center.

When I watch TV in the afternoon and evening I watch SBS and it goes over like this.

04:30 pm THE JOURNAL
News via satellite from DW Berlin, in English.

05:00 pm NEWSHOUR WITH JIM LEHRER
A newsbreaking current affairs program from the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the United States, presented by Jim Lehrer from Washington.

06:00 pm GLOBAL VILLAGE
Presented by Silvio Rivier. Itsukushima - The Itsukushima shrine in Japan. (In German, English subtitles) G; The L�pine Competition - Every year in Paris a great fair welcomes inventors both old and new. It's the L�pine Competition, where juries walk the halls for six days, testing, listening to explanations and observing demonstrations of the latest gadgets that are supposed to improve the quality of life. (In French, English subtitles) G CC

06:30 pm WORLD NEWS
On-the-spot information and analysis of the major national and international stories of the day, with Mary Kostakidis. CC

07:30 pm DOCUMENTARY SERIES - MARTIN LUTHER - THE RELUCTANT REVOLUTIONARY
Luther's 95 Theses caused outrage in Rome not only because they criticised the Pope, but also because they were immensely popular. Pope Leo X demanded he disown the Theses but he refused, leading to ex- communication and a charge of heresy. But Luther had a weapon, the printing press, by which his ideas could travel, and he wrote a new text, which was directed at secular rulers and painted a vivid picture of the financial drain that was Rome. (From the US, in English) PG (Final) (Rpt) CC

08:30 pm CUTTING EDGE - SEPTEMBER 11 DIDN'T HAPPEN
This documentary details and examines various conspiracy theories relating to September 11. It investigates the origins of such theories, before debunking them and questions the anti-American and anti-Semitic sentiments behind them. (From France, in French, German, Arabic and English, English subtitles) CC
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Old 01-17-2005, 07:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
Check back in a century or two
In a century or two?

You must be kidding me.

If you´re not, let me assure you I am more worried about several other dangers apart from political or cultural changes; like nature reacting to the unbearable amount of poison we daily pump into the earth, the sea, plants, animals and ourselves.

As to the demographic situation, I am more worried about the future financing of health care and retirement systems than of cultural "take-overs" - if such a thing exists.

Historically there is always mixing and mingling of cultures rather than eradicating, and the best examples of practical eradication of other cultures were performed by happy Europeans who sailed around the world to discover new countries, new raw materials and new slaves.

By the way... what about the Aborigines again... where did the white Australians come from... ?
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