Thursday, May 10, 2012

Amnesty International and Muslim Discrimination in Europe

by Soeren Kern

Amnesty International omits, however, all instances of discrimination initiated by Muslims against Christians and others in Europe who have taken them in, and who may well feel dismayed by what might be seen as an escalating procession of Muslim demands, threats and attacks. Nowhere does it call on Muslims to accept responsibility – not only for problems brought about by the refusal of many of them to accept the values of the majority, but also for their efforts to displace these values with their own.

A new report from Amnesty International lashes out at "widespread discrimination" against Muslims in Europe. The report directs particular ire at laws banning Muslim veils in public spaces, and excoriates European politicians for helping to "foster a climate of hostility and suspicion against people perceived as Muslim."

Amnesty International omits, however, all instances of discrimination initiated by Muslims against Christians and others in Europe who have taken them in, and who may well feel dismayed by what might be seen as an escalating procession of Muslim demands, threats and attacks.

The report also fails to explain why growing numbers of Europeans are increasingly skeptical about Muslim immigration; it also fails to mention that in country after country, Europeans have been going out of their way to afford Muslims special benefits, rights, privileges and provisions that do not apply to native-born Europeans, and that are establishing the Muslim population as an entitled class in European society.

The 123-page study, "Choice and Prejudice: Discrimination Against Muslims in Europe," says that "Muslims in Europe face discrimination in several areas of life because of their religion," and this "blights their individual prospects, opportunities and self-esteem and can result in isolation, exclusion and stigmatization."

It continues, "[D]iscrimination against Muslims in Europe is fuelled by stereotypes and negative views;" and calls on European politicians to "adopt a more rational approach" and stop portraying Islam "as a system of values which denies gender equality or a violent ideology."

Amnesty International, perhaps welded to notions political correctness, also further fails to mention actions by Muslims themselves that might well have been responsible for fuelling the "stereotypes and negative views" that it accuses Europeans of having.

Consider Belgium, where radical Muslims have launched a propaganda and intimidation campaign aimed at turning the country into an Islamic state. Muslim neighborhoods in Brussels -- the so-called capital of Europe -- have already become "no-go" zones for Belgian police officers, who are often pelted with rocks by Muslim youths.

In Britain, hundreds of Muslim children every year are subjected to forced marriages. In England and Wales, more than 65,000 Muslim women and girls have been the victims of female genital mutilation, and another 24,000 girls under the age of 15 are believed to be at a high risk.

Also in Britain, tens of thousands of Muslim immigrants are practicing bigamy or polygamy, possibly at times to collect larger social welfare payments from the British state. At the same time, radical Muslims have launched a campaign to turn twelve British cities, including London, into independent Islamic "emirates" to be ruled by Islamic Sharia law.

In Denmark, Muslim criminal street gangs have taken over large parts of Danish towns and cities; in Copenhagen, some suburbs have also been transformed into "no-go" zones, off limits to non-Muslims. Meanwhile, over the past decade, the number of Muslim immigrants living on social welfare benefits in Denmark has increased almost ten-fold.

In France, where there are now more practicing Muslims than practicing Roman Catholics, there are 751 Sensitive Urban Zones , also off-limits to non-Muslims apparently because they are too dangerous; in these French "no-go" zones over which the French state has lost control, an estimated five million Muslims currently reside.

In Germany, thousands of Muslim women and children are the victims of forced marriage every year. At the same time, Islamic Sharia courts are operating in all major German cities, and German authorities say they are "powerless" to do anything about them.

In the Netherlands, nearly half of Moroccan immigrants in the country between the ages of 12 and 24 have been arrested, fined, charged or otherwise accused of committing a crime during the past five years. Further, as Islamic legal tradition holds that dogs are "unclean" animals,

a Dutch Muslim politician in The Hague, the third-largest city in Holland, has recently called for a ban on dogs in the city.

In Italy, Muslims have been commandeering the Piazza Venezia in Rome for public prayers; and in Bologna, Muslims have repeatedly threatened to bomb the San Petronio cathedral because it contains a 600-year-old fresco inspired by Dante's Inferno that depicts Mohammed being tormented in Hell.

In Spain, a high school teacher in the city of La Línea de la Concepción was sued by the parents of a Muslim student who said the teacher "defamed Islam" by talking about Spanish ham in a geography class. And a discotheque in southern Spanish resort town of Águilas (Murcia) was forced to change its name and architectural design under duress after Islamists threatened to initiate "a great war between Spain and the people of Islam" if it did not.

Elsewhere in Spain, Muslim immigrants were accused of poisoning dozens of dogs in the city of Lérida, where 29,000 Muslims now make up around 20% of the city's total population; again, according to local residents, as dogs are considered "unclean." In the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia, Muslims have deployed "morals police" to ensure that practicing and non-practicing Muslims comply with Islamic Sharia law.

In Switzerland, an immigrant group based in Bern said it wants the emblematic white cross to be removed from the Swiss national flag because as a Christian symbol it "no longer corresponds to today's multicultural Switzerland." Further, leading Islamic groups in the country announced that they want to establish a "parallel parliament" so that all of the country's Muslims can "speak with one voice." Based in Basel, the new parliament would straightforwardly operate according to Islamic Sharia law.

These developments in Europe have been occurring during just the last eight years in addition to, of course, the bombing by Muslims of commuter trains in Spain in March 2004; the bombing of public transportation in London in July 2005; the attempted bombing of the Glasgow airport in June 2007; the attempted bombing of the Barcelona metro in January 2008; the attempted bombing of several US-bound airplanes, including that of the "shoe bomber" Richard Reid in December 2009; mass riots caused by the reprinting of the "Mohammed Cartoons" in Denmark in 2005 and 2006; Muslim riots in Malmö, Sweden in December 2008 and in Strasbourg, France in June 2010; and Muslim threats to mobilize 10,000 demonstrators onto the streets of London to prevent a democratically elected member of a European government, MP Geert Wilders of the Netherlands, from entering Britain in February 2009; and Muslim attacks on German police in May 2012.

Muslims in Europe also murdered the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in January 2004; tortured and murdered the French Jew, Ilam Halimi in January 2006; attacked the Swedish artist Lars Vilkes in July 2007; tried to murder the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard in January 2010; killed French servicemen and Jews in March 2012; and attacked Spanish politician Josep Anglada in April 2012.

Muslims in Europe have also been attempting to muzzle free speech, including by "lawfare," the malicious use of costly court trials to intimidate Europeans into silence to shut down the discussion of Islam. In the last few years, Muskims have initiated trials against Geert Wilders in the Netherlands; Suzanne Winter and Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff in Austria; Lars Hedegaard and Jesper Langballe in Denmark; Jussi Kristian Halla-aho in Finland; Brigitte Bardot, Michel Houellebecq, and Marie Laforêt in France; and Gregorius Nekschot in the Netherlands;

Muslim gangs have also been found responsible for "Rape Waves" in Britain, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway and Sweden.

Although Amnesty International lists in its report a litany of "discriminatory experiences" faced by Muslims in Europe, it does not acknowledge that most European countries have granted their Muslims minorities a host of special privileges, all in the name of multiculturalism, and that Muslim values are increasingly influencing European public policymaking.

In Belgium, for example, the government now pays the wages of more than 200 imams in 100 mosques in a bid to end discrimination against Islam. At the same time, dozens of Christian churches are being turned into mosques as Muslims demand more places to worship.

In Antwerp, the second-largest city in Belgium, an Islamic Sharia law court is now mediating family law disputes for Muslim immigrants. The self-appointed Muslim judges running the court are applying Islamic law -- rather than the secular Belgian Family Law system -- to resolve disputes involving questions of marriage and divorce, child custody and child support, as well as all inheritance-related matters.

In Britain, the largest university in London plans to ban the sale of alcohol on campus to accommodate the "cultural sensitivity" of its Muslim students; and the British Broadcasting Corporation admits that it treats Islam with more "protection and sensitivity" than Christianity.

The British Girl Scout Association has designed new uniforms for Muslim students who had "issues" with the existing range of clothing. Across Britain, municipal swimming pools are being closed to the general public to host Muslim women-only sessions.

In British courts, Muslim defendants are frequently the beneficiaries of favorable judicial treatment which does not apply to British defendants.

In Denmark, primary schools will soon begin teaching Islam to all students in the first grade.

In France, all of the slaughterhouses in the greater Paris metropolitan area are now producing all of their meat in accordance with Islamic Sharia law. France 2 television reports that much of the religiously slaughtered meat known as halal is not labeled as such and is entering the general food chain, where it is being unwittingly consumed by the non-Muslim population.

In German courts, judges are increasingly citing the Koran in civil divorce cases that involve Muslims. Muslim employees in German supermarkets are now exempt from handling alcohol on religious grounds. Municipal authorities in towns and cities across Germany have agreed to allow Muslim girls to wear "burkinis" in public swimming pools.

The city of Mannheim is planning to rename a Muslim-majority neighborhood, giving it a Turkish name. At the same time, German taxpayers are paying for four new Islamic theology departments in Tübingen, Münster/Osnabrück, Erlangen/Nürnberg and Frankfurt/Gießen, at a total cost of €20 million ($25 million) to train Muslim imams and Islamic religion teachers.

In the Netherlands, the National Police Union says Dutch police will not enforce a new burka ban. A court in Rotterdam has decided that Muslims may remain seated while all others rise when a judge walks into the courtroom, because Islam ostensibly holds that all people are equal, while the Qur'an and Islamic Sharia law also hold that women and non-Muslims are not equal.

Elsewhere in the Netherlands, dentists open their clinics in the evenings and nights during Ramadan because Muslim clients "cannot swallow their own saliva from sunrise to sunset." Insurance companies and pharmacies offer special "Ramadanchecks" that offer advice on how to take medicine during the month of daytime fasting.

In Ireland, the government recently introduced tax legislation for financial products that comply with Islamic Sharia law.

In Italy, the southern island of Sicily is about to become the proud new home for a multi-million euro mega-mosque, which its supporters hope will become a reference point for Muslims in Sicily as well as the rest of Italy. In Milan, the city council says it will recognize a dozen "mini-mosques." In Rome, the Higher Judicial Council (CSM) recently ruled that on religious grounds, Muslims may wear a veil in Italian courts.

In Spain, the city of Barcelona recently announced plans to build an official mega-mosque with a capacity for thousands of Muslim worshipers. The new structure would rival the massive Islamic Cultural Center in Madrid, one of the biggest mosques in Europe. The Barcelona mayor's office said the objective is to "increase the visibility of Muslims in Spain" and to promote the "common values between Islam and Europe."

In the Spanish capital, the government has authorized two radical Islamic television stations to begin 24-hour broadcasting to Spanish-speaking audiences from new studios in Madrid. The first channel, sponsored by the government of Iran, will focus on spreading Shia Islam. The second channel, sponsored by Saudi Arabia, will focus on spreading Sunni Wahhabi Islam.

In Sweden, the Social Democrats state that they want to turn Ramadan into an official Swedish holiday.

In Switzerland, the army has drafted guidelines outlining special conditions for meals and prayers for its rising number of Muslim recruits. The canton of Aargau has issued a 17-page guideline for accommodating Muslims in public schools and public swimming pools. The cantons of Basel-Landschaft, Basel-Stadt, Lucerne, Solothurn and Zürich have all quietly changed municipal regulations to allow Muslim women to wear the "burkini" in public spaces.

Also in Zürich, the international governing body of football, known as FIFA, says female footballers can wear headscarves when playing in official competitions. The rule change, instigated by the brother of the King of Jordan, Ali bin al-Hussein who is also FIFA vice president, is due to come into effect on July 2.

While Amnesty International has put the entire onus for "Islamophobia" on non-Muslims, nowhere does it call on Muslims to accept responsibility -- not only for problems brought about by the refusal of Muslims to adopt the values of the majority, but also for their efforts to displace these values with their own.

As the Dutch politician Pym Fortuyn put it in a television interview the day before he was killed for criticizing the rise of Islam in Holland, "I think the guests are trying to take over the house."

Amnesty International has missed an opportunity to help Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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