Category Archives: muslims

reading an article in vice today (dutch edition) and i stumbled across this rather fascinating article on skateboarding in Afghanistan. surprisingly almost half of visible skateboarders in Kabul and masseur – -sharif are girls – who are being educated through  a series of non profit skate schools. since skateboarding is an unknown sport in the country it appears that it is not restricted by taboos – so those that apply to cycling, football, and kite flying do not appear to apply to girls. Now that is a productive counter image of girls and women in Afghanistan.

well worth the reading article below:

link: http://www.vice.com/nl/read/skateboarding-makes-afghan-girls-feel-free-881skateboarding-makes-afghan-girls-feel-free-881-body-image-1422548751 skateboarding-makes-afghan-girls-feel-free-881-body-image-1422548797 skateboarding-makes-afghan-girls-feel-free-881-body-image-1422548662

Alle foto’s met dank aan Skateistan.

Zeven jaar geleden zorgde de Australische skater Oliver Percovich voor ophef op de straten van Kabul. Zijn skateboard trok de aandacht van de Afghaanse kinderen, waarvan de meesten nog nooit een skateboard hadden gezien. Er was iets dat hem opviel: ook meisjes waren erg geïnteresseerd.

Skateistan is begonnen in 2007, nadat Percovich een perfecte plek in het hart van Kabul had ontdekt om in het weekend te skaten: de Mekroyan-fontein, een verlaten relikwie uit de tijd dat de Russen nog in Afghanistan zaten. Toen steeds meer kinderen uit de buurt kwamen kijken en mee wilden doen, besloot Percovich dat hij zijn bezoek aan zijn vriendin in Kabul wel kon verlengen. Hij besloot er de rest van zijn leven te blijven.

Percovich richtte in 2009 een non-profit-skateschool op in Afghanistan. Tegenwoordig zijn er twee: één in Kabul, de andere in Mazar-e-Sharif in het noorden, vlakbij de grens met Oezbekistan. Het doel is simpel: skateboarden gebruiken als vorm van emancipatie, in een instabiel land dat al dertig jaar geteisterd wordt door conflicten. De kinderen komen naar de school om te skateboarden, maar krijgen daarnaast ook onderwijs.

Wat Skateistan helemaal bijzonder maakt is dat van de 800 studenten 45% uit meisjes bestaat. De negentienjarige Nelofar voelt zich “stoer en sterk” als ze op een skateboard staat en een grote ramp pakt, vertelt ze me. En nog belangrijker: ze voelt zich er vrij door.

UNICEF noemt Afghanistan een van de slechtste plekken ter wereld om op te groeien als vrouw. 60% van de 4 miljoen kinderen die niet naar school gaan zijn meisjes. En hoewel internationale troepen zich steeds meer terugtrekken uit Afghanistan, is geweld tegen vrouwen nog steeds aanwezig. Nelofar vertelt dat als ze op een skateboard stapt, ze die bittere tegenstelling tussen mannen en vrouwen niet meer voelt.

Die grenzen tussen mannen en vrouwen worden voornamelijk bepaald door tradities en door strenge familieregels. “De vader bepaalt vaak de regels die de eer van de familie moeten bewaken,” legt Alix Buck, communicatiemanager van Skateistan, uit. “En ja, dat leidt zeker wel eens tot conflicten.”

Skateistan vond een maas in de sociale wetten van Afghanistan, toen bleek dat skateboarden nog een hele onbekende sport was. Fietsen, voetballen en vliegeren zijn taboe voor meisjes, maar niemand weet precies wat die planken met wieltjes eigenlijk zijn. “Mensen zien het meer als een spelletje dan een sport,” vertelt Buck. Hierdoor kunnen Nelofar en zo’n vierhonderd andere meisjes elke week met hun gekleurde hoofddoeken over de ramps van Skateistan rausen.

Nu, achttien maanden nadat ze hier voor het eerst kwam, is Nelofar niet alleen supergoed in skaten, maar werkt ze ook bij Skateistan. Ze is inmiddels gespecialiseerd in studentenadministratie en media en studeert geneeskunde.

Toch is er nog altijd een flinke strijd gaande. Buiten de veilige wereld van Skateistan zorgt het idee van meisjes die sporten nog steeds voor wrijving bij veel Afghanen. Nelofar: “Twee dagen geleden deed ik mee aan een hardloopwedstrijd. Toen we zo’n tien kilometer hadden gelopen begon iemand op straat ons lastig te vallen. Toen besloten dat we voortaan alleen nog in Skateistan gaan hardlopen. Buiten de school is het praktisch onmogelijk voor meisjes om te sporten.”

Veel van de kinderen die naar Skateistan gaan, komen uit een kansarm milieu en werken al vanaf jonge leeftijd op straat. Zo ook de tienjarige Mursal.

“Voordat ik naar Skateistan ging was mijn leven ontzettend saai,” vertelt Mursal me. “Elke dag moest ik werken; de hele dag verkocht ik kauwgum. Op een dag besefte ik me: als ik altijd op deze manier blijf werken, kan ik nooit aan mijn toekomst bouwen.”

Mijn beeld dat Afghaanse vrouwen alleen staan in hun strijd voor meer onafhankelijkheid en een eigen identiteit, dat ik baseer op sensationele krantenkoppen en @UN_Women-tweets, klopt niet, volgens Buck. “Veel mensen beseffen zich niet dat lang niet alle meisjes een extreem conservatieve achtergrond hebben,” zegt ze.

Het lijkt erop dat sportende meisjes heel langzaam aan meer geaccepteerd worden. De vader en broer van Nelofar staan volledig achter haar. “Ze vinden het leuk dat ik skateboard,” zegt ze. “Ze moedigen me heel erg aan en vinden dat iedereen rechten heeft.” Ook Mursal heeft het geluk dat haar familie haar steunt. “Ze denken dat het goed voor me is. Daarom sturen ze me naar Skateistan.”

Als ik Nelofar vraag wat ze hoopt dat 2015 vrouwen gaat brengen, antwoordt ze: “Ik hoop dat iedereen ooit kan sporten, ook meisjes op straat, zonder dat ze worden lastiggevallen. Hopelijk gaat dit ooit lukken.”

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Niqab ban at citizenship ceremony struck down by court

This story from the Toronto Star 7 February by Nicholas Keung  highlights some of the core points from a Federal court’s findings regarding full face-veiling and citizenship ceremonies.  Successfully halting the ban that probated full face-veils from bring worn during swearing in ceremonies circa 2011.  the 2011 regulation not only prohibited the wearing of such veils during these moments but also during citizenship tests, interviews etc – importantly marking these moments as “public events”

 

The Federal Court of Canada has ruled it is “unlawful” for Ottawa to order new citizens to remove their face-covering veil when taking the oath of citizenship.

The federal government must immediately lift its existing ban allowing Toronto’s Zunera Ishaq to reschedule a new citizenship ceremony unless it appeals the ruling and receives the permission to suspend the order, the Federal Court said in a decision released Friday.

While it is not unusual to have government policies overturned in breach of Charter and constitutional rights, the court ruling is unusual because the decision was based on the finding that the ban mandated by the immigration minister violated the government’s own immigration laws.

“To the extent that the policy interferes with a citizenship judge’s duty to allow candidates for citizenship the greatest possible freedom in the religious solemnization or the solemn affirmation of the oath,” wrote Justice Keith M. Boswell, “it is unlawful.”

Ishaq was sponsored by her husband to Canada from Pakistan in 2008 and successfully passed the citizenship test in November 2013.

She was scheduled to be sworn in at a citizenship ceremony in Scarborough two months later but decided to put it on hold after learning she would need to unveil her niqab under a ban introduced in 2011 by then-Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. Her Charter challenge ensued.

“From the moment the minister announced the policy, many of us felt it’s illegal. The court confirms that it is the case. It is not a requirement in the law for someone to be seen in front of a (citizenship) judge taking the oath. Signing the paper is all (that’s) required,” said Ishaq’s lawyer, Lorne Waldman.

“Clearly, the policy was driven by Kenney himself. All documents found he was the driving force behind it.”

Ishaq, who started wearing niqab since she was 15, had no objection to unveil herself for the purposes of her identification before taking the citizenship test.

However, she objected to the requirement to remove the veil at the citizenship ceremony because it is public and unnecessary for the purposes of identity or security.

Immigration officials subsequently offered to seat her in either the front or back row and next to a woman at the ceremony, but she refused the arrangement since the citizenship judge and officers could still be male, and there could potentially be photographers at the event.

In refuting the government’s argument that the court challenge was premature because Ishaq’s scheduled ceremony had yet to happen, the court said part of the reason policies are published is so that people can know of them and organize their affairs accordingly.

“The policy in this case could be dissuading women who wear a niqab from even applying for citizenship. In such circumstances, a direct challenge to the policy is appropriate,” the 42-page decision said.

While the government also argued that the ban was only a guideline that is not even directed at citizenship judges, and which they were free to disregard, the judge found “no such permissive language” in the policy.

Internal correspondence between immigration officials and Kenney’s public statements, Justice Boswell noted, demonstrates the government’s intention to make the removal of face-covering mandatory, citing an email that read, “The minister would like this done, regardless of whether there is a legislative base and that he will use his prerogative to make policy change.”

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander’s spokesperson said they “will keep all available legal options open.

“New citizens are obliged to confirm their identity when taking the Oath of Citizenship‎, which is sworn or affirmed in public,” said Kevin Menard. “It is simply common sense to require removal of facial coverings or other items that hide new citizens’ mouths from view. The oath, knowledge and language tests, as well as years of residency, are among the basic requirements for joining the family of Canadian citizens.”

Far-Right Parties and Mainstream Media Declare War on Europe’s Muslims

this is a disturbing text on far right parties and the mainstream media who are declaring war on the muslim population in western european. interesting discussion of the sweden democrats and the spreading of not only islamophobia but also violence as a result of it in Alternate.
The text is posted below worth reading!
How rising far-right parties are bringing the Islamophobic terrorist Breivik’s chilling vision to life.

When the 20-year-old Eritrean Muslim refugee Khaled Idris Behray was found dead in the German city of Dresden with contusions and signs of stabbing all over his body, the local police immediately declared no signs of foul play. According the haphazard police report, Behray died from unknown causes. Days later, Dresden police have been forced to concede that Behray was stabbed to death, though the perpetrators are still on the loose.

Behray’s murder occurred the day after thousands of followers of a newfangled German group called the Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident, or PEGIDA, rallied in Dresden. Drawing from the ranks of the working and middle class across Germany, but particularly in the economically struggling cities of the former East Germany, the movement that claims to defend Christian Western civilization against the advance of Islam. Even as its founder, Lutz Bachmann, has been forced to resign from his leadership role for photographing himself impersonating Adolph Hitler, PEGIDA is beginning to influence the German debate in a way far-right extremists in the country could have never have imagined just a year ago.

To be sure, Muslims aren’t the only target of the PEGIDA supporters, who gather weekly by thousands. The group’s leadership also spreads hatred towards migrants and refugees of other religions and cultures. Average PEGIDA demonstrators do not only express their “worries“ towards Islam (“We don’t want Sharia“ or “They are all terrorists“ are what you hear often from them), they also point out that the “migration flood“ has to stop and that refugees are not welcomed. Statements like this sound more absurd if you consider that in German cities like Dresden, where the right-wing movement started, just 8.2 percent of the population are immigrants while only 0.1 percent of Dresden residents are Muslim.

The situation in other European countries is at least as severe as in Germany. In neighboring Austria, you will not find an extreme right-winged political party in the German parliament, but political life in Austria is strongly affected by the FPÖ (Austria’s Freedom Party), which was founded after World War II by former Nazi politicians. Today, the party is well-known for spreading hatred against Muslims, refugees and immigrants. Heinz-Christian Strache, the party’s current leader, often prefers to pose with a crucifix while claiming that Austria and Europe have to defend itself against a new “Ottoman siege,” a reference to the siege of Vienna by the Ottoman empire that occurred hundreds of years ago. (The Islamophobic blog, “Gates of Vienna,” was a key intellectual influence on Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian white extremist who killed over 70 innocent people at a Labor Party-run youth camp in Utoya).

During the last elections, every fourth Austrian voter cast ballots for the FPÖ. And in the last months and weeks, Muslim women were attacked on streets or in the metro stations around Vienna while mosques were smeared with swastikas. Now, the conservative Austrian government wants to enact a new “Islam law“ which forbids Islamic organizations inside Austria to receive foreign money. The law evinces a clear double standard, as it focuses on Muslims while ignoring non-Muslim organizations and it has been described as “racist“ or “undemocratic.“ Austrian politicians like Sebastian Kurz, the country’s foreign minister, even demanded an official, state-funded translation of the Quran, infuriating the Muslim community, which considers any version of the Quran in a language other than Arabic to be an interpretation of the word God, not a “translation.”

In a recent interview, Dudu Kücükgöl of Austria’s Muslim Youth organization said that the attacks on Muslim women have been influenced by “the undifferentiated coverage regarding the rise of the “Islamic State” (IS). The hatred towards Muslims in Austria has grown much, too much”, Kücükgöl complained.

This December, unknown assailants used pepper spray to attack a Muslim kindergarten in Vienna. Twenty children struggled for air while they lay on the ground. Police have still not identified the suspects, raising questions about the infiltration of the far-right in the ranks of Austrian law enforcement. Not only does the FPÖ enjoy strong support from Austrian police, a number of cops posed in election posters for the extremist party.

In nearby Netherlands, the PVV (Party of Freedom) of Geert Wilders is dominating the political debate regarding Islam, migrants and refugees. Wilders, who may be the world’s most well known and influential Islamophobe, and who has risen from obscurity almost entirely on the basis of his anti-Muslim politics, has often repeated that the Quran has to be banned. He has gone as far as comparing it with Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”. Despite his rabidly Islamophobic rhetoric, or perhaps because of it, Wilders and his party have become a force to be reckoned with in Dutch politics. Efforts to prosecute Wilders for hate speech have only backfired, as advocates of “freedom of expression” including groups set up by the European far-right have successfully cast him as a martyr of free speech.

This Christmas was open season on Muslim immigrants in Sweden, where a mosque filled with worshippers was firebombed, injuring at least five. A few days later, another mosque in Sweden was attacked, and then another on New Years. The assault on three mosques in three weeks suggests a level of far-right coordination which is unprecedented and aimed entirely at a single, widely demonized group.

The attacks on Swedish Muslims have grown in direct proportion to the popularity of a far-right party called the Swedish Democrats, who became the third strongest party of the parliament after the last elections with 13% of the vote. Meanwhile, assaults on mosques have also increased in Germany and Austria, with mostly right-winged culprits vandalizing mosque walls with Nazi symbols or throwing pig heads inside. As the ghosts of Europe resurface, the police and other state-run institutions in these countries remain curiously reluctant to discuss the attacks as an explicitly Islamophobic phenomenon.

Institutionalized racism and Islamophobia

The current events in Europe are not a surprise. PEGIDA and similar right-winged movements and political parties are a result of institutionalized racism and Islamophobia. The role of German media regarding PEGIDA is notable. Well-known mainstream news magazines like “Der Spiegel” or “Focus” are primary culprits, especially against Islam and Muslim migrants. For years, the magazines have run Islamophobic headlines like “Mecca Germany – The Silent Islamization” (Der Spiegel), “Scary Guests” (Focus) or “Allah’s Rightless Daughters” (Der Spiegel). These widely respected publications routinely feature front page photos or some faceless, Burqa-clad woman or an angry looking, bearded young men. On occasion, the angry young man appears in a hoodie, a symbol of urban discontentment that German conservatives identify with crime, terror and the destruction of the “traditional” way of life.

By far, Germany’s leading news source promoting Islamophobia, racism and hatred towards migrants and refugees is Die Bild, one of the world’s most high-circulated tabloids. The paper is owned by neoconservative Axel Springer SE, an aggressive support of Israeli and American foreign policies who acts as a German version of Rupert Murdoch. As rallies raged across Europe against Israel’s military assault on the besieged Gaza Strip, Bild initiated a public campaign to stain Palestine solidarity activism as a form of anti-Semitism. The paper declared: “Jew hatred – Never again!” A few days after the the demonstrations, Bild published an explicitly Islamophobic article in which the author, Nicolaus Fest, called Islam an “migration barrier” and added that most criminals are migrants with Muslim backgrounds who bear an endemic hated of women and homosexuals. Fest’s rant was so overheated that even a few Bild staffers felt compelled to distance themselves from it.

The case of Ramsis Kilani highlights Bild’s double standards in blinding relief. Born and raised in Germany, Kilani lost his family during Israel’s attack in Gaza this summer. Ibrahim Kilani, who married a second time and moved to Gaza few years ago, had been killed together with his wife and his children after the IDF bombed their housing block. Although all of them were citizens of Germany, Ramsis, his mother and his sister only learned about the mass murder through social media. Germany’s mainstream media seemed to have studiously avoided reporting on the atrocity that slaughtered an entire family of Germans who happened to be of the wrong religion and ethnicity. Following public pressure, a few papers published accounts of the killing and ultimately, even Bild interviewed Ramsis Kilani. Yet the paper never published the story. Instead, it ran a giant and entirely sympathetic spread on Israeli soldiers killed by Hamas fighters during the invasion of Gaza.

The German government has not mentioned the death of the Kilani family until recently. “Migrants like us are second-class citizens in Germany”, says Kilani, whose family even did not get an official condolence. The young German-Palestinian has campaigned to spread the facts regarding the Israeli occupation of Palestine across his country, but to little avail. For his public crusade to educate Germans about the plight of Palestinians and for his activism on behalf of migrants, he has become a target of PEGIDA followers. “Right-winged trolls contacted me regularly and called my murdered father an ‘Islamic terrorist’ and his wife a ‘birthing machine,’” Kilani told me. Like many other young and educated Germans with “foreign roots,” Kilani is considering leaving the country of his birth one day if the situation continues to deteriorate.

Spreading hatred behind the Israeli flag

It is not a coincidence that media outlets that take a pro Israel line and rail against anti-Semitism play a significant role in spreading hatred towards migrants and Muslims. Right-winged parties like the Austrian FPÖ have discovered that it is much easier for them to spread their hatred beneath pro-Israel cover. For instance, the FPÖ made it clear that “supporting the Jewish State against Islamism” has become one of their new political pillars. Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front, has learned the same lesson, scrapping her father’s overt anti-Semitism and opposition to Europe’s special relationship with Israel and replacing it with an aggressively neoconservative outlook. In turn, she has attracted support from right-wing French Jews and cultivated a mainstream appeal her father could have only dreamed. But the seething racism that was a hallmark of her father’s politics remains firmly entrenched in the platform of her National Front.

Geert Wilders and his Party of Freedom were among the leaders of the European far-right’s alliance with Israel’s rightist Likud. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal, an American neoconservative operative funded by right-wing billionaire Sheldon Adelson, Wilders declared that Israel is the “only light of democracy in the Middle East”. He then demanded that the European Union and the United States stand by Israel’s side in the clash of civilizations — a war pitting the 
“Judeo-Christian” West against Islam. Wilders declared that the name of the state of Palestine should be changed to “Jordan,” suggesting that Palestinians either be forcibly expelled from their homes or stripped of national identity. In 2014, Wilders agitated unsuccessfully but flamboyantly for a commemoration for former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the Dutch parliament.

The rise of movements like Pegida and the far-right surge across Europe is the fulfillment of the vision Anders Breivik laid out in his 1500 page manifesto. Breivik fancied himself as the eventual commander of a continent-wide movement to guard Europe against the multiculturalist onslaught, waging war through politics and paramilitary means against the liberal elements he described as “Cultural Marxists” and of course, against the barbarian hordes washing up on the gilded shores of Christian Europe. Breivik claimed that he carried out his attacks with accomplices and that he left behind sleeper cells of Islamophobic activists ready to carry out his plan while he languished behind bars. Breivik was himself influenced by a wide array of hardline American right-wingers from Daniel Pipes to Robert Spencer, and quoted at the length the work of the German neoconservative author Henryk Broder.

Broder writes mostly for “Die Welt,” a paper described as the “BILD for intellectuals” which also belongs to the the Axel Springer SE empire. Puffed in the neoconservative Tablet Magazine as a curmudgeonly “satirist and gadfly” who represents “Germany’s most annoying Jew,” Broder is in fact a key actor in the constellation of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian forces across Europe. Broder maintains close ties to the right-wing Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is known for its annual list of “Anti-Semitic/Anti-Israel Slurs.” (Alternet editor Max Blumenthal and frequent contributor David Sheen made the #4 slot on this year’s list, though the Wiesenthal Center failed to explain how the two Jews’ behavior was in any way anti-Jewish). In 2012, Broder convinced the Weisenthal Center to name the famed German journalist and left-wing publisher, as the world’s ninth biggest anti-Semite. The public denigration of such an esteemed figure highlighted the sense of inviolability and arrogance that had come to characterize the pro-Israel forces who influenced German politics on left, right and center.

During the past week, mainstream media outlets have described the Charlie Hebdo massacre as “the worst terror attack on European soil.” Of course, Breivik was a terrorist who killed 77 innocent people — 65 more than the Islamic extremists who murdered the staff of Charlie Hebdo. But the characterization is no accident. Indeed, Western media outlets and politicians prefer to not view Breivik as just another white, psychopathic mass murderer while reserving the highly subjective term “terrorist” for swarthy people from Muslim backgrounds. Thus they obscure the role Breivik played in galvanizing the resurgence of Europe’s far-right and ignore the inspiration he drew from an established and well-funded global network of Islamophobes.

If the Western intellectual class wants answers on the radicalization sweeping across Europe, it can start by looking in the mirror and examining its own pale reflection.

http://www.alternet.org/world/its-open-season-europes-muslims-far-right-parties-and-mainstream-media