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China: Muslims forced to drink alcohol and eat pork in “persecusion camps”.

China: Muslims forced to drink alcohol and eat pork in “persecusion camps”.

Omir Bekali, one among perhaps a million people reportedly arrested and held in mass re-education camps, said he was detained without trial or access to a lawyer and forced to disavow his beliefs while praising the Communist Party.

Mr Bekali, a Kazakh citizen, said he contemplated suicide after 20 days in the facility – which itself followed seven months in a prison.

Since spring last year authorities in Xinjiang region have confined tens or even hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the camps, including some foreign nationals. One estimate put the figure at a million or more.

A US commission called it the “the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today” while a leading historian called it “cultural cleansing”.

The Independent has contacted the Chinese foreign ministry for comment.

Asked to comment on the camps by the Associated Press, the ministry said it “had not heard” of the situation. When asked why non-Chinese had been detained, it said the Chinese government protected the rights of foreigners in China and that they should also be law abiding. Chinese officials in Xinjiang did not respond to requests for comment.

When Mr Bekali refused to follow orders each day in the camp, he was forced to stand at a wall for five hours at a time. A week later, he was sent to solitary confinement, where he was deprived of food for 24 hours, he claimed. After 20 days in the heavily guarded camp, he wanted to kill himself.

“The psychological pressure is enormous, when you have to criticise yourself, denounce your thinking – your own ethnic group,” said Mr Bekali, who broke down in tears as he described the camp. “I still think about it every night, until the sun rises. I can’t sleep. The thoughts are with me all the time.”

The detention campaign has swept across Xinjiang, a territory half the area of India.

Chinese are quoted in state media as saying that ideological changes are needed to fight separatism and Islamic extremism.

The internment programme aims to rewire the political thinking of detainees, erase their Islamic beliefs and reshape their very identities. The camps have expanded rapidly over the past year, with almost no judicial process or legal paperwork. Detainees who most vigorously criticise the people and things they love are rewarded, and those who refuse to do so are punished with solitary confinement, beatings and food deprivation.

The recollections of Mr Bekali, a heavyset and quiet 42-year-old, offer what appears to be the most detailed account yet of life inside so-called re-education camps. Rare interviews with three other former internees and a former instructor in other centres corroborated Mr Bekali’s depiction. Most spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their families in China.

Mr Bekali’s case stands out because he was a foreign citizen, of Kazakhstan, who was seized by China’s security agencies and detained for eight months last year without recourse. Although some details are impossible to verify, two Kazakh diplomats confirmed he was held for seven months and then sent to re-education.

The detention programme is a hallmark of China’s emboldened state security apparatus under the deeply nationalistic, hard-line rule of President Xi Jinping. It is partly rooted in the ancient Chinese belief in transformation through education – taken once before to terrifying extremes during the mass thought reform campaigns of Mao Zedong, the Chinese leader sometimes channelled by Mr Xi.

Cultural cleansing is Beijing’s attempt to find a final solution to the Xinjiang problem,” said James Millward, a China historian at Georgetown University.

Rian Thum, a professor at Loyola University in New Orleans, said China’s re-education system echoed some of the worst human rights violations in history.

“The closest analogue is maybe the Cultural Revolution in that this will leave long-term, psychological effects,” Prof Thum said. “This will create a multigenerational trauma from which many people will never recover.”

China’s top prosecutor, Zhang Jun, urged Xinjiang’s authorities this month to extensively expand what the government calls the “transformation through education” drive in an “all-out effort” to fight separatism and extremism.

In a June 2017 paper published by a state-run journal, a researcher from Xinjiang’s Communist Party School reported that most of 588 surveyed participants did not know what they had done wrong when they were sent to re-education. But by the time they were released, nearly all – 98.8 percent– had learned their mistakes, the paper said.

Transformation through education, the researcher concluded, “is a permanent cure”.

A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released earlier this week claimed that Chinese officials were now regularly imposing themselves on families in Xinjiang in “home stays”.

During the visits unwilling hosts are allegedly forced to tell authorities about their lives and political views, and are subject to indoctrination.

“Muslim families across Xinjiang are now literally eating and sleeping under the watchful eye of the state in their own homes,” said HRW’s Maya Wang, a senior researcher. “The latest drive adds to a whole host of pervasive – and perverse – controls on everyday life in Xinjiang.”

‘People’s war on terror’

On the chilly morning of 23 March 2017, Mr Bekali drove up to the Chinese border from his home in Almaty, Kazakhstan, got a stamp in his Kazakh passport and crossed over for a work trip, not quite grasping the extraordinary circumstances he was stepping into.

Mr Bekali was born in China in 1976 to Kazakh and Uighur parents, moved to Kazakhstan in 2006 and received citizenship three years later. He was out of China in 2016, when authorities sharply escalated a “People’s War on Terror” to root out what the government called religious extremism and separatism in Xinjiang, a large Chinese territory bordering Pakistan and several Central Asian states, including Kazakhstan.

The Xinjiang he returned to was unrecognizable. All-encompassing, data-driven surveillance tracked residents in a region with around 12 million Muslims, including ethnic Uighurs and Kazakhs. Viewing a foreign website, taking phone calls from relatives abroad, praying regularly or growing a beard could land a person in a political indoctrination camp, or prison, or both.

The US State Department estimated those being held are “at the very least in the tens of thousands”. A Turkey-based TV station run by Xinjiang exiles said almost 900,000 were detained, citing leaked government documents.

Adrian Zenz, a researcher at the European School of Culture and Theology, puts the number between several hundreds of thousands and just over 1 million. Government bids and recruitment ads studied by Zenz suggest that the camps have cost more than $100m (£74m) since 2016, and construction is ongoing.

Mr Bekali knew none of this when he visited his parents on March 25. He passed police checkpoints and handed over his decade-old Chinese identity card.

The next day, five armed policemen showed up at Mr Bekali’s parents’ doorstep and took him away. They said there was a warrant for his arrest in Karamay, a frontier oil town where he lived a decade earlier. He couldn’t call his parents or a lawyer, the police added, because his case was “special.”

Mr Bekali was held in a cell, incommunicado, for a week, and then was driven 500 miles to Karamay’s Baijiantan District public security office.

There, they strapped him into a “tiger chair”, a device that clamped down his wrists and ankles. They also hung him by his wrists against a barred wall, just high enough so he would feel excruciating pressure in his shoulder unless he stood on the balls of his bare feet, he claimed. They interrogated him about his work with a tourist agency inviting Chinese to apply for Kazakh tourist visas, which they claimed was a way to help Chinese Muslims escape.

“I haven’t committed any crimes!” Mr Bekali said he yelled.

They asked for days what he knew about two dozen prominent ethnic Uighur activists and businessmen in Kazakhstan. Exhausted and aching, Mr Bekali coughed up what he knew about a few names he recognised.

The police then sent Mr Bekali to a 10sqm cell in the prison with 17 others, their feet chained to the posts of two large beds. Some wore dark blue uniforms, while others wore orange for political crimes. Mr Bekali was given orange.

In mid-July, three months after his arrest, Mr Bekali received a visit from Kazakh diplomats. China’s mass detention of ethnic Kazakhs – and even Kazakh citizens – had begun to make waves in the Central Asian country of 18 million. Kazakh officials say China detained 10 Kazakh citizens and hundreds of ethnic Kazakh Chinese in Xinjiang over the past year, though they were released in late April following a visit by a Kazakh deputy foreign minister.

Four months after the visit, Mr Bekali was taken out of his cell and handed a release paper.

But he was not yet free.

‘We now know better’

Mr Bekali was driven from jail to a fenced compound in the northern suburbs of Karamay, where three buildings held more than 1,000 internees receiving political indoctrination, he said.

He walked in, past a central station that could see over the entire facility, and received a tracksuit. Heavily armed guards watched over the compound from a second level. He joined a cell with 40 internees, he said, including teachers, doctors and students. Men and women were separated.

Internees would wake up together before dawn, sing the Chinese national anthem, and raise the Chinese flag at 7.30am. They gathered back inside large classrooms to learn “red songs” like “Without the Communist Party, there is no New China”, and study Chinese language and history. They were told that the indigenous sheep-herding Central Asian people of Xinjiang were backward and yoked by slavery before they were “liberated” by the Communist Party in the 1950s.

Before meals of vegetable soup and buns, the inmates would be ordered to chant: “Thank the Party! Thank the Motherland! Thank President Xi!”

Discipline was strictly enforced and punishment could be harsh. Mr Bekali was kept in a locked room almost around the clock with eight other internees, who shared beds and a wretched toilet. Cameras were installed in toilets and even outhouses. Baths were rare, as was washing of hands and feet, which internees were allegedly told was equated with Islamic ablution.

Mr Bekali and other former internees said the worst parts of the indoctrination program were forced repetition and self-criticism. Although students did not understand much of what was taught and the material bordered on the nonsensical to them, they were made to internalise it by repetition in sessions lasting two hours or longer.

We will oppose extremism, we will oppose separatism, we will oppose terrorism,” they chanted again and again. Almost every day, the students received guest lecturers from the local police, judiciary and other branches of government warning about the dangers of separatism and extremism.

In four-hour sessions, instructors lectured about the dangers of Islam and drilled internees with quizzes that they had to answer correctly or be sent to stand near a wall for hours on end.

“Do you obey Chinese law or Sharia?” instructors asked. “Do you understand why religion is dangerous?

One by one, internees would stand up before 60 of their classmates to present self-criticisms of their religious history, Mr Bekali said. The detainees would also have to criticise and be criticised by their peers. Those who parroted official lines particularly well or lashed into their fellow internees viciously were awarded points and could be transferred to more comfortable surroundings in other buildings, he said.

“I was taught the Holy Quran by my father and I learned it because I didn’t know better,” Mr Bekali heard one say.

“I travelled outside China without knowing that I could be exposed to extremist thoughts abroad,” Mr Bekali recalled another saying. “Now I know.”

A Uighur woman told AP she was held in a centre in the city of Hotan in 2016. She said she and fellow prisoners repeatedly were forced to apologise for wearing long clothes in Muslim style, praying, teaching the Quran to their children and asking imams to name their children.

Praying at a mosque on any day other than Friday was a sign of extremism; so was attending Friday prayers outside their village or having Quranic verses or graphics on their phones.

While instructors watched, those who confessed to such behaviour were told to repeat over and over: “We have done illegal things, but we now know better.

A debt to the country

Other detainees and a re-education camp instructor told similar stories.

In mid-2017, an Uighur former on-air reporter for Xinjiang TV known as Eldost was recruited to teach Chinese history and culture in an indoctrination camp because he spoke excellent Mandarin. He had no choice.

The re-education system, Eldost said, classified internees into three levels of security and duration of sentences.

The first group typically consisted of illiterate minority farmers who had committed no ostensible crimes other than not speaking Chinese. The second class was made up of people who were caught at home or on their smartphones with religious content or so-called separatist materials, such as lectures by the Uighur intellectual Ilham Tohti.

The final group was made up of those who had studied religion abroad and come back, or were seen to be affiliated with foreign elements. In the latter cases, internees were often were sentenced to prison terms of 10 to 15 years, Eldost said.

While he was teaching, Eldost once saw through the window 20 students driven into the courtyard. Two rows of guards waited for them and beat them as soon as they got out of the police van. He later heard that the internees were recent arrivals who had studied religion in the Middle East.

Violence was not regularly dispensed, but every internee interviewed said they had seen at least one incident of rough treatment or beatings.

Eldost said the instruction was aimed at showing how backward traditional Uighur culture is and how repressive fundamentalist Islam is compared to a progressive Communist Party. The internees’ confessions of their backwardness helped drive the point home.

“Internees are told to repeat those confessions to the point where, when they are finally freed, they believe that they owe the country a lot, that they could never repay the party,” said Eldost, who escaped from China in August after paying a bribe.

Eldost said he tried in little ways to help his internees. Tasked with teaching the Three Character Classic, a Confucian standard taught widely in elementary schools, he would make up mnemonic devices to help his students – including elderly or illiterate Uighur farmers who barely knew their own language – recite a few lines. He also advised students to stop habitually saying “praise God” in Arabic and Uighur because other instructors punished them for it.

Every time he went to sleep in a room with 80 others, he said, the last thing he would hear was the sound of misery.

“I heard people crying every night,” he said. “That was the saddest experience in my life.”

Another former detainee, a Uighur from Hotan in southern Xinjiang, said his newly built centre had just 90 people in two classes in 2015. There, a government instructor claimed said that Uighur women historically did not wear underwear, braided their hair to signal their sexual availability, and had dozens of sexual partners.

“It made me so angry,” the detainee said. “These kinds of explanations of Uighur women humiliated me. I still remember this story every time I think about this, I feel like a knife cut a hole in my chest.”

Kayrat Samarkan, a Chinese Kazakh from Astana who was detained while running errands in a northern Xinjiang police station in December, was sent to an internment camp in Karamagay in northern Xinjiang with 5,700 students.

Those who did not obey, were late to class or got into fights were put for 12 hours in a loose body-suit that was made of iron and limited their movement, he said. Those who still disobeyed would be locked in a tiger chair for 24 hours. As one form of punishment, he said, instructors would press an internee’s head in a tub of ice and water.

After three months, Samarkan could not take the lessons anymore, so he bashed his head against a wall to try to kill himself. He merely fell unconscious.

“When I woke up, the staff threatened me, saying if I did that again they would extend my sentence to 7 years there,” he said.

After 20 days, Mr Bekali also contemplated suicide. Several days later, because of his intransigence and refusal to speak Mandarin, Mr Bekali was no longer permitted to go into the courtyard. Instead, he was sent to a higher level of management, where he spent 24 hours a day in a room with eight others.

A week later, he went to his first stint in solitary confinement. He saw a local judicial official walking into the building on an inspection tour and yelled at the top of his lungs. He thought even his former detention centre, with the abuse he suffered, would be better.

“Take me in the back and kill me, or send me back to prison,” he shouted. “I can’t be here anymore.”

He was again hauled off to solitary confinement. It lasted 24 hours, ending late afternoon on 24 November.

That is when Mr Bekali was released, as suddenly as he was detained eight months earlier.

A Baijiantan policemen who had always gone easy on Mr Bekali during interrogation appeared and checked him out of the facility.

“You were too headstrong, but what the department did was unjust,” he told Mr Bekali as he drove him to his sister’s home in Karamay.

Mr Bekali was free.

Freedom, but not for his family

The next morning, a Saturday, the police opened their immigration office for Mr Bekali to pick up a unique, 14-day Chinese visa. His original had long expired. Mr Bekali left China on 4 December.

Seeking compensation from the Chinese government is out of the question. But Mr Bekali keeps a plastic folder at home of evidence that might prove useful one day: his passport with stamps and visas, travel records and a handwritten Chinese police document dated and imprinted with red-ink seals.

ap-18136347787621.jpg

Omir Bekali displays a photo of his parents who he believes have now been interned in China (AP)

The document is the closest thing he has to an official acknowledgement that he suffered for eight months. It says he was held on suspicion of endangering national security; the last sentence declares him released without charge.

At first, Mr Bekali did not want his account published for fear that his sister and mother in China would be detained and sent to re-education.

But on March 10, back in China, the police took his sister, Adila Mr Bekali. A week later, on March 19, they took his mother, Amina Sadik. And on April 24, his father, Ebrayem.

Mr Bekali changed his mind and said he wanted to tell his story, no matter the consequences.

“Things have already come this far,” he said. “I have nothing left to lose.”

AP & Independent

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2018 in News

 

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Pearls in the Sky (Ramadan Nasheed)

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2018 in Relax, Video

 

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French Anti-Islam Movement Has New Rallying Cry !

French Anti-Islam Movement Has New Rallying Cry !

Opinion – Mehdi Hasan

Consider: Successive French governments have criminalized the face veil and banned the headscarf in schools. French mayors have targeted Muslim women who want to cover up at the beach and Muslim school kids who try to have a pork-free lunch. The French president — and new liberal heartthrob — Emmanuel Macron has introduced draconian counterterror legislation that United Nations human rights experts have warned could have a discriminatory impact on Muslims in particular.

And the latest big idea? To go after the Quran. On April 21, the newspaper Le Parisien published a manifesto “against the new anti-Semitism,” signed by 300 public figures — ranging from former President Nicolas Sarkozy and former Prime Minister Manuel Valls, to actor Gérard Depardieu and singer Charles Aznavour. According to The Atlantic, the manifesto states that “11 Jews have been assassinated — and some tortured — by radical Islamists” in France, and demands that “the verses of the Quran calling for murder and punishment of Jews, Christians, and nonbelievers be struck to obsolescence by religious authorities,” so that “no believer can refer to a sacred text to commit a crime.”

Such rhetoric is a reflection both of Gallic bigotry and sheer stupidity, a toxic combination of ignorance and privilege.

First, where are these Muslim “religious authorities” who would be willing to do to the Quran what Thomas Jefferson did to the Bible? Establishment-friendly French imams, such as Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, and Tareq Oubrou, imam of Bordeaux’s Grand Mosque, have denounced the manifesto as “unbelievable and unfair” and “nearly blasphemous.” And were such mainstream figures to even agree to edit the Quran — believed by Muslims to be the literal word of God! — does anyone really believe that the fanatics of the Islamic State or Al Qaeda would give a damn?

Second, violent extremism isn’t a product of scripture. Contrary to conventional wisdom, and as I have argued in the past while citing a raft of studies and experts, religious faith “isn’t a crucial factor” in terror attacks — or in the process of so-called radicalization. Why, then, obsess over Quranic verses? As the French journalist Didier Francois, who was held hostage by ISIS in Syria, told CNN in 2015: “There was never really discussion about texts or — it was not a religious discussion. It was a political discussion. … Because it has nothing to do with the Quran.” Or, as his fellow former French hostage, Nicolas Henin, has said, “I noticed that these jihadists have little to do with … Arab or Muslim culture — they are children of our societies. … They are products of our culture, our world.”

Who do you take more seriously? Two former ISIS hostages? Or the guy from “Green Card“?

Third, how can the manifesto signatories be so sure that it is French Muslims who are behind the rise of this “new anti-Semitism”? As a 2016 study of anti-Semitic hate crimes in France by Human Rights First noted, “Perpetrators of most antisemitic violence are perceived to be of ‘Muslim culture or origin’ … although there is no data to substantiate this conclusion—in part because of the prohibition in France on collecting ‘ethnic’ statistics.” Yet in next-door Germany, where such statistics are collected by the police, nine out of 10 anti-Semitic hate crimes in 2017 were carried out not by radicalized Muslims, but by “members of far-right or neo-Nazi groups.”

Fourth, what evidence is there that the Quran itself is anti-Semitic? Or that Islam has a particular problem with Jews? Critics often point to verses of the Muslim holy book that express hostility towards Jews, while ignoring the specific historical and theological context for such verses, and also ignoring those many other Quranic verses which heap praise on Jewish people.

As the Princeton University historian Mark Cohen, an expert on Jewish-Muslim relations, points out: “Islam contains a nucleus of pluralism that gave the Jews in Muslim lands greater security than Jews had in Christian Europe,” and therefore, “Jews in the Islamic orbit were spared the damaging stigma of ‘otherness’ and anti-Semitism suffered by Jews in Europe.” Modern-day Muslim and Arab anti-Semitism is a consequence of colonialism, conflicting nationalisms, and the clash with Zionism, argues Cohen, and is neither “indigenous” to the Middle East, nor “inherent” in Islam.

Fifth, why single out Islamic scripture in this way? Why not Jewish or Christian scripture, too? Are we supposed to pretend that the Old Testament of the Bible doesn’t contain scores of verses that incite violence and hatred against nonbelievers? Or, that those verses haven’t been used to justify heinous crimes in recent years? Against Palestinians, Iraqis, Ugandans, Norwegian kids, and American abortion clinics, among others?

To avoid the charge of hypocrisy, therefore, will the signatories to this manifesto, who include France’s chief rabbi Haim Korsia, also call for verses of the Bible to be “struck to obsolescence by religious authorities”?

Sixth, whatever happened to the “liberté” part of “liberté, égalité, fraternité“? How is the insistence on removing verses from the Quran compatible with religious freedom (a crucial, if less discussed, part of the French secular tradition)? How is it compatible with freedom of speech or expression? Whatever happened to the land of “Je Suis Charlie“? Well, guess what? The manifesto was drafted by, of all people, Philippe Val, the former managing editor of Charlie Hebdo. Irony, it seems, may have died a quiet death in France.

“The manifesto is a farce written by imposters,” Yasser Louati, a French civil liberties campaigner, tells me. He argues that if the signatories were serious about addressing rising anti-Jewish bigotry in their country, they would have also stood “against traditional French anti-Semitism.”

He has a point. France has a long and shameful history of anti-Semitism, from the Dreyfus Affair in the late 19th century, to the collaborationist Vichy government’s complicity in the Holocaust. According to a recent survey of French public opinion, reported Karina Piser in The Atlantic, “35 percent of French people believe Jews ‘have a particular rapport with money;’ 40 percent think that ‘for French Jews, Israel counts more than France;’ and 22 percent think that ‘Jews have too much power.’”

Nevertheless, 300 French public figures want to only highlight the issue of “Muslim anti-Semitism” in order to only denounce the message of the Quran. Muslims, after all, make for useful scapegoats.

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Posted by on May 16, 2018 in News

 

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Sweden Team Goalie reverts to Islam

Sweden Team Goalie reverts to Islam

STOCKHOLM – The goalkeeper for Sweden national team under 19, Ronja Andersson, has converted to Islam, after years of studying the religion.

“I’m proud to be a Muslim,” she said in an interview with Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, Expressen.se reported.

Andersson, a member of the Uppsala Women’s Football team, said she was first introduced to Islam when she was 15-year-old by her friend.

Later on, she began to read about religion and then felt that she saw Islam in another light.

“I discovered that there were so many nice things that addressed me. I then began to attend religious events. I went to the mosque,” she said.

“First of all, people said that I just wanted to convert because of my boyfriend, but it’s definitely not. I made this decision without him,” she added.

Nevertheless, Andersson’s decision to become Muslim has faced huge criticism from people around her, including her family.

“They are full of prejudice against me. I was also exposed to hatred,” she lamented.

Yet, Andersson stressed that she was happy to become a Muslim.

“After I became a Muslim, I realized that I had entered a very beautiful religion. I believe in all the contents of the Quran. I know God and I feel his help,” she said.

Now she is learning how to fulfill the Islamic rituals, saying she plans to fast this Ramadan, set to begin next Wednesay, May 16.

Muslims make up between 450,000 and 500,000 of Sweden’s nine million people, according to the US State Department report in 2011.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2018 in News

 

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Germany: Anti-Islamic court bars Muslim teacher from wearing hijab

Germany: Anti-Islamic court bars Muslim teacher from wearing hijab

Berlin’s neutrality law bars the wearing of overt religious symbols and clothing for state employees on duty.

Justice Boyer said the city state’s so-called neutrality law weighed stronger than the right to free religious expression [AP]

A court in the German capital, Berlin, has ruled that the city was right to bar a Muslim teacher, who wears a hijab (headscarf), from taking classes in a primary school, rejecting her discrimination complaint.

Justice Arne Boyer said on Wednesday that the city state’s so-called neutrality law, which bars the wearing of overt religious symbols and clothing for state employees on duty, weighed stronger than the right to free religious expression.

“Primary school children should be free of the influence that can be exerted by religious symbols,” said Martin Dressler, a court spokesman.

The court, however, found that the young woman, who was not publicly named and did not appear at the court hearing, is allowed to continue teaching older vocational students in a Berlin public secondary school.

Appeal possible

The ruling, which was still subject to a possible appeal, was expected to impact a wider debate on the issue in Germany, where rules on the hijab differ between the 16 federal states.

The hijab is a headscarf worn by many Muslim women who feel it is part of their religion.

German national law bans all civil servants from covering their faces (this includes the wearing of niqabs and burkas – the full veils worn by some Muslim women) except for when it is required for health and safety reasons, such as firefighters wearing breathing masks.

However, there is no nationwide ban on civil servants wearing the Muslim hijab, and many states weigh the tension between freedom of religion and civil servants’ neutrality rules on a case-by-case basis.

The predominantly Catholic state of Bavaria recently ordered Christian crosses, which already hang on walls in schools and courtrooms, to also be fixed in the entrance halls of state administration buildings.

Germany’s Constitutional Court ruled in 2015 that a general ban on teachers wearing headscarves was against the right to religious freedom. States have different ways of dealing with the issue.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2018 in News, Uncategorized

 

German schools need more Islamic classes.

German schools need more Islamic classes.

In Germany, almost all education policy is determined at state level, and each state has a different approach to teaching religion — some states allow input from churches or religious organizations, others administer everything through the state, while two, Hamburg and Bremen, only have unified religious lessons that include different faiths.

Meanwhile, in all eastern German states except Berlin, there is no Islam option in religious classes at all.

A new study has found that 54,000 high school students at 800 schools in Germany receive Islam religion lessons — but 10 times as many would be interested.

Not enough German high school students receive Islam religion lessons, according to a new study by the media info service Mediendienst Integration.

But this is still much less than the 580,000 students who would potentially be interested in such lessons, a number that came out of a 2008 report entitled “Muslim Life in Germany” carried out by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). Given that this survey was carried out before the recent refugee influx into Germany, that figure is likely to be even higher now. Though exact figures are not known, Rauf Ceylan, professor for contemporary Islamic studies at the University of Osnabrück, believes the number of Muslim children aged six to 18 at German schools is around 750,000 to 800,000.

Musa Bagrac, an Islamic studies teacher in Hamm, North Rhine-Westphalia, and chairman of the association of Islam studies teachers, which helps shape the religious curriculum in the state, argued that German Muslim students had a constitutional right to attend Islamic religious classes guided by religious associations, and that ethics classes were only intended for those who described themselves as non-religious. “Our association works from the German constitution, which protects religious studies as a subject in school,” he said.

He was referring to Article 7 of Germany’s Basic Law, which includes a paragraph that has created a lot of legal paperwork in recent decades: “Religious instruction shall form part of the regular curriculum in state schools, with the exception of non-denominational schools. Without prejudice to the state’s right of supervision, religious instruction shall be given in accordance with the tenets of the religious community concerned.”

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Posted by on May 1, 2018 in News

 

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