Elk jaar worden 500 Belgen moslim

BRUSSEL – Houdt u van vrijgevigheid en uw familie? Zou u liever meer tijd met uw vrienden doorbrengen dan op het werk? Misschien schuilt er een nieuwe moslim in u.

Ze zijn elk jaar met een vijfhonderdtal: nieuwe moslims. Belgen zonder Marokkaanse of Turkse roots die een Arabische naam hebben aangenomen, Vlamingen die ooit hun plechtige communie deden, maar nu met een hoofddoek rondlopen, de ramadan volgen en bidden in de richting van Mekka.

Onderzoekster Iman Lechkar (KULeuven), zelf moslima uit een Marokkaanse familie, volgde voor haar doctoraalscriptie 40 moslims zonder moslimroots, drie jaar lang, en publiceert nu de resultaten onder de titel Streven en struikelen in de naam van Allah.

Bewuste keuze

Lechkar stelt vast dat ‘haar’ nieuwe moslims het zichzelf niet gemakkelijk gemaakt hebben. Sommigen houden er een moeilijke relatie met hun ouders aan over. Anderen verloren hun werk, of stapten uit hun relatie, maar ze bleven bij hun keuze. Niet helemaal verwonderlijk, want Lechkar vond haar proefkonijnen bij bekeerlingenorganisaties. ‘Wie zich daar engageert, heeft een bewuste keuze gemaakt. Niet zoals sommige anderen, vaak functionele bekeerlingen, die zich zonder veel diepgang aanpassen aan hun Marokkaanse of Turkse partner.’

Een Turks lief blijkt nochtans, net als een inspirerende reis naar het Midden-Oosten of een goed gesprek met een inspirerende Marokkaanse buurman, vaak een rol te spelen in een bekering. Maar volgens Lechkar is er meer aan de hand: ‘Dat iemand op zoek is naar inspiratie en net in die periode op reis gaat naar een moslimland, is misschien toeval, dat hij door de islam geraakt wordt, is dat niet.’

Lechkar vond drie belangrijke islamitische waarden die telkens terugkeren. ‘Mensen worden aangesproken door de vrijgevigheid van de islam, de hechte sociale banden en een ander tijdgebruik: niet zo veel mogelijk werken om zo veel mogelijk geld te verdienen, maar bewust tijd maken voor de familie en vrienden. Dat bleek toch uit de gesprekken.’

Volg iemand die een ingrijpende keuze gemaakt heeft drie jaar lang en je ziet ook de moeilijke momenten. ‘Ik heb mensen hun werk zien verliezen. Een manager in een voedingsbedrijf die moslima werd en nu een hoofddoek draagt. Ze heeft zich noodgedwongen bijgeschoold en is nu lerares islam. Anderen kiezen ervoor hun hoofddoek uit te doen voor het werk. Een jongeman die in materiële weelde is opgegroeid, heeft moeten leren leven met de teleurstelling van zijn ouders die zien dat hij andere waarden zoekt dan carrière maken.’

Pint drinken

‘Moslim worden is niet alleen confronterend voor de omgeving, moslim zijn is ook hard werk. Gedeelde rituelen zijn nog belangrijk in de islam, de regels volgen ook. Een verse bekeerling wil perfect zijn. Tot hij toch eens uitgaat en een pint drinkt. Of tot ze zich realiseert dat ze niet met haar man naar Marokko wilde uit gierigheid, om niet twee weken lang boodschappen te moeten betalen voor de schoonfamilie. Die zwakke momenten leren ze dan ook een plaats te geven.’

Nieuwe moslims hebben sinds een paar jaar hun eigen organisaties. Zoals Al Minara en Hidjra, voor vrouwen, en De Koepel, een moskee voor bekeerlingen in Borgerhout. ‘Ze willen hun geloof beleven zonder de typisch Turkse of Marokkaanse kantjes. Ze willen het ook bewuster aanpakken dan veel geboren moslims, die soms in dezelfde materiële ratrace zitten als veel niet-moslims. Die geboren zijn in de waarheid, maar de waarheid niet volgen.’

Dat er elk jaar vijfhonderd nieuwe moslims zijn, is gebaseerd op cijfers van de Grote Moskee in het Jubelpark in Brussel. Een moslim die ooit naar Mekka wil, moet daar geregistreerd staan.

(www.standaard.be / 04.05.2012)

REMEMBER THE NAKBA

REMEMBER THE NAKBA
END ISRAEL’S ETHNIC
CLEANSING NOW!

nakba key symbol

Saturday 12 May
1–3pm opposite Downing St, London

& SUPPORT PALESTINIAN PRISONERS

Help us to build a new mass anti-Apartheid movement
for Palestine

Join us: www.palestinecampaign.org • www.bminitiative.net • www.foa.org.uk •www.palestinianforum.co.uk • www.stopwar.org.uk

Organised by: Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al-Aqsa, British Muslim Initiative, Palestinian Forum for Britain, Stop the War Coalition.

Supported by: Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine (APJP), CAABU, CND, CWU, FBU, Green Party, GUPS UK, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, ICAHD UK, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine, London BDS, PCS, Viva Palestina, War on Want, Zaytoun.

 

(palestinecampaign.org / 04.05.2012)

Palestinian Prisoners near Death

On Palestinian Prisoner’s Day, 17 April, Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails began a mass hunger strike. Subsequently, the protest has grown steadily and today, some 2,500 Palestinian political prisoners are participating in the most peaceful form of protest imaginable. Amongst them are eight prisoners in critical condition due to the fact that they have been conducting a hunger strike for up to 66 days.

This is the second mass hunger strike to take place in recent months due to the Israeli Prison Services (IPS) downgrading of detention conditions in September 2011. The political prisoners are once again calling for an end to practices that include prolonged isolation, administrative detention, restrictions on family and lawyers’ visits and inhuman treatment.

At the time of writing, Bilal Diyab and Tha’er Halahla, currently on their 66th day of hunger strike, confined to wheelchairs attended the Israeli High Court hearing regarding their administrative detention. Chairing the panel of Judges, Judge Amnon Rubenstein concluded that further revision of the “secret file” was required before a decision could be ruled and that both parties would be informed of the decision at a later date, without specifying when.

Hasan Zahi Safadi

Hasan-safadiDuring the past week, Al-Haq met with Hasan Zahi Safadi’s brother Fou’ad. The 33-year-old political prisoner, Hasan, has been held under administrative detention since 29 June 2011 and has been on hunger strike for 59 days. Fou’ad and his family members were all denied permits by Israel to visit Hasan. Fou’ad recalls that his brother was held for 55 days for investigation in al-Jalama interrogation center. Hasan was then moved to Magiddo Prison where he served six months of administrative detention, followed by another six-month detention order issued on 3 March 2012. Hasan joined the hunger strike contesting the arbitrary practice of administrative detention against him and another 321 prisoners. As punishment, the IPS moved him from one prison to another and finally, put him in isolation in al-Jalama prison for 11 days.

According to Hasan’s lawyer, his client was physically assaulted inside the prison and his health condition has deteriorated due to the failure of the IPS to provide him with medical assistance. Only on 6 April, Hasan was transferred to al-Ramla Prison Hospital in order to receive treatment. Approximately 20 days later, the Israeli Appeal Court decided to keep Hasan in administrative detention for the full period of six months.

Despite the fact that Hasan’s health condition has deteriorated, he is determined not to end his hunger strike until he is released. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 7285/2012)

Nizar Samir al-Tamimi

The 39-year-old former prisoner was arrested in November 1993 from al-Nabi Saleh near Ramallah. Nizar was released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in October 2011. When arrested 18 years ago, he was questioned for 35 days and was subjected to physical and psychological abuse amounting to torture by his Israeli investigators. He was forced to sit for hours in one position with his hands and feet shackled with a plastic bag covering his face. After 24 days of investigation, Nizar was presented to a judge for a ruling on his case, his mother, who was attending the court hearing, was physically assaulted by a female soldier who pushed her to the ground with the butt of her rifle. Nizar’s mother was taken to hospital suffering a severe head injury and after two days, she died.  The Israeli interrogators used his mother’s death as a mean to persuade Nizar to confess. Nizar at the age of 21 was eventually sentenced to a one-life imprisonment.

During his detention, Nizar carried out five hunger strikes; in 1995, 1998, 2000, 2004 and 2011. He recalls that the first hunger strikes prior to the second Intifada were largely concerned with political demands to release all prisoners especially following the Oslo Accords. In the past, hunger strikes have only lasted for a maximum period of 20 days, in comparison to the present strikes, which are currently at an unprecedented period of 66 days and counting. In 2000, the prisoners demanded from the IPS the improvement of their detention conditions such as continuing their education and better quality and quantity of food. The IPS attempted to suppress their hunger strike however, after 20 days the prisoners successfully achieved the majority of their demands. Post 2004, the IPS made the detention conditions very difficult for the prisoners, such as restricted family visits, the imposing of fines, strip searches and physical assaults. During those times, many hunger strikers were isolated from the rest of the prisoners, while others had their hunger strike prematurely ended when food tubes were forcibly placed in their mouths. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 7287/2012)

Al-Haq is gravely concerned about these alarming practices, as they are likely to be imposed also on Bilal, Tha’er, Hasan and the other prisoners currently on hunger strike.

Statistics

Palestinian political prisoners by numbers:

Type of Prisoners Number of prisoners
Total number of political prisoners 4610
Administrative detainees 322 (24 PLC)
Child prisoners 203 ( 31 under 16)
Female prisoners 6
Palestinian Legislative Council members 27
Gaza prisoners, who have not received any family visits since 2007 456

 

(www.alhaq.org / 04.05.2012)

Israeli forces suppress Bethlehem village demo

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces suppressed a demonstration Friday by the popular committee against the wall in al-Maasara, near Bethlehem, in support of Palestinian detainees on hunger strike.

Participants held Palestinian flags in addition to yellow flags with the words “Freedom for detainees” on them. They chanted slogans condemning the occupation and treatment of prisoners.

Soldiers blocked the entrance of the village and declared the area a closed military zone.

(www.maannews.net / 04.05.2012)

Vluchteling moet zelf onschuld bewijzen

Het conflict tussen minister Gerd Leers (Immigratie, Integratie en Asiel) en burgemeester Els Boot van Giessenlanden over de uitzetting van Rafiq Naibzay heeft de problematiek rond Afghaanse ‘1F-ers’ weer volop in het nieuws gebracht.

In de jaren negentig werd Nederland geconfronteerd met een groot aantal Afghaanse asielzoekers die vluchtten voor de Taliban. Er verschenen toen berichten in de media over slachtoffers die hier hun beulen tegenkwamen. De Tweede Kamer vroeg zich daarop af waarom Afghaanse misdadigers een verblijfsvergunning kregen.

Het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken ging na of en zo ja welke voormalige medewerkers van de Afghaanse veiligheidsdiensten zich schuldig zouden hebben gemaakt aan mensenrechtenschendingen. Dat leidde tot een ambtsbericht, waarin staat dat alle KHAD/WAD-(onder)officieren verantwoordelijk zijn voor mensenrechtenschendingen. ‘De organisatie kende een roulatiesysteem waarbij een plaatsing op een afdeling met een meer administratief karakter slechts in het verschiet lag voor diegenen die zich voldoende hadden bewezen tijdens een eerste plaatsing, zodat elke officier betrokken was bij arrestaties, martelingen en zelfs executies’.

Op grond van deze informatie is het beleid al meer dan een decennium om voormalige medewerkers van de KHAD/WAD uit te sluiten van een vluchtelingenstatus. Of ze moeten zelf met het bewijs van hun onschuld komen.

Diverse organisaties hebben kritiek geuit op de betrouwbaarheid van het ambtsbericht. In 2008 concludeerde de vluchtelingenorganisatie van de VN, de UNHCR, op basis van eigen onderzoek dat zij niet kon bevestigen dat sprake was van een roulatiesysteem in het voormalige KHAD/WAD. De notitie van de UNHCR heeft lagere rechtbanken aan het twijfelen gebracht over de juistheid van het ambtsbericht. Maar de afdeling bestuursrechtspraak van de Raad van State heeft het ambtsbericht als juist gekwalificeerd.

Gesprekken tussen de UNHCR en de toenmalige minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Maxime Verhagen zijn vervolgens op niets uitgelopen, waardoor het zogenaamde 1F-beleid geen stap verder is gekomen.

Minister Leers is geconfronteerd met een burgemeester die de politie in haar gemeente verbiedt om mee te werken aan de uitzetting van Naibzay. De argumenten waarmee de burgemeester zich beroept op de Gemeentewet en de Politiewet zijn niet heel sterk. Uitzetting zal natuurlijk wel commotie teweeg brengen, maar die zal niet van dien aard zijn dat gesproken kan worden van verstoring van de openbare orde. Wanneer de suïcidale echtgenote van Naibzay echt een gevaar voor zichzelf vormt, heeft de burgemeester andere bevoegdheden om dat te voorkomen.

Wat Boot eigenlijk probeert te doen is het onmenselijke aspect van het 1F-beleid blootleggen. Naibzay mag hier niet blijven op grond van het feit dat Nederland geen toevluchtsoord voor oorlogsmisdadigers mag zijn. Maar weegt dit belang nog wel op tegen het jarenlang onthouden van een verblijfsvergunning aan personen die op grond van vermoedens worden uitgesloten van een verblijfsstatus en na uitzetting van hun gezin worden gescheiden?

Steeds meer burgemeesters keren zich tegen dit beleid. In juni 2011 al heeft burgemeester Boot samen met tien collega’s aan de minister gevraagd om een heroverweging van het 1F-beleid. Naar aanleiding van de kwestie-Naibzay heeft het LOGO (Landelijk Overleg van Gemeentebesturen inzake Opvang- en terugkeerbeleid) een protestbrief naar de minister gestuurd. Op 29 februari heeft de hoogste bestuursrechter geoordeeld dat de overheid met een enkele verwijzing naar het ambtsbericht van 2000 niet kon volstaan in een zaak tegen een andere Afghaanse 1F-er. De rechter lijkt hiermee te erkennen dat enkel het ambtsbericht geen voldoende bewijs oplevert. De overheid zal per geval meer moeten aanvoeren om haar vermoedens aannemelijk te maken. Hoewel deze ontwikkelingen Naibzay en andere 1F-ers wellicht weer wat hoop geven, zie ik het somber in. Zolang het ambtsbericht zo absoluut wordt toegepast, zal er niets wezenlijk veranderen. Anno 2012 zal de Nederlandse overheid geen stap terugzetten en zeggen dat het ambtsbericht misschien toch niet helemaal klopt.

Zarif Bahtiyar doet aan de Universiteit van Tilburg rechtsvergelijkend onderzoek naar Artikel 1F van het Vluchtelingenverdrag.

(www.ed.nl / 04.05.2012)

Clashes erupt at mass rally in Cairo

Thousands protest against recent killing of demonstrators and demand that Egypt’s military leaders step down.
Egyptian armed forces and protesters have clashed in Cairo, with troops using water cannon and rocks to disperse demonstrators trying to reach the defence ministry.

Hundreds of troops guarding the ministry surged forward on Friday when protesters began cutting through barbed wire used to seal off the ministry building in the capital’s central Abbasiya neighbourhood.

“We understand that just a few minutes ago, the protesters tried to remove the barrier with barbed wire between themselves and the defence ministry,” Al Jazeera’s Steve Chao reported from Cairo.

“Security forces responded with water canons. Protesters responded with rocks.”

He said the military forces were describing their actions as “self-defence”.

The protests come amid heightened tension after 11 people were killed in clashes that broke out on Wednesday when unidentified assailants fired at protesters staging a sit-in outside the ministry of defence in Cairo.

Protesters have plastered Cairo’s Tahrir Square with banners reading, “Down with military rule”.

“I’m telling the military council… enough bloodshed, enough fabricated crisis, enough unleashing of thugs on the public, enough destruction…  we want them to transfer power to an independent transitional authority tomorrow,” Akrami Darwish, a protester, said on Friday.

The protests, to “protect the revolution and halt the bloodshed”, were expected to draw people from all major political formations in Egypt, namely the Muslim Brotherhood, a section of the Salafist movement and the liberal activist movements.

Several pro-democracy movements, including April 6, as well as the powerful Muslim Brotherhood said they would be joining the protests in Cairo and the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.

The ultra-conservative Salafi movement, which has become increasingly popular recently, is also participating in the rallies. Its candidate, Hazem Abu Ismail, was disqualified because his mother had dual Egyptian-US nationality.

“If anyone approaches its (installations), they should hold themselves responsible,” General Mokhtar al-Mulla, a member of the ruling military council, said on Thursday.

Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh, reporting from Cairo, said: “It has really boiled down to an issue of trust. Whatever the ruling military council promises, people simple don’t trust them, at least the protesters.”

“It is definitely turning into a battle of the wills between the two sides,” she said.

Handover of power

Army troops were accused of standing idly by near the clashes on Wednesday and not intervening until after the deaths of some of the protesters.

However, the army denied that it was responsible for the bloodshed.

“Our hands are clean of Egyptian blood,” Major General Mohammed al-Assar, a senior official in the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), said on Thursday.

The ruling military council has tried to counter accusations that it might use the violence as a pretext to ignore its owndeadline to relinquish control of the country.

“We say it frankly and clearly. The armed forces and their supreme council are committed to the handover of power on June 30,” al-Assar said.

“We don’t desire power. The Supreme Council (of the Armed Forces) is not a substitute for legitimacy in Egypt,” he said.

He said the military would ensure the integrity and fairness of the presidential election.

“We are committed to fair elections [...] We don’t have any [favoured] candidates. All the candidates are respectable Egyptians.”

The presidential election is scheduled for May 23 and 24 and a run off for June 16 and 17 if there is no outright winner in the first round.

The military has said it would hand over power to civilian rule before the end of June, or by May if there is a clear winner in the first round of elections.

It has been accused of bungling the transition to democratic rule over the past year, with the death of more than 100 people in political violence.

The ruling SCAF cracked down on pro-democracy protests and hauled more than 10,000 civilians to trial before military tribunals.

(www.aljazeera.com / 04.05.2012)

Thousands in Jordan call for end of peace treaty with Israel

In series of nationwide protests, leftist and Islamist activists call to cut ties with Israel, burning Israeli flags and chanting ‘death, death to Israel.’

Thousands of Jordanians took to the streets on Friday demanding an end to the country’s 18-year-old Wadi Araba peace treaty with Israel.

In a series of nationwide protests, leftist and Islamist activists urged Amman to cut ties with Israel, burning Israeli flags and chanting “death, death to Israel” and “the people want an end to Wadi Araba.”

Jordanian protesters burn Israeli flag - AFP - May 4, 2012 Jordanians burn an improvised Israeli flag during a protest against the current government following Friday noon prayers in downtown Amman, May 4, 2012.
Protesters rallied in seven cities across the country, urging authorities to expel the Israeli ambassador from Amman, chanting “no to a Zionist embassy on our land.”

Protest organizers, including the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood and youth movements, said the demonstrations came as a direct response to King Abdullah’s recent nomination of Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh, who served as a key figure in the 1994 Jordan-Israel peace process.

Various political and social groups have expressed outrage over comments recently made by Tarawneh indicating that, if given a second chance, he would still support the controversial peace treaty.

“This is a person who obviously does not respect the people’s will and his words are proof of how out of touch he is with average citizens,” Jamil Abu Baker, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, told dpa.

Popular opinion in Jordan is that the 1994 Wadi Araba treat is a failure, with politicians and officials accusing Israel of not respecting its obligations under the pact, particularly regarding water sharing, Amman’s custodianship over holy sites in Jerusalem, and access to the Palestinian territories.

Friday marked a departure from activists’ demands for democratic reforms, the focus of the vast majority of the some 1,000 protests that have hit Jordan since the start of the so-called Arab Spring uprisings that were triggered in late 2010.

(www.haaretz.com / 04.05.2012)

Detainee In Solitary Confinement For 10 Years

Mahmoud Issa is a Palestinian political prisoner who has been in prison since 1993 and in solitary confinement for the last 10 years. He is allowed only half-hour visits from his family while in February a judge denied Issa’s 75-year-old mother the right to visit him. Israel claims she is a “security risk”,

freebars.jpg

Mahmoud Issa, from Anata town north east of Jerusalem, has been imprisoned by Israel since 1993. He was sentenced by an Israeli military court to three life-terms, on the grounds that he participated in the abduction and killing of an Israeli soldier identified as Nissim Toledano, and that he attempted to kill two other Israeli soldiers.

A report by Israeli daily, Haaretz, revealed that the ruling was based on what the judge called “secret material” and information submitted by Israeli Internal Security (Shin Bet).

Issa’s family stated that he has been kept in solitary confinement for all these years as an act of punishment.

His sister stated that it is unbelievable that Israel considers his 75 yea -old mother a security risk despite her sickness, old age and partial deafness.

She added that even when they are allowed to visit Issa they do not have any body contact because of the glass barrier that separates them during visits, and they can only speak to him through an internal phone monitored by the guards, Haaretz reported.

Israel claims it has not received visitation requests from Issa’s mother or family, and that should a request be submitted, “[i]t would look into it”. The claim was denied by Issa’s family who said they have filed numerous requests.

Israel’s Shin Bet orders the prison service to renew Issa’s solitary confinement every six months, so he remains at all times in his small cell and denied his right to be among other political detainees.

Haaretz further reported that lawyer Abeer Baker told the District Court in Nazareth, back in November 2011 that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has ruled that extended periods of solitary confinement violate the American Convention on Human Rights.

But Judge David Cheshin ruled on November 30, that the prosecution had granted him “enough material to keep the detainee in solitary confinement”, and claimed that “preventing family visits and phone calls is not meant to be a punishment”.

An end to solitary confinement is one of the main demands that impelled Palestinian political prisoners, held by Israel to launch their open-ended hunger strike. The detainees are also demanding that visits to detainees from the Gaza Strip be allowed, and that their basic rights guaranteed by International Law be granted.

Detainees Bilal Thiab and Thaer Halahla have been on hunger strike for 67 days; both were brought to court on Thursday where Arab member of Knesset Dr. Ahamd Tibi examined them and diagnosed serious health conditions which require immediate hospitalization.

On Wednesday, detainee Rateb Ad-Deek, also on hunger-strike, lost his sense of hearing, and was vomiting blood after being given the wrong medication in prison, the Palestinian Prisoners Society reported.

(www.imemc.org / 04.05.2012)