Archive for Integration

German President Joachim Gauck Sparks Debate with Islam Comments

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , on June 1, 2012 by loonwatch

German President Joachim Gauck

If Muslims are a part of German society then wouldn’t Islam also be a part of it?

At least that is what the previous German president, Christian Wulff said when he remarked that decades of immigration has meant that “Islam belongs to Germany.”

The current German president, Joachim Gauck makes a differentiation, saying Muslims belong to Germany but perhaps not Islam.

This is part of a larger public discourse that has been happening over the past few years in Germany in regards to Islam and Muslims’ place in German society.

(Via. Islamophobia-Watch)

German president sparks debate with Islam comments

President Joachim Gauck has said in a newspaper interview that Muslims living in Germany are more definitively a part of the country than the religion of Islam, a slight change from the stance of his predecessor.

When asked about a quote from the previous president, Christian Wulff – who had said that “Islam is now also a part of Germany” – Gauck told the newspaper Die Zeit that he would not have used this particular sentence, adding “but I do welcome the intent behind it.”

“I would have simply said that the Muslims who are living here are a part of Germany,” Gauck said in an interview published in the current edition of the weekly paper. He elaborated further, defining what he considers the most important factor for people with immigrant roots to be part of Germany.

“Anybody who has come here and doesn’t just pay their taxes, but also likes to be here, partly because there’s a level of justice and freedom not available in their country of origin, they are all one of us; so long as they adhere to our basic rules,” Gauck said.

But more generally, the president said he thought “one-sentence formulations on belonging” were problematic, “and especially when they concern something as delicate as religion.”

The co-leader of the Green Party, Cem Özdemir, said in the Ruhr Nachrichten newspaper on Friday that he “can not understand this differentiation between Islam and practicing Muslims,” adding that if Gauck considers Muslims a part of Germany, “then of course Islam is part of Germany too.”

Deutsche Welle, 1 June 2012

Wajahat Ali: How turkey came to our Thanksgiving table

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2011 by loonwatch

(cross-posted from Salon)

Once shunned by my Muslim family, the bird finally found a place in our home, just like so many American traditions

By: Wajahat Ali

My Pakistani and American Muslim social circles celebrate Thanksgiving each year alongside our Eid festivities and Super Bowl Sunday parties, featuring homemade guacamole dip, chips and samosas. But it wasn’t always like this. For my family, this marriage between East and West was three decades in the making.

The 1980s:  An “Amreekan Holiday”

As a child, I often asked my mother what we were eating for Thanksgiving.

“Food,” she replied matter-of-factly.

“Are we eating a turkey?” I asked.

“No, only Amreekans eat turkey.”

Any immigrant or child of immigrants understands that “Amreekan” is a code word for “the mainstream,” which really means “white people.” In addition to celebrating Thanksgiving with a turkey, here are some other things we learned only “Amreekans” do:

  • Wear shoes inside the home
  • Receive “time out” as a valid form of punishment for unruly behavior
  • Talk back to elders
  • Have sex before marriage
  • Put grandparents in senior homes
  • Sleep over at friends’ homes
  • Tattoos
  • Christmas trees
  • Cable television
  • Shop at stores other than Ross, K-Mart, outlet stores, Marshalls and Mervyns (RIP)

Now, I don’t begrudge my parents their position toward turkey. It’s a confounding bird for most immigrants, who are generally more comfortable with the bleats of a goat or a lamb, the squawks of the simple-minded chicken. The turkey was an enigma: a heavy, feathered bird with its “gobbledygook” mutterings, freakish red wattle and vast supply of dry, juiceless meat.

“Do the Amreekans realize it is dry?” ask my still perplexed relatives living in Pakistan. “Where is the masala? The taste? The juices? Why do they eat this bird?”

Besides, most first-generation immigrants in America retain the romantic, deluded concept that “We will eventually go back home to the Motherland.” They will never be “Amreekan.”

Of course, they never do go back and instead firmly plant their familial, cultural, economic, religious and political roots in this foreign yet welcoming “Amreekan” soil. They have second-generation kids — yours truly — who are as “Amreekan” as apple pie, burritos and biryani.

And so Thanksgiving traditions began to leak into our old-school immigrant mentality. I watched the annual Macy’s parade, hoping to see a Spider-Man float. I played Super Mario on my Nintendo and looked forward to spending the evening with Snoopy, Linus, Charlie Brown and the gang, all the while eating a traditional Pakistani dinner. No turkey — yet.

The ’90s: Introducing the Thanksgiving Chicken

In my teen years, I discovered hair in new places and found the courage to demand authentic “Amreekan” requests from my parents.

“Give me turkey, woman!” I once commanded my mother for the upcoming Thanksgiving festivities.

“Here’s some money. You buy it and make it yourself if you like it so much,” she replied.

Foiled again. She knew my inherent culinary uselessness and overall laziness far too well. Well played, Mother. Well played.

During this decade of grunge and Bill Clinton, the immigrant generation in our family gradually replaced the “We will go back to the motherland” mantra with disillusioned rants about how “The motherland is going to hell” after they returned from visiting.

American pop culture effortlessly coexisted within the confines of our Pakistani-American home. Visiting from college one day, I descended the stairs to Nusrat belting out a qawwali in Punjabi. Moments later my father changed the track to Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.” He was in the kitchen rubbing traditional South Asian spices into pieces of steak he would later cook on his brand-new George Foreman grill.

My mother relented to my requests and made a meal on Thanksgiving. Instead of cooking a turkey, though, she insisted on roasting two whole chickens.

“What’s the point of having a chicken on Thanksgiving of all days?” I asked. “It’s like passing out omelets to kids on Easter instead of colored eggs.”

“I like chickens. I can cook a chicken. Chickens are tasty,” my mother replied. “I’m not wasting my time cooking a dry bird.”

She ruled the kitchen with an Iron Ladle.

But the consumption of “some form of a bird” on Thanksgiving was remarkable progress toward fully celebrating this Amreekan holiday. Furthermore, the religious clergy in our communities realized the obvious: Thanksgiving dinner is actually harmonious with Muslim values. After all, aren’t we reconciling with our family and communities and being thankful and grateful for all of our blessings? Isn’t that what Muslims are supposed to do on a daily basis?

Score one for theology in supporting rational arguments to consume dead birds.

That night, we ate two fully roasted whole chickens (quite tasty), and my mother also made basmati rice, daal (lentls), chicken khorma (curry) and kheema (South Asian ground beef.)

It wasn’t perfect — but it was a start.

The new century: Let there be turkey

The 21st century opened the culinary floodgates. It was a brave new world. Turkeys were unleashed to South Asian and Muslim American homes on Thanksgiving with wild abandon. No American holiday would be left unattended and no holiday sale would be forsaken by the immigrant communities! The musings of “going back to the motherland” have now transformed into semi-annual visits to see relatives and nothing more.

Even Muslim butchers are readily selling Halal turkeys in their local community shops. (Halal meat refers to animals slaughtered according to Islamic custom similar to Kosher slaughtering practices for Jews).

2002 was the “Great Turkey Explosion,” when Chandni, the neighborhood South Asian restaurant/wedding reception hall/religious ceremony hall/miscellaneous space used for all celebrations, started offering an “authentic Thanksgiving buffet” for $11 on Nov. 24-25. I had heard rumors of this awesomeness, but I had to drive there and witness morsels of turkey flesh swimming in a broth of fat and oil to believe it myself. And, lo and behold, in front of the South Asian buffet table — which featured lamb karahi, chicken tikka masala, and saag ghosht (spinach with meat) — there was “Thanksgiving” buffet table with turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and bread rolls.

In our home, my father made the official decree that the Ali family would now and forever more eat turkey on Thanksgivings – provided he could successfully cook it, which meant “Not cooking it like the Amreekans who always make it too dry.” He felt ambitious in his old age and wanted to test his expanding baking skills by finally tackling the Gobbling-Goliath.

His initial attempt in 2003 was conservative, baking the turkey over several hours as per custom. There was also corn. The mother made some chicken khorma as emergency along with Basmati rice. Some cans of mango and lime pickle achar (relish) were opened just in case. The turkey was both edible and tasty. The family had successfully conquered the mythical bird and stuffed it with so much masala juice it developed a South Asian accent, bhangra dance moves, good credit and IT tech support skills.

A few years later, the family decided to up the ante and “brine” the turkey after some intense Googling sessions researching “Best Way to Cook + Turkey.” This time, we added gravy, mashed potatoes and soft rolls to the menu, along with corn.

Some Thanksgiving staples, however, remained foreign. Yams could only be justified if it was added with meat to a curry. Pumpkins were still regarded as an “exotic vegetable” only to be seen and carved on Halloween. Cranberry sauce was something you drank out of a bottle as a juice concentrate and never ate on the side. “Stuffing” was still only understood as a verb and not an edible noun.

Fast-forward a few years to 2011, and lo and behold, our turkeys have been successfully baked, roasted, brined, deep fried — and thoroughly enjoyed. The annual turkey now sits on a large dining table next to homemade sweet yams, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn bread, rolls, corn on the cob, and store-bought pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce. And yes, there is always a South Asian curry dish just in case.

We also wash down the gluttony with the American Muslim version of Cristal: Martinelli’s Apple Cider.

But this isn’t just a story about how we integrated a strange-looking bird into our dinners. It’s how my American Muslim Pakistani family integrated into the American cultural fabric. It’s the same messy, colorful but inevitable way immigrants all over enter the American narrative, bringing their own flavors to collide, merge and spill outside the pot.

It’s as Amreekan as turkey and chicken khorma.

Wajahat Ali continues to awkwardly pray in Gap stalls.  He is a playwright, attorney and journalist.  His first play, “The Domestic Crusaders,” was recently published by McSweeney’s.  He is currently writing an HBO pilot with Dave Eggers.

Rabbi David Rosen Clarifies His Comments on “Islam and Europe”

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2010 by loonwatch

Rabbi David Rosen contacted us over the weekend in response to our article, “Rabbi David Rosen: Europe Risks being Overrun by Islam,” (which was based on a quote from an EU Observer article with the same title), seeking to clarify his comment and distancing himself from others quoted in the article.

Here is the quote in question:

Speaking to journalists at a meeting in Jerusalem on Friday (26 November), Rabbi Rosen, the director of inter-religious affairs at the Washington-based American Jewish Congress, said that a predominantly secular and liberal Western European society is under threat by the rapid growth of Islamic communities that do not want to integrate with their neighbours.

“I am against building walls. My humanity is my most important component. But Western society very clearly doesn’t have a strong identity. I would like Christians in Europe to become more Christian … those who do not have a strong identity are easily overrun by those who do,” the rabbi warned.

“I think there is a pretty good chance that your grandchildren, if they are not Muslim, then they will be very strong Roman Catholics,” he told one Italian reporter. “I don’t think a tepid identity can stand up to the challenge.”

This is Rabbi David Rosen’s comments:

Dear Loonwatch.com,

The article that you reproduced from EUobserver.com grossly misrepresented me. The headline and the first paragraph are entirely the reporter’s tendentious fabrication. The quotes are correct, but connecting mine with the others in the piece even distorts the quotes. I was addressing a group of journalists on the subject of Religion and Identity in the M.E. In question time they asked me about Europe and the prognosis of an eventual Muslim majority. I said that I didn’t think one needed to be afraid of such a prospect, if the Muslim population was appropriately integrated in Europe as it sought to be. However if the prospect causes them concern, then the only appropriate and valid response is to strengthen their own identities and this is unlikely to succeed without a religious basis. I would be grateful if you would put this clarification upon your site.

Thankyou,

Rabbi David Rosen

A poor choice of words from the Rabbi initially but his clarification spells out his repudiation of the Muslim demographic take over conspiracy, though in reality all indicators reveal that Muslims in Europe are in a post-integration phase and have already been integrated into society.

 

Orthodox Jews Rally for Segregation, What if they were Muslims?

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on June 17, 2010 by loonwatch

Imagine if these were two different strains of the same Muslim sect, people would be wailing that Islam and Muslims are racists. As of now I haven’t heard anyone say Judaism or Jews are racists. You can also bet that if these protesters against integration were Muslims, Robert Spencer andPamela Geller would be having a field day.

Orthodox Jews rally against verdict

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel have staged mass demonstrations against a court ruling that forces the integration of a religious girls’ school.

The rallies took place in Jerusalem and in other cities on Thursday in a show of mass defiance over the ruling by the supreme court.

Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, said 10,000 police were deployed to maintain order as demonstrators held posters that read: “The Supreme Court is fascist.”

“The prisoners of Emanuel are the messengers of the Jewish people,” read another.

At the centre of the dispute is an Orthodox school in the Emanuel Jewish settlement in the northern West Bank.

Parents from the strictly observant Slonim Hassidic sect of Ashkenazi Jewry refused to let their children attend school with girls of Mideast and North African descent, known as Sephardim.

They insist they are not racist, but want to keep the classrooms segregated, as they have been for years, arguing that the families of the Sephardi girls are not religious enough.

However, the court rejected that argument and ordered the jailing of at least 43 sets of Ashkenazi parents refusing to send their daughters back to school.

‘Most dramatic clash’

The dispute was described by the Israeli daily Haaretz as “the most dramatic state-religion clash to break out here”.

Sephardi religious leaders have not publicly criticised the demonstration or the parents’ conduct, suggesting a reluctance to drive a wedge within the religious community.

Nissim Zeev, a legislator from the conservative Sephardic political party Shas, said: “This is an example of something that should have been passed to a rabbinical court.

“It’s out of proportion, and a bit puzzling, that the high court should impose a prison sentence on these parents.”

Still, Zeev said the Sephardi girls had the right to choose to attend a mixed school. “If the children are together under one roof, then they are entitled to the same education,” he said.

Israel’s ultra-Orthodox minority of some 650,000 Jews, just under 10 per cent of the nation’s population, is an insular community that has been known to riot over the state’s intrusion into its affairs.

 

Survey Reveals Muslims are More Integrated into Europe than Previously Thought

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on December 16, 2009 by loonwatch

uk_muslims

The Muslim Demographic threat conspiracy theory takes another hit in Europe with a new Gallup poll that came out recently revealing that Muslims in Britain, Germany and France are well integrated into their communities. (Hat tip: Syed) The report by Gallup and the Coexist Foundation says 77% of British Muslims identified with the UK, compared with 50% of the general public. There was a similar finding in Germany, the survey says.

Survey Reveals Muslim Attitudes

European Muslims have much more loyalty to the countries they live in than is generally believed, a survey says.

The report by Gallup and the Coexist Foundation says 77% of British Muslims identified with the UK, compared with 50% of the general public.

There was a similar finding in Germany, the survey says.

The authors say their report counters a commonly-held view that measures to combat Islamic militancy may have alienated many European Muslims.

“This research shows that many of the assumptions about Muslims and integration are wide of the mark,” said Dalia Mogahed of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies and co-author of the report.

“European Muslims want to be part of the wider community and contribute even more to society,” she said.

The findings of the report are surprising, because since the 11 September attacks in the US commentators have repeatedly questioned the loyalties of European Muslims to the countries they live in, the BBC’s Rob Broomby says.

The research – which focused mainly on European Muslims in Britain, France and Germany – polled around 500 Muslims and 1,000 members of the general public in each country.

‘Isolated’

In Britain, the report found that more than three-quarters of Muslims identified with the country and its institutions – far more even than the general population did.

But whereas the vast majority of British Muslims (82%) felt Muslims were loyal citizens, the general public remained suspicious of them.

In Germany, 40% of Muslims identified with the country against 32% of the wider public.

German Muslims were also found far more likely than the general public to have confidence in the judicial system, financial institutions and the honesty of elections.

They had higher levels of confidence in their national government than society as a whole, but much less faith in the media.

In France, 52% of Muslims identified with the country, compared with 55% of the general public.

However, the report found that French Muslims had much less confidence in the nation’s institutions, including police.

The survey also said that European Muslims felt far more isolated than those living in the United States and Canada.

 

Geert Wilders Wants to Tax Women who Wear Hijab

Posted in Loon Blogs, Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by loonwatch
From Left to Right: Andrew Bostom, Geert Wilders, Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller
From Left to Right: Andrew Bostom, Geert Wilders, Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller

Geert Wilders Wants to Tax Women who Wear Hijab

Fascism’s new face in Europe, parliamentarian in the Netherlands Geert Wilders, proposes taxing Muslim women who wear hijab (head covering) 1000 Euros. He is a close friend of Robert Spencer who has proclaimed that “everyone should support Geert Wilders.” Wilders has also called for the banning of the Quran which he equates to Hitler’s Mein Kampf , has stated that Muslims are colonizing the Netherlands and has advocated the denial of religious freedom to Muslims.

Wilders Wants Headscarf Tax

Geert Wilders has done it again. The leader of the far-right Freedom Party managed to make the Dutch headlines during the annual general political debate.

Wilders’s newest proposal is to tax the Muslim headscarf. Any Muslim woman who wants to wear a headscarf – which he described as a ‘head-rag’ – would have to apply for a licence, and pay one thousand euros for the privilege. Wilders says the money raised would go toward women’s emancipation programmes.

Alexander Pechtold from the liberal D66 Party gives his reaction:

//

The rest of the Dutch parliament reacted to the proposal with disbelief. One after another, they asked Mr Wilders if this was a serious proposal. For instance, would he include other types of head covering in the tax? And how about orthodox Christian women who wear a headscarf quite similar to the Muslim version?

In reaction, Mr Wilders said he would actually prefer to ban the headscarf altogether, but that appeared to be legally impossible. He would not tax the Christian form of the headscarf, but he did not say how policy would make that distinction.

Mr Wilders has acquired a reputation for making shocking statements during general debates. Two years ago, he called for the banning the Muslim holy book, the Quran. Last year, he warned that Muslims were colonising the Netherlands. Last spring, he and his entire fraction walked out at the beginning of a debate.

The government still has to defend its new budget as part of the general debates. But in an unusual move, Mr Wilders has already announced that he plans to submit another motion of no-confidence in the entire cabinet. That will be the Freedom Party’s eighth motion of no-confidence.