Islamist Watch (IW) maintains an extensive archive of news items on nonviolent Islamism in the Western world. The complete collection can be found here; lists organized by topic are accessible on the right side of the IW homepage.
The following are some of the recent developments covered in the IW database:
A Jewish school's plight and Europe's new realities
Once a symbol of the Belgian Jewish community's post-Holocaust rebirth, Brussels' Athénée Maïmonide must relocate or close due to declining enrollment. "The area has an immigrant population that doesn't have a very favorable attitude to Jews," an Israeli embassy employee explained, and the safety concerns sparked by Muslim hostility have prompted many families to move. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the "complex … looks more like a top-secret military facility than a school. … Its massive metal doors have no markings. The entrance leads to an inspection zone where security guards and cameras welcome arrivals from behind bulletproof glass."
The school is at the edge of the Anderlecht municipality, where a pro-Shari'a candidate from an explicitly Islamic party won a local election in October. Islamized urban environments present challenges throughout Europe, with Jews in some cities being counseled not to wear yarmulkes or speak Hebrew in public. Bruce Bawer's recent overview is essential reading. Also see a 2011 IW blog entry on the subject.
Left: The high-security Athénée Maïmonide is protected by concrete barriers in the street and, the story notes, armor plating on its exterior. Right: Adil Rashid says he had no idea that it is illegal to have sex with children in the UK.
Underage sex case spotlights the "Muslim defense"
"A Muslim who raped a 13-year-old girl he groomed on Facebook has been spared a prison sentence after a judge heard he went to an Islamic faith school where he was taught that women are worthless," the UK's Daily Mail reports. Adil Rashid, an 18-year-old from Birmingham, claimed to have learned that "women are no more worthy than a lollipop that has been dropped on the ground." The court was told that his education and "closed community" had left him with "little experience of women" and no knowledge of the law regarding sex with minors. Calling him "very naive and immature when it comes to sexual matters," the judge handed Rashid a suspended sentence and supervision order. Such crimes typically result in at least four years behind bars.
Is there a double standard whereby a Muslim upbringing can excuse horrible behavior that would never be tolerated from non-Muslims? Other British cases point in the same direction: Last year, a professional panel issued only a warning to a Muslim pharmacist who had repeatedly made crude remarks to female colleagues; it cited a "restrictive Muslim background" that purportedly rendered him clueless about what constitutes inappropriate conduct with coworkers of the opposite sex. In 2011, four women admitted to assaulting a female passerby, but they avoided prison after the defense asserted that, as Muslims, they were not used to drinking alcohol.
Jabba the Hutt's Lego palace offends Austrian Muslims
The Turkish Cultural Community of Austria has complained about a Lego set depicting the palace of the slug-like Star Wars character Jabba the Hutt, contending that it insults Turks and Muslims because it supposedly resembles the Hagia Sophia, a Christian basilica converted into a mosque after the fall of Constantinople. Nor does the organization care for Jabba himself. "The terrorist Jabba the Hutt likes to smoke a hookah and have his victims killed," its statement reads. "It is clear that the ugly figure of Jabba and the whole scene smacks of racial prejudice and vulgar insinuations against Asians and Orientals as people with deceitful and criminal personalities." The group is considering legal action on the premise that the model incites hatred.
This is not the first time that a benign consumer product has been said to demean Islam or Muslims. A blog post by Daniel Pipes documents a few of the more bizarre examples, including the infamous "Allah" ice cream swirl.
Left: Jabba the Hutt's Lego palace has upset some Austrian Turks who see parallels with Istanbul's Hagia Sophia and another mosque in Beirut. Right: The model's similarity to the Hagia Sophia, presently a museum, is debatable.
Non-halal sandwich costs McDonald's $700,000
The Associated Press reports that "McDonald's Corp. and a franchise owner have reached a tentative settlement in a lawsuit alleging that food at a Detroit-area restaurant with a large Muslim customer base wasn't prepared according to Islamic dietary laws as advertised." Two McDonald's locations in Dearborn "advertise that they exclusively sell halal Chicken McNuggets and McChicken sandwiches," but one of them was accused of cutting corners. The current plan to distribute much of the $700,000 to local Arab and Muslim groups has provoked outrage among uncompensated individuals who had eaten the non-halal meals. Other attorneys now hope to intervene on behalf of these unhappy Muslims.
Halal is proliferating under the radar — particularly in Europe, but also in American cities such as Dearborn, Michigan, which is known for its high density of Muslims. Do non-Muslims have an equal right not to be served halal food in a deceptive fashion?
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For additional news and analysis, please visit the IW website.