Gary Younge (The Nation): Europe: Hotbed of Islamophobic Extremism
" The response of Europe’s political class to the presence of Muslim minorities can be described most generously as a moral panic, and most accurately as a repressive legislative and rhetorical onslaught.
A number of states from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean have gone to extraordinary lengths to ban what women can wear, what people can say, and where and how they can worship. Disproportionate in scale and disingenuous in conception, these laws—whatever their stated intent—were not about tackling any serious threat of Islamic extremism.
Switzerland passed a referendum in 2009 outlawing the building of minarets; the country has four. In Denmark the same year, a call for a burqa ban prompted a study revealing that just three women wore it, while only 150 to 200 wore the niqab, a third of whom were Danish converts. “The burqa and the niqab do not have their place in the Danish society,” insisted Danish Premier Lars Rasmussen a year later. That’s true, but then they never really did.
Nor could these laws be about helping isolated communities that are culturally incapable of integration. A Gallup poll in 2009 showed that British Muslims were more likely to identify as British than British people as a whole. A Pew Research Center survey in 2006 showed that the principal concerns of Muslims in France, Germany and Spain were unemployment and Islamic extremism.
Finally, these laws couldn’t be about some broader demographic “threat” that Muslims pose to the continent. A Pew study, published in January 2011, forecast the number of Muslims in Europe’s population increasing from 6 percent in 2010 to 8 percent in 2030. There’s a higher proportion of Asians in New Jersey than Muslims in France, the country with the highest concentration in Western Europe."
Deutsche Welle: Turkey: Women Want Equality in the Mosque
"Up to now in Turkey, women entering mosques had to use side entrances and sit in dimly lit corners in galleries. The institution in Ankara known as the Presidency of Religious Affairs now wants to end this discrimination.Turkey's Diyanet, or Presidency of Religious Affairs, wants to encourage women to visit mosques and allow them to take part in Friday prayers beside the men.
The institution, which presides over the country's nearly 80,000 mosques, is hoping to change Islam's misogynist image. This is a major change, and reaction to it has been reserved.
After all, for centuries, the mosques virtually belonged to men on Fridays. But women's influence in Islam is growing: in some cities, there are already even female muftis."
Akbar S. Ahmed (Silent Heroes, Invisible Bridges): The Forgotten Rohingya
" The image of a smiling Daw Aung San Suu Kyi receiving flowers from her supporters is a powerful message of freedom and optimism in Myanmar, the symbol of democracy in a country which has known nothing but authoritarian oppression for decades.
Yet few ask one of the most pressing questions facing Daw Suu Kyi. How will she deal with the Rohingya?
"The Rohingya," you will ask. "Who are they?"
The Rohingya, whom the BBC calls "one of the world's most persecuted minority groups", are the little-publicised and largely forgotten Muslim people of the coastal Rakhine state of western Myanmar. Their historic lineage in Rakhine dates back centuries, as fishermen and farmers. Over the past three decades, the Rohingya have been systematically driven out of their homeland by Myanmar's military junta and subjected to widespread violence and the total negation of their rights and citizenship within Myanmar. They are a stateless Muslim minority."