The Arab Spring wins Sakharov Prize 2011

The European Parliament Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought in 2011 goes to five representatives of the Arab people, in recognition and support of their drive for freedom and human rights. It will be presented to the winners by President Jerzy Buzek at Parliament’s formal session in Strasbourg, on 14 December.

Parliament’s 2011 Sakharov Prize goes to Asmaa Mahfouz (Egypt), Ahmed al-Zubair Ahmed al-Sanusi (Libya), Razan Zaitouneh (Syria), Ali Farzat (Syria) and posthumously to Mohamed Bouazizi (Tunisia).  This nomination was submitted jointly by the EPP, S&D, ALDE and Green groups.

Following the decision by the Conference of Presidents (Parliament President and political group leaders) Thursday morning, President Buzek underlined “these individuals contributed to historic changes in the Arab world and this award reaffirms Parliament’s solidarity and firm support for their struggle for freedom, democracy and the end of authoritarian regimes”. He added, their award was “a symbol for all those working for dignity, democracy and fundamental rights in the Arab world and beyond.”

Asmaa Mahfouz

Ms Mahfouz joined the Egyptian April 6th Youth Movement in 2008, helping to organise strikes for fundamental rights. Sustained harassment of journalists and activists by the Mubarak regime as well as the Tunisian example prompted Ms Mahfouz to organise her own protests. Her Youtube videos, Facebook and Twitter posts helped motivate Egyptians to demand their rights in the Tahrir Square. After being detained by the Supreme Council of Armed forces, she was released on bail due to pressure from prominent activists.

Ahmed al-Zubair Ahmed al-Sanusi

Mr Ahmed al-Sanusi, also known as the longest-serving “prisoner of conscience”, spent 31 years in Libyan prisons as a result of an attempted coup against Colonel Gaddafi. A member of the National Transitional Council, he is now working to “achieve freedom and race to catch up with humanity” and establish democratic values in post-Gaddafi Libya.

Razan Zaitouneh

Ms Zaitouneh, a human rights lawyer, created the Syrian Human Rights Information Link blog (SHRIL) which reports on current atrocities in Syria. She publicly revealed murders and human rights abuses committed by the Syrian army and police. Her posts have become an important source of information for international media. She is now hiding from the authorities who accuse her of being a foreign agent and have arrested her husband and younger brother.

Ali Farzat

Mr Farzat, a political satirist, is a well-known critic of the Syrian regime and its leader President Bashar al-Assad. Mr Farzat became more straightforward in his cartoons when the March 2011 uprisings began. His caricatures ridiculing Bashar al-Assad’s rule helped to inspire revolt in Syria. In August 2011, the Syrian security forces beat him badly, breaking both his hands as “a warning”, and confiscated his drawings.

Mohamed Bouazizi

Mr Bouazizi, a Tunisian market trader set himself on fire in protest at incessant humiliation and badgering by the Tunisian authorities. Public sympathy and anger inspired by this gesture led to the ousting of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Mr Bouazizi’s self-immolation also sparked uprisings and vital changes in other Arab countries such as Egypt and Libya, collectively known as the “Arab Spring”.

Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought

The Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought, named in honour of the Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov, has been awarded by the European Parliament every year since 1988 to individuals or organizations that have made an important contribution to the fight for human rights or democracy. The prize is accompanied by an award of €50,000.

This year, the other two shortlisted finalists were Belarusian civil activist and journalist Dzmitry Bandarenka and the Columbian San José de Apartadó Peace Community.

FIOE praises the award of the Sakharov Prize to Arab figures symbolising freedom

The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) praises the award of the Sakharov Prize—given by the European Parliament to human rights activists—to five individuals symbolising freedom in the Arab world, in a gesture of appreciation towards the Arab peoples, in their ambition to achieve democracy, justice, and free popular participation.

The award of this prize is a meaningful expression of fair recognition for those who have made costly sacrifices for the sake of freedom for their peoples, such that new generations would live in a climate free of injustice, authoritarianism, and corruption. This wise choice is the object of great welcome, as it is directed towards five symbols of the Arab world, led by the young Tunisian, Mohamed Al-Bouazizi, whose tragic death inspired this tidal wave of awakening and revolutions seeking freedom and dignity.

The peoples of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, with their determination, have been able to impose their will for democratic change, and are currently working to establish the foundations of the state based on rights, law, freedom, justice, and transparent popular participation; meanwhile, the peoples of Syria and Yemen continue their peaceful struggle to achieve legitimate demands in a climate of freedom, justice, and equality. We applaud the spirit expressed by this peaceful popular mobilisation with its unparalleled resolve to establish democracy and transparent popular participation, and building a better future.

The members of the European Parliament through the award of the Sakharov prize have sent a highly significant message regarding the Arab peoples’ Spring and its human values. No doubt that the choice for the prize this year was also a message of fair recognition for the Arab peoples, embodied in five free persons representing diverse sections of their society; an unemployed young man, a young female university student and blogger, her colleague in another Arab country, a political dissident who spent large part of his life in prison, and a free cartoon artist. They, and others like them, have had positive influence on the revolutions of freedom, and have made hard sacrifices in terms of their personal security and safety.

 

Brussels, 28 October 2011

The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe

FIOE praises the award of the Sakharov Prize to Arab figures

FIOE praised the award of the Sakharov Prize—given by the European Parliament to human rights activists—to five individuals symbolising freedom in the Arab world. The FIOE said that “This is a gesture of appreciation towards the Arab peoples, in their ambition to achieve democracy, justice, and free popular participation.

The FIOE issued a statement in this regard indicating that the award of this prize is a meaningful expression of fair recognition for those who have made costly sacrifices for the sake of freedom for their peoples, such that new generations would live in a climate free of injustice, authoritarianism, and corruption. This wise choice is the object of great welcome, as it is directed towards five symbols of the Arab world, led by the young Tunisian, Mohamed Al-Bouazizi, whose tragic death inspired this tidal wave of awakening and revolutions seeking freedom and dignity.

The FIOE reminded us that the peoples of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, with their determination, have been able to impose their will for democratic change, and are currently working to establish the foundations of the state based on rights, law, freedom, justice, and transparent popular participation; meanwhile, the peoples of Syria and Yemen continue their peaceful struggle to achieve legitimate demands in a climate of freedom, justice, and equality. The FIOE added that “We applaud the spirit expressed by this peaceful popular mobilisation with its unparalleled resolve to establish democracy and transparent popular participation, and building a better future.”

The FIOE statement added that the members of the European Parliament through the award of the Sakharov prize have sent a highly significant message regarding the Arab peoples’ Spring and its human values. ”There is no doubt that the choice for the prize this year was also a message of fair recognition for the Arab peoples, embodied in five free persons representing diverse sections of their society; an unemployed young man, a young female university student and blogger, her colleague in another Arab country, a political dissident who spent large part of his life in prison, and a free cartoon artist. They, and others like them, have had positive influence on the revolutions of freedom, and have made hard sacrifices in terms of their personal security and safety,” added the statement.

Current issues and concerns of Europe and its Muslims in the Union’s Shura Council

The Council of the “Union of Islamic Organizations in Europe” at the end of its work on a number of positions and directives, which addressed the concerns of European Muslims and the concerns of European societies and issues of the hour.

This came in the final statement of the Shura Council Union, the third of the ninth session, which was held during the days from 20 to 23 October 2011, in Istanbul. At its ordinary meeting, the Council participated with the participation of the Federation leadership and representatives of member institutions in most European countries and in the presence of a number of guests.

In its final communiqué, the Council congratulated the Muslims of Europe by the Hajj and Id al-Adha season and urged “to highlight the lofty features of this blessed season, such as brotherhood, equality, compassion, righteousness and good deeds, while praying to Allah for the safe return of tens of thousands of pilgrims from the House of Allah Their European countries, and God has accepted from them this ritual pilgrimage justified and seeking a grateful and a forgiving sin. ”

 

Solutions to the dilemmas faced by European societies

The Council recommended that European Islamic institutions redouble their efforts to “cooperate in finding solutions to the dilemmas and difficulties faced by European societies and contribute to responding to various common societal challenges”. “The Union of Islamic Organizations in Europe will continue to fulfill its responsibilities in this area, And their well-being.

The Council called on Muslims and Islamic institutions in Europe to “develop cooperation and coordination efforts in various fields, while promoting serious communication and constructive partnership with the components of European societies.” He also called on the Council to “seek to gather the word in the times of fasting, fungus and Islamic holidays, and to cooperate optimally to care for the religious needs of all Muslims in Europe, including halal food and financial and economic works in accordance with the timeless Islamic teachings.”

The Council urged European Islamic institutions to “further encourage the participation of women and girls in all fields of work and leadership.” The Council also stressed the importance of intergenerational communication in institutions, the launching of opportunities for youth and the provision of a great deal of attention to the needs of the emerging generations and the required projects, programs and efforts.

Concern about the economic crisis

On the other hand, the Council of the “Union of Islamic Organizations in Europe” expressed concern about the current economic crisis in a number of European countries, coupled with the increasing rates of poverty and unemployment. The Council stressed the importance of strengthening solidarity and solidarity among the components of society in the face of this challenge and the economic, social and psychological burdens of families, adding that “the opportunities of new generations in the fields of education, rehabilitation, health and well-being must be supported.”

Referring to the horrific terrorist attacks that took place last summer in and near the Norwegian capital of Oslo, the Council expressed its “appreciation for the spirit of solidarity and solidarity in Norway” and said that “in promoting solidarity and openness, the preservation of human values ​​and constitutional principles; the optimal response to the discourse of hatred, racism and Islamophobia And the voices of extremism and practices of violence and incitement, which seeks to provoke hatred and hatred and divide the ranks of communities, “he stressed.

The Shura Council urged all Islamic institutions and centers in Europe to take more interest in the elderly and to take care of the positive roles of this segment on the occasion of the proclamation of 2012 as the European Year of Older Persons. Charity and intergenerational communication, “the statement said

Transformations of the Arab World

On the current developments in the Arab world, the Council congratulated the peoples of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, “which have been able to remove the symbols of tyranny and corruption and impose their will on democratic change and to establish a state of law, freedom, justice and transparent popular participation.” “The Council hopes that the entire Arab, Islamic and humanitarian people will achieve security and safety, inject the blood of their sons and daughters, forever annex the pages of tyranny, ensure unity and respect for pluralism and the participation of all groups in shaping the present and future of the nation in a climate of freedom and justice. Equality “.

In a related context, the Council condemned “the killings, torture and repression escalating against the Yemeni and Syrian peoples, and the face of the defenseless protesters demanding freedom and democratic change from shelling, attacks and shooting.” The Council stressed its solidarity with the Syrian and Yemeni peoples and their just demands, “and praised the spirit expressed by the peaceful popular movement” from the design of its counterpart, to freedom, democracy, transparent popular participation and building a better future, “the statement said.

The Council welcomed the announcement of “the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prizes to courageous women leaders who have made great efforts and sacrifices in the triumph of rights, freedoms, justice and human values” and considered it “an opportunity to address distorted stereotypes, including those affecting Muslim women and girls in European reality.”

 

Jerusalem and the prisoners of Palestine and drought

The final statement of the Shura Council of the Union of Islamic Organizations in Europe went on to congratulate the “Palestinian people for the freedom achieved by hundreds of prisoners and prisoners in the recent exchange process.” The Council called for European and international intervention to put pressure on the Israeli occupation in order to obtain thousands of prisoners trapped in the prisons of the occupation under harsh conditions of their freedom. The Council also drew attention to the fact that the release of the captured Israeli soldier in Gaza “falls under the false pretext under which the inhumane siege imposed on the population of the Gaza Strip.” The Council called for an end to the occupation and the empowerment of the Palestinian people from their inalienable legitimate rights.

The Council also expressed its deep concern about the situation in Jerusalem and the “violation of the Israeli occupation and its fanatical groups for the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque and its relentless efforts to impose the status quo in Jerusalem and change its civilizational identity.” The Council also strongly condemned the successive attacks perpetrated by settlers on mosques.

The Council expressed its deep concern about this worsening tragedy, as well as the response of European Muslims to appeals for charitable spending for the benefit of those affected, and urged continued efforts to secure water and food. And health care in the affected area.

Current Issues and Interests of Europe and Muslims discussed in FIOE Shoura Council

The FIOE Shoura Council, at the close of proceedings, articulated the following positions and directives concerning current issues and interests of European Muslims and societies.

This was included in the final statement of the FIOE Third Shoura Council Meeting in the Federation’s ninth executive term in the city of Istanbul from 20-23 October 2011 (23-26 Dhul Qa’idah 1432H). This ordinary meeting was attended by the Federation leadership, representatives of member organisations from the majority of European countries, and a number of esteemed guests.

The council in its final statement congratulated Muslims in Europe on the arrival of the Hajj season and Eid-ul-Adha, and urged that the noble qualities of this blessed season, such as brotherhood, equality, mutual compassion, noble acts, and good deeds, be prominently expressed; the Council also prayed to Allah, the Almighty, for the safe return, to their European lands, of tens of thousands of pilgrims to the Sacred House of Allah, having gained Allah’s acceptance of this rite, with unblemished Hajj, rewarded effort, and pardoned sins.

Solutions to challenges facing European Societies

The Council directed European Islamic bodies to intensify efforts in cooperating to find solutions to the challenges and difficulties faced by European societies, and to contribute in responding to the shared but diverse societal challenges. The FIOE said that “It will maintain its dedication in shouldering its responsibilities in this regard, as a contribution to the stability and prosperity of societies.”

The Council invited Muslims and Islamic bodies in Europe to further develop efforts of cooperation and coordination in the diverse fields, while reinforcing serious communication and constructive partnership with the constituents of European societies. It called for effort to achieve unity in the timing of the start and end of fasting and Islamic festivals, and arriving at the ideal state of cooperation to cater for the religious needs of the general Muslim public in Europe, to include Halal food, and financial and economic activities that are in compliance with the eternal Islamic teachings.

The Council urged the European Islamic bodies towards greater encouragement of girls’ and women’s participation in all areas of work and levels of leadership.  It also emphasised the importance of communication and continuity between generations in these bodies, and the provision of opportunities for the youth, giving sufficient attention to meeting the needs of future generations, in terms of the required projects, programmes, and tireless efforts.

Concern over Economic Crisis

Moreover, The council expressed its concern over the current economic crisis in a number of European countries, and the accompanying increases in levels of poverty and unemployment. It emphasised the importance of reinforcing solidarity and mutual support between the constituents of society in confronting this challenge, and to avoid inflicting added economic, social, and psychological burdens on families. It also emphasised on safeguarding opportunities for the new generations, in the areas of education, development, health, and prosperity, and leaving these untouched.

The Council also expressed its recognition for the spirit of solidarity and cohesion witnessed in Norway following the horrific terrorist attacks this past summer. The council said: “Reinforcing solidarity and openness, and protecting human values and constitutional principles is the ideal response to the message of hate, racism, and Islamophobia, and the voices of extremism, and acts of violence and incitement that seek to foment resentment, hatred, and division in the ranks of societies.”

The Council encouraged all Islamic bodies and centres in Europe to take the initiative in giving greater attention to the elderly from various aspects, and to sponsor the positive roles of this social segment, on the occasion of announcing 2012 as European Year for Active Aging, while upholding the Islamic and human values that encourage noble acts, positive postures, and communication between the generations.

Arab World Latest Developments

Regarding the latest developments in the Arab world, the Council congratulated the peoples of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, who were able through their resolve to remove the symbols of authoritarianism, and corruption, and to impose their will for democratic change, and to work at setting the foundations for states based on rights, law, freedom, justice, and transparent popular participation. The statement added that “The Council expresses hope that the Arab and Muslim peoples, as well as all humanity, achieve security and safety, with protection for the lives of the people, and that the chapters of tyranny are closed forever, with everyone guaranteeing unity, respect for pluralism, and the participation of all sections of society in shaping the nation’s present and its future renaissance, in a climate of freedom, justice, and equality.”

The Council also condemned the escalating acts of killing, abuse, and repression, inflicted upon the Yemeni and Syrian peoples, and the bombardment, attacks, and shooting faced by unarmed protesters demanding freedom and democratic change.Moreover, The Council emphasised its solidarity with both the Syrian and Yemeni peoples, and their just demands, and praises the spirit expressed by the peaceful popular mobilisation in unparalleled resolve, to achieve freedom, democracy, transparent popular participation, and building a better future.

The Council also welcomed the announcement of the award of Nobel Peace Prizes to courageous women leaders, who have made noble sacrifices and exerted efforts towards success for rights, freedoms, justice, and human values; the Council considered this an opportunity to address distorted stereotypes, including those that affect Muslim women and girls in European reality.

Jerusalem and Palestinian Detainees

The Council in its final statement congratulated the Palestinian people for the freedom that was achieved for hundreds of men and women detainees in the latest prisoner exchange. The Council called for international and European intervention to put pressure on the Israeli occupation, such that many thousands of prisoners, suffering harsh conditions in the occupation prisons, are given their freedom. It also drew attention to the fact that the release of the occupation soldier held in Gaza removes the feeble excuse under which an inhuman blockade was imposed on the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. It also demanded an end to the occupation, and to enabling the Palestinian people to achieve their inalienable and legitimate rights.

In addition, the Council expressed it great concern for the state of affairs in the city of Al-Quds (Jerusalem), and the violations of the sanctity of the noble Al-Aqsa Mosque by the Israeli occupation and its extremist groups, and their unceasing efforts to impose facts on the ground, and change its cultural identity; the Council strongly condemned the successive attacks by settlers on mosques, through vandalism and arson.

At the end the Council reminded of the responsibilities falling on the shoulder of the entire world in containing the disaster of drought, famine and displacement occurring across the African Horn, and expressed its deep concern regarding this escalating tragedy; it also valued the response of Europe’s Muslims to calls for charitable giving in favour of those affected, and encourages the continuation of efforts to guarantee water, food, and healthcare in the disaster-stricken area.

Final statement of the Third Shoura Council Meeting of FIOE

The Shoura Council of the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE), with the aid and blessing of Allah, held its third meeting in the Federation’s ninth executive term in the city of Istanbul from 20-23 October 2011 (23-26 Dhul Qa’idah 1432H). This ordinary Council meeting was attended by the Federation leadership, representatives of member organisations from the majority of European countries, and a number of esteemed guests, who enriched the sessions.

The Council deliberated over the horizons of the Federation’s work in the 2010 – 2014 executive term. It also discussed performance of the Federation, its bodies, and institutions, expressing hope that the targets achieved would provide impetus for greater development of positive efforts and initiatives.

The Council discussed the European state of affairs, and that of Muslims on the continent, as well as related concerns and issues. The Council also considered how to reinforce cooperation and coordination with partners in citizenship in Europe, developing participation in societal dialogue, and continuing to strive to serve Europe’s Muslims, and the public interest of societies and countries on the continent.

The Council, at the close of proceedings, articulated the following positions and directives:

  1. The Council congratulates Muslims in Europe on the arrival of the Hajj season and Eid-ul-Adha, and urges that the noble qualities of this blessed season, such as brotherhood, equality, mutual compassion, noble acts, and good deeds, be prominently expressed; the Council also prays to Allah, the Almighty, for the safe return, to their European lands, of tens of thousands of pilgrims to the Sacred House of Allah, having gained Allah’s acceptance of this rite, with unblemished Hajj, rewarded effort, and pardoned sins.
  2. The Council directs European Islamic bodies to intensify efforts in cooperating to find solutions to the challenges and difficulties faced by European societies, and to contribute in responding to the shared but diverse societal challenges. The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe will maintain its dedication in shouldering its responsibilities in this regard, as a contribution to the stability and prosperity of societies.
  3. The Council invites Muslims and Islamic bodies in Europe to further develop efforts of cooperation and coordination in the diverse fields, while reinforcing serious communication and constructive partnership with the constituents of European societies. The Council calls for effort to achieve unity in the timing of the start and end of fasting and Islamic festivals, and arriving at the ideal state of cooperation to cater for the religious needs of the general Muslim public in Europe, to include Halal food, and financial and economic activities that are in compliance with the eternal Islamic teachings.
  4. The Council urges European Islamic bodies towards greater encouragement of girls’ and women’s participation in all areas of work and levels of leadership. The Council emphasises the importance of communication and continuity between generations in these bodies, and the provision of opportunities for the youth, giving sufficient attention to meeting the needs of future generations, in terms of the required projects, programmes, and tireless efforts.
  5. The Council expresses its concern over the current economic crisis in a number of European countries, and the accompanying increases in levels of poverty and unemployment. The Council emphasises the importance of reinforcing solidarity and mutual support between the constituents of society in confronting this challenge, and to avoid inflicting added economic, social, and psychological burdens on families. In addition, safeguarding opportunities for the new generations, in the areas of education, development, health, and prosperity, and leaving these untouched.
  6. The Council expresses its recognition for the spirit of solidarity and cohesion witnessed in Norway following the horrific terrorist attacks this past summer. Reinforcing solidarity and openness, and protecting human values and constitutional principles is the ideal response to the message of hate, racism, and Islamophobia, and the voices of extremism, and acts of violence and incitement that seek to foment resentment, hatred, and division in the ranks of societies.
  7. The Council encourages all Islamic bodies and centres in Europe to take the initiative in giving greater attention to the elderly from various aspects, and to sponsor the positive roles of this social segment, on the occasion of announcing 2012 as European Year for Active Aging, while upholding the Islamic and human values that encourage noble acts, positive postures, and communication between the generations.
  8. The Council congratulates the peoples of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, who were able through their resolve to remove the symbols of authoritarianism, and corruption, and to impose their will for democratic change, and to work at setting the foundations for states based on rights, law, freedom, justice, and transparent popular participation. The Council expresses hope that the Arab and Muslim peoples, as well as all humanity, achieve security and safety, with protection for the lives of the people, and that the chapters of tyranny are closed forever, with everyone guaranteeing unity, respect for pluralism, and the participation of all sections of society in shaping the nation’s present and its future renaissance, in a climate of freedom, justice, and equality.
  9. The Council condemns the escalating acts of killing, abuse, and repression, inflicted upon the Yemeni and Syrian peoples, and the bombardment, attacks, and shooting faced by unarmed protesters demanding freedom and democratic change. The Council emphasises its solidarity with both the Syrian and Yemeni peoples, and their just demands, and praises the spirit expressed by the peaceful popular mobilisation in unparalleled resolve, to achieve freedom, democracy, transparent popular participation, and building a better future.
  10. The Council welcomes the announcement of the award of Nobel Peace Prizes to courageous women leaders, who have made noble sacrifices and exerted efforts towards success for rights, freedoms, justice, and human values; the Council considers this an opportunity to address distorted stereotypes, including those that affect Muslim women and girls in European reality.
  11. The Council congratulates the Palestinian people for the freedom that was achieved for hundreds of men and women detainees in the latest prisoner exchange. The Council calls for international and European intervention to put pressure on the Israeli occupation, such that many thousands of prisoners, suffering harsh conditions in the occupation prisons, are given their freedom. The Council draws attention to the fact that the release of the occupation soldier held in Gaza removes the feeble excuse under which an inhuman blockade was imposed on the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. The Council demands an end to the occupation, and to enabling the Palestinian people to achieve their inalienable and legitimate rights.
  12. The Council expresses it great concern for the state of affairs in the city of Al-Quds (Jerusalem), and the violations of the sanctity of the noble Al-Aqsa Mosque by the Israeli occupation and its extremist groups, and their unceasing efforts to impose facts on the ground, and change its cultural identity; the Council strongly condemns the successive attacks by settlers on mosques, through vandalism and arson.
  13. The Council reminds of the responsibilities falling on the shoulder of the entire world in containing the disaster of drought, famine and displacement occurring across the African Horn, and expresses its deep concern regarding this escalating tragedy; the Council values the response of Europe’s Muslims to calls for charitable giving in favour of those affected, and encourages the continuation of efforts to guarantee water, food, and healthcare in the disaster-stricken area.

Close of proceedings of FIOE Shoura Council in Istanbul

The proceedings of FIOE Shoura Council in its ordinary meeting attended by the Federation leadership, representatives of member organisations from the majority of European countries, and a number of esteemed guests, were closed in Istanbul.

The third meeting of the FIOE ninth executive term was held in the city of Istanbul from 20-23 October 2011 (23-26 Dhul Qa’idah 1432H).

The Council deliberated over the horizons of the Federation’s work in the 2010 – 2014 executive term. It also discussed performance of the Federation, its bodies, and institutions, expressing hope that the targets achieved would provide impetus for greater development of positive efforts and initiatives.

The Council discussed the European state of affairs, and that of Muslims on the continent, as well as related concerns and issues. The Council also considered how to reinforce cooperation and coordination with partners in citizenship in Europe, developing participation in societal dialogue, and continuing to strive to serve Europe’s Muslims, and the public interest of societies and countries on the continent.

President of FIOE: Islam calls for equality between man and woman on the basis of humanity

Praise is to Allah, Lord of all creation, and peace and blessings on Prophet Muhammad, his family and companions, and those who follow his guidance until the Day of Judgement…

Allah, the Almighty, says in the Quran: (O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may come to know one another. Indeed, the most honourable among you with Allah is the one who has most piety [Taqwa]. Indeed, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware) Surah al-Hujurat 13

Allah, the Almighty, has raised the status of the human being, and appointed him vicegerent on Earth; this elevation in status includes all the children of Adam—men and women, without distinction.

Today, as we embrace the theme of women, we understand that Islam calls for equality between man and woman on the basis of humanity, and within a framework of mutual respect. Islam considers that balanced human life is established on the basis of complementary roles and harmony between man and woman. Thus, Islam rejects any idea or practice that treats women with disdain or takes away their legitimate rights. Moreover, Islam recognises the essential role of women in society, and as such opposes their exploitation, or mistreatment by relegating them to the status of mere object.

On this occasion, we offer abundant praise for the efforts, and patience of mothers, and express our pride in the older generation of women; they have our devotion and gratitude for their contribution over the course of an eventful lifetime, to which many generations of children and grandchildren bear witness. Our appreciation, also, for the working mother; in her home, or in the diverse areas of employment, as well as the young woman in those positions of academic learning and vocational practice, scaling the heights of knowledge, which is what we encourage and support with all our resources.

In this regard, we, in the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe, commend the continuing achievements of Muslim women and girls across Europe; those who succeeded in the areas of academic and working life, and are a positive presence in many fields, role models to be followed, and mentioned with pride.

Despite this, we are aware that there is much more that must be done, and that there are obstacles that need to be overcome. In particular, we appreciate the scale of difficulties, and the gravity of challenges, confronting women and girls in the worlds of study and work, in the restrictive measures on choice of dress, or discriminatory practices that target, quite sadly, Muslim females. In this regard, we stand firmly in support of the right to education and learning, and the right to work and self-fulfilment, and will confront every form of discrimination and restrictive measure, through effective societal participation, and conscientious and focused civic action, in cooperation and partnership with defenders of justice and rights in our European societies.

In this respect, we are fully aware that improving the condition of Muslims in Europe, cannot be achieved in isolation from an effective role for Muslim women and girls, in the various spheres and at all levels; as such, the bird can only fly with two wings. Therefore, the responsibility for establishing this, and overcoming the difficulties along the path, is shared by all concerned.

We ask Allah to bless the efforts of our women and girls in what is good, and help us all achieve the goodness and success of this life and in the hereafter.

Wa assalamu alaykum wa rahmat Allah

Your brother, Chakuib Ben Makhlouf

President of the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE)

The internal and external mission of the mosque

Given its primary function as a place of worship and performing rituals, the mosque’s role encompasses positive vibration onto all aspects of life away from disrupting the positive functions of other components and pillars of society.

It is known that during the Mohammad period, a mosque was not merely dedicated to performing the prayers nor restricted to men or a certain age group. On the contrary, a mosque was a point of vibration onto the whole society, a centre of leadership and management of public affairs, an edifice of learning and knowledge dissemination, a house of judicature, a venue for meetings, incubator for character refinement and a base for constructive media activity as well as a centre for social solidarity. Above all, the mosque undertook the responsibility of investigating the populace problems and initiating solutions. This pivotal multi-function role account for the central position assigned to mosques in the Islamic city planning where the city districts and markets were closely linked to the all-inclusive mosque in the same way heart is linked to lively arteries.

The anticipated role of a mosque makes it a resort to mass groups, of all types and diverse needs, to perform the Islamic rituals and to benefit from positive oration which sharpens the intellect, cultivates good will, fosters positive emotion and guides to the path of virtue, true religion and beneficence throughout the course of life. It is proper for the mosque congregation to avail themselves of the Quran and Sunna learning rings, the courses on Islamic legal and cosmic sciences, awareness and guidance programmes and workshops, volunteer work and activities related to youth and children as well as the educational aid tools and technology apparatus that cope with and invest recent developments for the public interests.

Without doubt a mosque has a peculiar esteem in the lives of Muslims everywhere and its influence on the existence of Muslims in Europe and their social participation is quite conspicuous. It plays an effective role in embodying such human values as equality, anti-racism, mercy and solidarity. The presence of mosques in the European countries raises their role to the level of societal activity, charitable and humanitarian work at the local level, in addition to its role in spurring social interconnection, enhancing common understanding and reducing conflicts.

Imam and mosque management along with Islamic institutions as a whole should reflect the religious needs and social interests of Muslims including civil status affairs. To ensure good performance at this level, it is helpful to set up competent frames such as mosques leagues or Imams council or Muslim religious commissions, and the like.

To meet the mosque’s anticipated roles, mosque management should mobilize human and financial resources for this purpose and define pertinent tasks and responsibilities such as public relations officer of media committee officer, etc.

The following part outlines the means and activities to be undertaken by mosques at the external level:

  • Arrange gatherings, public meetings, dialogue and cultural forums, conferences and exhibitions that conform to the position and financial resources of the mosque and its envisaged function.
  • Organize open days to allow the district residents the opportunity to know about the mosque activities with a view to establish mutual harmonious bonds. Coordination between mosques at the level of the city, territory or country for organizing these events is useful.
  • Carry out special activities geared to establishing communication with the populace such as Eid ceremonies, cleaning campaigns in the district and blood donation, group Iftar during Ramadan, in addition to other events that introduce Islam, Islamic culture and mosques to mass groups such as students, seniors, emergency teams, firefighting workers, police and services providers, and the like.
  • Organize charitable and humanitarian programmes and projects including relief service for victims of disasters as well as solidarity programmes to support the poor and the homeless, etc.
  • Implement media activities for positive communication with mass groups while applying traditional or modern techniques and initiating intercourse that conveys messages compatible with the mosque mission and presence. These include the publication of magazines or bulletins, editing a wall bulletin, launching a website on the internet, or designating a media spokesperson or releasing press statements that are in line with the mosque mission and function.  This could be implemented in partnership and collaboration with other Muslim or non-Muslim parties or by way of participating in the edition of local media means (for example district communiqué, local broadcasting station or public website).
  • Conduct concerted events at the level of the district, the city and the institutions that share common interests in various fields.

Participate in and coordinate with societies and institutions that are linked to the mosque’s scope of interests including participation in coordination frameworks, collaboration groups and work groups engaging in the targeted fields in a manner that strengthens mosque role in encouraging Muslims’ social participation.

Message from the President of FIOE about Imams, Du’at, Mosques and Islamic centres

Praise is to Allah, Lord of all creation, and peace and blessings on Prophet Muhammad, his family and companions, and those who follow his guidance until the Day of Judgement…

Allah, the Almighty, says in the Quran: (In houses—mosques, which Allah has ordered to be raised, in them His Name is remembered. Therein glorify Him in the mornings and in the afternoons or the evenings  • Men whom neither trade nor sale diverts from the Remembrance of Allah, nor from performing Salah, nor from giving Zakah. They fear a Day when hearts and eyes will be in commotion.  • That Allah may reward them according to the best of their deeds, and add even more for them out of His Grace. And Allah provides without measure to whom He wills.) Surah al-Nur 36-38

First, I wish to address our noble Imams, and esteemed workers for Islam (Du’at) in Europe, brothers as well as sisters, spiritual guides and teachers (Murabbis). I offer to all, our appreciation in the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE); we appreciate their role, and value their efforts. Indeed, they follow the noble path walked by the Prophets (peace be upon them).

On the road of migration (Hijrah) from Makkah to Madinah, the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, stopped at Quba, and established the very first mosque in Islam. This was the first mosque founded on piety, as mentioned in the Noble Quran. Moreover, the first act of the Prophet, peace be upon him, on arriving at Madinah, was to establish the Prophet’s Mosque, which was the principal foundation of the new society, characterised by its diversity, and inclusiveness of Muslims and non-Muslims on the basis of mutual respect, and the rights, and responsibilities dictated by citizenship.

The mosque was not simply a place to perform prayers, but a school and university where Muslims received the teachings and directives of Islam, a forum harmonising the different tribal elements that had long in history been in conflict and wars borne of ignorance, a headquarters for administering society’s affairs, and a council chamber for consultation and resolution. Even more so, the Prophet’s Mosque was also home to a large number of the poor and dispossessed, who had nowhere to stay, no wealth, no family or children. The Mosque also opened its doors to non-Muslims, as related in the biography of our Messenger, peace be upon him.

This connection between migration (Hijrah) and establishing the mosque has made clear the extent to which the mosque plays a key role in securing peace, establishing stability, and enshrining openness and transparency. The prior period in Makkah had been characterised by repression of belief and hounding of the believers, thus preventing the mosque from being established occupied, and assuming its natural role; as such, the prayer in the mosque at Quba was a turning point in Islamic history, from the era of trial, fear, and suffering, to a new era of stability, security, tranquillity, and collective participation.

Muslims in Europe, in the trend to establish mosques and Islamic centres, in the appropriate architectural form, and including proper facilities and services, embody one of the forms of positive integration in their European societies, and also express an appropriate presence within the space of citizenship that must remain wide enough to include everyone within the framework of law, public and private rights, and personal and religious liberty. No doubt that in the ideal sense, the role of mosques and Islamic centres, lies in serving the cross sections of the Muslim community, and supporting social cohesion, as well as a shining light for the wider public in their diverse colours, with opportunities for fruitful, mutual interaction.

In this context, we summon the directives in the Quran, and the lessons learned from the noble Prophetic life—peace be upon him, in inviting to Allah with wisdom and good preaching, in the spirit of sincerity and selflessness, while appreciating the burden of responsibility, and the scale of the trust in conveying the message of Islam, and promoting its lofty values, and observing moderation in thought and practice.

In the book of Allah and the example of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, there is much to encourage and urge Muslims to cooperate in acts of goodness and piety, as well as invitation to the workers for Islam (Du’at) in the European countries to unite upon the Truth, hold fast to the rope of Allah, and reject division and disunity, while focusing on the vital and weighty issues.

We ask Allah to bless all good efforts, and help us all attain piety and success in this life and the hereafter… and all praise is due to Allah, Lord of all creation.

Wa assalamu alaykum wa rahmat Allah

Your brother, Chakuib Ben Makhlouf

President of the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE)