FIOE: Israeli provocations in al-Quds are very dangerous

FIOE condemned in the strongest terms these escalating Israeli attacks on the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque, which entered a critical phase in recent weeks and days. The Federation warned that such violations have reached a point, where no concerned party can afford to remain complacent or silent.

In its stament issued un this regard, the federation said: “The provocations by extremist Jewish groups calling for the destruction of Muslim holy sites in al-Quds (Jerusalem) have intensified, including disgraceful acts recurring inside the square of the al-Aqsa Mosque, aided and abetted by the Israeli occupation forces. Israeli troops show no scruple in storming the al-Aqsa Mosque, using their weapons violently against worshippers, and firing heavy barrages of teargas in the vicinity, as was the case on Friday, 24 February 2012.”

The FIOE statement added: “Europe’s Muslims follow with great alarm the mounting series of violations of the al-Aqsa Mosque, perpetrated by the Israeli occupation forces, and the extremist groups working with them, including serious provocations and despicable desecration of this site held sacred by Muslims worldwide. These recent weeks have witnessed a series of vicious attacks, with blatant and racist defacement and defilement of a number of Muslim and Christian places of worship, committed by racist Israeli gangs raising the slogan of “pay the price”; such attacks occur under the watchful eye of the occupation forces, and under cover of the extremist right-wing Israeli government.”

FIOE directed attentions to the fact that: “The Israeli occupation in its aggressive campaign against the city of Jerusalem and its sacred sites, is indeed practising sundry forms of irresponsible behaviour, known to have caused the explosion of waves of anger that ignited Intifadas and uprisings in the past. The situation is further aggravated in that these escalating and inflammatory acts come in the context of an extensive campaign waged against the city of al-Quds (Jerusalem), its religious sites, historic features, and civilisational identity, as well as its rightful Palestinian inhabitants, and parliamentarians elected to the Palestinian parliament.”

The statement also added that: “The European community of nations, represented by the European Union and the Council of Europe, are called upon to adopt a stern and forceful position to deter this dangerous Israeli escalation, and hold the Israeli government and its executive arms fully responsible, for these inflammatory acts, and all the consequent outcomes.”

The Federation warned that stopping this dangerous attack cannot be achieved by merely monitoring the violations, documenting the successive events, and expressing verbal condemnation, rather this grave situation warrants cutting off aid and ending preferential treatment to the Israeli side, and taking effective steps to force the Israeli occupation, its military, and extremist racist gangs, to abandon this reckless approach of playing with fire, in a region gripped by popular revolts.

FIOE warns against the Israeli provocations in al-Quds (Jerusalem)

The provocations by extremist Jewish groups calling for the destruction of Muslim holy sites in al-Quds (Jerusalem) have intensified, including disgraceful acts recurring inside the square of the al-Aqsa Mosque, aided and abetted by the Israeli occupation forces. Israeli troops show no scruple in storming the al-Aqsa Mosque, using their weapons violently against worshippers, and firing heavy barrages of teargas in the vicinity, as was the case on Friday, 24 February 2012.

The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe condemns in the strongest terms these escalating Israeli attacks on the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque, which entered a critical phase in recent weeks and days. The Federation warns that such violations have reached a point, where no concerned party can afford to remain complacent or silent.

Europe’s Muslims follow with great alarm the mounting series of violations of the al-Aqsa Mosque, perpetrated by the Israeli occupation forces, and the extremist groups working with them, including serious provocations and despicable desecration of this site held sacred by Muslims worldwide. These recent weeks have witnessed a series of vicious attacks, with blatant and racist defacement and defilement of a number of Muslim and Christian places of worship, committed by racist Israeli gangs raising the slogan of “pay the price”; such attacks occur under the watchful eye of the occupation forces, and under cover of the extremist right-wing Israeli government.

The Federation calls attention to the fact that the Israeli occupation in its aggressive campaign against the city of Jerusalem and its sacred sites, is indeed practising sundry forms of irresponsible behaviour, known to have caused the explosion of waves of anger that ignited Intifadas and uprisings in the past. The situation is further aggravated in that these escalating and inflammatory acts come in the context of an extensive campaign waged against the city of al-Quds (Jerusalem), its religious sites, historic features, and civilisational identity, as well as its rightful Palestinian inhabitants, and parliamentarians elected to the Palestinian parliament.

The European community of nations, represented by the European Union and the Council of Europe, are called upon to adopt a stern and forceful position to deter this dangerous Israeli escalation, and hold the Israeli government and its executive arms fully responsible, for these inflammatory acts, and all the consequent outcomes. The Federation warns that stopping this dangerous attack cannot be achieved by merely monitoring the violations, documenting the successive events, and expressing verbal condemnation, rather this grave situation warrants cutting off aid and ending preferential treatment to the Israeli side, and taking effective steps to force the Israeli occupation, its military, and extremist racist gangs, to abandon this reckless approach of playing with fire, in a region gripped by popular revolts.

Brussels, 27 February 2012

The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe

Specialized seminar in Brussels addressing Islamophobia in Media

A group of experts and media people from variety of Islamic and western countries participated in a specialized seminar held in Brussels to discuss the ways of addressing the problem of Islam-phobia in mass media and how to develop world wide media initiatives.

This seminar was organized by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Federation of Islamic Organization in Europe, World Assembly of Muslim Youth and Sahm Annour Foundation. The seminar of “Media Misrepresentation of Islam and Muslims: the search for remedies” lasted for two days (15th and 16th February 2012) with the participation of a group of thirty persons from Europe and North America, including diplomats, media people, experts, researchers and officials of specialized institutions in media work. Dr Isam Shanti, manager of media administration in the Organization of Islamic cooperation confirmed the importance of this seminar and the necessity of developing consultation and coordination for the best dealing with challenges of Islam-phobia and misrepresentation. Dr Shanti in his opening speech mentioned some examples of distortion and misrepresentation of facts in some media coverage which necessitate correction and action.

Reconsideration of Stereotypes

FIOE President Chakib Ben Makhlouf said in his opening speech: “This seminar comes in a very important stage witnessing a lot of changes that open the door for reconsideration of stereotypes about Islamic societies.” He noted that the federation paid a due attention to the new generations to encourage them for involving and specializing in media fields. He added that: “Long time ago we have been focusing on the way to deal with these stereotypes about Islam, Muslims and Islamic culture, so we held seminars and workshops to discuss this issue in a number of Islamic countries and some of those seminars were held in the headquarters of European Union.” He added that “We have been always sure this process is a long running one.

Mr Chakib Ben Makhlouf expressed his gratitude for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for their interest in organizing this seminar which deals with a very important issue. He also thanked the participants who came from North America, Europe and Islamic world to share their experience and opinions. He affirmed that we are always in a dire need to hear and consult each other to deal with such challenges in the best possible way.

Western perception of Islam

In his paper submitted to this seminar, Dr Ayman Ali, the vice chairman of the federation of Islamic organization in Europe and its secretary general, reviewed the background of this perception, its problems and new remedies if any. In his paper, he tackled the value aspect of the Islamic message that is a message of mercy for all people. He talked about Islam in the Muslims’ awareness, taking the perception of European Muslims as an example. He also explained the sources of knowing Islam in the West and concluded the characteristics of any awareness of Islam in the west and the problems of the western perception of Islam, Muslims and Islamic culture. He concluded with defining the new opportunities that help in better understanding of Islam in the west.

The events of the seminar included review of some media experiences in the western environment and discussing some proposals. The OIC Observatory on Islamophobia presented a report on islamophobia in the world and the available options of remedy.

European Muslims Response to challenge of distortion

Mr. Hossam Shaker, the media advisor said in his participation that Islamophobia represents a challenge for the entire western communities, not only for Muslims, and facing the selective racism is the responsibility of Muslims and non-Muslims as well. He directed attention to the accumulated experience of the European Muslims in dealing with distortion campaigns against Islam, Muslims and Islamic culture. He drew comparison between the nature of response to hate drawings in Denmark in 2005 and the attempt of Gert Wilders to provoke Muslims afterwards.

The British media expert Victoria Brittain, who worked as a journalist in different parts of the world, maintained the view that the contents of racist nature in media became targeting Muslims only after they have been directed against foreigners in general. She stressed on the fact that the good news do not attract media attention in comparison with the new ones and this actually makes it difficult to deal with this passive coverage of Islamic affairs in the western media.

The FIOE media division participated in this seminar with two detailed studies. Actually the division formed recently the media action network that brings together people of different specializations all over the European continent including journalism, TV and cinema, Internet and social networks, etc.  The media action network organized a big event in December 2011 in Brussels under the name of “Euro Media Days”.

FIOE calls Islamic centres to care for those affected by the cold spell

FIOE invited Europe’s Muslims, and their social and charitable organisations to extend the hand of help and support to those groups affected by the extreme drop in temperature, and ice storms. It also urged mosques and Islamic centres across European countries to take the initiative in opening their doors to receive those affected by the severe cold snap, to find shelter and warmth, while providing care and moral support, as well as food and clothing.

In its urgent call issued following the outbreak of this extreme cold snap sweeping the European continent and claiming that claimed hundreds of victims, the FIOE said they console the families of the victims who died due to the cold and ice, and feel pain and suffering for those who are without shelter, or have no opportunity to warm their homes, asking Allah to relieve their suffering.

The FIOE noted that mosques and Islamic centres are for society as a whole and not Muslims only, and we are confident that Europe’s Muslims understand their social responsibilities, and duty of solidarity towards those groups suffering, and needing assistance, in these circumstances as others.

It also added that Europe’s Muslims as they remember in these days the birth of the Noble Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, will find in this noble humanitarian stance, the best celebration of this noble occasion, by following the humanitarian commitments emphasised in the Noble Quran and Sunnah of the Messenger Muhammad, peace be upon him, and the Noble Messengers of Allah.

FIOE Shoura council discussing issues of Muslims and Institutions

The fourth Shoura Council in the ninth term of the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) was held from 9-12 February 2012 in the city of Istanbul. The Council was convened in this ordinary meeting, with the participation of the Federation leadership, representatives of member organisations in the majority of European countries, and a number of esteemed guests, enriching the sessions.

The Council deliberated over the developments in the Federation’s work, and the progress in administrative tasks; it also discussed the performance of the Federation, its bodies, and member organisations, praising achievements, and urging further advances in positive efforts and initiatives.

The Council reflected on the situation in Europe, and the affairs of Muslims on the Continent, as well as related issues and concerns. The Council also considered means of reinforcing cooperation and coordination with partners in citizenship in Europe, and developing participation in societal dialogue, as well as continuing to strive to serve Europe’s Muslims, and contributing to assuring the public interest of European societies.

Embodiment of good citizenship

In its closing statement, the council urged the European Muslims- groups, organisations, and individuals, to adhere to the principles and teachings of Islam, and embody good citizenship and positive examples in their daily life, and to provide the best expression of the spirit of positive communication and noble manners, while participating effectively in the service of their societies, and striving for their prosperity. The Council reminded Europe’s Muslims of the importance of following the example of the noble Messenger Muhammad, peace be upon him, in all their affairs, and that the anniversary of his birth, peace be upon him, should be the motivator for them to improve their situation, and express the noble human values emphasised by Islam in the life of the individual and society.

The Council stressed the importance of moving towards inclusion of the youth—young men and women, by European Islamic organisations in the various spheres of work and levels of management, including leadership levels. The Council encouraged providing opportunities for the youth, and directing sufficient attention to meeting the needs of the younger generations, in terms of the necessary projects, programmes, and efforts.

European Affairs

The Council drew attention to the obligations of officials and political leaders in European countries, to respect religious and cultural diversity, and advance the spirit of harmony and understanding. The Council deplored the stances and statements offensive to Muslims adopted irresponsibly by prominent political figures, particularly during the fever of election competition. The Council also called for this phenomenon to be addressed, and solidarity and mutual understanding to be strengthened, in the interest of protecting human values and constitutional principles.

The Council consoled the families of those falling victim to the wave of cold and ice that swept across Europe, and felt the pain and suffering of those lacking shelter, or the opportunity to warm their homes; the Council prayed to Allah, the Almighty, for relief of their suffering. The Council also invited Europe’s Muslims, and their social and charitable organisations, to provide help and assistance to the affected groups, and to reinforce their readiness to respond to emergency cases requiring urgent aid. Moreover the Council urged Islamic centres to open their doors to those affected, and offer shelter, warmth, and care; the Council praised and valued the initiative of European Islamic organisations that have already assumed this noble role.

On the other hand, the Council expressed its concern regarding the repercussions of the current economic crisis in a number of European countries, and the consequent rise in levels of poverty and unemployment. The Council emphasised the importance of reinforcing solidarity and mutual support among the constituents of society in confronting this challenge. The Council also urged Islamic organisations in Europe to establish constructive collaboration with partners in the European countries, and seek optimal solutions and ideal remedies for the social dimensions of the economic crisis, to redouble efforts in cooperating to find solutions to the dilemmas and difficulties faced by European societies, and to contribute to responding to the various shared societal challenges.

Arab Spring and International developments

Regarding the Syrian affair, the Council expressed its profound sorrow for the escalating massacres and atrocities perpetrated against the Syrian people, for merely demanding freedom, democratic change, and an end to tyranny. The Council emphasised its solidarity with the Syrian people, and consoled the families of those killed or injured, while renewing its severe condemnation of the massacres and intimidation currently taking place. The Council deplored the powerlessness and lack of resolve in face of the terrible violations committed by the Syrian regime and its machinery of repression; the Council urged the Arab and Islamic world, the European Union, and the international community in its bodies and councils, to support and aid the Syrian people, and that Europe’s Muslims take the initiative in providing greater fraternal solidarity and support for this just cause. Furthermore, the Council condemned the restrictions placed by the Syrian authorities on the entry of aid convoys, human rights delegations, and the media.

Moreover, the Council expressed its great concern regarding the situation in the city of al-Quds (Jerusalem), and the violation by the Israeli occupation and its extremist groups, of the sanctity of the Blessed al-Aqsa Mosque, and their continuing striving to impose a status quo in al-Quds, and altering its civilisational identity, as well as the policies of apartheid inflicted on the inhabitants and the expulsion of their elected parliamentarians. The Council also strongly condemned the repeated attacks by settlers on mosques and churches, involving vandalism and burning.

The Council also congratulated the Arab peoples that have made important steps on the road to freedom, democracy, and reform, and have submitted to the outcome of the ballot box in historic elections, heralded by revolutions restoring dignity, and the resolve to bring about reform, concluded in a civilised manner. The Council noted the huge challenges faced by the Arab peoples, in laying the foundations of freedom, pluralism, and participation, shouldering the economic and social burdens, caring for the youth and providing opportunities for them, paying attention to the different generations and their needs, achieving prosperity in the various spheres, protecting civil rights, and preserving diversity and plurality. The Council expressed its wish for the best and the success of the people and their elected leaders, with the aid of Allah, to realise these dues, after long periods of adversity, tyranny, and corruption.

In its closing statement, the council expressed its concern for the escalating political despotism in Bangladesh, and the increasing restrictions on civil liberties, as well as waves of arrests targeting scholars, pioneering reformers, and public figures. The Council condemned these grave violations, and called upon the Bengali authorities to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to lift the restrictions on general civic activity, while assuring transparent popular participation for all citizens, and ceasing all forms of repression against them.

The Council also expressed its sorrow for the latest developments in the crisis between France and Turkey, and showed its disappointment regarding the deterioration in relations between the two important countries within the extended European family. The Council hoped that the French leadership will move quickly to address the causes of the crisis, and that Ankara and Paris strengthen mutual relations on a base of consensus and mutual respect. The Council reminded that laws criminalising discussion of historic issues are not the wise course to do justice to victims of conflicts, past and present.

Halal Meat and Hijri Calendar

The Council drew attention to the importance of respect for the religious rights of Europe’s Muslims in the specifications of meat and foodstuffs. It expressed its surprise at attempts to discriminate against Muslims in the area of Halal meat; it is unacceptable for any restrictions or measures to be imposed that violate the right of Muslims to obtain meat and foodstuffs compliant with the stipulations of the teachings of Islam.

The Council also called upon Europe’s Muslims and their organisations to adopt the recommendations of the symposium, “the Hijri calendar in light of scientific astronomical facts”, held in Paris, on the invitation of the Union of Islamic Organisations in France (UOIF), the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE), and the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), which endorsed the resolution of the European Council of Fatwa and Research in its 19th Session to employ astronomical calculation to determine the beginning of lunar months, and so help unify Muslims, especially in fasting Ramadan and celebrating Eid.

Final Statement of the Fourth Shoura Council of FIOE

The fourth Shoura Council in the ninth term of the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) was held, with the blessing and aid of Allah, from 9-12 February 2012 (18-21 Rabi‘ al-Awwal 1433H) in the city of Istanbul. The Council was convened in this ordinary meeting, with the participation of the Federation leadership, representatives of member organisations in the majority of European countries, and a number of esteemed guests, enriching the sessions.

The Council deliberated over the developments in the Federation’s work, and the progress in administrative tasks; it also discussed the performance of the Federation, its bodies, and member organisations, praising achievements, and urging further advances in positive efforts and initiatives.

The Council reflected on the situation in Europe, and the affairs of Muslims on the Continent, as well as related issues and concerns. The Council also considered means of reinforcing cooperation and coordination with partners in citizenship in Europe, and developing participation in societal dialogue, as well as continuing to strive to serve Europe’s Muslims, and contributing to assuring the public interest of European societies.

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

  • First: the Council urges Europe’s Muslims—groups, organisations, and individuals, to adhere to the principles and teachings of Islam, and embody good citizenship and positive examples in their daily life, and to provide the best expression of the spirit of positive communication and noble manners, while participating effectively in the service of their societies, and striving for their prosperity. The Council reminds Europe’s Muslims of the importance of following the example of the noble Messenger Muhammad, peace be upon him, in all their affairs, and that the anniversary of his birth, peace be upon him, be the motivator for them to improve their situation, and express the noble human values emphasised by Islam in the life of the individual and society.
  • Second: the Council stresses the importance of moving towards inclusion of the youth—young men and women, by European Islamic organisations in the various spheres of work and levels of management, including leadership levels. The Council encourages providing opportunities for the youth, and directing sufficient attention to meeting the needs of the younger generations, in terms of the necessary projects, programmes, and efforts.
  • Third: the Council draws attention to the obligations of officials and political leaders in European countries, to respect religious and cultural diversity, and advance the spirit of harmony and understanding. The Council deplores the stances and statements offensive to Muslims adopted irresponsibly by prominent political figures, particularly during the fever of election competition. The Council calls for this phenomenon to be addressed, and solidarity and mutual understanding to be strengthened, in the interest of protecting human values and constitutional principles.
  • Fourth: the Council consoles the families of those falling victim to the wave of cold and ice that swept across Europe, and feels the pain and suffering of those lacking shelter, or the opportunity to warm their homes; the Council prays to Allah, the Almighty, for relief of their suffering. The Council also invites Europe’s Muslims, and their social and charitable organisations, to provide help and assistance to the affected groups, and to reinforce their readiness to respond to emergency cases requiring urgent aid. The Council urges Islamic centres to open their doors to those affected, and offer shelter, warmth, and care; the Council praises and values the initiative of European Islamic organisations that have already assumed this noble role.
  • Fifth: the Council expresses its concern regarding the repercussions of the current economic crisis in a number of European countries, and the consequent rise in levels of poverty and unemployment. The Council emphasises the importance of reinforcing solidarity and mutual support among the constituents of society in confronting this challenge. The Council also urges Islamic organisations in Europe to establish constructive collaboration with partners in the European countries, and seek optimal solutions and ideal remedies for the social dimensions of the economic crisis, to redouble efforts in cooperating to find solutions to the dilemmas and difficulties faced by European societies, and to contribute to responding to the various shared societal challenges.
  • Sixth: the Council expresses its profound sorrow for the escalating massacres and atrocities perpetrated against the Syrian people, for merely demanding freedom, democratic change, and an end to tyranny. The Council emphasises its solidarity with the Syrian people, and consoles the families of those killed or injured, while renewing its severe condemnation of the massacres and intimidation currently taking place. The Council deplores the powerlessness and lack of resolve in face of the terrible violations committed by the Syrian regime and its machinery of repression; the Council urges the Arab and Islamic world, the European Union, and the international community in its bodies and councils, to support and aid the Syrian people, and that Europe’s Muslims take the initiative in providing greater fraternal solidarity and support for this just cause. Furthermore, the Council condemns the restrictions placed by the Syrian authorities on the entry of aid convoys, human rights delegations, and the media.
  • Seventh: the Council expresses its great concern regarding the situation in the city of al-Quds (Jerusalem), and the violation by the Israeli occupation and its extremist groups, of the sanctity of the Blessed al-Aqsa Mosque, and their continuing striving to impose a status quo in al-Quds, and altering its civilisational identity, as well as the policies of apartheid inflicted on the inhabitants and the expulsion of their elected parliamentarians. The Council also strongly condemns the repeated attacks by settlers on mosques and churches, involving vandalism and burning.
  • Eighth: the Council congratulates the Arab peoples that have made important steps on the road to freedom, democracy, and reform, and have submitted to the outcome of the ballot box in historic elections, heralded by revolutions restoring dignity, and the resolve to bring about reform, concluded in a civilised manner. The Council notes the huge challenges faced by the Arab peoples, in laying the foundations of freedom, pluralism, and participation, shouldering the economic and social burdens, caring for the youth and providing opportunities for them, paying attention to the different generations and their needs, achieving prosperity in the various spheres, protecting civil rights, and preserving diversity and plurality. The Council wishes for the best in the success of the people and their elected leaders, with the aid of Allah, to realise these dues, after long periods of adversity, tyranny, and corruption.
  • Ninth: the Council expresses its concern for the escalating political despotism in Bangladesh, and the increasing restrictions on civil liberties, as well as waves of arrests targeting scholars, pioneering reformers, and public figures. The Council condemns these grave violations, and calls upon the Bengali authorities to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to lift the restrictions on general civic activity, while assuring transparent popular participation for all citizens, and ceasing all forms of repression against them.
  • Tenth: the Council is saddened by the developments in the crisis between France and Turkey, and expresses its disappointment regarding the deterioration in relations between the two important countries within the extended European family. The Council hopes that the French leadership moves quickly to address the causes of the crisis, and that Ankara and Paris strengthen mutual relations on a base of consensus and mutual respect. The Council reminds that laws criminalising discussion of historic issues are not the wise course to do justice to victims of conflicts, past and present.
  • Eleventh: the Council draws attention to the importance of respect for the religious rights of Europe’s Muslims in the specifications of meat and foodstuffs. The Council expresses its surprise at attempts to discriminate against Muslims in the area of Halal meat; it is unacceptable for any restrictions or measures to be imposed that violate the right of Muslims to obtain meat and foodstuffs compliant with the stipulations of the teachings of Islam.
  • Twelfth: the Council calls upon Europe’s Muslims and their organisations to adopt the recommendations of the symposium, “the Hijri calendar in light of scientific astronomical facts“, held in Paris, on the invitation of the Union of Islamic Organisations in France (UOIF), the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE), and the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), which endorsed the resolution of the European Council of Fatwa and Research in its 19th Session to employ astronomical calculation to determine the beginning of lunar months, and so help unify Muslims, especially in fasting Ramadan and celebrating Eid.

All praise is to Allah, Lord of all creation

Istanbul, 9-12 February 2012

(18-21 Rabi‘ al-Awwal 1433H)

Urgent call to mosques and Islamic centres to care for those affected by the cold spell

The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe follows the extreme cold snap sweeping the European continent, and claiming increasing numbers of victims in a number of countries on the Continent. The Federation consoles the families of the victims who died due to the cold and ice, and feels pain and suffering for those who are without shelter, or have no opportunity to warm their homes, asking Allah to relieve their suffering.

The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe invites Europe’s Muslims, and their social and charitable organisations to extend the hand of help and support to those groups affected by the extreme drop in temperature, and ice storms. The Federation urges mosques and Islamic centres across European countries to take the initiative in opening their doors to receive those affected by the severe cold snap, to find shelter and warmth, while providing care and moral support, as well as food and clothing.

No doubt that mosques and Islamic centres are for society as a whole and not Muslims only, and we are confident that Europe’s Muslims understand their social responsibilities, and duty of solidarity towards those groups suffering, and needing assistance, in these circumstances as others.

Europe’s Muslims as they remember in these days the birth of the Noble Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, will find in this noble humanitarian stance, the best celebration of this noble occasion, by following the humanitarian commitments emphasised in the Noble Quran and Sunnah of the Messenger Muhammad, peace be upon him, and the Noble Messengers of Allah.

Brussels, 9 February 2012 (18 Rabi‘ al-Awwal 1433H)

The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe

FIOE expresses its sorry for the tension between France and Turkey

The FIOE declared in a statement that it is following the developments in the unfortunate crisis between France and Turkey, and expresses its disappointment at the worsening relations between the two important countries within the extended European family.

The statement added that the Federation, while emphasising its principled position in sharing the feelings of pain with the relatives of innocent victims in conflicts past and present, regardless of their identity, and while expressing its sorrow for the long suffering inflicted on the Armenian people, considers that the recent move by both chambers of the French parliament, does no real service to the victims.

The federation said: “No doubt, laws that criminalise discussion of historic issues are not the wise course in terms of doing justice to the victims of past and present conflicts. What has provoked condemnation is that the French parliament has given, through its latest legislation regarding the Armenian question, the impression of contradiction in its commitments relating to human rights, and the responsibilities of the French State in this regard.

It also added that: “Over the past decades, it was an expectation that the French parliament would, in the first instance, make gestures to do justice to the victims of the horrors committed during the past colonial period, including the tragedies witnessed in Algeria. However, the parliament chose to glorify the colonial period, and turned a blind eye to the grave violations committed in that time, refusing to open the pages of the past.”

The statement said: “while saddened by the strained Franco–Turkish relations, the federation hopes that the French leadership will act quickly to tackle the causes of the crisis, and that Ankara and Paris reinforce their mutual relations on a foundation of accord and mutual respect.”

FIOE expresses its solidarity with Syrian People

In its statement the Federation of Islamic organizations in Europe said: “It follows with great sadness and anxiety, the grave turn of events in the series of massacres and atrocities perpetrated in Syria against citizens demanding freedom, democratic change, and an end to tyranny.” The statement added: “What is currently happening in a number of Syrian cities, towns, and villages are atrocities that make the skin crawl. Successive reports paint a horrific scene of bombardment, attacks, and shootings, targeting residential areas, and the masses of Syrian men and women, especially in the city of Homs, reaping hundreds of lives every day, without the Syrian authorities showing any intent to halt this bloody approach, or respond to the voice of the people.”

“As it emphasises its solidarity with the Syrian people at this crucial juncture, and while consoling the families of the victims and the injured, FIOE articulates its strongest condemnation for the ongoing mass killings, and terrorising of the Syrian people calling for democratic change in their country,” the statement added.

It also added: “Over the course of nearly a year of its continuing popular revolution, Syria has witnessed an overwhelming mass mobilisation that displayed rare and unmatched resolve, in seeking freedom, democracy, transparent popular participation, and building a better future. It was hoped that decision-makers would respond to the legitimate demands of their people, but they chose to mobilise the army, and gangs of security personnel to wage an evil war against the people, and commit atrocities.”

The statement also noted that the European Muslims feel immense pain for the continuing suffering of their brethren in Syria, and the high price that they are paying to secure their liberty. Syrians have massed in squares since March of last year, to demand their basic rights, and were confronted by an orchestrated campaign of murder, torture, and repression, forcing some to flee, seeking safe haven in the neighbouring countries.

The FIOE urged support for the Syrian people and solidarity with them at this critical time saying the Arab and Muslim world, the European Union, and the international community in its bodies and institutions, must overcome their reluctance, and display appropriate firmness regarding the horrific violations committed by the Syrian regime, and its organs of repression. No doubt, that acting as spectators with regard to the barbaric actions taking place has cost the Syrian people up to now, thousands of innocent victims, and yet, many more will fall if this policy of inaction continues, and the onslaught of the killing machine on the inhabitants continues undeterred.

Finally the statement noted that FIOE remains confident that Syria’s bright future can only be realised in a climate of freedom, democracy, and justice, with the end of tyranny, and ensuring respect for the will of the people, and protection for their dignity and lives.

FIOE President visits Gaza, calls for end of siege

Mr Chakib Ben Makhlouf the president of FIOE visited Gaza Strip in an extended tour where he inspected the conditions of Palestinians and their civil institutions after three years since the Israeli war on the strip.

During his visit, the FIOE president expressed the commitment of the European Muslims to support the Palestinian people and their legitimate rights. He also confirmed that the European Continent people and civil society have an increasing understanding of the Palestinians’ legitimate demands of freedom, justice, independence and an end to this inhumane siege and occupation.

Parliament and social Affairs

The visit included the Palestinian Legislative Council (Parliament) and a meeting with the acting speaker of the Parliament, Dr Ahmed Bahr, in addition to some heads of parliamentary committees. Talks dealt with the way of developing the Palestinian-European relations and strengthening the relations between the elected parliamentary members and the European civil society. The FIOE president reviewed the general status of the Palestinian Legislative council which had been targeted by Israeli raids. He understood the obstacles that the parliamentary life faces in Palestine, on top of which is the arrest of Dr Aziz Dweik the speaker of the parliament and dozens of parliament members to hinder its meetings and proceedings. The meeting also handled the current situation of the Palestinian issue and Jerusalem under occupation. It also dealt with the issue of settlements and racial segregation wall condemned internationally.

The Palestinian minister of social affairs Ahmed Al-Kurd received the FIOE president in his office and explained the social status of Palestinians in Gaza Strip, their limited employment opportunities and the general difficult situation they live in. Discussions reviewed the development projects in various sectors and the requirements to develop the social position in Palestine.

Refugee Camps

Mr Chakib Ben Makhlouf inspected a number of refugee camps in Gaza Strip and discovered the difficult conditions of those refugees who represent the majority of Gaza Strip population. He noted that:  “I found a strong will and determination from the Palestinian refugees to confront the cruelty of reality and adhere to their right to return to their country and homes from which they were displaced in 1948. They affirm that this right is not compromisable.”

The FIOE president expressed his admiration of this spirit that the Palestinians show despite all these difficulties and this long siege by the Israeli forces. He said: “I found two amazing things that attracted my attention in Gaza Strip: the first thing is that picture of deep suffering because of this continuous siege and Israeli raids against the Palestinians, including children, workers, farmers and fishers. The second is this strange determination to have decent life, education, and work in spite of the scarcity of resources.”

Educational Life

The FIOE president inspected the educational life in Gaza Strip and expressed his admiration of the students who insist on attending their classes under these sever conditions to improve their lives.

He also directed attentions to the Palestinians’ love of education in its different stages. He touched this when he visited the Islamic university in Gaza which is the biggest university in Palestine. He was welcomed by the university senate president Mr Jamal Al-Khudari and the university president Dr Kamal Kamalain Sha’ath. He reviewed the situation of this university, the attendance of students, the classes, laboratories, offices, and special needs education and equipment. Actually the Israeli forces bombarded this university and caused a wide destruction in 2008-2009 but the Palestinians reconstructed it. The FIOE president expressed his support of the university desire of academic networking with the European universities and promoting communication between the Palestinian students and their European peers.

Health Situation

The FIOE expressed his great sorrow for the continuous suffering of the Palestinian patients because of the Israeli restrictions imposed on the health sector in Gaza Strip which limit their ability to acquire medical equipment and medicines. These restrictions resulted in the depletion of more than 130 drugs. Mr Chakib Ben Makhlouf visited Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza and was taken on a tour by senior physicians and hospital management in which he visited some patients, some of them were injured in the Israeli raids against civilians. He discussed with the Palestinian medical departments the options of mutual cooperation and the suggested efforts to increase medical delegates to Gaza strip.

Freed Prisoners and Martyrs Graves

The FIOE president was happy to visit some of freed prisoners who were recently released from Israeli prisons and carefully listened to their difficult experience, their talk about violations and torture they endured in addition to preventing their families from visiting them. He reviewed the social initiatives that aim at rehabilitating and helping this Palestinian sector.

At the end of his tour, Mr Chakib Ben Makhlouf visited the graves of Palestinian martyrs and expressed his high esteem for these human sacrifices of the Palestinian people for the sake of their freedom and liberation from this occupation. He stood at the graves of Palestinians leaders, on top of them the late Sheikh Ahmed Yasin who spent many years in the Israeli prisons and finally was assassinated on his wheel chair in a very bloody crime after Morning Prayer.