Europe's Muslim Lobby
by Soeren Kern
Europeans often fantasize about America's so-called Jewish lobby, which they claim has a chokehold over American finance, media and politics and is responsible for all manner of conspiratorial evil. But few Europeans like to talk about the growing influence of Europe's Muslim lobby, a conglomeration of hundreds of Muslim political and religious organizations -- many of which are media-savvy mouthpieces for militant Islam that openly pursue anti-European, anti-Western and anti-Semitic agendas and often receive financial support from Islamic fundamentalist countries like Saudi Arabia.
In a Europe where Islam is the fastest-growing religion, and where the number of Muslims has tripled over the past 30 years, Europe's Muslim lobby is becoming increasingly assertive and skilled at pressuring European policy-makers into implementing countless pro-Islamic policies, especially ones that institutionalize Islamic Sharia law. Muslim lobby groups are, in fact, transforming European society in ways unimaginable only a few years ago; critics say their ultimate goal is nothing less than the Islamification of Europe.
Some of the most effective Muslim lobby groups are located in Britain, home to one of the largest Muslim communities in Europe, and include organizations such as the Muslim Council of Britain [MCB], Britain's largest Muslim umbrella body with around 500 affiliated national, regional and local organizations, mosques, charities and schools. It recently pressured the British government into adopting Islamic law and giving Sharia courts full powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.
The British government has quietly sanctioned the powers for Sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence. Whereas previously, the rulings of Sharia courts in Britain could not be enforced, and depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims, rulings issued by a network of five Sharia courts are now enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court. Sharia courts with these powers have been set up in Birmingham, Bradford, London and Manchester and the network's headquarters are located in Nuneaton, Warwickshire; and two more courts are being planned for Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Overall, at least 85 Islamic Sharia courts are now operating in Britain, almost 20 times as many as previously believed. A study by the Civitas think tank found that scores of unofficial tribunals and councils regularly apply Islamic law to resolve domestic, marital and business disputes, many operating in mosques. The study warns of a "creeping" acceptance of Sharia principles in British law.)
Although the MCB, which represents half of the country's 3 million Muslims, presents itself as the moderate face of Islam in Britain, the group has its origins in the extreme orthodox politics of Pakistan. The MCB and some of its affiliates sympathize with, and have links to, conservative Islamist movements in the Muslim world, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood and Pakistan's Jamaat-e-Islami, a radical party committed to the establishment of an Islamic state in Pakistan ruled by Sharia law.
Far from promoting moderate Islam, the MCB's real objective, critics say, is to help Muslims in Britain become more radical in their beliefs.
Among other positions, the MCB believes death is the appropriate penalty for apostasy and homosexuality. The group recently endorsed a pro-Hamas declaration that calls for Jihad against Jews and Israel, and condones attacks on British troops. The MCB also regularly makes headlines for boycotting Holocaust Memorial Day ceremonies in Britain; it is also campaigning for the establishment of an alternative Genocide Memorial Day that will "incorporate similar tragedies."
Another Muslim group, the Muslim Public Affairs Committee of the United Kingdom (MPACUK), has the outspoken aim of mobilizing Muslim voters to affect the outcome of British elections. During the general elections in 2010, MPACUK was pivotal in de-seating six members of parliament (MPs) who were perceived as being not sufficiently pro-Muslim.
During the 2005 general elections, MPACUK launched a smear campaign against Labour Party MP Lorna Fitzsimons. MPACUK distributed a leaflet claiming that Fitzsimons had done nothing to help the Palestinians because she was Jewish. Another leaflet said: "Lorna Fitzsimons is an ardent Zionist and a member of the most powerful anti-Muslim lobby in the world, the Israel lobby."
Fitzsimons is not in fact Jewish, and MPACUK later withdrew the leaflet. But MPACUK did succeed in unseating Fitzsimons; ever since then, many British MPs have been bending over backwards to appease Muslim voters.
MPACUK recently worked with Britain's Channel 4 television to produce a documentary titled "Operation Muslim Vote." With the aim of pressing for a larger participation of Muslims in British politics, the documentary tells the story of two MPACUK activists who head to northern England to take on the safe seats of several "pro-Zionist war mongering MPs."
MPACUK's website says its work is defined by the core principle of anti-Zionism: "MPACUK opposes the racist political ideology of Zionism and aims to counter the influence of the Zionist lobby. Openly available evidence demonstrates a Zionist agenda to dominate the Middle East and push a 'clash of civilisations' between Islam and 'The West'. We therefore believe that anti-Zionism is a strategic priority to counter the greatest and most urgent threat facing the Ummah [the Muslim Diaspora]."
Its website also says Muslims in Britain should be pro-actively engaged in mainstream media and politics as the most effective way to "reviving the fard (obligation) of Jihad."
Muslim lobby groups have also pressed the British government to enact the Racial and Religious Hatred Act, which creates a new crime: intentionally stirring up religious hatred against people on religious grounds. Predictably, the new law has established new limits on free speech in a country where the politically correct elite routinely seek to silence public discussion about the escalating problem of Muslim immigration.
The growing power of Europe's Muslim lobby was most recently demonstrated by the European Union's decision in mid-December to quietly abandon a new measure that the would have required halal (religiously approved for Muslims) meat products to carry a label to help non-Muslim consumers identify their origins. With the exponential growth of Europe's Muslim population, thousands of tons of religiously slaughtered halal meat is now entering the general food chain, where it is being unwittingly consumed by the non-Muslim population.
By bowing to Muslim pressure groups -- such as the World Halal Forum Europe and the Halal Monitoring Committee -- and dropping the halal labelling requirement, the EU is effectively establishing Sharia law as normative for Europe's meat industry. The halal controversy, in which Muslim lobby groups are seeking to impose the requirements of Islam, not just on their own people, but also on the rest of society, illustrates how the rise of Islam is influencing the daily lives of hundreds of millions of non-Muslim Europeans.
In France, which has the second-largest Muslim population on the continent after Germany, several Muslim lobby groups are vying to represent the country's estimated 4.1 million Muslims. The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) serves as the official interlocutor with the French state in the regulation of Muslim religious activities, and as such it is the de facto representative of all French Muslims before the national government. The other main Muslim lobby groups are the Rally for French Muslims (RMF),backed by Morocco, and the Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF), close to the Muslim Brotherhood.
In Germany, home to Europe's largest Muslim population in absolute terms, the powerful Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), itself a branch of the Turkish government's religious affairs authority, has succeeded in persuading the city of Cologne to approve the construction of a new mega mosque. The futuristic mosque will hold up to 4,000 worshippers, and will have a large dome and two 55-meter (180 feet) minarets, each as tall as 18-story office towers. The 4,500-square-meter (48,000-square-foot) mosque, which has a price tag of €20 million ($26 million), is being financed by donations from more than 800 Muslim groups inside and outside Germany. Critics of the project say the mosque is a deliberate effort to spoil Cologne's skyline by taking attention away from the city's Gothic cathedral, a globally famous Christian landmark.
In recent months, Muslim lobby groups have also persuaded the German government to adapt Germany's secular education system so that it caters to Islamic preferences. The German Education Ministry has, for example, agreed to fund Islamic studies at several state universities to train Muslim prayer leaders and religion teachers. Germany's Education Minister, Annette Schavan, says: "We want as many imams as possible to be educated in Germany. Imams are bridge builders between their congregations and the communities in which their mosques stand." She states further that Germany would need 2,000 imams and teachers if all 16 states offered Islam courses.
Elsewhere in Germany, in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, Muslim lobby groups are working with the Culture Ministry to design Islam-friendly classes for public schools. The new guidelines recommend cancelling all school trips during the month of Ramadan; taking into account the sensitivities of Muslims when planning internships and school events; and assigning less schoolwork during Ramadan because fasting could lead to loss of performance and concentration among Muslim students.
In the German state of Lower Saxony, the German Muslim Central Council is urging the Education Ministry to include Islam in its schools' core curriculum as part of a politically correct initiative to counter growing anti-Islam sentiments in the country. In Berlin, the Ministry for Education, Science and Research recently published a guide called "Islam and School," which gives teachers practical advice on how to avoid offending Muslim students.
In Scandinavia, the Muslim Council of Sweden, an umbrella organization of Islamic groups in the country, is pressuring the Swedish government to implement special legislation for Muslims in Sweden. The demands include: the right to specific Islamic holidays; special public financing for the building of mosques; a demand that all divorces between Muslim couples be approved by an Imam; and that Imams should be allowed to teach Islam in public schools.
As Europe's Muslim population grows, Muslim lobby groups are also exerting significant influence on European policy in the Middle East, resulting in a notable hardening of official European attitudes toward Israel. Several European countries, for instance, eager to maintain good relations with local Muslim communities, are laying the political groundwork for the EU to recognize a Palestinian state, possibly as early as October 2011,even if negotiations for a permanent settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are not concluded -- a total abrogation of the UN's signed Oslo accords.
In December 2009, the EU adopted a resolution that for the first time explicitly calls for Jerusalem to become the future capital of a Palestinian state. The move not only reflects the EU's efforts to prejudge the outcome of issues reserved for permanent status negotiations, but in December 2010, an influential group of former EU leaders and officials published a letter urging the EU to implement sanctions against Israel.
Europe has also been "ground zero" for a series of anti-Israel lawsuits which exploit the legal principle of universal jurisdiction in order to harass current and former Israeli political and military leaders, with the twin aims of tying Israel's hands against Palestinian terror and delegitimizing the Jewish state. Such "lawfare" is often aided and abetted by Muslim lobby groups in Europe by means of financial and logistical support.
The steady demonization of Israel by European officialdom is also affecting the European street, where the line between valid criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism is becoming dangerously blurred. A survey conducted by the University of Bielefeld, for example, shows that more than 50% of Germans equate Israel's policies toward the Palestinians with Nazi treatment of the Jews, and that 68% of Germans say that Israel is waging a "war of extermination" against the Palestinian people. In terms of Europe as a whole, an official EU poll shows that the majority of Europeans regard Israel as the greatest threat to world peace.
Another report commissioned by the EU's Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (now called the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights) found that Muslim immigrants are largely responsible for the sharp increase in anti-Semitic violence in Europe.
Predictably, Muslim lobby groups pressured the EU into preventing that report from being released to the general public.