Sunday, March 30, 2008

Danish Islamophobia Kills Muslim Teen


Danish Islamophobia Kills Muslim Teen

Uzun was kicked to death by three Danish teens. (IOL Photo)

COPENHAGEN � Danish Muslims link the racist murder of a Muslim teen last week to an increasing Islamophobic atmosphere fanned by the reprinting of a cartoon satirical of prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

"Deniz Ozgur Uzun was killed because of his dark, Middle Eastern skin," Jihad Abdelalim Alfara, the chairman of the Islamic Council in Denmark, told IslamOnline. net.

Uzun, a 17-year-old Turk attending a technical high school, was distributing newspapers in the Amager district of Copenhagen Wednesday when he was verbally harassed by three Danes, aged 15, 17 and 18.

"They tried to provoke him with racist slur," said Abdel-Hamid Hamdi, head of the Shura Council of the Islamic Council in Denmark.

"He ignored them and went his way before they stopped their car and started assaulting him."

A friend of Uzun, identified by the media as Mohammed, said the three attacked Uzun with a baseball bat and a hammer, leaving him unconscious.

The Muslim teen was put on life support at a hospital in Copenhagen with "severe brain damage" before he was pronounced dead the next day.

The three attackers were captured shortly after the attack and are still in custody.

"These three racist Danes were being sought even before attacking my son," Ali, the father, told local media.

"How could this happen?"

The Copenhagen Police Department confirmed that one the attackers had been captured with a gun six days before the attack and that the three are known to have criminal records.

Cartoon Effect

"Was it necessary to have someone killed in order to make sure that the racism is on the rise in Denmark following the (Prophet) cartoon crisis," asked Alfara. (IOL Photo)

Alfara, the Muslim community leader, believes the racist attack is directly linked to an Islamophobic atmosphere in the Scandinavian country fanned by the recent reprinting of the prophet cartoon.

"Was it necessary to have someone killed for people to realize that racism is on the rise in Denmark following the cartoon crisis."

Denmark's main dailies reprinted on Wednesday, February 13, a drawing of a man described as the prophet with a ticking bomb in his turban.

The move has reignited a controversy that first surfaced in 2005 after the mass-circulation Jyllands-Posten commissioned and printed 12 cartoons of the prophet, sending thousands of protesting Muslims into the streets across the world.

For some Muslims the incident unmasked double-standards in dealing with the country's nearly 200,000-strong minority.

"Where are those politicians who always jump on the bandwagon whenever Arabs or Muslims are involved in any similar incident," asked Hamdi.

"Why have not we heard from Justice Minister Lene Espersen who champions ore restrictions on Muslims, imams and minority leaders?

"Where is the leader of the right-wing Danish People's Party Pia Kjaersgaard to explain why three blonde-haired Danish teens committed this racist crime?"


German Comic Vs Muslim Extremism

The comic features Andi, his Muslim girlfriend Ayshe, her brother Murat, a radical friend and a hate preacher. (Reuters)

BERLIN � The German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) is using a novel tool to prevent Muslim schoolchildren from being drawn into extremism and violence: cartoon comics.

"We have learned from our opponents," Hartwig Moeller, head of the NRW interior ministry's intelligence gathering department, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday, March 25.

Officials in NRW, Germany's most populous state, had run a well received comic strip in 2004 starring Andi, a schoolboy hero who stands up against xenophobia and racism.

Drawing on that experience, they launched Andi last October into a second adventure featuring his Muslim "girlfriend" Ayshe and her brother Murat, who comes under the influence of a radical friend and a "hate preacher".

Some 100,000 copies of the comic, featuring boldly drawn Manga-style figures, have been distributed to every secondary school to be used in citizenship and religion lessons for schoolchildren aged 12 to 16.

"This is exactly the age at which the Islamists are trying, through Qur'anic schools and other means, to fill young people with other values," said Moeller.

The comic reportedly aims to show young people the difference between peaceful Islam and the violent, intolerant version peddled by militants.

"If I get through to someone this way, and it makes him more critical of people who want to make him a jihadist, then I've stopped him at some point committing terrorist attacks or going to a terrorist camp in Afghanistan or Pakistan," Moeller argues.

"Maybe he won't slide off into this milieu -- that's the idea."

Germany is home to nearly 3.4 million Muslims, the second biggest Muslim minority in Western Europe.

Islam comes third in the country after Protestant and Catholic Christianity.

New Tactics

Copies of the comic have been distributed to every secondary school to be used in citizenship and religion lessons for schoolchildren aged 12 to 16. (Reuters)

Using a medium that grabs children's imagination the German state seeks to get its message across more effectively.

"If you're serious about getting through to young people, you have to choose a style that they'll take in their hands and accept, that's how the comic came about," said Thomas Grumke, the NRW official who thought up the original Andi idea.

"A comic can go much further than a normal text," he maintains.

"There's a great deal more room to play with, more room for interpretation. "

Aiman Mazyek, general secretary of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, welcomed the comic strip.

"We found the basic approach was right and good, we only regretted (the authorities) didn't tell us about this initiative in advance, then it could have been made much better," he said.

Admitting that hate preachers exit, the Muslim leader insisted the portrayal in the comic was "a bit overdone."

Mazyek said copies of the comic have been distributed in mosques.

According to Reuters, the regional government in Hamburg state is also using the Andi story.

It also cited interest from Austria, Denmark, Japan and the United States.

The unusual initiative is one example of how countries around the world are searching for new ways to prevent young people being drawn to extremism.

Richard Barrett, who heads a UN task force studying counter-radicalizat ion and rehabilitation initiatives around the world, recently suggested that role models such as singers, actors or sport stars could play an important part.

"I think that is something we should be looking at � trying to identify these alternative influences and have them speak out against terrorism," he told a conference this month in Stockholm.

"Being cool is a very important part of it all."

Swedish terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp cited the example of Ahmad Dhani, an Indonesian rock star who challenged militant ideology in a massively popular album called "Warriors of Love".

He suggested the West needs to harness humor, soap opera and public relations industries in efforts to "disarm the extremists' messages and influence over young people."

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Daripada Abu Umarah iaitu al-Bara' bin 'Azib radhiallahu anhuma, katanya: "Kita semua diperintah oleh Rasulullah s.a.w. untuk melakukan tujuh perkara, iaitu meninjau orang sakit, mengikuti janazah, menentasymitkan orang yang bersin, menolong orang yang lemah, membantu orang yang teraniaya, meratakan salam dan melaksanakan sumpah."

(Muttafaq 'alaih)

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