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Europe: Ramadan Wrap-Up, 2013

by Soeren Kern

Muslims across Europe are marking the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month which, in accordance with the lunar calendar, this year fell between July and August.

Ramadan was a major topic for public discussion, and the month-long holiday received heavy press coverage from print and broadcast media in all parts of Europe — a reflection of the rising influence of Islam across the continent.

Muslim leaders sought to leverage the media attention to showcase Ramadan — a time when Muslims refrain from taking food or water between sunrise and sunset — as the peaceful nature of Islam in Europe.

Muslims were supported by European multiculturalists – who, when it comes to Judaism and Christianity, are staunch enforcers of secularism. They made great efforts to draw up guidelines, issue instructions and carve out special privileges to ensure that Muslims were not offended by non-Muslims during the festival.

As in past years, Ramadan-related controversies also fuelled heated debates in many countries.

In Britain, for example, Channel 4 became the first mainstream British television channel to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer (adhan) live each morning during Ramadan (see video here). Channel 4 also broadcast a series of programs about Ramadan called “Ramadan Diaries” which explored how British Muslims “cope with the physical and spiritual effects of fasting.”

Channel 4 said the special Ramadan programming was an act of “deliberate provocation” to anyone who associates Islam with extremism.

In an article at the Radio Times, a media trade publication, Channel 4 senior executive Ralph Lee said the broadcaster was giving a “voice to the under-represented” Muslims in Britain and that if it were not for heroic actions of Channel 4, the “vast majority of people in Britain” would not be aware of the “mass act of personal sacrifice and worship” that occurs during Ramadan.

Lee also said Ramadan was of greater interest to its viewers than the “blanket coverage” given to the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation by its rivals in June 2013. Lee added: “And let’s not forget that Islam is one of the few religions that’s flourishing, actually increasing in the UK. Like Channel 4’s target audience, its followers are young. It’s recently been reported that half of British Muslims are under 25.”

Not surprisingly, Muslims welcomed Channel 4’s decision. Anjem Choudary, a radical Muslim hate preacher who has long campaigned to bring Islamic Sharia law to Britain, said he was in favor of any move to promote Islam “Islam,” he added, “is the fastest growing ideology in this country. By some accounts Britain could be a Muslim country by 2015.”

Abu Zakariyya, of the radical Islamic Emergency Defence group, added as well: “We want to see Sharia law in the UK and only God knows if this could be a step towards it.”

Also in Britain, a teacher at the Charles Dickens Primary School in Portsmouth, Hampshire, refused to allow a 10-year-old non-Muslim pupil to drink water at school on one of the hottest days of the year because it was unfair to Muslim students who were observing the Ramadan fast.

The mother of the child, Kora Blagden, said: “A [Muslim] child who is fasting had a headache and the teacher said it would be unfair if the other children drank in front of the pupil. They normally have their bottles on their table but they were kept in a tray by the teacher. Luke was dehydrated when he got home and drunk three glasses of water straight away.”

Meanwhile, the London-based Guardian newspaper called on non-Muslim students to “practice their own controlled fasts during the Ramadan period in support of their Muslim friends.”

In Finland, the daytime fasting during Ramadan caused a clash over meal times at the Metsälä refugee reception center in Helsinki. The kitchen at the refugee center normally operates only during daytime hours, but throughout Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating during the day and only break their fast at night.

After Muslim refugees complained about the mealtimes, Finnish immigration officials admitted they were unprepared for the nighttime Ramadan meal ritual. The conflict created such a stir that even Finnish Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen was drawn into the imbroglio; he agreed to a compromise to provide Muslim refugees with bag lunches to resolve the dilemma….

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One Response

  1. Islam = evil and must be destroyed

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