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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Islam set to be dominant religion in France

By David Kerr
Paris, France, Sep 17, 2011 / 12:25 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- New research suggests there are now more practising Muslims in France than practising Catholics.

While 64 percent of French people describe themselves as Roman Catholic, only 2.9 percent of the population actually practice the Catholic faith. That compares to 3.8 percent of the population who practice the Muslim faith. The research was carried out by the French Institute of Public Opinion on behalf of the Catholic newspaper La Croix.

More worrying for Islamic authorities in France is the finding that only 41 percent of the country’s 6 million Muslims actually describe themselves as “practising,” although 75 percent are happy to label themselves “believers.” Seventy-percent also claim to observe the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Most French Muslims hail from the country’s former colonies in North and sub-Saharan Africa.

There is also further evidence that mosques are being erected at a much faster rate than Catholic churches. Mohammed Moussaoui, President of the Muslim Council of France, last month estimated that 150 new mosques are currently under construction across the country.

By contrast, the Catholic Church in France has built only 20 new churches during the past decade, and has formally closed more than 60 churches. Many of these are now destined to become mosques, according to La Croix.

Research in 2009 by the Amsterdam School for Social Science Research suggested that nearly 500 new mosques were built between 2001 and 2006, taking the present total to over 2,000. Many of these new buildings, however, were erected to re-accommodate local Islamic communities who had previously been using temporary accommodation – the so-called “Islam of the basements.”

One of France’s most prominent Muslim leaders, Dalil Boubakeur, who is the head of the Grand Mosque of Paris, recently called for the number of mosques in the country to be doubled again – to 4,000 – to meet growing demand.

The lack of building space for France’s Islamic population had led to many mosques not being able to accommodate the believers who arrive for Friday prayers, leaving many Muslims to pray outside in the streets.

But Muslims praying outside of mosques has created political tension.

In December 2010 the leader of the far-right National Front, Marine Le Pen, described such scenes as an “occupation without tanks or soldiers.” She is likely to run for the French presidency next year, and her message is resonating with 40 percent of voters, according to a recent poll for the “France Soir” newspaper.

French President Nikolas Sarkozy has also recently described street prayers as “unacceptable,” adding that the street cannot become “an extension of the mosque.” Last month his Interior Minister, Claude Guéant, suggested Muslims should instead use empty barracks. Prayer in the street “has to stop,” Guéant declared.

In a bid to solve the space crisis in the southern city of Marseille, a mosque to accommodate 7,000 worshippers is currently being built. Twenty-five percent of Marseille's population is Muslim.

Last month a mosque for 2,000 worshippers opened in the eastern town of Strasbourg, where 15 percent of the population is Muslim.

France is often referred to as the “eldest daughter of the Catholic Church,” because the local Church has maintained unbroken communion with the Bishop of Rome since the 2nd century.

But some senior European bishops have long predicted the eclipse of Catholicism by Islam across the continent.

In 1999, Archbishop Giuseppe Bernardini, an Italian Franciscan who heads the Izmir Archdiocese in Turkey, recalled a conversation he had with a Muslim leader for the Synod of European Bishops, which was gathered in Rome. That leader told him, “thanks to your democratic laws, we will invade you. Thanks to our religious laws, we will dominate you.” 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

800 foreigners converted to Islam in 6 months

DOHA: A total of 800 expatriates converted to Islam in the last six months, according to statistical data released by Qatar Guest Centre (QGC).
The Centre, which is affiliated to Sheikh Eid bin Mohammad Al Thani Charity, is planning to publish the stories of these converts in a book to be translated in other languages. Also, QGC is organising in Al Khor advocacy programmes to educate the new Muslims in cooperation with religious guidance and mosque affairs department and Ministry of Awqf and Islmaic Affairs.
Of the 800 new Muslims 67 percent are Filipinos, according to Hadi Al Dosari, Director of Qatar Guest Centre. In its four years of service to Islam and the Muslims, the Centre has been contributing to the promotion of Islam with the number of new converts from various nationalities reaching 919 last year, said Al Dosari.
He said the number of converts to Islam has been increasing steadily for the last years. From 21 new converts monthly in year 2006, the numbers increased to 28 in 2007, 46 in 2008, 52 in 2009 52 and 77 last year.  “These numbers reflect the efforts of the Centre to bring the message to all the communities,” he said.
The Centre is also organising cultural activities which attract a lot of people through lectures, seminars and meetings with various expatriate communities.
A total of 2, 470 lectures which deal with various aspects of life has already been organised by QGC and its tent at the Karwa bus station attracts an average of 1,000 visitors weekly. In addition, lectures, which average 24,100 yearly, are also held in Industrial Area.
Islamic lectures have been well attended such as the one with prominent scholar Zakir Naik spoke on ‘Islam and Media: Peace or War’ in which a large audience of about 8,000 have attended.
The centre also pays regular visits to prisoner, the sick, resident complexes, private companies, shops and malls. He said average visit to prisoners annually have increased to 200 times and 10, 300 in commercial shops.
More and more young people are also participating in the centre’s activities, with 200 student volunteers who distribute booklets and brochures about Islam and the centre. Other means are employed to reach out to the most number of people such as using cars to distribute brochures to many parts of the country and participating in many events of global scale.    THE PENINSULA