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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Discover Islam in World Cup

By Amir Shabana, IOL Staff

"Discover Islam" stickers, balloons and T-shirts will be given to the fans.

CAIRO - The World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) will launch a know-Islam campaign during the World Cup 2006 in Germany, which kicks off on June 9.

"The campaign will be championed by our Berlin branch," WAMY Cairo Director Hamdy Al-Mursi told IslamOnline.net on Sunday, June 4.

He said up to 1.5 million glossy and colorful leaflets on Islam will be printed in English and German and distributed among football fans flocking from all over the world.

"The distribution will be through leased mosque-shaped pavilions inside different stadiums," added the activist.

Mursi said "Discover Islam" stickers, balloons and T-shirts will also be given to the fans.

He noted that the campaign is organized in tandem with a number of Islamic centers and NGOs in the total of twelve cities hosting the football extravaganza after getting the green light from the German authorities.

Islam comes third in Germany after Protestant and Catholic Christianity.

There are some 3.4 million Muslims in Germany, two thirds of whom are of Turkish origin.

The 2006 FIFA World Cup finals, the eighteenth to be contested, are scheduled to take place between 9 June and 9 July.

In June 2000, Germany won the right to host the gala, narrowly beating South Africa which will be the host of the 2010 competition.

Tolerant Islam

Mursi said the WAMY campaign will highlight tolerance in Islam, which is unfairly equated with terrorism.

"We want people to read about this much-stereotyped religion, which breaches against discrimination," he added.

"This is a golden opportunity to train Muslim youths in making use of world events to introduce our religion," said the activist.

Established in Saudi Arabia in 1972, WAMY is a non-governmental youth and student organization affiliated with the United Nations.

It has presence in 55 countries and an associate membership of over 500 youth organizations around the world.

Through its various projects, WAMY provides support structures to encourage the positive engagement and integration of the youth in their social environment.

It also aims to help assist towards diffusing social tensions, and protect Muslim youth from extremism and such trends that result in social instability.

Dutch Mosques Support Soccer Team

By Nasreddine Djebbi, IOL Correspondent

Small orange flags are seen hovering over the Osse mosque.

THE HAGUE - Dutch Muslims have decorated mosques' minarets and houses with orange and national flags in support of the Dutch soccer team in the FIFA World Cup 2006 in Germany.

Small orange flags are seen hovering over the only minaret of the Oglu mosque in the Osse city, Brabant.

"The Muslim minority wanted to demonstrate their loyalty to the Netherlands and support for the national soccer team in World Cup 2006," mosque imam Yasin Dagruyol told IslamOnline.net.

Following suit, Muslim and non-Muslim residents of Osse have raised Dutch flags over their buildings.

"We just wanted to show that Muslims are part and parcel of Dutch society," Mustafa Sen, chairman of the Interact Youth Foundation, told IOL.

Dutch Muslims nationwide have also hoisted Dutch flags over Islamic cultural and religious centers, following in the footsteps of their peers in Osse.

Holland sealed a World Cup second-round berth on Friday, June 17, after beating Ivory Coast 2-1 in their Group C.

This came after the Dutch players beat Serbia and Montenegro 1-0 in their opener.

The Dutch will play against Argentina, 6-0 winners over Serbia and Montenegro earlier Friday, in a dead game on Wednesday before going into the second round of 16 three days later.


A big screen was also set up in the cultural center of the Osse mosque to display the World Cup matches for the Dutch.

"We provide a friendly atmosphere and encourage people to join us instead of going to cafes," Sen said.

Dutch Muslim media have also entered the fray.

Times Media newspaper, a major Turkish newspaper published in the Netherlands, has called on the Dutch Muslims or Turkish origin to place the Dutch flags over their houses and windows.

Sen said the Osse mosque's initiative has drawn a warming welcome from Dutch residents and municipality officials.

He said that World Cup was a golden opportunity for Muslims to clear out misconceptions about their worship places and religion.

"It will help remove misconceptions and allay fears triggered by media exaggeration and show that the Islamic faith is no obstacle to entertainment," he added.

Muslims make up one million of the Netherlands's 16 million population.

There are more than 300 mosques, 1000 Islamic cultural centers, two Islamic universities and 42 preparatory schools in the country.

World Cup Muslim Fans Urged to "Give Example"

T-shirts with anti-Muslim slurs are being circulated by right-wingers in the run-up for the World Cup.

By Ahmed Al-Matboli, IOL Correspondent

BERLIN, May 25, 2006 (IslamOnline.net) - With right-wing groups charging batteries to provoke Muslim teams taking part in the FIFA World Cup, to kick off on June 9, Muslim fans are urged not to fall into the trap and to serve as an example.

A German Muslim website has exhorted Muslim football supporters to take into their strides provocations by right-wingers.

"Muslim fans should give an example of Muslim behavior and enjoy the contests no matter what the results are," wrote the muslimmarkt website.

The website urged Muslim fans to report any law violations to the police.

"The far right-wingers are out to provoke the fans to cause riots, particularly during the matches of the Iranian team."

T-shirts emblazoned with anti-Muslim slurs are already been circulated by far rightists.

One of these T-shirts reads "Islamophobic And Proud Of It".

The football gala runs from June 9h through July 9 with 32 teams competing for the prestigious trophy.


Days before the world event, German right-wing groups have already mobilized to harass Muslim teams in the Mondial.

The Iranians are the main focus of the campaign.

Right-wing groups are encouraging supporters to flock to Iran's matches and use Israeli flags in supporting any team playing against the Islamic republic.

Israeli flags are being delivered to the homes of those interested at 25 euros per piece.

Iran plays in Group D with Mexico, Angola and Portugal.

The team will have its first encounter against Mexico on June 11.

Other Muslim teams taking part in the competition are Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.

Anti-Racism Day

Meanwhile, FIFA has set plans to stage an anti-racism day during the World Cup to demonstrate opposition to racism and discrimination.

The action, coordinated with the tournament's organizing committee, will take place during the quarter-finals on June 30 and July 1.

Television ads and a huge round banner draped over the center circle at each of the 12 World Cup stadiums are also planned as part of the anti-racism campaign.

Bearing the World Cup motto "A Time to Make Friends," the World Cup logo "Germany 2006" and the slogan "Say No to Racism," the banners will be displayed at each of the 64 matches until shortly before kick-off.

"The aim is to send a clear message to the world against racism," the organizing committee said.

Germany has been a scene of a spate of race-related attacks in the run-up to the World Cup, raising concern of violence and intolerance during the world gala.

In the latest incident a politician of Turkish origin was beaten and slashed with a broken bottle in Lichtenberg, a suburb of Berlin known as a neo-Nazi stronghold, at the weekend.

Ribery's Islam "Noticed" in French WC Opener

By Hadi Yahmid, IOL Correspondent

The 23-year-old Ribery sees his new faith a matter of privacy and dislikes to talk about it in public.

PARIS - French national soccer team player Franck Ribery did not notice that his reversion to Islam would steal the limelight at his country's opener in Germany World Cup 2006 as the attacking midfielder raised his hands and supplicated to God like a typical Muslim before the kickoff.

The 23-year-old Ribery sees his new faith a matter of privacy and dislikes to talk about it in public with many French knowing nothing about his reversion to Islam.

The Olympique Marseille right-sided winger and midfielder has even been reluctant to tell reporters his reversion story, though it is believed that his Muslim wife, of Moroccan origin, played a pivotal role in his new lease of life.

Some reports hinted at his one-year stay in Turkish Galatasaray in 2005 when he helped the team win the 2005 Turkish Cup.

He rarely speaks about how he found the Muslim faith, urging the paparazzi to let him live in peace.

But he recently told the Paris Match magazine that he felt "safe" with Islam.

"Islam is my source of strength either in or outside the playground," he said.

"I lead a difficult career and I was determined to find peace of mind, and I finally found Islam."

Ribery's reversion to Islam was first leaked by L'Express magazine earlier this year, though the weekly did not mention him by name and said that a national team player was used to frequenting a mosque in southern Marseille.

Thousands of French revert to Islam every year in France, but not all of them declare their new faith outright, fearing discrimination at home or work and a stereotypical view that reverts tilt towards extremism, according to recent studies and surveys.

Last March, sources confirmed that former French soccer coach Philippe Troussier and his wife Dominique had reverted to Islam in the Moroccan capital where they live.

Super striker Anelka, who played for Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Liverpool and Manchester City, eventually had to leave for the Turkish league after increasing harassment.

France is home to some six to seven million Muslims, the largest Muslim minority in Europe.


Steve Bradore of Shehada organization, which caters for Muslim reverts, said that French Muslims must be proud of Ribery.

"He is really a source of pride for us due his unique performance and modesty," he told IslamOnline.net Saturday, June 17.

Ribery is tipped to succeed playmaker legend and three-time FIFA World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane, who said he will quit football at the end of the World Cup.

He started his playing career at his home town club US Boulogne and then moved to Alès, Brest and FC Metz in consecutive seasons.

His move to Olympique Marseille has earned him top French player honors for the months of August, October and November 2005. He was selected for the France squad for the FIFA World Cup 2006 in Germany.

France's opener with Switzerland at the World Cup ended goalless to the disappointment of the French people.

The French team will play on Sunday, June 18, with South Korea, which is a virtual must-win fixture for the 1998 World Cup winners if they are to cruise square two.

The Koreans top Group G ahead after the 2-1 win over Togo.

French Coach Troussier Reverts to Islam

"I want to keep my feelings for myself," said Troussier.

RABAT, March 24, 2006 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) - Famed French soccer coach Philippe Troussier and his wife Dominique have reverted to Islam in the Moroccan capital where they live, sources close to the couple confirmed Thursday, March 23.

"Troussier is no longer Philippe, he has taken the name Omar and his wife is no longer Dominique but Amina," the French-Moroccan daily L'Opinion reported Thursday.

A source close to the couple confirmed the reversion to Agence France-Presse (AFP), adding that the ceremony took place last Friday.

The widely-travelled Troussier, 51, is former coach of the Moroccan national team and French club Marseille.

He also had spells in charge of South Africa, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Qatar and Japan, whom he guided to the second round of the 2002 World Cup.

"Wonderful Surprise"

L'Opinion hailed the reversion as "a magnificent and wonderful surprise."

"Welcome Omar and Amina to the Kingdom of the All Powerful, the Kingdom of the Truth," it wrote.

"As Muslims we are happy to see such a strong and well recognized personality as Philippe Troussier become part of this religion of peace and tolerance."

The newspaper added that when contacted Troussier said he "did not want to elaborate too much on the subject."

"I want to keep my feelings for myself," Troussier was quoted as saying, adding: "as you see things evolve ..."

The Moroccan Evening newspaper reported that the couple have adopted two local girls Selma and Mariam.

Thousands of French revert to Islam every year in France, but not all of them declare their new faith outright, fearing discrimination at home or work and a stereotypical view that reverts tilt towards extremism, according to recent studies and surveys.

Anelka, who played for Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Liverpool and Manchester City, eventually had to leave for the Turkish league after increasing harassment.

Some imams in France have ruled that it was permissible for new reverts to conceal their faith if they feared rejection from family members and colleagues or security harassment.

Many Arabs and Muslims were even forced to change their names and hide their roots to spare themselves police and employers' discrimination.

A Sorbonne research released earlier in the year by the French Observatory Against Racism found that Arab names and dark complexion represent an obstacle to jobseekers.

France is home to some six to seven million Muslims, the largest Muslim minority in Europe.


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