EVS w Rzymie / EVS in Rome

Fundacja dla Wolności wraz z włoską organizacją parterską, Associazione Gondwana, poszukuje wolontariuszy do udziału w międzynarodowym projekcie wolontariatu europejskiego.
Projekt „Un’ Altra Storia” rozpocznie się 1 października 2012 i zakończy 30 czerwca 2013.
Projekt będzie polegać na pracy w ośrodku dla rodzin i kobiet znajdujących się w trudnej sytuacji życiowej. Wśród nich znajdują się imigrancji oraz niepełnosprawne dzieci i młodzież. Wolontariusze będą przebywać z nimi na co dzień, jak również mieszkać w budynku należącym do ośrodka (Casabetania).
W ramach projektu wolontariusz będą mieć zapewnione wyżywienie, zakwaterowanie (w 2-osobowych pokojach), miesięczne kieszonkowe, transport lokalny, ubezpieczenie AXA, cykl szkoleń, kurs językowy. Projekt pokrywa również 90% kosztów podróży z i do Włoch.

Od kandydatów oczekujemy:
– otwartości
– zainteresowania pracą w środowisku międzynarodowym
– odporności na stres
– rozwiniętych zdolności interpersonalnych
– znajomości języka angielskiego lub włoskiego w stopniu pozwalającym na komunikację
– wieku od 18 do 30 lat
– dodatkowym atutem będzie zainteresowanie i doświadczenie w pracy socjalnej, społecznej, z osobami niepełnosprawnymi, rodzinami przeżywającymi kryzys

Zgłoszenia w formie CV i listu motywacyjnego w języku angielskim proszę kierować na adres wolontariat@fundacjadlawolności.org z dopiskiem EVS Włochy do 29 czerwca 2012.
W razie jakichkolwiek pytań proszę o kontakt na w.w. adres mailowy.

Szczegółowy opis projektu znajduje się na http://ec.europa.eu/youth/evs/aod/hei_form_en.cfm?EID=42000733501

To find more info check:  http://ec.europa.eu/youth/evs/aod/hei_form_en.cfm?EID=42000733501

Wearing hijab in France – what is the problem?

Katarzyna Sosnowska

The main reason which leads me to the decision to write about France was the fact of the existing controversial legal act which forbids Muslim women to wear their traditional clothes. I would like to highlight that there are thousands of different opinions on the subject of hijab and by using them I will try to create and present my own point of view on that problem. In first part I would like write about the issues connected with wearing traditional Muslim clothes and then try to make some conclusions and predictions about what can derive from it.

Firstly, to make the definition clear, it is the best option to write about the hijab not only as a traditional headscarf but mainly as a style of dress characteristic for Muslim women (J.E.C. 2000:279). It will give wider field for analysis. Burqa covering whole silhouette, as well as headgears called niquab or hijab it is a way to express modesty of a woman which do not want to be judged on appearance. Wearing hijab is a visible sign of identity and belonging to Muslims community. But even in their internal environment opinions about the necessity of wearing hijab are divided. Some woman claimed that it is equally important as fulfilling orders included in five pillars of Islam. Sultana Yusufali in her article “Why do I wear hijab?” writes “When I cover myself, I make it virtually impossible for people to judge me according to the way I look.  I cannot be categorized because of my attractiveness (…) When I wear the hijab I feel safe (…)  I can rest assured that no one is looking at me and making assumptions about my character from the length of my skirt..” (www.islamreligion.com). She denied the opinion even of Muslim feminists or so-called liberal Muslims that hijab is a symbol of subordinating the woman to the man, the gender inequality or even social backwardness (M.W. 2005:121). If there is not a uniform opinion amongst Muslims what will happen if authorities from outside of their cultural range start resolving the matter?

In April 2011 in France an act forbidding to wear burqa and niquab in all public places, including buses, shops, parks and streets came into force. It was preceded by the act from 2004 – a ban on wearing scarves and other religious symbols at schools and at universities (at least does not include Catholic schools which are private ones). Secular France does not want symbols closely associated with the religion, in spite of opening to the multiculturalism. They are emphasizing that the forbidding right to wear curtains of this type does not refer only to Muslim women, but is regarding covering the face in public places, including wearing balaclavas and masks. Woman breaking the recalled ban can receive a fine up to 150 euro. Whereas the year of the prison or the 30 thousand euro fine are threatening the person which by force is impelling women to put burqa or other kind of curtain on (Penalties can be twice higher, if the person which is being forced to wear these veils is juvenile). What is quite interesting for me in certain accidents the court can order – instead of or apart from a fine – compulsory participation to the own cost in the refresher course about „republican values”. President Nicolas Sarkozy said, that burqa, clothes covering women from head to toe, will be an affront to their dignity.  He announced  that “we cannot let the fact that in our country women are prisoners behind the net of the burqa, cut off from the social life, deprived of the identity” (www.telegraph.co.uk).

An official justification for such a ban refers to public security. Police must have a possibility of the fast identification of persons during the demonstration and the riot. The UMP party ruling in France claims that wearing the burqa is exposing the public safety to the harm, under that kind of clothes it is easier to hide explosive materials  but first of all to remain anonymous assassins. A lack of unified justification is a crucial problem for the ban or the permission for wearing hijabs. Anti hijab policy is being explained with the fact that they want to provide human rights for women, thinking that they are forced for wear that dresses not taking into account that this is their own, unconstrained choice.

Now I would like to take a step to the next point of my deliberation and try to consider what could derive from that kind of policy toward Muslim community. The lack of approvals for customs and traditions can lead to a tensions among cultures and as a result of it to create the attitude of hostility. What is more that could result in an acts of aggression or the growing intolerance both from one as well as the others side. We have to face the truth that regardless the religion there are persons full of dissatisfaction and aggression. As long as any actions which can be understood as harming are taking there is a possibility that it will result in the escalation of aggression.

There is also a problem of the security of Muslims. We can spot that immediately after the September  11 terrorist attacks a negative atmosphere has been created against Muslims and islamophobia has been reinforced. Report of European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenphobia indicates that the visual identifiers were one of the most common cause of becoming a victim of the retaliation attack (Summary Report on Islamophobia in th EU after 11 September 2001). In France in 2003 special organization came into existence because of enhanced anti-Muslim actions. Collectif contre l’Islamophobie en France (CCIF) published the list of cases  of islamophobic actions  towards private persons which shows that it affected mainly women and girls wearing hijab (M.W. 2005:126). On the one hand we can say that this ban works in favor of the victims of such attacks but on the other we have to remember that it can provoke action from the side of the followers so-called radical Islam. Their acts can lead to aggressive behavior directed not only to non Muslim people, but also to women which will make up their mind for taking the hijab off.

One violation of rights comes after another. It seems like those who claimed that a ban of wearing hijab is in favor of Muslims woman, to make them free from pressures from husband totally forgot about the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Some people claimed that the most important issue is the discouraging from the assimilation. But here we have to ask very important question – whether combining European system of values with the one which is functional in Muslim world is possible? The example of France shown that in field of religion it is practically impossible. Also, it discovered the brutal truth – situation with hijab depicts that it is hard to expect Muslims integration with the West society if it is being made impossible in the everyday life. As it was written in European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia Report (EUMC) “Muslims feel that acceptance by society is increasingly premised on ‚assimilation’ and the assumption that they should lose their Muslim identity” (news.bbc.co.uk). It is very interesting to show the numbers. According to the report Muslim Population by Country there are about 4,704,000 Muslims in France and as the Ministry of Home Affairs counted about 2,000 women wear hijab (features.pewforum.org). Is it that big number to make it such a significant problem or is just simple action by which they try to beat an entire community?

 Between Muslim theorist there are also two fronts. For example Tarim Ramadan present the view that Muslims should became more self-critical and finish with the “mentality of the victim”. He is convincing that there is nothing contradictory in being a Muslim and European citizen. Another view presenting by Bassam Tibi. He is propagating the coming into existence of the liberal, apolitical version of the Islam (A.D., K.C. 2010:169).

It is essential in my opinion for democratic country to appoint some kind of borders for accepting habits of emigrants. If they would not do that it is very probable that they will never reach the high level of assimilation. But it cannot be only one-way action. To the same degree it should be important for Europeans and for Muslims. In my opinion, conducting such action as hijab bans is definitely a step backwards in field of assimilation. The confrontational attitude would not allow the development, it will rather become a cause for the mutual combating.

Case of the anti-hijab actions in France touch very important component concerning the national system. It makes me think about the problem of democration which should be multicultural, not only in the assumption but also in practice. Meanwhile, France showed us that it is becoming secular and is trying to relegate issues of the faith to the private zone, for what the Islamic society so strongly tied to its religion cannot afford. We could noticed that case of hijab was not the first one and touched not only Muslims.

I notice the tendency for the larger federation between religions against the action of state. Muslim girls which were expelled from school for wearing the headscarf were admitted to a Catholic school (M.W. 2005:122). After the ban from 2004 on wearing visible religious symbols at schools and at universities we could observe waves of protests and demonstrations in which Christians, Muslims and Jews participated one next to another. Europe after thousand years of multiculturalism is reaching for uniting different religions, but the alarming fact is that  this unification is against the national system and against the state.

What seemed to be the tricky action to gain the supporters in the election campaign from the side of Sarkozy (as we already know from two weeks unsuccessful action) spread and affected another countries. Today not only France and Belgium are facing the problem of Muslim dresses. is so also happening of Netherlands, and Germans are considering such possibility. Netherlands and Germany are also considering the possibility of introducing bans on wearing hijabs.

Making my deliberation a little bit wider, we can presume that such action from the side of European countries can influence even the result of the accession negotiation between the European Union and Turkey. We already had an occasion to noticed social dissatisfaction in Turkey where constantly appearing and abolished ban on wearing headscarf is a constant object of social and political disputes. Again, from the fact that the society is the most powerful weapon such social unrests could lead to another problem that I mentioned before – social security.

Situation could reflect not only in such obvious areas as security or international relations but can also affected French economy. Some of Muslims living in France declared that they will leave the country because of the fact of the ban. We have to noticed that they made about 8% of overall population of France. Largely they have a French citizenship, are working legally, are paying taxes. We also have to remember that they have their contribution to the impressing birth rate showing in France (epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu).

Tourists from the Middle East participated in strengthening the French tourist industry during the crisis in 2008. The number of the guests from that region rose by the 20% in summer months of 2008, in comparing to the previous year. However in 2009 about 215 thousand tourists from the Middle East visited Paris (it makes the 3% of all tourists in 2009). The most expensive hotels are in great measure dependent on entrepreneurs from the area of the Persian Gulf (mainly Saudis) which last year made about 11% of total guests (english.alarabiya.net).

It is already a year after the controversial act in France came into force. Long-term effects are not perceptible and it is hard for us to assess the influence of the ban on any aspect of life. I think that it could affect every field which I mentioned before. I would not be surprised if the situation changed diametrically. New president of France is not hiding his sympathy for other cultures. After he won the election press and of public opinion suggested that Muslims had provided victory for him. His advantage over Sarkozy took out 1,1 million votes and about 93% of Muslims expressed the will to vote for him what in results gives about 1,7 million votes (my.telegraph.co.uk). While ex-president had blocked the way of Turkey to join the European Union Hollande can become a free-pass. As the British journalist wrote: “his government reflects the Leftist-Islamic alliance that brought him to power. It is a government, that for all its assurances, is likely to turn a blind eye to the burqa, a knowing wink to the repression of women, and  a blind eye to the preaching of Jihad on French soil” (frontpagemag.com). Maybe now the problem of Muslims hijab will be again resolved, this time in favor of Islamic community? In my opinion we should observe the situation and wait for the change of the present government and so one which will definitely bring new decisions, probably also in the matters connected with Muslims.

SOURCES:

  1. Marta Widy, Życie codzienne w muzułmańskim Paryżu, Warszawa 2005, p.112-129. Print.
  2. Juan Eduardo Campo, Encyclopedia of Islam, New York 2009, p.297-298. Print.
  3.  Anna Diawoł, Katarzyna Czajkowska, „Europa wobec wyzwań imigracji muzułmanów” In: Religia a współczesne stosunki międzynarodowe, Kraków 2010, p.169-182. Print.
  4. Summary Report on Islamophobia in th EU after 11 September 2001, European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenphobia, Vienna 2008. Print.
  5. http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/525/ Online: 05 June 2012.
  6. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/5603859/Nicolas-Sarkozy-says-the-burqa-is-not-welcome-in-France.html Online: 05 June 2012
  7.  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6189675.stm Online: 05 June 2012
  8. http://features.pewforum.org/muslim-population/ Online: 07 June 2012
  9. http://frontpagemag.com/2012/05/21/france’s-new-burqa-friendly-government/2/ Online: 08 June 2012
  10.  http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2011/05/27/150780.html Online: 08 June 2012
  11. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/index.php/Population_change_at_regional_level/pl#Dane_.C5.BAr.C3.B3d Online: 08 June 2012.

„Co przeciętny student może zyskać z bycia obywatelem Unii Europejskiej” – czyli o dotacjach unijnych.

 Maria Owczarz

Każdy z nas wie, że jedną ze sfer, w której Unia Europejska prężnie działa i wspomaga kraje, które do niej należą, jest rozwój edukacji. Unia wspiera finansowo szkoły, uniwersytety, ale także oferuje pieniądze samym studentom, którzy dzięki temu mogą realizować swoje marzenia związane z przyszłą pracą. Jeżeli jesteś studentem i myślisz o założeniu własnej działalności gospodarczej jeszcze w trakcie studiowania, warto poznać kilka szczegółów, które w efekcie mogą pomóc Ci podjąć wyzwanie, aby samemu postarać się o dotacje z Unii.

Cała procedura ubiegania się o dofinansowanie jest jednak zupełnie inna niż w przypadku placówek państwowych czy przedsiębiorców. Warto jednak zauważyć, że dofinansowania unijne dotyczą tylko studentów zaocznych. Ponadto, warunkiem uzyskania jakiejkolwiek dotacji jest konieczność przedstawienia dokumentu, który potwierdzi naszą przynależność do określonej organizacji tudzież instytucji. Jeżeli spełnisz ten warunek, możesz wtedy ubiegać się o wsparcie w realizacji projektów związanych z tworzeniem nowych miejsc pracy czy wprowadzaniu na rynek nowych usług. Dla osoby zainteresowanej istnieje możliwość wyboru z programu mikroprzedsiębiorstw. Program ten ma na celu wspieranie powstających firm jednoosobowych lub kilkuosobowych, dofinansowanie nowych inwestycji (poprzez wyposażenie w nowoczesny sprzęt i technologie) oraz zwiększenie konkurencyjności małych przedsiębiorstw.

Istnieje również Program Operacyjny Kapitał Ludzki, który w ramach wspierania oraz promowania przedsiębiorczości i samozatrudnienia, ma do zaoferowania nawet 10 tys. euro na założenie pierwszej firmy. W ramach tego programu, w każdym województwie wyznaczone są instytucje, które pośredniczą w zdobyciu funduszy, a w których należy składać wnioski.  Program Operacyjny Kapitał Ludzki pomaga także absolwentom szkół wyższych oraz uniwersytetów w znalezieniu pracy podnosząc kwalifikacje zawodowe takich osób dzięki finansowanym przez Unię szkoleniom, licznym wyjazdom zagranicznym oraz kursom.

Jedno jest pewne – Unia Europejska stawia na rozwój młodych ludzi mających konkretne plany na swoją karierę zawodową, ponieważ dzięki temu korzystają zarówno studenci, kraj z jakiego pochodzą oraz sama Unia Europejska. Warto zainteresować się tym już dziś i zobaczyć jakie wsparcie finansowe możemy uzyskać.

Więcej informacji o procesie zdobywania dotacji unijnych na realizację własnych projektów znajdziesz na stronie http://www.efs.gov.pl/

Muslims as voters?

Sylwia Bulak

In the era of islamophobic trends, which connect every slight sign of Islamic affiliation with al-Qaeda membership, the question of Muslims participation in European politics might be seen insane.

Muslims as voters? Muslims as politicians, decision – making people? Some may have feeling of a inside-started conquest.

It is easy to see Muslims, if not as a threat, then at least as strangers. They are not Christians, they didn’t come from Europe, they should be ruled of course but vice versa – this is out of the question.

Do we really hope that thanks to an intolerant way of thinking all Muslims will suddenly pack their stuff and move out from our continent? It will not happen. But as a result we will have firm enemies just behind the corner.

 It is definitely better to perceive Muslims already as one of the parts of Europe society, a part which we want to be more integrated. It means a part which can also contribute to politics. Let’s take a closer look at Muslim presence in this field.

The estimated number of Muslim in Europe is around 16 million. With the EU Member States having a total population of 502.52 million people it constitutes only a few percentage. Still a large part of this group possess solely a status of immigrants. Without the European citizenship they cannot claim the right to vote! Muslim actual electorate is therefore even lower that these 3 mentioned percentage. No wonder, that Muslim parties hardly exists; if still, they are small organizations with no real influence on state politics.

If we take into consideration the European level, in the European Parliament there is only 11 members with a Muslim family background. They did not make any statement on their religion, some of them are openly secular. What is the most important, their political actions or speeches do not reflect the support towards Islam religion.

There are of course individual Muslim politicians taking active part in politics in Western Europe, Sweden, Greece and Italy. Some of them were talented enough to become parliament or even cabinet members (France and Netherlands). The total number is however not too much impressive. Moreover, what is common for almost all politicians with Muslim background,  that they are unlikely to state directly their religious affiliation. 

It seems that  the only reliable way  for Muslims to have a say in national or European politics is through numerous associations, not parties nor politicians. And what should be pointed out, whatever the Muslim participation would be, the fear that they could support values opposite to European ones is entirely unreasonable.  For instance, a campaign which would try to persuade that men and women should not enjoy equal position in a society (an issue often associated with Islam) would be simply contrary to European constitutional orders, where non-discrimination is one of the basic principles. And these legal rules each European inhabitant should respect, regardless of the religious affiliation.

NIRVA (Network Italiano Ritorno Volontario Assistito) and the programs of voluntary return for Albanians citizens

Maria Annunziata Accardo

 The first project of voluntary return from Italy to Albania was  W.A.R.M. – Welcome Again: Reinsertion of Migrants, directed to the immigrants who arrived in Italy in 1992 and 1997. The program lasted 36 months (2006-2008) and the beneficiaries were 512 immigrants (intended purpose: 300 immigrants).

The program was created by the Italian Caritas, Albanian Caritas in accordance with the Italian Ministry of Interior and the Municipal government of Rome.

The project aims to socioeconomic reintegration of Albanians returnees through their insertion on labour market or micro-enterprises creation. Behind the project is also the desire to raise the Albanians and Italians authorities aware of the problem of migrants’ return.

  • The activities planned in the project are:
  • Training and development of the project with the creation of protocols with Italians and Albanians authorities;
  • Facilitate the labour insertion of returnees and support the creation of sustainable micro-enterprises;
  • Make Italian and Albanian local authorities more aware and sensitive of returnees problems;
  • Training of the operators of both in Italy and in Albania;
  • Awareness of the potential returnees in Italy, before returning, with the distribution of information materials;
  • Creating a database with the interviews of potential beneficiaries of the program;
  • Psychological support for action on the possible trauma resulting in the return.

 The notice provided for funding (by the Ministry of Interior) of up 7.000 Euros for farm, which could reach 10.000 if the proposal was consider particularly innovative.

To evaluate the sustainability (lasting nature) of return, we have to wait few years, when the program will deployed all its effects.

NIRVA (Network Italiano per i Ritorni Volontari Assisistiti) was born in 2008 with the aim of assisting and supporting migrants who choose the option of voluntary return, and it was founding by the Ministry of Interior and the European Union by the European Return Found; the project is run by OIM (Organizzazione Internazionale per le Migrazioni), AICCREE (Associazione Italiana per il Consiglio dei  Comuni e delle Regioni d’Europa), CIR (Consiglio Italiano per i Rifugiat) and OXFAM.

The project was divided into two phases:

First phase (completed in June 2010) – has promoted integrated actions to educate and inform about the subject of voluntary return, with the composing into a single network all the public and private organizations that, in various ways, working with immigrants. The project has:

  • Started the network with about 120 public and private organizations representing all the regional territories for information on the voluntary return and to report cases;
  • Made materials and information products (brochures in 10 languages and the website www.retenirva.it);
  • Promoted the cooperation with other Countries trough information sessions with Embassies and Consulates of the Countries most involved in the voluntary return’s extent.

Second Phase (launched in June 2010), the intervention has:

  • Established a model of management for the network NIRVA in continuity with the first phase, identifying, among the members, one ANTENNA OF REFERENCE FOR SINGLE REGION, which works in synergy with the national working Staff, for the implementation of information activities and reporting cases at the network. Each ANTENNA operates in according with the Police Prefectures of Region;
  • Experienced a form of distance communication among members of the network (ReteInformativa Ritorno – RIR);
  • Integrated cooperation measures with third Countries.

Is also provided a III phase, which aim is to strengthen the promotion of Network and cooperation among members in all national territory.

So the network’s recipients in Italy are:

  • The public or private organizations involved in the Network and those potentially interested to adhere;
  • The migrants interested to access at programs of voluntary return.

In the Countries identified for the programs’ actions: institutional partners and network to be involved directly in the implementation of migrants’ reintegration projects.

Excluded from the programs:

  • UE citizens;
  • Holders of a residence permits (for a long period);
  • Who has received an expulsion order.

Within the network NIRVA there are many programs, and many of these are addressed to specific categories of immigrants and others operate only at local level. The program that operates at national level and turns to all immigrants’ categories is called PARTIR, the others programs are called R.I.V.A.N. – for the Nord African migrants; REMPLOY – provides assistance to migrants workers who residing in 4 regions of Northern Italy (Piemonte, Lombardia, Veneto e Emilia-Romagna); REMIDA – to Moroccan citizens. All the programs included the four phases: assistance during the pre-departure, during the journey and at arrival, help and support for the reintegration.

The program that addressed to the Albanian citizens is called ODISSEO II (http://www.retenirva.it/DOC-fase3/ODISSEOII.pdf), that is directed to Albanians  former unaccompanied minors and young adults, present on Italy’s territory, who don’t longer possessed the conditions to stay in Italy or for the renewal the residence permit, and voluntarily choose to return in their country of origin, taking advantage of paths of the socio-cultural and educational work-customized and shared.

After the selection of beneficiaries, trough special interview, will proceed to definition of personalized micro-project, based on the ability of the candidate, and the opportunities present in the territory where he will return.  All selected candidates will be accompanied in Durres or Fier in family, or where they will be hosted in a residential structure where will give they  assistance ( legal and economic) in search of a home.

At this particular moment will be closed to the youth a team of multidisciplinary intervention, that will aim to:

  • Coordinate all the project’s cycle;
  • Support the youth to solving economics, bureaucratic problems;
  • Manage and direct the beneficiaries of the program.

 At the end of the first orientation period the youth will be accompanied in the district where will choose the company or educational course or the house. Every candidate will be constantly followed during the development of micro-project and its
activities evaluated and monitored by the team.

Objectives of the program:

  • Promote and facilitate the approach of the Voluntary Return as a alternative measure to forced return;
  • Facilitate access and promote the wider use to the program of voluntary return;
  • Facilitate the cooperation between the Italian and Albanian authorities.

Black PR against Islam in Polish media. Is this a real threat or just another example of incompetence of polish journalists?

Dominika Nosowska

 It is well known that the media have enormous influence power on the opinion of the people around the world. History shows that modern wars often based their success on the adequate propaganda in the media. Properly edited press release can change the course of history, the angle of the camera can present the aggressor as the victim. We live in a world based on trust in the media. But what happens when the trust is betrayed?

In April 2012 went around the world alarming information from Egypt: Egypt’s newly formed government, consisting mainly of politicians of the extreme Islamic views, intends to legalize necrophilia. Although the same information quickly has been disowned, forums thundered. One of the first sites that published the shocking news, was a British tabloid Daily Mail. Published April 26 press release has been commented more than 800 times and posted on Facebook more than 25 thousand times. On May 11th notice has been updated, the information that the reports of the legalization of necrophilia were untrue was added. However, the latest comment was published on 27 April, before the publication of a correction. Interestingly, the possibility of publishing comments has been disabled by the portal.

But before the information from the Daily Mail has been disowned, shocking news had time to settle for good on the web. One of the most popular Polish websites, onet.pl, published on April 27 information about the proposed changes in Egyptian law. Also, Internet users discussion started here, who were very forceful in expressing their views. The majority of Internet users did not seem shocked by this news. After reading a few of them can be applied even the impression that it’s obvious that muslims are the embodiment of all deviations and perversions. User called ‘Marynarz’ wrote: “It has been known for a long time, that for them to be with the dead grandmother or beautiful girlfriend is the same thing. It’s wilderness, that’s all.” Another user, ‘taka jedna’, asked “Does a normal guy, learning about the death of his wife, think about having sex with her body? These people are sick! what the religion did with their brains!” Such comments as these could still be much to quote. In addition to a similar theme, one more thing unite them-all were very highly rated by other Internet users, so apparently these people are not isolated with their ideas.

On the example of this one, absurd news, it can be seen how deeply in Europeans minds is rooted the conviction of corruption of the followers of Islam. Europeans are able to believe in practically every, even the worst of slander, if only somebody add, that that this happens in the name of the Islamic religion. This problem concerns the concept of spreading in Europe Islamophobia. This term appeared in the late 80s of twentieth century to be the first time definite for science in 1997 by the Runnymede Trust – a British non-governmental organization dedicated to protecting the rights of minorities. From the etymological point of view of Islamophobia is an irrational (unfounded) fear or aversion to Islam. Islamophobia should call an unjustified hostility toward Islam, which is the basis for the fear and aversion to all or most Muslims. This unreasonable hostility is often associated with the perception of Muslims as religious fanatics with a tendency to use violence against non-Muslims (infidels) and rejecting the values of tolerance, equality and democracy. Countless examples of discrimination against Muslims, their social exclusion and anti-Muslim attitudes seem to be not only a confirmation of the existence of Islamophobia, both in Western societies, as well as in our country, but also remind us that this problem should not be ignored.

Of course, representatives of the Islamic world are aware of the problem and did not intend to remain passive in this case. One example of the actions taken to prevent Islamophobia is to “”launch an aggressive media campaign with the purpose of raising awareness of anti-Muslim hate movements in the world.”, announced during the ninth session of the Islamic Conference of Information Ministers (ICIM), held April 19-20, 2012 by the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The conference called for a correction of „misconceptions” about Islam spreaded by the Western media. Participants of the conference praised the OIC General Secretariat for the efforts of convening a conference in February 2012 in Brussels on ” Defamation of Islam and Muslims in Western Media” in which participated representatives of the authorities and the Arab and Western, and welcomed the proposal of Saudi Arabia set up a ” Fund on Interaction with External Media”, to which the kingdom has allocated $ 25 million. ICIM has decided to formulate a comprehensive program for the international community ” in the languages it understands and in the methods conforming to its logic… in order to correct the image of Islam and clarify its noble mission and lofty values”, with the help and participation of ” member states and ambassadors’ groups in key world capitals”.

Although initiatives such as this are admirable, the question still remains whether they are sufficient. It should be remembered that the image of Muslims in the Arab world or, more broadly the whole of Islam, which is widespread in our society, is a continuation of images that were created centuries ago. The inhabitants of our part of Europe, their knowledge of Islam, drew largely from the same sources as the people living in the West- from Christian polemical writings, which contain little reliable knowledge, and many half-truths, myths and fantastical notions. On the other hand, the history of our lands for centuries was marked by direct contact with the Islamic world (the Tartar invasions, wars with Turkey), which were not peaceful relationship. For this reason, Muslims were seen as enemies, which is not conducive to the creation of their true image, despite direct meetings.

Already in elementary school to young Poles instills the image of muslims seen as primitives, combative, inclined to violence and cruel, also fanatically attached to their religion and promiscuous in matters of sex. For example, Henryk Sienkiewicz in his „In Desert and Wilderness” wrote about Muslims in Africa, portreting them as a cruel and sadistic barbarians. In another novel, “Fire in the Steppe” (also known as Colonel Wolodyjowski), he wrote: „Father Kaminski beat the drum, as if in fear (…) and so, finally ended his speech with prayer: Churches, O Lord, turn to the mosques and the Koran will be singing there where we sang Gospel”. Of course you can postulate that it is only fiction, but the inculcation of children picture Muslims as barbarians certainly affects how they are perceived by adults. The second quote is often cited in the extreme anti-Islam articles, in which Islam is presented as one of the greatest threats of our time.

Perhaps it is this long tradition anti-islam guilty of the fact that no one is surprised to say that Muslims accept necrophilia and even that the Quran contains provisions on the subject. Conducting a black PR campaign is very simple against to Islam- simply spread the rumor about how the Quran prescribes something and wait until the world believe the shocking news. Without any doubt. Surely someone somewhere denies these rumors sooner or later, but as we all know, a lie can be halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on.

Journalism is very important, because in our time the media are a huge force, shaping the consciousness of the majority of society, and even in some way create reality. Media also have a great power of persuasion – for a significant proportion of people sufficient evidence of the truth of any phenomenon or occurrence is that the phenomenon is described by the press or showed through electronic media. In the case of Islam – a culture distant from us geographically – the media play a special role: they are usually the only source of information. Only a few – scholars of Islam and people who have comprehensive knowledge – are able to verify the information conveyed by the media and only this small group draws its news from other sources. The rest of society treats the media as a unique and reliable source of information. Free media in Poland in comparison with the Western media still seems to be immature for that freedom. Journalists without thinking spreading unconfirmed information and people, convinced of the infallibility of the media, believe in everything that can be readied in the newspaper or seen on TV. Journalists should be the guardians of truth, meanwhile, they are mostly the same as the others prejudiced against Islam poles. With the only difference that they can spread their prejudices, because they have power of the media in their hands. Changing attitudes towards Muslim in itself is extremely difficult, but in combination with the impartiality of the media seem to be almost impossible to achieve.

Sources:

1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk

2. http://www.onet.pl

3. http://www.islamophobia.org

4. http://www.memri.org

5. http://www.gutenberg.org

6. http://www.wikisource.org

7. http://www.radiomaryja.pl

European Weekend School 2012

Karolina Krukowska

Since migration is my field of interest, I seized the opportunity to learn more about the topic in question and from 10th to 13th of May 2012 I attended European Weekend School 2012. It is an international certificate program organized annually by the Center for European Studies Forum at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. This is a unique chance for university students from Turkey and Europe to meet each other as well as politicians, bureaucrats, academics, NGO representatives and leading journalists. This year, the topic of the tenth EWS was “EU’s Chronic Dilemma: Migration”. Young people from Italy, the UK, Ukraine, Germany, the Netherlands, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, Kosovo, the USA, Canada and Poland attended it.

Three days of EWS were filled with interesting workshops, presentations and discussions. During the first day we debated the issue of “The Impact of Rising Conservatism on Migration and Immigrants”. Moreover, I had a chance to listen to speeches on “Tales of Immigration Cities” by Joost Lagendijk,  a former Green Left Member of the European Parliament and Tansel Kaya, Member of Parliament of Metropolitan City Istanbul. Then, I attended workshops and listened to other significant guests’ presentation. In the end of the day, we all were invited to Cocktail Prolongé which was  part of social activities prepared for participants. The next day we continued with the workshops. Another panel sessions on “Expectations and Experiences of New Member and Future Member States on Migration Issues”  and “Migration Policy of the EU in the Light of Arab Spring” were presented and then discussed by participants. Interestingly, we were given a chance to attend Ferry Party on the Bosphorus. It was an amazing experience to admire the beauty of Istanbul from the ferry. During the last day, I listened to the presentation of students from Boğaziçi University concerning politics of Turkey, its relations with EU and Turkey’s Migration Policy. This topics led to a truly lively debate. We all were extremely curious about the possibility of Turkey’s accession. Next, chosen participants of our group presented summaries of EWS.

Taking part in EWS was valuable experience. I am pleasantly surprised by the way it was organized. During EWS we had the time for study and for leisure. Because of such a wide range of views were expressed, I have a broader idea on how to address the question of migration. I was given the opportunity to listen to and discuss extremely interesting presentations prepared by professionals in the migration field. Everybody had a chance to voice its opinion and pose questions to experts. I have exchanged views with students from so many different countries and therefore I can look at the migration issue from different perspectives. We unanimously agreed that migration is a significant matter. As Hakan Yılmaz, director of Boğaziçi University Center for European Studies said, migration is so important as it produces knowledge, perceptions and opinions.

Moreover, due to social events organized by EWS I have became acquainted with other cultures and enjoyed the unique atmosphere of Istanbul. I have spent more than a week in this amazing city and I am besotted with it. This city is a clash of civilizations and this makes it even more interesting. By any measure, staying in Istanbul in terms of intellectual, social and cultural events was an unforgettable experience. I am looking forward to going there again. I will do it with the view to not only attending EWS but also to looking at Bosphorus at night…