In Brief

Source: FSSPX News


France: Construction of Muslim Centers

 The socialist council of Alfortville has announced the construction of a cultural center intended for use by the Algerian community, at the cost of 702,342 euros. Catherine de Rasilly, an opposition town councilor, stated: “For me, this is a flagrant violation of the 1905 law of separation of the Church and the State. It is absolutely not for the city to undertake such a thing. Particularly as, at the same time, reconstruction of the Saint-Pierre-Apôtre Church in Alfortville has been financed entirely by the Catholic community, thanks to parish contrubitions and gifts from the faithful.”

 The Council of Vénissieux has granted permission to the Turkish association Milli Görüs to build a large Islamic religious and cultural center at Parilly. Erhan Ozcan, president of the association spoke to the newspaper Le Progrès on January 16: “The project is estimated to cost around 2.5 million euros. At the moment we have 200,000 euros available, and we are hoping to start work before the summer, in order to be able to undertake a collection within the community in the autumn, at the time of Ramadan.”


 Turkey: Interrreligious center dedicated to Fr. Andrea Santoro

 An intercultural and interreligious center dedicated to Fr. Santoro will be inaugurated in Turkey next May, Benedict XVI announced to the administrators of the Latium Region, the Municipality and the Province of Rome, who were received on January 11, for a New Year address. The region is to finance the project which will be carried out in two locations, at Iskenderum, the See of the Apostolic Vicariate of Anatolia, and at Trébizonde. It will include in particular a conference hall and a library offering sacred works relating to the three monotheistic religions. The cost is estimated at 250,000 euros.

A short time before his assassination on February 5, 2006, Fr. Andrea Santoro had written to the Latium Administration asking for their help. “In a context such as Turkey, on the way to possible European integration and situated between Europe and the rest of the Middle East, this center could contribute to bringing together distant worlds, to filling cultural voids, to building bridges between two riverbanks, and opening up windows in walls. In particular, it could help Islam to enter more into dialogue, welcoming diversity and avoiding the quagmires of fundamentalism.”


 Germany: Conversions to Islam   

 The magazine Der Spiegel, of Hamburg, has published the results of a study carried out on Islam in Germany and funded by the Ministry of the Interior. This study, drawn up from the archives of the Muslim community of Soest, has not yet been circulated, however. The number of German converts to Islam increased between July 2004 and June 2005 to around 4,000, four times more than the previous year. Salim Abdullah, spokesman for the Center of Muslim Archives, explained that the reasons for these conversions had changed. According to him, up until a short time ago it concerned mostly women marrying Muslims, but currently it is more through ideology and “in total freedom” that conversions take place. In the past the number of conversions was 300 per year.

The Imam Mohammed Herzog, of Berlin, told the magazine: “Many of these new Muslims were Christians who came to doubt their own religion.” Monika Wohlrab-Sahr, a sociologist of religions, pointed out that many converts are seeking and attracted by a different world and that moreover, the current discussions on Islam have attracted a certain amount of attention to this religion in German society.