, a new report
from the Federal Criminal Police (Bundeskriminalamt
revealed that 34,070 illegal immigrants arrived in Austria in 2014, a
24% jump over 2013. Most of the migrants came from Syria, Iraq, Somalia,
Eritrea and Kosovo. More than half, roughly 20,750 of the migrants,
hired smugglers to bring them to Austria; the remainder arrived on their
own. More than two-thirds of the migrants arrived from Italy (51.6%)
and Hungary (34.4%).
On April 7, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz called
on the European Union to launch a military operation against the
Islamic State. He also called for a crackdown on so-called foreign
fighters in Europe. Kurz said: "We are a militarily neutral country, but
in terms of the Islamic State, our position is clear: Humanitarian aid
for the victims is necessary, but much more needs to be done."
Also in April, a 17-year-old girl whose parents sent her to an Asian Muslim country to be married against her will was returned
to Austria after she managed to alert the Austrian foreign ministry
about her plight. Because of loopholes in the law, the girl's parents,
Muslim immigrants still living in Austria, were not punished.
As a future deterrent, Austrian Justice Minister Wolfgang
Brandstätter said the government would ask Parliament to approve an
amendment to Section 106a of the Austrian criminal code to stipulate
that anyone convicted of coercing someone into marriage could face up to
five years in prison. Some 200 Austrian women and girls are subjected
to a forced marriage each year.
Meanwhile, a "tolerance survey" found
that 65% of Austrians are opposed to a family member converting to
Islam, and 64% are opposed to the building of a mosque in their
, Irfan Chishti, an imam from the Rochdale Council of Mosques, warned
that the reach of the Islamic State is spreading "far and fast"
throughout the British Muslim community. "No one is immune to it, he
said. "The tentacles of ISIS really are spreading so quickly, not just
into homes but into palms, via the internet on phones."
On April 5, the Sunday Times reported
as many as 100 Islamist teachers and teaching assistants could face
lifetime bans from working in schools as a result of an investigation
into their alleged links to the so-called Trojan Horse scandal. The
paper revealed that the National College for Teaching and Leadership
(NCTL), the profession's watchdog that can ban teachers from classrooms,
was considering possible disciplinary cases against current and former
staff members at schools in Birmingham, where hardline Islamists were attempting
to take control of state schools.
In London, a court ruled
that a Libyan immigrant, convicted of more than 70 criminal offenses,
would be allowed to remain in the UK because he is an alcoholic. The
53-year-old man, who first came to Britain to study aeronautical
engineering in 1981, successfully argued that he would face physical
punishment and imprisonment in his homeland, where alcohol consumption
is illegal. Judge Jonathan Perkins ruled that returning the man to Libya
would "expose him to a risk of ill-treatment" and "interfere
disproportionately with his private and family life."
In Birmingham, Mohammed Waqar, 23, and Mohammed Siddique, 60, pleaded
not guilty to charges that they had beaten a ten-year-old boy at the
Jamia Mosque in Sparkbrook for wrongly reciting the Koran. The two men
face up to ten years in prison for the offense of cruelty to a person
More news about Islam in Britain during April 2015 can be found here
, public prosecutors pressed
charges against eight Islamists for carrying out subversive activities.
All of the defendants were accused of being members of an Islamic
extremist group that spread Islamist propaganda, including calls for the
establishment of Islamic Sharia law in Bulgaria. The move is part of a
broader crackdown on Islamic extremism in the country, where Muslims
make up approximately 10% of the total population.
, a 23-year-old man from Copenhagen had his passport confiscated
after he was suspected of attempting to join the Islamic State in
Syria. It was the first use of a new law that came into effect on March 1
that gives police the right to confiscate passports and impose travel
bans on Danish citizens suspected of planning to travel to Syria or Iraq
At least 115 Danes have become
foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq since Syria's civil war broke out in
2011, 19 of whom have been killed, according to the Danish Security and
Intelligence Service PET.
, Prime Minister Manuel Valls revealed
that more than 1,550 French citizens or residents are involved in
terrorist networks in Syria and Iraq. The figures have almost tripled
since January 2014.
Addressing the National Assembly on April 13, Valls said that a controversial new law aimed
at increasing the powers of French intelligence services was needed to prevent another Charlie Hebdo
of attack in France. The law allows the intelligence services to carry
out surveillance activities without first obtaining a judge's
authorization. Valls refuted the idea that the law is the equivalent to a
French "Patriot Act."
An opinion poll published on April 13 found
that nearly two-thirds (63%) of French citizens were in favor of
restricting civil liberties in order to combat terrorism. Only 33% said
they were opposed to having their freedoms reduced, although this number
increased significantly among younger respondents.
On April 27, the Justice Ministry said
that French police are investigating 125 terrorism cases connected to
the conflict in Syria. Most of the cases involve people hoping to help
the Islamic State. Of the 166 people who have been taken in for
questioning, 113 have been jailed and are awaiting trial. Justice
Minister Christiane Taubira told Le Parisien
newspaper that 39 cases have been opened, and 35 people charged, since the beginning of 2015.
On April 22, French police arrested
Sid Ahmed Ghlam, a 24-year-old Algerian computer science student who
was suspected of planning an attack on Christian churches in Villejuif, a
suburb south of Paris. He was arrested after apparently shooting
himself by accident. Police found three Kalashnikov assault rifles,
handguns, ammunition and bulletproof vests, as well as documents linked
to al-Qaeda and Islamic State, in his car and home. Police said Ghlam
had expressed a desire to join the Islamic State in Syria.
On April 8, hackers claiming to belong to the Islamic State attacked
TV5Monde, a French television network, and knocked it off the air
globally. The network broadcasts in more than 200 countries. "We are no
longer able to broadcast any of our channels. Our websites and social
media sites are no longer under our control and are all displaying
claims of responsibility by Islamic State," the broadcaster's director
general Yves Bigot said. The hackers accused French President François
Hollande of having committed "an unforgivable mistake" by joining a
US-led military coalition carrying out air strikes against IS positions
in Iraq and Syria.
On April 4, the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, called
for the number of mosques in France to be doubled over the next two
years. Speaking at a gathering of French Islamic organisations in the
Paris suburb of Le Bourget, Boubakeur said that 2,200 mosques are "not
enough" for the "seven million Muslims living in France."
On April 15, a 21-year-old Muslim was arrested
after destroying more than 200 gravestones at a Catholic cemetery in
Saint-Roch de Castres, a town near Toulouse in southern France. Police
said the man was sent to the hospital because he was in a "delusional
state and unable to communicate."
Meanwhile, a 15-year-old Muslim girl in the northeastern town of Charleville-Mezieres was banned
from class twice for wearing a long black skirt, which the head teacher
considered to be a religious symbol and a violation of France's
, Dutch politician Geert Wilders addressed
a rally of the German grassroots anti-Islamization movement known as
PEGIDA in the eastern city of Dresden on April 13. Wilders said that
there is "nothing wrong with being proud German patriots. There is
nothing wrong with wanting Germany to remain free and democratic. There
is nothing wrong with preserving our own Judeo-Christian civilization.
That is our duty." He added:
"Most of the politicians, media, churches and academics
are looking away from the threat of Islamization. They are afraid. But
you are not.
"We hate no one. We fight for our freedom and hence we object to
totalitarian Islam, but we do not hate Muslims. Neither do we hate our
political opponents who are protesting here in Dresden against us. I am
happy that we in Germany and the Netherlands are allowed to demonstrate
against each other. Without violence. Without hatred."
Geert Wilders addresses a rally of PEGIDA supporters in Dresden, Germany, on April 13, 2015. (Image source: RT video screenshot)
On April 8, Federal Police Chief Dieter Romann revealed
that more than 57,000 people had tried to enter the country illegally
in 2014, a 75% jump in comparison to 2013. In addition, police arrested
27,000 people who had managed to enter the country and were living there
illegally, a 40% jump. Most of the illegal immigrants were from
Afghanistan, Eritrea, Kosovo, Serbia, Somalia and Syria.
On April 22, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a center-right think tank based in Berlin, announced
the launch of the "Muslimisches Forum Deutschland." The new forum aims
to promote the voices of liberal Muslims in order to counter-balance the influence of conservative Muslim groups in Germany.
On April 30, police in Oberursel, a town near Frankfurt, foiled
an alleged Islamic terror attack on a professional cycling race.
Authorities detained a 35-year-old Turkish-German man and his
34-year-old Turkish wife. Police were alerted after the man attempted to
purchase large amounts of bomb-making materials under a false name.
Police said the couple was active in Frankfurt's Salafist community and
were supporters of al-Qaeda.
, Chatitze Molla Sali, 65-year-old Muslim widow in north-eastern province of Thrace has taken
an inheritance dispute to the European Court of Human Rights. After the
woman's husband died in 2008, she was to receive his estate, but his
family disputed the inheritance based on Islamic Sharia law.
Although Sali's won her case in a civil court, Greece's Supreme Court
ruled in 2013 that matters of inheritance involving members of the
Muslim minority must be settled by a mufti (Islamic scholar), in
accordance with the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which allows minority
communities in Greece and Turkey to live according to their existing
The Greek government is apparently wary of abandoning the Lausanne
Treaty for fear of retaliation against the Greek community in Turkey.
Sali said: "I was overwhelmed. But I decided to fight and take the
matter to the European Court of Human Rights. I'm a Greek citizen and
Europe must uphold my rights."
, plans emerged for the construction of a mega-mosque in Budapest. A YouTube video posted
by the Turkish government's Religious Affairs Directorate, the Diyanet,
shows an architectural rendition of a sprawling complex that includes a
mosque with four towering minarets, a cultural center, a guest house
and extensive gardens.
Also in April, controversy erupted
over the Hungarian edition of French author Michel Houellebecq's new
novel "Submission," which has a candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood
winning the French presidential elections and introducing Islamic Sharia
law in the country. While the cover of the French edition has no images
whatsoever, the Hungarian cover shows an image of Mona Lisa covered in
an Islamic veil. The French newspaper L'Obs claimed
that it is a manifestation of "Islamophobia."
, supporters of the Islamic State posted
photographs of well-known landmarks in Rome other Italian cities. The
pictures included small pieces of paper that included the logo of the
Islamic State along with threatening notes. One read: "We are on your
streets, we are locating targets." Another read: "We are waiting for
On April 24, police arrested
10 members of a jihadist cell that was accused of planning terror
attacks in Italy, including a possible assassination attempt against the
Pope. The cell, comprised of Pakistanis and Afghans, was operating from
the island of Sardinia. Among those detained was Sultan Wali Khan, the
head of the Islamic community of Olbia, a city in northeastern Sardinia.
Police said intelligence intercepts indicated that Khan had been in
regular contact with two Pakistani suicide bombers who were believed to
have made their way to Rome. At least eight members of the cell remain
Meanwhile, police in Sicily arrested
15 Muslim immigrants from the Ivory Coast, Mali and Senegal for
allegedly throwing 12 fellow passengers into the Mediterranean Sea
during a voyage from Libya to Italy on the night of April 14. The
victims were murdered because they were Christians. The men are being
charged with homicide "aggravated by religious hatred."
In the Netherlands
, a group of Muslim parents are suing
the Dutch government for failing to prevent their children from
travelling to Syria to join the Islamic State. The lawsuit is being
initiated by Mohamed Nidalha, a Moroccan immigrant living in Leiden,
whose Dutch-born son Reda is now in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de
facto capital of the Islamic State.
In an interview with Radio West, Nidalha said he went to the police
asking for help, but they told him they could do nothing because Reda,
who is now 20 years old, was an adult when he decided to travel to Syria
According to Nidalha, Reda was radicalized through the Internet,
where he came into contact with jihadist recruiter aptly named Abu
Jihad. In a phone call, Reda told his sister that he travelled to Syria
to "help small children and raped women."
Nidalha said he decided to file the lawsuit after Turkish police arrested
a 27-year-old Dutch woman from Leiden in early April who was allegedly
attempting to travel to Syria. Turkish authorities said the woman,
identified only as Monique S., was arrested at a hotel in Antalya, where
she was waiting to be taken to Syria. Based on an Interpol arrest
warrant, Turkey sent the woman back to the Netherlands. According to
Nidalha, there is a double standard at play because Monique was returned
to the Netherlands but Reda was not.
Meanwhile, a 23-year-old jihadist from Amsterdam named Omar H. was reportedly
killed on the battlefield in northern Syria. He had slipped out of the
Netherlands in late 2014. The Islamic State congratulated Omar's parents
over the death of their son. Another Dutch jihadi said: "Omar has
become a martyr, just like he had hoped. It sounds cruel, but I am glad
for him and his family."
, the Dagbladet
newspaper on April 23 reported
that an Islamic State fighter who was filmed beheading a man in the
Syrian city of Raqqa is a Norwegian who goes by the name Abu Shahrazaad
al-Narwegi (Arabic for the Norwegian). The victim was a former Sharia
judge who had tried to escape from the Islamic State and settle in
Qatar. Norwegian police estimate
that more than 140 Norwegians have joined the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
, police in the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia arrested
eleven members of a jihadist cell that was planning to behead a random
person in Barcelona. The cell, which prosecutors say was actively
recruiting jihadists for the Islamic State, is also accused of planning
to bomb public and private buildings in Catalonia, including a Jewish
bookstore in Barcelona.
The cell — known as the Islamic Brotherhood for the Preaching of
Jihad — was broken up on April 8, when more than 350 police officers
conducted seven raids in five Catalan municipalities. According to
police, the cell's primary objective was to show that terrorist attacks
such as those perpetrated by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria could
be carried out in the West.
, a 25-year-old man became the first suspected Swiss jihadist to be prevented from travelling abroad when he was arrested
at Zurich airport on April 7 before boarding a flight to Turkey. The individual, whose identity has not been made public, was released
on April 20. He has been banned from travelling and has had his passport and ID confiscated.
According to the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service, there have been
55 known cases of people leaving Switzerland between 2001 and September
2014 to fight in jihadist conflicts — including 35 just since May 2013.
Of the total, 31 went to Iraq or Syria, while 24 went to Pakistan,
Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.
On April 18, a 21-year-old Swiss-Turkish jihadist who was holding his wife and child "hostage" in Syria released
them near the town of Reyhanli, on the Syrian-Turkish border. The
woman, a German national who converted to Islam, followed the man to
Turkey in October 2014 thinking that the couple would be vacationing
there. Once in Turkey, however, the husband took the woman to the Idlib
region of Syria and held here there against her will. The child was born
The woman's plight came to light in early March, when Swiss public television's Rundschau news program aired
an audio clip from the woman saying: "I want to go home. Please help me."
The Swiss Federal Prosecutor's Office said the man, who has had a
Swiss passport since 1995, joined the al-Nusra Front, a branch of
al-Qaeda operating in Syria and Lebanon. In a social media message, he
wrote: "I've come here [to Syria] to behead infidels. I am ready. At
some point we'll be in Switzerland."
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group