By Thomas Calinon It is perhaps the end of an old alarm. After two decades of reflection, including four years of impassioned debates, the first stone of the large mosque of Strasbourg was placed Friday, during Ramadan, in muddy ground near the downtown area. “It is time!” said the mayor of Strasbourg, Fabienne Keller, as the ceremony of more than 500 faithful Moslems concluded with “Allah Akbar!”. The event included representatives of the four faiths (Catholic, Reformed, Lutheran and Jew) recognized by the right of Alsace-Moselle, which excuses Alsace from the law on separation of Church and State since 1905.
PARIS: France’s Finance Minister, a presidential hopeful, says mosques need state funding and it is time to modernise a century-old law banning financing for religious groups, newspapers report. Nicolas Sarkozy, in a new book that hit the shelves yesterday, says extremism is festering in underground mosques and Islamic groups do not have money to build houses of worship, according to excerpts published in French newspapers. “What is dangerous is not minarets, but caves and garages that keep clandestine religious groups hidden,” he says in the book, The Republic, Religions, Hope, Le Monde newspaper reported. Unlike Jewish and Christian groups with a history in France, Islam is relatively new here and needs a helping hand, he says.
By Jamey Keaten, Associated Press PARIS In a new book seen as a prelude to a presidential bid, France’s finance minister is taking up the thorny question of how to reach out to an increasingly assertive Muslim minority and integrate it into a largely secular society. Nicolas Sarkozy argues his countrymen need to worry less about religious symbols and more about the help Muslims need to build a moderate religious structure grounded in French traditions. He says that will help stem extremism’s inroads into a community whose members often feel ignored and discriminated against. In “The Republic, Religions and Hope,” being published today, Sarkozy displays a thoughtful side that political observers said is part of a strategy to add gravitas to his reputation as a can-do man of action.
By Marlise Simons SEVILLE, Spain La Giralda, this city’s grand tower standing 90 meters tall, with its warm terra cotta colors and delicate brick patterns, was once called Spain’s most perfect minaret. Its twin stands in Marrakesh, Morocco, a reminder of the centuries-old ties between the countries. .Seville’s minaret has been the bell tower of the city’s Roman Catholic cathedral for the last 500 years. Today, however, many of those who walk by it daily are again Moroccans, part of the growing number of Muslim immigrants to Spain. While they have not talked about reclaiming the minaret, they are seeking permission to build a large mosque in Seville, as Islamic immigrants have in six other Spanish cities. .At the moment, Seville’s Muslims, many of them clandestine workers, meet in small buildings or discrete prayer rooms. But every demand for a proper house of worship awakens nervousness here.
The president of the Association of Friends of the Moroccan Town, Mohamed Alami, has published an open letter directed to the Spanish Government, the political parties and the different institutions and organizations in which he denounces the entrance in Spain of questionable imams that are harming the Muslims in Spain. El presidente de la Asociaci_n de Amigos del Pueblo Marroqu_, Mohamed Alami, ha publicado una carta abierta dirigida al Gobierno espa_ol, a los partidos pol_ticos y a las diferentes instituciones y organizaciones en la que denuncia la entrada en Espa_a de decenas de supuestos imanes que est_n perjudicando al colectivo musulm_n que hay en Espa_a.
By Elaine Ganley PARIS – A powerful Islamic organization alleged Thursday that officials were abusing a law banning religious symbols from schools by expelling Muslim girls who were wearing printed bandannas, not Islamic head scarves. The head of the Union of Islamic Organizations of France urged girls expelled for wearing bandannas to take their cases to court. Seven girls have been expelled from school this week for breaking the ban, including two on Thursday.
PARIS – A powerful Muslim organization said yesterday that officials were abusing a new French law banning religious symbols from schools by expelling Muslim girls who were wearing printed bandannas, not Islamic head scarves. The head of the Union of Islamic Organizations of France urged girls expelled for wearing bandannas to seek court action. Seven have been expelled this week for breaking the ban, including two yesterday.
Three teenagers were excluded, Wednesday October 20, from their schools for non-observance of the law on the secularity of March 15, 2004. The day before, two schoolgirls of Mulhouse were expelled, the first time since the law prohibiting the open religious signs in schools came into force.
50% of the 182 listed cases between October 2003 and August 2004 are in L’Ile-de-France and Alsace. A collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) made public on October 21 a first attempt at counting of the “islamophobic acts”. This collective of about fifteen members wrote a report for the period active from October to August. L’Ile-de-France et l’Alsace rassemblent 50 % des 182 cas recens_s d’octobre 2003 _ ao_t 2004. Un collectif contre l’islamophobie en France (CCIF) a rendu publique, jeudi 21 octobre, une premi_re tentative de d_nombrement des “actes islamophobes”. Cette structure, d’une quinzaine de membres, a r_dig_ un rapport sur la p_riode allant d’octobre 2003 _ ao_t 2004.
They join two girls expelled on Tuesday – one of whom told a French newspaper it had destroyed her life. The expulsions came as the education ministry gave schools the go-ahead to begin proceedings against 72 students who have refused to obey the law.