Catholics Should Not Marry Muslims

ITALIAN bishops gave warning yesterday against Catholics marrying Muslims, citing cultural differences and fears that children born to mixed marriages would shun Christianity. Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the president of the Italian Bishops Conference, said: In addition to the problems that any couple encounters when forming a family, Catholics and Muslims have to reckon with the difficulties that inevitably arise from deep cultural differences. Cardinal Ruini, one of the right-hand men of Pope Benedict XVI, said that it was often the woman who married a Muslim man and it was she who converted to Islam. In a statement, the bishops said that if an Italian woman married a Muslim immigrant and then settled in his country of origin, her rights were not guaranteed in the way they are in Italy or in other Western nations. In addition the children of mixed marriages tended to be brought up as Muslims and not as Catholics. Such marriages should, therefore, be discouraged. Church officials said that there were 200,000 mixed marriages in Italy, with 20,000 this year alone, an increase of 10 per cent on the previous year. The statement enraged liberal groups, which accused the Roman Catholic Church of interfering in Italian affairs. Emma Bonino, a leader of the Transnational Radical Party, accused the Vatican of seeking to affect the general election, due in April, as politicians from the Right and Left courted the Vatican to gain Catholic votes. She said that the Vatican had taken strong stances on issues such as abortion, same-sex unions, and euthanasia in violation of the 1929 Lateran Treaty between the Vatican and the Italian State. Mara Tognetti Borgogna, a sociologist at Bicocca University, Milan, said of mixed marriages: Each case is different. It depends on the circumstances.The most critical moment usually comes when the children reach adolescence and come into conflict with one parent or both over their life choices. Signora Borgogna said that they could work, but you need a high level of mutual tolerance between two languages, two religions, two ways of looking at the world. On the other hand, the mixed marriages we have now are a kind of social laboratory, because that is the way our society is going.

Laïcité Still Hot Topic

1905: Le D_bat Sur La La_cit_ Toujours Ouvert Mais Avec D’autres Enjeux With the rise of Islam in France, the 1905 law of la_cit_ has become a topic for debate. Muslims, the second largest religious group in France, often have a difficult time raising the funds for building mosques. Because of this, moneys are sometimes received from Saudi Arabia and other Arab states where forms of Islam are prevalent which have become worries since September 11th. To deal with this issue, there have been several approaches, with Nicolas Sarkozy supporting revisions to the law, while Jacques Chirac and Dominic de Villepin supporting the creation of a foundation to support mosques, but no changes to the law. {(article continues below in French)} Cent ans apr_s, la la_cit_ consacr_e par la loi du 9 d_cembre 1905 continue de faire d_bat en France, mais le ton s’est polic_ et les enjeux se sont d_plac_s vers l’islam et les nouvelles demandes religieuses, y compris les sectes. Le d_bat s’est rallum_ lors de la pr_paration de la loi du 15 mars 2004 sur le port d’insignes religieux _ l’_cole. Il conna_t des sursauts r_guliers, par exemple sur la mise en berne des drapeaux pour la mort de Jean Paul II. Mais son intensit_ et son ampleur restent sans commune mesure avec le d_but du si_cle. Son cadre a chang_ avec l’insertion dans l’espace europ_en. Et cette fois, il tourne surtout autour de l’islam. L’islam, qui n’_tait pas concern_ par la loi de 1905, est devenu la deuxi_me religion en France derri_re le catholicisme, avec environ 5 millions de musulmans estim_s pour quelque 40 millions de catholiques et autant de pratiquants r_guliers, entre 10 et 15%. Par rapport aux catholiques, aux protestants (un peu plus d’un million) ou aux juifs (environ 600.000), les musulmans sont d_pourvus de patrimoine immobilier cultuel. Souvent peu fortun_s, ils ont du mal _ financer leurs mosqu_es. Les municipalit_s peuvent les aider (baux emphyt_otiques, garanties de pr_ts etc.) mais la loi interdit tout financement public. Le recours _ des fonds _trangers, notamment d’Arabie saoudite, patrie du wahabbisme rigoriste, est mal per_u depuis les attentats du 11 septembre 2001. Le ministre de l’Int_rieur, charg_ des Cultes, Nicolas Sarkozy s’est fait le champion d’une nouvelle r_vision de la loi –il y en a d_j_ eu dix– pour mettre l’islam sur un pied d’_galit_ avec les autres religions. A gauche, Manuel Valls, d_put_-maire PS d’Evry (Essonne), soutient l’id_e. “commission de r_flexion” Mais ils restent isol_s. Le pr_sident Jacques Chirac ainsi que le Premier ministre Dominique de Villepin, qui a lanc_ une Fondation pour financer l’islam, ne veulent pas toucher _ la loi. Fin octobre, pour le centenaire de la F_d_ration protestante de France qui r_clame depuis fin 2002 un toilettage de la loi, M. Sarkozy a annonc_ une “commission de r_flexion juridique sur les relations des cultes avec les pouvoirs publics”. Elle rendra ses conclusions en juin. Hormis les protestants, les grandes religions l’ont accueillie avec r_serve. Les catholiques, qui ont mis vingt ans _ s’accomoder de la loi, redoutent d'”ouvrir la bo_te de Pandore”, selon l’expression du cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger. “Sans remettre en question les grands _quilibres trouv_s au cours d’un si_cle d’application de la loi de 1905, nous voulons, comme catholiques, apporter notre pierre _ l’_dification, sans cesse _ reprendre, de notre unit_ nationale”, vient de rappeler le pr_sident de la Conf_rence des _v_ques de France, Mgr Jean-Pierre Ricard. “Ceux qui veulent _carter les religions de l’espace social et les enfermer dans le seul domaine des convictions priv_es se trompent de si_cle”, a-t-il ajout_. Outre l’islam, nombre d’autres religions se sont d_velopp_es depuis 1905 –bouddhisme, _vang_lisme– ainsi que des mouvements comme la scientologie ou les T_moins de J_hovah, estim_s sectaires en France mais pas ailleurs notamment aux Etats-Unis qui accusent les Fran_ais d’entraves _ la libert_ religieuse. Pour leur part, les T_moins de J_hovah ont d_pos_ le 25 f_vrier un recours contre un redressement fiscal de 23 millions d’euros devant la Cour europ_enne des droits de l’Homme.

Salafist Imam to be Deported

A Salafist imam was arrested in Brest Monday morning and should be expelled to Morocco by Monday evening. Hassan Belabid, 26 years, born in Agadir, was accused “for having encouraged discrimination and violence towards non-Muslims and women” during sermons at the mosque of Pontan_zen, a district of Brest. {(article continues below in French)} Un imam salafiste a _t_ arr_t_ _ Brest lundi matin pour “propos attentatoires aux principes de la R_publique” et devrait _tre expuls_ d_s lundi soir vers le Maroc, a-t-on appris lundi au minist_re de l’Int_rieur. Hassan Belabid, 26 ans, n_ _ Agadir, a _t_ arr_t_ lundi _ la sortie de son domicile, selon des sources proches du dossier _ Brest. Frapp_ d’un arr_t_ d’expulsion en urgence, cet imam doit quitter la France dans la soir_e pour le Maroc, a pr_cis_ le minist_re. Selon une source polici_re, il lui est reproch_ “d’avoir incit_ _ la discrimination et _ la violence envers la population non-musulmane ainsi qu’envers les femmes” lors de pr_ches _ la mosqu_e de Pontan_zen, un quartier populaire de Brest. Une proc_dure d’expulsion avait d_j_ affect_ le milieu salafiste de la ville le 15 avril 2004 avec la reconduite vers Alger de l’imam Abdelkader Yahia Cherif, de nationalit_ alg_rienne, pour “menace _ la s_ret_ de l’Etat”. L’arr_t_ minist_riel d’expulsion faisait _tat d’un “pros_lytisme en faveur d’un islam radical” et de “relations actives avec la mouvance islamiste nationale ou internationale en relation avec des organisations pr_nant des actes terroristes”. Par ailleurs, un ressortissant marocain naturalis_ en janvier 2004, proche de M. Abdelkader Yahia Cherif, a _t_ d_chu fin 2004 de sa nationalit_ fran_aise en raison de “relations _troites avec des islamistes activistes”.

Islam, Ethnicity and the Banlieues

The most astonishing thing about the recent riots was the surprise of the media, in France as elsewhere, at this outbreak of violence. For indeed, violence in the suburbs is nothing new. In the 1980s, the suburbs of Paris and Lyon were similarly set aflame. And in November of 2004, the violence of the suburbs broke out in the very heart of Paris when two rival gangs clashed on the Champs Elysées. Nor is the isolation of French youth a new phenomenon. Since the 1981 “rodeo riots” in the Lyon suburb Les Minguettes, social and economic conditions in the suburbs have only deteriorated, despite the often generous funding of urban development projects. It is not sufficient, however, to attribute these outbreaks of violence solely to factors of social and economic marginality. This marginality is exacerbated by a general context of urban degradation: a degradation, furthermore, which affects a very specific sector of the population. That is, the crisis of the banlieues primarily concerns first- and second-generation immigrants from the former colonies of the Maghreb. This population has frequently been treated as a separate case, not only in terms of the history and conditions of immigration, but also in terms of the politics of integration. This constant exclusion results in the fact that the issues of poverty, ethnicity, and Islam tend to be conflated, both in current political discourse and in political practice. The recent violence is but the direct consequence of the constant amalgamation of these three separate issues.

Muslim Group Attacks Mosque Plan

Government plans that could see the closure of mosques suspected of inciting extremism have been attacked by Muslim leaders. Sir Iqbal Sacranie said the move would “criminalise an entire community for the criminality carried out by a few”. The Muslim Council of Britain secretary general made his comments in a speech to an east London conference focusing on the role of Muslims in the UK. But he added loyalty to the UK was not incompatible with the Muslim faith. Met Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur and the Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer are among the other figures addressing more than 20,000 people at the Global Peace and Unity conference. Wider community Sir Iqbal described the government proposals designed to tackle terrorism the “single most dangerous piece of legislation”. Under the plans, police could seek a court order for the temporary closure of a place of worship if extremist behaviour or terrorist activity was believed to be taking place. Mosques were not specifically singled out in the proposal but most people would see the proposal as referring to mosques and trustees of mosques, the MCB has said. The comments follow a recent warning by the Association of Chief Police Officers that the plan could be seen as an attack on religion. Assistant Chief Constable Rob Beckley, who is responsible for community relations at the association, said if officers had suspicions about a particular mosque they would want to identify those responsible rather than close it down. Sir Iqbal also used his speech to call for a public inquiry into the 7 July London bomb attacks. The MCB’s Sher Khan said the gathering at the Excel centre fulfilled a “very important need to clarify to the wider community that British Muslims are part and parcel of the wider community”.

L’italie Se Dote D’un Conseil Consultatif Du Culte Musulman

Italy convened a Muslim Advisory Council in order to “solve the problems of integration” and to constitute a “Italian Islam”. Minister of Interior, Giuseppe Pisanu said that, “in a country where Islam is the second religion and where 35 % of the immigrants are Moslem, it was necessary to establish a suitable form of dialogue”. Contrary to the French Council of the Moslem worship (CFCM), members were not elected but were chosen by the Ministry of the Interior. The twelve men and four women, represent, according to Mr. Pisanu, “the most significant voices of the Moslem reality of Italy”. In addition to two imams, and heads of civil society groups, the members include a former ambassador, journalists, a writer, and social workers. L’Italie s’est dot_e d’un Conseil consultatif musulman afin de “r_soudre les probl_mes d’int_gration” et de constituer un “islam italien”. En installant officiellement cet organisme, le ministre de l’int_rieur, Giuseppe Pisanu, a pr_cis_, mercredi 30 novembre, que, “dans un pays o_ l’islam est la deuxi_me religion et o_ 35 % des immigrants sont musulmans, il _tait n_cessaire d’_tablir une forme appropri_e de dialogue”. Contrairement au Conseil fran_ais du culte musulman (CFCM), _tabli _ l’initiative du ministre de l’int_rieur Nicolas Sarkozy, la Consulta italienne n’est pas l’_manation des communaut_s pr_sentes sur le territoire. Ses seize membres n’ont pas _t_ _lus mais choisis par le ministre de l’int_rieur “au terme d’un travail long et complexe”. Douze hommes et quatre femmes, repr_sentant, selon M. Pisanu, “les voix les plus significatives de la r_alit_ musulmane de l’Italie”, ont _t_ nomm_s par d_cret. Responsables d’associations, personnalit_s de la soci_t_ civile, ils sont issus de onze pays, mais pour moiti_ de nationalit_ italienne. Outre deux imams, le groupe comprend un ancien ambassadeur, des journalistes, un _crivain, des travailleurs sociaux. “La plupart ne repr_sentent qu’eux-m_mes, le monde des mosqu_es est rest_ en dehors”, regrette le responsable de la mosqu_e Jenner _ Milan, la plus connue et la plus sulfureuse d’Italie. Mais les critiques les plus virulentes viennent des musulmans mod_r_s qui s’_tonnent de retrouver au sein du conseil le repr_sentant de l’Union des communaut_s islamiques (Ucoi), consid_r_e par les autorit_s elles-m_mes comme proche de la mouvance islamiste. LE STATUT DES MOSQU_ES Plus prosa_quement, certains s’interrogent sur l’efficacit_ d’une telle structure, purement consultative, _ six mois des _lections l_gislatives. Son r_le est de “formuler des propositions et des _l_ments concrets”. Pour la presse, ces personnalit_s sont donc avant tout “les conseillers du ministre”. Cet embryon de repr_sentation des 800 000 musulmans d’Italie (environ 1,4 % de la population) aura l’avantage, selon le pr_sident de la Ligue islamique mondiale en Italie, Mario Scialoja, d'”am_liorer les rapports entre la communaut_ et les institutions”. Giuseppe Pisanu attend de la Consulta qu’elle fixe elle-m_me son calendrier. Ses membres ont indiqu_ qu’elle examinerait en priorit_ le statut des mosqu_es, la question du financement de l’islam par pr_l_vement sur l’imp_t comme les autres religions, la formation des imams et les mariages interreligieux. Ces unions mixtes sont pass_es de 8 600 en 1992 _ 19 000 cette ann_e. L’Eglise catholique, dans un document publi_ mardi, les “d_conseille” car “les personnes catholiques et musulmanes qui veulent fonder une famille rencontrent des difficult_s li_es _ la profonde diversit_ religieuse et culturelle”.

Black Muslims Arrested In Store Attacks; 2 Suspects Surrender — Oakland Police Urge 4 Others To Turn Themselves In

Henry K. Lee, Demian Bulwa and Jim Herron Zamora, Chronicle Staff Writers Oakland police arrested two men on felony charges of vandalizing two West Oakland corner markets in attacks in which several men in suits and bow ties demanded that the outlets stop selling liquor to African Americans. Both suspects are affiliated with a local religious sect long suspected of using violence and intimidation in its business dealings, police said. The men were identified as Yusuf Bey IV, 19, the son of the late Black Muslim leader Yusuf Bey, founder of Your Black Muslim Bakery in North Oakland, and Donald Eugene Cunningham, 73, a bakery associate. Bey and Cunningham surrendered Tuesday at Oakland police headquarters after meeting with police and attorneys. The younger Bey was described by a law-enforcement source Tuesday as a rising leader in the independent Black Muslim group, which operates four bakeries, a Muslim school, a security business and an apartment building. He took over after his father’s death from colon cancer in 2003. The two men were arrested on suspicion of making terrorist threats, felony vandalism, conspiracy and robbery in the attacks Nov. 23 at San Pablo Liquor on San Pablo Avenue and New York Market on Market Street about 12 blocks away, authorities said. Yusuf Bey IV was being held in lieu of $200,000 bail at an Oakland jail. Cunningham was being interviewed by police late Tuesday, said Deputy Police Chief Howard Jordan. Four other men are being sought on arrest warrants in connection with the vandalism at the two stores, Jordan said. He said authorities had been in contact with the men through intermediaries and urged them to surrender. Their names have not been released. Jordan said police were still investigating whether the vandalism was connected to an arson fire that destroyed New York Market early Monday and the reported kidnapping of store owner Abdel “Tony” Hamdan around the time of the blaze. Police found Hamdan in the trunk of a car at 1:40 p.m. Monday in the parking lot of a Safeway store in El Cerrito. Reached by phone Tuesday, Hamdan said, “Please, right now I want nobody calling. Sir, I got nothing else to say.” The San Pablo store’s surveillance camera caught a group of about a dozen men in suits and bow ties trashing the store. The group took a shotgun belonging to a store clerk. Jordan said the suspects were not affiliated with the Nation of Islam, a national organization led by Louis Farrakhan. Police earlier indicated that the suspects were wearing suits and bow ties consistent with Nation of Islam dress. The surveillance video played a key role in the arrests, police said. “The video is very important,” said Sgt. Dom Arotzarena. When he turned himself in Tuesday afternoon, Yusuf Bey IV was accompanied by his mother, Daulet Bey, who said, “We don’t condone what happened. We want to resolve this as quickly as possible.” The suspect had denied any involvement, telling a local newspaper that he had learned of the vandalism through media reports. At the main bakery on San Pablo Avenue on Tuesday, the younger Bey’s sister, Jannah Bey, 25, proclaimed the suspects’ innocence. She also said she understood the anger toward stores selling liquor to African Americans. “The idea was good, but the way it was carried out could have been different,” she said, referring to the Nov. 23 vandalism. She said she didn’t recognize her brother or anyone else from the surveillance tape. She added, “Maybe this will be a wake-up call to the community” with residents realizing that liquor stores in Oakland were “not there to help them.” She said Bey’s group had nothing to do with the arson fire or kidnapping. “Anyone who knows our history … we don’t handle things like that,” she said. A relative of Cunningham’s who would not give her name declined comment when reached by phone Tuesday. The leader of a local grocer’s group reacted cautiously to the arrests. “We’re happy that they made these arrests,” said Mohamed Saleh Mohamed, president of the Yemenie American Grocers Association, which represents more than 250 liquor stores in Oakland. “It shows a little progress, but we still don’t know what’s next.” Mohamed said, “We feel pretty frustrated. We feel very vulnerable right now. The video shows 12 guys. ” The arrests come amid a power struggle within Yusuf Bey’s organization after he died. Three members of the group have been victims of violence since his death, including Bey’s 23-year-old-son, Antar, who was shot to death Oct. 25 in an attempted carjacking. Antar Bey had been serving as chief executive officer of the Oakland group.

France, Uk To Beef Up Muslim Recruitment

Senior officials and experts from Britain and France agreed Thursday to recruit more Muslims to help fight the spread of radical Islam in their countries. Some of the officials, who met at the British embassy in Paris, told journalists that the governments were not aiming at imposing quotas but rather “recruitment objectives”. The need to have Muslims in the police and other administrations was made clear in the investigation into the July attacks on London’s transport system, which found that the bombers came from Britain’s Muslim community. One official, Mark Carroll, head of the Cohesion, Faith and Equalities unit of Britain’s Home Office, said that “the public services can only effectively serve the communities if they include representatives from those communities.” Home Office Minister Hazel Blears said that Britain and France had to find ways to channel the anger often nurtured in their respective Muslim communities into legal avenues, and that part of the anger stemmed from a feeling of being misunderstood by authorities. Hiring more Muslims to communicate with those communities would be one way of attenuating that feeling of alienation, she said.