AFP – April 27, 2011
French police arrested 60 mostly Tunisian immigrants in Paris accusing them of entering the country illegally, as France pushes to tighten the EU’s open-border rules. A Paris police source said the suspects, who included some Egyptians, Libyans and Algerians, were in custody after being arrested in Paris and Pantin, a suburb of the capital, for “breaking the residency laws”.
The turbulence in the Arab world has driven a wave of migrants to seek refuge in Europe, with thousands landing in Italy in recent weeks. Many French-speaking Tunisians hope to reach France which has close ties to its former colony.
France has taken a tough line on the spillover, however, voicing annoyance with Italy for issuing temporary residency permits to migrants that enable them to travel on to France under the EU’s open-borders pact.
April 20, 2011
Two-thirds of French people see the integration of immigrants into France as a failure and most believe the fault lies with the immigrants, an opinion poll showed on Wednesday. In the poll by Harris Interactive, published in the daily Le Parisien, 66% of respondents said immigrants had adapted badly to life in France and just over half felt the situation had worsened in the past ten years.
More than three quarters of the sample group said immigrants had not made enough of an effort to adapt to French society, according to the poll, carried out between April 8-10 among 1,631 people from all political backgrounds. Anxiety about immigrants in general and Muslims in particular has featured prominently in early campaigning for the 2012 presidential election in France, home to Europe’s largest Muslim population, estimated at five to six million according to the Interior Ministry.
News Agencies – March 28, 2011
Abderahmane Dahmane, Sarkozy’s former diversity advisor called on Muslims to wear a green star to protest the debate on secularism proposed by the UMP. A statement issued by Dahmane and Hassan Ben M’Barek, spokesperson for Banlieues Respect, which presents itself as a union of associations but whose influence seems limited, said that the green star on their clothing will show that Muslims in France have decided to demand the cancellation of the debate on Islam and the end of UMP Islamophobia.
29 April 2011
A leaked cable of the US embassy in Dublin, sent to the US State Department in July 2006, responds the Department’s request to assess the threat of Islamic extremism in Ireland and “to look at the role of Islamic thinkers across Europe”. The cable, published in WikiLeaks on April 25 2010, provides a survey of the major mosque organisations in Ireland and comes to the conclusion that only few Muslim leaders call for integration of Muslims into Irish society.
The European Council for Fatwa and Research whose secretariat is based in the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland in Clonskeagh, South Dublin, is depicted as “little more than a paper tiger”. The cable also notes the close connection of the Islamic Cultural Centre with the Muslim Brotherhood and Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
As one of the most pro-American voices among Muslim leaders in Ireland, the cable identifies the leader of the Iraqi Shii community, Dr Ali Al-Saleh, who tries “to provide the Irish public a balanced view of USG [US government] efforts in Iraq…”. The Dublin embassy assisted Al-Saleh in writing an opinion piece in the Irish Times, published March 18, 2006, on the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq which points in particular at the democratic benefits the US invasion has brought to Iraq.
In response to the leaked cable, the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland downplayed its links with the Muslim Brotherhood, emphasising its openness for all Muslim worshippers and its rejection of the promotion of particular political agendas. Ali Al-Saleh, the clerical leader of the Shii community, confirmed the assistance he received from the US embassy in writing the opinion piece stating: “The Shias were supportive of the role the US played in getting rid of Saddam Hussein. We were pro-US in terms of their role in promoting democracy in the region.”
11 April 2011
A study by the Universities Police Science Institute of Cardiff University has found that counterterrorism strategies have shown positive effects. In particular, it is reported that 1,000 young Muslims, who were at risk of being wooed by al-Qaida, have been monitored under a deradicalisation programme, the “Channel Programme”, which caused the number to decline by 50 per cent. The study also highlights that “Muslim communities have a higher level of trust and confidence in the police than the general population”, and paints a positive picture of the counterterrorism Prevent strategy.
29 April 2011
For this article, the author has met British Muslim women who have taken on the fight against Islamic extremism. Tehmina Kazi, for example, who defended imam and lecturer Usama Hasan, who had received death threats after declaring that evolution were compatible with Islam. She is also the director of British Muslims for Secular Democracy, an organisation that has always been headed by a woman, supports a young Muslim leadership programme, holds demonstrations against radical groups like Islam4UK and stands for diversity within Islam. The article cites many examples of female activism within the Muslim community and in society.
30 April 2011
Leaked WikiLeaks documents suggests that Islamists have been radicalised in Britain for many years, and after detention at Guantanamo, have passed through Britain again before fighting against Western forces in Afghanistan. Former Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells now blames “political correctness” for creating an atmosphere of not challenging extremist views and thereby undermining security.
Howells said: “I think that people were terrified of stirring up allegations of racism, of wanting to vilify a particular part of the community. There was a great reluctance to speak about them as a separate part of the community or a community that was undermining our way of life and threatening it.” In this perspective, the 7/7 bombings did not come as a surprise.
On Friday, the German Federal Criminal Police (BKA) arrested three suspected members of the Islamist terrorist network al-Qaeda in North Rhine-Westphalia. The three young men (with Moroccan and Iranian origins) have allegedly been involved in planning a major terrorist attack within Germany. Following several months of surveillance by the German BKA but also international intelligence services, it is now believed that the three young men were planning on testing their self-made explosives in the near future. Various German news media have drawn comparisons to the arrest of four Islamists (known as the Sauerland group) on suspicion of planning a bomb attack in Germany in 2007.
Following the arrest, Germany’s Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, while relieved that an imminent terrorist threat to Germany had been averted, argued that Germany remained a target for international terror networks.
There is strong resentment amongst Germany’s Muslim and Jewish communities against the Social-Democratic Party’s (SPD) decision not to expel Thilo Sarrazin from its ranks for his harsh criticism of Muslim immigration to Germany. Just before Easter, the decision was taken that Sarrazin, who had made inflammatory statements about race, Muslims, and immigration in his best-selling book Deutschland schafft sich ab (Germany destroys itself), could hold on to his party membership, overcoming efforts by fellow party members demanding his exclusion.
The Party’s decision was not only controversially received within its own ranks (as expressed by many members’ signing of a petition against Sarrazin’s continuing party membership), but also criticised by Aiman Mazyek, Chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany. According to the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, Mazyek especially criticises the SPD for avoiding a clear (and ruthless) confrontation with Sarrazin and his destructive arguments. Mazyek argues that Sarrazin’s account of (Muslim) minorities in Germany did not align itself with the principles of a tolerant, liberal-democratic society. Therefore, the Party’s decision was not a positive signal for Muslims in Germany.
28 April 2011
Norwegian media reports that Yusuf al-Qaradawi is coming to Norway. He and his team are to settle on prayer times for Muslims living in the most northern hemisphere where the sun doesn’t set during summer time and never rises during parts of the winter. The knowledge of the starting and ending times for prayers is of critical importance to Muslims and also concern the religious obligation of fasting, according to the Turkish-English paper Zaman.
This has created quite a stir in Norwegian media. The daily Dagbladet, for example, refers to an article by the Iraqi-Norwegian writer Walid al-Kubaisi in which Qaradawi is said to be “more dangerous than Usama bin Ladin”. Even though Qaradawi has legitimated wife beating, female circumcision, men marrying 9-year-old girls, called the holocaust God’s punishment on the Jews and that he wants to die a martyr in an attack on the Jews, Muslims in general consider him to be moderate, according to Dagbladet.
Members of the Norwegian parliament representing the Christian Democratic Party calls Qaradawi the “sheikh of death” and demands of the Islamic Council in Norway to account for their relations with him. From what is reported it is unclear, however, if the Islamic Council in Norway has invited Qaradawi to come.
The information regarding Qaradawi coming to Norway originates from the Turkish paper Zaman.