Ten Years On: The Ban on the Muslim Veil in France Raises Continuing Questions

March 23, 2014

 

The report published by the newspaper le Monde on the 10th anniversary of France’s ban on the Muslim veil in public educational institutions in France deserves to be read and meditated to draw the main conclusion on the French model of secularism in facilitating discrimination against Muslims.

 

The editors of the report confirm that there has been wide compliance with the French law banning the wearing of the hijab by Muslim girls in public schools.  However, that result does not mean that the law has addressed or resolved the problems it was intended to address, and in fact it may have created more problems.  Indeed, the choices for girls are limited: girls either choose to adhere to their faith and permanently abandon their studies as has happened in some rare cases, or they move to private institutions with all of the related financial burdens, or they study by correspondence, or, finally, they comply with the law by removing the veil, and put it on again at the end of the academic term.

 

The effects of this law have not been limited to public educational institutions, but have expanded into the whole public space.  This broadening of the ban occurred in 2010 with new laws adopted in secular Europe, banning the Muslim veil in public places. It didn’t stop there, however.  As a result of actions of both the right and the left in 2013, the request was made to ban the veil in public halls and theaters, and also in private companies. And then things got even more extensive, reaching mothers accompanying their children to school:  should or shouldn’t they be allowed to wear their veils?

 

In 2003, the sociologist Jean Baubérot (the only one to have abstained from voting on the ban on veils in the Stasi Commission that is charged with implementing the secularism system in France) had a long-term vision because he believed that over time, the veil ban would lead to the demonization of this religious symbol and the despising submission of Muslim women… and if the veil were banned in public educational institutions, later inevitably the ban would be adopted elsewhere with further laws enacted. And this is what actually happened. Things began with banning the veil/headscarf in schools, then in public spaces, and now the regulation is becoming widespread everywhere.  And who knows, perhaps tomorrow there will be new justifications for imposing the French secular model into the private sphere!

But the truth is that this narrow view of the interpretation of the secularism notion in France, in opposition to the wider and more informed conception “in vogue” in several European nations, has found its starting point in the idea of protecting secularism. But such an approach will inevitably lead to a pernicious form of racism against Muslims, and it will extend to their private space, in violation of the principle of freedom of belief. More serious again, the veil will give rise to a dangerous phobia of Muslims in France, for no other reason than the active presence of people who prefer the safe approach to the application of secularism, without worrying about finding intermediate solutions and/or gateways between respect for individual freedom and the neutrality of the State towards religions.

So what would France have lost if it had bypassed the problem by considering the veil as a sign of cultural belonging and not a religious symbol, such as in the United Kingdom, where the government adopted a more intelligent attitude which harmonized the two great secular principles (public neutrality towards religions and protection of individual freedoms), but did not infringe upon the freedoms of Muslim women?

Great Britain and other European countries have succeeded in using this approach to avoid dangerous endeavors that inevitably lead to the demonization of the Muslim veil and then to the demonization of Muslims in general and, even more generally, the demonization of Islam as a religion. The failure of the French policy is that it arrives at exactly the opposite of secularism, namely racism and incitement to hatred.

Therefore, we believe that 10 years after the implementation of the law on the veil, and the events that have followed after that in France, it is necessary that French secularism not only revises its founding principles, but also its security approaches that have redefined somehow these same principles. The goal now in France should be to pursue a course that takes greater account of the more moderate and open European secular models.

 

Source: http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2014/03/126164/ten-years-on-the-ban-on-the-muslim-veil-in-france-raises-continuing-questions/

A report in Le Monde on the 10th anniversary of French headscarf ban: ‘Ten Years After the Headscarf Ban: New Tensions’

March 15, 2014

 

A report in Le Monde on the 10th anniversary of French headscarf ban: ‘Ten Years After the Headscarf Ban: New Tensions’

 

Source: http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2014/03/15/voile-apres-dix-ans-d-interdiction-de-nouvelles-tensions_4383602_3224.html

 

(Note: needs a subscription to Le Monde to access full article)

Europa exports jihadists, case of Spain

March 20, 2014

 

Between fifty to a hundred Spanish individuals are believed to have joined jihadist groups. Most of them come from Ceuta and Melilla, where networks are working to recruit and dispatch Jihadist volunteers.
The route from Syria to Spain via Ceuta begins with the transfer by ferry to Algeciras and then by taking a plane to Istanbul from Malaga or Madrid. Once in Turkey , internal flights take them to the border province of Hatay. From this point on, Jihadists groups, such as Jabhat al Nusra or The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are in charge of bringing them into Syria.

One of the Ceutis that did this route was Rachid Wahbi who along with five other boys of the autonomous city, left for Syria. This taxi driver was 33 years old when he immolated himself in a suicide attack with a truck full of explosives into the headquarters of the Army of Al Assad in the city of Idlib , as evidenced in a video posted on the Internet .

 

Source: http://www.esglobal.org/La-Lista-Europa-exporta-yihadistas#.UysnNrsBZPo.twitter

Alleged member of AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb area) expelled from Spain

March 18, 2014

 

Nouh Mediouni, a young North African, 23 years old, has been expelled from Spain on Tuesday after being arrested on the 23 April 2013 in Zaragoza as alleged member of Al Qaeda.
He is accused of being a member of AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb area) and was recruited through their digital forum. He received specific instructions for a trip to a jihadist training camp located in northern Mali.
At the time of the arrest , Nouh Mediouni had with him electronic devices to prepare a car bomb.

 

Aragon digital: http://www.aragondigital.es/noticia.asp?notid=118270#.UyqRyI722bg.twitter

Dispute about Islamic theology

March 6, 2014

 

The public dispute about Islamic theology at German Universities and the Islamic theologist Professor Mouhanad Khorchide at the University of Münster has attracted the attention of the wider public. Since 2010, Islamic theology has been established at different German Universities in Münster/Osnabrück in Frankfurt/Gießen und Erlangen/Nürnberg.

Two conflicts have been arousing the issue of Islamic theology. First, the dispute between the Center for Islamic theology at the University of Münster and Islamic associations began in 2011, when the Center proposed different Islam experts for its science council and advisory board. Many of these candidates were dismissed by the Islamic associations. While some candidates of the Islamic associations were rejected, as the Federal Ministry of Interior assessed them inappropriate. In practice, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution assessed one of the candidates proposed by the Islamic Community – Milli Görüs as extremist.

The second conflict aroused about the person Mouhanad Khorchide. Having approved his engagement, Islamic associations rejected Khorchide´s employment at the Center, criticizing him for his remarks in favor of a liberal Islam. According to Engin Karahan, a representative of the Islam council, there is no trust left between Professor Khorchide and the Islamic associations. Thus, it would not be legitimate to continue his engagement at the University. It would be senseless for the University of Münster to offer Islamic theology without the cooperation with Islamic associations.

The coordination council of Muslims assessed the work of Khorchide as “not scientific enough”. Other theologists such as Professor Bernhard Uhde from the University of Freiburg called criticized the assessment of the coordination council of Muslims as dilettantish and an evidence for the power clash between Turkish associations and other Muslims.

Serda Günes, an Islam scientist from the University of Frankfurt believes the schools of Islamic theology processing a period of maturing. Islamic associations would not be able to respond to normative questions as solid and confident as churches would do. Therefore, they would try to compensate this lack with theological views, reacting irritated when being challenged by antagonizing positions.

 

Spiegel Online: http://www.spiegel.de/unispiegel/studium/islamische-theologie-streit-in-muenster-um-mouhanad-khorchide-a-956587.html#

 

New imam promises improved links with community

March 13, 2014

 

Nine months after two men tried to set fire to a mosque in Gloucester, a new imam has promised to improve links with the local community. Imam Hassan is among a growing number who were born in Britain, and teach Islam in the English language.

 

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-wiltshire-26557453

Two more book reviews on Andrew Hussey’s The French Intifada: The Long War Between France and Its Arabs

French Intifada

March 21, 2014

 

1) By Mathew Price on March 11, 2014 titled: ‘The trouble with France: the largest Muslim community in Europe seethes on the periphery’

http://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/books/the-trouble-with-france-the-largest-muslim-community-in-europe-seethes-on-the-periphery#full

 

2) By Nick Fraser on March 16, 2014 titled: ‘The French Intifada review – ‘A courageous view of modern France’

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/16/french-intifada-review-courageous-modern-france-andrew-hussey

French Muslims Protest Islamophobic Laws

March 16, 2014

 

Marking the tenth anniversary of banning hijab in public places in France, hundreds of Muslims and rights activists have protested in Paris to demand abolishing Islamophobic laws and offering more protection to the religious minority.

“All political parties contribute to the current climate of Islamophophia, but so does the media,” a El Hamri, a Muslim activist, told Press TV during the protest held on Saturday, March 15. “They all create a false reality which creates real problems.”

Saturday’s protest was organized by the Campaign of Elimination of Islamophobic Laws which urged French Muslims and rights activists to take part in the anniversary march in Paris. Campaigners aimed to overturn Islamophobic status in France by highlighting Muslim rights to freedom of expression and religious practices.

Citing anti-Islam campaigns led by difference factions of French politicians, Muslim activists expressed concerns that with a broad political backing of anti-Islam laws, it’s not easy to counter what they dubbed as ‘discriminatory laws’. These political groups include the far-right National front, the conservative UMP and even the ruling Socialists.

Lamenting the anti-Muslims polices in France, El Hamri asked:  “What will be the next Islamophobic law; the law which bans Muslims from living here? I’m exaggerating… but it will be another law which tries to make Muslims even more invisible! And we want to be visible. Not to create differences, because we have to define our dignity and identity.’’

France is home to a Muslim community of nearly six million, the largest in Europe. French Muslims have been complaining of restrictions on performing their religious practices. In 2004, France banned Muslims from wearing hijab, an obligatory code of dress, in public places. Several European countries followed the French example. France also outlawed the wearing of face-veil in public in 2011.

Last December, a French government report has proposed ending the ban on Muslim headscarves, teaching Arabic and emphasizing the ‘Arab-Oriental’ dimension of French identity. The report stressed that France, with Europe’s largest Muslim population, should recognize the “Arab-oriental dimension” of its identity. Yet, in the same month the French minister of education has maintained the 2004 ban on hijab for Muslim volunteers in school trips, ignoring a legal advice from France’s Council of State.

 

Source: http://www.onislam.net/english/news/europe/470305-french-muslims-protest-islamophopic-laws.html

Militant Islamist website calls for attacks on France and President Hollande

March 11, 2014

 

A militant Islamist website has created a series of posters calling for attacks on France and for the assassination of President Francois Hollande in reprisal for the country’s policies in Mali and the Central African Republic, the SITE monitoring service said late on Monday.

The al Minbar Jihadi Media Network, a well-known Islamist website, created six posters as part of a campaign it dubbed, “We will not be silent, O France,” SITE said.

The forum’s “Media soldiers for the support of Islam” designed the posters, which can be downloaded and printed by visitors to the site.

France’s troops in the Central African Republic, around 2,000 soldiers, are supporting a 6,000-strong African Union peacekeeping mission.

“To our lone-wolves in France, assassinate the president of disbelief and criminality, terrify his cursed government, and bomb them and scare them as a support to the vulnerable in the Central African Republic,” one of the posters said.

Hollande has said his troops would work to stop the Central African Republic splitting in two and to disarm rival fighters.

A source in the French president’s office said that while the government was very alert to the threat of attacks, they were not a new phenomenon.

“This is not the first time there have been threats,” the source said. “There were others during the Mali intervention and even before, so we took precautionary measures.”

“Just because they (threats) are being publicized does not mean that they are new… Sometimes they are more dangerous when they are not publicized.”

Al Minbar Jihadi Media Network publishes news for various al Qaeda affiliates and other jihadists and has had an online magazine since July last year.

A French-led offensive in January 2013 drove out Islamist militants who had seized control of northern Mali. Small groups of fighters loyal to Islamist groups including the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa and al Qaeda in the Maghreb still operate in the desert region, carrying out periodic attacks.

Kidnappings and killing of French nationals has since then taken place as a form of reprisal.

Two French journalists were abducted and killed in Northern Mali in November, with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claiming responsibility.

 

Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-jihadist-message-france-20140311,0,1599382.story

CAIR-MN Welcomes New Hennepin Co. Policy Allowing Hijabs in Jails, Booking Photos

March 20, 2014

 

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today welcomed a new Hennepin County policy that will allow religious headwear, including hijabs (Islamic head scarves), in jails and booking photos. Hennepin County is the first in the state to create a comprehensive policy on religious headwear.

CAIR-MN received cases recently from Muslim women arrested for unpaid traffic fines, protests and other relatively minor crimes who were denied the hijab in booking photos and provided inadequate religious accommodations in jail.

“We welcome this new policy on religious headwear as another example of Hennepin County showing leadership and setting positive precedents for other counties,” said CAIR-MN Civil Rights Director Saly Abd Alla. “The new religious headwear policies sends a strong message throughout the state that, regardless of who the individual is or what their situation, we must uphold our principles and follow the law.”

Ms. Abd Alla said both federal and state laws prohibit discrimination against incarcerated individuals based upon religion.

CAIR-MN provided Hennepin County with sample policies from county jails around the country to help them develop “policies that allow inmates to follow their religion and still satisfy safety concerns.”

Hennepin County agreed to provide jail-issued hijabs and other religious headgear to individuals who request it.

In 2011, CAIR-MN asked the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office to accommodate a Muslim woman’s religious beliefs and let her wear a hijab in jail. The jail refused and the woman was transferred.

 

Cair.com: http://cair.com/press-center/press-releases/12411-cair-mn-welcomes-new-hennepin-co-policy-allowing-hijabs-in-jails-booking-photos.html