Politicians React to Eric Zemmour’s Remarks

In the wake of Eric Zemmour’s controversial remarks concerning French Muslims published in an interview with Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, several public figures have actively denounced his suggestions.

In a recent press release, French Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve affirmed his support for French Muslims and called for all of France to “take action and show its solidarity.” Cazeneuve stated that “The secular Republic guarantees freedom of belief and religious freedom. The French nation is characterized by living together in harmony, and French Muslims, like Christians, Jews, believers and nonbelievers, are all its children.”

Cazeneuve also stated: “In making the fight against racism and anti-Semitism a national cause, the president of the Republic François Hollande believes that no Frenchman should be attacked or threatened because of their origins or religious beliefs.”

In a similar press release, Pascal Popelin, a politician in Seine-Saint-Denis, stated that “French Muslims have once again been hatefully attacked.” Peopelin argued that the government must address the “unacceptable amount of anti-Semitic acts, which are part of the sad account of all the deadly hateful, racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic acts. ‘I forcefully denounce these remarks and express my solidarity with French Muslims.’”
He added, “Determined to preserve the Republican pact, I will do all I can in the necessary effort to make sure that places of worship are protected and that not anti-religious hate act will go unpunished.”

The Parti Radical de Gauche (Radical Left Party) of Seine-Saint-Denis additionally condemned Zemmour’s remarks and said “stop Islamophobia!” The party’s president Ahmed Laouedj states that the group “firmly denounces the Islamophobic remarks of Mr. Eric Zemmour. He demonstrated several times that he is not in accord with republican values of freedom of belief and religious freedom. Yet again, the Muslim community is the target of Eric Zemmour’s racist and xenophobic remarks. We express our support for the Muslim community and we support the recent complaints that have been filed against Mr. Zemmour.”

Lastly, the Union of Muslim Associations of Seine-Saint-Denis “deplores the complicity of [Zemmour’s] employers who refuse to control the diffusion of his hateful remarks and who benefit handsomely from maintaining a fascistic reputation. L’UAM-93 specifically asks the CSA to fulfill its role in regulating media diffusion and those who are associated with this issue, in addition to all the legal filings [against Zemmour] for inciting racial discrimination. L’UAM-93 has continuously warned that these types of remarks are not in line with freedom of expression and that they have given this individual authorization for a form of media misconduct whose only objective is to incite hatred and violence regarding communities that have been targeted for several years. L’UAM-93 congratulates the dignified behavior of the Muslim Community for not falling into the trap set by the individual who has built his reputation on the humiliation of others.”

In Germany, graffiti and arson damage mosques and refugee camps

Unknown perpetrators have smudged the unfinished body shell of a mosque in the city of Dormagen with swastika Nazi symbols. (Photo: DPA)
Unknown perpetrators have smudged the unfinished body shell of a mosque in the city of Dormagen with swastika Nazi symbols. (Photo: DPA)

Unknown perpetrators have smudged the unfinished body shell of a mosque in the city of Dormagen with swastika Nazi symbols. The police refused to draw correlations between the assault and the current PEGIDA protests. Police and security authorities have initiated investigation, expecting that the assaults are politically motivated.

At the same time, a fire assault has taken place against a refugee camp in the small German city of Vorra. The event has been condemned by all major parties. Some went as far as to connect it, at least ideally with the PEGIDA protests. The General Secretary of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Yasmin Fahimi described PEGIDA as the “spiritual arsonist” of attacks against foreigners. The commissioner for integration, the minister of State Aydan Özoğuz (SPD) condemned the assaults. Referring to the discovery of the right-wing terrorist group National-Social Underground (NSU), these assaults demonstrate the deep hatred against human beings and the potential threat caused by right-wing extremists, he declared.

The government’s denial of the current stigmatization of French Muslims

French politicians react to a string of attacks by Muslims over the Christmas holiday. (Photo: AFP)
French politicians react to a string of attacks by Muslims over the Christmas holiday. (Photo: AFP)

Press release from Bertrand Dutheil de La Rochère, advisor of Marine Le Pen.
“To refuse to denounce the Islamist fundamentalism in the light of current acts of individual terrorism is to deny what is real. Such silence will not lead to measures that would isolate and repress the extremists. With government inaction in the face of these crimes, widespread censure should not fall on all of our Muslim citizens. Yet, those who wish to practice their faith while respecting the laws of the Republic are in the large majority. The official soothing discourse does not reflect recent events and leads to misconceptions.

That certain perpetrators of these crimes are psychologically disturbed, that some are recent converts has little relevance: their inspiration always comes from dangerous jihadist ideology. To be certain, they are not part of a plot organized in Mosul or in Kabul. But they follow the Islamic State’s and other extremist groups’ radical ideology. These are no longer myths of self-radicalization or of radicalization in prisons, they find places in France where their criminal intentions are not discouraged. Sometimes they are even encouraged. It is the government’s responsibility to employ all its resources and to eventually come up with new measures to eradicate these fundamentalist groups.

With Marine Le Pen, the Marine Blue Gathering requires that every person who is a leader in the Muslim community publicly and firmly condemn all violence and all calls to violence committed in the name of the religion. In mosques, the sermons must be in French. The associations much be monitored with vigilance, and any serious suspicion must bring about their dissolution. Funding must be strictly controlled. In addition, encouragement and most of all participation in jihad must be severely punished, and those with dual citizenship must automatically lose their French citizenship. More than ever, immigration must be stopped. France must regain control of its borders and leave the Schengen Area.”

The mobilization of PEGIDA and the German debate on Islam and immigration

Pegida supporters march against perceived Islamization in Dresden, German. (Robert Michael/AFP/Getty Images)
Pegida supporters march against perceived Islamization in Dresden, German. (Robert Michael/AFP/Getty Images)

The right-wing protest movement Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the occident (PEGIDA) has provoked a broad discussion within German public on issues such as racism, refugees, Muslim immigrants and fatigue. Approximately 15.000 people have been joining the Monday marches, which take place every Monday in the city of Dresden, in East Germany. Other PEGIDA branches have initiated marches in cities in North-Rhine Westphalia, such as Bonn and Düsseldorf, in order to broaden the range of the movement.

The movement claims to march across Germany against the “Islamization” and “illegal” immigrants, who are said to exploit the German economy and to free ride the social welfare system of the Federal Republic.

A significant number of PEGIDA´s protestors are mainstream Germans coming from each socio-economic and political scale of society. However, some of the leading members and organizers of PEGIDA belong to the extreme right-wing movement, are active Neo-Nazis and possess criminal records.

According to a YouGov public opinion poll conducted between December 16 and December 18 2014, 49% of all Germans show understanding for the demonstrations of PEGIDA. While 30% of Germans show full understanding for the protests, 19% do partly agree with the claims of PEGIDA and 23% reject the protests. PEGIDA´s protest issues are accepted by 73% of Germans, which raise their concerns about the spread of Islam in Germany. The feeling of phobia (Angst, in German) towards refugee flows is highly recognizable when asking about the number of asylum seekers. Approximately 59% of Germans agree with the statement that Germany accepts “too many” refugees, while 30% disagree with the refugee policy of the German State accepting “clearly too many” refugees.

Representatives of the government, while condemning the protests, showed some propensity for dialogue and understanding. The former president of the German Federal parliament Wolfgang Thierse spoke in favor of dialogue with PEGIDA. “Politics needs better explanation”, he added. He continued by stating the need for politicians to explain the necessity of immigration. While one should confront Neo-Nazis, he said, he should also avoid to criminalize tens of thousands of citizens. According to Mt. Thierse, this answer is too simple as displacement, denationalization and fears (Angst) of people caused by Islamist terror require attention by politicians.
In the same line, the Christian Democratic Federal Minister of Interior, Thomas de Maizière (CDU), showed concern but also understanding for the issues of the demonstrators of PEGIDA. The speaker of the Federal government Steffen Seibert also condemned any kind of racism and hatred against religious or ethnic minorities. However, he said, one needs to consider all aspects of immigration, informing “concerned citizens”, whether Germany is able to handle everything.

A very different position is that of the chief of the left socialist party (Die Linke), Bernd Riexinger. He declared that such comments by the government lead to the 1990s, a period which marked the climax of xenophobic attacks and fire assaults against immigrants and refugees. According to Riexinger, established parties allow racism to become socially acceptable and thus help creating a political climate that encourages violent right-wing gangs.
Critical comments came also from the chief of the Green party (Grüne), Cem Özdemir, who asked all democratic parties to draw clear lines between themselves and PEGIDA. The secretary of the refugee organization Pro Asyl, Günter Burkhardt, warned not to underestimate the right-wing movement, as PEGIDA questions basic rights such as religious freedom and asylum. According to Burkhardt, the goal of the movement is to establish racism within the political discourse and diffusing resentment, by presenting them as “democratic expression of freedom”. If politicians and the public showed understanding and trivialize these protests as expressions of diffuse “Angst”, the strategy of PEGIDA would succeed. Even more strongly, the Social Democratic Federal Minister of Judiciary, Heiko Maas (SPD) described the Monday marches as a “shame for Germany”. The chair of the central council of Jews, Josef Schuster defined PEGIDA as dangerous.

In an interview, Cem Özdemir complained about the reactions of mainstream parties to the success of the right-wing in Germany. The main parties, he says, adapt to the issues that caused the relative success of the new right-wing party “Alternative for Germany” (AFD) and PEGIDA and therefore drift to the political right. Proposals initiated by the “Christian Social Party” (CSU) demanding immigrants to speak German at home would strengthen, in his opinion, the perception of PEGIDA and AFD adherents to be representatives of a “silent majority”. Parties were blamed also by the chair of the council of Muslims, Aiman Mazyek. He declared that parties as partly responsible for the Anti-Islam demonstrations. In this opinion, there is a lack of communication and dialogue between politicians and people. PEGIDA, according to Mazyek, symptomizes the fear of people towards the future: people fearing of losing their jobs are searching for scapegoats. PEGIDA leaders, he concludes, are doing nothing but exploiting the fear of people.

The CFCM condemns Lunel mosque official’s remarks

The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) judged “totally unacceptable” remarks by a mosque leader in Lunel who refused to condemn young men from the town from becoming foreign fighters.
The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) judged “totally unacceptable” remarks by a mosque leader in Lunel who refused to condemn young men from the town from becoming foreign fighters. (Photo: BeautifulMosque.com)

The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) judged “totally unacceptable” remarks by a mosque leader in Lunel who refused to condemn young men from the town from becoming foreign fighters. Following the deaths of six men from Lunel, “unwelcome remarks were made by a local mosque official, who bears full responsibility for his words,” wrote the CFCM. “The CFCM considers these declarations completely unacceptable and calls for respect for the Republican order and for the country’s high authorities,” the press release stated.

In a recent interview Lahoucine Goumri, president of the Union of Muslims of Lunel stated: “why condemn these young men who left in the name of injustice in Syria and not the French who left and killed Palestinian babies with Tsahal last summer? Why would a mosque condemn it, when other religions don’t?” He added, “the largest jihadist threat is Francois Hollande.” The socialist federation of Hérault immediately denounced his “tendentious, despicable and outrageous remarks.”

Repealing the Chatel Circular, campaign to allow veiled mothers on school trips

A group of signatories have called for a repeal of the Chatel Circular:

“We ask for the removal of the Chatel Circular, which prohibits veiled mothers from accompanying their children on school trips. We ask for its removal because it is discriminatory, because it only targets Muslim women," reads a petition to abolish the Chatel Circular banning veiled women from accompanying their children on school trips.
“We ask for the removal of the Chatel Circular, which prohibits veiled mothers from accompanying their children on school trips.
We ask for its removal because it is discriminatory, because it only targets Muslim women,” reads a petition to abolish the Chatel Circular banning veiled women from accompanying their children on school trips.

“We ask for the removal of the Chatel Circular, which prohibits veiled mothers from accompanying their children on school trips.

We ask for its removal because it is discriminatory, because it only targets Muslim women.

We ask for its removal because it discriminates against women.

We ask for its removal because it is traumatizing for children who do not understand why their mothers are less worthy and capable than other parents of accompanying school groups.

We ask for its removal because it teaches children that discrimination is ‘normal,’ that it applies to mothers in their class, or their classmates.

We ask for its removal because this ban contributes to excluding families who wish to become involved in schools.

We ask for its removal because it is part of a growing movement of discriminatory measures that threatens to spread from primary school to college, to the workplace, to different sectors of society, to those who practice other religions, to the ban of all political action in high schools.

To support these mothers’ fight to accompany their children on school field trips is to defend the freedom of all men and women.”

The Chatel Circular states: “Please be advised that in the rules the secular principles of teaching and neutrality of public services are entirely applicable to public educational institutions. In particular, these principles prevent parents of students or any other party, by their conduct or their words, from expressing their religious, political or philosophical beliefs when they accompany their students on outings and school trips.” Guidelines and instructions in preparation of the 2012 school year, n° 2012-056 du 27-3-2012.

First signatories:

Participation et spiritualité musulmanes (PSM), Collectif Féministes pour l’égalité (CFPE), Mamans Toutes Égales (MTE), Association pour la reconnaissance des droits et libertés aux femmes musulmanes (ARDLFM), Collectif des musulmans de France (CMF), Commission Islam et laïcité, Union juive française pour la paix (UJFP), Mouvement du christianisme social, Front uni des immigrations et des quartiers populaires (FUIQP), Parti des indigènes de la République (PIR), Collectif enseignant pour l’abrogation de la loi du 15 mars 2004 (CEAL), Collectif antifasciste Paris-Banlieue (CAPAB), Union des organisations islamiques de France (UOIF), Institut de recherche et d’études sur la Méditerranée et le Moyen-Orient (iReMMO), Cedetim/Ipam, ATTAC France, Front thématique antiracismes du Front de gauche, Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA), Ensemble, Sortir du colonialisme, Fondation Frantz Fanon, Collectif Stop le contrôle au faciès, Studio Praxis, Femmes plurielles, AFD International, International Jewish Antizionist Network (IJAN), Tayush (Belgique), Bruxelles Panthères.

 

 

 

‘Deport 5 million Muslims’: Bernard Cazeneuve denounces Eric Zemmour’s remarks

“I know, it’s unrealistic, but history is surprising. Who would have said in 1940 that a million pieds-noirs, twenty years later, would leave Algeria to come to France?” - French Author Eric Zemmour's stirs controversy with remarks about France's Muslim community.
“I know, it’s unrealistic, but history is surprising. Who would have said in 1940 that a million pieds-noirs, twenty years later, would leave Algeria to come to France?” – French Author Eric Zemmour’s stirs controversy with remarks about France’s Muslim community.

Eric Zemmour has previously been referred to as racist, sexist and xenophobic and his October interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra has again created controversy.

The interview was published October 30 in the Italian newspaper and was brought to the French public’s attention by Jean-Luc Mélenchon who stated that Muslims “live together in the banlieues,” that “the French were forced to leave [the area] because of them,” and that “this situation of a people in a people, Muslims within the French people, will lead to chaos and war.” When asked: “Well what do you suggest: deport 5 million French Muslims?,” Zemmour responded: “I know, it’s unrealistic, but history is surprising. Who would have said in 1940 that a million pieds-noirs, twenty years later, would leave Algeria to come to France?”

On his blog, Mélenchon wrote: “Zemmour confuses foreigners and immigrants. This mix-up contains a logic that it could lead to civil war, and it’s why his suggestion is so dangerous.” Mélenchon also notes that Zemmour’s immigration statistics combine foreigners and naturalized citizens. “For him, those are ‘Français de papier,’ an expression used by the far-right said before the war and in current discourse. For him, one cannot ‘become French.’ When the time comes, it will be necessary to pick out and take away ID cards. Which is what Philippe Pétain’s government did.”

UK Muslims welcome the homeless in Christmas

A British Muslim has invited the needy and homeless to enjoy Christmas day for free in his restaurant in the British town of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire.

“I’m Muslim, I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I’m open on Christmas Day, to celebrate and help someone else’s religious festival,” Usman Majid, the owner of The Grill restaurant on Buckingham Street.

However, food was not the only service offered during the day. Currently, the staff are handing out clothes and are hoping to offer haircuts to all of those who have nowhere to go on Christmas day.

Usman also told us donations for it have been amazing.

“It’s cold, it’s bitter outside and we have a nice warm place, a nice warm meal, new clothes and a haircut if we can do it,” Majid said.

“We’re not saying we’re going to change your life, that’s unrealistic, it’s not going to happen, but for 8 or 9 hours I can affect your Christmas Day,” he added.

Muslims of Créteil: whoever harms a Jew will face the Prophet

After a Jewish couple was attacked by three young Muslims in Créteil, the Muslim community condemned “a shameful act that is contrary to Islam,” and hoped both communities could live together in harmony.

While the local mosque’s imam did not bring up the recent attack at Friday prayer, it was on the minds of many attendees. “It’s disgusting. It’s a shameful act that is contrary to Islam,” declared 30 year-old Abdel. “Whoever harms a Jew will face the Prophet. It says in the Quran,” added 27 year-old Icham, who said that many of his neighbors are Jewish and are “far from being rich.”

“Our remarks are not always the same as our young ones who are 20 years-old. They talk differently. They don’t think about what they say,” said an older man who attended Friday prayer.

23 year-old Aïcha added, “as a woman and as a Muslim, I’m ashamed of what happened to that young woman. We all must carry peace in our hearts, not hatred.”

Muslim Charities lose government grants due to accusations of extremist links

Muslim Charities Forum (MCF) is one of two Muslim charities in Britain to have lost their government grants following allegations of links to Islamic extremist activities.
Muslim Charities Forum (MCF) is one of two Muslim charities in Britain to have lost their government grants following allegations of links to Islamic extremist activities.

Two Muslim charities have lost their government grants following allegations of links to Islamic extremist activities.

Birmingham based ‘Islamic Help’ and the London based Muslim Charities Forum (MCF) protested the government’s decision, after the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) revoked their grants. The government informed the charities it did not want to support groups “linked to individuals who fuel hatred, division and violence.” The decision could affect a number of Muslim charities across the country, particularly those working with groups in Syria and Iraq.

The action follows a report produced by the think tank Claystone, which earlier this year found that more than a quarter of charities being investigated by the government were Muslim advocacy organizations. The think tank criticized what it saw as the “targeting” of Islamic organizations, particularly following the appointment of Sir William Shawcross as head the Charity Commission. Shawcross has also been criticized by Muslim groups for claiming “Europe and Islam” are among the world’s most “terrifying” problems, and that Islamic extremists were infiltrating British charities.