Teacher who spoke out against Muslim high school sentenced

Philosophy teacher Soufiane Zitouni, who severely criticized his former employer Averroès High School in Lille, was sentenced September 4 for defamation and private injury. He announced he would appeal the ruling. The 48 year-old teacher was interview in February by Libération in an article entitled “Why I quit Averroès High School.” He accused the directors of playing a “double game,” and diffusing “Islamism in a sly and pernicious manner.”

His accusations caused shockwaves. The school was the first private Muslim establishment under state contract. Opened in 2003, it is often seen as a model high school for its baccalaureate results.

The jury declared him guilty “due to lack of proof, there were no justifying documents.” He must pay 10 euros for defamation, 10 euros for injury, and 1 euro for interests and damages. Zitouni must also pay the legal fees for the trial. The teacher decided to defend himself without a lawyer.

Following the trial Zitouni announced he would appeal the decision. “I’m going to hire a lawyer. There will be a real trial with tangible proof and witness testimonies. I am calm. This doesn’t faze me, because this is not a personal but collective matter.”

Made anxious by “a certain Islam imposing itself more and more in France, an Islam that confuses politics and spirituality, that of veiled women, those who lack humor,” Zitouni guessed that the high school’s trial is going to become that of the Union of Islamic Organizations of France.

“This high school is not a tree hidden in the forest: behind it, there is the Muslim Brotherhood. The goal of the UOIF is to control Muslim leadership in France,” he challenged. On his side, engineer Mohamed Louizi promised to present several embarrassing documents concerning UOIF members. “We’re going to put it all on the table: remarks concerning Jews, the school’s financing, the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology which is instilled in the heads of five year-olds,” announced Louizi.

 

In Lyon, BlaBlaCar driver refuses ride for veiled young woman

The newspaper Le Progres reported the case of Djema Ouada, who paid for a ride to Grau-du-Rois using BlaBlaCar. But after seeing the young women wearing a veil, the driver refused to give her a ride.

“For Djema Ouada, a young hairdresser, looking for work and living in Grigny, holiday traffic forced her to take the Solaize route, along the A7. The driver from Mégane, who should have helped her meet her mother at the seaside station of Grau-du-Roi, left her at the pick-up point.”

“He refused to shake my hand, saying ‘I don’t take the veil,’” reported Le Progres.

The 17 year-old, accompanied by an adult friend, had already spent the 42,4 euros after a text message exchange. Contacted, BlaBlaCar affirmed its commitment to service that “allows exchanges between persons from different areas and of different origins.” The site says it “sincerely regrets a reaction of this nature,” but also reminds its customers that the driver is free to choose his/her passengers.

Maître Gims: ‘It’s not easy to be a Muslim in France’ (video)

In an interview with Le Parisien, the famous rapper responded to questions posed by fans.

As a Muslim, Maître Gims, or Gandhi Djuna, responded to several questions about Islam in France. The former member of Sexion d’Assaut admitted that it was not east to be a Muslim in France while images are circulated about Islamist terrorists. He contended: “These are barbaric acts that terrorists claim in the name of Islam even though they have nothing to do with one another…”

First school opening for two Muslim schools in Nanterre

In France, 40 Muslim schools reopened their doors this week. In Nanterre, (Hauts-de-Seine) two opened for the first time. The Ibn Badis Institute is attached to the mosque local mosque. The project has been in the works for 21 years and welcomed its first students in September.

Unlike the school project halted by the local government in La Chapelle-Saint-Mesmin, the Ibn Badis Institute had no problems with the local government. The school’s young director Sabar Kabbouchi was extremely enthusiastic as the days grew closer to its opening.

“We believe that each child is unique so the classrooms are divided into clusters of four. This allows us to show each student that he is part of a whole. So he will then contribute to society, this begins from the beginning of the school year,” explained Kabbouchi.

Only 20 students were going to be admitted. But after 500 applications, only 152 students were admitted.

“Sadly, public school is no longer in alignment with some families’ wishes for a lot of things. We saw the controversy caused by the lack of meals without meat in school cafeterias even when we didn’t ask for halal meat. We only ask that students are able to choose. The same goes for discrimination in certain establishments against young middle school girls who are veiled. This caused a collective awareness in the community,” said Kabbouchi.

For Monia and Oussini it was enough evidence to send their son to the school, despite it costing 2,100 euros per year. “From a young age he will learn Arabic. An opportunity that I never had. He will be able to learn about his religion and he will understand his religion. And then he will be proud to be French and Muslim. It’s true that in a private Muslim school, there are going to be certain things that are discussed less or differently. That’s a plus for us,” explained the mother of three.

The school receives no funding, but hopes to in five years. It’s necessary for an establishment to exist for five years before it receive a state contract and its funding. At the moment, three Muslim establishments are under state contract in France.

In Catholic schools, 9,000 establishments boast 2 million students, while the Jewish community has 280 primary schools, middle schools, and high schools with 30,000 students.

EU Countries Agree to Bolster Train Security After Foiled French Terror Attack

A number of European countries have agreed to boost security on trains and at railway stations within the bloc on Saturday following the foiled terror attack on a train in France on August 21, the French and German interior ministers have confirmed.

At a meeting in Paris on Saturday, representatives from Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK decided that identity and bag checks would be increased.

“Mixed patrols, made up of law enforcement personnel from several countries, already exist in many countries. We will further reinforce these teams and deploy them more extensively,” French interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.

He added that the checks would take place “where it is necessary,” without elaborating on the circumstances in which passengers would be checked. German interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere said that the ministers did not want to completely overhaul security procedures for train passengers in Europe.

“We can’t do and don’t want complete, comprehensive checks on people or luggage in trains in Germany or Europe,” he said.

European officials are hesitant to implement security measures similar to that of air travel because of fears that such restrictions would damage the EU’s open-border policy within the bloc. “It is essential that, as far as possible, public transport remains open and easily accessible. Security must be proportionate to the threat,” said EU transport commissioner Violeta Bulc in a press release seen by EU Observer.

Ayoub El-Khazzani, a 25-year-old Moroccan man, was prevented from attacking those on board a train which was travelling from Amsterdam to Paris after being overpowered by three American passengers and a British national. Khazzani, of Moroccan descent, had 270 bullets, an assault rifle and a bottle of petrol in his possession, according to French prosecutor Francois Molins. He added that the attacker had watched a jihadist video before he attempted to launch his attack.

“Ayoub El-Khazzani had watched YouTube audio files whilst already on the Thalys train in which an individual called on the faithful to fight and take up arms in the name of the Prophet [Muhammad],” Molins told a news conference.

The attacker had bought his ticket with cash and did not have to show any identification before boarding the train with the weapon. He has been formally charged with terrorism offenses and is now being held in French custody.

Refugee crisis: France to welcome 24,000 refugees and begin Syria air strikes against IS

French President Francois Hollande has ordered preparations to begin for air strikes on Islamic State (IS) group positions in Syria, but ruled out sending troops on the ground. Paris had previously refused to join coalition strikes in Syria, and only participates in missions against IS militants in Iraq after Baghdad requested international assistance. More than 220,000 people have been killed and more than nine million displaced in the Syrian war, the UN said.

Speaking at his bi-annual news conference in Paris, Hollande said France would start reconnaissance flights over the war-torn country on Tuesday (8 September) with a view to launching attacks on the jihadists, as part of his country’s response to the crisis.

“We have proof that attacks have been planned from Syria against several countries, notably France,” he said during the live TV press conference. “My responsibility is to ensure that we are informed as much as possible on the threats to our country … so I have asked the defense minister that from tomorrow reconnaissance flights begin over Syria that will enable us to consider air strikes against Isis.”

A US-led coalition carried out 21 air strikes against IS in Iraq and Syria over the weekend of 5 September.

Meanwhile, Hollande said France has a duty to take in those fleeing war and persecution, and announced his country would welcome 24,000 refugees over two years as part of an EU-wide plan, which he said “can and will” bring the crisis under control.

Increase of assaults against mosques and Islamic facilities

Throughout the first six months of 2015, mosques and Islamic facilities have been targets of 23 politically motivated attacks. At the same time, 64 anti-Islamic demonstrations have taken place. Most rallies were organized by right-wing extremist groups. There are no accurate statistics about politically motivated crimes against Muslims as they are not specifically recorded by the police.

The coordination council of Muslims, the trade union of the police and the domestic policy speaker of the left-wing party ´die Linke´ demanded to record and register these type of politically motivated crimes. The speaker of the council of Muslims Nurhan Soykan expressed her concern about the increase of anti-Muslim assaults and warned not to underestimate this topic.

Study reveals progress in accepting Islam in Germany

A study released by the Social Democratic affiliated Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation reveals progresses related to legal arrangements between the State and Islamic associations, allowing Islam to be part of everyday life. The study has been conducted by the ´Center for Islam and law in Europe´ in the city of Erlangen.

Although Islamic associations are not treated equal as Jewish and Christians institutions, for instance they are not accepted as corporate body under public law, most Federal States initiated regular communication with Islamic associations and implemented Islamic religious education at German Universities.

The study recommends to institutionalize Islamic associations as corporate body under public law facilitating Muslim life in Germany.

 

The study (in German):

http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/dialog/11386.pdf

Islamic State conflict: Two Britons killed in RAF Syria strike

Two British Islamic State jihadists who died in Syria were killed by an RAF drone strike, David Cameron has said. Cardiff-born Reyaad Khan, 21, and Ruhul Amin, from Aberdeen, died last month in Raqqa, alongside another fighter, in the first targeted UK drone attack on a British citizen, Mr Cameron told MPs.

Khan – the target – had been plotting “barbaric” attacks on UK soil, he said. The “act of self defence” was lawful, despite MPs previously ruling out UK military action in Syria, the PM said. Khan was killed in a precision strike on 21 August by a remotely piloted aircraft, “after meticulous planning”, while he was travelling in a vehicle.

Another British national, Junaid Hussain, 21 and from Birmingham, was killed in a separate air strike by US forces in Raqqa on 24 August. Both Khan and Hussain had been involved in actively recruiting IS “sympathisers” and plotting to attack “high-profile public commemorations” taking place in the UK this summer, the prime minister said.

The attorney general had been consulted and agreed there was a “clear legal basis” for the strike on Khan, Mr Cameron added. Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman urged the government to publish the legal advice. Downing Street said it was a “long-standing convention that we do not publish advice of the law officers”.

Mr Cameron told MPs: “My first duty as prime minister is to keep the British people safe.” In reference to Khan, he added: “There was a terrorist directing murder on our streets and no other means to stop him. “This government does not for one moment take these decisions lightly. But I am not prepared to stand here in the aftermath of a terrorist attack on our streets and have to explain to the House why I did not take the chance to prevent it when I could have done.”

Kat Craig, from human rights group Reprieve, called the air strike “deeply worrying. Make no mistake – what we are seeing is the failed US model of secret strikes being copied wholesale by the British government,” she said.

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said the targeting of Khan by his own country had set a precedent. The prime minister’s official spokesman said any future decisions on whether to target IS militants believed to pose a threat to the UK would be taken on a case-by-case basis, and declined to say whether any other such strikes have been authorised.

Sadiq Khan is Labour’s London mayoral candidate

Sadiq Khan has just been announced as Labour’s London mayoral candidate. At an event at the Royal Festival Hall, the MP for Tooting was announced as the surprising winner by 59 per cent. Turnout in the primary was 77 per cent.

Tessa Jowell was the bookies’ favourite and the frontrunner throughout this contest, but Khan may have benefited from the tens of thousands of new members who have joined Labour to back Jeremy Corbyn for leader. The result wasn’t even close — Jowell came second with 41 per cent. Khan’s camp were confident throughout the contest that the new members would be unlikely to back Blairite Jowell and it appears they are proved right.

Conservatives will be delighted that Labour has chosen Khan as their mayoral candidate. They felt that beating Jowell would be difficult but Khan is a much weaker prospect. His close ties to Ed Miliband is something that will definitely be used against him. Tory strategists are confident that if Zac Goldsmith is chosen as their candidate, a Zac vs. Sadiq contest is one they can definitely win. The London Mayoral contest is going to be very interesting.