Foundation for Islam in France officially launched

It’s official: the Foundation for Islam in France has been launched. The secular foundation, meant to serve as a “public utility,” is one of the pillars of the new Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve’s plan for the future of Islam in France.

The current Foundation replaces the Foundation for Islamic Works, launched by former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, which never truly functioned due to internal squabbles among the country’s Muslim federations. The new foundation received an initial donation of one million euros.

It serves to finance educational and cultural projects, including university diplomas for imams on French secularism (a project supported by 14 French universities), research in Islamic theology, and youth programs.

On December 12, during the first meeting organized by the Interior Ministry, workshops will be held during which those with relevant project ideas can present. If chosen, their project may be eligible for funding.

Anouar Kbibech, President of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, stated: “This foundation is important because it will permit financing for cultural activities backed by mosques.”

France claims Islamic State links to ‘imminent’ terror plot uncovered

French authorities claimed Friday the Islamic State had a direct hand in helping five suspected militants plot “imminent attacks” against possible targets including Paris police hubs and Euro Disney.

French police had earlier said they believed they had foiled attacks planned for Dec. 1 against the Paris headquarters of police and intelligence officers and the Disney theme park, which is especially popular during the holiday season.

But the latest details, made public by a senior prosecutor, draw alleged links to the Islamic State and a core network of suspects — four French citizens who were longtime friends. The suspected fifth plotter, a homeless Moroccan man, was arrested in the southern port of Marseille.

A raid Sunday in Strasbourg uncovered firearms and instructions from “the Iraqi-Syrian region” to acquire more weapons, said Paris prosecutor François Molins. Also found were documents professing allegiance to the Islamic State, he said.

“The state of the threat is and remains particularly high,” Molins said.

The names of the Strasbourg suspects were given only as Yassin B., Hicham M., Samy B. and Zakaria M. Icham E., the suspect arrested in Marseille, was homeless, Molins said.

The revelation of the foiled plot comes before the second and final round of France’s conservative presidential primaries on Sunday. Throughout the campaign, the issue of national security has dominated.

“Obviously, these terrorist have chosen a specific moment: the elections,” said Jean-Charles Brisard, director of the Center for the Analysis of Terrorism, a Paris-based think tank. “It means the terrorists have a clear political strategy, because, of course, their actions would have an affect in benefiting the extremists.”

 

DENK politician Sylvana Simons receives security after threats

Dutch-Surinam politician Sylvana Simons of the new party DENK will receive security by the Dutch security service. This is the outcome of a vast array of threats based on racist motives and a recent video that featured the politician.

In the video Simons is displayed in various racist scenes, among which as a naked African aboriginal, Black Pete, and an African-American victim a lynch by the Ku Klux Klan, as was common at the end of the nineteenth century. Vice Prime-Minister and Minister of Social Affairs Lodewijk Asscher has called the video “abhorrent” and “completely unacceptable”.

DENK leader Tunahan Kuzu mentioned that “visible and invisible” security measures are being taken to protect Simons, after a conversation with the Dutch National Coordinator Counter Terrorism, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and members of the DENK party.

New Dutch party DENK presents political program

The new Dutch party DENK has presented its political program for the upcoming elections in 2017. The party was established by two former Labour Party (PvdA) MP’s from Turkish descent. It was soon joined by the Dutch-Surinam Sylvanna Simons and Dutch-Moroccan Farid Azarkan, and focusses on putting on the political agenda minority issues, Islamophobia, and racism in the Netherlands.

According to DENK leader, Tunahan Kuzu, the established parties and media strengthen fear and hatred against foreigners, saying he is not surprised at the existence of fear and xenophobia amongst the Dutch public. Kuzu thinks the established parties go along with the wave of xenophobia triggered by the rhetoric of Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-Islam Party for Freedom (PVV).

Aside from issues pertaining to Muslims and Islamophobia DENK also wants more regard for Dutch colonial history in places such as Surinam and Indonesia. DENK in particular demands independent research on the Dutch presence in Indonesia between 1945-1949, and an official apology for the Dutch obstruction of the Moluccan wish for independence.

Dutch Parliament approves law on banning burqa

The Dutch Parliament has approved a law prohibiting women from wearing the Burqa and niqabs in public places, namely in education, public transport, hospitals, and government buildings. If women do cover their faces with the burqa or niqab they risk a fine of a maximum of 400 Euro’s. The ban is not applied on wearing them in the streets.

A majority of Dutch political parties supported the law drift of Minister Ronals Plasterk of Internal Affairs (Labour Party), with the exception of the Green Party (Groenlinks), the Social Liberal Party (D66), and the new party DENK, which enjoys support of Muslims and other Dutch minorities.

Islamist “mole” exposed at German domestic intelligence agency

Arrest on November 16

A 51-year-old man working at the German domestic intelligence agency – the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz) – has been exposed as an alleged sympathiser of the jihadist cause.

He was arrested on November 16, after he had been placed under surveillance by his own employer for the preceding weeks.((http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/kampf-gegen-den-terror/verfassungsschutz-islamist-suchte-verbuendete-fuer-gewalttat-gegen-unglaeubige-14552367.html )) The 51-year-old had been part of the agency’s office tasked with monitoring the country’s Islamist scene.

His employer appears to have been alerted to the man’s questionable role when he offered advice to a fellow jihadist during an online chat session. The agent noted that he could supply access to the Verfassungsschutz buildings in Cologne in order to facilitate an attack on “unbelievers”. He asserted that he was “ready to do anything to help the brothers”. What he did not know was that his counterpart during the chat was himself working for the Verfassungsschutz.((https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/islamist-verfassungsschutz-107.html ))

Actions “in the name of Allah”

No clear picture of the man and his potential motivations has emerged so far. Following his arrest, he claimed that he had sought to use his position at the agency to warn his brothers in faith of any potential investigations against them. His actions were, according to him, in accordance with Allah’s will.

Yet while he had mentioned internal matters from the Verfassungsschutz during the abovementioned online conversation, he does not appear to have leaked further information on the agency’s ongoing investigations.((http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/kampf-gegen-den-terror/verfassungsschutz-islamist-suchte-verbuendete-fuer-gewalttat-gegen-unglaeubige-14552367.html )) The man nevertheless presented himself as part of a large-scale plan to “infiltrate” the intelligence office.((https://www.tagesschau.de/inland/islamist-verfassungsschutz-109.html ))

Mental health questions

More than two weeks after the arrest, however, there are ongoing questions as to whether the man is a ‘Salafist’ or ‘jihadist’ or in fact an unstable individual. While in custody, the man has made a range of “mystical allusions” that appear to raise questions about his mental health.((http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/kampf-gegen-den-terror/verfassungsschutz-islamist-suchte-verbuendete-fuer-gewalttat-gegen-unglaeubige-14552367.html ))

He claims to have converted to Islam following a “spontaneous inspiration” in 2014 while on the phone with an unidentifiable “Mohamed” from Austria. Neither his wife nor his four children were aware of his alleged conversion.((https://www.tagesschau.de/inland/islamist-verfassungsschutz-109.html )) The man’s work as an actor in homosexual pornographic movies also at least casts doubt on his hard-line Islamist credentials.((http://www.dw.com/de/islamisten-pornos-und-der-verfassungsschutz-das-r%C3%A4tsel-um-maulwurf-m/a-36596498 ))

Keeping apart investigators and investigated

This cases comes as a renewed blow to Germany’s much-criticised domestic intelligence agency. In recent years, the Verfassungsschutz has been rocked by successive revelations about its role in the series of murders and attacks by the National Socialist Underground (NSU), a far-right terrorist cell.

There have been worrisome questions about the agency’s knowledge and thus de facto complicity in the NSU’s activities: the German neo-Nazi scene is densely populated by the agency’s informants – so densely, in fact, that the Constitutional Court rejected a motion to ban the far-right NPD party in 2005 because it noted that it could not distinguish between party leadership and Verfassungsschutz personnel.

In the present case, the Verfassungsschutz once again appears to be rather too close to the people it seeks to monitor. Indeed, on facebook the suspect not only expressed regret about the recent arrest of Abu Walaa – reported by Euro-Islam – but was also friends not just with a number of Islamists but also with several functionaries from a far-right political party.((https://www.tagesschau.de/inland/islamist-verfassungsschutz-109.html ))

Renewed criticism of the Verfassungsschutz

The agency’s president, Hans-Georg Maaßen, stressed that all necessary security preconditions had been taken when the man was hired. Nevertheless, the fact that an individual who joined the Verfassungsschutz as a lateral entrant in April 2016 – after he had lost his previous job as a bank clerk((https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/islamist-verfassungsschutz-107.html )) – could gain access to sensitive information so quickly raises considerable questions about the agency’s professionalism.

German parliamentarians also criticised Maassen and his office for failing to notify them immediately: news of the case broke only nearly two weeks after the arrest through revelations by Der Spiegel magazine.((http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/geheimdienst-islamist-schleicht-sich-bei-verfassungsschutz-ein-a-1123676.html ))

The threat of “infiltration”

The call for consequences has been swift: parliamentarians demanded, among other things, that the security checks of all Verfassungsschutz employees be conducted more often. Others called for a more dramatic restructuring of the agency itself.

Beyond these immediate reactions, however, what is likely to stick in the public’s perception is the threat of “infiltration”. As Euro-Islam reported, a recent survey found that 40 per cent of Germans believe that the country and its institutions are already “infiltrated” by Islam.

The media reaction to the suspected mole, at the Verfassungsschutz has most likely not dampened this anxiety. It was noteworthy, for instance, how many news outlets quickly focused on the man’s “conversion”—an act that, after all, seems to have occurred on the phone to an obscure contact in Austria if it occurred at all. ((See e.g. https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/islamist-verfassungsschutz-107.html, https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article159849913/Islamist-beim-Verfassungsschutz-enttarnt.html )) Conversion, as the ultimate act of infiltration, thus serves as the measuring stick for dangerousness.