France 2 report on BDS panics CRIF (video)

February 23, 2016

On February 10, France 2 published a report on the BDS movement that elicited a violent reaction from CRIF, who wrote to President of French Television Delphine Ernotte arguing that the report was “apologetic to the BDS movement and contributes to misinformation and the delegitimization of Israel.”

“The experience showed us that it is ok to promote hatred of Israel and the Jews of France and thus to legitimize and encourage attacks against Jews” added CRIF president Roger Cukierman, whose priority is to protect the interests of the State of Israel.

Link to Video: http://oumma.com/222541/reportage-de-france-2-bds-a-mis-panique-crif-video

Jihadists, Hamas, the veil: does France have more tension with radical Islam than its neighbors?

August 22, 2014

A comparative survey between England, Germany and France has created controversy due to its results concerning France. When asked about their opinions about Islamists in the Islamic State of Iraq, those who were polled in France expressed a 15% positive opinion, compared with 7% in Britain and 2% in Germany.  Although the religion of those surveyed is not indicated, the survey’s results gave rise to questions surrounding integration, especially in France. It is important to note that the study’s sponsor is Rossiya Segodnya, a Russian press agency. While the Russian media is not particularly interested in the problems of integration in France, question remains about the agency’s motives for conducting the survey. Atlantico conducted an interview with historian Guylain Chevalier and professor Moustafa Traoré.

When asked if England’s method of integration, often lauded as a model for Europe due to its multiculturalist approach, is a success, he answered: “Let us remember that during the terrorist attacks in London, everyone across the Channel was shocked that the terrorists did not come from abroad but were ‘well integrated.’” He stressed that after the attacks, David Cameron saw the English model as a failure. He continued, “The phenomenon of jihadism that is developing in European countries is evidence of an evolution of a part of the Islamic community towards a radical Islam that responds to the goal of Islamic domination based on the model of the Islamic State of Iraq.” In the case of the Islamic State, every person who does not convert to Islam risks death.

Chevalier continued, “One can image what espousing this vision, for certain Muslims tempted by the renewed figure of the ‘warrior for Islam,’ could have as a projected consequence in Western countries in a closed community where things can go adrift.” For this reason, he concluded, “One cannot ask questions in such a context about the efficacy of our models of integration for combating a risk of radicalization in the long term, as it is fed by armed conflicts where Islam is increasingly involved.”

The Atlantico then spoke with Moustafa Traoré, and asked: “From the point of view of integration, the unemployment rate for Muslims, or of mixed marriages, how is France worse than other countries in terms of integration? In contrast, how is it better?” Traoré said that the best way to evaluate an integration system is to speak with those who are primarily concerned. For example, “One cannot evaluate the integration of women in the workplace without making reference to the feelings of the latter.” He stressed the importance of using proper terms when discussing integration, “France, is before anything, an assimilationist country that has the tendency to ask the newly arrived to get rid of their values, their culturally ethnic particularities, so that they can adopt those of France and of the Republic.” He continued, “To speak in France about the process of integration where there does not exist one is an intellectual fault that often reflects dishonesty, or an underlying racism.”

Chevalier points to the failures of England’s multiculturalism as, “A model that is specifically the opposite of France’s, a society that is the quintessential mix of primarily considering individuals as equals before seeing them as part of cultures or religions.” He adds that France has the highest rate of mixed marriages, 27%, of anywhere in Europe. However, he concedes that “It is becoming increasingly difficult to integrate populations that are coming from elsewhere, into an economy of chronic unemployment, where cultural tensions can also be exacerbated by the economic tension.”

Responding to the issue created by Nadine Morano, whose negative comments about a veiled Muslim woman at the beach have sparked controversy, Chevrier states, “It’s certain that her reaction reflects a fear that is growing today,” but notes, “In a number of Muslim countries, women have a minority status that is not completely discriminatory, and which is not without influence on the way a number of Muslims in France practice their faith.” He adds, “The countries of origin of those who decide to wear the veil did not operate on the separation of religion and politics like we do…To follow before anything the values of religious codes, seen as superior to common law, is a form of confinement that breaks with the idea of the common good and of the public interest and favors social and political divisions that could lead to radicalism.”

Traoré said that while he does not have the same point of view as Chevrier, he recognizes that “The reaction of Nadine Morano is understandable, when France has chosen assimilation instead of integration. This supposes that there exists a cultural model of established and rigid values to which the newly arrived must submit to, all the while leaving behind what makes up their ethnic and cultural differences.”

When asked about the tensions that erupted in Stockholm in 2013 and if there is another country that is similar to France in terms of its integration policies, Chevrier stated, “Our model of integration…is without a doubt the best safeguard for our peaceful coexistence in terms of social diversity, no matter what differences may exist.” He concluded, “The Republican model is a wonderful tool for integration…Confronting the danger of radicalism and its current temptations, the feeling of belonging to a national community, to a larger being that puts the public interest ahead of idiosyncrasies, is what’s at stake for peaceful coexistence and more so, a determining element for social peace.”

California Muslims Send 16,000+ Letters to Senators on Gaza

(ANAHEIM, CA 8/15/2014) — The California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CA) today announced figures of the letter-writing campaign that calls on California State senators to advocate for an end to the killing in Gaza.

Staff and volunteers of the Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization began the circulation of the letters on Tuesday July 22 during the Islamic month of Ramadan when Muslims held special prayers and other activities at mosques nationwide. More than 16,700 letters across the state of California have been signed to date. 

The letters, which were hand-delivered to both Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein’s offices, read in part:

The U.S. government must not remain silent about Israel’s unjust and disproportionate use of force against Palestinians in Gaza. The ‘right of a nation to defend itself’ does not extend to unrestrained aerial bombardments of civilian populations and must be condemned immediately.”

“The response to our Gaza letter-writing campaign has been very enthusiastic,” said CAIR-CA Chair, Safaa Ibrahim. “California residents are deeply concerned about the toll Israel’s latest military campaign has taken on innocent civilians. They want to be sure elected officials hear their constituents’ voices.”

Baroness Warsi resigns from Conservative party over Gaza and warns Tories over attracting ethnic minorities

August 10, 2014

Former Conservative chairman Baroness Warsi says her party will not win the next election unless it does more to attract ethnic minority voters. She resigned as a government minister over the UK’s policy on Gaza last week but has now broadened her criticisms. Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke said her criticisms would soon be forgotten.

Lady Warsi became the first female Muslim cabinet minister when David Cameron became prime minister in 2010. In her newspaper interviews she also criticised “bitchy” male colleagues and repeated her anger at the government’s handling of the fighting in Gaza. She said: “I will be out there, vocally fighting for an outright Conservative majority. But the electoral reality is that we will not win outright Conservative majorities until we start attracting more of the ethnic vote.”

Lady Warsi said she was one of David Cameron’s earliest supporters in 2005, stating: “This is a guy who gets today’s Britain. He’s a new kind of Conservative. He’s comfortable with today’s Britain. I think the party has shifted since then. The party leadership has shifted since then. I think over time it will be a regressive move because we have to appeal to all of Britain, not just because it’s morally the right thing to do… but because it is an electoral reality.”

She called on the government to “recognise Palestine as a state” and impose an arms embargo on Israel. She also criticised Chancellor George Osborne and chief whip Michael Gove for not using their “very, very close” relations with the Israeli government to help end the hostilities. “What is the point of having that strong relationship if you can’t use it to move them to a position which is in their interests and our interests?”

She also rejected Mr Osborne’s claim that her resignation had been “unnecessary” by saying: “My actions would not have been necessary if he had done what he should have done, which is pick up the phone to people he is incredibly close to and say: ‘It’s unnecessary for you to meet your ends by taking out power stations, taking out homes, taking out schools and killing kids on beaches.'”

Mr Shelbrooke, who is the MP for Elmet and Rothwell, said Lady Warsi had “embarrassed herself” and her criticisms would “quickly fizzle out”. He said: “I think within a week, ‘Who was Lady Warsi?’ will be the question. She has ended her career in many ways. Isn’t it best to step down on a point of principle, but don’t you embarrass yourself if you start launching into a tirade about many other things, when you come from a position of having never held elected office.”

The Conservative Party said it would not comment on Lady Warsi’s newspaper interviews at the moment. Lady Warsi stood for election to the Commons in her home town of Dewsbury in 2005 but lost to Labour. She was appointed to the House of Lords in 2007. The government’s chief whip in the House of Lords is to replace Baroness Warsi as a Foreign Office minister, with the right to attend cabinet. Lord Taylor of Holbeach is the new Lords Chief Whip. Conservative MP Lord Bates, replaces Lord Taylor as parliamentary under secretary of state at the Home Office. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, who paid warm tribute to Lady Warsi on Tuesday, will take over her faith brief, in addition to his existing responsibilities.

In her letter to the prime minister, Lady Warsi – the first Muslim woman to serve in a British cabinet – said: “I must be able to live with myself for the decisions I took or the decisions I supported. By staying in government at this time I do not feel that I can be sure of that.” Mr Cameron replied that he understood her “strength of feeling on the current crisis”, adding the situation in Gaza was “intolerable”, but he rejected her call to change direction.

Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said he had a “great deal of respect” for Baroness Warsi, adding that she had done “excellent work” for the Conservative Party and in government.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Israel had “overstepped the mark” in the conflict and called for the suspension of arms export licences.

The prime minister has faced criticism from some in his own party for not condemning Israel for what they believe is its disproportionate use of force against Hamas and civilians in Gaza. But neither Mr Cameron nor any Conservative minister has said that Israel has gone beyond what is proportionate. The response from the new foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, was telling. What Lady Warsi has labelled a “morally indefensible” position he has dismissed as a call for “megaphone diplomacy”. He emphasised that he felt he had to be “balanced”.

Labour leader Ed Miliband told the BBC: “The government’s position is wrong and I think Sayeeda Warsi’s statement is completely right about this.” He said that Mr Cameron had to “think much more clearly” about policy on Gaza and had to “break his silence” over Israel’s actions.

But Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: “I do find it rather surprising that she has chosen now, this particular moment, to take this step when, in fact, we are now at long last seeing some relief, seeing some progress on the issues about which she was so passionately concerned.”

David Cameron’s response to her resignation stated he had “much regret” she hadn’t talked to him about her concerns before she quit. But there was also a warm tribute. “I would like you to know how much I have personally appreciated your support and friendship over the years’ he wrote.

Belfast City Hall peace vigil for those suffering in conflicts

August 6, 2014

Several hundred people have attended a prayers for peace vigil at Belfast City Hall. Prayers are being said by representatives of churches from across the world, including the Jewish and Muslim faiths. Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon called for peace in countries across the Middle East and other war torn areas of the world. Belfast City councillors from across the political divide also attended. One group holding a Palestinian flag stood outside the gates, but were unable to get into the grounds. It was organised by the lord mayor.

Ms Mallon said the vigil was “about people coming together in a humanitarian appeal to end this suffering and conflict”.

“This is a multi-denominational vigil offering people the opportunity to show solidarity with all of those suffering and to pray for peace in Gaza, across the Middle East and the wider world. It is open to everyone – those of all faiths and none.

Naughty Boy defends #FreePalestine tweet with Zayn Mailk

July 31, 2014

Producer Naughty Boy admits he and One Direction’s Zayn Malik sent tweets with the hashtag #FreePalestine, not because they are Muslim but because they are “humanitarian”. Zayn Malik was criticised about his decision to send the tweet last Sunday to his 13 million followers. But despite comments from fans and the media the singer did not delete it. Naughty Boy, who’s 29, said artists had a “responsibility” to speak out on Twitter. The producer, whose real name is Shahid Khan, has been working with One Direction on new track One Chance to Dance and happened to be in the studio with Zayn Malik. “We did a simultaneous tweet,” he told the Asian Network. It’s just more about being a human being. If I saw that going on in Israel, the amount of women and children being killed, that is just too shocking

He said: “We are educated on the subject and the history of Palestine; so we have a responsibility as we are creating awareness about children dying. Zayn’s biggest fan base is teenage girls so it’s good to highlight.” His tweet prompted a response from upset One Direction fans in Israel using the hashtag #ZaynYouHaveFansinIsrael. Naughty Boy denied he was taking sides in the conflict.

Guided by History, a Jew Tries to Unite Two Faiths Divided by War in Gaza

August 9, 2014

NEWARK, Del. — Shortly after the latest cease-fire expired in Gaza on Friday, Jacob Bender gingerly climbed the steps of the mimbar, the pulpit at the Islamic Society of Delaware here. A Jew in a mosque, his hands palpably quivering but his reedy voice steady, he read some brief comments to close the afternoon’s worship service, called Juma’a.

Mr. Bender offered both hope and censure, twinned: Muslims and Jews could still be “partners for peace and justice,” he said. Israel and Hamas bore shared responsibility for the current carnage, he added, and more hatred would lead to more violence, while love would lead to reconciliation.

After he finished those words, he intoned the Judaic funeral prayer, El Malei Rachamim, adapting its English translation to remember the victims in Gaza. He closed the prayer by saying “amen,” and the several hundred men and women replied in kind. Then, unbidden, they joined in sustained applause.

It was an emblematic moment for an unusual man. For the past 10 months, Mr. Bender has served as executive director for the chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Philadelphia — the first non-Muslim to ever hold such a high-ranking position within CAIR, as the council is commonly known.

Much of Mr. Bender’s day-to-day work involves domestic issues — a Muslim pupil bullied in his school, a local mosque vandalized, a Muslim security guard forced to remove her hijab while being photographed for a gun permit. Yet the Middle East conflict is not merely the proverbial elephant in the room, but a stomping herd of them.

In the Jewish religious community, Mr. Bender’s fierce critique of Israel has found willing listeners only among the left-leaning fringe, primarily the small Reconstructionist and Renewal movements. The moderate mainstream, while less vituperative than the online antagonists in criticizing Mr. Bender, has treated him as a pariah.

Russell Brand: “Terrorism is coming from” Sean Hannity

July 30, 2014

The comedian rips apart the ignorance and inherent bias in Hannity’s segment on Israel and Gaza 

In his Web series “The Trews,” this week comedian Russell Brand watched “Hannity” so that you didn’t have to, and ripped apart Fox News host Sean Hannity for extremely “childish” and biased coverage of the incredibly complicated Israel-Gaza conflict.

In response to a totally reasonable press release by the Council on American–Islamic Relations, which asked that American taxpayer funds not go toward killing innocent people in Gaza, Hannity wondered, “Why is America’s largest Muslim so-called civil rights group showing sympathy to terrorists? Let’s have a debate.”

The debate, which is already not really a debate as Brand points out, then devolved into Hannity shouting at his guest from the Jerusalem Fund & Palestine Center, Yousef Munayyer. Munayyer was invited to offer his opinions, but Hannity was not interested in hearing them because they offered a more nuanced understanding of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

“Sean’s not interested in truth,” Brand concluded, saying, “Hannity is only interested in pushing a particular perspective.”

In his so-called debate, Brand said, Hannity “remov[ed] all context, except for the information that’s relevant” to him and to Fox News.

By the end of the segment, Brand wonders: Who is the real terrorist here? “One definition of terrorism is using intimidation to achieve your goals,” he says. “Who in that situation was behaving like a terrorist? Using intimidation, bullying, being unreasonable: Sean Hannity. That’s where the terrorism is coming from.”

Have French socialists and Francois Hollande lost the Muslim electorate because of Gaza?

August 6, 2014

“To our French cousins, one thing to repeat for Hollande, Valls and Cie: ‘Gaza, if I forget you in the 2017 polls, let my right hand be cut off!’” Reads one of the latest Facebook posts calling to “punish” Hollande and the Socialist Party at the next presidential election in 2017.

The Party of the Indigenous of the Republic (PIR), which is very active in mobilizing for Gaza in France and which played a major role in the two demonstrations that were banned, has been vocal about its dislike for Hollande’s policies.

“The tide is turning. After more than a month of a Zionist invasion, from all sides, emerges the slogan: ‘In 2017, the PS will pay,’” it warned in a recent statement.  “Numerous voices have marked the date for the presidentials, and call for a real Waterloo for the PS in the next elections” stated the PIR, which has promised to “employ all its forces.”

In activist circles and beyond, Francois Hollande, who obtained 85% of the Muslim vote in 2012, is currently at his lowest popularity level. Although it is impossible to determine what constitutes the “Muslim vote,” it is evident that many Muslims are angry with Hollande and how he has dealt with the situation in Gaza.

Early in the conflict Hollande expressed his support for Israel and urged the government to “take every measure to protect its population in the face of threats.” This statement has since prompted outrage from the Muslim community.

Many activists and elected socialists of Muslim origin have noticed the rise in hostility toward the Socialist Party, a dislike which has increased since the ban on public demonstrations in Paris and Prime Minister Valls’s accusation of anti-Semitism in poor neighborhoods. Hollande’s party has suffered from internal debate.

Certain members of the French government have revised their original support for Francois Hollande as more civilian casualties in Gaza take place. For example, Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius recently recognized the “massacre of civilians” in Gaza.

Christians and Muslims of Nevers unite against killings in Gaza

August 6, 2014

August 6, “Mossoul’s persecutions. The killings in Gaza. ‘No cause is more important than the other.’  Injustice must be fought wherever it comes from,’” said Izzet Cosgun and Father Jean Baffier in a joint statement discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Cosgun is a Muslim teacher currently working in a Catholic school. Father Baffier is in charge of “relationships with the Muslim world” in his department at the school.

Both have worked together in a joint initiative to host a meeting in Nevers to discuss the current situation in Gaza. “Muslims are concerned by what is happening in Gaza, but are also in solidarity with what is happening to Christians in Iraq,” affirmed Cosgun. When commenting on the political situation in Iraq he stated that any violence was “mercenary acts that do not represent our beliefs.”

Father Baffier confirmed that a delegation of French bishops gathered in July in northern Iraq to express “the solidarity of Christians in France.” The bishops “brought another point of view. It’s not Islam that is fighting Christianity over there. It’s a band of rebels that took power in that city. Don’t make it a misunderstanding. This would only play into the hands of those who want to divide France.”

“Christians are on their ancestral territory in Mossoul,” said Cosgun. He added, “They are at home. Like the Palestinians are at home in Gaza. Like French Muslims are at home in France.”

When discussing the recent incident of racist tagging in Charité-sur-Loire, Cosgun said that “People that do that are enemies of peaceful coexistence. It’s necessary to fight this because the future, it’s peaceful coexistence. Why leave the situation up to those who represent nothing?”

Cosgun believes that “it’s not his meeting that’s going to change things” but hopes that political leaders will pay attention to the initiative. He cited Rumi: “If the fair had as much courage as the unjust, the world would be less unfair.”

The leaders of three mosques in Nevers will be present at the meeting. The bishop has also urged all the parishes in the area to participate.