Google Search Is Doing Irreparable Harm To Muslims

Omar Suleiman, a Muslim American imam from Dallas and founder of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, is taking on the world’s largest search engine to stop it from spreading hate.

Suleiman and his team have been publishing reports on controversial topics in Islam ― like jihad ― in the hopes of influencing the search algorithm. His goal is to flood the search results with accurate information on Islam.  Basic searches for words like “Muslim” and “Islam” return reasonable results with links to reputable sites. But more specific terms, like “sharia,” “jihad” or “taqiyya” ― often co-opted by white supremacists ― return links to Islamophobic sites filled with misinformation.

The same thing happens with the autofill function. If a user types in “does islam,” the first suggestion that pops up to complete the query is “does islam permit terrorism.” Another egregious example occurs when a user inputs “do muslim.” The autofill results include “do muslim women need saving.”

 

Muslim teen in Minnesota wins fight to box wearing a hijab

Amaiya Zafar, a 16-year-old from Oakdale, who is Muslim, recently won a battle that will allow her to wear a hijab and fully cover her arms and legs while boxing. That means she can put on her boxing gloves later this month to fight her first sanctioned match.

Zafar has her sights set on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. To get there, she’d have to persuade the international boxing organization — the AIBA — to allow her to box in her modest attire.

For now, her right to wear the scarf is only with USA Boxing.

A Young Latino Arab American Throws His Hat in Congressional Ring

A young, American-born man of Latino and Arab heritage decided to throw his hat in the political ring after working as a community activist and in the Obama administration.

Ammar Campa-Najjar, 28, announced his candidacy Thursday in the hopes of unseating a long-term Republican representative in California’s District 50 in 2018.

Campa-Najjar, whose mother is Mexican American and whose father is Palestinian American, says he spent a lot of time speaking to Hispanic voters in his district to get them to the polls. Arab Americans have faced stereotyping and discrimination after the 9/11 attacks. But Campa-Najjar believes he can use his experience in Gaza and California to bridge divides and listen to voters’ anxieties about terrorism.

 

CNRS study measures French youth support for terrorism

A recent CNRS study has attempted to measure support for “radical beliefs” among high schoolers in France following the November 2015 attacks. 7,000 students, ages 14-16, were interviewed about their opinions on radical religion and violence, the combination of these two factors demonstrating a possible susceptibility to jihadist propaganda.

Regarding religion, a minority adhere to “fundamentalism”: 11% believe there is “one true and correct religion” and that “religion is [more correct] than science,” regarding the Earth’s creation. This figure is 6% for those who are Christian and 32% for those who are Muslim.

Moreover, 25% of those interviewed believed in “violence and deviance”–33% among Muslims interviewed. They believed it was “acceptable” to “participate in violent action in support of one’s beliefs.” Researchers predicted this population is likely to “face run-ins with the police” in the future. “There is, among certain segments of the youth, a culture of violence and delinquency that has become commonplace,” stated Olivier Galland, one of the researchers. “When this culture combines with radical religion, it becomes very worrying.”

 

 

Blogger Mehdi Meklat caught posting anti-Semitic tweets

Mehdi Meklat, a 24-year-old writer/blogger has come under fire after revelations that he has for years been posting anti-Semitic, mysogynistic, homophobic and pro-jihadi tweets.

Meklat, along with writing partner Badrouine Said Abdallah, shot to fame through the Bondy Blog, a site created for and by sub-Saharan and North African second-generation immigrants seeking to celebrate “ethnic diversity” and insert “the stories from the ‘hood into the larger national debates.”

Meklat tweeted more than 50,000 offensive tweets from 2012 to 2014. Before the Césars he tweeted: “Bring on Hitler to kill the Jews.” Just before the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, he tweeted about the magazine’s editor Stephane Charbonnier “Charb, what I’d really like to do is shove some Laguiole knives up his …” He praised Mohammad Merah, who murdered Jewish schoolchildren in Toulouse: “I find the phrase, ‘I love death the way you love life,’ of Mohammed Merah troubling in its beauty.” In blatant homophobia: “Long live the fags, long live AIDS under President Francois Hollande.”

Of far-right French politician Marine Le Pen, he wrote that he would “slit her throat the Muslim way.”

In a lengthy note on Facebook Meklat apologized for the posts while attempting to absolve himself of culpability, claiming to be victim of a time when Twitter was “a digital Wild West. A new object, almost confidential, where no rule was enacted, no moderation exercised.” 

He had tweeted under the name Marcelin Deschamps, inspired by French Dada artist Marcel Duchamp. The stunt, he said, was a commentary on the racism of France’s Old Guard, but “quickly became an evil villain … who couldn’t be stopped” in his attempts to “provoke.” The social media alter-ego had “nothing to do with me… It is now dead and should have never existed,” Meklat wrote.

“You have life on your side, you have your experiences, your wanderings, your loves, your past that sticks to your present, anchored in you. But it does not matter until you have no money. You are therefore a slave,” wrote Meklat with his writing partner Badrouine Said Abdallah in their recent novel Minute. As Meklat gained accolades for his creative projects, the media discovered his second Twitter account, but barely responded. That was until a French tweeter, identified by Le Monde as a teacher, expressed outrage at one of Meklat’s television appearances. The teacher pleaded, successfully, for the country to demand the author answer for Meklat’s obscene and offensive tweets.

The “Meklat affair” has also given fuel to France’s rising far-right, including Marine Le Pen’s niece Marion Le Pen, who placed the blame with France’s left-wing media.

 

In Bordeaux, Muslims fight radical Islam

Fouad Saanadi is preaching to the converted, but not the mainstream Muslim community he belongs to. In a discreet building near city hall, the Bordeaux imam meets with bewildered parents and fragile youngsters, some of whom have never set foot inside a mosque.

Many come from troubled families and neighborhoods. Some are mentally unstable. He and a small group of experts are fighting a powerful adversary: militant Islam.

“My role is not to tell people the ‘good’ or ‘true’ Islam, but to help awaken a critical approach,” Saanadi says of Bordeaux’s year-old CAPRI program aimed at preventing radicalization. “We are not here to confront but rather to awaken a critical awareness.”

Bordeaux counts among a growing number of communities across Europe searching for ways to counter extremism, following a wave of largely home-grown terrorist attacks. The question is all the more important for France, the target of three terror strikes in two years, and western Europe’s biggest exporter of extremist fighters.

Unlike countries like Germany and Britain, France is a relative newcomer to approaches beyond law-and-order ones, and new efforts to branch out have not always proved successful. Indeed, a recent Senate report characterized the state’s approach in tackling radicalization a failure.

 

Today, there is a new sense of urgency to finding answers. Hundreds of foreign fighters are beginning to return to Europe, authorities say, posing risks as potential terrorists and recruiters. Some end up in French prisons, already considered jihadist breeding grounds.

“The European system is not experienced with dealing with so many radicalized people,” Khosrokhavar says. “We need to invent a new way of dealing with this sort of problem.”

A partnership between Bordeaux’s city hall and the regional Muslim federation, the year-old CAPRI program may be one sign of changing times. While the initiative is local, it offers a religious dimension to fighting radicalization – one that is drawing interest from other municipalities.

“For the youngsters and the families, the fact we’re doing this program with the Muslim community is positive,” says Bordeaux’s Deputy Mayor Marik Fetouh, who is also CAPRI’s spokesman. “It shows we’re not confounding Islam and radicalization, and often the theologians will create links between the families and CAPRI.”

Imam Saanadi gathers with half-a-dozen therapists, psychiatrists and legal experts to evaluate each new case. Of the 36 youngsters now enrolled, roughly 40 percent are women. A number are converts, or “born again” Muslims from largely secular backgrounds. The average age is 22. “It’s a puzzle,” Saanadi tells DW. “When we put together the different pieces, we can see whether to intervene or not.”

As secretary-general of Bordeaux’s Muslim federation, Saanadi himself ascribes to a moderate, government-sanctioned brand of Islam that respects French secularism but is not always considered legitimate among more fundamentalist believers.

Perhaps not surprisingly, he does not personally know anyone who has joined a jihadi movement. “Terrorism is a question for national education,” he says. “We see children at the mosque two hours a week. The rest of their time is at school.”

Whatever the cause, most agree that France has a serious problem. Roughly 700 French jihadists are still fighting in Iraq and Syria, according to recent government figures; another 1,350 suspected radicals are in French prisons, including nearly 300 with direct ties to terrorist networks.

Nationwide, authorities classify another 15,000 as extremists and potential security threats, including an estimated 200 or more in the southwestern Gironde department that includes Bordeaux. The state’s traditional law-and-order response has not proved effective, critics say.

“The state took too much time and now it’s searching for miracle solutions,” sociologist Ouisa Kies, an expert on radicalization in prisons, told DW.

Last year, the center-left government adopted a softer approach with uncertain results so far. It earmarked more than $300 million (284 million euros) for de-radicalization programs over three years, and rolled out the first of a dozen voluntary centers planned across the country.

But in February, a French senate report deemed the de-radicalization center, in the Loire Valley, a “fiasco.” Only nine youngsters had been treated there, it said, and it was currently empty.

The new government funding windfall has also helped fuel some 80 local initiatives, some with dubious credentials. “It’s becoming a market,” says Bordeaux’s main imam, Tareq Oubrou, who provides theological advice to CAPRI. “Everyone is becoming a de-radicalization specialist in two seconds.”

“As soon as there’s an initiative by a Muslim leader or members of the community there’s always suspicion,” says Kies, who believes the Muslim leadership nonetheless has a narrow but necessary role to play in countering radicalization.

In Bordeaux, Saanadi is the first to acknowledge the limits of his intervention. “There are no miracle solutions,” he says. “It’s very easy to destroy, but very difficult to reconstruct.”

Deputy mayor in France sends police to school to protest Arabic language classes

A city council official sent police to a primary school in France to protest the school’s decision to offer its students the option of learning the Arabic language. The deputy mayor of Six-Fours-les-Plages in southeastern France was acting on an inaccurate claim on Facebook that said students were being forced to learn the language.

Jean-Sébastien Vialatte confirmed that police officers were sent to the Reynier primary school twice in November to tell school officials that the deputy mayor opposed the teaching of Arabic there, local media reported Wednesday. The incident came to light when a local lawyer disclosed court documents revealing a failed legal suit by the council to halt these classes. Vialatte added that officials had their doubts about the teacher as well because he wasn’t a state employee.

An image shared in September by a parent of one of the children who attends classes at the school inaccurately said the Arabic language classes were mandatory sparking an outcry among parents in which politicians quickly joined.

Frédéric Boccaletti, a local politician and member of the far-right National Front, shared the image on his Facebook page blaming “friends” of Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the Moroccan-born minister of education, as the people behind these mandatory classes. He also condemned Vialatte for allowing the classes to continue.

French Muslim activist Yasser Louati said the incident was representative of the “normalization of state-sponsored racism.”
“Sending the police to make sure an Arabic class isn’t held shows how much hate government institutions can express for Arabs. In 2015, we had cases of primary school children being humiliated, assaulted, and even taken to the police by their teachers,” Louati reportedly said. “Then we had school girls being barred from school for wearing a long skirt or the prohibition of substitute meals for Muslims and Jews.”

“The only solution for French Muslims and any citizen who loves justice and equality is to band together and engage in a power struggle with decision makers. The upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections are an opportunity … nobody benefits from a society built on hate,” he added.

Teen migrants head to UK as French court upholds ‘Jungle’ closure

France transferred another dozen mostly Afghan teenagers to Britain on Tuesday as efforts to rehouse the most vulnerable migrants of the “Jungle” camp in northern France accelerated ahead of its demolition.

The departures, which still amount to a small portion of an estimated 1,000 youngsters unaccompanied by adult family members, came as a court rejected a request by 11 charities that the closure of the Jungle be postponed.

A first busload of children arrived in Britain on Monday from the “Jungle” camp near the French port of Calais as the British government started to act on its commitment to take in unaccompanied migrant children before the camp is destroyed.

The court in Lille rejected the plea by local charities for more time to organize rehousing of the thousands who live there.

“It’s now just a matter of days,” Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told parliament after the closure ruling was announced. “We are now nearing the moment when the operation will begin.”

A 16-year-old Afghan named Azizullah was delighted to be leaving the camp that has come to symbolize the plight of war refugees.

“My dream came true because I want to see my brother, I miss him,” he said as he readied to leave. He planned to join his 36-year-old brother, who works in a pizza restaurant on the other side of the Channel.

President Francois Hollande, facing an election in April, has promised to shut down the camp under local pressure. His government has already started rehousing thousands of Jungle inhabitants in dozens of towns and villages across France.

Regarding the specific issue of unaccompanied children and teenagers who have fled war zones such as Afghanistan, Syria and Sudan, the transfers to Britain are taking place under EU family reunification rules known as the Dublin regulations.

Charities have accused Britain of dragging its heels on such transfers, prompting a Franco-British meeting last week which has been followed by transfers of a dozen migrants like Azizullah in the past two days.

Karim Benzema says he is victim of racism

Source: http://fr.reuters.com/article/idFRKCN0YN3J7

 

June 2, 2016

 

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema said he was denied the chance to play for France in the Euro 2016 this month because of his Algerian origins.

 

The French Football Federation denied the accusation, but Benzema’s comments, published just nine days before France hosts the tournament, have deepened a row about alleged racism in a national team once seen as a model for ethnic integration.

 

Last week, Eric Cantona accused coach Didier Deschamps of omitting Benzema and another French-born football player of North African descent, Hatem Ben Arfa, because of their foreign roots.

 

Deschamps’ lawyer said he planned to sue Cantona for slander. The two have a longstanding rivalry since the mid-1990s when Deschamps replaced Cantona as France’s captain and led the team to World Cup and Euro successes in 1998 and 2000. Benzema is under investigation over an alleged plot to blackmail a teammate, something Prime Minister Manuel Valls said made him unfit to play for the national team. Benzema said his legal problems were being used as an excuse to drop him from the squad.

 

“They said I couldn’t be picked, but on a sporting level I don’t understand and, on a legal level, I’ve not been convicted and I’m presumed innocent,” he told Spanish sports magazine Marca.

“Deschamps succumbed to pressure from a racist part of France,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s only Didier’s decision, because I get on well with him, the president (of the French Football Federation, Noel Le Graet) and everybody.”

 

Deschamps was not immediately available for comment. Le Graet said Deschamps was neither for nor against Benzema and had previously picked the forward even when he was not in good form.

 

“I think he has got carried away a little bit,” Le Graet told reporters at the French team’s training camp in Austria.

 

“I would have liked him to have been a bit more kind. These are words that don’t correspond with the realities.”

 

The racism row has added to tensions in a country hit by widespread strikes over proposed changes to work contracts and fears about terrorist attacks.

Ahead of the European Championship’s June 10 kick-off, the French team has also been hit by a spate of injuries.

 

The squad has players from various ethnicities. Deschamps last week called up Adil Rami, who is of Moroccan origin. But memories of 1998, when France’s “black-blanc-beur” (black-white-Arab) team won the World Cup, have faded, especially since the disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa when the players fell out with the team’s managers.

 

At the time, the far-right National Front party complained that the team did not fully reflect France, where the vast majority are still white.

 

Sports Minister Thierry Braillard dismissed Benzema’s comments as “unjustified” and “unacceptable.”

 

“The French team is selected only on technical criteria and ability. There is not an inch of racism in this federation. The time has come to stand by our team,” Braillard told BFM TV.

 

A successful striker for Real Madrid, Benzema has often failed to excel for the national team, scoring 27 goals in 81 games at international level

Ta-Nehisi Coates Helps a New Panther Leave Its Print

Most comics don’t generate that much buzz, but then again, most comics aren’t written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a national correspondent for The Atlantic and the best-selling author of “Between the World and Me,” which won the National Book Award last year. One of the most celebrated authors about race in America writing about a black superhero who has pummeled Captain America and members of the Ku Klux Klan? The collective response from fans of comics and Mr. Coates alike: I’d read that.

The book arrives during the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther, who first appeared in issue No. 52 of the Fantastic Four (and yes, he beat them up, too).

The Coates/Marvel collaboration stems from a 2015 conference hosted by The Atlantic, where the author interviewed the Marvel editor Sana Amanat in a seminar titled “What if Captain America Were Muslim and Female?” Soon after, another Marvel editor, Tom Brevoort, asked Mr. Coates if there were any characters that he might like to write for them. A lifelong fan of Spider-Man and the X-Men, Mr. Coates sent them some favorites. “Black Panther was not on my list,” he said with a laugh.