French advocacy group calls for increased statistics on religious minorities

July 24, 2011

 

Members of ANELD (L’Association nationale des élus locaux de la diversité), an advocacy group representing elected local officials from ethnic and religious minorities, have stated that it’s time for France to compile statistics on its ethnically diverse population. The organization deals with issues related to ethnic diversity in France, including employment, equal rights and discrimination. Ethnic statistics are forbidden by the country’s constitution and frowned upon as a way of forcing people to identify with a set ethnic group. However, critics say these numbers are necessary given the country’s increasingly diverse ethnic landscape.

It is not the first time the issue has arisen over the past decade. The controversy over ethnic statistics last surfaced in 2009, when French President Nicolas Sarkozy appointed the Committee for the Measurement of Diversity, arguing that efforts to help minorities were hampered by a lack of data, and that he wanted to find a way to “measure the diversity of society.”

 

Members of ANELD are due to meet with the French commissioner for equal opportunities, Yazid Sabeg, to discuss a possible census. They say they plan to raise the issue of discrimination as a major topic in France’s forthcoming presidential election.

Jewish advocacy group says its members should face same criminal charges as Muslim students involved in UC Irvine protest

A Jewish advocacy group says its members should also face criminal charges in light of Orange County prosecutors’ decision last week to charge 11 Muslim student protesters with conspiracy to disrupt the Israeli ambassador to the United States’ speech at UC Irvine last year.

When 11 students affiliated with the Muslim Student Union at UC Irvine disrupted a speech by the Israeli ambassador to the United States last year, they no doubt knew there would be consequences.
Jewish Voice for Peace, a liberal group that advocates for peace between Israelis and Palestinians and against Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, said the student protesters at UC Irvine were targeted because they are Muslim.

Jewish groups that have interrupted speakers in the past — including a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year in New Orleans — have not faced criminal charges, they noted.

Muslim employees of D.C. hotel say they were barred from floors where Israelis stayed

Muslim employees of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington said they felt discriminated against after being barred over the weekend from floors where an Israeli delegation was staying, a Muslim advocacy group said.
The hotel’s general manager, Amanda Hyndman, said the hotel rearranged some shifts and told some workers not to come in after a routine State Department background check found “irregularities” in the checks of 12 employees.

An official at the Israeli Embassy said that “as a policy, the embassy does not discuss the logistical arrangements for visiting Israeli officials.”

CAIR and other advocacy groups join Pilots’ Unions and Flight Attendants Unions in calling new airport pat-downs invasive, humiliating

Two of the largest pilots’ unions in the nation are urging commercial pilots to rebel against current airport screening rules. In late October, the Transport Security Administration implemented more invasive patdown rules. Travelers (including Muslims) and pilots were faced with a new dilemma — have a revealing, full-body scan or what some are calling an X-rated patdown.

Last week, the head of Allied Pilots Association, a union representing 11,000 American Airlines pilots, wrote an email to pilots suggesting that they forgo both going through a full-body scanner and submitting to a public patdown. Instead, Captain Dave Bates urged pilots to opt for a private patdown.

“In my view, it is unacceptable to submit to one in public while wearing the uniform of a professional airline pilot,” Bates said in an email.

Pilots are piping mad over the options, saying the full-body scanners emit dangerous levels of radiation and that the alternative public patdown is disgraceful for a pilot in uniform. Some pilots have said they felt so violated after a patdown, they were unfit to fly.

CAIR offices have already received complaints, particularly from female travelers who wear hijab, about being subjected to the new pat-down procedure.

The enhanced pat-down involves a much more intrusive manual search of passengers’ bodies by TSA officers. Passengers who have undergone the new pat-down procedure have reported feeling humiliated by a search they describe as invasive and that has involved TSA officers touching the face and hair, the groin area and buttocks, and in between and underneath breasts.

Belgian Muslim vigilance website launched

Vigilance Musulmane (Muslim Vigilance), a think tank and watch dog group based out of Belgium, has launched a website detailing their work ensuring for proper treatment within the country’s constitution, as well as the neutrality of the State and the separation of religion and politics in the country. The website features news articles on these topics. It is coordinated by Abdelghani Ben Moussa.

Paris ‘Little Kabul’ shelters Afghan boys

According to IslamOnline.net, every evening as many as 100 Afghan refugee boys arrive at the Villemin Square, in Paris’ trendy 10th district, to roll out their blankets and sleeping bags. Exhausted and without resources, they are struggling to rebuild their lives in the West. According to the refugee advocacy group France Terre d’Asile (France Land of Refuge), there were 683 migrants under the age of 18 have in the French capital in 2008, up from 480 in 2007. The group complains of lack of enough help to the Afghan refugees.

Dominique Bordin, the director for protection of minors at the group, said there are only 28 beds to shelter the boys.

The number of Afghan asylum seekers rose by 85 percent compared to an average of 12 percent for other migrants. France ranks third in the world in 2008 for the number of asylum requests, after the United States and Canada.

Muslim charities will undergo review process to win back donors

Muslim charities in the United State are turning to the Better Business Bureau to win back donors, and in an effort to gain back their confidence in their fundraising activities. Many such charities were hit hard after September 11th, 2001, where funds were seized and questions by the US government. Under this initiative, seven Muslim charities have already volunteered to commit to a review process designed by the BBB to validate their financial soundness and transparency. The effort is lead by Muslim Advocates, an advocacy group based in San Francisco.

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Chairman of Council on American-Islamic Relations resigns

The chairman of the largest Muslim-American advocacy group in the US has resigned this week. The move comes after Parvez Ahmed expressed growing frustration with the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) direction. Ahmed expressed that he wanted CAIR to be more proactive in the promotion of Muslim civil rights, and inclusive of younger, less religious Muslims. I also wanted to send a message that a change in leadership is needed at the highest level, that we need some new blood at the board and executive levels,” he said. Ahmed has served as the board chairman of CAIR since 2005.

Limiting Immigration Access Angers Canadian Muslims

Canadian Muslims and refugee advocacy groups have rebuked calls by a right-wing think tank, the Fraser Institute, to restrict the arrival of immigrants from Muslim countries. The spokesperson for the Canadian Islamic Congress, Mohamed Elmasry, in response, stated, Canadian Muslims contribute to the wealth of this country more than the average and have higher levels of education than the average.

CAIR Partners With ‘20,000 Dialogues’

CAIR, a prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group announced that it will partner with the 20,000 Dialogues campaign to bring together Americans from different faiths in communities across the country. 20,000 Dialogues is a project of the Unity Productions Foundation (UFF), and will use films about Muslims to stimulate discussion and promote understanding. The initiative is envisioned as a way to empower everyday people to take part in a dialogue to understand Muslims and Islam through interfaith dialogue. UFF launched 20,000 Dialogues in August 2007 with a program on PBS. At present, hundreds of dialogues have been conduced across the United States.