Algeria is France’s Other Team in the 2010 World Cup

This article in Le Monde describes popular support for the Algerian team in France during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Of its 23 players, 17 were born in France. Controversy emerged when striker Rafik Saifi was involved in an altercation with a journalist after his team was eliminated in a 1-0 loss to the United States.

Paris police ban anti-Islamic street party

On June 15th 2010, Paris police banned a “pork sausage and wine” event planned for Friday night by a group protesting what it calls the “Islamisation” of a city neighborhood. The scheduled “Apero Géant” was organized on Facebook by a woman using the pseudonym Sylvie François. She told French daily Libération that she no longer felt at home in the Goutte d’Or, the northern Paris district where she had lived all her life:

“People of French origin can’t have a drink in peace there. If you are a woman you get hostile looks if you’re not wearing an [Islamic] veil,” she said. The street party was planned to coincide with the close of Friday evening prayers at a local mosque, when the neighborhood’s Muslims fill the streets. Algeria is also scheduled to play England at the football World Cup that night. Pork and alcohol, the event’s planned components, are forbidden by Islam.

Fadela Amara, a French government minister of Algerian origin, denounced the idea as “hateful, racist and xenophobic.” Extremist groups on the right and left had been publicizing the party on other Internet sites. Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë defended the ban and said he feared the party could have turned violent.

52 Algerian Imams Arrive in France

Bouabdallah Ghlamallah, Algerian minister of Religious Affairs, announced that fifty-two Algerian imams will be sent to France this year for an orientation mission centered on education and culture. The aim of the project is to promote Algeria’s ideas and vision vis-à-vis religion while ensuring tolerance and fighting against extremism.

Terror suspect arrested in Pamplona

A man suspected of participation in an international organization which funded terror cells in Algeria has been arrested in Pamplona. The suspect arrested in Spain was wanted by Italy for forgery of identity documents, and he is now being held on remand ahead of the extradition process to remove him to Italy. The Interior Ministry said the network obtained an estimated 1 million € through robberies over the past three years.

Al-Qaeda-affiliated Organization Warns of Revenge if France Bans the Burqa

France is maintaining “very great vigilance” toward actions and statements by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or North Africa, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier said in a briefing. The al-Qaeda affiliate threatened vengeance for President Nicolas Sarkozy’s criticism of the face-covering veils worn by some Muslim women. The Algeria-based group issued a statement on Islamic Web sites vowing to “seek vengeance against France” over Mr. Sarkozy’s comments about face-covering Muslim veils such as the burqa and niqab. The declaration could not be independently verified. “We will not tolerate such provocations and injustices, and we will take our revenge from France,” said the statement, signed by Abu Musab Abdul Wadud, calling himself “commander of al Qaeda in North Africa [Islamic Maghreb].”

The statement is dated to June 28, five days after French President Nicolas Sarkozy controversially told lawmakers that the traditional Muslim garment was “not welcome” in France. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was originally a militant Islamist movement against Algeria’s secular government in the early 90s. It has since spread its geographic and political influence.

Canadian diplomats freed from al-Qaeda captors in Mali

Freed Canadian diplomats Robert Fowler and Louis Guay left Mali yesterday aboard a Canadian government plane bound for Germany this weekend to be reunited with their families. The two men were freed by their al-Qaeda-linked captors after four months of captivity.

Two Europeans separately captured by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) were simultaneously let go. Reports from Algeria suggest that an unnamed European government paid AQIM factions a multimillion-dollar ransom. While this transaction has not been officially confirmed, countries such as Germany and Austria have been reported to have made similar payments in parallel cases.

Before the release, the Canadian government had been mounting a massive diplomatic effort and rescue operation in West Africa. Officials in Ottawa said Canada paid no ransom.

French Magazine Express International Banned in North Africa – Some Claim it Offends Islam

This week’s issue of L’Express International, a French newsmagazine, has been banned in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, on the grounds that its cover story “The Jesus-Muhammad Shock” is offensive to Islam. The story title is the same as a book covered in the story. The newsweekly’s staff claim that they attempted to portray Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, with adherence to Islamic norms by covering his face with a white veil.

See full-text articles:

International Herald Tribune

International Herald Tribune

L’Express

Macleans Magazine

Associated Press

Information Agreements between Spain and Algeria

The Algerian President, Abdelaziz Buteflika, has received the Interior Minister Alfredo P_rez Rubalcaba, to sign an agreement about security and fight against terrorism and organized crime. The agreement defines terrorism specifically as a form of criminality and establishes dispositions about the collaboration and cooperation on the activity of information.

Eight Algerians arrested on terrorism charges

Eight Algerians were arrested on charges related to terrorism, and are believed to have ties to a cell spreading propaganda, recruiting volunteers, and engages in the lending of economic and logistical support for groups forming part of the _Islamic Maghreb’ – a North African branch of al-Qaeda. Police seized 7,000 Euro in cash, receipts of money transfers to Algeria, and various multimedia material as evidence for review. The eight men were arrested in Castellon, Barcelona, and Pamplona.

Tricky dealings in hostage case

More than a month after their disappearance, the fate of two Austrian hostages who were captured while touring the Tunisian desert remains shrouded in uncertainty. But the case has been seen to expose the difficulty of controlling the vast expanses of the Sahara as al-Qaeda’s North Africa affiliate seeks to make its presence felt across the Maghreb. The group, which was blamed for a number of spectacular suicide bombings in Algeria last year, has raised its profile once more after claiming the kidnapping. It is now thought to be holding Wolfgang Ebner, 51, and Andrea Kloiber, 43, at an undisclosed location in northern Mali. According to statements posted on the internet, the kidnappers have demanded that militants held in Algeria and Tunisia be freed in return for the release of the Austrians. They have twice deferred a deadline, stating most recently that their request must be met by 6 April. There have been unconfirmed reports that the group is also asking for a ransom. By Aidan Lewis