Spain, France in tussle over handling of alleged terror plot in Barcelona

After police and security forces arrested several men and seized bomb-making material in Jan. 19 raids on a mosque and four other homes, Spain’s attorney general said they had stopped an imminent attack. Spanish authorities, however, quickly backed off that, acknowledging that the amount of explosives seized was very small. What is clear, however, is that the case has created problems between Spanish and French intelligence services. The Barcelona plot was uncovered thanks to a French secret agent identified as F-1, who arrived on a train from France to join the cell. A French security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the intelligence, told The Associated Press that counterterrorism teams in France had expressed “astonishment” about the way Spanish authorities had handled the case. French authorities questions whether handlers of the case in Barcelona had jeopardized other investigations, elsewhere.

Sweden: Artist Sees Prophet Cartoons As Musical

He has offended Muslims worldwide and al-Qaida wants him dead, but the Swedish artist who portrayed the Prophet Muhammad as a dog said Monday he has no regrets. Lars Vilks, 61, told The Associated Press he might use the uproar over his drawings as the subject of a musical, with prominent roles depicting Iran’s president, Sweden’s prime minister and al-Qaida terrorists. “The Muhammad cartoon project must be made into an art work,” said Vilks, breaking away for an interview during a business seminar in Klippan, a small town in southern Sweden. “A musical comes to mind … I think it would help the debate.” The eccentric sculptor said previously that the cartoons weren’t meant to insult Islam but rather to test the boundaries of artistic freedom.

Italian Author Accused Of Defaming Islam

Fallaci, who lives in New York, was not expected to attend the hearing in Bergamo, northern Italy. Muslim activist Adel Smith filed a lawsuit against Fallaci, charging that some passages in her book, “The Strength of Reason,” were offensive to Islam. Smith’s lawyer cited a phrase from the book that refers to Islam as “a pool … that never purifies.” Last year, a judge ordered that she stand trial on charges of violating an Italian law that prohibits “outrage to religion.” He cited a passage that reads: “To be under the illusion that there is a good Islam and a bad Islam or not to understand that Islam is only one … is against reason.” Fallaci told The Associated Press last year that “I have expressed my opinion through the written word through my books, that is all.” A former resistance fighter and war correspondent, Fallaci has often stirred controversy for her blunt publications and provocative stances. Her most recent books have drawn accusations she incites hatred against Muslims, the AP reports. In her best-selling essay “The Rage and the Pride,” written as a response to the Sept. 11 attacks, Fallaci wrote that Muslims “multiply like rats” and said “the children of Allah spend their time with their bottoms in the air, praying five times a day.” A group in France unsuccessfully sought to stop distribution of the book. In The Strength of Reason, Fallaci accuses Europe of having sold its soul to what she describes as an Islamic invasion. Smith is also known for taking radical positions. He gained attention in Italy in 2003 when he sought unsuccessfully to have the crucifix removed from the public elementary school his sons attended. As head of the small Muslim Union of Italy, he has launched numerous legal battles, causing several Islamic organizations to distance themselves.

A French Leader Tackles Religion; Book Probes Islam And Assimilation

By Jamey Keaten, Associated Press PARIS In a new book seen as a prelude to a presidential bid, France’s finance minister is taking up the thorny question of how to reach out to an increasingly assertive Muslim minority and integrate it into a largely secular society. Nicolas Sarkozy argues his countrymen need to worry less about religious symbols and more about the help Muslims need to build a moderate religious structure grounded in French traditions. He says that will help stem extremism’s inroads into a community whose members often feel ignored and discriminated against. In “The Republic, Religions and Hope,” being published today, Sarkozy displays a thoughtful side that political observers said is part of a strategy to add gravitas to his reputation as a can-do man of action.