March 25, 2014
BARI – “Italy has the credentials to become a leading country in exports to the Islamic world, and we want to offer to institutions and businesses all the support to make this happen.” Says Sharif Lorenzini, president of the Italian section of the International Halal Authority (HIA), the only recognized body for the certification of Halal products.
A few days before the World Halal Food Council meeting, which will convene for the first time in Italy, all the representatives of the Halal world and representatives of 57 Islamic states of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in Rome from March 27 to 29 of next year. Lorenzini supports the Italian food economy in Islamic markets. “We’re talking about a three trillion euro a year industry, an increase of about 15% each year due to the two billion Muslims in the world.”
To open the doors to this potential, Italian companies of all kinds, from food to cosmetics and clothing, must produce according to standards laid down by Shariah, i.e. Islamic law that determines what is ‘Halal,’ then the product is admitted for Muslim consumption. “In fact” says Lorenzini “it is a return to simplicity in production, and usually at no additional cost to the company. And Italian companies are subsidized in this process since the quality standards, especially in food and cosmetics, are already very high.” The 220 Italian companies that have become certified in three years know the profit margins very well, seeing their revenues climb.
“Of these companies – said Lorenzini – 150 have begun to get certified because they had an order from the Islamic world. Several of these businesses were about to close, but now they cannot cope with all the requests for their products. According to the estimates of Lorenzini, Italian exports in Islamic markets, mainly Malaysia, Indonesia and South -East Asia, but also America and Europe where there are many Muslims, amounted to 15-16 billion euro.” But it is especially important for companies because of “the great increase of Muslims in Italy.”
BRUSSELS – In recent weeks, many Muslim citizens have been victims of violence in Puglia and also in other cities of Italy which has been carried out by unidentified persons. In Bari a young Muslim and “was hooded and beaten up” executive of the Italian Islamic Community, Sharif Lorenzini, added that the violence began after the April 30 arrest of members of a terrorist cell in Puglia.
According to the findings from the investigation, the group had close contacts with prominent members of international terrorist cells. This cell was characterized by a fierce anti-Semitism and a bitter dislike of “infidels,” such as citizens of the United States and Italy. The investigation also brought to light audio-visual pieces and documents used to proselytize and indoctrinate of new members. Even including a call to jihad and suicide bombings in the West and in war zones.
Those arrested include former imam of a southern Italian mosque in Andria, Hosni Hachemi Ben Hassen, who was considered the head of the cell. Stopped in Brussels, Ben Hassen is married to a woman who converted to Islam in Andria which is in Puglia. A call center was deemed the basis for the recruitment of followers and coordination center for possible terrorist actions outside the Italian territory.
Ben Hassen, 45, Tunisian, had connections and relationships with prominent members of international terrorist groups, including Essid Sami Ben Khemais, Ben Yahia Mouldi Ber Ben Ali and Mohamed Rachid, who have already been convicted of terrorist offenses. Ben Hassen intended to make continuous proselytizing and indoctrination materials designed to train new recruits.
Besides Ben Hassen, the other men arrested included Mohsen Hammami, 48, who currently resides in the municipality of Scorriton, in the province of Catania, Ifaoui Nour, 34 years old, homeless, living in Sicily, and Romdhane Ben Chedli Khaireddine, 32, homeless, living in Lombardy. All of the offenders are Tunisians.
Two French self-declared Islamic fundamentalists, Bassam Ayachi, 63, and Raphaël Gendron, 34, who now live in Brussels where they run the Belgian Islamic Center (Centre islamique belge) were arrested in Italy on terrorism charges. More specifically, the men were accused of illegal immigration and of threatening state security in their planned attacks in France, notably on the Charles de Gaulle airport. Now they face much more serious allegations following a counter-terrorism investigation by Italian, French and Belgian police. Italian authorities have officially charged them with being leaders of a logistical support team for al Qaeda. The men have been held in Bari, Italy since November 2008 when they were arrested on suspicion of smuggling two Syrians and three Palestinians into Italy aboard a camping trailer.
Italian prosecutors have accused two men, arrested last year for link to human trafficking, of being leading al Qaeda figures in Europe and involved in training militants for suicide attacks. Police in the southern Italian city of Bari said that the two men, identified as Syrian imam Bassam Ayachi and French computer engineer Raphael Gendron, played leadings roles in “communication, transmission, and propaganda” for al Qaeda. The two men were arrested in November 2008 on suspicion of trying to smuggle five illegal immigrants into Italy. However, evidence in later searches have turned up a will of a would-be suicide attacker, detailing the compensation to his family after his death. In addition, tapped conversations between the two men had reference to an attack on Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport. The two men are also suspected to have close tied to a Brussels-based al Qaeda recruiting network. A senior Belgian intelligence source said that Ayachi and Gendron were known to provide ideological support for members of the alleged Brussels terrorism network, but at this time were not suspected of having played a direct role in recruiting young European Muslims for training in Pakistan. However, communication lines and inter-country ties are being closely examined.
This recent news story is a follow-up to prior arrests an issues, and emphasizes namely two major points – that terror and security investigations are often in flux and change as information is found, and national security agencies share information, and also that much like the above story, involves deeply complicated cooperation across different national interests. Who to prosecute, how, where, and according to whose legal system becomes an important consideration for all parties involved, with the added component of an ever-evolving case.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) condemned unequivocally the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. “The brutal murder of Indians and foreign nationals is unacceptable, there is no excuse for such acts, whatever the cause may be,” said a statement from the MCB. “I condemn this heinous act and extend my sympathies and condolences to the bereaved. Many Britons have deep links with the city of Mumbai and India and I join them in this hour of sadness and anxiety,” said Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary General of the MCB. Federation of Indian Muslim Organizations Midlands, UK, also condemned the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. The Federation said it “condemned unequivocally the terrorist attacks in Mumbai that has resulted scores of deaths. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those killed and injured.” They said “no cause or grievance can justify indiscriminate attacks against innocent” and urged the Indian Government to “instigate immediate investigation of all incidents and the perpetrators must be brought to justice swiftly.” The US based Muslim organisation, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) also condemned the Mumbai terror attacks. “Those responsible for these brutal and immoral attacks should be swiftly brought to justice. Islam considers the use of terrorism to be unacceptable for any purpose,” said MPAC statement.
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The head of a major body representing British Muslims in an interview yesterday. The UK must be careful how it tackles terrorism and treats Islamic culture if it is to avoid recreating a society reminiscent of Nazi Germany, the head of the Muslim Council of Britain has warned. Muhammad Abdul Bari, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, criticised the Government for fuelling tensions in the Muslim community rather than dissipating them. He said the country must beware of fostering a culture like Nazi Germany and warned of suspicion and unease about Muslims.
LONDON – The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) is embarking on a nationwide tour of England next week to listen to the views of local communities among the country’s 1.8 million Muslim population. The five-week tour, starting on July 25, is being led by the recently elected Secretary General of the MCB Muhammad Abdul Bari, Deputy Secretary General Dr Daud Abdullah, and Bari’s predecessor, Sir Iqbal Sacranie. It comes as Britain’s mainstream Muslim umbrella organization, comprising over 400 affiliated groups, is being challenged by the media and ministers on whether it is truly reflective of Britain’s diverse Muslim communities. Bari said that he was looking forward to speaking with a diverse range of British Muslims right across the country and to hear their views on the issues that are of most concern to them during the tour, entitled ‘Connecting with the Communities’. “This tour represents an ideal opportunity to introduce the work of the MCB to others and to listen to suggestions about how we can facilitate greater cooperation among Muslims and non-Muslims to promote the common good,” he said. The British government on Wednesday promoted the launch of a new organization, calling itself the Sufi Muslim Council, with the aim of speaking for the ‘silent majority’. Last year, the creation of a new secular group calling itself Progressive British Muslims (PBM), was sponsored by Britain’s ruling Labor Party as an ‘articulate’ voice for progressively minded Muslims. The initiatives come as the UK government have been seeking Muslim organizations to join its campaign to tackle ‘radical extremism’ in what is being blamed as a root cause of terrorism.