‘Cut beard or leave’: French high school student told his beard is ‘sign of radicalization’

A student of a French high school was threatened with expulsion after he refused to comply with the headmaster’s demand to shave his beard, which the headmaster considered a “sign of radicalization.”

“You cut it or you leave,” the headmaster reportedly told the student. The head teacher also reportedly claimed that the student’s beard is an apparent “sign of radicalization.”

When the headmaster first asked the student to shave or shorten his facial hair, the young man, 21, explained that he had been cultivating his beard for two years for religious reasons.

“The Prophet [Muhammed] was wearing one. It is something important to me,” the student, who wanted to remain unidentified out of fear of “being stigmatized even more.”

He also added that the head teacher’s “threats put pressure” on him and he “ended up” writing a letter to inform him that he was leaving the school. According to Le Parisien, the student has not attended school since October 13.

“He [the headmaster] gave me a few days for reflection to see if I change my mind and shave [the beard]… but I will not!” the student said. The student, who is a son of an atheist and a non-practicing Muslim, also admitted that he used to miss classes to go to Friday prayers, and said that he avoided shaking hands with his schoolmates for reasons of “decency.”

He also said that he used to wear harem pants – a sort of clothing common among Muslims – but stopped wearing them at headmaster’s request, as he agreed that it could be a religious sign. However, he still defends his right to sport a beard.

“I am not the only one with a beard, both among students and teachers,” he said. In the meantime, the young man received support from his classmates. “It looks like it was the parents who complained to the headmaster. Everything is mixed up!” one girl said.

The incident took place in the Parisian northern suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis, where some of the terrorists, who were involved in the Paris attacks in November 2015, were living.

 

 

Valls: France needs ‘new relationship with Islam’

Prime Minister Valls said France, which is home to around five million Muslims, needs to forge a new rapport with Islam.

“We need to reset and invent a new relationship with Islam in France,” Valls said.

The PM has long wanted to help nurture a more French version of Islam, without extremists elements and said in Friday he was in favor of a ban on foreign funding of mosques.

He also wants imams to be trained in France rather than abroad.

The PM has warned in the past that Salafists were “winning the ideological and cultural battle” in France, home of Europe’s biggest Muslim population.

And he has pledged to “massively” increase France’s security and defense budgets in the coming years, as the country grapples with a growing jihadist threat after two deadly attacks last year.

“The Salafists must represent one percent of the Muslims in our country today, but their message — their messages on social networks — is the only one we end up hearing,” he said.

France has long had an uneasy relationship with Islam, even before recent jihadist killings in Paris, Nice and Rouen. While the French public and politicians broadly supported the two laws opponents argued it would only work to stigmatize and alienate the country’s Muslim community even further.

It is not clear what the PM is thinking of when it comes to this “new relationship” but in the past he has expressed extending the ban on religious signs to universities.

“The veil does not represent a fashion fad, no, it’s not a colour one wears, no: it is enslavement of women,” he said, warning of the “ideological message that can spread behind religious symbols”.

“We have to make a distinction between wearing the veil as a scarf for older women, and it as a political gesture confronting French society.”

However members of his own government including the education minister and university bodies do not believe there is a need to extend the law.

French Sociologist and director of the Religious Observatory in France doubted Valls had any clear idea of what he meant by “new relationship” but that it was a mistake to suggest this was the source of terrorism.

“I doubt he has a clear idea in his head, but he needs to separate the issues,” said Liogier who has criticized Valls in the past for “showing a complete ignorance of all the multiple dynamics that play a role in Muslim communities today.”

“Let’s stop talking about Muslim “communitarianism” being the source of terrorism. A man with a beard or a woman wearing the veil are other issues, they are not the problem of terrorism.”

 

Muslim Officer Sues New York Police Dept. Over No-Beard Policy

The department’s no-beard policy, as it is known, is at the center of a federal class-action lawsuit filed on Wednesday on behalf of a Muslim police officer who says he was suspended during the fasting month of Ramadan for refusing to shave his one-inch beard. The lawsuit, brought by Masood Syed, 32, aims to force the Police Department to change a policy that his lawyers say infringes on the rights of more than 100 officers seeking to exercise their religious freedoms without fear of discrimination or retaliation.
Officer Syed, a 10-year veteran assigned to the office that handles disciplinary proceedings against officers, was suspended without pay on Tuesday. At an emergency hearing on Wednesday in Federal District Court in Manhattan, Judge P. Kevin Castel ordered the department to continue paying Officer Syed until his next court date on July 8, when the court will decide whether he can return to work.
Officer Syed’s complaint cites a 2013 ruling in Federal District Court in favor of a Hasidic Jewish police officer who was fired during his probationary period for refusing to shave his beard. The officer, Fishel Litzman, was reinstated in 2014 and remains on the job.
The complaint also describes another 2013 case of Mohsin Aftab, a Muslim police officer who was suspended and ultimately agreed to leave the department after 10 years of service rather than shave his beard. Mr. Aftab, according to the complaint, has not been able to work in law enforcement since his departure, and his family has had to accept food stamps.

CAIR Applauds Supreme Court Ruling in Favor of Muslim Inmate’s Religious Rights [PRESS RELEASE]

PRESS RELEASE: “The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today applauded a unanimous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that a Muslim inmate in Arkansas be permitted to grow a beard in accordance with his religious beliefs.

That decision overturned a state prison policy banning beards. The justices rejected the claim that the policy was needed for security reasons.

Justice Samuel Alito noted that prison officials already search clothing and hair and had not offered a reason they could not search beards as well. Alito wrote: “[I]nterest in eliminating contraband cannot sustain its refusal to allow petitioner to grow a half-inch beard.” “Hair on the head is a more plausible place to hide contraband than a half-inch beard, and the same is true of an inmate’s clothing and shoes,” Alito wrote. “Nevertheless, the department does not require inmates to go about bald, barefoot or naked.”

“Breakdown: Unanimous Supreme Court backs prisoner in religious beard.” (RNS)

“The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided in favor a prisoner’s religious liberty. The Court ruled that the state of Arkansas must allow a prisoner to grow a beard if doing so is a requirement of his faith.

The unanimous decision made it clear that the religious liberties of prisoners must be protected. A prison must be able to show that restricting a religious exercise is necessary and is the least restrictive way to achieve a prison’s need.” (RNS.com)

CAIR Applauds Supreme Court Ruling in Favor of Muslim Inmate’s Religious Rights [Press Release]

Muslim inmates in the Jumu'ah prayer service in the chapel of the Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles County during the month of Ramadan. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)
Muslim inmates in the Jumu’ah prayer service in the chapel of the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles County during the month of Ramadan. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/20/15) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today applauded a unanimous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that a Muslim inmate in Arkansas be permitted to grow a beard in accordance with his religious beliefs.

That decision overturned a state prison policy banning beards. The justices rejected the claim that the policy was needed for security reasons.

Justice Samuel Alito noted that prison officials already search clothing and hair and had not offered a reason they could not search beards as well. Alito wrote: “[I]nterest in eliminating contraband cannot sustain its refusal to allow petitioner to grow a half-inch beard.” “Hair on the head is a more plausible place to hide contraband than a half-inch beard, and the same is true of an inmate’s clothing and shoes,” Alito wrote. “Nevertheless, the department does not require inmates to go about bald, barefoot or naked.”

SEE: Supreme Court Rules for Muslim Inmate Over Prison Beard Policy (Reuters)
Supreme Court Upholds Religious Rights of Prisoners (USA Today)

“We applaud the ruling in this important case, which firmly underscores that courts should not blindly defer when the government invokes ‘security’ as a reason to curtail rights,” said CAIR Civil Rights Litigation Director Jenifer Wicks. “The state has the burden of proving that a compelling government interest justifies its burden on the exercise of religion beliefs and practices. In this case, the court rightfully rejected arguments the growing of a beard in any way harmed prison safety and security.”

Wicks noted that CAIR recently filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief on inmate religious rights with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which is considering whether the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s (TDCJ) policy requiring direct supervision by a chaplain or outside volunteer of inmates who gather in groups for religious services is unconstitutional.

Late last year, CAIR also filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, which is considering whether clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch’s refusal to hire a Muslim woman wearing a religious headscarf (hijab) was discriminatory.

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

How to spot a Muslim according to the Board of Education in Poitiers

Charles Martel has returned to the Board of Education in Poitiers. A document meant to help teachers detect signs of radicalization in students is said to have taken a “dislike” to Islam, according to information from Mediapart.

The document classifies signs of radicalization in the following manner: having a long beard, wearing religious clothing, shaving one’s head, refusing to get tattoos or practicing intensive fasts. The information was presented in a PowerPoint and also discusses Palestine, Chechnya and Iraq. According to Mediapart, the presentation was made by a section of the “mobile security team” (EMS) whose members are ex-police officers or gendarmes. EMS was created in 2009 to ensure the security of educational establishments.

After being interviewed on France Bleu, Magali Espinasse, member of the union Snes-FSU, expressed her disapproval of the document. She referred to it as a “gross caricature” that contained “outrageous simplifications,” calling it “racism, pure and simple.”

Minister of Education Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said “maybe the words aren’t perfect, and we will indeed improve things.”

 

Muslim wrestler goes to the mat for his religious beliefs

UB student’s beliefs call for a beard

Muhamed McBryde has loved wrestling ever since he can remember, but when he had to choose between shaving his beard and competing for the University at Buffalo, the decision was easy.

McBryde sat on the sidelines.

The pre-med student believes shaving the beard would compromise his faith. He is Muslim.

Even though NCAA rules clearly state that all competing wrestlers must be cleanshaven, the 17-year-old junior said he never considered getting rid of his facial hair.

“My religion says you’re supposed to keep a beard,” said McBryde of Buffalo.

His refusal to shave, though, cost him nearly a full season of competition.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today said that a Muslim wrestler at the University at Buffalo in New York has been granted a waiver by the NCAA to wear a beard he believes is required by his faith.

That action by the NCAA Wrestling Rules Committee came after CAIR’s intervention and after the civil rights group urged university officials to request the waiver. The Muslim wrestler will be allowed to compete with a beard during the 2014-15 season as long as he wears a face mask and chin strap.

NCAA rules currently ban beards, but they are permitted in international competition, including the Olympics.

“Now that this individual waiver has been granted, we will work with the NCAA to change its policy to allow beards for all competitors nationwide,” said Sadyia Khalique, director of operations for CAIR’s New York chapter (CAIR-NY). The wrestler’s family initially contacted CAIR-NY, which brought the issue to the university.

“We welcome this reasonable religious accommodation by the NCAA, which will enable Muslim athletes to participate in wrestling without violating their religious beliefs,” said CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas, who worked with the family, the university and the NCAA to obtain the waiver.

Supreme Court Agrees to Weigh Arkansas Inmate’s Right to Grow a Beard

February 28, 2014

 

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether prison officials in Arkansas may prohibit inmates from growing beards in accordance with their religious beliefs.

The policy was challenged by Gregory H. Holt, who is serving a life sentence for burglary and domestic battery. Mr. Holt said his Muslim faith required him to grow a beard.

The state’s policy allows trimmed mustaches, along with quarter-inch beards for those with dermatological problems. Prison officials said the ban on other facial hair was needed to promote “health and hygiene,” to minimize “opportunities for disguise” and to help prevent the concealment of contraband.

Mr. Holt sued under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, a federal law that requires prison officials to show that policies that burden religious practices advance a compelling penological interest and use the least restrictive means to do so. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, in St. Louis, ruled in June that the justifications offered by the officials satisfied that standard.

Mr. Holt filed a handwritten petition in September asking the justices to hear his case, Holt v. Hobbs, No. 13-6827, pointing out that other courts had struck down policies banning beards in prisons. In an interim order in November, the Supreme Court ordered that Mr. Holt be allowed to grow a half-inch beard.

 

NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/04/us/supreme-court-agrees-to-weigh-arkansas-inmates-right-to-grow-a-beard.html?action=click&module=Search&region=searchResults%230&version=&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%3Faction%3Dclick%26region%3DMasthead%26pgtype%3DHomepage%26module%3DSearchSubmit%26contentCollection%3DHomepage%26t%3Dqry714%23%2Fmuslim%2F30days%2Fallresults%2F1%2Fallauthors%2Fnewest%2F&_r=0

British jihadist warns life is hard in Syria and hundreds return to UK

February 17, 2014

 

A British fanatic in Syria has warned would-be jihadists that fighting in the war-torn country is “more difficult than people think”. The unidentified man said being a Muslim warrior was more than just putting on a “tactical vest and grab a Kalashnikov and get a big beard”.

He also attacked the image that Syria was a “five star jihad” following reports by other fanatics that boasted of staying in villas and mansions. The warning raises the prospect that hundreds of Britons who are believed to have returned to the UK may have found it too hard in Syria and now plan to carry out attacks here instead. It is feared as many as 250 British jihadists are now back in the UK having fought in Syria.

It is feared that up to 500 Britons have travelled to Syria to fight, many with extremist groups linked to al-Qaeda and other terror organisations. A significant part of MI5’s works is now taken up dealing with threat posed by those travelling to or returning from Syria and presenting a risk here. MI5 and police had stopped one serious plot last autumn involving a cell of “returnee” jihadists planning a “Mumbai – style” gun attack in central London.

 

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/10644586/British-jihadist-warns-life-is-hard-in-Syria-and-hundreds-return-to-UK.html