Video: women ‘shunned’ in certain Paris suburbs

The investigation was launched by France 2 TV with the aid of Brigade Des Mères (BDM) group which aims to restore gender equality across France.

Two BDM representatives – both women – carried out a social experiment. They chose Sevran commune in the northeastern suburbs of Paris and analyzed the reaction of local men towards women. The response was probably well-suited to some neighborhood in Saudi Arabia, the women later said.

In one café, which solely consisted of male customers, they received a cold welcome. The women were asked if they were looking for a man.”

“There are men in the café,” explains one of the men to them, while the women respond: “It’s OK, in the world there are men and women.”

Answering the question if such behavior is normal, the men in the café answer: “It’s Sevran, not Paris. We have a different mentality.”

“It’s not like in France, it is like back home!” one of the men says.

“But it’s France,” one of the women replies. Sevran is located 16km from the center of the French capital.

Later in the video the camera captures a woman dressed in burqa, a full-body cloak worn by some Muslim women.

All dialogues were filmed with secret cameras. BDM later wrote that in some neighborhoods in France women have become “undesirable in public places.”

Walking in a skirt or having a coffee on the terrace can become a real challenge for them,” the group said.

 

 

Anger after Muslim women denied service at French restaurant

Social media users have expressed anger after a video posted online appeared to show two Muslim women in France being told to leave a restaurant by a man, reportedly the boss, who called all Muslims “terrorists”.

“Terrorists are Muslims, and all Muslims are terrorists. This sentence says it all, analyse it,” the man said in the video released on Sunday.

The incident reportedly took place the night before at the Le Cenacle restaurant in Tremblay-en-France, an area in the suburbs of Paris.

“People like you, I don’t want them here,” he continued, “you are imposing yourself here […] get out.”

The women, one of whom appeared in the video wearing a headscarf, said they would leave.

Reports in France said that the man apologized on Sunday to a group of young people and members of the local Muslim community who had gathered outside Le Cenacle to ask him to explain his comments.

The restaurateur reportedly said one of his friends had died in the attack on the Bataclan concert hall in November 2015.

In a message on Twitter, Laurence Rossignol, the French minister for families, children and women’s rights, said she had ordered an investigation and called for sanctions against the “intolerable behavior” of the restaurant’s boss.

France’s highest administrative court on Friday suspended the ban in the Mediterranean town of Villeneuve-Loubet, pending a definitive ruling.

The footage of the incident at the restaurant has been shared widely on social media, garnering many reactions of concern for increasing Islamphobia in the country.

In response to the incident, the Committee against Islamophobia in France said it would bring “psychological and legal assistance” to both women.

“What kills me in the scandalous video #Cenacle is the indifference of other clients,” the committee’s director, Marwan Muhammed, said on Twitter.

Sarkozy wants special jails, courts for terrorism suspects

Paris was once again put on high alert last Sunday after a car loaded with gas cylinders was found near Notre Dame cathedral in an incident that could have been an attack on a Paris railway station.

Security is a key topic in the presidential elections in 2017, as more than 230 people have been killed in militant Islamist attacks on French soil since January 2015.

Sarkozy’s comments come after French President Francois Hollande, a Socialist, took a swipe at his opponents this week, saying their hardline reactions to a wave of militant attacks demonstrated an intent to destroy France’s social model.

Sarkozy took an even tougher approach on Sunday by proposing to systematically place French citizens, suspected of having militant links, in special detention facilities in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD) 

“Every Frenchman suspected of being linked to terrorism, because he regularly consults a jihadist website, or his behavior shows signs of radicalization or because is in close contact with radicalized people, must by preventively placed in a detention center,” Sarkozy said in the interview.

 

Sarkozy, who announced last month his candidacy for the April 2017 presidential election, has said there is no place for “legal niceties” in the fight against terrorism.

According to French Institute for Public Opinion, Ifop, voters turned out to have most confidence in former Prime Minister Alain Juppe to guarantee security, with Sarkozy in second place, Prime Minister Manuel Valls in third, and Hollande a distant 8th.

French Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas said in a separate interview with the French newspaper on Sunday he planned to make proposals next week to Valls to ease prison overcrowding.

“I do not advocate creation of facilities dedicated to terrorists…The real challenge is to prepare the release of those who are sentenced for a short or medium term,” Urvoas said.

Why we talk about Zaha Hadid’s gender and ethnicity even though her architecture transcended both

To say that the sudden death of Zaha Hadid last week has left a gap in architecture is an understatement.

She was a woman in a field dominated by men. An Iraqi-born, secular Muslim who made her home in clubby Protestant England. A flamboyant, cape-wearing figure who was recognizable, Madonna-like, by simply her first name. Most important, she was an architect who pushed the field forward, toward ever more complex, organic shapes that seemed to take their inspiration from the webbed patterns of biological tissue and the globular shapes of cells.

“She charted new territory for all architects with her vision,” architect Sharon Johnston, founding principal at Johnston Marklee, an L.A.-based firm, stated via email. “Zaha’s passion, personality and sheer talent were all essential to her success and her undeniable importance in the history of contemporary architecture.”

She was far more interested in pushing the boundaries of design than of society. And yet, there’s no denying that Hadid’s gender and ethnicity were part of what made her an outsized role model for so many. Hadid, after all, was the first woman to win the Pritzker, architecture’s most prestigious prize, as well as the first female to be awarded the Royal Gold Medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects. She was, as Kriston Capps notes over at Citylab, the first real-deal female starchitect — a figure whose name and designs resonated way beyond the architectural community.

In addition to buildings, she also designed jewelry, yachts and even a jelly shoe.

“I never use the issue about being a woman architect,” she told the Guardian in 2004, “but if it helps younger people to know they can break through the glass ceiling, I don’t mind that.”

The focus on her storied career in the wake of her death shows how much it is possible for a woman to achieve — and how much more ground women have yet left to cover.

A report published by the San Francisco Chapter of the American Institute of Architects last year revealed that though women make up 42% of graduates from programs accredited by the National Architecture Accrediting Board, they make up only 28% of architectural staff in AIA-member-owned firms, and only 17% of principals and partners.

In addition, a study released this year by the national AIA shows that women and minorities in the United States, two groups underrepresented in architecture, both cite a lack of role models as one of the major reasons the profession remains largely male and white.

The women who do labor in these environments have had to contend with dismissive or downright hostile behavior. In an interview I conducted with architect Denise Scott Brown in 2013, she described everything from direct insults to not being invited to architect parties because she was the “wife.” (She ran a firm with her husband, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Robert Venturi.)

Hadid, who was based in London, had to deal with some bad behavior herself. Anissa Helou, a cookbook author, teacher and chef, was a longtime friend of the architect’s. The two met in the early 1970s, at a dinner party hosted by a mutual friend.

“Being a strong woman and a foreigner in London in a man’s field [at the time] did not make it easy for her,” she stated via email. “Also, being so ahead of her time in her thinking and designs and being so uncompromising about what she wanted to do did not help, so she had to contend with a lot.”

When Hadid accepted the Royal Gold Medal earlier this year, she said in her remarks: “We now see more established female architects all the time. That doesn’t mean it’s easy.”

Moreover, there was the issue of her Iraqi heritage, which wasn’t always well-received.

“It’s a triple whammy,” she told the BBC Radio 4 in February. “I’m a woman, which is a problem to many people. I’m a foreigner — another problem. And I do work which is not normative, which is not what they expect. Together, it becomes difficult.”

In the mid-1990s, Hadid won a competition to design a new opera house in Cardiff, Wales. As concerns about the purpose of the building and its budget hit the press, xenophobic remarks began to surface. One Welsh minister of parliament said that her geometric design was identical to the shrine in Mecca.

“It was disgusting the way I was treated,” Hadid told the New Yorker in 2009. “These British women would tell little jokes. … It was awful. ‘We don’t want a fatwa! Tee-hee!'”

“There were people,” she added, “who wouldn’t look me in the eye.”

Like any high-profile architect, Hadid was expected to produce strong, functional designs. But as a woman, she also faced the added pressure of having her work interpreted as some sort of gender statement. One of her designs for a stadium was compared to female genitalia in the press — something she described as “nonsense.”

“You are vulnerable as a woman because there is pressure for what you represent not just for the profession, but in society,” said Annabelle Selldorf, principal of Selldorf Architects in New York. “She didn’t marry. She didn’t have a family. She didn’t represent the conventional model.”

Hadid also wasn’t the sort of woman who stood around meekly asking for permission to join in, something that made her a significant example to other women.

“She was a big deal for women in architecture and not because she made that her thing,” said Selldorf. “But because she was simply a powerful person. … She was so unequivocal and so powerful. That’s what made her an idol.”

Her toughness, however, was also used against her. Hadid’s imperious manner — directed at architectural selection committees as well as magazine writers and her staff — often got her characterized as a shrew by the press. In fact, much has been made of her “diva” behavior, even in her obituaries.

As Guardian critic Oliver Wainwright noted in an essay last fall, petulant male architects get described with words such as “maverick” instead. When the irascible Philip Johnsondied in 2005, the New York Times referred to him as an “enfant terrible,” a label that comes off as charming and continental.

Certainly, there are aspects to Hadid’s career that are unsavory — such as her work in locations where serious human rights issues have come up (such as the cultural center she designed in Azerbaijan). It’s important, though, to note that in this regard she was no different from some of her male starchitect colleagues — figures such as Norman Foster and Rem Koolhaas, who have taken on morally questionable assignments in locations such as Kazakhstan and China, respectively.

But whatever the ramifications of individual buildings, the fact is that Hadid’s death leaves an enormous void. She remains the only individual woman to have won the Pritzker in its nearly 40-year history, and the only woman to have won the Royal Gold Medal in its 168-year history. On so many occasions, she has been the lone female architect in the room — and with her absence, some of those rooms may revert back to being all male.

Women have made tremendous gains in architecture since Hadid launched her career in the 1970s. They build towers and design museums and magazine-worthy weekend homes. But they still remain sorely underrepresented.

Hadid’s death has prematurely taken a powerful emblem from our midst, a woman who commanded respect and prestige — and who didn’t feel the need to be all cuddly about it.

“I just do what I do and that’s it,” she told the BBC nonchalantly back in February.

As far as a whole generation of women architects are concerned, however, what she did was just the beginning.

Katherine Russell: Boston bombing suspect widow’s enigmatic life journey

Boston — Street Address A: A big tan house in North Kingstown, Rhode Island; the corner lot of a woody cul de sac near a bike path populated by joggers in Lululemon. Quiet and country charming, a well-landscaped American achievement. This is the house where Katherine Russell grew up, with her parents and two sisters.

Street Address Z: An apartment in a rowhouse in Cambridge, Mass., the most run-down structure on an otherwise cheerful block. A building with cracked window panes on the second floor and a sagging brown exterior, and the feeling of fatigue emanating from it like an odor.

This is the house where Russell lived when the Boston Marathon bombs went off. Where she went from being “normal” to — if not abnormal, than certainly very different from what people who knew her expected her to be. Where few neighbors recall seeing her outside the home, where she seemed to become a ghost.

There are gaps, in this road map of Katherine Russell’s life. Points F through L, maybe, or D through K. What went through Katherine’s mind when she made such a choice? Did Tamerlan force her into it? Was she yearning for a life very different than the suburban comfort in which she had been raised?

The narrative of her life is compelling in part because of the way it hews so neatly to our narratives of fear, our cautionary tales: Here is a woman who went astray. Here is a woman who did not listen to her family.

It is also compelling for the way it upends American conceptions of selfhood, womanhood, progress. For the way it draws boundaries around “typical” American behavior. The hijab and other items of traditional Muslim apparel are freighted garments in this country, often stigmatized as items of repression and regression.

Katherine the victim? The dupe? The accomplice?

It is unclear at what point Russell converted to Islam — such a conversion does not require formal classes or education, but rather a simple declaration of faith. Still, one of the few public places that nearby residents remember her was at Al-Hoda Market, a small halal grocer about four blocks from the apartment.

On Thursday last week, Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body was released from the office of the Massachusetts medical examiner. Katherine Russell’s attorney released a statement, saying that it was Russell’s wish for the remains to be returned to the Tsarnaev family.

Perhaps this was her way of announcing her separation from her husband. Perhaps she would have claimed the remains, but her parents encouraged her not to and she listened.

On Being Brown in America

The recent bombings in Boston threw up many questions. One of the most pressing, in my somewhat narrow view, is the meaning of being brown in America.

On April 17, two days after the bombs went off during the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring almost 200 others, CNN’s John King went on air to say that the suspect was a “dark-skinned male.” In the CNN video, which shows that the time of the broadcast was 1.15 p.m. on Wednesday, we see King pointing to a photograph from the front-page of The New York Times. A positive identification had been made based on a surveillance video from a Lord & Taylor store just outside the frame of the picture in the Times, King said. A little later that afternoon, King would go on to assure viewers that a subsequent arrest had been made.

No one had been arrested that day, of course, and, alas, there was no dark-skinned male. What is remarkable is that even while first reporting his piece of “exclusive” news, CNN’s King felt it necessary to qualify what he was saying.

This behavior isn’t entirely the product of the Internet. In fact, it is not even new. It has its roots in history and, arguably, in law. Let us go back to the days even before Maugham had his detective Ashenden looking at the photograph of a dark-skinned male. I’m referring here to the 1917 Immigration Act in the U.S. — also known as the Asiatic Barred Zone Act — which regarded as undesirable aliens all those individuals who had their origin in Asia, a region spanning the so-called Middle East to the Pacific Islands, thereby lumping them in with “homosexuals,” “idiots,” “feeble-minded persons,” “criminals,” “insane persons,” “alcoholics,” “professional beggars” and others.

Eldest Boston bomber was thrown out of his mosque for ‘raged filled rant’ against Martin Luther King three months ago – as FBI hunts mysterious religious leader who ‘brainwashed’ him

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the brothers accused of bombing the Boston Marathon, angrily disrupted a January talk at a Cambridge mosque when a speaker compared the Prophet Mohammed and the peace activist Martin Luther King Jr., the second time in recent months that Tsarnaev’s radical theology collided with mainstream Muslim faith at a public religious talk.

In the days since the suspects were identified last week, a picture has emerged of 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev — the elder of the two brothers, who was killed Friday in the battle with police — as an increasingly militant immigrant, whom family members described as unhappy and mean.

In disrupting the talk in January at the Islamic Society of Boston mosque in Cambridge, Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s shouted at a speaker: “You are a Kafir” – a nonbeliever, according to Yusufi Vali, a spokesman for the mosque. Tsarnaev went on to say the speaker was contaminating people’s minds, and accused him of being a hypocrite. The congregation disagreed, according to Vali, and “shouted him out of the mosque” on Prospect Street in Cambridge, MA.

A member of the congregation, also conveyed that, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was thrown out of his local mosque for ‘crazy’ behavior after getting involved a ‘shouting match’ with his imam.

Tsarnaev also interrupted a talk last November when a speaker said it was fine for people to celebrate holidays such as Thanksgiving and July 4, in the same way you celebrate the birthday of the Prophet. Tsarnaev challenged him and the two talked after service. “The brother was angry, but he left,’’ Vali said.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was not a member of a local mosque, but began attending infrequently about a year ago, Vali said. His brother also attended.

This revelation comes as Ruslan Tsarni, an uncle of Tamerlan, claimed that his nephew had fallen under the spell of a mysterious religious leader in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who radicalized him and his brother Dzhokhar into committing Monday’s terror outrage.

Muslim Woman Describes Assault, Harassment in a Boston Suburb

The victim of an apparent hate crime motivated by the Boston Marathon attacks said she loves Boston’s diversity, even if the episode left her shaken Wednesday.

A Palestinian woman said she was assaulted and aggressively harassed while walking with her infant daughter and friend near Malden Center late Wednesday morning, in an apparent hate crime motivated by Monday’s attack at the Boston Marathon.

Malden resident Heba Abolaban said she and her friend, both wearing hijabs, were walking with their children on Commercial Street when a man forcefully punched her left shoulder and began shouting at them.

“He was screaming ‘F___ you Muslims! You are terrorists! I hate you! You are involved in the Boston explosions! F___ you!’” Abolaban remembered. “Oh my lord, I was extremely shocked.”

“The police came and were so kind and helpful,” she said, though no suspects were arrested in the incident.

Mayor: City will “not tolerate this type of behavior.”

She noted that she also appreciated a phone call from Mayor Gary Christenson, who reached out to the family after the police report was filed.

“I am simply outraged that such an act has occurred in Malden, a community that takes pride in its diversity and embraces people of all cultures and backgrounds,” Christenson wrote in an e-mail when asked for comment. “I have been in contact with Heba and am relieved that she and her child were not seriously injured.

“Police Chief Kevin Molis and members of his department responded quickly and are diligently proceeding with the investigation to find who was responsible for this heinous act.

“In the meantime, I have assured Heba and her family that Malden does not tolerate this type of behavior and that the acts of one despicable individual will not stop our community from moving forward together.”

Glasgow Muslim students fight against prejudice

3 December 2012

Glasgow City Council has been working hard to promote racial and religious equality in Glasgow, in order to foster better relations between religious groups residing in the city. In the wake of the anti-Islamic movie, Innocence of Muslim, the City Council has discussed plans to support Glasgow’s 30,000-strong Muslim community and protect faith groups from similar behavior.

Madihah Ansari, a student at Glasgow Caledonian University, is joining the efforts to promote religious understanding in Pollokshields. She has introduced ‘New to Islam’ classes for the city’s recent Muslim converts, Madihah is taking the chance to share the message of her religion with those who have only a basic understanding of Islam.

The classes are held at Madrasa Taleemul Islam on Nithsdale Road, on weekly basis and give all attendees an insight into the world’s fastest-growing religion.

Experts at panel discussion examine whether NYPD should have inspector general

NEW YORK — The city police department should have an inspector general to examine its conduct, but the monitor would need independence and a broad mandate to be effective, a panel of criminal justice and legal experts said Wednesday.

The City Council is weighing a proposal to put the nation’s largest police force under the scrutiny of an inspector general. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says there’s no need for one, but the idea has gained currency among civil liberties advocates and others troubled by some New York Police Department practices, including widespread spying on Muslims.

Proponents say an inspector general could build public confidence by looking at issues such as the surveillance and the department’s extensive use of a tactic known as stop and frisk — questioning and sometimes patting down people whose behavior is deemed suspicious but doesn’t necessarily meet the legal bar for an arrest.

The NYPD has said its surveillance is legal.

Inspectors general — officials with investigative powers — are a common feature of government agencies, including in law enforcement and intelligence. The FBI and the CIA have such inspectors, as do police forces including the Los Angeles Police Department.

In New York City, allegations of police misconduct are explored by a civilian complaint board, a police corruption commission and the department’s 700-person Internal Affairs Bureau — plus, at times, local and federal prosecutors and judges.

That’s enough, the administration says.