French Prime Minister to inaugurate mosque in Argenteuil

On 28 June 2010 French Prime Minister François Fillon will inaugurate a mosque in Argenteuil, in the Val-d’Oise, in the Val-d’Argent-Nord neighborhood. The Prime Minister will give a speech in the presence of the Minister of the Interior, Brice Hortefeux. Approximatley 28,000 Muslims live in Argenteuil.

French Interior Minister Works with CFCM to Combat Racist Acts

French Minister of the Interior Brice Hortefeux and French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) president Mohammed Moussaoui have signed an agreement to better follow-up anti-Muslim acts and threats in France. 314 such acts were reported in 2009. Moussaoui called on the French to “combat together” this “menace against national cohesion.” Ironically, Hortefeux was fined 750 Euros at the beginning of June for having publicly slandered people of Arab origin. The comment was caught on tape and spread quickly over the internet.

French judge hands Muslim man at centre of burqa controversy preliminary charges

A French judge has filed preliminary charges of fraud against an Algerian-born man who spoke out after his companion, wearing a burqa, was cited for driving while her vision was hindered. The preliminary charges against Lies Hebbadj, including fraud, didn’t stem directly from the traffic citation but from an investigation that followed.

After his companion was cited in April 2010 for driving while wearing apparel that hindered her vision, Hebbadj spoke out publicly in her defence. It then emerged that he was suspected of polygamy, with France’s interior minister suggesting he had four wives. The judge did not file preliminary polygamy charges against Hebbadj, but charged him with collecting too much money in state aid to single parents. Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux insisted that in reality Hebbadj was living in a polygamous state, even if he wasn’t legally married to all four women, and called for his citizenship to be stripped.

French interior minister fined for making racist comments

A French court has fined Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux for making racist comments about a young party activist of Algerian origin. The court fined Mr Hortefeux 750 euros (£622) and ordered that he pay 2,000 euros to an anti-racism group. The comments were made in September 2009 and were broadcast in a video clip that circulated on the internet.

The court ruled that his remark was “incontestably offensive, if not contemptuous”. The court did not issue a criminal conviction, judging that Mr Hortefeux had not intended the comments to be heard in public. It found him guilty instead of the lesser offence of racial insult.

“Radical” imam in Seine-Saint-Denis, France deported to Egypt

According to French Minister of the Interior Brice Hortefeux, Ali Ibrahim El Soudany, an imam in Seine-Saint-Denis, is a “radical Islamicist” preaching “violence”. For these reasons, El Soudany has been deported back to his native Egypt.

El Soudany, born in 1973, preached in several mosques in the east of Paris in the 18th and 19th districts but principally in Pantin and Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis).

Since 2001, 129 radical Islamicists, including 29 imams, have been deported from France.

French Government Ministers do not share positions on the niqab and burqa

French ministers Eric Besson (minister of immigration), Brice Hortefeux (minister of the Interior) and Xavier Darcos (minister of work) were recently auditioned by the Parliamentary Mission on burqa and niqab use in the Republic. They did not share a common method of how to dispel the “radical and rare” phenomenon. According to Le Monde, they had strongly differing positions. Besson is for a law, Hortefeux claims it is possible legally, and Darcos is more restrained.

Key Words – Eric Besson, Brice Hortefeux, Xavier Darcos, Parliamentary Debate, Niqab, Burqa, France, André Geron

Hortefeux Publicly Apologizes to French Muslim Community

While he has not apologized for what he said (see: http://www.euro-islam.info/2009/09/11/france%e2%80%99s-interior-minister-accused-of-derogatory-comment-to-arab-man/), the French minister of the interior Brice Hortefeux explained at a breaking of fast with the CFCM (the French Council of the Muslim Faith or the Conseil français du culte musulman) that he regrets the unfair polemic that ensued following his comments last week. He noted that “Islamophobia cannot be accepted in our country” and that the French Republic must be “more than ever, a school of tolerance and dignity. It’s a daily combat that I will take up.”

Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the CFCM commented that Hortefeux is “an interlocuteur who has always been respectful of our community.”

France’s Interior Minister Accused of Derogatory Comment To Arab Man

France’s interior minister sparked a storm of protest and accusations of racism after a video showed him making an apparently derogatory joke about French citizens of Arab origin. “When there’s one, it’s OK,” Brice Hortefeux, a key minister in President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government, said in the film posted on Le Monde newspaper’s site that rapidly became an online hit on a host of video websites. “It’s when there are a lot of them that there are problems,” he said in the film Le Monde said shows him getting ready to pose for a photo with a young man from France’s large community of Arab origin.

The young activist told the media that the minister’s comments had been taken out of context.
“It’s disgraceful. I am Arab but he completely respected me, it wasn’t at all out of place. And I do not consider that it was a blunder,” said the man, who was not named by the newspaper. Prime Minister Francois Fillon stepped into the row to stand by his interior minister, declaring that Hortefeux “was the “victim of a fairly scandalous campaign of defamation.” Hortefeux was immigration minister from 2007 until early this year. Many have called for his resignation over the matter.

France misses controversial deportation target

France fell just short of a target to deport 25,000 illegal immigrants in 2007, according to figures released by Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux. French authorities deported an estimated 23,000-24,000 immigrants, as part of a controversial clampdown first launched when President Nicholas Sarkozy was interior minister. Several rights groups including Amnesty International have protested against the campaign to meet deportation quotas, citing that many of those at risk are already well integrated into French society.