Actions of Finsbury Park Mosque leading up to attack

Darren Osborne, who attacked Muslims gathered outside Finsbury Park Mosque early Monday morning, had previously expressed his intentions to “do something about them,” meaning Muslims. Patrons at a Cardiff Pub say that Osborne had ranted about the pro-Palestinian Al Quds Day march occurring in London on Sunday. As such, it is believed that he intended to attack the march but did not make it to London in time to do so.

He talked about a need to “stand up to Muslims.” Others in the pub argued with him but did not report him to authorities.

Later that night, Osbourne was reported by a neighbour for being unresponsively drunk in his van but police found him not to have committed any crime and did not arrest him. A day later Osborne attempted to kill a group of Muslim worshippers leaving prayers and attending to an elderly man in need of first aid.

Osborne had a history of violence and was banned from all pubs in his old hometown of Weston-super-Mare in Somerset. He was not banned in his new town of Cardiff. He recently seperated from his partner and reportedly is living in a tent. He has four children.

Police are investigating if he has ties to extremists. Far-Right extremism and domestic terrorism has been on the rise and police are struggling to keep up with related investigations. There have been some calls for the inclusion of intelligence services.

Tennessee man who planned attack against Muslim community sentenced to 20 years in prison

A former Congressional candidate from Tennessee Valley has been sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison for plotting to burn down a mosque, a school and a cafeteria in upstate New York.

Robert Doggart, 65, was sentenced on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga, where he was convicted in February of trying to recruit people to commit arson and violate civil rights.

Doggart’s plan was to attack, Islamberg, a community started by a group of African-American Muslims who moved from U.S. cities in the 1970s, is a gated community with dirt roads and several dozen small homes near the town of Hancock in New York’s Catskills Mountains.  The 200 or so members of the community, in which children are home-schooled and residents worship at a mosque built on the 70-acre property, follow a Pakistani Sufi cleric.

Doggart was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in April 2015 after saying in wiretapped telephone calls that he planned to recruit a militia and travel to Islamberg.

“It’s not just a war with Islam or Islamberg,” explained Saeed Mody, a prosecutor from the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. “It’s a war with the federal government.”

Union of French Mosques condemns Manchester attack

The Union of French mosques released the following statement regarding the recent Manchester attacks:

“The Union of French Mosques (UMF) condemns with the greatest vigor the terror attack carried out in Manchester, Monday May 22, leaving 22 victims, including children and a little 8 year old girl, as well as teenagers. Many of those hurt are in critical condition and for some, the injuries are life-threatening.

The UMF extends its sincerest condolences to the victims’ families and hopes for a prompt recovery for those hurt, and wishes to express its support for and solidarity with the British people.

Only a few days before Ramadan, a symbol of peace, sharing, solidarity and compassion, the terrorist group Daesh carried out this craven and despicable act against all of humanity, which is a new affront to Muslims around the world and their faith.”
Paris, May 23, 2017

Grand Mosque of Lyon’s rector calls on Muslims to vote

Kamel Kabtane, rector of the Grand Mosque of Lyon, published a communiqué before the first round of the elections in which he called on the Muslim community to assume its “duty” to vote.

“Our responsibility, as citizens of this country, commands us to take part in France’s future at a time when certain irresponsible persons attempt to convince us to desert the voting booths and separate us from our fellow citizens,” he wrote. “Those who advocate retrograde beliefs, contribute to the image of a community who is uninterested in the Future of its country. The Muslims of France are in fact concerned, about the future of their country, just as they are concerned about the future of their children.”

Contacted by Lyon Capitale, Kabtane stated that salafist places of worship have attempted to dissuade Muslims from voting. “All the mosques are on alert and the sermons will call on Muslims to fulfill their duty as citizens. That is our objective,” he concluded.

 

 

Egyptian-American woman freed in Egypt goes home on U.S. military plane

Aya Hijazi, an Egyptian who holds U.S. citizenship, was acquitted by a Cairo court on Sunday along with seven others who had worked with street children. Hijazi was released from jail on Tuesday, having been held for nearly three years.

She was flown to Joint Base Andrews, the U.S. military airfield on the outskirts of Washington.

President Donald Trump had privately asked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to help out in the case when Sisi visited the White House on April 3, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Female Doctor denies genital mutilation; judge keeps her locked up

A Detroit-area doctor charged with performing genital mutilation on two 7-year-old girls denied the allegations through her lawyer Monday, insisting that she conducted a benign religious ritual for families of a Muslim sect.

It’s the first time someone has been charged with violating a U.S. ban on genital mutilation.

Shannon Smith, defense lawyer of Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, explanation emerged during a hearing to determine whether Nagarwala would stay locked up without bond, following her arrest last week. After hearing arguments, a judge said she was a threat to the public and refused to release her.

“They were the last in a long line of children cut by the defendant,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Woodward said of the two girls who were accompanied to the Livonia clinic by their mothers.

Deputy mayor in France sends police to school to protest Arabic language classes

A city council official sent police to a primary school in France to protest the school’s decision to offer its students the option of learning the Arabic language. The deputy mayor of Six-Fours-les-Plages in southeastern France was acting on an inaccurate claim on Facebook that said students were being forced to learn the language.

Jean-Sébastien Vialatte confirmed that police officers were sent to the Reynier primary school twice in November to tell school officials that the deputy mayor opposed the teaching of Arabic there, local media reported Wednesday. The incident came to light when a local lawyer disclosed court documents revealing a failed legal suit by the council to halt these classes. Vialatte added that officials had their doubts about the teacher as well because he wasn’t a state employee.

An image shared in September by a parent of one of the children who attends classes at the school inaccurately said the Arabic language classes were mandatory sparking an outcry among parents in which politicians quickly joined.

Frédéric Boccaletti, a local politician and member of the far-right National Front, shared the image on his Facebook page blaming “friends” of Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the Moroccan-born minister of education, as the people behind these mandatory classes. He also condemned Vialatte for allowing the classes to continue.

French Muslim activist Yasser Louati said the incident was representative of the “normalization of state-sponsored racism.”
“Sending the police to make sure an Arabic class isn’t held shows how much hate government institutions can express for Arabs. In 2015, we had cases of primary school children being humiliated, assaulted, and even taken to the police by their teachers,” Louati reportedly said. “Then we had school girls being barred from school for wearing a long skirt or the prohibition of substitute meals for Muslims and Jews.”

“The only solution for French Muslims and any citizen who loves justice and equality is to band together and engage in a power struggle with decision makers. The upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections are an opportunity … nobody benefits from a society built on hate,” he added.

Defusing the lure of militant Islam, despite death threats

These days, Dounia Bouzar doesn’t go anywhere without her three bodyguards. The French Muslim anthropologist has received death threats for unveiling the tactics of Islamist recruiters. I meet her in a cafe along Paris’ Boulevard St. Germain, where Bouzar is enjoying an ice cream sundae in the back while her security contingent, provided by the French government, sits at a table out front, eyes on the entrance.

Bouzar’s book, Defusing Radical Islam, was published in 2014, a year before the rest of the country woke up to the threat of homegrown radicalization. That moment came in January 2015, when radical Islamist gunmen attacked the Paris offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, killing 17 people.

“When it was published, hundreds of parents of radicalized kids came looking for me,” says Bouzar. “Because they recognized themselves and their children in my book.”

After the book came out, Bouzar began working with 300 parents to develop ways to deal with the problem. One of the fathers was a policeman and showed the others how to bug their kids’ phones and computers. Bouzar says they were then able to witness how the recruiters worked.

“They set out to break every emotional, social and historical tie in the kids’ lives,” says Bouzar. “The recruiters had them drop their friends, who [they said] were complicit with a corrupt society; their teachers, who [they said] were being paid to indoctrinate them; and eventually, even break from their parents, who [they said] were nonbelievers even if they were Muslim,” she says.

Bouzar says the young people also stopped taking part in sports and music. And when they were stripped of their identity and there was nothing left, ISIS took them over and they became part of the group.

In early 2015, Bouzar’s organization, the Center for the Prevention of Sectarian Excesses Linked to Islam, won a government contract to help parents who had called a national anti-radicalization hotline that had recently been put in place. Bouzar traveled the country training teams of psychologists, police and other experts to deal with the phenomenon of radicalization and parents’ concerns.

One of the parents who reached out to Bouzar for help was Celine, a mother from a small Normandy town whose 19-year-old son had converted to Islam. Celine doesn’t want to give her last name because of fears for her family.

She says it wasn’t her son’s conversion to Islam that bothered her, but the way he began to cut himself off from the world. “All of a sudden, he refused to eat pork or listen to music,” she says. “And his grades plummeted. He had an empty look in his eyes and it was like he didn’t think for himself anymore. He became sort of like a robot. And he was always, always on the phone.”

Celine discovered her son had opened a second Facebook account — and on it, he was discussing going to Syria.

According to the French Interior Ministry, more young people from France have radicalized and gone to war zones in Syria and Iraq than from any other European country. About 1,500 French citizens have gone or tried to go. Approximately 700 are still there. Celine wanted to make sure her son would not be among them.

Bouzar says that ISIS, unlike al-Qaida, tailors its radicalization tactics to individual profiles. For example, girls are particularly attracted to the idea of taking care of children hurt by the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad or finding a God-fearing and faithful Muslim husband. Recruiters play to these desires. They even have different videos geared to speak to the different motivations for wanting to join ISIS.

“For girls, there’s a kind of myth of a Daesh-[ISIS-]land utopia where no one will be cold or hungry and everything runs on divine law,” says Bouzar. “The recruiters make them believe they can become a nurse and be running a hospital wing in just a couple of months.”

One of Bouzar’s methods for treating young people seduced by ISIS involves re-establishing links between radicalized individuals and their former lives. She counsels parents to try to bring them back in touch with their childhood — through old pictures and videos or food.

Celine tried this with her son and had little success at first, but she persevered.

“I made all his favorite meals that he loved as a child,” she says. “And I took him to places he liked when he was young. I did everything to reconnect him with his childhood.” Eventually, she noticed he was becoming more open to discussion. He took an interest in school again. The empty look vanished from his eyes.

Bouzar says a person can only be brought back with the help of someone close, like a parent or other family member — or by a reformed jihadist himself.

She has used allegedly reformed jihadists in counseling sessions to try to break through to some of the young people who are radicalizing. “We get them together without the young person realizing who this person is,” says Bouzar. “But then they begin to recognize their own story out of the mouth of the reformed jihadist, because he was lured for some of the same reasons. And slowly, doubt begins to set in.”

Bouzar says there is no such thing as a radicalized youth who wants to be de-radicalized. “He thinks he’s been picked by God and he sees things no one else does, because [everybody else is] indoctrinated,” she says.

Bouzar’s methods have been controversial. Some say her use of allegedly reformed jihadists is dangerous. (In some cases, it can be challenging to ascertain whether they’ve really reformed or are pretending.) Others accuse her of self-promotion. Many more say treating radicalization as purely brainwashing is to underestimate geopolitical and social factors, and the role that radical Islam plays.

Benjamin Erbibou, who works with an organization called Entr’Autres (Among Others), a group that works with radicalization issues in the southern city of Nice, thinks only a small percentage of radicalization cases are linked to brainwashing.

“Mostly,” he says, “it’s linked to a complete rupture and rejection of French society and Western values.”

But Marik Fetouh, deputy mayor of Bordeaux and head of the city’s de-radicalization center, says it’s easy to criticize efforts to deal with radicalization because it’s a poorly understood new phenomenon.

“Bouzar came forward with real ideas to fight this complex phenomenon when pretty much no one else had a clue what to do,” he says.

Although her contract with the French government is over, Bouzar’s association still counsels families affected by radicalization. Bouzar and her teams have counseled more than 1,000 young people and their parents — from Muslim, Catholic and atheist backgrounds.

Normandy mother Celine credits Bouzar’s methods with saving her son’s life. She says he’s still a Muslim, but now he’s begun to think for himself. And most important, she says, he no longer wants to go to Syria.

Beziers mayor to be tried for Muslim ‘problem’ comments

Robert Menard, who is an ally of France’s anti-immigrant National Front party, will face a charge in a Paris court of incitement to hatred or discrimination.

“In a class in the city center in my town, 91 percent of the children are Muslims. Obviously, this is a problem. There are limits to tolerance”, he said in September 5 comments on news channel LCI.

 

Also in September, on France’s first day back to school, he tweeted his regret at witnessing “the great replacement”, using a term by xenophobic writer Renaud Camus to describe the country’s white, Christian population being overtaken by foreign-born Muslims.

Menard, who is the mayor of southern France town Beziers, denied his comments were discriminatory.

“I just described the situation in my town,” he told AFP. “It is not a value judgement, it’s a fact. It’s what I can see.”

According to France-based anti-racism group Licra, the trial is set for March 8.

Menard prompted outrage in October by putting up anti-migrant posters and calling for a local referendum ahead of the arrival of asylum-seekers in his town.

Under the headline “That’s It, They’re Coming”, is an image of a crowd of migrants, all of them men, outside the cathedral in Beziers.

Menard was for 23 years the head of the media rights group Reporters Without Borders, which has distanced itself from him since he left in 2008.

How Muslim Women Across the Political Spectrum Are Reacting to Trump’s Win

Early Wednesday morning, Chicago-area physician Ume Khan and her husband Asif woke their two kids to talk to them about Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton, Islamophobia, and the Khan family’s place in this country as American Muslims.

For over an hour, they answered questions and reassured 9-year-old Rayya and 13-year-old Azmer that “America is a democratic country and no one can do anything to harm us.” She told them that no one has “the right to make them feel bad about their culture, race, religion, or anything else. We need to believe whatever we believed before [Trump] came in.”

But, despite her guarantees to her children, Khan says, “I’m really mad. How could he get away with it?”