May 4, 2012
A hundred Muslims gathered on the steps of the Opera Bastille in Paris to “say no to religious radicalism” and proclaimed their attachment to France and the values of the Republic.
With French flags on their jackets and under a banner saying “Together against fanaticism”, demonstrators observed a moment of silence in memory of “Children of Toulouse and Montauban,” victims of Mohamed Merah, responsible for seven murders in both cities in March, and who claimed, according to the Interior Minister, Claude Gueant, to have links with Al Qaeda.
News Agencies – March 30, 2012
Police commandos arrested 19 suspected Islamic militants in raids in several French cities including Toulouse, where seven people were killed by an al Qaeda-inspired gunman this month. President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose firm handling of the response to the shooting spree may have improved his odds in an election race he has lagged in, said more raids would follow to get rid of “people who have no business in the country”.
Interior Minister Claude Gueant said those arrested had paramilitary-type training although he did not say if they were planning an actual attack. Television channels showed images of the early morning raids, with agents from the RAID police commando unit and anti-terrorist specialists bashing down doors, and smashing windows.
News Agencies – March 16, 2012
A man armed with a baseball bat has attacked worshippers at a mosque in the northern city of Arras in Pas-de-Calais, France, killing one person and seriously wounding another, police say.
A suspect was detained after the incident. Police sources say the man is a 32-year-old French national of Moroccan origin. The man, who is being questioned, has a history of psychiatric problems, the sources said. French Interior Minister Claude Gueant condemned what he called an act of “unbelievable brutality”.
News Agencies – January 2, 2012
France’s interior minister says that since a ban on face-covering Islamic veils took effect in April only six women have been convicted and fined. Claude Gueant said in an interview that no woman has been sent to a citizenship class — another potential punishment.
Gueant says police cited a total of 237 women but only six were convicted. He expressed surprise that nearly a quarter of the women police questioned had converted to Islam.
Backers say the law is aimed at ensuring France’s secular values and gender equality and nipping radical Islam in the bud.
News Agencies – November 30, 2011
As he presented his party’s campaign platform ahead of next year’s presidential and legislative elections, French Interior Minister Claude Gueant laid down the gauntlet to the far right by hardening the government’s position on immigration.
“It’s easier for immigrants to integrate if there are less of them,” Gueant told Europe 1 radio. “It’s obvious that we need to better manage the flow of immigrants. For immigration to work, we need to be welcoming fewer immigrants each year.”
News Agencies – September 16, 2011
A ban on saying prayers in the street, a practice by French Muslims unable to find space in mosques, has come into effect in Paris. Interior Minister Claude Gueant has offered believers the use of a disused fire brigade barracks instead. The phenomenon of street prayers, which see Muslims spreading mats on footpaths, became a political issue after far right protests.
Mr Gueant said about 1,000 people were using two streets in the capital’s multi-ethnic Goutte d’Or district for prayers. An agreement has been reached with two local mosques for the state to rent out the disused barracks on Boulevard Ney with floorspace of 2,000 sq m for three years.
To encourage believers to use the new space, prayers would not be held inside the existing mosques for the first few weeks. Gueant said he did not believe force would have to be used to impose the ban because dialogue was “bearing fruit”. An overseer at the barracks said the space, with a capacity of 2,000, was full. He added that similar problems with street prayers existed in two other cities, Marseille and Nice.