Racist right-wing social media glorifies terrorism against Muslims after the Finsbury Park Attack

The far-right group, Britain First, posted about the Finsbury Park Mosque terrorist attack on its Facebook page. Many of the responses to the post tried to justify the attack on Muslims.

One respondent said, “The muslims are asking for it [sic]”. Other comments followed similar themes of victim blaming.

Others praised the terrorist, Darren Osborne, who was called a “patriot” and “hero” on the social media site. Others critiqued the small death toll from his attack.

The person who reported the threatening comments to the Home Office was concerned that these threatening comments against Muslims would not be treated with the same seriousness as similar (or milder) comments made by alleged Islamist extremists.

Under the Terrorism Act of 2006, these Facebook comments could be considered a crime because they may amount to an “encouragement of terrorism.”

 

German Interior Minister revives the debate on a ‘guiding culture’ to which Muslims must assimilate

 

Periodically, the German discourse on immigration is marked by the resurgence of a distinctly German notion – the idea of a ‘guiding culture’ (Leitkultur), supposed to connote an essence of Germanness that needs to be safeguarded amidst what appear to be accelerating migratory flows.

Leitkultur – history of a debate

The term was first coined in 1996 by political scientist Bassam Tibi, who asserted that, in the face of Muslim immigration, Europeans needed to develop and uphold a “European guiding culture”. For Tibi, central elements included the dominance of reason over religious revelation, democracy and the separation of religion and politics, pluralism, and tolerance.

Tibi’s critique of what he saw as cultural relativism and as unlimited immigration was subsequently taken up in political circles – most notably by the CDU politician Friedrich Merz, at the time one of his party’s leading young faces. In the process, it assumed a more narrowly German meaning.(( http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/leitkultur-merz-geht-in-die-offensive-a-99435.html ))

Ever since, calls for an official recognition and – in one way or another – an enforcement of a ‘guiding culture’ are regularly voiced on the conservative side of the political spectrum.

De Maizière’s comments

The latest – and particularly crude – attempt to do so was recently kick-started by the German Interior Minister, Thomas de Maizière. In an op-ed for the Sunday edition of the country’s best-selling tabloid, Bild, de Maizière wrote that “I like the term ‘guiding culture’ and want to stick with it.” The piece was titled: “We are not burka (Wir sind nicht Burka)”.(( http://www.bild.de/bild-plus/politik/inland/thomas-de-maiziere/leitkultur-fuer-deutschland-51509022,view=conversionToLogin.bild.html ))

The remainder of the relatively long text includes somewhat repetitive musings on the notion of a ‘guiding culture’, followed by a platitudinous as well as random ten-point checklist supposedly summarising its core elements. Essentials of Germanness mentioned range from giving a handshake by way of greeting to Germany’s embedding in the NATO security architecture.

To paper over the cracks of the rather flimsy content of the article, Bild underlaid the entire text with the black-red-gold of the German flag, further enhancing its nationalistic overtones.

Buttressing Germanness against Muslim immigration

As the title intimates, Muslim immigration lies at the heart of de Maizière’s intervention. The first of the ten theses starts by highlighting the need to shake hands and to show one’s face in order to participate in the democratic community.

The fourth section asserts that “religion is a glue rather than a wedge in our country”. This also means upholding the Christian heritage of Germany through Christian festivals and buildings. The seventh point then takes a swipe at notions of “honour” that many immigrants may – illegitimately – connect with “violence”.

Other elements of de Maizière’s declaration stray much further afield, making a good level of “general knowledge (Allgemeinbildung)” constitutive of Germanness (thesis 2), as well as defining Germany via its capitalist ‘social market economy’ (thesis 3). Particularly tortuous manoeuvring is reserved for the issue of patriotism, which – in view of 20th-century German history – de Maizière strives hard to separate from nationalism by asserting that “we are enlightened patriots” (thesis 8).

Political praise and criticism

Reactions to de Maizière’s statements were mixed. While he drew considerable applause from the CDU party, others pointed out that his ’10 points on guiding culture’ were indicative above all of an attempt to fend off conservative challengers from within his own party.

Notably, the Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann is mooted as a replacement for de Maizière should Angela Merkel return to the chancellery after the upcoming German federal election.(( http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/leitkultur-thomas-de-maiziere-und-seine-thesen-sorgen-fuer-aufregung-a-1145587.html ))

Politicians from the Social Democrats, Greens, and the Left remained critical of the discourse on Leitkultur, dismissing it as a political ploy.

Talking about Muslims

As usual, however, the voices of those being ‘talked about’ in this debate were much less likely to be heard. Immigrants, and more particularly Muslim immigrants (as well as their descendants), were not party to the debate being led in the country’s main media outlets and on the political stage.

This state of affairs was criticised by Armina Omerika, Bosnian-born professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Frankfurt((https://www.zdf.de/kultur/forum-am-freitag/forum-am-freitag-vom-12-mai-2017-100.html )): she noted that the ostentatious targets of the Leitkultur debate were never reached by and included in these discussions; a fact which, since Friedrich Merz’s comments in 2000, had made all talk about a ‘guiding culture’ a rather sterile and inane exercise.

More broadly, Omerika questioned the attempt to legalise and commit to paper inherently changeable and shifting social conventions. Giving examples from the university context, Omerika noted that social life in Germany was totally different today when compared to even the recent past of only 50 years ago.

Refugees stress the need for respect

When interviewed about the Interior Minister’s ideas on Leitkultur, a group of Syrian refugees from the town of Rüsselsheim had very little to say about it.((https://www.zdf.de/kultur/forum-am-freitag/forum-am-freitag-vom-12-mai-2017-100.html )) The common consensus appeared to be that it did not really matter what de Maizière said but that it was important to interact with others respectfully in everyday life and respect the ‘ways of the German people’ (whatever that might mean), even if that did not necessitate giving up all one’s own cultural particularities.

A social worker underscored the point that most new arrivals would not even be able to read de Maizière’s article due to the language barrier, making his text a purely ‘domestic’ exercise catering mainly to the established population and to political rivals.

“Germany is my country, too”

More self-consciously Muslim voices were dismayed by what they perceived to be de Maizière’s exclusivism: Malika Laabdallaoui, Moroccan-born psychologist and chairwoman of the Central Council of Muslims in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, stressed somewhat defiantly that not only church spires, handshakes, and carnival belonged to Germany, as insinuated by the Interior Minister.((https://www.zdf.de/kultur/forum-am-freitag/forum-am-freitag-vom-12-mai-2017-100.html ))

“Germany is my country, too”, she asserted. “I belong here with all my values, my religion, my mindset, my engagement for society, my German as well as my Christian and my Muslim friends, with my family.” Addressing de Maizière, she added: “How can it be that you just think me away out of this society?”

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.

Hollande: France has a ‘problem with Islam’

The French president, François Hollande, has said his country has “a problem with Islam” and that there are too many illegal migrants arriving in France.

He also suggested that today’s “veiled woman” could become a Marianne, the female symbol of the French republic, and attacked his rival Nicolas Sarkozy as “the little De Gaulle”.

The controversial remarks are published in a 660-page book, A President Should Not Say That: Secrets of Five Years in Office.

Hollande, 62, also spoke of the women in his life and how his actor girlfriend, Julie Gayet, wanted to be de facto first lady of France, which he said was a “hot topic” between them. He admitted he is feeling lonely and betrayed in the Elysée Palace, where he sometimes feels like a “ghost”.

The French leader, whose desperately low popularity ratings make it uncertain as to whether he will stand for a second term in office, made the comments during more than 60 interviews with Le Monde journalists Gérard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme.

The subjects covered range from Hollande’s dismay over the national football team and the new generation of players (“they’ve gone from badly educated kids to ultra-rich stars with no preparation”) to his 2012 presidential rival Sarkozy, whom he described as “a Duracell bunny who is perpetually agitated” and full of “vulgarity and cynicism”.

But Hollande confided that he would not hesitate to vote for Sarkozy if it was a choice between his predecessor and Marine Le Pen, the leadeer of the far-right Front National.

It was his comments on Islam that could prove the most controversial.

The book quotes Hollande saying: “It’s true there is a problem with Islam … and nobody doubts that. There’s a problem with Islam because Islam demands places (of worship), recognition. It’s not that Islam is a problem because it’s a religion that is in itself dangerous but because it wants to assert itself as a religion on the Republic. What might also be a problem is if Muslims don’t criticize acts of radicalization, if imams behave in an anti-republican way.”

 

He added: “The veiled woman of today will be the Marianne of tomorrow … because, in a certain way, if we offer her the right conditions to blossom she will liberate herself from her veil and become a French woman, while remaining a believer if she wishes, capable of carrying with her an ideal … Ultimately, what are we betting on? That she will prefer freedom to subservience. Perhaps the veil is a kind of protection for her, but that tomorrow she will not need it in order to be reassured of her presence in society.”

On immigration, Hollande told the authors: “I think there are too many arrivals, immigrants who shouldn’t be there … we teach them to speak French and then another group arrives and we have to start all over again. It never stops … so, at some point it has to stop.”

Laurent Wauquiez, president of the opposition centre-right Les Républicains, accused Hollande of being “willing to barter the symbol of the French republic for political Islam”. He said Hollande was “selling off the most powerful symbols of the French republic on the cheap”.

 

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.

British Islamic scholar faces ban from Australia for preaching ‘death is the sentence’ for homosexuality

Australia is urgently reviewing the visa of a British Islamic scholar who toured

Orlando in March and had preached that “death is the sentence” for homosexual

acts.

Farrokh Sekaleshfar, a senior Shi'ite Muslim scholar, is currently giving a series

of lectures at an Islamic centre in Sydney on the topic of spirituality throughout

the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Sekaleshfar said in a lecture in Michigan in 2013 that in an Islamic society, the

death penalty should be carried out for homosexuals who engaged in sodomy

and that in Islam this was “nothing to be embarrassed about.”

“We have to have that compassion for people. With homosexuals it’s the same.

Out of compassion, let's get rid of him now, because he's contaminating society,”

he said in a lecture.

There is no evidence of any link between his comments and the American

Muslim man, Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando

on Sunday – the deadliest mass shooting in the United States – or that Mateen

attended Sekaleshfar’s lectures.

Sekaleshfar said he condemned the Orlando shooting as a “barbaric act of terror

that was in no way justified.”

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he has “zero tolerance for

people to come to Australia who preach hatred” and his government was

reviewing Sekaleshfar's visa “as we speak.”
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/australasia/islam-scholar-

australia-visa- ban-orlando- shooting-farrokh- sekaleshfa-a7081096.html

Could a Muslim Judge Be Neutral to Donald Trump? He Doesn’t Think So

Donald J. Trump said Sunday that a Muslim judge might have trouble remaining neutral in a lawsuit against him, extending his race-based criticism of the jurist overseeing the case to include religion and opening another path for Democrats who have criticized him sharply for his remarks.
The comments, in an interview with John Dickerson, the host of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” come amid growing disapproval from fellow Republicans over his attacks on Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel, a federal judge in California overseeing a suit against the defunct Trump University, whose impartiality Mr. Trump questioned based on the judge’s Mexican heritage.
Mr. Dickerson asked Mr. Trump if, in his view, a Muslim judge would be similarly biased because of the Republican presumptive nominee’s call for a ban on Muslim immigrants. “It’s possible, yes,” Mr. Trump said. “Yeah. That would be possible. Absolutely.”

National Front candidate calls to eliminate “Islam and Muslims”

(Photo: Reuters)
As local elections approach, the National Front continues to support its candidates whose rhetoric is openly anti-Muslim. Marine Le Pen has shown little intention to exclude Chantal Clamer from the running. (Photo: Reuters)

As local elections approach, the National Front continues to support its candidates whose rhetoric is openly anti-Muslim. Marine Le Pen has shown little intention to exclude Chantal Clamer from the running.

Clamer is the FN hopeful in Ariège, who is not averse to using “despicable slogans” in order to gain votes in local elections.

In a recent social media posting Clamer described Islam as the “bubonic plague of the 21st century,” saying it, “has to be fought, to be eliminated without hesitation by all possible means.” She also made controversial comments about lesbians in an earlier post, saying: “These dirty butches are really ugly.” The tweets remain posted and screenshots of her comments have been circulating on the web.

In response, Marine Le Pen issued a statement saying Clamer’s comments were “extremely clumsy and reckless” and that Clamer “was wrong in creating a misconception.” “We made her understand that she went too far, and she acknowledged that she had,” said Le Pen.

Muslim Leader asks for ‘gesture’ from Roger Cukierman

A leader in the French Council of the Muslim Faith, Mohammed Moussaoui, hoped for a “gesture of appeasement’ from the President of the CRIF, whose comments about young Muslims and anti-Semitism have caused controversy. In a recent interview Roger Cukierman stated that all anti-Semitic violence was committed by “young Muslims,” which caused the CFCM to boycott the annual dinner. “Dialogue never ceased with the CRIF as an organization,” declared the CFCM’s President Dalil Boubakeur. “The two communities are mature enough to find common ground and to overcome any disquiet which was created by these unacceptable remarks.”

“I think it’s necessary for him to make a gesture, appeasing remarks, which would allow for dialogue,” said Mr. Moussaoui. He denounced “all extremism, no matter what type it is,” and condemned “terrorism which claims to be Islam,” deploring amalgamations between extremism and Islam.

Following the January attacks Prime Minister Valls invited Muslim representatives to take part in the fight against terror. “Taking responsibility is to ensure that there is a debate within Islam,” he stated. “It’s what we ask of the main majority of our Muslim compatriots who can no longer be confused with this terror.”

France asks US Internet giants to “help fight terror”

The French government has requested that Google, Facebook and Twitter cooperate with French officials during investigations and asked that they immediately take down any extremist propaganda that is discovered, said minister of the interior Bernard Cazeneuve.

“We emphasized that when an investigation is under way we don’t want to go through the usual government to government channels, which can take so long,” said the interior minister after a meeting with representatives from the US tech giants while visiting Silicon Valley.
“It’s important to have full cooperation and quick reaction,” he added

Cazeneuve’s comments came after the deadly Charlie Hebdo attacks which claimed 20 lives, including the three gunmen. Twitter and Facebook officials stated that they work to prevent radical propaganda but didn’t comment as to whether they would heed the minister’s request.

“We regularly host ministers and other governmental officials from across the world at Facebook, and were happy to welcome Mr. Cazeneuve today,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “We work aggressively to ensure that we do not have terrorists or terror groups using the site, and we also remove any content that praises or supports terrorism.”

When asked whether Twitter would comply with French investigators, a spokesperson stated: “We review all reported content against our rules, which prohibit direct, specific threats of violence against others.”

An email to Google requesting comment was not immediately answered. According to US intelligence officials the number of foreign fighters leaving to join ISIL has grown, with at least 3,400 coming from Western nations out of the 20,000 from around the world.
“I told them we can figure this out together, we can come up with counterterrorism speech and block these sites that are enticing the most vulnerable members of our society to commit terrorist acts,” said Cazeneuve.

France is also pushing to treat “jihadi material” on the internet like child pornography, a task that few had heard of before the attacks in Paris, but is now widely acknowledged by Europe’s top officials. Cazeneuve believed the meeting was a solid foundation for building a strong relationship between the tech companies and the French government.

He said he invited them to go to Paris in April to continue the conversation.