French comedian to go on trial for supporting terrorism

French comedian Dieudonné Mbala to stand trial for allegedly condoning terrorism via Facebook. (Photo: The Telegraph UK)
French comedian Dieudonné Mbala to stand trial for allegedly condoning terrorism via Facebook. (Photo: The Telegraph UK)

French comedian Dieudonné Mbala has been charged with condoning terrorism following a Facebook comment in which he expressed support for Ahmedy Coulibaly, the gunman who took hostages at a kosher supermarket and killed five people.

While in court Dieudonné stated: “of course I condemn the attacks without any restrain and without any ambiguity.”

He angered French officials after posting a statement online which read: “Je suis Charlie Coulibaly,” after thousands marched in Paris under the slogan “Je suis Charlie” in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo. Dieudonné was arrested January 14.

Following Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve’s request that authorities investigate the comedian’s remarks, Dieudonné responded that he was being “treated as a public enemy when all he wanted to do was make a joke.”

Many see his arrest as a violation of free speech and an example of the government’s double standard.

Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland said “The case has raised new questions about French values of freedom, equality and fraternity.” Dieudonné could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison. In addition to the recent allegations he already faces already other charges after being convicted for inciting anti-Semitism.

“He is currently involved in several trials here, on charges ranging from slander, to incitement of racial hatred, to condoning terrorism. In all cases, he denies the charges,” an Al Jazeera correspondent said.

Members of extreme-right group protest on roof of mosque in Leiden

Extremists protest on roof of mosque in Leiden. (Photo: AD.nl/Facebook (Identitair Verzet))
Extremists protest on roof of mosque in Leiden. (Photo: AD.nl/Facebook (Identitair Verzet))

Members of extreme- right Group ‘Identitair Verzet’ [Identitair Resistance] were standing on the roof of de Al Hijra mosque in the city of Leiden. The activists stated that the Netherlands is at war with Salafism and its adherents. And upon this event, more actions will follow, they said. They have called upon activists in the country and Vlaanderen [province in Belgium] to resist themselves against islamization.

The Council of Moroccan Mosques in the Netherlands (RMMN) is shocked by the incident and has reminded the Dutch government they should pay attention to the protection of Muslims and their institutions – the government said they would made this an important matter after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.

Dutch extreme right group organizes anti-Islam demonstration

Pro Patria, a Dutch extreme right group, announced to yet again take to the streets to demonstrate for the freedom of speech and against fundamentalistic Muslims. The organization will hold a “March for Freedom” on Saturday 28 February. The extreme right group says it wants to call upon Dutch political figures to “defend our freedoms.” “Looking away is no longer an option,” Pro Patria writes on her Facebook page.

In August 2014 Pro Patria organized a similar demonstration in the multicultural neighborhood Schilderswijk in The Hague. This resulted in a confrontation with (Islamic) youth. Shortly after the incident the Mayor of The Hague Jozias van Aartsen announced a temporary ban on demonstrations in residential areas of The Hague. The leadership of Pro Patria is thought to consist of members of various extreme right groups that are active in the Netherlands or have been in the past.

Dutch Muslims speak out: #notmyislam

Dutch Muslims have initiated a Facebook project to reclaim what they perceive as true Islam in the aftermath of the recent attacks in France. The project is called “#nietmijnislam”, which means “not my Islam”.  The initiators of the project encourage Muslims to post videos in which they explain why the attacks in Paris do not represent their Islam. The page was liked by almost 30.000 people. (Image: Nietmijnislam/Facebook)
Dutch Muslims have initiated a Facebook project to reclaim what they perceive as true Islam in the aftermath of the recent attacks in France. The project is called “#nietmijnislam”, which means “not my Islam”. The initiators of the project encourage Muslims to post videos in which they explain why the attacks in Paris do not represent their Islam. The page was liked by almost 30.000 people. (Image: Contemporary Bart (Artist)/Nietmijnislam/Facebook)

Dutch Muslims have initiated a Facebook project to reclaim what they perceive as true Islam in the aftermath of the recent attacks in France. The project is called “#nietmijnislam”, which means “not my Islam”. The initiators of the project encourage Muslims to post videos in which they explain why the attacks in Paris do not represent their Islam. The page was liked by almost 30.000 people.

In a statement on the page the initiators write (among other things): “Enough is enough. We have gotten enough of those who have hijacked our religion of peace. Of those who mutilate our religion of harmony with their extreme ideas and interpretations. Those who threaten and hurt us, Muslims and non-Muslims, because we refuse to live like them. These persons and groups claim that their violent deeds are justified by Islam. That dangerous and erroneous interpretation of Islam expresses itself in intolerance, force, and violence.”

“We speak out against the ideas and deeds of extremists who commit these act in name of our Islam. We do this because it is our responsibility to protect our religion agains those who misuse and violate Islam. We refuse to be associated with the murderers who claim that their horrifying deeds must be done in name of Islam. To them we cry out: ‘This is not my Islam.’”

The full statement can be read here:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nietmijnislam/429679170522852

Dieudonné Will be Tried in Court for ‘Advocating Terrorism’

French authorities announced an investigation of French comedian Dieudonné for “advocating terrorism” following his Facebook post after the Paris attacks. (Photo: The Telegraph UK)
French authorities announced an investigation of French comedian Dieudonné for “advocating terrorism” following his Facebook post after the Paris attacks. (Photo: The Telegraph UK)

French authorities announced an investigation of French comedian Dieudonné for “advocating terrorism” following his Facebook post after the Paris attacks.

“Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly”, the comedian wrote, playing the expression “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”) off a reference to Friday’s kosher supermarket attacker Amedy Coulibaly.

Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve referred to the comedian’s remarks as “contemptible” when he visited the heart of Paris’ Jewish community. In response to Cazeneuve’s remarks, Dieudonné said the government is trying to “ruin my life when I am only trying to make people laugh.” He then removed the Facebook post.

Dieudonné is known for creating the quenelle, an inverted Nazi salute. In 2013, French soccer player Nicolas Anelka was suspended for five games for making the hand gesture. The comedian also drew criticism for his post following the rally in Paris attended by over a million people, calling it “a magical moment comparable to the Big Bang.”

The French government has banned Dieudonné’s shows because it considers them anti-Semitic. The comedian will now be tried in court for his remarks and could face between five to seven years in prison and up to an 100,000 euro fine. His lawyer responded to the charges by saying: “We live in the country of freedom of speech?…The government must provide proof.”

In September the court opened an investigation against Dieudonné following a video in which he joked about the beheading of James Foley by ISIS.

Scottish private schoolgirl Aqsa Mahmood is latest UK youth to join ISIS

Just weeks before Scotland’s independence referendum, the country joins the rest of the UK with the growing crisis of disenfranchised, and subsequently radicalized, Muslim youth. After disappearing from her Glasgow home in November 2013, 20 year-old schoolgirl Aqsa Mahmood, now known as “Umm Layth,” resurfaced in Syria apparently married to an ISIS fighter and living with other British Nationals. During a press conference on Tuesday, Mahmood’s father Muzaffar said, “[Aqsa] may believe that the jihadists of Isis are her new family, but they are not, they are simply using her.” He called her change the result of “bedroom radicalization,” referring to the influence of internet forums, blogs, and even Facebook as the source of his daughter’s metamorphosis from schoolgirl at the private Craigholme School to ISIS bride. Friends describe her as an average, fun-loving girl who enjoyed clothes, make-up and gossip. This description of a fully Western adolescent is now a common refrain among Muslim families and communities left stunned by the radicalization and subsequent departure of their youth to join ISIS.

Until this last week, Mahmood frequently communicated with other Muslims and potential converts to ISIS’s cause through social media, especially through Twitter. Her tweets include references to life as an ISIS bride, but also references to recent terror attacks: “Follow the example of your Brothers from Woolwich, Texas and Boston etc. Have no fear as Allah swt is always with the Believers.” (@ummLayth), June 27th, 2014. Her chilling 140 character call to arms was deleted with her account around September 3rd when her name and story gained national attention.

Mahmood represents a growing number of young British nationals leaving their homes to join ISIS, with an estimated 500 British-born Muslims now active in Iraq and Syria. Concerns over UK Muslims joining ISIS escalated after the murderer of James Foley in August appeared to be British.

Luton woman Runa Khan admits Facebook Syria terror posts

July 31, 2014

A woman has admitted inciting terrorism in Syria by posting a picture of a suicide vest and messaging details of a route into the country on Facebook. Kingston Crown Court heard Runa Khan, 34, of Maple Road West, Luton, sent messages about the route from Turkey to Syria to an undercover police officer. She pleaded guilty to four charges of disseminating terrorist publications between July and September 2013. She is due to be sentenced on 9th September.

The hearing was also told that Khan sent messages to an undercover officer describing a path into war-torn Syria and the name of a group in the country to join. It heard she received details of the route from Mohammed Nahin Ahmed, who has admitted spending eight months in Syria fighting alongside an al Qaeda-linked terrorist group. Ahmed and childhood friend Yusuf Zubair Sarwar, both 22, from Birmingham, went to the country last May after contacting Islamic extremists. They each pleaded guilty at Woolwich Crown Court to one count of engaging in preparation of terrorism acts, earlier this month.

Interfaith leaders launch daylong unity fast for Mideast peace

July 14, 2014

While the violence escalates in Israel and Gaza, a movement is taking hold that unites Jews, Muslims and others in a campaign for peace.

On Tuesday (July 15), a daylong fast is planned as part of a public effort to show unity in the fight against war and violence in the region.

Using the Twitter hashtag #HungryforPeace, the cause started in Israel and gained strength in England, promoted by Yachad, a U.K.-based pro-Israel, pro-peace group. Last weekend, it was announced in temples, mosques and churches in the U.S.

Pastor Steve Norman of Kensington Church near Detroit used Twitter to call his 10,000-strong congregation to join him in the fast after reading about the efforts of Muslims and Jews to publicly stand together.

“It just seemed right to follow their lead,” said Norman, whose church sponsors several trips to Israel and the West Bank each year.

The latest series of clashes between Israel and the Palestinians are blamed on the kidnapping of three Israeli young men who were later found dead, as well as the reported revenge killing of a teenage Palestinian boy from East Jerusalem. In the words of Lee Ziv, an Israeli peace activist, “The tears of an Israeli mother over her dead son are identical to those of a Palestinian Mother.”

Ziv started a Facebook page called “The Bus of Peace” and is organizing a bus to drive from Jerusalem to Gaza with flowers and peace slogans to demonstrate the goodwill of many Israelis toward the people of Gaza. In the past, she has gathered blankets and other supplies to donate to those living in Gaza.

Escalation between Sunnis and Shiites also threatens The Netherlands

June 29, 2014

“Of all the groups in the world that are known for their lies, they are stabbing head and shoulders above the rest. Lying is in their nature. This
people want to destroy Islam.” This is a quote from one of the many Salafi sermons in Dutch mosques circulating on the Internet. The “they” in these quotations refer to Shiites, alleged enemies of the Sunnis who are worse, according to other quotes, in the hierarchy, than “Zionists.” One Salafi Facebook page reads: “Shi’ite Islam is pure and total terror.”

Shia organizations held a demonstration last Sunday against terrorism in Iraq before and invited everyone, including Sunnis.

Jihadist Dutch elements were arrested for intervening with a counter-demonstration.

In Washington, Muslims gather to get ‘Happy’ for the camera

April 22, 2014

 

A young man drummed on a bucket as a portable speaker played the uber-upbeat song “Happy,” Pharrell Williams’s anthem to joy and to the pure communal value of boogying in the street that has engendered countless copycat videos across the globe.

Because I’m happy — Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth . . .

Malik, 39, and Salma skipped through a gantlet of applause and cheering.

Clap along if you know what happiness is to you . . .

Jamal, wearing a thobe, and Kareem, in jeans, performed a high-stepping routine of their own. Behind them and in front of them, husbands and wives, parents and children, and total strangers bounced and shimmied and twirled as curious passersby stopped to watch and the camera rolled.

They were brought together by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, which advocates for U.S. Muslims, and which last week announced a plan to help steer susceptible members of their communities away from radical Islamist ideology, and Make Space, a Washington-area organization for Muslim professionals and youth.

The video comes on the heels of a version depicting British Muslims that has garnered 1.2 million YouTube views. Like that one, this will show Muslims old and young, male and female, wearing headscarves or letting their hair flow freely — all embracing the concept of happiness.

“It sort of happened in a grass-roots sense — a couple of days ago I posted on Facebook and we put the word out yesterday,” Hasan Shah, Make Space’s board chairman, said Tuesday. “It was something that everyone wanted to do, because it could be done within the boundaries of our religion. It’s not provocative, it’s not risque in any sense.” After all, he said, happiness “is neither Eastern nor Western, it’s universal.”

Still, the British version, called “Happy British Muslims” has been controversial in some circles, underlining the challenges Muslims can face when trying to create art in a Western context.

While many Muslims were elated by the video and wanted to copy it immediately, some said it violated Islam’s law or at least its spirit of modesty, particularly with women dancing and singing in public. Others felt it was humiliating and unnecessary to prove that members of the planet’s second-largest religion are, in fact, happy.

But the 50 or so Muslims who gathered at McPherson Square were hardly encumbered by these concerns — though the organizers did remind them to limit their gyrations to the upper half of the body.

The song’s contagious popularity seemed like a perfect vehicle for that, said Haris Tarin, the D.C. director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. “Since this song has gone viral, we thought, why not take advantage of it? It may be a little wacky, a little out of the ordinary . . . but it gives that idea of the American Muslims in the public square.”

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/in-washington-muslims-gather-to-get-happy-for-the-camera/2014/04/22/c2dd9108-ca34-11e3-93eb-6c0037dde2ad_story.html