Prime Minister David Cameron has said he hopes Britain and France can open up a new front in the fight against violent extremism by working together to prevent the radicalization of young Muslims.
After talks with French prime minister Francois Fillon, Mr Cameron said: “I am becoming increasingly convinced it is not enough just to target violent extremism – we have to target extremism itself. We have to drain the water from the swamp in which the violent extremism grows. I am sure that Britain and France can work together on this and learn from each other.”
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.
Amid heated debates, French lawmakers are wrestling with a compromise over a proposed ban on the wearing of face-veil by Muslim women. “We will talk about the idea of a law, about the need to take time to prepare it and to avoid stigmatization,” said MP André Gerin, head of the parliamentary commission on the issue.
Gerin, who spearheaded the anti-burqa campaign, said the next step will be a law imposing a ban on the burqa. Many lawmakers have voiced skepticism at the prospect of police forcing women to lift their veils in public, leaving the parliamentary committee mulling more applicable compromises. The initial proposal is to impose fines of up to €750 on people covering their faces in all public places.
President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) has already introduced a draft bill with the proposal in the National Assembly. But Gerin recommended a more selective ban applying only to public buildings and schools. The conclusions of the special panel are going to be released in a report by the end of January.
Prime Minister Francois Fillon also waded into the fray saying he was in favor of a ban. He said the parliament should adopt a resolution outlining France’s rejection of the burqa and that several legislative texts and regulations should follow.
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.