Islamic State: Hollande ready to “increase actions” in Iraq

Francois Hollande assured Iraq’s president of his support in the fight against the Islamic State. In a joint statement with prime minster Haidar Al-Abadi, Hollande declared that France is ready to “increase actions” against the Islamic State.

“We will continue to provide military support to Iraq, which is the victim of a full-scale terrorist attack,” he continued. “For three months actions were carried out by the Iraqi army after having received the coalition’s support, and these actions have led to clear progress and military success and therefore political success.”

There are currently nine Rafale and six Mirage fighter jets that are part of the “Chammal” operation. “Baghdad is secure. We are currently moving to free the entire territory that has been occupied by [the Islamic State],” said Hollande. Al-Abadi added, “We believe that liberation is not far away. Today there is more optimism and more hope that Iraq can stay together as one nation, one people.”

The Prime Minister also asked for funding to reconstruct occupied areas. “Reconstruction of areas destroyed by the Islamic State is an important topic,” he added, because “terrorism thrives on the people’s poverty and dissatisfaction with their economic circumstance.” Al-Abaid added that, “the decline in oil prices and in our oil exports have had a negative impact on our budget.”

French reactions to IS terror “What next? Will we ask Muslims to kneel?”

“”France must know that it is protected, that it is safe.” Those were President Francois Hollande’s big words on 19 September, when he informed his compatriots of the first aerial attacks by Rafale jets on Islamic State positions in Iraq. The battle against terrorism harbours security risks, he acknowledged, but was also an important and great matter. Polls show that Hollande has the political trust of only 15 per cent of his country’s 65 million inhabitants. France’s involvement in the military campaign against IS in Iraq, however, is a popular move: according to an Ifop survey for the weekly newspaper “Journal du Dimanche”, one in two French voters supports it.””

Stop Referring to Mideast Extremists as “Islamic State,” argues French Foreign Minister

Fabius455158720-676x450Laurence Fabius, France’s foreign minister contends that it is incorrect to refer to extremists in Syria and Iraq as the Islamic State, as “they do not represent Islam or a state.”

France has lobbied for international action to combat extremists and is arming Kurdish authorities to fight jihadists. Francois Hollande is travelling to Iraq to host an international conference that will highlight initiatives to combat the group and aid Iraq.

Fabius referred to the group as Da’ash, the acronym in Arabic for its former name Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. He stated, “the determination of the Daesh butchers is strong. Ours must be even stronger.”

Egypt’s top Islamic authority also stated that the group should not be referred to as the Islamic State.

Report: Mainstreaming Immigrant Integration Policy in France

A recent comparative research project organized by the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) and the University of Oxford and Erasmus University in Rotterdam, details the complicated history and current situation of immigrant integration in France. Currently, the government’s immigration initiatives cease after an immigrant has been in France for five years. French law does not allow for statistics to be gathered concerning a person’s ethnicity or religion, and because many children of immigrants are French citizens, it is difficult to assess the efficacy of the current government initiatives.

President Francois Hollande is considering reforms to the country’s integration policies. This comprehensive report discusses immigration trends, and the youth as a key population in integration policies, as well as educational, employment and social cohesion policies.

Have French socialists and Francois Hollande lost the Muslim electorate because of Gaza?

August 6, 2014

“To our French cousins, one thing to repeat for Hollande, Valls and Cie: ‘Gaza, if I forget you in the 2017 polls, let my right hand be cut off!’” Reads one of the latest Facebook posts calling to “punish” Hollande and the Socialist Party at the next presidential election in 2017.

The Party of the Indigenous of the Republic (PIR), which is very active in mobilizing for Gaza in France and which played a major role in the two demonstrations that were banned, has been vocal about its dislike for Hollande’s policies.

“The tide is turning. After more than a month of a Zionist invasion, from all sides, emerges the slogan: ‘In 2017, the PS will pay,’” it warned in a recent statement.  “Numerous voices have marked the date for the presidentials, and call for a real Waterloo for the PS in the next elections” stated the PIR, which has promised to “employ all its forces.”

In activist circles and beyond, Francois Hollande, who obtained 85% of the Muslim vote in 2012, is currently at his lowest popularity level. Although it is impossible to determine what constitutes the “Muslim vote,” it is evident that many Muslims are angry with Hollande and how he has dealt with the situation in Gaza.

Early in the conflict Hollande expressed his support for Israel and urged the government to “take every measure to protect its population in the face of threats.” This statement has since prompted outrage from the Muslim community.

Many activists and elected socialists of Muslim origin have noticed the rise in hostility toward the Socialist Party, a dislike which has increased since the ban on public demonstrations in Paris and Prime Minister Valls’s accusation of anti-Semitism in poor neighborhoods. Hollande’s party has suffered from internal debate.

Certain members of the French government have revised their original support for Francois Hollande as more civilian casualties in Gaza take place. For example, Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius recently recognized the “massacre of civilians” in Gaza.

The Amalgamation of Islam and Violence

July 8, 2014

Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve recently spoke at a meal breaking the fast during the month of Ramadan. “The French government will demonstrate a complete steadfastness toward those who attack your community,” he affirmed in a speech before several Arab diplomats and religious leaders, including the ambassadors to Algeria and France.

Cazeneuve warned that anyone who attacked a Frenchman for his religious beliefs would be “ruthlessly pursued, arrested and punished.”He condemned acts of discrimination and violence towards Muslims and stated, “To associate Islam with violence, is not only wishing to pit Frenchmen against one another, it’s to profoundly misunderstand Islam and religion.” His statement reaffirmed that of Francois Hollande, whose recent speech highlighted the fact that Islam and democracy are compatible.

Dalil Boubekeur was “touched” by Cazeneuve’s speech. “His commitment to make France, Muslims and non Muslims and all its citizens, a peaceful country and one of tolerance, really pleased me.” According to recently released figures, France’s Muslim population is currently between 5.5 and 6 million.

Militant Islamist website calls for attacks on France and President Hollande

March 11, 2014

 

A militant Islamist website has created a series of posters calling for attacks on France and for the assassination of President Francois Hollande in reprisal for the country’s policies in Mali and the Central African Republic, the SITE monitoring service said late on Monday.

The al Minbar Jihadi Media Network, a well-known Islamist website, created six posters as part of a campaign it dubbed, “We will not be silent, O France,” SITE said.

The forum’s “Media soldiers for the support of Islam” designed the posters, which can be downloaded and printed by visitors to the site.

France’s troops in the Central African Republic, around 2,000 soldiers, are supporting a 6,000-strong African Union peacekeeping mission.

“To our lone-wolves in France, assassinate the president of disbelief and criminality, terrify his cursed government, and bomb them and scare them as a support to the vulnerable in the Central African Republic,” one of the posters said.

Hollande has said his troops would work to stop the Central African Republic splitting in two and to disarm rival fighters.

A source in the French president’s office said that while the government was very alert to the threat of attacks, they were not a new phenomenon.

“This is not the first time there have been threats,” the source said. “There were others during the Mali intervention and even before, so we took precautionary measures.”

“Just because they (threats) are being publicized does not mean that they are new… Sometimes they are more dangerous when they are not publicized.”

Al Minbar Jihadi Media Network publishes news for various al Qaeda affiliates and other jihadists and has had an online magazine since July last year.

A French-led offensive in January 2013 drove out Islamist militants who had seized control of northern Mali. Small groups of fighters loyal to Islamist groups including the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa and al Qaeda in the Maghreb still operate in the desert region, carrying out periodic attacks.

Kidnappings and killing of French nationals has since then taken place as a form of reprisal.

Two French journalists were abducted and killed in Northern Mali in November, with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claiming responsibility.

 

Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-jihadist-message-france-20140311,0,1599382.story

France Pays Muslim Soldiers’ Debt

February 19, 2014

 

A century after their sacrifices to France, long forgotten French Muslim soldiers have been remembered by President Francois Hollande who said France “owed a debt” to Muslim soldiers who died in World War I, pledging to fight racism and discrimination targeting the religious minority.

“France will never forget the price of the blood shed” by Muslim soldiers, Hollande said at a ceremony in Paris’s Grand Mosque on Tuesday, February 18, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.

Holland’s visit to the mosque, the first since being elected president in 2012, comes ahead of events planned later this year to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the war.

About 600,000 troops from France’s colonies took part in the 1914-18 war and about 70,000 Muslims lost their lives at the battle of Verdun in 1916, according to figures released by the Defence Ministry in 2010.

Hollande unveiled a plaque paying tribute to the 100,000 French Muslims who died fighting in the two world wars.

His presidential predecessors Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy also presented memorials and plaques remembering Muslims who fought for France.

Islam is “perfectly compatible with the values of France,” Hollande said.

“This homage is a call for respect,” Hollande said, urging a “fierce fight against discrimination, inequality and racism” as well as against “anti-Muslim words and acts.”

France is home to a Muslim minority of six million, Europe’s largest.

According to a poll published in April last year, three out of four French people have an negative image of Islam.

French Muslims have been complaining of growing restrictions on their religious freedoms.

In 2004, France banned Muslims from wearing hijab, an obligatory code of dress, in public places. Several European countries followed the French example.

France has also outlawed the wearing of face-veil in public.

The Grand Mosque of Paris, the largest mosque in France, was built between 1922 -1926.

French Muslim leaders have welcomed Hollande’s move to remember Muslim fighters.

“Even if this is not new, it’s good that François Hollande again reminds those who reject Muslims that thousands of natives died for France,” said Abdallah Zekri of the CFCM coalition of Islamic groupings, RFI reported on Tuesday.

“He should seize the chance to discuss the present worrying atmosphere with us,” he added.

On the other hand, Louis Aliot, the vice-president of the far-right Front National, slammed the visit as a “crude attempt at manipulation”.

“These comments are totally irresponsible because France has never forgotten the soldiers who died for France,” he stormed, claiming that the ceremony is exploiting them for the sake of “sectarian lobbyists”.

“If increasingly radical political Islam poses a problem […] of republican compatibility in our country, it’s not up to France to adapt and to provide answers it’s up to that religion,” Aliot said.

French media has also interpreted the visit as being aimed at gaining the favor of Muslims, who currently constitute five percent of the country’s voters, ahead of the March local elections.

 

Source: http://www.onislam.net/english/news/europe/469391-france-pays-muslim-soldiers-debt.html

 

EU and Arab states to meet over foreign fighters in Syria

February 7, 2014

 

Experts from the European Union and eight Arab countries plus Turkey will hold a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, February 11th to discuss threats posed by foreign fighters in Syria, according to a source at Al Arabiya News Channel.

The source said EU countries are increasingly worried about hundreds of young European Muslims who have travelled to Syria to carry out jihad. Many of them, he said, have joined al-Qaeda affiliated groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or al-Nusra Front.

The Arab countries invited to the meeting are Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Irann, Libya, and Tunisia.

French President Francois Hollande said last month that 700 people had left France to join the fighting in Syria in what he called a “worrying” trend.

“A certain number of young Frenchmen and young foreigners living in France… are fighting in Syria – 700 are listed, that’s a lot. Some are dead,” Hollande told a press conference in Paris.

Hollande said young people needed to be warned about the dangers of going to Syria and that France needed to “fight against a certain number of networks and havens that sustain terrorism.”

French officials have warned of the dangers from French citizens fighting with extremist and al-Qaeda linked groups in Syria.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said this week that more than 400 people were either ready to go to Syria, were in the country or had been and returned.

Western security officials have raised fears that foreign fighters trained in Syria could carry out attacks on home soil. Officials say about 20 French citizens have died in the Syria conflict. The country was unsettled last week when reports emerged of two brothers who had converted to Islam dying within four months of each other in the conflict.

Source: http://www.albawaba.com/conflict-syria/eu-syria-552919

Religious leaders removed from the board of the National Advisory Council on Ethics

January 27, 2014

 

In nominating the new board of the Comité Consultatif National d’Ethique (CCNE) or National Advisory Council on Ethics in September 2013, President Francois Hollande chose not to include any religious leaders, and replaced them with secular figures.

This Council, created in 1983, is in charge of providing advisory guidelines on bioethical questions raised by medical, scientific and health research. The CCNE may have an advisory purpose but remains nonetheless influential.  Under its influence, the abortion limit went from 10 to 12 weeks in 2000. The Council opposed medically assisted reproduction in 2005, surrogate motherhood in 2010, and assisted suicide by euthanasia in 2013.

The 1983 founding decree states that the interdisciplinary board must be composed of forty members including ‘five belonging to the main philosophical and spiritual families’. Until 2013, two clerics had been chairing: Pastor Louis Schweitzer and Rabbi Michael Azoulay. Islam wasn’t represented by an Imam but by a Muslim thinker, Ali Benmakhlouf. Likewise, Catholicism wasn’t represented by an ecclesial figure but by a professor of theology, Xavier Lacroix. All four have now been replaced with more secular figures.

In theory, Francois Hollande respected the founding decree, which implied that the five religious board members could be secular but not necessarily clerics. However, the President changed a tradition. ‘We want to return to the founding principals of the Council in 1983, and to call on secular figures to represent the religious communities’, said the Elysée.

According to a former president of the CCNE, ‘nominating civilian figures over clerics is a good thing, because they always end up deploying religion in the debates.’ Mohammed Moussaoui, former president of the CFCM (Conseil Francais du Culte Musulman) deplores the eviction of Rabbi Azoulay and the other religious members. To him, it reflects Hollande’s changing vision of state secularism.

 

Source: http://www.zamanfrance.fr/article/pourquoi-religieux-ont-ete-ecartes-comite-consultatif-national-dethique-7505.html?utm_source=newsletter-karisik-liste&utm_campaign=08cb84806d-Zamanfrance+28_01_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2d6e3a9a0e-08cb84806d-315948881