French judge hands Muslim man at centre of burqa controversy preliminary charges

A French judge has filed preliminary charges of fraud against an Algerian-born man who spoke out after his companion, wearing a burqa, was cited for driving while her vision was hindered. The preliminary charges against Lies Hebbadj, including fraud, didn’t stem directly from the traffic citation but from an investigation that followed.

After his companion was cited in April 2010 for driving while wearing apparel that hindered her vision, Hebbadj spoke out publicly in her defence. It then emerged that he was suspected of polygamy, with France’s interior minister suggesting he had four wives. The judge did not file preliminary polygamy charges against Hebbadj, but charged him with collecting too much money in state aid to single parents. Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux insisted that in reality Hebbadj was living in a polygamous state, even if he wasn’t legally married to all four women, and called for his citizenship to be stripped.

Internal debates on Muslims in the Conservative People’s Party

The leader of the Conservative People’s Party, Lene Espersen, has not succeeded in creating internal consensus after the debate on a burqa ban. A group of seven dominant members challenges Lene Espersen regarding questions on integration. “We are an informal network of members of the Conservative People’s Party who doesn’t think we should compete with Danish People’s Party about who can disparage Muslims the most” Peter Norsk says. He is a member of the Conservative Party’s central board. The network is against the Conservative Party’s proposals on banning prayer halls at schools and that benefit fraud should lead to the loss of Danish citizenship.

Passport fraud problems neglected in rush to implement full body scanners

Chief of Interpol Ronald Noble reports the biggest problem in travel is passport fraud, the stolen documentation terrorists use to travel the globe. He says 11 million stolen passports have been reported, could be being used by human traffickers, drug traffickers, terrorists, or war criminals.

He says it’s difficult to discern the motivations behind anyone carrying a passport, and if terrorists intend to board planes, they won’t do it with explosives that can be detected.

He feels the solution is better intelligence and better intelligence sharing, not large-scale implementations of full body scanners.

The increased use of body scanners is already occurring across the US as the result of the attempted Christmas Day terror attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Anti-Semites and enemies of Islam show striking parallels, historian Wolfgang Benz explains

German and European anti-Semites of the 19th century, who paved the way for the Nazis, and enemies of Islam in the 21st century employ similar mechanisms. Historian Wolfgang Benz, who is the director of the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism in Berlin, sees significant parallels between the two supremacist movements. Concepts of the enemy are always constructions following certain principles; they distinguish between good (oneself) and evil (the “other”/external) as a basis for exclusion and putting the blame on a specific group.

19th century anti-Semites have managed to make their racist and deathly pseudo-theories public and to convince a significant number of people with fraud documents such as the fake “Protocols of the elders of Zion”, which were supposed to give evidence for an alleged Jewish world conspiracy. Today, Benz argues, the public should be more aware of these mechanisms and be able to unmask them. But still many people are ready to condemn Islam as “evil” on the grounds of a minority that is extremist. They spread irrational fears of a “foreign power” that takes over the society from within and with the help of demographics – arguments that were also used under Nazi rule when Jews were not allowed to procreate. Benz calls for actively remembering the consequences of the construction of enmities.

Dutch government investigates halal fraud

The Dutch government is investigating possible fraud with halal certificates in the country, Volkskrant reports. The General Inspection Service, a division of the Agricultural Ministry, last month revealed that a meat wholesaler from Breda had used forged documents to sell several thousand tons of meat to Muslims in France.

Ben Ali-Salah, director of Halal Correct, an organization granting halal certificates in Leiden, says that documents of his certifying bureau are forged en-masse for meat cargoes which don’t deserve the title of halal.

Although the term halal seems to have been naturalized in the Netherlands, it is not legally protected. Controversy surrounding the certification and authenticity of halal meats continues as demand for halal products has produced a boom in certifying agencies.

Former director of Netherlands Muslim Broadcaster arrested

The former director of the Netherlands Muslim Broadcaster (NMO), Frank Williams, has been arrested for accepting bribes of at least 600.000 Euros. His son, daughter-in-law, and a film producer have also been arrested. The four suspects were arrested in a criminal investigation of misuse of the broadcasting funds of the NMO, one of the public broadcasters subsidized by the government, NIS reports. The finance ministry announced that Williams is suspected of “forgery, defrauding the income tax service and taking bribes as director of the NMO”.

Dutch court rules Muslim criminal may serve at Christian rehabilitation center

An appeals court has ruled that a Muslim man, undergoing treatment as part of a sentence for criminal fraud, may continue his program at a Christian rehabilitation center. The criminal moved into a Christian center in Leiden after a Middleburg district court suspended his prison sentence and ordered therapy for him to control his cocaine addiction.

While the man himself had no objections to the program and is able to conduct five daily prayers at the center, the Public Prosecutor objected to the treatment on the grounds that it infringed on the man’s religious freedom. An appeal court has ruled that he may continue his stay at the treatment center.

Fraud found at 86 percent of Islamic schools

Almost 9 out of every 10 Islamic schools in the Netherlands has been found to spend government subsidies unlawfully. According to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, illegal spending at 86 percent of Islamic schools ranges from salaries to ‘teachers’ who were not properly trained, but often ended up being wives of management board members, and unlawful payments for transport, including a trip to Saudi Arabia. The education ministry is attempting to reclaim 4.5 euro back in unlawfully spend school subsidies.

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Rotterdam school required to return government money

The Islamic secondary school in Ibn Ghaldoun in Rotterdam is refusing to pay back the 1.2 million euro that the State Secretary Van Bijsterveldt withdrew from the school. Nass, the furious school president said: We’re not going to pay that amount back. I’m giving nothing back because it’s not spent. We’ll fight this till the highest judiciary. Van Bijsterveldt is requesting that the money be returned, because it was spend on tangential issues including trips to holy sites in Saudi Arabia, and salary for two imams whose affiliation to the school is being question. The education inspection could not prove that fraud had been committed, but says that something appears amiss at the school. The school administration, however, believes that the school is being unfairly targeted, saying there’s clearly no place for Islamic education in this country.

Driving exam fraud

Thirty-eight people appeared in front of a court in Antwerp for participating in driving exam fraud. Twenty-two of the suspects were accused of taking the exam for someone else. Prosecution spokesperson Dominique Reyniers said that the suspects were exclusively immigrants and of Moroccan or black-African origin. The suspects are believed to have paid upwards of 500 euro for an accomplice to take the exam, before failing the test several times.