A French Islamic convert who threatened his home country has been captured in northern Mali, allegedly after fighting on the militants’ side.
French troops captured Gilles Le Guen, who now goes by the name Abdel Jelil, on Sunday night north of Timbuktu, the army said.
Mr Le Guen, 58, is believed to have been living in Timbuktu.
France’s Defence Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said he appeared to have fought alongside Islamist militants.
Union of French Islamic Organisation
Following a controversy, this year’s conference by the Union of French Islamic Organisations in Bourget (Seine St-Denis) refrained from inviting the Egyptian celebrity preacher Yousself al-Qaradawi who is closely associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The appeasement politics played by the organizers follows last year’s French Presidential election campaign during which the event became the spotlight for the polemics of French security and identity politics. This year’s speakers list was accordingly altered and toned down in order to prevent potential controversy.
The event, which is comparable to the World Catholic Youth Day, covered the Easter bank holidays and was attended on its opening day alone by over 160.000 people.
News Agencies – November 6, 2012
Deep in the wooded hills of Burgundy in central France, an unusual institute is training unusual students: aspiring French imams who hope to minister to the country’s large Muslim population. After seven intensive years of study, only 10 or so graduates each year to lead prayers or preach at mosques following graduation from the European Institute of Human Sciences de Saint-Leger-de-Fougeret Over the past nine years, various governments have encouraged the professional training of local religious leaders. Interior Minister Manuel Valls recently backed the practice, even if the job of imam is badly paid, if at all, and enjoys no official recognition.
The initiative goes back 20 years when the Union of Islamic Organisations in France, which has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, converted a former children’s holiday centre into the institute. Its stated aim is to train imams equipped “with a solid knowledge of Islam and the socio-cultural realities of Europe.” The idea was to provide an alternative to the recruitment of foreign imams, who often spoke no French and had little or no knowledge of French lifestyles.
News Agencies – October 6, 2012
Police carried out raids across France on Saturday after DNA on a grenade that exploded last month at a kosher grocery store led them to a suspected jihadist cell of young Frenchmen recently converted to Islam. The man whose DNA was identified, named by police as Jeremy Sydney, was killed by police after he opened fire on them, slightly wounding three officers in the eastern city of Strasbourg. Officials said he had been under surveillance since last spring, around the time a French Islamic went on a shooting rampage against a Jewish school and French soldiers, killing seven people.
Paris prosecutor François Molins said all the arrested suspects were French and recent converts to Islam. They were all born in the 1980s or early 1990s. Four of the men involved in the raid had written wills.
The prosecutor was careful not to draw direct links between these arrests and Mohamed Merah, a young Frenchman of Algerian descent who died in a shootout with police in March after the killings in the south of France. That attack terrorized the French Jewish community, which has since ramped up security in many parts of the country.
News Agencies – August 1, 2012
The US on Monday criticised France and Belgium for banning women from wearing face-covering Islamic veils in public, while warning of growing anti-Semitism and hostility towards Muslims in Europe. The US State Department’s report on religious freedoms, researched in 2011 but released on July 30, 2012, warned that freedom of worship was being undermined across the globe — particularly in China and Pakistan.
In Europe there was “growing xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim sentiment, and intolerance toward people considered ‘the other’,” according to the report, which also complained of a “rising number of European countries, including Belgium and France, whose laws restricting dress adversely affected Muslims and others.” “Clinton needs to think more about the emancipation of women. It is not as straightforward an issue as the State Department portrays,” said Socialist-supporting philosopher Henri Pena-Ruiz.
France barred four Islamic preachers from entering the country after banning prominent preacher Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi and another Egyptian cleric who wanted to attend a Muslim conference in Paris. Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and Interior Minister Claude Gueant said in a joint statement the four preachers “call for hate and violence … and, in the current context, present a strong risk of upsetting public order”.
President Nicolas Sarkozy, who ordered a crackdown on radical Islamists after the Toulouse killings by an al Qaeda-inspired gunman last week, said that Qaradawi and Mahmoud al-Masri were not welcome in France. The Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF), which invited the clerics to an April 6-9 conference, said it was surprised and hurt by the government’s “manifest determination to prolong a polemic … based on total ignorance”.
The four preachers – a Palestinian, an Egyptian and two Saudis – were due to take part in an annual conference in Paris hosted by the UOIF, which is close to the Muslim Brotherhood.
News Agencies – September 24, 2009
As Islam in France becomes more established with a growing number of cemeteries and mosques, new attention is being given to private Islamic religious schools.
Three new Islamic schools have recently been announced – one in Montigny-le-Bretonneux, another in Marseille and a third in Toulouse. Most of these schools have been launched with support from the UOIF (the Union of French Islamic Organizations or the Union des organisations islamiques de France).
There are currently 650 students attending Islamic schools in France. The Averroès school in Lille is the only Muslim school in the country to have a formal contract with the state, and whose teachers are paid by the state.
Le Bourget, Europe’s largest gathering space for Muslims held annually, has become the destination of choice for French Muslims to raise funds to build mosques. This year’s four-day gathering, organized by the Union of French Islamic Organizations (UOIF), ended on May 11.
Among the European Muslims to respond to Osama Bin Laden’s threats to punish European countries over the reprinting of cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad was Lhaj Thami Breze, head of the UOIF (Union of French Islamic Organizations). Breze stated, His [Bin Laden] threats are unacceptable in letter and spirit. Other European Muslim leaders, like Ibrahim Al-Zayyat of the Islamic Assembly in Germany, Kamal El-Helbawi of the London-based Center for the Study of Terrorism, Abdel Hamdi Hamdy of the Danish Islamic Shura Council and Abu Saed Ali of the Islamic League for Dialogue and Reconciliation in Spain, concurred.
The president of France’s largest Muslim group, the Union of French Islamic Organizations (UOIF), Thami Breze, defended a new course for would-be Muslim spiritual leaders at the Catholic Institute in Paris. Citing the strict separation of church and state, other French institutions including the Sorbonne, Paris 8, and other state universities have declined to be involved in the project. The UOIF had previously expressed reservations bout the course, but citing the importance of studying sociology, history of France, secularism, and civics, welcomed the initiative as a positive enrichment to would-be French Muslim religious advisors.