Imam accused of preaching radicalism in Toulon expulsed to Morocco

Mohammed el Idrissi, an Imam of Moroccan-origin accused of preaching Islamic radicalism, has been expulsed to Morocco. The French Minister of the Interior learned that el Idrissi, 72, had given violent and radical sermons in Arabic from November 2007 to January 2009. He had been Imam in the Pont-du-Las neighborhood in Toulon for seven years.

Report From the Penitentiary Administration Warns of Islamic Fundamentalism in French Jails

A new “confidential defense” report from the Penitentiary Administration of France claims that 442 “Islamicists” currently incarcerated have a worrisome comportment. Le Figaro reports that one highly ranked official told the newspaper that these “secretive religious inmates have radicalized themselves by surfing the Internet,” and far from learning and teaching from the Qur’an they are “distilling fragments of certain surahs which make reference to violence” to inspire their cellmates.

Farhad Khosrokhavar, author of L’Islam dans les prisons (2004; “Islam in Prisons”) claims the best way to avoid the growth of such radicalism is to move prisoners regularly so that ties cannot be strengthened among them. Khosrokhavar also notes the lack of Muslim chaplains in the country’s prison system; there are currently 600 Christian chaplains available to inmates.

In an effort to ameliorate the detection of individuals at risk for religious radicalism, the French Minister of the Interior Michèle Alliot-Marie will present a 60 page manual on “Fundamentalism in the Prison System” to the Institut National des Hautes Études de Sécurité (Inhes or the National Institute of Advanced Security Studies ) on 30 September 2008. The document will then be distributed among the 24 000 prison guards, police officers and to anti-terrorist judges who have contact with inmates, and includes information of indicators of radicalism and a list of logos and references to watch for.

French Minister Fadela Amara Takes on France’s Projects

On January 22, the French government unveiled a proposal to slash youth unemployment in high-immigrant suburbs. The plan’s architect, Urban Affairs Minister Fadela Amara, unveiled key proposals to local residents in Vaulx-en-Velin, a suburb of Lyon. She pledged to create 45,000 new jobs in areas where up to one in two black and Arab men are unemployed – compared to the national average of eight percent. Also part of the proposal was a plan to cut youth jobless rates by 40% in three years, promising tutors and internships available to students. Sarkozy will release details of the plan and funding on February 8th.

French Minister: ‘Mosques Need State Funding’

PARIS: France’s Finance Minister, a presidential hopeful, says mosques need state funding and it is time to modernise a century-old law banning financing for religious groups, newspapers report. Nicolas Sarkozy, in a new book that hit the shelves yesterday, says extremism is festering in underground mosques and Islamic groups do not have money to build houses of worship, according to excerpts published in French newspapers. “What is dangerous is not minarets, but caves and garages that keep clandestine religious groups hidden,” he says in the book, The Republic, Religions, Hope, Le Monde newspaper reported. Unlike Jewish and Christian groups with a history in France, Islam is relatively new here and needs a helping hand, he says.

Visit of French Minister of Foreign Affairs in Qatar, Bahrain, …

At every stage of the visit of French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dominique De Villepin, to each of Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, the question about the law France is intending to adopt in order to ban the religious symbols, including headscarves in schools and the workplace was raised. Some people in the region considered that such a law is a violation of individual freedoms in the country of democracy, which is based on three sacred pillars: freedom, equality and fraternity.