Son of a pied-noir rallies under the banner ‘Muslims of France’

He confirms being “heavily influenced by the philosophy of the General,” and “converted to Islam around the age of seven.” Bruno Perez, 52 years old, is the UDMF candidate in Marseille for the upcoming local elections. “I am a Gaullist who never drifted,” he affirmed.

On February 12 the UDMF, founded in 2012, announced its presence by running eight candidates in the upcoming elections but a week later decided to only run two in Marseille, Bruno Perez and Houria Medjbar. “I was contacted three weeks ago by the UDMF,” Perez recalls, “I didn’t know this party or its leaders. It’s a friend who put me in contact. He is also my substitute for the election.” He states that now “we are in a hurry,” and that his political stance “has nothing to do with promoting sharia!”

Son of a pied-noir who moved to France in 1962, Perez was stunned by the reaction provoked by his candidature: “In the Muslim Democratic Union of France, we are all Muslims, but that’s not what is most important. Before anything else we are democrats, republicans, and we respect secularism…but we are there to repeat that Muslims of France, is not the Islamic State.”

Perez has a history in politics. In 1995 he campaigned for the RPR. “It’s there that I met Houria Medjbar,” he explained, “who’s now been my friend for twenty years.” A Charles Pasqua supporter, he then followed the former Interior Minister of the Gathering of the French People and presented himself under the label in the 2001 local elections, gaining 3% of the votes.

British Army seeks to recruit more Muslim troops

British Muslims share information about Islam during Islam Awareness Week at the army's headquarters in Andover. (Photo: Library, UK Government/Armed Forces)
British Muslims share information about Islam during Islam Awareness Week at the army’s headquarters in Andover. (Photo: Library, UK Government/Armed Forces)

More must be done to recruit soldiers from ethnic minorities and in particular the Muslim community, the Head of the British Army has admitted. General Sir Nicholas Carter, who took up the role of Chief of the General Staff last year, said that ethic minority representation in the military is “nowhere near where it needs to be”.

“We have to do more. My highest priority is ensuring we continue to have the best possible talent throughout our Army,” he said. Figures released by the Ministry of Defence reveal there are only 480 Muslims serving in Army.

That is only 0.54% of the total regular force of 88,500. Moreover, not all of those Muslims are British – some joined from Commonwealth countries. Overall, all ethnic minorities – including black, Asian, Sikh, Hindu and Fijian people – make up less than 10% of the force.

The military’s Islamic Religious Advisor welcomed General Carter’s comments.
“In my view, the values of the Armed Forces are fully compatible with the values of Islam as well as other faiths,” said Imam Asim Hafiz.

“Anybody wishing to pursue a career in the Services, Regular or Reserve, and is prepared to work hard can be assured of a very rewarding experience.”

Senior figures in the military and Ministry of Defence recognise that conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to negative perceptions of the military in Muslim communities. General Carter wants that to change through closer interaction and engagement with ethnic minority communities.

Twitter features #muslimapologies

On Tuesday, September 23rd, Muslims with Twitter handles Tweeted #muslimapologies, a tongue-in-cheek response to President Obama’s speech at the United Nations where the President of the United States told the General Assembly that it is time for Muslims to stand-up against ISIS. As The Washington Post points out, “#MuslimApologies represents another reaction: Frustration over the assumption of collective responsibility.

Many of the tweets express weariness about having to apologize for the actions of extremists who claim to represent Islam, a religion with an estimated 1.6 billion adherents worldwide.”

Muslims took to Twitter in #muslimapologies campaign after President Obama's speech at UN calling on Muslims to denounce IS.
Muslims took to Twitter in #muslimapologies campaign after President Obama’s speech at UN calling on Muslims to denounce IS.

Muslims in German parties

April 29

 

Muslims in the Social Democratic Party (SPD) have begun to initiate working groups about the opinion of Muslims about German politics. The goal is to juxtapose the overwhelming prejudice in German public about Muslims being unable to participate in democratic societies. Also, Muslims in the SPD aim at improving the image of Muslims proving their compatibility with democracy. On February 14th 2014, SPD head Siegmar Gabriel and Minister of Integration Aydan Özoguz organized a session for the new initiated “working group for Muslim social democrats”. The working group is expected to be an important step towards the recognition of Muslims and their engagement in German society.

 

A further positive step was the designation of Yasmin Fahimi this January as the General Secretary of the SPD. Fahimi (46) is a German Chemist of Iranian descent.

Can European Islam Be Inspiring to the Arab World?

April 16, 2014

 

The question “can European Islam be inspiring to the Arab world?” may smell of pejorative Orientalism: Europe thinks for the Arab world even when it comes to religion! Yet, the /intent (anniya /in Arabic/)/ is not that. The question aims at questioning the established dichotomy of “Islam vs. the West.” Comparing two geographies or two versions of religion in two different political entities is the aim here, though the title seems to compare a religious interpretation in a political geography “European Islam” with a another political geography “the Arab world.” By the Arab world here is meant “Arab Islam” – to avoid repeating “Islam” twice. Both Western Europe and the Arab world are heterogeneous and have different histories with religion and politics, and it is not acceptable to put them all in one basket through entities as the title above suggests. However, it is the links between these two geographies, polities, and histories that have encouraged posing the question for further reflections.

Moreat Resetdoc web magazine, at: http://www.resetdoc.org/story/00000022382

Three Lessons from Switzerland’s Immigration Referendum

February 24, 2014

 

BERLIN—On February 9, a small majority of Swiss voters approved a proposal by the right-wing populist Swiss People’s Party (SVP) to significantly limit migration inflows from other European countries. The Swiss vote garnered attention across Europe because it now requires the renegotiation of certain agreements between the European Union and Switzerland — a non-member — which had thus far been ensured by bilateral treaties. The issues at stake are the free movement of goods, capital, services, and, most importantly, people — the EU’s “Four Freedoms.” Based on the referendum, the number of Germans, French, or Polish citizens allowed to migrate to Switzerland will be contingent on a quota system.

http://blog.gmfus.org/2014/02/23/three-lessons-from-switzerlands-immigration-referendum/

British Muslims Condemn Anti-Muslim Bigotry Printed in the Daily Mail

February 22, 2014

 

Leading British Muslim and interfaith organisations today wrote to Paul Dacre, the Editor of the Daily Mail condemning an article by columnist Richard Littlejohn that deployed hateful Muslim stereotypes. The column purports to criticise an individual but instead uses slurs commonly found in racist and far-right websites to make its point.

Entitled “Jolly Jihadi’s Outing to Legoland”, the article satirises a community event that is to be held at the theme park, organised through a private group booking. Mr Littlejohn uses hateful tropes to fill his article. Mr Littlejohn jokes that the group, which will in real life have parents and children in attendance, will travel to Legoland in a coach “…packed with explosives stops in Parliament Square. As Big Ben strikes ten, driver will blow himself up”.

As a result of Mr Littlejohn’s article, far-right groups are threatening to turn up at Legoland, thus causing distress to the children present.

The letter is signed by a cross-section of British Muslims. It is in no way a defence of the views attributed to the person Mr Littlejohn criticises, but rather a challenge to our media not to accept such hateful language in our discourse.

 

The letter reads:

Dear Mr Dacre,

We write to express our condemnation of a recent article published by Richard Littlejohn in your newspaper. Entitled “Jolly Jihadi’s Outing to Legoland”, Mr Littlejohn deploys the most hateful stereotypes of Muslims to attack an individual.

Our condemnation is not about the attacks on Mr Haitham al-Haddad: he is perfectly capable of responding to the accusations put to him if minded to do so. Many of us may well disagree with the views attributed to him. Rather, we are speaking out at the insidious and hateful tropes Mr Littlejohn uses for his argument.

Mr Littlejohn may think he is humorous, satirical in fact. But there is nothing funny about inciting hatred. The language he deploys is exactly the same as those used by racists and the far-right. One needs only to peruse the comments below his article online to see the hatred against Muslims Mr Littlejohn has generated.

Would you allow similar hateful stereotypes to be used when writing about other faith or race communities?

Mr Littlejohn may suggest his words of hatred are directed at one figure rather than mainstream Muslims. This is a poor excuse. He accuses one figure of using hate speech by deploying hate speech himself.

As a cross section of Britain’s Muslim community, along with many of our fellow Britons, we state clearly and loudly that Mr Littlejohn’s article is the worst form of bigotry. This goes beyond causing offence. Your newspaper has published an incitement to hate Muslims.

So, we urge you, in the interests of decency and fairplay, to retract Mr Littlejohn’s article and to issue an apology not just to British Muslims, but to your readers and the great British public at large.

Yours,

 

 

Farooq Murad,

Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain

 

Fiyaz Mughal,

Founder and Director, Faith Matters and Tell Mama

 

Julian Bond

Director, Christian Muslim Forum

 

Steven Derby,

Director, Interfaith Matters

 

Ali Qureshi

Secretary General, Union of Muslim Organisations (UMO)

 

Maulana Sarfraz Madni,

Chairman, Mosques & Imams National Advisory Board

 

Ameena Blake,

Vice-President, Muslim Association of Britain

 

Ali Master,

Council of European Jamaats (COEJ)

 

Saleha Islam

Chief Executive, Muslim Youth Helpline

 

Sufyan G Ismail,

Trustee, Engage

 

Mazhar Khan

Executive Board Member, Muslim Council of Scotland

 

Saleem Kidwai OBE,

Secretary General, Muslim Council of Wales

 

Mohammed Aslam-Ijaz,

General Secretary, Council of Mosques, South London and Southern Counties

 

Abdul Hamid Qureshi

Chair, Lancashire Council of Mosques

 

Ufuk Secgin

Chairman, London Islamic Culture and Recreation Society (LICARS)

 

Ahmed Khelloufi

Executive Director, Muslim Welfare House (London)

 

Mohammed Kozbar

British Muslim Initiative and Finsbury Park Mosque

 

Sheikh Hojjat Ramzy

Chair, Iqra Institute, Oxford

 

Shifa Shahab

Federation of Muslim Organisations Leicestershire

 

Muhammad Jinani

Young Muslim Organisation UK

 

Dr Mohammed Idrees

General Secretary, UK Islamic Mission

 

Ajmal Masroor

London Imam and Director of Barefoot Institute

 

Yusuf Al Khoei

Al-Khoei Foundation

 

Moulana Shahid Raza,

Founding Trustee, British Muslim Forum

 

Sir Iqbal Sacranie

Balham Mosque & Tooting Islamic Centre

 

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari

Author and Commentator

 

Talha Ahmad

Head of Media, Dawatul Islam UK & Eire

 

Yousuf Bhailok

Trustee /Chair. ‘Al Jamiah Al Islamiyah Darul Uloom Lancashire

 

Rashid Brora

General Secretary, Southampton Medina Mosque Trust Ltd

 

Unaiza Malik

Muslim Women’s Association

 

Muhammad Habibur-Rahman

Chairman, East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre

 

Dilowar Khan

President, Islamic Forum of Europe

 

 

The Muslim Council of Britain: http://www.mcb.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2463:pr-template&catid=40:press-release

EU focuses on monitoring local jihadists

February 12, 2014

 

Side meetings and consultations are no longer enough to contain the phenomenon of foreign fighters in Syria. Thus, the EU counterterrorism department held a first-of-its-kind meeting for European security officers with their counterparts in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey, in addition to states involved in the issue, including countries in the Arab Maghreb.

Due to the meeting’s security nature, the Europeans didn’t announce it or mention any details about the issues discussed. But a source in the EU counterterrorism department confirmed to As-Safir that the meeting did take place, explaining that the meeting of security experts was the first step for establishing a permanent platform for cooperation among countries concerned with the phenomenon of foreign jihadists. The meeting was attended by three Lebanese officers from various security agencies.

According to what a high-level diplomatic official told As-Safir, the meeting, although it was the first one, explored ways for security coordination, which the Europeans are seeking to contain the threat. Since the security agencies of Syria’s neighbors have experience with this phenomenon, the Europeans hope to benefit from their experience in identifying and monitoring potential jihadists before they travel, in addition to the possibility of launching a kind of “early warning system” to identify young Western suspects before Western agencies issue memos about their disappearance. The Europeans are now testing that alarm system in security cooperation with Turkey, especially since the chaos on Turkey’s border made that country the main gateway for fighters.

The West is increasingly afraid of jihadists returning. At first, the West showed signs of anxiety and restlessness. Then Europeans announced that the issue was a major threat to the security of European countries. Estimates vary about the number of European jihadists, with the latest number exceeding 2,000 fighters.

The security experts meeting in Brussels came in the context of those growing fears. The meeting was chaired by EU Counterterrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove, who started preparing for this meeting a few months ago. A source close to him said the meeting is just the beginning, explaining, “We will try to invest all areas of cooperation with these countries. And we will continue to work on high-level meetings.”

European efforts to meet the challenge of returning jihadists became public in June 2013, when de Kerchove presented his first proposals report to European interior ministers. Last month, the European Commission issued recommendations for European countries on how to deal with the phenomenon. Among the key recommendations was to strengthen cooperation with the countries of the “other party,” i.e., states through which the jihadists pass.

Observers of European counterterrorism efforts assert that there have been many undeclared communications. In this context, a Lebanese security official met with European security officials in Brussels last October. They discussed how to coordinate about the phenomenon of Western jihadists. Other than that, there are lower-level meetings that come in the framework of the usual coordination between security agencies.

That issue will soon be part of the big meetings and their official speeches. A meeting on the foreign fighters phenomenon will fill the seats of an international conference in The Hague at the end of this month. The meeting will have large international participation. As the world pays more and more attention to this issue, Syria is approaching formal accession to the states that export terrorism.

This month saw a significant shift in US discourse on this issue. It came with unprecedented warnings launched by US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. He said there’s evidence of training camps in Syria to “train people to to go back to their countries and conduct terrorist acts [there].” According to Clapper, the party behind that is the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra.

Before that, there were warnings about only the possibility of jihadists returning, but not about specific plans to send fighters back to their countries as terrorists.

This shift was followed by similar warnings. After Clapper’s testimony, US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said that the threat posed by returning jihadists has made the Syrian war an issue affecting US internal security.

There are no accurate numbers on foreign jihadists in Syria, but US intelligence estimated there were at least 7,500 foreign fighters of 50 nationalities.

 

Al-Monitor: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/security/2014/02/europe-foreign-jihadists-syria-local-threat.html?utm_source=Al-Monitor+Newsletter+%5BEnglish%5D&utm_campaign=c0581bafdc-January_9_20141_8_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-c0581bafdc-93074789#

Michele Bachmann thanking the Egyptian military for the coup and crackdowns

Three U.S. lawmakers who have generated controversy for their statements about Islam and Muslim Americans released a video Saturday praising the Egyptian military and thanking it for staging the July 3 and subsequent crackdowns against their “common enemy,” the Muslim Brotherhood. The video, apparently taken a few hours after meeting with coup leader General Abdel Fatah el-Sissi in Cairo, features Rep. Michele Bachmann reading a statement to the camera. She’s flanked by Reps. Steve King and Louie Gohmert.

The video, posted below, is a doozy. Bachmann, presumably supported by King and Gohmert, offers fulsome praise for the coup and the military-led government’s subsequent actions, describing its crackdowns against sit-ins and demonstrations as “the front lines” in “the war on terrorism.” She described the Muslim Brotherhood as a common enemy and a “great evil,” implying that it had been responsible for the attacks against the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001. King and Gohmert offered similar but more tempered remarks.

Bachmann’s remarks appeared deeply consistent with Egyptian state propaganda that has portrayed the Muslim Brotherhood as a secret terrorist organization and an internal enemy.

Catalonia admits that the regulation of the burqa causes alarm in Muslim groups

22 August 2013

The General Director of Religious Affairs of the Generalitat, Enric Vendrell, admitted that the regulation of the burqa in public spaces has generated “alarm” in the Muslim community living in Catalonia. Vendrell promises dialogue and mediation to approach this question and recognizes that the use of the burqa is residual in Catalonia. He also highlighted that in Catalonia there are “no problems of coexistence between citizens on religious grounds”.

The law (first issued by the city of Lleida) implements ban of the burqa in public space and a fee of 600 euros for the ones infringing the prohibition. After several appeals, the Spanish Supreme Court stated on the basis of the religious Freedom Law that the ban was not valid. However, now, the Catalonian Parlament has asked the Generalitat (Autonomous Government) to consider a new law prohibiting the cover of the face in public spaces due to security reasons.