News Agencies – May 30, 2011
The Guinean woman whose testimony could result in the jailing of one of the most powerful financiers in the world, Frenchman Dominique Strauss-Kahn, forced to resign as head of the International Monetary Fund after being accused of raping a maid at the Sofitel Hotel in New York, has come under scrutiny. The 32-year old Guinean Muslim chambermaid has disappeared from view.
But her extended family, living quietly in rural Guinea where the average life expectancy is just 58, has suddenly found itself in the spotlight. French media have named the maid, and her identity is available on the internet, but The Sunday Telegraph has chosen not to publish her name. When her husband died in Guinea, the young woman was encouraged to move to New York by her elder sister, Hassanatou, who paid for her journey. “She couldn’t read, but she did receive a good religious education from her parents, and was a good girl,” her mother explained. Now, remote though they may seem, it has emerged that these same relatives in Guinea and Senegal could also find themselves embroiled in the investigation.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers have hired a global private investigation company to work on his defence. There were no witnesses to the alleged attack, nor any kind of recording of it, so the credibility of the former IMF chief and the accusing chambermaid will be crucial.
Lamine Yansané has been denied refugee status and is seeking a last-ditch reprieve in Federal Court on the grounds that he faces certain harm if he is deported from Canada. In his hometown of Boké in Guinea, his father is a revered imam called for his death after having married a Catholic woman and abandoned Islam for Christianity. “If you return him to his country, he is going to die,” Mr. Yansané’s lawyer, Stewart Istvanffy, told the court. He called his client “a victim of radical Islam, who is threatened by the imam of his town, his own father.”
Mr. Yansané, 37, arrived in Canada from Guinea in the fall of 2005. He told the Immigration and Refugee Board that he fled the West African nation after his father and uncle tracked him down in the country’s capital of Conakry, confronted him about his church attendance and threatened him as a traitor to Islam. His wife and three children remain in Guinea. Mr. Yansané had been issued a new Guinean passport and preparations were underway to deport him last January when Federal Court Justice François Lemieux issued a stay pending a further review of the case. It has yet to be decided whether the first judgement will be revoked.
Eighty asylum-seekers in Brussels are nearing death after going for eighty days without food. The hunger strikers are protesting the government’s refusal to grand them resident permits in the country. The asylum-seekers come from a variety of places – Nepal, the Ivory Coast, Congo, Iran, Algeria, Guinea, and Brazil, and whose applications have either been rejected, or remain pending. 70 immigrants on hunger strikes agreed to abandon their dangerous measures pending a deal from the Alien Registration Office. The deal would allow the individuals to recuperate from the ordeal with a 90-day visa. However, clear guidelines have not been set, prompting many refugee and religious organizations to pressure the government to come up with a program concerning allowing illegal aliens to reside in the country.
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According to a report on the NPR program All Things Considered, polygamy is a rare, but quietly present practice in the United States by Muslims. In the report, Muslim women from Guinea discuss the pro’s and con’s of the practice in Islamic contexts – that the husband cannot favor one wife over another, either in love or in how he provides for her, but citing the impossibility of this dilemma. Daisy Khan, who is head of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, says that polygamy is more common among conservative, less educated immigrants largely from Africa and Asia, and more rare among middle-class Muslims from the Middle East. Khan adds that imams generally do not conduct background checks on grooms to check their marital status in their native country. While polygamy in Islam is a blessing according to some because it allows for the having of more children, Abed Awad, a family law attorney says that many men often forget the major responsibilities that go with the practice.