Jihadists, Hamas, the veil: does France have more tension with radical Islam than its neighbors?

August 22, 2014

A comparative survey between England, Germany and France has created controversy due to its results concerning France. When asked about their opinions about Islamists in the Islamic State of Iraq, those who were polled in France expressed a 15% positive opinion, compared with 7% in Britain and 2% in Germany.  Although the religion of those surveyed is not indicated, the survey’s results gave rise to questions surrounding integration, especially in France. It is important to note that the study’s sponsor is Rossiya Segodnya, a Russian press agency. While the Russian media is not particularly interested in the problems of integration in France, question remains about the agency’s motives for conducting the survey. Atlantico conducted an interview with historian Guylain Chevalier and professor Moustafa Traoré.

When asked if England’s method of integration, often lauded as a model for Europe due to its multiculturalist approach, is a success, he answered: “Let us remember that during the terrorist attacks in London, everyone across the Channel was shocked that the terrorists did not come from abroad but were ‘well integrated.’” He stressed that after the attacks, David Cameron saw the English model as a failure. He continued, “The phenomenon of jihadism that is developing in European countries is evidence of an evolution of a part of the Islamic community towards a radical Islam that responds to the goal of Islamic domination based on the model of the Islamic State of Iraq.” In the case of the Islamic State, every person who does not convert to Islam risks death.

Chevalier continued, “One can image what espousing this vision, for certain Muslims tempted by the renewed figure of the ‘warrior for Islam,’ could have as a projected consequence in Western countries in a closed community where things can go adrift.” For this reason, he concluded, “One cannot ask questions in such a context about the efficacy of our models of integration for combating a risk of radicalization in the long term, as it is fed by armed conflicts where Islam is increasingly involved.”

The Atlantico then spoke with Moustafa Traoré, and asked: “From the point of view of integration, the unemployment rate for Muslims, or of mixed marriages, how is France worse than other countries in terms of integration? In contrast, how is it better?” Traoré said that the best way to evaluate an integration system is to speak with those who are primarily concerned. For example, “One cannot evaluate the integration of women in the workplace without making reference to the feelings of the latter.” He stressed the importance of using proper terms when discussing integration, “France, is before anything, an assimilationist country that has the tendency to ask the newly arrived to get rid of their values, their culturally ethnic particularities, so that they can adopt those of France and of the Republic.” He continued, “To speak in France about the process of integration where there does not exist one is an intellectual fault that often reflects dishonesty, or an underlying racism.”

Chevalier points to the failures of England’s multiculturalism as, “A model that is specifically the opposite of France’s, a society that is the quintessential mix of primarily considering individuals as equals before seeing them as part of cultures or religions.” He adds that France has the highest rate of mixed marriages, 27%, of anywhere in Europe. However, he concedes that “It is becoming increasingly difficult to integrate populations that are coming from elsewhere, into an economy of chronic unemployment, where cultural tensions can also be exacerbated by the economic tension.”

Responding to the issue created by Nadine Morano, whose negative comments about a veiled Muslim woman at the beach have sparked controversy, Chevrier states, “It’s certain that her reaction reflects a fear that is growing today,” but notes, “In a number of Muslim countries, women have a minority status that is not completely discriminatory, and which is not without influence on the way a number of Muslims in France practice their faith.” He adds, “The countries of origin of those who decide to wear the veil did not operate on the separation of religion and politics like we do…To follow before anything the values of religious codes, seen as superior to common law, is a form of confinement that breaks with the idea of the common good and of the public interest and favors social and political divisions that could lead to radicalism.”

Traoré said that while he does not have the same point of view as Chevrier, he recognizes that “The reaction of Nadine Morano is understandable, when France has chosen assimilation instead of integration. This supposes that there exists a cultural model of established and rigid values to which the newly arrived must submit to, all the while leaving behind what makes up their ethnic and cultural differences.”

When asked about the tensions that erupted in Stockholm in 2013 and if there is another country that is similar to France in terms of its integration policies, Chevrier stated, “Our model of integration…is without a doubt the best safeguard for our peaceful coexistence in terms of social diversity, no matter what differences may exist.” He concluded, “The Republican model is a wonderful tool for integration…Confronting the danger of radicalism and its current temptations, the feeling of belonging to a national community, to a larger being that puts the public interest ahead of idiosyncrasies, is what’s at stake for peaceful coexistence and more so, a determining element for social peace.”

Jewish and Muslim friends, remain foremost Frenchmen

July 13, 2014

“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at the heart of any discussion at the moment” begins Tareq Oubrou in a recent op-ed. “I call on my fellow citizens, no matter their religious beliefs, to calm. I know well that certain, quick to vilify any attempt to move in this direction, will interpret this message as treason, even if it is a call to live together and to learn to decipher the subtleties of our society.”

Oubrou called on French Muslims to distinguish between “what is political and what is religious” and said that French Jews must also do this. He stated that the current conflict is political rather than religious. Oubrou stressed that each community must adopt this viewpoint in order to work towards peace and that “Jews must recognize the state of Israel’s part in the conflict, just as Muslims must also recognize the responsibility of organizations that ‘sow disorder.’”

“We are Frenchmen, citizens of the same country, we have the task of living together in harmony. So, we need to know how to discuss, to accept an opposite side’s dialogue and most of all, most of all to never move from political position to violence,” he said.

He recognized France’s importance as one of the most important Western countries to house large Muslim and Jewish communities. “We need courageous men and women to speak to their communities and make them see reason when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict creeps too far into our lives.” Oubrou stated that the “colonization of Palestinian territories needs to end, international law must be applied. It seems to me that it is the only way to appease Muslims in the world. And Muslims must say loud and clear that the multiple aggressions by Hamas are condemnable.”

Oubrou stated “while adopting different political positions in regard to this deadly conflict, a dividing line between French citizens remains necessary to live together in France.”

Dress like a jihadist: Isis and terror-related merchandise flogged online and in Indonesian stores

June 24, 2014

As Isis whips up a tsunami of violence, barrelling through Iraq capturing towns and borders on a daily basis in its quest to create an Islamic state, a few entrepreneurial businessmen are capitalising on the exposure by selling a range of “terror”-related merchandise. All publicity is good publicity, particularly in the sale of jihadist apparel, with baseball T-shirts, caps and hoodies being flogged online emblazoned with “ISIS” or supporting the insurgent cause.

A number of Facebook groups marketing the Islamic goods have since been taken offline, including pages such as the “Koas Islamic State of Iraq and Sham” or “Muzalzil production.” The t-shirts, stamped with the al-Qa’ida splinter group’s name and bordered by automatic weapons, have been available for at least a few months and originate from Indonesian vendors. Islamic clothing has also, however, been seen in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

One Facebook account that’s still live, Rezji Militant, has pictures of a store that it says is in Pabelan, central Java, and proudly displays items it sells including an “Always Fight Against Jews Zionism” poster, camouflage vests, and militant dolls-come piggy banks. Another website, Zirah Moslem, has computer game-style images of men with scarves wrapped around their faces illustrated on t-shirts with the words “Muslim Brotherhood,” Fight For Freedom Till Last Drop of Blood,” or “Mujahideen Around the World.” Zirah Moslem has almost 5,000 friends on Facebook and shows off merchandise supporting Hamas, the Taliban and the Free Syrian Army.

 

TAGS: Radicalization, Security and Counterterrorism, Soldiers and Military Conflict, Public opinion and Islam in the media, and Issues in Politics and Immigration and Integration

De Corato asks Pisapia to respond to accusations about Imam al Bustanji

“We are still waiting for Pisapia to speak about the participation of the party in celebrations for the end of Ramadan; we want a convincing explanation as to why the City has participated in the celebration despite the fact that the guest of honor was the Imam Al Bustanji, who is known for his interview on Hamas satellite TV in which he revealed that he met a young 10 year old in Gaza and believes they should know about jihad and martyrdom” said Riccardo De Corato (from the Brothers of Italy), Vice-Chairman of the City Council of Milan.

Clarifications from Pisapia are not only demanded by the opposition, but also by the Jewish community which has spoken up about the error of the municipality. “Even the mayor, Gabbai, a member of the majority, should give an explanation. Yet all is silent, not a word which is shameful” explained De Corato.

“This comes after the disgrace of a visa denied to Limonta and his entire family which Pisapia said he would clear but then did nothing. Earlier still, there was the U.S. consulate’s designation of Milan as a city that is unsafe and dangerous and now, in addition to all of these missteps, the City celebrates with an imam who is a friend of Hamas. This is the image that Milan is giving abroad: a city collaborating with extremists.”

The US military’s ‘anti-Islam classes’ How widespread is the use of anti-Islamic material in the US military?

Al Jazeera has obtained exclusive material of a course taught on a US military base implying that Hamas has influenced the US government at the highest levels.

The course is called “Understanding the Threat to America.” And in it are hundreds of slides that claim to link the Muslim Civil Liberties Advocacy Organisation (CAIR) and other American Muslim groups to the Palestinian group Hamas.

It was taught to senior military officers at a base in the state of Virginia.

The US military is conducting a review of all material taught to its officers after the website Wired.com exposed another course teaching anti-Islam material.

One of the slides presented by Army Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Dooley says the model he is presenting presumes that the Geneva Conventions are “no longer relevant,” when fighting Muslims.

It goes on to say that historical precendents of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki are applicable to “Mecca and Medina’s destruction.”

Dooley’s 31-page presentation entitled “So What Can We Do?” A Counter – Jihad Op Design Model, comes to some startling conclusions: “Given the factual basis of what “Islamists” say they seek to impose on the world, the United States has come to accept that radical “true Islam” is both a political and military enemy to free people throughout the world…. It is therefore time for the United States to make our true intentions clear. This barbaric ideology will no longer be tolerated. Islam must change or we will facilitate its self destruction.”

Both the courses obtained by Al Jazeera and Wired.com were voluntary courses and it is not clear if similar material has been taught in other military colleges.

A Canadian Line of Campbell’s Soups Has Activists Stewing Over Islamic Connection

Campbell Soup Co., the Camden, N.J., food giant, has been fighting a grass-roots boycott of its products after its Canadian subsidiary rolled out a line of soups certified as halal, meaning they’re prepared according to Islamic dietary laws. Campbell Co. of Canada introduced the soups in a few Canadian markets in January, although American bloggers didn’t catch up to the news until earlier this month.

Blogger Pamela Geller began calling for a boycott earlier this month via her widely read site, Atlas Shrugs. Other bloggers soon joined in. “No one is suggesting they refrain from this line,” Geller said. “No one is suggesting they not have halal food. I’m not against halal food any more than I’m against kosher food. My issue is who’s doing the certifying.” Geller opposes Campbell’s decision to have its Canadian products certified by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), an organization that government prosecutors alleged had ties to the terrorist group Hamas in a 2007 conspiracy case.

ISNA, an organization based in Plainfield, Ind., was designated an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the prosecution of a charitable organization that funneled money to Hamas, the Islamist organization that rules the Gaza Strip. Hamas has been named a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.

US Muslim charity leaders get 65 years in jail for Hamas support

Two former leaders of the Texas-based Holy Land foundation were sentenced to 65 years in jail for supporting Palestinian militants. Jurors returned guilty verdicts on 108 charges of providing material support to terrorists, money laundering, and tax fraud. “These sentences should serve as a strong warning to anyone who knowingly provides financial support to terrorists under the guise of humanitarian relief,” said David Kris, assistant US attorney general for national security. Holy Land CEO Shukri Abu Baker and chairman and co-founder Ghassan Elashi, were both sentenced to 65 years in jail. Holy Land cofounder Mohammad El-Mezain, and Abdulrahman Odeh, the charity’s New Jersey representative, both received lesser sentences of 15 years. The Justice Department vowed in October 2007 to retry the five Holy Land leaders after jurors could not agree on verdicts on nearly 200 charges, and a new jury was seated in mid-September. Holy Land was one of several Muslim organizations the Bush administration shut down in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks for allegedly raising money for Islamic extremists overseas. Muslim charities that remained open suffered significant drops I contributions because of fears of prosecution.

Charity Guilty of Funding Terrorism

The Muslim charity “The Holy Land Foundation” and five of its former leaders have been convicted of funding the Palestinian militant group Hamas, designated a terrorist group in the US.

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Jury finds US-based Muslim charity guilty of funding terrorism

The leaders of what was once the largest Muslim charity in the United States were found guilty of acting as a front for Palestinian militants, in what was the largest terrorism financing prosecution in American history. The now-defunct Holy Land Foundation is charged with funneling $12 million to Hamas.

The Holy Land Foundation is one of several Muslim organizations shut down by the Bush administration in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The charity’s leaders received guilty verdicts, and received a total of 108 charges of providing material support to terrorists, money laundering, and tax fraud. Prosecutors did not accuse the charity of being directly involved or financing terrorist activity, but charged that humanitarian aid was used to promote Hamas, and allowed it to divert existing funds for militant activities.

Muslim charities in the United States have suffered a significant drop in contributions following 9/11, with many Muslim Americans concerned that they will be sought after for their good intentions of giving.

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Obama’s Muslim Outreach Director Resigns

Barack Obama’s national Muslim outreach coordinator resigned amid a controversy over his connections to man whom the Justice Department named as a co-conspirator in the racketeering trial of several alleged Hamas fundraisers. Mazen Asbahi joined Obama’s campaign just last week, and resigned in a letter to the campaign less than two weeks later, saying that he was stepping down to avoid distracting from Barack Obama’s message of change. Asbahi’s move came after the Wall Street Journal inquired about his relationship with Jamal Said, who served on a subsidiary board of the North American Islamic Trust with Asbahi in 2000, and was named in an investigation of alleged Hamas fundraisers. Asbahi himself, however, is not considered to have been part of the fundraising activities. Dawud Walid, executive director of CAIR’s Michigan chapter said that Asbahi is a victim of internet rumors, and a example of Islamophobia in politics.