Former French President Jacques Chirac has emerged as a spokesperson of sorts for Holocaust instruction in Muslim countries. Chirac’s popularity in parts of the Arab world and his history of making clear statements about France’s responsibility in the World War II destruction of Europe’s Jews accords him, according to this IHT feature, a unique place in talking about the relationship of racism and anti-Semitism to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Chirac said he had no intention “to place on Muslim countries a responsibility” for the Holocaust “that isn’t theirs” but stressed the importance of “making the Shoah known while removing it from the silence that people have built up around it in many countries.” “It’s been hidden,” Chirac said, “because referring to the Shoah in these countries has risked creating sympathy for the Jews and Israel.”
Mohammed Moussaoui, current president of the CFCM (French Council of the Muslim Faith), noted at the beginning of Ramadan that hundreds of religious leaders, largely from Morrocco but also from Algeria and Turkey, arrived to assist in prayers in France’s 1800 mosques. Their training, along with the financing of Islam in France, remain the primary challenges for the CFCM, says Moussaoui. In the remainder of this interview with Le Monde, the CFCM leader comments on the organization’s troubles with financing and on its activities during the month of Ramadan.
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Brian Knowlton IHT WASHINGTON U.S. officials will soon release five of the nine British citizens detained at the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the British government announced Thursday. All were captured while allegedly fighting alongside Taliban militants against U.S. and British troops in Afghanistan A Spaniard was returned Friday to Spain, where he reportedly faced immediate interrogation by a magistrate investigating terrorism. The fate of about 10 other European detainees, including French, Swedish and German nationals, remained unclear. Negotiations over the release of British detainees had rotated partly around the sticky question of whether they would be jailed, tried or freed upon returning home. The Pentagon has announced plans to establish a panel to review detainees’ cases annually to see which of them posed no threat and could be released. But senior Defense Department officials said Feb. 12 that they expected to keep large numbers of the detainees for many years, even indefinitely. Some of the roughly 650 detainees have been held for as long as two years without being charged. To date, nearly 90 detainees have been released, and U.S. officials have suggested that more than 100 of those deemed less dangerous might be eligible for eventual release.