France to stop citizens joining Syria war

April 24, 2014 

Proposed measures include a dedicated hotline and stripping people of French nationality as deterrence and punishment.

France has unveiled steps to stop its citizens from joining the Syrian civil war and prevent young French Muslims from posing a threat to their home country.

France, which has been a staunch opponent of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, estimates the number of its nationals directly involved in the Syrian conflict is about 500, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a radio interview.

President Francois Hollande has prioritised the crackdown on groups and individuals planning domestic attacks since a Toulouse-based al Qaeda-inspired gunman, Mohamed Merah, shot dead seven people in March 2012.

But with the Syrian conflict entering its fourth year, the government has increasingly come under fire for failing to stop its nationals – some of whom are as young as 15 – from heading to Syria.

“France will take all measures to dissuade, prevent and punish those who are tempted to fight where they have no reason to be,” Hollande told reporters on Tuesday.

At the weekend four French journalists, who returned from Syria after being held by an al Qaeda-linked group, said some of their captors had been Francophone.

Speaking on France 2 television before officially unveiling the measures to the cabinet on Wednesday, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the steps could go as far as stripping people of French nationality – along the lines of new British legislation introduced last year.

Parents will be encouraged to signal suspicious behaviour in their children through a dedicated hotline, after which officials will immediately be sent to assess the situation.

“French Islam is not radical…what we need to do is prevent this behaviour. Minors and teenagers are often fragile and can fall into the hands of preachers of hate and recruiters,” Cazeneuve said.

In total about 20 measures will be presented, with those not requiring new legislation being implemented in the coming days.

“Our main goals are to stop departures and dismantle jihadist networks,” Cazeneuve told France 2.

Cazeneuve also said minors would be prevented from leaving France without parental consent and that the names of those identified as wanting to leave for jihad would be indicated to the European Union’s 27 other members.

French nationals who returned from Syria could now also automatically face criminal charges for being part of a terrorist organisation, he said.

“This is a comprehensive plan to fight a phenomenon that is in sharp progression,” a government source said.

“The idea is to deal with the problem from when someone is in their room watching jihadi videos to the moment when they are taking the bus to the Turkish-Syrian border.”

Cazeneuve said the new measures would enhance surveillance of websites that recruit fighters and aim to block assets of those behind them. He said the government would also push European partners to close down extremist sites.

The management of security and religious affairs: the disappointing results of Interior Minister Manuel Valls in 2013

February 5, 2014

 

According to the recently released 2013 report by the National Observatory of Delinquency and Penal Action, France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls has not brought down crime nor been active on the regulation of religious committees, contrary to popular perception.

Enjoying successful poll ratings, Manuel Valls has been portrayed as the ‘strong man’ of the socialist government. But according to the report on delinquency and public security, the number of burglaries and homicides has increased despite a government plan to counter crime.

In addition to calling for redefining the mission of the judiciary police and integrating new technologies into the police force, the Interior Minister called for a tighter legal measures on internet and social media networks to stop hate messages. ‘The degree of latent hate expressed on social media is of an incompatible intensity with our national ambitions’, said Valls.

Valls is also in charge of maintaining France’s religious bodies, and the 2013 assessment is particularly weak on his management of Islam in France. At the start of his position in 2012, Valls had expressed ambitious plans in this domain. But up to now, nothing new has been implemented: the ‘Islam question’ may have been deemed too risky and hazardous for an Interior Minister who came across as a hardline supporter of secularism.

Valls had initially said he planned to create another national representative body for Muslims, the CFCM (Conseil Francais du Culte Musulman) deemed too close to foreign agendas. Another project was to implement a ‘Foundation of French Islam’ intended for collecting funds transparently for the construction of places of worship. Valls let believe he wanted to reopen this project, but French Muslims have yet to see any steps forwards from the Interior Minister on this central question.

 

Source: http://www.zamanfrance.fr/article/politique-securitaire-gestion-cultes-bilan-mitige-manuel-valls-7687.html

The government prepares reform of the Freedom of Religion Law (LOLR)

The Spanish government is preparing a draft bill for reforms of the Freedom of Religion Law. The current law was defined in the Spanish Constitution of 1978, but the text was created and approved in 1980. It is possible that this draft bill will be presented in April of this year.
The objective of this new legal text is to better reflect the changing religious situation in Spain. Currently, the details of the text have not been disclosed, but it probably includes the elimination of all religious symbols in public institutions.

Interview with German MP Sebastian Edathy on Muslim and immigration issues

In an interview, conducted by Euro-Muslims Editorial Desk, Mr. Sebastian Edathy shares his views on immigrant and particularly Muslim participation in German politics. Edathy is a German MP of Indian origins and member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD).

Asked about the withering support of Muslims for the Social Democratic Party, Edathy claims legislation changes in family reunification responsible, which requires family members to learn basic German before joining their partners in Germany. Regarding reasons for Islamophobia, Edathy thinks that much is owed to the linking of “Islamic” and “Islamist”, i.e. the equation of religion and fundamentalism.

Why the burka is part of Britain: France and Britain compared

Nicolas Sarkozy’s speech before the Senate, in which he announced the ban of the burka in France, has stirred some emotion and discussion in Britain, where such law is far from being thought of. In her article Cassandra Jardine compares the two countries, pointing to the right to individual and religious expression in Britain.

Ahmed Versi, editor of the Muslim News, believes the way forward is through tolerance and understanding, not legislation — and is glad he lives in Britain for that reason. “Britain is the best country in Europe for Muslims. We complain, but we are freer here, and we have more dialogue with government. In France, Muslim organisations are not representative; here they are independent. In France, Muslims live in ghettos and have double the unemployment rate of the rest of the population. Many French women come to university in the UK because they want to study and wear the headscarf which in France they cannot.”

The article also quotes those who would welcome the burka-ban, not least some members of the Muslim community. “The French president should be applauded for initiating this debate,” Dr Taj Hargey of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford said. Dr Hargey describes the growing belief that Muslim women should cover their head, face and hands as “doctrinaire brain-washing”. Dr Usama Hasan, a reformist London Imam, also has “some sympathy” with Sarkozy: he too does not think it is necessary for women to wear the burka.

British Government Unveils Sweeping New Anti-Terrorism Legislation, Bringing Concern From Muslims

By ED JOHNSON The British government Wednesday unveiled sweeping anti-terrorism legislation designed to crack down on Islamic extremism, raising concerns from Muslim leaders, opposition parties and legal experts about the potential for infringing on civil liberties. In the wake of the July attacks on London’s transit system, the government wants the power to detain terror suspects for three months without charge, outlaw attending terrorist training camps in Britain or abroad and make it an offense to glorify or encourage terrorism. “The terrorist threat facing the U.K. is real and significant and the government is determined to do all it can to protect our citizens from groups who would try to destroy our society, our way of life and our freedoms,” Home Secretary Charles Clarke said as the Terrorism Bill was published in Parliament. Opponents warned that the legislation, which must be approved by both chambers of Parliament before it can become law, could infringe on civil liberties. “We all need to be vigilant in ensuring that the government’s proposed measures do not jettison fundamental freedoms at the cost of providing little or no guarantee of extra security,” said Sir Iqbal Sacranie, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain. The government has moved swiftly since the July 7 suicide bombings that killed 52 London commuters, and the failed July 21 attacks. It has widened its powers to deport foreign nationals who glorify terrorist violence, has proposed banning 15 international Islamic groups under existing anti-terrorism laws and wants to make it easier to strip British citizenship from dual nationals considered a threat. The Terrorism Bill also aims to outlaw preparing an act of terrorism, publishing or selling material that incites terrorism and giving or receiving training in terrorist techniques such as how to spread viruses, place bombs and even cause a stampede in a crowd. The most controversial proposal would extend the maximum detention period for terrorist suspects held without charge from 14 days to three months. Police and prosecutors argue that more time is needed in complex cases, in which suspects often have multiple aliases and store information in tightly encrypted computers, or where the cooperation of foreign agencies is needed. Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday defended the measure and said police have made an “absolutely compelling case” for the extension. But Lord Carlile, appointed by the government to review the measures, said the three-month detention plan could be open to challenge under European human rights legislation.