Le Parisien – May 13, 2011
According to the CRCM Rhone-Alps (the regional representative of the CFCM, the French Council of the Muslim Faith), 84% of mosques in the region, which includes the Mosque of Lyon, will not participate in the June elections of the CFCM. Associations in the region had until May 11 to sign up to cote in the June elections. Azzedine Gaci, president of the regional group, claims that mosques in this region do not feel represented by the larger CFCM body. Gaci suggested that the elections be suspended until after the 2012 presidential elections so that issues of representativity can be addressed in the organization.
Le Figaro – May 16, 2011
Five young men arrested in conjunction with two protests in Lyon related to Islamism were sentenced to three months in prison related to weapons they were carrying which included bombs. Approximately 500 people participated in the protests.
News Sources: May 10, 2011
The European Parliament stripped parliamentary immunity from French far-right MEP Bruno Gollnisch following a complaint of “incitement to racial hatred.”
French authorities will interview Gollnisch after asking for the move, following a complaint over an October 2008 press release issued by Rhone-Alpes regional authorities near Lyon, which Gollnisch led, that cited “the invasion of our land and the destruction of our culture and values” by Islam.
Le Figaro – May 4, 2011
Authorities in the Rhone have forbidden a “March of Pigs” which had been organized in Lyon for Saturday, May 14 claiming that the activity counters secular values and could cause public disorder. Organizers of the march positioned themselves against the expansion of the halal meet market in France and the concurrent Islamism taking place. Another group, the Collective Against the Extreme Right in the Rhone, organized their own protests claiming that the initial march could stigmatize an entire people and provoke hatred.
News Agencies – August 23, 2010
A new gargoyle was placed on the exterior of the Lyon cathedral in honor of Benzizine Ahmed, the Muslim foreman who led the restoration work on the cathedral tower. Below the gargoyle a message – “Allah Akbar” (God is greatest) in both Arabic and French – is inscribed.
The diocese spokespeople said that the builders sometimes take certain liberties outside the sacred area. Repellin Didier, head architect for historical monuments, says the stonemasons and sculptures of the cathedral have a tradition to portray the people they esteem. Ahmed, who worked for 30 years on the cathedral, is competent and very humble. A quiet man who is appreciated. It’s a beautiful human gesture, says Didier.
News Agencies – August 24, 2010
A man of Senegalese-origin from Vénissieux was eating breakfast on the terrace of a restaurant in the center of Lyon on the weekend of August 15th when three youth jumped him because he didn’t observe the fast of Ramadan. He was hit on the head with a glass bottle, and then beaten with a chair. Rushed to the hospital with a fracture to the back of his head, the victim was operated on. The Lyon police has opened a preliminary investigation.
New dialogue between Catholics and Muslims has begun in some suburbs outside of Lyon. Several Catholic priests expressed enthusiasm about these encounters as most suburbanites are Muslim; approximately 2 percent of the population goes to church regularly. The gatherings attempt to make theological and practical commonalities evident.
France will issue recommendations against full face veils but not pass a law barring Muslim women from wearing them, a leading backer of a legal ban has said.
André Gerin, chairman of a parliamentary inquiry into use of full face veils in France, reluctantly ruled out a ban.
France banned Muslim headscarves in state schools in 2004 following a similar inquiry and looked set to bring in an outright ban on veils coverings the whole face, such as burqas or niqabs, when it launched the panel last June at the request of Gerin, a Communist deputy from Lyon.
At its weekly hearings, legal experts, local officials, Muslim leaders and even some militant secularists have told the deputies on the panel that a ban could be anti-constitutional, counterproductive and impossible to enforce.
PARIS — It is a measure of France’s confusion about Islam and its own Muslim citizens that in the political furor here over “banning the burqa,” as the argument goes, the garment at issue is not really the burqa at all, but the niqab.
A burqa is the all-enveloping cloak, often blue, with a woven grill over the eyes, that many Afghan women wear, and it is almost never seen in France. The niqab, often black, leaves the eyes uncovered.
Still, a movement against it that started with a Communist mayor near Lyon has gotten traction within France’s ruling center-right party, which claims to be defending French values, and among many on the left, who say they are defending women’s rights. A parliamentary commission will soon meet to investigate whether to ban the burqa — in other words, any cloak that covers most of the face.
The debate is indicative of the deep ambivalence about social customs among even a small minority of France’s Muslim citizens, and of the signal fear that France’s principles of citizens’ rights, equality and secularism are being undermined.
Social housing was denied to a family in Vénissieux, a suburb outside of Lyon, allegedly because the mother of the family wears a burka, a piece of clothing “counter to French values,” declared the Rhone city council. The landlord in question justified his position stating that, “She wears the burka, which characterizes a radical practicing of religion incompatible with the essential values of the French and the equality of the sexes.”
The HALDE organization (Haute autorité de lute contre les discriminations or High Authority Against Discrimination) has stated the decision amounts to discrimination and must be appealed. In the meantime, the family of three children is without housing.