France to invest $47 million in Sahel counterterrorism training program

France plans to invest 42 million euros ($47 million) to help countries of Africa’s Sahel region prepare to face jihadist attacks similar to those that killed dozens in Paris in 2015, an interior ministry official said on Friday.

The Sahel, a politically fragile region whose remote desert spaces host a medley of jihadist groups, is seen as vulnerable to further attacks after strikes on soft targets in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast earlier this year.

Nearby Senegal, a Western security partner with a long history of stability, has so far been spared.

“In future we will train all the countries of the G5 Sahel and Senegal with 42 million Euros in financing, including 24 million Euros for equipment,” said a spokeswoman for Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve during his visit to Dakar on Friday.

G5 Sahel is a regional security organisation composed of Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania. The investment period is 2017-2022, the spokeswoman added.

French riot control officers from the CRS are currently in Senegal for a month training Senegalese police forces to combat urban attacks on soft targets ahead of the broader programme.

In the simulation exercise watched by Cazeneuve as well as army elites and foreign diplomats, Senegalese police arrived swiftly on the scene after masked jihadists killed three students before holing up with hostages inside a university bus.

The jihadists were killed and the remaining hostages released and given medical treatment in the drill.

“We have reinforced police cooperation so that the first ones on the scene, the specialized forces, can intervene in case of mass murder with a highly efficient response,” said Cazeneuve in a speech shortly after the demonstration.

Former colonial power France retains a military presence in Senegal with 350 soldiers. A much larger force of 3,500 is spread across Chad, Mauritania, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso to hunt down jihadists.

Senegal’s ally the United States has also boosted military cooperation with the country and this year signed a cooperation agreement to ease the deployment of American troops there.

 

German Court Ruling over Ritual Circumcision: Kulturkampf against Muslims and Jews

A court in Germany has ruled that circumcision on religious grounds amounts to bodily harm, making it potentially punishable by law. Sociologist of religion Rolf Schieder says this is an unacceptable move that questions the right to religious freedom

Upon first glance, the Cologne district court is correct: any medical intervention in the case of a child amounts to bodily harm in Germany. The same applies to the removal of a wart, just as it does to the removal of a boy’s foreskin. The state has both the right and the duty to assess whether the medical treatment carried out on the child is in the interests of that child. If for example the removal of a child’s tonsils is in the interests of the child’s welfare, then despite the fact that this is amounts to bodily harm, the actions of the doctor are justified.

As a rule, medical reasons are accepted as justification. So if the Muslim parents in Cologne had explained to the doctor that they wanted a circumcision for reasons of hygiene, the case would not have come as far through the courts as it eventually did.

Furthermore, until the Cologne district court ruling, the commonly-held view among lawyers competent in such religiously sensitive legal matters was that adherence to a religious tradition is an acceptable basis for justification. This was even the assumption of the first court to deal with the matter, the Cologne magistrates’ court.

Clumsy Anti-Terror Investigation: Hilal Sezgin’s Novel about Muslims in Germany

1 October 2010

The new novel by Hilal Sezgin begins with a fictional terrorist attack on Germany – an attack that is not only deeply unsettling for the nation, but also for the book’s heroine. In a humorous and light-hearted tone, the German-Turkish writer and columnist tells of coexistence in a nervous society that suspects every devout Muslim of being a potential terrorist.

It is something one hardly dares to imagine: Islamic terrorists carry out an attack during the New Year period. They managed to poison the contents of numerous bottles of sparkling wine before they hit the supermarket shelves. Nine people die as a result of the poison, and countless more have to receive medical treatment. The entire country is plunged into a state of anxiety and fears that other foodstuffs may have been poisoned. Fortunately, this story is not real, but an invention by the writer and journalist Hilal Sezgin, an idea for a clever and entertaining novel on Germany’s relationship with Islam and the Muslim members of its society (“Mihriban pfeift auf Gott. Ein deutsch-türkischer Schelmenroman.” [Mihriban does not care about God. A German-Turkish picaresque novel]).

Woman in burqa denied entrance to Utrecht clinic

A Muslim woman was denied entrance to the examination room at a Utrecht first aid clinic because she was wearing a burqa.

The 23-year old woman visited the clinic with her three month old baby on Christmas day. Reports indicated that the doctor was willing to treat the baby with the father but would not allow the mother to be present in the examining room.

The clinic has announced that it regrets the incident and is investigating what happened.

Muslims attacked by rightists in Germany

Two young neo-Nazis wielding baseball bats attacked a group of Muslims on their way to a mosque in the eastern German state of Thuringia, police said Sunday. A 23-year-old required medical treatment for injuries to his arm after the attack on Saturday evening in Nordhausen, some 250 kilometres southwest of Berlin. The assailants fled after hurling verbal abuse at their victims from Morocco, Russia and Pakistan, a police spokesman said. Attacks on foreigners are not uncommon in the eastern part of Germany, where unemployment is high and right-wing groups have an easy time recruiting new members. In a case that made international headlines last year, a mob of Germans chased a group of Indians through the eastern town of Muegeln and tried to kick down the door of the restaurant where they sought sanctuary.

Cameron seeks ‘hate preachers’ ban

Conservative leader David Cameron has called for a ban on “preachers of hate” entering the United Kingdom. Mr Cameron accused Prime Minister Gordon Brown of dithering over the case of Islamist cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, following press reports that he is to be granted permission to come to London for medical treatment. The Tory leader branded Mr al-Qaradawi – and the head of Hezbollah’s TV station Ibrahim Moussawi, who recently spoke in Manchester – “dangerous and divisive” and said they should not be allowed in the country. And he called for a complete ban on Islamist political movements Hizb-ut-Tahrir and Hezbollah.The Wharf