Beaucaire mayor accuses Morocco of terrorism, calls for banning Arabic in schools

Julien Sanchez, who serves as the mayor of the city of Beaucaire in South France, recently released a video in which he expressed his opposition to teaching Arabic in schools.

Sanchez accused Morocco of “becoming in recent months a country of origin for terrorist organizations, which exposes French schools to danger” because many of the Arabic teachers are originally from Morocco.

“We are asked to secure our schools, but we don’t know exactly who penetrates them”, he said.

The FN mayor said he will not allocate money for such a project and will instead give a symbolic Euro.

Nathalie Goulet discusses foreign financing and recent Senate report (pdf)

Following the recent attacks on French soil several politicians have proposed measures to reform Islam’s structure and the financing of Islam in France. For Nathalie Goulet, UDI senator from Orne who recently published a report on foreign financing, the priority should be to end the practice of ‘supplied’ imams and to establish a foundation to centralize Islam’s financing in France.

Le Monde: Foreign countries are often criticized for their influence on Islam in France. Is it true?

Nathalie Goulet: The influence of certain countries came as a great surprise to many when our report was published. But it’s not always those that we think that have the greatest presence. The Gulf countries are much less influential than the ‘countries of origin,’ Algeria, Morocco, and Turkey. These three states exercise a real influence by financing the construction of buildings and schools, imam training, and supplying imams for France’s mosques—who are paid by their countries of origin—and through the governance of the French Council of the Muslim Faith.

Le Monde: Manuel Valls said he was in favor of a temporary suspension of financing from foreign countries. Do you agree?

Goulet: The Prime Minister speaks of suspending foreign financing, but who will be their replacements? While one could hope that there would be no more foreign financing, it would be a mistake to think that the problem could be solved just like that. The question of foreign financing is ancillary. The Louvre or the Arab World Institute also receive foreign funding, in a transparent manner. Before anything, we must work to end the practice of ‘supplied’ imams who are trained in Morocco.

Le Monde: According to the report there are 301 imams sent from other countries for around 2,500 places of worship. Where is the problem?

There are 301 opportunities, for French citizens of Muslim faith, to assist with sermons led by imams who are not French and from foreign countries. It’s more problematic than foreign funding of mosques. Imams sent from Turkey, for example, arrive under the title of “social workers” and not as imams. They barely speak French, have never seen an Armenian in their life, and don’t know that in France we recognize the Armenian Genocide. The majority of supplied imams have never received an education on the Holocaust, the death penalty, homophobia…they don’t know these important contextual references, but they play a role in communities.

Le Monde: Why is the question of financing critical?

Goulet: We consider Islam to be a religion like any other, but we don’t provide it with the means to be. Islam is a recent religion in our territory. There is a need for catch-up compared to other religions. The Muslim communities need structure, schools, mosques, and associations. Muslims need to be able to practice their religion decently.

Today, if a 14 year-old girl wants to wear the veil, she is going to find an Islamic school, but there are few. A Jewish child who wants to keep Kosher and wear a kippa will find a Jewish school. The tensions are more pronounced in Muslim communities because they don’t have all the tools to practice their religion.

Le Monde: What are the paths for financing Islam in France? What do you think about the idea of re-launching a ‘foundation of French Islam’ discussed by Manuel Valls?

Goulet: We must revive the Foundation for Islamic Works to monitor foreign funds. This foundation must have a joint government with a representative from the State Council and an accountant from the Treasury. We must also implement cost accounting so that Algerian money is used for Algerian places of worship, money from Morocco is used for Moroccan places of worship…it’s necessary if we want the communities to agree to this foundation. Algerians don’t want to pay for Turks, and vice versa, even if the idea of an Algerian place of worship makes no sense in France.

Le Monde: Julien Dray, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet and Francois Bayrou support instituting a “halal tax” to finance Islam in France.

Goulet: Legally, it’s impossible to institute a tax on a religious item…and technically, a ‘halal tax’ would also be impossible to institute in practice, because there is no consensus on the notion of halal.

What could be possible is that religious representatives themselves institute a private fee for services relating to slaughter, which would be set by the community, collected, and sent to the Foundation.

Le Monde: Aside from financing, is there a representation problem?

Goulet: Establishing the CFCM was necessary, there needs to be an interlocutor with the State. But throughout the years, this body has never succeeded in being representative. If I was president of the CFCM, I would open up a debate, I would establish constituent assembly to review the statutes, I would call on youths and members of associations, who may feel excluded, I would institute the principle of one man, one woman, one vote…But that must come from Muslims themselves. Maybe one day, young Muslims will launch an online petition and create a concurrent association.

 

 

 

 

Senators critique an ‘Islam of France’ under foreign influence

The Senate report is concerned with France’s dependence on Algeria, Morocco, Turkey, and Tunisia for certain religious affairs. It lists the domains where their influence remains strong: financing mosques, providing and sending imams overseas to France, and determining the structure of the Islamic federations. However, according to the figures provided in the report, the funds from foreign countries are less than we might think: six  million each year from Morocco and no more than 4 million from Saudi Arabia.

The report argues that the resources exist in France, notably from donations from worshippers. “An imam confirmed…that zakat received during Ramadan increased more than 1 million,” said senator Nathalie Goulet. The report is not opposed to foreign funding but rather hopes to increase transparency. To do that the senators hope to relaunch the Foundation for Islam in France, created in the mid 2000s but never truly inaugurated. It would collect and redistribute funds.

July 6, 2016

Source: http://www.lefigaro.fr/actualite-france/2016/07/06/01016-201607-en-france-un-rapport-denonce-l-ambiguite-de-l-etat.php

 

 

Disbelief at Pontarlier mosque attended by Salhi

Naceur Benyahia was surprised to hear the name Yassin Salhi regarding the terror attack in Isère. The president of the local Islamic association in Pontarlier (Doubs) knew the man arrested by a fireman after the attack at the US owned factory in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier. “It’s a man that I’ve known for ten years. A calm man who played soccer,” remembers Benyahia.

At the beginning of 2000, radicalized youths attempted to take over the Philippe Grenier mosque, reported L’Est Républicain. “It was one person,” Naceur Benyahi corrects, “He tried to change the inner structure. He was done away with quickly, he was kicked out.”

Portarlier’s mayor Patrick Genre, elected in 1999, adds: “The religious association was very well run and knew how to stop a takeover of the mosque.” He added that there was no radicalization problem in the town of 20,000.

“There is no radical movement in our mosque,” Benyahi announced. “Our religion is based on a sound book and on the Prophet. If someone tries to change that, they leave the religion.”

The president noted that Salhi now lives in Besançon. “He left Pontarlier when his father died and his mother returned to live in Morocco. His brothers and sisters dispersed. I didn’t know he was married, that he had three children.”

Suspected of jihad, a young man from Savoie imprisoned in Morocco

French citizen Thomas Marchal was arrested by Moroccan police for suspected involvement in jihadist activities.
French citizen Thomas Marchal was arrested by Moroccan police for suspected involvement in jihadist activities.

Thomas Marchal, 22 years old, converted to Islam two years ago. Following his conversion he became increasingly zealous in his religious beliefs and left France to live in Morocco “to practice his faith in a Muslim country.” Prior to his arrest he was living in Marrakech working at a call center.

One month ago Moroccan police visited his workplace for questioning. Two days later they returned and arrested him. He was held in custody for thirteen days and was not allowed to contact a lawyer or his family, nor was he given a translator. Marchal said he signed papers written in Arabic under duress without knowing what they said. After being imprisoned for three weeks he finally reached his sister Charlotte by telephone and asked her for help. She has received help from the Collective of French Prisoners in Morocco. She says she “does not understand why her brother was not allowed to have a lawyer or translator,” and has not received word from the consulate about his condition.

 

 

The Story of Semra: arrested and imprisoned as a victim of a jihad recruiter

In March 2013 Semra, 16 at the time, was arrested on the airport, while she was in the company of Imad el O. The two are suspected to be going to Syria, although Semra claims they wanted to go to Egypt to get married there and to study. It was Semra’s niece who told the police this. Imad el O. and her friend Shukri F. appeared allready in court. Imad el O. because he took her from her parental house and Shukri F. because she is said to try to convince Semra to become a jihad-bride.

For 1.5 years Semra stayed in a youth institution, which she herself describes as detention. She lived there mainly with loverboy victims. She was told not to speak about Islam.

Semra still wants to leave the Netherlands, together with Imad el O., maybe to Morocco. She is angry, saying that the police and childcare services knew about her situation at home, knowing that she had a lot of fights with her parents. But the treated her ‘like a dog.’ She says she was not recruited for the jihad, she ran away from home because of the problems with her parents.

Dutch Mosques Release Statements of Tolerance

August 1, 2014

The Netherlands’ Council of Mosques and the Union of Dutch Moroccan Mosques are emphasizing tolerance and opposing anti-Semitic sentiment. Both organizations are concerned with increases in violence and expressions of hatred towards Jews and Muslims. The Council of Mosques has adopted a declaration expressly criticize Muslims guilty of anti-Semitic incidents. Regarding such incidents, a spokesman for the Islamic organizations commented that “there are many people who claim to use the freedom of speech. We are not opposed, but in this country we have to be protective of one another.”

According to the mosques, it is not prohibited to criticize Israel, but this is not a license for anti-Semitic nor anti-Muslim statements or actions. The declaration reads, “Jews in the Netherlands are brothers of the holy book and maintain a fraternal relationship”.

According to the spokesman for the organizations, almost all mosques in the Netherlands are working along with the declaration.

Investigations into Dutch Moroccan Criminal Traffic

July 31, 2014

Hundreds of Dutch Moroccan youths are reported to be involved in a string of robberies and at least six gangland killings in the Netherlands and Belgium, according to Volkskrant newspaper, which bases its claims on police investigations into the killings. According to the reports, robberies occur in the Netherlands and then the perpetrators travel to Morocco, which does not deport its nationals.

Dutch public prosecution has an agreement with the Moroccan authorities to facilitate prosecution of those involved in the Netherlands under Moroccan law.  The agreement was signed in 2012 under the responsibilities of the justice ministry. Last week, Hamza B, suspected of a double shooting in Amsterdam in December 2012, became the first to go on trial in Morocco under the new agreement.

Spanish Police Break Up Alleged Jihadist Recruitment Network: Suspected Leader is Former Detainee at Guantanamo Bay

June 16, 2014

Spanish police broke up what they said was a jihadist recruitment network in Madrid, led by a former detainee at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, that sent volunteers to fight in Syria and Iraq with al Qaeda-inspired rebels.

Police detained nine people who allegedly fought alongside the Sunni militia Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, officials said. A person familiar with the probe said the suspected leader of the network is Lahcen Ikassrien, Moroccan by birth and nationalized Spanish. He spent four years at Guantanamo after he was captured in 2001 in Afghanistan, where he allegedly fought with the Taliban. He has denied being a Taliban member.

In Spain, Mr. Ikassrien has been a prominent voice for the closure of the Guantanamo camp, giving numerous interviews with local media and taking part in human-rights events organized by Amnesty International, according to Fernando Reinares, an expert in terrorism at Spain’s Elcano Royal Institute, a think tank.

“This detention comes to show that the idea many had, that the jihadists in Syria and elsewhere are a new generation that has no connection with the previous 9/11 generation, is completely false,” Mr. Reinares said. “What we see in fact, is that many of that older generation are now in leading positions all over the jihadist movement.”

Several dozen Islamist operatives have been arrested in Spain over the past two years, many of whom were recruited online.

Al Andalus Brigade (an ISIS supplier) detained in Madrid

June 17, 2014

The Al Andalus Brigade had sent nine ‘fighters’ from Spain and Morocco to be integrated into the terrorist factions in Iraq and Syria. Specifically, had connections with groups from seven other countries. The group, one of the leading suppliers of terrorist organization the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), had managed to form its own structure and to maintain connections with groups in France, Belgium, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey and Syria, as reported by the Ministry of Interior.

The group had significantly increased their activities in recent days, so the researchers considered a serious threat to national security.