News Agencies – December 9, 2011
More than 350 Muslims prayed outside in the streets of Nanterre, France to create awareness for the creation of a new mosque near La Defense. The mayor of Nanterre, Patrick Jarry, had previously refused the rezoning request.
News Agencies – October 19, 2010
Masked youths clad in black torched cars, smashed storefronts and threw up roadblocks, clashing with riot police across France as protests over raising the retirement age to 62 took a radical turn. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the vandals are students, as young as 12 years old. These youth, says the official, are opportunistic and unstructured, forming sporadic groups. The most destructive are armed with makeshift weapons found on the way: a snatched post, or a stolen bicycle are used to smash store windows and then loot them, says a police agent in Seine-Saint-Denis. One of the ‘rioters’ even forgot his notebook in a shop in Seine-Saint-Denis which was looted by 40 people. Fifteen years old and without a police record, he was arrested six hours later at home.
The proximity of the ‘trouble suburbs’ to the marching routes complicates the job of the police, for example, in Nanterre, where rioters gathered to harass the riot police. At the departmental directorate of public security in Essonne, a police officer says that during the protests, high-school and college students from the underprivileged areas (“difficult neighborhoods”) turn into rioters. They put on a hood and start to pelt the police, or burn garbage, or even cars. Then they melt back into the protest march, some changing their clothing so as not to be recognized by the police videos.
In his June 4, 2009 Cairo speech, U.S. President Barack Obama emphasized that Muslim women in the U.S. are free to don the hijab. Obama’s statements triggered strong criticism among Arab intellectuals in France..
Reformist writer Abdelwahab Meddeb, a professor of comparative literature at the University of Paris X in Nanterre and author of The Malady of Islam (New York: Basic Books, 2003) and Counter-Preaching (Contre-Prêches, Seuil, Paris, 2006) wrote: “Obama’s pertinent speech in Cairo was wrong in at least one respect. Let us say [for the sake of the argument] – though I find it difficult to do so – that women should be free to wear the veil. [Still, Obama] should have added that they must [also] be free to remove it.”
Leila Barbès, a professor of religion and sociology at the Catholic University of Lille, also referred to the hijab issue. She explained that, in the context of the veil, “free choice” was an illusion: “The moment [wearing] the veil is presented as a divine duty, the issue of free choice is no longer valid, [and] all Muslim women are exposed to [this religious] propaganda. How can we pretend they have a choice when they are told that [their] religion obligates [them to wear a veil]? The women [who wear] a full veil [i.e. a niqab, which covers everything but the eyes,] do so in order to comply with what is requested and expected of them by their husbands or their sect.
A new halal-focused supermarket, Hal’Shop de Nanterre, has opened in Nanterre catering to France’s emerging “beurgeosie.” All of its products are 100% halal. The store is located a few steps from an RER stop and occupies 200m2. The owner has said he would not hire niqab-wearing women as it would impede from customer service.