‘Halal days’ for French Muslims

The fourth annual “halal days” were held May 18-21 and took place in schools, associations, and other Muslim organizations. The event aimed to “raise awareness about the importance of eating halal and eating well.”

Participating organizations agreed to open their doors to the public to better understand “the foundations of halal food, its culture, and its characteristics, as well as the processes used by all to guarantee that products are halal compliant.” Last year, 1,250 people signed up for the events.

“It was mostly attacks by the National Front on the halal market in 2014 that made us think of this event, to create a zone conducive to debate,” explained Lynda Ayadi, the director of the marketing company Heaven Strategy which organizes the “halal days.”

“We felt a strong demand from the Muslim community to provide perspective and information on the halal market,” she added. “More recently, this feeling was reinforced following the polemic sparked by the animal protection association L214’s video of French slaughterhouses, which they blamed for animal suffering.”

Ayadi insisted that the event’s goal was not to “spread propaganda,” and invited those who oppose halal “to come and participate in the debates.”

300 butchers adopt ‘non halal’ label

The association “Vigilance Halal” (or, Attention Halal) was founded in 2012 by the veterinarian Alain de Peretti, who also is a National Front supporter. The organization aims to combat ritual slaughter, namely halal, through public ad campaigns and other efforts.

“We are hidden because the State, the industry, and Islam are all in collusion. For economic reasons, France turns a blind eye and finances the Muslim religion and terrorism, all the while informed [of what it is doing],” said Lou Mantély, the association’s spokesperson.

The association has recently released a new label that vendors can adopt, “meat of French tradition.” This label was part of a major marketing campaign that began in 2016 and is aimed at 5,000 butchers. The aim is to aid “in the fight against communitarianism.”

“Our goal is that non halal becomes a commercial trend. This will force the slaughterhouses to do less ritual slaughter,” said Mantély. More than 300 butchers in France and Navarre have adopted the label.

 

 

 

Marine Le Pen says Assad solution to Syria crisis

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen on Monday called Syrian President Bashar Assad “the most reassuring solution for France,” a major divergence with her nation’s official policy.

Le Pen, head of the National Front, spoke after meetings with Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri. They were among numerous officials, including the Christian Maronite patriarch, that Le Pen was meeting on her two-day visit to Lebanon, a former French protectorate.

The trip represented the first major foray into foreign policy for Le Pen, a leading candidate in France’s April 23 and May 7 election.

She said she told Hariri that there is “no viable and workable solution” to the Syrian civil war beyond choosing between Assad and the Islamic State group.

“I clearly explained that in the political picture the least bad option is the politically realistic. It appears that Bashar al Assad is evidently today the most reassuring solution for France.”

Le Pen has made known her preference for Assad in the past — a position that runs counter to the French government’s strong anti-Assad approach — but it carries extra weight being stated while on a foreign visit with a Syrian neighbor, and during unusual meetings with the nation’s top officials. The trip is Le Pen’s first real public foray into foreign policy.

Before meeting with the prime minister, Le Pen had a visit with Aoun, the leader of a Christian party allied with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia fighting on the side of Assad.

Le Pen said she and Hariri, who has longstanding ties to France, agreed on “the absolute necessity” for nations wanting to fight the Islamic State group tearing Syria and Iraq apart to come “to the table,” an apparent reference to formal talks. She noted the threat to France of the Islamic State group which has claimed deadly attacks in Paris, Nice and elsewhere, and has lured hundreds of French youths to the war zones in Syria and Iraq.

Le Pen was also using her two-day visit to the former French protectorate — and her unusual encounter with a foreign president — to appeal to the thousands of French voters in Lebanon.

Marine Le Pen calls globalization, ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ threats against French

French far-right candidate Marine Le Pen decried the “two totalitarianisms” of globalization and Islamic fundamentalism Sunday in a speech formally launching her presidential campaign.

Looking to translate her high early poll numbers into votes, Le Pen evoked a frightening image of France’s future during her much-anticipated speech. The country, enslaved to the European Union and unrecognizable as French, risks losing its identity if the political status quo endures, she said.

“We are at a crossroads … This election is a choice of civilization,” she said, asking whether her three children and other young citizens would have the rights and cultural signposts of the current generation. “Will they even speak our French language?”

She issued a call for French voters on the left and right to join her, saying “You have a place at our side.”

“We do not want to live under the rule or threat of Islamic fundamentalism. They are looking to impose on us gender discrimination in public places, full body veils or not, prayer rooms in the workplace, prayers in the streets, huge mosques … or the submission of women,” she said.

The estimated 5,000 people in the amphitheatre and watching on big screens cheered and chanted “On est chez nous” (“We are in our land”).

Le Pen reiterated some of the 144 “commitments” she has pledged to fulfil, if elected. It is a nationalist agenda laying out plans for France to leave the European Union, control its borders and readopt the old French franc as the national currency.

Running under the slogan “In the Name of the People,” her platform also would create popular referendums on any issue that gathered at least 500,000 signatures. And it would put French people first, with “national preference” enshrined in the Constitution.

Le Pen has been a leader in early polls, which place her at the top in the April 23 first-round vote but not winning the May 7 runoff.

If elected, she envisions a “government of national unity” formed after June legislative elections.

Le Pen took control of the National Front in 2011 and largely rid it of the overt anti-Semitism that flourished under her father’s leadership.

Since then, the party has drawn supporters from the length of the political spectrum by tapping into disgust over France’s 10-per-cent unemployment rate and political corruption scandals. But the portrait its presidential candidate paints is as stark as her prescriptions for change.

The European Union, she said, “is a failure.” “It hasn’t upheld one of its promises especially in terms of prosperity and security,” Le Pen told the cheering crowd on Sunday.

If elected, she plans to call a referendum on EU membership within six months. She also predicted other European members will join her. She said the EU is “historical parentheses and, hopefully, one day, just a bad memory.”

Along with leaving the EU, Le Pen would withdraw France from NATO’s integrated command, crack down on illegal immigration and reduce regular immigration to 10,000 people a year. No one living in France illegally would be issued residency documents or allowed to acquire French citizenship, she said.

She said she would arrange for foreigners convicted of crimes in France to serve their prison terms in their homelands.

“There will be no other laws and values in France but French,” she said.

 

Marine Le Pen vows to ban ‘all religious symbols’

All religious symbols, including the Jewish skull cap, will be banned if leader of the far-right French party National Front, Marine Le Pen, is elected president next year.

“It is clear that kippahs are not the issue within our country. But for the sake of equality, they should be prohibited,” said Le Pen. “If I requested to ban solely Muslim attire, people would slam me for hating Muslims.”

In an interview with France’s BFMTV station on October 16, Le Pen said she would extend a 2004 law banning religious symbols in schools to all public spaces.

“I know it’s a sacrifice, but I think the situation is too serious these days… I think every French person, including our Jewish compatriots, can understand that if we ask them for a sacrifice in order to help fight against the advance of this Islamic extremism… they will make the effort, they will understand, I am absolutely convinced because it will be in the best interests of the nation,” she explained.

Meanwhile, the French Jewish community has harshly condemned Le Pen’s proposal to ban the kippah, reported the Jerusalem Online.

 

 

‘burkini pool day’ stirs debate in France

Plans by a water park in the southern French city of Marseille to hold a pool day for Muslim women who wear full-body swimsuits, known as burkinis, has sparked debate and anger in the country.

The event, set to be held on September 17, is being organised by a women’s association, Smile13, based in the port city, where about 220,000 Muslims reside.

Politicians and residents on opposite ends of the political spectrum have come out on Twitter and elsewhere to respond to the event, with some dubbing the pool day an attempt by the Muslim community to segregate themselves, while others called such criticism Islamophobic.

Florian Philippot, an adviser to the far-right leader of the National Front party, Marine Le Pen, said the pool day smacked of “dyed-in-the-wool communalism”.

“This sort of event should be banned,” Philippot said, warning of a “risk of public disorder”.

Senator Michel Amiel, mayor of the northern suburb of the city, Les Pennes Mirabeau, where Speedwater park is located, also said he is seeking a ban.

Valerie Boyer, of the right-wing Republicans party, said: “These practices represent an attack against our values. They have no place in our country.”

In response to criticism of the event, French socialist senator Samia Ghali, who is of Algerian descent, commented on Twitter that the matter was “an unnecessary controversy that feeds into the confusion over the real challenges of our battle. 

“Intolerance should not change camps,” she added.

Another politician, Patrick Mennucci, said: “Swimming while covered-is it against the law? No. Privatizing a place is authorised. This is anti-Muslim controversy.”

On the Facebook page for the event, the organizers ask women who plan to attend to not wear bikinis, and to cover the area between their chests and knees at the minimum.

There will be a male lifeguard on duty, the organisers said. Other males above the age of 10 will not be allowed to attend.

 

Sarkozy and Juppé clash over Islam in France

Source: http://www.lefigaro.fr/politique/le-scan/citations/2016/06/14/25002-20160614ARTFIG00060-couple-de-policiers-tue-entre-emotion-et-colere-les-politiques-reagissent.php

June 13, 2016

 

The two leading contenders to be the mainstream right’s candidate in next year’s French presidential election have clashed over France’s relations with its Muslim population. After former president Nicolas Sarkozy denounced the “tyranny of minorities” in a speech last week, his chief rival, Alain Juppé, warned that judging Islam incompatible with the nation’s values would lead to civil war.

 

Although Sarkozy has not yet officially declared his candidacy, few doubt that he will stand in the forthcoming primary of his Republicans party and the press judged a speech he made in northern France last week to be a key step in his campaign.

 

“In the years ahead what will be left of France?” he asked a hall that was only half full, although with some 40 MPs in attendance. “That’s the first challenge. The greatest. The most fundamental.”

 

The former president called on the French people to “wake up” to defend the national identity in the face of the “abdication of the elites”.

 

A “tyranny of minorities” is “forcing the republic further into retreat each day”, he went on, declaring France to be a “Christian country” that must be “respected … by those who wish to live in it.”

 

Those minorities include demonstrating school students, militant environmentalists, vandals on demonstrations and a “handful of radical Islamists”, who left-wing multiculturalists have allowed to dictate that individual rights take precedence over “rules that should hold for all”, Sarkozy said.

 

Then he took a sideswipe at Juppé.

The “new ruling ideology” has infected some on the right, Sarkozy claimed.

“It has struck surreptitiously, singing the sweet melody of ‘sensible accomodations’,” – a reference to his Juppé’s call for dialogue with French Muslims and integration of immigrants rather than the more thoroughgoing assimilation that Sarkozy has called for.

 

Juppé, a former prime minister who is now mayor of Bordeaux, hit back on Sunday on his blog and on television, calling for “diversity in unity.”

 

“I don’t want an identity that is unhappy, fearful, anxious, almost neurotic,” he wrote on his blog. “For me identity doesn’t mean exclusion or rejection of the other”, pointing out that all the French “do not have the same origins, the same skin color, the same religion or beliefs” and declaring this “a treasure, a strength.”

 

On the TF1 TV channel Juppé declared that there are “two possible attitudes” to Islam in France.

 

“If one considers that Islam is by definition incompatible, insoluble with the republic, that means civil war,” he warned, advocating a “reading of the Koran and a practice of the religion that is compatible with the laws of the republic”, including the equality of men and women.

 

Juppé has spoken out against Sarkozy’s calls for extending the ban on the Muslim hijab now in force in schools to universities and banning of halal alternative meals in school canteens.

 

His earlier calls for tolerance have led to a hate campaign on social media, Juppé said.

 

“They call me ‘Ali Juppé’, described as the Grand Mufti of Bordeaux, they are writing everywhere that I’m spending a fortune of financing a huge mosque in Bordeaux, which doesn’t exist and will not exist,” he told TF1.

 

In reality, he has called for changes to some Muslims’ behavior, calling for imams to preach in French and to have degrees in French history and laws, and wants a special police force to monitor radicalization in France’s prisons.

 

The row is a sign that Sarkozy will return to attacking “communitarism” during the Republicans primary and the presidential campaign, as he did in the 2007 and 2012 campaigns, in part inspired by Patrick Buisson, a hard-right journalist who pushed him to bid for National Front votes.

 

Last week’s speech was partly written by Camille Pascal, a contributor to the hard-right magazine Valeurs Actuelles and was hailed by some of his allies as an attempt to engage Juppé on terrain that Sarkozy considers favorable to himself.

 

Although opinion polls show Juppé the most popular candidate for the presidency among the general public at the moment, he first has to convince the right-wing faithful to adopt him as candidate.

 

Whoever is chosen will want to attract voters tempted by the National Front in the first round of the presidential election and, according to the polls, could face the far-right party’s Marine Le Pen in a second round that is likely to provide evidence of the rejection of the political establishment that has affected much of the world recently.

 

National Front vice-president Louis Aliot weighed into the debate on Monday, declaring that there is a “problem of accountability between the religion [of Islam] in itself and the republic’s laws” and calling on Muslims to “adapt to republican rules.”

Hollande’s hesitation on Muslim integration

On Jan. 17, 2015, roughly 10 days after the attacks by homegrown Islamic terrorists against Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher market, François Hollande went to Tulle, a town in central France, to talk to the folks. He told them, “Life goes on. The sales are on now, so go and buy. Nothing has to change.”

The president chose the no-news-today approach because he saw no gain in addressing the question of Islam in France, an area where frankness and willingness to act have been virtual taboos for him and others for a decade.

Mr. Hollande did ask parliamentary leaders to look into “forms of engagement and the reinforcement of affiliation with the Republic.” That grotesque convolution was meant to mask an attempt at measuring where the country’s Muslims stood in terms of respect for the supremacy of French law, and the national ethos of liberty, equality and brotherhood.

“Nobody knew what to do,” Françoise Fressoz of Le Monde later wrote in describing the circumstances. “Habits and conformity take over. It’s a historic opportunity, but the country missed it.”

The same situation pertains now.

After the 130 murders committed in Paris last month by jihadists mostly with French backgrounds, Mr. Hollande was able to declare war on Islamic State, send an aircraft carrier to the Middle East to fight it, and order a three-month state of emergency in France, which accounted for 1,233 searches and 266 assignments to house arrest during its first 10 days—while ignoring polling over the past three months that shows a clear majority of voters want to send French ground troops to Syria.

Strikingly, the president has turned away from another kind of determination at home. He is showing no signs of listening to the large segments of French society—60% to 70% at intervals over the past five years—that see French Islam as unwilling to commit to the rule of law and French Muslims as responsible for their own failed integration.

The circumstances are more tortured now than ever. The intelligent notion of a potential trade-off between France and its largely Arab Muslim population of five-plus million died with November’s attacks.

The idea was that France could offer an affirmative-action program of jobs, educational advantages and antidiscrimination measures to the Muslim community in exchange for its acceptance of an official charter for Islamic assimilation. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy had once argued in that direction but abandoned the issue. Mr. Hollande has never touched it.

Challenged as a wrong-minded giveaway, recommending a trade-off would be poison in the coming elections for the democratic right and left, and pure delight for Marine Le Pen’s right-wing extremists of the National Front.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls now says Islam must “stand up” and “cut out all excuses” for jihadism and terror, but the president hasn’t endorsed the statement. Mr. Hollande’s silence also met Mr. Valls’s remark, coming well before the recent terrorist attacks, that France faced “a war of civilization.”

With a considerable slice of Muslim voters having backed him in the past, the president may be trying to avoid accusations of Islamophobia. His approach certainly isn’t one that deals with what Alain Minc, a French intellectual of stature, writes is an “Islam that resembles a subterranean territory within French society.”

How can Mr. Hollande and France deal with the problem at the lowest level of possible confrontation or conflict?

Mr. Minc and others (notably a high-level French civil servant writing under the pen-name of Camille Desmoulins about French Islam’s lack of responsible governance) have talked of the state consulting representative Muslims about granting Islam the unique status of a consistory or religious council. That would give Islam a binding, official role equal to that of French Roman Catholics, Protestants and Jews, while requiring its allegiance to the primacy of French law. For Islam in everyday French life, that signifies the Civil Code superseding the Koran.

En route, in the manner of Napoleon in 1806 when he began a process extending official status to the Jews, the Muslims would likely be asked to affirm an obligation to defend France ahead of any other consideration. Importantly, Islam’s French representatives could be required to take responsibility for those misusing its name. The obstacles are more than vast, but Mr. Minc says “the results of a delicate truth-operation are predictable”: firm adherence among Muslims to the principles of the Republic.

Then there’s reality.

Accused throughout his years in office of coming up short on authority, a newly hang-out-more-flags Mr. Hollande, aiming at re-election in 2017, has recast himself as a war president battling Islamic State in the Middle East.

And as a president of deconfliction at home? On that front, Mr. Hollande has given no indication about when, or how hard, he is willing to fight.

Regional elections: National Front fails to win any regions

The National Front (FN) on Sunday night failed to win a single region, after leading in six of 13 French regions in the first round of regional elections one week earlier.

There will be no further nationwide elections in France until the May 2017 presidential contest. Sunday’s poll was seen as a rehearsal for 2017.

The FN claims to be France’s “first party” and often leads in the first round, as it did on December 6th, with 27.8 per cent of the vote. But unlike the ruling socialist party (PS) and Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative “Les Républicains” (LR), the FN has no allies or reserve voters to bolster its score in the run-off.

Exit polls showed the FN’s leader, Marine Le Pen, won 42 per cent of the vote in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie region, compared to 58 per cent for the LR candidate Xavier Bertrand. Le Pen thanked her voters “for rejecting intimidation, infantilisation and manipulation” by the socialist government.

Prime minister Manuel Valls had warned of a risk of “civil war” if the FN won the elections. He called on socialists to vote for LR candidates in the three regions where the FN looked likely to win, and where LR was ahead of the PS in the first round. Sarkozy refused to reciprocate, reiterating his policy of “neither nor” – neither FN nor PS.

With left-wing support, the LR appears to have won seven of 13 regions, while the PS won six. The socialists held 21 of 22 regions under the previous system.

Ms Le Pen said the “worryingly irresponsible” rhetoric of Valls and the socialist speaker of the National Assembly Claude Bartolone showed “the dangerous drift of a dying regime,” that a “campaign of calumny and defamation” was “decided in the golden palaces of the republic and carried out in a servile way by those who live off the system”.

She noted that the FN’s score in the second round of regional elections rose from 9.17 per cent in 2010 to 30 percent on Sunday, “confirming as EU and departmental elections showed the inexorable rise of the FN, election after election”.

Marion Maréchal Le Pen lost the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region to the LR candidate, Christian Estrosi, a close ally of Mr Sarkozy, by 45 to 55 per cent.

In Alsace-Champagne-Ardennes-Lorraine, Marine Le Pen’s right-hand man, Florian Philippot lost with 36.4 per cent of the vote to 48.8 per cent for the LR candidate Philippe Richert. Jean-Pierre Masseret, the socialist candidate who defied Valls’s order to withdraw from the race, won only 15.2 per cent.

Valls said voters “responded to the very clear, very courageous appeal of the left to block the path of the extreme right, which won no region”. The results were a lesson to politicians “to end little political games, invective, sectarianism”, he said. Le Pen said the results proved “the secret ties between those who pretend to oppose each other but in reality share power without ever solving your problems”.

National Front candidate calls to eliminate “Islam and Muslims”

(Photo: Reuters)
As local elections approach, the National Front continues to support its candidates whose rhetoric is openly anti-Muslim. Marine Le Pen has shown little intention to exclude Chantal Clamer from the running. (Photo: Reuters)

As local elections approach, the National Front continues to support its candidates whose rhetoric is openly anti-Muslim. Marine Le Pen has shown little intention to exclude Chantal Clamer from the running.

Clamer is the FN hopeful in Ariège, who is not averse to using “despicable slogans” in order to gain votes in local elections.

In a recent social media posting Clamer described Islam as the “bubonic plague of the 21st century,” saying it, “has to be fought, to be eliminated without hesitation by all possible means.” She also made controversial comments about lesbians in an earlier post, saying: “These dirty butches are really ugly.” The tweets remain posted and screenshots of her comments have been circulating on the web.

In response, Marine Le Pen issued a statement saying Clamer’s comments were “extremely clumsy and reckless” and that Clamer “was wrong in creating a misconception.” “We made her understand that she went too far, and she acknowledged that she had,” said Le Pen.