News Agencies – August 15, 2012
Pauline Marois’s vision for Quebec includes fewer hijabs and fewer symbols of the Crown. She announced that if her Parti Quebecois wins the Sept. 4 election [ed note: they did], it will introduce a Charter of Secularism that would forbid public employees from wearing religious symbols on the job — like Muslim head scarves.
But the Charter of Secularism, it seems, would not be applied evenly. The ban on religious symbols would not extend to employees who wear a crucifix necklace. Nor would it extend to the crucifix hanging in the legislature, which Marois says is part of Quebec’s heritage. The ban on religious symbols would extend, however, to some non-religious aspects of Quebec’s history as selected by the PQ.
Artistic references to the monarchy would also disappear from the legislature under Marois’ watch. She allowed that “some moldings” might remain.
Marois made her secularism announcement on land belonging to a Christian religious order. She was accompanied by one of her candidates, Algerian-born Djemila Benhabib, an author who has been deeply critical of Islamic fundamentalism and a vocal proponent of secularism.
News Agencies – August 26, 2012
Leading a double life, reversion to Islam has saved French rapper Regis Fayette-Mikano from falling victim to heroin, murder and suicide that ended the lives of his close friends.
Born in Paris, Abd Al Malik was raised in Neuhof, a neighborhood of Strasbourg, to a Catholic family. He also dealt with drugs, selling hashish at nightclubs and restaurants.
After falling with a hardline group for six years, Abd Al Malik grew disenchanted with a “simplistic” Islam. Abd Al Malik as well as many French rappers sings about racism, identity and the plight of the “banlieues,” France’s impoverished suburbs.
News Agencies – August 17, 2012
Jewish groups are expressing disappointment and alarm over a decision today by Ontario’s speaker of the house and sergeant-at-arms to permit a controversial Muslim rally at Queen’s Park. International Day of Al-Quds, which bills itself as a protest against Palestinian oppression, but which others call an anti-Zionist hate rally, will go ahead on legislative grounds. Last year’s event drew criticism and concern after demonstrators were seen waving Hezbollah flags, carrying pictures of Ayatollah Khomeini and the head of York Region’s Islamic society was videotaped criticizing U.S. President Barack Obama, “this black man in the White House” who can’t say no to “Zionist parasites”.
Dave Levac, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, said in a statement released today that he has spoken with a number of groups and individuals about the demonstration and, because rally organizers have indicated their willingness to conform to guidelines, he will allow the event to proceed.
Chris Yaccato, executive assistant to the Speaker of the House, said he understands Queen’s Park security services won’t permit Hezbollah flags “or any signs promoting known terrorist organizations” during this year’s rally. “If they do, we’ll have to shut it down.”
News Agencies – August 18, 2012
The president of the B.C. Muslim Association says a Facebook post indicating a new Victoria mosque should be blown up with a rocket launcher is “very concerning.” Victoria police are investigating after someone using the name Dan Speed posted on the “I Love Downtown Victoria” Facebook page that the new Masjid Allman Mosque on Quadra Street should be blasted with a high-powered rifle. Musa Ismail, president of the B.C. Muslim Association, called the comments “very concerning and troublesome.” Ismail says the Muslim community has been present in Victoria for 50 years without incident.
News Agencies – August 1, 2012
Two pig heads were found hanging at the entrance of a mosque in southern France on August 1st, in the latest incident of what Muslim leaders say is rising Islamophobia in the country. The mayor of Montauban denounced what she described as intimidation of Muslims after the heads were discovered in the early morning attached to two pillars at the entrance of the Salam Mosque, a huge pool of blood on the ground. Pigs are considered unclean by Muslims, who are forbidden from eating pork.
Police have opened an investigation. Muslim leaders said the vandalism was especially shocking because it happened during the holy month of Ramadan. It was the first such incident in Montauban, near the city of Toulouse. In 2009, pig feet were hung on a mosque in Castres, also in southern France, and a Nazi swastika was painted on its walls along with racist and nationalist slogans.
News Agencies – August 1, 2012
A French mayor has revoked the suspension of four Muslim camp counselors following an uproar after he said they could not work properly because they might be weakened by their all-day fasting for Ramadan. Muslim groups threatened to sue the Paris suburb of Gennevilliers for discrimination for recalling the four after an inspector found on July 20 – the first day of the Muslim holy month – that they were not eating or drinking during the day.
Lawyers for the counselors, who had accompanied children from the suburb on a town-sponsored stay at a summer camp in southwestern France, said they might also take the issue to a labor court. Muslim leaders presented the case as an issue of religious liberty, while the town’s Communist mayor Jacques Bourgoin insisted his concern was only for the safety of the campers.
Bourgoin said the town required that because two children were injured in a traffic accident two years ago when a fasting Muslim counselor fainted at the wheel of the minibus in which she was transporting them. This requirement applied only to monitors on long trips with round-the-clock responsibility for children, he added. The clause in the counselors’ contracts requiring regular meals does not mention Muslims, but it clearly applies to them because they are presumably the only ones who would fast now.
Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, said exceptions to the Ramadan fast would normally be made only for pregnant women and ailing persons. “French Muslims would resent any infringement of this religious liberty,” he said in a communiqué.
News Agencies – August 30, 2011
In waiting for the construction of the Institut des cultures d’islam (ICI or Institute of Islamic Cultures) that should be partially complete by January 2013, practicing Muslims in Paris’ 18th district continue to pray in the streets. This practice has engendered great debate. National Front leader Marine Le Pen has called these gatherings an “occupation” while Interior Minister Claude Guéant has sought to move the prayers to empty barracks in Clingancourt (which could accommodate 2,700 people) starting September 16th.
However, not everyone is in agreement about this plan, including imams at two mosques in Barbès where outdoor prayer takes place.
News Agencies – August 24, 2011
A Toronto imam charged with sexual assault travelled under three aliases, the Toronto Police Service has announced. Police allege that Mohammad Masroor, 48, used the name Junaid Salman in Hungary, Austria, Italy and elsewhere in Europe in the early 1990s, may have travelled under the name Abdur Rahim in India, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia in the 1980s, and was also known as Abdul Karim Abdul Aziz.
Mr. Masroor was arrested on Aug. 10 and police announced on Aug. 17 that he faced 13 charges, including sexual assault and threatening death, in connection with alleged offences between Nov. 1, 2008, and July 28, 2011. Mr. Masroor taught at the Baitul Mukarram Islamic Society on Danforth Avenue in Scarborough. Mr. Masroor has worked at mosques in Bangladesh, Singapore, Sri Lanka and several countries in Western Europe. He was most recently in Michigan and Florida.
News Agencies – August 24, 2011
The mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, will host a Ramadan-inspired musical event which has created controversy among secular and far-right critics. The mayor has responded that the city has organized this event every year since 2001 and that there will be no prayers or religious tones to the event.
News Agencies – August 17, 2011
Members of a Scarborough, Ontario mosque have expressed shock and disbelief that their “nice” and “humble” religious leader has been charged with a string of sexual assaults. Mohammad Masroor, the imam at the Baitul Mukarram Islamic Society on Danforth Ave., faces 13 charges involving sexual offences and death threats relating to five alleged victims. Police said Masroor, 48, travelled the world before settling in Toronto in 2008, and believe there could be more victims, here and abroad. Abdur Rouf Tarafdar was one of more than a dozen people who vouched for Masroor’s pious character as he left afternoon prayer on Wednesday.
Masroor was arrested Aug. 10 after a three-week investigation that is still ongoing. The assaults allegedly occurred between Nov. 1, 2008 and July 28, 2011. Masroor taught in Florida, Michigan and Bangladesh before coming to Canada, according to police. He has also lived and taught in Germany, France, Hungary, Singapore and Sri Lanka but police said the investigation is not limited to those areas.
Members of the mosque were especially upset that the allegations come during the holy month of Ramadan. Police said Masroor is being held in custody, and that a publication ban is in place.