French Green Party Leader Calls for Jewish and Muslim Bank Holidays

News Agencies – January 13, 2012

 

Speaking in Paris at her first campaign rally, Green presidential candidate Eva Joly argued that national holiday status should be accorded to the Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Fitr and the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.

Currently six of the 12 national holidays in France are Catholic calendar events, with the other six having no religious connotation. “Each religion should benefit from equal treatment in the public sphere,” she said. “I believe that national holidays should also be accorded to faiths other than the Catholic faith.”

Joly’s proposals were rejected by all three leading parties. Minister of Higher Education and UMP member Laurent Wauqiez argued on French news channel BFM that “France’s national holidays have come about through our Christian history. We are not going to rub out our history.”

Popular TV program, Little Mosque on the Prairie, cancelled

News Agencies – January 6, 2012

Little Mosque on the Prairie, the gentle CBC satire about a Muslim community in the fictional small town of Mercy, Sask., that will be entering its sixth and final season on Monday.

“We all know, in this industry, that every show has a life span,” says Manoj Sood who plays Baber Siddiqui. “For a show to last six seasons in the current business of television, that’s a really great thing. Not to mention that the show, depending on the time of year, is airing in about 70 different countries.” “It’s popular around the world for two reasons,” says Sood. “The first was its timing. It was the first show of its kind, ever. More important, it grew out of the post-9/11 environment.”

Mosque in Gatineau, Quebec attacked for second time

News Agencies – January 5, 2012

A second attack in three days on a local mosque is prompting renewed calls for a hate-crime investigation from a Canadian Muslim organization. The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations urged the move after the mosque was found spray painted with hate messages earlier this week. The attack follows the smashing of windows at the mosque and an attempt to torch two cars in its parking lot.

The organization says it is not the first time the mosque has been the target of vandals and it cites similar attacks on mosques in Ottawa, Montreal, Hamilton, Waterloo and Vancouver. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also condemned the attacks.

The Louvre Prepares to Open Islamic wing

News Agencies – January 5, 2012

With a roof designed to look like a floating sheet of silk, a reference to the Islamic headscarf, a new wing of the Louvre housing Islamic art is nearing completion. The project to house the Paris museum’s well-regarded collection of Islamic objects was launched by former president Jacques Chirac in 2002.

Six years later his successor, Nicolas Sarkozy, laid the first stone. After four years of construction, the wing is set to open in the summer.

The building’s architect Mario Bellini, who has designed the structure with Rudy Ricciotti, said the structure should seem as if it is “floating in mid-air.” The 3,500 square metre space is the museum’s biggest project since the construction of the glass pyramid that sits in the Louvre’s main courtyard twenty years ago. The €98 million ($126 million) new wing will sit in one of the Louvre’s hidden courtyards in the Denon wing of the gallery and can house around 18,000 works.

6 women fined in France for wearing full-face veil in 8 months since law passed

News Agencies – January 2, 2012

 

France’s interior minister says that since a ban on face-covering Islamic veils took effect in April only six women have been convicted and fined. Claude Gueant said in an interview that no woman has been sent to a citizenship class — another potential punishment.

Gueant says police cited a total of 237 women but only six were convicted. He expressed surprise that nearly a quarter of the women police questioned had converted to Islam.

Backers say the law is aimed at ensuring France’s secular values and gender equality and nipping radical Islam in the bud.

First Muslim cemetery opens in Strasbourg, France

News Agencies – January 5, 2012

The first Muslim cemetery will be inaugurated in Strasbourg on February 6, 2012. The cemetery will have place for 1000 graves. It is the first to be established by a French municipality, and was made possible by the special local laws of the region, which do not recognize separation of Church and State. Elsewhere in the country, there are Muslim plots in other cemeteries.

Anne-Pernelle Richardot, deputy mayor of Strasbourg, says that Islam is not a recognized religion, but that they try to bring it up to the same level as the recognized religions, using the local laws. The municipality invested 800,000 Euros in the cemetery. There are eight Muslim plots elsewhere in Strasbourg cemeteries, but they’ve gotten to full capacity in recent years.

Saïd Alla, president of the Grand Mosque of Strasbourg, says that the Muslim community had settled permanently in France and want to bury their relatives at home, not a thousand kilometers away. “It’s the ultimate gesture of good integration, it shows that you belong to the country in which you live.”

Protests around Canada emerge in solidarity with Egyptians

News Agencies – January 30, 2011

About 100 people showed up Sunday afternoon in front of a downtown Montreal high-rise where the consulate general of the Arab Republic of Egypt is located. Expatriate Egyptians and supporters have been gathering for the past several days at the same spot, chanting slogans and singing the Egyptian national anthem, waving Egyptian and Canadian flags and placards and calling for the immediate ouster of Mr. Mubarak, who has had an iron grip on the country for 30 years. Organizers of the Montreal demonstration vowed to return every day until Mr. Mubarak leaves.

There were similar non-violent gatherings over the weekend in several other Canadian cities. No incidents were reported by police. In Toronto on Saturday, an estimated 400 people staged a rally at Yonge-Dundas Square, chanting in Arabic with many hoisting signs that read “Egyptians in, Mubarak out.” In Vancouver, a crowd gathered at Library Square in the city’s downtown Saturday to listen to speakers and express their support for anti-government actions in Egypt.

About 100 turned out for a rally at Churchill Square in front of City Hall in Edmonton on Saturday. In Halifax, about two dozen people were reported to have showed up for a show of support at Victoria Park on Saturday. Another rally was expected to be held Sunday at Halifax’s Grand Parade.

French National Front leader says Islam is not compatible with secular society

News Agencies – January 28, 2011

The recently appointed leader of France’s far-right National Front party has turned her attention toward Islam, saying it is “absolutely not compatible” with a secular society. Marine Le Pen, who took over as head of the party two weeks ago, has regularly faced accusations of Islamaphobia. “I think that France can be secular because it’s a Christian culture and you notice that in Muslim countries they have more difficulty,” she told LCP, the French parliament’s TV channel. “France is France. It’s a country with Christian roots and that’s also what’s given us our identity. It’s secular, we’ll hold this identity and we won’t let this identity be changed.”

In December, the 42-year-old compared Muslims praying in the street to the German occupation during World War II, shortly before she took over from her father Jean-Marie as head of the anti-immigrant party.