The CFCM seeks to reform itself

News Agencies – June 26, 2012

The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) recently announced that it is seeking to reform its mandate to “assure the participation of the majority of the parties who make-up Islam in France and create conditions of confidence necessary for the unity and fraternity of French Muslims,” according to a press release.

This reform is said to target the Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF) who left the CFCM along with a number of other organizations due to previous reform initiatives they found were not acceptable to them during President Sarkozy’s presidency.

Malaysia charges Borders manager with selling Canadian’s banned book on Islam

News Agencies – June 19, 2012

 

A Borders bookstore manager in Malaysia has been charged with distributing a Canadian writer’s book that was banned as being against Islam. The government in the Muslim-majority country regularly bans books it considers threats to religious stability. “Allah, Liberty and Love” was banned in late May. The website for author Irshad Manji says it is about “how to reconcile faith and freedom in a world seething with repressive dogmas.” Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz could face a two-year prison sentence and fine if convicted of the charge that was filed Tuesday.

Saudi women wearing veils barred from entering France

News Agencies – June 12, 2012

A police union says three Saudi women who refused to remove their face veils at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport have been barred entry to France. An official with the SGP-FO police union said that border police asked the women to remove their veils after they arrived Monday on a flight from Doha, Qatar. The official says the women refused, border police refused them entry in France, and they returned to Doha. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly for the police.

Marseille mega-mosque gets go-ahead

News Agencies – June 19, 2012

 

A French appeals court has approved the construction of a large mosque in the city of Marseille, home to an estimated 250,000 Muslims. The mosque, seen as a symbol of Islam’s growing presence in France, has attracted national controversy.

The court overturned an October ruling by Marseille’s administrative tribunal that cancelled the project’s construction permit for supposed failures to meet urban-planning requirements. A community association led by a local butcher had filed a complaint against the building permit, saying the mosque project did not fit with the surrounding urban environment. The 22-million-euro ($28-million) project would see the Grand Mosque, boasting a minaret soaring 25-metres (82-feet) high and room for up to 7,000 worshippers, built in the city’s northern Saint-Louis area.

Toulouse hostage gunman, claiming to be linked to al-Qaeda, arrested

News Agencies – June 20, 2012

French police have detained a gunman who held four people hostage at a bank in the southern city of Toulouse for almost seven hours. The man initially demanded money but when he was refused, a shot was fired and the hostages taken. Claiming to be linked to al-Qaeda, he demanded to speak to the elite Raid police unit that killed Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah nearby in March.

He freed two hostages before police stormed the bank and detained him. The gunman was said to have been wounded in the thigh, but not seriously. His two remaining hostages are not thought to have been harmed.

A police union source told the regional newspaper Ouest-France it was not clear whether the man’s claim about al-Qaeda was “serious or a fantasy”. The hostage-taker was believed to be around 30 years old and known to the authorities, Toulouse newspaper La Depeche reported. He was from Castres, to the east of Toulouse, and one source told the paper he was a schizophrenic who had broken off his treatment.

Toronto may get Canada’s first Muslim campus chaplain

News Agencies – June 15, 2012

Students at the University of Toronto have set a goal of raising $70,000 by September to fund a year-long contract for the first-ever full-time Muslim chaplain on a Canadian campus. In a video on the campaign website various young people make the case for donations. “I had to sit in class and listen to my professor tell me Islam degrades women,” says one young woman. “In my field, relationships are built at the bar. What am I supposed to do about that?,” says a young man. “There’s something about mosques that makes me uncomfortable,” says another man.

Muslim Chaplains provide spiritual guidance at dozens of universities in the United States. Unlike Imams, chaplains may be women. The chaplain’s role includes spiritual guidance for students and interfaith work too. Richard Chambers, director of the Multi-Faith Centre at the University of Toronto told the Toronto Star that a Muslim Chaplaincy could help fix an “imbalance” created by the fact that Jewish and Christian campus groups have full-time staff, while Muslim groups currently rely on volunteers.

Meal builds bridges between Muslims and inner-city residents

News Agencies – June 10, 2012

Dozens of volunteers from Edmonton’s Muslim community spent their Sunday helping feed inner-city residents. They set up in the Hope Mission, preparing and handing out 800 roast beef dinners.

“It’s a human obligation,” said Ahmed Ali, one of the volunteers.”We all might succumb to this type of situation, so it’s good to give back.” When they were still finding their feet in their new home, Ali says his family often relied on charities and organizations for food.

The meal has been a tradition in Edmonton for a decade. Ali says it’s a chance to disprove some of the stereotypes that plague both the city’s immigrant and homeless populations – especially in the wake of media attention that Ali says often paints the communities in a bad light.

Quebec teen told she cannot referee and wear her hijab

News Agencies – June 21, 2011

A Quebec teen has been told she can no longer referee soccer while wearing her hijab. Sarah Benkirane, 15, said her Montreal-area soccer association informed her she could no longer referee games wearing her traditional Muslim headscarf after someone filed a complaint with the league. Benkirane said she’s contacted the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations and plans to put pressure on the Canadian Soccer Association to force Quebec’s governing soccer body to overturn its decision.
The president of the Quebec Soccer Federation told reporters it is simply applying FIFA’s international rules, which stipulate referees and players may not wear religious symbols on the pitch. In 2007, an 11-year-old Ottawa girl was ejected from a soccer game in Laval after she refused to remove her hijab, which violated FIFA’s no-headgear rule.

Study on Forced Marriages Reveals It’s a Limited Phenomenon in France

News Agencies – June 23, 2011

While the High Council of Integration (the Haut conseil à l’intégration) estimated that 70,000 young Muslim girls were under pressure for forced marriages in France, a joint study by INED and INSEE has concluded that “forced marriages are marginal with immigrant girls.” The study focused on immigrants of Maghrebian, Turkish and sub-Saharian origins were culturally remaining single and premarital sexuality are typically frowned upon. Nine percent of immigrants between 51-60 years old claim to have married against their will; of these, two thirds of the arrangements took place prior to migrating to France.

Mohammed Moussaoui Reelected as head of the CFCM

News Agencies – June 19, 2011

As expected, 47 year-old Franco-Moroccan Mohammed Moussaoui was reelected as the president of the CFCM (the French Council of the Muslim Faith. The 58 elected members of the executive council – themselves elected in different French regions on 5 June – united in Paris to elect the president and the executive office. The elections have been mired in controversy with the boycott of the GMP (Mosque of Paris) and the UOIF (Union of Islamic Organizations of France. The CFCM was created in 2003 as governmental interlocutor on questions related to Islam.