News Agencies – November 14, 2012
French government spokesperson Najat Vallaud-Belkacem has condemned the inflammatory language used by the Union of Islamic Organizations in France (UOIF) in opposing gay marriage , including equating same-sex marriage to bestiality. The UOIF also added that everyone should understand “the consequences that it could have on society, if this new form of marriage and parenthood is legalized. President François Hollande’s government has recently drafted a bill on “marriage for all” that could allow same-sex couples to get married in France as early as 2013.
News Agencies – November 15, 2012
Months before the Muslim women’s helpline was launched, the phone at the Mississauga-based Women’s Resource Centre started ringing. In October 2012, after months of research, training and fundraising, the Women’s Resource Centre launched what is believed to be the country’s first helpline specifically for Muslim women. Confidential and anonymous, it’s meant to be a place to which women can turn for emotional support, peer counselling and referrals.
In its first few weeks, the helpline has already received dozens of calls from women across the GTA, with concerns ranging from marriage and relationships to information on shelters and food banks, and in a few cases, abuse.The helpline is staffed by 13 counsellors and is open for two hours a day, five days a week.
News Agencies –November 11, 2012
As Europe is engulfed in crisis, Qatar has been on a global spending spree, buying stakes in luxury brands, acquiring soccer club Paris St. Germain and financing London’s “Shard” — the EU’s tallest building. Now, to the consternation of the French, the emirate wants to make a major humanitarian investment in the West. Permeating the hostile response was suspicion that the tiny Muslim state may have a special agenda at a time when fears of terrorism by Islamist extremists and a perceived infiltration of Muslim culture in French life have been on the rise.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen called the Qatari investment an “Islamist Trojan horse” while independent politician Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, who champions national sovereignty, said France would be “prostituting itself” by accepting the money. Now, a year after their visit to the palaces of Doha, the 10 who bucked a system that has failed the suburbs worry the money may never reach those they hope to help — ordinary people from their neighborhoods with big ideas bereft of any hope of backing.
Two French presidents tried to figure out how to deal with the Qatari offer, first conservative Nicolas Sarkozy and now socialist Francois Hollande — who last month confirmed the compromise of spreading the funds across all neglected regions.
News Agencies – November 10, 2012
Hundreds of French nationalists demonstrated in Paris against Islamist extremism, chanting the French anthem and saying the religion has no place in the country. Three weeks ago, dozens of far-right French activists stormed an unfinished mosque to protest immigration policies that have made France home to Western Europe’s largest population of Muslims. The protest was organized by a nationalist group called the Republican Resistance.
News Agencies – November 8, 2012
France has set March 19 as the annual date of remembrance for victims of the 1954-62 Algerian war, in a diplomatic gesture to Algeria before a visit by President Francois Hollande next month. The Senate upper house of parliament approved the date in a vote that ended years of disagreement over when to mark the conflict that ended more than a century of French colonial rule in Algeria and left deep scars on both sides.
The Senate, controlled by the ruling Socialist Party, voted by 181 votes to 155 in favor of a bill to use the date of the March 19, 1962 ceasefire to remember hundreds of thousands of dead on both sides in Algeria, and also in parallel Moroccan and Tunisian independence struggles.
The fixing of a remembrance day, exactly 50 years after the war ended, is symbolic, but groups representing relatives of victims of the war have said it will not fulfill their desire for a full apology for France’s colonial past.
News Agencies – November 6, 2012
Deep in the wooded hills of Burgundy in central France, an unusual institute is training unusual students: aspiring French imams who hope to minister to the country’s large Muslim population. After seven intensive years of study, only 10 or so graduates each year to lead prayers or preach at mosques following graduation from the European Institute of Human Sciences de Saint-Leger-de-Fougeret Over the past nine years, various governments have encouraged the professional training of local religious leaders. Interior Minister Manuel Valls recently backed the practice, even if the job of imam is badly paid, if at all, and enjoys no official recognition.
The initiative goes back 20 years when the Union of Islamic Organisations in France, which has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, converted a former children’s holiday centre into the institute. Its stated aim is to train imams equipped “with a solid knowledge of Islam and the socio-cultural realities of Europe.” The idea was to provide an alternative to the recruitment of foreign imams, who often spoke no French and had little or no knowledge of French lifestyles.
News Agencies – November 1, 2012
When the Canadian Crown asked Peer Khairi the Afghan immigrant — accused of murdering his culturally permissive wife to preserve the family’s Muslim honour — whether he expected his children to adhere to Islamic dress codes, he became indignant. “This is a free country, [so] how could I deny people of such freedom?” Mr. Khairi testified, speaking through a Dari interpreter.
Now in its fourth week, Mr. Khairi’s second-degree murder trial in Ontario Superior Court is focused on the accused’s state of mind on March 18, 2008, the day he killed Randjida Khairi at the peak of a heated argument. The Crown characterizes the slaying as an honour crime, alleging Mr. Khairi was driven by his growing frustration at his wife’s willingness to embrace Canadian values and to allow their children to do the same. Mr. Khairi, who began testifying in his own defence this week, has offered a myriad of alternative motives: in one, he was provoked by his wife’s ceaseless insults; in another, he acted out of self-defence when she lunged at him with a knife; in a third, he killed her in a moment of blind insanity.
News Agencies – November 1, 2012
The Collective Against Islamophobia in France (Collectif contre l’Islamophobie en France; CCIF) has launched a media campaign to “open dialogue” and “deconstruct clichés” regarding Islam in France. The message of their campaign is “We are the Nation” or that Muslims are central to France whether it be “by birth, but also by their feeling of belonging, by their daily contribution and by the history of our country,” according to the CCIF on their website. They also add that “Islamophobia is not an opinion but is a crime.” The CCIF noted a rise in Islamophobic incidents in 2011 compared to the previous year.
News Agencies – November 30, 2011
As he presented his party’s campaign platform ahead of next year’s presidential and legislative elections, French Interior Minister Claude Gueant laid down the gauntlet to the far right by hardening the government’s position on immigration.
“It’s easier for immigrants to integrate if there are less of them,” Gueant told Europe 1 radio. “It’s obvious that we need to better manage the flow of immigrants. For immigration to work, we need to be welcoming fewer immigrants each year.”
News Agencies – November 23, 2011
At Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute in Toronto, a few dozen interested parties attended a discussion on religious accommodation within the Toronto District School Board. This may have the perverse effect of reigniting a debate that had died down since the summer, when a tiny group of angry Hindus objected to Muslim prayer services being conducted on Friday afternoons in the cafeteria at Valley Park Middle School, just across the street from Garneau C.I.
Jim Spyropoulos, who is the TDSB’s coordinating superintendent, inclusive schools, student, parent and community, laid out the rationale: Students were leaving school to go to mosque on Fridays. Some weren’t making it there, and some weren’t making it back – and were a disruption to the other students if they did return. The Guidelines and Procedures for the Accommodation of Religious Requirements stipulates that “where possible, schools should allocate space for congregational prayer.”