News Agencies – November 26, 2010
A practice teacher in Tournefeuille, near Toulouse, refused to remove her headscarf when teaching to primary public school children and has been fired. The young woman whose identity has not been released is a recent convert to Islam and has demonstrated no intention to appeal the decision. She has two months to fight the ruling with the administrative tribunal of the school. The school’s principal told Le Figaro that he believes this is the first firing of a teacher for refusal to remove the headscarf when teaching. He added that the law was clear and easily enforced.
News Agencies – November 11, 2010
Five alleged Islamic terrorists arrested in Paris this week were planning to assassinate the city’s leading Muslim cleric. All of the men, who are French passport holders, are believed to have returned from fighting British and American troops alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The murder plot against Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the French capital’s main mosque, was foiled at the eleventh hour thanks to a tip-off. Secret intelligence officers were able to move in on two Frenchmen of Algerian descent as they arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport from Egypt. Armed police arrested three other men from similar backgrounds in flats in the Paris suburbs the next day.
Boubaker has been under armed guard since last month after radicals issued threats following the introduction of a burka ban in France – a measure which many see as overtly anti-Muslim.
The foiled plot illustrates the growing rift between Islamic moderates and those prepared to kill and maim in the name of their religion, said Mr Boubaker.
News Agencies – November 10, 2010
The most northerly mosque in North America officially opened on November 10th, marking an end to an arduous journey that saw the building shipped 4,500 kilometres over narrow, bumpy roads and atop a river barge. Inuvik, a town of 3,300 people north of the Arctic Circle, has some 80 Muslim residents who until recently have met for prayers and religious education inside a small trailer. The mosque is believed to be the second most-northerly one in the world, next to one in Siberia.
It is a welcome addition to Inuvik. Mayor Denny Rodgers said there is no sign of the type of animosity encountered by new mosques in some parts of the United States. There were only a handful of Muslims in the town 20 years ago. Like many northern communities, Inuvik has a near-constant supply of job opportunities that has attracted people from all backgrounds.
News Agencies – November 8, 2010
The controversial bestselling author Michel Houellebecq has won France’s most coveted literary prize — the Prix Goncourt — for his new novel, La Carte et Le Territoire (“The Map and the Territory”). The novel tells of a solitary, misanthropic artist who becomes a critical darling and commercial success almost in spite of himself. Houellebecq’s previous novels courted controversy with explicit sex scenes and disparaging comments about women, minorities and Islam.
News Agencies – November 9, 2010
Five people believed to have trained as Islamist militants in Pakistan’s troubled Afghan border region have been arrested in and around Paris. Some of those arrested were picked up in the suburb of Roissy, where France’s largest airport is located, security sources said on condition of anonymity. Police and intelligence officers have been questioning the suspects. Some of the suspects are apparently linked to death threats made a few weeks ago against the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur.
Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden warned France last month that its planned ban on the Islamic full-face veil in public places and its involvement in the war in Afghanistan justified attacks on its nationals. French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux later said that the country faced a real terror threat and he urged “total vigilance”.