Canadian Imam beaten and arrested in Saudi Arabia

News Agencies – October 30, 2011

Usama Al-Atar, an imam from Edmonton, was beaten and arrested by religious police in Saudi Arabia while on a pilgrimage. His friends in Canada are disturbed by the incident and worried for his safety. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada is aware of the arrest.

Al-Atar is a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Alberta where he researches solar cells and nanotechnology. Murphy said Al-Atar makes the hajj pilgrimage every year and hasn’t had problems on any of his six previous visits.

French court backs nursery for firing veil-wearing employee

News Agencies – October 27, 2011

 

A French appeals court has ruled that a kindergarten had acted legally by firing a female employee who refused to remove an Islamic headscarf, the nursery’s lawyer said.

The Versailles Appeals Court said the Baby-Loup nursery in nearby Chanteloup-les-Vignes had acted within a law allowing privately-owned kindergartens to forbid the wearing of religious symbols when it fired the employee in 2008, lawyer Richard Malka said. The decision upheld a previous ruling by a French employment tribunal. Malka hailed the ruling as “a major victory for secularism”.

Construction Permit for Marseille Mosque Revoked

News Agencies – October 31, 2011

 

A French court has annulled the construction permit for a mega-mosque in Marseille.

The court ruling represents a major setback for proponents of the mosque, which has long been touted as the biggest and most potent symbol of Islam’s growing place in France — and Europe.

The move comes as a French newspaper published the contents of a leaked intelligence report about the rise of Islam in Marseille. The document states that “even if the number of individuals who have been radicalized to the point of supporting the Jihadists is relatively low, Islamic fundamentalism has progressed to the point where it has won over the majority of the Muslim population” who live in the city and who now number over 250,000. The Administrative Tribunal of Marseille ruled on October 27 that the mega-mosque project would have to be cancelled because of failures to meet urban-planning requirements. The court raised particular concerns over the project’s failure to finalize a deal for a 450-space parking lot and to reassure planners that the mosque would fit in with the urban environment.

Several decades in the planning, the project was granted a construction permit in November 2009. At the time, city officials said the new mosque would help the Muslim community better integrate into the mainstream and foster a more moderate form of Islam. The first cornerstone of the 8,300 square meter (92,000 square feet) project was laid in May 2010.

French Minister of the Interior presents a secular code book

News Agencies – October 21, 2011

Claude Guéant, French Minister of the Interior, has presented a 500-page book, “Laïcité et liberté religieuse” (French secularism and religious freedom) that is made up of jurisprudence texts on the subject.

Canadian Muslims Erect First Minaret in the Arctic

News Agencies – October 27, 2010

Canadian Muslims have erected the Arctic’s first minaret, atop a little yellow mosque which serves as spiritual home to the area’s fledgling Islamic community. The prefabricated mosque arrived in Inuvik in September to serve a growing Muslim population in Canada’s far north, after traveling 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) over land and water. The minaret — built locally and installed this week — has four levels and stands 30 feet (10 meters) off the ground.
The number of Muslims in Inuvik, a town of 4,000 inhabitants in Canada’s Northwest Territories, has grown steadily in recent years to about 80 and they no longer fit in an old three-by-seven-meter (10-by-23-foot) caravan used until now for prayers. The worshippers — largely Sunni Muslim immigrants from Sudan, Lebanon and Egypt who moved to Canada’s far north in search of jobs and economic opportunities — are to hold an open house on November 5.

French CFCM Condemns Bin Laden’s Recent Statement

News Agencies – October 28, 2010

The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) has condemned the recent threats against France issued by Osama bin Laden. In a press release, the organization stated “in the name of the values of Islam, religion of peace and the middle way, the CFCM reaffirms its complete condemnation of all hostile acts made against our nation and our compatriots were they come from.”

High Council of Integration (HCI) Study Suggests Religious Demands on the Rise in French Public Schools

News Agencies – October 25, 2010

Muslim pupils and parents in France are increasingly making religious demands on the state school system that teachers should rebuff by explaining the country’s secular principles, according to an official report. The High Council for Integration (HCI) reported growing problems with pupils of immigrant backgrounds who object to courses about the Holocaust, the Crusades or evolution, demand halal meals and “reject French culture and its values.”
HCI President Patrick Gaubert claimed his agency decided to study how pupils from immigrant backgrounds adapted to the state school system because “this is at the heart of the challenges that French society must face.” The Report will be released in November 2010.

In New Tape, Bin Laden Threatens France

News Agencies – October 27, 2010

In a newly released audio tape Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden threatens to kill French citizens to avenge their country’s support for the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan and a new law that will ban face-covering Muslim veils. In the tape posted on Al-Jazeera’s website, bin Laden said France was aiding the Americans in the killing of Muslim women and children in an apparent reference to the war in Afghanistan. He said the kidnapping of five French citizens in the African nation of Niger last month was a reaction to what he called France’s oppression of Muslims.
The authenticity of the tape could not be immediately verified but the voice resembled that of the terror group leader on previous tapes determined to be genuine. France’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. France has about 4,000 troops deployed in and near Afghanistan. CFCM (French Council of the Muslim Faith) president, Mohammed Moussaoui, condemned the threat.

Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi becomes Canada’s first Muslim mayor

News Agencies – October 19, 2010

A grassroots campaign driven by volunteers has delivered Canada its first Muslim mayor – Mr. Nenshi, who scored a staggering win in Calgary’s mayor’s race October 18, 2010. Nenshi defeated two better-funded candidates, including one backed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s campaign team, and saw his support surge in the final few weeks. The 38-year-old Mr. Nenshi survived a smear campaign and a telephone failure in the crucial final days and hours, before running away with what was to be a close vote. His candidacy was branded the “Purple Revolution,” named for his campaign colour and driven by a broad demographic that included strong youth support. “Today Calgary is a different place than it was yesterday. A better place,” Mr. Nenshi said in a speech to his supporters.Voter turnout was high, with early returns suggesting it could reach 50 per cent, well higher than the 33 per cent turnout in 2007.
Mr. Nenshi’s parents emigrated to Canada from Tanzania when his mother, Nury Nenshi, was pregnant with Naheed. They settled in Toronto before moving to Calgary, where Naheed grew up. He attended Harvard University, and at 22 was hired by McKinsey and Company, one of the world’s top consulting firms. After about eight years at the company, he returned to Calgary to be with his ailing father. He has since worked for the United Nations, started his own business, and became a professor at Mount Royal University.

Most Protesters in French Pension Protests Are Suburban Young People

News Agencies – October 19, 2010

Masked youths clad in black torched cars, smashed storefronts and threw up roadblocks, clashing with riot police across France as protests over raising the retirement age to 62 took a radical turn. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the vandals are students, as young as 12 years old. These youth, says the official, are opportunistic and unstructured, forming sporadic groups. The most destructive are armed with makeshift weapons found on the way: a snatched post, or a stolen bicycle are used to smash store windows and then loot them, says a police agent in Seine-Saint-Denis. One of the ‘rioters’ even forgot his notebook in a shop in Seine-Saint-Denis which was looted by 40 people. Fifteen years old and without a police record, he was arrested six hours later at home.

The proximity of the ‘trouble suburbs’ to the marching routes complicates the job of the police, for example, in Nanterre, where rioters gathered to harass the riot police. At the departmental directorate of public security in Essonne, a police officer says that during the protests, high-school and college students from the underprivileged areas (“difficult neighborhoods”) turn into rioters. They put on a hood and start to pelt the police, or burn garbage, or even cars. Then they melt back into the protest march, some changing their clothing so as not to be recognized by the police videos.