News Agencies – December 9, 2011
French feminist organization Ni Putes Ni Soumises (NPNS, Neither Whores nor Submissives) is seeking a new president to revitalize the organization. Jamila Alla and Asma Guenifi are the two candidates most likely to be elected as the new leader following meetings in Dourdan. Sihem Habchi has been president since 2007 having followed the group’s 2003 creator, Fadela Amara.
News Agencies – November 9, 2011
Last week, the offices of French magazine Charlie Hebdo were firebombed after printing a controversial cartoon of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad with the headline, “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter!” Hebdo’s website was also hacked and left with a message reading, “No God but Allah.” Now, the satirical publication is back on the attack. This week’s cover depicts an editor of Charlie Hebdo making out with Muhammad under a banner that reads, “Love is stronger than hate.”
The recent events surrounding Charlie Hebdo have proved to be divisive to say the least. Muslim groups in France have been up in arms over what they perceive to be continued provocation and discrimination by the French media, while the extremist acts have played into the skepticism of Islam held by members of the French far-right community.
The French Muslim Council, an organization that had previously sued Charlie Hebdo over cartoons of Muhammad in 2006, have denounced the attacks. More support has come from smaller liberal organizations with large Muslim constituencies. Sihem Habchi, head of the women’s group Ni Putes Ni Soumises (Neither Whores nor Submissives) said that the bombing was “a great hurt for the image of Islam.”
A debate organized by Ni Putes Ni Soumises (NPNS, Neither Whores Nor Submissives) on the full-face veil in France in Montreuil was intervened by police. Approximately 100 people gathered in a primary school, later interrupted by members of the pro-Palestinian association, Cheikh Yassine. As the debate became heated, several attendees became involved in a physical fight. Police arrived to interrupt proceedings.
Approximately 60 members of the French feminist organization NPNS (Ni Putes Ni Soumisses or Neither Whores nor Submissives) gathered at the Place de la Republique in Paris to make public their position against the burqa in France. President Sihem Habchi told AFP that “for this generation, the rallying point is secularism, parity and to build a kind of feminism established on living together everywhere in the world, not only in France.”
Sihem Habchi appeared as the first witness before a newly created parliamentary group studying Islamic clothing such as burqas and niqabs in the Republic, part of France’s effort to integrate its growing Muslim population while preserving its heritage and secular roots.
The panel, chaired by Communist Party lawmaker André Gédron, will hold months of hearings before issuing a report, likely by January 2010. It has no power to draft laws but could recommend legislation restricting or banning women from wearing head-to-toe Islamic robes that mask facial features in public.
The panel was announced in June 2009. Habchi heads Ni Putes, Ni Soumises — Neither Whores, Nor Submissives — an outspoken group fighting to improve the lot of Muslim women and girls in suburban areas. The group’s founder Fadela Amara, now the government’s urban affairs minister, supports a ban on full-body veils. The parliamentary panel is also to hear from supporters of the veils, though the list of witnesses has not yet been completed, the panel said.
In her new book Femmes invisibles, leurs mots contre la violence (Invisible Women, Their Words Against Violence, Calmann-Lévy 2008) sociologist Smaïn Laacher (CNRS – EHESS) claims that the community association Neither Whores Nor SUbmissives (Ni Putes Ni Soumises) has had problems representing Muslim girls in the suburbs of France because it was so popular amongst young women in its beginnings and the expectations were too high. The organization never had the infrastructure to be able to properly respond to the demand. In addition, its press releases and communication were direct and addressed major issues like secularism, Islam, immigration and the Israeli-Palestian conflict. According to Laacher, the media therefore exaggerated the importance and power of the organization, so that many of its members were disappointed by its actual power.
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The Secretary of State for Urban Policies (UMP), Fad_la Amara, also former president of Ni Putes, Ni Soumises (“Neither Whores, Nor Submissives“), in an interview published in the Algerian Daily Newspaper Al-Akhbar, declared herself as a “practicing Muslim“ and “secular in politics“.
President Nicolas Sarkozy hastily altered his month-old government on Tuesday, adding women, ethnic minorities and members of rival parties to his cabinet after the second round of the parliamentary elections. The president – reviled by many minority youths because of his law-and-order crackdowns and demeaning comments – gave two junior positions to women of immigrant origin. Rama Yade, a 30-year-old French woman of Senegalese origin, will be the youngest member of the government and in charge of human rights under Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. Fadela Amara, whose parents came to France from Algeria and who founded an advocacy group for Muslim women (Ni Putes Ni Soumises), will be in charge of urban planning.