Macron proposes extension of counterterrorism powers

President Macron’s government proposed an expansion of authorities’ powers to fight terrorism, alarming civil liberties advocates even as defenders said the plans would help keep French citizens safe.

The draft law was introduced after a series of attempted terrorist strikes in Paris and Brussels in recent weeks and several bloody attacks in Britain that were claimed by Islamic State-inspired militants.

The changes proposed Thursday seek to wind down a state of emergency that gave French security officials broad powers and was imposed after the November 2015 Paris attacks, which claimed 130 lives. Some of those powers would be made permanent, including the ability to temporarily shutter places of worship that promote extremism and conduct searches with fewer restrictions. The draft also strips some oversight powers from judges and gives security officials more latitude to act without judicial review.

 “I think we have achieved a good balance,” Interior Minister Gérard Collomb told reporters after a meeting of the French cabinet Thursday during which he proposed the law. “The aim is to put an end to the state of emergency.”

 

Macron and his predecessor, François Hollande, have sought to end the state of emergency, which has been extended several times since the 2015 attacks. It is slated to expire July 15, although Macron has asked for it to be prolonged until November.

The proposal “tries to preserve the balance between controlling terrorism and respecting liberties,” French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said Wednesday on France’s TF1 television station. “We cannot give up what we are.” 

He acknowledged that the law was a work in progress, saying that consultation with parliament, where Macron has a majority, would “enrich the text.” Macron last month announced the formation of a terrorism task force that would streamline communication among branches of intelligence and law enforcement, an idea praised by terrorism experts.

 

Since November 2015, French police have conducted over 4,000 searches and raids using emergency powers and placed about 400 people under house arrest, according to statistics collected by Amnesty International.

 

Grand Mosque of Lyon’s rector calls on Muslims to vote

Kamel Kabtane, rector of the Grand Mosque of Lyon, published a communiqué before the first round of the elections in which he called on the Muslim community to assume its “duty” to vote.

“Our responsibility, as citizens of this country, commands us to take part in France’s future at a time when certain irresponsible persons attempt to convince us to desert the voting booths and separate us from our fellow citizens,” he wrote. “Those who advocate retrograde beliefs, contribute to the image of a community who is uninterested in the Future of its country. The Muslims of France are in fact concerned, about the future of their country, just as they are concerned about the future of their children.”

Contacted by Lyon Capitale, Kabtane stated that salafist places of worship have attempted to dissuade Muslims from voting. “All the mosques are on alert and the sermons will call on Muslims to fulfill their duty as citizens. That is our objective,” he concluded.

 

 

Muslims in a Bible Belt town hold their breath

Murfreesboro is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country and an increasingly diverse one. Muslim and Christian students go to school and play sports together; their families patronize the same restaurants and stores.

Residents variously describe the town as a proud example of Southern hospitality, a growing “melting pot,” a suburb of “little blue dot” Nashville and the “buckle on the Bible Belt.” Its downtown with the old courthouse and Confederate-soldiers memorial yields to strip malls and chain stores, new housing developments and old cotton fields, and the university, with its 20,000 undergraduates.

Among the town’s couple hundred places of worship are 59 Baptist churches, including an Arabic Baptist church as well as Grace Baptist, whose deacon in 2010 greeted the construction of the new mosque next door by erecting 23 huge white crosses on the road.

Murfreesboro doesn’t need “to have a lot of Muslims,” Sally Wall said. “I think they can stay where they are and we stay where we are.”

But there’s more tolerance because of the public acrimony over the mosque, said City Council member Bill Shacklett.

“I wish some of the things hadn’t happened. But the one thing it has done is compel people to open their hearts and minds to be drawn toward each other . . . get out and flesh out your faith with different people,” Shacklett said, adding that Muslims and Christians have started to do that.

 

 

Hollande: France must ’embrace’ Islam

President Francois Hollande called for the creation of “an Islam of France” and the removal of foreign-trained extremist imams in a key speech Thursday on the challenges radical Islam poses to democracy.

Addressing the debate surrounding Islam following a summer of terror attacks and burkini bans, he stressed that French secularism was not at odds with the religion.
“Nothing in the idea of secularism is opposed to the practice of Islam in France, as long — and that is the vital point — as it complies with the law,” Hollande said in Paris, stressing that secularism was “not a religion of the state that stands against all other religions.”
“What we need to succeed in together is the creation of an Islam of France,” Hollande said.
He said that this could be achieved through the new Foundation for Islam in France, a measure announced in the wake of the terror attacks to improve relations between the state and the country’s large Muslim community, which accounts for between 7% and 9% of the population.
Longtime French politician Jean-Pierre Chevènement was appointed head of the foundation last month. Hollande said France also needed to create “a national association in order to obtain financing for the building of mosques and the training of imams.”
“The republic cannot accept a situation where a majority of imams are trained abroad and sometimes don’t speak our language,” he said. France’s rules of secularism prohibit the use of state funds for places of worship, and there have been concerns about the radical vision of Islam practiced in some foreign-funded mosques. At least 20 Muslim places of worship have been closed due to extremism since December, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in July.
Hollande said that radical Islam had created “a fake state, led by real killers. It skews the Islamic religion to spread its hatred.”

A mosque and a cultural center in Venice?

February 22, 2014

 

No Islamic cultural center and mosque is complete without a minaret muezzin calling to worshippers to prayer. A Mosque would take many Venetian Muslims into the sunlight, out of garages and stairs that have been their places of worship for all this time. A cultural center could be in the future for the City of Venice. An unnamed Saudi prince has agreed to fund the center, according to the local newspapers. Now begins a battle for a place of worship.

 

Venezia Today: http://www.veneziatoday.it/cronaca/moschea-centro-culturale-islam-venezia-principe-saudita.html

Turin: Open Mosques for a Day

December 4, 2013

 

The places of worship are a source of wisdom , serenity and peace in which man realizes his infinite smallness. The places of worship are also spaces of encounter and confrontation between different cultures and faiths, as shown by the girls and boys in the Italian Association of Young Muslims, who organized moments of depth and knowledge on cultural and religious elements of Islam , also opening the doors of mosques in Turin to citizens through the initiative “Open Mosque.”  “After the visit, the dozens of people who have followed us have looked at the world with a different position” says Ayoub Cherkawoui, coordinator of the Association of Piedmont. Periodically, we perform the same guided tour and reception with the primary schools in the territory, to explain the similarities and differences between religions and debunk many clichés. At first the children are quiet and a bit ‘intimidated,’ but then curiosity takes over and they ask many questions.”

Seminars and workshops
The fourth edition of the annual gathering of the Young Muslims of the Northwest of Italy has dealt with important issues from a new perspective. The one who is torn between two cultures but feels as if they belong inseparably to their country of origin: Italy. An important meeting focused on the status of second generation immigrants (those born in Italy or those who were brought as children), orientation to the university and educational choices, the new world of work and university courses offered by the territory of Turin and Piedmont. “The family is the country of the heart” Giuseppe Mazzini wrote in his book The Duties of Man. The festival has dedicated an evening to review the knowledge and dialogue about the meaning of family and hospitality in other countries.

Open Mosque
Turin has assumed the role of a city of exchange, a multi-ethnic place where cultures and religions come together and blend to a sometimes difficult but often constructive coexistence. Through dialogue and discussion, the true spirit of certain neighborhoods such as San Salvario is interfaith. The neighborhood is the reference point for historical and religious minorities and now includes new faiths brought to Turin by migrants. With curiosity and desire to discuss, young Muslims have accompanied the people of Turin to discover other places of worship.

Young, Muslim and Italian
“Our thoughts tend to seek a balance between realism and faith to give young Muslims every reason to believe in a better future, to avoid extremism and to demonstrate to our society the true face of the majority of Muslims, a friendly face that is not the enemy” says Ayoub Cherkawoui “And ‘essential,’ therefore, for us young Muslims in Italy feel that they have a dual identity, that of their family and their origins, and that they have gained by living and growing up in Italy . This can be seen as wealth, but it can also be the cause of deep divides.”

 
Tiscali: http://notizie.tiscali.it/regioni/piemonte/feeds/13/12/04/t_76_20131204_1640_video_10.html

One mosque, many faiths

November 19, 2013

 

We all sat in a circle, surrounded by the tranquility of a richly decorated mosque in Washington, D.C. We were for once away from all schisms- of religion, faith and nations. Ten American students, a Pakistani professor and an Indian journalist- we all sat in a circle to explore the space where divides end, and our unity begins.

For these students at American University, the experience was a novel one–for most of them, it was their first ever visit to a mosque. Our group was a concoction of identities – Native Americans, Roman Catholics, Moroccan Jews, and me, a Sikh from the Indian side of Kashmir.

The visit was scheduled to give students an experience of a mosque and to clear misperceptions about clashes of faiths. We chose to visit the Islamic Center in D.C., a mosque designed by an Italian architect and constructed in the 50′s. The imam at the center led us through the prayers and explained the three categories in Islam- aMuslim, who may or may not be truly spiritual; a Momim, a believer who practices his belief faithfully; and the highest category of a Muhsin, who is benevolent, charitable and a humanitarian to all mankind. For him, spreading education or ilm met with the highest category- a reason why he often addressed Professor Akbar Ahmed as Muhsin. Imam Abdullah M Khouj, who is from Mecca, became a Hafiz, or someone who memorizes the entire Koran, at the age of 11. He clearly held high reverence for scholarship and service, perhaps even greater than just practicing beliefs.

In the mosque, under the magnificent bronze Egyptian chandelier, we sat together in a circle as teachers and learners. We discussed why women pray in separate spaces, why religions have sectarian divides. We explored how humility and submission are at the core of spirituality, how various faiths were connected with a common thread.

When we were about to leave, I turned to Imam Khouj and told him that the holy text of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib, repeats the name Allah 46 times. Our professor reiterated that the fifth Sikh Guru asked a Muslim Sufi saint, Mian Mir, to lay the foundation stone of the Holiest Sikh shrine, the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Here we were, a Pakistani professor, an Indian journalist and 10 American students, attempting to find bridges between faiths. My mind raced back to the raging battles between nations, to the gunfire on the borders, to attacks on places of worship, to condemnation in the name of faith. Far away from these clashes, here we were as a small group, dissolving divides that we had known, finding common spaces.

 

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/wp/2013/11/19/one-mosque-many-faiths/

Young Italian Muslims Festival

By Maria Teresa Martinengo

November 18, 2013

As part of the Youth festival in Turin, an exhibition of images in Turin is on view, an orientation program, a day of “open mosques,” walks through places of worship in San Salvario, a lecture on the Quran and the prophets of the Bible, and the play ” the taste of pistachios.” Additionally, the festival will host sports tournaments, a meeting on the family in Islamic countries, and art workshops on photography. The program is part of the fourth annual Young Italian Muslims in the North West, which opens Saturday morning in Piazza Castello. The 2013 edition is proposed as a Festival, a series of events by which the GMI even more than in years past, “make themselves available” in a city of youths mostly born to parents originating from Egypt and Morocco.

 

The program

“Turin with New Eyes” is a tribute to the first capital of Italy: a photographic exhibition in Turin seen through the eyes of the city’s “new” citizens it will be on display on Saturday in Piazza Castello, from 10am to 8pm.

“The Future” is a project dedicated to career choices and university orientations. Through the knowledge of the professions, the orientation will present the new world of work and courses of study offered by the University of Turin and the Piedmont region. The project, which will take place in schools throughout the school year, will debut on Saturday.

 

The theater company

The Theatre Company of Young Muslims of Italy (GMI  Section of Turin) will perform “The Taste of pistachio.” Which will show a multitude of different characters on stage.

Additionally, after Turin Spirituality, 2013, the Group proposes to read the pages of the Koran, which special attention to verses about the prophets, Wednesday 27, at 8 pm.

 

Mosques open

The program includes art workshops, male and female football tournaments and various sporting events, including “On the Path of Knowledge,” a walk in the atmosphere of interfaith San Salvario: from Waldensian Evangelical church to the church of Saints Peter and Paul, Saturday 30 at 10 am. The same morning, from 9am to 12pm, mosques will be open to visitors.

 

La Stampa: http://www.lastampa.it/2013/11/18/cronaca/presentato-il-festival-dei-giovani-musulmani-italiani-PGO21m5NITnR7loCrNQpqJ/pagina.html

 

The First meeting of the Confederation of Young Islamic Italians

November 11, 2013

 

The first meeting of the Confederation of Young Islamic Italians (GCII) is planned for next Sunday, 17 November, in Rome. The event is promoted by the Lazio section of the newly formed Islamic education of youth. In a statement the president of the Italian Islamic Confederation, Wahid el Fihri, explained “We expect hundreds of young Muslims from different regions of Italy for the first national meeting which will be held at the auditorium of the Center Islamic cultural center of Italy, better known as the Great Mosque of Rome.“

“Our goal is to give our children one more tool to stay away from the sirens of extremism and give them the ability to fight for a moderate Islam, which is open to interreligious dialogue and respectful of the rules and culture of others. Above all, moderate Islam is able to integrate into Italian society in accordance with our traditions.” The event will include a recitation of the Quran, a parade of children dressed in traditional Moroccan and other Muslim countries clothing. After the presentation of the new Islamic youth group, there will be an open dialogue between parents and children regarding the problems of Muslim families living in Italy.

The Confederation, founded as a union of regional federations, was founded in March 2012 and brings together the 250 centers and places of worship scattered throughout the country, who have chosen to share common values​​, in line with the “Charter of Values, Citizenship and Immigration” promulgated by the Ministry of the Interior in 2007.

 

International Business Times: http://it.ibtimes.com/articles/58922/20131114/islam.htm

“Industrial” Islam

October 19, 2013

 

In Catalonia, mosques continue to be pushed further away from the city centers and placed into industrial spaces.
From the 200 existing mosques in Catalonia, between 15 and 20 of them are located at industrial spaces, according to sociologist expert Jordi Moreras. Moreover, an investigation by the Mossos d’ Esquadra (local police) warned about the radical expansion of Salafism in these small mosques. Of the five places of worship which cultivate salafism, four of them are located in industrial spaces: Tarragona, Reus, Roda de Bara, and Torredembarra.

 

El Pais: http://ccaa.elpais.com/ccaa/2013/10/19/catalunya/1382203257_281728.html