Valls: France needs ‘new relationship with Islam’

Prime Minister Valls said France, which is home to around five million Muslims, needs to forge a new rapport with Islam.

“We need to reset and invent a new relationship with Islam in France,” Valls said.

The PM has long wanted to help nurture a more French version of Islam, without extremists elements and said in Friday he was in favor of a ban on foreign funding of mosques.

He also wants imams to be trained in France rather than abroad.

The PM has warned in the past that Salafists were “winning the ideological and cultural battle” in France, home of Europe’s biggest Muslim population.

And he has pledged to “massively” increase France’s security and defense budgets in the coming years, as the country grapples with a growing jihadist threat after two deadly attacks last year.

“The Salafists must represent one percent of the Muslims in our country today, but their message — their messages on social networks — is the only one we end up hearing,” he said.

France has long had an uneasy relationship with Islam, even before recent jihadist killings in Paris, Nice and Rouen. While the French public and politicians broadly supported the two laws opponents argued it would only work to stigmatize and alienate the country’s Muslim community even further.

It is not clear what the PM is thinking of when it comes to this “new relationship” but in the past he has expressed extending the ban on religious signs to universities.

“The veil does not represent a fashion fad, no, it’s not a colour one wears, no: it is enslavement of women,” he said, warning of the “ideological message that can spread behind religious symbols”.

“We have to make a distinction between wearing the veil as a scarf for older women, and it as a political gesture confronting French society.”

However members of his own government including the education minister and university bodies do not believe there is a need to extend the law.

French Sociologist and director of the Religious Observatory in France doubted Valls had any clear idea of what he meant by “new relationship” but that it was a mistake to suggest this was the source of terrorism.

“I doubt he has a clear idea in his head, but he needs to separate the issues,” said Liogier who has criticized Valls in the past for “showing a complete ignorance of all the multiple dynamics that play a role in Muslim communities today.”

“Let’s stop talking about Muslim “communitarianism” being the source of terrorism. A man with a beard or a woman wearing the veil are other issues, they are not the problem of terrorism.”

 

Nick Clegg ‘uneasy’ about ban on Muslim veils in school

Deputy PM says he understands teachers feeling uncomfortable about pupils wearing veil, but does not back ‘blanket prohibition’ Nick Clegg was asked about a ban on face coverings at Birmingham Metropolitan college during his LBC radio phone-in. Nick Clegg has backed teachers who feel uncomfortable about pupils wearing full-face Muslim veils, but says he is “uneasy” about a college that has brought in a blanket ban. The deputy prime minister said he could “totally understand” teachers who did not want full-face veils in the classroom as they needed to make “eye contact and face contact with pupils”. However, Clegg said these were “exceptional circumstances” and he generally supported people’s right to wear whatever religious clothing they liked.

 

“I’m really quite uneasy about anyone being told what they have to wear,” he said on LBC 97.3. “I think I’ve set the bar very high to justify something like that because one of the things that is great about our country is that we are diverse, we are tolerant.” People do dress differently, people do have different faiths, people do have different convictions and that is reflected in what they wear, in how they present themselves.”

The violence of Trappes

Trappes police16.08.2013

Le Monde

A month after the two day riots of July 19 to 20, the French daily Le Monde re-narrates the story of France’s second suburban riot of the 21st century. The violence started following the stop and search of a 21-year-old Muslim woman in a niqab in the priority neighbourhood of Mersiers in Trappes (Yvelines). Her 20-year-old husband intervened when the police is alleged to have insulted the woman and was taken to the station for having attempted to strangulate one of the officers.  Like many other suburbs in the vicinity of Paris, the tension between youths and the police has been well established, but what made this summer’s riots however  distinct from others was the religious identity and solidarity which mobilized people and remained absent in previous episodes of urban violence. The paper continues to reason this religious force as the result of the growth of Islamophobia in front of the eyes of many of the neighbourhood’s residents who are of North African and Sub-Saharan origin. Few weeks prior to the 21-year-old Muslim woman’s stop and search, a number of stop and search actions of Muslim women have shocked the Muslim community and left deep traces of anxiety and anger amongst people.

Aggravated about the officer’s conduct and the arrest of her husband, the 21-year-old Muslim woman contacted her local mosque. Rumours about the most recent law enforcement against veiled Muslims women started to circulate amongst the community following Friday prayer. The local mosque is described by Le Monde as ultraorthodox in its preaching and tremendously popular amongst young Muslims who find ‘cohesion’ in the religious community. After Friday prayer, a group of 20 people, including the female victim, went to the police commissariat to demand the release of the husband. In the meanwhile, the Ministry of Internal Affairs interprets the chain of events differently. According to them, a group of Salafist were to be found in front of the commissariat. ‘Half of them’ were known to the police and are said to have threatened the authorities with actions

The tension couldn’t be ceased and the police ordered reinforcements. By 5 PM, representatives of the mosque arrived at the commissariat to calm the community in vain. A new protest was announced by 8.30 PM via SMS. It is believed that many of the protestors were mobilized by a number of SMS which circulated throughout the hours following the arrest. No calls for violence were, however, made.  At 8.30 PM some 150 people gathered in front of the commissariat which included residents of Trappes but also people from other areas of the Greater Parisian Region (Ile-de-France).

Anti-riot police arrived when the tension reached its climax. Three people approached the police when one police officer insulted men wearing traditional clothing. Mortar fireworks started to be shot from the crowds landing at the feet of the police. The riots suddenly began and took place over two days leading to multiple injuries and immense material damage.

For many residents of Cherries, the clashes of that night are the result of an almost inevitable social slippage. Since August 13, few weeks after the riots, a new path of approaching the Muslim community of Trappes has been introduced in local authorities

British Muslim Group Attacks Gay Marriage Plans

19.03.2012

British PM David Cameron has presented a proposal to redefine marrigae and legalise gay marriage. Acording to Cameron, this redefinition is necessary, as any kind of relationships based on stability and commitment should be supported. Yet, Cameron’s proposal was attacked my Muslims and Sikhs in the UK. The Muslim Council of Britain, for instance, said that Cameron’s plans were „unnecessary and unhelpful“ (The Telegraph) and, furthermore, the proposal was „strikingly weak“. In their opinion, the recognition of civil partnerships was sufficient, as it gives homosexual and heterosexual couples equal rights.

Ten Years after 9/11: The Threat Remains

11.09.2011

The 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks has stirred up debate as to whether the response to the attacks by the West was effective in diminishing the threat of terrorism. The Telegraph concludes that some elements were effective (such as improvements to the work of security services, which have succeeded in frustrating several attacks), but others were not. It is, therefore, a fact that the threat of attacks from terrorists inspired by Islam is as real as ever. For Islamism to wither into insignificance, more needs to be done ‘to ensure that Muslim communities within the West embrace the values of tolerance and respect that we cherish’. According to Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, it was vital to break up structures of isolation that were allegedly fostered by the state’s political multiculturalism. Similar plans were communicated by PM David Cameron earlier this year, when he claimed that state multiculturalism had to be replaced by a national identity that all can embrace (as reported).

Addressing the same issue, the Mirror reports that, on Saturday, Tony Blair warned on Radio 4 that the war on terror was not over yet. He said it was naive to believe that the West’s response to the 9/11 attacks had radicalised Muslims extremists. According to Blair, “(t)hey believe in what they believe in because they believe their religion compels them to believe in it”. The threat would only end, once this ideology was defeated.

Calls for PM Response on Dutch Politician’s Role in Norway Violence

Following the mass shootings in Norway last month, Dutch opposition parties have called for prime minister Mark Rutte to take a position on the role of anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders with respect to the tragedy. Mentioned at least 30 times in the shooter’s manifeso, Wilders has publicly distanced himself from the event. In the polarized political climate opposition parties are calling on the leading VVD for a statement of their position with respect to Wilders’ PVV party, which currently supports the minority government.

No religious favours, Canadian PM says

No religious group should expect special treatment when it comes to enforcement of the law, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in response to reports that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) had apologized for arresting Muslims on terrorism charges during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
On Aug. 25, 2010, the RCMP and Ottawa Police arrested two Ottawa men–Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh, Misbahuddin Ahmed — suspected of conspiring with others in Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit terrorism. A third man, Khurram Syed Sher, was picked up in St. Thomas.

The next day, Aug. 26, the RCMP and city police staged a special, hour-long meeting with members of Ottawa’s Muslim community with the ostensible purpose of ensuring them that their community was not regarded with undue suspicion despite the arrests. However, at least one officer was heard apologizing during the meeting for the arrests having occurred during Ramadan, which ran last year from Aug. 12 to Sept. 9.

Prominent members of the Muslim Canadian Congress applauded the Prime Minister’s remarks, saying it is about time that senior government officials emphasized the unitary nature of Canadian law, and that religious sentiment cannot be allowed to interfere with the law.

Salma Siddiqui, vice-president of the Congress. “We have one law in Canada and it applies to everybody. We need to stop all this political correctness.” “At the meeting I commented, ‘Would you apologize to other Canadians if you arrested someone on Christmas?'”

Police arrest three over plot to murder PM

The arrests of three men from Blackburn over terror offences are linked to an investigation into threats to kill the Prime Minister, it has been reported. The men are being held in connection with website threats against Gordon Brown and former PM Tony Blair, the BBC said. It was also reported that the threats included a demand for the release of Muslim prisoners from Belmarsh high-security prison in London. The claims shocked East Lancashire community leaders but they were quick to stress how strong community relations are in the area. Two men from Blackburn were arrested at Manchester Airport on Thursday, August 14. Another man, also from Blackburn, was arrested at his workplace, Express Gifts, in Church. It is believed two of the suspects were on their way to Iceland when they were arrested, although the BBC reported that they were going to Finland. Police have declined to name the three men, aged 21, 22 and 23. It is understood two of the suspects are from Percival Street, off Whalley Range, and the third is a friend of theirs from Cromwell Street, off Audley Range.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=D59CC50E870D2421232015FD&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

Libya and Italy seen set to sign compensation deal

Libya and Italy are set to reach a deal soon to compensate for Italy’s three-decade colonial rule. The deal, said to be worth billions, was announced by Saif al Islam, the influential so of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. “In the next weeks, Libya will sign a deal with Italy on compensation for the colonial period. This deal … amounts to billions,” Said told an official gathering in Tripoli. The accord involves multiple projects, including a motorway across Libya, education resourced, and the clearing of mines dating back to the colonial era. Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi said that he hopes this friendship treaty could be signed by the end of August.

Young Muslims reject death threats against PM

Young Muslim Italians have expressed their support for journalist and recent Christian convert Magdi Allam, and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, after death threats were posted against them on an al-Qaeda inspired website. The organization Young Muslims of Italy asserted that no Muslims ought to sympathize with these threats, and that The association, Young Italian Muslims, expresses disdain and rejects the unacceptable violent threats that appeared in an internet forum, run by Muslims.” In a statement issued on Wednesday, the organization expressed solidarity with Berlusconi and Allam, saying that it is important to do so as members of both a civil society and religions community.