Former French President Jacques Chirac has emerged as a spokesperson of sorts for Holocaust instruction in Muslim countries. Chirac’s popularity in parts of the Arab world and his history of making clear statements about France’s responsibility in the World War II destruction of Europe’s Jews accords him, according to this IHT feature, a unique place in talking about the relationship of racism and anti-Semitism to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Chirac said he had no intention “to place on Muslim countries a responsibility” for the Holocaust “that isn’t theirs” but stressed the importance of “making the Shoah known while removing it from the silence that people have built up around it in many countries.” “It’s been hidden,” Chirac said, “because referring to the Shoah in these countries has risked creating sympathy for the Jews and Israel.”
PARIS – French Muslims on Sunday created a new representative group aimed at “complementing” an existing state-sponsored umbrella organisation that has been stalled by infighting. The Rally of Muslims in France (RMF) held a gathering in Paris of 200 heads of mosques and associations to establish itself as an alternative to the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) set up by Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy in 2003. In a statement, the RMF said it wanted to “contribute to the emergence of moderate Islam” that would respect French laws while lobbying on behalf of the country’s estimated five million Muslims. The group is led by Taoufiq Sebti, the president of a regional Muslim group covering the Paris area. The head of another Paris Muslim group also participating, Anouar Kbibech, stressed that the RMF intended to be “complementary, and not a rival, to the CFCM”. The CFCM has been riven by power struggles since its inception. Its president, Dalil Boubakeur, who is rector of the mosque in Paris, said an overdue board meeting of the organisation has again been pushed back, this time to early July. Boubakeur explained that CFCM members agreed to the additional delay at the request of the office of President Jacques Chirac, who next Sunday is to inaugurate a memorial to Muslim soliders who fought for France in World War I.
PARIS – French President Jacques Chirac on Wednesday accused newspapers printing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed of “provocation,” after yet another French publication put the contentious caricatures on its pages. “Anything that can hurt the convictions of another, particularly religious convictions, must be avoided. Freedom of expression must be exercised in a spirit of responsibility,” Chirac told his cabinet, according to a government spokesman.
MARSEILLE, France (AFP) – In a major broadside, President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin rejected a senior government minister’s idea of using state funds to build mosques and train Islamic religious leaders. Chirac obliquely accused his arch rival – Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to seek his job in the 2007 presidential election – of trying to “open up a new and pointless debate in France on topics that enjoy consensus.” Raffarin said for the government to get mixed up in religion in any way would undermine the very foundations of the French republic, which is based on a strict separation of church and state.
By Mathew Schofield With immigration from Muslim countries rising throughout Europe, politicians across the continent are pushing for laws reining in the Muslim community. Often the legislation is being introduced by politicians who represent centrist and leftist parties that traditionally champion human rights. The movement has little opposition. When France’s 577-member National Assembly approved the head-scarf ban last month, only 36 legislators voted against it. The margin was just as one-sided when the Senate gave it final approval Wednesday, 276-20. Top French officials, including President Jacques Chirac, have said the ban will help preserve France’s secular national character. Muslims have become fair game for a number of European political factions. Feminists say the head scarf is a sign of the oppression of women. On the right, politicians say Muslims will tear apart the fabric of all that’s European.
PARIS: The French Senate approved by a large majority a bill banning hijab and other religious insignia in state schools on Wednesday, March 3. The proposal was adopted with 276 in favor and 20 against, despite the recent mass protests by the five-million-estimated Muslims and human rights at home and the appeal of some countries against the ban, BBC reported. French President Jacques Chirac has 15 days to sign into law the bill – adopted by the lower house last month by overwhelming majority, according to the BBC. Chirac said in a televised speech in December 2003 that the “Islamic veil” whatever name we give it – the kappa and a cross that is of plainly excessive dimensions” have no place in the precincts of state schools. ‘Powerful Signal’ French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin told senators before the vote that the law did not aim to discriminate against religions but to ”send a powerful and quick signal”. Raffarin insisted the law was needed to contain the spread of what he called ”Muslim fundamentalism” and ensure that the principle of secularism on which France is based remains intact.
For Moroccans to demonstrate against French President Jacques Chirac’s decision of banning the veil as a religious symbol at schools, it reflects a religious position more than a political one. Although it is difficult to reduce the Islamic issue to the wearing of the veil, or not, it is obvious that extremist circles in France, and outside, will find in the argument a pretext to accuse Islam of extremism and exaggeration.
A prominent Muslim scholar appealed in a letter to French President Jacques Chirac to go back on his decision backing a ban on Hijab in public schools.?
President Jacques Chirac has called on for a law banning Muslim headscarves, Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crosses from French state schools. “In all conscience, I consider that the wearing of dress or symbols which conspicuously show religious affiliation should be banned in schools,” he said in a speech on the long controversy over the role of religion in French public life.
A court has ruled that a French civil servant who wore an Islamic headscarf on the job committed a “particularly serious offense” and may face disciplinary action because she violated the separation of church and state. Nadjet ben Abdallah, a 33-year-old work inspector in the central city of Lyon, had argued that a disciplinary committee’s decision to sanction her for wearing the headscarf at work was unjust. The administrative court in Lyon disagreed and in a decision released Friday, the court said the woman was wrong to go to work “wearing an item of clothing that ostentatiously expresses membership in a particular religion.” France, which has a large Muslim community, has long had an emotionally charged debate about wearing headscarves in public schools. Girls who refuse to remove headscarves if asked have triggered strikes by teachers and an outcry from many others, particularly politicians. French President Jacques Chirac has set up a commission to study how France’s secular ethic should be applied, an attempt to satisfy a changing, increasingly diverse France without compromising secularism.