Bernard Cazeneuve recently presented Anouar Kbibech, President of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), with the prestigious Legion of Honor.
“It’s impossible not to see your love for the Republic that has always guided you, in the same title as your religious convictions and your intention to ardently defend the interests and the reputation of French Muslims,” Cazeneuve said, recognizing Kbibech as “an important leader in religious dialogue and organizer of the Muslim faith in France.”
“Following the murder of Jacques Hamel, you called on Muslims to attend Mass at churches the following Sunday to bear witness to their mourning and compassion. Such an action is a gesture of determined calm, similar to the remarks made by leaders in the Catholic Church, in light of the suffering felt by the people of our country.”
“Respect is the most important Republican value, without which there would be no democracy, the Republic, or vivre-ensemble,” the Prime Minister concluded.
Eighty “Frenchmen or French residents” who left French soil to participate in jihad in Iraq and Syria have been killed thus far, stated Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
“There are already close to 1,4000 people who have been identified, Frenchmen or residents, as having ties to these networks. Around 750 are fighting or have left to fight, 410 are in France, 260 have come back,” he stated.
On January 19 Paris prosecutor Francois Molins announced that 1,280 people “were either in transit, were on location, were coming back or had already come back to France.” On January 22, Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve stated that there had been 73 Frenchmen killed in Syria and in Iraq. “As long as we have this situation which persists in Syria, in Iraq, in the Near and Middle East, we know we will have these [jihadist] candidates.”
Dutch Vice-Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher and Minister of Security and Justice Ivo Opstelten conducted a meeting on 9 January with representatives from various Muslim communities. The Contact Organization for Muslims and State (CMO), the Council of Dutch Moroccan Mosques (RMMN), the Co-determination Organization of Turks (IOT), and the Dutch Corporation for Refugees (VON) have attended the meeting. The immediate cause of the meeting was the posed threat to Dutch mosques, which has become even more urgent due to current developments.
The attack in France led to feelings of abhorrence and dismay. This was widely expressed during the meeting. There was mutual appreciation of the warm responses and expressions of solidarity from society. However at the same time concern was expressed over the rising tensions caused by the Paris assault, the incidents in Sweden and the anti-Islam demonstrations in surrounding countries.
Due to the increase of incidents against mosques in the Netherlands an appeal was made for an increased attention for Muslim hatred. Concrete agreements were made to improve the registration of acts of Muslim hatred. The Dutch cabinet has expressed their commitment to vigilantly observe the security conditions and, of necessary, take additional protection measures.
[This is a full translation of the interview with Islam critic and political leader of the Dutch Freedom Party that appeared in the Dutch news paper Het Parool on 9 January 2015. For the Dutch version see the link below.]
“The attack in Paris is a key moment”, says Geert Wilders (Islam critic and political leader of the Dutch Freedom Party). According to him now more than ever it became clear that freedom and Islam don’t go hand in hand. Citizens will not accept it anymore: “The revolution will come.”
Nine pictures are shown on the death roll that appeared in the online magazine of Al Qaida. Left of the middle shows the picture of Wilders. Located right of him is a picture of Stéphane Charbonnier, the killed editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo.
“On the internet I saw that the list is now also circulating with a red cross through his head,” says the Freedom Party leader, “with texts such as: ‘and now the rest.’ That’s not something to be happy about.”
This morning he woke up at 4.00 AM and afterwards could not sleep. “I knew this would happen at some point. But off course I was shocked anyway because I’m on the same list. I would lie if I said I am not afraid. Off course it has consequences…” He looks at the security guard who just checked the room in which the interview is being held.
“It’s war,” he already declared a few hours after the attacks. Directly after this statement he demanded a debate with the Dutch Prime Minister [Mark Rutte]. “Because if this attack makes one thing clear its that jihadis should be dealt with in a much firmer manner,” he said. “Isn’t it crazy that tens of them walk freely in this country? Who goes to Syria should never be able to come back. And the ones who have returned should be send to prison immediately. By way of an emergency law, not by way of the judge. The security of all is more important that the basic rights of some. If we do nothing the same will soon happen here. It’s a matter of time.”
And you think you can stop this?
“If we would close the borders for immigrants from Muslim countries and would deport everyone who has bad intentions it would already be a huge step. If we have achieved this we should extract ourselves from the Schengen Agreement and start to guard our own borders again. And we need the army. Isn’t it baffling that our soldiers are in Mali while our own security is under threat? Our soldiers should be here guarding stations and shopping malls. The jihadis are walking there now freely. They have declared war on us and we do nothing. They are laughing at us!”
What about the reactions of Prime Minister Mark Rutte and other political rivals?
“They express their aversion and then continue to busy themselves with the usual daily business. But they do not mention the cause. Islam is the cause. They don’t say it but people see it. Our voters are no xenophobes, they are people who feel that something is not right. That the Islam doesn’t belong in their country and that everything that happens is leading back to that. I do not want to suggest that all Muslims are terrorists but what is happening does have something to do with it.”
Do you not think that a lot of Muslims also reject this attack?
“I don’t know that. I don’t hear that much. I have seen a declaration from some mosques I believe and [Mayor of Rotterdam] Ahmed Aboutaleb said good things. Besides that it remains quiet. I don’t see large demonstration in which Muslims distance themselves from it.”
“I’m not at war against all those people. I also believe that their mosques should be safe spaces. Someone who gets it into his head to set a mosque on fire should remain behind bars according to me. So I do not say all those Muslims are at fault but they bring with them a culture that is not ours.”
A part of our culture is also the freedom of religion. You want to close mosques.
“But I do not believe Islam is a religion. It has the symptoms of a religion – a holy book, an imam, and what not – but it is not. It is a totalitarian ideology. A dangerous, frightening, violent, and wrong ideology.”
“It will lead to a revolution because citizens will not have it anymore,” Wilders says. “Not the British – mark my words, Ukip [the UK Independence Party] will have extraordinary electoral results! In Germany the Pegida, in France Le Pen. The revolution will come, let that be my single most important message. There will be no stopping this. Even if [Prime Minister] Mark Rutte will demonstrate on the Dam every evening.”
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has stated that Dutch police and security services have taken measures to prevent terrorist attacks in the Netherlands. During the weekly meeting of the Counsel of Ministers (Ministerraad) Rutte called for alertness. The Dutch Prime Minister also stated that while being alert is necessary the best reaction is to “continue to live as we are used to do: open and plural.”
Minister of Defense Jeanine Hennis stated earlier that the level of threat for terrorist attacks in the Netherlands is substantial. But while the chances of attacks are real no concrete evidences have been found for any planned assault. Secretary of State Fred Teeven stated the Netherlands is in a state of enhanced focus. Part of the Dutch cabinet convened a meeting on Friday with the Dutch secret services (the AIVD and MIVD) about the current situation.
Minister of Security and Justice Ivo Opstelten has stated that currently about 180 Dutch jihadists have travelled to Syria and Iraq. 35 of those have returned to the Netherlands. 21 Dutch jihadists have been killed in Syria or Iraq. Returning jihadist are severely observed by the AIVD or police.
Francois Hollande assured Iraq’s president of his support in the fight against the Islamic State. In a joint statement with prime minster Haidar Al-Abadi, Hollande declared that France is ready to “increase actions” against the Islamic State.
“We will continue to provide military support to Iraq, which is the victim of a full-scale terrorist attack,” he continued. “For three months actions were carried out by the Iraqi army after having received the coalition’s support, and these actions have led to clear progress and military success and therefore political success.”
There are currently nine Rafale and six Mirage fighter jets that are part of the “Chammal” operation. “Baghdad is secure. We are currently moving to free the entire territory that has been occupied by [the Islamic State],” said Hollande. Al-Abadi added, “We believe that liberation is not far away. Today there is more optimism and more hope that Iraq can stay together as one nation, one people.”
The Prime Minister also asked for funding to reconstruct occupied areas. “Reconstruction of areas destroyed by the Islamic State is an important topic,” he added, because “terrorism thrives on the people’s poverty and dissatisfaction with their economic circumstance.” Al-Abaid added that, “the decline in oil prices and in our oil exports have had a negative impact on our budget.”
Britons should celebrate the fact that their country is a “multi-cultural nation”, senior Conservatives have said. The comments came after research said that the party had to do more to attract black and ethnic minority voters if they wanted to win next year’s general election. Michael Gove, the Education secretary, issued the call and suggested that Britain was a “stronger country” because of its history of immigration.
He said: “The answer to our problems is not to denigrate success but to celebrate it; the answer to our problems is not to chip away at wealth creators with new taxes and new burdens, but to do everything possible to liberate them to create more jobs and opportunities for all.
The comments from Mr Gove, who is close to Prime Minister David Cameron, were backed by other senior party members.
Alok Sharma MP, the Conservatives’ vice chairman for black and minority ethnic issues told has stated that people would react positively to Mr Gove’s remarks.
David Green, from the right of centre think-tank Civitas, said Mr Gove had confused “multi-ethnicity” with “multi-culturalism”. He said: “Michael Gove has confused a multi-cultural society with a multi-ethnic society. We have become a multi-ethnic society, but we’ve been successful because our dominant culture of freedom and democracy allows space for different lifestyles.”
The practice of slaughtering animals by slitting their throats (The traditional practice in Judaism and Islam) and draining the blood in line with religious custom should be adapted to prevent suffering, the leader of Britain’s vets has said. John Blackwell, head of the British Veterinary Association, said animals should be “stunned” before slaughter.
Mr Blackwell told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that animals should be “stunned at the time of death”, which would render them “insensible to pain until death supervenes”.
“It’s important at the time of death for the animals’ welfare not to be compromised,” he said, while adding that he “respected the beliefs of religious sects”.
He said that sheep could remain conscious for up to seven seconds after having their throat cut, while for cattle it was two minutes and said there was “good evidence” that showed that animals could perceive pain at the point of having their throats slit, but he conceded that this research was not conclusive.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also disagreed with the views of Mr Blackwell .stating that stopping this type of slaughter would “remove the right of Jewish communities in this country, Muslim communities in this country, to stick to their religious beliefs about how they prepare food and how animals are slaughtered”.
UK legislation allows halal (Muslim) or shechita (Jewish) “non-stun” slaughter as long as it does not cause “unnecessary suffering”. Ritual slaughter is lawful in the UK and the EU to satisfy the dietary requirements of Jews and Muslims.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is a voice for the UK veterinary profession and has over 14,000 members.
Mr Arkush, who is the vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said the Jewish slaughtering practice was a “humane act designed to bring about the animals’ end very quickly” and that Mr Blackwell’s comments were “misleading”.
The last British prisoner being held at Guantanamo Bay has spoken from his prison cell for the first time. Shaker Aamer, who has been incarcerated at the US military prison since 2002, spoke to CBS’s 60 Minutes show.
Shouting from his cell he said: “Tell the world the truth … Please, we are tired. Either you leave us to die in peace – or either tell the world the truth. Open up the place. Let the world come and visit. Let the world hear what’s happening. “Please colonel, act with us like a human being, not like slaves.”
Mr Aamer, one of 164 prisoners at Guantanamo, has been held for 11 years without charge and is accused of being a close associate of Osama bin Laden, which he denies. He has been cleared for transfer by both the Bush and Obama administrations, according to Reprieve, the legal charity and human rights group which is representing him.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister David Cameron raised Mr Aamer’s case with President Barack Obama at a G8 summit and the British government has repeatedly stated that it wants him returned to the UK. Despite having British residency and a British wife and four children living in Battersea, London, US authorities have repeatedly threatened to send him back to Saudi Arabia, his birthplace, against his wishes.
Mr Aamer was detained in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2001 after he went to the country to carry out voluntary work for an Islamic charity, Reprieve said. It is alleged that he was tortured at the Bagram Air Force base while being questioned by US forces and in February 2010 it emerged that the Metropolitan police was investigating allegations of MI5 complicity in his torture.
“The Deputy Prime Minister went on to raise Mr Aamer’s case with Vice-President Biden in September. We are confident that the US government understands the seriousness of the UK’s request for Mr Aamer’s release. Although he admitted that “Any decision regarding Mr Aamer’s release ultimately remains in the hands of the United States government. We continue to monitor Mr Aamer’s welfare through engagement with the US authorities.”
It is not appropriate for students to wear a full veil in the classroom or for people to go through airport security with their faces covered, Nick Clegg has said. But the deputy prime minister said he did not want to see a state ban on the wearing of religious items of clothing in particular circumstances. His comments came as a Liberal Democrat minister said the government should consider banning Muslim girls and young women from wearing the veil in public places.
The Home Office minister Jeremy Browne called for a national debate on whether the state should step in to prevent young women having the veil imposed upon them. His intervention was sparked by a row over the decision by Birmingham Metropolitan College to drop a ban on the wearing of full-face veils amid public protests. Browne said he was “instinctively uneasy” about restricting religious freedoms, but he added there may be a case to act to protect girls who were too young to decide for themselves whether they wished to wear the veil or not.
He told the Daily Telegraph. There is genuine debate about whether girls should feel a compulsion to wear a veil when society deems children to be unable to express personal choices about other areas like buying alcohol, smoking or getting married.
“This is a free country and people going about their own business should be free to wear what they wish. I think it is very un-British to start telling people what pieces of clothing they should wear.
“I think there are exceptions to that as far as the full veil is concerned – security at airports, for instance. It is perfectly reasonable for us to say the full veil is clearly not appropriate there. And I think in the classroom, there is an issue, of course, about teachers being able to address their students in a way where they can address them face-to-face. I think it is quite difficult in the classroom to be able to do that.”
The Tory backbencher Dr Sarah Wollaston said the veils were “deeply offensive” and were “making women invisible”, and called for the niqab to be banned in schools and colleges.
Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, said he was disgusted by Browne’s calls to consider banning Muslim girls and young women from wearing the veil in public places.” This is another example of the double standards that are applied to Muslims in our country by some politicians,” he said. Adding: “We would expect these sorts of comments from the far right and authoritarian politicians and not from someone who allegedly believes in liberal values and freedom.”