London terror attacker profiled

Khalid Masood, age 52, attacked London, driving a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and stabbing a police officer who was guarding parliament. 

Masood was not born into a Muslim family. His birth name was Adrian Russell Ajao. He was born in Kent to a 17-year-old mother. In school, he was interested in football and parties. 

Masood has two daughters with Jane Harvey, his partner with whom he lived in the mid-1990s. He also has a son with another woman.  

Most of his noted criminal acts occurred before his conversion to Islam.  He was convicted for criminal damage at the age of 18. He also had convictions for assaults, weapon possession, and disturbing public order. At least two of his convictions were for knife-related assaults.

It is unclear exactly when he converted to Islam. In 2004, he married a Muslim woman, Farzana Malik but they separated a few months later as a result of Masood’s abusive actions. By 2005, he was living and working in Saudi Arabia, where he earned qualification to teach English. A few months after returning to the UK from Saudi Arabia, he began to teach English to language learners in Luton.

It is also unclear when he was radicalised; however, he spent time in 3 prisons and told a friend that he had become Muslim in jail. 

In the most recent years, he has been moving around the UK with a notable lack of stability. In about the past 5 years, he has lived in Luton, Forest Glen in East London, and Winson Green in Birmingham. Some of that time was spent incarcerated.

At his death, he was married to Rohey Hydara who did not know of the attacks in advance. His wife and mother have both expressed their condolences to the families of the victims and anger at Masood’s actions. 

Macron and Le Pen debate burkini

The burkini controversy that began in summer 2016 reappeared in the televised presidential debate. As the candidates were discussing laïcité (secularism), Marine Le Pen attacked Macron, saying: “Several years ago there were no burkinis on beaches, I know you support them Mr. Macron.” He responded: “Please…Ms. Le Pen…but I don’t speak for you, I don’t need a ventriloquist. I assure you, all is well. When I have something to say, I say it.”

“So what do you have to say about the burkini?” Le Pen asked. “That has nothing to do with secularism because it’s not religious,” Macron responded, “It’s an issue of public order. So, regarding the burkini, I intend to avoid the trap set by those who want to divide society–to create a big debate…The trap in which you are in the midst of falling, by your provocations, is to divide society.”

“The burkini is a problem,” he added. “There are certain mayors, however, who issued orders that were occasionally justified because it was an issue of public order…It’s not a big theoretical problem. Don’t divide society because of it! Be pragmatic and responsible,” he concluded.

Le Pen responded, “I hear a lot of talk about freedom, I would like us to think of these young women, who, today, cannot wear what they want. The veil is imposed on them precisely because we [didn’t pay attention to] Islamist fundamentalists.”

 

Four mosques closed for ‘promoting radical ideology’ in France

Four mosques in France have been closed after many people who attended them reportedly joined extremist movements. The places of worship, French officials said Wednesday, promoted violence and ideologies that ran contrary to French values.

The closures were made via a national state of emergency that was initiated following terrorist attacks, including one in November of last year in Paris that killed 130 people plus the seven terrorist attackers.

“Under the guise of ritual ceremonies, these places [harbored] meetings aimed at promoting radical ideology, [which is] contrary to the values of the [French] Republic and may constitute a serious risk to security and public order,” Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said. He said that the mosques had spread “hatred and violence.”

The interior minister also reaffirmed the country’s commitment to “allow the peaceful coexistence of all [places of] worship in compliance with the laws of the Republic.”

The crackdown on the four mosques comes after a July announcement that the government was considering a temporary ban on foreign financing for mosques.

State Council rules burkini ban ‘a serious violation of fundamental freedoms’

The State Council has suspended the burkini ban in Villeneuve-Loubet (Alpes-Maritimes) in a much-anticipated ruling.

“The judge of the State Council concludes that article 4.3 of the disputed decree represents a serious and illegal violation of fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of movement, freedom of conscience, and personal freedom,” the State Council wrote in its press statement. “As the urgent situation requires, it cancels the order of the judge of the administrative court of Nice,” which validated the decree, “and orders the article’s suspension.”

The judge wrote that if “the mayor is responsible for the local police,” he “must reconcile his mission’s goal to maintain public order with respect for freedoms guaranteed by the law.” The restriction of these freedoms should therefore be “adequate, necessary and proportionate to the need for public order.” But in Villeneuve-Loubet, “no element produced before [the Council] showed that risks to public order occurred, on public beaches…regarding the dress worn by certain persons.”

This decision is a victory for the opponents of the burkini ban decrees, which judged that the items of clothing were not “respectful of morality and of secularism” and even allowed police in Nice and Cannes to ticket women wearing a simple veil.

Manuel Valls ‘supports’ mayors who ban burkinis

In an interview with La Provence, Manuel Valls stated that he “understands” and “supports” the mayors who took steps to ban the burkini, which they judged to be “incompatible with the values of the Republic.”

“I understand the mayors, in this period of tension, who are looking for solutions to avoid disrupting public order,” he stated, insisting, “I support those who took steps, if they are motivated by a desire to encourage the vivre ensemble, without underlying political motivations.”

“The burkini is not is not a new style, a new fashion. It’s the translation of a political aim, against society, based in particular on the subservience of women.”

Nadine Morano “hurt” by image of a veiled woman at the beach

The former minister of the UMP Nadine Morano has created controversy after posting a picture of a veiled Muslim woman at the beach on her Facebook page. Morano wrote, “There is nothing that threatens public order because the woman’s face was visible in accordance with the law, but it’s an attack on our culture that hurts.” Next to the photograph of the veiled woman, seen from behind, Morano showed the headline of the Figaro Magazine featuring a picture of Brigitte Bardot in a bikini.

Addressing the picture of Bardot, Morano writes: “This image of a Frenchwoman who is proud of her freedom as a woman struck me as a contrast to that of the veiled woman…When choosing to come to France, a state of rights, secular, one must respect our culture and women’s freedom.”

Her comments prompted a statement from the National Observatory Against Islamophobia, which called the post “stigmatizing.” “Is the act of wearing a veil on the beach not respecting the laws of the Republic?” asked Abdallah Zekri, the association’s president. Zekri contended that only the full veil is banned in France.

“It’s always the same one who stands out in the UMP…It would be better for her to deal with what’s happening in her party rather than to stigmatize women who wear the veil,” he added. Zekri is a former UMP member who left the party “after having felt the frequency of hate speech and racism rise.”