Fillon wants French Muslims to express their ‘anger’

François Fillon wants to see a “cry of anger against extremists” he said during a visit to the Saint-Denis mosque in Reunion.

He wants to see “the same French citizens of the Muslim faith give a cry of anger and protest against extremists, not only against terrorists,” but “against those who have deformed Islam’s message and who call for division from within the Muslim community.”

“I will not allow those who contradict the values of the Republic…the Republic has the right to defend itself against those who call for its destruction,” he insisted.

“If coexistence between religions is exemplary in Reunion, it’s not the same case throughout the country,” he said during the visit.

He also wished that “we had a CFCM that would be more of a religious authority. I don’t think that we need an organization for the Muslim faith in France that is political.”

 

 

 

France’s choice of non-Muslim to lead French Islam foundation causes controversy

The appointment of French politician Jean-Pierre Chevènement to head the newly formed Foundation for Islam in France, which aims to improve relations between the state and the Muslim community, has sparked controversy in many French circles.

Chevènement, a former French interior minister, was chosen to head the Foundation for Islam in France Monday following a meeting between current Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and Muslim community leaders in Paris.

Announcing the decision Monday, Cazeneuve said the aim of the discussions was to forge “an Islam anchored in the values of the French Republic”.

But the choice of Chevènement, a 77-year-old career politician whose past posts include defence as well as interior minister, was greeted with skepticism by many activists and community leaders.

“It’s a joke,” civil rights activist Yasser Louati, whose work focuses on issues of Islamophobia and national security said. “We keep treating Muslims as if they are foreign people who need to be disciplined.”

The problem with this foundation and similar ones that came before it, Louati argued, is that it was established by the government. For such an organisation to succeed, it needs a bottom-up, and not a top-down approach, he said. The community should have been asked about how they wanted the initiative to be structured and who they wanted to head it. As it stands, “it is bound to fail,” he said.

Louati was also critical about Chevènement’s appointment. “It is like me appointing Ronald Reagan to head up African-American affairs,” he said.

Ghaleb Bencheikh, an author and expert on Islam, who will sit on the organisation’s board, said that while a Muslim president for the foundation would have been “ideal”, Chevènement is an acceptable choice in the short-term, when the main aim is to get the project up and running.

Bencheikh said there is no obvious consensus option from within the community at the time being, and that Chevènement will serve a transitional role.

Chevènenement is not without credibility within the community, Bencheikh added. He was a disciple of noted French Arabist Jacques Berque, he has travelled extensively in the Arab world, he was president of the France-Algeria Association and he resigned from his position as minister of defence in protest at his nation’s involvement in the first Gulf War.

But Chevènement has already ruffled feathers by saying that Muslims should be “discreet” and try to blend in. He also said that there were 135 nationalities in a racially diverse suburb of Paris, but one has almost disappeared, referring to French nationals.

The implication that the French nationals living in Saint-Denis, many of them of North African origin, are somehow not French prompted officials in the northern Parisian suburb to write to President Hollande, asking him to renounce Chevènement’s appointment.

Bencheikh said that in the aftermath of the recent terror attacks in the country, something needed to be done. France was faced with a choice over what kind of Islam it wanted: a tolerant, open Islam or the Islam of violence and jihad. Bencheikh believes the foundation will help promote the former.

 

Merah wannabee pulls gun on Paris Metro

News Agencies – April 13, 2012

 

Police in Paris arrested a man who took out a pistol and threatened commuters on one of the capital’s busiest Metro lines, ligne 13. The 30-year-old unidentified man of Moroccan origin, was detained by police mid-morning between Metro stations Saint-Denis Basilique and Université.
  According to an official source, he pulled out a Colt 45 and began to threaten a passenger saying “I am Mohamed Merah and I am going to kill you “ in reference to the young Islamist killed by police in Toulouse three weeks ago after the murder of seven people.

 

Disaster was avoided when one of the passengers pulled the emergency cord and the man used the opportunity to escape into a train tunnel where he was eventually caught by police. The man, who refused at first to reveal his identity, is already known to the authorities in connection with a number of petty crimes.

French Judge Expels Fully-Veiled Woman from Courtroom

News Agencies – October 8, 2010

A French court on Friday expelled a woman from the public gallery for wearing the full Islamic veil, the day after a law banning the garment cleared its final hurdle. “Those people whose faces are visible are allowed to remain in the room wearing their headscarves. However, not that woman in the front row with only the eyes visible,” said the presiding judge. “She is asked to leave the room or take off her veil,” she said during the hearing at Bobigny, northeast of Paris, in the case of two men accused of breaking into the home of a local imam who was in favour of the burqa ban.

“I’m not surprised. I was expecting it, but I still took the risk,” the expelled woman told AFP afterwards, identifying herself only as a 35-year-old from the nearby neighbourhood of Saint Denis.

“Radical” imam in Seine-Saint-Denis, France deported to Egypt

According to French Minister of the Interior Brice Hortefeux, Ali Ibrahim El Soudany, an imam in Seine-Saint-Denis, is a “radical Islamicist” preaching “violence”. For these reasons, El Soudany has been deported back to his native Egypt.

El Soudany, born in 1973, preached in several mosques in the east of Paris in the 18th and 19th districts but principally in Pantin and Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis).

Since 2001, 129 radical Islamicists, including 29 imams, have been deported from France.

More mosques to be built in France

In the next several years, the construction of large mosques will accelerate in France, in Marseille, Strasbourg, Nantes, Paris, Tours, Saint-Denis, Cergy-Pontoise, and other French locations. Le Monde suggests that approximately 200 large mosques will open, leading to the closure of 2000 small prayer rooms around the territory.

At the same time, the Catholic Institute of Paris will graduate their second class of Muslim students destined to be imams familiar with “French secularism.”

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Security Manual Highlights Muslim Radicalization in Prisons

Security officials in France, Germany and Austria have developed a manual to assist prison authorities in curbing Muslim extremism among inmates. The manual was distributed in Saint-Denis, outside of Paris, in a two-day closed-door conference of European security experts with the aim of distributing it to prison personnel. Christophe Chaboud, head of France’s Anti-Terrorist Coordination Unit, suggests that the prison system “can be a facilitator and an accelerator” of radicalization and inmates are often “strongly destabilized” and therefore malleable and vulnerable. A disproportionate number of Muslims can be found in prisons throughout the European Union. For security reasons, the manual has not been made public.

National Prison Administration Director Claude d’Harcourt claims that the problem isn’t the 80 inmates currently in France considered to be hardcore extremists, “It’s the circle around them – 200 to 300 who could be tempted.” President of the Interior, Michèle Alliot-Marie, also listed the internet and universities as possible spaces for training and passing along of information used in religious radicalism.