France to invest $47 million in Sahel counterterrorism training program

France plans to invest 42 million euros ($47 million) to help countries of Africa’s Sahel region prepare to face jihadist attacks similar to those that killed dozens in Paris in 2015, an interior ministry official said on Friday.

The Sahel, a politically fragile region whose remote desert spaces host a medley of jihadist groups, is seen as vulnerable to further attacks after strikes on soft targets in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast earlier this year.

Nearby Senegal, a Western security partner with a long history of stability, has so far been spared.

“In future we will train all the countries of the G5 Sahel and Senegal with 42 million Euros in financing, including 24 million Euros for equipment,” said a spokeswoman for Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve during his visit to Dakar on Friday.

G5 Sahel is a regional security organisation composed of Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania. The investment period is 2017-2022, the spokeswoman added.

French riot control officers from the CRS are currently in Senegal for a month training Senegalese police forces to combat urban attacks on soft targets ahead of the broader programme.

In the simulation exercise watched by Cazeneuve as well as army elites and foreign diplomats, Senegalese police arrived swiftly on the scene after masked jihadists killed three students before holing up with hostages inside a university bus.

The jihadists were killed and the remaining hostages released and given medical treatment in the drill.

“We have reinforced police cooperation so that the first ones on the scene, the specialized forces, can intervene in case of mass murder with a highly efficient response,” said Cazeneuve in a speech shortly after the demonstration.

Former colonial power France retains a military presence in Senegal with 350 soldiers. A much larger force of 3,500 is spread across Chad, Mauritania, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso to hunt down jihadists.

Senegal’s ally the United States has also boosted military cooperation with the country and this year signed a cooperation agreement to ease the deployment of American troops there.

 

Maid in the French ‘DSK Affair’ is a ‘Pious’ woman from Guinea

News Agencies – May 30, 2011

The Guinean woman whose testimony could result in the jailing of one of the most powerful financiers in the world, Frenchman Dominique Strauss-Kahn, forced to resign as head of the International Monetary Fund after being accused of raping a maid at the Sofitel Hotel in New York, has come under scrutiny. The 32-year old Guinean Muslim chambermaid has disappeared from view.
But her extended family, living quietly in rural Guinea where the average life expectancy is just 58, has suddenly found itself in the spotlight. French media have named the maid, and her identity is available on the internet, but The Sunday Telegraph has chosen not to publish her name. When her husband died in Guinea, the young woman was encouraged to move to New York by her elder sister, Hassanatou, who paid for her journey. “She couldn’t read, but she did receive a good religious education from her parents, and was a good girl,” her mother explained. Now, remote though they may seem, it has emerged that these same relatives in Guinea and Senegal could also find themselves embroiled in the investigation.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers have hired a global private investigation company to work on his defence. There were no witnesses to the alleged attack, nor any kind of recording of it, so the credibility of the former IMF chief and the accusing chambermaid will be crucial.

A salafist congress in Vizcaya

On Friday 27 a Salafist congress was opened in Sestao (Vizcaya, Basque Country). Around 2000 people have attended it, many of them from Senegal and Morocco. The Congress has been closed on Sunday. As in previous years, the congress hosted spiritual leaders of Europe and the Middle East. A total of 6 sheikhs from Belgium, Germany, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, were responsible for providing conferences and meetings.

Petition denounces manipulation of Islam in France

Illume – February 2, 2011

The French magazine, Respect Mag, initiated a rally in Place du Trocadéro, in Paris, to stand up against extremists who kill innocent people in the name of religion. About a 100 people, both Muslims and non-Muslims attended the demonstration. The rally follows the Appeal, “Islam flouted by terrorists” launched by Respect Mag on Jan. 12. The Appeal condemns violence committed ”in the name of Islam” and labels it as “the theft of the Muslim identity”.
The signatories include 70 French-Muslim personalities, as well as their co-religionist counterparts. This is the first initiative of its kind in France.

The Appeal was signed, among others, by representatives of associations, religious leaders, politicians, artists and intellectuals. Many of them attended the rally last Saturday, including the French rapper, Abdel Malik.
So far about 3,000 people have signed the text online. Respect Mag hopes that the Appeal will make people aware of the issue beyond the French borders. ”There are lot signatures from the Maghreb, Senegal, the United States and other European countries now. We are noticing that this Appeal echoes because the issue raised is universal. Today, people want to give life to their Muslim citizenship because people have been devastated by terrorism for so many years.” said Marc Cheb Sun, the chief editor of Respect Mag.

A new Islamic Council is founded in Basque Country

Twenty four Islamic associations have founded an Islamic Council in the Basque Country on 8th of December. The Council has the aim to represent the Islamic communities and to be a unique interlocutor with the regional government. The Muslim Basque Council is open to all cultural, political and religious associations mainly composed by Muslims and which work for the normalization of the Islam in the Basque society. Currently, the Council is composed by Muslims from countries as Morocco and Algeria, but also seek to represent Muslims from Senegal, Pakistan and other nationalities.

January, 24/2011

Interview with the Senegalese Sociologist Amsata Sene Last Stop Senegal

Many young Senegalese want to go to Europe to escape unemployment and poverty. They risk their lives to fulfil this goal. Of those that make it, most are deported back to Senegal. Naima El Moussaoui spoke to the Senegalese sociologist Amsata Sene about the causes and the consequences of irregular migration to Europe

Mr Sene, here in Dakar I’ve only met one young Senegalese man who said he wanted to stay in Senegal. Those who get the chance leave the country. How can the situation of young people in Senegal be best described?

Amsata Sene: Just imagine you spend the whole day sleeping or drinking tea. Imagine you’re totally desperate and without any kind of future prospects. Imagine you don’t even have enough money to cover life’s basic needs … these young people have nothing more to expect from life. They are in a situation that can be described as “social marginalisation”. They can neither satisfy their needs, nor the needs of their parents.

The one who says he’s staying in Senegal is the one who’s managing to secure the necessities of life here in this country. But we’re still a long way off from being able to say that this applies to the majority of the population in Senegal or in Africa as a whole. Unfortunately to date we’ve not seen any serious or sound political solution that has succeeded in pulling the Senegalese out of this misery. That’s why to a certain extent one can say that the phenomenon of clandestine migration is a result of the political failures of African governments.

Many of these young Senegalese, who arrive in the Canary Islands in their flimsy “pirogues” and are sent back home – or repatriated as it’s officially known – blame the Senegalese government for their return, not the Spanish authorities. Why is that?

| Bild: A Senegalese refugee after his return at the beach in Dakar (photo: dpa)
Bild vergrössern The illusion of fast cash and economic success in Europe: Thousands of Africans undertake the risky sea crossing to Europe every year and can expect to be deported immediately back to their homeland | Sene: Strangely enough they all think that. There’s an explanation for it: All these young people say this because the Spaniards tell them: “We’d like you to stay here with us, but your government does not approve, and there’s nothing we can do about that.”

How do you explain the fact that the Senegalese people believe this?

Sene: If we try to analyse the circumstances of their return, we could say the following: They are for example woken up in the middle of the night and told to pack their things. They are often given a form. But many of these Senegalese can’t read, they only recognise certain words. Young people told me that at the top of these pieces of paper were the names of Spanish cities such as Barcelona.

They are told: “You’re going now,” and not informed as to their exact destination. In this kind of situation, Senegalese people tell themselves: “We’re going to Europe.” For this reason they get onto the bus without resistance, after they’ve willingly packed their things. Then they arrive at the airport and suddenly they are surrounded by police officers. They are apprehended, led away in handcuffs and sent back to Senegal on the next plane.

After an experience such as this, the young people say that they didn’t want to escape from the refugee camp, because they were completely safe. They say that they were free, not in police detention and above all with exit permits for Spain. They say: “We were sure that we were allowed to stay – if only because people treated us so well here.” All this just goes to demonstrate the great naivety of these young migrants.

Bild vergrössern Desperate flight: Some 5,000 African boat refugees arrived on the coast of Spain last year alone | What kind of image of Europe do these young people have?

Sene: The image that younger generations have of Europe is somewhat mixed. Although they regard life in Europe with a certain mistrust, they don’t doubt that it pays off. They are certain that they will achieve things and earn the kind of money that would be unthinkable if they stayed in Senegal. The indicator for the intensity of their motivation is the brother, the friend or the neighbour who returns to Senegal from Europe.

In this sense you can spend all day telling this young person that life in Europe can also be hard…but if he has a friend or a neighbour from the area who’s the same age, who’s come from Europe and during his holidays in Senegal he builds a house, drives a car, marries a woman and gives his family money, then there’s no point in staying anymore. You can no longer dissuade this young person from leaving the country. Because proof of the success it can bring is right under his nose.

That means that illegal migration is primarily driven by the desire to find work in Europe, get established somewhere and send money to the family.

Sene: Many of these migrants don’t have any professional training. Their aims are obvious. If you ask them: “What would you like to do in Europe?”, they reply that they want to go there to work. Once they arrive there, they take any work they can get. What interests them about Europe is the money. It’s not the culture, or the landscape, or anything else. None of them talk about the people in Europe. It’s as though there are no people there at all.

Interview conducted by Naima El Moussaoui

© Qantara.de 2010

Translation: Nina Coon

New Book Tallies Five Million Muslims in France

According to France’s Minister of the Interior, there are currently 5 million Muslims living in its border, approximately 5% of which are regular practitioners. In their new book on French Muslims (Les Musulmans en France, _dition Robert Laffont), Bernard Godard and Sylvie Taussig estimate that more that 1.5 million are Algerian or of Algerian-origin. The remainder include 1 million Moroccans; 400,000 Tunisians; 340,000 Sub-Saharan Africans (mostly from Senegal and Mali), 313,000 Turks; 70,000 Asians; and an estimated 40,000 converts and Muslims without papers. 43% of Muslims in France, according to their book, are non-practicing. There are currently 1,890 known mosques in France.

Spain to Senegalese migrants – stay home

In September 2007, images of a drowned man washed up on a rocky seashore appeared on Senegalese television sets, as part of a campaign to discourage Senegalese to stay in Senegal, and not risk their lives trying to reach Spain and Europe. The same advertisement features Senegalese pop star Youssou N’Dour, saying You already know how this story ends. Thousands of young people have died. Don’t risk your life for nothing. You are the future of Africa. Ricardo Losa, the spokesman for the Spanish Ministry of External Affairs and Cooperation says that the aim of the campaign is to discourage Senegalese from dangerous sea-crossings. The drowning deaths of would-be immigrants are a tragic element to the increasingly heated debate of immigration in Europe. While exact figures are unknown due to many would-be migrants being lost at sea, it is estimated that several thousand die each year trying to reach Spain alone.

Organization of the Islamic Conference criticizes Netherlands for doing little to stop Islamophobia

In a report by the monitoring committee of the organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Netherlands is coming under fire for doing very little to stop Islamophobia – this pertaining to the release of an anti-Quran film by Geert Wilders, expected to be released later this month. The Islamophobia Monitor, the first ever such report by the OIC, will be discussed by the 57 OIC member states at a summit in Senegal Thursday. The report describes Wilders’ film as an extremely provocative documentary, and points to the recent report by the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance released in February, which points to shortfalls in the government’s handling of Islamophobia in the country.

France wants African help to fight illegal immigration

France wants to clinch agreements on curbing immigration with some 20 African countries by the end of 2009, Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux said Wednesday. An agreement is currently under negotation with Congo Republic and “in the coming months I will begin discussions with other countries,” Hortefeux told a conference of French ambassadors in Paris. “We expect there to be some 20 countries involved by the end of 2009,” he added. France has signed immigration accords with Senegal and Gabon that provide for French assistance to help the countries monitor their borders in exchange for their cooperation in repatriating illegal migrants.