Proposed union between Muslim Party and Socialist Party in Ceuta called off

The Socialist Party (PSOE) and the Muslim Party (UCDE) of Ceuta have refused to go ahead with their proposed union.

Both political groups were discussing the possibility of a union as an alternative to the current local right-wing dominated city government.

The UCDE demanded, as a condition of the union, control of either the Local Education Board or the Unemployment Office. The Socialist party was not prepared to meet these demands; negotiations have thus broken down.

“Anti-minaret” slogans spray-painted on Strasbourg mayor’s residence

Socialist Party mayor of Strasbourg Roland Ries’ private home was vandalized with Islamophobic and “anti-minaret” slogans. In November in the midst of the Swiss minaret banning referendum and controversy, Ries told reporters that there would be “no reason” to impose a similar minaret ban in Strasbourg, particularly for one currently under construction. The vandalism is still under investigation.

French political parties position themselves on possible niqab ban

A political battle is shaping up in France over whether fully-veiled Muslim women should be banned from appearing on the street or in any other public settings, a proposal already endorsed by many of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s rightwing allies.

Sarkozy has said the head-to-toe garment is unwelcome on French soil. The leader of his party bloc in the National Assembly called it a “negation of life in society.” The spokesperson for the Socialist opposition condemned it as “a prison for women,” a description only slightly less damning than that of his Communist colleague who termed it “ambulatory prison.”

Five months after setting out to ban the burka, French politicians are with few exceptions divided only over how to go about it without violating constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression.

Several members of Sarkozy’s party have said they plan to introduce a bill to outlaw the wearing of the niqab in the next few days. Under the proposed bill, fines of up to €750 will be slapped on people covering their faces in public places.

Jean-François Copé, the party’s parliamentary leader, called the garment a threat by radical Islamists to the nation’s security. “Extremists are testing the republic by encouraging a practice they know to be contrary to the essential principles of our country,” he said.

Sarkozy has yet to say how he intends to handle the issue, although his aides have been quoted as saying he wants a “realistic” approach.

French socialist party member against law opposing burqas in public spaces

Christophe Caresche, PS (Socialist Party) deputy of Paris, has positioned himself against a law banning headscarves in public places, seeing it as an arm which could accelerate “an already marginal phenomenon.”

While claiming that wearing the burqa and niqab “call into question women’s dignity in the public sphere,” a ban being pushed by UMP deputies “risks to play into the game we think we’re battling against.” He also noted that legally it seems doubtful that such a ban could pass alongside the current constitution.

André Geron’s commission on the topic is set to make its recommendations at the end of January 2010.

Nadine Morano, Secretary of State for Family and Solidarity, asks French Muslims to no longer speak “Verlan”

In the context of the debate on French national identity in Charmes (Vosges), Nadine Morano, French secretary of State in charge of the family and of solidarity, declared to young French Muslims that they no longer use “verlan” slang when they speak.

Verlan is a popular suburban phenomenon of speaking, changing the order of words (i.e. bizarre becomes “zarbi”). Morano called for young Muslims to love their country, to find work, to no longer speak using verlan, to no longer wear their caps backwards.

Benoit Hamon of the Socialist Party responded with concern for Morano’s caricaturized portrayal of young people which looks very little like most young French Muslims today. The organization SOS Racisme echoed Hamon’s position.

According to a poll held by Nouvel Observateur, 40 percent of French people see the debate on National Identity by Nicolas Sarkozy to the necessary. 42 percent of respondents noted the negative ramifications of the debate.

Opposition to mosque subsidies fails

An opposition movement against the Dutch cabinet’s support for mosques has failed. The Home Affairs Ministry and Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) assert that government subsidies for religious organizations are permissible on the basis that it fosters integration. The failed opposition bid was supported by the conservatives (VVD), Party for Freedom (PVV) and centre-left D66, as well as the Socialist Party who argued that the “government cannot be a little bit neutral”, and should “tackle segregation via training and work, not via subsidies to mosques”.

Rotterdam Council Criticizes Tariq Ramadan

Three opposition parties in the Rotterdam city council are calling for Tariq Ramadan’s resignation because of his collaboration with Iranian state television station Press TV. Ramadan was hired by the city in 2007 to help bridge the divide between Muslims and non-Muslims, and he lectures at Rotterdam’s Erasmus University. Ramadan has been hosting a weekly talkshow on Press TV titled ‘Islam & Life’. The conservative VVD, the local populist party Liveable Rotterdam and the Socialist Party say the local authority should stop consulting Mr Ramadan as an adviser.

CDA wants to find way to close radical mosques

The Christian Democrats are searching for a way to close down mosques in which radical imams preach hate, says CDA MP Madeleine van Toorenburg. The initiative is supported by the Liberals (VVD) and Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration PVV party, reports ANP news agency. However, it is unlikely that a parliamentary majority would support such a move, says ANP. The ChristenUnie, Socialist Party and centre-left D66 have expressed their opposition to the proposal. The CDA and the ChristenUnie are members of the coalition government. The position of the third partner, Labour, is not known. An earlier attempt by the CDA to close down radical mosques in 2005 failed. The new proposal comes in the same week as Geert Wilders’ call for a ban on the Koran which continues to attract widespread condemnation. Socialist Party leader Jan Marijnissen is the latest to add to the criticism of Wilders. On his weblog, Marijnissen calls the proposal to ban the Koran _stupid and unpleasant’.

The UOIF denounces “the offensive of the Socialist Party”

The leaders of the Union of Islamic Organizations in France (UOIF) were stunned by a press release from “the offensive of the Socialist Party” against their federation. After the French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM) became concerned about “the political and electoral usage of the debates surrounding Islam in France”, the UOIF denounced the platforms contained in a document published by the Socialist Party in the course of the electoral campaign; this document describes the UOIF as “fundamentalist”.

Foreigners Given Voting Rights

Foreigners living in Belgium have been given the right to vote in the country’s local elections, whatever their nationality. The Belgian Parliament’s approval of the new voting law, marks the end of a long and often bitter debate that once again saw the country divided along linguistic lines. The country’s French speaking political parties carried the vote. Only one party from Dutch-speaking Flanders – the minority Flemish Socialist Party (SP.A) – voted in favour of the planned new rules. It is estimated that around 120 000 people are to contribute from the new regulations.