Anger after Muslim women denied service at French restaurant

Social media users have expressed anger after a video posted online appeared to show two Muslim women in France being told to leave a restaurant by a man, reportedly the boss, who called all Muslims “terrorists”.

“Terrorists are Muslims, and all Muslims are terrorists. This sentence says it all, analyse it,” the man said in the video released on Sunday.

The incident reportedly took place the night before at the Le Cenacle restaurant in Tremblay-en-France, an area in the suburbs of Paris.

“People like you, I don’t want them here,” he continued, “you are imposing yourself here […] get out.”

The women, one of whom appeared in the video wearing a headscarf, said they would leave.

Reports in France said that the man apologized on Sunday to a group of young people and members of the local Muslim community who had gathered outside Le Cenacle to ask him to explain his comments.

The restaurateur reportedly said one of his friends had died in the attack on the Bataclan concert hall in November 2015.

In a message on Twitter, Laurence Rossignol, the French minister for families, children and women’s rights, said she had ordered an investigation and called for sanctions against the “intolerable behavior” of the restaurant’s boss.

France’s highest administrative court on Friday suspended the ban in the Mediterranean town of Villeneuve-Loubet, pending a definitive ruling.

The footage of the incident at the restaurant has been shared widely on social media, garnering many reactions of concern for increasing Islamphobia in the country.

In response to the incident, the Committee against Islamophobia in France said it would bring “psychological and legal assistance” to both women.

“What kills me in the scandalous video #Cenacle is the indifference of other clients,” the committee’s director, Marwan Muhammed, said on Twitter.

Proposed medical office would accommodate Muslim-American patients

May 7, 2013

By Ashley Rueff,

 

Orland Park could become home to what’s described as a “first-of-its-kind” outpatient surgical center with a mission of accommodating the religious and cultural beliefs of Muslim patients.

Dr. Naser Rustom has applied for state approval to open an ambulatory surgical treatment center at 10 Orland Square Drive, the site of the former Plunkett Furniture store, according to a state permit application for the project. The medical office, Preferred SurgiCenter LLC, would welcome patients of all faiths and beliefs, but it would employ staff who are familiar with and facilities designed to accommodate the needs of patients who follow Islamic Divine Law.

“We’re going to service every race, every nationality. We’re not going to discriminate against anyone,” said Manager Robyn Fina. “However, in the Orland Park and the southwestern suburbs, there is a huge concentration of Arab-Americans. I think there is a lack of facilities for them to receive the care that they need while taking into consideration their special religious and ethnic background.”

In its permit application, the project is described as a facility “that appeals to the general population as a whole; but, to the trained eye, the ASTC will also be the first-ever surgery center that is designed and operated in a manner that is fully compliant with the Shari ‘a Law.”

The proposed 11,000-square-foot space would offer pain management, gastroenterology and general surgery, according to the project application. The total cost is estimated at about $5.5 million with an anticipated completion date of July 2014, but that will depend on approval from the state.

According to its application documents, the facility would be staffed with employees who understand Muslim-Americans’ needs when approaching health care. The facility would include a prayer room and additional washing facilities to more easily accommodate the prayer schedule and rituals followed by some patients.

As much as possible, she said the facility will also accommodate patients who would prefer to be seen by staff of their own gender and will attempt to offer increased privacy.

Fina said such a facility is expected to improve health behaviors of Muslim-Americans who may have had negative experiences when attempting to follow their religious beliefs while seeking health care in the past.

“There are individuals who feel uncomfortable going into facilities because the staff don’t recognize their special needs,” Fina said. “What we are attempting to do is to address as many of those needs as we can within the confines of state and national laws and health care.”

Imam Nazir Chahin of the Prayer Center of Orland Park said he is unfamiliar with the details of the proposed medical office, but he thinks the concept would be welcomed by the Muslim community of the southwest suburbs.

 

Chicago Tribune: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-05-07/news/ct-tl-0509-proposed-muslim-accomodating-medical-ce-20130508_1_health-care-patients-application

Hijabi self-defense courses

27.09.2013

Le Monde

As a response to the growing tide of attacks against Muslim women wearing the headscarf (hijab) in France, the Muslim cultural association “Des racines” (Roots) announced to offer self-defence courses to Muslim women in three areas of Reims. The president of the association, Nadia Tara, proclaims that “this project is a response to the aggressions against women with headscarfs.” The move follows several attacks this summer against Muslim women wearing headscarves. Reims, however, is described as a rather peaceful city in regards to inter-communal relations unlike the suburbs of Paris.

Islam, a Florentine woman forced to use the veil and beaten by her husband

In 2010, after having embraced the Islamic faith, she flew to Egypt where she married a man she met only a few months earlier. A husband, 33 year-old Egyptian man, who turned out to have an abusive side, this side which slowly became a river of aggression. Until last Sunday, August 25 when the woman, 30 year-old Florentine, exhausted and frightened, denounced her husband due to his abuse.

Due to the beating, the women, upon arrival at the hospital had bruises on her face and legs, her ordeal had also weakened in her psyche. She was also forced to wear the veil and dress conservatively in dark colors. She lived locked in the house with the windows sealed to avoid being seen also isolating her from potential help allowing her no space or autonomy. The 33-year old husband, in recent times, was becoming more extreme. So much so that he had taken over the phone, her only contact with the outside world.

Compounding the situation was that he beat her even in front of their own children during the 6 months and two years of their relationship.

He also threatened to kill her, even threatening her own family. Her mother was also beaten and threatened with death by the North African. Despite this his in-laws gave the couple money to buy a house in the southern suburbs of the city, where the young couple lived with their children.

The woman went to the Florentine hospital saying she had back pain but then burst into tears in front of the doctors.

police officers, directed by Dr. Alexander Ausenda, approached the victim inside the hospital while her husband waited in the waiting room. Then they accompanied him to the police station. Here an agent, a woman, handcuffed and took the man to prison. The 33 year old did not speak as his his wife and children were taken to a safe house.

The right’s bigoted crusade against Al Jazeera America

“The Muslims are coming!” That is the tongue-in-cheek name of a new documentary by Muslim comedians. But it is also the deadly serious shriek echoing through the American right in response to the launch of Al Jazeera America. Like Dr. Emmett Brown’s distraught warning that bazooka-wielding Arab terrorists are stalking the palatial suburbs (“The Libyans!”), conservatives are in a full-on frenzy, insinuating that Al Jazeera’s entry into the U.S. cable television market is akin to an invasion by a foreign menace and, thus, represents an existential threat to U.S. national security.

Now, to the hypocrisy: If the jingoistic anti-Al Jazeera saber rattlers are so angry about media outlets with foreign owners coming to the United States, where is their outrage when it comes to similar media-expansion efforts by entities connected to other countries?

For example, Australian citizen Rupert Murdoch began buying up major American newspapers like the San Antonio News-Express and the New York Post. Murdoch only became a U.S. citizen in 1985 — and that was in order to circumvent U.S. statutes restricting the amount of media a single foreign owner can control. Why aren’t the anti-Al Jazeera jingoists expressing concern that Murdoch represents a dangerous foreign infiltration of the U.S. media market?

 

Additionally, in a society where the ugliest Islamophobia is still pervasive, the right wing is also using the launch of Al Jazeera America as yet another excuse to manufacture a spectacle of anti-Muslim bigotry and to vilify anything with ties to Muslims — even a news organization whose international branch has won esteemed awards for its objective journalism.

 

In that larger campaign of Islamophobia, when ties to Muslims are found among the right’s own institutions — say, the aforementioned Saudi royal family’s connections to Fox News — conservatives are often willing to direct their Islamophobia elsewhere, as long as the institution in question loyally champions conservative political ideology and Islamophobia, which, of course, Fox News most certainly does.

 

Boston Bombing Suspect Indicted on 30 Counts

BOSTON — A federal grand jury here issued a 30-count indictment on Thursday against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect, charging him with using a weapon of mass destruction that killed 3 people and injured more than 260.

 

The grand jury also charged him in the killing of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer, from whom he and his brother, Tamerlan, tried to steal a firearm, the authorities said, before they led police officers on a wild night of terror and a shootout that shut down the city of Boston and its suburbs for a day.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, faces life in prison or the death penalty on 17 of the federal charges and is scheduled to be arraigned on July 10. His brother was killed by injuries sustained in the shootout with police and when Dzhokhar accidentally drove over him, the indictment said.

In addition to the federal indictment, Mr. Tsarnaev was indicted by a Middlesex County grand jury on more than a dozen criminal charges, including murder in the shooting death of Sean Collier, the M.I.T. police officer. The county indictment covers a carjacking, chase and shootout that occurred in the Boston suburbs beginning the night of April 18; the federal indictment, which runs 74 pages, covers events that led up to the bombings on April 15 as well as the bombings and the subsequent chase and shootout.

 

District Attorney Marian T. Ryan of Middlesex County said at an afternoon news conference that no date had been set for Mr. Tsarnaev to appear in court on the county charges and that any trial would not run concurrently with a federal trial.

 

Carmen J. Ortiz, the United States attorney who outlined the charges for the news media, said she had met with relatives of the victims and with those who were wounded.

2013 Stockholm Riots: a brief overview

Emin Poljarevic

 

The riots have exhausted their destructive energy sweeping through several of Stockholm’s suburbs. In the northern suburb of Husby where the unrests started, the rioting lasted from Sunday evening, May 19 until Wednesday, May 22. Several other Stockholm suburbs, similar to Husby, 23 in total, experienced unrest albeit on the smaller scale. These suburbs are primarily inhabited by a second and third generation immigrants as well as newly arrived immigrant residents many of those have fled from the devastating conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The unrests were primarily been expressed through burning of a large number of private cars followed by stone throwing on the arriving police units and the fire fighters. Curiously, this seemingly senseless wave of destruction of cars did not include burning shops or residential buildings in any direct way, nor did it include looting of stores and local shops. The reasons behind the riots are certainly complex and multifaceted, nevertheless, deeply rooted in segregation manifested in a range of socio-economic parameters.

 

Many of the local residents, especially the younger generations have been experiencing higher rates of unemployment in comparison to other residential areas of Stockholm both in relative and real terms. Subsequently, the media and public perception that the crime rates as being higher in these areas has effected the law enforcement strategies which had become stricter and more violent over the course of years. It is reported that during the recent period the police has started to stop-and-search a large number of teenagers in Husby and neighbouring suburbs as a strategy to disrupt narcotics distribution and consumption. This strategy included a controversial policing method, which increasingly targeted teenagers without previous criminal record through which the authorities frequently conducted house searches thus intensely invading people’s privacy on weak or non-existent ground. This is something that would be unimaginable in the more exclusive suburbs. It is during one of the police-raids in Husby that a police officer shot and killed an aggressive 68-year old man (May 13), which was later interpreted as a flagrant brutality by the neighbours and residents in the area. The 29-year-old officer has also been placed under investigation for the alleged overuse of violence during the incident. Numerous witnesses have also complained of open racism among a number of police officers that had used racial slurs when addressing young people in the suburbs. Such incidents are readily narrated and certainly overstressed in conversations adding to the collective frustrations. These and other similar fragments of perceived grievances are easily detectable however they are insufficient to explain the reason behind the rioting.

 

For instance, it is impossible to disregard that the rate of unemployment in Husby is 8,8% while it is only 3,3% in the city of Stockholm, or that the average salary in Husby is 195,000 SEK/year (€21,600/year) before taxes, while its equivalent in the city of Stockholm is 68% higher. Is this sufficient to explain the causes behind rioting? It is unlikely, to say the least. Nevertheless, one needs to keep in mind that in a welfare state of the Swedish model there has been a traditional focus on (economic and social) equality involving the welfare of children and young people expectation on the state/municipalities to deliver a high standard of civic services is high. Public places of gathering, such as parks, playgrounds, recreational facilities and municipal public facilities are some of the areas where the current (centre-right) government has, if not neglected, but seriously mismanaged. A deep sense of distrust and neglect is what can be heard from some of the young people in the suburbs, “we will continue until we are noticed”. In addition, many of the residents, including the young rioters, understood the prime minister’s (Fredrik Reinfeldt) choice not to go to Husby or any other affected areas to address the people there as the confirmation of being neglected.

 

Another important component behind the rioting in the suburbs is an element of hooliganism directly related criminal activities of a substantial number of rioters (30-100). A well-known Professor of Criminology at the University of Stockholm, Jerzy Sarnecki, commented that there are a thousand reasons for the “bad boys” to start rioting, however, their activities are fundamentally criminal. The group dynamic often triggers more and more audacious behaviour that assumes a destructive logic of its own and that is often replicated by other impudent groups of young individual males. This is also shown by the number of arrested youth, which topped 44 individuals within a week of the start of the unrests. Out of 44 young males, an overwhelming majority was “known to the police” as having criminal records adding some strength to the previous assertion. A social activists and resident of Husby, said that one of the instigators of violent attacks on the police has long been a trouble–maker in the area, involved in an assortment of criminal activity with an extensive network of contacts among the youth in northern Stockholm (reported to the author June 2). Moreover, the Swedish Security Service (SÄPO) has reported that there have been a substantial number of left-wing extremists who had participated in the unrests (i.e. stone-throwing on the police). This indicates that there has been a presence of both “professional” demonstrators and individuals with extensive criminal records adding to the complexity of these events.

 

But, where does Islam, fit in this overview? It is not unreasonable to assume that a large part of the residents are either from or have family ties to the Muslim majority societies. There is no official statistic over religious affiliation of Swedish citizens; nevertheless, the assumption is based on a large number of media sources and field research of a small number of academics in this area. First reactions of various community leaders that I spoke to expressly condemn the behaviour of the rioters, regardless of their faith. I gathered from several Friday sermons that the violence in the suburbs is condemned and viewed as a failure of the (Muslim) community in their efforts to engage the young individuals in more constructive endeavours. This can be translated into a notion that community leaders’ inability to create group activities interesting and exciting enough to attract those young people in the “risk zone” of “behaving badly” (author’s interviews with Muslim community leaders in Stockholm and Uppsala, May 26-June 2, 2013).

 

The Swedish mainstream media has not given any attention to the “religious factor” as an explanation for the unrests focusing instead its analysis on the related subject – integration. The articles and various interpretations in the newspaper articles and columns are riddled with statements such as “integration has failed” or “more is needed to carry the integration process forward”. If one is to believe these readings it is easy to argue that there are structural mechanisms that need attention and calibration to correct the “failures” (of integration process). This part of the explanation includes discrimination and segregation of immigrants and/or their descendants (i.e. second and third generation), which is being introduced into the policy agenda of both the government and the opposition. The mainstream political debate is therefore becoming increasingly focused on how to improve the system to come to a set of solutions that will defuse the risks of recurrence of the recent riots. The debate effectively excludes religion as any relevant element of recent rioting.

 

The only people linking Islam and Muslims directly as causes to the suburban upheavals are the extreme-right parties, including the Swedish Democrats – the only far-right party represented in the Swedish parliament, and its supporters. Virtual discussion forums, blogs and commentaries are riddled with “politically incorrect” arguments claiming to have “proved” their long-held convictions that the Muslims are in Sweden to essentially take over the country (e.g. Eurabia conspiracy etc.). Some more radical groups among the right wing extremists and neo-Nazi activists had attempted to organize “citizen militias” in order to patrol the outskirts of the affected suburbs thus assisting the police. Nevertheless, their efforts were either disrupted by the police or disbanded due to the organisational incoherence.

 

Now, in the end of the violent rioting, there is an upsurge of civil engagement in searching for long-term solutions to the youth-crisis. Secular and religious associations are coming together to discuss the recent violence and various strategies. Local residents, parents, groups of mothers and large numbers of young people seem to have realized that only they themselves can contribute to provide positive attitude and care for the disenfranchised youth, but also contribute to the improvement of the negative effects of segregation, racism and the perceived government neglect. At the moment we see several attempts to form neighbourhood committees and public forums through which both parents and teenagers are supposed to exchange both experiences and ideas about how to move forward. Religious communities are certainly highly important in this evolving process.

 

Keywords: Stockholm riots, Husby, Youth violence, Integration, Racism

 

 

“Riots – day by day” – “Upploppen – dag för dag” (Dagens Nyheter – Daily News)

http://www.dn.se/sthlm/upploppen-dag-for-dag

 

“The Police’s drug bust may have contributed to the riots” – “Polisens knarkinsats kan ha bidragit till upploppen” (Metro) http://www.metro.se/stockholm/polisens-knarkinsats-kan-ha-bidragit-till-upploppen/EVHmeE!21yn93g8g2zYY/

 

“The Police practical manual might have prevented the riots in Husby” – “Polisens handbok kunde stoppat upplopp i Husby” (Metro)

www.metro.se/nyheter/polisens-handbok-kunde-stoppat-upplopp-i-husby/EVHmeE!GrekMC9XyROzQ/

 

A Police officer is suspected of negligence – a 69-year-old died” – “Polis misstänks ha varit klantig – 69-åringen dog” (Nyheter24 – News24) nyheter24.se/nyheter/kronikor/746823-polisen-misstanks-ha-varit-klantig-69-aringen-dog

 

“Unrest in 23 places in Stockholm” – “Oroligheter på 23 platser i upploppens Stockholm” (Svenska Dagbladet – Swedish Daily News) www.svd.se/nyheter/inrikes/artikel_8207046.svd

 

“A survey on rioting in Stockholm’s suburbs” – “Undersökning om upploppen i Stockholms förorter” (Demoskop – Public Opinion Nalysis) www.demoskop.se/aktuellt/nyhet/undersokning-om-upploppen-i-stockholms-fororter/

 

“We will continue until we get noticed” – “Vi håller på tills vi blir sedda” (Svensk Television – Swedish Public Television)

http://www.svt.se/nyheter/sverige/forskaren-vastra-stockholm-ar-i-niva-med-rosengard

 

“If I see teenagers, I send them home” – “Ser jag tonåringar ute skickar jag hem dem” (Expressen – www.expressen.se/nyheter/dokument/ser-jag-tonaringar-ute-skickar-jag-hem-dem/

 

“After the Husby-riots, the police has been reported (for negligence) – by the police” – “Efter Husby-upploppen: Nu anmäls polisen – av polisen” (Nyheter24 – News24)

http://nyheter24.se/nyheter/inrikes/746347-efter-upploppen-i-husby-nu-anmals-polisen-av-polisen

Spanish Muslims denounce the displacement of their mosques

03 June 2013

The president of the Union of the Islamic Communities of Spain, Riay Tatary, has criticized the “exile” with which “some municipalities” want to “punish” their mosques by moving them to “uninhabited areas such as industrial ones” or the suburbs. Tatary also added that this measure of the urbanization plans makes it harder for the believers to attend the services, to pray five times a day or just to go to the mosque in a daily basis.

Suburban Feminism

Liberation

07.03.2012

In the Northern Parisian suburb of St. Denis an association of Muslim women is dedicated to aiding suburban women in need. ‘Voix d’elles rebelles’ (Voices of female rebels) assembles feminists, social workers and researchers from all over France who deal with issues of female elopement, suicidal tendencies, child abduction, domestic violence and forced marriages.

The association runs on a tight budget of 50.000 Euros, which derives from public subsidies and increasingly private donations. Voix d’elles rebelles annually deals with around 300-500 women from the entire capital region. The women prefer to keep their distance from the normative debates on feminism in the suburbs, which does, according to them, not reflect the intersection of misogyny immigrant identities and cultures. The stigma created by the suburban feminism discourse pushes in their eyes many of the accused immigrant men towards religious fundamentalism. On the other hand, they support a suburban feminism which includes both an anti-racist and anti-misogyny mandate.

Number of converts to Islam rises in France

03.01.2013

The New York Times

The New York Times reports of a rise in conversions to Islam in France. According to the paper, a virtual doubling of conversions took place within the last 25 years in the country. Of the estimated six million Muslims in France about 100,000 – 200,000 are thought to be converts. It is said to pose a challenge to both state and society’s relation to Muslim faith and community, specifically in respect to national and international anti-terrorism policies

Converts are named critical elements for the rise of terrorism in Europe by being prone to be more invisible, mobile and in need to overcompensate their novelty to faith. The article names prisons to be fertile grounds for conversions where according to reports 1/3 of the inmate population in France are Muslim. Gordard, who is responsible for religious affairs in the Office of the Secretary of State and a former intelligence office, identifies the forms of conversions to have come under change.  As such, conversions today often take place as means of “reverse integration” that aid to socially integrate  non-Muslims into predominantly Muslim neighbourhoods in the metropolitan suburbs. The population most susceptible to conversions are men beyond the age of 40 who were born in former French colonies or overseas territories.

According to scholars and converts themselves, “Islam has come to represent not only a sort of social norm but also a refuge, an alternative to the ambient misery”.