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.
Banning the wearing of the Islamic full veil in public would be “un-British”, the immigration minister has said. Damian Green told the Sunday Telegraph trying to pass such a law would be at odds with the UK’s “tolerant and mutually respectful society”. It comes after Tory MP Philip Hollobone introduced a private members’ bill which would make it illegal for people to cover their faces in public and after French MPs voted to ban the wearing of full face veils in public last week.
The Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, agreed saying: “I take a strong view on this, actually, that I don’t, living in this country, as a woman, want to be told what I can and can’t wear.” Spelman also stirred some controversy by saying that women were “empowered” by the freedom to wear the face cover.
Criticism was mounting yesterday over “scaremongering” comments by a senior Church of England bishop about how parts of Britain had become no-go areas for non-Muslims. The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, blamed multiculturalism for segregating religious groups and said non-Muslims faced a hostile reception in places dominated by the ideology of Islamic radicals. He wrote that the integration agenda pursued by the government lacked “a moral and spiritual vision”, and he condemned the failure to give priority to the established church, which he believes has led to a “multi-faith mish-mash”. Helen Pidd reports.
A senior Church of England bishop says Islamic extremists in Britain are trying to create areas that exclude non-Muslims. The Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali contends the goal is to establish “no-go” zones in England in which people of different faiths face physical attack, The Sunday Telegraph reported. The Pakistani-born Nazir-Ali, who serves as the bishop of Rochester, warned that Britain is becoming a divided nation due to government immigration policy and the “novel philosophy of multiculturalism.” Prime Minister Gordon Brown had no immediate comment. Muslim leaders scoffed at what they called an overreaction and asked for specific locations of the reputed Muslim strongholds.
Britain’s new security chief warned the battle against terrorism could take up to 15 years, while Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in an interview broadcast Sunday he wanted an expanded European system to share information on potential threats. “I want the system that we are trying to expand between Europe a system whereby we know who are potential terrorist suspects,” Brown told Sky News television. “It is very important that we tighten this up and it is something we are looking at as a matter of urgency.” Adm. Sir Alan West, the former navy chief who was recently named Brown’s security minister, said Britain faced an unprecedented threat and a new approach was critical. One of those approaches included challenges to the British psyche, he said. “Britishness does not normally involve snitching or talking about someone,” he told The Sunday Telegraph. “I’m afraid, in this situation, anyone who’s got any information should say something because the people we are talking about are trying to destroy our entire way of life.”
A Church of England bishop said in comments published Sunday that officials should have the power to ban veils that cover the face in public, continuing the divisive debate in Britain over the traditional garment for Muslim women. The Pakistani-born bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, urged Muslims not to wear the veil under some circumstances. “It is fine if they want to wear the veil in private,” he was quoted as saying by the Sunday Telegraph newspaper. “But there are occasions in public life when it is inappropriate for them to wear it.” Nazir-Ali said authorities should have the power to ban the veil in some situations. “I can see nothing in Islam that prescribes the wearing of a full-face veil,” he said. “In the supermarket, those at the cash tills need to be recognized. Teaching is another context in which society requires recognition and identification.”