Medway councillor Mike Franklin sparks investigation over ‘offensive’ tweets about Islam

Comments by a Conservative councillor on social media are being investigated after being described by his opponents as “extremely offensive”.

Several other messages, some of which have since been removed from his account, promoted anti-Islamic views, which opposition councillors said were inappropriate, particularly from someone representing a socially and ethnically diverse ward.

The Luton and Wayfield councillor took to Twitter a few months before his election in May last year and has since drawn attention for a number of tweets – prompting the online blog The Political Medway to publish a collection of them in January under the title The Troubling Tweets of Conservative Councillor Michael Franklin.

Speaking this week, Cllr Franklin admitted some of the tweets had gone too far.

“I may be what you call a veteran councillor, and I’m naive to Twitter,” he said. “A couple of judgements weren’t perhaps right. I don’t even remember more than one about Justin Trudeau.

“I’ve said nothing that implies that I hate anybody or that I’m racist,” he said. “It’s a political argument used to attack me.”

One of his retweets showed a photo of Muslim political activist Anjem Choudary, captioned with: “Westerners need to accept the fact that Islam will dominate all lands it touches! The holy Koran teaches us that where we put our feet we shall rule that land, it’s that simple.” Cllr Franklin retweeted that with his own comment: “Anyone still have doubts?”

Labour councillor Tristan Osborne, who also represents the ward, said he was unsure what Cllr Franklin meant by his exclusion and that residents and groups were entitled to communicate with whoever they wanted.

“The fact is his tweets were inappropriate,” he added. “He’s someone who has been in politics for many years – he was on Rochester council for many years – and he should have a common-sense view about what is appropriate.”

Man who drove car at French troops said to have jihadi propaganda on computer

French investigators found jihadist propaganda material on Saturday in the computer of a man who drove his car into troops guarding a mosque in southern France on New Year’s Day but said it did not prove he had links with any terrorist groups.

“The inspection of his computer led to the discovery of jihadi propaganda images,” said local prosecutor Alex Perrin.

“These are downloadable images that are a few weeks old. Not the worst type of images, but rather bellicose slogans,” he said. “It shows he had an appreciation of that but it does not prove he had links with terrorist organizations.”

The 29-year old Frenchman of Tunisian descent rammed his car into a group of four soldiers in a car park outside a large mosque in a suburb of Valence on Friday afternoon, the prosecutor told reporters earlier on Saturday.

He said earlier there was no evidence of him belonging to any terrorist group and it seemed he had acted alone.

“He reportedly shouted ‘Allah is great’, which suggests some sort of religious element.”

“When he was apprehended, he mentioned the fact that he wanted to kill troops because troops killed people,” the prosecutor added. “He said he wanted to be killed by troops.”

There was also no indication that the man was suffering from mental illness, the prosecutor said. He had been unemployed for several years and was not known to police or intelligence services, the prosecutor added.

The practicing Muslim lived in a suburb of Lyon, 100 km (60 miles) north of the town of Valence where the incident took place. “He had come to Valence, where his family-in-law lives, for the end of year holiday,” the prosecutor said.

He was shot in the legs and arm by the troops and was still in hospital on Saturday. A soldier and a Muslim man were also slightly injured in the incident.

French police brutalize Muslim woman in Paris (video)

French police brutalized a Muslim woman in an alleyway in a suburb of Paris, this morning.

A shocking video captured from the balcony of a residential building in Pantin, just outside of Paris, shows a Muslim woman being beaten by half a dozen French police officers.

According to eye witnesses who uploaded the video to social media networks, the Muslim woman is a mother that was protecting her son from being beaten by the police.

The Muslim woman wearing a blue traditional Islamic dress was dragged, beaten and punched by the authorities, while she screamed in fear and kept on trying to protect her son who was taken into custody onboard a police car.

The video has gone viral garnering over 300,000 views within a few hours. Social media users have condemned the use of force by the French authorities.

“You don’t hit a mother just for protecting her children. We would have all done the same for our children. They should have just set her aside but not beat her relentlessly like that. It’s just horrible,” an outraged mother commented.

“Shocking! Shame to France, I will never stop hating the police or let’s say pigs. Poor mother, they don’t deserve to live these dogs!” another user wrote.

Following the attack, the woman reportedly went to Jean Verdier Hospital Emergency Department to evaluate her injuries.

According to the doctor’s diagnosis posted by Islam & Info Facebook account, the victim named Zahra, suffered “physical aggression and tear gas from the police.”

Her injuries include: “dorsal contusion, redness and pain, water eyes, major sprains on the right side of her body, contusion of right elbow with cutaneous bruising, and psychological shock.”

The hospital recommended “partial temporary incapacity for 10 days.”

The rise of Islamophobia in France has reached alarming levels following the Paris attacks of November 13.

As of November 21, 32 acts of Islamophobia had been registered in France. Since then, other mosques have been closed, others vandalized, Korans have been burned by protesters, and violence, both physical and verbal against Muslims continues on the rise.

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Paris Attacks: Muslims Use #MuslimsAreNotTerrorist Twitter Hashtag To Counter Prejudice

Muslims around the world are making a passionate stand against anti-Islam prejudice in the wake of the devastating terrorist attacks in Paris. At least 127 people have been killed in a bombing and shooting spree in the French capital which Islamic State have claimed responsibility for.

Many people pounced on the opportunity to condemn all Muslims for the acts of violence and denounce the religion as evil. Soon the hashtag #MuslimsAreNotTerrorist began to trend as Muslims sought to counter the poisonous sentiment.

Islamic State have claimed responsibility for the attacks but the brand of Islam they preach is a far cry from that practised by the huge majority of the world’s 1.57 billion Muslims.

Muslim woman in a headscarf, Nadiya Hussain has won so much more than the Great British Bake Off

It’s official. Nadiya Hussain has been crowned as our Great British Bake Off queen. The grand finale delivered dramatic camera angles, priceless one-liners and a healthy dose of blubbering. One of the highlights was when Mary Berry gently wiped away Nadiya’s tears and described her as “sheer perfection”.

It’s difficult to escape the current national obsession with the Luton-born 30-year-old – it feels as if nearly everyone wants a slice of her. Nadiyamania includes a Tumblr site called The Many Faces of Nadiya Appreciation, an image mimicking the Barack Obama “Hope” poster from his 2008 presidential campaign, and 55,300 Twitter followers – which rises with every pinch of her baking powder.

While Nadiya admitted she was slightly nervous that “perhaps people would look at me, a Muslim in a headscarf, and wonder if I could bake”, she seems to have united, and charmed, public opinion. Well almost. Amid the waves of loyal fans, there were some less than savoury members of our society who wanted to turn up the temperature on prejudice and division. A Daily Mail columnist, Amanda Platell, accused the Bake Off team for being too politically correct, saying that one white contestant, Flora Shedden, didn’t have a hope with her chocolate carousel and that “if she’d made a chocolate mosque, she’d have stood a better chance”.

Nadiya’s popularity has demonstrated how the vast majority of people in Britain embrace diversity and inclusivity, and are certainly not going to dismiss her based on religion, race or attire. That an Asian Muslim woman in a headscarf can win a thoroughly British competition proves that “Britishness” is a broader and more open concept than some would like us to think. It proves that whether you choose to wear a headscarf, a turban or a bowler hat, Britain is not limited by homogeneity but strengthened by diversity.

Woman planning to join Islamic State arrested at Madrid’s Barajas Airport

A 22-year-old woman was arrested at Madrid’s Adolfo Suárez-Barajas Airport on Monday night, on suspicion that she was planning to fly to Turkey to join the militant group Islamic State (ISIS), Interior Ministry sources have told EL PAÍS.

The woman is originally from a village in Huelva, in southern Spain, and had converted to Islam and become radicalized in a short period of time via internet messages.

The Civil Guard, which was in charge of the operation, became aware of the suspect thanks to its constant monitoring of jihadist forums on the internet, the sources added.

The Civil Guard became aware of the suspect thanks to its constant monitoring of jihadist forums on the internet

The young woman was arrested when she was about to take a flight to Turkey, which is a habitual entry point to Iraq and Syria for those wishing to join ISIS. Her residence will now be searched for evidence.

French youths criticize anti-jihad push: ‘We thought it was a joke’

Six months after France launched an online campaign to tackle jihadist recruitment, FRANCE 24’s Observers decided to take stock of the government’s controversial initiative. Mourad Benchellali,  an ex-Guantanamo Bay inmate who helps young people integrate themselves into society, took his mobile phone and went to sound out the unfiltered opinions of five young men for FRANCE 24’s ‘Pas 2 Quartier’ series.

The ‘Stop jihadism’ website was launched by the government’s communication service in the aftermath of January’s deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo. The drive to deter potential jihadists centers around a short video that tries to counter arguments used by recruiters. As well as listing the supposed early warning signs of radicalization, the site also provides a free phone number for those worried that one of their friends or relatives could succumb to extremism.

The campaign’s stated aim is to spread public awareness in order to steer young people away from heading to war-torn Syria, the top destination for France’s aspiring jihadists.

Benchellali is deeply involved in the struggle to deter would-be extremists. Drawing on his personal experience as an ex-prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, he works as a counsellor, helping young people integrate themselves into society. Hailing from the Minguettes, a troubled housing estate to the south of Lyon, he regularly holds meetings in deprived urban areas to tell his own story.

It was over the course of these regular get-togethers that Mourad noticed that the anti-jihadist campaign wasn’t getting its message across to its intended audience. He decided to ask young people’s opinions on the initiative for ‘Pas 2 Quartier’.

“I didn’t really choose the people who I interviewed. It was rather they who chose me, by accepting to speak to me. Overall, the five young men with whom I spoke with are fairly representative of the audience targeted by the government’s campaign.

What struck me at first was that most of them weren’t even aware of the site or the video. And once they had watched it, no one said it was any good. Yet the government claims that its initiative has been a success.” [Editor’s note: The video has been watched more than two million times, and the site has gotten over 1.2 million visits].

“I’m a practicing Muslim (…) They say that to wage jihad is the same as being a terrorist. That they go to kill. I’m sorry, but I don’t see how someone who’s 16 or 17 years old can have that in their head. They go because they think they’ll live the dream life. There’s a lot of propaganda. So if someone is naïve, they’ll jump at the opportunity to leave. Personally, instead of waging jihad abroad, I think it’s more important to wage jihad within oneself.

Benchellali comments:

“It’s obvious that many young people are vulnerable to jihadist propaganda, but the root cause of their distress is the socio-economic situation in which they find themselves. The lack of opportunities often leads to a lack of a sense of belonging. That’s what provides fertile ground for radicalisation to take root nowadays, that’s when they start feeling rejected by the ‘system’.”

Viral video of French ‘Muslim no-go zone’ is a fake

Under a torrent of projectiles and verbal abuse, a group of policemen flee a housing project in a notorious French ‘banlieue’, or suburb, near Paris. At least, that’s what a video that’s recently made the rounds on social media networks would like you to believe. But the truth is that the clip is taken from a ‘mockumentary’, or fake documentary.

The video, which was uploaded to YouTube, is entitled ‘French Police Enter Muslim No Go Zone 25 June’ in reference to the infamous – and erroneous – ‘no-go zones’ designated by US news channel Fox News. By publishing the video on June 26, the user who uploaded it intended to make viewers believe that the incident had taken place the day before.

Yet ironically, the clip is actually an extract of a mockumentary that aims to knock down clichés about the banlieues circulated by media outlets. Filed in 2008 by ‘Kourtrajme,’ and artists’ collective.fake-no-go

Marmiton website flooded with insults after publishing ‘Ramadan recipes’

A culinary site was flooded by Islamophobic comments after offering recipes for Ramadan which began June 18.

The controversy began after a simple comment posted on the first day. The site, which has more than 60,000 recipes, published a list of recipes for Ramadan. “Today is the first day of Ramadan. Here is our selection of recipes for the occasion. Happy Ramadan to all” reads the message on the site’s Facebook and Twitter pages. In the span of several hours, many readers reacted to the article and posted racist and Islamophobic comments.Ramadan Food

Certain readers found fault with the statement “happy Ramadan to all,” stating that not everyone was Muslim and therefore the statement didn’t apply to them. “Who cares about Ramadan, we shouldn’t even talk about it, we’re in France” read one comment. Another reader described a “betrayal” of “the French culinary tradition.” Others rebuked the site for a “double standard” for not posting recipes for other religious holidays or the Appeal of June 18.

French app hopes to link Muslim faithful with prayer sites

They simply wanted a place to pray, as required five times a day for faithful Muslims. But in France, that’s not necessarily simple.


The country has relatively few Muslim prayer spaces compared with the population — one for every 1,200 by some estimates — and a group of five friends from a variety of backgrounds decided they could do something about a problem they found themselves facing every day.

Claude Paris - AP Photo
Claude Paris – AP Photo

They created an online community they called Salatsurfing, building an app and website to link the faithful with people willing to donate space. Salatsurfing lists about 150 spaces — homes or businesses — throughout France. About 2,500 people have joined since the geolocation service started in September.

Sofiane Benabdallah, one of the founders, says the idea is similar to Airbnb or Uber — with one crucial difference: The service is free and the space is donated.

“By no means do we want to replace mosques. The mosque’s role is clearly identified in Islam’s precepts,” said Yosra Farrouj, another of the founders. “Salatsurfing is really an alternative in the way we allow someone to pray when a mosque is closed or there is no mosque around.”

Otmane Aziz, whose meeting room is among the listings, said it was natural to donate it as a prayer space.

“It’s a question of brotherhood, solidarity. To me, it seems right,” Aziz said.