FCMF reform unites Muslim organisations

23.02.2013

Le Monde

The French Council of the Muslim Faith (FCMF) has with a large majority adopted a reform which democratically regulates its leadership and core body.  The organisation which was created in 2003 with the help of Nicolas Sarkozy, then French Secretary State, to represent  the millions of French Muslims quickly caused disunity and tension between the largest three groups that composed the FCMF. The last FCMF election in 2011 faced, as a result, a boycott by the Union of Islamic Organisations of France and the Grand Mosque of Paris which severely limited the legitimacy of the organisation. The FCMF’s reform is a compromise between the three major conflicting parties who now share leadership. The reform helps to democratise but also neutralise the FCMF in relation to state and society.

Fault lines of the French model on integration and immigration

04.01.2013

Liberation

During a debate on the crisis of integration in France at this year’s Forum de Grenoble, Tareq Oubrou, imam from Bordeaux and Jean-Claude Sommaire, former Secretary General of the Council on Integration, came together to identify some issues that have created today’s social tension amongst immigrant youth.

Sommaire considers the French model of integration to have never really existed. In his eyes, members of earlier waves of immigration have integrated in distinct ways. Whilst their children have most commonly left behind their ancestral roots by integrating and assimilating into French society, the descendants of more recent immigrants from the Maghreb and Sub-Saharan Africa have in contrast not.

In a survey conducted by Liberation, 25% of youth state to live in rupture with society. With increasing discrimination and being exposed to the growth of Islam in economically and socially difficult environments, these youth often have no choice but to replicate communitarianism. Sommaire says that “in some quarters it is not the number of Muslims that is rising but the visibility of them”.

Oubrou identifies the failure of schools and the exclusion of Muslims as the main reason for communitarianism amongst Muslims. According to him, Muslim youth consider religion as a shield of protection where they can find refuge and answers to the wrongs done to them. He however also strongly argues that the notion of secularism in France is what puts the relation between Muslim youth and French society in strain. Oubrou comments that “historically secularism has never been anti-religious. Secularism permitted the public expression of faith but today there is a virtual schizophrenia between lived realities and what the law says. It has become normal to see the Muslim faith as a threat. Hence, there’s an increasing demand to adapt the faith to Western civilization and culture”.

‘The Public Square’ Anti-Islamic speech by pastor Terry Jones … by singing the Beatles.

Since Op-Docs, our forum for short, opinionated documentaries, produced with creative latitude across many subjects, started in November 2011, 46 short films and videos have been published on nytimes.com. Today we begin a new Op-Docs feature: Scenes. It will be a platform for very short work — snippets of street life, brief observations and interviews, clips from experimental and artistic nonfiction videos — that follow less traditional documentary narrative conventions. This first Scenes video presents a classic New York moment, recorded last year. — The Editors

We spent much of last year making a documentary, “The Education of Mohammad Hussein,” inside a conservative Islamic school near Detroit. Overall we encountered a fearful community, mistrusting of outsiders. Muslims of all ages expressed a deep sense of being unwanted and spied-on by those who were quick to suspect them of wrongdoing.

During production, Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who publicly set fire to the Koran in a mock trial (and who recently received a death threat in Egypt for his links to the infamous video “Innocence of Muslims”) came to town to hold an anti-Muslim rally. The event provoked a small riot, arrests and heightened tension in the area.

We followed Mr. Jones to New York for the events surrounding the 10th anniversary of 9/11. One day at the World Trade Center site, men and women in the crowd held signs that shouted “Stand back: I’m on jihad watch” and “We will not submit to sharia law in the USA.” Whenever the term “Muslim-American” was mentioned, boos erupted from the crowd. The hate was overwhelming.

On Sept. 10, we followed Mr. Jones to Times Square. All kinds of bystanders listened, silently at first, while he ranted against the Muslim faith.

Then, incredibly, the crowd responded not with taunts, jeers or indifference… but with the Beatles. The sunnier side of the term “mob mentality” spontaneously emerged, and we were once again overwhelmed by that well-worn cliché that sometimes fits just right: “Only in New York.”

Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady are New York-based documentary filmmakers. Their forthcoming film “The Education of Mohammad Hussein,” which is on the short list for the Academy Award for short-subject documentary, is to be broadcast on HBO in 2013. Their previous Op-Doc was “Dismantling Detroit.”

 

A Muslim Group Plans to Protest Derby Pride

Derby Muslim Action Force a group that has been organizing demonstrations against the annual gay pride in Derby. The last month, one of their members, Kabir Ahmed was convicted for causing harassment, alarm or distress with threatening language or behaviour at the 2011 pride march. He was given a two-year conditional discharge but three co-defendants were cleared.

The protest is expected to increase the tension during the Pride.

Muslims Fighting over Halal Meat

6 May 2012

 

Finding Halal meat is one of the most problematic issues for European Muslims and they are increasingly becoming a target of animal welfare originations. Similar to Judaism, Islam decrees upon practicing Muslims to eat only the meat of animals slaughtered according to Islamic rituals. Anything other than this is not edible for Muslims, save for life threatening situations. However, slaughtering animals is considered to be inhumane by animal welfare organizations thus the issue becomes a matter of tension between Muslims and the host communities.

 

The French Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fishing published a report in 2008, on Religious Slaughter and the Welfare of Animals which was based upon scientific research including a French veterinary PhD. According to the report, if executed properly religious slaughter causes less trauma to the animal than the conventional ways of killing, thus it is more humane.

 

According to reports, a leading veterinarian, Professor Bill Reilly has recently criticised the rise in the number of animals slaughtered according to religious laws and suggested it should be either curbed or banned. This sparked a harsh reaction from the Muslim community who considered it an attempt to interfere with their religion.

Loudspeakers at Toulouse mosque broadcast Qur’anic excerpts after shooting

 

News Agencies – November 23, 2011

 

A 23 year-old man was shot in the street in the Reynerie neighborhood of Toulouse, France. Several people were arrested. There was a lot of tension in Reynerie after the death of the young man, executed with 9mm bullets in the middle of the street. Samir Chorfi, a resident of the neighborhood known to the police, was mortally wounded by several bullets and died in hospital. Large police forces were deployed to control the crowd.

Local residents are shocked and concerned about the increasing violence. “We do not want our children to die in our neighborhoods”. In order to calm the situation, a loudspeaker broadcast passages from the Qur’an.

 

 

 

Local U.S. Islamic leader struggles to put raids behind him

Unus has spent 40 years building some of the country’s best-known Muslim organizations, but the past decade has driven home how unsettled the relationship remains between his faith and his country. And few places are more emblematic of that tension than the library of the Herndon think tank where he works.
More than nine years ago, federal agents looking for evidence of terrorism financing hustled Unus, the institute’s director of administration, and his colleagues into this very library. They were kept there for hours while computers and boxes of documents were carted out.

At almost the same time, 14 agents and police officers broke through the front door of Unus’s house with a battering ram and handcuffed his wife and daughter — a raid that sparked an unsuccessful civil rights lawsuit that the Unuses pursued all the way to the Supreme Court.

Neither Unus nor any other institute leaders has ever been charged in the government’s probe of a network of Herndon-based Muslim charities, businesses and organizations. But neither have they been formally cleared.

The stereotypes surrounding Via Padova: There are problems but it isn’t a Bronx.

A murder (of a young Egyptian man by a group of south-Americans on the 13th of February) that could have happened in any part of Milan, has triggered a press campaign that described Via Padova as a mass of ugly things, a promiscuity of people coming from everywhere, of crumbling buildings, an insecure and unlivable casaba. The journalist, who is also an inhabitant of Via Padova, suggests that the campaign has had the effect to instill in people living in that area with the idea of not being on par with such a civil city as Milan. She tries to counter the stereotype by highlighting the fact that Via Padova is a more than just a four kilometer road and is much diversified. Just as any other areas of the city, Via Padova has its good and bad areas. There are specific and clear responsibilities for the public and local authorities who have yet to take any action towards preventing the recent tension. The streets appear to be under siege due to the strong presence of the police and the army. The journalist rightly claims that the only sustainable way out of the current predicament would require farsighted re qualification policies. Such actions are needed to convince the Italian inhabitants and shopkeepers to remain, contrasting the foreigners’ invasion. In fact, a too large number of immigrants located in the same place make integration difficult. Concluding, she condemns all of the stereotypes that fix reality in an unchangeable status quo. On the contrary, each and every place is unique, neither common nor predictable.

Drancy Mosque Reopens Amid Controversy

A French mosque, whose imam says he has received death threats over his promotion of dialogue with Jews, reopened for Friday prayers after it was forced to close down due to disruptive protests. The mosque in Drancy, a suburb in the north of Paris, has been the focus of tension for weeks with a small group of protesters keeping up a noisy barrage of criticism against the imam Hassen Chalghoumi. The mosque had been closed for security reasons.

The problems at the Drancy mosque have underlined the volatile mix of prejudice, integration problems and fears over radical Islamist extremism that have often plagued France’s large Muslim community. Chalghoumi gained widespread prominence in France earlier this year when he backed government calls for a ban on full-face veils called burqas or niqabs, provoking stiff opposition from some local Muslims. He has also received death threats in the past over his support for dialogue with Jews.

Conflicts between autochthons and immigrant population in Salt

Salt is a small town very near to Gerona (Catalonia). The percentage of immigrants has grown from a 6 percent to 49 percent in the past ten years. As a consequence of the recent economical crisis both unemployment and crime have risen in the town. Last week, a group of residents protested at the City Hall about the crime and the lack of police presence in the city. The residents accuse the immigrant population of being responsible for the current situation. Many incidents and confrontations have taken place and serve to demonstrate the tension that exists between the two groups. The local Muslim associations have called for calm and an end to the racist protests. In a meeting held last Saturday between local immigrant associations, many young people made clear their unwillingness to be represented by religious organisations. The process continues.