Laïcité and Islam: the positions of Macron and Le Pen

Oumma.tv has published a compilation video of Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen’s statements regarding Islam and laïcité.

Clips include Macron asking: “how can we ask our fellow citizens [Muslims] to believe in the Republic if certain people use laïcité to tell them there is no place for them here?” and later stating “there is no problematic religion in France.”

In one clip, Le Pen stated: “the veil is an act of submission for the woman.” She later announced her intention to bank the burkini, and linked the act of wearing one to being an Islamist. “Women actually take advantage of political Islam, which puts enormous pressure on them to impose its visibility,” she said.

Click here to watch the full video.

Democratic Union for French Muslims receives only three sponsorships

Kamel Messaoudi, candidate for the Democratic Union for French Muslims in the upcoming presidential elections, received three elected sponsorships according to the latest official figures. The number falls far below the 500 sponsorships necessary to validate his candidacy, he thus officially fails to take part in the elections.

“In a time of the ‘battle against the burkini’, amidst proposals of banning the veil in universities or public places, our social rights are being sacrificed,” he stated. “While political actors have worked to create categories of citizens, we campaign to strengthen our country by enhancing its richness, which is based in all of its citizens, without distinguishing among them.”

 

 

European Court of Justice decision on the veil: Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) fears tension

While presidential candidate Francois Fillon welcomed the European Court of Justice’s ruling on headscarves in the work place, the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) expressed its “profound worry” regarding the ruling. It argued that the judgment gave “permission to discriminate” in workplaces. The CCIF denounced the ruling as “carrying heavy consequences” that represent “tensions within certain fringes of European societies.

The sentiment was shared by European Network Against Racism (ENAR). “It’s an extremely worrying decision because it excludes women wearing the veil from the working world.”

Macron and Le Pen debate burkini

The burkini controversy that began in summer 2016 reappeared in the televised presidential debate. As the candidates were discussing laïcité (secularism), Marine Le Pen attacked Macron, saying: “Several years ago there were no burkinis on beaches, I know you support them Mr. Macron.” He responded: “Please…Ms. Le Pen…but I don’t speak for you, I don’t need a ventriloquist. I assure you, all is well. When I have something to say, I say it.”

“So what do you have to say about the burkini?” Le Pen asked. “That has nothing to do with secularism because it’s not religious,” Macron responded, “It’s an issue of public order. So, regarding the burkini, I intend to avoid the trap set by those who want to divide society–to create a big debate…The trap in which you are in the midst of falling, by your provocations, is to divide society.”

“The burkini is a problem,” he added. “There are certain mayors, however, who issued orders that were occasionally justified because it was an issue of public order…It’s not a big theoretical problem. Don’t divide society because of it! Be pragmatic and responsible,” he concluded.

Le Pen responded, “I hear a lot of talk about freedom, I would like us to think of these young women, who, today, cannot wear what they want. The veil is imposed on them precisely because we [didn’t pay attention to] Islamist fundamentalists.”

 

Hollande: France has a ‘problem with Islam’

The French president, François Hollande, has said his country has “a problem with Islam” and that there are too many illegal migrants arriving in France.

He also suggested that today’s “veiled woman” could become a Marianne, the female symbol of the French republic, and attacked his rival Nicolas Sarkozy as “the little De Gaulle”.

The controversial remarks are published in a 660-page book, A President Should Not Say That: Secrets of Five Years in Office.

Hollande, 62, also spoke of the women in his life and how his actor girlfriend, Julie Gayet, wanted to be de facto first lady of France, which he said was a “hot topic” between them. He admitted he is feeling lonely and betrayed in the Elysée Palace, where he sometimes feels like a “ghost”.

The French leader, whose desperately low popularity ratings make it uncertain as to whether he will stand for a second term in office, made the comments during more than 60 interviews with Le Monde journalists Gérard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme.

The subjects covered range from Hollande’s dismay over the national football team and the new generation of players (“they’ve gone from badly educated kids to ultra-rich stars with no preparation”) to his 2012 presidential rival Sarkozy, whom he described as “a Duracell bunny who is perpetually agitated” and full of “vulgarity and cynicism”.

But Hollande confided that he would not hesitate to vote for Sarkozy if it was a choice between his predecessor and Marine Le Pen, the leadeer of the far-right Front National.

It was his comments on Islam that could prove the most controversial.

The book quotes Hollande saying: “It’s true there is a problem with Islam … and nobody doubts that. There’s a problem with Islam because Islam demands places (of worship), recognition. It’s not that Islam is a problem because it’s a religion that is in itself dangerous but because it wants to assert itself as a religion on the Republic. What might also be a problem is if Muslims don’t criticize acts of radicalization, if imams behave in an anti-republican way.”

 

He added: “The veiled woman of today will be the Marianne of tomorrow … because, in a certain way, if we offer her the right conditions to blossom she will liberate herself from her veil and become a French woman, while remaining a believer if she wishes, capable of carrying with her an ideal … Ultimately, what are we betting on? That she will prefer freedom to subservience. Perhaps the veil is a kind of protection for her, but that tomorrow she will not need it in order to be reassured of her presence in society.”

On immigration, Hollande told the authors: “I think there are too many arrivals, immigrants who shouldn’t be there … we teach them to speak French and then another group arrives and we have to start all over again. It never stops … so, at some point it has to stop.”

Laurent Wauquiez, president of the opposition centre-right Les Républicains, accused Hollande of being “willing to barter the symbol of the French republic for political Islam”. He said Hollande was “selling off the most powerful symbols of the French republic on the cheap”.

 

‘Burkini Ban’ trojan horse for banning the veil?

Since the mayor of Cannes banned burkinis on July 28 more than thirty towns and communes in France followed suit. In certain municipalities such as Alpes-Maritimes, Var, Haute-Corse, Bouches-du-Rhône, Pas-de-Calais, and Aude, “correct dress, respectful of morality and secularism” and of “the rules of hygiene and the safety of swimming” is now mandatory.

On August 25, the Council of State will examine one of the “anti-burkini” orders, that of the Villeneuve-Loubet. The ruling will concern much more than beach attire, and affects further possible rulings against the veil in the public sphere at the initiatives of certain mayors.

Burkini or not, the orders have caused rupture and division. “What’s currently happening is a form of extending the need for neutrality or invisibility in areas and to people who were up until now not affected by the 1905 law,” said Marwan Mohammed, sociologist with the CNRS. “There has since been a lobby to extend this to universities as well as to businesses. With the recent orders, we are attacking the public sphere.”

These measures have been denounced by associations such as the CCIF and the League of Human Rights (LDH). “The danger, is that tomorrow we work to ban the veil in public or on public transportation,” said Patrice Spinosi, who defends the LDH.

Movements such as Osez le féminisme and Les Effrontées that usually denounce the veil as a tool of religious oppression, referred to the orders as “acts of humiliation,” of Muslim women. Even Femen and the writer Caroline Fourest, a secular feminist, denounced the orders, with the latter referring to them as “unacceptable.”

The government’s position seems unlikely to soften.  Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, echoed Manuel Valls by stating: “As the Prime Minister indicated, we can understand these orders.”

In a recent interview with Le Figaro Magazine Nicolas Sarkozy proposed a law that would “prohibit any religious symbols in schools and also universities, in the administration, and also in businesses.” The National Front urged a law that went as far as to prohibit “all general, visible, religious symbols in the public arena.”

Valls: France needs ‘new relationship with Islam’

Prime Minister Valls said France, which is home to around five million Muslims, needs to forge a new rapport with Islam.

“We need to reset and invent a new relationship with Islam in France,” Valls said.

The PM has long wanted to help nurture a more French version of Islam, without extremists elements and said in Friday he was in favor of a ban on foreign funding of mosques.

He also wants imams to be trained in France rather than abroad.

The PM has warned in the past that Salafists were “winning the ideological and cultural battle” in France, home of Europe’s biggest Muslim population.

And he has pledged to “massively” increase France’s security and defense budgets in the coming years, as the country grapples with a growing jihadist threat after two deadly attacks last year.

“The Salafists must represent one percent of the Muslims in our country today, but their message — their messages on social networks — is the only one we end up hearing,” he said.

France has long had an uneasy relationship with Islam, even before recent jihadist killings in Paris, Nice and Rouen. While the French public and politicians broadly supported the two laws opponents argued it would only work to stigmatize and alienate the country’s Muslim community even further.

It is not clear what the PM is thinking of when it comes to this “new relationship” but in the past he has expressed extending the ban on religious signs to universities.

“The veil does not represent a fashion fad, no, it’s not a colour one wears, no: it is enslavement of women,” he said, warning of the “ideological message that can spread behind religious symbols”.

“We have to make a distinction between wearing the veil as a scarf for older women, and it as a political gesture confronting French society.”

However members of his own government including the education minister and university bodies do not believe there is a need to extend the law.

French Sociologist and director of the Religious Observatory in France doubted Valls had any clear idea of what he meant by “new relationship” but that it was a mistake to suggest this was the source of terrorism.

“I doubt he has a clear idea in his head, but he needs to separate the issues,” said Liogier who has criticized Valls in the past for “showing a complete ignorance of all the multiple dynamics that play a role in Muslim communities today.”

“Let’s stop talking about Muslim “communitarianism” being the source of terrorism. A man with a beard or a woman wearing the veil are other issues, they are not the problem of terrorism.”

 

Sarkozy wants an “Islam of France” and supports “assimilation more than integration.” [Video]

“To equate all Muslim with jihadists, it’s an enormous injustice, to equate all religions with problems of fundamentalism, it’s an enormous injustice,” declared former president Nicolas Sarkozy on Europe 1. “We must therefore create the conditions that allow for an Islam of France…an Islam that would have societal practices that are compatible with what we want,” he stated. “Those who join us must adapt our way of life and our culture and not impose theirs on us, for me, that’s called assimilation more than integration.”

Sarkozy had previously discussed the issue on February 7 during a speech to his party’s national council, when he announced that the UMP should organize “a work day dedicated to the question of Islam in France or Islam of France.”

While speaking on Europe 1 he affirmed: “We don’t want veiled women, not for religious reasons, not for reasons concerning an interpretation of Islam,” but “simply” because “in the Republic, women and men are equal.”

In 2010 Sarkozy enacted a law prohibiting any covering of the face in a public space, which therefore restricted women from wearing the niqab and burqa. Violators are subject to a 150-euro fine and/or citizenship training. The European Court of Human Rights upheld the law in 2014, after it was challenged by a French woman of Pakistani origin.

“Secularism was built on our country’s hardship and there are a certain amount of societal practices that we don’t want,” he stated, citing the veil and prayers in the streets.

Muslim woman harassed by men in Paris

July 17, 2014

Just before midnight on July 3 a veiled Muslim woman was returning to her home in Paris’s banlieue. As she approached her home two men began to harass her. They began to push and insult her, saying “‘We’re going to make you break Ramadan, we’re going to make you try pork and drink alcohol, we’re going to show you what it is to be a submissive woman,’” the woman reported. “‘One of the two put his foot on my head, while the other kicked my arms and stomach. The one who had the white hat began to straddle my chest’” and exposed himself to her saying “‘this is what a real man looks like.”

They continued to insult her and hit her and sexually harass her. “‘I told them that if they wanted my phone I would give it to them,’” she said. “’The one with the white hat took it and hit it against a railing. Then he threw it on the ground.’” Then one of them tore her veil off her head and “‘pretended to masturbate on it. He told me that from now on that was what my veil was good for. I heard laughter from farther away. The two men turned around and left immediately.’” Shocked, she remained in her house for over a week and has recently submitted a complaint for “sexual assault” and “aggravated violence.”