‘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.”

Terrorism case comes together against Muslim-American ‘wannabomber’

PORTLAND, Ore. — A year ago, a tall, skinny teen named Mohamed Mohamud stepped out of an SUV just north of Portland’s Union Station. There, according to the FBI, the Somali-born American punched 10 digits into a cell phone believing it would ignite a vanload of explosives 16 blocks away—where a Christmas tree lighting ceremony was due to take place.

The 19-year-old became one of America’s accused “wannabombers.” The bomb he allegedly tried to ignite was a harmless fake rigged by the FBI and presented to him by undercover operatives posing as Islamic terrorists. Their suspect, charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, was part of a series of FBI terrorism stings since 9/11.

Government officials have praised the stings as a means of preventing terrorists from harming people on U.S. soil. In some cases, the FBI has supplied suspects with money, transportation and realistic weapons — including surface-to-air missiles.

Defense lawyers, including Mohamud’s, argue that the operations amount to illegal entrapment. Mohamud became the 14th and youngest suspect to mount an entrapment defense in one of the FBI’s stings. The 13 men who previously argued entrapment have been tried, found guilty and sent to prison for terms ranging from six years to life.

Mohamud’s trial is set for May 15.

U.S. Issues Terrorism Alert for Travel to Europe

On Oct 3rd, the U.S. State Department issued an alert urging Americans traveling to Europe to be vigilant about possible terrorist attacks. The British government, meanwhile, raised the threat of terrorism to “high” from “general” for Britons in France and Germany.

“Current information suggests that Al Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks. European governments have taken action to guard against a terrorist attack,” according to the State Department statement.

The advisory says Americans should be aware that terrorists often target popular tourist attractions and public transportation such as subways and rail systems. It doesn’t warn Americans not to travel to the region.

Dalil Boubakeur Placed under Police Protection in France

News Agencies – September 20, 2010
France’s interior minister says the country has reinforced vigilance against terrorist threats, and the moderate rector of the main Paris mosque has been given armed guards. The Grand Mosque of Paris says its rector, Dalil Boubakeur, has been given three armed guards because of a new threat. Mosque spokesman Slimane Nadour says he has no information on the nature of the threat but says “the threat is real.”
Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux told reporters Monday, “our vigilance is reinforced today,” without elaborating. Le Monde newspaper and RTL radio said Monday that France is under heightened threat of a terror attack on the transportation system and authorities are searching for a woman who could be plotting a suicide bombing in Paris.

Dalil Boubakeur Placed under Police Protection in France

News Agencies – September 20, 2010
France’s interior minister says the country has reinforced vigilance against terrorist threats, and the moderate rector of the main Paris mosque has been given armed guards. The Grand Mosque of Paris says its rector, Dalil Boubakeur, has been given three armed guards because of a new threat. Mosque spokesman Slimane Nadour says he has no information on the nature of the threat but says “the threat is real.”
Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux told reporters Monday, “our vigilance is reinforced today,” without elaborating. Le Monde newspaper and RTL radio said Monday that France is under heightened threat of a terror attack on the transportation system and authorities are searching for a woman who could be plotting a suicide bombing in Paris.

Dutch party against transport to religious schools

Right wing party VVD wants to end travel allowances which enable parents to send their children to Reformed or Islamic religious schools outside of their home regions, Telegraaf reports. Parliamentarian Ineke Dezentje claims that municipalities should not be the ones paying for this transportation for religious reasons, suggesting that it comes at the expense of transporting handicapped students to schools near them.

Gouda develops transport for elderly immigrant women

Immigrant elderly women in Gouda have recently received their ‘own’ custom bus to their day-center and to the Korte Akkeren health-care center in Gouda, Telegraaf reports. Moustapha El Baroudi, spokesperson for the Zorgberaad Midden-Holland organization that bought the bus, explains that the women’s inability to tell time and reluctance to be picked up by male drivers made using local transit systems difficult.

The World from Berlin: ‘We Should take Pro Cologne Less Seriously’

Protesters and other citizens in Cologne worked en masse on Saturday to shut down their city and prevent a demonstration by Europe’s radical right. But have they given too much attention to the fringe group, Pro Cologne, which organized the rally? When radical-right activists from around Europe arrived in Cologne on Saturday for a rally, the city was ready. Thousands of protesters flooded the rally site, disrupted city transportation and even attacked a river boat where a press conference was supposed to be held.

Full-text article continues here.(Some news sites may require registration)

Fadéla Amara Reveals New Plans for France’s Banlieues

The secretary of state for Urban Policies, Fad_la Amara, revealed that the country will aim to launch 45,000 new jobs for the country’s young people in the next three years, centred upon those most marginal in the country’s suburbs. President Sarkozy announced the plan Hope-Suburbs (Espoir-sBanlieues) in February. The project will concentrate on 215 neighbourhoods. Amara also revealed the creation of a cohesion delegation to aid relationships between the suburban population and police. Amara announced that We have a scandalous situation in our suburbs: in some neighbourhoods, between 40%-42% of young people under 26 are unemployed. The plan also includes better access to public transportation and assistance in the education of youths.

Spanish judge indicts 11 on terror charges

A Spanish judge charged eleven men with plotting suicide attacks against the public transportation network in Barcelona. The indictment says the cell of ten Pakistanis and one Indian, had plans to carry out an attack between January 18-20 of this year. The indictment said that the men were very close to achieving full technical capacity with explosives to carry out the attack. In raids of the suspects’ homes, small amounts of bomb-making material were found – which were not believed to be a part of a large-scale mission, but serve in training exercises.