French Minister: “There’s no such thing as moderate Islam”

News Agencies – December 3, 2011
A French minister said there was no such thing as moderate Islam, calling recent election successes by Islamic parties in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia “worrying” in an interview. Jeannette Bougrab, a junior minister with responsibility for youth, told Le Parisien newspaper that legislation based on Islamic sharia law “inevitably” imposed restrictions on rights and freedoms.

Bougrab is of Algerian origin, whose father fought on the French colonial side during Algeria’s war of independence, and said she was speaking as “a French woman of Arab origin.” She was reacting to electoral successes scored by the Ennahda party in Tunisia, the Justice and Development Party in Morocco and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Ramadan Festival Discontinued in the Netherlands

2 August 2011


Several media outlets note the start of Ramadan and its influence for the daily lives of Muslims in the Netherlands and abroad. Although for the past six years the country has celebrated Ramadan with a festival designed to counter stereotypes about Muslims and build relations with non-Muslims, the events will not occur this year. In the past the festival involved sponsored iftar dinners, which “local authorities no longer have the budget to fund”. Radio Netherlands Worldwide carries a photographic overview of Ramadan, and notes that “people in the Middle East are experiencing this year’s Ramadan in quite a different way” given unrest in Syria, Tunisia and Egypt.

Thousands Flee the Tunisian Crisis

After the recent uprisings in Tunisia, thousands (more than 5.000) of people are fleeing the country and have landed in the Isle of Lampedusa. The situation of humanitarian emergency has been declared by the Interior Minister Roberto Maroni and by the Council of Ministers. Maroni has asked the European Union to help Italy tackling this difficult situation.

There has been a bit of an argument between the Italian Interior Minister, who accused Europe to be unresponsive and ineffective, and the European Commissioner for the Interior Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom, who expressed a sincere concern for the situation and offered to allocate funds to tackle the emergence. So far, Maroni has noticed, nothing concrete has followed such promising statements.

In the meantime, Maroni has warned against the risks of terrorism and expressed a deep worry for public order and security in Lampedusa. The Tunisian government, in fact, does not have the control of its territory, especially of the coasts from where people leave on board of boats (people pay around 1/1.500 Euro for the journey). Tunisia, in other words, is unable to comply with the bilateral agreement with Italy concerning immigration. As a consequence, among those who reach Italy, there are dangerous criminals and potential terrorists. In order to address this problem, Maroni has asked the Tunisian Prime Minister the permission for the Italian police to monitor at least the major ports of the Northafrican country. After the strong refusal expressed by the Tunisian executive, Italy has turned to the EU asking for the intervention of FRONTEX, the European agency for borders. EU institutions, however, recognize that the issue concerns all Europe and requires a participated commitment.

The Interior Minister has convened the National Committee for Order and Security and has appointed the major of Lampedusa as the Commissioner for the Emergency, endowed with special power. Maroni and Berlusconi have also decided to devolve new buildings to Asylum seekers.

The situation in Lampedusa is serious. The reception centre in the Island is hosting the majority of the newcomers whose number, however, exceeds the actual capacity of the structure. Some refugees have been sent to other centers in Sicily and in the south of Italy. In the last few days, however, the arrivals seem decreased. The situation remains critical. Moreover, many have died in the sea since mid January, trying to reach Italy. The Church is pressing politicians to tackle the situation not only through legal tools but also showing human solidarity toward a tragedy of biblical proportions.

CAIR Asks Americans to Support Freedom in Egypt, Muslim World

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/28/11) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on all people of conscience to contact their elected representatives to ask that they support freedom, democracy and the rule of law in Egypt and throughout the Muslim world. CAIR’s call comes as protesters seeking governmental reforms are clashing with security personnel throughout Egypt. Other protests are taking place in Tunisia, Yemen and other nations in the Middle East.

Controversial Muslim cleric is arrested while sneaking into the U.S.

Reporting from San Diego — U.S. border authorities have arrested a controversial Muslim cleric who was deported from Canada to Tunisia three years ago and was caught earlier this month trying to sneak into California in the trunk of a BMW, according to court documents.

Said Jaziri, the former imam of a Muslim congregation in Montreal, was hidden in a car driven by a San Diego-area man who was pulled over by U.S. Border Patrol agents near an Indian casino east of San Diego on Jan. 11. Jaziri had allegedly paid a Tijuana-based smuggling group $5,000 to get him across the border near Tecate, saying he wanted to be taken to a “safe place anywhere in the U.S.”

Man Attempts to Set Himself on Fire Outside Egyptian Embassy, The Hague

January 26 2011

An Egyptian man aged 52 attempted to set himself on fire outside of the Egyptian embassy in the Hague. When police approached, he covered himself with liquid; he was overpowered while attempting to start a lighter. According to a statement from Dutch police; however several people have tried to set themselves alight in Egypt in recent days following events in Tunisia.

Ben Ali relatives in Disneyland Paris: security source

A group of relatives of deposed Tunisian leader Zine Abidine Ben Ali have taken refuge in a hotel at Disneyland Paris, just outside the French capital. Ben Ali fled Tunisia on Friday as he and members of his family and inner circle escaped a street uprising against his 23 years of authoritarian rule. He is himself now in Saudi Arabia after France refused to allow him entry.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a French security official said that a group of his relatives accompanied by their own security detail had taken VIP accommodation at the Disneyland resort, which is just east of Paris. They had been there for “several days” before Ben Ali’s flight.

Blast at Tunisian consulate in Paris

French police said a “small explosion” occurred at the Tunisian consulate in a Paris suburb, which the country’s ambassador denounced as a “terrorist act”.The blast took place around 5:00 am at Tunisia’s office in Pantin and “caused minor damage to the consulate’s metal shutters,” said police, who have opened an investigation.

Tunisia’s ambassador to France, Raouf Najar, said in a statement sent to AFP: “The disinformation these past few days on what is happening in Tunisia is such that anything is possible, even this terrorist act.”

In Tunisia protests sparked by high youth unemployment and the rising cost of living have erupted across the north African country. At least nine people have died in the unrest, some from gunshot wounds and others committing suicide. The consulate in Pantin opened for business later Sunday morning with a police guard outside.

An immigrant woman sewed her lips together as a protest: “in my country they are going to kill me”

A 34 year old Tunisian woman decided to sew her lips together to protest against the decision by the Italian authorities, to refuse her request for political asylum. The woman had also begun a fast. In Tunisia she had been repudiated by her family because she became pregnant without being married. Her brother threatened her with a knife and promised to kill her if she returned. Moreover, her brother-in-law, an Islamist condemned for murder, tried to force her to wear the veil. The woman fled to Libya and arrived in Italy in 2006 on a dinghy. She worked as a carer in different parts of the country. However, in 2009 she was arrested because her employer had ended up in handcuffs for drug offences. She was finally acquitted but was placed in a centre in Bologna for illegal immigrants, while waiting to be deported. The problem, claimed her lawyers, is that there is a legal prohibition of any deportation that places the person in risk of their life in their home countries. They were, therefore, going to lodge two appeals: one against the expulsion and the other against the refusal of political asylum by the Italian state. In the meantime, the woman was released from the centre. She doesn’t have to return to her country any more and her lawyers are going to appeal for international protection in order to prevent a permanent return to Tunisia.

Three terror suspects extradited

Three Tunisian men wanted in Italy for alleged terrorist offences have been extradited from Britain, police say. Habib Ignaoua, Mohamed Khemiri, and Ali Chehidi were arrested in 2007 on a European Arrest Warrant. Italian authorities accuse the trio of recruiting young men to join the jihad in Afghanistan and Iraq. In July, they went to the High Court to try to block their extradition on the grounds they could face torture, but the judges rejected their case. The Metropolitan Police all three left Britain at 1500 GMT on Saturday. The Italian authorities say the men were involved in recruiting fighters between 1997 and 1999.

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