Robert Redeker’s life has changed a lot in the past four months – since the 19th of September, to be exact. Until then, his students in Toulouse knew him as a philosophy teacher, his friends from the Temps Modernes knew him as a member of their editorial committee, and the main Parisian editors knew him as the author of eclectic and provocative pieces. Until the fatal 19th of September: on this date, Le Figaro published an article by Redeker that violently denounced Islam as a religion that exalted “violence and hate”, and Mohammed, “the impitiable war-monger, pillager, killer of jews, and polygamist.” The next day, he was called out vindictively by an influential Muslim newscaster (on al-Jazeera), referred to as the “islamophobe du jour”, and deluged with letters and messages that became more and more violent, and finally issued a death threat by a website considered close to al-Qaida.
A Spanish Muslim group has asked Pope Benedict XVI for permission to worship alongside Christians in the Great Mosque of Cordoba, turned into a cathedral in the 13th century. They sent a letter on Christmas to the Pope’s Spanish representative, asking that the building be opened for prayer by all religions as a model of tolerance and inter-faith dialogue. They hoped to follow up on the Pope’s recent gestures of goodwill towards Muslims on his trip to Turkey. “We invite you to create a new example, to send a message of hope to the world,” says the letter, which was published yesterday on the Spanish Muslim website Webislam. “Do not fear. Together we can show the violent, the intolerant, the anti-semites, the Islam-phobes and also those who believe that only Islam has a right to remain in the world, that prayer is the strongest weapon imaginable.” In 2004, the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue rejected a similar request, leaving the decision to Spanish church authorities, who oppose Muslim prayer at the cathedral.
By Kate Holton London – The far-right British National Party (BNP) said on Wednesday it planned to distribute a campaign leaflet featuring the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad which have enraged Muslims around the world. A spokesman for the fringe party, which has no seats in parliament but a handful on local councils, said its use of the images was not intended to cause offence, but illustrated how Islam and Western values do not mix. The party says it is not racist, but its leader Nick Griffin and another activist are due in court on race hate charges in October. Claims that Islam and Western values do not mix The 12 cartoons, which first appeared in a Danish newspaper and were later reprinted in other European countries, have sparked violent protests across the Islamic world. Many Muslims believe it is blasphemous to depict the Prophet. At least 50 people have been killed during demonstrations around the world, and a Pakistani Muslim cleric last week offered rewards amounting to more than $1-million (R6,1-million) to anyone who killed any of the Danish cartoonists. The cartoons have not been published in Britain. About 15 000 Muslims staged a peaceful protest against the drawings in London last week. A demonstration earlier in the month provoked outrage because masked men held up placards calling for the beheading of those who insult Islam, and praised the London bombings last July which killed 52 people. The content of the leaflets can already be seen on the group’s website and the leaflets will be circulated ahead of local elections in May. ‘Mild and inoffensive’ The leaflet asks “Which Do You Find Offensive? A cartoon of Mohammad with a bomb for a turban or Muslim demonstrators calling for terrorist attacks on Europe and the ‘extermination’ of non-Muslims?” “By showing you just how mild and inoffensive the cartoon is, we’re giving you the chance to see for yourself the huge gulf that exists between the democratic values that we share, and the mediaeval views that dominate Islam, even supposedly ‘moderate’ versions,” the leaflet said. The party spokesman said the BNP wanted the cartoons to provoke debate. “We published the cartoon not to offend individual Muslims – that’s most important – but to make a stand for freedom,” he said. Ian McCartney, chairman of the ruling Labour Party, condemned the leaflets as “straight out of the Nazi textbook”. The BNP commands a fraction of the support of far-right parties elsewhere in Europe but has several seats on local councils, mainly in poorer areas with large ethnic populations.
LONDON, Aug 7:-In a massive crackdown on extremists following the London terror attacks, British authorities will deport in phases as many as 500 radical Muslims, out of which a dozen clerics will be sent to their homelands over the next two weeks, reports PTI. The move follows British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s announcement last week of a purge on terrorists and extremists. Immigration officials have already been given a list of names, compiled by MI5, and told to begin proceedings. Among the first to be deported will be a dozen radical clerics. But, hundreds of other foreign extremists, including some Islamic bookshop owners, writers, teachers and website operators will also go, the ‘News of the World’ report said. “Just as the police operation over the past four weeks has been dynamic and fast-paced, so will our response,” a senior home official was quoted as saying. All 500 names have been taken from a “watch list” of extremists compiled over the past five years by the Intelligence Service. Their identities are being kept secret so that they will not be able to go into hiding or mount a legal challenge. The deportation process will begin after Home Secretary Charles Clarke returns from holiday this week. An initial wave of up to 100 people will be booted out in the next month, officials at both the Home Office and the Foreign Office revealed. Another 100 foreign nationals will then be sent home by the end of the year. And 300 more will be sent home next year once the government has new laws in place to strip them of their British citizenship. Over the next week agreements will be completed with ten African and Middle Eastern countries to make sure they will accept the extremists.
By Martin Wainwright Forget Superman, Wonderwoman and even the Incredibles. The new kid on the block from one of America’s “big two” comic publishers is a teenage Muslim from Bradford, where his father runs a successful chain of corner shops. Bucking the trend for largely negative portrayals of young Asians, particularly in the United States, Ali is an eager livewire whose arranged bride, Sofia, the source of much angst in early frames, turns out to be equally quick-witted, as well as a babe. The 40-page first episode of the story, Vimanarama, went on sale in Britain yesterday, after a launch on Tuesday in the US, where critics gave it a warm reception. Reviews commented on the cartoons’ “infectious sense of wonder” and gripping plot, “whether it’s in the rain-soaked streets of Bradford or in the brightly lit underworld at the end of the book”. The initially unlikely setting is down to the story’s British author, Grant Morrison, a major name in comic writing, particularly in the specialist field sold through outlets such as Forbidden Planet and Where the Wild Things Are shops. A Glaswegian, his 25-year career includes stories for Marvel Comics’ The X-Men and for Batman and Superman, whose publishers DC Comics have brought out Vimanarama. Morrison turned to Britain’s Asian community for a storyline during the aftermath of the World Trade Centre disaster, when the media were full of debate and discussion about Islam and the West. In a recent interview with comics website Newsarama, he said: “There are devout Muslims in the book and couldn’t-care-less Muslims, so everyone gets a shout.” But the story is primarily a ripping yarn, with Ali and Sofia discovering a subterranean world beneath Bradford when a crate of turkish delight cracks open a hidden entrance in one of the family’s shops. Promotional material from DC Comics sums up the plot as “a modern-day Arabian Nights in the form of a Bollywood romantic comedy set on a celestial stage”. The contents include fossilised demons, a 15,000-year-old Asian superman, and too many frames of pouring rain on Bradford streets for the local tourist board’s taste. While the comic has been welcomed as a positive promotion for the city, a spokeswoman said: “They seem to have got our weather mixed up with Manchester’s.” The story – in three parts costing _1.95 each – faithfully portrays the variety in the local British Asian community, with some women decorously wearing headdresses while others have jeans and trainers. American readers are given occasional cross-cultural references in case the setting all becomes too foreign: one double-page image by the story’s illustrator, Philip Bond, has the 19-year-old hero speeding into action on a mountain bike in front of a line of British Asian cheerleaders in short skirts and bobby socks. Morrison says that he immersed himself in research about Islamic history and theology, which figures in crisp word-bubble exchanges and the exotic population of the secret underworld. But the core of the story, he told Newsarama, should appeal to “anyone who’s ever been a teenager in the grip of immense and ridiculous forces beyond one’s control and understanding. Which is surely everybody who gets past the age of 12.”
Jean-Fran_ois Bastin, (alias Abdullah Abu Abdulaziz) the founder of the “Parti Citoyennet_ et Prosp_rit_” which received in the elections in May 2003 more than 8000 votes, resigned from its current position of the Party leader. The official reason of his resignation is ‘the doctrinal reorientation of the Party’. His name will not appear on the election lists in the coming regional elections in June. Sheikh Bastin claims that his departure from the Party has nothing to do with the accusation of his son Muhammed el Amin Bastin of involvement in the terrorist attacks in Turkey in November 2003. The new leader of the PCP becomes imam Bassam Ayachi, who is the administrator of the website assabyle.com.