EU and Arab states to meet over foreign fighters in Syria

February 7, 2014

 

Experts from the European Union and eight Arab countries plus Turkey will hold a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, February 11th to discuss threats posed by foreign fighters in Syria, according to a source at Al Arabiya News Channel.

The source said EU countries are increasingly worried about hundreds of young European Muslims who have travelled to Syria to carry out jihad. Many of them, he said, have joined al-Qaeda affiliated groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or al-Nusra Front.

The Arab countries invited to the meeting are Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Irann, Libya, and Tunisia.

French President Francois Hollande said last month that 700 people had left France to join the fighting in Syria in what he called a “worrying” trend.

“A certain number of young Frenchmen and young foreigners living in France… are fighting in Syria – 700 are listed, that’s a lot. Some are dead,” Hollande told a press conference in Paris.

Hollande said young people needed to be warned about the dangers of going to Syria and that France needed to “fight against a certain number of networks and havens that sustain terrorism.”

French officials have warned of the dangers from French citizens fighting with extremist and al-Qaeda linked groups in Syria.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said this week that more than 400 people were either ready to go to Syria, were in the country or had been and returned.

Western security officials have raised fears that foreign fighters trained in Syria could carry out attacks on home soil. Officials say about 20 French citizens have died in the Syria conflict. The country was unsettled last week when reports emerged of two brothers who had converted to Islam dying within four months of each other in the conflict.

Source: http://www.albawaba.com/conflict-syria/eu-syria-552919

Muslims in European peace drive

A groundbreaking conference for young Muslims from across Europe is taking place in Switzerland. Delegates from seven countries have been brought together by the organisation Initiatives of Change, which has a long history of promoting peace on the continent. In the late 1940s, it brokered meetings between those who had been on opposite sides in World War II. Now its headquarters, high above Lake Geneva, is hosting a group of young Muslims for the first time, as they consider how to work as “peace agents” within their communities.

The organisers admit some unease within their own inter-faith peace movement about targeting a conference specifically at Muslims. But conference convener Peter Riddell believes that all those living in Europe need to address tough questions about how Islam relates to their shared future.

“We’re faced with a need to redefine what it means to be European. In many ways you could say that European culture has defined itself in opposition to Islam,” he said. “So now the challenge is, whether we’re going to embrace a European culture which includes a substantial component of Muslims, or whether we’re going to reject that.”

Initiatives of Change:
http://www.iofc.org
http://www.caux.ch/en/2009#tools
http://www.caux.ch/sites/all/files/peacemaker_en.pdf

The Muslim creatively expresses

A creativity festival was held in Brussels last week, launched as an initiative by FEMYSO to call upon the creativity of young European Muslims. The Muslim community does not always have the opportunity to be heard, FEMYSO (Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations) organized the event to encourage diversity and creativity in religious expression. Among the events, included artistic expressions in song, film, and recitation of the Quran – showing that in practicing their religion, Muslims in Brussels (and throughout Europe as well) maintain strong commitments towards the arts and creativity in their adherence.