The Collectif contre l’Islamophobie en France draws our attention to an exposé by the online investigative journal Mediapart of a 14-page Powerpoint presentation circulated to school heads by the Poitiers educational authority, on the subject of preventing radicalisation among students. It has been produced as part of the “national plan to combat radicalisation” announced by interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve earlier this year.
Mediapart points out that the only form of “radicalisation” addressed in the presentation concerns Muslim students. Apparently Christian and Jewish students are immune to extremist ideology. As for the problem of far-right influence among students, that doesn’t rate a mention as far as the Poitiers educational authority is concerned.
The advice offered to heads to assist them in spotting signs of “radicalisation” among their Muslim students is beyond stupid. These include growing a beard without a moustache, wearing “Muslim clothing” and losing weight due to fasting. Another telltale sign of extremism is a tendency to engage in “political rhetoric” that refers to injustices in Palestine, Chechnya, Iraq, Syria or Egypt.
Three Quebec City mosques were the target of xenophobic messages over the weekend.
Signs reading “Islam hors de chez moi” – Islam out of my country – were posted on each of the mosques’ front doors. A mosque in the Limoilou neighbourhood, the Islamic cultural centre of Quebec City in Ste-Foy and the capital city mosque in Quebec City proper were targeted.
A group named Québec Identitaire seemingly has taken credit for the posters. The group’s name was written on the posters.
Khalil Bahji, who has been attending the Limoilou mosque since 2007, said he and his fellow congregation members are saddened by the attack. He said the members of the surrounding community are also disappointed, adding that they have been supportive in the past. We thought about moving to another place when our lease was about to end, Bahji told CBC Daybreak on Monday.
He told host Mike Finnerty that a member of the community approached members of the mosque and asked why they wanted to leave and whether the neighbours had done anything to make them feel unwelcome. “This action doesn’t reflect the real opinion of the people who surround the mosque,” Bahji said.
A fire at the entrance to the Grand Mosque of Strasbourg was quickly extinguished overnight Saturday. The attack, which took place at the entrance to one of the main mosques in France caused only minor cosmetic damage.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has decried the arson attack and has vowed to pursue those responsible for this “odious act,” an official statement said Monday.
The statement continued on to say that Cazeneuve “reaffirms his commitment to protect the places of worship of all religions from such outrageous acts and attacks which target them, and also to fight against all expressions of hatred and intolerance,” adding that “such acts went against the core values of the French Republic.”
The president of the Grand Mosque, Ali El Jarroudi condemned “with the greatest firmness this odious act” and said that a complaint had been lodged with the police, adding that there were images of an individual lighting the fires which he had handed to the police.
In a statement to AFP, Abdallah Zekri, president of the Observatory against Islamophobia, said that he feels “anger and disgust at those who want to create tensions between communities.”
The Mayor of Strasbourg Roland Ries, expressed his “outrage” against “acts which, as isolated they are, affect the serenity of cohabitation between religions and tradition of understanding and ‘openness’ of the city.
The President of the Union of mosques in France (UMF), Mohammed Moussaoui, also condemned “in the strongest force” the attack, calling on the “Muslims of France to be vigilant and calm in the face of these acts.”
Muslims in America and Europe say discrimination against them has seemed more pronounced after the Islamic State terrorists beheaded American and British journalists and aid workers. Hate-filled remarks on social media have also become more prevalent, especially since 9/11, when Facebook and Twitter did not yet exist.
New York Daily News, 7 November 2014
The Financial Times has published a profile by Roula Khalaf of Fabien Engelmann, a leading figure in the Front National who in March this year was elected mayor of Hayange in northeastern France.
Engelmann is described as a “one-time leftist union activist”. But that isn’t the half of it.
He is a former longtime militant in the revolutionary socialist organisation Lutte Ouvrière, which he joined in 2001 and remained a member of until 2008, when he contested the municipal elections as an LO candidate. Engelmann then left LO and joined another far-left organisation, the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste. He broke from the NPA in 2010 in protest at its decision to stand a hijab-wearing Muslim woman candidate, Ilham Moussaïd, in that year’s regional elections.
Having gravitated to the far-right “secularist” organisation Riposte Laïque – led by another ex-Trotskyist, Pierre Cassen – Engelmann joined the FN later in 2010, becoming a member of its political committee and an adviser to Marine Le Pen.
Roula Khalaf writes:
As you would expect, Mr Engelmann has strong views about immigration and the supposedly menacing Islamisation of French society. His problem is the Kosovar and Albanian migrants housed in the town and living on benefits. They are, he says, a “new immigration”, families that produce five to seven children, feed off the French state and want to impose a “middle ages dogma and a religion that is not ours”.
Saphir News reports that last Friday night racist vandals broke into the office of the Muslim Assistance funeral home in Orléans and defaced the walls with Islamophobic graffiti.
The graffiti featured swastikas and Celtic crosses, and a drawing of a pig’s head, accompanied by slogans such as “Islam out”, “close or die” and “dirty Arabs”. Computer equipment was stolen and a photocopier damaged.
The manager of Muslim Assistance, Abdessamad Errich, later received anonymous phone calls boasting of the attack. Last month he had been subjected to telephone threats.
That the title of the bestselling book in France this autumn is The French Suicide speaks volumes about the mood in Paris. Each day, 5,000 people buy Éric Zemmour’s 544-page lamentation on “the 40 years that have undone France”.
Zemmour is a columnist for the conservative newspaper Le Figaro and a well-known television personality. His book has even overtaken former first lady Valérie Trierweiler’s account of President François Hollande’s boorishness.
Suicide is a bitter tale of a vague conspiracy by cowardly politicians, feminists, the “gay lobby,” film-makers, songwriters, Muslims, immigrants and high finance to destroy the French family and nation. Zemmour might quote Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the far-right National Front (FN), who often says, “I say out loud what people think in quiet”.
The success of Zemmour’s book is widely interpreted as evidence that the ideas of the FN have penetrated mainstream society. Many passages could easily come from speeches by FN leader Marine Le Pen.
In a country whose national identity is so closely connected to its cuisine, France’s hard right has seized on a growing appetite for kebabs as proof of cultural “Islamisation”.
Four kebab houses opened last month in Blois, bringing the total to over a dozen in the pretty Loire valley town where tourists come to see the castle. The far-right National Front party railed: “The historical centre of Blois, the jewel of French history, is turning into an Oriental city”.
The implicit message is clear: the now ubiquitous kebab, popular with the young and cash-strapped, is a sign that Middle Eastern culture has taken root in France, where not everyone is happy about the presence of 5 million Muslims.
“The kebab is a bit of a reflection of all the problems with immigration and integration in France,” says Thibaut Le Pellec, founder of KebabFrites.com, a website that ranks kebab houses across the country and seeks to raise the reputation of the “kebabistes” who make and sell the food.
Damien Schmitz, who runs a kebab shop in Paris, puts it more bluntly: by criticising the kebab, he says, “you can speak ill of Muslims without speaking ill of Muslims.”
Saphir News has reported that Caroline Fourest – the French “left-wing” Islamophobe who wrote Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan – has been successfully sued for defamation over comments she made in June last year on the radio station France Culture.
Fourest was responding to the attacks on two Muslim women in Argenteuil, one of whom lost her baby after being kicked in the stomach by her assailants. This followed an earlier incident in which a 17-year-old woman named Rabia Bentot (pictured) was punched and kicked by racists, who also tore off her headscarf while shouting “dirty Arab” and “dirty Muslim”
Instead of Fourest declaring her outrage at the assaults, and her solidarity with the victims, this self-styled feminist expressed scepticism about the women’s accounts.
Fourest claimed that Rabia Bentot was being manipulated by her father and by the Coordination contre le Racisme et l’Islamophobie, assisted by what Fourest described as the “communalist” website Oumma.com, and she suggested that the story of an attack might well have been fabricated. Even if an assault did take place, Fourest asserted, the police had not excluded the possibility that Rabia was the victim of violence by her own family, who could have beaten her up as punishment for living too free a lifestyle.
Needless to say, Fourest offered no evidence whatsoever to back up these disgraceful slurs.
France’s government is drawing up a new set of rules for theatres after the Paris Opera ejected a woman for wearing a veil during a performance, the institution’s deputy director said Sunday.
The incident took place when a veiled woman was spotted on the front row of a performance of La Traviata at the Opera Bastille, Jean-Philippe Thiellay told AFP, confirming a media report.
France brought in a law in 2011 banning anyone from wearing clothing that conceals the face in a public space, or face a 150 euro ($190) fine.
The woman was sitting just behind the conductor, visible to monitors, wearing a scarf covering her hair and a veil over her mouth and nose during the performance on October 3.
“I was alerted in the second act,” said Thiellay, adding that “some performers said they did not want to sing” if something was not done.
France’s ministry of culture said a bill was currently being drafted to remind theatres, museums and other public institutions under its supervision of the rules regarding veils.