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Fear of Terror raises Tensions among French-ruled island of Corsica’s Muslims

Muslims and non-Muslims attacked each other with fists and weapons that reports said included machetes and a harpoon

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Terrorism. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

AJACCIO, CORSICA, September 03, 2016: Some referred to the attacks in France as the summer of terror. Communities all over the country these days are working to heal the wounds and avert what many French Muslims think could be a backlash against them by politicians and citizens angry over extremists’ attacks.

Inter-communal tensions have boiled over on the French-ruled island of Corsica. Muslims and non-Muslims clashed on a beach in August, after reports that a tourist had taken a photo of a Muslim woman bathing on a beach in the town of Sisco touched off a riot.

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Muslims and non-Muslims attacked each other with fists and weapons that reports said included machetes and a harpoon.

Fear has risen further after the island’s militant separatists, in defiance of the Paris government, said they are ready to take matters into their own hands if the Islamic State group carries out an attack on the island.

There have been no specific terrorism warnings on Corsica, but, as summer winds down, the island’s beaches became a focal point in France’s battle of cultures – marked by attacks on the French mainland, such as the truck attack in Nice that killed 86 people in July and the murder, also in July, of an elderly Catholic priest during Mass in Normandy. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for both attacks.
Dolls and teddy bears are placed at a memorial in a gazebo on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, southern France on July 20, 2016.

Who defends Corsica?

Corsica’s isolation and its fierce separatist drive have many feeling like Paris is not doing enough to protect them. After the bloodshed in France, the Corsican National Liberation Front warned the Islamic State that any attack against the Corsican people would precipitate a “determined response,” without hesitation or guilt.

“Beyond that statement, I think Corsica’s entire population is asking, ‘who is going to defend us. Are we obliged to defend ourselves? And by what means?’” asked Francis Nadizi, regional secretary of the far-right National Front party headed by Marine Le Pen.

Corsica has one of France’s highest ratio of firearms per capita – one more reason why officials are taking the separatists’ statement seriously. They also are not ignoring the possibility of a terrorist attack on their soil.

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“There is real concern because unfortunately the events of recent months have shown that no one is safe, and there are elements specific to Corsica that make us fear a rising risk,” said Gilles Simeoni, the island’s top elected official, told VOA.

In remarks published recently, Simeoni warned there has been a breakdown of the “integration machine” – a reference to questions about the local Muslim population’s willingness to integrate into Corsican society.

Mosques hit by arson

Even before this summer’s beach riot, there have been confrontations. Attacks have included arson fires at Muslim places of prayer.

Signs of the tensions are less than subtle. In public restrooms and fences, graffiti demand: “Arabi Fora,” Corsican for “Arabs Out.”

Dolls and teddy bears are placed at a memorial in a gazebo on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, southern France on July 20, 2016. Image source: VOA
Dolls and teddy bears are placed at a memorial in a gazebo on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, southern France on July 20, 2016. Image source: VOA

In December, a mob smashed windows and ransacked a prayer hall in the island’s main city, Ajaccio. The incident happened after Muslim youths ambushed firefighters and police who were responding to reports of illegal bonfires.

The prayer hall’s director, Abdel-Mounim el Khalfioui, said the tensions – including those surrounding the controversy over burkinis – have intensified the conversation about what it means to be Muslim in Corsica.

“Integrating into a society does not mean rejecting one’s culture of origin in order to adopt another. That for me is not integration,” el Khalfioui said. “Integration is respecting the laws, respecting the land that welcomes you, respecting its traditions, respecting people, but at the same time holding on to your culture of origin.”’

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Islamic garments an issue

But some Corsicans disagree. Like many people on the French mainland, they say Islamic vestments drive a wedge between Muslims and the rest of the population.

“I think, quite sincerely, that it is a provocation,” said the National Front’s Nadizi. “They will begin by the visual aspect of their vestments, before staking their communitarian claims.”

“It could be that people will see it as a provocation, like if a man sees a naked woman walking on the street. She is going to tell him, ‘I am free,’ but he sees it as a provocation,” said Sabri Merdaci, a 24-year-old building maintenance worker born on Corsica to Algerian and Tunisian parents. Merdaci wears a beard and sometimes a galabiyya, or tunic. “We see it as a choice that one makes in regard to religion, to identity, as it relates to Islam,” he said.

Merdaci said he avoids beaches where French women often sunbathe topless.

Given the hostility already shown to their community, some of Corsica’s Muslims worry any retaliation against Islamic State could spill into retaliation against them.

In a meeting last week, a group gathered to vent their concerns about the Corsican separatists’ warning to the Islamic State. “We took this as a provocation for those who may want to carry out an attack in Corsica, and so it is us who would have to pay,” said Mohamed Jouablia, head of an association of Tunisian immigrants.

“It means someone does something wrong and the group reacts, goes after the other. It is collective punishment, and that is disgusting. It is unacceptable. It is that which worries us,” said another member, Zerdalia Dahoun, a native of Algeria. “The concept of justice is dangerous. Inciting people to do justice themselves has roused the extreme on both sides,” she said. (VOA)

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Is Islamic inequality a conspiracy against the God?

Islam was conducted in a sense it was never meant to be

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Muslims
An eternal religion like Islam is always targeted for its preachings. Wikimedia Commons

Religion was the purest creation by humans to guide them to a better life, but it is clear that religion is being misused by many to create chaos and misery.

Islam, which is the World’s second largest religion, has become to symolize as the largest religion of devastation. A religion that believes that there is only ‘One God’ and that is their God, has now come to stand for turbulence and violence.

Historically too, Islam has always been linked with ‘terrorism’, but what gave rise to this scenario? The synopsis of this situation is not the right interpretation of ‘Quran’. The term ‘Jihad’ which literally means ‘to strive for the betterment of society’ has been deceitfully presented which leads to production of terrorists like Kasab (he quoted it in his letter to his family). The greed for 72 virgin women, which is just a story, makes them a ‘person of mass destruction. ‘ In the name of God, some ‘juvenile’ people choose the path which they are not familiar with.’

Islamic Terrorism
It is often stated that most of the ‘Terrorists’ are Muslims.Wikimedia Commons

A religion should always teach and preach about equality but Islam surely fails when it comes to their women. They are not so privileged as men are in an Islamic society. Why is it so? Does religion discriminate between two on the basis of gender? Why a Muslim man is taught to think about 72 virgin women but a Muslim woman is told to consider one man as her god? Why a man has a right to marry thrice but a woman is allowed to marry just once?

Islamic scholar Imam Tawhidi’s tweet raised a question on the fairness of the Islamic religion.

The disparity is not limited here. A woman who leaves her home, her parents, her career and even her surname; a woman who makes a home a home; a woman who sacrifices her everything for a man; is the one who is out thrown from her own home just by saying ‘Talaq, Talaq, Talaq’. Is a relation between a husband and wife established on these three words? Why only Muslim men favoured with such power?

Culture of Hijab
Women are meant to cover their full body in Islam. Wikimedia Commons

The word ḥijāb in the Quran refers not to women’s clothing, but rather a spatial partition or curtain. However, the preachers of Islam say that women should get all her parts covered by confidently stating that it is mandated in the Holy Quran. Yet another example of inequality on the basis of gender but the compelling truth is that these customs and thesis are created by the human itself and not Islam. This is how Islam is misused to spread fallacious beliefs among the people and making their life miserable.

Does Islam need to reform? Or do preachers of Islam need to introspect and reform?

– Sumit Buchasia of NewsGram. Twitter @sumit_buchasia

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Europe’s Muslim Communities getting divided after sexual assault charges against Islamic Scholar

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Tariq Ramadan
FILE - This file photo taken on March 26, 2016 shows Swiss Islamologist Tariq Ramadan taking part in a conference on the theme "Live together" in Bordeaux.
Sexual assault charges targeting a prominent Islamic scholar have left many European Muslims stunned, and triggered sharply disparate reactions within the multi-faceted community, even as many fear a broader backlash.

Swiss-born theologian Tariq Ramadan took a leave of absence from teaching at Oxford University last week, following complaints of rape and assault filed by two French women and reports of similar charges in Switzerland. A statement by the university said the decision was mutual. Ramadan denies the accusations.

While some analysts say Ramadan’s star has been waning in recent years, the impact of the accusations has been immense. Especially in French-speaking countries, 55-year-old Ramadan inspired a generation of young Muslims to believe Islam and citizenship were compatible in a distinctly secular Europe. Unlike many religious clerics here, he spoke in French rather than Arabic during meetings and symposiums that were usually packed.

FILE – Tariq Ramadan talks to the media after a conference at the Er-Rahma mosque in Nantes, western France, Apr. 25, 2010.
Rape charges against Tariq Ramadan
FILE – Tariq Ramadan talks to the media after a conference at the Er-Rahma mosque in Nantes, western France, Apr. 25, 2010.

“I think this affair is going to lead to big changes,” said Alexandre Piettre, a specialist in Islam at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, in Paris. “He had a discourse of integration, and without it, it leaves space for political radicalism that was contained by it; those who reject public participation in the West and call for a return to Muslim countries — the Hijra — or even armed jihad.”

Double discourse?

The grandson of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan el-Banna, Ramadan has long been a polarizing figure. Critics claim he wielded a “double discourse,” hiding political Islam behind unifying rhetoric. He was temporarily banned from the U.S. under the Bush administration, a measure lifted under the Obama one.

Much of the debate surrounding him has taken place in France, where an estimated five million Muslims make up Western Europe’s biggest Islamic community.

Rape charges against Tariq Ramadan
FILE – French Muslim youths hold placards which read, “I am Muslim. I love my Prophet” (R) and “I am Muhammad. I belong to the Muslim community and I am anti-terrorist” during a demonstration in central Paris, Jan. 18, 2015.
FILE – French Muslim youths hold placards which read, “I am Muslim. I love my Prophet” (R) and “I am Muhammad. I belong to the Muslim community and I am anti-terrorist” during a demonstration in central Paris, Jan. 18, 2015.

In April, French authorities expelled Ramadan’s older brother, controversial Swiss preacher Hani Ramadan, on grounds he was a threat to public order.

The preacher also sparked outrage in 2002, by publishing an article in France’s Le Monde newspaper that supported stoning adulterers — a position condemned by his brother Tariq.

“Tariq Ramadan: double discourse or double personality?” France’s conservative Le Figaro newspaper asked last week, wondering if the “charming predator” was a sexual one as well.

FILE – Hani Ramadan delivers a speech during the annual meeting of muslims in France, 14 Apr. 2007 in Le Bourget, north of Paris.

Multiple accusations

The assault charges come amid a broader global outcry against sexual harassment, triggered by the Harvey Weinstein scandal that began in the United States. As the charges mounted last month, French activist and former Salafist Henda Ayari filed a police complaint accusing Ramadan of brutally raping her in a hotel room in 2012. Since then, another French woman has come forward with a similar story, according to media reports. French prosecutors are probing the accusations.

In neighboring Switzerland, a Geneva newspaper reported four young women said they had sexual relations with Ramadan as minors when he was teaching at their school — at least three of the incidents were said to be non-consensual. Media reported another rape claim in Belgium.

Meanwhile, Oxford University graduate Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi posted a blog that gave voice to an American Muslim friend, who recounted an unwanted sexual advance by Ramadan in 2013. The account echoed a pattern described by the two French women: an initial interaction with Ramadan on social media to discuss religious matters, then an eventual meeting in a hotel room because Ramadan said he did not wish to be seen in public.

“For me it’s not about his political views,” said al-Tamimi, who works for a think tank opposed to Ramadan, but says he is not part of that debate.

“I don’t find him particularly insightful or been blown away by anything he’s said,” said al-Tamimi in a telephone interview, adding he had seen Ramadan speak at Oxford only once. “For me it’s about people using their celebrity status to engage in sexual misconduct.”

Accusations strongly denied

Ramadan has categorically denied the accusations, and filed for slander.

In a Facebook posting Saturday, he said he remained calm and had “confidence in justice.” For years, he has called for moderation, dialogue and openness, he wrote, and “these are the values we need most today.”

But these are not the reactions swirling in social media and in the press.

Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical newspaper that was targeted in a 2015 terrorist attack, has received death threats over an explicit front-page cartoon of Ramadan. Meanwhile, former prime minister Manuel Valls condemned the scholar on Twitter, saying he had “denounced the duplicity of Tariq Ramadan” for years.

Yet others suggest the allegations against Ramadan are a Zionist or Jewish plot or the manifestation of simmering racism, while a group of Muslim feminists sided with Ramadan’s alleged victims, in a statement published in Le Monde.

“There is no ‘Muslim exception’ when it comes to sexual abuse,” researcher Fatima Khemilat wrote.

Divided community

These reactions, along with yet another — of Muslim hardliners pleased by Ramadan’s predicament — “are sketching the lines of fracture in the Muslim community that will solidify in the future,” analyst Piettre predicted. “With, in the middle, all those who are distraught at what happened to Tariq Ramadan. Who believe it’s not possible, who are orphans.”

In interviews, several prominent French Muslims remained guarded, saying they were waiting for French justice to pronounce judgement first.

Bordeaux imam, Tareq Oubrou, declined an interview request citing the ongoing investigation. “The affair is of enormous gravity for the person concerned and notably for what he incarnates,” he said in a text message.

But M’hammed Henniche of UAM 93, an alliance of French Muslims in the Seine-Saint-Denis region outside Paris, said the allegations against Ramadan would harden anti-Muslim sentiment.

“Everyone who is against Tariq Ramadan will say this is proof that Islam is not a religion of peace, that it’s a barbaric religion that treats women as objects,” he said.

For his part Abdallah Zekri, a senior member of the mainstream umbrella group, the French Council for the Muslim Faith, is underwhelmed by Ramadan, but criticizes the virulent reaction.

“Tariq Ramadan is a big personality because the media made him one,” he said. “He’s never been my cup of tea. But he has not been judged or condemned, and I respect the presumption of innocence.” (VOA)

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New York terror attack: 8 dead, suspect in custody (Third Lead)

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New York, 1st November’2017: At least eight persons have been killed and 12 seriously injured in New York after a driver of a truck mowed down people on a cycle path in Lower Manhattan in US.

The attack happened on Tuesday, when the city was celebrating Halloween, one of the most festive days in the New York calendar.

The pavements were crowded with kids in costumes and there were still children trick-or-treating just yards away, the BBC reported.

The spot is also just yards away from Ground Zero, a site which reminds all New Yorkers of the 9/11 attack in 2001. It did not take police long to confirm that the city had once again been the target of terror.

Five of these victims were Argentine nationals, Efe news quoted a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Buenos Aires as saying.

The 29-year-old man who emerged from the white pick-up truck was shot by a police officer and arrested.

The media named him as Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, an Uzbek immigrant who came to the US in 2010 and settled in Florida, a CNN report said.

A note was found in the truck that referred to the Islamic State (IS), a law enforcement source told CBS News.

Around 3.05 p.m., Saipov drove a truck onto the West Side Highway bike path.

The truck entered near Houston Street. It was a rental from Home Depot, the home improvement chain said.

The driver continued down the path, hitting bicyclists and pedestrians.

Further down the path, the truck collided with a school bus at Chambers Street.

After the collision, the driver exited the truck with a pellet gun and a paintball gun. Witnesses said the suspect yelled “Allahu Akbar”, law enforcement sources told CNN.

A note found in the truck claimed the attack was carried out in the name of IS, a senior law enforcement official confirmed to CNN. The note was in English.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said it was a “cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians”.

de Blasio added: “We know that this action was intended to break our spirit. But we also know that New Yorkers are strong, New Yorkers are resilient and our spirit will never be moved by an act of violence and an act meant to intimidate us.”

US President Donald Trump tweeted: “My thoughts, condolences and prayers to the victims and families of the New York City terrorist attack. God and your country are with you!”

Former US President Barack Obama tweeted: “Michelle and I are thinking of the victims of today’s attack in NYC and everyone who keeps us safe. New Yorkers are as tough as they come.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday condemned the attack in a tweet: “Strongly condemn the terror attack in New York City. My thoughts are with the families of the deceased and prayers with those injured.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “appalled by the cowardly attack”. “My thoughts are with all affected,” she said.

“Together we will defeat the evil of terrorism” and the “UK stands with NYC”, Xinhua news agency quoted May as saying.

Five of the eight killed in the attack were identified as Argentine nationals, who were celebrating their 30th graduation anniversary at the Argentine Polytechnic School of Rosario, Efe news reported.

The statement released by the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs, identified the five as Hernan Diego Mendoza, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damian Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij and Hernan Ferruchi.

The New York authorities said that it was a lone wolf attack. It was not part of a wider conspiracy or plot, BBC reported. But this is an active crime scene at the moment. They are still trying to piece together precisely what happened.(IANS)