2017-04-18 14:19:03 UTC
by Soeren Kern
April 18, 2017 at 5:00 am
Yussuf K. said he carried out the January 2016 attack "in the name of Allah
and the Islamic State." He added that he chose his victim because "he was
A confidential police report revealed that more than 50 organizations in
Molenbeek, a migrant-dominated neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium, are
believed to have ties to jihadist terrorism.
An Ipsos poll for France Television and Radio France found that 61% of the
French believe that Islam is incompatible with French society.
March 2. In a landmark trial at the Paris Children's Court, a 17-year-old
Turkish jihadist, identified only as Yussuf K., was sentenced to seven years
in prison for attacking Benjamin Amsellem, a Jewish teacher in Marseille,
with a machete. Yussuf K. said he carried out the January 2016 attack "in
the name of Allah and the Islamic State." He added that he chose his victim
because "he was Jewish." Yussuf K. was charged with "an individual terrorist
attempt and attempted assassination in connection with a terrorist
enterprise," with the aggravating circumstance of anti-Semitism. He was
tried as a minor because he was 15 when he carried out the attack. The
criminal trial of a minor on terror charges was the first of its kind in
France, where some fifty children are currently being investigated for
March 2. The European Parliament voted to lift the immunity from prosecution
for National Front leader Marine Le Pen for tweeting images of Islamic State
violence. Under French law, publishing violent images can be punished by up
to three years in prison and a fine of €75,000 euros ($79,000). Le Pen, a
leading candidate in this year's French presidential election, posted the
images in response to a journalist who compared her party's anti-immigration
stance to the Islamic State. Le Pen denounced the legal proceedings against
her as political interference in the campaign and called for a moratorium on
judicial investigations until the election period has passed.
March 4. The mayor of the French port of Calais, Natacha Bouchart, signed a
decree prohibiting aid groups from distributing meals to migrants and
refugees at the site of the former "Jungle" migrant camp. The decree said
food distribution by charities had led to large numbers of people gathering
at the site of the now-closed camp, with fights breaking out and risks posed
to the safety of local residents.
March 6. President François Hollande vowed to "do everything in his power"
to prevent Marine Le Pen from winning the upcoming presidential election in
France. Polls have suggested that Le Pen, leader of the National Front
party, may win the first round of France's election on April 23. Le Pen, who
has campaigned on an anti-immigration platform, has also vowed to hold a
referendum on France's membership of the European Union. Hollande, who
decided not to run for a second term, said it was his "ultimate duty to do
everything to ensure that France is not convinced by such a plan" to take
France out of the EU.
March 7. The 17th Criminal Tribunal of Paris acquitted the Moroccan-born
French-Jewish scholar Georges Bensoussan of hate speech charges. The
Collective against Islamophobia in France (Collectif Contre l'Islamophobie
en France, CCIF) filed a lawsuit against Bensoussan, 64, for "public
incitement to discrimination, hatred and violence against a group of people
because of their religious affiliation" because of remarks he made on Radio
France about Muslim anti-Semitism. He said:
"There will be no integration until we get rid of this atavistic
anti-Semitism that is kept secret. It so happens that an Algerian
sociologist, Smain Laacher, with great courage said that 'it is a disgrace
to maintain this taboo, namely that in Arab families in France and elsewhere
everyone knows that anti-Semitism is spread with the mother's milk.'"
In its ruling, the court said the plaintiffs failed to prove the charges of
hate speech: "Bensoussan cannot be blamed to have aroused or wished to
arouse a feeling of hostility or rejection against a group of persons and,
even less, to have explicitly called for specific acts against the group."
The judges added that the expression "anti-Semitism, it is sucked with the
mother's milk" is a figure of speech, not the expression of "biological
March 12. Mohammad Khan Wazir, a 30-year-old migrant from Afghanistan, was
sentenced by the Criminal Court of Grasse (Alpes-Maritimes) to 18 months in
prison for threatening to assassinate the city's judges. Wazir was visiting
his three-year-old son, named Djihad (the French word for "jihad"), whom
judges placed under state care in Grasse, when he allegedly said that he
wanted to "go to court with a Kalashnikov to kill them all." After Wazir
left Afghanistan in 2007, he met a French woman named Claire Khacer. The
couple separated after the birth of their child in 2013. Khacer, who is
pregnant with the child of an Islamic State jihadist, was arrested after
returning to France from Syria. She is being held on charges of conspiring
to join a terrorist enterprise. In court, Wazir admitted to threatening the
judges. He said was he was "overwhelmed" by the slow pace of the French
bureaucracy. His French-born son still does not have a French passport.
March 13. Sonia Imloul, a 43-year-old activist and the former head of a
deradicalization program, was found guilty by the Paris Criminal Court of
embezzling and laundering public funds. She was accused of misusing the
€60,000 ($65,000) which the French Interior Ministry gave her association,
the House of Prevention and the Families (Maison de la prévention et de la
familles), for the purpose of discouraging French Muslims from going to Iraq
and Syria. She received a four-month suspended prison sentence and was
ordered to pay €25,000. The conviction, which came after Julien Revial, a
student employed by Imloul, wrote a book exposing her scam, has highlighted
the failure of the French government's deradicalization efforts.
March 15. Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux said that French security forces
would begin dismantling the Grande-Synthe migrant camp on the northern coast
near the port of Dunkirk "as soon as possible" after violent clashes at the
site. The number of people at the camp has swelled to 1,500 since the
destruction of the "Jungle" camp near Calais, about 40 kilometres (25 miles)
away. The Grande-Synthe camp, populated mostly by Kurds, was built to house
migrants and refugees who otherwise sleep in tents or makeshift shelters.
They gather along the northern coast of France trying to break into trucks
heading to Britain or trying to pay smugglers to help them get across the
March 16. An Ifop poll found that 71% of French people believe the security
situation in France has deteriorated during the past five years; 93% believe
the terrorist threat remains high; 60% said they do not feel safe anywhere
in the country; and 69% believe there are not enough police and gendarmes.
The poll also found that 88% support deporting foreigners convicted of
serious crimes, and 81% support terminating social assistance to parents of
March 17. A 30-year-old Muslim man yelling "Allahu Akhbar" slit the throats
of his father and brother in the courtyard of their apartment building in
Paris. Police said the dead men were found lying on the ground in pools of
blood. Neighbors said the suspect had recently become radicalized and that
his family was not happy about it. Police quickly dismissed terrorism as a
motive for the crime; instead, they focused on "double intrafamilial
homicide" in the context of "radicalization." The suspect was arrested and
transferred to a psychiatric ward.
March 17. Presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the Left
Party, proposed a solution to the debate over sharia-compliant meals in
French schools. He said that vegetarian menus without meat in school
canteens would answer both religious and ecological questions:
"You do not have meat, you can do without it. There's no need to eat meat
all the time. When I was a kid, a lot of my friends were not eating pork
because of their religion. We have to find a way that makes it possible for
everyone to live well together. So, I would like to have vegetarian menus,
menus without meat. There are other sources of protein besides meat. When
you're at school, if there's a problem, go smile, vegetarian menus for
March 18. Ziyed Ben Belgacem, a 39-year-old French national of Tunisian
origin, was shot dead at Paris Orly airport, the second-busiest airport in
France, after grabbing a soldier's gun, and apparently intending to open
fire on passengers. He shouted: "Put down your guns. Put your hands on your
head. I am here to die for Allah. In any case, there will be deaths." Police
said that Belgacem, who was born in Paris, was a "radicalized Muslim" who
was known to the intelligence services. He was a career criminal with a long
history of violence, robbery and drug offenses but despite his being
investigated as a potential jihadist, Belgacem did not have an "S" file
(Fiche "S" or Sûreté de l'État (state security), which flags individuals
suspected of belonging to terrorist groups).
March 20. A confidential police report revealed that more than 50
organizations in Molenbeek, a migrant-dominated neighborhood of Brussels,
Belgium, are believed to have ties to jihadist terrorism. More than 70
individuals are currently being monitored for suspected connections to
jihadism. Most (46) reside in Belgium, while 26 are thought to be in Syria.
Twenty people on the list are currently in prison. Counter-terrorism police
have visited 8,603 homes and monitored 22,668 residents in Molenbeek, or one
quarter of all of its inhabitants.
March 20. French Muslims between the ages of 14 and 16 are far more likely
than non-Muslims to hold to "religious absolutism" and be "tolerant of
taking violent action for ideological reasons" than non-Muslims, according
to a survey of radicalism among French high school students. The study,
carried out by the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), showed
that "the dissemination of radical ideas in religious matters is
approximately three times stronger among young Muslims than in the sample as
a whole" and especially among boys (two times more often than girls). Nearly
one-third (32%) of Muslim youth believe it is "acceptable in some cases to
fight arms for their religion in today's society" compared to 8% of young
people in general.
March 22. An Ipsos poll for France Television and Radio France found that
61% of the French believe that Islam is incompatible with French society,
compared to 17% who believe the same is true for Judaism and 6% for
Catholicism. Most respondents strongly endorsed proposals regulating Islam
in the private sphere: 79% favor banning the veil in universities and 77%
prohibiting the burkini in public spaces. An extremely large majority of the
French (90%) believe that secularism is an essential value of the Republic,
and 74% think it is threatened today (92% of Marine Le Pen's supporters feel
this way). A majority of the French (60%) believe that the cohabitation
between different religions does not happen well in France (85% of Marine Le
Pen's supporters feel this way).
March 22. In an interview with De Morgen to mark the first anniversary of
the jihadist attacks in Brussels, Mayor Yvan Mayeur warned: "Everyone knows
that all mosques in Brussels are in the hands of Salafists. We need to
change this, we need new mosques that follow our democratic rules and that
are being controlled by the government." Salafists say they want to replace
Western democracy with an Islamic government based on Sharia law.
The Collective against Islamophobia in Belgium (CTIB) condemned the mayor's
remarks: "Those statements are very serious, manifestly incorrect and
totally unacceptable from the mouth of a political representative of a
cosmopolitan city such as Brussels."
Mayeur later called for a "mosque planting strategy" based on the "church
plant model." This would give the government more control over what is
preached inside the mosques. In an interview with the French-speaking RTBF
radio, he said:
"I want a moderate Islam in Brussels. I have regular contact with two groups
of people who want to build a mosque and who want to follow the standards in
exchange for government support. I suggest that the government participates
in the financing and control, a bit along the lines of the model of the
March 25. French anti-terrorism judges charged two men suspected of
involvement in supplying a weapon to the gunman killed at Paris's Orly
airport on March 18 after seizing the weapon of a soldier. The suspects,
aged 30 and 43, were charged for "association with terrorist criminals."
March 29. Flanders, one of three official regions of Belgium, announced that
it will impose new restrictions on the ritual slaughter of animals. As of
January 1, 2019, all sheep will have to be stunned before they are
slaughtered. The restrictions, which will eventually also apply to cattle,
have been criticized by Muslim and Jewish groups as conflicting with their
March 30. The French Council of the Muslim Faith (Conseil français du culte
musulman, CFCM), the official interlocutor between the French state and the
country's Muslim community, in a bid to curb radical Islam, published a
12-point charter regarding the role of imams in society. The document, which
all practicing imams will be encouraged to sign, recognizes the values of
the French Republic and promotes tolerant Islam. The charter has been
rejected by some of the biggest Muslim organizations in France, including
the Grand Mosque of Paris and the Union of French Islamic Organizations
March 31. Up to a thousand Muslims rolled out rugs and prayed on the streets
of Clichy, a northern suburb of Paris, to protest the closure of a mosque on
rue Estienne-d'Orves. The mosque was shuttered after its lease expired and
the municipality voted to turn the building into a library. Up to 5,000
worshippers prayed at the facility every day. City officials say that
Muslims can worship at a new mosque that was inaugurated in May 2016.
Muslims say the alternative facility is too small and remote.
Up to a thousand Muslims prayed on the streets of Clichy, a suburb of Paris,
on March 31, to protest the closure of a local mosque; its lease had
expired. (Image source: LDC News video screenshot)
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.
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