After NZ massacre, Muslims in Europe fear for their safety

– By Martin Banks –

New Europe (19.03.2019) – https://bit.ly/2Cqp90I– The Christchurch mosque shootings are putting a worldwide spotlight on Islamophobia.

The mass shootings on in New Zealand have left Europe’s 19-million-strong Muslim community feeling frightened and vulnerable, which has led to renewed calls for action against the rise of bigotry.

The alleged killer, an Australian man who live-streamed the massacre on Facebook, described himself as a 28-year-old claiming to represent Europeans and whites in a battle against immigrants. The ensuing killing spree that he unleashed on the innocent victims left 50 people dead and another 48 wounded.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted that the EU stood in solidarity with New Zealand and would stand against those who attack the European way of life.

“Whilst an increasing number of EU states adopt policies stigmatising Muslims and social media is infected by anti-Muslim narratives, European leaders must vaccinate their populations against the proliferation of extreme-right ideologies before it is too late,” Willy Fautre, the director of Brussels-based rights group Human Rights Without Frontiers, said while speaking with New Europe before adding, “Education and information are key instruments for that purpose. The Australian terrorist said he was inspired by mass killer Anders Behring Breiving, a far-right terrorist who killed 77 people in Norway in 2011. Far-right ideologies are the next plague against which we must watch out. Perpetrators of acts of violence or terrorism targeting religious groups or individuals must be heavily sentenced to avoid the import of inter-religious tensions and conflicts in our democratic societies.”

British anti-Muslim activist Tommy Robinson has been leading a campaign of hate for years and had a million followers on social media before being banned from Facebook and Instagram last month because he repeatedly posted material with Islamophobic hate-speech.

Belgium’s Muslim Executive, which represents the interests of the Islamic community in Belgium, has asked the authorities to provide additional security in the wake of the New Zealand attack.

“All mosques and other places of worship are definitely in need of extra protection. We have always been in full support of governmental measures to fight all forms of radicalism, racism and Islamophobia,” said Muslim Executive Chair Mehmet Üstün, adding, “Recently, we have heard a lot of racism and extremist talk.” 

Additional security measures have been introduced in France, the Netherlands and the UK, since the New Zealand attack, but not in Belgium.

Islamophobia is on the rise, based on research in eight countries, including the UK, France, and Germany. The report highlighted how hate crimes against Muslims have been tied to the rise of far-right and anti-immigration movements in several EU countries.

These sentiments have been further exacerbated by content spread in the media and a poisonous political discourse in the EU, which is becoming increasingly hostile towards Muslims in many spheres of everyday life.

In countries such as Hungary, which have served as a transit point for many asylum seekers headed for Western Europe, certain populist political parties attempt to portray Muslim as potential terrorists. Even in the UK, which has a long history of diversity and Muslim populations. has found itself the target of hatred in the wake of attacks claimed by groups connected to ISIS.

The report calls on the EU Member States, as well as their policymakers, to play a more active role in the fight against Islamophobia. European policymakers also need to give a signal that they are committed to ensuring equality and inclusion for all members of society.

“This is an issue that is poisoning our societies in the European Union and putting barriers between our communities,” said Jean Lambert, a UK Green Party MEP.

The Muslim Council of Britain is urging everyone to fight Islamophobia and the European Commission says it is taking proactive action to halt attacks on Muslims by appointing a coordinator that will look into all forms of the anti-Muslim hatred.

Last September, a toolkit was introduced by the EU to fight the rise of Islamophobia in Europe.

But anti-Islamophobia campaigners say recent examples abound of “blatant” Islamophobic violence. In Belgium, a 19-year old Muslim woman was recently attacked by two men who pulled her headscarf and her shirt off, used a sharp object to cut her body and call her a “filthy Arab”.




Denmark deports Said Mansour, deprived of citizenship, to Morocco

– By Susanna Spurgeon

– Morocco World News (05.01.2019) – Denmark has deported Said Mansour, convicted of incitement to terrorism and formerly a dual Moroccan-Danish citizen, to Morocco.

According to Danish media, Mansour arrived in Casablanca yesterday night, aboard Royal Air Maroc flight 222 from Copenhagen. Danish authorities handed him into Moroccan custody.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen tweeted that he was “very satisfied” with Mansour’s deportation: “Said Mansour has been handed over to the Moroccan authorities. A final end to a pertinent effort to carry out the Danish Supreme Court’s ruling to deport him in 2016…. It sends a clear message that criminal foreigners, who so obviously act against the Danish values and promote terrorism, do not belong in Denmark.”

Rasmussen had talked to Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita in December about Mansour’s deportation, according to Danish news outlet Horsens Folkeblad.

‘Justice has been served’

Danish immigration minister Inger Stojberg was in Morocco this week on a secret trip to make a deal with Morocco on the deportation.

In a statement today, Stojberg said, “Justice has been served.” Mansour, she said, was “one of the most fanatic Islamists who we have deported…. He was on the very top of our list.”

In an unprecedented 2015 ruling, a Danish court stripped Said Mansour of his Danish citizenship. The court had convicted Mansour of incitement to terrorism for Facebook posts praising Osama bin Laden and encouraging followers to join the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, according to Al Jazeera.

The court sentenced Mansour to four years in prison. Mansour appealed the loss of his citizenship, arguing he would face torture in Morocco.

The Danish Supreme Court in 2016 ruled against Mansour, and the Danish government has since been trying to deport him.

Stojberg today asserted the deportation deal “is completely in order concerning the obligations we have to abide by the international human rights of Said Mansour.” The remarks imply Denmark received promises from Morocco that Mansour would not be physically harmed, tortured, or executed.

On December 17, 2018, Danish tourist Louisa Vesterager Jespersen was found murdered with a Norwegian tourist near Imlil, in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. Morocco has arrested 23 suspects in the case and connected it to terrorism.

The Imlil murders may have expedited Denmark’s efforts to deport Said Mansour.

Mansour was the first Danish citizen to lose his citizenship and be deported.

In 2007, Mansour received a separate terror conviction and spent 3.5 years in prison in Denmark.

Born in Morocco, Mansour has lived in Denmark since 1983, earning citizenship in 1988. He has four children with a Danish ex-wife and grandchildren living in Denmark.

Morocco does not have an extradition agreement with Denmark. According to a Norwegian source, many Norwegian and Danish criminals come to Morocco to avoid extradition.




BELGIUM: Citizenship deprivation against dual nationals recruiting young Muslims , an efficient measure?

– By Willy Fautré, Human Rights Without Frontiers –

HRWF (27.10.2018) – On 23 October 2018, the Court of Appeal of Antwerp stripped dual national Fouad Belkacem of his Belgian citizenship, leaving the leader of Sharia4Belgium with his sole Moroccan nationality. He was accused of recruiting young Muslims as jihadists for the Islamic State. In 2015, Fouad Belkacem was sentenced to 12 years in jail and fined 300,000 euros for being the leader of a terrorist outfit. Without his Belgian nationality, Fouad Belkacem can be expelled to Morocco but he can still take the matter to the Court of Cassation where procedural issues are settled. Belgian Asylum Secretary Theo Francken has welcomed the news on social media. On Twitter he wrote: “Terrorist leader loses nationality. Excellent, but it should happen automatically in the event of a terrorism conviction.”

On 1 December 2017, the Court of Appeal in Brussels deprived two dual nationals of their Belgian citizenship. It ruled that Bilal Soughir, who had recruited in 2005 the Belgian and first Western kamikaze Muriel Degauque, would be stripped of his Belgian citizenship and would consequently only retain his Tunisian nationality. It also ruled that Malika El Aroud, a 58-year-old woman convicted of recruiting young Brussels Muslims to fight in the so-called “holy war” in Afghanistan, be stripped of her Belgian citizenship. She now only has Moroccan citizenship. In her case, the proceedings started in 2014 but took three years before the decision of the court because her solicitor had taken the case to the Constitutional Court. At the Court of Appeal, the Advocate-General said that Ms El Aroud no longer deserved Belgian citizenship as “for many years she has continually spread jihadism in our country”. Malika El Aroud, also known as the “Black Widow of the Jihad, had twice been married to Muslim extremists, both of whom died in the so-called “holy war’. She was first the wife of Dahmane Abd al-Sattar, a.k.a. Abdessatar Dahmane, one of the men who killed anti-Taliban leader Ahmad Shah Massoud two days before the September 11, 2001 attacks. Arrested in 2008 for recruiting young Muslims for Osama bin Laden, she was sentenced to 8 years in prison and fined 5,000 euro for terrorist-related offences in 2010.

Recruiting young people for the jihad in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries is a drama for their families and training them on such battlefields for subsequently perpetrating terrorist attacks in Europe constitutes a serious threat to national and human security in Belgium and other European countries. However, court procedures aiming at the deprivation of their citizenship take many years in democratic countries as there are many possibilities of legal recourse. Moreover, such a court decision can only be effective if they are immediately deported at the end of their prison term and if their country of origin accepts them…

Fouad Belkacem: Belgian Islamist leader loses citizenship

BBC (23.10.2018) – https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45951138 – Jailed Islamist Fouad Belkacem, whose group Sharia4Belgium sent dozens of jihadists to Syria, has been stripped of his Belgian citizenship and faces deportation to Morocco.

The appeal court in Antwerp ruled that he had fallen seriously short of his duties as a citizen.

Belkacem was jailed in 2015 for leading a terror group, many of whose recruits joined jihadist group Islamic State.

More Belgians per capita went to fight in Syria than from any other EU state.

Some of those who returned to Europe were involved in the Paris attacks in 2015 and the Brussels bombings of March 2016.

Belkacem’s Sharia4Belgium originated in Antwerp, recruiting the first Belgian fighters before it was disbanded.

It took its inspiration from Islam4UK, a group once led by Anjem Choudary, a radical preacher who was released from a British jail on 19 October. During Belkacem’s 2015 trial it emerged that he had co-founded Sharia4Belgium shortly after spending time at a London mosque.

Another group known as the Zerkani network recruited jihadists, such as Paris attacker Abdelhamid Abaaoud and Brussels bomber Najim Laachraoui, from the Molenbeek area of Brussels.

After he was given a 12-year jail term, Belgian officials began work on removing his citizenship. As a dual national he retains Moroccan citizenship.

Belgian Migration Minister Theo Francken praised the decision to strip Belkacem of his Belgian nationality, but added that such a move should be automatic after any terrorism conviction.

Removing citizenship from jihadists with dual nationality remains controversial. France announced plans to introduce the policy after the November 2015 attacks but dropped them the following year.

Belkacem is not the first Belgian linked to terror to lose his nationality. Malika el-Aroud was stripped of her citizenship last year for leading an al-Qaeda linked group.

He can still appeal against the decision to Belgium’s court of last resort, the court of cassation, or to the European Court of Justice.

His lawyer, Liliane Verjauw, said he no longer had any connection to Morocco and considered himself Belgian.

“His family has been here for 50 years, over three generations. His Belgian nationality is part of his identity,” she said.




European Parliament: HRWF debate on child marriage on EU REPORTER TV

– Watch the video here:  https://youtu.be/wgOK0_XA6Vg

Panelists

Elisa Van Ruiten, a Gender Specialist at Human Rights Without Frontiers International;
Mohinder Watson, a researcher and activist against child marriage, who escaped a forced marriage of her own as a teenager;
Emilio Puccio, the Coordinator of the European Parliament Intergroup on Children’s Rights, which is a cross-party and cross-national group comprising over 90 MEPs and 25 child-focused organizations.

The presenter was EU Reporter’s Jim Gibbons.

“Every day somewhere in the world, 39,000 young girls are married before they reach the age of majority; more than a third of them are younger than 15, according to the Council of Europe. We may be well into the 21st century but too many girls are still forced to live in a bygone age of male dominance. Human Rights Without Frontiers has just produced a report on women’s rights and the Abrahamic faiths o Christianity, Islam and Judaism.”

EU Reporter – https://bit.ly/2CTvNPh

Next Programme about North Korea (November) –

IF YOU WANT TO BE A PARTNER OF HUMAN RIGHTS WITHOUT FRONTIERS IN AN EU REPORTER TV PROGRAM OF YOUR CHOICE, SEND AN EMAIL TO

w.fautre@hrwf.org




Human Rights Without Frontiers: 30 years of fighting totalitarianism

EU Today (18.07.2018) – https://bit.ly/2uCzliW – On 20 June, Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF) held a reception in Brussels to celebrate its 30 years of existence. Dozens of partners, collaborators, former staff, and volunteers who had contributed to its growth over the last three decades were in attendance, writes Willy Fautré, founder and executive director of Human Rights Without Frontiers.

In 1988, the year which marked of the 40th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a group of Brussels-based human rights activists launched HRWF, with a lot of faith and no funding. At that time, there were no mobile telephones, internet, or social media… It was another world. One of the initial main objectives of the organisation was to highlight political and religious persecution in European Communist countries and to help human rights defenders in the Soviet Bloc.

In June 1988, they published the first issue of a magazine in French named “Droits de l’Homme sans Frontières”. At that time, Western Europe was under constant threat of Soviet nuclear attack. Unsurprisingly, the first magazine issue covered a summit between Reagan and Gorbatchev in Moscow. On that occasion, Reagan had invited 100 Soviet dissidents to the US embassy in the Soviet capital, an unthinkable move after 70 years of communism in the USSR. Also unthinkable at that time was the idea that 18 months later the Iron Curtain would unexpectedly fall and Communist totalitarianism would collapse.

In subsequent issues, the magazine dealt with the apartheid regime in South Africa, Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the genocide in Rwanda, religious persecution in China, and many other human rights issues around the world.

Throughout its 30 years of existence, HRWF has adapted itself to a fast-changing world, to the expansion of the European Union, and to the development of new communication technologies. HRWF now distributes a well-known daily newsletters to more than 10,000 recipients, which serves as an early alert tool meant to sensitize members of the European Parliament, EU member states, think tanks, journalists, and embassies in Brussels, Geneva, New York and Washington to pressing human rights news. HRWF organizes conferences at the European Parliament and regularly advocates human rights in academic seminars, at the UN in Geneva, and at the OSCE.

In the 21st century, the world is now facing new threats, new forms of warfare, and new forms of totalitarianism. One of them is Islamic totalitarianism, an ideology that first wants to radically change the existing nature of Muslim-majority states into some form of a theocratic regime dominated by a radical and retrograde form of Islam. This ideology seeks to change the structures of pluralistic civil societies into societies to be ruled with an iron hand by one religious worldview imported from the Arabic peninsula.

Islamic totalitarianism wants daily life and the behaviours of each individual to be dominated by one religious worldview, as did the late Communist ideology with the political philosophy of Marx and Engels.

Islamic totalitarianism, mainly but not exclusively embodied by ISIS, is a political ideology which instrumentalises the Quran to create an alternative and challenging system of political governance. It is definitely not a religion. Its siren song divides and fragments Muslim communities around the world, and the primary ‘collateral victims’ of its fight for power are Muslims themselves, who in many countries adhere to a historically peaceful Islam. Christians in Muslim-majority countries are a second category of ‘collateral victims’. EU member states are also targeted, suffering from terrorist attacks and the radicalization of young Muslims.

The Islamic totalitarian virus spreads gender segregation and discrimination, the division of society into new social castes, hate speech, anti-Semitism, and many other ‘social diseases’. It is infecting the software of the ummah and is trying to infect humankind. Antidotes need to be administered and vaccinations have to be discovered, a challenge to the political researchers and engineers of the defense and security of the EU and of human rights.

Combating Islamic totalitarianism with ideas, with words and in practice is not only legitimate but it is obligatory, it is a duty for the EU and human rights organizations for it is a fight for human dignity, equality, and human rights for all.

By Willy Fautré, founder and executive director of Human Rights Without Frontiers

This article was published in EU Today under the unfortunate title “EU member states targeted by radicalization of young Muslims”




Countering extremism in Indonesia and beyond

Religious Freedom Institute (https://bit.ly/2KP2a1O) – Between May 8 and May 14, 2018 Indonesia was hit by a wave of ISIS terrorist attacks, including bombings carried out by families–fathers, mothers, and children together. The principal targets were churches and police stations, including the headquarters of the paramilitary Police Mobile Brigade (which is also where Ahok, the former Governor of Jakarta and a Christian, is serving a sentence for blasphemy). In the wave of attacks, thirteen terrorists and fourteen others were killed, and more than 40 were injured.

The Indonesian government’s security forces responded strongly. There were some early arrests and then, on May 31, in a series of raids, anti-terrorist squads arrested 41 terror suspects and killed 4 others. These raids came less than a week after the May 25 passage of a new anti-terrorism law that criminalized overseas terror attacks and allowed for longer detention of suspects. The bill had been languishing in parliament for two years amid controversies over how strict it should be and how to define terrorism, but this the wave of deadly suicide attacks persuaded lawmakers the bill should be passed.

But a much more low-key event may signal broader changes in how Indonesia is approaching its effort to combat extremism.

On May 31, Indonesian President Joko Widodo appointed Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf (Pak Yahya) as a member of the Presidential Advisory Council. Pak Yahya is from one of Indonesia’s most distinguished Muslim families, is the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the world’s largest Muslim organization, and is the head of Gerkan Pemuda Ansor (ANSOR), NU’s young-adult wing, which has some 5 million members. He is also among the Muslim world’s most incisive and outspoken reformers.

NU has long been engaged in ideological combat with Islamist extremism. In May 2017, Ansor called together more than 300 international religious scholars to consider the “obsolete tenets of classical Islamic law” that call for “perpetual conflict with those who do not embrace or submit to Islam.” This gathering issued the Ansor “Declaration on Humanitarian Islam,” that built on the May 16, 2016, NU-hosted International Summit of Moderate Islamic Leaders (ISOMIL).

The “Declaration on Humanitarian Islam,” is far more self-critical than declarations that have come from the Middle East. It argues that there are elements within classical Islam that are problematic and need to be changed. At the press conference announcing the Declaration, Ansor Chairman Yaqut Qoumas stated “It is false and counterproductive to claim that the actions of al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram and other such groups have nothing to do with Islam, or merely represent a perversion of Islamic teachings. They are, in fact, outgrowths of Wahhabism and other fundamentalist streams of Sunni Islam.”

Pak Yahya reemphasized these themes and expressed them in an even more radical fashion in a July 18, 2017, address to the Council of the European Union Terrorism Working Party, many of whose members would have accused the speaker of Islamophobia if he had been anyone else. He stressed:

“Western politicians should stop pretending that extremism and terrorism have nothing to do with Islam. There is a clear relationship between fundamentalism, terrorism, and the basic assumptions of Islamic orthodoxy. So long as we lack consensus regarding this matter, we cannot gain victory over fundamentalist violence within Islam.”

“Within the classical tradition, the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims is assumed to be one of segregation and enmity.”

“Why, no matter how many [terrorists] we kill or put in jail, new recruits are always coming to join them? Here is the fact: the problem lies within Islam itself. Jihadist doctrine, goals and strategy can be readily traced to specific elements of orthodox, authoritative Islam and its historic practice, including those portions of fiqh-classical Islamic law or shari‘ah-that enjoin Islamic supremacy.”

While NU as a whole has not endorsed the “Declaration on Humanitarian Islam,” Pak Yahya told me they are discussing it and he has suffered little criticism for his statements. The arguments that he and Ansor are making are radical, and crucial in the battle with extremism. And they are gaining increasing attention in Indonesia and around the world.

On May 17, 2018, Pak Yahya met with Vice President Pence for the second time. And the fact that Indonesian President Jokowi has now appointed him to his Advisory Council sends a strong signal about Jokowi’s own attitudes.
________________________________________
Paul Marshall is Wilson Professor of Religious Freedom at Baylor University, Senior Fellow of the Religious Freedom Institute and member of the South and Southeast Asia (SSEA) Action Team, and Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom