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France passes anti-radicalism bill that worries Muslims

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Paris: Lawmakers overwhelmingly approved on Tuesday a bill that would strengthen oversight of mosques, schools and sports clubs to safeguard France from radical Islamists and ensure respect for French values — one of President Emmanuel Macron’s landmark projects.

The vote in the lower house was the first critical hurdle for the legislation that has been long in the making after two weeks of intense debate. The bill passed 347 to 151 with 65 abstentions.

The wide-ranging bill that covers most aspects of French life has been hotly contested by some Muslims, lawmakers and others who fear the state is intruding on essential freedoms and pointing a finger at Islam, the nation’s No. 2 religion. But it breezed through a chamber in which Macron’s centrist party has a majority.

The legislation gained added urgency after a teacher was beheaded in October followed by a deadly attack on a basilica in Nice. The bill known as Art. 18 is known as the ’’Paty law,” named after Samuel Paty, the teacher beheaded outside his school west of Paris. The legislation makes it a crime to endanger the life of a person by providing details of their private life and location. Paty was slain after information about his school was posted in a video.

The bill bolsters other French efforts to fight extremism, mainly security-based.
Detractors say the measures are already covered in current laws and voice suspicions the bill has a hidden agenda by a government looking to entice right-wing voters ahead of presidential elections next year.

Just days before Tuesday’s vote, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin – the bill’s main sponsor – accused far-right leader Marine le Pen during nationally televised debate of being “soft” on radical Islam and that she needed to take vitamins.
The remark intended to underscore that the ruling party is tougher than the far-right in tackling radical Islamists. But Le Pen criticizes the bill as too weak and has offered what she called her own, tougher counter-proposal. Le Pen, who has declared her candidacy for the 2022 election, lost in the 2017 runoff against Macron.

The bill — which mentions neither Muslims nor Islam by name — is backed by those who see the need to contain what the government says is an encroaching fundamentalism subverting French values, notably the nation’s foundational value of secularism and gender equality.

The planned law “supporting respect for the principles of the Republic” is dubbed the “separatism” bill, a term used by Macron to refer to radicals who would create a “counter society” in France.

Top representatives of all religions were consulted as the text was being written. The government’s leading Muslim conduit, the French Council for the Muslim Faith, gave its backing.

Ghaleb Bencheikh, head of the Foundation for Islam of France, a secular body seeking a progressive Islam, said in a recent interview that the planned law was “unjust but necessary” to fight radicalization.

Among other things, the 51-article bill would ban virginity certificates and crack down on polygamy and forced marriage, practices not formally attached to a religion. Critics say these provisions are already covered in existing laws.

Among key measures is ensuring that children attend regular school starting at age three, a way to target home schools where ideology is taught. Other measures include training all public employees in secularism. Anyone who threatens a public employee risks a prison sentence. In another reference to Paty, the slain teacher, the bill obligates the bosses of a public employee who has been threatened to take action if the the employee agrees.

The bill introduces mechanisms to guarantee that mosques and associations that run them are not under the sway of foreign interests or homegrown Salafists with a rigorous interpretation of Islam.

Associations are to sign a charter of respect for French values and pay back state funds if they cross the line.

To accommodate changes, the bill adjusts France’s 1905 law guaranteeing separation of church and state.

Some Muslims said the sensed a climate of suspicion.

“There’s confusion … A Muslim is a Muslim and that’s all,” said Bahri Ayari, a taxi driver, after worshipping at mid-day prayers at the Grand Mosque of Paris. “We talk about radicals, about I don’t know what. A Muslim is a Muslim and that’s all.” As for convicted radicals, he said, their crimes “get put on the back of Islam. That’s not what a Muslim is.”
Sources:deccanchronicle

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2024 റിപ്പബ്ലിക്കന്‍ പ്രസിഡന്റ് സ്ഥാനാര്‍ത്ഥി ട്രമ്പായിരിക്കുമെന്ന് മിറ്റ്‌റോംനി

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യുട്ട: 2024 ലെ പ്രസിഡന്റ് തിരഞ്ഞെടുപ്പില്‍ ട്രമ്പ് മത്സരിക്കുന്നതിന് തീരുമാനിച്ചാല്‍ റിപ്പബ്ലിക്കന്‍ സ്ഥാനാര്‍ത്ഥിത്വം ട്രമ്പിനു തന്നെയായിരിക്കുമെന്ന് യുട്ടയില്‍ നിന്നുള്ള സെനറ്റര്‍ മിറ്റ് റോംമ്‌നി. ട്രമ്പിന്റെ വിമര്‍ശകനായ റോംനിയുടെ പ്രവചനം അക്ഷരാര്‍ത്ഥത്തില്‍ റിപ്പബ്ലിക്കന്‍ പാര്‍ട്ടിയെപോലും ഞെട്ടിച്ചിരിക്കുകയാണ്. അടുത്ത നാലുവര്‍ഷം ട്രമ്പ് റിപ്പബ്ലിക്കന്‍ പാര്‍ട്ടിയില്‍ സുപ്രധാന പങ്കു വഹിക്കുമെന്നും അദ്ദേഹം കൂട്ടിച്ചേര്‍ത്തു.

ഫെബ്രുവരി 23 ചൊവ്വാഴ്ച ന്യൂയോര്‍ക്ക് ടൈംസ്ഡീന്‍ബുക്ക് വെര്‍ച്വല്‍ അഭിമുഖത്തിലാണ് മീററ് റോംനി തന്റെ അഭിപ്രായം അസന്നിഗ്ദമായി രേഖപ്പെടുത്തിയത്.
2024 ലെ തിരഞ്ഞെടുപ്പില്‍ ട്രമ്പ് മത്സരിക്കുമോ എന്നെനിക്കറിയില്ല. മത്സരിക്കാന്‍ തീരുമാനിച്ചാല്‍ അദ്ദേഹമായിരിക്കും റിപ്പബ്ലിക്കന്‍ സ്ഥാനാര്‍ത്ഥിയെന്ന് നിസംശയമായി രേഖപ്പെടുത്തിയത്.

2020- 2024 വര്‍ഷങ്ങളില്‍ എന്തുസംഭവിക്കുമെന്നും എനിക്കറിയില്ല. എന്നാല്‍ ട്രമ്പിനെ പിന്തുണക്കുന്ന വലിയൊരു വിഭാഗം ആളുകള്‍ ഇന്നും റിപ്പബ്ലിക്കന്‍ പാര്‍ട്ടിയിലുണ്ടെന്നത് പരമാര്‍ത്ഥമെന്നും അദ്ദേഹം കൂട്ടിചേര്‍ത്തു.

ട്രമ്പിന്റെ കടുത്ത എതിരാളിയും, ട്രമ്പിന്റെ ആദ്യ ഇംപീച്ച്‌മെന്റ് ട്രയലില്‍ ട്രമ്പ് കുറ്റക്കാരനാണെന്ന് വാദിച്ച ഡമോക്രാറ്റില്‍ പാര്‍ട്ടിക്കൊപ്പം വോട്ടുചെയ്ത ഏക റിപ്പബ്ലിക്കന്‍ സെനറ്ററുമാണ് മിറ്റ് റോംനി. രണ്ടാമത് ഇംപീച്ച്‌മെന്റ് ട്രയലില്‍ വീണ്ടും മിറ്റ് റോംനി ട്രമ്പിനെതിരെ വോട്ടു ചെയ്‌തെങ്കിലും മറ്റ് ആറ് റിപ്പബ്ലിക്കന്‍ സെനറ്റര്‍മാര്‍ കൂടി റോംനിക്കൊപ്പം ചേര്‍ന്നിരുന്നു റിപ്പബ്ലിക്കന്‍ പാര്‍ട്ടിയിലെ മുതിര്‍ന്ന നേതാക്കള്‍ ഇതിനകം തന്നെ ട്രമ്പിനെതിരെയുള്ള വിമര്‍ശനകള്‍ക്ക് മയം വരുത്തിയിരുന്നു.
Source:Nerkazhcha

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Nigerian Authorities Searching For 317 Schoolgirls Kidnapped By ‘Armed Bandits’

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Nigerian authorities are searching for hundreds of schoolgirls who were kidnapped by gunmen in a raid early Friday morning, according to police in the northwestern state of Zamfara.

Police Commissioner Abutu Yaro told reporters that 317 girls had been kidnapped from Government Girls Science Secondary School in the town of Jangebe, according to its principal. He said that efforts to trace the kidnappers and retrieve the students are underway and that authorities were looking into information that they had been moved to neighboring forests.

“All of us are angry, and all of us are sad,” he said. “Despite that we need to have a coordinated response in order to [save lives] and bring the children back home.”

Yaro emphasized the importance of exercising caution and care, and urged people to remain calm. According to local media reports, scores of residents incensed by the abduction stormed the streets of Jangebe, creating roadblocks and using sticks and stones to attack vehicles carrying journalists to the school. A cameraman was injured in the process.

Citing a police spokesperson, Nigerian newspaper Punch reported that Zamfara State Police Command is working with the military to conduct joint search and rescue operations for the students, who he said were kidnapped by “armed bandits.”

An unnamed school staff member told the newspaper that the gunmen — some wearing uniforms and pretending to be security personnel — arrived at the school with pickup trucks and motorcycles around 1 a.m. on Friday then “broke into the students’ hostels” and “forcefully evacuated” them.

“When they came into the school, we thought they were security personnel, but to our utmost fear and dismay, they started putting the girls into Hilux vehicles and motorcycles then drove out of the school,” the staff member said.

The armed kidnappers fired sporadically during the raid, Zamfara’s information minister told Reuters.

It’s the latest in a string of abductions in northern Nigeria and comes just over a week after gunmen kidnapped 42 people at a boarding school in the north-central state of Niger in an attack that left one student dead. In December, the northwestern state of Katsina saw two mass kidnappings eight days apart.

In a statement issued Friday condemning the attack, UNICEF’s Nigeria representative Peter Hawkins acknowledged the Nigerian government’s efforts to secure the kidnapped students’ release and called on it “and all concerned” to make schools safer.

“This is a gross violation of children’s rights and a horrific experience for children to go through — one which could have long-lasting effects on their mental health and well-being,” he said.

Amnesty International called the abduction a “serious violation of international humanitarian law” that undermines the right to education for thousands of students in the region. It said the abducted students are at “serious risk of being harmed” and called on authorities to take all measures to ensure the girls’ safe return, along with that of all students still in the custody of armed groups.

Most notoriously, some 100 of the more than 270 schoolgirls abducted by militant Islamist group Boko Haram in 2014 are still missing.

“Education is under attack in northern Nigeria,” Amnesty International tweeted. “Schools should be places of safety, and no child should have to choose between their education and their life. Other children have had to abandon their education after being displaced by frequent violent attacks on their communities.”

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