Only 367 Muslim Women In France Wear Full Veil – Report

July 29, 2009

Filed at 3:47 p.m. ET –

PARIS (Reuters) – Only 367 women in France wear Islamic veils that cover their faces and bodies, a newspaper reported on Wednesday, undermining the position of politicians who are pushing for a ban on the garments.

A panel of legislators is studying the issue of whether the number of women wearing such veils is on the rise and why. The panel is expected to say in coming months whether it backs a ban on the veils in public places, as advocated by some politicians.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has stopped short of backing a ban, but has said the veils were “not welcome” in France.

The influential newspaper Le Monde said that in light of the tiny number of women concerned, the idea of a ban should be dropped.

“Do we need to legislate for fewer than 400 people, legislate for an exception? … Given the risks, including the stigmatisation of Islam … the answer is no,” it said in an editorial.

In France, there is near unanimity against veils that hide a woman’s face. These are seen as a violation of women’s rights, often imposed by fundamentalist men.

However, there are strong disagreements about whether it would be wise or helpful to legislate against the garments.

Le Monde said it had seen reports by two separate domestic intelligence agencies that both found only a tiny minority of Muslim women wore such veils. One of the reports gave a figure: 367 women in the whole country.

France has Europe’s biggest Muslim community, estimated at 5 million. Continue reading

Alleged `jihadist’ known as friendly store owner

FILE –These undated file photos provided by the City County Bureau of Identification in Wake County, N.C., show from left: Daniel Patrick Boyd, Hysen Sherifi, Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan and Ziyad Yaghi. Authorities claim the group, including 3 others and an eighth suspect believed to be in Pakistan, were gearing up for a “violent jihad,” though prosecutors haven’t detailed any specific targets or timeframe. If convicted, the men could face life in prison. (AP Photo/City County Bureau of Identification/file)

Alleged `jihadist’ known as friendly store owner

By MIKE BAKER and ALLEN G. BREED (AP) – 5 hours ago

RALEIGH, N.C. — When someone in the Raleigh area needed a sheep or goat slaughtered according to Islamic law, Daniel Boyd was the man to see.

“You find everything from halal meat and snacks to soft back prints of the Holy Quran in both English and Arabic,” read a notice on the Web for Boyd’s Blackstone Market in nearby Garner. There was even a place to worship in the back.

Bosnian native Jasmin Smajic said he was drawn to the store by the halal goods. Instead he found a friend.

“He would always ask people, his friends, if he can do a service for you,” says Smajic, 23, a student at North Carolina State University. “He would basically ask people if they needed any kind of help with anything … whether that be advice, whether you’re struggling with money, need your faucet fixed — whatever it is. He was always very helpful.”

So, like many hereabouts, Smajic was shocked this week when federal officials accused Boyd of wanting to go abroad and slaughter in the name of Islam.

A federal indictment unsealed this week says Boyd, 39, is a radicalized Muslim convert who went by the nickname Saifullah — “Sword of God” — and was putting together a team of extremists to wage “violent jihad” overseas. He was arrested Monday along with two of his sons — Zakariya, 20, and Dylan, 22 — and four other men.

The indictment charges that Boyd and his sons traveled to Israel in July 2007 to meet with two of the other defendants but returned home “having failed in their attempt at violent jihad.” Continue reading

Wife Defends Husband and Sons Charged in Terror Plot

July 30, 2009

RALEIGH, N.C. — The wife of Daniel P. Boyd, one of seven men charged by federal authorities with supporting violent jihadist movements overseas, said in interviews released Wednesday that he and two of their sons, who were also charged, are innocent of the government’s accusations.

She was also sharply critical of how federal agents treated her on Monday during the arrests.

Mr. Boyd has been described as the ringleader of the men arrested on Monday. An eighth man is still at large.

A federal law enforcement official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the pending prosecution, confirmed that the eighth man is Jude Kenan Mohammad, a 20-year-old American citizen from Raleigh. Mr. Mohammad is thought to be in Pakistan.

Also on Wednesday, a judge postponed detention hearings for the seven men until Aug. 4 to give defense lawyers more time to prepare. The hearings had been scheduled for Thursday.

The public defender’s office is representing Mr. Boyd; the others will have court-appointed lawyers.

In interviews with The Raleigh News and Observer and CNN, Mr. Boyd’s wife, Sabrina Boyd, rebutted several specific accusations, including that Mr. Boyd and his sons went to Israel to connect with Palestinian militants. Ms. Boyd said they were on a pilgrimage to see Islamic holy sites and immerse themselves in Arabic culture.

A neighbor, Susan Bedwell, said the reasons Ms. Boyd gave for her husband’s trips abroad were the same reasons she had given when the trips took place.

Ms. Boyd described Monday’s raid in detail. She said a man had come to the door wearing a shirt that appeared bloodied and told her that her husband and three of her sons had been in a serious car crash.

She went with the man to a nearby hospital, where another man dressed as a doctor came and out and asked if she was Ms. Boyd. He then handcuffed her, she said, and told her that he was an agent and that Mr. Boyd and two of her sons were being detained. Agents surrounded her, she said, and asked if she had weapons.

The ordeal was particularly harrowing, she said, because one of her sons, Luqman, died two years ago in a car accident at the age of 16.

Spokeswomen for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorney’s Office in North Carolina’s Eastern District declined to comment on Ms. Boyd’s version of events.

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington.

Robert Fisk: Why does life in the Middle East remain rooted in the Middle Ages?

Why is the Arab world – let us speak with terrible sharpness – so backward? Why so many dictators, so few human rights, so much state security and torture, so terrible a literacy rate?

Why does this wretched place, so rich in oil, have to produce, even in the age of the computer, a population so poorly educated, so undernourished, so corrupt? Yes, I know the history of Western colonialism, the dark conspiracies of the West, the Arab argument that you cannot upset the sheikhs and the kings and the autocrats, the imams and the emirs when the “enemy is at the gates”. There is some truth to that. But not enough truth.

Once more the United Nations Development Programme has popped up with yet one more, its fifth, report that catalogues – via Arab analysts and academics, mark you – the retarded state of much of the Middle East. It talks of “the fragility of the region’s political, social, economic and environmental structures… its vulnerability to outside intervention”. But does this account for desertification, for illiteracy – especially among women – and the Arab state which, as the report admits, is often turned “into a threat to human security, instead of its chief support”?

As Arab journalist Rami Khouri stated bleakly last week: “How we tackle the underlying causes of our mediocrity and bring about real change anchored in solid citizenship, productive economies and stable statehood, remains the riddle that has defied three generations of Arabs.” Real GDP per capita in the region – one of the statistics which truly shocked Khouri – grew by only 6.4 per cent between 1980 and 2004. That’s just 0.5 per cent annually, a rate which 198 of 217 countries analysed by the CIA World Factbook bettered in 2008. Yet the Arab population – which stood at 150 million in 1980 – will reach 400 million in 2015. Continue reading

A Turning Tide in Europe as Islam Gains Ground

July 30, 2009
Books of The Times


Immigration, Islam, and the West

By Christopher Caldwell

422 pages. Doubleday. $30.

Christopher Caldwell’s “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West” is a hot book presented under a cool, scholarly title. To observe that Mr. Caldwell’s rhetoric is “hot” is not to say that it is aggrieved or unruly. On the contrary, Mr. Caldwell, a senior editor at The Weekly Standard and a columnist for The Financial Times, compiles his arguments patiently, twig by twig, and mostly with lucidity and intellectual grace and even wit.

But they are arguments one is not used to hearing put so baldly, at least from the West’s leading political journalists. Primary among them are these: Through decades of mass immigration to Europe’s hospitable cities and because of a strong disinclination to assimilate, Muslims are changing the face of Europe, perhaps decisively. These Muslim immigrants are not so much enhancing European culture as they are supplanting it. The products of an adversarial culture, these immigrants and their religion, Islam, are “patiently conquering Europe’s cities, street by street.”

Mr. Caldwell is a vivid writer, and like an action-movie hero he walks calmly away from his own detonations while fire swirls behind him. “Imagine that the West, at the height of the Cold War, had received a mass inflow of immigrants from Communist countries who were ambivalent about which side they supported,” he writes. “Something similar is taking place now.”

Muslim cultures “have historically been Europe’s enemies, its overlords, or its underlings,” he deposes. “Europe is wagering that attitudes handed down over the centuries, on both sides, have disappeared, or can be made to disappear. That is probably not a wise wager.”

These kinds of ideas have been articulated before, of course, by writers including the Princeton Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis — who has said that, by the end of this century, “Europe will be part of the Arabic west, of the Maghreb” — the Somali-born Dutch feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali (“Infidel”), Lee Harris (“The Suicide of Reason”), Bruce Bawer (“While Europe Slept”) and the combustible journalist Oriana Fallaci. But Mr. Caldwell’s book is the most rigorous and plainspoken examination of Muslim immigration in Europe to date, a sobering book that walks right up to, if never quite crossing, the line between being alarming and being alarmist. Continue reading