• JAMMEH jittery as Russia recognizes ADAMA BARROW as President-elect of Gambia, PUTIN sends congratulatory message

    20/Dec/2016 // 1936 Viewers


    Russia's President Vladamir Putin has congratulated Gambian opposition candidate Adama Barrow on his victory in the 1 December presidential election, The Gambia's The Point newspaper reports. 

    It quoted a letter from Mr Putin as saying: 

    ''Please accept my sincere congratulations on the occasion of your election as president. I look forward to further development of relations of friendship and cooperation, which traditionally exist between Russia and The Gambia."
    President Jahya Jammeh initially accepted defeat, but has since called for a re-run, saying the 1 December poll was marred by irregularities.

    The electoral commission denies the allegation, saying nothing will change the fact that Mr Jammeh lost to Mr Barrow, a property developer. 

    Last week, troops took control of the commission's headquarters in the capital, Banjul, barring its chairman from entering.

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  • Breaking: ISIS claims responsibility for Berlin attack, says driver was ‘soldier of the Islamic State’

    20/Dec/2016 // 279 Viewers


    The German capital was on high alert Tuesday with one or more suspects still at large in the deadly truck assault on a Christmas market, an act Chancellor Angela Merkel decried as a presumed “terror attack.”

    The only suspect, a Pakistani asylum seeker taken into custody shortly after Monday’s bloodshed, was released by police late Tuesday because of insufficient evidence. It left police scrambling for fresh leads in the assault that left 12 dead and 52 injured after a truck carrying a payload of steel careened into festive stalls and fairgoers in Berlin.

    German police accelerated efforts to study forensic evidence, including analysis of blood stains within the cabin of the truck — turned into a weapon in a tactic used just five months earlier in a similar holiday rampage on the French coast.

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  • JUST IN: TRUMP reacts to Berlin attack, says it's an onslaught against Christians, draws red lines!

    20/Dec/2016 // 1278 Viewers


    President-elect Donald Trump characterized the gruesome truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin as part of a systematic campaign by Muslim extremists against Christians, fueling concerns that he views the war on terrorism as a clash of civilizations and not a conflict against extremists.
    Trump’s late-Monday statement noted that the 12 people killed and 50 wounded were “innocent civilians.” But rather than identifying them as “Germans,” he cast the attack in unusually religious terms.
    “ISIS and other Islamist terrorists continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship as part of their global jihad,” Trump said. “These terrorists and their regional and worldwide networks must be eradicated from the face of the earth, a mission we will carry out with all freedom-loving partners.”
    Neither the White House nor the State Department described the attack in religious terms. But German officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel and top prosecutor Peter Frank, have highlighted the symbolism of striking a Christmas market outside a church less than a week before the holiday.
    Frank suggested that the terrorists followed instructions from the so-called Islamic State and underlined that the attack occurred at “the prominent and symbolic target of a Christmas market.” Merkel said the victims “were looking forward to Christmas.”
    The president-elect’s rhetorical choices bear special scrutiny because the rest of the world is still trying to figure out what kind of leader he will be come Jan. 20. Trump communications aides did not return an email seeking their perspective.
    Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, the real estate entrepreneur repeatedly promised to blame “radical Islamic terrorists” for such attacks, a clear break from the more cautious language his two immediate predecessors used.
    President Obama, who has avoided referring to “radical Islamic terrorists” or the “war on terrorism,” went on a bit of a tear earlier this year against Republicans who accuse him of being naive or politically correct.
    “There has not been a moment in my seven and a half years as president where we have not been able to pursue a strategy because we didn’t use the label ‘radical Islam,’” he said in June after a national security meeting at the White House. “Not once has an adviser of mine said, ‘Man, if we really use that phrase, we’re going to turn this whole thing around.’ Not once.”
    The president continued, “Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction.”
    Former President George W. Bush spent years trying to separate al-Qaida from mainstream Islam, starting with a visit to the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C., six days after 9/11.
    A tow truck operates at the scene where a truck ploughed through a crowd at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany on Dec. 20, 2016. (Photo: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters)
    “The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself,” Bush said. “The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them.”
    Bush, who had made no mention of Islam when he declared “war against terrorism” on 9/11, pitched his message to reach nervous Muslim allies overseas and a domestic audience that, his aides worried, might include some misguided souls looking for payback at home.
    “Immediately after 9/11, we could not gauge the public reaction in the U.S., nor the reaction in the Muslim world when we began to go after [al-Qaida] and the Taliban,” Elliott Abrams, who advised Bush on Middle East policy, told Yahoo News in February 2015. “It seemed important to separate those particular actors from all other Muslims, first to head off any possible anti-Muslim backlash at home and second to head off an anti-American backlash in the Islamic world.”
    But, according to Abrams, “I think we went too far in claiming we knew what ‘real’ Islam was and saying the actions of such terrorists ‘have nothing to do with Islam.’”
    Trump and his national security adviser-designate, retired Gen. Michael Flynn, have taken the opposite tack.
    “I think Islam hates us,” Trump declared in a CNN interview in March. (He later clarified that he meant “many” Muslims abhor the United States).
    Flynn has gone further, calling Islam “a malignant cancer” in one speech and Islamism — the militancy that demands government and society reflect Islamic law — “a vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people.”
    “We are facing another ‘ism,’ just like we faced Nazism, and fascism, and imperialism and communism,” Flynn said.
    The rhetoric has clearly unsettled some world leaders.
    “Senseless Islamophobia compounds suffering with more suffering. It stokes antagonism and exacerbates the clash of civilizations, which plays into the hands of extremists of all stripes,” Senegal President Macky Sall said in a September speech to the U.N. General Assembly. “Given the scale of the global terrorist threat which concerns us all, good sense dictates the need to cooperate to vanquish evil with a global, united, concerted response.”
    Slovak President Andrej Kiska, also speaking at the United Nations, warned that terrorists want to fulfill their “sick vision of the clash of civilizations” and warned against anti-Islam sentiment.
    “We must not respond by judging people by the color of their skin or their choice of worship. We need to stop growing anger, prejudice, and hostility toward different religions,” said Kiska. “The true leaderships brings hope, reinforces trust and offers sustainable solutions for safety and peaceful coexistence.”
    People leave flowers and candles at the area after a lorry truck ploughed through a Christmas market on December 20, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo: Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)
    Obama himself delivered a very similar warning in August.
    “In order for us to ultimately win this fight,” he said, “we cannot frame this as a clash of civilizations between the West and Islam. That plays exactly into the hands of [the Islamic State] and the perversions and perverse interpretations of Islam that they’re putting forward.” - YAHOO NEWS

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  • EU referendum date set for 23 June after David Cameron secures reforms giving UK 'special status'

    20/Feb/2016 // 501 Viewers


    David Cameron has set the date for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU for 23 June this year.

    The Prime Minister made the long-awaited announcement after meeting with minsters at Downing Street to discuss reforms he secured yesterday following two days of talks in Brussels.

    It was the first time the UK’s cabinet has met on a Saturday since the Falklands War more than 30 years ago, showing the significance of the occasion.

    Ministers are now free to publicly back the “leave” campaign and Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling are believed to be among those opposing the Government’s official stance.

    READ: Buhari & the impending death of the Naira

    Mr Cameron has vowed to campaign for Britain to stay in the 28-nation bloc “with all my heart and soul” after securing a package of changes with European leaders.

    He said the reforms, which include curbs on EU workers' benefits, protections for non-euro nations and an opt-out from “ever closer union”, cemented Britain's “special status” despite a series of compromises.

    But Eurosceptics - including many within Mr Cameron's Conservative Party - dismissed the package as meaningless and said only withdrawal could restore sufficient powers to the country from Brussels.

    READ: Arms Deal: Interrogation of ADC coercive to arrest Jonathan - EFCC insider

    What has the EU ever done for us?

    Nigel Farage dismissed the “truly pathetic deal” and urged voters to seize the “golden opportunity” to vote for a Brexit, which is Ukip’s foundational principle.

    Jeremy Corbyn dismissed Mr Cameron's renegotiation as a “sideshow” but confirmed Labour would be campaigning for an ”in“ vote.

    "Despite the fanfare, the deal that David Cameron has made in Brussels on Britain's relationship with the EU is a sideshow, and the changes he has negotiated are largely irrelevant to the problems most British people face and the decision we must now make," he said.

    "We will be campaigning to keep Britain in Europe in the coming referendum, regardless of David Cameron's tinkering, because it brings investment, jobs and protection for British workers and consumers." -  INDEPENDENT

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  • COMPELLING READ: It's time to fly more at home - Dele Momodu tells Buhari

    20/Feb/2016 // 393 Viewers


    Fellow Nigerians, let us start today’s epistle with a real life story. Some years ago, a woman named Dr Kema Chikwe was appointed Minister of Aviation. Her mandate was to bring sanity to our insane airports across the country. It was as if we were a jinxed nation and nothing good could ever come out of our rudderless system. Dr Chikwe set out on her mission like Henry the Navigator. She mapped out her strategy meticulously and elaborately. Our airports were as hot as hell. All efforts to tranquilise the place and make it habitable for passengers proved abortive but Dr Chikwe was determined to succeed where others had failed miserably and woefully.

    At the beginning of her voyage, Dr Chikwe was supposedly rattled by a negative story that was aired on a British television describing the Lagos airport as one of the worst in the world. The problem wasn’t just about its aesthetic ugliness, the airport was totally invaded and ravaged by port rats who specialised in pilfering peoples bags thus depriving them of their valuables. The Nigeria High Commission in Great Britain felt sufficiently scandalised and terribly angered by the negative but factual story. A message was promptly despatched to Dr Chikwe in Abuja requesting her to respond and deny what was considered a vicious attack on Nigeria.

    As cool as cucumber, Dr Chikwe thanked the then High Commissioner and said there was no reason to respond to the annoying story. “Did the television channel tell any lie about our airport? The answer is no. Our best response is to upgrade the airport and even our worst enemies would have nothing negative to talk about…”

    The Buhari administration has some great lesson to learn from the above episode. The lizard cannot enter a wall that has no cracks. Your enemies must talk and run you down but your best response is to stay focused and successful. In pursuing the anti-corruption war in particular, President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to step on some fat and powerful toes. Such people would never wish the government well no matter its efforts. I would have been more surprised if everyone loves a tough and no-nonsense man like Buhari.

    It seems to me that some operatives of the Buhari government are already getting paranoid and almost as neurotic as the Jonathan regime. Their reaction to every criticism suggests an unnecessary agitation. They are blaming real and imaginary enemies for the gale of attacks on the economic policies of the current government. I find this very reprehensible. If truth must be told our economic team is floundering at the moment. They appear rudderless and totally confused. Did they expect anyone to praise them when the Naira is spinning and nosediving at a dizzying pace like a rollercoaster gone beserk?

    Nigerians sent President Goodluck Jonathan packing because they believed he was incompetent and the APC and its candidate assured they had the solutions to the problems and the magic wand to the economic and spiritual hopelessness of the time. No one should blame them if they are grumbling that this was not the change they voted for. The least we can do is to continue to pacify them while we continue to work harder at turning things around for good and for the better. No one is going to listen to the endless sermon that PDP or Jonathan caused these gigantic problems for us. That is stale news. Jonathan is gone with the winds and it is for the new government to demonstrate its expertise and that should not be too difficult. The confidence Nigerians have reposed in this government is so humongous that the expectations should be naturally high.

    The biggest albatross of the Buhari government right now is the comatose economy. Buhari must borrow a leaf from medical science. A patient in coma is usually referred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Sometimes, near fatal ailments often require induced coma if the imminent fatality is not to become reality. Nigeria must pick an option before it is too late. This fact is corroborated by the alarm raised by Professor Wole Soyinka who said Nigeria’s needs an urgent economic conference to arrest the present explosive drift. For me, another conference is not the solution. Nigerians are tired of the endless confabs with attendant communique that end up in the dustbin of history unimplemented. What is urgently required is a practical team that will proffer practical solutions that are practical to be executed

    When I raised hell about the scandalous budget last week, I was impressed when President Buhari responded by admitting that something terrible had happened and acted swiftly to fire a scapegoat. We need more than a scapegoat being fired though. We must also fix the mess which includes firing others who are found complicit in the scandal. It is the same way I can’t feel any sense of urgency or desperation on the part of our economic experts in the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank. It seems obvious that there is a kind of lackadaisical attitude on their parts while the Naira is busy dancing kpalongo on the parallel market. May be the time has come for the President to wield the big stick in the finance circuit. What is going on is too disgraceful and unthinkable. If something is not done urgently, the consequences may be too grave for our country.

    Instead of wasting so much time on trading blames, we can build on where Jonathan left off. Buhari needs to energise his team. They are looking weak and timid. I think most, if not all of them, are too scared to take risks and use their initiative. This is sad. No matter what you may say about Jonathan, his ministers were bubbly and vibrant. They enjoyed some modicum of freedom that fired their imagination and temperament. The President needs to encourage his men and women to loosen up or nothing tangible would be achieved soon. Everyone seems to be watching and studying the body language of the President and there are always conflicting signals. This lacklustre existence is always palpable whenever I see the pictures coming out of the Federal Executive Council meetings. The cabinet looks forlorn and haplessly dull. I’m not able to see a team at home with itself. Only the President can release his team from this self-manacled cage.

    I wrote last week that the nation is tension-soaked. I wish to reiterate that an atmosphere of fear is not conducive for good business. There is too much hullabaloo at the moment about fighting corruption that may be counter-productive in the long run. The government should fight the war more in the law courts and less in the public theatre creating mere sensation without much legal substance. Issuing threats on daily basis on the next agency to be probed is promoting hysteria in the land. As I already noted, the priority should be how to repatriate most of the looted funds. Nigeria needs every penny it can retrieve right now. This can be done with less noise and better efficiency and alacrity.

    The focus should now also be on rebuilding our roads. I travelled from Ibadan to Lagos yesterday after flying from Abuja and could not help but imagine that we belong in the prehistoric age. Even at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, power outages were abysmally constant. We are waiting for the trains to run beautifully and efficiently. We want quality education for the Nigerian kids. We want Nigerians to live much older through efficient Medicare. We want jobs and employment opportunities for our youths. We are tired of lamenting like Jeremiah. I have no doubt that it can be done but this government needs to free itself and begin to fly. Mistakes would be made and corrected along the way. Such is life. The fear of failure is far worse than failure itself.

    It is time to fly more at home because time is man’s worst enemy.

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  • French far-right leader Marine Le Pen goes on trial for inciting racial hatred

    20/Oct/2015 // 215 Viewers

    Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's far-right National Front, went on trial Tuesday on charges of inciting hatred after comparing Muslim street prayers to the Nazi occupation.

    The 47-year-old, who has won a string of election successes after working to soften the image of her party, appeared in a court in the central city of Lyon over the comments she made while campaigning to take over the leadership of the party from her father five years ago.

    "I have committed no crime," said a smiling Le Pen as she entered the court. If convicted, she faces up to a year in prison or a fine of up to 45,000 euros ($51,000).

    While on the campaign trail in December 2010, Le Pen complained about places in France where Muslims worshipped in the streets outside mosques when they were full.

    "I'm sorry, but for those who like talking a lot about World War II, if it comes to talking about the occupation, we can talk about it, because that (Muslims praying on the street) is the occupation of territory," she told a crowd in the southeastern city of Lyon.

    "It is an occupation of part of the territory, suburbs where religious law is applied. Sure, there are no armoured vehicles, no soldiers, but it is an occupation nonetheless and it weighs on residents."

    After the comments, which provoked outrage in France, Le Pen was investigated but the probe was later closed without further action.

    However, a complaint by an association led to the launch of a judicial enquiry in January 2012.

    Le Pen was charged in July 2014 after her immunity as a member of the European Parliament was lifted following a vote requested by French authorities.

    She is accused of "inciting discrimination, violence or hatred toward a group of people based on their religious beliefs."

    The French Muslim Council's secretary general Abdallah Zekri said that it was "such comments often made by politicians that feed the climate of islamophobia we currently live in."

    FN's growing popularity

    Since taking over the FN, Le Pen has tried to soften its image and has scored a series of election successes.

    However the party remains staunchly anti-EU and anti-immigration and Le Pen has seized upon Europe's migrant crisis to win votes ahead of regional elections in December.

    The FN is already leading opinion polls in several regions.

    Le Pen has campaigned on the party's traditional line of calling for an end to Europe's borderless Schengen zone and actions seen as enticing migrants to France.

    This time, however, her rhetoric has been more forceful, with Le Pen comparing the flood of migrants on Europe's doorstep to the "barbarian invasions" of the fourth century.

    In September, she said of migrants: "We should warm them up, feed them and then send them back where they came from."

    Despite its growing popularity, the party's image suffered after a bitter public spat between Marine and her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, which led to her ousting him from the party he founded over a series of controversial comments.

    Marine Le Pen decided enough was enough after her father repeated his view that the Nazi gas chambers were merely a "detail" of history and also claimed France should establish close relations with Russia to save the "white world".

    The FN has also been slapped with charges of fraud as part of an ongoing probe into campaign financing.


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  • Slovenia says overwhelmed by migrant influx

    20/Oct/2015 // 266 Viewers

    Slovenia said Tuesday it was unable to cope with a massive surge of migrants and refugees arriving in the country from neighbouring Croatia as the government gave the go-ahead for soldiers to help police guard the border.

    "The inflow of migrants over the last three days has exceeded all manageable possibilities," the Slovenian government said in a statement after an all-night emergency meeting, adding that parliament would be asked to approve legislation allowing soldiers to help in the crisis "under very specific circumstances".

    Under current law, the army can only provide technical and logistical support.

    However, "this does not mean a state of emergency", Prime Minister Miro Cerar told journalists.

    State radio said parliament would debate the emergency legislation on Tuesday and that it could enter into force within days.

    More than 8,000 people streamed into the tiny EU member state from Croatia on Monday, with Ljubljana warning it could handle no more than 2,500 a day.

    The new arrivals will add to the 8,300 migrants seeking already in reception centres in the country of two million people.

    The Eastern European nation people has become a new key transit point on the migrant trail, after Hungary sealed its Croatian border with a razor-wire fence to migrants on Saturday just weeks after it had already shut its Serbian frontier.


    Tens of thousands – many fleeing violence in Syria, Africa and Afghanistan – have been making their way from Turkey to the Balkans in recent months, hoping to reach Germany, Sweden and other EU states.

    Slovenia criticised Zagreb for lifting border restrictions at Croatia's frontier with Serbia on Monday night, allowing the migrants who had been stranded in wet and muddy conditions for hours to trek to Slovenia.

    Ljubljana called for greater European solidarity, warning it was "delusional" to expect small individual countries to handle the spiralling humanitarian crisis alone.

    "Slovenia calls on the European Union states and institutions to engage actively in dealing with this disproportionate weight for our state... European solidarity is being challenged," the government statement said.

    "It is delusional to expect a country of two million to (accomplish) what much larger countries haven't been able to."

    Ljubljana also accused neighbouring Austria of capping its intake of migrants and only allowing in 2,000 on Monday.

    But Vienna rejected the claim, saying more than 4,280 people had entered into Austria from Slovenia on Monday.

    "There are no restrictions in place," interior ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck told AFP on Monday.

    (FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)

    Date created : 2015-10-20

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  • Moscow fury over Swiss jet’s close call with Russian plane

    20/Oct/2015 // 238 Viewers

    Russia reacted with fury Monday after a Swiss warplane flew "dangerously close" to one of its passenger jets carrying a senior parliamentary delegation, having earlier caused a diplomatic spat by mistakenly blaming France for the incident.

    The incident, which took place on Monday morning, saw a Swiss F-18 warplane approach a Russian plane carrying a parliamentary delegation headed by Russian State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin to a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Geneva, the Russian foreign ministry said.

    Swiss defence ministry spokesman Peter Minder told AFP the incident had taken place in Swiss airspace over the city of Bienne, also called Biel or Bienna. However, he denied Switzerland had breached any air safety rules.

    "It was a normal check by the Swiss air force... a close check," he said.

    "We made visual contact with the pilot and noted the registration. Everything was in order. It was a verification, a routine check."

    But Moscow was left unimpressed by the incident and has demanded an explanation from Switzerland.

    "We have to work out what happened and why it was done," Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in televised comments.

    Naryshkin, who is on both the EU and US blacklists for publicly supporting the deployment of Russian forces to Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, told Russian agencies he was aware of what happened although he did not see the warplane himself.

    Sergei Gavrilov, another delegation member, told TASS news agency that the approach took place "at the altitude of 3,700 metres (12,100 feet) above the Swiss border" and called it an "unfriendly act by NATO".

    Switzerland is a neutral country and is not a member of the North Atlantic alliance (NATO).

    French anger after ambassador summoned

    The Russian foreign ministry had initially blamed France for the incident, with the foreign ministry in Moscow saying it had summoned French envoy Jean-Maurice Ripert to "give an explanation".

    "The ambassador was made aware of Russia's deep concern over what happened," it said.

    "Actions like these by Paris undermine the possibility of using France as a place for multilateral meetings and talks."

    Yevgenia Chugunova, spokeswoman for the Russian speaker Naryshkin, told AFP that the warplane was French.

    "I can confirm that this incident involving a French military plane happened this morning," she said. "We saw it very close."

    But after France rebuffed the claim, Russia was forced into an apology.

    "We deplore that the French ambassador in Moscow was called in instantly," the French defence and foreign affairs ministry said. "The necessary explanations have been handed on to the Russian authorities."

    The Russian foreign ministry later confirmed that Moscow had apologised to Paris through diplomatic channels.

    Geneva’s airport is very close to Switzerland’s border with France, which may have led to confusion about whose airspace the Russian aircraft was in and the jet’s nationality.

    There has been an uptick in the number of near-miss type incidents involving NATO and Russian military aircraft since separatist conflict, which the West accuses Russia of stoking, broke out in Ukraine.

    NATO member states have accused Russian military jets in particular of flying dangerously close to Western military and civilian aircraft on numerous occasions. Moscow has denied breaking any aviation rules.

    (FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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  • Germany is now offering to pay countries to take back their migrants

    20/Oct/2016 // 639 Viewers


    Germany is now offering to pay Middle Eastern and North African countries to take back migrants who have fled the war-ravaged and poverty-stricken regions.

    “We had to find ways to stop illegal migration,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said during a recent trip to Ethiopia, the Washington Post reported.

    Merkel’s statement comes after her country has already taken in thousands of refugees, a move that has become less popular over time. And with Merkel facing re-election next year, the German leader is now reversing her plans to welcome refugees with open arms.

    In January, TheBlaze reported that more than 1,000 men, said to be asylum seekers, stormed Germany on New Year’s Eve and committed various alleged crimes. The men were reported to have committed sexual assaults, robberies and at least one case of rape.

    And in June, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Many experts have pointed to a populist uprising and increased concerns on immigration in the U.K. and other parts of Europe as contributing factors in the historic referendum.

    Back across the pond, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for months has offered a strikingly similar message to the one Merkel is now giving.

    Meanwhile, Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton has stated a much softer position on accepting refugees and asylum seekers into the country.

    “I will not let anyone into our country that I think poses a risk to us,” Clinton said at the Oct. 9 presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis. “But there are a lot of refugees, women and children — think of that picture that we all saw of that four-year-old boy with the blood on his forehead because he had been bombed by the Russian and Syrian air forces.”

    Clinton has said that, if elected president, she would allow the U.S. to take up to 65,000 refugees compared with the 10,000 the U.S. has already agreed to take. Clinton’s proposal amounts to a 550 percent increase in how many refugees the U.S. would accept.

    (H/T: Washington Post)

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  • French imams to receive ‘tolerance’ training in Morocco

    20/Sep/2015 // 337 Viewers

    © AFP / Philippe Huguen | Muslims pray at the Grand Mosque of Villeneuve-d'Ascq, northern France, on August 01, 2011

    French imams are set to be sent for training in Morocco where they will be instructed in the “values of openness and tolerance”, it was announced Saturday as French President François Hollande began a two-day visit to the north African country.

    The training will take place at the Mohammed VI Institute in Rabat – an €18 million facility opened in March this year with the goal of educating Muslim scholars and imams from all over the world.

    A joint declaration from Paris and Rabat said the training would promote "an Islam with the right balance" that conforms to "values of openness and tolerance” and "fully anchored in the values of the Republic and secularism".

    The move was welcomed by the French Muslim group The Union of Mosques in France (UMF).

    “The UMF … is convinced that the training of imams with the necessary knowledge to promote a balanced interpretation of Islam must be at the heart of any prevention programme in the fight against extremists,” the organisation’s president Mohammed Moussaoui said.

    Around 50 French imams could be trained at the institute each year, whereafter they would return to France for further academic training on the role of religion in France and the right of worship, members of Hollande’s team said.

    The training programme will “demonstrate that Islam is a religion of peace in France", said Hollande.


    The move comes amid debate in France over the role of imams in combatting radicalisation among the country’s large and diverse Muslim community, particularly in the wake of January's terror attacks in Paris.

    France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced in February that French imams would be encouraged to take civics lessons as part of anti-radicalisation efforts, while in June it was revealed that France has deported 40 foreign imams for "preaching hatred" in the past three years.

    In Tangiers on Saturday, Hollande said that establishing closer cooperation between France and Morocco in the fight against terrorism was a major purpose of his visit.

    "I want France and Morocco to enter a new phase of partnership,” he said after receiving military honours and a traditional offering of dates and milk.

    "We have a common will to act in Africa and also to fight against terrorism, which remains our top priority.”

    He also dismissed any notion that a recent diplomatic dispute between the two nations had cast a shadow over the trip.

    The row erupted in February last year when Morocco’s intelligence chief Abdellatif Hammouchi was summoned for questioning by a French judge over allegations of torture.

    It led to Morocco suspending all judicial cooperation with Paris between February 2014 and January 2015.

    But Hollande said that the difficulties between the two countries "have not only been erased and overcome, they are above all outdated”.



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