Wednesday, March 08, 2006

News, some bad, some good...

France and Hamas

And here we are again. If there is something you can always expect from France that is to go its own way when it comes to the arabs, in the name of De Gaulle's vision of French grandeur and politique arabe. In a moment when the so called "Quartet", of which -theoretically- France would be a member of as included in the European Union, is still trying to put pressure on Hamas in order to make it understand some of its positions, especially regarding Israel, are simply unacceptable and could lead to consequences, Chirac disengaged himself from the common line while speaking at the symbolic Saudi Parliament.

In some news that were curiously ignored by western media like CNN and BBC but reported with all its strenght by arab networks like Arabnews and Al-Jazeera, with titles that are quite revealing like "Chirac backs Hamas on sactions", the French president basically announced his being against "any kind of sactions" against the Hamas-led government and thus weakening enormously the potential pressure the international community could have put on an organization that France itself, as member of the EU, has on its official terrorist groups list.

Oh, and the World Bank released 42 millions dollars to the Palestine National Authority, while we are at this.

Italy and Muslims

A few months ago the Minister of Internal Affairs of Italy created a muslim consultative body known as "Consulta per l'islam italiano". The decision created some polemical outbursts from all the italian political spectrum, most notably because the italian islam is not a single body but made of an almost infinite number of different realities and chosing the 16 rapresentative could had been prone to arbitrary choices. Even more troubling was the news that one of the rapresentatives would had been the president of the UCOII (Union of the Italian Islamic Communities and Organization), an organization stongly tied with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and not exactly known to be moderated and open to the dialogue.

Today the Consulta issued, with an 11-2 majority (1 member abstained, 2 were not present), a manifest in which they recognized the right of Israel to live peacefully next to a Palestinian state, declared their being against a "muslim identity as a separate and conflictual thing to the common italian identity", their being against any form of discrimination against women, in favor of religious freedom in italy as well as in the muslim countries and against aggressive and christian or westerners hatred-filled proselitism. Even more important, they asked for the financial management to the italian mosquees, often believed to be used as a network by terrorist organizations, to be made transparent and for the preachings to be held in italian, and not arab.

So far, so good. On the bad side, the UCOII president, Mohammed Nour Dachan (on the right) argued violently against the document and in a counter-document he read during the meeting he asked for a muslim census to be held (that being against the law in Italy, as you can't investigate on the religious preference of the citizens for obvious anti-discriminatory reasons), for the italian school books to be censored in the part regarding the muslim world and is interaction with the western one, for private controls-free islamic schools to be insitued in Italy alongside with islamic banks and islam mortgages (I would be curious to know what they are) and a green stamp to be placed on "islam-correct" foods. None of those proposals were included in the final document by the majority of the other islam representatives and it's reported that Mr. Dachan was quite annoyed by his isolation and defeat.

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