US still intercepts e-mails - Snowden
France always has had an uneasy relationship with Islam, the country’s second biggest religion. Issues like wearing headscarves in public schools — now banned in France - along with halal butchering practices and Muslim burial grounds have deepened misunderstandings and divisions.
It does not help that many imams in France are foreigners. Few French Muslims are interested in taking a job so badly paid and sometimes not paid at all.
So the imams come from North Africa and Turkey, countries which cover their salaries and sometimes finance the construction of the French mosques from which they preach. Some cannot speak French. Many only have a sketchy idea of French society and laws.
Hacene Taibi, who heads the Islamic studies programme at Lyon’s main mosque, said these imported imams do not fit the needs of Muslims here today.
Taibi said many Muslims in France are second-and third-generation immigrants. They do not understand the Arabic preaching of the foreign imams.
The clerics come from another culture, he said, and sometimes French mosque goers will not accept them. So the imams enrol in language classes — and the civics training programme in Lyon that the mosque helps organize.
Language hurdles Fifty-seven-year-old Zaya Laimene, who attended prayers at the mosque one recent afternoon, is a case in point. She only began learning Arabic a few years ago. It is the language WASHINGTON — Americans might oppose intrusive surveillance if they realised the government could see their most intimate emailed pictures, comic John Oliver suggested to fugitive intelligence technician Edward Snowden.
The British television host scored a rare one-on-one interview in Moscow with the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor for Sunday’s edition of his weekly US cable comedy news show John Oliver Tonight.
Mr Oliver didn’t give the man behind one of the biggest leaks in US intelligence history an easy ride, insisting he must take responsibility for information in press reports that put current anti-terror operations in jeopardy.
But he also expressed sympathy with Mr Snowden’s efforts to trigger a public debate about the balance to be struck in a free society between the security provided by blanket surveillance and the public’s right to privacy.
And he suggested a crude, but perhaps effective, way to focus public attention on the issue.
“This is the most visible line in the sand for people: ‘Can they see my dick?’” Mr Oliver said, suggesting that the NSA’S internet surveillance could intercept e-mailed photographs of a private or sexual nature.
Mr Snowden laughed, but played along with the line of thought, describing in some detail how the various intelligence gathering authorities and techniques that he revealed in a trove of leaked NSA documents could violate the private realm.
“The good news is that there’s no programme named the ‘dick pic’ programme. The bad news: they are still collecting everybody’s information — including your dick pics,” Mr Snowden said.
In June, the US Congress must vote on her Algerian parents spoke, but never taught her.
She said the mosque’s Tunisianborn imam now says the prayers in French, as well as Arabic. It allows her to understand them. It also helps because Muslims like herself consult with imams on all kinds of family issues.
But the secularism classes have another goal; to help counter the rise of home-grown radical Islam. Over the past two years, hundreds of French have joined Islamist fighters in the Middle East.
French Islamists have also staged attacks at home — most re- whether to renew the provisions of the Patriot Act, a law which was passed in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 attacks to boost the US government’s security powers.
The law has been renewed without great cently in January, when three men gunned down 17 people in Paris. To be sure, only a tiny percentage of the country’s 5 million-strong Muslim community are extremists.
A number of extremists are in fact recent converts, who learned about Islam on the Internet.
Today, the Socialist government wants to shape the way Islam is taught here, to ensure a moderate version is spread that aligns with French values. Across the country, there are now half-a-dozen civics courses like the debate in the past, but in May 2013 Mr Snowden leaked a massive haul of secret NSA documents to journalists that raised concerns about the scope and misuse of state surveillance at home and abroad. — AFP
Questions of effectiveness Some question, though, whether the secularism courses — or the imams who take them — can really make a difference.
Tareq Oubrou is rector and imam of the main mosque of Bordeaux. He has written and spoken extensively about Islam in France.
Oubrou said that in many mosques, imams speak out against violence. He said their prevention work has helped dismantle thousands of ‘ticking bombs’ — or radical attacks. But he said most wouldbe jihadists stay away mosques.
They are hoodlums who do not even say their prayers regularly. Imams can not fix a problem that society — not religion — has created.
Criminology expert Alain Bauer said any action by the government in fighting extremism, however, is important — including pushing civics classes — even if the payback is limited.
“A government needs to fight with any tools it has because public opinion… will never forgive it for not trying to save (these) children — or the parents who are the first to discover their kids have left with a small post-it on the fridge saying, ‘I’m going to Jihad and I’m happy and I love you.’ Because that’s what’s happening at the moment.”
If nothing else, the secularism courses are building bonds. At the Bible class, Laurent Jacquelin, a senior official for the regional prefecture, says the training has opened his eyes to another slice of French society.
He said the civil servants and the Muslims clerics discuss ideas and share meals. It is a chance to strengthen what brings them together, and not what sets them apart. — VOA LONDON — Poland will build six watchtowers to survey its 200-kilometre-long border with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, border police have said.
The six towers will be up to 50 metres high and ready in June for round-the-clock surveillance, the spokeswoman for Poland’s border police told the PAP news agency.
They will cost more than 14 million złoty ($3.8 million), Mirosława Aleksandrowicz said, adding that 75 percent of the amount would come from an EU fund for external borders.
Kaliningrad is near the Baltic Sea, sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, both EU members. Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė said last month that Russia had sent nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad, which could “reach even Berlin”.
Russia’s seizure and annexation of Crimea, support for separatists in eastern Ukraine and stepped-up military drills have caused unease in the Baltic states and Poland, which lay behind the Iron Curtain a quarter of a century ago. — Guardian
Members OF THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY ATTEND MIDDAY prayers At Strasbourg GRAND Mosque IN Strasbourg, FRANCE IN this file picture.