US still in­ter­cepts e-mails - Snow­den

Lesotho Times - - International -

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.

ed­ward snow­den

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