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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Le Figaro’

Islam Overtaking Catholicism as Dominant Religion in France

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

A majority of people in France, according to a new poll, believe that Islam is too influential in French society, and almost half view Muslims as a threat to their national identity.

The survey reveals a significant degradation of the image of Islam in France. The findings also show that French voters are growing increasingly uneasy about mass immigration from Muslim countries, which has been encouraged by a generation of political and cultural elites in France dedicated to creating a multicultural society.

The survey conducted by the French Institute of Public Opinion (or Ifop, as it is usually called) and published by the center-right Le Figaro newspaper on October 24, shows that 60% of French people believe that Islam has become “too visible and influential” in France — up from 55% in an earlier survey two years ago.

The poll also reveals that 43% of French people consider the presence of Muslim immigrants to be a threat to French national identity, compared to just 17% who say it enriches society.

In addition, 68% of people in France blame the problems associated with Muslim integration on immigrants who refuse to integrate (up from 61% two years ago), and 52% blame it on cultural differences (up from 40% two years ago).

The poll also shows a growing resistance to the symbols of Islam. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of French people say they are opposed to Muslim women wearing the veil or Islamic headscarves in public, compared to 59% two years ago.

Furthermore, the survey shows that only 18% of French people say they support the building of new mosques in France (compared to 33% in 1989, and 20% in 2010).

“Our poll shows a further hardening in French people’s opinions,” Jerome Fourquet, head of Ifop’s opinion department, told Le Figaro. “In recent years, there has not been a week when Islam has not been in the heart of the news for social reasons: the veil, halal food, dramatic news like terrorist attacks or geopolitical reasons,” he said.

France, which is home to an estimated six million Muslims, has the largest Muslim population in the European Union. There are now, in fact, more practicing Muslims in France than there are practicing Roman Catholics.

Although 64% of the French population (or 41.6 million of France’s 65 million inhabitants) identify themselves as Roman Catholic, only 4.5% (or 1.9 million) of these actually are practicing Catholics, according to a separate survey on Catholicism in France published by Ifop in July 2009.

By way of comparison, 75% (or 4.5 million), of the estimated six million mostly ethnic North African and sub-Saharan Muslims in France, identify themselves as “believers;” and 41% (or 2.5 million) say they are “practicing” Muslims, according to an in-depth research report on Islam in France published by Ifop in July 2011.

Taken together, the research data provides empirical evidence that Islam is well on its way to overtaking Roman Catholicism as the dominant religion in France.

This trend is also reflected in the fact that mosques are being built more often in France than are Roman Catholic churches; nearly 150 new mosques are currently under construction in France.

The total number of mosques in France has already doubled to more than 2,000 during just the past ten years, according to a research report, “Constructing Mosques: The Governance of Islam in France and the Netherlands.” The rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, has called for the number of mosques in the country to be doubled again — to 4,000 — to meet growing demand.

By contrast, the Roman Catholic Church has built only 20 new churches in France during the past decade, and has formally closed more than 60 churches, many of which are destined to become mosques, according to research conducted by La Croix, a Roman Catholic daily newspaper based in Paris.

In recent weeks, tensions have flared over the proposed conversion of an empty church into a mosque in the central French town of Vierzon. The controversy involves Saint-Eloi’s, a small church located in a working class neighborhood that has been taken over by immigrants from Morocco and Turkey.

With six churches to maintain and fewer faithful every year, Roman Catholic authorities in Vierzon say they can no longer afford to keep Saint-Eloi’s. They now want to sell the building for €170,000 ($220,000) to a Moroccan Muslim organization that wants to convert the church into a mosque.

Muslim Voters Change Europe

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

An analysis of the voting patterns that barrelled François Hollande to victory on May 6 as the first Socialist president of France since 1995 shows that this overthrow was due in large measure to Muslims, who voted for him in overwhelming numbers. The French vote marks the first time that Muslims have determined the outcome of a presidential election in a major western European country; it is a preview of things to come.

As the politically active Muslim population in France continues to swell, and as most Muslims vote for Socialist and leftwing parties, conservative parties will find it increasingly difficult to win future elections in France.

According to a survey of 10,000 French voters conducted by the polling firm OpinionWay for the Paris-based newspaper Le Figaro, an extaordinary 93% of French Muslims voted for Hollande on May 6. By contrast, the poll shows that only 7% of French Muslims voted for the incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy.

An estimated 2 million Muslims participated in the 2012 election, meaning that roughly 1.7 million Muslim votes went to Hollande rather than to Sarkozy. In the election as a whole, however, Hollande won over Sarkozy by only 1.1 million votes. This figure implies that Muslims cast the deciding votes that thrust Hollande into the Élysée Palace.

France, home to between five and six million Muslims, already has the largest Muslim population in the European Union, and those numbers are expected to increase exponentially in coming years. According to conservative estimates, the Muslim population is projected to exceed 10% of the overall French population within the next decade-and-a-half.

During the campaign, Hollande offered an amnesty to all of the estimated 400,000 illegal Muslim immigrants currently in France. He also pledged to change French electoral laws so that Muslim residents without French citizenship would be allowed to vote in municipal elections as of 2014. These measures, if implemented, would enable the Socialist Party tighten its grip on political power, both at the regional and national levels.

Muslims in France — and across Europe as a whole — tend to support the Socialists for a variety of demographic, socio-economic and ideological reasons.

Most Muslims in Europe live in lower-income households and experience higher levels of unemployment. As a result, Socialists and Muslims are locked into a politically advantageous power-dependence relationship, between the givers of social welfare benefits and the givers of votes. Not surprisingly, Socialists favor increased Muslim immigration, which in turn produces more voters for Socialist parties.

In the ideological sphere, Socialists and Muslims generally share a mutual antipathy for traditional Judeo-Christian values. Although many Muslims oppose the secular agenda of the Socialists, most Muslims wholeheartedly support Socialist multicultural dogma, which they are leveraging to promote the Islamization of Europe.

In foreign policymaking, Socialists and Muslims share a mutual disdain for the United States and Israel. Leftwing parties across Europe have turned anti-Zionism into a politically correct form of anti-Semitism. The increasingly hysterical anti-Israel rhetoric emanating from Socialist circles has contributed to a spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes across the continent; many of these crimes against Jews are being perpetrated by Muslims.

Although Hollande has not articulated his views on Israel — he has said he wants to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories this summer — many observers fear that Hollande will surround himself with a coterie of leftwing advisors who will push him to distance France from the pro-Jewish, pro-Israel course established by Sarkozy.

Hollande has also said he is opposed to Israeli or American military action against Iranian nuclear facilities and many analysts believe the new French government will seek to weaken international sanctions against Iran.

The political changes in France have many Jews concerned about their future. On the day that French voters elected Hollande as their new president, more than 5,000 French Jews participated in an Aliyah (immigration of Jews to Israel) fair in Paris. The annual event, organized and run by the Jewish Agency, usually attracts about 2,000 visitors.

To be sure, France is not the only country in which Muslims are changing the political dynamic.

In Denmark, Socialist Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt won the parliamentary election in September 2011 by a margin of just 8,500 votes. According to an opinion survey, 89.1% of Muslims said they would vote for Socialist or leftwing parties. There are an estimated 200,000 Muslims in Denmark, 100,000 of whom are eligible to vote.

Syria, Russia: It All Looks Different From Out There

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Robert Mackey at New York Times’ The Lede has a Friday post entitled “Crisis in Syria Looks Very Different on Satellite Channels Owned by Russia and Iran.”

Well, no kidding.  It’s nice to see NYT catching up with the rest of the infosphere.  But it’s not just in Russian and Iranian media that the crisis in Syria looks different.  It’s basically everywhere outside the United States.  In the US, the news centers on what the Obama administration is doing about the crisis.  Outside the US, the news is about what the nations of Europe are doing, what the Russians are doing, what the Turks are doing, what the Arab League and the OIC are doing, what alarms the Russians about Western policies (see here for a more explicit, populist-level view), how the region is reacting to the crisis, and which nations – Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, the other Persian Gulf nations, Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel – might be sucked into an armed confrontation between Russia and the West in Syria.

In American news coverage, Russia is seen as the spoiler in the UN, the bad-tempered world power that said no to an Arab-drafted peace plan backed by the US.  In other news coverage, Russia is seen as the principal military patron of Bashar al-Assad, with military advisors all over the country and a serious determination to prevent the West from regime-changing Syria out from under Russian influence.

The situation

According to Le Figaro on Tuesday, Russian military “advisors” are “omnipresent” in Syria. Besides reportedly sending S-300 anti-air missile systems to Damascus and agreeing to deliver a new batch of military aircraft, the Russians this week celebrated the reopening of a Cold War-era intelligence listening post on Mount Qassioun, the summit that dominates Damascus from the northwest.  The Russians appear increasingly dug in.

Russian advisors are also laboring to reorganize the Baath Party and arrange talks with members of the Syrian resistance.  They are making their own contacts with Arab and Islamic organizations, seeking to dilute the solidarity of the West with Arab leaders on the Syrian problem.  In a phone discussion with Nicolas Sarkozy this week, Dmitry Medvedev warned France not to use a coalition of the willing to take unilateral action in Syria.  France – not the United States – was the Perm-5 nation that inaugurated the “friends of the Syrian people” effort immediately after the Russian and Chinese vetoes in the UN on 4 February.  (Tunisia has reportedly agreed to host the first gathering of this coalition.)

 

The region

 

On Thursday, Russia’s vice-minister of defense, Anatoly Antonov, was quoted as saying on Russian television that Russian military personnel are deployed in various sites around Syria.  (See here as well.)  This is the first high-level confirmation of such an extensive Russian presence, and it is obviously not a random comment.  The Russians are anxious to have it understood that if a Western-Arab coalition fires on Syria, it will hit Russians.  In Antonov’s words, Russia “cannot remain indifferent.”

Russian preparations

Is Russia preparing to actually do anything militarily?  She seems to be preparing to defend herself against the West and its allies, and indeed, to hold parts of the West (and perhaps Japan) at risk.  On Thursday, the Russians announced that a new Voronezh long-range missile-defense radar will go operational near St. Petersburg this month.   Along with the Voronezh radar operating near the Kaliningrad enclave on the Baltic (since November 2011), the radar in St. Petersburg will provide coverage of much of the western and polar-northern approaches to Russia.  This is one is a series of precautions, which also involve troop movements in the Southern Military District (facing the Black Sea and Caucasus), defensive exercises, and patrols.

 

The Caucasus

 

One such patrol reportedly occurred in the Far East on Wednesday, when a flight of two Tu-95 Bear bombers, two Su-24 Fencer jets (outfitted for reconnaissance), and one A-50 Mainstay AWACS made a close approach to the airspace of northern JapanRussian media reported this foray in detail, along with Japan’s reaction, making sure to point out that the incident marked the first time a Russian AWACS had approached Japanese airspace.  The meaning of the AWACS participation would be twofold: first, that the Russians are ready to coordinate defensive responses to Japanese or US strike-fighters, and second, that they have the capability to coordinate air battles on offense.

Looking toward the near future, the Russians are improving the Severomorsk-1 air base near the Northern Fleet headquarters on the Barents Sea.  The project will allow the base to accommodate the Tu-160 Blackjack, Russia’s long-range supersonic jet bomber, and the Tu-95 turboprop bomber.  The move will put extended support facilities  for the bombers in Russia’s remote northwestern periphery, allowing the aircraft, now based in Engels in the interior, to get to a Western- or Northern- (polar) front fight faster, and with less vulnerability over potentially hostile territory (i.e., in Europe).  The new facilities are to be operational in May 2013; they would not be a factor in a near-term dust-up over Syria, but are another indicator of Moscow’s emerging posture toward the West.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/syria-russia-it-all-looks-different-from-out-there/2012/02/13/

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