Turkish PM raps France for face veil ban, militants online urge punishment for Paris

By Reuters Staff
April 13, 2011
(Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, April 13, 2011. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler)

(Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, April 13, 2011/Vincent Kessler)

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan accused France of violating the freedom of religion on Wednesday after Paris began enforcing a law barring Muslim women from wearing full face veils in public. He told the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe that Turkey was the only Muslim country that had copied the French law on secularism, or separating church and state.

“It’s quite ironic to see that secularism is today under debate in Europe and is undermining certain freedoms,” he said. “Today in France, there is no respect for individual religious freedom,” he said. The Strasbourg-based Council of Europe monitors human rights across the continent. Read the full story here.

Meanwhile, the face veil ban  has triggered calls on militant online forums for armed retaliation against the country, a U.S.-based terrorism monitoring service said on Wednesday. Some contributors to the messages seen on the password-protected, invitation-only militant chatrooms this week called on al Qaeda’s North Africa arm to “deter” France by staging armed attacks, the SITE service said.

The anonymous threats, presented by the sites as comments by individuals, carry none of the weight of published audio or video statements by Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda or similar established armed groups seeking to attack Western targets. But Western security officials are concerned that sermons, discussions and videos published on online forums and social networking sites are increasingly used by militants to encourage sympathisers to attempt attacks.

“Sarkozy, leave our sisters alone or we will truly be obligated to act on our words,” wrote one participant with the online identity of “Jabeen of Abdullah Azzam”, writing on the Arabic-language Shumukh al-Islam forum, SITE reported. “Declare a war against crusader France!” wrote “al-katebat al-khdra” (the green battalion) on Shumukh al-Islam. “France with such action brought destruction and woes on itself.”

Read the full story here.


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