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EU uses World Cup to demonise Islam

M.S. Ahmed

‘We may be Christians and democrats but we can no longer afford to turn the other cheek to the criminal activities of "Islamic terrorists" in our midst, now that they have committed the ultimate abomination of launching large-scale preparations for mass murder at events in the World Cup in France, in a fiendish bid to exploit the global television coverage of a sport loved across national, linguistic and religious divides worldwide.’

The five European Union (EU) States which first began to swoop on their Muslim populations at the end of May in a cowardly and cynical exploitation of the World Cup did not exactly use those words. But they could easily have done so since their joint criminal action, still unfolding, is religious in nature, directed as it is against Islamic activists and also designed to bail out the corrupt and anti-Islamic junta in Algeria - a country whose vast gas and oil resources the ‘Christian democrats’, incidentally, have no compunction plundering.

Police in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland swooped on the homes of Muslims on May 26 in dawn raids typical of totalitarian States and in clear violation of EU and United Nations conventions against racism, religious discrimination and violations of personal freedoms, including the freedoms of thought and belief. The operation co-ordinated at a meeting held in Paris several days earlier came only two weeks after eight ‘suspected Islamic militants’ were arrested in London, and two weeks before the World Cup kick-off.

In the dawn raids in France, 53 people were detained at 43 locations in Paris, Lyon and Marseille and on the Island of Corsica. The Paris daily Le Monde reported that the Algerian, Tunisian and French nationals arrested were suspected of links with Hasan Hattab, believed to be head of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) in the mountainous region east of Algiers, the Algerian capital. Officials in France said the raids there uncovered documents, computer disks, video cassettes, false identity papers and what the ministry said was ‘significant’ sums of cash. Reports said that only one firearm had been seized and that no explosives had been found. [Emphasis added]

The French interior minister described the arrests as a ‘preventive’ measure, ‘after months of surveillance which allow one to presume that terrorist actions were being prepared with the approach of the football World Cup.’

But police sources told reporters that the operations’ real aim was to destroy the network of Islamic groups in Western Europe rather than forestall ‘terrorist’ acts directed by Islamic activists against the world cup. The Times of London, for instance, quotes police sources as saying that the operation was intended to dismantle suspected support networks for Algerian Islamic guerrilla groups rather than counteract any specific terrorist bombing threat.

The Italians even found it fit to emphasize the anti-Islamic nature of the swoop by code-naming the raids in Italy ‘Operation Crusade.’ In northern Italy, police detained nine suspects and said the ‘move was closely linked to investigations carried out by police in other countries into a vast organisation traceable to the GIA.’

In Germany, police arrested five Algerians, including two ‘suspected’ of being aides to Hasan Hattab. The police also confiscated documents, computer equipment and videos. The federal prosecutor’s office in Karisruhe said that the raids on seven houses in Bonn and nearby Cologne had been trained to coincide with the police actions in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy.

‘The investigations are into Algerian citizens suspected of belonging to a group which provides explosives and logistical support to Islamic extremists in Algeria,’ a prosecutor’s office statement said.

In Belgium, where eight CIA members were arrested in March, police raided about 10 addresses in Brussels and in the southern city of Charleroi and detained 10 suspects, according to the public prosecutor’s office in Brussels. Yet an official said that neither explosives nor arms had been seized. A large North African community, mainly Moroccan, lives in the Belgium capital and has been involved in two major protests this year as a result of racist attacks on them and their properties.

In Switzerland, a federal police spokesman said a large police operation was underway outside Zurich, involving Algerians. Two ‘Islamic suspects’ were later arrested. Tesnim Aiman and Ressous Hauari were alleged to be involved in a network that delivers East European arms to Algeria and forges documents.

Police sources told reporters that at least 120 warrants have been issued across Europe and that further arrests are expected. Three unnamed Islamic activists were arrested on June 3 in the outskirts of Paris on clearly absurd grounds. Police claimed that in their taped conversation, there were references to ‘Addidas’ and ‘football’ - references that allegedly confirmed their involvement in the anti-World Cup ‘terrorist plot.’

France issued extradition requests for four of the ‘suspects’ arrested in other European countries. Two - Adel Mechat and Omar Sarki - were arrested in the raids in Grmany, and are said to be aides of Hasan Hattab; the other two, Tesnim Aiman and Ressous Houari, are being held in Switzerland.

This extensive operation, said to be the largest ever undertaken in Europe against ‘terrorists,’ is clearly directed at Islamic activists, as police and public prosecutors’ statements show. Even the French interior minister, Jean-Pierre Chevenement, has now amended his ministry’s statement that the operation was purely ‘preventive’ and was wholly designed to forestall terrorist strikes at the World Cup tournament. ‘The police operation was not purely preventive but there were sufficently serious elements for us to act in advance.’

In other words, the EU authorities were seizing the opportunity provided by the World Cup to demonise Muslims, who are the main victims of the tide of racism and xenophobia now sweeping Europe. The move will not only help get rid of unwanted aliens but will also send a message to immigrants planning to settle in western Europe, as it will improve the electoral fortunes of the ruling parties.

Just how unwanted Muslims are in Europe is demonstrated by the silence of the so-called human rights groups despite the oppressive nature of the operation. But why should they care when Muslim States have failed to protest and might have even privately celebrated the pogroms.

Muslimedia: June 16-30, 1998

Article from

Crescent International Vol. 27, No. 8

Safar 21, 14191998-06-16

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