FIOE: Israeli authorities must be forced to cease their abuses against Palestinian prisoners

Thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have gone on hunger strike in protest over the abuses perpetrated against them by the Israeli occupation authorities, which insist on breaching and rejecting international conventions, and withholding the prisoners’ basic rights.

The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) expresses its solidarity with Palestinian men and women prisoners languishing in Israeli occupation jails, and condemns the unjust Israeli policies wielded against them, as well as the constant abuse of their rights. The Federation invites European bodies and governments, on the basis of their commitments to upholding human rights and securing justice for the oppressed, to adopt positions that put pressure on the Israeli government and its authorities, to cease these persistent abuses. The Federation calls for intensified acts of solidarity with these prisoners, who are on hunger strike to gain basic rights and fair demands.

The Federation warns that international inaction, regarding justice for Palestinian prisoners and detainees, has encouraged the Israeli authorities to continue these abuses with impunity. Men and women prisoners continue to suffer unjust measures, including denial of visits by family, detention without trial in so-called “administrative detention”, and solitary confinement—denying the male or female prisoner contact with any other person both inside and outside the prison over many months or years. Men and women prisoners also suffer from cruel acts and mistreatment perpetrated against their person, and various forms of psychological torture, as well as medical neglect of sick prisoners, despite some of them suffering from incurable diseases.

The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) demands that this issue is raised at all levels, and that the Israeli authorities be compelled to grant prisoners their freedom in the shortest timeframe. Moreover, the Israeli authorities must halt the kidnapping, that continues daily, of Palestinian citizens by the Israeli army and security services, followed by torture, mistreatment, and jail, in the absence of rights and due process, and given the immunity of the Israeli authorities from accountability internationally.

Thousands of Palestinian men and women have been thrown into Israeli jails through arbitrary processes, on the basis of their opposition to the occupation, and their striving for freedom of their people; indeed, the Israeli authorities have inflicted a variety of abuses upon them. These prisoners deserve justice, finally, from the international community, including United Nations and European Union bodies. It is high time for a European fact-finding mission to be formed to inspect the conditions under which Palestinian prisoners and detainees are held in occupation jails, and that the International Committee of the Red Cross is allowed firsthand sight of the conditions of these jails, and the situation of prisoners and detainees held within them, alongside effective action by international bodies on this humanitarian issue.

Brussels, 28 April 2012

The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE)

Letter from the FIOE to French President, Nicolas Sarkozy

His Excellency, President of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy

Dear President Sarkozy,

We, in the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) continue to monitor, along with Muslims on this continent, and segments of European civil society, and the public, the disturbing trend in positions taken by some political actors and the media in France in recent weeks, with regard to dealing with Muslims and their organisations in France.

The positions and statements expressed by state and political bodies paint a worrying picture in terms of some declared intentions towards Muslims. In addition, the content of some media channels comes close to casting French Muslims, their prominent organisations, and mosque imams unjustly in the zone of suspicion.

The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) was quite surprised at some of these measures and views; for example, the announcement by French authorities to refuse a number of prominent Muslim scholars and personalities permission to enter France and attend the 29th Annual Meeting of France’s Muslims, in a step coinciding with a reprehensible smear campaign in the media against these widely respected scholars.

Indeed, we would wish to remind that these steps are incompatible with the requirements of common decency, and that the recurring ill treatment of Muslims in France cannot be in harmony with the values of the French Republic, and also send the wrong signals. In this context, the impression given is that further moral burdens are unfairly being put onto the shoulders of France’s Muslims in the wake of the terrible crimes witnessed recently in Toulouse, whose victims were French citizens from different religious communities, including Muslims. Perhaps, you may have noted the voices in political and media circles that engage in practically dividing French society, instilling fear of Muslims and Islamic organisations in the public, cheaply exploiting the blood of innocent victims, and ignoring the standards of fairness and obligations of human rights.

It is quite disheartening to see general election seasons converted into a cheap contest between candidates vying to out-do each other, where contrary to the spirit of democracy, they employ misrepresentation and agitation, pit citizens against each other, and create division in society, just to win votes or publicity. Political campaigning, especially during election times, must distance itself from stoking resentment, provoking panic, offending communities, and disparaging the cultural specificities of partners in society and citizens of the Republic.

No doubt that acts of violence, aggression, and terror, are condemned in all forms, and cannot be justified. Indeed, these must be prevented and confronted; this is what we have emphasised in repeated statements of position. However, guilt cannot be generalised, nor can the followers of a specific religion, or members of a community or culture be blamed wholesale for acts of violence or terrorism, tarred with same brush of suspicion, or restricted in their public or personal freedoms. Indeed, the ideal response to acts of violence, hate speech, and voices of extremism, lies in isolating these within their actual context, and dealing with them using the tools of justice and systems of the state of law. At the same time, strengthening solidarity and openness, protecting human values and constitutional principles, supporting accord, reinforcing mutual respect, and promoting solidarity and cohesion in society. The confluence of efforts and collaboration in political and societal spheres is, ideally, sufficient to address problems, challenges, and threats.

Feverish misrepresentation and incitement is the wrong response to the shock of Toulouse, as this threatens to practically undermine the values of religious and personal freedom, equality and equal opportunities, openness and tolerance, and mutual respect and solidarity. Moreover, such an approach is irresponsible, as it distracts from the common challenges that require societies with diverse constituents to combat and address their causes, roots, and consequences. It is our expectation that all responsible bodies in France will choose wisdom, broad-mindedness, and concern for national unity, even in the context of political and electoral competition. Everyone is required to work hard at winning hearts, building bridges, reinforcing mutual trust, and closing the door on those voices inciting discord and hostility, creating splits within our European societies, and harming intercultural relations.

With the utmost respect

Brussels, 5 April 2012

Chakib Benmakhlouf

President, the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE)

Letter to President Sarkozy: disturbing developments in Dealing with Muslims

Brussels/Paris– Mr. Chakib Ben Makhlouf, the president of Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE), extended a letter to the French president, Mr Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday, 5 April concerning the disturbing trend in positions taken by some political actors and the media in France in recent weeks, with regard to dealing with Muslims and their organisations in France.

The letter read: “We, in the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) continue to monitor, along with Muslims on this continent, and segments of European civil society, and the public, the disturbing trend in positions taken by some political actors and the media in France in recent weeks, with regard to dealing with Muslims and their organisations in France.”

The leading European Muslim figure added: “The positions and statements expressed by state and political bodies paint a worrying picture in terms of some declared intentions towards Muslims. In addition, the content of some media channels comes close to casting French Muslims, their prominent organisations, and mosque imams unjustly in the zone of suspicion.”

Mr Chakib Ben Makhlouf declared that The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) was quite surprised at some of these measures and views; for example, the announcement by French authorities to refuse a number of prominent Muslim scholars and personalities permission to enter France and attend the 29th Annual Meeting of France’s Muslims, in a step coinciding with a reprehensible smear campaign in the media against these widely respected scholars.

He added: “Indeed, we would wish to remind that these steps are incompatible with the requirements of common decency, and that the recurring ill treatment of Muslims in France cannot be in harmony with the values of the French Republic, and also send the wrong signals. In this context, the impression given is that further moral burdens are unfairly being put onto the shoulders of France’s Muslims in the wake of the terrible crimes witnessed recently in Toulouse, whose victims were French citizens from different religious communities, including Muslims. Perhaps, you may have noted the voices in political and media circles that engage in practically dividing French society, instilling fear of Muslims and Islamic organisations in the public, cheaply exploiting the blood of innocent victims, and ignoring the standards of fairness and obligations of human rights.”

The FIOE president expressed  his sorry that general election seasons convert into a cheap contest between candidates vying to out-do each other, where contrary to the spirit of democracy, they employ misrepresentation and agitation, pit citizens against each other, and create division in society, just to win votes or publicity. Political campaigning, especially during election times, must distance itself from stoking resentment, provoking panic, offending communities, and disparaging the cultural specificities of partners in society and citizens of the Republic.

The leading European Muslim figure clarified that acts of violence, aggression, and terror, are condemned in all forms, and cannot be justified. Indeed, these must be prevented and confronted; this is what we have emphasised in repeated statements of position. However, guilt cannot be generalised, nor can the followers of a specific religion, or members of a community or culture be blamed wholesale for acts of violence or terrorism, tarred with same brush of suspicion, or restricted in their public or personal freedoms. Indeed, the ideal response to acts of violence, hate speech, and voices of extremism, lies in isolating these within their actual context, and dealing with them using the tools of justice and systems of the state of law. At the same time, strengthening solidarity and openness, protecting human values and constitutional principles, supporting accord, reinforcing mutual respect, and promoting solidarity and cohesion in society. The confluence of efforts and collaboration in political and societal spheres is, ideally, sufficient to address problems, challenges, and threats.

He also warned that Feverish misrepresentation and incitement is the wrong response to the shock of Toulouse, as this threatens to practically undermine the values of religious and personal freedom, equality and equal opportunities, openness and tolerance, and mutual respect and solidarity. Moreover, such an approach is irresponsible, as it distracts from the common challenges that require societies with diverse constituents to combat and address their causes, roots, and consequences.

Concluding the letter, The FIOE president said it is our expectation that all responsible bodies in France will choose wisdom, broad-mindedness, and concern for national unity, even in the context of political and electoral competition. Everyone is required to work hard at winning hearts, building bridges, reinforcing mutual trust, and closing the door on those voices inciting discord and hostility, creating splits within our European societies, and harming intercultural relations.