Austria says to expel ‘several’ imams, shut 7 mosques

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A Muslim woman walks by a mosque at Islam Centre of Vienna on April 14, 2017 in Vienna, Austria. (AFP)
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A community member tries to open the door of the Nizam-i Alem mosque in Vienna’s 10th district, on June 8, 2018 after it was closed as part of seven mosques that the Austrian government announced they would shut down. (AFP)
Updated 08 June 2018
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Austria says to expel ‘several’ imams, shut 7 mosques

  • Austria will expel “several” foreign-funded imams and shut seven mosques in a crackdown on “political Islam,”
  • The moves came after an investigation by the religious affairs authority into images which emerged in April of children in Turkish-backed mosques playing dead

VIENNA: Austria will expel “several” foreign-funded imams and shut seven mosques in a crackdown on “political Islam,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced on Friday.
Kurz said the moves came after an investigation by the religious affairs authority into images which emerged in April of children in Turkish-backed mosques playing dead and reenacting the World War I battle of Gallipoli.
“Parallel societies, political Islam and radicalization have no place in our country,” Kurz said.
The photos, published by the Falter weekly, showed the young boys in camouflage uniforms marching, saluting, waving Turkish flags and then playing dead.
Their “corpses” were then lined up and draped in the flags.
The mosque in question was run by the Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations (ATIB) organization, based in the German city of Cologne, and a branch of Turkey’s religious affairs agency Diyanet.
ATIB itself condemned the photos at the time, calling the “highly regrettable” event and said that “called off before it had even ended.”


Women cleared of defamation in French sexual misconduct case

In this Sept. 21, 2014 file photo, Denis Baupin, a prominent Green Party member and former Paris city official, takes part in a climate change demonstration in Paris. (AP)
Updated 20 April 2019
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Women cleared of defamation in French sexual misconduct case

  • The court considered that the women and journalists acted in good faith, which is a defense for defamation under French law

PARIS: A Paris court has dismissed a defamation case against six women who accused a former French lawmaker of sexual misconduct and the journalists who reported the allegations.
The court on Friday ordered Denis Baupin to pay 1,000 euros ($1,120) in damages to each of the 12 people he sued.
In May 2016, investigative website Mediapart and radio station France Inter published and broadcast accounts from 14 women who alleged Baupin had groped, sexted or otherwise harassed them.
The prominent Green Party member resigned as vice president of the lower House of Parliament but denied wrongdoing and launched a defamation lawsuit against the six women who were identified in the reports, some witnesses and journalists.
The case had been under particular scrutiny in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
Women rights activists have seen it as a test of French women’s ability to speak out when they think powerful men have sexually harassed or abused them — and how journalists can report it.
The court considered that the women and journalists acted in good faith, which is a defense for defamation under French law.
In addition, it considered France Inter and Mediapart respected their additional obligations: the legitimacy of journalists’ goals in producing a story, demonstrating an absence of personal animosity, prudence and balance, and the quality of the investigation.
Most of the women who spoke about Baupin’s alleged behavior from 1998 to 2013 were fellow Green Party members, and outrage greeted their descriptions.
Four filed criminal complaints for sexual harassment at the time. A nine-month judicial investigation ended without charges. Prosecutors said the three-year statute of limitations had expired, but released a statement saying the women’s “measured, constant statements” and witness corroboration created a set of facts to support allegations of actions that “may for some of them be classified as criminal.”
The cleared women greeted the ruling with tears of joy and relief.
Lawyer Claire Moleon, a lawyer for one of them, told The Associated Press that “this is a great victory.”
“This is a very strong signal given by justice. It’s putting an end to a move that we were noticing to use defamation lawsuits to put more pressure on the victims of sexual harassment and sexual abuse,” she said.
Moleon stressed that Baupin’s order to pay damages to the people he sent on trial shows that “sanctions apply” to such cases.
During the February trial, women had described, often with lots of emotion, their alleged harassment through text messages and inappropriate comments, and in some cases, alleged sexual assault attempts.
Some former officials of France’s Green Party also testified in court, saying they should have acted earlier on reports of sexual misconduct. They stressed that the #MeToo movement has raised their awareness.
Baupin’s lawyer Emmanuel Pierrat, had argued his client did nothing illegal and had filed a defamation lawsuit to “fully clear his name.”
Baupin had decided not to attend the trial.