Friday, March 24, 2006
EU IMMIGRATION SPAIN LEADER
EU interior ministers from the six biggest EU countries have agreed to step up coordination of their security services to enhance the integration of immigrants into the EU as well as to fight terrorism. Interior ministers from Spain, Italy, France, Germany, UK and Poland, or the G6 group, gathered in Heiligenddamm in Germany on Thursday (23 March) to discuss topics related to terrorism, illegal immigration and integration as well as drug trafficking and human smuggling.
At the meeting, ministers gave the green light to forming common investigation teams to clamp down on people smuggling at the EU's borders, with Spain in particular urging common efforts to put an end to the high number of illegal immigrants coming from Africa to Europe. In November and December, between 1,200 and 1,700 Africans, mostly from Sub-Saharan countries, were drowned trying to reach the Canary Islands in barely seaworthy boats, Spanish media reported.
Another Spanish proposal, to create a rapid reaction European anti-terrorist police force was also approved by the other G6 members.When set up, EU joint anti-terror police and forensic teams could be dispatched within hours to locations in EU member states where a terrorist attack has occurred.Ministers also agreed to better information-sharing on persons expelled from any of the G6 states on grounds of "activities to foment hatred between races and religions".
The wording refers explicitly to certain "preachers of hate"- Imams that have been expelled after preaching hatred against Westeners and Jews in Mosques across Europe. Immigrants to pledge Western values Proposed by French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy, ministers also agreed to look into compulsory integration exams for foreigners. Mr Sarkozy had also suggested that EU member states demand possible immigrants to sign a "contract" that requires that they learn the language of their adopted country and accept its social norms – or risk being expelled.
"We agree that experts from our countries must examine the option of presenting an integration contract to new immigrants," German interior minister Wolfgang Schauble told reporters after the meeting in Austria, AFP reports. British interior secretary Charles Clarke said according to the Financial Times that "the values of our societies - democracy, respect for other faiths, free speech, the rule of law, free media and so on - are values which we would expect everybody wanting to settle in these countries to respect.
"Several European countries have already introduced language tests for immigrants. The Netherlands earlier this month went a step further, introducing new entry laws that require potential immigrants to take language and culture exams in order to emigrate to the country. To prepare immigrants for Dutch liberal society, possible newcomers would also have to watch a film picturing a sunbathing topless woman, gay men kissing and the immigrant "ghettos" that may await immigrants coming into the country.
Monday, March 20, 2006
RABBI CALLS FOR UN OF RELIGIONS
By Danny Wood BBC News, Seville
Metzger spoke at the opening of the three-day conference.
The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger, has called for the creation of a world body with representatives from the major religious groups. Rabbi Metzger was addressing the International Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace in Seville, Spain. He called for the formation of a "United Nations of religious groups".
The Imam of Gaza, Imad al-Faluji, said politicians lied but religious leaders had a different objective - to work towards a higher good. The imams and rabbis at this conference, which opened on Sunday, say the world is in crisis and it is time they acted to restore justice, respect and peace.
The delegates have made it very clear that now is the time for concrete initiatives. At the opening ceremony Rabbi Yona Metzger said his idea of a "United Nations of religious groups" could "bring a bridge between religions to help the bridge of the diplomatic way". That plan has broad support from key participants like Frederico Major, the co-president of the Alliance for Civilisations, the lobby group for international conflict resolution, supported by the United Nations and initiated by Spain's Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
The speeches at this conference rather than using polite, diplomatic language have at times been brutally direct. When the Rabbi Metzger harangued mainstream Muslims for not standing up to Osama bin Laden, Islamic leaders nodded in agreement. Both Muslim and Jewish leaders have shown a preparedness to take criticism.
There have also been strong expressions of opposition to any killing in the name of religion.
At the end of the opening ceremony, the Muslim delegation sang an oration to the Prophet Mohammed before resuming discussions about the ideas they plan to present to their Jewish counterparts. The religious leaders have three days to come up with a manifesto that aims to convert their words into actions.