By Cyrus Farivar, ArsTechnica
(CNN) – For months now, the French-language twittersphere has lit up with a rash of racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic tweets using the hashtags #UnBonJuif (a good Jew), #SiMonFilsEstGay (if my son is gay), and #SiMaFilleRamèneUnNoir (if my daughter brings home a black guy).
Last fall, under pressure from French advocacy group Union of Jewish Students (UEJF), Twitter agreed to remove some offensive tweets. In October 2012, at Berlin's request, Twitter also suspended a German neo-Nazi account based in the city of Hanover, the first time the company had responded to such a government request.
By Jim Bittermann, Pierre Meilhan and Holly Yan, CNN
Paris (CNN) - After a week of deadly, international protests against an anti-Islam film, a French satirical magazine is fueling the debate between freedom of expression and offensive provocation.
The magazine Charlie Hebdo published cartoons featuring a figure resembling the Prophet Mohammed in an issue hitting newsstands Wednesday.
By Richard Allen Greene, CNN
Clichy-sous-Bois, France (CNN) - There's no doubt in university student Ouissem Satouri's mind about who he is. He’s Muslim. And he’s French. And there’s no contradiction between the two.
“I’m sitting here with you in a French cafe, wearing French clothes and having a French book in my bag, and I'm never asking myself if I am French or not,” says Satouri, who’s studying politics in Paris. “I am speaking French, I am living in France, I am dreaming in French, I want to live in France. I am French. But I am Muslim also.”
“You don't have to ask yourself if you are Muslim or French,” he says. “You don't have to take a position.”
Though France is home to Western Europe’s largest Muslim population, the question of whether someone could be both has surfaced here recently, ahead of a cliffhanger presidential election on Sunday. Many French politicians refer to Muslims as “immigrants” even though many, like Satouri, are the French-born kids of immigrants.
By Saskya Vandoorne, CNN
(CNN) – A woman fighting France's ban on Islamic face coverings was fined 120 euros ($162) Thursday for wearing a burqa, the first fine handed down by a French court over the controversial law.
Hind Ahmas sought out the punishment so she could take her fight to a higher court, she told CNN. A second woman, Najet Ait Ali, was fined 80 euros ($108) in the same court appearance.
"I am happy to be fined, since I can now take this to the European Court of Human Rights," Ahmas said.
"It's not about the amount I have to pay. It's about the principle," she said, calling the ban "pure provocation. I'm fighting to be able to walk freely in the street."
By Jessica Ravitz and Saskya Vandoorne, CNN
“Jew or not Jew?”: That is just part of the question.
An iPhone app bearing this name has been yanked from Apple’s App Store in France amid threats of a lawsuit and demands for its removal.
The app, still available elsewhere, pulls together a database of thousands of famous Jews – including movie stars, musicians, Nobel Prize winners and more – and offers insights into their backgrounds. Jewish mother? Jewish father? A convert? For $1.99 in the United States, app owners can know.
In an iTunes store description, it says: “Hey, did you know that Bob Dylan is Jewish? Of course I did! But was Marilyn Monroe really Jewish? And what about Harrison Ford? How many times have we had this conversation without being able to know for sure? You can now find the answer.”
The intention was all in fun, app creator Johann Lévy told Le Parisien. The 35-year-old research and development engineer, who is British, French and Jewish, said he doesn’t understand the outcry.
(CNN) – Flamboyant fashion designer John Galliano was found guilty Thursday on charges of making anti-Semitic comments against at least three people in a Paris cafe.
The French court gave him a suspended fine of 6,000 euros ($8,415) but he was not sentenced to jail time. The plaintiffs were awarded one symbolic euro each. Aurelien Hamelle, Galliano's lawyer, told CNN he was not surprised by the verdict.
He said the designer was happy it was all over and wants to put the whole episode behind him. Galliano was not present at the trial because he didn't want to face the media, his lawyer added.
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
Until this week, Dominique Strauss-Kahn was an object of Jewish pride, a hugely successful leader of the International Monetary Fund and an outspoken supporter of Israel who was viewed as potential contender to become France’s first Jewish president.
Now, the arrest of the former IMF chief on sexual assault charges has rattled France’s Jewish community, raising concerns that the case could inflame anti-Semitism and inspiring similar handwringing among some American Jews.
“Today, it is an incredible waste. … For me personally it is an incredible loss,” Rabbi Michel Serfaty, president of the Jewish-Muslim Friendship of France, said. “We lost him to a human weakness.”
By Padmananda Rama, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Father Patrick Desbois does not consider the stories confessions. Instead, he considers the collection of stories he's gathered over nine years the truth.
The Catholic priest and his teams have traveled to some 600 villages across Eastern Europe, seeking elderly villagers, farmers, pensioners, anyone old enough to remember and recount the atrocities committed by Nazi soldiers during the Holocaust.
"I'm not looking for the guilt. I'm looking for the facts and where are the corpses," Desbois told CNN following a presentation at the State Department Thursday.
(CNN) - When Zahra Jaferi heard that France had banned the wearing of certain types of traditional Islamic headscarves in public, she said she felt conflicting emotions.
A practicing Shiite Muslim and correspondent for The Trentonian newspaper in New Jersey, Jaferi wears a headscarf, saying she believes strongly in her right to express freedom of religion.
At the same time, she said France has a right to preserve its culture and traditions.
CNN's iReport asked its community of citizen-journalists to offer their opinion on the ban and the larger role of Islam in modern society. Jaferi is one of several iReporters who responded.
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Editor's note: Sarah Joseph OBE is the CEO and editor of emel Media. She is a regular contributor to public and governmental discussions pertaining to Islam and was listed by Washington's Georgetown University as one of the world's 500 most influential Muslims.
By Sarah Joseph, Special to CNN
London, England (CNN) - The ban imposed by French President Sarkozy on wearing a face-covering veil, or niqab, is simply dangerous gesture politics, representing little more than pandering to the far right in France.
The full force of the state is coming down on fewer than 2,000 Muslim women out of a population of 6.5 million French Muslim citizens. For what purpose? We are told it is for security, the preservation of "French values" and to alleviate the oppression of women.
For security purposes, women who wear the veil should be ready to remove their face covering in places where security and identity checks are necessary, such as airports. The argument that criminals could abuse the niqab is not compelling enough to deny the fundamental freedom of religious expression to a group of French citizens - or indeed visitors to France.
Read the full story here
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.