Stories about France

Apparently ‘Pakistani’ in French means ‘terrorist’

I experienced it again yesterday; I re-lived what it feels like to be accused – accused when you don’t even know why you are being charged. Again, I lived through the humiliation of someone pointing his finger at me and saying,  “Hey you… You look like a terrorist.” The temperature in Lille was cold; six degrees below the freezing point, to be exact. The behaviour of the four men around me was colder. I had noticed them the moment I had gotten off the train that had brought me back to Lille from Paris. I thought that I was being over imaginative ...

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When will project Jihad end?

Another man, another terrorist incident, another country and another trail of blood-laden footprints leading back to Pakistan. Mohammed Merah, the French citizen of Algerian extraction finally gave himself up and, for better or for worse, was shot dead at the hands of French forces after a prolonged siege at a housing estate. The 23-year-old killed seven Frenchmen, including three solders, to “avenge Palestinian children” and protest against French military interventions overseas. According to media reports, Mohammad, just like so many others before him, visited Pakistan twice before going on his killing spree. The purpose, presumably, was to freshen up his shooting ...

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A visit to Shahbaz airbase: All is well…

I reached Shahbaz airbase along with several other journalists and senior Pakistan Air Force officials, to inspect the 36 new F-16 C Block 52 fighters. We were accompanied by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Chief of Air Staff Rao Qamar Suleman. We toured the revamped base where the recently acquired aircraft will be housed, and which has reportedly cost the government over $5 billion! I could not see any American soldiers at the airbase, which is only 345 km away from Kandahar, Afghanistan. Everyone, including both the army and air force chiefs, appeared to be grateful to the United States ...

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Iran, laughing in the face of nuclear disaster

Iran has launched a four day military exercise to show its strength in the wake of rising tensions with the international community and possible military action against them. Getting into gear, their Revolutionary Guards as well as their ground troops and air defenses, Iran is ready for anything. Coinciding with the show of strength is a two day UN inspectors’ visit to Iran, the second visit this month. Led by Herman Nackaerts, the team hopes to achieve access to Parchin military base, as well as talk to question Iran’s nuclear scientist. The inspectors, however, will not be visiting any nuclear ...

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Niqab, blasphemy and the life of an 8th grader

A shocking example of the severity of ignorance within our society is the blasphemy case against an eighth grade Christian girl, based on something as trivial as a spelling error. Faryal Bhatti, a student at the Sir Syed Girls High School in Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) colony in Havelian, accidently misspelt ‘naat’ as ‘laanat’ in an Urdu exam while answering a question on a poem written in praise of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). While the blasphemy law and its affect on minority rights – who ironically it was meant to protect – has been part a controversy whirlwind this past year, the fact ...

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A ‘beta’ for Bruni

Life in the upper echelons of European society can sometimes be as gender biased as it is on our side of the globe. On the one hand, there are Drottningholm Palace of Sweden, that has followed equal primogeniture in their law of succession since 1980, and the Buckingham Palace that plans to do the same to enable William and Kate’s firstborn boy or girl to succeed to the throne after the future King William. On the other hand, there’s Èlysée Palace, home to President Sarkozy of the Republic of France, where (as reports suggest) the First Lady, Ms Carla ...

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Palestine, behind the Osama smokescreen

The Bin Laden killing has gripped the global media and has been a source of relief, as well as misery, for many people around the world. Nevertheless, the practical impact of his killing on international terrorist activities and the war against terror is yet to be seen. This event, however, has inadvertently served as a smoke screen for more substantive events in the Middle East, specifically Palestine. Recently, Fatah and Hamas, the two groups representing the Palestinians, came together in an agreement to end the tensions between them and to formulate a plan for government formation. The history of these two ...

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Muslim immigrants: A cold shoulder for a bad reputation

After the great Messina, another tsunami has embarked on the shores of Italy. But this time, it is not water that is causing problems. 26,000 immigrants belonging mainly to Tunisia and Libya have arrived on the island of Lampedusa – a number larger than the total population of the island. Earlier, Italy had taken responsibility for 20,000 immigrants. As the immigrants keep pouring onto the shores of Italy, it is looking towards neighbouring Schengen countries to lend a helping hand. The Italian government has decided to issue a six month Schengen visa to these immigrants, a move that has given jitters to the ...

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Is the veil not cool enough for France?

Is it difficult to be a woman, a Muslim and a self-proclaimed fighter of gender discrimination – and not support the French government’s ban on the burqa? Nope, no problem. In fact, I feel I am in a position of advantage as a member of a religion that has come under fire from the world’s democracies as well as an outspoken advocate for  equality for both sexes. Let me iterate here: I do not support the ban on the face veil. It is tantamount to human rights violations against minorities. What is French culture? The French government’s ban  says that the ...

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China: too large to mess with

After a long time I actually felt my politics and economics degree was worth something when I heard that the infamous Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France, actually went to the airport to receive – with full military honours – his Chinese counterpart President Hu Jintao, who arrived in Paris on for a ‘state visit’ on Thursday. Even the controversial Sarkozy had to stoop to saying: “China should not be seen as a risk but an opportunity,” ahead of Hu’s arrival. Of course this angered human rights activists, who accuse the Chinese government for a whole bunch of violations in the ...

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