Hundreds of teachers in Parisan suburbs that are predominantly populated by immigrants have gone on strike demanding more effort from the French governent to counteract violence in their schools. The most recent incident occurred last Tuesday in the Montreuil suburb where a 13 year old grabbed a pregnant teacher by the throat and tried to strangle her to the enjoyment of a number of his co-students. Among the incidents last week was an attack on a history teacher who was punched in the face by a student in Sarcelles. In the same week a 15 year old in Gisors broke the nose of another teacher and a Molotov coctail was thrown at a school in Argenteuil.
One of the worst incidents occurred in Etampes, south of Paris, on December 16, when a student stabbed a 27 year old art teacher in the stomach with a knife. Teachers in Seine-Saint-Denis in the northern part of Paris say their protest is directed towards the government which they say has not learned from the riots in November.
In two recent documents from the Vatican, Catholic women are warned against marrying Muslims. In one of them cardinal Stephen Hamao discusses the “bitter experience” of European women who have married Muslims. He says the problems then escalate if the couple move to a Muslim country. In November cardinal Camillo Ruini, the head of the Italian bishops, said all couples had certain problems when establishing families but in relationships between Catholics and Muslims there were many more problems due to deep cultural differences. Church officials say the number of Muslims in Italy is approaching one million and 20.000 mixed marriages take place every year.
Official figures indicate that the number of young people in Norway asking for help against forced marriages has trebled over the past five years. Many Norwegian youths of Pakistani origin are taken out of school in order to finance their own forced marriage.
The Norwegian Minister of Justice, Knut Storberget, recently said he wants stricter laws with the aim of making it impossible to obtain Norwegian citizenship for immigrants who are wanted for crimes in their homelands. In November the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) said it believed that Norway was being used by ‘freelance’ terrorists as a place to lie low and plan activities.
Meanwhile the practice of polygamy is on the increase according to the Immigration Directorate. The increase is mainly due to men who travel to countries where polygamy is legal, and there marry for the second time without first dissolving the first marriage in Norway. Until now these men have been able to seek family reunification for the second wife in Norway. The Directorate wants to prevent this.
According to an official Swedish report published in December, immigrants in Sweden are four times more likely to be investigated for lethal violence and robbery than persons born in Sweden to Swedish parents. In a report studying 4.4 million Swedes between the ages of 15 and 51 during the period 1997-2001, the council found that immigrants were overrepresented in Sweden's crime statistics. Immigrants were also three times more likely to be investigated for assault and five times more likely to be investigated for sex crimes.
The Swedish media devoted much attention to the announcement last November by Nalin Pekgul, the chairman of The National Federation of Social Democratic Women, in a radio interview, that she and her family were moving from the Stockholm suburb Tensta. Pekgul had lived in Tensta for 25 years, ever since she came to Sweden as a refugee from Kurdistan in 1980 when she was thirteen. She is a well-known politician in Sweden and was an MP for the Social Democratic Party from 1994 until 2002. Pegul says it was not safe for her family to live in Tensta anymore since religious extremes and violence have become widespread in the suburb.
The triggering factor was an incident in connection with the Tensta Market earlier this autumn, when a man was hurt by gunshots close to the family’s apartment. Rumours had it that the man survived because he was wearing a bulletproof vest. “I understood then that many are wearing bulletproof vests here.” Nalin Pekgul, who is a Muslim herself, has also noted that fundamentalistic variants of Islam are growing stronger in Tensta. Her children come home and wonder why their mother does not wear a hijab or why their family does not go to the mosque. “I do not like it when my son comes home and says ‘Mom, we Muslims do not lie, but Christians do, because they do not have God.’ He has not got that from us. We had not reckoned on this religious fundamentalism,” she says.