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US Behind Expelling Paris Airport Muslims
by IOL (reposted)
Wednesday Nov 1st, 2006 6:10 AM
PARIS — The expulsion of seasonal Muslim workers from the Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris over "security concerns" came under pressures from American and British authorities, sources told

A source with the Union of Muslim Organizations of Saint Denis said Saint Denis Mayor Jean Francois Cordet had told union's head Mohammed Hanish at an iftar banquet during the last days of Ramadan about the pressures.

"He said the French government came under intense pressures from the United States and Britain to sack the Muslim workers," added the source, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The seasonal Muslim workers were barred on October 21 from working at the airport after police withdrew their access badges.

They lost their security clearances -- which allowed them to work in airport customs zones -- because France's Anti-terrorist Coordination Unit (UCLAT) said they posed "a risk to the airport's security" or were simply deemed "dangerous."

Cordet had sent notifications to the workers that they need to establish their innocence from the charges.

The umbrella French Council for the Muslim Faith (CFCM) has pledged to closely follow up the issue.

France has a sizable Muslim minority of six million people, the largest Muslim minority in Europe.

Legal Proceedings

The Movement Against Racism and for the Friendship Among Peoples will sue Cordet for racial and religious discrimination.

The Islamophobia Coalition organization insists that the workers were suspended because of their religious backgrounds.

It said most of the suspended workers were asked about their religion, prayers and Islamic rituals like hajj, the annual pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia.

Some of them were also quizzed about their links to Islamic groups in France and previous journeys to Pakistan and other Muslim countries.

Security fears involving workers at the Charles de Gaulle airport have been raised before, and a book claiming the airport was infiltrated by "Islamic militants" stirred a furor when it was published in April.

But anti-terrorist officials have cast doubts on claims made in "The Mosques of Roissy," by right-wing French politician Philippe de Villiers.

Villiers -- a presidential hopeful in next year's elections – was accused of playing on public fears of Islamic radicals to win votes.

In2002 , a French-Algerian airport baggage handler was arrested when weapons and explosives were found in his car. Police later said he had been the victim of a set up.