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memri
January 24, 2011 No.
657

Islamist Websites in Europe – A General Review Part 2: Sites and Forums in French

By: N. Maruani*

After the publication of reports about Islamist sites in French, including a December 2006 review by MEMRI,[1] the French and Belgian authorities began to monitor and close down websites featuring inciting materials. Today, four years later, some of the inciting sites featured in MEMRI's 2006 report are gone, such as Qibla (qibla.net), while others, such as Voice of the Oppressed (Stcom.net), remain online but no longer have active forums, which were the main platform for incitement. However, new Islamist sites and forums have appeared, more active than the previous ones. These feature news about the Taliban and the fighting on various jihad fronts; subtitled videos of clerics supporting global Jihad, such as Anwar Al-Awlaki; translated texts by prominent contemporary Salafi-jihadi ideologue Sheikh Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi and by prominent medieval scholar Ibn Taymiyya[2]; and various fatwas, calls to jihad, and inciting propaganda. The banner of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated organization Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), which serves as the emblem of global jihad, appears frequently on these sites.

An examination of the sites reveals that their main goals are to promote Islamist ideology and jihad, to establish a connection between French-speaking fundamentalist Muslims and the mujahideen on the jihad fronts, and to solicit donations (most of the sites have at least one section devoted to this).

It should be noted that since French law prohibits incitement on racial or religious grounds, the writers on the sites often find ways to convey their inciting and jihadist messages without openly infringing on the law.

The following is an overview of some French-language Islamist sites and forums whose main focus is jihad.[3]Other French Islamist sites focus on religious practice and promote the subjugation of women. These will be discussed in an upcoming report.

1. Forums

Ansar Al-Haqq (Ansar-alhaqq.net/forum)

Ansar Al-Haqq is one of the two most active Islamist forums in French. It features news from the Afghan front, videos by Al-Qaeda's media company Al-Sahab and by the GIMF,[4] an Anwar Al-Awlaki video subtitled in French, and calls to join the jihad. Its homepage features links to three jihadist documents titled "Women's Role in Jihad Against the Enemy", "This Is Al-Qaeda," and "Allah Is Preparing Us for the Victory of Sheikh Anwar Al-Awlaki." Texts by Sheikh Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, translated by the site,[5] are available for download.

A section devoted to jihad explains that "Jihad is highly important and some scholars regard it as the sixth pillar of Islam."

As on many forums, members can upload an image that appears beside each of their postings. Many of the members select photos of prominent jihad leaders. For example, a member called "Abou Silah" uses a picture of Osama bin Laden, and "Abu Zubaydah" uses a picture of Ayman Al-Zawahiri.

The site is clearly aware of the danger posed by the French anti-incitement laws and warns its members to be careful and discreet. An October 8, 2010 message from the site administrators, headed "Protect yourselves, brothers and sisters! Protect yourselves!", informs the forum members that "many brothers and sisters have been arrested lately," including "former administrators and moderators of this forum" on charges of spreading "jihadi propaganda on the Internet." The message therefore advises the members to be careful, because the DRCI (the French intelligence service) is watching them: "We have seen and received so many messages inquiring about how to join the jihad…! Allah be praised, do you realize what you are writing about and asking for?!... Do you mistake us for Internet recruiters, or do you think we are stupid?"

In response to this posting, one of the members remarks that no one wants the police to come knocking on his parents' door at six in the morning and to arrest the whole family.

Another member, called "Abou Malik wa Taymiyya," thanks the administrators for this warning, but quotes a Koranic verse about the duty of waging jihad: "Unless ye go forth [to jihad], He [Allah] will punish you with a grievous penalty, and put others in your place [Koran 9:39]." The posting is accompanied by the ISI banner.

Another senior member quotes eighth century Muslim scholar Muhammad ibn 'Abd Al-Wahhab: "…As long as we live, we are forever in jihad… We will spill the unbelievers' blood and take their possessions as booty, by the will and strength of Allah…" He then quotes from the Koran: "Kill the polytheists wherever you find them… [9:5]."

Call to jihad by a "senior member" of the site

Many postings on the forum deal with the situation in Afghanistan and Chechnya. For example, "Abu Zubaydah" posts frequent updates on the war in Afghanistan.

Abu Zubaydah on December 12, 2010: "Kandahar: 30 American soldiers were killed/wounded…"

There is also a section dedicated to communiqués by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (i.e., the Taliban):

"Communiqués from the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan"

Other forum members report on mujahideen who have been martyred in Uzbekistan.[6]

November 14, 2010 posting by "Khattab02": "Ebu Askar (Salman El Farisi) and İmran Almani martyred [in Uzbekistan]"

The forum also features an "Official Declaration from the Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus" translated from Russian into French. It was posted in 2007 by forum member Abu Shamil Al-Shishani.[7]

"Official declaration from the Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus"

On December 4, 2010, the forum posted a Dailymotion video of Anwar Al-Awlaki subtitled in French.[8]

Nida Al-Tawhid (tawhid.over-blog.com/ext/http://www.nida-attawhid.com/forum/)

The other major forum is Nida Al-Tawhid. The forum rules, posted on October 24, 2010 by administrator "Abou Hatim," clarify that it recognizes the laws of the Islamic shari'a, rather than those of the French state: "[The site is] entirely subjected to the noble laws revealed by Allah, [called] the shari'a, and to them alone."

The site features links to documents by contemporary sheiks such as Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi and Abu Qatada Al-Filastini,[9] and to texts by Ibn Taymiyya. The jihad section references Ibn Taymiyya and Taliban leader Mullah 'Omar.

Until recently, there was a link to an inciting document in French titled "Salafiyya-Jihadiyya, France and us," which attacked French secularism, in particular secular intellectual Caroline Fourest, as well as European Islamic leader Tariq Ramadan, who is criticized as being too progressive. The document also lambasted and ridiculed the Council of French Muslims (Conseil Français du Culte Musulman), calling it "the French Center for Couscous and Mergez [Sausage]." The link to this document is no longer active.[10]

The forum moderator uses the name "Abou Azzam," and his postings are accompanied by a thumbnail photo of the Khost bomber, Abu Dajana Al-Khorassani, who is much admired by jihadists.

Among the forum members are a number of women, including junior member "Assia," the only female member who has provided a photo of herself:

On the eve of the 2010 parliamentary elections in Iraq, the forum posted a link to an Al-Maqdisi article which banned participation in the elections. The article ended with a prayer – "[May Allah let us] end our lives with martyrdom in His path"and with a list of links to Al-Maqdisi's website (since the site is occasionally taken down, it has several alternate URLs).

"The ruling regarding one who participates in the parliamentary elections"

Links to Al-Maqdisi's site

The Islamic jurisprudence section includes a subsection on jihad, which references Ibn Taymiyya and Mullah Omar.

One of the postings is titled: "The duty of jihad remains until the Day of Resurrection"

The forum includes warnings about "false Salafis", Shi'ites, secularists, and others, and incites hostility towards them.

For example, the subsection on Shi'ites includes a posting titled "Sheikh Abu Mus'ab [Al-Zarqawi]'s message on the Rawafid[11]" saying: "Rawafid Shi'ites are a pitfall, a snake lying in wait, a cunning and deceitful scorpion, an enemy on the lookout, a deadly poison…"

Since this kind of incitement is illegal under French law, the author of the posting has been expelled from the forum (which is why his name is crossed out in the screenshot below). However, the posting itself has not been removed and can be accessed like any other. This exemplifies how the French Islamist forums attempt to convey their message while keeping up an appearance of respecting the law.

2. Sites

TAWHID (tawhid.over-blog.com/)

A pro-Al-Qaeda site whose banner incorporates the emblem of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated ISI (see above). A text explaining the site's goals, posted in 2005, says: "We openly support the mujahideen, and our brothers and sisters who are incarcerated [in the prisons of] the unbelievers, the hypocrites, and the apostates…"[12] Also on the site are references to Ibn Taymiyya, and several "fatwas" by anonymous authors. A December 2009 fatwa, titled "Islam condemns nationalism," states that Islam supersedes country and citizenship: "Islam does not favor the existing states. It calls for unity, for the creation of one single entity where all Muslims [live together], united by the Islamic faith."[13] Another fatwa, posted in 2007, denounces "the religion of democracy", and also condemns communism, socialism and secularism, saying that they are all "paths that deviate from Islam" and constitute "religions other than Allah's religion."[14]

A third "fatwa" addresses the question of whether Jews and Christians are infidels. Citing Ibn Taymiyya, it states: "Whoever believes that churches are houses of Allah is an infidel, and whoever thinks that the Jews and Christians' mode of worship is valid [is likewise an infidel]… Thus, there is no doubt whatsoever regarding the answer to this question."[15]

A recent posting "Horrifying news: The Paris Mosque used to be a Brothel!" denounces moderate Islam in France, stating that "the Mosque de Paris [known for preaching a moderate brand of Islam] was once a brothel where European men came to have sex with Middle Eastern women."

The site administrators stress that it is more important to oppose the Shi'ites than the Jews.

A message by an administrator refers to anti-Semitic French comedian Dieudonné M'bala M'bala.[16] It states that, even though Dieudonné "opposes the Zionist Jews" and is therefore "a model of courage... for many Muslims with shaky opinions," he should nevertheless be considered an enemy, because he is a friend of the "impure Rawafid Shi'ites." To demonstrate this, the site presents a photo (see below) taken during Dieudonné's November 2009 visit to Iran, of Dieudonné with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and with Shi'ite activist Yahia Ghouasmi, who is head of the Shi'ite Federation in France and of an anti-Zionist party, and director of the pro-Shi'ite anti-Zionist Zahra Center.[17] Clearly, then, the site views the Shi'ites as a greater enemy than the Zionists.

"Dieudonné in Iran with Yahia Gouasmi and the tyrant Ahmadinejad"

The mention of Dieudonné, who is mostly unknown outside France and is never mentioned on Arabic Islamic websites, indicates that Tawhid is run by French citizens or by people familiar with the French cultural and political scene.

There are also sections on Paradise and Hell. The former features a subtitled sermon by Egyptian Sheikh Muhammad Hassan describing the joys of Paradise (the denizens of Paradise discharge musk-scented sweat instead of defecating, their wives' virginity is renewed after every sexual act, and they also enjoy the company of the houris, who are always waiting, confined to their tents).[18]

"Every time a man approaches his wife, he finds her a virgin again"

"[The] Houris are confined to their tents. What pleasure has the Lord denied you?"

Tawhid also has an account on Facebook.[19] However, it features no unique content, its only goal being to direct people to the mother site.

Tawhid on Facebook

Le Sentier des Itinérants (The Migrants' Path) (jibal-khurassan.over-blog.com/)

Le Sentier des Itinerants is a pro-Taliban site with a news ticker providing updates from the Taliban front. Its jihad section is empty (either because its content has been removed or because it was never furnished with material in the first place), featuring a single sentence of text: "The followers of Tahwid sharpen the sword of jihad over the liars' heads." There is also a link to the Ansar Al-Haqq forum and a section for donations ("collecte Amana").

Ansar Al-Taliban (http://jibal-khurassan.over-blog.com/)

Ansar At-Taliban homepage

This pro-Taliban site has not been updated since 2008. It contains a letter from Mullah Omar, a fatwa by Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, and other fatwas by Islamist sheikhs.

Al-Rayah (http://alraayah.wordpress.com/)

The Al-Rayah site advocates the "return of the blessed Caliphate" and "resistance under the banner of Islam." It states that what Muslims lack today is "power and divine governance." As shown by the presence of the ISI banner, it endorses the ideology of Al-Qaeda.

"Resistance under the banner of Islam"

The declared goal of the site is to be a "tool" against the "devilish footprint of this nation [apparently meaning France], which is planning the imminent accession of the Dajjal (also known as the 'Antichrist'…), this imperialist Judeo-Masonic [entity, which is] a leading cause of global conflict, planned poverty, and the destruction of civilization, virtue, morals and tradition…" The site also warns against the "diabolical global axis" and supports the "true Muslim fighters" against the "imperialistic coalition."[20]

"The end of the path: the return of the blessed Caliphate"

* N. Maruani is a research fellow at MEMRI.


[1] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No.308, "Islamist Sites in French – An Overview," December 21, 2006,

Islamist Sites in French – An Overview.

[2] Taqi Al-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymiyya (1268-1328) is of the most important scholars of the Hanbali school. Ibn Taymiyya sought to reinstate what he regarded as the pure Islam, based on the Koran and the Sunna.

[4] The Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF) is a Europe-based media company that produces propaganda in support of Al-Qaeda and other extremist Islamic organizations.

[5] Al-Maqdisi, whose real name is 'Issam Muhammad Taher Al-Burqawi, is considered one the leading and most authoritative scholars of the Salafi-jihadi movement today. He manages the website Minbar Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad [The Pulpit of Jihad and Monotheism], and heads the website's shari'a committee. Al-Maqdisi is known for his rigid stance vis-à-vis the Arab regimes, which he considers apostate regimes. In recent years he has also spoken out against the Hamas government in Gaza for not instating Islamic law there.

[9] Sheikh Abu Qatada Al-Filastini (real name 'Omar Mahmoud ibn 'Omar) is a prominent cleric affiliated with Al-Qaeda, and has been a leading jihadi preacher for the last 30 years. Currently under house arrest in the U.K., he was the mentor of many Muslim terrorists from Western countries.

[10] A copy of the document is available from MEMRI upon request.

[11] Rawafid, meaning "those who refuse," is a derogatory term applied by the Sunnis to describe the Shi'ites, who refuse to accept the early caliphate of Abu Bakr, 'Omar, and 'Othman as legitimate.

[16] For more on Dieudonné, see MEMRI TV clip #2444: "French Comedian Dieudonné M'bala M'bala tells Iranian TV about His New Children's Song 'Holocaust Pineapple' and States: Most Slave Traders Were Jews; More Freedom of Speech in Iran Than in France," April 7, 2010, http://www.memri.org/legacy/clip/2444

[18] It should be noted that, according to Muslim traditions, the Houris are one of the rewards granted only to martyrs.