French businessman ‘to pay all burqa fines’
Rachid Nekkaz (pictured) has set up a million euro fund to pay fines for women who choose to wear the full Islamic veil in countries, like France, where it is against the law to do so in public.By Tony Todd (text)
A French businessman has set up a fund to pay fines for women who wear Islamic veils or the burqa in public “in whatever country in the world that bans women from doing so”.
Rachid Nekkaz, 38, a real-estate businessman based in Paris, travelled to Belgium on Wednesday to pay 100 euros for two women fined in the first case in the country since the law was adopted there.
“I’m in favour of a law to convict a husband who forces a women to wear the niqab and who forces her to stay at home. But I’m also for a law that lets these women move freely in the streets, because freedom of movement, just like any freedom, is the most fundamental thing in a democracy, ” Nekkaz told reporters outside the courtroom in Belgium.
The same day, he paid a 75 euro fine for a woman in the north-eastern French town of Roubaix.
“I am calling for civil disobedience,” he told FRANCE 24. “I am telling women to not be afraid to go out wearing their veils. And by paying the fines, I am neutering the law, rendering it inefficient and pointless, showing that it doesn’t work. It is a humiliation for the politicians.”
Despite this initiative, Nekkaz disapproves of the veil. “How can a woman truly integrate or find a job if her face is hidden?” he asked.
He has taken exception to the law which came into force in France in April 2011, describing it as a strategy for French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his government to win a bigger share of support from far-right voters.
“This law was 100% politically motivated,” he said. “Sarkozy made a gamble. He knew it was not constitutional, but he went ahead and did it anyway. He knows that if the law ever does get knocked down, it will be well after next year’s election, which he needs to win.”
Nekkaz has launched a legal challenge in both France and Belgium that he hopes to take to the European Court of Human Rights.
Nekkaz claims his actions along with efforts from other associations has forced a change in France, where he believes police are now less keen to impose the fines, and are instead taking the women in for questioning.
“They are afraid of issuing fines because they know that I will simply pay them,” he said. “Instead they subject these women to interrogations, asking them who their parents are, whether they work, whether they have been forced to wear the veil by their husbands.”
“It is unacceptable that they are victimising innocent women who are going about their daily lives. They are not targeting the real criminals, the men who do not even let their wives leave the house.”
Nekkaz accused of political opportunism
Nekkaz, who plans to stand as an independent candidate in next year’s French presidential election, has the support of some women’s groups who are campaigning against the French law.
But the businessman has been criticised by some associations who accuse him of exploiting the situation for his own political gain.
“Amazones de la Liberté” is a Paris-based women’s association that is campaigning for the law in France to be completely overturned.
Association president Lila Citar says Nekkaz is using the issue to attract media attention ahead of his presidential bid next year.
Her group also objects to him, as a man, trying to champion what Citar says is essentially a feminist cause.
“Wearing a Niqab is a woman’s choice,” she told FRANCE 24. “It is precisely because of the supposed manipulation by men that politicians say they object to women wearing a full veil.
“Nekkaz is trying to manipulate women. He accuses politicians of being opportunistic – but so is he. He is exploiting this issue as a presidential candidate to get attention in the media.”
Archive for the ‘News’ Category
Tags: Gmail interface, Look and feel, User experience
A new version of Gmail featuring a revamped look, redesigned conversation threads and improved search is slated for pending released, according to an official video that was mistakenly posted to Google’s YouTube channel.
Jason Cornwell, user experience designer for Gmail, unveils the new version in the video. The Google Operating System blog spotted the video and it has since been made private — but not before YouTube user crlsndrsjmnz had time to repost it.
“Oops, you weren’t supposed to see that,” Gmail representative Andrea Freund tells Mashable. “Stay tuned, we’ll be sharing more info on Gmail’s new look soon.”
But, back to what’s new. “We’ve been hard at work to update Gmail with a new look,” Cornwell shares in the video. “We’ve completely redesigned the look and feel of Gmail to make it as clean, simple and intuitive as possible.”
Here’s some of what you can expect: Gmail will expand dynamically to accommodate any window size; users can adjust the size of label and chat areas; themes will include high-definition imagery; conversations — a.k.a. email threads — have been redesigned for readability and will include profile pictures (conversations look like more status updates); and search has been made more user-friendly, which means regular users can stop worrying about using Gmail search operators and simply input text into fields to find email messages.
This strikes us as the most dramatic change to Gmail since its debut, and likely marks a concerted attempt by Google to modernize and simplify the Gmail interface for the mainstream email user.
Gmail’s makeover has been several months in the making. In late June, Google released the “Preview” Gmail theme as a sneak peek of things to come.
- New Version of Gmail Coming Soon [VIDEO] (mashable.com)
- Gmail leaks its new redesign (digitaltrends.com)
- Gmail redesign bears resemblance to Facebook (thestar.com)
- Gmail Update: Details About the New Product Update (searchenginejournal.com)
Dubai tower now world’s tallest tower in Dubai holds the record. The tower height is 828 meters, which opened in 2010.
ABU DHABI // A two-kilometre stretch of Salam Street will open to traffic today, though it will be several months before the Dh5 billion project is finally complete.
“From 2007, a lot of things have changed,” Ahmed Al Sayari, the municipality’s head of road construction, observed during a tour of the project.
He was referring to the start of the long-awaited – and twice-delayed – redevelopment back in October 2007.
The project was initially expected to end in October 2010, but the completion date was pushed forward to July and again to next year.
Mr Al Sayari said the project is 88 per cent complete and should be completely ready by the first quarter of 2012.
Today, five new junctions will be opened to traffic, and more than 700 parking spaces will become available on the newly opened stretch from Hamdan Street to Al Falah Street.
The speed limit will be 60 kph.
The new section will feature state-of-the-art pedestrian and street lighting systems. The signals also use technology that reduces power consumption and maintenance.
Three of the project’s four stages have been completed; today’s unveiling is the first part of the final stage. Another 1.6 kilometres of surface road is still under construction, and work on the underground tunnels is ongoing, officials said yesterday.
The fourth and final stage is the most expensive. Surface road works, which include construction along two branches that will run from Hamdan Street and divert to Mina Zayed and the Corniche, should be completed by the end of the year.
Construction on the 3.1-kilometre tunnel will be the last piece of the puzzle. The tunnel still needs to be connected to a smaller tunnel that runs under Defence Road, Mr Al Sayari said.
When completed, vehicles will be able to use the tunnel to travel from Sheikh Zayed Bridge to Mina Zayed without stopping at traffic lights.
Heavy lorries will be banned from travelling on the surface roads and will be able to travel from the port to Musaffah without stopping.
The tunnels will have safety facilities such as firefighting equipment, closed-circuit television and lighting systems for emergencies.
Pedestrian walkways will lead to emergency staircases and emergency telephones are being installed. More than 4,300 workers are estimated to have worked on the project.
The project’s delay has been linked to “dense underground utilities networks” and the high volume of traffic.
“The project started totally from scratch,” said Mohammed Shoqfa, the senior project manager for the Salam Street redevelopment. “The biggest holdup was definitely because of the utility works.”
Most recent traffic counts show inbound traffic is approximately 7,000 vehicles during morning hours and outbound traffic is about 5,600 vehicles, more than double the road’s usage before construction began. The municipality estimates about 126,000 vehicles will use the road each weekday.
Once the project is complete, Salam Street will have four lanes in each direction, doubling its capacity to an estimated 12,000 vehicles an hour.
According to documents seen by TechCrunch, Google Wallet is launching later today a bit behind schedule. As we discussed when the announcement was initially made in May, only a small number of people will initially have access to Google Wallet.
There are only a handful of merchant and retail partners and only one handset currently NFC-enabled: the Sprint Nexus S (although you can affix a sticker to your phone that makes it NFC-capable.) Future Android handsets will also embed an NFC chip.
The limited availability of Google Wallet makes the launch largely symbolic in many respects. But because of Google’s brand clout and visibility mobile payments are now on the radar. And intensifying competition guarantees innovation will continue to happen.
Indeed, beyond Google there numerous other competitors in the segment: Visa, Amex, Intuit, PayPal, wireless carriers, Square and others. Not all of these competitors are pushing NFC; Square and PayPal for example have NFC-free products. It remains to be seen whether and how quickly NFC takes hold. It probably eventually will but adoption may prove slower than Google and others hope.
Changing consumer behavior could prove challenging in the near term. Using plastic cards is comfortable and familiar to most people and many users will see no reason to alter their behavior, unless there are deals or other incentives to get them to adopt mobile payments. There are also some consumer security fears, but NFC payments are in fact more secure than current plastic payments.
Regardless of these barriers, with today’s anticipated launch of Google Wallet (as I said previously), the era of mobile payments has arrived in the US.
The ultimate prize, from Google’s point of view, is a closed loop transaction that yields actionable data for marketers. This represents a kind of “holy grail” for marketing analytics: tracking online to an actual offline transaction. (Calls are a surrogate for offline transactions.)
Here’s the now widely viewed ad for Google Wallet featuring Jason Alexander as Seinfeld’s George Costanza (and his infamous overstuffed wallet). Especially if you’re familiar with the series and the joke, it’s a great product promotion. Strangely it was originally released in August but only recently noticed by people.
Visitor information kiosks operated by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) in 34 destinations across the emirate have been upgraded with enhanced location maps, more information on hotels, tours and attractions and with a special ‘Send A Postcard Home’ facility
Amazon is planning to launch a service that would offer customers access to a library of books for a fixed monthly fee, reports The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the matter.
Amazon is reportedly in talks with publishers about the service, but it’s unclear how far the project has progressed, as some publishers aren’t too happy with the idea.
The details about the project are scarce, but it appears that the library would primarily contain older works with restrictions on how many books a user can access each month. The service would also be available to subscribers of Amazon Prime, a membership program that gives users free shipping and access to movies and TV shows for $79 per year.
Amazon has been on a roll this year, having launched Amazon Prime in February and a subsidized version of Kindle in May. The retail giant reported a 51% jump in revenues for Q2 2011 and the fastest growth in a decade.
Metallica – Live in Abu Dhabi
Metallica, the biggest hard-rock band in the world, will be performing live at Yas Arena as part of the Yas Island Show Weekends on Tuesday 25th October, 2011