French Minister Says France Can Learn From How Ireland Treats Its Diaspora

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Faith, politics clash over Muslim-run women’s gym in France

That they are still French citizens. More: How a French cabinet minister owes 157 property tax in Ireland French Minister says France can learn from how Ireland treats its diasporaThe diaspora can be a force and a resource, says French Minister for French Abroad Helene Conway. Sinead O’CarrollTheJournal.ie 2013-10-06T08:15:132013-10-04T17:19:01Sasko Lazarov Photocall Ireland!Working Abroad Expo in Dublin.FRANCES MINISTER FOR French Abroad was in Dublin this weekend on an information-gathering mission.Helene Conway, who lived in Ireland for thirty years before being appointed to Cabinet by Francois Hollande, said she attended the Global Economic Forum to learn from what is being done here in terms of the nations relationship with its citizens living abroad.The biennial event took place for the third time over the past two days in Dublin Castle with 300 delegates taking part from more than 40 countries. It was set up with an aim to bring business and cultural leaders together to explore how the Irish abroad could contribute to the nations economic recovery.Conway believes France is not as proud of those who succeed abroad as Ireland is.We need to have the competence of everybody, wherever they live in the world, she said, noting that one of Irelands actions following big bang in 2008 was to set up the forum.Maybe [the Troika] was the incentive to go and find everybody who can help. I think, in the middle of the Celtic Tiger, there was no incentive to go and seek help. We [in France] have the same now.Ireland was hit by a global crisis in 2008. We were as well but it was hiddenwhen Hollande was elected, we came to power and discovered huge holes everywhere in terms of debts.All of these were left hidden and maybe we were more honest. We said this is all the debt we have, if we continue like that we will have the Troika on top of us the way the Irish had.Hollande appointed Conway as the Minister for French Abroad in 2012.There is an awareness now that this diaspora can do something. But the problem is they have never been a diaspora in the French mind, she explained.But now that France is in trouble. We really need to rely on the competence on everybody to get out of this hole. The French dont really have a collective thinking. That is why I have to say you belong to a network, you are part of it.The positives of emigrationAlthough careful not to repeat Michael Noonans infamous emigration is a lifestyle choice remark, she outlined why emigration, to her, is not always a negative.I want to change the image and perception. Today, the world belongs to everybody. It is easier to travel, it is cheaper. Communication is better so home sickness is not felt as much.People are more mobile.

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“These are fundamentalists, they lie!” he shouted. “They consider because they’re Muslims they’re victims and they consider they have more rights,” he said. Local security officials said on Friday the gym met all safety standards. That meant it could stay open, but it did not guarantee it would now be out of the political spotlight. The Orty Gym – Orty means “my sisters” in Arabic – is a 200 square-meter space with pink work-out equipment, freshly-painted fuchsia and orange walls and a large room where classes such as Hip Hop, Zumba, Stretching and Step are offered. Some of the 70 women exercising in the room cover their hair with a headscarf but many do not as all races and religions are welcome, said Lynda Ellabou, who owns the gym with her husband. SECULARISM Ellabou, wearing a fashionable pink and black headscarf, said their problems began in June after Raoult realized the couple planning to open the gym on a commercial strip on the periphery of the suburb of 14,000 residents were Muslim. “When he saw my (bearded) husband he had a shock. ‘You’ve rented a place where?’ he asked us,” Ellabou recalled. “‘You’re going to put a veiled woman at the reception desk too?'” “In the end he made us understand it wasn’t going to be possible to open,” she said, adding Raoult later objected to the gym’s lack of parking and steps leading to the emergency exit. The issue of secularism arose when a Muslim website said the gym had a prayer room in the back. Ellabou said the page was not theirs and the report was wrong, as there is no such room. Full-face veils are banned in public in France.