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by Euro Reporter
2014-09-19 09:37:16
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Portugal's Jihadists

At least a dozen Portuguese nationals have joined jihadist groups fighting in Iraq and Syria, according to new estimates by Portuguese counter-terrorism officials. All of the Portuguese jihadists (ten men and two women) are under the age of 30 and most of them are children of immigrants, but so far none of the individuals is known to have returned to live in Portugal. Portuguese authorities are—for now—downplaying the threat these individuals may pose to Portugal upon their return home from the battlefields. Security analysts from Spain, however, are warning the Portuguese government against complacency. They argue that although the number of Portuguese jihadists may be small compared to other European countries, radical Muslims are becoming increasingly strident in their vows to reconquer Al-Andalus—of which Portugal is a key component—for Islam. Al-Andalus is the Arabic name given to those parts of Spain, Portugal and France occupied by Muslim conquerors (also known as the Moors) from 711 to 1492, when both the Moors and the Jews were expelled by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.

Most of the territory of modern-day Portugal was occupied by the Moors for more than 500 years, from 711 until 1249. During that time, the territory was known by its Arabic name, Gharb Al-Andalus (The West of Al-Andalus) or Al-Gharb (The West). Jihadists believe that all of the territories Muslims lost during the Christian Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula still belong to the realm of Islam. They claim that Islamic law gives them the right to return there and re-establish Muslim rule. This belief is based on a verse in the Koran that reads: "And kill them wherever you find them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you..." (Koran 2:191) A jihadist group called Sharia4Spain—which says it wants to replace the democratic order in Spain with Islamic Sharia law—has called for the "destruction of the constitutional systems of Spain and Portugal and the reestablishment of Sharia law and the system of the Caliphate in all of the Iberian Peninsula." Portugal, like Spain, also figures prominently in a map produced by the jihadist group Islamic State [IS] that outlines a five-year plan for expanding its Islamic Caliphate into Europe.

In late March 2014, a masked jihadist, using the nom de guerre Abu Isa al-Andalus, appeared in an IS propaganda video calling on others to join the fighting in Syria. A post accompanying the video stated that the individual was originally from Portugal: "He grew up with [the Portuguese footballer Cristiano] Ronaldo, played for Arsenal, and [then] left football, money and the European way of life for the sake of Allah." The British security service MI5 eventually identified the jihadist as 29-year-old Celso Rodrigues da Costa, a Portuguese citizen. The Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manhã reported that Costa, a son of immigrants from Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony in West Africa, was born in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon and was raised in the nearby town of Sintra. At age 20, Costa moved to England to study. "It was there that he joined the Islamic cause," the paper stated.

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Portugal producer prices decline at faster rate

The pace of decline in Portugal's industrial producer prices accelerated for a second straight month in August, data from Statistics Portugal showed Wednesday.

The producer price index fell 0.9 percent annually following 0.8 percent decrease in July. It was the most severe drop since March, when prices declined 1.5 percent.

Month-on-month, prices decreased 0.1 percent, marking the first fall since March. In July, producer prices increased 0.3 percent.

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Portugal's growing number of young entrepreneurs

When Portugal was hit by an economic crisis in 2011, Magda Tilli and her husband Miguel realised that if they wanted to make a decent living they would have to set up their own business. At the time Mr Tilli was working as an estate agent, but with the Portuguese housing market in free fall, he was earning next to nothing. And with Portugal's government needing a 78bn euro ($103bn; £62bn) international bailout, in exchange for putting in place a number of austerity measures, the wider Portuguese economy was mired in its worst recession for more than 40 years. With the jobs market having ground to a halt, and four children to look after, Magda and Miguel Tilli decided they had no option but to take a chance on starting their own company.

Ms Tilli, 37, recalls: "We were at the beach, brainstorming about what we could do." Tapping into Mr Tilli's knowledge of the property market, they recognised that they could turn a problem - no one was buying homes anymore - into a business opportunity. And so, they decided to launch an estate agent business specialising in renting houses in Lisbon city centre. While such a focus on rental properties may be common in other countries, the great majority of Portuguese estate agents only deal with selling homes. This is because in Portugal owning your own house or apartment has always been such a matter of pride that it is the first choice of most people, even young adults. Yet suddenly the great majority of young people couldn't hope to get a mortgage. Instead, a growing number living in Lisbon started to turn to the Tillis' new property rental business - Home Lovers.

To keep start-up costs down, the couple initially listed their available properties only on Facebook. Yet to build up a decent reputation, they hired professionals to take all the photos, and only accepted properties of a high standard. Ms Tilli says they picked the kind of places that appeal to young, urban professionals, such as trendy apartments. Soon they had a steady stream of customers, both people wishing to rent a property, and landlords wanting to list with them. "It became a cool thing to rent a house through us," says Ms Tilli, who previously worked as a flight attendant for TAP, the main Portuguese airline. Home Lovers has now expanded to Porto and Cascais, two other Portuguese cities, and has a team of 20 workers. It is now considering going to Madrid.

 


        
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