On Wednesday 2nd December, the French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin formally banned the leading anti-Islamophobia organisation in France, the CCIF (Collectif contre l’islamophobie en France; Collective against Islamophobia in France), after service of a dissolution notice less than two weeks ago.
This is the second Muslim organisation closed as France’s increasingly draconian crusade against Muslims intensifies.
When notified, CCIF issued a short reply, stating that the Interior Minister is “surrendering to far right calls” and that they had begun a process to make the organisation resilient to political attacks.
The CCIF then reassured their community that “it will continue to provide legal assistance to those victims of Islamophobia”.
CAGE has been liaising with the CCIF, especially since the French government decided to sanction the CCIF for, among other reasons, their close partnership with CAGE in combating state Islamophobia.
The message was clear: freedom of association only extends to NGOs which are not Muslim-led. This kind of discrimination by blacklisting is unheard of, except in countries run by despots, where civil society organisations representing the most marginalised voices are harassed and their functioning disrupted with no due process afforded to them.
The CCIF thoroughly refuted each allegation levelled against it. This was an attempt to disable the Muslim voice so that Muslims are unable to challenge the government; Muslims must adopt the state beliefs charter or find themselves as persona non grata.
A month earlier the CCIF published a damning statement in response to an escalation of state repression in France titled “As Muslims’ Human Rights Defenders, We No Longer Feel Safe In France”.
A community under siege
In October, and prior to any acts of violence in France, Macron announced his ‘Separatism law’, which is geared towards denying Muslims their right to independent political organising and silencing any dissenting views, through the state regulation of Islam.
Macron is weaponising concepts of liberty, egality and fraternity, to socially engineer a pliant Muslim community that is forever marginalised and tokenised, while at the same time kept alienated from the values of their faith.
As French academic François Burgat said in a recent comment piece: “Increasingly, the only Muslims considered compatible with the Macronian republic appear to be those who are no longer Muslims.”
Blacklisted: Your rights suspended indefinitely
The CCIF now faces the unprecedented situation of not only being disbanded, but also having its staff indefinitely blacklisted. This means they no longer have the right to reform CCIF or set up new associations.
The UK government has been exposed by CAGE and more recently by Open Democracy in an investigation into the process of blacklisting Muslims and journalists who dissent as a form of disruption. However, in France the disruption has reached an intensity that threatens the fundamental principles on which the nation professes to stand.
Raids on Muslim mosques, businesses, community leaders and institutions have intensified, leading to Muslims in France feeling that they are a community under siege. The relentless Islamophobia in the press and the lack of solidarity from traditional allies have also deepened this feeling of isolation.
Muslims have been offered some solace in the fact that Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, who likened halal meat aisles to ‘separatism’ of Muslims in France, is facing increasing calls to resign.
This follows a widespread police brutality and violent crackdowns on protesters and journalists. Leading French papers Le Monde and MediaPart have both published editorials criticising the Minister.
The MediaPart editorial argued he should resign, stating: “Gérald Darmanin has made a policy of flattering the most extremist fringes of the police, creating disorder amid heightened police violence.”
Global Muslim Solidarity and Brave French Muslim Leadership gives us hope
Amidst this bleak setting, the CCIF and Baraka City, alongside other activists such as the Yasser Louati and Marwan Muhammad have shown an abundance of courage and steadfastness in battling against the waves of Islamophobia.
Muslims across the globe have also shown their solidarity, and social media has evidenced how the French government is utterly out of step with reality; it’s policies are a remnant of an imperialism that is unworkable in today’s diverse and interconnected world.
The calls to boycott France have rattled the French establishment. The French president, feeling the heat of a global embarrassment, intervened a number of times to remove articles from leading publishers that critiqued his policies. In addition, last month the hashtag #StopMacron trended as number 1 in Germany and Switzerland and number 4 in the UK with well over 160k tweets.
With global Muslim solidarity, and strong Muslim leadership in France, Muslims in France will weather this storm. We urge all those concerned with justice and peace to stand with those who seek to be on the right side of history.
Image used © Luca Lubatti photography – all rights reserved
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)