London – In a first of its kind, a global coalition of civil society organisations are submitting a forensic complaint [download here] to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) against France, requesting that it open a formal infringement procedure against the government for systematically entrenching Islamophobia and discrmination against Muslims.
The complaint highlights that the actions of the French government have tacitly supported the publication of demeaning cartoons depicting Prophet (peace be upon him), and for the enactment of an array of Islamophobic state policies and acting upon them violently.
These actions violate the dignity and basic rights of Muslims. Recent policies have also forced the closure of several civil society organisations, mosques and precipitated violent, indiscriminate house raids.
The complaint is signed by 36 organisations from over 13 countries including, The Islamic Council of Victoria (Australia), European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion (Strasbourg), the Muslim Association of Britain (UK), and Yaqeen institute (USA). It calls upon the UNHRC to ensure that France enact or rescind legislation where necessary to prohibit further discrimination against Muslims.
It also demands that the UNHRC ensure that all appropriate measures are taken in France to combat intolerance on the grounds of religion.
The 28-paged complaint charts the history of discrimination against Muslims in France since 1989 and uses case evidence to highlight how France has exploited fear and prejudice against Muslims to violate their religious, political and basic rights.
The documents outlines how:
- the tacit, if not public, support for publications that defame the Prophet (peace be upon him) has violated UN law since it “goes beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate” and “could stir up prejudice and put at risk religious peace”;
- the French government has enacted policies that deliberately and systematically undermine and violate fundamental civil liberties and human rights of Muslims, including young children;
- as such, France has violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child;
- Macron’s plan “against separatism”, is solely focused on consolidating political, ideological, theological and financial control of Muslims, denying them freedom to practice their faith freely;
- signs of religiosity such as growing a beard and “regular and ostentatious” prayer, are seen as threats by counter-terrorism police and indicators of potential serious risk;
- the restrictions and limitations imposed on the freedom of Muslims in France go beyond what is considered proportionate in EU or International law; and
- there is no real or effective remedy within the French legal system to stop the French government, and consequently the UNHRC has been called upon to take immediate action.
Feroze Boda of the Muslims Lawyers Association, who submitted the complaint on behalf of the collective said:
“Muslims around the world united behind the cry to hold the French government accountable for continuing to support publications defaming the Prophet (peace be upon him). We hope they will unite again around this global-first, a truly collective effort, which expands the call for accountability and positive change to include the dismantling of pervasive hateful policies against Muslims in France. These policies are not only counter-productive, but they are open to abuse, and have been abused – while also being completely out of touch with reality.”
Muhammad Rabbani, Managing Director of CAGE and signatory to the complaints said:
“France has seen shocking levels of state-sanctioned Islamophobia in recent months. This has precipitated the closure of mosques, Muslim schools, Muslim-led charities and civil society organisations. As a signatory to the UN, France cannot be allowed to infringe upon its international rights obligations so openly, and yet present itself as the land of ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’.”
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(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.)