On 16 October, Samuel Paty, a teacher in Conflans, France, was murdered after showing his students caricatures of Prophet Muhammad. This horrendous act was followed by statements against some civil organisations, accused of opposing the ‘Republican order’ and being ‘radical Islamists’.
French civil society organisations showed concern about the call by Gérald Darmanin, French Minister of the Interior, to dissolve the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), an anti-racist organisation member of the European Network Against Racism. This threat has triggered a wave of support to the organisation which has been fighting against racism and discrimination targeting Muslims for the last 20 years.
LDH: Hate, arbitrariness: we will not yield anything
What is the point of gathering around Samuel Paty, what is the point of our anger and our revolt if, at the same time, hatred is made into scapegoats, freedom of expression is censured and arbitrariness is publicly claimed?
Revenge has no place in the imperative need to respond to the challenges posed to us by those who have made death and fanaticism their flag in the name of a political and misguided vision of Islam.
Throwing out the names of associations without any link to the crime committed makes them targets for social ostracism and makes freedom of association a danger whose exercise should be restricted.
This government rhetoric, which oscillates between contempt for the law and presumed guilt because of religion or origin, leads to preventing any debate on the policies implemented for decades both to put an end to the discrimination that undermines the republican pact and to better ensure our security. Worse, it has freed the word of those who, for decades, have been proclaiming at all costs that Islam and with it all women and men of that faith or culture are outside the laws of the Republic.
Read here the full statement of la Ligue des Droit de l’Homme originally published in French on 27 October 2020.
Michel Tubiana, honorary partner of la Ligue des Droit de l’Homme concerning the announcement of the dissolution of CCIF pointed out “emotion, highly justified, should not replace the rule of law”.
— LDH France (@LDH_Fr) October 22, 2020
La Quadrature du Net: An unacceptable infringement of freedom of association and Equal rights
The stigmatisation strategy chosen by the Minister of the Interior is dangerous since it targets individuals and associations because of their religious affiliation, whether real or assumed, when they have no connection with terrorism or hate speech. This authoritarian stance undermines essential principles of the rule of law, which protect against collective accusations, abusive procedures and procedures that are not based on specific facts.
The arbitrary dissolution of associations is neither a fair nor an effective way to defend freedom of expression or collective security. Only religious fanatics and the extreme right have something to gain from such dissolution; the rule of law has everything to lose.
We call on the government to renounce the dissolution of CCIF, to respect freedom of association and freedom of expression, which are enshrined in the Constitution of our Republic.
La Quadrature du Net, together with a coalition of NGOs, published here the full statement in FR on 21, October 2020.
The European Network Against Racism (ENAR): Extremely concerned by the Interior Minister threat
The CCIF’s mission is to fight racism and racial discrimination, and specifically Islamophobia, in France. It provides crucial legal support and advice to victims of discrimination and conducts important research to uncover to reality of anti-Muslim racism in France. Its professionalism and expertise have been recognised by European and international institutions, including by equality bodies and human rights NGOs.
We are concerned by the political pressures, at the highest level of the French government, and intimidation campaign targeting a human rights organisation whose work is to address discrimination and hate crimes against Muslim citizens.
This proposal to dissolve a professional anti-racist organisation which does crucial work to combat racism and defend the rights of racialised groups is a violation of democratic freedoms, in particular as there has been no legal enquiry into the allegations prior to the Minister’s announcement. It reflects institutional racism within the French government, in a context where it has recently announced a bill which stigmatises and targets French Muslim communities.
Instead of criminalising anti-racist organisations, we urge the French government to respect its commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms. We caution political leaders on their use of inflammatory rhetoric, which fuels hatred and intolerance instead of reinforcing social cohesion and inclusion.
Read here the letter cosigned by ENAR and 72 NGOs. Published on 20 October 2020.
ENAR and 55 civil society organisations and academics express support to @ccif, following the call to dissolve the organisation.
We need international solidarity against this manifestation of structural racism targeting civil society.
👉🏿 https://t.co/QvinwnMXCV pic.twitter.com/4Yz5QBws4m
— ENAR Europe (@ENAREurope) October 21, 2020
CCIF: Dissolving the CCIF, the shift from rule of law to arbitrariness
In these dark moments, we have a choice to make: either we play the game of terrorists of division by targeting Muslims, or we unite society, fighting both terrorism and all forms of racism. With these statements on the dissolution of the CCIF, these political figures are playing the game of terrorists, dividing society and forcing people to choose between fighting terrorism and fighting racism, instead of uniting and fighting both.
By circumventing the law, and by assuming that he wants to “get messages across” through political acts, Gérald Darmanin is acting outside and against republican law. The raids are thus no longer a tool to control real criminality, but a means of political intimidation. Under the pretext that current laws would not allow him to “fight against Islamism,” the Ministry of the Interior is thus breaking the law while waiting to modify it. This is a major blow, opening the way for the extreme right in its quest for power. If Muslims are told that they no longer have the right to defend their rights, it is a sign that terrorists and racists have won. Our freedoms are at stake for all of us.
The campaign that is being waged precisely against the CCIF, as well as other associations such as the Omar Mosque, “Learn & Understand”, Barakacity or Ummah Charity, is part of a troubled political dimension. For several years now, the government in power has been developing a repressive strategy of persecution, which seeks to politically kill any dissent… in the very name of “freedom of expression”.
Read here the full statement of CCIF originally published on 19 October, 2020.