- Muslim Group Calls Out French Government’s Anti-Muslim State Discrimination, Islamophobia, Lack of Religious Freedom
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/26/2021) – The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today renewed its call on the U.S. Department of State to designate France among the Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) following the nation’s latest crackdown on the Muslim community and its legal rights. CPCs are countries where the government engages in or tolerates “particularly severe” violations of religious freedom.
Over the weekend French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin ordered the firing of an imam (Muslim religious leader) for citing a verse of the Quran and hadith (saying of the Prophet Muhammad) that he personally deemed “contrary to the values of the Republic.” Darmanin has also requested steps be taken to ensure the imam’s residence permit is not renewed.
Mmadi Ahamada, the imam of the Great Mosque of Saint-Chamond, has rebutted attacks against him saying his sermon and statements have been taken and used out of context.
Darmanin’s actions coincide with the French Parliament adopting an Anti-Separatism Bill, an anti-Muslim bill driven by Islamophobic sentiment and drafted with the intention of limiting the religious freedom of French Muslims.
“We once again call for France to be designated as a Country of Particular Concern for its unrelenting crackdown on the religious freedoms of French Muslims, their spiritual leaders, houses of worship, private schools, and civil society organizations,” said CAIR Director of Government Affairs Department Robert S. McCaw. “French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin is one of the worst Islamophobic offenders in the French government, using his position of state power to sideline and repress the religious liberties of French Muslims. The French government has no business picking a choosing which verses of the Torah, Bible or Quran conform to their ‘Republican values.'”
The Anti-Separatism Bill further expands the French government’s power to dissolve nonprofit and religious organizations; forces organizations accepting public funds to sign and abide by a French ideologically driven “Republican Contract;” restricts home-schooling; and creates new tools to suspend or shut down Islamic private schools.
Last week, CAIR joined a press conference at the U.S. Capitol with House Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Jan Schakowski (D-IL), Judy Chu (D-CA), Andre Carson (D-IN), and Sara Jabobs (D-CA) to publicly announce that 23 Democratic members of Congress were calling for the special envoy position to monitor and combat Islamophobia as instances of anti-Muslim hate crimes and discriminatory state policies continue to rise in the U.S. and worldwide.
Two weeks ago, CAIR condemned a decision by the European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) allowing companies to ban hijabs (Islamic head scarves) and expressed American Muslim solidarity with the European Muslim community.
Over the past 20 years, France has implemented numerous laws designed to limit and punish the free exercise of religion, especially among Muslims. France has banned students, teachers, and public servants from wearing visible signs of their faith, including hijabs, at school or at work.
French law also forbids people from wearing religious face veils in public, while simultaneously requiring them to wear medical face masks. Muslim women in some areas of France have also been fined by police for wearing full-body swimsuits.
In October 2020, President of France Emmanuel Macron delivered a speech about the French Muslim community in which he claimed that “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today, we are not just seeing this in our country” and expressed concern of “Islamic separatism” and called to “liberate’ Islam.”
In December, French Interior Minister Darmanin shut down two of the nation’s largest Muslim organizations, including the country’s largest anti-Islamophobia group the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF). Darmanin falsely accused CCIF of spreading “Islamist propaganda.” In fact, CCIF’s main function was monitoring growing Islamophobia in France.
In response to the French suppression of Muslim groups coupled with violent attacks against French Muslims, CAIR has issued a travel advisory warning American Muslims against traveling to France amid the French government’s “hypocritical and dangerous” campaign of Islamophobic bigotry targeting French Muslims, mosques and Islamic organizations.
CAIR previously called on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIFR) to investigate France’s ongoing campaign of “collective punishment” against the French Muslim community, as well as France’s longstanding history of turning anti-religious bigotry into government policy.
CAIR’s mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.
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