36 NGOs from 13 nations seek UN body intervention to end Islamophobic actions and discrimination against Muslims in France
Burak Dag: An international alliance of 36 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) representing 13 countries has petitioned the UN Human Rights Council, complaining against systematic Islamophobic actions in France.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Managing Director of the UK-based CAGE Advocacy Group Muhammad Rabbani, a signatory to the complaint, said the French government’s policies have led to “securitization” of Muslim life and shutdown of their places of worship, charities, and NGOs.
"In the last few days, the French interior minister has closed down further nine mosques. France is attempting to export its model of Islamophobia across the EU," he said.
About the International community’s response, Rabbani said although the backlash in the aftermath of the offensive caricatures of Prophet Muhammed by French weekly Charlie Hebdo, followed by calls of boycotting French products did jolt the establishment in Paris, things have remained unchanged at the policy level.
He said that France’s treatment of Muslims has encouraged the far-right populists in Europe.
"France is arguably the testing laboratory for European Islamophobia. It is, therefore, crucial that it is challenged robustly and in an organized fashion so it does not expand beyond the French borders," Rabbani added.
He also informed that the International Coalition of NGOs is also planning to take legal actions against the French government to ensure the rights of Muslims are protected. The group will also highlight the violation of international rights obligations by France.
Feroze Boda, the spokesperson of the Association of Muslim Professionals of South Africa (AMPSA), also told Anadolu Agency that French President Emmanuel Macron’s hostile policies are more than just hostile. The AMPSA is also a signatory to the complaint.
"They are aimed at eradicating Islam under the guise of France’s ideology of liberty and egalitarianism," he added.
Attacking Muslim symbols
"They unapologetically discriminate against Muslims among others, tarnishing the dignity of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) under the disguise of free speech, attacking the wearing of the hijab, raiding Muslims homes, masjids and organization and banning Muslim charities," Boda said.
Drawing parallels between Macron’s policies to the apartheid experienced in South Africa, the AMPSA spokesperson said the experiences during the apartheid regime will enable his organization to provide insight and expertise to the other international complainants.
According to the press statement, the NGOs have forensically identified and documented evidence of structural Islamophobia and discrimination against Muslims in France.
The statement said that the documents chart the history of discrimination against Muslims since 1989 and find that France has violated several basic rights that are protected in legislations ratified by Paris.
"France exploited acts of political violence to entrench Islamophobia in policing and the judiciary. State policies designate religious practice as a sign of risk and is highly similar to failed Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) models," said the statement.
The statement also alleged that the French government has weaponized Laicite (French version of secularism) to justify the intrusion of the state in the religious and political practice of Muslims.
"France stands in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. France infringed on freedoms of children, specifically to target Muslim children in violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child," the statement added.
The document also calls upon the UN to ensure that France upholds and enforces the UN Universal Declaration/International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (UDHR/ICCPR) and every directive on the prohibition of discrimination and racism.
The statement further urges France to enact or rescind legislation where necessary to prohibit any such discrimination and to "take all appropriate measures to combat intolerance on the grounds of religion in this matter”.
The NGO’s also sought the intervention of international bodies in the wake of the lack of real or any effective remedy within the French legal system to tackle this discrimination.