France: Dissolving the CCIF: the shift from the rule of law to arbitrariness


Unofficial translation of a statement published by the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (Collectif Contre l’Islamophobie en France, CCIF), which the French interior minister stated was an "enemy of the republic", along with 50 other Muslim organisations, following the murder of the schoolteacher Samuel Paty in October.

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Originally published here: Dissoudre le CCIF : la bascule d’un état de droit vers l’arbitraire (CCIF, link)

Ten years ago, the dissolution of the CCIF was demanded only by the 'identitarian' groups of the ultra-right, which our association has several times had convicted for incitement to hatred and apology for terrorism. Because the CCIF chose the law, it was then accused by these small groups of making "judicial jihad"; this because it was unbearable for them to be condemned by the justice system of the country whose Reconquista they claim to be undertaking. At the time, the expression was ridiculous.

This accusation of "judicial jihad" has today penetrated the political class in power which, in order to be elected in 2017, claimed to be a roadblock to the extreme right. The dissolution of the CCIF is being called for by the Minister of the Interior himself, Gérald Darmanin, in a bill against "separatism", a bill that we denounced as early as February 2020, when the word was introduced into public debate by President Emmanuel Macron, in a speech on the Republican Reconquest. We showed how this warlike discourse could provoke precisely what it claimed to fight: withdrawal and rejection.

What has happened in ten years? How did identity-based and racist thinking, the heir to fascism and totalitarianism, find itself at the very heart of the state, in its government and senate? How have ideas still considered to be extreme right-wing, become normalized in public debate? This is the whole process of Islamophobia that we have been denouncing, especially since 2015, since the state of emergency, and which today has brought us to this political attack. Not knowing how to react to the terrorist attacks, the government has, each time, sought to make shows of force (most of the time illegal) by attacking in a violent and deliberate way Muslims (most of the time harmless) presented as "Islamists". This strategy has not only been ineffective - terrorism has not disappeared - but it has also been harmful and dangerous, as it has been precisely in response to the terrorist agenda. It validates their model and confirms their discourse.

After having defended thousands of individuals and companies targeted by discriminatory and unfair measures, it is now our turn to pay the price. As in many of the cases we defend, the CCIF's challenge corresponds neither to a factual nor a legal reality, but to a political will: to criminalise the fight against Islamophobia.

Today, there are serious questions to be asked of the intelligence services, who have recently set their sights more on associations wrongly qualified as "separatists" than on the real signs of terror presented on Twitter by the terrorist of Conflans, already several months before the facts. This is a highly clever diversion on the part of the interior ministry to deny its responsibility and failure to preserve the security of all citizens.

As we have said, and this was very quickly demonstrated by the various investigations and media publications: the CCIF had absolutely nothing to do with the campaign of harassment that led to the despicable attack in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. The very fact that we have to point this out is an insult to our team, our members and all our partners, who know how we work. The facts in this case are simple: several days after the video was broadcast and circulated, we were seized by the parent who made the video in order to open a discrimination case, based on the fact that the teacher allegedly asked Muslim students to leave the classroom during the presentation of a nude cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad. The first thing we did was to ask this parent to immediately withdraw this video and to stop all communication on this subject, waiting for someone from the audience to come back to him to initiate the fact-finding procedure - which, ultimately, could not take place after the irreparable happened. In view of these facts, we will take legal action whenever we are defamed or our honour is sullied by false allegations. By accusing us, without proof, of being responsible or even linked to this abominable act, the Ministry of the Interior is signing the end of the rule of law.

In these dark moments, we have a choice to make: either we play the dividing game of terrorists by targeting Muslims, or we make society, fighting both terrorism and all forms of racism. With these statements on the dissolution of the CCIF, these politicians are playing the game of terrorists, dividing society and forcing people to choose between fighting terrorism and fighting racism.

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