France to close down nation’s biggest anti-Islamophobia organisation

France’s Interior Minister has announced plans to dissolve the country’s largest anti-Islamophobia organisation, the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF).

After the killing last month of French schoolteacher Samuel Paty, who showed blasphemous cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to his class, Gerald Darmanin declared the CCIF an “enemy of the Republic.”

In October, Darmanin took similar action against France’s biggest Muslim charity, BarakaCity.

“In accordance with the instructions of the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister, I have notified the officials of the CCIF of the intention to initiate the dissolution of their organisation,” Gerald Darmanin said in a tweet yesterday. He specified that those in charge of the collective “now have 8 days to make their observations known.”

In response, the CCIF leadership said it had nothing whatsoever to do with the attack against Samuel Paty and it has been slandered by the French establishment.

“For the last week the CCIF has been slandered without interruption and in many media a real hatred has been expressed against our association, accompanied by thousands of messages of insults and threats on social networks, without the slightest reaction from the government. Although we have always been attacked in public debate, even by political figures, the defamation and false accusations which are today brought against us mark a real turning point in the process of destabilisation of human rights defenders.

Gerald Darmanin

“For the past week, political figures, polemicists and certain media have tried, by all means, to implicate the CCIF in the Conflans-Sainte-Honorine attack. The Minister of the Interior very quickly declared that the CCIF would be ‘obviously involved’ in this tragedy and immediately announced that he wanted to dissolve our association. And this despite the facts clearly demonstrating that the CCIF had no involvement whatsoever in this abject assassination.

“No anti-racist association has ever been entitled to such treatment in France. The accusation against us is unfortunately an extreme illustration of what many Muslims suffer in France: the suspicion of solidarity with terrorists when they are silent and the accusation of hypocritical concealment (taqiyya ) when speaking…

“We have seen how, in five years, Islamophobia has gradually been normalised and how government mechanisms, under the guise of the fight against radicalisation and terrorism, have participated in this stigmatisation…

“Within the CCIF team, we see this announcement of dissolution as a real political and institutional denial of anti-Muslim racism. It sends a terrible message to citizens of Muslim faith: you do not have the right to defend your rights. And the association that upholds the laws of our democracy to assist you in respecting your freedoms is now a target.”

The CCIF also vowed to continue its work outside of France.

“As defenders of the fundamental freedoms of Muslims, our association and our teams are no longer safe in France… Our analysis leads us to a clear decision: Today, whatever the outcome of this dissolution announcement, the CCIF must internationalise its activities to better protect its work. This is why we have activated a large-scale plan to deploy a large part of our activities abroad by strengthening and diversifying our projects in the continuity of our current work: the strengthening of legal assistance, ‘statistical and scientific observation of Islamophobia, the development of international projects, and the creation of a specialised media.

“Thus, not only will the security and continuity of CCIF activities be ensured against any attempt at intimidation or destabilisation, but they will also be consolidated and reinforced by national and international means.”

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