France’s biggest anti-Islamophobia organisation officially forced to close

Pic: Lisa Bryant

The French government has officially dissolved the nation’s main anti-Islamophobia organisation.

In his decree against the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin accused the organisation of having “for several years… consistently conducted Islamist propaganda.”

The decree also accuses the CCIF of:

  • Provoking terrorist acts in France by denouncing the state’s anti-terrorism measures as “Islamophobic”
  • Trying to insinuate that every act committed against Muslims is “Islamophobic” in order to incite public opinion
Gerald Darmanin

expressed his desire to dissolve the CCIF following the murder of school teacher Samuel Paty on October 16. Paty had showed blasphemous images of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to his students.

The CCIF announced last Friday that its assets had “been transferred to partner associations which will take over the fight against Islamophobia on a European scale.”

 

In a statement it said: “As we announced on October 26, the CCIF has activated a major plan to deploy a large portion of its activities abroad. As a result, the dissolution notice received on November 19 was not applicable, as the CCIF no longer exists as a structure. The various actions that are still being implemented are merely related to the liquidation procedure. The transfer and/or the closing of CCIF’s files will take the necessary time.

“For more than a week now, we have been responding to the various grievances we have been accused of in the notice of dissolution, and we have demonstrated that it was based on unfounded, biased or misleading elements. Worse: we are globally reproached for doing our legal work, applying the law and demanding its application when it is questioned.

“As we notified the Minister of Interior on Thursday, November 26, our Board of Directors pronounced the voluntary dissolution of the CCIF on October 29. The assets of our association have been transferred to partner associations that will take over the fight against Islamophobia at the European level.

“Our communication tools will be closed in less than 24 hours. We will offer our members, partners, supporters and followers the possibility to get in touch with our new partner associations that will take up the fight against Islamophobia.”

‘Brazen hypocrisy’ 

Meanwhile, advocacy group CAGE said the forced closure of the CCIF exposes the French state’s brazen hypocrisy in advocating free speech while legally denying Muslims the freedom to speak and organise.

Muhammad Rabbani, managing director of CAGE, said: “Individuals linked to the CCIF have been muzzled in a manner only heard of in the most autocratic countries. Governments are evading due process the same way that untransparent corporates such as World Check and other shady proscription lists operate, where there is no right to challenge and listing is indefinite.

Idriss Sihamedi

“This disruption and attempt to weaken the Muslim community follows Macron’s announcement of a new ‘Separatism Law’ [2] to curtail Muslim charity work and political campaigning. It also follows an EU Joint Statement of a ‘united front against Islamism’ – to distract the EU from French violations of ‘liberty, egality and fraternity’ and even EU laws.

“All those that claim to uphold the right to organise and collaborate to bring about positive social change cannot be silent any longer. This is not the way to nurture trust between people and government. We must speak up with courage for those in France who are standing firm despite state repression.”

The CCIF now faces the unprecedented situation of not only being banned, but also having its staff indefinitely blacklisted. This means they cannot moderate the CCIF, nor can they set up new associations or speak publicly. Their freedom of association and expression has been suspended indefinitely.

Two other Islamic associations have also been dissolved since October for similar reasons.

The charity BarakaCity was accused of “propagating ideas advocating radical Islam,” and the “Cheik Yassine” group was closed down after its President Abdelhakim Sefrioui was indicted in the attack on Paty.

BarakaCity officials and its founder Idriss Sihamedi have sought “political asylum” from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The government also ordered the administrative closure for six months of the Pantin mosque, on the grounds that it had broadcast a video denouncing Samuel Paty.

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