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France: Showboating and masking intelligence failure, interior ministry targeting of Muslims slammed

30th Oct 2020
France: Showboating and masking intelligence failure, interior ministry targeting of Muslims slammed

France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has been slammed after admitting raids on Muslim NGOs were not carried out based on intelligence but to “send a message”(Credit:Jacques Paquier/Flickr)

Elham Asaad Buaras

The French Government is accused of deploying “state-sponsored intimidation” of its Muslim community as a show of force and a means to obscure its intelligence failure in the wake of the murder of a teacher over Charlie Hebdo cartoons of the Prophet.

Chechen refugee Abdoullakh Anzorov, 18, was gunned down by police after beheading social studies’ teacher Samuel Paty, on October 16 near the gates of a Parisian school.

Nearly a dozen people were arrested in connection with the killing and homes were raided in what Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin called the “biggest anti-Islamist crackdown ever.”

“Since the assassination, more than 80 investigations have been opened concerning online hate speech and individuals who said ‘this teacher got what he deserved’… they concern dozens of individuals not necessarily linked with the investigation,” announced Darmanin.

Three days later the Government went a step further announcing its to probe 51 Muslim NGOs, including the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF). Darmanin claimed that elements of the organization have caused his officials to consider them “an enemy of the republic.”

CCIF hit back, in a statement on its website, the NGO accuse the Government of making a ‘show of force, most of the time illegal, by attacking violently and deliberately Muslims who are most often harmless, presented as “Islamists”.

This strategy was not only ineffective — terrorism has not disappeared — but also harmful and dangerous, because it responds precisely to the terrorists’ agenda. It validates their model and confirms their speech.’
French-language online publication Islam&Info tweeted, ‘At this very moment imams or Muslim associations, NGOs, are raided for nothing if not to create a climate of terror,’

Co-founder of Justice & Liberties for all Committee, Yasser Louati, said that the repeated admission by the Interior Minister that the raids on Muslim NGOs were not carried out based on intelligence but to “send a message” is a ‘drift the spells nothing good for democracy.’

Speaking on France 24, the civil rights activist said, “Darmanin had on two occasions, this morning (October 19) said he’s not raiding those places because he’s got something on them but because he wants to ‘send a message’, so we have here state-sponsored retaliation and intimidation. And he said the same thing about a week ago, on the radio, ‘we didn’t have anything on them, but we just used the Covid-19 restriction to shut them down’.”

He continued, “We may agree or disagree with any organisation, this is a democracy but any time we allow the state to go beyond the due process and say ‘I’m going to target an organization because at this moment it is politically lucrative for my re-election campaign, i.e. the presidential elections of 2022’, when do we stop? At what point will the state stop targeting individuals?”

Louati also highlighted the failure of the intelligence service: “We have to ask our Government, where is the scrutiny on the explicit failure of the intelligence community. The assassin was reported multiple times, most of the people who reported him were Muslims.”

“When are we going to see public scrutiny on state authoritarianism in this case? The fact we have an interior minister saying ‘I have nothing legal against them I just want to target them to pressure them’, this may be a drift the spells nothing good for democracy.”

Earlier this month, Macron announced a controversial plan, starting a fight against the so-called “Islamist separatism” in the country via a new law, denounced as authoritarian by several Muslim organisations including CCIF
‘How did identity and racist thought, heir to fascism and totalitarianism, find its way into the very heart of the state, in its Government and its Senate? How are ideas still considered to be extreme right, normalized in the public debate?

This is the whole process of Islamophobia that we denounce, in particular since 2015, since the state of emergency, and which has earned us today this political attack,’ says CCIF.

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