A group of lawyers, NGOs and religious organizations from 13 countries have filed formal complaints with the United Nations Human Rights Council (OHCHR), calling for action against “the scale of human rights abuses. the French State Against Muslims ”going back over two decades.
The coalition presented its conclusions to the UN body on Monday, accusing France of violating “a number of fundamental rights protected by legislation ratified by Paris”.
He said successive governments since 1989 had “entrenched structural Islamophobia and discrimination against Muslims.”
As an example, he cited recent “illegitimate and violent” raids against Muslim households and organizations aimed at “sending a message”, French President Emmanuel Macron’s plan against what he calls “Islamist separatism” , an alleged backlash against Muslim communities in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, 2004 ban on the hijab in public schools, 2010 ban on the niqab in public spaces and moves in 2016 – overturned by the continued – against the full swimsuit worn by some Muslim women.
He also said that a 2017 counterterrorism law, SILT – Strengthening Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, fueled Islamophobia, alleging that it primarily targeted Muslim families, individuals and community centers.
The group urged OHCHR to act on its complaints and ensure that France respects the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The group accused France of failing to tackle systemic discrimination and called on Paris to “adopt or repeal legislation” to fight intolerance.
The 36-member coalition includes advocacy groups such as the European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion, based in France; the British Muslim Association of Great Britain; Holland’s Muslim Rights Watch and the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Islamophobia Studies Center, based in the United States.
UK-based CAGE, which campaigns against the injustices of the ‘war on terror’ and calls for due process, and legal groups such as the South Africa-based Muslim Lawyers Association are also involved. of the group.
Feroze Boda, of the Muslim Lawyers Association, said: “These policies are not only counterproductive, but they are open to abuse and have been mistreated – while being completely out of touch with reality.”
Muhammad Rabbani, head of CAGE, said: “As a signatory to the UN, France cannot be allowed to violate its international rights obligations so openly, and yet present itself as the land of ‘free , equality fraternity’.”
A fragile relationship
France’s fragile relationship with its Muslim community, which has more than 5 million inhabitants and is the largest in Europe, has been put to the test in recent months.
Macron’s recent attempt to regulate Islam in the country has been criticized, with some observers saying the minority is being collectively punished for the actions of a fringe group that carried out attacks.
Macron on October 2 last year said Islam was a religion “in crisis” in the world, as it presented plans for a new law to combat what he called “Islamist separatism”.
On October 16, Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old teacher, was beheaded in a bourgeois Parisian suburb. He had shown his students the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a lesson on free speech.
On October 29, three people were stabbed to death in a knife attack at a church in the southern city of Nice. Macron called the two attacks “Islamist terrorism”.
In the aftermath of the attacks, Macron defended the right to show the cartoons, which were also projected on government buildings during tributes to Paty.
The French president’s remarks on Islam angered the Muslim world, with millions calling for a boycott of French goods as they took to the streets to protest against France.
The coalition said the anti-“separatism” bill was “solely focused on consolidating the government’s political, ideological, theological and financial control over Muslims.”
The bill does not specifically mention the word Islam, but it seeks to change regulations on home schooling and improve monitoring of mosque funding – measures aimed at Muslim communities.
The bill is expected to be debated by the French Parliament in the coming months.