By Dilara Hamit
ANKARA (AA) - Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned Friday a decision by France to shut down a leading anti-discrimination group.
The US-based rights advocacy NGO said the move threatens basic human rights and liberties including freedom of expression, association, religion and the principle of nondiscrimination.
“Whatever its intention, this measure risks further stigmatizing Muslims in France,” said HRW’s Western Europe researcher Kartik Raj.
“Shutting down an organization that raises legitimate concerns about anti-Muslim prejudice is blaming the messenger rather than addressing existing discrimination,” he said.
The heavy-handed action will make it harder for victims of anti-Muslim prejudice in France to seek appropriate redress and could leave others afraid to complain, according to Raj. “It could also backfire by fueling the narrative that French state policy is anti-Muslim.”
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced Dec. 2 the dissolution of the anti-racist group Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF).
"In accordance with the instructions of the President of the Republic, the CCIF was dissolved in the Council of Ministers. For several years, the CCIF had consistently carried out Islamist propaganda, as detailed in the decree that I presented to the Council of Ministers," Darmanin wrote on Twitter.
The controversial move followed a meeting of the Council of Ministers. Under French law, the council can dissolve any group or non-profit organization by decree, without requiring prior judicial scrutiny.
That was after the beheading of a French teacher in a Paris suburb and a fatal knife attack that killed three in Nice.
The attacks followed the republishing of blasphemous cartoons of Prophet Muhammad in France which were defended by President Emmanuel Macron under the pretext of freedom of speech.