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UK rights groups decry France's anti-Muslim drive

UK rights groups decry France's anti-Muslim drive
Organizations say Macron government's moves show France's 'brazen hypocrisy,' 'are in line with policies of extreme right'

LONDON (AA) – British advocacy groups have condemned France’s decision to shut down anti-racism group Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF).

While announcing the move on Wednesday, Gerald Darmanin, France’s interior minister, accused the CCIF of carrying out “Islamist propaganda” for several years, allegations the group has vehemently refuted.

In a statement in response, London-based group CAGE said the decision “exposes the French state’s brazen hypocrisy in advocating ‘free speech’ while legally denying Muslims the freedom to speak and organize.”

CAGE is an advocacy organization that campaigns for “due process, the rule of law and an end to the injustices of the War on Terror.”

The statement said the CCIF was not only banned, but its staff “indefinitely blacklisted,” meaning they cannot set up new groups or speak publicly.

“Their freedom of association and expression has been suspended indefinitely,” CAGE said, adding that the decision followed “a series of raids on mosques, Islamic schools and homes.”

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.”

“This disruption and attempt to weaken the Muslim community follows Macron’s announcement of a new ‘Separatism Law’ 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,” he added.

He said that anyone who stands for the right to organize and collaborate for 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,” Rabbani said.

The Arab Organization for Human Rights in UK (AOHR UK) also condemned the French government’s move to start inspections at mosques as part of its “campaign against separatism.”

“AOHR UK pointed out that the French government's policies towards Arabs and Muslims are in line with the policies of the extreme right, which calls for the closure of mosques and the imposition of strict control on Muslims, which fuels hostility to Muslims and increases attacks on them,” read a statement issued on Thursday.

- Controversial campaign

The French government's actions against Muslim organizations have come in the aftermath of two brutal attacks in recent months – the beheading of a teacher in Paris who showed students cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad and a knife attack at a church in Nice that claimed three lives.

Muslim leaders across France have condemned these terrorist attacks, stressing that extremists abuse religion for their goals and their actions cannot be justified through Islam.

But French President Emmanuel Macron pledged a crackdown against what he called “Islamist separatism" to defend France's secular values, and said further measures would be considered by the government.

CCIF’s dissolution was part of this campaign and was approved by the Council of Ministers, which has the power to dissolve any organization or non-profit organization by decree, without prior judicial scrutiny.

Apart from the CCIF, the government also closed down BarakaCity, an international Muslim group, at the end of October.

The group was alleged to have links to radical groups, an accusation it has denied.

source: News Feed
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