French President Emmanuel Macron, who has drawn fire on many occasions for his Islamophobic rhetoric, engaged in the same hate speech once again Saturday in a tweet linking extremism and activities by the Daesh terrorist group to Islam and Muslims.
“Even though we have defeated Daesh's territorial caliphate, the battle against Islamic terrorism is not over,” he said in the tweet that was heavily criticized by Muslims worldwide, among whom terrorist groups such as Daesh have no legitimacy due to the fact that their actions are explicitly prohibited in Islam. “As long as the terrorist groups operate and Iraq asks us to do so, France will remain engaged in Iraq,” Macron vowed.
Muslims argue that the main problem with the expression “Islamic terrorism” is that it implies a tight-knit association with Islam – which is, in fact, a religion that preaches peace and respect to everyone’s lives and properties – and terrorism, which includes many types of actions, all of which are explicitly prohibited by the Islamic faith.
Macron also argued previously that "Islamic separatism" was problematic, and added that, "The problem is (that it is) an ideology that claims its own laws should be superior to those of the republic."
In October of last year, Macron unveiled a new bill that would extend the ban on religious emblems, which notably affects Muslim women who wear headscarves or veils, to private-sector employees providing public services. The state will also have the power to step in where local authorities make unacceptable concessions to Muslims, he said, citing "religious menus" in school canteens or segregated access to swimming pools. The draft law proposes restricting home schooling to avoid having children "indoctrinated" in unregistered schools that allegedly deviated from the national curriculum.
Macron also previously said that he won’t prevent the publishing of insulting cartoons of Prophet Muhammad under the pretext of freedom of expression, a statement that sparked outrage in the Arab and Muslim world. Even though caricatures insulting a prophet are legal in France on freedom of speech grounds, it is illegal to deny the so-called "Armenian genocide," which is not recognized as such by most of the countries in the world.
An international alliance of 36 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) representing 13 countries also petitioned the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) about the systematic anti-Muslim actions of Macron-run France.
Prominent NGOs, lawyers and religious bodies called on the OHCHR to act on France’s “breadth of state abuse against Muslims” that has been raging in the country for over two decades. The coalition accuses the French government of violating “a number of basic rights that are protected in legislation that is ratified by Paris.”
The statement also alleged that the French government weaponized "laicite," the French version of secularism, to justify the intrusion of the state in the religious and political practices of Muslims.
"France stands in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. France infringed on freedoms of children, specifically to target Muslim children in violation of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child," the statement added.
The document calls upon the U.N. to ensure that France upholds and enforces the group's Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and its International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) along with every directive on the prohibition of discrimination and racism.
The statement further urges France to enact or rescind legislation where necessary to prohibit any such discrimination and to "take all appropriate measures to combat intolerance on the grounds of religion in this matter."
The NGOs also sought the intervention of international bodies due to the lack of any real or effective remedy within the French legal system to tackle these types of discrimination.
Macron's anti-Muslim rhetoric has been met with criticism not only across the world but even in his own party. Earlier in May, Macron’s La Republique En Marche (LREM) barred Muslim candidate Sara Zemmahi from running in a local election after she was seen wearing a hijab in a campaign flyer. LREM asserted that the party believes that secular France should not have room for the open display of religious symbols in election campaign documents.
“This woman will not be an en Marche candidate,” the party’s General Secretary Stanislas Guerini told RTL radio.
The flyer depicts Zemmahi wearing a white hijab, a headscarf worn by many Muslim women who consider it part of their religion, standing next to three other people. “Different, but united for you,” says the flyer in reference to diversity.
Jordan Bardella, No. 2 in Marine Le Pen's far-right Rassemblement National party, condemned the LREM, posting a flyer on Twitter with the message: “Is this how you fight separatism?” Guerini delivered an immediate response, saying that the flyer must be taken down or Zemmahi would lose the party's support.
“Undignified. Running after (far-right) votes will only allow their ideas to prevail. Enough is enough,” tweeted LREM lawmaker Caroline Janvier.
Human rights group Amnesty International said in March that the new regulations "would be a serious attack on rights and freedoms in France."
“Time and again we have seen the French authorities use the vague and ill-defined concept of ‘radicalization’ or ‘radical Islam’ to justify the imposition of measures without valid grounds, which risks leading to discrimination in its application against Muslims and other minority groups,” Amnesty International Europe researcher Marco Perolini said, adding that “this stigmatization must end.”
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