Joint statement: French Minister threatening to close down anti-racist civil society organisation

ENAR and 70+ civil society organisations and academics express support to the Collective Against Islamophobia in France, following the call by Gérald Darmanin, French Minister of the Interior, to dissolve the organisation, and call on international solidarity against this manifestation of structural racism targeting civil society.

First published on 20 October 2020 on European Network Against Racism.

The undersigned organisations are extremely concerned by the call by Gérald Darmanin, French Minister of the Interior, to dissolve the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), an anti-racist organisation member of the European Network Against Racism. We express our strong support to the organisation which has been fighting against racism and discrimination targeting Muslims for the last 20 years, and call on international solidarity against this manifestation of structural racism targeting civil society.

On 16 October, Samuel Paty, a teacher in Conflans, France, was murdered after showing his students caricatures of Prophet Muhammad. We strongly condemn this act and express our solidarity to the victim’s family. This horrendous act was followed by a concerted attack against the CCIF and other organisations, accused of opposing the ‘Republican order’ and being ‘radical islamists’.

The CCIF’s mission is to fight racism and racial discrimination, and specifically Islamophobia, in France. It provides crucial legal support and advice to victims of discrimination and conducts important research to uncover to reality of anti-Muslim racism in France. Its professionalism and expertise have been recognised by European and international institutions, including by equality bodies and human rights NGOs.

We are concerned by the political pressures, at the highest level of the French government, and intimidation campaign targeting a human rights organisation whose work is to address discrimination and hate crimes against Muslim citizens.

This proposal to dissolve a professional anti-racist organisation which does crucial work to combat racism and defend the rights of racialised groups is a violation of democratic freedoms, in particular as there has been no legal enquiry into the allegations prior to the Minister’s announcement. It reflects institutional racism within the French government, in a context where it has recently announced a bill which stigmatises and targets French Muslim communities.

Instead of criminalising anti-racist organisations, we urge the French government to respect its commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms. We caution political leaders on their use of inflammatory rhetoric, which fuels hatred and intolerance instead of reinforcing social cohesion and inclusion.

Co-signed by:

1. Action Droits des Musulmans (France)
2. AEQUITAS (Cyprus)
3. Altera (Italy)
4. Anidjar Gil, Professor, Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia University, New York (United States)
5. Associaçao Kazumba (Portugal)
6. Asociacion Musulmana por los Derechos Humanos (Spain)
7. Auslander Leora, Arthur and Joann Rasmussen Professor of Western Civilization, Chicago University (United States)
8. BePax (Belgium)
9. Bonnefoy Laurent, CNRS researcher (France)
10. Campaign against criminalising communities – CAMPACC (United Kingdom)
11. Canut Cécile, Professor, Université Paris Descartes (France)
12. Center for Peace Studies (Croatia)
13. Central Council for German Sinti and Roma (Germany)
14. Coexister (France)
15. Collectif Mémoire Coloniale et Lutte contre les Discriminations (Belgium)
16. Collective Against Islamophobia in Belgium (CCIB)
17. Conseil Représentatif des Associations Noires – CRAN (France)
18. Coordination contre le racisme et l’islamophobie – CRI (France)
19. Czech Helsinki Committee (Czech Republic)
20. Djass – Associação de Afrodescendentes (Portugal)
21. Ella vzw (Belgium)
22. EMCEMO (Netherlands)
23. ENAR Denmark (Denmark)
24. Each One Teach One – EOTO (Germany)
25. Estves Olivier, Professor in British Studies, Université de Lille (France)
26. Ethnic Debate Forum (Denmark)
27. Etudiants Musulmans de France (France)
28. European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights (EU)
29. European Forum of Muslim Women – EFOMW (EU)
30. European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion (EMISCO)
31. European Network Against Racism (EU)
32. European Network on Religion and Belief – ENORB (EU)
33. Fadil Nadia, Anthropology, KU Leuven (Belgium)
34. Fair Play (Denmark)
35. Fassin Eric, Professor of Sociology, Université Paris 8 (France)
36. Fem-R (Finland)
37. Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations – FEMYSO (EU)
38. FTI Consulting
39. Fundación Al Fanar para el Conocimiento Árabe (Spain)
40. Guénif Nacira, Sociologist, Professor at Université Paris 8 (France)
41. Hajjat Abdellali, Associate Professor of Sociology, Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium)
42. Herlin-Giret Camille, junior researcher, CNRS (France)
43. Hope not Hate (United Kingdom)
44. Kaciaf Nicolas, Senior Lecturer in Political Science – Sciences Po Lille / University of Lille, France
45. Khalidi Rashid, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies, Columbia University, New York (United States)
46. KISA (Cyprus)
47. Larcher Silyane, Research Scholar at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) (France)
48. Mazouz Sarah, Sociologist, CNRS (France)
49. Messick Brinkley, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University, New York (United States)
50. Migrant Tales (Finland)
51. Möschel Mathias, Associate Professor, Central European University (Hungary)
52. Muhsin al-Musawi, Professor, Columbia University (United States)
53. Muslim Council of Britain (United Kingdom)
54. Palheta Ugo, Sociologist, Université de Lille (France)
55. Peace Timothy, Lecturer in Politics, University of Glasgow (United Kingdom)
56. Etienne Penissat, Researcher in sociology, CNRS (France)
57. Rasmus Ry – National Association Against Racism and Xenophobia (Finland)
58. Revibra Europe (EU)
59. S.P.E.A.K. (Netherlands)
60. Scott Joan W., Professor Emerita, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey (United States)
61. Siempre vzw (Belgium)
62. Silverstein Paul A., Professor of Anthropology, Reed College, Portland (United States)
63. Simon Patrick, demographer (France)
64. SOS Malta (Malta)
65. SOS Racisme (Denmark)
66. Souanef Karim, Professor in Sociology, Université de Lille (France)
67. Soumahoro Maboula, Association Black History Month (France)
68. Stichting Meld Islamofobie (Netherlands)
69. Torrekens Corinne, Professor, Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium)
70. UNITED for Intercultural Action (EU)
71. Vervaecke Philippe, Professor of British Studies, Université de Lille (France)
72. Waterford Integration Services (Ireland)