French municipal leaders sign open letter against government 'Islamophobia'

French municipal leaders sign open letter against government 'Islamophobia'
Municipal leaders in France have spoken out against proposed measures that they say will unfairly target Muslims in France
2 min read
18 December, 2020
The French government has been accused of pursuing Islamophobic policies [Getty]

In a stinging rebuke to the French government, over 70 elected municipal officials have signed a letter condemning recent government actions as 'Islamophobic' and a betrayal of French freedoms and values. 

The signatories to the letter said that recent campaigns against Muslims in France are “an attack on us all” and the victims of recent terrorist attacks are being “used and exploited” by the French government and media. 

“What was previously considered far-right rhetoric - rhetoric that has gained ground in recent years - is now normalized in the media and mainstream political discourse,” the letter read.

Following a spate of attacks by Islamist extremists, the French government put forward a bill that would increase surveillance of all mosques and their finances, apply government oversight to the training of imams and limit home-schooling.

These proposals were decried by rights advocates and Muslim groups as Islamophobic, an accusation which the government has denied.

“We are not Islamophobic. We are only trying to enforce the values of our republic,” a French presidential spokesperson recently told DW TV.

But signatories to Tuesday’s open letter have said the government is using attacks to, “justify oppressive actions against Muslims, as well as against any organization perceived to be Muslim.”

The letter cited the action taken against BarakaCity, a Muslim charity working in more than 26 countries. The NGO was dissolved by the French government, who alleged that it had ties to radical Islam and was “revelling in justifying terrorist acts”, claims which BarakaCity strongly denied.

Read more: Separatism: Bringing Islam and France's Muslims to heel

“As elected officials, attached to the rule of law, we cannot tolerate these shifts. Fundamental freedoms are at stake. Human rights are at stake. And with them, democracy is too,” the municipal officials added.

They said that France’s obsession with Muslims and Islam was driving the country to "fascism". 

Last October, French President Emmanuel Macron said, “What we need to fight is Islamist separatism…The problem is an ideology which claims its own laws should be superior to those of the Republic.” 

Concluding their letter, the signatories said, “It is time to become aware of the situation in France. It is time to speak up and take a stand. It is time to hold the French government to account for the principles of human rights that it claims to defend in the world and that it neglects at home.”

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