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

Brussels, 19 October 2020 – The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) is extremely concerned by the call by Gérald Darmanin, French Interior Minister, to dissolve the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), one of ENAR’s member organisations.

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.

For more information, contact:
Georgina Siklossy, ENAR Senior Communication and Press Officer
Mobile: +32 (0)473 490 531 - Email: georgina@enar-eu.org - Web: www.enar-eu.org

Chafika Attalai, International Project Manager at the CCIF
Email: chafika.ccif@gmail.com - Web: www.islamophobie.net

Notes to editors:
1. The European Network Against Racism (ENAR aisbl) is the only pan-European network combining racial equality advocacy with building a strong network of anti-racist organisations across Europe. We ensure that laws and policies address racism and reflect the experiences of racialised people. We provide a unique space for organisations to connect and exchange strategies on how to combat racism and support our communities.
2. The CCIF has issued a press release reacting to the intimidation: https://www.islamophobie.net/2020/10/17/communique-du-17-octobre-limpasse/

- Read the statement in Spanish

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