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The New Arab Staff

HRW slams France for 'endangering liberties' by dissolving anti-Islamophobia group

The attacks followed the republishing of Prophet Muhammad cartoons in France [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 December, 2020

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The US-based rights advocacy group condemned France's shutting down of leading anti-discrimination group Collective Against Islamophobia.
A decision by France to shut down a leading anti-discrimination group threatens basic human rights, Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Friday, after it was emerged that the Collective Against Islamophobia [CCIF] in France was dissolved on Wednesday.

The US-based rights advocacy group condemned the move, adding that it curtailed liberties, including freedom of expression, association, religion and the principle of non-discrimination.

"Whatever its intention, this measure risks further stigmatizing Muslims in France," said Kartik Raj, HRW's Western Europe researcher.

"Shutting down an organization that raises legitimate concerns about anti-Muslim prejudice is blaming the messenger rather than addressing existing discrimination," he said.

The heavy-handed action will make it harder for victims of anti-Muslim prejudice in France to seek appropriate redress and could leave others afraid to complain, according to Raj.

"It could also backfire by fueling the narrative that French state policy is anti-Muslim."

Read also: Turkish FM says Islamophobia rising 'like never before'

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced on Wednesday that the CCIF will be dissolved. 

"In accordance with the instructions of the President of the Republic, the CCIF was dissolved in the Council of Ministers. For several years, the CCIF had consistently carried out Islamist propaganda, as detailed in the decree that I presented to the Council of Ministers," Darmanin tweeted.

The controversial move followed a meeting of the Council of Ministers. Under French law, the council can dissolve any group or non-profit organisation by decree, without requiring prior judicial scrutiny.

The move came after the beheading of a French teacher in a Paris suburb and a fatal knife attack that killed three in Nice.

The attacks followed the republishing of Prophet Muhammad cartoons in France, which were defended by President Emmanuel Macron under the pretext of freedom of speech.

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