France in the midst of hysteria: from Islamophobia to social hostility

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ISTANBULWith the projection of cartoons insulting the Prophet Muhammad on the town halls of Montpellier and Toulouse, France has once again symbolically declared that it will not compromise with Muslims inside the country and that it will not treat them as citizens only if they reject their own identity. Concepts such as the rule of law, fundamental rights and freedoms, and the presumption of innocence have become negligible when it comes to Muslims.

Every day it becomes impossible to intellectually pursue Islamophobia in France and think about what needs to be done to protect fundamental rights and freedoms. The murder of high school teacher Samuel Paty after he showed his class cartoons insulting the Muslim prophet Muhammad, which Charlie Hebdo had announced he was going to republish, gave an opportunity to French politics, which wants to exacerbate every crisis and conflict and turn into a dead end. The French state, by sharing the way the murder was committed and the message the murderer shared afterwards, has found legitimate ground in the social sphere for all the decisions it will take to tackle “Islamist separatism. “, The most sinister subject of his” French Islam “project.

The speeches of French President Emmanuel Macron and other senior state leaders that there are regions in France against the French social structure and that communitarianism divides the republic, have been proven firsthand to the public by a symbolic case . The French government has also announced that new measures suspending the rule of law are underway.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin in messages on his social media account said there would be police operations on many institutions and people unrelated to the teacher’s murder, adding that it would be a “message”. With this message, France officially declared that it would act against the rule of law and that it has an “enemy” to whom it must give a message. This new war against an invisible enemy is a hysteria making all Muslims – truly visible – in the public sphere to become targets. The concept of Islamophobia, which has been trying to define itself for years and whose legal framework has been tried to take shape, is not enough to explain this new crisis situation in which the State is totally up against a belief. Muslims are no longer the subjects of social policies, citizenship services, freedom of belief, but the object of the state’s security and paranoid anti-Islam policies.

The first victim of this new hostile political attitude was Le Collectif contre l’islamophobie en France (CCIF), which publishes an annual report on Islamophobia in France and sets up a network of solidarity and legal advice to individuals. exposed to discrimination and Islamophobic violence. This organization, which was presented as a separatist movement in state relations, intended to be the voice of the victims while fully respecting the laws. The shutdown of the organization, which seeks only rights and does not even have a political position, in fact, shows where the plans of the French state could lead. In the social realm, the word Islamophobia is intellectually devalued and those who use it are blacklisted with accusations of separatism. Even talking about freedom of belief has become utopian in this discourse where victimization equates to being a criminal and Muslims are stigmatized because of their headscarf, beard, name or ethnicity.

In this atmosphere of hatred, attacks on mosques and Muslims hardly find a place in the media – like this one. on October 18, when two women wearing headscarves suffered a knife attack near the Eiffel Tower with insulting terms such as “dirty Arabs”. Also, the day before, two Turkish women were exposed to police brutality in traffic and attacks on mosques took place in Bordeaux and Béziers.

Far from being able to hear a libertarian voice in the French public that prioritizes the defense of fundamental rights and freedoms of Muslims, anyone who criticizes the government’s extremist hate policy, even to a certain extent, is marginalized. Nicolas Cadene, the chairman of the official committee that defends the principle of secularism in France, the Observatoire de Laicite (Observatoire de laïcité), commented on the latest developments, saying that he has come to a point where Muslims are stigmatized rather than preserving secularism. After his statements, Cadène was subjected to a social lynching and calls were made for his dismissal.

In this new situation, where evil has become commonplace, the place of Muslims in French society and the attitudes to which they are exposed bear similarities to the anti-Semitic practices that Jews began to experience in Europe in the 1930s. situation where Islamophobia disguises itself as “freedom of opinion and expression”, Muslims lose their subjectivity and are transformed into subjects of crime just by their existence. While discussions of the socio-economic issues of the French state’s immigration policy are obscured, Muslims are transformed into “others” who must constantly prove themselves to society and the state.

* The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of the Anadolu agency.

* Translated by Burak Dag in Ankara.
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