As Macron’s right-wing government is overwhelmed by the far right, a bidding war is underway over who will crack down on Muslims further, activists say.
Protests in France are rarely, if ever, peaceful affairs. Unruly and chaotic, they are usually the hallmark of a country where rulers have been beheaded and episodes of working class insurgencies demanding social change occur regularly.
When pro-Palestinian protesters attempted to stage protests against Israel’s bombardment of civilians in Gaza and to support the people of Sheikh Jarrah, who were forced to leave their lands to make way for Jewish settlers – the French state quickly decided to ban the marches.
The government of French President Emmanuel Macron spoke of “a serious disturbance of public order” and that the protests could harm “Israeli interests”. Organizers of the pro-Palestinian protesters condemned the attempt to stifle their rights as “politically motivated.”
For French Muslims, however, it also revealed an uncomfortable and increasingly oppressive reality.
“France is the only democracy in the world where pro-Palestine protests are banned,” said Elias d’Imzalene, a human rights defender speaking to TRT World.
But such actions follow a pattern in which Macron’s government has attempted to stifle Muslim voices in the country.
Earlier this year, Macron pleaded for a “Charter of Imams,” a set of principles that would define an Islam of France, which, among other things, would regulate what Muslims might talk about in mosques.
“Imams and mosques must sign the charter of imams, drawn up by the French government,” Imzalene said, adding that failing to do so could result in the closure of their mosques and the faithful deprived of a place of worship.
The Charter prevents Muslims in mosques from discussing Islamophobia or international issues that the French government sees as a sign of extremism.
The aim of such measures is to create a “state of emergency against Muslims living in France by limiting their civil and political rights, and the right to express their religion,” warns d’Imzalene.
For Muslims in France who watched their political leaders support Israel in its bombing of Gaza, which killed more than 250 civilians, including 66 children, it was a dreadful double standard.
France’s right-wing interior minister called on local authorities and security forces to take all necessary measures to prevent pro-Palestinian marches from happening.
At the same time, French politicians were busy supporting Israel, but at home they demand that Muslims in mosques not talk about or protest foreign policy issues.
The Imam Charter, which has been “overwhelmingly rejected by Muslims,” is one of the essential pillars of a larger attempt to silence Muslims, says Marwan Muhammad, a high-level anti-racist activist in the country.
Macron’s government attacked Muhammad for challenging his anti-Muslim policies, but he remains frank.
“The idea here is to politically silence the Muslim rulers in order to control Muslim opinion,” Muhammad said speaking to TRT World.
“Meanwhile, the government itself and other groups do not hesitate to side with the oppressors of these minorities by supporting them politically or by selling them arms. This double position only applies to Muslims, ”added Muhammad.
As millions of people around the world marched peacefully in solidarity with Palestinians in France, police pointed their water cannons and tear gas at largely peaceful protesters they had banned.
“This is the French paradox,” said Muhammad, adding that the restriction is not only for Muslims, but that any “person speaking today in support of Palestine is targeted”.
While Macron has seen his poll scores drop and military officers threaten the government with “civil war” if it does not deal with Muslims, the ban on pro-Palestinian protests has also been a signal to the government. extreme right that his government is ready to block on the “hordes”, term used by the officers.
“The impact is politically devastating in France”, says Muhammad “we now have a government which obeys and implements a program dictated by the extreme right”.
Source: TRT World