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UK rights groups decry France's anti-Muslim drive

People stage a protest against comments by President of France Emmanuel Macron defending caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in France and the's anti-Islam remarks in front of the French Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia on November 2, 2020 [Anton Raharjo - Anadolu Agency]
People stage a protest against comments by President of France Emmanuel Macron defending caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in France and the's anti-Islam remarks in front of the French Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia on 2 November 2020 [Anton Raharjo - Anadolu Agency]

British advocacy groups have condemned France's decision to shut down anti-racism group Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), Anadolu Agency reports.

While announcing the move on Wednesday, Gerald Darmanin, France's interior minister, accused the CCIF of carrying out "Islamist propaganda" for several years, allegations the group has vehemently refuted.

In a statement in response, London-based group CAGE said the decision "exposes the French state's brazen hypocrisy in advocating 'free speech' while legally denying Muslims the freedom to speak and organize."

READ: France to inspect 76 mosques in coming days

CAGE is an advocacy organization that campaigns for "due process, the rule of law and an end to the injustices of the War on Terror."

The statement said the CCIF was not only banned, but its staff "indefinitely blacklisted," meaning they cannot set up new groups or speak publicly.

"Their freedom of association and expression has been suspended indefinitely," CAGE said, adding that the decision followed "a series of raids on mosques, Islamic schools and homes."

Muhammad Rabbani, managing director of CAGE, said: "Individuals linked to the CCIF have been muzzled in a manner only heard of in the most autocratic countries."

"This disruption and attempt to weaken the Muslim community follows Macron's announcement of a new 'Separatism Law' to curtail Muslim charity work and political campaigning."

"It also follows an EU Joint Statement of a "united front against Islamism" – to distract the EU from French violations of 'liberty, egality and fraternity' and even EU laws," he added.

He said that anyone who stands for the right to organize and collaborate for positive social change "cannot be silent any longer."

READ: The Tariq Ramadan case exposes even more French double standards

"This is not the way to nurture trust between people and government. We must speak up with courage for those in France who are standing firm despite state repression," Rabbani said.

The Arab Organization for Human Rights in UK (AOHR UK) also condemned the French government's move to start inspections at mosques as part of its "campaign against separatism."

"AOHR UK pointed out that the French government's policies towards Arabs and Muslims are in line with the policies of the extreme right, which calls for the closure of mosques and the imposition of strict control on Muslims, which fuels hostility to Muslims and increases attacks on them," read a statement issued on Thursday.

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