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Muslim NGO coalition highlights state Islamophobia across Europe

September 29, 2022 at 12:59 pm

Protestors hold a banner reading “Block against fascism and islamophobia” during a demonstration organised by far-left against far-right in Paris, on November 27, 2021. (Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP) (Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP via Getty Images)

A coalition of Muslim NGOs will be highlighting state sponsored Islamophobia across Europe during a conference organised by what is billed as the world’s largest regional security intergovernmental organisation, with 57 participating states. Coalition members will gather at the Human Dimension Conference of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe to be held in Warsaw over the next two days. The NGOs will decry what they have identified as endemic state sponsored Islamophobia across Europe and highlight what is being described as systematic suppression of Muslim civil society across the continent.

The coalition includes groups from across Europe and elsewhere. Some of them — Perspectives Musulmanes (France), CAGE (UK), Assisting Communities Traumatised by Police (Austria), Lighthouse Advocacy (UK), The Centre for Muslims’ Rights (Denmark), INSAN (Sweden) and Muslim Rights Watch (Netherlands) — are organising a fringe event at the conference to highlight how European states have enabled the targeting of Muslim minorities through an array of discriminatory laws and policies with far-reaching implications for the rule of law and freedom in Europe.

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Elias d’Imzalène of Perspectives Musulmanes will focus on how France’s state-led Islamophobia is dismantling all free spaces for Muslims. “This Orwellian policy affects the very corpus of the Islamic religion,” said d’Imzalène in a press release. “Indeed, the Imams’ Charter prohibits imams from denouncing any form of Islamophobia, discrimination and injustice and imposes a new reading of Islam ordered by the State, an ‘Islam of the police prefectures’. The police threaten to close any mosque denouncing this new inquisition while a political hunt is also carried out, targeting the dissenting voices of the community, thus making Muslim expression [or free speech] essentially criminal.”

Lighthouse Advocacy from the UK will highlight evidence it has uncovered of unethical financial ties between British higher education institutions and companies complicit in forced Uyghur labour. “Lighthouse Advocacy urges the UK government to comply with the Modern Slavery Act of 2015 and ban any import of goods from the Xinjiang region which has been produced as a result of forced Uyghur labour,” explained the NGO’s Ikram Hussain. “We also exhort British businesses and academic institutions to follow suit in ending their ties with such companies profiting from forced Uyghur labour.”

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The Managing Director of CAGE, meanwhile, will draw attention to France’s systematic obstruction policy and will note how it amounts to a persecution of Muslims in the country. In his pre-conference statement, Muhammad Rabbani, commented on rights guaranteed under international law. “As defined by the Rome Statute, ‘persecution’ means the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of the identity of the group or collectivity,” he explained. “The deliberate deprivation of the freedom of religion, opinion and association of Muslim citizens of France that results from government policy and law, provides evidence of State-led persecution of Muslims underway in France.”