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France blocks senior CAGE official exposing Islamophobia at conference in Poland

October 3, 2023 at 12:42 pm

International director of campaign group CAGE, Muhammad Rabbani arrives at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on September 25, 2017 [DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images]

The managing director of CAGE, a UK based, independent advocacy organisation working to empower communities impacted by the “War on Terror”, has been denied entry into Poland at the behest of the French authorities. Muhammad Rabbani was scheduled to speak at the Warsaw Human Dimension Conference of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the world’s largest regional security intergovernmental organisation with 57 participating states.

The CAGE official was due to deliver another speech critical of France’s state-sponsored Islamophobia, as he did last year. He was subsequently banned from France only a month after delivering his speech on France’s systematic persecution of Muslims.

France has continued its relentless pursuit of human rights defender Rabbani, this time extending its reach to Poland by abusing international information-sharing between states to silence dissent. This disturbing sequence of events underscores France’s discomfort with public scrutiny of its policies that target Muslim communities.

READ: France ban on UK organisation exposes state Islamophobia

Moreover, it represents a blatant attack on freedom of expression and undermines the credibility of the OSCE as a platform for human rights and dialogue, said CAGE. “It also undermines Poland’s historic struggle to escape totalitarianism, which plagued the country during the Soviet era, and its credentials as a liberal democracy.”

CAGE has called upon the international community to condemn these actions, reaffirming the importance of open discourse in addressing important issues like discrimination. France’s actions, it added, should serve as a stark reminder that the fight for justice requires unwavering commitment, even in the face of attempts to stifle dissent.

We will not be silenced, insisted Rabbani

“Through this ban, France attempted to prevent CAGE from bringing public awareness at the international level regarding France’s systematic persecution of Muslims,” explained Rabbani. “However, France has not achieved its objectives as my colleagues from CAGE are at the conference and have been joined by a number of delegates from various European countries representing Muslim civil society. We will not be silenced.”

The CAGE official described the French moves as “disruptive tactics and authoritarian responses” but insisted that they will not deter the organisation. “I will be challenging this legally and I am confident that we will overturn this ban. This shows that France is uncomfortable with public scrutiny and international awareness on its persecution of its Muslim citizens.”

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