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Tackle French ‘abuse’ of Muslims, civil society groups tell UN


A group of lawyers, NGOs and religious bodies from 13 countries have submitted formal complaints to the United Nations Human Rights Council (OHCHR), calling for action against France’s “breadth of state abuse against Muslims” stretching back more than two decades.
The coalition submitted its findings to the UN body on Monday, accusing France of violating “a number of basic rights that are protected in legislation that is ratified by Paris”.
It said successive governments since 1989 had “entrenched structural Islamophobia and discrimination against Muslims”.
As examples, it cited recent “illegitimate and violent” raids of Muslim homes and organizations designed to “send a message”, French President Emmanuel Macron’s plan against what he calls “Islamist separatism”, an alleged backlash against Muslim communities in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks in the US, the 2004 ban on the hijab in public schools, the 2010 ban on the niqab in public spaces and moves in 2016 – later overturned – against the full-body swimsuit worn by some Muslim women.
It also said a 2017 counter-terrorism law, SILT – Strengthening Homeland Security and the Fight Against Terrorism, fuelled Islamophobia, alleging it mainly targeted Muslim families, individuals and community centers.
The group urged the OHCHR to act in the wake of its complaints and ensure France upholds the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The group accused France of failing to tackle systemic discrimination and called on Paris to “enact or rescind legislation” to combat intolerance.
The 36-member coalition includes advocacy groups such as the France-based European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion; the UK’s Muslim Association of Britain; Holland’s Muslim Rights Watch, and the US-based Council on American-Islamic Relations and Islamophobia Studies Center.

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