Macron Cracks Down on Islamist 'Separatism' in France

Published October 15th, 2020 - 12:29 GMT
This picture shows screens displaying French President Emmanuel Macron as he addresses the nation during a televised interview from the Elysee Palace concerning the situation of the novel coronavirus Covid-19 in France, in Paris on October 14, 2020. President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday ordered a nighttime curfew for Paris and eight other French cities to contain the rising spread of Covid-19 in the country. In a televised interview, Macron said residents of those cities would not be allowed to be outdoors
This picture shows screens displaying French President Emmanuel Macron as he addresses the nation during a televised interview from the Elysee Palace concerning the situation of the novel coronavirus Covid-19 in France, in Paris on October 14, 2020. President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday ordered a nighttime curfew for Paris and eight other French cities to contain the rising spread of Covid-19 in the country. In a televised interview, Macron said residents of those cities would not be allowed to be outdoors between 9:00 pm (1900 GMT) and 6:00 am (0400 GMT) from Saturday, for a duration of at least four weeks. "We have to act. We need to put a brake on the spread of the virus," Macron said, adding the measure would stop people visiting restaurants and private homes in the late evening and night. Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP
Highlights
Even before Macron’s declaration of the supposed ‘crisis’ within Islam, France has been cracking down on its Muslims.

The president of the NGO BarakaCity, Idriss Sihamedi, was arrested by armed officers in a raid broadcast online on Wednesday. 

Sihamedi had criticised President Macron’s recent comments on supposed ‘Islamic separatism’.

French Muslims are in uproar after armed police targeted a critic of President Emmanuel Macron in a raid that was broadcast live online.

Idriss Sihamedi, the founder and president of the NGO BarakaCity, says he was beaten and forcibly restrained by officers who pressed his head against the floor during the raid at his home on Wednesday.

A member of the group, which conducts charitable projects within France and abroad, broadcast the scenes, showing broken surveillance equipment, furniture overturned, and documents strewn across the floor.

According to BarakaCity, police prevented Sihamedi’s wife from dressing their four-year-old child who had been sleeping covered only in his blanket. When she did anyway, she was insulted by officers who restrained her with handcuffs.

Armed police also forced the couple’s three other children to keep their hands up in the air, the NGO said.

Supporters described the raid as an act of ‘intimidation’ and a violation of free speech but while officials have given no explanation for the raid, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin accused Sihamedi of ‘condoning terrorism’ in a since deleted tweet. 

Darmanin has not provided any evidence to support that assertion.

Up until the raid, Sihamedi had been a vociferous critic of Macron’s plans to clamp down on practice of Islam.

In a number of speeches and statements made over the past few months, the French president has claimed Islam is in ‘crisis’ across the world and has pledged to introduce measures to crackdown on what he describes as ‘Islamic separatism’.

While previous French leaders have implemented measures targeting Muslims, such as the ban on students wearing headscarves in school and the ban on face coverings, none in the modern era have directly criticised Islam as a religion.

Macron and Islam

Even before Macron’s declaration of the supposed ‘crisis’ within Islam, France has been cracking down on its Muslims.

Interior Minister Darmanin has revealed that French authorities have shut down 73 Muslim establishments, including mosques, schools, shops, and coffee houses since the start of 2020.

The government claims that these establishments either did not have the proper authorisation or that they encouraged ‘extremism’. French Muslims, however, counter that the French definition of extremism is so broad that just about any Muslim entity can fall under its scope.

Those responding to the raid on Sihamedi’s residence said that the country was witnessing the start of a ‘witch hunt’ targeting Muslims.

Hashtags sprang up on Twitter announcing their support for Sihamedi and BarakaCity with some activists calling for protests outside police stations on Thursday.

Macron’s push against the country’s Muslim community comes as polls put him neck-and-neck with Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Rally party formerly known as the National Front.

Le Pen has built her popularity around the promise of cracking down on the Muslim presence in France.

Given Macron’s failure to repair the French economy, the current drive against the Muslim community could be about establishing his credentials on what is likely to be the key issue of the 2022 election.

This article has been adapted from its original source.


Copyright © 2020 TRT World

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