Institutionalised Islamophobia or Mentally Ill?

In the wake of the horrific murder of history teacher Samuel Paty; Macron reacted with flexing the muscles of French democracy by posting the controversial caricature throughout the country. His brave attempt to rescue secularism. Last week, Macron declared that “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today”. A French colonial ruler seeking to ‘liberate’ Islam, is nothing new. He aimed at agitating and provoking a minority population by republishing Charlie Hebdo caricatures simultaneously with its upcoming tribunal. Islam had already been in the spotlight as Macron outlined details of a new law aimed at protecting France’s secular republic from ‘foreign influences’. Macron said the minority of the countries estimated 6 million Muslims was a danger in forming a counter society. Accusations followed that he was trying to repress Islam in France. The Liberal leader who claims to be for human rights has fueled the bigotry which bears severe consequences to French Muslims. These chain of events lead to the stabbing of two Muslim women under the Eifel Tower by a white female attacker shouting ‘dirty Arabs’. We did not see in the headlines ‘Terrorist’ nor a global reaction nor world leaders in arms protesting in the streets of Paris. Liberal fascism normalised daily by French media has now led to dozens of mosques and Islamic schools being shut down. There has been a sharp rise in Islamophobic attacks since these incidents with reports of increased raids and assaults. Human rights activists who speak out against Islamophobia are subjected to barbaric assault by French authorities. Sending a clear message that France is a republic open to witch hunt targeting Muslims. Yasser Louati, French Human rights and civil liberties activist said ‘we have reached a point where everyone is scared of being raided at five in the morning. People are afraid of what to post [on social media]. And my freedom of speech as a human rights activist is on the balance. The President of France’s largest Muslim charity BarakaCity; Idriss Sihamedi was brutally raided with not a shred of evidence. His crime was to simply critique the government’s double standards. This act of intimidation was ironically to silence free speech. It seems like in France, Freedom of Speech is used as a political tool yielded selectively. The elite deciding who gets to qualifies for free speech. The CCIF (Collectif contre l’islamophobie en France) reported 1,043 Islamophobic incidents that occurred in 2019 (a 77 per cent increase since 2017). Ironically this very organisation has been a target of death threats and campaigns of hatred. In the name of superior values, Muslims are repeatedly attacked, subjugated and forced to assimilate and accept they are second class citizens. A government that reeks in double standards. To add salt to the wound, they insist shoving vile insults to the faith. To allow contemptuous rudeness and insensitivity under the umbrella of freedom of speech, then the same license must be given to insulting sexual orientation, gender or race. Such as the freedom of permitting a white male to slur the N-word. In an age of cancel culture; this seems highly unlikely. And yet it remains fair game to insult religion; specifically Islam. Free speech simply does not exist in absolute form. We have defamation laws, journalistic ethics and professional standards. Sixteen European countries and Israel have laws criminalising those who are Holocaust deniers. In America, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act criminalizes participation in boycotts targeting Israel. And yet globally, Muslims are required to tolerate and even celebrate the freedom to insult the dearest man to their hearts. Prophet Muhammad PBUH. So let’s be honest this isn’t about free speech. Anti-Muslim sentiment cloaked under the guise of Secularism has long been practised in France. Policy passed in 2004 banning any religious symbols to be presented in schools was a law which is widely perceived as an aim at Muslim woman. This is among many others that followed suit including the banning of the niqab. These policies have been weaponised to target the Muslim minority and remove them from public visibility. So how does one protect free speech, as a constitutional right and maintain respect for citizens of different faiths and backgrounds? One must understand that Islam welcomes critique of the faith. We reject stifling any serious debates about theology. However, insults of any beliefs or religions are unacceptable.