European media is reporting on a statement by the French interior minister indicating that he wants to dissolve two Islamic NGOs, which he described as “enemies of the state’ and which, according to the minister, were “obviously involved” in the events leading to the beheading of Samuel Paty. Paty was a history-geography teacher working in a school near Paris who was killed after he had shown caricatures of Prophet Muhammad in class. According to a Euronews report, one of the two NGO’s accused of taking part in a social media campaign against the teacher launched by the father of one of his pupils was the CCIF [Collective Against Islamophobia in France], which has denied the accusation:
France’s interior minister wants to dissolve two Islamic NGOs which he described as “enemies” of the state. It follows Friday’s beheading of teacher Samuel Paty after he had shown caricatures of Prophet Muhammad in class. Both NGOs have strenuously denied any wrongdoing. “I am going to propose the dissolution of CCIF [Collective against Islamophobia in France] and BarakaCity, organisations that are enemies of the Republic,” Gérald Darmanin tweeted. “We must stop being naive and face the truth: there is no accommodation possible with radical Islamism,” he added. The minister told the Europe 1 radio station the two NGOs were “obviously involved” in the events that led to the killing of Paty, a history-geography teacher, near the school he worked at in Conflans Saint-Honorine, northwest of Paris. Both have been accused since Friday of taking part in a social media campaign against the teacher launched by the father of one of his pupils. In a statement released on Saturday, CCIF admitted it had been contacted by the pupil’s father but denied having harassed Paty.“This is false and therefore constitutes libel of great abjection,” it said, adding that it had filed a legal complaint against a lawmaker and a journalist who had both made the claim. CCIF also said that when Paty was killed, it was still verifying information the pupil’s father had provided to determine whether Muslim students had been discriminated against.
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Founded in 2003, the CCIF describes itself on its website as follows:
The Collective Against Islamophobia in France is a human rights organisation created in 2000, whose mission is to combat Islamophobia. Islamophobia is defined as all acts of discrimination or violence against individuals or institutions based on actual or assumed belonging to Islam, and appears as the acceptable expression of disguised racism.
However, in 2016, a former French Interior minister of Moroccan origin and a specialist in Islam described the CCIF as “being in the orbit of the Muslim Brotherhood” and in the style of Tariq Ramadan, the son-in-law of the Muslim Brotherhood founder. Although the CCIF has denied any association with the Muslim Brotherhood, there is substantial evidence to support such an association, such as its ideological positions which are in close sync with those of the Brotherhood, including:
- A passionate defense of the hijab (Islamic headscarf).
- A 2018 open letter urging the French President to fight “secularism” with as much energy as fighting terrorism.
- A sustained campaign against “Islamophobia” which, despite being a genuine phenomenon, is often instrumentalized by groups tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood
In addition to its ideological closeness, the CCIF maintains multiple relationships to organizations part of the European Muslim Brotherhood, including joint projects with the Federation of Muslim Youth and Student Organizations (FEMYSO) and appearing at conferences of the Institut Européen des Sciences Humaines. In March 2018, the CCIF also jointly co-organized a conference in Istanbul on “Combatting Islamophobia” with the AKP, the Islamist political party of Turkish President Erdoğan. The CCIF is also close to Tariq Ramadan, as noted above, the Muslim Brotherhood founder’s son-in-law and recently imprisoned on multiple rape charges. In 2013, Ramadan was featured at the gala dinner celebrating the 10th anniversary of the organization, and in February 2018, the CCIF published a letter demanding the release of Ramadan from prison.
Perhaps the closest analog to the CCIF concerning the Global Muslim Brotherhood, a transnational influence network covered by the GIOR, is the US-based Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which also describes itself as “a grassroots civil rights and advocacy group and as “America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group.” Not unlike the CCIF, and consistent with its background in the US Hamas support infrastructure, CAIR also engages in civil rights-related activity while at the same time has also been associated with Islamic fundamentalism, antisemitism, and defense of terrorism. It is not surprising then that CAIR listed as on the CCIF website as one of the organizations “Official Partners.” CAIR has also been highly active in attempting to capitalize on the anti-Islamophobia movement.
Also consistent with the CCIF as an influence operation is the inroads it has made at the pan-European and EU levels. The CCIF is a member of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), an association of over 150 NGO’s describing itself as “the voice of the anti-racist movement in Europe” and has which has met with important EU officials such as the Coordinator of the European Commission Coordinator on combating anti-Muslim hatred. In 2019, ENAR was one of 21 signatories to an open letter published by a self-described “informal European coalition against Islamophobia” which called on EU officials to provide its Coordinator on anti-Muslim hatred with “a clear human rights-based mandate and meaningful resources.” According to the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch (GMBDW), the “European coalition against Islamophobia” was, in fact, comprised mainly of organizations and one individual tied to the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe.