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French Anti-Racism Group at Center of Beheading Storm is an Islamist Influence Operation

October 20th, 2020 14:12

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.

Read the rest here.

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.