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 Letter Urging French President To Stop “Institutionalization of Islamophobia” Includes Academics With Muslim Brotherhood Ties

March 22nd, 2022 13:28

On 2 March 2022, 31 inter­na­tion­al aca­d­e­mics pub­lished an open let­ter urg­ing French Pres­i­dent Emmanuel Macron to stop his gov­ern­men­t’s alleged “insti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion of Islam­o­pho­bia.”  Accord­ing to a post on the web­site of the Col­lec­tif con­tre l’islamophobie en Europe (CCIE):

Mr. Pres­i­dent, We, schol­ars from around the world spe­cial­iz­ing in Islam­ic stud­ies, French and Fran­coph­o­ne stud­ies, reli­gious stud­ies, his­to­ry, soci­ol­o­gy, anthro­pol­o­gy, polit­i­cal sci­ence and more, would like to express our deep shock at the wors­en­ing insti­tu­tion­al­ized Islam­o­pho­bia that has char­ac­ter­ized your man­date. In 2017, you were elect­ed on the promise of an inclu­sive and open soci­ety far from the declin­ism and anti-Mus­lim big­otry of Marine Le Pen. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, as soon as you took office, we saw the exact oppo­site of your promis­es. [Trans­lat­ed from French orig­i­nal using Google]

Read the rest here.

The aca­d­e­mics fur­ther alleged that due to its poli­cies, Macron’s gov­ern­ment was in “almost per­ma­nent vio­la­tion” of the 1905 law on the sep­a­ra­tion of church and state, adding that France now increas­ing­ly renounced its rule of law and free­dom of belief. The group also alleged Macron him­self was “much more dan­ger­ous to French free­doms” than poten­tial Islamists, sep­a­ratists, and jihadists that his “para­noid gov­ern­ment” saw behind every hijab or Salafist beard.

Fol­low­ing the Octo­ber 2020 behead­ing of a French geog­ra­phy teacher who had shown car­i­ca­tures of the Prophet Muham­mad in class, the French gov­ern­ment ordered a crack­down on groups accused of rad­i­cal­ism, car­ry­ing out dozens of raids and tem­porar­i­ly shut­ting down mosques. In a much-noticed speech announc­ing a tougher stance against Islamism, Pres­i­dent Macron also pro­posed com­pre­hen­sive leg­is­la­tion to com­bat the favor­ing of reli­gious rules over repub­li­can laws among the coun­try’s grow­ing Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion. Oth­er gov­ern­ment pro­pos­als includ­ed stricter con­trol over for­eign fund­ing of mosques as well as require­ments that imams be trained and cer­ti­fied in France.

The let­ter’s list of sig­na­to­ries, which also includ­ed promi­nent Sloven­ian philoso­pher Slavoj Žižek, fea­tured sev­er­al indi­vid­u­als who are known to have ties to the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood (GMB) in Europe and the Unit­ed States and/or the inter­na­tion­al Hamas sup­port infra­struc­ture, including:

  • John Espos­i­to, a found­ing direc­tor of George­town Uni­ver­si­ty’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Cen­ter for Mus­lim-Chris­t­ian Under­stand­ing and a for­mer US State Depart­ment advi­sor. Espos­i­to has at least a dozen past and/or present affil­i­a­tions with GMB and Hamas orga­ni­za­tions and is known to have espoused views con­sis­tent with Broth­er­hood doctrine.
  • Farid Hafez, a promi­nent Aus­tri­an Islam­o­pho­bia researcher with Mus­lim Broth­er­hood ties and a senior researcher at the George­town Uni­ver­si­ty’s Bridge Ini­tia­tive, head­ed by John Esposito.
  • Charles E. But­ter­worth, a Pro­fes­sor Emer­i­tus of Gov­ern­ment and Pol­i­tics at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land, Col­lege Park, and a con­sult­ing edi­tor for the Jour­nal of the Unit­ed Stud­ies and Research, an ear­ly part of the Hamas infra­struc­ture in the US. But­ter­worth has also been a mem­ber of the Advi­so­ry Boards of the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Islam­ic Social Sci­ences, Minaret of Free­dom, and the School for Islam­ic and Social Sci­ences, all tied to the US Mus­lim Brotherhood.

French polit­i­cal sci­en­tist François Bur­gat, anoth­er let­ter co-sig­na­to­ry, has incor­rect­ly char­ac­ter­ized the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood’s posi­tion on armed vio­lence. Bur­gat is a con­trib­u­tor to the online media out­let Mid­dle East Eye, a pub­li­ca­tion linked to the GMB. The list also includ­ed British researcher Salman Sayyid, who co-edit­ed a book with Arzu Mer­ali, the co-founder of the UK Iran­ian front group Islam­ic Human Rights Com­mis­sion.

In Novem­ber 2020, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed that, as part of its crack­down on groups accused of rad­i­cal­ism, the French inte­ri­or min­is­ter dis­solved CCIE’s pre­de­ces­sor, the Col­lec­tif Con­tre l’Is­lam­o­pho­bie en France, an Islamist influ­ence oper­a­tion with mul­ti­ple rela­tion­ships to orga­ni­za­tions part of the GMB in Europe.

In Feb­ru­ary 2021, the GIOR report­ed that a coali­tion of 36 NGOs, includ­ing sev­er­al with GMB ties, had tak­en action against France at the UN Human Rights Coun­cil (UNHCR) over its alleged sys­temic dis­crim­i­na­tion of Mus­lims. In April 2021, the GIOR report­ed that the Inter­na­tion­al Union of Mus­lim Schol­ars, an inter­na­tion­al body of Mus­lim the­olo­gians whose lead­er­ship is close­ly tied to the GMB, had called on the French gov­ern­ment to stop inter­fer­ing with the “pri­va­cy of Islam,” reject­ing a new French Char­ter of Repub­li­can Val­ues aim­ing to cur­tail for­eign influ­ence over Mus­lim groups and mosques.