On the murder of Samuel Paty
A translation of the French Declaration of the Brigade against Negrophobia, Representative Council of Black Organizations, The Voice of Roma, French Jewish Union for Peace
We, the Blacks, Muslims, Jews and Roma of the Antiracist Platform protest the shameful exploitation of a horrific terrorist attack.
The awful murder of teacher Samuel Paty on 16th October 2020 ought to have brought about a moment of real national unity in support of his family, the teachers and pupils at his school, and the whole town of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine . It should have be an opportunity to think about those excluded from the Republic and to consider the causes of such crimes including the effects of exclusion and marginalization under which a murderous fanaticism develops. This radicalisation affects only a tiny minority of marginalized people and has nothing to do with vast majority of French Muslims.
Instead of this, in the last week we have seen a huge and generalized anti-Muslim tide set into motion by the French government. The"national unity" being called for is one of exclusion. It is a real crusade, which claims that all Muslims are guilty of this crime. It demands that Muslims should publicly reject a crime which in fact has nothing to do with them, and which affects them as much as it does the rest of the French people. They are treated as collectively guilty, their institutions are attacked, and violent police raids target their organizations. Organizations which are now threatened with being prohibited. Is this how the Republic sees the future?
At the time of the murder, the long term policy of division used against Muslims had just reached a turning point with the proposed law "against separatism", which was meant to finish off the (first) Coronavirus crisis.
For years, this policy has been preparing the ground: accusing Muslims of not respecting the separation of state and religion; accusing Muslim communities of being the cradle of murderous fanaticism taken up by a minority claiming to act for Islam; accusing them of rejecting freedom of expression and putting religious law ahead of the law of the Republic. The terrorist attacks of January 2015 allowed the emergence of a generalized mistrust of Muslims, supported by the government and the media. It was easier to build this distrust since claimed to be based on democratic values such as the secular state and freedom of expression, ideas which the five million Muslims in France were alleged not to respect. What group of people would accept being taken hostage in this way by the murderous acts of a few fanatics, and told they were responsible for such crimes?
All the reports of the CNCDH (the National Consultative Commitee on Human Rights) in recent years have shown a rise in racist acts against Muslims. The authorities denied that Islamophobia even existed, and now announce that they want to prohibit the organizations which fight against these racist attacks, which challenge discrimination and work for social harmony.
The victory of the terrorist attacks has been to allow the development of a poisonous discourse against Muslims and against Islam, and to have made democracy retreat. And it is precisely these Muslims, who are not allowed to speak out ( we have heard little from Muslims in the media this week), who are threatened on a daily basis, and deprived of their civil rights.
The banning of Muslim organizations which has been announced, including that of the humanitarian charity Barakacity and of the human rights organization CCIF ( Collective against Islamophobia in France) is all the more scandalous since it is being carried out in the name of defending democracy under threat. We denounce the unfounded accusations leveled at the CCIF, an organization which is a member of our antiracist platform. It is libellous to suggest any link between the CCIF and anti-democratic criminal fanaticism .
We are member organizations of an antiracist platform which will not tolerate racism in any form. We refuse the logic of the war of civilizations which has been relaunched by the recent murder of a teacher. So that this crime does not win out, we call for a true national unity in support of all victims of racism and exclusion.
BAN, CRAN, UJFP, Voix des RRoms 20.10.2020
Translation by John Mullen