The French government’s Interministerial Committee for the Prevention of Crime and Radicalisation has released a statement through a series of posts on Twitter expressing opposition to the term “Islamophobia”. While the statement stresses that there are many acts of discrimination against Muslims, and that the French state seeks to fight these, it argues that the term “Islamophobia” is inappropriate on the grounds that it conflates bigotry with legitimate criticism of religion. Significantly, in one of the tweets, the interministerial committee also states that, “the term ‘#islamophobia’ was imposed by the Islamists with the aim of prohibiting any form of criticism of radical Islam”. Furthermore, the interministerial committee’s statement argues that the term is used to introduce a “crime of blasphemy”, suggesting that the term “puts a target on those who exercise their fundamental right” to free expression.
The story was covered by Le Figaro in a piece titled, “For the government, the term ‘Islamophobia’ is inappropriate”. According to Le Figaro, the interministerial committee was formed in 2006 and since 2016 has also been tasked with countering radicalisation. Although it is not clear whether the statements released over Twitter directly equate to official French government policy, Le Figaro notes that as early as 2013 Emmanuel Macron had expressed the view that, “Islamophobia is the Trojan horse of the Islamists “.
An English translation of the statement released over Twitter by the interministerial committee reads as follows:
“Racism is a reality, in French society as in other societies. There are many racist acts as well as discrimination against Muslims. The State condemns them and fights them firmly.
To speak of hatred against Muslims, the term ” #islamophobia ” is inappropriate since it confuses stigmatization of believers with criticism of Islam. Institutions use the expression “anti-Muslim racism”.
It is not allowed to call for hatred or discrimination against religious groups. But it is permissible to criticize belief systems or philosophical conceptions. It is freedom of expression.
What must be condemned is the ostracization of Muslims. They must be able to live their faith and practice their worship freely, respecting the laws and values of the Republic.
The term ” #islamophobia ” was imposed by the Islamists with the aim of prohibiting any form of criticism of radical Islam, under the guise of a fallacious defence of the Muslim religion.
The term ” #islamophobia ” is used to introduce a “crime of blasphemy”, which does not exist in our country. The consequences can be dramatic.
It was because he had been accused of ” #islamophobia ” that Professor Samuel Paty suffered the tragic fate that we know. This term puts a target on those who exercise their fundamental right to submit opinions and beliefs to the free examination of reason.
It is therefore with lucidity that the State refuses to use this term of “Islamophobia” which is only the weapon of the Islamists against freedoms and the Republic.
Our fellow Muslims must be protected like everyone else.
Anti-Muslim racism is a reality that the government condemns and fights in the name of its republican and universalist principles.”