France has a record of double standards when it comes to freedom of speech and religious expression, especially when it comes to Muslims and Islam. In November of 2012 French authorities banned an advertisement by the anti-Islamophobia group CCiF that called for religious tolerance, and portrayed a message of inclusivity.
The banned Nous sommes la nation, “We too are the nation!”
France’s interior minister, Manuel Valls, who was recently featured on Loonwatch for double standards regarding contradictory statements he made on religious clothing and symbols (he supported and wore the kippa with pride, whereas he disparaged and mocked the hijab) is now threatening to ban a popular website, STOP A L’IMPUNITE that documents police violence and brutality that targets Arabs and Africans, many of whom are Muslims.
Alleging defamation, France’s interior minister Manuel Valls is trying to shut down a website which gives a voice to the victims of police harassment. The site has become especially popular with France’s Muslim population, who often claim that police target, harass and even kill them with impunity.
Statistics prove that non-whites justifiably feel under attack: Researchers say that Arabs and black Muslims compose up to 70 percent of France’s prisoners.
For years groups such as Amnesty International and the UN Human Rights Committee have testified to racist practices among the French police, but many say nothing has changed. Allegations of abuse are routinely dismissed as the French police are supported by their unions, far-right political groups and now the Socialist administration.
Amal Bentounsi started the website last year, after her brother was reportedly shot in the back by a policeman. The case is ongoing, but she says her site provides a voice for the many victims whose experiences are never heard in a courtroom.
While agreeing that government action is needed, Bentounsi believes it’s the French media which needs the most urgent reform. She says they need to acknowledge their role in legitimizing the Islamophobia which has especially stigmatized young Muslim males.
Many Muslims say that French society has two sets of rules: One for the police, and another for regular citizens; one form of justice for whites, and another for Muslims and immigrants. For those who are 2nd and even 3rd generation French citizens, such inequalities are especially dispiriting.