New report accuses France of ‘state-sponsored persecution’ of Muslims

A new report lays bare the ‘unprecedented crackdown’ on Islam and Muslims in France under the government of Emmanuel Macron.

The report by advocacy group Cage draws attention to France’s ‘Systematic Obstruction’ policy, which it says meets the description of “Persecution under international law.”

It outlines the methods of this persecution in French society, including through the sanctioning and forced dissolution of organisations and the policing and criminalisation of Islam in social, religious and political spheres.

“Four years ago, the French government initiated a secretive and draconian Islamophobic policy,” said the author of the report Rayan Freschi.

“This report documents how the French state has swiftly dismantled the foundations of the Muslim community’s autonomy through a calculated persecution, spreading terror among an entire religious community.  

“718 closures, 24 884 inspections and 46 million euros extorted by the State later, it is time to stop this witch hunt against Muslims.”

France has been criticised heavily for the way it deals with Islam and Muslims. Critics say it views Islam negatively and that it regularly discriminates against Muslim women.

‘Systematic Obstruction’ policy

On the fourth anniversary of the ‘Systematic Obstruction’ policy’s introduction, the report says it almost exclusively targets Muslim institutions that are “monitored, surveilled, investigated and sanctioned for minor infractions”.

Hundreds of establishments, including mosques and Muslim schools, have been closed, and many more investigated.

“The pattern of behaviour exhibited by the French state towards Muslims in the country is calculated to harass and humiliate Muslims, resulting in the intentional and severe deprivation of this minority group’s freedom of religion, of opinion, of association and right to property,” said Cage.

It adds that “state Islamophobia is institutionalised through an infrastructure of enforcement and mass surveillance, with department cells spread across geographical units in France to enforce these policies.”

Recommendations from the report

The report makes several recommendations, including:  

  • Scrapping of the “Systematic Obstruction” policy, including the related institutions created to support it and reverse the decisions stemming from it, including the dissolution of organisations.  
  • To oppose any attempts by France to export its Islamophobic policies during its term as EU Presidency until June 2022.
  • Call for the repeal of Islamophobic policies such as the ‘Anti-Separatism Law’, the Imams Charter, as well as the 2004 Law on religious signs in schools and the 2010 Niqab ban.
  • To set up an independent body investigating the consequences of the Systematic Obstruction measures and provide reparations for damages and losses incurred by establishments/individuals because of such measures.
  • For respective EU member states condemn France’s persecution of Muslims and its draconian policies.


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