FEMYSO Co-Signs European Youth Open letter to President Emmanuel Macron

The Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations (FEMYSO) has been advocating for civic education, human rights and anti-racism for over 20 years. We have always worked closely with our partners across Europe in order to form a strong voice against marginalisation, stigmatisation and human rights violations. We have done so through various projects, trainings and campaigns supported by institutions ranging from the European Commission, the Council of Europe to local governmental bodies.

FEMYSO alongside more than 25 European youth and human rights organisations have co-signed an open letter to President Emmanuel Macron addressing the systematic state-led targeting of Muslims in France and active efforts to institutionalise the religion of Islam. We call on the French government to put an immediate halt to unfounded allegations and decisions conducted outside of a coherent legal framework. We as FEMYSO will always stand up against intolerance and will work for a diverse, cohesive and vibrant Europe.

Please find the letter below:

President Macron, 

As organisations that have spent decades building peace and bringing people together across Europe from various backgrounds, of all faiths and none, we would like to ask you and your government to reconsider the unilateral assault on Muslims, Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). 

The horrific murder of M. Samuel Paty and the heinous attack on a place of worship in Nice drew condemnation and empathy from people all over the world. This is a moment in which French citizens looked up to you to provide strong moral leadership. Yet, unfortunately, there has been neither wisdom nor moral leadership in your response. Maligning Islam and your own Muslim citizens, closing mainstream mosques, Muslim and human rights organisations, and using this as an opportunity to stir up further hatred, has given further encouragement to racists and violent extremists. Your own words and actions go against the principle of laïcité, as well as the French Constitution of 1958, which states that “all citizens regardless of their origin, race or religion are treated as equals before the law and respecting all religious beliefs [or lack thereof]”. 

Your use of state mechanisms and the security services of the French State to spread unfounded defamatory accusations, raid civic organisations, close mosques and shut down legitimate organisations is symptomatic of the underlying malaise in France’s political institutions and goes against the fundamental principles of Egalité, Liberté and Fraternité. 

Indeed, this opportunistic behaviour undermines the principle of the rule of law by closing down associations based on political motivations and without sound legal procedures, and is a direct violation of Art. 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights (freedom of thought, conscience and religion). It is behaviour that is based on non-legal accusations and is being conducted with full impunity. Criminalising the work that is done to fight Islamophobia will set a dangerous precedent to cherry pick which religious and racialised groups to protect, and which ones to dehumanise and rob of their freedoms. All of us in Europe know very well the horrendous consequences at mass scale that can lead from such actions targeting a religious minority. 

You appear to have forgotten that you came into office on the hopes and dreams of young French men and women who were looking for a fresh approach to race and faith relations. Adopting the policies of xenophobes and pandering to bigots serves only to further the divisions in France between communities and undermine her long-standing democracy. 

The moral high ground that we invite you to, is to reject hatred, marginalisation, and divisive rhetoric and use your leadership to bring people together. It is within your capacity to nurture understanding between people and to counter dangerous forms of polarisation within France and globally. The hand of friendship from European organisations, especially of youth and student movements, has long been extended. It would be a service to France and to its cherished principles, and to the rest of the world, if you took it.

Notes

  1. Letter To Macron: www.lettertomacron.com
  2. For more information or requests please visit: www.lettertomacron.com

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