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The authorities on Tuesday initiated a dissolution procedure targeting the NGO BarakaCity and the Collective against Islamophobia in France, which have already challenged the administrative measure. A risky legal standoff for the French state.
The executive wants to organize the response. There she is. The Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin initiated, Tuesday, October 20, the dissolution of the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) and the humanitarian association BarakaCity, structures qualified as “enemies of the Republic”, in response to the assassination of Samuel Paty, professor of history at Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, beheaded Friday, October 16 for showing caricatures of Muhammad to his students. Still within the framework of the prevention of terrorism, some fifty associations, suspected of having connections with radical Islam, are in the crosshairs of the authorities, and will be the subject in the coming days of “visits from the services of the state, ”said the boss of the police.
Never has the struggle against radical Islamism been so intense. No President of the Republic has done so much.
356 places of radicalization have been closed in our country. 428 foreigners listed for radicalization were expelled.# LE20H pic.twitter.com/C4ITxzNuDa
– Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) October 19, 2020
The authorities also ordered the closure of the Pantin mosque (Seine-Saint-Denis), which should be effective Wednesday, for having relayed on his Facebook page one of the videos denouncing the course on the cartoons of Samuel Paty. A strong response from Place Beauvau, intended to mark public opinion. But is it so simple, from a legal point of view, to dissolve an association in France? Not so sure.
Simple “demagogic bidding” or real involvement in the assassination?
To justify his action, Gérald Darmanin notably accuses the CCIF of being “involved” in the assassination of the professor. The parent of a student behind the campaign against the teacher had, according to the Minister of the Interior, clearly “referred” to the association in one of his videos. The dissolution procedure, which requires a decree in the Council of Ministers, will be based on a “double foundation” with on the one hand “what affects the apology of terrorism and identity and religious hatred” and on the other , “what concerns public order”, one explains to the Ministry of the Interior.
Cut off food for 2 million beneficiaries around the world, the poor who depend on us. Madness seizes the Minister of the Interior who, failing to find anything against our NGO, takes advantage of the emotion aroused following the tragedy of #Conflans. We will defend our rights! pic.twitter.com/BakxfltXZa
– BarakaCity (@Barakacity) October 19, 2020
The two associations, which have already announced that they would contest their dissolution, say they have never called for violence and accuse the government of taking advantage of the stir caused by the attack. As early as Saturday, the CCIF denounced an amalgamation: the collective was indeed “seized by the parent” but did not initiate “any action”, for lack of having had time to verify whether this case fell within its field of competence. “It is normal after an attack which upsets public opinion that the State wonders about possible gaps or flaws in the device, argued William Bourdon, lawyer of the BarakaCity association on FranceInfo. But it is abnormal to see again public officials of this country switch in a caricature, hasty way, in a kind of demagogic one-upmanship with totally anxiety-provoking language elements. “
Since yesterday we have been the target of death threats and a campaign of hatred that demands the #DissolutionCCIF. Faced with so many slanders, of incredible indecency given the context, our team receives a #CCIFSupport growing. Thank you from the heart.
– CCIF (@ccif) October 18, 2020
Associations, highly protected structures
In the absence of sufficient proof, the state proceedings could be cut short. Because the freedom of association, organized by the law of 1901, pillar of the Third Republic, is very protected. In 1971, the Constitutional Council established it “among the fundamental principles recognized by the laws of the Republic and solemnly reaffirmed by the preamble to the Constitution.” And some dissolution attempts have in the past been unsuccessful. The dissolution of the far-right movement Jeunesse Identitaire, a time mentioned by the government in 2012, has remained unannounced, in the absence of legally damning elements.
Nevertheless, for 20 years, around thirty associations have indeed been dissolved by decision of the State, mostly Muslim or ultra-right associations. “These dissolutions are likely to succeed because the French administration is a steamroller, underlines Thierry Vallat in an interview with France 24. We must wait for the dissolution decrees to see if the State has tangible elements, such as having retweeted the fatwas brought against the history teacher or ‘liked’ remarks calling for hatred All these elements, especially collected on social networks, can constitute evidence of an activity likely to undermine the values of the Republic. “
But such an undertaking promises to be perilous. First, because if BarakaCity and the CCIF defend “sometimes a rather rigorous Islam, they remain cautious and act in a legalistic manner. To my knowledge neither of the two has called for murder or revenge or the overthrow of the Republic. “, explains to AFP Franck Frégosi, professor at Sciences Po Aix and specialist in Islam in France.
“Hydras with two heads”
Then, because there is a risk of carrying out a counter-productive operation likely to strengthen the legitimacy of these two structures in the event of failure in court. “There is a globalizing rhetoric from the government, which places itself above the law. It is a lack of rigor which can be counterproductive and which exposes us to a reframing by Europe, assures France 24 Dounia Bouzar, anthropologist and specialist in religious matters, author of “The Temptation of Extremism”. (…) We must not wait for monstrous events like this attack to apply the law, which is well done. But at the same time, the emotion aroused must not take precedence over our values, such as the defense of the law. ”
We can also “wonder about the timeframe chosen by the executive to act, believes Thierry Vallat. If these associations or mosques presented security problems, why were they not dissolved or closed earlier? the feeling of attending an operation of opportunity. This temporality could also give substance to the defense. “
Finally, dissolution will not necessarily resolve the root of the problem. “These associations are hydra with several heads, concludes Thierry Vallat. If one of them is deleted, another structure of the same type will emerge under another name. It is easier to delete them from the official journal than to terminate to hateful ideologies. ”