Politicians and public figures often use France’s famous secular state as an excuse for hate speech and islamophobic statements.
Ninety French public figures have called on Macron to condemn verbal attacks on Muslims after members of a French political party publicly insulted a Muslim woman.
On October 11, France’s National Rally members called on the president of the regional council, Marie Guite Dufay, to ask a woman accompanying her son in a school activity to leave a meeting at the Regional Council of Burgundy-Franche-Comte because she was wearing a veil or hijab.
Photos circulating online show the woman’s son in tears after seeing his mother subjected to insults in front of his peers.
The request, which came from the leader of RN Julien Odoul stirred controversy in France, drawing criticism. “It’s the republic, it’s secularity. It’s the law of the Republic, no ostentatious [religious] symbols.” Said Odoul, exploiting France’s secularity to promote his own agenda.
“We cannot start the session with a minute of silence for the victims of the police headquarters and accept that [the hijab],” he added, explicitly linking the mother in a veil to the recent attack in the Paris police headquarters which left four police officers dead.
The collective statement to denounce hatred against Muslims in France comes as a direct response to the RN incident, among other public displays of religious hatred.
“How long will we keep tolerating hatred against Muslims,” the French public figures asked, calling for an end to the growing tolerance of hate speech among French politicians and journalists.
Cited by Le Monde, the condemnatory message emphasized that such actions constitute “incredible violence and hatred for all those children.”
“By our cowardice, by our renunciations, we have contributed little by little to letting [these behaviors] pass, and accepting them.”
The list of public figures who have condemned the RN’s move includes French actor Omar Sy, Sociologist Christine Delphy, and Ce French screenwriter Celine Sciamma.
Le Monde’s decision to publish the statement calling for an end to islamophobia comes after the deputy editor of France’s Le Figaro publicly stated that he “hates the Muslim religion,” and that he believes it is his “right” to make openly criticize a religion on national television
Islamophobic attacks in France increased by 52% in 2018 compared with 2017, according to the Organization against Islamophobia in France (CCIF).