tv Inside Story LINKTV December 7, 2020 5:30am-6:01am PST
face closure as part of a crackdown on what officials call separatism. the government says it is to protect the nation's secular values. how can this be resolved? this is "inside story." ♪ >> hello and welcome to the program. i am imran khan. the french government is stepping up its crackdown on what it calls religious separatism. 76 mosques are being investigated nationwide. they will be closed if they are presumed to be a security threat. it is president macron's response to a number of recent attacks. islamic organizations are accused of inciting hatred, and macron is pushing for imams to
agree to a charter of republican values. his government denies it is deliberately targeting the muslim community. >> there are 2600 islamic places of worship in france. 76, we are far from widespread radicalization, but there are some concentrated places of worship where it is clearly antirepublican, where imams are followed by intelligent services, where the discourse runs counter to our values. whether it is hatred of jews, catholics, or dubious sources of financing. imran: president macron's response has created tensions with the muslim community. in october, he said in a speech that islam is in crisis around the world. he then laid out plans to tackle what he called radicalism. two weeks later, a french teacher was beheaded after he showed cartoons of the prophet
mohammed during a lesson on freedom of speech. muslims in several countries protested and began boycotting french products, and on october 29, three people were killed during a stabbing at a church in nice. macron called it a islamists terror attack. let's introduce our panel. in paris, the head of the justice and liberties for all committee. in london, a professor of french and european politics at the university of college of london. and in morocco, associate professor of international studies. a warm welcome to you all. i would like to begin in paris. one of the things that is confusing to somebody who doesn't understand the internal workings of france is instead of strengthening existing anti-terror laws and making this
about a policing issue, say for example something they did in great britain, this law seems to be about protecting the values of the republic, the idea of secularism. i don't understand why the values of the republic need protecting in this way. can you explain what is going on here? >> it makes sense given how victims of terrorists, i.e. muslims, are treated. to answer your question, when we speak of french values, this is a loose term. what are we talking about? if you are talking about the motto of the republic, in that case, where is the freedom when muslims lose their religious freedoms and can't organize as communities? where is equality when muslims
are facing structural discrimination, and what is the connection between protecting french values and fighting terrorism? of course, emmanuel macron wants to go to hunt for the far right. he wants to position himself as the protector of the nation. why is france getting attacked multiple times, and why does the government keep failing to stop these attacks despite having all the measures he asked for to prevent terrorism? the last point, if i may, i don't think emmanuel macron and his government should speak of french values when his cabinet is filled with people under investigation for conflict of interest, corruption charges, lying underwrote. imran: once again, in the u.k. when there was a problem with terrorism, eventually the
communities had to be enlisted into the fight. it did take a very long time. a mosque was eventually taken over by people from the community. the extremist elements were kicked out. is france following a similar method, or is this something that is a bit more extreme? >> i think on the face of it, and you have to be very cautious because this new bill is under preparation and is going to be put to the council of ministers next week, but if you look at one of the provisions, it would seem that yes, according to the government, there is a threat in different various mosques in france, and those places would be under threat of being overtaken by radical islamists. that remains to be seen.
very little evidence put forward by the government to substantiate its claims as to why there is actually a threat or not. let's assume there is a threat. i'm astonished that in order to combat terrorism, and there are indeed terrorist threats, one should ask the overall population -- they are targeting indeed the muslim population. so-called republican values are very loosely defined. that's really puzzling, and in france where this debate is happening, a lot of people can't understand. the conclusion which can be drawn at this stage is the government is pushing that kind of thing forward for political
reasons, not to fight terrorism, but for political gain. imran: this could backfire if it alienates the muslim community. the muslim community are key to stopping these attacks because they are the ones who are in those mosques. they can see criminality quicker than most. france risks alienating those people, doesn't it? >> in 2014, there was a report from domestic intelligence called the juneau report, and that report asked of the government to stop with this repression based strategy and bring the community to the table to find solutions and find trust.
there is no definition of separatism or radicalization. communities have no direct involvement. emmanuel macron doesn't want to solve the issue. when we see for example, yesterday, the minister of interior said it will be checked, and it was said they would crack down on mosques using whatever, and that very same day, the minister of interior was due to appear in court for his rape allegations and sexual harassment charges. on top of it, you want the
president to get involved and create a problem where there is none. indeed, he already lost the muslim communities when he shut down ngo's on accusations. i'm sorry, the rule of law is gone, and emmanuel macron is facing a much bigger problem. imran: let's take the opposite perspective. traditionally, france has had a good relationship, especially when it comes to intelligence sharing, with north african countries. do you think international relations might be affected and make things slightly more difficult when it comes to things like intelligence. >> generally speaking, i think this could have an impact on
france's prestige around the world and throughout the muslim world. we saw this through the boycott of french products. this kind of attitude would have an impact on france. in terms of intelligence sharing, i'm not sure this will have an impact. remember the call for boycotting french products to place the french minister, he came and
to answer your question, i'm not sure it will have any substantial impact on intelligence sharing. imran: it has had an impact on domestic politics. is this yet another example of the la [pen-ization of french politics? >> i think probably yes. we have a young president. he was 39 when he was elected in 2017. he was seen by many as a womanizer. that's not what it turned out to be. first of all, by appointing a number of hardliners in the government, people are pushing very hard for the
criminalization of people's thoughts and opinions. the role of any state is not to repress it citizens. as long as you don't rake the law, you should be able to live your life as you see fit. we are going down that road in france. he clearly seems to be bringing along that, and how do you explain that? i would say, yes, there's an election looming. he wants to be reelected. he sees no real serious opponent, and so he looks to his right, one conservative.
his main opponent is the far-right and marine le pen like in 2017. that is probably one reason why he thinks he can gamble by outbidding le pen. it is a risky move. if you really a pure opponent's idea, there is a risk it will backfire because people will think in the end, if he legitimates the ideas of his opponents, let's vote for him or her. we should really support to the people who had those ideas in the first place. imran: i see you shaking your head at some of the comments he was making. why were you shaking your head? >> we heard emmanuel macron was
not reliable. he was everything and nothing at the same time. he goes to algeria and speaks of crimes against humanity. then he says the exact opposite. then he catches heat from people around him. no, we have to save muslim women. he's been going left and right to please everyone. when he got elected, he had himself surrounded. his minister of education, we don't know what he did for education in france, but what we know is he has waged a war against muslim women wearing a
scarf, and his obsession with applying his version o. emmanuel macron did not stand with the official party that would support, but he stood silent. imran: sorry to disturb you. i want to ask you a question picking up on one of those points. is this a xenophobic, racist attitude that france has? or is this macron using this as a calculated decision to gain popularity? >> i think your question is on point. we cannot say this is only a political maneuver for emmanuel macron. it has been a years long movement to legitimize far-right ideas.
when we say emmanuel macron talks about muslim as a distractor, no. that was being preached by le pen. it's been picked up by the mainstream right and the mainstream left, and i agree. on the left, there is no one really serious about it, which confirms when you aid your opponent, you become like him. we have seen thousands of people
marching against the global security bill, but we wouldn't see the same people marching against laws that target muslims. imran: let's go back to the international reaction. we've seen this within religious communities. when they feel they are under attack, they look for outside help. in this case, we have it outspoken -- a very outspoken again of turkey really pushing macron and france quite hard. this kind of language, do you think it is useful coming from turkey? >> i'm not a specialist in
turkish politics, but i think this serves erdogan's political domestic needs, and it helps him beef up his credentials in turkey and with the wider muslim community where he wants to be considered a leader among the muslim world. he is considered a leader. as my two colleagues here, i agree with the fact that these
moves by micron are responding to domestic french needs, and it's not the discourse that will stop france from acting the way it wants to act. imran: if this bill is problematic, is there a better way of dealing with this? >> to be fair, the alternative would be no bill at all. i think leaguer -- legal experts and judges should come forward in france and debate. if you want to criminalize online hate speech, we've got that. the answer would be no law. i think france needs appeasement.
we should be addressing the whole nation. it's forming an insidious climate where you tend to designate enemies with in. that was language coined in the u.k. by mayor gray that are under different circumstances. when you start flagging up enemies within, it's very bad for the cohesion of a nation. we've reached that point in france where people have to be really careful. the population at large has reacted very well whenever there is a terrorist attack. people refrain. there's no need for retaliation.
of course, if you have a government setting a very poor example, things could change. if the far-right comes to power, that would make things worse. to answer your question, what france needs is inclusiveness. imran: we are running out of time. is there an alternative to this bill? >> this bill literally has to be dumped. the alternative would be to audit counterterrorism and overhaul it. you can't be the promoter of the manufacturer of death and expect
flowers in return. 40 years of counterterrorism have been a failure. we have to remember that one million people have crossed the poverty line, and thousands of people have died of covid-19. if micron cares about his country, he should bring it together, not divided further. imran: let me finish. is there any way, any form of law you see internationally that has dealt with this accusation that the nations of values are under attack by a religious community. >> what france needs is to look at other examples. what comes to my mind immediately is how india, for
example, india dealt with the issue of secularism. imran: thank you to all of our guests, and thank you for watching. you can see the program any time by going to our website. for further discussion, go to our facebook page. you can also join the conversation on twitter. for me and the entire team, goodbye for now. ♪