Alleging defamation, France’s interior minister Manuel Valls is trying to shut down a website which gives a voice to the victims of police harassment. The site has become especially popular with France’s Muslim population, who often claim that police target, harass and even kill them with impunity.
Statistics prove that non-whites justifiably feel under attack: Researchers say that Arabs and black Muslims compose up to 70 percent of France’s prisoners.
For years groups such as Amnesty International and the UN Human Rights Committee have testified to racist practices among the French police, but many say nothing has changed. Allegations of abuse are routinely dismissed as the French police are supported by their unions, far-right political groups and now the Socialist administration.
Amal Bentounsi started the website last year, after her brother was reportedly shot in the back by a policeman. The case is ongoing, but she says her site provides a voice for the many victims whose experiences are never heard in a courtroom.
While agreeing that government action is needed, Bentounsi believes it’s the French media which needs the most urgent reform. She says they need to acknowledge their role in legitimizing the Islamophobia which has especially stigmatized young Muslim males.
Many Muslims say that French society has two sets of rules: One for the police, and another for regular citizens; one form of justice for whites, and another for Muslims and immigrants. For those who are 2nd and even 3rd generation French citizens, such inequalities are especially dispiriting.