Berkeley conference adopts resolution condemning Islamophobia in France

Berkeley Islamophobia conference 2013

Resolution of the 4th Annual International Conference on Islamophobia at UC-Berkeley in Support of French Muslims and Opposing Islamophobic Discourses in France

Whereas; for the last ten years, Islamophobia has increased in an alarming way all over the world.

Whereas; every year, the Annual International Conference on Islamophobia at UC-Berkeley confirms the global perverse and continuing problem of Islamophobia.

Whereas; France is one of the countries in the world where racism against Muslims has increased the most. In the name of secularism, women’s rights, the defense of Republican values, and the struggle against terrorism, Islamophobic discourses affect all spheres of the French society (politics, media, intellectual debates, economics, etc).

Whereas; the French state itself – the judicial, legislative and executive powers – from the higher to the bottom levels of the French public administration has become a promoter of Islamophobia. The March 2004 law against the veil is at the heart of public legitimization of discriminatory practices against Muslims.

Whereas; on July 22, 2012, the United Nations’ Human Rights Commission condemned the French state for violation of religious freedom.

Whereas; the 2012 Annual Report of the United Nations’ Human Rights Commission has confirmed the increasing number of anti-Muslim aggressions in France within a context of state racism. Women are the main target of these aggressions. According to the report of the Collectif Contre l’Islamophobie in France, the Islamophobic aggressions against Muslim women increased dramatically in 2012.

Whereas; recently the French state islamophobia manifested with a strong force once again in the form of the recent heated controversy over the debate on Child Care female workers where a Superior Court cancelled the firing of a women day care worker using the veil as the rationale or the case of the exclusion of a middle school student from school for using a bandana and having a “too long skirt,” confirm that the political issues at stake is not a defense of laicism or freedom of expression including “the right to criticize religion.” What is at stake today in France is the political will to marginalize any Islamic expression of identity in the public sphere and to exclude populations that affirm its Muslim identity.

Whereas; after Nicolas Sarkozy administration, characterized by an innumerable series of offenses against Muslim, Islamophobic state policies promises to multiply under the presidency of François Hollande:

1) A Bill proposal submitted to the National Assembly on January 16th to promote the principle of religious neutrality towards childcare workers and in childcare centers for pre-school aged children.

2) Announcement by the President of a law to guarantee laicism in the working environment and spaces.

Whereas; while discrimination is still in place and sustained by the state, the collective called Mamans Toutes Egales continue to defend many mothers that use the veil and are excluded from chaperoning fieldtrips and After School Programs. We concretely affirm the right of Muslim women to use the veil as an expression of their specific cultural and religious identity to participate in public life, to work, to get involved in the schooling of their children that is being violated.

Whereas; the French state discourse that the principles and values of the Republic are being threatened by the use of the veil and the religion of one of the most discriminated communities in France and Europe today (Muslims) sounds absolutely ridiculous.

Therefore, let it be resolved; that the 4th Annual International Islamophobia Conference at UC-Berkeley, being committed to anti-racist principles, strongly condemn the new islamophobic laws announced by the French government that structurally creates an untouchable category in the form of veiled Muslim women.

Furthermore, we call on the French government and the political leadership to adhere to the articles and spirits of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by affirmatively embracing the Muslim minority and to take the needed steps to repeal all exclusionary laws that discriminate and problematize and otherize Muslims as a group.

Bay Area Indymedia, 26 April 2013

The resolution (French version here) was proposed by Houria Bouteldja, whose speech to the conference can be read here.