Collective Against Islamophobia in France

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Collective Against Islamophobia in France
Collectif contre l'islamophobie en France
Formation2003; 21 years ago (2003)
FounderSamy Debah
Dissolved2 December 2020 (2020-12-02)[1]
TypeNonprofit, NGO

The Collective Against Islamophobia in France[3] (French: Collectif contre l'islamophobie en France; abbreviated CCIF) was a French non-profit organisation, created in 2003 and dissolved in 2020, which mission was to combat discriminations towards Muslims in France,[4] providing legal support to victims of such discriminations.[5][6] It annually reported acts it considered Islamophobic.[7][8] The organisation received critics, about its use of the term Islamophobia, and suspicion of having Islamist links.

Description and actions[edit]

The organisation was set up in 2003.[9] One of its founders was the activist Samy Debah [fr].[10] The association is composed of 20 to 30 volunteers and one permanent lawyer.[5] It releases annual figures on Islamophobic incidents in France.[7] The CCIF contributed to propagate the concept Islamophobia in France.[8][11][12] It defines it as "discriminatory acts or violence, against institutions or individuals, based on their affiliation, real or imagined, with Islam. These acts are provoked by ideologies and discourses that incite hostility and rejection of Muslims."[13]

According to Amélie Barras, Associate Professor at the Social Science Department of York University: "The CCIF is of particular interest, in my view, because it could be considered to be the first litigating group on issues related to religious freedom and the public presence of Islam in France. Prior to its creation, Muslim associations were engaged in political lobbying, but no group was specialized in legal work."[5]

The organisation has criticised, in 2004, France's French law on secularity and conspicuous religious symbols in schools, which outlaws the wearing of religious clothing in state-run schools.[14] According to Haoues Seniguer, assistant director of the IISMM [fr], in its attempt to abolish the 2004 law, the CCIF is acknowledging that in practice, the wearing of the hijab is non-negotiable in religious terms.[15] This attempt was justified by the CCIF to protect women's rights and prevent anti-muslim discrimination.[15][16] In 2016, the Human Rights League and the CCIF went to the Council of State to appeal the ban of burkini on the beach of the city of Villeneuve-Loubet, and won the case, which would have made jurisprudence, despite some other cities reluctant to repeal similar burkini's ban. Human rights group such as HRL an CCIF announced they would file suit against each town maintaining the ban.[17][18]

In 2011, it became a consultative member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council.[19] In the 2016-2018 period, the CCIF received monetary subsidies from the city (€3,800) and the metropolis (€7,500) of Grenoble.[20] It was financed by individual benefactors (especially muslims entrepreneurs), membership (around 10000 persons in 2016), dinner galas, and punctual project from foundations,[6] such as the Open Society Foundation of George Soros who gave, in 2012, €35,000 to finance a campaign against islamophobia in France which has eventually been forbidden by RATP Group, because of its political and religious content.[21]


In France, the definition of the term Islamophobia has been subject to debates; according to the CCIF, Islamophobia is not an opinion but an offense.[11] The use of the term has been criticized, by personalities such as Salman Rushdie, Manuel Valls, Caroline Fourest, Éric Zemmour, because it can in practice invalidate all criticism against Islam and indirectly institutes a ban on blasphemy.[22][23][24] However, the CCIF doesn't use the term in this acceptance of criticism of Islam, but for hostility towards Muslims.[25] The term is used in French courts for convenience, even if it doesn't appear namely in Law of France.[24] The article 24 of the Press Law of 1881 gives legal ground in case of incitement to discrimination, hatred, or violence, against a person or a group for belonging or not belonging, to an ethnicity, a nation, a race, a religion.[24][26]

Critics such as the journalists Caroline Fourest,[27] Eugénie Bastié,[28] Mohamed Sifaoui,[29] Zineb El Rhazoui,[30] the politician Marine Le Pen,[31] or the political scientist Gilles Kepel,[32] have accused the CCIF of having links to the Islamist group Muslim Brotherhood, or to have an Islamist agenda,[33] which is denied by the organisation.[34][35] With the controversial Marwan Muhammad [fr], suspected of connivence with radical Islamism, who was spokesperson from 2010 to 2014, and then executive director in 2016 and 2017, came the first criticisms against the CCIF.[22] According to an ancient specialist of Islam in the Minister of the Interior, Bernard Godard [fr], the CCIF is autonomous, receive no aid from Muslim brotherhood.[36] The newspaper Le Monde has checked its own archives of articles about CCIF from 2004 to 2020, and wrote that it is "often described as an association fighting anti-Muslim racism, never as a propagator of Islamism".[4]

According to Timothy Peace, lecturer in politics at the University of Glasgow: "In its annual reports, the CCIF regularly points the blame at French politicians of all ideological stripes for encouraging 'political Islamophobia' and at the French government in particular for its inability to condemn this. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this organisation itself has come in for heavy criticism for its attempt to link political discourse with acts of discrimination and abuse."[37]


In October 2020, following the murder of Samuel Paty, the CCIF was one of 51 organisations listed to be inspected by the French government because of suspected links to Islamism; some of them, such as the CCIF, were deemed "separatist" according to the Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.[38][39][40] Darmanin tweeted: "I am going to propose the dissolution of CCIF and Barakacity, organisations that are enemies of the Republic".[41] Several French politicians declared to be in favor of the dissolution, such as Manuel Valls, Julien Aubert, Bruno Retailleau,[42] Nicolas Bay, Jordan Bardella.[43]

Darmanin's call to dissolve the group was criticized by NGOs Amnesty international, and European Network Against Racism, concerned that this could undermine freedoms of expression and association.[44][41]

It is alleged that the CCIF had provided legal resources to the father who had brought Paty to public attention. The organisation's response was that it was still in the process of researching the father's claim, and does not intervene in freedom of speech controversies like the one involving Paty.[35]

In November, the CCIF announced it had already dissolved itself voluntarily[45] shortly after moving its activities and headquarters abroad.[46] It is nevertheless dissolved by decree of the Council of Ministers of France at the beginning of December.[1] Human Rights Watch and Human Rights League (France) denounced this decision.[47][48] The Council on American–Islamic Relations offered his support.[49]

The CCIF filed a complaint against Darmanin in the Cour de Justice de la République because of his unproven accusation of a direct involvement of the CCIF in the murder of Samuel Paty, and it has announced in a press release it will contest the decree in the Council of State.[50][51] The judicial inquiry hasn't retained the hypothesis of an implication of the CCIF in the murder.[52]

Reconstitution in Belgium[edit]

In 2021, the organisation declared it was relocating to Belgium's capital Bruxelles under a new name: Collectif contre l'islamophobie en Europe (CCIE).[53] The move is followed by the security services of Belgium according to Belgian justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne, who declares that in Belgium it is not planned to outlaw associations, in order not to undermine freedom of association, but that it is possible to prosecute extremist people. He drew a parallel to the radical group Sharia4Belgium which itself had never been dissolved but 30 of its members had been indicted in court proceedings.[54]


  1. ^ a b "Le CCIF officiellement dissout par le Conseil des ministres". Le Figaro (in French). 2 December 2020. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Mentions légales" [Legal notices] (in French). Collective Against Islamophobia in France. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  3. ^ "Our manifesto". Collective Against Islamophobia in France. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  4. ^ a b "" CCIF " : la première fois que " Le Monde " l'a écrit". Le (in French). 25 October 2020. Retrieved 7 December 2020. Des « associations ennemies de la République ». Les mots sont de Gérald Darmanin et ciblent notamment le Collectif contre l'islamophobie en France (CCIF). A la suite de l'assassinat de Samuel Paty, professeur d'histoire-géographie à Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, le ministre de l'intérieur a annoncé qu'il allait demander la dissolution de cette association. Autant le dire tout de suite, à la lecture des archives du Monde, les raisons d'une telle requête n'apparaissent pas évidentes. Dans le quotidien, le collectif est le plus souvent présenté comme une association de lutte contre le racisme anti-musulman, jamais comme un « propagateur de l'islamisme ». [...] Et loin d'être accusé de propager l'idéologie islamiste, le Collectif est décrit, le 1er octobre 2005, comme « une association qui a pour but de lutter contre les discriminations envers les musulmans ».
  5. ^ a b c Barras, Amélie (28 April 2020). "A rights-based discourse to contest the boundaries of state secularism? The case of the headscarf bans in France and Turkey". In Fokas, Effie; Richardson, James T. (eds.). The European Court of Human Rights and Minority Religions: Messages Generated and Messages Received. Routledge. p. 116. ISBN 978-0-429-95440-5.
  6. ^ a b Julien Talpin, Julien O’Miel, Frank Frégosi (27 April 2018). L'islam et la cité: Engagements musulmans dans les quartiers populaires (in French). Presses Universitaires du Septentrion. p. 145. ISBN 978-2-7574-1827-7.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ a b Jennifer Selby (30 October 2014). "France". In Cesari, Jocelyne (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of European Islam. Oxford University Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-19-102641-6. One of the most complete sources on Islamophobic incidents in France is compiled by the Collectif Contre l'Islamophobie en France
  8. ^ a b Loris Guémart. "Qu'est-ce que le CCIF ? Rattrapage pour Darmanin". Retrieved 11 December 2020. [...] cette association dont le fer de lance historique est la défense des Français musulmans face à des actes jugés islamophobes – qu'elle recense –[...]
  9. ^ "Charlie Hebdo backlash – the unredacted story". Institute of Race Relations. 30 July 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  10. ^ Hausalter, Louis (16 March 2020). "Garges-lès-Gonesse : le candidat proche de l'islam politique qualifié pour le second tour des municipales" [Garges-lès-Gonesse: the candidate linked to political Islam qualified for the second round of the municipal elections]. Marianne (in French). Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  11. ^ a b Asal, Houda (2014). "Islamophobie: la fabrique d'un nouveau concept. État des lieux de la recherche". Sociologie. 5 (1): 13–19. doi:10.3917/socio.051.0013. ISSN 2108-8845. La notion d'islamophobie s'est diffusée dans l'espace public français depuis plusieurs années, mais sa définition demeure objet de débats. [...] Si le mot islamophobie se diffuse à partir de 1997, il devient incontournable après le 11 septembre 2001. Les institutions européennes financent des rapports et organisent des rencontres pour analyser et combattre l'islamophobie en Europe, différentes enquêtes sont menées par des associations, des ONG ou des fondations, et le terme est utilisé dans des discours à l'ONU, lui conférant une légitimité et une diffusion internationales.
  12. ^ Haddad, Mouloud (1 May 2006). "Vincent Geisser, La nouvelle islamophobie. Paris, La Découverte, coll. " Sur le vif ", 2003, 122 p." Archives de sciences sociales des religions (in French) (134): 147–299. doi:10.4000/assr.3524. ISSN 0335-5985. Vincent Geisser, chargé de recherches au CNRS (Institut de Recherches et d'Études sur le Monde Arabe et Musulman, Aix-en-Provence), en publiant à l'automne 2003 La nouvelle islamophobie, n'est certainement pas étranger à la promotion de ce néologisme. La thèse centrale de cet essai repose sur un postulat : il y a en France, et notamment depuis les attentats du 11 septembre 2001, une phobie de l'islam en tant que religion et civilisation et, par delà, un rejet de ceux qui sont supposés en faire partie.
  13. ^ Amina Easat-Daas (2 March 2020). "A Case Study of France". In Saral, Melek; Bahçecik, Şerif Onur (eds.). State, Religion and Muslims: Between Discrimination and Protection at the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Levels. Brill. p. 239. ISBN 978-90-04-42151-6.
  14. ^ Louati, Yasser (14 April 2016). "France's bad example: Turning Laïcité into a weapon against Muslims". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  15. ^ a b Seniguer, Haoues (2020). "L'islam de France : laïcité, représentation, politisation et contestation". Université libre de Bruxelles - Observatoire des Religions et de la Laïcité (ORELA). Archived from the original on 26 December 2020.
  16. ^ Pratt, Douglas; Woodlock, Rachel (26 May 2016). Fear of Muslims?: International Perspectives on Islamophobia. Springer. p. 177. ISBN 978-3-319-29698-2.
  17. ^ Asma T. Uddin (31 May 2018). "Religious Modesty for Women and Girls". In Wilson, Robin Fretwell (ed.). The Contested Place of Religion in Family Law. Cambridge University Press. p. 913. ISBN 978-1-108-27887-4.
  18. ^ "Le Conseil d'Etat met un terme aux arrêtés " anti-burkini "". Le (in French). 26 August 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  19. ^ "Le Collectif contre l'islamophobie en France: un islamisme à visage humain?". Le HuffPost (in French). 27 December 2014. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  20. ^ "À Grenoble, polémique autour des subventions versées au CCIF". Le Figaro (in French). 2 December 2020. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  21. ^ "Islamophobie : la campagne qui dérange". Le Figaro (in French). 14 November 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  22. ^ a b "Qu'est-ce que le CCIF, menacé de dissolution par le gouvernement, et que lui reproche-t-on ?". LCI (in French). 23 October 2020. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  23. ^ "Que sont le CCIF et Baraka City, menacés de dissolution par Darmanin?". BFMTV (in French). Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  24. ^ a b c ""L'islamophobie n'existe pas, ce n'est pas un délit" : comment Zemmour joue avec les mots pour nier une réalité". LCI (in French). 9 June 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  25. ^ Fellous, Gérard (2015). À la recherche d'un Islam de France: Relations instables de l'Etat laïc avec les institutions musulmanes (in French). L'Harmattan. p. 24. ISBN 978-2-336-30383-3.
  26. ^ "L'islamophobie est-elle punie par la loi ?". Le (in French). 20 January 2015. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  27. ^ "Chronique de Caroline Fourest", France Culture, 20-12-2010
  28. ^ Eugénie Bastié, Adieu mademoiselle : la défaite des femmes, Éditions du Cerf, 2016, chapter « Les damnés de la terre »
  29. ^ "Mohamed Sifaoui : pourquoi Jean-Louis Bianco doit partir". Le Figaro (in French). 28 January 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  30. ^ "Le CCIF, portrait d'une association controversée". L'Humanité (in French). 21 October 2020. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  31. ^ "Attentat de Christchurch : des plaintes déposées en France, notamment pour " apologie du terrorisme "". (in French). 18 March 2019. Retrieved 12 December 2020.
  32. ^ "L'universitaire Gilles Kepel ravive la fracture à gauche sur l'islam". Le Figaro (in French). 8 November 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  33. ^ "France: Thousands demonstrate against Islamophobia". Deutsche Welle. 10 November 2019. Retrieved 19 October 2020. The Collective against Islamophobia in France, one of the groups involved, has, for example, been accused of having links with the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that is classed as Islamist in Western countries.
  34. ^ Riemer, Nick (14 November 2019). "France's Left Is Finally Fighting Islamophobia". Jacobin. Retrieved 19 October 2020. ...the CCIF, one of the organizers, is sometimes claimed to have connections to the Muslim Brotherhood (the CCIF describes itself as a non-religious organization, explicitly opposes radicalization, and calls in its 2019 report for better training on the meaning of secularism).
  35. ^ a b Sipos, Aurélie (19 October 2020). "Lutte contre l'islamisme : pourquoi le gouvernement cible le CCIF" [Fight against Islamism: why the government is targeting the CCIF]. Le Parisien (in French). Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  36. ^ Le Clerc, Loïc. "Pourquoi il est faux de dire que les Frères musulmans sont derrière le CCIF". (in French). Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  37. ^ Timothy Peace (11 February 2019). "Islamophobia and the Left in France". In Zempi, Irene; Awan, Imran (eds.). The Routledge International Handbook of Islamophobia. Routledge. p. 235. ISBN 978-1-351-13553-5.
  38. ^ "Islamist killing prompts French crackdown on militants". Financial Times. 19 October 2020. Retrieved 6 December 2020. Gérald Darmanin, inside minister, stated on Monday he would suggest a ban on a number of organisations deemed "separatist" for searching to bypass the secular establishments of the French republic, together with the Collective towards Islamophobia in France (CCIF), and a humanitarian support group known as BarakaCity. [...] He stated 51 organisations could be inspected by the state this week.
  39. ^ "BarakaCity, CCIF : pourquoi ces organisations sont-elles dans le collimateur des autorités ?". LCI (in French). 20 October 2020. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  40. ^ "CCIF, BarakaCity... Darmanin souhaite la dissolution d'associations "ennemies de la République"". Le Figaro (in French). 19 October 2020. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  41. ^ a b "French minister keen to disband Islamic NGOs after teacher's beheading". Euronews. 19 October 2020. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  42. ^ "Qu'est-ce que le Collectif contre l'islamophobie (CCIF) que veut dissoudre Darmanin ?". Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  43. ^ Durupt, Frantz; Pezet, Jacques (19 October 2020). "Le Collectif contre l'islamophobie se défend de toute implication dans la campagne contre Samuel Paty". Libé (in French). Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  44. ^ "France: shutting down anti-racist organisation risks freedoms". Amnesty International. 20 November 2020. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  45. ^ "Menacé de dissolution par le gouvernement, le Collectif contre l'islamophobie (CCIF) s'autodissout". France 24 (in French). 27 November 2020. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  46. ^ "Pourquoi le Conseil des ministres a acté la dissolution du CCIF". (in French). Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  47. ^ "France: Dissolving Anti-Discrimination Group Threatens Rights". Human Rights Watch. 4 December 2020. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  48. ^ "Pourquoi la dissolution du CCIF tourne à la bataille juridique et politique". (in French). 4 December 2020. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  49. ^ "Un groupe américain de défense des musulmans propose d'héberger le CCIF dissous". The Times of Israel (in French). 6 December 2020. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  50. ^ "Le CCIF conteste sa dissolution devant le Conseil d'Etat". L'Obs (in French). 4 December 2020. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  51. ^ "Le CCIF va contester sa "dissolution politique" devant le Conseil d'État". Le Figaro (in French). 4 December 2020. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  52. ^ Polloni, Camille. "Le CCIF dissous et re-dissous". Mediapart (in French). Retrieved 7 December 2020. Sans surprise, le gouvernement est allé jusqu'au bout de la démarche entamée mi-octobre, quand Gérald Darmanin avait qualifié le CCIF d'« ennemi de la République ». Le ministre ajoutait même que l'association était « manifestement impliquée » dans l'assassinat de Samuel Paty. L'enquête judiciaire n'a pas retenu cette hypothèse.
  53. ^ Royen, Marie-Cecile (17 February 2021). "Lutte contre l'islamophobie: le CCIF dissout par le gouvernement français, autorisé en Belgique". Site-LeVif-FR. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  54. ^ ""Le Collectif contre l'islamophobie" dissous en France se reforme en Belgique: le ministre de la Justice réagit". RTL Info (in French). 16 February 2021. Retrieved 29 April 2021.