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Sunday, January 29, 2017

The 'Candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood': France in Primaries

The French Left has been flirting with radical Islamists since the 1980s. The full extent of this complicity has emerged in Socialist Party primaries

Benoit Hamon (Photo: Flickr)

The French Left has been flirting with radical Islamists since the 1980s, when it realized that the growing Muslim population could replace its dwindling indigenous working-class voter base to whom it failed to deliver on its promise of reducing unemployment under the presidencies of François Mitterand (1981-1995) and François Hollande (2012-2017).

The full extent of this complicity has emerged in the current Socialist Party primaries. The first round was held on January 22 and was won by Benoît Hamon, who garnered 36.83% of the 1,600,978 votes cast. The runner-up was ex-Prime Minister Manuel Valls with 31.9%. The second round will be held on January 29.

One of the issues on which the candidates differ substantially is radical Islam. While Valls took a tough stance during his term as Prime Minister and staunchly defended the secular principles of the French Republic, Hamon is more ambiguous and is seen by some as a fellow-traveler of Islamist lobby groups such as the CCIF (Collective Against Islamophobia in France).

The CCIF was set up in 2003 during the controversy on the banning of the hijab in French schools. It went from campaigning on this single issue to a range of missions, the main one being to denounce and file criminal lawsuits against journalists and intellectuals for “Islamophobic” statements. It publishes statistical reports documenting “Islamophobia,” inflating the figures through including closures of Salafist mosques and deportation of Islamic terrorists.

The CCIF website includes practical advice on how to respond to airport identity checks on veiled women, wearing of full-length skirts at school and halal dietary demands in school canteens. There is also a dedicated guide for Islamists whose homes are raided by the police due to the state of emergency law.

There is no doubt that the CCIF has close ties with radical Islam. Founding President Samy Debah is a former preacher of Tablighi Jaamat, the global Sunni Islamic revivalist movement. In November 2015, the CCIF signed a press release condemning the police raids that followed the November 2015 attacks in Paris.

Spokesman Marwan Muhammad has shared platforms with radical Islamists such as Imam Hassen Bounamcha and Salafist preachers Nader Abou Anas and Rachid Abou Houdeyfa.

The CCIF diverts attention from its real goal of advocacy for Islam by couching its operations in terms of human rights, individual liberty and discrimination, thus enabling it to fraternize with the French Left including a potential candidate in the 2017 presidential election, Benoît Hamon.

Evidence emerged this week showing that Hamon’s campaign spokesman, MP Alexis Bachelay, attended a CCIF fund-raising dinner in May 2014 with fellow Socialist Party MP and spokesman Razzy Hammadi. In June 2015, Hammadi sponsored a bill in parliament to introduce class action lawsuits, which are not permitted under French law.

The CCIF published a statement on its website backing the bill and urging its supporters to lobby lawmakers to vote in favor, arguing that it would be a formidable weapon in its war on Islamophobia.  “Class action is a legal tool that could for example be used to great effect in cases of discrimination against young girls who wear long skirts to school.”

Hammadi suffered considerable embarrassment in December 2013 when a video posted on Twitter and YouTube showed him involved in a late-night street brawl in Montreuil, an eastern suburb of Paris. In the clip he can be heard shouting racist insults and threating to bring out “toutes les cités de Montreuil,” i.e. the gangs from the local housing projects.

Bachelay also has close links to Marwan Muhammad and in December 2015, they exchanged messages of mutual support on their Twitter accounts in which Bachelay stated, “We have to stick together, times are hard.”

Aside from his campaign spokesman rubbing shoulders with members of an organization that is a satellite of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamon himself has made statements that could be construed as pro-Islamist.

Questioned as to his position on the revelation that women are effectively barred from cafés in some Parisian suburbs, he replied, “Historically, there were no women in working-class cafés,” apparently justifying the gender segregation imposed by radical Islamists."

In a radio interview on January 23, he went even further, saying, “What I do not accept is that behind the expression ‘religious separatism,’ there is the assertion that Islam is incompatible with the French Republic. That is not true. It is unacceptable that people continue to make the faith of millions of our fellow-citizens a problem in French society.”

In a 2016 interview with the left-wing Libération newspaper, Hamon said the debate on the place of Islam in French society following the terrorist attacks amounted to “dangerous political hysteria” and explained the attraction of jihadism to young French Muslims by the failure of the French state to deliver equality to all its citizens. More dangerously, he offered a rationale for the ideology of Islamic State, saying:

“For my part, I try to understand why young Muslims are motivated by the narrative of Islamic State, whose message incarnates values that are absent from our public debate: unity, represented by the Caliphate; dignity, offered to young people in quest of recognition; purity of faith in an impure world; and salvation, that gives meaning to their death, having failed to find it in life.”

OMG - Dignity? Purity of faith? Salvation (through murder and martyrdom)? Are you serious? The things we will sell our soul for!

Hamon is also in favor of bringing in religious educators from states he describes as “cradles of Islam” to train French Imams. In other words, he supports the import of the Salafist ideology that has radicalized an entire generation and resulted in the current wave of Islamic terror.

He has proposed a tax on halal meat that would be used to fund the construction of mosques, suggesting that the money be allocated by the CFCM (French Council of the Muslim Faith), an organization that sued Charlie Hebdo for caricaturing the prophet, thereby “humiliating and provoking 2 billion Muslims.”

A Socialist Party minister has described Hamon as “the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood,” an accusation that may not be as outrageous as it appears. The links between the CCIF and the left wing of the Socialist Party echo the strategies of coalition, absorption and co-operation outlined in the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategic plan to Islamize the USA.

Leslie Shaw is an Associate Professor at the Paris campus of ESCP Europe Business School and President of FIRM (Forum on Islamic Radicalism and Management).