How Macron (re)opened the door to Islamophobia

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President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday warned against a stigmatisation of the Muslim population in France and the shortcut of associating the Islamic religion with terrorism, as was illustrated in a string of recent events that have caused outrage and heated debate across the country. It was a tardy reaction by Macron who, Mediapart co-editor Carine Fouteau writes in this op-ed, has left the door open to precisely the problem he now identifies. It is his responsibility to strengthen the barriers against hatred, alongside the fight against terrorism.

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An openly Islamophobic polemicist, previously convicted for provoking racial hatred, has now been recruited by a French television channel   to pour out more of his venom against Muslims; a woman wearing a headscarf was humiliated by a member of the far-right Rassemblement National party in front of her son  and his schoolmates at a meeting of the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté regional council; an education minister calls for the reporting of little boys who refuse, in the playground, to take the hand of little girls, which he sees as the sign of future jihadists; France's interior minister designates “the regular and ostentatious practice of prayers” and the “intensified practice of religion during the Ramadan” as problematic behaviour; a university detailed a list of instructions, before finally withdrawing them, aimed at identifying supposed forms of “radicalisation”, such as the “apparition of the headscarf”, a change in appearance with “the wearing  of a beard without a moustache”, “change in clothing” like the “wearing of the djellaba”, “recurrent absenteeism during the hours of prayer”, the refusal to “recognise the authority of women”, and a “halt in the consumption of alcoholic drinks”.