Islamophobia in France: 2022 Presidential Elections and the Criminalization of Muslim Civil Society

31 Mar 2022


Announced by the University of Pittsburgh

French citizens will be heading to the polls in April 2022 to vote for the country’s next president. Islamophobia appears to be a running theme throughout the views of many of the candidates, including current President Emmanuel Macron, centrist candidate Valérie Pécresse, and far-right contenders Marine Le Pen and Éric Zemmour.

Over the last few years, French Muslims have found themselves on the receiving end of government legislation that has led to widespread discrimination. The effects of such policies have resulted in the criminalization of French Muslim civil society and curtailed the human rights of French Muslims, especially women. Last year, the French government adopted Macron’s anti-separatism bill, which several human rights organizations have criticized as problematic as it targets and “casts generalized suspicion against people of the Muslim faith,” and “indirectly suggests a link between this group and foreign or terrorist threats.” Further, Macron’s government dissolved the leading anti-Islamophobia organization in the country in addition to shutting down a number of mosques and Muslim organizations. Additionally, there’s been increasingly hostile rhetoric coming from the country's leaders essentially rendering French Muslims as untrustworthy second-class citizens.

Scholars, commentators, and writers have all noted how the current political climate in France has involved a surge in the far-right and an overall massive shift right-ward in the country. As the election campaign wages on, many of the candidates are instrumentalizing anti-Muslim bigotry to gain votes. Join The Bridge Initiative as we speak with leading scholars and activists to understand where France is headed and what all of this means for French Muslims.

Register here


Rim-Sarah Alouane is a French legal scholar. As a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Law at the University Toulouse-Capitole in France, her research focuses on religious freedom, civil liberties,constitutional law and human rights in Europe and North America. Ms. Alouane frequently appears on TV and radio in America and worldwide, including NPR, Al Jazeera, BBC, and France24 where she discusses discrimination, human rights violations and politics.

Twitter: @rimsarah

Marwan Muhammad is a French-Egyptian author and statistician. After a career in finance, he dedicated the last 12 years to the fight against Islamophobia. He was the spokesman and then the director of the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), the most prominent human rights NGO in France supporting Muslims, before becoming a diplomat for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), where he supported Muslim communities all across Europe, Central Asia and North America. In 2018, he conducted the first survey of Muslims in France (in which 27,000 took part), before founding the Muslims’ Platform, an umbrella organization gathering hundreds of Mosques and Islamic organizations across France, with more than 75 000 supporters. He now works as a Human Rights consultant for International Organizations.

Twitter: @_MarwanMuhammad

Yasser Louati is a french human rights and civil liberties advocate, community organizer and political analyst. He has been active since the mid 1990's and has been a leading voice against racism and state authoritarianism in Europe and around the world. After years of grassroots activism and international campaigns out of the South Side Banlieue of Paris, Yasser founded the CJL, a transnational human rights and civil liberties organization. The CJL's work is based on production of knowledge (research, investigation, empowerment (popular education, training and mobilisations (strategic litigation, campaigns). Yasser is fluent in French, English and Arabic and is a regular contributor to international news outlets such as the BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera and TRT, among others. He can also be heard on his podcasts "Le Breakdown" and "Les Idées Libres".

Twitter: @yasserlouati

Mobashra Tazamal is Senior Research Fellow for The Bridge Initiative and received her Master’s degree in Islamic Societies & Cultures from SOAS University of London. Her current research centers on global Islamophobia with a particular focus on China’s campaign targeting Uighur Muslims and its use of surveillance technology, the rise of ethno-nationalism, and the financial and trans-Atlantic connections of the Islamophobia “industry.” Her work has been published in Al-Jazeera, Middle East Eye, Religious Response, & The New Arab. She has previous experience in human rights advocacy and immigration law.

Event Date: 
Thursday, March 31, 2022 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Sponsored By: 
Georgetown University