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More Islamophobia in France

Omri Haiven

August 23, 2012

A high profile incident of Islamophobia involving a town hall on the outskirts of Paris shows that within a culture of xenophobia the parties of the left can be just as reactionary as those on the right.


A unique Iftar broke the day’s fasting for Muslims and their allies who celebrated the 16th day of Ramadan in the Gennevilliers suburb of Paris.

Opponents of the town hall’s decision to fire camp councilors who had been fasting for Ramadan assembled at twilight to voice their displeasure.


The town’s Communist Party government has continued in its refusal to admit wrongdoing in a case that has brought them closer to a host of unlikely allies on the national stage. These allies include, most notably, the right-wing federal opposition party, the UMP (formerly of Sarkozy notoriety) and the crypto-fascist Front National.


Four camp-councilors were dismissed based on a clause in their contract that stipulates that they must properly hydrate and eat when working. The legality of the decision was questionable given the wide definition of what “properly” constitutes, while the morality of a town hall imposing its cultural norms on religious practitioners called up much bigger questions.


Despite retracting the dismissals, and eventually the offending clause in the contract, the town hall has refused to acknowledge wrongdoing, even refusing to accept the services of the local Mosque that has offered to help de-escalate the situation.


Despite widespread condemnation of the firings from groups such as the New Anti-Capitalist Party, the town hall still maintains that they were only acting out the best interest of the children, basing their decision on a loosely worded portion of a contract–which itself came from the unfounded assumption that an accident involving a camp councilor and two children two years ago was the direct result of weakness induced by the councilors Ramadan fast.


But, as one commentator has put it “tens of millions of Muslims around the world have observed Ramadan for centuries, if this indeed caused disasters, we would know by now!”. More likely, and as most observers believe, this is just the latest in a troubling trend of Islamaphobia that continues to plague France. The surprising aspect is the obvious complicity of a party that purports to be for the working people regardless of affinity or race.


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