Wednesday, November 25, 2020

France, Its Muslims And A Template For The Great Resetting Of Your Civil Liberties

greenwald |  Whether out of political calculation, conviction or some combination of both, French President Emmanuel Macron has seized on the grotesque murder last month of Samuel Paty to push two extreme assaults on core civil liberties. One is a law, approved by the French Parliament on Saturday, that “ban[s] the publication of images of on-duty police officers as well as expand[s] the use of surveillance drones and police powers” — a new restriction which press freedom groups argue criminalizes the attempt to hold police officers accountable for brutality and excess force and allows the government even greater powers of domestic spying. The other is an even more sweeping measure that would, among other things, ban homeschooling and require registration of children with the state.

A state of emergency declared in France after the 2015 Charlie Hebdo murders and multi-venue terror attacks gave the state virtually unlimited powers to detain citizens without due process and domestically spy with essentially no checks. That resulted, as intended, in the mass infiltration of mosques by police informants, surveillance of imams, and even the sweeping up by police of large numbers of Muslim citizens who were never charged with let alone convicted of any crimes.

Anyone who believes in the necessity of free speech, free expression, privacy rights and due process — and that includes those who cheered the massive free speech rally in Paris after the 2015 Charlie Hebdo murders, led by some of the world’s worst despots — has to be concerned about the growing French demands for still greater crackdowns, if not due to a belief in universally applied civil liberties principles then at least out of self-interested concern that this framework is going to be applied throughout the west: not only against Muslims but against anyone deemed on the margins or fringes or inside the realms of dissent.

To explore the growing controversies over civil liberties and France — which are absolutely a harbinger of similar debates already occurring, with still more to come, throughout the west — I spoke with one of France’s most knowledgeable civil liberties analysts and activists, Yasser Louati.