Islamophobia in France

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Jad Bouharoun’s article “Rage against police racism in France” (March SR) was very good. It contained one error, however. The New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) candidate, Philippe Poutou, has absolutely not made fighting Islamophobia a priority in his presidential campaign.

Indeed, in the NPA newspaper, the issue is practically invisible. This is because, like all the other left and far-left groups in France, the NPA is hopelessly divided on whether one should organise against Islamophobia or not.

The reactions of the different groups to the banning of full body swimsuits on some French beaches last year show the disastrous situation on this question. Even the best groups limited themselves to well written press releases and symbolic protests.

I didn’t hear of one public meeting by a left group on mobilising against this racist circus (while the Socialist prime minister was applauding the bans).

Islamophobia remains a dreadful blind spot for the French left as a whole. This is despite the fact that patient work over the last 20 years has meant that there is a significant minority (no longer a tiny minority) within several radical left groups who want to combat this oppression.