London – On July 11th, the Managing Director of CAGE, Muhammad Rabbani, was blocked by the French government from entering France. The ban followed a highly critical speech given by Rabbani at an OSCE conference in 2022 in which he exposed the French government’s state sponsored Islamophobia and its Systematic Obstruction Policy

CAGE has long been monitoring state policies in France that impact Muslims and their freedom to practise their faith. It has submitted substantial complaints and evidence as part of international coalitions to the EU and UN Human Rights Council about France’s persecution of Muslims. Our 2022 report on France was the first of its kind to argue that a state sponsored persecution of Muslims is taking place.

Muhammad Rabbani arrived in Paris for a 3 day trip, scheduled to meet with French media organisations and civil society leaders. He was detained at a police station shortly after his arrival in Paris and then transferred to a migrant detention centre. He was kept in French custody for almost 24 hours and denied access to his electronic devices for the majority of that time. 

During his period of detention, Rabbani was questioned by police at the airport, then at the migrant detention centre and finally at the airport before he returned to the UK. Rabbani was also questioned by an official from France’s Ministry of Interior. Upon his arrival in the UK, he was held at Gatwick Airport for a further hour.

Muhammad Rabbani, Managing Director of CAGE, said:

“France banned me in response to a speech I gave at last September’s OSCE conference – exposing its Systematic Obstruction Policy. CAGE has been monitoring the racist implementation of that policing strategy and the way it targets Muslim citizens. 

The French government is clearly threatened by an NGO holding them to account. Our interventions and critiques are echoed across the board. Singling out a Muslim human rights defender for a ban smacks of the very same Islamophobia of which they are so offended about being accused.”

Image courtesy of Bernie Almanzar: Unsplash

(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)