On 8 May 2015, in the presence of Angela Davis, Amal Bentounsi announced that this march would take place under the banner of the Parti des Indigènes de la République (Party of the Indigenous of the Republic, P.I.R.). The announcement was made at the event “les 10 ans du PIR” (the ten years of the PIR). Since December 2013 Amal Bentounsi has contributed to various publications of the PIR.
THE LEADERS OF THE MARCH
- Amal Bentounsi : "the mastermind of the march "
Amal Bentounsi was the figurehead who led the march. On the Streetpress* website she was even referred to as the “activist behind the March for dignity”. Amal Bentouni is the sister of Amine Bentounsi who was killed by a police officer. Few in the media remember that she had accused the police of deliberately murdering him as they had harboured a grudge against him for 10 years. According to her he was persecuted for having reported to the Meaux police station that he had received cash payments from a director of the local housing office to set fire to cars in the neighbourhood, in order to justify Jean-François Copé’s security policy... Amal Bentounsi declared to the Parisien newspaper: “The police took it really badly”. A conspiracy theory she defended for a long time, in particular in an interview on RMC with Jean-Jacques Bourdin. Strangely enough, in Amal Bentounsi’s recent interviews this conspiracy theory is no longer mentioned.
In 2009, before her brother was killed, Amal Bentounsi had begun writing a novel called “Ce petit frère qu'on assassine” (The little brother they are killing). It was written three years before the death of her brother, who had been convicted several times for hold-ups. Amal Bentounsi then produced a video clip: SOS, police are killing, in which she says: “You want to commit violence and crimes with impunity, without ever being questioned by the authorities. You insult, you are violent, you don’t respect the code of ethics. Arrogance and contempt, these are the virtues you uphold. Ready to kill without the justification of self defence. For pocket money and extra cash you pin accusations of assaulting a police officer. The police force recruits and the judiciary protects and acquits you. No need to worry even if you are guilty, they’ll arrange for you not to be. Our unions are powerful. So hurry up, the police force is the best career going for being above the law.”
Taken to court for this video clip, the prosecutor requested and obtained her acquittal.
- Hanane Karimi
Hanane Karimi appeared at the very first press conference on 7 July 2015. She is a PhD student and spokesperson for the "Les Femmes dans la Mosquée" (Women in the Mosque) collective. In 2014 the magazine Les Inrocks published a very flattering portrait of her, presenting her as a feminist fighting against the archaism of… the Grand Mosque of Paris. In fact Hanane Karimi writes texts for the Centre
de recherche sur la législation islamique et l'éthique (Research Centre on Islamic Legislation and Ethics), which is a member of the Islamic Studies Faculty of Qatar, founded by… Tariq Ramadan and Youssef Al Qaradawi (wanted by Interpol).
Deeply affected by the terrorist attacks in January she suggested to her “non Muslim friends… that they congregate around the mosques to prevent attacks or outbreaks of violence and thumb their noses at the racists”. On 15 January she wrote on the Islamist website Saphirnews: “So when Charlie decides to publish 1, 3, then 5 million copies of an edition whose cover is a drawing of the Prophet of Islam, I do wonder about it. The man in the drawing is called Mahomet. I don’t know him. With his turban and djellaba he’s the classic example of the Muslim Arab, all the stigmas are there in this cover. He is the over-simplified and contextualized French portrayal of a man they claim to be one of us. He is not one of us. He is not Muhammad. He is just a distorted image, a stylized projection of an ensemble of never-ending cliché. Charlie, who doesn’t like symbols, nonetheless has a symbol: the symbol of Islam which is Mahomet, “he who is not blessed”. He is the symbol of those who are different: the Arab and the Muslim caricatured to the extreme.” An opinion which earned her an invitation to Berkeley to give a talk on “Islamophobia” following the terrorist attacks at Charlie Hebdo.
Hanan Karimi is a mouthpiece for the Parti des Indigènes de la République (Party of the Indigenous of the Republic, P.I.R). On 8 May she tweeted :
On 6 March 2015, Hanane Karimi attended the meeting "Against Islamophobia and the climate of security war”.
On 1st November she implied that Tariq Ramadan was not involved in the march. She had probably forgotten that Tariq Ramadan was one of the first to call for the march… And that his highly motivated students, including her, were pointed out as being behind the march.
- Houria Bouteldja: PIR spokesperson
- Mamans toutes égales (all mothers are equal): A collective set up to defend the right of mothers wearing the veil to accompany their children on school outings.
- Tariq Ramadan : no presentation needed.
Not only from the outset did he incite people to march, but he did so on several occasions.
- The rapper Medine
Medine, producer of a video clip calling for “secularists to be crucified”, provided his truck for the speech and concert at the end of the day.
Medine explained that he had co-founded the association Havre du Savoir (Haven of Knowledge), a website which relays the French publications of the Muslim Brotherhood. They teach us that we must be beware of the Shiites, Zaydis, Alawites and Yazidis and “understand why they do not follow the path of the Prophet”.
It was announced at the event that Medine had made a contribution for the demonstration.
- Ismahane Chouder, Participation et Spiritualité Musulmanes (Muslim Participation and Spirituality).
- The Muslims of France Collective (close to Tariq Ramadan)
- Les indivisibles
- 15 March and Freedom (against the law on the veil in schools)
AN ULTRA-PUBLICIZED DEMONSTRATION
The demonstration was announced and chronicled in an impressive number of media:
- France 3
- BFM TV
- Le Monde
- Le Parisien
- La dépêche
- 20 Minutes
- La Croix
- Le Figaro
Hardly any of them, however, investigated the signatories, the organizers or even the text of the appeal, they were simply content to publish the elements they had been fed. Only a few groups and individuals had the courage to highlight the ambiguities of the approach, but they were immediately hunted down by the usual internet trolls. Ici, ici, ici et ici. The media hype predicted a tsunami which promised to make the first anti-racist demonstrations a thing of the past. The first demonstrations, however, attracted 100.000 participants, whereas according to the organizers the march on 31 October 2015 drew 10.000.
THE DAY OF THE MARCH
Many people attended the anti-racism demonstration in good faith, without necessarily adhering to the opinions of the organizers.
- Slogans heard during the march
"One, two, three Intifadas"
"From Gaza to Jenin, free Palestine"
"We don’t want the 'je suis Charlie' (I’m Charlie)! We don’t want the femens! We don’t want Islamophobia!"
- An activist wearing a portrait of Morsi and the Rabia sign marched In front of the banner of the Parti des indigènes de la République.
- Again, a militant wearing the Rabia sign in solidarity with Muslim Brotherhood was in the group of the recently convicted BDS.
- The absence of the CNT (National Confederation of Labour) was much remarked. The historic anarchists do not want/no longer want to march with the PIR. Throughout the demonstration there were stickers criticizing the racialist options of the march.
- Houria Bouteldja led the procession, even though everyone desperately tried to play down her presence.
- Karima Souid, Tunisian politician (ex Etakatol) was at the demonstration. On 21 July 2015 Karima Souid had threatened the journalist Mohamed Sifaoui.
- There were also posters calling for support for Georges Ibrahim Abdallah
And a moment of nostalgia for the dictator Sekou Touré who died in 1984 after
26 years in power.
- On the platform Saïd Bouamama declared "we are proud that we are not Charlie".
- One of the demonstrators was upset that a “white guy” had the nerve to march alongside her.
The same demonstrator applauded at the slogan refusing “integration through ham”, a concept developed by the preacher Hassan Iquioussen.
On the float leading the march the Communist Mayor of la Courneuve was accused of racism for having dismantled a Roma camp.
At the end of the march barely a hundred demonstrators stayed to listen to the leaders of the movement
In short, a demonstration programmed specially to thrill with delight the far right in France.
This post is also available in Français .