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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Op-ed: There’s limited ‘freedom of speech’ in France

Like other western countries, France is also a double standard country that pretends to be a free country but it is not, writes author.

France is well known for secularism, democracy, and freedom in the world. Recently, French President Emmanuel Macron gave an Islamophobic statement and promoted banners insulting Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) after an incident of a teacher’s murder. Many non-Muslims and secular people appreciated Macron’s move and criticized Muslim leaders for condemning France and starting Boycott France and French products movements on social media.

Laws of the state only for the people and not for the president

Macron’s statement was itself violating France’s law for freedom of speech. France’s law on freedom of the press 1881, article 24, prohibits anyone from publicly insulting, hating, or harming any person or group belonging to a specific nation, race, religion, or sex.

Dictatorship covered as ‘Freedom’

Like other western countries, France is also a double standard country that pretends to be a free country but it is not. France is no different than middle-east dictatorships. Here are a few laws in the country prohibiting people from freedom of speech/expression.

Read more: A lesson for Macron: Freedom of expression is not absolute

Holocaust denial

Holocaust denial is completely or partly denying the incident of the holocaust when the Nazi army massacred around 6 million (Jewish claim) Jews in Germany during 1941-1945. There is no avoidance of estimating the numbers and many claims suggest the number of victims less than one million. Germany has also denied the use of POW (prisoners of war) for experiments and use of the gas chamber.

France is in the group of those countries where denying the holocaust is illegal. Under the Gayssot Act 1990, an individual denying the holocaust can get up to 5 years of imprisonment along with a fine. France has the highest number of sentence pronouncements regarding holocaust denial after Germany.


Hatred or discrimination towards the Jewish community is called Anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is illegal in many western countries including France. Pakistan’s ISI (Inter-Service Intelligence) claim of Israeli secret conspiracy behind the 9/11 incident and Mumbai attacks was also labeled as facial and anti-Semite statements. Condemning Zionist terrorism in Palestine and not recognizing Israel as a state is considered Anti-Semitism in France.

Read more: ‘Islamophobia is a challenge created, developed and aggravated by Muslims’

Color discrimination

Discrimination toward dark brown and black people is a crime in France. Misbehaving with someone because of his/her color is considered a crime and can be incarcerated for years.

Online hate speech

France’s Avia Law is there to prevent online hate speech and extremism. They can remove content from the Internet and fined 75,000 to 250,000 euros if it does not comply with rules. There is no freedom of press, news, and opinions in France.

Ban on virginity test

The virginity test violates women’s rights. But in a case when she wants her to be tested, she should be allowed to go through a virginity test. France has taken the decision to not give any option to a woman to prove herself innocent when she is accused of pre-marital sex. President Macron touched ban on virginity test on 18th February 2020 while talking about ‘Islamist separatism’.

Read more: Op-ed: There is no legal basis for two-finger virginity testing on women

Doctor of the opposite gender

France has recently shocked the world by announcing, “no one can refuse the doctor of the opposite gender for his/her treatment”. In short, a female patient cannot select a female doctor for her checkup even when she needs to unveil her body and sex parts.

Discrimination toward Muslims

Sharia law

The law mentioned in the Quran is called “Sharia law”. Muslim preachers are not allowed to teach sharia in School, mosque, or somewhere else.

In 2016, French authorities banned 20 mosques (Muslim place of worship) for teaching Salafism and Sharia. Al-Kawthar mosque was also banned for many months because of this.

Hijab ban

France is among the handful of countries where the wearing of the Muslim headscarf is banned. The headscarf is not only a religious symbol in Islam, but in Christianity, Sikhism, and Judaism as well and is an obligatory article in the Islamic faith. This law was proposed to target Muslims only.  After passing this act in parliament, many women supported the government’s decision, many started studying at home, and others left France along with their families.

Read more: Canada passes controversial religious ban

Spying on Muslims

In 2016, French intelligence created a list of security threats containing the data of 20,000 people that maybe involved in terror activities in the future. 15,000-17,000 of these people belonged to Islamic movements. Later, French authorities confirmed that their intelligence agencies are continuously spying on Muslims.


France is the center of Islamophobia, where many Muslims have been targeted. Hundreds of Muslims have lost their lives during Islamophobic incidents. Till today, more than 121 Islamophobic incidents have been reported, the government has targeted 19 mosques and made 4,500 house arrests. About 17,000 Muslims have been flagged as radical Islamists.

Read more: Is Islamophobia being used as a tool to further West’s political agendas?

Insulting Islam

Blaspheming the prophet Muhammed (PBUH) has become a common trend in western countries. They use the term “Freedom of speech” to justify their actions however the same attitude towards Jews is considered a crime. Movies, cartoons, and drawings are released to hurt Muslim’s religious sentiments while retaliation from the other side is labeled as Extremism and sometimes Terrorism.

Zulkaif Riaz is a freelance content writer and author. He has recently published a book Burhan Muzaffar Wani on Amazon. He can be reached at: zulkaifriaz34@gmail.com. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.