French government body targets Anadolu Agency journalist

After France's decision on Thursday to expel Imam Hassan Iquioussen, a Muslim scholar, government committee linked to prime minister targeted critics on Twitter

Dilara Hamit  | 31.07.2022 - Update : 31.07.2022
French government body targets Anadolu Agency journalist


France’s government singled out for criticism at an Anadolu Agency journalist who criticized its decision to expel Imam Hassan Iquioussen, a Muslim scholar.

The Interministerial Committee for the Prevention of Crime and Radicalisation (CIPDR), whose website says it works under "the aegis of the prime minister," has targeted a number of people who are victims of Islamophobia, now including at least Anadolu Agency correspondent.

The committee targeted those who criticized the deportation decision, which was announced on Thursday, accusing them on Twitter of being linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafism.

"There is Feiza Ben Mohamed, who works for Anadolu Agency and joins this support campaign (for the imam) by constantly attacking France with false allegations. And without hesitation, she argues that Hassan Iquioussen is an ‘innocent imam’," it said on Twitter on Friday.

After this post, Ben Mohamed was subjected to intense cyber harassment.

Marwan Muhammad, former director of the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), was also accused of using anti-secular rhetoric to incite conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims.

The committee also had Billal Righi, a former director of the Ummah Charity, on its hit list, by trying to link him to the 2020 murder of teacher Samuel Paty in a Paris suburb.

After the tweets were published, numerous online users denounced the committee for using state resources to harass and suppress Muslim figures for their political and religious opinions.

One Twitter user claimed that Muslim hunting was the committee's favorite hobby and that targeting media and Muslim figures for cyberbullying is seen as normal in President Emmanuel Macron’s France.

Since Friday, while Mohamed's journalism was distorted, she has been assailed by anti-Turkish, anti-Islamic, and sexist messages.

"It is a very malicious step to be cast in the same light as those who went to Syria to fight," meaning terrorists, another Twitter user said on the issue.

Another user denounced France's targeting of Muslims and proposed a march to combat Islamophobia in September. Political scientist Francois Burgat blasted the committee’s moves.

"Let's not be passive, we could be next," he said. Burgat said the committee’s accusations against Ben Mohamed are very dangerous in a country with freedom of expression, adding that he also wrote articles for Anadolu Agency.

RSF (journalists without borders) has ranked France as having the 26th-highest level of free speech in the world.

After public figures and politicians, the RespectZone association found in 2018 that journalists were the third most susceptible profession to cyber-harassment.

Although this research indicates that unidentified male internet users make up the bulk of cyber stalkers, it was observed in the instance of Feiza Ben Mohamed that a government organization publicly targeted the AA reporter.

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