French Muslims tracked by intelligence forces over political opinions

By Umit Donmez


PARIS (AA): Several French Muslim personalities have been tracked and listed by French intelligence for their political opinions, be they supposed or real.

This was revealed in an article published on Tuesday by Europe 1 radio channel, reporting that it had obtained a “confidential note from French territorial intelligence.”

According to Europe 1, this document was “disseminated to a handful of senior officials, members of the government, and up to the Elysee,” after it was written in mid-May, three weeks after a presidential runoff election that sealed victory for sitting President Emmanuel Macron.

According to the note quoted by media outlets, the country’s territorial intelligence came to the conclusion that left-wing presidential hopeful Jean-Luc Melenchon, eliminated in the first round of voting after coming in third behind Macron and the far-right Marine Le Pen, would have enjoyed the “Muslim vote” in the country due to the support of so-called “Islamist influencers and activists” who “welcomed” and “relayed” his “positions.”

It cited Muslim figures in France, including lawyer Rafik Chekkat, a member of the association Agir contre l’islamophobie (Action Against Islamophobia – ACI) and independent journalist Siham Assbague, both described as “Islamists,” in particular for having taken a stand against Islamophobia or colonialism.

In addition to Chekkat and Assbague, the note also refers to Vincent Souleymane, Hani Ramadan, and Farid Slim, all described as “preachers” or “imams” from the Muslim Brotherhood.

Double filing against Feiza Ben Mohamed

Feiza Ben Mohamed, a journalist with Anadolu Agency, was also tracked and listed by the territorial intelligence agency for their real or supposed political opinions.

Europe 1’s coverage revealed that the French territorial intelligence listed her as a “pro-Erdogan” journalist, in reference to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, simply because the news agency where she works is based in Turkey.

The radio broadcaster notes that Ben Mohamed was also tracked for having “published a series of tweets justifying her choice to vote for Jean-Luc-Melenchon, whom she considers to be the only credible candidate who does not have the ambition to use Muslims to make people forget the problems of our country.”


French territorial intelligence has files on many French Muslims for having expressed their support for Melenchon, the leader of the La France Insoumise (LFI) party, who has voiced opposition against Islamophobia in France several times.

By listing these Muslims, the territorial intelligence’s actions has resurrected debate on “Islamo-leftism,” a theory often pushed by Le Pen and fellow far-right politician Eric Zemmour, along with the French government.

At the end of 2020, this notion, disseminated since 2002 by the far right, has gotten strong media exposure, while Jean-Michel Blanquer, then-minister of national education, and Dominique Vidal, former minister for higher education, used the term to denounce the supposed closeness and laxity of certain left-wing French politicians towards Islam.

These members of the French accusations have also leveled accusations against French academics and researchers, declaring that the universities “are plagued by academics who ally themselves with the Islamists to divide France.”

In a press release published in February 2021 to respond to a statement by Vidal, the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) had stressed that “Islamo-leftism, a political slogan used in public debate, does not correspond to any scientific reality.”

In addition, the CNRS excoriated attempts to delegitimize different fields of research, such as postcolonial, intersectional, or racial studies, by declaring them “Islamo-leftist.”

Targeting, harassment

In 2019, an ultra-right group “French of stock,” published online a list of several hundred names accused of being “Islamo-leftists.” Anadolu Agency journalist Feiza Ben Mohamed was among them.

At the end of July, the Interministerial Committee for the Prevention of Delinquency and Radicalization (CIPDR) had already targeted, in particular on social networks, several French nationals fighting against Islamophobia, including Ben Mohamed.

Following this listing by the state, Ben Mohamed suffered a wave of harassment, verbal aggression, and insults on social media platforms. This lasted several weeks and affected her personal and professional life.

[Map of France by CIA Factbook/Public Domain]

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