10 June 1998


Security measures based on prejudice not preparation

IHRC is calling on the French authorities to re-evaluate its security measures taken in the run up and to be enacted during the World Cup between 10 June and 12 July this year. Scuffles between fans, locals and the police on the eve of the tournament showed up a lack of planning to deal with the problems of hooliganism that have plagued the game in recent years.

Instead at the end of May this year, a number of alleged members of the Algerian ‘Armed Islamic Group’ (GIA) were arrested in and around Paris, Marseilles and Lyon, with co-ordinated police activity in Germany and Italy also leading to arrests. This crackdown was hailed as an offensive against possible terrorism by Muslims during the World Cup. This has provoked a rise in anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic sentiment based on prejudice and not fact.

Had the French authorities been serious about stopping terrorism on its soil it should have raided Algerian embassies across Europe, as it is now clear that the Armed Islamic Group is nothing more than a front for the Algerian government’s atrocities, perpetuated to discredit the Islamic opposition which won elections in Algeria in 1992. France has taken these measures to hide its own bankrupt policies in and about North Africa. Shockingly, the link between the Algerian and French intelligence agencies makes the French government culpable in the Paris underground bombings of a few years ago.

IHRC is concerned that France’s Islamphobic stance, will lead to further dubious arrests, and detentions, sometimes under anti-terrorist measures which inter alia, allow detention without charge and deny detainees the right to proper representation. IHRC hopes that this line will not be followed by other European countries. The arrests by Britain of Algerians as part of the co-ordinated European action, seems to be based on appeasement of French prejudice than sound judgement. At the time of such an important sporting gathering, security should be of the highest priority to the host, not just another excuse to marginalise and demonise those without the political or social ability to defend themselves.

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