Tag Archives: Alliance Citoyenne

ACORN’s French Affiliate Attacked for Supporting Muslim Women

darmanin, ACORN France, Alliance CitoyenneApril 7, 2021

New Orleans      ACORN is an inclusive organization, and as a membership-led and supported organization, our mandate is to support and represent our members. The Alliance Citoyenne is our affiliate in France and has been over the last number of years as it has grown from its original base in Grenoble to organize thousands across the country in the Paris suburbs, Lyon, and elsewhere.

Our membership includes families of all religious faiths in France, as it does in globally wherever we organize. Predictably, that includes Muslims of course. One action after another in the polarized politics of France around secularism and cultural traditions that mandate homogeneity have been designed to particularly discriminate against Muslim women, especially those whose religious practice includes wearing a veil. Initially, veiled Muslim women were restricted from any direct public employment. President Macron and his party controlling the government have now also extended that ban to block their employment in any company or enterprise that receives any government money as well. Their access to public venues including sports, swimming pools, bowling alleys, and other facilities like training centers, public health and daycare centers is also restricted. It goes without saying that all of this is a huge denial of their human rights.

Muslim women members of ACORN have pushed back. In the summer of 2019, actions where ACORN members sought to use public swimming pools wearing what were called burkinis attracted national and international attention. In some cases, pools were closed. The Alliance was attacked for its stance, but the governing bodies of all of our chapters, debated the issue fully, and stood strong. In fact, women throughout France approached us about organizing a separate women’s sports league that would allow Muslim women to participate.

Answering a call from the European Commission, the Alliance applied for support in its efforts to organize a union of Muslim women within the organization. The proposal was successfully awarded a multi-year grant. Since November, the final papers have not been signed though because of political interference by the French Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin, who claims the grant would be a “political project of rupture under the guise of anti-racism”. His opposition has ignited a firestorm of publicity and debate in Paris and throughout the country, including vicious and public attacks against the Alliance. We were almost evicted from our offices in Lyon for example. The EU is also caught up in this maelstrom between its stated convictions and political pressure.

In a press statement, the Alliance Citoyenne responded factually to the government attack:

This is a lie when the demands of the Citizen Alliance are aimed at inclusion, diversity and tolerance. As the Observatory of Associative Freedoms has shown in many other cases, discretionary intervention, disinformation, disqualification and amalgamation are all processes used by the executive power to delegitimize and hinder citizens who hold critical voices. Despite the deceptive attacks by Mr. Darmanin, the Alliance Citoyenne and its members will continue to defend the rights of minorities, the freedom of Muslim women, the rights of poorly housed families, people with disabilities and all citizens affected by injustices. It calls on the European Commission to resist the pressure exerted by the Minister of the Interior and to have confidence in its teams and its procedures for selecting projects against racism and discrimination.

The French government, like so many others, including perhaps the European Union, is going to be forced to learn that this is ACORN, and ACORN members don’t back down in fights against injustice.


Making Reality from Fiction:  Underground Soccer Leagues

Pearl River     Remember way back in another lifetime, pre-pandemic, before the coronavirus global killer wave?  It seems years ago, but it was only last summer that ACORN’s French affiliate, Alliance Citoyenne, gained huge attention throughout France and all of Europe and the Francophone world, when our members and leaders led actions with Muslim women and girls in Grenoble and Lyon who were refused entry to swimming pools, even with their children, if they were wearing any face covering, like a burqa.

This was about more than French cultural chauvinism, valuing their historic view of the world over any other concerns, social or religious.  They banned such clothing from all public places, not just swimming pools.  They also banned any women wearing a burqa from public employment in outright employment discrimination.

Now their hypocrisy is showing even more clearly.  During the pandemic, masks were de rigueur.  As France opens up now, they are also requiring that anyone using public transportation wear masks, yet the burqa bans continue to be in full force and effect.  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t just in France, but widely across the European Union and even in Quebec in North America.  Civil rights groups are reportedly gearing up to challenge the bans.

Having led the fight in France, I wasn’t surprised when the head organizer of the Alliance, Adrien Roux, told me in our weekly call that they had been contacted by a group of thirty Muslim women soccer players who wanted to be able to play with any kind of head covering they thought appropriate in line with their religion.  Coincidentally, in a rarity for me, I had been reading a dystopian novel, called The Resisters by Gish Jen set some years in the future.  I had stumbled on a reference to it in a sports page that piqued my interested because it mentioned that baseball was a dominant theme throughout the book.  Our heroes, the resisters, in the book, are Surplus, the vast army of the unemployed, after artificial intelligence has eliminated millions of jobs and nation states have consolidated in a new economy dominated by the Netted.  Our heroes create an underground baseball league from various Surplus communities and go to great links to keep Aunt Nettie, as they call the constant governing surveillance force, from finding them playing and stopping the games.

So, why not an underground league of Muslim women soccer players in France and perhaps throughout Europe?  Why not challenge other teams to play in defiance of the rules, just as white and black college basketball teams played each other in defiance of segregation norms in the United States in the 20th century?  I have a feeling I know who would win eventually.

Picture this as well.  In a 50-person Uber call in New Orleans among members and of ACORN’s Louisiana affiliate, the fear of the virus and the concern for more effective masks provoked some amazing discussion.  In fact, there was a serious proposal to re-purpose Spanx as a full head covering for neighborhood African-American women.  If you can imagine that, it’s not hard to see a burqa as perhaps a better virus solution and absolutely a more comfortable one.