“This anti separatism bill reminds me of the Muslim ban under Trump” Channel Andrews, Professor of Law at the University of Pariss Assas
Channel Andrews is an American attorney based in Paris, France, where she teaches law at Université Panthéon-Assas (Paris II). Prior to moving to France, she served as Assistant Counsel in the Governor’s Office of General Counsel in Pennsylvania. Her legal expertise includes Administrative Law, Comparative International Law, and Constitutional Law.
In this conversation, Channel Andrews compared ongoing mobilisations in both France and the US against shrinking space and how governments, especially in France seem unable to hear demands for equality and justice.
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TRANSCRIPT Le Breakdown “Race Relations in France and America” guest: Channel Andrews
Channel Andrews, Yasser Louati
Yasser Louati 00:00
You’re listening to Lew breakdown. This is Yasser. Louati speaking. This podcast is offered to you by the CJL. Committee for justice and liberties. We are an independent human rights and civil liberties organization, thanks to our donors. If you too would like to support our investigative reporting, political education and mobilization work, you can make a donation on CJ L dot o n g. Welcome to the breakdown. This is your host Yasser Louati speaking to you from the Paris south side Banlieue. Thanks again for joining us on this new episode and welcome to our new listeners and viewers. On this new episode, I will speak again of the ongoing debate in France around identity security and the ongoing repression and crackdown on civil liberties; what minorities are going through. And of course, if you remember from the past episodes, two major laws are being passed as we speak in Parliament in France, the first one being the comprehensive security law that will create a security continuum to of course, further protect the police or shield the police, the police away from accountability give more meaning for the government to crack down on dissent. And the other one being the anti separatism bill and this one is, of course, to make it impossible for French Muslims to exist as citizens to organize as such and let alone dare to criticize the government. To speak of these topics, I am honored to receive a new guest from the US this time, it is a professor Chanel Andrews whos is an American attorney based in Paris, she teaches at La Sorbonne Assas. She graduated from law in the US and she’s from Philadelphia. And she has been lucky enough in France to give her own opinion of over over these debates, sh’es not a tourist. She’s not one of those people who’s only here for the good cheese and clothing. Now it is she she’s really experiencing France as a citizen. And of course, her opinion mattered because as she also teaches civil rights in French universities that she also have this capacity to compare what is going on in France and the ongoing challenges in the US. Channel Andrews welcome to you to Le Breakdown.
Channel Andrews 02:30
Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Yasser Louati 02:32
It’s a pleasure to have you. And again, following our our discussion to prepare this show. My first question to you is what brought you to France? And how are you living your life as I’ve probably no legal scholar in this country.
Channel Andrews 02:49
I moved to France in the fall of 2016 to join my husband, my husband is Senegalese French. And I came here to be with him. And I’ve since been teaching since that time and 2016. So I guess it’s been about almost five years now.
Yasser Louati 03:10
Right and how you like it so far.
Channel Andrews 03:12
I love France. You know, there are definitely some differences between here in the States. Each country has its pros and cons. But for the most part, I thoroughly enjoy France. And it’s actually been a blessing to be here in France. Over the last four years when Trump was president in the US, it was it was great to not be there actually. And under his his leadership directly and to kind of be escape in here in France.
Yasser Louati 03:45
And was it any better than under Trump, or there are still some challenges when it comes to race relations in France, according to you, of course,
Channel Andrews 03:54
first definitely has its challenges when it comes to race. But I believe that overall, the black experience, or at least my experience has been more pleasurable here in France than it would have been under the Trump administration in the US.
Yasser Louati 04:13
Great. So you came here before Emmanuel Macron was elected. But you also witnessed when marine lepen the leader of the far right made it to the second round. What marked you during the the run up to the election in France as we had Emmanuel Macron positioning himself as this liberal candidate, and then seeing him today, actually almost doing the same thing as what marine lepen would have called for, all this repression targeting minorities. And if to you It came as a shock to see this supposedly promising, you know, young president, turn into what he promised that he will never, never do or be
Channel Andrews 04:59
it It’s definitely been a shock. As you mentioned, I was here right before he was elected. And following Trump’s election, myself, and a lot of people in the states and people here in France, we’re counting on the French people to do the right thing and to reject what have happened in the US with Trump’s election. And people were hoping that Macron was elected versus lipin. And that’s exactly what happened. I actually was able to participate in the celebration right outside the loop when he was elected. And it was a joyful moment. And I was excited to be here and escaped that moment in the US with what was about to happen with Trump. But as you mentioned, he’s definitely or McCrone has definitely changed. Since the he’s been elected. His policies have been, excuse me, less and less progressive. While it’s been, it’s definitely been shocking, to an extent. At the same time, I’m not too surprised, because he’s a politician. I really don’t have much faith in any politician, regardless of party or regardless of country. I, I believe that, you know, politicians are institutionalists, who are part of governmental systems, and they’re in place to ensure that those systems work, and they’re going to do whatever to stay in office. And so I think that that’s what’s happening right now, with Moroni, he sees that his his popularity has dwindled. And so he’s appealing to the pen crowd, because he needs those votes. And so this is his way of compromising to win those votes. And so with that, you know, I don’t think that that’s, that’s really surprising. I think that a lot of politicians would also do the same thing. I mean, does that speak to him? or speak directly to who he is? Who He is as a person? Perhaps, but I think first and foremost, he’s a politician. And I think that that’s what politicians do.
Yasser Louati 07:23
So you went to the celebration, right? Outside the Louvres, when he gave his speech, and you know, of course, he was going to double down on his promise of no bringing France together and that he was going to be the anti marine lepen… Well, we know what happened. When did you start questioning him? You know, what was the first discourse he gave or declaration he made, or decision he made, that kind of made you order, okay, now, this is not going the right direction. And I’m going to start reconsidering my opinion of him.
Channel Andrews 07:52
To be honest, and part of me if, you know, if I had been ignorant and miss some major happenings, but I think that my shock towards his, his his change in his platform is actually more recent and has really come with the support, or what I see as support for laws that I think discriminate against Muslims. Last year and 2019 or 2020, following the George Floyd murder in the US, I witness my grown McCrone basically tell the French people, you know, that that that that wouldn’t happen here. And that I don’t think he necessarily said the words Black Lives Matter. But he alluded to what happened in the US and he was basically welcome in the blacks and France and given his support against what happened in the US. And so, up until then, or up till recently, what’s been happening against Muslims? I thought he was on the right side. But with these most recent laws that he’s he supported that I think unfairly target Muslims. This was really opened my eyes and seeing that, oh, he’s really willing to, you know, do whatever it takes to be reelected.
Yasser Louati 09:28
You spoke of the marches, that followed that followed the racist killing of George Floyd back in in the summer of 2020. And for our listeners and viewers, what happened and we spoke about it on this podcast is Emmanuel Macron reacted not by welcoming these demonstrations, but by calling out what’s happening in the US and crushing what’s happening in France. And this is typical of France. So it is easy for French elites be it in the media or politics to call out racism in America. You know, the legacy of slavery Jim Crow And you know, to praise the civil rights era. At the same time when you hand a mirror to French elites and tell them hold on a second. Yeah, it’s one thing to call out what’s happening there. But similar things are happening here as well. France’s colonial past is not exactly a legacy that we should all be proud of. And but when you do that, you are called the famous word separatists, you are questioning France’s identity, you are using the you know, you politicize history, etc. And that’s exactly what happened with Macron, when he said, he started using the word “separatism”. And his Minister of Interior Gerald Darmanin. used the term “ensauvagement” like people, you know, behaving like wild beasts. And this was as people were marching against police brutality. And it’s not like we know, it wasn’t documented. And these marches by the Banlieues of the blacks and the Arabs and the ethnic minorities in France, marched after the yellow vest movement. And you remember how that movement was crushed? Do people in the US call you and ask you what is going on in France when we see these people from the Banlieue, march and at the same time, we see this complete, how can I say, incapacity for the government to acknowledge the problems being raised by these people.
Channel Andrews 13:52
Um, honestly, I think that a lot of my friends personally are unaware of what’s happening in France. A lot of people have the idea that France is a utopian country and promotes human and civil rights, which it does in some respects. But that’s historically. There’s a question as to if that’s still true today. So I don’t think that most people are, are I’ve been really asked about the marches that took place last year, specifically about race. But I was asked about the yellow vests, because that did make international news. I think you know that the marches are the coverage of the marches. And in France, following the George Floyd murder, kind of was was kind of like a snippet in American news. It kind of just so like, oh, there’s worldwide support for this. And but they didn’t really touch on what happened in or the the French perspective but the yellow vest protests was actually different. That is something that was unique to France. And that was a French fight. And so the American media was more so interested in about about, you know, what was this yellow vest protests and what were the people in France fighting for? So that’s probably more. So what I was asked about,
Yasser Louati 15:30
You teach your students about the civil rights era, and, of course, the legal evolution that took place in America following the 1950s and mobilizations. Now, how do your students reacted to that, you know, part of, you know, USA history? And do they relate to what’s happening here in France, saying, Yes, America made some, you know, advancements on these issues, maybe we should also consider, you know, these topics that we are, of course, trying not to look at, and let alone, try not to confront.
Channel Andrews 16:05
You know, it’s actually interesting, because my students are very knowledgeable about what happened in the US in the 60s. And even what’s happening today, if I was to walk into a class, and as you know, who was George Floyd, they will be able to specifically identify who he is, what happened, and the fact that the police officer killed them was just convicted, they will know all of those things. And they will be in support of those those things as well, they would agree that you know, what happened in the 60s was atrocious, and it’s good that America has moved on from that. And what’s happening now with the police brutality in the US is horrible, they will be able to acknowledge all of those things. But at the same time, they do have a very fringe perspective, in terms of support in the local legislation, you know, the laxity that is very, is embedded in them, and they are pretty much in general agreeance, that they don’t really see the problem with the way that things are in France, because is what they’re used to. So I think generally speaking, they’re able to somehow separate the two and to not really compare what’s happening in the US to what’s happening in France, and probably more so because most of them aren’t necessarily affected by it. I, in terms of my my class, it’s, it’s not necessarily too diverse, or the student body that I teach is not necessarily too diverse. So they wouldn’t necessarily be affected by these laws that are targeting minority population. So perhaps that’s the reason or maybe it’s just that, you know, they’re, they’re just so used to things being this way. And when when you grew up with, with things just being a certain way, you know, you’re going to be really adverse to change until you really are in a situation in which change will be necessary.
Yasser Louati 18:33
But in France, we saw that there has been a drift towards, you know, far white politics, especially when it comes to the existence of Muslims as communities and as citizens and I said in a previous podcast, that it is prohibited for Muslims to exist, or to be more than believers, the day they become citizens and know they dare to organize and you know, and demand, you know, equality in rights and dignity, it becomes problematic and you of course, you are a separatist. You saw how the, the debate on the around the anti separatism been evolved. We remember Emmanuel Macron’s a speech in the town of Limpopo on the further west side of Paris, and he spoke of a domestic problem called “radical Islam” without ever defining it. And he called for, you know, radical measures to crack down on this so called radical Islam, intervening in charity organizations shutting down mosques and schools, and to prosecute individuals and the list goes on. Have you ever confronted your students or asked them what they thought about the ongoing debates around this bill, which is clearly targeting Muslims and to quote for example, the Minister of Interior again, Shahada mana, he went to the Grand Mosque of Paris and told the, the the head of the mosque, we do not want other communities to feel targeted by the measures we are applying on to you. So this is clear, again, an anti muslim piece of legislation. Have you ever asked for students? What do you think about this legislation? What do you think about the debates taking place? And do you think that was really a problem with French Muslims?
Channel Andrews 20:18
Or generally speaking, so my course, really focuses on the US Well, in the first semester, I teach American law, and in the second semester, I teach English law. And what happens in the UK, so we really don’t get into the specifics about what happens in France. But recently, I was able to ask my students, you know, what wood system do they prefer? Or Which way do they prefer? Do they, like the American way in which freedom of religion is really broad? Meaning you can literally stand on a corner and essentially have a church service, if you want to, you can be the president and be sworn in on the Bible? Or say, you know, in God, we trust and have all these references to religion? Or do you prefer the French Way, which strictly prohibits everything that I just mentioned, and most of them, they do prefer the French Way. And again, this is probably because of, it’s all that they’ve known. But at the same time, I also think that it’s because they’ve seen, and especially with the US, that sometimes there can be too much of a religious influence and public life, but more so in politics. Religion plays a large role in politics in the US. So they prefer the French way of keeping things separate. But that’s also in regards to politics, especially now, when it comes to how regular everyday citizens gets expressed their religion. I think that they also prefer, you know, the the French Way and would prefer that people keep things separately, and not really share so much of their religious identity and in public, and this, this is probably because, you know, this is all they know. And then they look at the US. And they see that, you know, there’s religion everywhere, and it’s a problem. But interestingly, when the religious influence in the US is Christian, you know, it’s not like it’s not Islamic, where, you know, they would see an example of how Islam is taken too far, perhaps in the US public life is Christianity. And they looked at that example and said, you know, we don’t want that here in France, we would prefer to be separate.
Yasser Louati 23:03
What is your take now on the anti separatism bill? And, of course, not only the piece of legislation, but also the surrounding debates that paved the way for its passing through the National Assembly and then in the Senate, where we had all these absurd amendments, you know, prohibiting the headscarf, almost everywhere in France. How did you first react to Macron speech? And then what is your take on this piece of legislation?
Channel Andrews 23:33
I think that it hearing what Macron have to say following you know, these laws or in support of these laws, it kind of reminds me of what happened recently in the US with the Muslim ban, and how the government was strategic and not inserting the words Muslim or Islam. And that ban prohibited people from Islamic majority countries from enter into the US so it was it was really about the effect of the law where they didn’t have to specifically list the targeted people because the effect of the law would have a negative impact on those those people. So I thought that he was being strategic even though he did you know, mention radical Islam, which again, you know, is not in the law, but it is clear who this law are, yeah, who this law targets. And I think that it’s a shame and to be honest, I I try I try to look at it from the French perspective. And try to understand, you know, why these type of laws exist or why the French are so adamant about purporting everyone to be equal and to not share anything that might separate you or promote a specific identity, identity politic. Other than the fact that you’re French, right? Everyone here just supposed to be French, there’s no white French, no black, French, Christian, French, Muslim, French, everyone is just supposed to be French. Whereas in the US, I am really used to hyphenated identities, whether you’re African American, Christian, American, Jewish American, I’m used to that and to come here and see, you know, everyone is just French, there is no hyphen nation’s. I try to understand, you know, why is that so? And in the US, I do think that sometimes our freedom of expression, it goes too far. And so at first I thought that, well, maybe France is trying to prevent that, you know, because I do agree that there are situations in which identity politics can go too far. Like in the US, hate speech is protected, whereas in France, it isn’t, you know, that’s against the law, so I can understand that type of prohibition. But I think it goes way too far to say that a mother cannot wear her hijab, when she’s picking up her kids at school or to accompany her kids on an on a class trip, I think that that takes it extremely too far. There has to be some type of balance. And and why is this? or Why are these laws specifically targeting this part, particular head piece that is associated with Islam? And maybe you can answer this question. But it would this also apply to Catholic nuns who wear their headscarf it, would this apply to them equally as well. Okay, so, you know, I can, if this won’t apply to one group or one religion, then it should apply to all but to just singularly target Muslim women or Muslims in general. I think that that’s unfair. So you either had it 100% separatists and say no one can do anything, whether you’re Catholic or Muslim, or you allow everyone to do everything, but I think that is as written and as, as, as it is to be applied. It’s obviously strictly targeting Muslims and it’s not fair.
Yasser Louati 27:58
I mean, to speak of what you just mentioned, this colorblindness of the French Republic. Actually, the idea could be you know, we can conceivably say Well, you know what, it might be a good idea that we do not see people according to their ethnic background etc. But the problem is here it’s you ar only because this universalism is only white universalism. So the French Republic would say at least an okie is representatives, that would say, we do not acknowledge people according to their you know, you know, racial affiliation, religious you know, beliefs etc. But the problem is, they are treated differently depending on their skin color. And their religion etc. We will start for example with the anti separatism bill. So, yeah, they will say, it does not specifically target a community, but the whole political marketing around the bill was specifically targeting Muslims. And as you just raised it right now, its applications would not, you know, target, you know, you know, Catholic nuns, for example. The other problem is that, you know, we have stacks of data showing that if you are black, or Arab, or Muslim or Roma, in France, you are discriminated in on a date or in your daily life, the discrimination at school at work, and, you know, access to health care to resources, you know, so much so that France Stratégie, which is a think tank, related to the Prime Minister’s Office, published reports three years ago, and it said that discrimination in France costs the economy, a whooping 150 billion euros per year. That’s, the economic cost of discrimination. At the same time, they will tell you, yeah, but we do, I don’t care, I do not see a black person in front of me, I only see a French person. Yeah but you don’t necessarily see me as equal. So it is only a way to dilute identities in a bigger in or in the dominant, you know, white identity. This, do you think? Go ahead, I think your
Channel Andrews 31:27
question. So this data that you just refer to how, how is that data even collected, which is or the data that is able to illustrate that, you know, people from different backgrounds are discriminated against, because, to my belief, or to my understanding, is actually illegal here to collect data around race and other qualifiers. So how is that data even collected?
Yasser Louati 32:00
When I from my experience, when working with sociologists doing this kind of studies, even though I did not work with horses today, he did publish this report, most of the time, they would go on a self identification basis. So “do you identify” as fill the blank, so black or Muslim, the combination of both, etc. And that’s how it starts. But I give you it is true that this also creates a problem because, okay, so what if people don’t identify as such, but are still treated as such? Maybe I don’t identify as part of that, or ethnic group or religion, but because I look like one of them, that will treat me differently. So it’s like, no, if I go to the US, you know, some people might think I’m, you know, even when I was told, yeah, are you Latino? And I’m not. So maybe in the US, I would have been, like, you know, on the Latino box, even though I’m not. So this is how they, you know, collect this data. But speaking again, of the realities of, you know, being Muslim in France, and even, you know, being non white. Maybe, you know, you maybe my apologies, but you definitely read history books about France. And you see that the narrative is always white centered. You don’t have, for example, historic black figures, historic Arab figures, historic Muslim figures in France, even though they were part of France’s history. So, this again shows you that this colorblindness is only a way to you know, what, impose the dominant identity and make those you know smaller groups are self dissolve and stop you know, identifying as such. When you see let me you ask you, Chanel, when you saw that the marketing was specifically targeting Muslims through the anti separatism bill, at the same time, we had the the comprehensive security bill notorious for banning for prohibiting to film the police even if they are committing, you know, acts of police brutality. Did you see a connection between this security, what can I say, measure or this you know, the debate around we need more, you know, you know, you know, leverage on crime, we need more muscle etc. And at the same time problematizing the presence of Muslims through through the anti separatism bill.
Channel Andrews 34:30
Oh, yeah, definitely. I definitely see a connection. I think that the government is being very strategic and you know, as question if we use an estate with a lion and your ducks in a row meaning you know, you you do everything and an ordered steps to achieve a desired goal. And so I definitely see a connection with the to to in specific With the prohibition against filming police, the connection there is that now when you know someone or a Muslim is targeted or unfairly treated or you know, arrested or battered by it, and officer, you wouldn’t be able to have proof to back that up, it would just be hearsay or that person’s word against the police. And in fact, another strategic setup that I recognize is that last fall, when the French government really started trying to implement or discussing these, these laws that are purported to be Islamophobic, one of the first measures that they did was to discourage homeschooling, okay. And so when I saw last month, that now Muslim mothers are now being or they’re trying to prohibit Muslim mothers from not wearing the hijab at school to accompany their kids, I saw that I immediately put two and two together and saw their connection and said, Oh, wait a minute. So first, they tried to stop homeschooling, and now they’re being strict and public schools. So that if you are dissatisfied with the current measures, and public schools, which are kids, you really don’t have the opportunity to remove them and homeschool them, like so I saw that that was a natural acceleration. So they they first launched the anti homeschooling provisions to prepare for this moment, so that now you’re stuck in public school, and you’re stuck, or you’re we’re going to impose these new restrictions upon you in our public schools. And there’s nothing you can do or you really don’t have as much flexibility to pull your kids out. If you don’t agree with it. You have to deal with this. So yes, the government is being very strategic, with separate pieces of legislation all in a common goal to negatively affect certain people. And I think that does vary. Obviously, if you sit down and read these legislation. I mean, to
Yasser Louati 37:41
To further clarify what you just said, I think it’s extremely important to see how legislation is literally and I’m going to quote some Muslims, or who share their their concern is that the government is doing its best to take Muslim kids away from their parents and make make it impossible for parents to transmit their values and, you know, their, their, their education through their, to their children. For example, your your Of course, you know that in the Muslim headscarf has been banned in public schools it since the 15th of March 2014. Even though it has been marketed as an application or implementation of Laïcité, it is against Laïcité, because Laïcité, as you said earlier, is about separation of churches, and the state. And of course, that applies to the state and state services, not users of state services. So when you use state services, like going to the administration in of your town or going to school or the post office, religious neutrality does not apply to you. Yet. The government back then managed to pass this law back in 2004, not not 14 so 15th Of March 2004. And that law actually opened the floodgates for a series of you know, pieces of legislation to ban the full face veil in 2010. And since 2012, with the Chatel, Minister we circular make it prohibited for Muslim mothers, as you said to attend school field trips, and what was a ministerial circular, which is different from a law, which is it does not really apply now is becoming the law. And we see that so Muslim girls cannot go to school if they wear a headscarf. Now the government is cracking down on Muslim private school, cracking down on home schooling. So what if you don’t want to you know, you know, you don’t want to send your kid to a to a public school because of the quality of education. You can’t afford to send your kids to a private school and you resort to homeschooling. Even that, that would be made impossible for you. Do you think that we hear a violation of religious liberty liberties, or you think the government is just you know passing pieces of legislation without having a clue on how this would actually affect people in their daily lives?
Channel Andrews 43:05
I definitely think it’s a violation of liberties and, and the government is using a very touchy subject to accomplish his goals, to regulate how a parent interacts with their kids. Or if a parent can be involved in their kids education. I think that it really gets no stricter than that, and I think is a shame. And, you know, I’m not really too well versed are familiar with how many Muslim women provide childcare services throughout Paris. But I know, when I was living in a 14, and I received the lists from a local city hall, assistant eternals in the area, I immediately realized, like, Wow, it seems like most of those lists are Muslim women. And I could tell really, by the names, and, and my assistant maternal that I pig. She’s a Algerian woman or Algerian French woman, and she’s Muslim. And so and I love her. And the point that I’m trying to make here is that I think that it’s, it’s quite telling that French people, you know, trust Muslim women, and hold them to be good enough to raise other people’s kids. But yet, now you’re going to enforce these restrictions on how these women raise their own kids or interact with their own kids. Immediately remind me of what happened in the US with the spirits of black women, throughout slavery of black women or who We’re slaves. We were treated as mommies, excuse me, we were raising the slave masters kids, we were good enough to breastfeed their kids. If the mother couldn’t breastfeed, we were good enough to wash her kids. But at the same time, we were not good enough to be equal to whites or to be even considered human, we were only considered to be, excuse me slaves. And so what just happened with these specific restrictions against mother’s internal schools, it immediately reminded me of that era.
Yasser Louati 45:42
Well speaking of slavery, malarkey must have noticed that in France, the former minister for women’s rights, Laurence Rossignol into 2016 spoke of slavery, but not in the terms one would have expected. She said, in regards to Muslim women, willingly wearing a headscarf, quote, unquote, were comparable to “American Negroes who were in favor of slavery”. So that’s, you know, how far the comparison went in France when Muslim women decide to wear a piece of cloth over their heads. So we really see that this is a typically a French obsession. And I wonder if you see that obsession from your, from your perspective?
Channel Andrews 46:33
Well, you just use the key word here. That is a major distinction between what slaves go through or experience and what women who choose to cover their heads experience. And the word that you use is decide. Slavery is not a decision it is forced upon you. a headscarf is a decision that women make. Okay. And so I do hear that argument here. I hear the argument of, well, you know, we’re only enacting these laws are trying to prohibit the headscarf because we want to protect women, we want you to be equal, you shouldn’t have to do this. Well, if they shouldn’t have to do it, then they shouldn’t not have to, you know, not do it either of you should give women that choice. And I I’ve seen in the last, I guess maybe two years that the feminist movement in France has had a larger voice, the government is a parent to take more seriously domestic violence, and also other, you know, societal ills that that women face and in discrimination or are being taken more seriously. But I just wonder, where’s the support for Muslim women? Does this feminist support extend to them and their wishes and how they wish to live their life? Or does it not? Because for whatever reason, the desire to wear headscarf does not fit in the traditional feminist values. And and so they aren’t receiving the same support. But I definitely noticed that, you know, there is a difference are Muslim women, and their desire to regulate their own bodies somehow doesn’t reach the mainstream feminist conversation as other topics does.
Yasser Louati 48:51
You saw how France again, as I said earlier, is taking this sharp turn to the right and literally and if not, towards the far right, when we see the current the ongoing debates around identity, especially after Emmanuel Macron told his government and this is of course, from official sources, that he asked the government to flood public debates with with debates around Islam and Islamism. This is our we know this is done, you know, on purpose, in order to avoid debates on, you know, the failing socio economic policies of the past four years, the failed pandemic, you know, crisis management, the failed institutional reformation we need in France. And I tell our listeners and viewers in the US, which is, by the way, our first market for this podcast, and I’m very grateful for it. France lives under a regime that that is not really a republic. It’s a compromise between a republic and a monarchy, the Fifth Republic and the 1958 constitution gave us so much power to the president that he is really beyond accountability. So when we have these ongoing debates, we also keep in mind that as you again, as you noted that there have been, of course, a security drift. You came in 2016. In 2016, it was also the year where the law on mass surveillance was passed ricinoleic, you know, a couple of years, if not less than two years after the Snowden revelations, the government does not implement protection of private of privacy, but passes a law that says it is legal for the government to spy on all of our communications online offline, social media publications, etc. and imposed on ISP, Internet service providers, the so called black boxes, which route all of our data through a government you know data centers, do you think France is heading towards and again, this is the activist speaking and you’re you have the right to disagree is is France taking a turn towards an authoritarian if not a police state, given all these security measures passed? Also, I added to the to the pile the SILT of October 2017, which is about domestic security. And that law actually made the state of emergency, which was (not) supposed to be permanent, the state of emergency became permanent, you will no longer need a an authorization from the judge to raid people’s homes, the police decides and does. Given all these elements. And given your experience here for the past five years in France. What do you think France is heading in terms of security and shrinking space for civil society?
Channel Andrews 51:49
Well, I think that before I even speak on France, I think that this, or what you just described is a trend that’s happening worldwide, or specifically in in Western societies. I think that a lot of countries saw what happened in estates, following the passing of the Patriot Act. And they saw how the US government was able to, in the name of security, really spy on on citizens. And I think that countries, you know, they saw that as an opportunity to really do the same thing and in their own country. And so with France, and especially following the terrorist attack that happened in France, and I believe was 2015. Correct. I think that that was an opportunity for friends to now in its own, you know, patriot bill, per se. And, and as you mentioned, they always say that, you know, this is for security purposes, this is temporarily, it’s an emergency, and so we have to act with emergency measures. But then next thing, you know, is normalize, and how do you get rid of it, because now the government is used to certain tools, and they don’t want to go back to having a judge have to sign off on the rights to surveil someone or not. So I think that governments are going to take advantage of a tragedies, to really obtain information or to do things that they otherwise wouldn’t have the ability to do so. And once they get that power, is really hard or impossible to take that away from them, because now they’re so used to operate and undernet. So what France? You know, I really don’t know what the future holds or where we’re headed. But I think if anything, you know, we can look at this this most recent surveillance, or are global security bill, which prohibits, you know, how you interact with police. So the government are saying, you know, we can do these things to you, but you can’t do that to us. And so the fact that, you know, this has passed, I think that it only gets worse. But what is encouraging is that, I think that the French people aren’t really want to go for it. The protests that I saw in response to this most recent law, and the law specifically banned in the filming of police. That’s the largest protests that I’ve saw in France since I’ve been here or maybe, or maybe I should just say That’s the largest protest that I’ve actually been a part of. Yeah, so that was the first of March that prompted me to go out and actually join because I thought that it was unacceptable, especially air in relation to witnessing what happened in the US with the George Floyd murder. And CNN. You know, that case would not have even been a thing if it wasn’t for a local resident filming it, and really showing the world what really happened because you had the official press statement of the police about what happened, which totally was changed when when the video came out. And so I thought that, you know, France shouldn’t prohibit people from filming police. And so I went out there and I was able to actually talk to local people and ask them, you know, well, what is it about this bill, that really makes you want to come out here and protest. And just to see the support, I thought it was overwhelming. So while France is definitely headed in the wrong direction, with these most recent pieces of legislation, I am encouraged that I think that the French people aren’t going to necessarily sit back and take it. They’re going to call for a change in one way or another. If it’s via protests, which this most recent protests, it did work in that they were able to have the Senate, I believe, rewrite the law, but you know, I guess the The end result is kind of still the same. And so now, I guess the the new change that they’ll be able to make is that the French people will be able to elect new leaders who hopefully won’t propose such legislation or can go go back and change the legislation that’s been passed that they don’t agree with.
Yasser Louati 57:11
Channel Andrews it’s been a pleasure exchanging with you on these many topics. I remind our listeners or viewers that you are an American attorney based in Paris that you also teach law at the University of Pantheon Assas or Paris II Paris Deux or Paris the second thanks again for being with us.
Channel Andrews 57:33
Thanks for having me.
Yasser Louati 57:35
Well, as for you, dear listeners or viewers, this episode is over. If you think this podcast deserves your support, please make a donation on the CJ l that’s CJL.ONG/EN . This podcast is of course, independent, autonomous and also a platform for thinkers, actors of civil society, who are about bringing positive change to our respective societies. So please make some sort of provides some support, and I thank you for it in advance. Talk to you soon and the struggle continues.