The head of the French Muslim NGO BarakaCity publicly requested asylum in Turkey for himself and his organization, following the French government’s crackdown on its Muslim population and its dissolution of the NGO.
Idriss Sihamedi, founder and director of BarakaCity, whose house was raided by the counterterrorism police two weeks ago for allegations of harassment and extremism, announced on Twitter his request for asylum in Turkey yesterday.
In the tweet, in which he tagged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Sihamedi said: “Following the lies of the [French] government… and the closure of the humanitarian and human rights NGO, I officially ask for political asylum for BarakaCity.
Following the lies of the government of@EmmanuelMacron and the closure of the humanitarian and human rights NGO, I call for the defense of political asylum of @Barakacity to the president @RTErdogan as well as that of my team and myself, who are undergoing death threats.
– Idriss Sihamedi (@IdrissSihamedi) October 28, 2020
In response, the official account of the General Directorate of Migration Management of Turkey responded today, informing it that his “name, surname, identity information and asylum applications, including passport numbers … will be evaluated “once they are sent. He added that “Following your information, our Istanbul airport team will be informed of the situation.”
Sihamedi’s asylum claim in Turkey comes after BarakaCity, the NGO that distributes aid to two million people around the world, was closed and dissolved by the French government after two weeks of investigation into the links “Islamists”.
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In an interview with Middle East Monitor this week, Sihamedi denied the allegations and argued that the government raids against him and other organizations were carried out to send a message to the French Muslim community not to speak out or to hold opinions that contrast with those of the state and its secular values.
For many, his asylum request raises the question of an exodus of the French Muslim community and its businesses from the country, against a backdrop of government repression. Harsh measures were launched this month when French President Emmanuel Macron spoke out against “Islamist separatism” and shut down some Muslim organizations, businesses and even cafes in the country.
He also refused to condemn the disrespectful cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), saying France will not give up on making cartoons based on free speech.
As a result, Erdogan said last week that Macron suffered from mental health issues and “needed treatment on a mental level”, asking: “What else can be said to a head of state who does not understand not freedom of belief and who behaves that way to millions of people living in his country who are members of a different faith? ” France withdrew its Turkish ambassador in response.
In retaliation for France’s repression and incendiary cartoons, calls to boycott French products, brands and companies have been launched in all Muslim-majority countries. While some have already started this boycott at a non-governmental level, such as in Kuwait and Qatar, while Erdogan officially called it in Turkey.
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