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  • Beth Johnstone

Macron Encourages Islamophobia: 6 Tweets in 2 Months

© Illustration by INJECTION - Alicia Lupieri

Emmanuel Macron uses Twitter to other the Muslim community in France.

Emmanuel Macron’s presence on Twitter was, until just a few months ago, just like that of other European leaders: dominated by level-headed updates on the virus, spliced with news on policing issues like cybersecurity and narcotics. A closer look at the Macron administration’s social media approach makes their attack on Islam and the Muslim community in France painfully clear.

Since France’s first ‘National and European Day of Homage to the Victims of Terrorism’ on 11th March 2021, the French president has made proclamations against “Islamic terrorism” a consistent feature of his Twitter schedule. On the day itself, Macron’s official Twitter account shared an array of emotionally charged content including footage of vigils, photographs of the French police and drawings of the individuals that have been killed in terrorist attacks in France in the past five years.

Macron's official Twitter account

Whilst the day itself is problematic, the timing of this new approach to discussing terrorism on social media is nothing short of sinister. On 30th March 2021, debate around religious dress was sparked once again in France when the senate voted in favour of amendments to an existing bill. Proposed changes would make the wearing of a burkini in public pools illegal and further restrict the wearing of hijab. In France, it has been illegal for students to wear hijab in school since 2004 – furthering of this bill would mean parents accompanying children on school trips would also be prohibited from wearing religious head coverings. Though the issue gained a lot of attention online through the use of a hashtag coined in the US – #HandsOffMyHijab – the right of adult Muslim women to wear hijab on school trips has been under threat for years. The same ban was proposed in 2013, sparking protests, and again in 2019.

Macron's official Twitter account

It’s surely no coincidence, then, that Macron began his recent run of terrorism-focused tweets just two weeks before the government launched another attack on the rights of Muslim women. Grouped in with the virus, narcotics and cybercrime, France has made a firm enemy of Islamic terrorism. But, though terrorism of any kind should be taken seriously by citizens and governments alike, the image of Islam portrayed by Macron via Twitter lacks nuance. A classic example of ‘othering’, these recent Tweets leave little room for regular, law-abiding Muslims of France, who make up an estimated 8.8% of the country’s population. Is Macron’s approach to Twitter intended to promote cultural and religious harmony? We’re not convinced.

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