French political analyst Yasser Louati tirelessly counters the divisive discourse in French politics and media. In a climate where islamophobia is getting more and more mainstream, he defends civil liberties for all.
Directly after the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, Yasser Louati was interviewed on CNN about ‘the feeling in the Muslim community’. In a surrealistic exchange, Yasser seems to be held accountable for everything every Muslim has ever done. Why do so many of you join ISIS? How come none of you spoke up about the imminent attacks, which surely must have been broadly known among Muslims?
How do you respond to such insinuations? ‘This is vicious,’ Yasser says in hindsight in The Flag, Joseph Paris’ urgent documentary about the decay of France’s rule of law following the attacks.
Yasser Louati was trained to be an airplane pilot. But he finished his training in 2001, the year of the 9/11 attacks, severely limiting his ability to work in France. Ultimately he chose a different path. ‘I realised I had other options. Bigger, more important things.’ He worked as a community organiser in Paris and is currently Head of the Committee for Justice and Liberties, a transnational human rights NGO.
In the wake of the 2015 attacks, French President Hollande declared the state of emergency. As Yasser explains in interview with Dutch podcast Dipsaus, Muslims were subsequently widely targeted. ‘Over four thousand homes were raided brutally by the police. Many police officers refused, because they knew they were raiding an innocent family’s house. I have multiple testimonies of officers walking around the house just touching the shelves and pretending to search […]. But the government wanted to send a message.’
This message, however, exactly fulfils the ISIS strategy of ‘destroying the grey zone’. Attacks by ISIS in the West have two objectives, Louati explains: ‘The first one is to shed blood. The second is to turn Muslims into oppressed minorities. The backlash provoked by the attacks would prompt Western governments to crack down on Muslims. In return, Muslims would be left with two choices: join ISIS, or stay with the “infidels” and deserve to be killed.’
As a warning, he calls on everyone to take a look at how many liberties Muslims are losing today. ‘Because then you will know how many are left for you tomorrow,’ he says. ‘We always know how tyranny begins. But we never know how it ends.’
The Flag is shown at the Movies that Matter Festival 2023, where Yasser Louati will be a special guest.