LONDON

On May 29, 1942, in the midst of World War II, all the Jews living in Nazi-occupied Paris were ordered to wear identifying insignias on the upper-left side of their coats.

The order came from Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s notorious propaganda minister.

The idea behind the move was to easily identify those who would be detained and then sent to concentration and death camps, as part of the Nazis’ overarching plan to get rid of all Jews on the continent once and for all, as one of the bloodiest wars of history was raging on.

“They [Jews] are no longer people but beasts,” Goebbels wrote in a notebook seen as his diary, recovered after the war, adding that they “are now being evacuated eastward.”

“The procedure is pretty barbaric and is not to be described here more definitely. Not much will remain of the Jews,” he wrote.

Of course, the Holocaust – the mass termination of Jews by the Third Reich – did not start in Paris in 1942, but making people wear a yellow six-sided Star of David was a brazen harbinger of the Nazi atrocities, which resulted by the end of World War II in the deliberate killing of 6 million Jews as the rest of the world watched.

Hitler and his closest allies chose to take their own lives to escape their earthly reckoning, but after the war, many others who planned and implemented the biggest genocide in European history were brought to justice.

The world later coined a slogan to remember the monstrousness that targeted millions: “Never Again.”

Muslims stigmatized

Now, amid our current global war against an invisible enemy, namely COVID-19, the French government under President Emmanuel Macron is preparing to pass a new law which evokes the Nazis laying the groundwork in the mid-1930s for horrors to come.

Macron’s reaction to a series of terror attacks that rocked France in recent months, including the brutal murder of a teacher and deadly attack in a church, has not purely targeted those responsible for the atrocities but Muslims in general.

Facing a backlash in the Muslim world after calling Islam a religion “in crisis,” Macron has been fiercely criticized by some leaders and many citizens of Muslim-majority countries.

Protests were staged after the infamous Prophet Muhammad cartoons were projected onto government buildings in the name of “freedom of speech” after teacher Samuel Paty was killed by an extremist because he had showed those cartoons to his students in a class.

Macron’s government is trying to pass a new law which will introduce strict restrictions on homeschooling and reportedly give ID numbers to Muslim children to establish a closer monitoring system against the danger of radicalization.

Macron has set out plans to tackle what he called “Islamist separatism” in more disadvantageous neighborhoods, citing claims that children from some Muslim families are being taken out of school and that sports and cultural groups are being used to indoctrinate youth.

New scapegoats

A bill is also set to make it a crime to intimidate public servants on religious grounds, which probably includes any reaction against cartoons offensive to Muslims.

The proposed legislation could well make life for Muslims in France even harder than already it is, with an approach which could be fairly identified as “fascistic,” as every practicing Muslim would be kept on the radar.

The bill drafted by Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti would reportedly be used to ensure that Muslim children are attending school.

“We must save our children from the clutches of the Islamists,” Darmanin said last week.

Muslims in Europe have always been under threat from far-right, white supremacist, and xenophobic groups, who make no qualms about their desire to see them simply disappear.

Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred have reached new heights since the 9/11 attacks, which have been used as a cudgel to scapegoat Muslims for all the polarization across the globe – just like Nazi ideology in the 1930s branded Jews the root cause of all the world’s problems.

Under the current climate, one cannot help but wonder whether Muslim children in France will one day be asked to wear a badge with a red crescent on their coats and sleeves.

But current plans would force them to have a unique ID number, which would mean, in the eyes of state institutions, that they are potential terrorists, in effect members of a blacklist who must be monitored closely.

The draft legislation is set to come before the French cabinet on Dec. 9.

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