Former French Interior Minister Jean-Pierre Chevènement, who is not Muslim, was named the head of the newly established Foundation for Islam in France by state officials — and Twitter is having none of it.
The French government organization will aim to foster better relations between their state and the Muslim community, but Chevènement seems like an odd choice to many people.
Chevènement made headlines earlier this year when he asked the French Muslim community to remain "discreet" about their identity in order to assimilate into French society during the burkini ban controversy. He also made a controversial statement when claiming that the population of French nationals is dwindling.
Yasser Louati, a civil rights activist in France, believed Chevènement's appointment as the leader of the Foundation for Islam is far from acceptable.
"It's a joke," Louati told France 24. "We keep treating Muslims as if they are foreign people who need to be disciplined."
Louati, whose work primarily focuses on anti-Muslim bigotry and national security policies, says that the government-led organization's top-down approach is "bound to fail." The French government, he says, needed to have a conversation with the community about who they wanted to lead the organization.
"It is like me appointing Ronald Reagan to head up African-American affairs," Louati told France 24.
Chevènement defended his appointment to public radio organization France Inter. He argues that he is qualified because he visited North Africa decades ago.
"I know the Muslim world well, I've been to Cairo, to Algiers, 40 or 50 years ago," Chevènement told France Inter.
Twitter hilariously clapped back at Chevènement's statement.
These tweets perfectly call out the ridiculousness in Chevènement's appointment as head of the Foundation for Islam. They also point out how foolish the "I have a black friend"-like defense is when there are plenty of Muslims who could be using their voice in this position to speak up for themselves.