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Alarming rise in Islamic intolerance seen in France

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 21st, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

French Muslims have suffered increasing incidents of violence and mistreatment in their adopted homeland. Called, "Islamophobia," the French people have grown ever more intolerant of immigrants to their nation. Incendiary statements by politicians over the last two years have led to an anti-racism observatory.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - France's National Observatory of Islamophobia has led the French president to call for overt Islamophobia to be taken as seriously as anti-Semitism, which is a criminal offence in France.

"In 2011 the number [of anti-Muslim attacks] was up 34 percent on the previous year ...," the report reads. "But what is happening in 2012 is alarming. Between January and the end of October there were 175 reported Islamophobic acts, a 42 percent increase compared with the same period in 2011."

Among the many incidents detailed in the report, the occupation of a building site of a new mosque in Poitiers, near Paris, by 74 members of the extreme-right splinter group "Generation Identity," chanted hostile "warlike" slogans against Islam and Muslims.

The rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in France could be partly explained by "the tense socio-political atmosphere in France being driven by a resurgence of the far right," the Observatory's President Abdallah Zekri told journalists.

This resurgence was highly evident in the 2012 presidential election, when Marine Le Pen, leader of the anti-immigration and anti-Europe National Front (FN), won 17.9 percent of the vote in the first round, a record for the party.

"This tension has also contributed to a radicalization of the political rhetoric of some mainstream politicians who exploit racial tensions for populist political gains," Zekri said.

The debate on "national identity that was launched by former president Nicolas Sarkozy and the law (pushed through under Sarkozy's government) banning the wearing of face-covering Islamic veils."

Fueling the tensions have been the killings of seven people, including a young rabbi and three Jewish children in and around Toulouse in March by an al-Qaeda-linked French gunman, "had been seized upon by political figures to target the Muslim community, the vast majority of which condemned these murders."

Zekri explains that the figures in the Observatory's report only include "actions or threats against French Muslims that are directly linked to the fact that they are Muslims and when those people or their property are physically threatened."

"The figures do not include acts of discrimination against Muslims or Islam generally, such as the rhetoric and declarations of certain politicians and their parties who openly stigmatize the Muslim faith, or in protests by 'Identity' groups chanting slogans that are openly hostile to Islam," the report adds.

"All forms of racial and religious intolerance are contrary to the values of the French Republic and should be dealt with accordingly," Zekri said in conclusion.


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