Pressure on Muslims in France, including Islamic organizations and civil society, has continued to mount in recent weeks since the government announced its fight against “Islamic separatism.”
On Sept. 1, French weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo republished blasphemous cartoons insulting the Muslim Prophet Muhammad ahead of the trial on the 2015 attacks on their offices.
Less than a month later, two people were injured in a knife attack near the former offices of Charlie Hebdo.
The attack on Sept. 25 was followed by French President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial speech on Oct. 2, in which he announced plans to tackle “Islamic separatism” and restructure Islam in France.
The government in France immediately began operations against Islamic organizations and places of worship in the name of “fighting radicalism.”
Pressure on Muslims in the country further increased after Samuel Patty, a French teacher who showed blasphemous cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad during class, was murdered on Oct. 16.
In their defense, Macron said France would “not give up our cartoons” after the brutal murder. His remarks sparked outrage in the Muslim world with many calling for a boycott of French products.
The provocative cartoons were also projected on some hotels and official buildings in the cities of Montpellier, Toulouse and Beziers.
Islamophobia in France
French police raided the homes of prominent Muslim figures after Samuel Paty’s brutal murder.
Deportation orders were issued for 200 people and more than 50 Islamic associations and organizations are under investigation.
Some organizations, such as the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) and Barakacity were dissolved.
The government’s steps appeared to have further stoked Islamophobia in French society.
On Oct. 18, two Muslim women of Algerian origin were stabbed near the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Two days later, in the city of Nimes, a woman allegedly suffering domestic violence from her husband called the police to report her Catholic husband as “a radical Islamist.”
On Oct. 22, in the city of Angers, two Jordanian nationals were assaulted for speaking Arabic.
Students and mosques are targeted too
In the city of Blois, a 22-year-old Chechen national was detained for liking a photo of the French teacher’s murder on social media.
Further south, a 14-year-old Afghan student was reported to Marseille police by his teacher for welcoming Paty’s murder. Seven other similar complaints were reported in the same region.
Last week in Albertville, southeastern France, four elementary school children were “terrorized” and grilled during more than 11 hours in police detention over false allegations of “justifying terrorism.”
A threatening message was sent to a mosque under the National Vision of the Islamic Society (CIMG) in Chateaudun, France, saying: “The war has begun, we will expel you from our country.”
French politicians and Islamophobia
Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire accused some municipalities of “surrendering to the idea of ’political Islam'” for allowing private sessions for women in swimming pools.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Geral Darmanin said that rejecting a doctor or teacher of the opposite sex would be fined under the new law against “Islamic separatism.”
French feminist journalist Elisabeth Levy suggested Muslims wearing headscarves take off their hair coverings for a few days to honor the memory of the murdered teacher.
* Writing by Iclal Turan in Ankara.
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