Anti-Muslim acts rising in France, anti-Islamophobia group says
Anti-Muslim attacks and insults have risen steadily in France in recent years as some politicians and media increasingly present Islam as a problem for French society, a Muslim rights group said on Wednesday.
Hostility rises when Islam is in the news, for example last year when an Islamist killed seven people or when a politician accused Muslim children of stealing classmates’ snacks, the Committee against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) said.
The CCIF welcomed a European Parliament decision on Tuesday to lift the legal immunity of far-right leader Marine Le Pen so she can be tried on racism charges for comparing Muslims praying in the streets here to the wartime Nazi occupation of France.
The group said in its annual report that anti-Muslim acts rose to 469 last year, after 298 in 2011 and 188 in 2010. The rise reflected trends cited by other recent reports that also noted increasing levels of anti-Semitism and racism in France.
CCIF President Samy Debah said Le Pen and other politicians were making anti-Muslim rhetoric commonplace. France’s estimated five million Muslims form the largest Islamic minority in Europe but are poorly represented in politics and business.
“There is a link between the political discourse and the rise of these violent acts and discrimination against the Muslim community,” Debah told a news conference.