PARIS – Verbal and physical attacks against Muslims in France have risen steadily, an increase blamed for the media and politicians for portraying Islam as a problem for French society.
"There is a link between the political discourse and the rise of these violent acts and discrimination against the Muslim community," Samy Debah, president of the Committee against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), told a news conference cited by Reuters.
In an annual report, the CCIF said attacks against French Muslims have steadily increased in recent months.
|Muslim Women Fear France Backlash|
It said anti-Muslim attacks rose to 469 last year, from only 298 in 2011 and 188 in 2010.
The attacks were increasingly aimed against people, especially women, rather than institutions such as mosques, cemeteries and shops, the report said.
Attacks against mosques had almost doubled to 40 in 2012 compared with 2011, the CCIF said.
Last month, a pregnant Muslim woman lost her baby after being attacked by two skinheads for donning Islamic face-veil in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil.
The attack came after a veiled Muslim woman in Argenteuil was targeted in a similar manner.
French Muslims, estimated at nearly six million, have long complained of rising discrimination and hostile sentiments in the European country.
A recent IFOP poll found that almost half of French see Muslims as a threat to their national identity.
The CCIF called France’s civil service "one of the principal vectors of Islamophobia".
It said that the civil bureaucrats often over-interpreted official secularist policies to wrongly refuse to serve Muslim women wearing headscarves.
France banned the wearing of hijab, an obligatory code of dress, in public places in 2004.
The report said some officials, though, refused to conduct a civil wedding or issue documents if the woman concerned covered her hair.
The CCIF welcomed a European Parliament decision on Tuesday to lift the legal immunity of far-right leader Marine Le Pen to stand on trial on racism charges for comparing Muslims praying in the streets to the wartime Nazi occupation of France.
Debah said the CCIF hoped an investigating magistrate would now order Le Pen to stand trial for the comments about Muslims praying in the streets, which happens when small mosques overflow with worshippers, especially on Islamic feast days.
French Muslims have complained of restrictions on building mosques to perform their daily prayers.
The French government also outlawed Muslim street prayers.
Amnesty International has criticized France and a number of European countries as Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland for discriminating against their Muslim minorities.The London-based group said several European countries have made policy decisions in recent years that discriminate against their Muslim citizens, citing bans on face-veils and other religious symbols in schools as being among the most damaging measures.
Related Links:France Muslims Want Rightist Ban, Protection
French Muslims Face Job Discrimination
‘Mosque Occupation’ Outrages France
Islam Debate Surfaces After France Deaths
French Far Rightist Wants Hijab, Kippah Ban