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Tête-à-tête - Islamophobia
'Islamophobia has been trivialized in France'
A worshipper at a mosque in Lyon finds a swastika painted on the door. Similar Islamophobic graffiti attacks have been carrie out across France recently. Photo: Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP

'Islamophobia has been trivialized in France'

Published: 15 Feb 2013 08:00 GMT+01:00
Updated: 15 Feb 2013 10:00 GMT+01:00

Islamophobia continues to rear its ugly head in France, as was seen recently in a series of graffiti attacks on mosques across the country. But how bad is the problem? For this week's Tête-à-tête we've asked two experts to offer their views.

A recent spate of anti-Islam graffiti attacks against mosques in France, combined with the publication of surveys suggesting a majority of French people believe Islam is not compatible with French society, has raised questions over the level of Islamophobia in France.

This week The Local reported that swastikas had been daubed on a mosque in the town of Provins, outside Paris. This was just the latest in a series of graffiti attacks targeting Muslim places of worship in recent weeks. Muslim groups have said that members of the community are living in fear, and claim statistics show Islamophobic attacks are on the increase.

For this week’s Tête-à-tête, The Local has asked two experts to offer their views on the scale of Islamophobia in France.

Firstly, Sami Debah, president of the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF):

“We are seriously worried about the situation we have in France. When you see the results of surveys where 74 percent of people think that Islam is not compatible with French society, this view is reflected in acts of Islamophobia on the street, which rose by 38 percent between 2011 and 2012. That is an enormous jump. Symbols of Islam are being attacked. What’s worse is that there is a now an institutionalized Islamophobia. It is almost becoming legitimate.

“The situation in France is more worrying than in other countries for two reasons. Firstly, the country's principle of secularism, which is so important in France, is hostile towards religion. It provokes a negative reaction towards religion. The other reason is France’s history with predominantly Muslim countries, which has helped prolong feelings of Islamophobia.

“It's concerning to see views in France in 2013 that are the same as those that were held in the Middle Ages, when there were no human rights. It’s really worrying. We blame political dialogue in the country. This problem comes not just from the far right, but from all parties, left and right. Islamophobia has become trivialized.

“We thought that with a new government there would be an end to all the hateful political dialogue, and things would change but they haven't.  We thought we would turn a page and be at peace but that hasn't happened.”

Philippe Schmidt is the president of The International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA):

“The question of Islamophobia in France is a complicated one. For a start, what is Islamophobia? I don’t like the word. I think it's a mistake to refer to Islamophobia. The term was invented by extremists. The issues we are talking about are linked to racism. But if we take the word as it is then yes it is obvious that it is there. When you have extremist Muslims then people will always react against that, although of course I do not believe they are right to do it.

“Of course there are some people in France who are racist, but the problem is these people are reacting to extremist Muslims, who unfortunately are the Muslims we hear about most. They're at the forefront and get the most publicity. Naturally, if this particular image of Islam prevails, most French people will say it's not compatible with French values.

But the extremism they see on television is not Islam.

“There is racism and discrimination in France, which we have been fighting against for many years. I'm sure it would be more difficult for a young man with a name like Mohammed to get a job as a lawyer than, say, Philippe Schmidt. There’s no doubt about that.

“There are a lot of difficulties in France, without a doubt. But is it the world's worst country when it comes to racism? I don’t think so. It’s difficult to compare, but look at all the problems in the US, for example.

“France is more complicated, because we have a huge Muslim population, a huge black population, as well as a significant Jewish population. In countries with smaller minorities things are generally easier.”

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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Your comments about this article

2013-02-25 05:00:01 by nathan45
When you force a population to deal with unreasonable ammounts of immigration people are going to retaliate.
2013-03-01 10:46:29 by Dave N
When a mosque in Luton in England was hit by similar graffiti, it turned out to be Muslims who had done it in order tyo defame the English Defence League. I would suggest that real "Nazis" would actually have got the swastika the right way round.
Then there was the case in London where a Muslim community leader claimed to have been kidnapped, assaulted and threatened by the BNP. He'd made it up, of course.
In any case, a bit of graffiti does not actually compare to the grooming/rape epidemic,the appalling murders and bombings that Muslims carry out against non-Muslims world-wide.
They should be grateful that we are so tolerant but should also be aware that our tolerance is beginning to wear thin. Nobody should be tolerant of the intolerant - and Islam is intolerance personified. And "Islamophobia" is a meaningless term. It is not an irrational mental disorder ( given its 1400 year history) to be afraid of the spread of Islam.
2013-03-05 00:46:36 by Alyy J
No European ever voted nor wants Multiculturalism you f'ing liberal twits. This is what happens when you force other nationalities and cultures into Europe and a pond Europeans. Hitler was right about everything!!!!!
2013-03-06 06:11:42 by Lizinla
Infortunately, most governments in the western world seem to be encouraging blatant open immigration. I deplore open immigration...and most citizens do also. It's the governments that turn away and cause this problem
2013-03-07 09:04:13 by rotin
'a majority of French people believe Islam is not compatible with French society'

...well yes, France is a secular democracy whereas Islam submits only to the will of Allah as expressed in the Koran.

The two ideas could hardly be less compatible.
2013-03-08 10:10:37 by globalroamer
Our Western media both on TV and in print are filled with Muhammadan Muslims complaining about how they are victims of discrimination in the world's democracies.

We are told ad nauseoum that they - the Muslims- are angry! Muhammadans never cease from being angry! Angry at how Christians, Hindus, Jews or others, are allegedly mistreating their fellow Muhammadan Muslims somewhere.

Enemies of Muhammadan Islam? In reality it was Muhammed who unilaterally declared his JIHAD - Unholy war - 1400 ago against all unbelievers and disbelievers, 400 years before the Crusades.

The Muhammadans are always, always angry! Invariably demonstrating their rage with hate filled and contorted grimacing faces screaming and inveighing against all unbelievers, while holding their peace loving Quran in one hand and guns, rocket launchers and daggers in the other, shouting their terror mantra: Allahu Akbar.

The same Allahu Akbar that was yelled by Muhammed and his murderous thugs while attacking their unsuspecting victims in ambush, in the Arabian Peninsula, 1400 years ago, starting first with a sea of blood against the pagan Arabs, Judaized Arabs and Christian Arabs.

Muhammadans, whether Arabs or otherwise, claim they are Muslims but HATE with incredible intensity the first and earliest Muslims in world history: The descendants of the Israelites, the Jews!

Why Israel and the Jews?

Because they are the most aggrieved by the Arabs and other Muhammadan Muslims as a bone of contention between 'Islam' and the West, especially the USA.

Four major reasons are the fuel that keep the Muhammadans' hatred burning:

a) Unadulterated hatred of the Jews in particular, in Muhammad’s Quran and Sunna, actually his foremost victims.

b) Institutionalized Demonization and De Humanization of the Jews in ALL their Media, Sermons and Education systems.

c) Avenging five major humiliating military defeats of Arab arms by the tiny Jewish population of Israel.

d) A passionate JEALOUSY that such a miniscule entity is most certainly superior in productivity Economically, Scientifically and Culturally to most of the 22 Arab states as well as most of the Muhammedan Muslim Umma of over 1400 million people.

Therefore, they must ERADICATE the State of Israel and Exterminate the Jews since they are a thorn in their eye and a TESTAMENT to all their otherwise self inflicted failures.

They have been creating their own mini states within many of the European host cities and yet they have the audacity to allege racism. They are creating Muhammadan Muslim separate colonies in our countries.

Again and again and again, we catch the followers of Muhammed claiming victimization when in FACT and in REALITY it is they who are victimizing us in our own lands. They do so with an obscene degree of hypocrisy, duplicity and brazenness that boggles the mind.

We watch their Mullahs and other leaders on our TV in our country inciting their followers to OVERTHROW our Democratic Institutions while baring placards calling for Holocaust upon the peoples of Europe and how Islam will conquer the world! And they have the gall to assert that there is no reason for Islam-o-phobia?

Muhammadan Muslims are using our freedoms and democracy to slowly but relentlessly UNDERMINE our liberties and institutions.

Our spineless and mindless leaders, whether among the politicians, clergy or the media, are too criminally stupid, bribed or ignorant to understand this inexorable creeping death.

Furthermore, we are deliberately and falsely misinformed by the same followers of Muhammed that those who are thus demonstrating are only the FRINGE RADICALS! Really?
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