• France edition
 
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)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

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?
Today's headlines
Syrian refugees set up home in Paris park
Syrian refugees children and women sit on April 21, 2014 in the Edouard Vaillant parc in Saint-Ouen, north of Paris. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

Syrian refugees set up home in Paris park

Around 150 Syria refugees are living a desperate existence in a small park to the north of Paris. NGOs and France's Green party are urging authorities to do more to help the families while they wait for their asylum requests to be processed. READ () »

French foot licker jailed for attack on elderly lady
A French fetishist got 18 months behind bars for a foot licking attack on an elderly woman. Photo: Twon/Flickr

French foot licker jailed for attack on elderly lady

A French fetishist was so smitten with an elderly lady’s feet he burst into the terrified woman's home and lunged at her trotters, which he then proceeded to sniff, lick and rub. The lewd act cost him 18 months behind bars. READ () »

Wolves continue their advance on Paris
Wolves are getting closer to Paris, but they won't be biting Parisians anytime soon. Hopefully. Photo ErranAT/flickr

Wolves continue their advance on Paris

The contentious issue of wolves in France was once again in the spotlight this week after one of the predators was captured on camera for the first time within 250 km of Paris. An expert says they will come even closer but thankfully "they won't be biting Parisians". READ () »

France unveils raft of reforms to boost jobs
France says its economy will grow despite billions of euros in planned budget cuts. Photo: Euros.

France unveils raft of reforms to boost jobs

France laid out a new package of reforms on Wednesday to respect EU rules, cut spending, boost jobs and put its economy in shape to compete on world markets. READ () »

North Koreans snubbed by French cheese college
Kim Jong-un's bid to send two North Koreans to learn how to make French cheese has been refused by a prestigious French college. Photos: Zennie62/Amandabhslater/Flickr

North Koreans snubbed by French cheese college

A bid by North Korea to send experts to a prestigious French cheese-making training school, seemingly at the behest of its fromage-loving leader King Jong-un, has been rejected. It did not fit with the institution's "priorities or strategy", it seems. READ () »

Paris launches new battle against French jihadists
Will a new French plan to stop the flow of jihadists to Syria have the desired effect? Photo: AFP

Paris launches new battle against French jihadists

France’s so-called top cop unveiled a dozen proposals on Wednesday aimed at stemming the flow of its residents toward the jihadist cause in Syria. Though some experts see the plan as a cynical political move ahead of European elections. READ () »

Getting married in France
How to avoid any French wedding nightmares
How to avoid any French wedding nightmares. Photo: Shutterstock

How to avoid any French wedding nightmares

France is a popular choice for foreign couples tying the knot including a fair few celebrities – but beware the pitfalls. Here, The Local speaks to a France-based wedding planner and a bride-to-be about how to have a hassle-free French wedding. READ () »

France vows to punish death of Mali hostage
French citizen Gilberto Rodriguez Leal sitting between two armed guards in an undisclosed place. A jihadist group in Mali on April 22, 2014 announced the death of the French hostage. Photo: AFP

France vows to punish death of Mali hostage

French President François Hollande has vowed to find out the truth behind the death of a French hostage in Mali and promised "it will not go unpunished". It comes after a jihadist group announced on Wednesday the death of Frenchman Gilberto Rodrigues Leal. READ () »

British duke takes €20m hit on Paris markets
A man walks on August 4, 2013 in the Clignancourt flea market in Saint-Ouen, outside Paris, that has cost the UK's Duke of Westminster a cool €20 million. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

British duke takes €20m hit on Paris markets

Britain's Duke of Westminster has bailed out of an investment in two famous Paris antiques markets nursing a reported loss of over €20 million, it emerged on Tuesday. READ () »

French writer's inequality book tops Amazon list
Thomas Piketty, whose book tops Amazon's best sellers list and appears to be liked by the White House. Photo: Fred Dufour/AFP

French writer's inequality book tops Amazon list

A book by a French economist praised by some as being one of the most important works in recent times and derided by others as a neo-marxist 'bizarre ideological creed' has shot to the top of Amazon's best sellers list. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
How to avoid a French wedding nightmare
Opinion
Reader Rants: Why sacked French ministers deserve no pity
Gallery
How well do you know your French text message lingo?
National
Divorced from reality? French plan for puppy custody laws
Travel
'Burgundy is for wine not wind': Will wind farms ruin famous wine region?
National
Why does France have a record number of people behind bars?
Society
VIDEO: Take a look inside Paris’s first luxury hotel for cats
Education
French parents are the most laidback about their kids' education. True?
Tech
What do French TV viewers complain about the most? Yes it's English
Business & Money
French tax declarations: The key points to remember
Gallery
French slang: Everyday words you need to know (but use cautiously)
National
Paris cops told to ‘purge’ Roma from posh neighbourhood
Advertisement:
International
VIDEO: ‘Anti-French’ Cadillac ad sparks anger in France. See why.
Features
Buying property in France? Here's 10 things you need to think about
National
What will the future map of France look like? The answer lies within.
Politics
'The 27 French regions aren't the problem, it's the 36,000 towns'
Culture
Ex underage call girl Zahia picked to embody Marie Antoinette
Gallery
Buying a house in France? Ten things you need to think about
National
France bans work emails after 6pm! Sadly it's not quite true.
Opinion
Reader Rants: Why don't the French do charity? Is it down to taxes?
Society
VIDEO: The Paris zoo is back but this time the animals are in charge
National
This will be the most expensive road in France - Only €1.66bn for 12km!
Society
Only in France? Gourmet pensioners party lands village in hot water
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se