• 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

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
Paris: Thousands march in pro-Palestinian demo
Thousands of protesters hit the streets of Paris to oppose Israel's Gaza incursion. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

Paris: Thousands march in pro-Palestinian demo

Thousands marched through Paris on Wednesday to denounce Israel's ongoing assault on Gaza amid tight security. The demo passed off peacefully with many protesters expressing their anger with the French government for not doing enough to halt the bloodshed in the Middle East. READ  

Lawmakers back redrawn map of France
French lawmakers have approved a redrawn map of France. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

Lawmakers back redrawn map of France

Legislation that would redraw the map of France won overwhelming support on Wednesday from the country's lower house, the National Assembly. It's part of a plan reduce France's costly and cumbersome bureaucracy. READ  

Paris: Security beefed up for pro-Palestinian demo
Riot police will be out in force on Wednesday for the pro-Palestinian protest. Photo: Pierre Andrieu/AFP

Paris: Security beefed up for pro-Palestinian demo

Police chiefs in Paris are taking no chances on Wednesday with the latest pro-Palestinian rally taking place in the city. Hundreds of police are on duty to keep the peace. The Local will be tweeting live from the demo. READ  

Tête-à-tête - Part 1
'Foreigners in France should not get the vote'
Should foreigners be able to vote in France's local elections? Photo: Boris Horvat/AFP

'Foreigners in France should not get the vote'

France's president reignited an age-old row recently when he vowed to fight to give foreigners the vote in France. In the first part of our tête-a-tête we hear from a French mayor; who says France would be abandoning part of its sovereignty if foreigners were able to cast ballots. READ  

'Disastrous' economy claim riles Hollande
French business leader Pierre Gattaz's glare at the French president tells a story. Photo: Philippe Wojazer/AFP

'Disastrous' economy claim riles Hollande

French president François Hollande has taken umbrage after the leading voice of France’s business community described the country’s economy as “disastrous” this week and called for an end to the flagship 35-hour week and 75 percent tax rate. READ  

Tour de France stage 17: Pole Rafal Majka wins
Stage 17 of the Tour de France will see some tought climbs for the riders. Photo: Screengrab LeTour.fr

Tour de France stage 17: Pole Rafal Majka wins

Stage 17 of the 2014 Tour de France was won by Rafal Majka on Wednesday after 124.5km punishing ride through the Pyrenees. Yellow jersey holder Vincenzo Nibali extended his lead over his rivals. READ  

Immigration system
French test plan for long-term visa applicants
Anyone seeking a long-term visa in France in future will have to swat up on their French. Photo: Tim Green/Flickr

French test plan for long-term visa applicants

New legislation unveiled on Wednesday aims to shrink the bureaucratic hurdles foreigners who want to stay in France face and provide a glimmer of hope for asylum seekers languishing in limbo. But anyone wanting to get a ten-year visa would need to be able to read French. READ  

EU says Ryanair owes France €9.6 million
Ryanair has been ordered to refund millions in subsidies to local French authorities. Photo: Paolo Margari/Flickr

EU says Ryanair owes France €9.6 million

Low-cost airline Ryanair received nearly €10 million in illegal government aid and now must pay the money back, the European Commission said on Wednesday. It's another costly blow for Ryanair after a French court ordered it to stump up €9million in damages last year. READ  

VIDEO: Stuntman jumps onto moving Paris metro
A Paris stuntman's video of him jumping onto a moving train has gone global. Photo: Screengrab/YouTube

VIDEO: Stuntman jumps onto moving Paris metro

A video featuring a thrill-seeking acrobat named “Mister Puma” risking his life by jumping onto the roof of a moving metro train in Paris has proved a global hit. But it's just his latest crazy feat on the Metro. Watch some his death-defying stunts here. READ  

French court rules no halal meals in prison
A French prison will not be forced to serve up halal meals after all. Photo: John Moore/AFP

French court rules no halal meals in prison

A controversial ruling that ordered a French prison to serve up halal meals to inmates was overturned by a court in Lyon this week in the latest issue to pit the country's secular tradition against Islamic practice. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
VIDEO: Stuntman jumps onto a moving Paris metro... and survives
Gallery
Forget 'faire l'amour', here's 15 top French expressions for making love
National
Report - 'Anti-Semitic' riots in France: 'We may leave for Israel'
National
IN IMAGES: Two Paris anti-Israel demos descend into violence
National
Paris Plages: Here's 10 reasons to head down to the city beach
International
'Mont Blanc is like Disneyland. It's time to end the free-for-all'
Travel
Fancy climbing Mont Blanc? Here's 10 reasons to think twice about it
Travel
Sun's up: Temperatures in parts of France could hit 40°C
National
VIDEO: Jewish 'ultras' and anti-Israel mob in running street battle in Paris
International
Middle East crisis: 'Jews in France are stand-ins for Israeli targets'
Culture
IN PICTURES: Bastille Day fireworks mark centenary of the 'Great War'
Gallery
Looking for a weird museum in Paris? Here's 10 that are worth a visit
National
Clear your head: Eight tips for buying wine in a French supermarket
National
'Don't blame the labour market for France's unemployment woes!'
National
Job applicants in France: Be prepared to send in an anonymous CV
Sport
'I've never seen scenes like it' - Tour de France winner on the UK crowds
Sport
'Bouligans' to booze bans: Ten things you need to know about pétanque
Gallery
Driving in France: How to stay out of trouble on the roads
Travel
Ten essential free phone apps for a visit to Paris
Gallery
Like cycling? Love France? See the top ten best cycling routes in France
International
'They think beer is a vegetable': What the French really think of Germans
National
Sarkozy's dream of a 2017 comeback is not dead yet
Gallery
Ten reasons why France is better than Germany (we're not talking football)
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

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 Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

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