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French teen 'attacked for wearing Muslim veil'
A Muslim woman wears a niqab, the facial veil which is banned in public in France. File photo: Ulania/Flickr

French teen 'attacked for wearing Muslim veil'

Published: 13 Aug 2013 18:09 GMT+02:00
Updated: 13 Aug 2013 18:09 GMT+02:00

France witnessed another apparent incident of violent Islamophobia on Tuesday, after it was reported that a 16-year-old girl in the suburbs of Paris was attacked and had her Islamic veil torn off her face.

The teen victim was leaving a friend’s house in Trappes, the same Paris suburb that saw violent clashes between youths and police last month, at around 5.45pm on Monday,  when two “European-looking” men confronted her near Square Berlioz, according to reports in French media.

The victim reported her assailants shouted racist and anti-Muslim insults at her before brandishing a boxcutter. She said they then tore off her veil, pushed her to the ground, and hit her.

The victim was saved when a third man intervened, and the attackers – one of whom was describd as having a shaved head,– fled the area by car.

The teen victim was driven to hospital in Trappes, in the department of Yvelines, where she was found to have “light scratch marks” on her face and throat, a source told French daily Le Parisien.

She reported the incident to local police on Tuesday, who have opened up an official investigation and are studying CCTV images and trying to track down any witnesses to the attack.

It was not clear whether the victim was wearing a headscarve or a full Islamic veil, known as the niqab, which have been banned from being worn in public in France since 2011.

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls later condemned the attack on Tuesday, expressing his “indignation” to French television BFMTV.

“I severely condemn this newest demonstration of anti-Muslim hatred and intolerance,” Valls said.

“Police services have been fully mobilised so that the authors of this unacceptable attack are identified, found, arrested and handed over to the courts,” he added.

The attack is the latest incident in recent weeks of Muslim women being set upon while wearing the Islamic veil.

In July, The Local reported how two days of rioting in Trappes were sparked when a woman in Islamic attire was stopped by police.

A month earlier, a Muslim woman had a miscarriage after allegedly being attacked by skinheads in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil, although it was not determined whether the assault caused the loss of her baby.

The alleged assault on the woman came just three weeks after another veiled Muslim woman in Argenteuil was targeted in a similar manner, and one week after Muslims in the neighbourhood clashed with police after officers attempted to arrest a woman in the street who was wearing the full Islamic veil in public. 

The incidents come as Muslim leaders express concern about a rise in Islamophobia in France. 

On Monday the rector of the Grande Mosque in Lyon spoke out after it emerged a French soldier had been planning an armed attack on a mosque.

Elsewhere on Tuesday a man was arrested for writing Islamophobic tags across several buildings in the southern city of Avignon.

The suspect was stopped by a police patrol unit after being caught on security camera.

More than half a dozen of the racist tags were daubed across buildings, including one on Unesco World Heritage site the “Palais des papes.”

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

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