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In pictures: Thousands march in Paris against Islamophobia

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In pictures: Thousands march in Paris against Islamophobia
Protesters carrying signs reading 'report racism' and 'the women together'. Photo: Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP
08:08 CET+01:00
More than 10,000 people marched against Islamophobia north of Paris. But the rally drew criticism from both the government and the far right.

It was called following last month's attack on a mosque in the southern French city of Bayonne by an 84-year-old man, a former far-right activist, who shot and wounded two men.

Many of the protesters carried placards denouncing attacks on Islam, a number of women taking part wore traditional Muslim veils, while others had adopted veils bearing the blue, white and red colours of the French flag.

Around 13,500 people attended the march, according to a count carried out by the Occurence consultancy and commissioned by the news media, including AFP.

The march was called by a number of individuals and organizations, including the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF).

It also came as the debate over the veil has been revived in France and against a background of several jihadist attacks in France in recent years.

"We came to sound the alarm, to say there is a level of hate you don't go beyond," one marcher, Larbi, a 35-year-old businessman, told AFP.

"We are open to criticism, but you mustn't go beyond certain limits of aggression," he added.

ANALYSIS: Why do so many French people have a visceral aversion to the Muslim headscarf?


"French and Muslim... Proud of our two identities." Photo: Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP

"We want to be heard… not pushed to edge of society," Asmae Eumosid, a veiled woman from the suburbs of Paris, told AFP.

"You hear a lot of nonsense about Islam and about veiled women today," the 29-year-old, who works as an engineer in the car industry, added.

"With or without the veil, we are sick of being the last in line," said a nurse, Nadjet Fella, who said she had campaigned in Algeria against pressure to wear the veil there.

"I chose not to wear it, but it hurts me that those who wear it are picked on," she added.

In the southern city of Marseille on Sunday, several hundred people staged a similar demonstration, carrying placards that read "Islamophobia kills" and shouting "We are all children of the Republic".

READ ALSO: How do Muslims living in France feel about their country?


Around 13,500 people attended the march in Paris. Photo: Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP

Claudine Rodinson, a 76-year-old pensioner, came with a group fo the radical left Lutte Ouvriere (Workers Struggle) party.

"There is a scandalous propaganda waged against Muslims," she said, adding that jihadist terrorism was deliberately equated with Islam.

France has between five and six million Muslims, according to the latest studies, which makes it the second largest religion in the country – and the largest Muslim community in Europe.

But France is fiercely protective of the secular principles of its constitution, banning the wearing of religious symbols in state schools, for example.


A woman wearing a veil in the French colours: blue, white and red. Photo: Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP

Last week, the Socialist party formally distanced itself from the demonstration, objecting to a reference to oppressive laws concerning Muslims – thought by some to be a reference to the 2004 law banning the wearing of veils in schools.

It said it would organize its own demonstration at a later date.

Critics also accused some of the 50 original signatories to the petition calling for the march of having links to political Islam – including the CCIF itself.

A number of far-left politicians, including Jean-Luc Melenchon, the firebrand leader of France Unbowed party, nevertheless joined the Paris rally on Sunday.


Protesters march near the Gare du Nord. Photo: Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP

Several members of the government meanwhile made it clear they had no sympathy for the march.

Gabriel Attal, a junior minister with responsibility for young people, denounced what he said was the opportunism of those left-wing politicians supporting the march.

And Elisabeth Borne, junior minister for ecology, said the march was only setting people against each other.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally, also condemned the march in a tweet on Sunday.

Radical Islamism had killed far more Muslims in France than Islamophobia, she argued. "This reveals the extent of your fraud!" she added.

 
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Evelyna - 11 Nov 2019 20:45
Vive la France - liberte, egalite, fraternity et laicite. The irony of all ironies is that such a protest by christians would never be tolerated in any muslim country today. Upon reading the koran, one soon realized that its teachings on intolerance of most Western values is quite striking. Islam is about submission, the inequality of women and the union of state with religion. We need only look at the history of the Middle East to see what eventually (via birth rates and immigration) befalls Europe. The Middle East was largely Christian by the 6th century, spread via missionaries. By the 8th century, it was largely muslim, spread by war, terror, sex slavery and genocide. Its more peaceful tool for conversion was "convert or die." I don't blame today's muslims for islamism. We can thank the generous Saudi salafist funding of ever growing numbers of mosques and madrasses in Europe for that. But it is untrue that our concern about islam is a phobia. Our concerns about domestic terrorism are justifiable. My question is: where are the protests about the current persecution of the jews, the fatwas (death sentence) against open/reformist muslims, the tolerance of free speech concerning any religion including Islam, the past genocide of christians, armenians, kurds. sikhs and hindus, the current persecution of dwindling numbers of christians in today's muslim countries? Islam is much more than a "religion". Rather is it also a political force called The Nation of Islam. If you've never heard of the far reaching Muslim Brotherhood or Saudi Salafism (better yet, Wahhabism), best you start learning soon. (Clarification: I bear no ill will against individual muslims. Islamism is the concern.
Bella - 12 Nov 2019 00:29
Well said, Evelyna! Muslims don't assimilate. Europe needs to wake up now!
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