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CRIME

Two charged in Paris after Muslim women stabbed and racially abused near Eiffel Tower

Two women accused of stabbing two other women wearing Muslim headscarves near the Eiffel Tower in Paris and trying to rip off their headscarves have been charged with assault and racist slurs, legal sources told AFP on Thursday.

Two charged in Paris after Muslim women stabbed and racially abused near Eiffel Tower
Illustration photo: AFP

The case comes amid heightened racial tensions following the jihadist killing last week of French teacher Samuel Paty, who become the target of an online hate campaign after showing his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

The women accused over the assault were drunk when they came across a group of Muslim women and children in the Champ de Mars park at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.

The Muslim family complained about the other women's dog, saying they felt threatened by it.

In the ensuing row one of the women with the dog pulled a knife and stabbed two of the headscarf-wearing women, aged 19 and 40.

The 40-year-old woman sustained six stab wounds and is being treated in hospital for a perforated lung.

The younger victim was stabbed three times and was also treated in hospital but has since been discharged.

Both victims claimed their attackers called them “dirty”, used racial slurs and told them: “This is not your home.”

The incident caused a furore on social media with some people accusing the French media of remaining silent about an attack they saw as clearly anti-Muslim.

The main suspect has been placed in preventive custody while her friend has been released on bail, sources close to the investigation said.

The pair were charged late on Wednesday with assault aggravated by the use of a weapon, drunkenness, racial insults and the fact that they acted together.

But the victims' lawyer Arie Alimi has called for the women to face stiffer charges, accusing them of attempted murder linked to the victims' race or religion.

He said one of the women specifically took issue with the headscarves worn by several women in the Muslim family, referring to it as “that thing you have on your head”.

He also accused the suspects of trying to rip off their victims' scarves and of aiming blows at the head.

The two suspects deny making racial insults.

Their lawyer Bernard Solitude warned against “blowing this story out of proportion” and said it was important to “stick to the facts: a row which degenerated after insults were made”.

Alimi accused the French authorities – which have closed a mosque on the outskirts of Paris and moved to shut down several Muslim groups in the aftermath of the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty by an 18-year-old Chechen radical – of a “witch hunt”.

He argued it had the effect of helping jihadists “reach their goal, which is the stigmatising of Muslims leading to more individuals becoming radicalised”.

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CRIME

French court orders partial release for convicted Corsican nationalist

A French court on Tuesday ordered the partial release of a Corsican nationalist who has served 24 years in jail for the 1998 murder of a top French official.

French court orders partial release for convicted Corsican nationalist

Under the ruling, Pierre Alessandri will be allowed out of jail to work for a landscaping company in the daytime and will be granted a full conditional release in a year if he behaves well.

The relaxation of Alessandri’s conditions of detention came amid tensions between the Mediterranean island’s pro-autonomy leaders and the French state, after a fellow Corsican detained in the same case was killed in a French prison in March.

Alessandri and a third Corsican detainee were transferred from mainland France to a jail in Corsica in April after the murder of Yvan Colonna.

The Paris appeals court granted Alessandri “a probationary partial release” of 12 months from February 13, the prosecutor-general Remy Heitz said.

If he behaves well, he would then be granted “conditional release” for another ten years, he said.

Alessandri’s lawyer Eric Barbolosi hailed the ruling as a “great relief”.

“For the first time in a court of appeals, the magistrates made a decision based on the criteria necessary for a conditional release, not the particular nature of the case,” he said.

Alessandri had served enough time to be eligible for such a release by 2017, and had already petitioned to be freed three times.

But national anti-terror prosecutors objected, and an appeals court barred his release.

The country’s highest court then quashed one of these decisions, ordering the Paris appeals court to re-examine it.

Colonna, a former goat herder, was announced dead on March 21 after an Islamist extremist who accused him of blasphemy strangled and suffocated him in a prison in the southern town of Arles in mainland France.

He was detained in 2003 after four years on the run, and sentenced in 2007, and then again in 2011, to life in jail over the killing in 1998 of the French government prefect of Corsica, Claude Erignac.

The killing was the most shocking of a series of attacks by pro-independence militant group FLNC.

Alessandri and another nationalist, Alain Ferrandi, had already been sentenced to life in jail in 2003 over the murder.

Ferrandi, who was transferred to the same Corsican jail, has also requested to be released on parole, and a decision is due on February 23rd.

Colonna’s murder sparked violent protests in Corsica.

It galvanised the nationalist movement and led President Emmanuel Macron’s government to offer talks about giving greater political autonomy to the territory.

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