Anti-Muslim attacks in France up 53% in 2020: report

Anti-Muslim attacks in France up 53% in 2020: report
The National Observatory of Islamophobia warned of rising incitement against French Muslims.
2 min read
29 January, 2021
Attacks against French Muslims rose 53 percent in 2020 [Getty]
France witnessed a 53% increase in anti-Muslim attacks in 2020 compared with 2019, according to the National Observatory of Islamophobia in France, amid concerns over growing institutional Islamophobia.

There were 235 attacks on Muslims in 2020, compared to 154 in 2019, according to a press release from the organisation. Most of the attacks took place in the regions of Rhone-Alpes, Paca and Ile-de-France, which includes the capital Paris.

"We call for our religion and the practice of its worship to be considered and treated with the same principles and rules that govern religions and cults historically established in France", the observatory’s president Abdullah Zekri said.

Zekri added that attacks on mosques increased by 35%, compared to 2019, and that 70 threatening letters were sent to the headquarters of the French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM) last year.

He also highlighted growing incitement of hate against Islam and Muslims and said that Islam and terrorism have no connection.

The French government has come under fire for its polices laws which have been criticised as discriminatory against Muslims.

On January 24, a committee of the French National Assembly approved the controversial bill "Principles for Promoting Respect for the Values ​​of the Republic", which was worded as "combating separatist Islam". The bill is expected to be presented to the National Assembly in February.

A group of lawyers, NGOs, and religious bodies submitted a joint letter to the United Nations Human Rights Council (OHCHR) last week, accusing France of violating "a number of basic rights that are protected in legislation that is ratified by Paris" and overseeing a system of "entrenched structural Islamophobia and discrimination against Muslims".

Among the signatories was the France-based European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion, the UK’s Muslim Association of Britain, Holland’s Muslim Rights Watch, and the US-based Council on American-Islamic Relations and Islamophobia Studies Center. 

France’s interior ministry also shut nine mosques earlier in January, which it described as the latest step in its battle against what it calls "Islamic separatism".

France has the largest Muslim population in Europe at around 6 million, mostly from North Africa.

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