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Recently two mosques in Besançon (Eastern France) were spray-painted with six red crosses of Lorraine, symbol of Gaullism and the Resistance.

According to the leaders of these places of worship, these symbols were misused to spread hatred and deliver an anti-Muslim message.

In the first week of Oct 2021,an unknown letter of threats and insults was received by “Eyup Sultan”, an under-construction mosque in the French city of Strasbourg. The letter argued that Islam has no place in France and that Muslims of France will have to make a choice between Islam and Christianity.

Francehas the largest proportion of Muslims in the Western world and thus Islamophobia making headlines in the country holds a political significance.

There is a general perception that these acts (attacking Islam) are a consequence of the presidential election campaign.

Amnesty Intl makes clear that ‘radicalization’ has often been used as a euphemism for ‘devout Muslim’.

In this context, there is a need to highlight the rising Islamophobia in France which is leading to human rights abuse in a country which aggressively propels international watchdogs to put target countries under sanctions or in black listing on the pretext of human rights.

Reportedly, French govt has already shut down one-third of 89 mosques since Nov 2020 while action is in hand to close six more mosques in Sarthe, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Cote-d’Or, Rhone and Gard regions.

Criticisms against Muslims over their religious attire, eating habits and supposed inability to integrate gained a common place in mainstream media, as well as in political discourse. However, it was not restricted to words alone.

Senior officials including the mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, and other politicians have labeled Muslims as 5th Column (CinquièmeColonne).

Islamophobia became a legal form of discrimination in 2004. France banned headscarves in public and private schools in 2004 and Niqab in 2011; Municipal bans on swimwear for Muslim women.

On the sidelines of the Parisian rally of “yellow vests”, two people were arrested on 20 November 2021 because of an offensive tag on a van featuring cartoon of Emmanuel Macron.

Caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are justified because it falls under French legal right of freedom of expression but caricature of President Macroon is an offense. Where is freedom of expression? What a hypocrisy?

In November 2020, French Muslim students aged 8, 9 and 10 had been declared to the local prosecutor for refusing to rise to pay respect to slain Samuel Patty (reference offensive caricatures of holy Prophet of Islam (PBUH).

The school authorities took students’ refusal as disrespect to French values and freedom of expression.

For France, which is home to roughly five million (nearly 1/10th of population) Muslim inhabitants, it is not wise to systematically refer to French Muslims by their racial or geographic origins.

Putting Muslims at the center of public debates has meant that more crucial issues for French citizens have been ignored.

Reveal the gap between legal protections in theory versus what is extended to the Muslim minority community in practical.

In theory, European countries including France have enacted laws that protect the freedom of religion. In practice, however, competing interests from time to time supersede these laws.

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