French Muslims Fear Rise in Islamophobia

Expatica, February 2, 2010

France’s top council of Muslim representatives on Monday condemned a weekend attack on a mosque north of Paris and called for a national debate on Islamophobia.

Vandals painted “Islam get out of Europe” and “France is for the French” on the walls and entrance of the mosque in Crepy-en-Valois overnight Saturday to Sunday.

The French Council of the Muslim Faith said the attack was the latest in a growing trend of violence targeting mosques over the past months and voiced concern for national cohesion.

The council, whose members are elected by French Muslims, called on French authorities to take action to end this “series of shameful and hateful profanities that target houses of prayer.”

It urged President Nicolas Sarkozy to back calls for a parliamentary commission to examine what it called the rise of Islamophobia in France.

The proposal was dropped at the last minute from a report released last week on banning the full Islamic veil, disappointing French Muslim leaders who had pushed for such a debate.

In January, a mosque in the southern town of Castres was targeted by vandals who daubed swastikas and “Sieg Heil” on its exterior walls.

The president of the local Muslim association, Abdelmalek Bouregba, blamed the government’s debate on national identity for the violence, saying it had let loose anti-Islamic sentiment.

The attackers hung pigs’ feet on the mosque’s door handle and pigs’ ears on the door along with drawings of the French flag, said Bouregba.

France is home to Europe’s biggest Muslim minority, estimated at between five and six million people.

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