Source: TRT World, is a Turkish state international news channel broadcast 24-hours per day in English. The news channel is based in Istanbul
Many French Muslims have grown disillusioned with the government since they believe the country’s politics has become polluted with Islamophobic thinking from the far-left to far-right camps.
The scourge of far-right extremism making Muslims the main target has increased manifold in Europe and recent reports reveal that France is worst hit by this climate of hatred.
With the largest Muslim population in Europe, France’s five million Muslims have faced 154 attacks in 2019, a sharp 54 percent spike compared to the previous year.
Abdallah Zekri, president of the National Observatory of Islamophobia, recently issued a written statement saying the years of misinformation and propaganda spread through international media linked Islam with individual or collective acts of terror, leaving Muslims all over the world in a precarious situation and threatening their existence on the planet.
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One of the main reasons behind the rising hate crimes against Muslims has been the wave of terrorist attacks in recent years despite many officials in the French government asking people to not confuse the actions of radicalized individuals with the religion of Islam and turn Muslims into soft-targets for the far-right, white supremacist groups.
But facts have barely mattered to those who hate Muslims simply for their religious identity. As a result, French Muslims are reeling under the threat of radical anti-Muslim forces who over the years have felt emboldened to even take the law in their hands and engage in what can easily qualify as acts of terrorism. Whenever terror groups such as Daesh and al-Qaida carry out attacks anywhere in the West, these anti-Muslim groups find an excuse to inflict violence upon French Muslims.
Yasser Louati, Human Rights Advocate and Head of the Justice & Liberties For All Committee, told TRT World that the climate has become “highly dangerous,” with Islamophobic attitudes and narratives being “condoned by public institutions, political parties and the media.”
“So much that it has become the most respectable form of racism. Islamophobia brings together the whole French political spectrum,” Louati said.
In French politics, Louat said, using Islamophobic reasoning is “a high return and lowrisk political positioning” that helps politicians from the far-left to far-right gain electoral advantage.
“For people, it means daily discrimination in schools, work places, neighbourhoods, prove that the far-right extremism is real in French society,” he said.
“Multiple attacks against Muslims have been fueled, and it is not a coincidence. The Australian attacker, Christchurch terrorist attack, matured his project in France. He decided to do it in France, in his manifesto he admitted it.”
“It seems the government is doing nothing substantial to tackle Islamophobia. Macron has been playing on both sides. He will say that he is against discrimination. He is having his own government where his interior minister wants to criminalize the practice of Islam by calling it a religion of radicalization. The education minister wants to ban Muslim mothers from attending school trips, and police students whose parents wear traditional clothes.”
According to Farid Hafez, a PhD candidate at the University of Salzburg’s Department of Political Science and Sociology, Islamophobia in France is deeply entangled in a post-colonial structure, where black and brown and Muslim subjects have been otherized.
With the hegemonic idea of secularism, he argues, Muslims are further estranged from society, especially when it comes to education.
“The government frames Islam as a security issue, as can be seen with the interior ministry’s approach to Islam. This is wrong at the starting point. A change in the current framing of secularism would be a good start to build an inclusive society. But anti-Muslim racism must be seen along with other forms of marginalisation such as the working poor in France,” Hafez said.
Louati said Muslims are not able to cope up as they feel stuck between a rock and hard place in France.
“On one hand we have Islamophobia, Muslims experience it in their private and social lives. On the other hand, Muslim organisations have no national plans to act seriously against Islamophobia. They want the government to act on their behalf instead of mobilizing Muslims to overcome their divisions and reach out to the broader French society,” Louati said.