PARIS (IINA) – Anti-Muslim attacks have risen six-fold in the first three months of the year compared with the same period in 2014, hitting 222 reported violent attacks, according to French interior ministry figures.
“It is the first time we have recorded grenades being thrown or guns fired,” Abdallah Zekri, president of the National Observatory against Islamophobia said, stressing the unprecedented rise in Islamophobic attacks. Racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia prevail in the country as more non-French people have been threatened by potential violent attacks.
“Ever since the establishment of the Observatory in 2011, the number of Islamophobic acts has increased as such actions or threats, especially on social networks,” Zekri added, calling the anti-Muslim attacks “simply racism and rejection of men and women who aspire to just be respected,” Daily Sabah News reported.
Twenty-six mosques in France have been subject to attack with firebombs and gunfire as of January 14, with a total of 167 reported Islamophobic incidents in January alone compared to just 14 in the same month of 2014. In the aftermath of the deadly attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, Muslims in France have been subject to violent attacks due to an increase in suspicion and negative sentiments toward the French Muslim community.
Reports of attacks on mosques and Muslim-run businesses in various places in France have led many French Muslims to fear rising Islamophobia.
France is home to the largest Muslim population in Europe, estimated at between 4-5 million. The French Muslim community represents approximately 6 percent of the total population of the 58.5 million that live in France.
The apparent rise in racism and discrimination against immigrant communities in France was condemned by France’s Prime Minister Manuel Calls, who announced that the French government would pour 100 million euros into a major anti-racism action plan in order to increase the penalties for crimes deemed to have been fueled by racism.