French Muslim Women Prime Victim of Hate
As Islamophobic attacks soar in France, a new report warned that Muslim women have become the prime target of hate crimes in the European country, urging new measures to counter rising hate.
“The council is concerned about the decrease of tolerance and the increase of verbal assaults and hateful and discriminatory acts recorded in France,” Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe commissioner for human rights, was quoted by Anadolu Agency on Tuesday, February 17.
It was “urgent” for France to “better address sustained and systematic racist and hate speech and acts.”
According to Muižnieks’s 52-page report, about 80% of Islamophobic attacks in France target women.
The commissioner said Islamophobic speeches and acts were “not only persisting, but are rising despite legislative developments and measures to fight against intolerance and racism.”
Not only Muslims as homosexuals, Jews have been facing increasing hate crimes since Paris attacks, according to the report.
In a bid to fight the soaring hate crimes, Muižnieks urged France to adopt a national plan to promote and protect human rights besides ratifying Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights on the general prohibition of discrimination in order to “further strengthen the legal framework.”
“It is essential to put an end to such acts, including on the internet, and to punish those responsible,” Muižnieks wrote, Newsweek reported.
France is home to a Muslim community of nearly six million, the largest in Europe.
French Muslims have been complaining of restrictions on performing their religious practices.
In 2004, France banned Muslims from wearing hijab, an obligatory code of dress, in public places. Several European countries followed the French example.
France also outlawed the wearing of face-veil in public in 2011.
Despite increasing anti-Muslim attacks, the number of reverts to Islam among French people has increased significantly after Charlie Hebdo attacks, with French imams reporting a growing number of people coming to take Shahada or declaration of faith at mosques.
The increasing anti-Muslim women attacks has been reflected in complaints reported to rights groups.
Fiyaz Mughal, the director of UK-based interfaith thinktank Faith Matters says they have received complaints from Muslim women which include: “Spitting, general abuse, pulling and tearing at the niqab and the hijab, plus dog faeces being thrown at women, as well as bottles from passing cars and people shouting things like ‘Muslim whore’ ‘Muslim bitch’ or ‘Muzzie’.”
“All our data… shows that visible women are the ones that are targeted at a street level,” Mughal stated.
“This means that women who wear the hijab are the ones that are sometimes targeted for abuse and those who wear the niqab suffer more anti-Muslim hate incidents and more aggressive assaults.”
The National Observatory Against Islamophobia said over one hundred incidents have been reported to the police since Charlie Hebdo attacks of January 7-9.
Over the past two weeks, attacks increased with a percentage of 110 percent over the whole of January 2014, the organization said on Monday.
About 147 anti-Muslim attacks have been carried out during January after Paris attacks, besides 26 anti-mosque attacks, according to the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM).
Moreover, a Muslim father was stabbed to death in his own home in southern France this week by a neighbor who claimed to be avenging Charlie Hebdo.
Earlier this month, an 8-year-old Muslim schoolboy was interrogated by French police after refusing to take part in a minute’s silence in honor of victims.
Seeing the Charlie Hebdo attack as a betrayal of Islamic faith, leaders from Muslim countries and organizations have joined worldwide condemnation of the attack, saying the attackers should not be associated with Islam.
Over the past months, Muslim have used several hashatgs like #NotInMyName #MuslimApologies #WhoIsMuhammed #JeSuiSAhmed to offer a true image of Islam which rejects terrorism.
Moreover, the online campaign #JeSuisNous that celebrates Muslims’ contributions to the French culture has been launched following Paris Attacks to correct the image of the religious minority in the European country.