Will The Recent Paris Attacks Increase Muslim Polarisation In France?

Six near-simultaneous attacks in Paris killed at least 128 persons on Friday (13 November, 2015) evening. The targets included bars, restaurants, a concert and a high-profile football match. These are reportedly the worst terror attacks in France since the World War II. The IS has claimed the attacks.

And with this, the fear of Muslim polarization in the country has increased. A report by The Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) reveals that after the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015, physical assaults against Muslims in France have increased by 500% and verbal attacks by 100%.

Even their place of worship has not been spared. Acts of degradation and vandalism of mosques have jumped by 400%.

Now what?

Going by these trends, the existing Islamophobia in France is likely to increase manifold.

According to ‘The Guardian’, Nadir Kahia, a Muslim community leader in Paris, has said that he fears a “tsunami of hatred” against Muslims and residents of the capital’s poorer districts.

As per the Pew Research Center, Germany and France have the largest Muslim populations among European Union member countries. As of 2010, there were 4.7 million Muslims in France (7.5%). A majority of these Muslims are French citizens, born and brought up in the country.

However, terror attacks like the Friday attacks and the one carried out at Charlie Hebdo’s office 10 months before it are likely to isolate these Muslims further in their very own country.

Forty years ago, philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre had written about the “Jewish question” that many Jews in France feel their “Jewishness” in other people’s eyes. Many Muslims in France, and in the West in general, feel that the question now applies to them.

In ‘The New York Times’, Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s extreme-right National Front party, has said: “…fundamentalist Islam must be wiped out. France must ban Islamist organizations, close radical mosques, and kick out foreigners who are preaching hatred on our soil, as well as illegal immigrants who have nothing to do here.”

She has also called for cancellation of French citizenship of those who hold dual citizenship.

Such a fundamentalist approach is bound to affect Muslims who are French by citizenship and by heart. The growing Islamophobia is likely to increase civil unrest in the French society where for many French Muslims, religion has become a cultural identity, a refuge in a troubled society where they don’t feel accepted.

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