After Israel-Hamas war ‘Anti-Muslim racism on the rise in France’

In France, there has been a significant increase in anti-Muslim racism, which has gone largely unchecked since the Hamas attack on October 7. This increase in racism has been especially evident after a Moldovan couple was caught spray-painting stars David at the 10th convention in Paris on October 27.

A report by Middle East Eye said that despite the couple’s arrest and the prosecutor’s statement that these and other similar anti-Semitic acts were linked to a foreign sponsor, Muslims in France continue to be scapegoated, Especially from remote groups.

The French Interior Ministry reported a threefold increase in anti-Semitic acts and statements since the Hamas attack, totaling 1,518 incidents. National Rally president Jordan Bardella attributed this increase in anti-Semitism to the alleged rise of “political Islam” in various neighborhoods, without providing evidence.

Amid rising tensions in France during the deadly phase of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with significant casualties on both sides, the Muslim community is concerned about the abuse of violence in the Middle East to promote hatred against them. Abdullah Zekri, a leader of the French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM) and president of the Observatory against Islamophobia (OCI), criticized the exploitation of Middle Eastern violence to incite hatred against Muslims.

The CFCM refused to participate in the anti-Semitic march, criticizing it for not addressing the rise in Islamophobic acts in France. Zekri highlighted the direct threats many mosques and Muslims face, including hate speech on news channels and social media.

Notable figures such as Pascal Perry and Arno Klarsfeld have made controversial statements linking anti-Semitism to the Muslim population, with Klarsfeld’s comments currently facing a complaint for inciting racial hatred. The rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, Chems-Adine Hafez, expressed concern over the growing stigmatizing and hateful discourse against Muslims in France, Middle East Eye reports.

Islamophobic acts have also been reported, such as attacks on the Franco-Turkish Cultural Association and an assault on a seventy-year-old man walking to a mosque. Member of Parliament Sabrina Sebaihi highlighted the rising Islamophobia and the silence of political leaders on the issue.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has launched an investigation into the incidents and assured French Muslims of state protection, although he said the scale of anti-Muslim acts is not as widespread as anti-Semitism. Vincent Geiser, a researcher, explained that linking anti-Semitism to Islam helps stigmatize Muslims and serve a far-right agenda.