As the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks continues to unfold, it is also becoming clear that the backlash against Europe’s Muslims is sometimes ferocious and not likely to abate soon.
Islamic mosques are being hit by firebombs and pig heads, Muslim women in veils and hijabs are being heckled in the streets, and threats against Muslims via the internet are everywhere. In short, while France and the world mourns last week’s Islamic-related terror attacks, the attacks continue for many of Europe’s Muslims, both physically and as a form of alienation from the rest of Europe.
According to the Associated Press, an official that tracks “Islamaphobic attacks” has registered 60 incidents of attacks and threats against French Muslims, not taking into account attacks against the rest of Europe’s Muslims, in the six days since 17 people were murdered by Islamic extremists in the Paris terror-spree.
Because of this, Europe’s Muslim community is experiencing a growing fear as anti-Muslim rhetoric ratchets up throughout Europe, lumping Europe’s millions of peaceful Muslims in with the Muslim terrorists.
The head of the National Observatory Against Islamophobia, Abdallah Zekri, reports that 26 places of worship around France have suffered attacks since last week. Firebombs, gunshots, and pig heads were used to send anti-Muslim messages, with a mosque in Le Mans absorbing four grenades. Thirty-four other insults and threats against Europe’s Muslims were also logged.
French officials are making an effort to sever the connection between French Muslims and Islamic terrorists, however.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said last week that the word “Islamist” should not be used to describe the terrorists.
“The terrorists’ religion is not Islam, which they are betraying… It’s barbarity.”
The current backlash against Muslims was discussed Monday at a counter-terrorism meeting at the Interior Ministry, Socialist lawmaker Patrick Mennucci noting that Muslim extremists made up a very small minority of France and Europe’s Muslims.
“We said above all, pretty unanimously, that in France there are 5 or 6 million Muslims. These (terrorist) issues concern 1,000 individuals. We should be careful not to stigmatize anyone.”
Despite efforts to downplay any relation between Europe’s Muslims and Muslim extremists, and Muslims being widely included in events such as Sunday’s unity march through the streets of Paris, most of Europe’s Muslims agree that the anti-Islam reaction following last week’s terrorist attacks is no surprise.
Anti-immigration and anti-Islamic sentiments are increasing in both France and Europe’s other countries, driven by right-wing ideologies that continue to grow in strength.
One right-wing group, the National Front, headed up by a woman named Marine Le Pen, almost immediately used last week’s terror attacks to validate her party’s beliefs, and many people across Europe are listening. Along with Islamic terrorist attacks becoming more threatening, if not more common, many citizens of Europe also believe their cultures are being destroyed by immigration, particularly Muslim.
Another right-wing group in Germany, called the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA), had its weekly meeting in Dresden on Monday night, blowing the doors off with its largest crowd ever, a reported 40,000. At the same time, there haven’t been any attacks on Europe’s Muslims reported in Germany this past week. PEGIDA dedicated their meeting to those killed in the French terrorist attacks.
Back in France, which has the has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe, 10,000 French soldiers also now occupy the streets, which many believe will further put Europe’s French Muslims on edge.
Some of Western Europe’s Muslims believe that at least part of the problem for Europe’s Muslims, and any feelings of alienation, is their own fault for failing to assimilate into European cultures. One of those is the Muslim Mayor of Rotterdam, Netherlands, 52-year-old Ahem Aboutaleb.
According to Aboutaleb, any of Europe’s Muslims that hate Western culture should “pack their bags” and go “f**k off.”
[Image via Associated Press]