How is Islamophobia measured in France?

January 28, 2014

 

The number of anti-Muslim acts committed in 2013 and recorded by the National Observatory Against Islamophobia has been published on Sunday, January 26. Last year, 226 anti-Muslim acts (164 threats and 62 actions) were registered with the police. This represents an increase of 11,3% from 2012, though a smaller increase from precedent years (+ 34% in 2011 and +28.2% in 2012).

Amongst such acts on the rise, officials at the Observatory are concerned with an increasing aggression against veiled women. According to the President of the Observatory, Abdallah Zakri, ‘this confirms the unsound climate existing in our country, which is favored by certain declarations made by politicians.’

The Observatory obtains its numbers from complaints filed to the authorities, which they get news of from sources on the ground, such as regional representatives of the Conseil Francais du Culte Musulman (CFCM), mosque leaders and the police. Mr. Zakri then compares their numbers with those obtained by the Ministry of Interior, and claims the findings are always very close. According to him, however, the numbers are always below the reality, as at least 20% of people are not pressing charges. Such an analysis is confirmed by the sociologist Marwan Mohammed who devoted a chapter of his book, Islamophoba: How the French Elite Fabricate the Muslim Problem, to measuring Islamophobia: Relying on the charges pressed by people to measure Islamophobia is a relatively fragile form of data.. We don’t have a viable study on the police reaction towards plaintiffs. Moreover, the complaint can sometimes be rebranded, for example as incitation to racial hatred.’

The findings of the Observatory are much inferior to those of the Collectif Contre l’Islamophobie en France (CCIF) who chooses to record acts on the basis of citizen declarations or media findings. In 2012, the CCIF had identified a total of 469 Islamophobic acts, more than twice the amount of the Observatory’s numbers, which had a total of 201 that year.

These differences reflect the political divisions between the CCIF and the Observatory. The Observatory emerged from the Conseil Francais du Culte Musulman (CFCM) and was created a few months after a convention was signed between the then-Ministry of Interior, Brice Hortefeux, and the CFCM, ‘to keep better track of’ Islamophobic acts.

Although The Observatory eventually broke away to create its own organization, its’ proximity to the government is regularly denounced by the CCIF. The CCIF, which from the start was closer the Union des Organisations Islamiques de France (UOIF), willingly adopts a more polemical tone.

The numbers of the Observatory remain then more consistent with the numbers recorded by the Ministry of Interior. Researcher Marwan Mohammad suggests that Islamophobia is measurable so long as data is cross-checked. As for him, he relies on the number of complaints, the CCIF’s data, and on official sociological studies that regularly point to an increase in anti-Muslim sentiment.

 

Le Monde: http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2014/01/28/la-difficile-mesure-de-l-islamophobie_4355742_3224.html

Terrorist Suspects Arrested In and Around Paris

News Agencies – November 9, 2010

Five people believed to have trained as Islamist militants in Pakistan’s troubled Afghan border region have been arrested in and around Paris. Some of those arrested were picked up in the suburb of Roissy, where France’s largest airport is located, security sources said on condition of anonymity. Police and intelligence officers have been questioning the suspects. Some of the suspects are apparently linked to death threats made a few weeks ago against the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur.
Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden warned France last month that its planned ban on the Islamic full-face veil in public places and its involvement in the war in Afghanistan justified attacks on its nationals. French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux later said that the country faced a real terror threat and he urged “total vigilance”.

500 French Cemeteries Vandalized in France in Last Nine Months

November 2, 2010

Minister of the Interior of France, Brice Hortefeux, has announced that between the 1st of January and September 30th, 2010, almost 500 cemeteries have been vandalized across France. Hortefeux explained that 485 cemeteries and religious sites were vandalized, 410 of which were Christian sites, 40 of which were Muslim (of which 34 were mosques or prayer rooms and 6 were cemeteries) and 35 of which were Jewish.

Lies Hebbadj Placed Under Police Watch in France

News Agencies – September 20, 2010

Lies Hebbadj, the grocer from Nantes who came under fire after his wife was fined for wearing a niqab while driving in April, was placed under police watch for the third time in four months because of an “abuse of confidence.” There was some question about how he paid his legal council. The Minister of the Interior, Brice Hortefeux, has suggested that Hebbadj may lose his French citizenship if he is found guilty of fraud. Hebbadj has claimed he is not a polygamist but that the mothers of his children are his mistresses.

France Signals Heightened Terrorist Alert

News Agencies – September 20, 2010

France is on heightened alert for possible terrorist attacks after receiving a tip-off that a female suicide bomber was planning to attack the transport system, a police source said this week. Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said France was facing a real terrorism threat as it faces a backlash from al Qaeda militants in North Africa and fears grow of an attack from home-grown cells within its borders.
A police source told Reuters the authorities had been alerted from Algeria that there was a possible threat from a female suicide bomber to the Paris metro system. France has not suffered a major attack since 1995 when the Algerian Armed Islamic Group killed eight people and wounded dozens bombing a Paris metro station.
France’s overall alert level remains unchanged at “red,” the second highest level. Opposition MPs have suggested the government may be using the “terror card” to distract from a political financing scandal embroiling the labor minister and the international uproar on the repatriation of Roma from France. The French military presence in Afghanistan and the parliament adopting a ban on full Islamic veils are also issues of contention.

Lies Hebbadj Placed Under Police Watch in France

News Agencies – September 20, 2010

Lies Hebbadj, the grocer from Nantes who came under fire after his wife was fined for wearing a niqab while driving in April, was placed under police watch for the third time in four months because of an “abuse of confidence.” There was some question about how he paid his legal council. The Minister of the Interior, Brice Hortefeux, has suggested that Hebbadj may lose his French citizenship if he is found guilty of fraud. Hebbadj has claimed he is not a polygamist but that the mothers of his children are his mistresses.

France Signals Heightened Terrorist Alert

News Agencies – September 20, 2010

France is on heightened alert for possible terrorist attacks after receiving a tip-off that a female suicide bomber was planning to attack the transport system, a police source said this week. Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said France was facing a real terrorism threat as it faces a backlash from al Qaeda militants in North Africa and fears grow of an attack from home-grown cells within its borders.
A police source told Reuters the authorities had been alerted from Algeria that there was a possible threat from a female suicide bomber to the Paris metro system. France has not suffered a major attack since 1995 when the Algerian Armed Islamic Group killed eight people and wounded dozens bombing a Paris metro station.
France’s overall alert level remains unchanged at “red,” the second highest level. Opposition MPs have suggested the government may be using the “terror card” to distract from a political financing scandal embroiling the labor minister and the international uproar on the repatriation of Roma from France. The French military presence in Afghanistan and the parliament adopting a ban on full Islamic veils are also issues of contention.

Sarkozy says polygamy and female circumcision are not grounds to lose citizenship

News Agencies – September 6, 2010
President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed to press ahead with plans to strip French citizenship from immigrants who attack police, but ruled out that punishment for those who practice polygamy or promote female circumcision. Sarkozy first proposed reversing the naturalisation of immigrants convicted of endangering the lives of police in July in response to three days of urban riots in the southern city of Grenoble after police shot dead a suspected armed robber.
But the president’s proposals and a separate call by his Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux to strip the nationality of polygamists and female circumcision advocates, have been fiercely criticized by the opposition and some legal experts.
Left-wing and intellectual critics accuse Sarkozy of playing to racist sentiment by lumping violent crime and immigration together, and creating two classes of citizenship. Tens of thousands of demonstrators protested in several cities against Sarkozy’s security crackdown, which has included the highly publicized rounding up and expulsion of illegal Roma migrants. The government called the protest a flop.

“Islamicist” Imam Expulsed from France a Second Time

Le Monde – August 19, 2010
France’s Minister of the Interior, Brice Hortefeux, has deported a “Islamicist” imam, Ali Ibrahim El-Soudany, to Egypt from a mosque in Pantin for the second time. Hortefeux explained in a news release, “This individual recently reappeared in France after his expulsion last January.” Since 2002, 125 radical “Islamicists”, of which 29 were imams, have been deported from France.

Prime Minister Fillon Attends Mosque Opening North of Paris

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon attended the inauguration of a mosque in Argenteuil, a
suburb north of Paris, the first time a head of government has attended such an event. Fillon gave
a speech to the 800 dignitaries in which he denounced violence against Muslims in France. But
he also warned against religious fundamentalism.
Fillon said Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux had signed an agreement with the French Muslim
council (CFCM) which would allow the gathering of statistics of violence committed against
Muslims in France. He also said that he had asked Justice Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie to
increase the number of judges specially trained to fight racism and xenophobia. The mosque
was built for the Al Iihsan Islamic institute of France, on a 5,200-square-meter piece of land.
According to the institute, some 28,000 Muslims live in Argenteuil.