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‘Climate of Islamophobia’: Two attackers rip veil off French girl

‘Climate of Islamophobia’: Two attackers rip veil off French girl
A 16-year old girl was attacked in Paris suburb and had the Islamic veil she was wearing torn from her face. As anti-Islamic attacks in France soar, a French Muslim leader condemned the ‘climate of Islamophobia’ and urged the government to act.

The teenager was leaving a friend’s house in Trappes at about 5:45 pm, when she was attacked by two “European looking” men, one of whom was also described as having a shaven head.  

Her assailants then shouted anti-Muslim and racist abuse at her while brandishing a box cutter, before tearing off her veil, pushing her to the ground and hitting her. 

A third man intervened saving the girl and the attackers fled by car. The victim was driven to hospital in Trappes, the same blighted suburb of Paris that saw violent clashes between police and mainly Muslim youths last month. 

A source told the newspaper le Parisien that she was treated for “light scratch marks” on her face and throat. She reported the incident to the police on Tuesday. 

The French Interior Minister Manuel Valls was quick to condemn the attack.

“I severely condemn this newest demonstration of anti-Muslim hatred and intolerance. Police services have been fully mobilized so that the authors of this unacceptable attack are identified, found, arrested and handed over to the courts,” he said. 

This latest attack is one of many anti-Muslim incidents in France, which have risen by 60% in recent months. 

There were two days of rioting in Trappes in July after a woman in full Islamic head gear was stopped by police. While in June, a Muslim woman allegedly had a miscarriage after being assaulted by skinheads in Argenteuil, although it was not clear if the attack was the direct cause of the loss of her baby. This came just three weeks after another attack on a veiled woman in Argenteuil.  

French policemen from the anti-crime unit (BAC) patrol in the streets on July 20, 2013 in Trappes, a suburb of Paris. Violent clashes erupted between citizens and French police late on July 18, 2013 after police officers carried out an identity check on a full-face veiled woman and her husband. (AFP Photo / Miguel Medina)

Also on Tuesday a man was arrested in the southern city of Avignon for writing anti-Islamic slogans on several buildings including the Palais des Papes, a Unesco World heritage Site. 

The spike in hate crimes against Muslims in France has led to Kamel Kabtane, the rector of the Grand mosque in Lyon, to urge the government of President Francoise Hollande to take “serious measures” to counter the rising tide of Islamophobia in France. 

Addressing over 100 supporters who were gathered outside the Forkane mosque in Venissieux, a suburb of Lyon, he spoke of his extreme concern for the arrest of a soldier, who was detained at the Mont Verdan airbase last Wednesday for allegedly planning a series of terrorist attacks against the Forkane mosque. 

“The fact that a soldier has been arrested for a terrorist plot shows a climate of Islamophoboia reigns in France today, we cannot deny it." 

He added that the presence of such “back sheep” in the army was proof that it has been “infected” by the extreme right. 

The vice president of the far right party the National Front was quick to contradict the Muslim cleric’s words. 

He said on the French TV that Kabtane’s comments “didn’t make sense.”

“Does this mean that one day the French people woke up and said ‘today I will be intolerant?’” he said, adding that the French “are a welcoming people but we hate communitarianism,” in an apparent reference to minority groups in French society.

Rabia, 17, a veiled woman victim of agression in the street on May 20, speaks during a press conference on June 22, 2013 in Argenteuil, Paris suburb. (AFP Photo / Miguel Medina)