‘French have legitimate fear about Islam after terror attacks’

People form a human chain as they take candles and flowers left in tribute at makeshift memorials to the victims of the truck attack and place them along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, July 18, 2016. © Jean-Pierre Amet
After the terror attack that killed 84 people in Nice, RT heard both sides of the issue of hatred and intolerance in France in a debate with political commentator Mo Ansar and French writer and commentator Alexandre Mendel.

On July 14, 84 people were killed and over three hundred injured in the French city of Nice when a truck was deliberately driven into crowds during Bastille Day celebrations. The Nice attack, which has been linked to ISIS, is the second in a week within the EU.

Tensions flared during a minute silence for the victims of the attack.

An angry exchange was caught on video between a man and a woman after he'd told her to go back to her own country.

RT: We're seeing yet more examples of the fear and sometimes hatred of Muslims. Isn't the real issue here that non-Muslims don't understand Islam and they can't tell the difference between a Muslim and a Muslim extremist?

Mo Ansar: I think that is part of the issue. I think ignorance is festering on both sides of the debate. I think there are non-Muslims who have a very poor understanding what Islam and Muslims are. As we’ve seen from the Nice attacker, his lifestyle was about as far removed from an Islamic and Muslim life as it is possible to be. We’ve also seen something similar with the Brussels attacks. But at the same time, very important civilizational questions are being asked of new migrants who have settled in communities here about what is their understanding of European liberalism, democracy, the ideas of tolerance and enlightenment. But the difficulty we have is immigrants, even people at home, are looking around at their governments, they’re looking at the politics and policies of fear and prejudice at home and abroad and we are seeing very little tolerance here. And behavior and ignorance is breeding behavior and even more ignorance.  

RT: What is your opinion about the examples of tensions and violence on the streets, hatred towards Muslims? Where is all this is coming from?

Alexandre Mendel: I don’t think there is hatred towards the Muslims. I think France has reached its level of tolerance against radical Islamism. People are literally fed up by Islamic hate towards us. We welcomed them 30 years ago and the third generation hates us, commits attacks against us. In just one year, France lost 230 citizens during the attacks. I guess there are some reasons why the French are fed up. Don’t forget that next year the presidential election will be held. I am sure the French will get their revenge by voting. I’ve never seen any big Muslim demonstrations against the Islamic terrorism. So, I don’t think there is a problem with Islamophobia. Islamophobia is a sickness. There is a legitimate fear about Islam. Because every attack we’ve been through someone said: “Allah Akbar”…

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.