How Bad Is France's Anti-Muslim Backlash to the 'Charlie Hebdo' Attack? Check This Map

Source: AP
Source: AP

On Sunday, millions of French citizens peacefully marched through the streets of Paris in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine attacked by Islamic extremists last week, in what French officials have described as the largest demonstration in the country's history.

But this was far from the only response to the days of terror that rocked France.

In the first 48 hours after the Charlie Hebdo attack, there were nearly 15 anti-Muslim attacks across France, according to British anti-Islamophobia group Tell MAMA UK.

Source: Tell MAMA UK

The majority of the attacks targeted mosques and other Islamic prayer centers throughout France, including:

— Three blank grenades exploded inside of a mosque in the city of Le Mans, west of Paris. One window also took a bullet.

— Near Narbonne, in the Port-la-Nouvelle district, several shots were fired in the direction of a Muslim prayer hall shortly after evening prayers. The hall was empty, the local prosecutor said.

—  A blast erupted at L'Imperial, a restaurant affiliated with a mosque in the French village of Villefranche-sur-Saone.

— The head and entrails of a boar were left outside of an Islamic prayer center in Corsica, along with a note: "Next time it will be one of your heads."

Luckily, nobody was killed in any of these incidents, all of which pale in comparison to the bloodshed wrought by the gunmen who stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7. But as Vox's Max Fisher notes, "These incidents point to a long-worsening trend of hostility in France toward the country's Muslim minority, which makes up an estimated 8% to 10% of the population, and a sense among French Muslims that they are not welcome."

They likely won't be the last instances of anti-Muslim reprisals in the wake of France's week of terror. As Mic's Scott Bixby notes, the Charlie Hebdo attack will likely embolden the Europe's burgeoning far-right xenophobes, who swiftly gained political and social clout in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis. Just hours after the attack, France's Front National seemed set to use the attack to further its anti-immigrant agenda: The party's treasurer, speaking ahead of a press conference by Marine Le Pen, said: "Islam has a tendency to create fanatics more than any other religion. The facts on the ground prove this."

It's an all-too-familiar story, especially for observers in the U.S. In America, hate crimes traditionally spike whenever there's a criminal or terrorist incident involving Muslims. Sometimes this reaction occurs over something so innocuous as debating the placement of a mosque in New York City (which isn't even a mosque). 

The recent experiences of Canada and Australia offer a glimmer of hope in the face of fear. Following an October attack on Canada's Parliament Hill, volunteers responded to the defacement of a mosque in Cold Lake, Alberta, by cleaning the site, scrubbing the walls, replacing glass and displaying signs that said "Love Your Neighbor." And after Australia's December hostage crisis in downtown Sydney, Australians have banded together on Twitter with #IllRideWithYou, a hashtag showing their solidarity with Muslim fellow countrymen scared of being attacked on public transportation. 

These instances of compassion hold a powerful lesson for France: No march, no matter how large, can truly be a beacon of solidarity unless French Muslims are included in, not alienated from, the project of civil society.

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Jared Keller

Jared Keller is the former director of news at Mic.

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