• Ashlee Knox

Religious Tensions Rise in France

A recent onslaught of Islamic terrorist attacks in France has sparked fear in both Muslims and non-muslims in the country as anti-Islamic feelings are generated. French citizens and foreign advisors worry that the President’s new “tough on terrorism” stance may be a slippery slope to religious discrimination against Muslims.

Image Source: The World

France has already maintained a ban prohibiting facial coverings associated with Islam such as niqab and burqas since 2011 when the controversial legislation was determined to be constitutional. The justification behind the ban is that full facial coverings inhibit public safety due to possible anonymity. Although the country is requiring all inhabitants currently to wear facial masks due to Coronavirus, the ban on facial coverings associated with Muslims is still in full effect. Critics have pointed out that this proves that the ban is less about public safety and more about discriminating against Muslims who may choose to wear the coverings for religious reasons.

The streak of Islamophobia continues amid high tensions due to multiple instances of terrorism in the past month in France. In mid-October, a teacher in north Paris was beheaded by an 18-year-old- extremist after showing students satirical cartoons published in the popular magazine Charlie Hebdo mocking Mohammed, the Prophet. Not much later, near Halloween, another incident occurred where 3 Christian churchgoers were stabbed to death in the city of Nice. In between the two incidents was a scathing speech given by the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, where the leader described Islam as a religion “that is in crisis all over the world today” and announced his fight to end “Islamist Separatism”.

His speech has not come without consequences. Protests from Muslims across the world and in France have sparked a global boycott of French products in certain communities. Muslims in the country are in fear due to the seemingly discriminatory speech that may have riled up anti-immigrant and anti-Islamic perpetrators. 2

As tensions continue to rise in France world leaders from the Middle East and America look towards Macron to see how the President handles it during this already tumultuous time.