Islam hater injures two people in Bayonne
An 84-year-old man has shot two people, seriously injuring them, in the French city of Bayonne. They had surprised him in the act of setting a fire outside the entrance to a mosque. The attacker had already attracted the attention of local authorities with racist statements. In 2015 he stood as a local candidate for the far-right National Front. Commentators see hatred of Muslims as posing a major problem for French society.
Tolerant society in the crossfire
Nadia Pantel, Paris correspondent for the Süddeutsche Zeitung, explains why Islamophobia is spreading in France:
“In October 2017 men with links to the far-right milieu were arrested for planning attacks on politicians; in June 2018 the same happened with a far-right group that was planning to attack imams and women wearing veils. The hatred is fuelled by three groups. There are professional polemicists like the publicist Éric Zemmour, who spread their aversion to Muslims and immigrants on all channels. Then all those who have started treating the politician Marine Le Pen as if she were 'the voice of the people' and not the leader of a party with fascist roots. And finally those who brought death and fear in the name of the IS terrorist militia. The strategy is working: tolerant society is suffering.”
Islam is pluralist and complex
The hatred of Muslims is the result of a lack of differentiation, La Croix stresses:
“We must refrain from tarring everyone with the same brush. Islamist terror, advocated by individuals who commit crimes in the name of their version of Islam, is a reality that must be fought and defeated by the state. But the violence it perpetrates must not lead us to heap shame on millions of people linked through their culture to a religion that they interpret in a huge variety of ways. Islam is pluralist, complex, and even divided. ... What's more, Muslim religious leaders can help to curb the excesses in the debates about Islam if they address the concerns of French society and stop defending the idea of a homogenous community of believers.”