On 16 October, an 18-year-old Russian-Chechen refugee in the Paris suburb of Conflans - Sainte-Honorine stabbed and beheaded the history and geography teacher Samuel Paty in the street. The alleged perpetrator is said to have acted out of hatred – Paty had dealt with the topic of “freedom of expression” in class and had also shown the Muhammad cartoons of the satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo”. This is probably also because the “Charlie Hebdo"trial is currently underway in Paris: until mid-November, the aid workers of the terrorists will have to answer for themselves in court, which will take place on 7 November. On January 15, 2015, 12 people were killed and 11 others injured in the editorial office of the satirical newspaper “Charlie Hebdo”.
After the beheading of Samuel Paty, hate slogans against the teacher and against French President Emmanuel Macron were published on a Twitter Account that has since been suspended, as well as a photo that allegedly showed the head of the victim. The perpetrator was shot by police. In addition, four people, who are said to come from the family circle of the attacker, have been taken into police custody. Commenting on the beheading as a “clear Islamist terrorist attack”, President Emmanuel Macron said France would not give up caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed – which has made him the ultimate hate figure for Islamists. Thanks to measures and legislative tightening, “fear in the country will change camps.“With regard to violence and terrorists, Macron said,” You will not get away with this.”
See hate, reap hate
Nevertheless, the reactions to the beheading of Samuel Paty show that Islamist-motivated terrorists still achieve their goals: they sow and reap hatred. And quite successfully. For example, French security forces arrested 27 more people for publishing and distributing allegedly illegal internet content. And since 29. At least three people were killed in a suspected Islamist knife attack in Nice on October 20 and the police in Avignon shot an armed man, the highest terror alert level in France. As French media report, however, the incident in Avignon is not supposed to have an Islamist, but a right-wing extremist background.
Also on October 29, a French consulate guard in Djidda (Saudi Arabia) was attacked with a knife. The perpetrator could be arrested, the victim is out of danger.
In Bangladesh, thousands of people demonstrated against the French President, burning Portraits and French flags. On 27 October, the French Foreign Ministry issued security notices for several predominantly Muslim countries and called on French citizens to stay away from protests and public gatherings.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry regretted that “in the name of freedom of expression, the sanctuaries of millions of Muslims are ignored.” This kind of Islamophobia only leads to further radical reactions of Islamist groups. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused European politicians of Islamophobia and described them as “chain links of the Nazis”. Erdogan called for a boycott of France; merchants in Jordan, Kuwait and Qatar took French goods from their stores.
In France, however, hatred also manifests itself among French people who want to take revenge on suspected Islamists and jihadists. In the recent past, French media have increasingly reported on anti-Muslim acts: humiliations, threats and aggression suffered by Muslims living in France. Some of the cases are said to originate from the extreme right, several investigations have been initiated. Between January and June, according to the National Observatory for combating Islamophobia in France, 85 anti-Islam acts were reported, including 46 threats and 18 attacks on places of worship and cemeteries. The dark figure is high, even the insults and threats in Social Media do not flow into the statistics.
It is not the first time that hatred and violence against Muslims have exploded after attacks in France. The highlight so far is 2015, the year in which Islamist assassins killed 130 people in Paris and the suburb of Saint-Denis. And the year in which the satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo” was attacked. At that time, the National Observatory for combating Islamophobia counted 128 anti-Muslim crimes within two weeks (excluding Paris and the Paris suburbs). That was almost as many as in the entire year 2014.
Attacks on mosques
After the beheading of Samuel Paty, at least three mosques in France were damaged or threatened – in a period of less than two weeks. For example, the night after the murder of Paty in Montélimar, the gate of the Moroccan Mosque Al Hidaya was broken open and smeared with paint.
On October 20, the leaders of the AR Rahma Mosque in Béziers filed a complaint after they discovered a message on Facebook calling for the building to be “burned down” to “pay homage to Samuel Paty” and “spread the message that we have had enough of this”. One user replied: “a Clan is being established, we will keep you informed.“Statements attributed to the racial and right-wing extremist “Identitarian movement”. In the meantime, a suspect could be identified, threatening up to a year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros.
On the night of 20-21 October, three windows of the Nour El-Mohamadi Mosque in the centre of Bordeaux were smashed. The walls were smeared with Celtic crosses and the inscriptions “Mahomet = coward”, “Vive la France” and “remove the veil”. The prosecutor’s Office of Bordeaux has opened an investigation for damage to property.
Life-threatening attack with knife
The most emblematic case of the tense climate in France today is a knife attack on two Muslim women near the Eiffel Tower on October 18. According to various French media, the attack began with a confrontation. Five women, accompanied by their children, were walking on Champ-de-Mars when they approached a free-roaming dog. They asked the owners to put the dog on a leash.
The dog owners responded with the words: “dirty Arabs”, “we are here at home”, “go back to your country”. Then they tried to pull the veil off one of the women’s heads. When her 19-year-old sister intervenes, she is stabbed several times in the face, stomach and wrist with a knife. Another of the women was stabbed six times and her lung was injured.
At the opening of the investigation into attempted murder, the Paris prosecutor’s office said that at this stage “there is no evidence to support the theory of a racist or related to the wearing of the veil.” Three days later, the investigating magistrate finally accepted the racist or anti-religious motivation as an aggravating circumstance for the intentional violence committed in a state of drunkenness.
The two attackers have since been charged and the alleged stabbing victim is in custody. Both attackers deny the racist insults.