Bordeaux - I have written a few articles for Morocco World News about the rise of islamophobia in France. Indeed, many articles deal with the growing number of French citizens saying they think there are too many Muslims in France, or that they are a threat to the "national identity" and that they contribute to insecurity in the country. Many statistics are published every year, and political parties use this feeling for electoral purposes.
Bordeaux – I have written a few articles for Morocco World News about the rise of islamophobia in France. Indeed, many articles deal with the growing number of French citizens saying they think there are too many Muslims in France, or that they are a threat to the “national identity” and that they contribute to insecurity in the country. Many statistics are published every year, and political parties use this feeling for electoral purposes.
I had the chance to grow up in a rather privileged, racism-free environment. My mother and her siblings spent their childhood in Algeria, and she often told me about the culture and how things were there. Among other things, we ate chorba in the winter and when she could find them, she would buy zlabia. Sometimes, I would even hear her speak a little bit of Arabic.
I recall a day when my younger brother, who was about 6 at the time, was grounded at school for getting into a fight. When he came home, my parents asked him what had happened. He said he slapped a boy for saying his friend Will was black. We all turned to him and said that his friend was, indeed, black. His reaction was priceless: “Oh, really?!” he said, absolutely astonished. This is how things were. We had never been exposed to racism and completely ignored differences. In fact, we didn’t even see them.
The first time I heard about racism was probably on TV, while my parents were watching the news. Until recently, I had never really witnessed it firsthand. Of course, I knew about discriminations and heard political leaders target immigrants. It all became obvious after 9/11, I think. Then there were the 2005 riots, where immigrants, especially those from North Africa, were described as responsible for the growing insecurity. But even then, it was taking place in Paris, it didn’t affect me that much.
Hearing about something in the news somehow takes away the matter’s reality.
Recently, I have witnessed many “everyday acts of discrimination,” especially against Muslims, that make the issue appear much more real.
The first one happened to a childhood friend of mine. I see Marie* from time to time, we were very close growing up and we were in the same class for 13 years. A few months ago, she started dating Ali*, a Moroccan student in France. Since she told her father, he refuses to talk to her or let her come back to the family home. Marie’s mother is so appalled by her husband’s reaction that they are on the edge of divorce, and hasn’t spoken to him since August. When I learned about the event, I couldn’t help asking myself “How can someone ruin their family over such a stupid thing?”
The second thing happened to me very recently. I had lost my umbrella the day before, so I ran to the tramway stop with my scarf on my head to cover my hair and not get wet. When I got in the tramway, I went to sit and a lady put her bag on the seat. I politely asked her if she could take it back so I didn’t have to stand for the 20 minutes, and her reaction really took me by surprise. She gave me a nasty look and told me “Take off your veil and I will let you sit. You are not in a Muslim country here.” It took me a few seconds to realize what she was talking about, since I had completely forgotten my scarf was on my head. When I did, I could only think “ignorance is the mother of all evils” which is what I told her before walking away and finding another seat. As I am writing this article, I still don’t really understand what happened, but realize how racism and the fear of Islam are actually now rooted in an important part of the French society.
When I come to think about it, there is definitely a climate of fear, mostly created by officials. Last week, after the release of the 4 French men who were held hostage by Al Qaeda in Nigeria, Front National leader Marine Le Pen commented the images of their arrival in Paris, implying their might have been “radicalized”. She said the men’s manner and appearance, including their clothing and facial hair, had left her “skeptical and uncomfortable,” a feeling supposedly shared by the French population. “This hostage with a scarf covering the face… all this merits some explanations on the hostages’ part” she added.
Unfortunately, this kind of inappropriate conspiracy theories does find echo in the population, and one can now feel the tense climate in their everyday lives. All these events really saddened me and left me wondering when will people start to think for themselves and realize they are being manipulated to hate one another? I was taught the French Republic is secular and welcomes everyone, regardless of their race, religion or nationality. It is a shame some in the population don’t share the same principles.
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