8 Jan 2015

Mosque attacks reported in wake of Charlie Hebdo attack

Anti-Muslim attacks are reported at a mosque and a kebab shop near a place of worship after 12 people are killed in an attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Two attacks on and around French mosques have been reported after 12 people were killed in an armed assault on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which has angered Muslims in the past with controversial cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad.

Agence France-Presse cited officials who said there had been “several attacks against France mosques” since the Charlie Hebdo killings, although no further details have been released, with only two such attacks so far confirmed.

Under the guise of free speech, it’s likely that the haters will emerge – from both sides – seeking to drag us all down into the quagmire of their hatred
Nick Lowles, Hope Not Hate

One attack took place at a kebab shop next to a mosque in the town of Villefranche-sur-Saône, north of Lyon.

A blast was reported at about 6am and destroyed the glass frontage of the kebab shop. No injuries were reported.

Hand grenades were reportedly thrown at another mosque in Le Mans, which lies south west of Paris.

Four training grenades were lobbed into the mosque, local media said.

One of the grenades exploded while the three others were found undetonated on Thursday morning.

No arrests were made but the area has been cordoned off by police. Local authorities told AFP the incident was being investigated.

Two further apparent anti-Muslim attacks took place immediately after the Hebdo killings.

Several shots were fired towards a Muslim prayer hall in Port-la-Nouvelle, near Narbonne in southern France, shortly after evening prayers at about 8pm on Wednesday.

Shots were fired at a parked car belonging to a family of Muslims in Caromb, near Avignon, that same evening.

Call for calm

Nick Lowles of anti-racist campaign group Hope Not Hate has issued a call for caution stating “let us not fool ourselves: a new page has been turned and things could get very difficult in the coming days and weeks.”

“Anti-Muslim protests are likely to gather pace across Europe, community relations will be tested to their limits and violent attacks could well increase.

“Under the guise of free speech, it’s likely that the haters will emerge – from both sides – seeking to drag us all down into the quagmire of their hatred and a world which they would happily turn to ash. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.”

“Let us remember those who lost their lives in Paris by promising to re-double our efforts to stand up for equality, tolerance, democracy and respect.

Right-wing reaction

Reacting to the Hebdo killings, right-wing French MP Jacques Myard told Channel 4 News: "This is war, the enemy is within and if we don't get tough there could be civil war".

Mr Myard is a senior member of the UMP party previously led by Nicolas Sarkozy, and was an architect of the French burka ban.

Leading lights from the French right-wing party, Front National, have also given their reaction to the Charlie Hebdo attack - laying blame on the political class for dithering, and declaring that France is "at war" against Islamic fundamentalism.

Deputy leader of Front National, Florian Philippot, told RTL Radio: "Anyone who says Islamist radicalism has nothing to do with immigration is living on another planet."

Stéphane Ravier, Marseille mayor for Front National, added: "This form of radical Islam has been developing over the past 15 years so - while the political class dithered and chose to believe everything was rosy."

"We are obviously willing to participate in this national unity, provided it is not a smokescreen."

Front National leader Marine la Pen said it was "reassuring to see the reaction of the French people" after the attack.

"We have to deprive these people of French nationality if they have dual nationality," she added. "France is at war against Islamic fundamentalism"

The Front National has grown in appeal and power over the last 30 years but saw a huge boost when Marine Le Pen took over from her controversial father Jean-Marie, who was prone to issuing racist comments and kept the party on the margins of mainstream politics.

Marine's recent efforts to detoxify the party have been successful - and after years of stagnant economic performance, many French voters no longer trust the political elite or decisions made by European Union, pushing them into the arms of the Front National.