Corsica: Mob attacks Muslim prayer hall on Christmas
A demonstration against an attack on firefighters and policemen escalated into a full-fledged assault on a Muslim prayer hall, in the Corsican capital Ajaccio. A mob of around 600 ransacked the prayer hall, flung out copies of prayer books onto the streets and tried to set fire to copies of Quran. Muslim prayer halls in the neighborhood were immediately placed under police protection.
The French Island of Corsica
Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea, which is a French territorial collectivity. A territorial collectivity is a region that has autonomous governance, but is officially a part of the parent country. Corsica has a population of 322,120. 56.3% of the inhabitants of Corsica are natives of Corsica, 28.6% were natives of continental France. Roughly 14% are immigrants, mainly Arabs from Morocco.
France bans niqabs
The French parliament passed a bill which makes wearing head-scarves, including burkhas/niqabs illegal, because it makes identification of individuals difficult. The move was widely condemned by Muslims across the world as infringing upon the right to practice their religion, calling French an Islamophobic nation. On 22 Sep 2011, Hind Ahmas and Najate Nait Ali became the first women to arrested for wearing a niqab.
The Charlie Hebdo attacks
Charlie Hebdo is a satirical French newspaper which became infamous for its depictions of the Islamic faith and Prophet Mohammed. On January 7, 2015 armed gunmen stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo and killed its editorial team, to "avenge the Prophet". The killings sparked widespread protests in France with citizens arguing that the incident was a direct attack on the right to free speech.
Rising Intolerence in France
Anti-Muslim crimes in France rose to record levels after the attacks on Charlie Hedbo and the shooting at a supermarket in January 2015. Over 54 anti-Muslim incidents occurred in just one week after the Charlie Hebdo shootings including gun and grenade attacks on mosques, local businesses and assaults on Muslim women. Large scale anti-Muslim protests also erupted across Europe including in Germany and Poland.
Women targetted by Muslim haters in Paris
The French Committee on Islamophobia observed that most anti-Muslim crimes in Paris targeted women, not institutions. The mayor of Montsoult, barred entry for Muslim women in the municipal building.
Why did anti-Muslim violence begin in Corsica?
On Christmas eve, two firefighters and a police man were attending to an emergency call in Jardins de L'Empereur, a low-income immigrant neighborhood of Ajaccio. Reports indicate that a group of "hooded" youths accosted the firefighters and the police, injuring them severely and allegedly shouted "anti-national" slogans during the attack. The neighborhood has a large number of immigrant Arabs from Morocco.