Another attack in French city Nice killed three people in a church

Such terror attacks are not serving the interests of ordinary Muslims in France

French city Nice once again came under terrorist attack today morning. An attacker with a knife killed three people, including a woman who was decapitated, at a church.  Mayor Christian Estrosi said on Twitter the knife attack had happened in or near the city’s Notre Dame church and that police had detained the attacker. A police source said a woman was decapitated.

The attack comes while France is still reeling from the beheading earlier this month of French middle school teacher Samuel Paty by a man of Chechen origin. The attacker had said he wanted to punish Paty for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in a civics lesson.

Such attacks have increased since a French publication published the blasphemous cartoons of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) couple of years ago. It was not immediately clear what the motive was for the Nice Church attack, or if there was any connection to the cartoons.

Since Paty’s killing, French officials - backed by many ordinary citizens - have re-asserted the right to display the cartoons, and the images have been widely displayed at marches in solidarity with the killed teacher. France has largest Muslim population in Europe. France has approximately five million residents of Muslim descent. The half of the Muslim population is believed to be less than 24 years of age.

On the side, there is anger in Muslim population against blasphemous cartoons and other material. The more radicalised Muslim youth is resorting to violence. There is high unemployment rate among young Muslims in France. There is desperation, anger and frustration among the young people.  

On the other hand, such violent attacks are fuelling anger in the French society. The Islamophobia is on the rise. This situation is not good for Muslim population living in Europe. The right wing politicians are using these attacks to whip up the anti-Muslim sentiments.

Majority of Muslim population is living peacefully for decades and well integrated with French society. Some radical Muslim youth have been using violent means. Their actions are not serving Islam or Muslims but creating more problems for them.

The French government needs to consider the sensitivities of Muslim population regarding Holy Prophet while Muslims needs to respect the secular French traditions and values.

Muslims in France hail from a large number of countries, although most came from North Africa, mainly Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia (known as the Maghreb). The greatest number of Muslims came to France in the contemporary era, in the wake of the colonial wars of independence (1954 - 1962). The major Muslim population centres in France are Paris, Marseille, and Lyon and their outlying suburbs.

Of the approximately 15 million Muslims who currently live in the European Union, France is home to the largest number around 05 million, equal to around one third of the total. Muslims are nearly 8% of the French population.  Germany follows with 3.3 million, Britain with 1.6 million, and Italy and the Netherlands with as many as 1 million each.

Muslims are a relatively small minority in Europe, making up roughly 5% of the population. However, in some countries, such as France and Sweden, the Muslim share of the population is higher. And, in the coming decades, the Muslim share of the continent’s population is expected to grow – and could more than double.

These demographic shifts have already led to political and social upheavals in many European countries, especially in the wake of the recent arrival of millions of asylum seekers, many of whom are Muslims. In recent national elections in France and Germany, for instance, immigration — and particularly Muslim immigration — were top issues.

As of mid-2016, there were 5.7 million Muslims in France (8.8% of the country’s population) and 5 million Muslims in Germany (6.1%). The EU country in which Muslims make up the largest share of the population is Cyprus: The island nation’s 300,000 Muslims make up about one-quarter (25.4%) of its population, and are mostly Turkish Cypriots with deep roots in Cyprus (and not recent migrants).

the policies of hate and divide will further alienate the Muslim population and specially young people. There is urgent need to reach out to the disgruntled sections of Muslim youth. The continued publication of blasphemous content will not help. it will fuel more anger and radicalisation. 

                                                              The Editor


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