This map shows every attack on French Muslims since Charlie Hebdo

Since the terrorist attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the country’s Muslim community, despite universally and repeatedly condemning the attack, has come under a wave of misguided “reprisal” attacks.

The attacks are being mapped by a respected British anti-Islamophobia group, Tell MAMA UK (MAMA stands for measuring anti-Muslim attacks). This map details the incidents since they began, mere hours after the Charlie Hebdo attack:

Attacks on French Muslims from January 6 to January 10 (Tell MAMA UK)

Attacks on French Muslims from January 6 to January 10 (Tell MAMA UK)

According to reports by AFP and others, the attacks have included:

  • Three training grenades thrown at a mosque in Le Man; a bullet hole was also found in one of the mosque windows
  • A bomb blast at a restaurant adjacent to and associated with a mosque in Villefranche-sur-Saone
  • Gunshots fired at a mosque in Port-la-Nouvelle
  • A boar’s head and entrails were left outside an Islamic prayer center in Corsica with a note: “Next time it will be one of your heads.”

The attacks have been relatively small-scale, especially compared to the Charlie Hebdo massacre and subsequent violence committed by its apparent culprits. The only serious harm so far came from a gang assaulting a 17-year-old of North African descent. But these incidents point to a long-worsening trend of hostility in France toward the country’s Muslim minority, which makes up an estimated eight to 10 percent of the population, and a sense among French Muslims that they are not welcome.

The apparent logic of the mosque attacks badly misunderstands the initial Charlie Hebdo attack: if it was carried out by al-Qaeda-linked extremists, as early reports suggest, then this is a group that has made fellow Muslims its primary victims.

Further, such attacks play directly into al-Qaeda’s own logic and agenda, treating the act of few fringe extremists as representative of the non-extremist whole, and fomenting the idea of existential conflict between non-Muslims and Muslims where none actually exists.

It’s important to understand, though, that these attacks and the sentiment behind them did not come from nowhere. French attitudes toward Islam are, to say the least, complex — something evidenced at every stage of this story.

The growth of France’s Muslim population has led to deep concern about what that means for France’s secular traditions. The government banned head scarves and other religious symbols from public schools in 2004. In 2014, they banned concealing one’s face in public — a ban widely seen as targeting burqas and niqabs and suggesting that devout Muslim women were unwelcome in public life.

Of course, a ban on Muslim head coverings is nowhere near the same things as this spate of anti-Muslim violence, but both are rooted in a similar hostility toward Islam and Muslim immigrants in France, and contribute to the sense of siege among French Muslims.


Who attacked Charlie Hebdo?

French police have identified two suspects: Saïd Kouachi, 34, and his brother Chérif Kouachi, 32, both from Paris. A third man, Hamyd Mourad, 18, is from Reims. Mourad reportedly turned himself in at a police station near the France-Belgium border after his name began to circulate on social media, according to the New York Times.

The Kouachis have some prior links to international terrorism, though it’s not yet known if their attack was planned or funded by al-Qaeda or any other group.

The Kouachi brothers fled to an industrial building in Dammartin-en-Goele, a village outside of Paris, where they took a hostage. Police were initially put on their trail by an identity card left in a car the alleged shooters used, according to Le Monde. After a brief standoff, police raided the building, and both brothers were killed.

Before the Charles Hebdo attack, Chérif Kouachi was an active member of a cell known as the 19th arrondissement network or the Buttes-Chaumont Group, which sent European Muslims to fight in Iraq after the 2003 US-led invasion. Chérif and other key members of the group were arrested in 2005; he was allegedly planning to travel to Iraq, but never got to go. In 2008, he was convicted on terrorism charges but released for time served after his arrest.

In 2010, Chérif was arrested again, this time for trying to break a militant out of prison; The Star reports he was released for lack of evidence. In 2011, Saïd went to Yemen to train with al-Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. According to the New York Times, his training lasted “for a few months” and covered marksmanship and small arms combat.

The alleged gunmen said after the attack that they had “avenged the Prophet Mohammad,” according to witnesses. One witness also told the New York Times, “They spoke perfect French, and claimed to be from Al Qaeda.”

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