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‘Libertaire, Egalitaire, Fraternitaire’, or So They Say

Oct 22, 2020

Yesterday, the shocking news of two Muslim women who had been stabbed in Paris, France,(briefly)  hit the headlines. They had been stabbed by two other women, screaming “Dirty Arab!” and “Go back to your country!” near the Eiffel Tower. While the incident has been labelled as ‘racist’, there has been no mention of it as Islamophobic, nor, unbelievably, has it been classified as an act of terror.

The incident had occurred on Sunday night, but was only reported in the mainstream media on Wednesday. Some say, that too, only because of the social media backlash. No information about the incident had initially been released by French authorities, leading to criticism from online users.

The women, known only as Kenza, and Amel, had been taking a walk in a park at the Eiffel Tower, with their children, who became afraid at the presence of an unleashed dog. Kenza reportedly approached the women to tell them to keep the dog near them, as the children were afraid. An altercation occurred, following which the stabbings took place.

Paris police have confirmed that they had intervened “following a police call for help for two women with stab wounds at the Champ-de-Mars at approximately 8pm. The incident was thus reported, making it official. Further, Paris firefighters confirmed on Tuesday to AFP that they intervened at about 8:50pm in Paris on Sunday to rescue two women, which begs the question: why the media silence right up until Wednesday?

The stabbings followed the beheading of a French schoolteacher, Samuel Paty, on Friday, after he had shown his class of 13-year old’s caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed (Peace be Upon Him), in a lesson on ‘free speech’. The teacher’s killing, by an 18-year-old, Aboulakh Anzarov, received massive coverage, and the story had been run even until Thursday. That makes it a week of media coverage. Particularly noteworthy is that Anzarov has been described as of Chechen origin.

France went into a frenzy. A mosque has been closed, Islamic institutions accused of having connections to so called ‘radical Islam’ have been shut down, and several people, are in custody, including a parent of one of the 13 year old’s, who had laid a complaint against Paty over the caricatures. Mass protest marches were held over Paty’s killing. One cannot help but wonder what would have happened if the attackers in Sunday evening’s Eiffel Tower incident had been Muslim, and the victims ‘European’. And, if the deafening silence of the French authorities, and the media, would have been a deafening roar.

The two women who had attacked the Muslim French women ‘of Algerian descent’ are in police custody and are to be charged with attempted murder. Kenza had been stabbed 6 times, in her skull, arm, and ribs. She suffered a punctured lung. Amel had had to undergo surgery on a hand. The stabbings were committed infront of their children. For no apparent reason. Is that not an act of terror?

Photos of the attack were widely circulated on social media, as well as a video of the incident which the women’s chilling screams could be heard, days after the event, prompting criticism of the French media silence over the attempted killing of the two women. Was this because no ‘European’ (of ‘European descent’) could commit an act of terror? Journalist Rym Bendimerad on Wednesday tweeted, “People are so quick to wrongly link Islam to the monster who murdered a teacher earlier this week – yet acts of violence committed against REAL Muslims are being ignored.”

There is no mention of any ‘descent’ in media reports regarding the incident. City prosecutors have described the two attackers, as being white women of “European appearance.” What made the Muslim women appear to not be of European appearance? Perhaps the fact that one of them wore a veil: one cannot possibly be European if one is Muslim, right?

The attack came just hours after tens of thousands of protesters took part in marches across France in support of ‘free speech’ in the wake of the beheading of the schoolteacher. With French President Emmanuel Macron’s government under pressure, with one senior opposition figure criticizing his (already extreme) approach after the death of Paty, and calling for “armes et non des larmes” – (weapons not tears), it is no wonder Muslims can be attacked. If calling for weapons instead of tears is not a call to arms, what is? If secular, democratic France, cannot condemn those words as hate speech, then what indeed is hate speech, one wonders…….

Umm Muhammed Umar

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