French Muslim fury at mosque attack 'silence' - Expatica, Netherlands
- French Muslim fury at mosque attack 'silence'
PARIS, March 6 (AFP) - Top French figures led by
President Jacques Chirac Saturday condemned arson
attacks on two mosques after Muslim leaders sharply
criticised what they considered the inadequate
response of the politicians.
Chirac condemned the torching of the mosques which
occurred early Friday, assuring the Muslim community
of his sympathy and support.
Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin expressed
indignation at the incidents in eastern France and
said he had ordered "that everything be done to find
the perpetrators of these outrages".
But Muslim leaders were up in arms, criticizing the
political establishment for failing to attend a silent
demonstration at Annecy, where one of the attacks
One fire devastated an 80-square metre (860-square
foot) prayer room in nearby Seynod, while the other
seriously damaged the heating system at the mosque in
"No leading political figure came," Kamel Kabtane, a
local Muslim community leader, told demonstrators
massed outside Annecy mosque.
"We are in a pre-electoral period and many politicians
did not dare come, fearing perhaps a backlash from
voters," he added.
There were no public indications Saturday who was
behind the attacks.Chirac phoned Dalil Boubakeur, head
of the French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM),
and Kamel Kabtane to express his utter condemnation of
what he described as odious acts, a presidential
It said Chirac "expresses his sympathy and support to
all the Muslims of France and assures them of the
government's determination to find and punish those
who carried out these attacks".
In a letter to Kabtane, religious head of the mosque
in Lyon, Raffarin said: "I will personally ensure that
you will be kept informed of the progress of
investigations into these unacceptable acts.
"I wish it to be understood that I firmly condemn all
attempts by those who try to propagate hate in our
country," the prime minister went on.
Meanwhile the CFCM described the attacks as
"unspeakable, racist and anti-Islamic" and Boubakeur
warned that such acts "can only worsen the sensitive
religious climate in our country."
The CFCM is the first recognised national council for
the country's estimated five million Muslims.
The Representative Council of Jewish institutions in
France also strongly condemned the attacks, expressed
full solidarity with the Muslim community and demanded
"a forceful response from authorities".
French Justice Minister Dominique Perben Friday said
the perpetrators being sought by police should be
given exemplary punishment while Muslim leaders have
called for mosques to benefit from the same level of
protection as synagogues.
Perben said he wanted a tough new law against racially
and religiously motivated attacks passed last year to
be applied. The law provides for jail terms for
offenders of up to 20 years.
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