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French Muslim fury at mosque attack 'silence' - Expatica, Netherlands

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  • Zafar Khan
    French Muslim fury at mosque attack silence http://www.expatica.com/source/site_article.asp?subchannel_id=58&story_id=5362 PARIS, March 6 (AFP) - Top French
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 8, 2004
      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
      statement said.

      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.

      © AFP

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