A year on, female French victims of Islamophobic attacks await justice

25th Jul 2014

A year on French women await justice

[No arrests have been made on a series of Islamophobic assaults on French Muslim women last year including the case of 17 year old Rabia who was repeatedly punched in the face]

Sara Asaria

After two brutal beatings of young French Muslim women in the summer of 2013, one leading to the victim’s miscarriage, French police officials remain complacent to cite Islamophobia as a motive behind these hate crimes. No arrests have been made in relation to the attacks that occurred in the space of two weeks, in Argenteuil, near Paris.

Leila O, a 21-year-old, then four-month pregnant, was confronted by two men on June 13 2013 and described being beaten, her hijab being forcibly removed and her hair being cut by the attackers. Two days later, she suffered a miscarriage, though the police refused to confirm that this was in any way linked to the attack.

Two weeks earlier on May 20, 2013, 17-year-old Rabia was physically and verbally abused by two men, who knocked her to the ground and called her a “dirty Arab” and a “dirty Muslim”. She was left with bruises on the mouth, face and elbows.

The attacks, which took place in Argenteuil, were followed by citizen protests and letters of support from current Prime Minister, Manuel Valls. However, no arrests have been made and many are angered by the Government’s reluctance to address these and similar increasing instances of Islamophobia against women.

Project Manager of the Islamophobia Monitoring and Action Network, Elsa Ray, told The Muslim News that the French police forces continue to demonstrate apathy in addressing the growing trend of Islamophobia attacks on women: “The police investigation has not been moving forward. The investigation is poor compared to the seriousness of the attacks and the consequences on the victims. The perpetrators were well described by the victims, yet the police have not found them yet.”

The police have been further criticised for the lack of support shown towards the victims, allegedly suspecting them of falsifying their statements and exaggerating the extent of their injuries. French law does not recognise Islamophobia as a crime in its own right. However, a 2014 study by the Collectif Contre L’Islamaphobie en France (CCIF) found that reports of acts of Islamophobia continue to rise in France, with women being the primary victims.

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