Thousands of people marched in Paris and other French cities against Islamophobia targeting Western Europe’s largest Muslim population.
Muslims joining the march through the rainy streets of the capital say they have had enough.
Mohamed, here with his sister Khadija, says the two feel completely integrated in French society. But he says he’s faced discrimination — including being asked to change his name during a job interview to something more traditionally French.
A recent IFOP poll finds four in 10 French Muslims also believe they are discriminated against because of their religion. Another survey finds more than 60 percent of respondents considered Islam incompatible with French values.
While anti-Islamic attacks are not new, several recent events helped catalyze this protest. Last month, two Muslims were shot and seriously wounded outside a mosque in southwestern France.
France’s conservative Senate also approved an amendment banning veiled women from accompanying their children on school outings. The lower house is unlikely to pass it. But it followed an incident where a far-right lawmaker demanded a woman visiting a regional council to remove her headscarf — leaving her son in tears.
Wafa, a mother of three, says she’s had a similar experience. She’s a trained computer technician, but she says she can’t find a job because of her veil.
Sixty-eight-year-old Julia Fernandez was among the many non-Muslims who joined the march.
She likened the current climate to the anti-Semitism of the 1930s, before the Holocaust.
Still the march was controversial, with some of the organizers accused of ties to fundamentalist Islam. A number of leftist politicians opted not to join the protest.