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French Muslims note uptick in racism

Nov. 20, 2012 at 2:23 PM

PARIS, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- French Muslims said there has been an alarming uptick in Islamophobic acts and called for the government to take the matter more seriously.

The French National Observatory of Islamophobia said there were 34 percent more anti-Muslim attacks in the nation in 2011 compared to 2010, France 24 reported. And thus far in 2012, the trend is increasing, with 175 reported incidents of racist attacks or assaults, a 42 percent increase from the same period in 2011.

The group in part blames a resurgence of the far right for stoking anti-Islam sentiments. The anti-immigrant National Front party won 17.9 percent of the vote in the 2012 presidential election, a record for the party.

A group calling itself "Generation Identity" took over a construction site for a mosque outside Paris and chanted "warlike" slogans about Muslims earlier this year.

Observatory President Abdallah Zekri blamed "the tense socio-political atmosphere" and "a radicalization of the political rhetoric of some mainstream politicians who exploit racial tensions for populist political gains" for the increased violence.

Zekeri has called for anti-Muslim sentiments to be taken as seriously as anti-Semitism, which is a criminal offense in France.

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