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Islamophobia on the rise in France

Islamophobia on the rise in France
A veiled Palestinian girl holds a copy of the Quran, Islam's holy book, as she protests against the French government's recent decision to ban students in state schools from wearing Isalmic headscarves and other religious attire, during a demonstration in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Sept. 4, 2004.(UPI Photo/ Ismael Mohamad) | License Photo

PARIS, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Muslim groups working in France say Islamophobia is on the rise in the country, growing by 22 percent so far this year.

The president of the French Council for the Muslim Religion, an umbrella group, said Muslim hate crimes are grossly underestimated and underreported, Radio France Internationale reported.

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"We can say that the rise, according to statistics we have, is about 50-55 percent," Council President Abdallah Zekri told a Paris press conference Thursday.

One-hundred-fifteen reports were made to the police from January through September, documenting alleged hate crimes. The cases include the defacing of cemeteries and mosques, physical attacks, insults, provocations and the burning or defacing of the Koran.

Zekri called on Interior Minister Claude Gueant to put pressure on police to "arrest at least some of the people who have committed these acts."

Some 4 million to 6 million Muslims live in France, the largest Muslim population in Europe.

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