Islamophobic discourse intensifies after terror attacks in Paris

Published 16.11.2015 22:50

The deadly terror attacks in Paris, which left 129 people dead, immediately turned the spotlight on Europe's largest Muslim minority. Many Muslims and refugees are afraid that they will now suffer as a consequence. Indeed, the attacks have intensified Republican opposition to letting thousands of Syrian refugees come to the U.S.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Sunday told NBC's "Meet the Press" that the U.S. should admit Syrian Christians, after proper vetting. Other Republican candidates have called for a ban on allowing Syrians into the U.S. All three Democratic presidential candidates have said they would admit Syrians but only after thorough background checks.

The question of admitting Syrian refugees has for months been part of the national security discussion among 2016 candidates that cuts to the heart of the American identity as a refuge.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has announced he is refusing Syrian refugees relocating to his state. In a news release Sunday Bentley said, "After full consideration of this weekend's attacks of terror on innocent citizens in Paris, I will oppose any attempt to relocate Syrian refugees to Alabama through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. As your governor, I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm's way."

Michigan's Republican governor, who has bucked many party leaders by welcoming Syrian refugees, also put the efforts on hold following the deadly attacks in Paris. Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement Sunday that the Midwestern state is postponing efforts to accept refugees until federal officials fully review security clearances and procedures. He added that Michigan is "proud of our rich history of immigration" but that the "first priority is protecting the safety of our residents."

Meanwhile, Canadian police said on Sunday a mosque in Ontario was deliberately set ablaze, but said it was unclear whether the fire was connected to the attacks in Paris that left over 123 people dead. Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett issued a statement condemning the fire. "Attacking a place of worship is a despicable act," the statement said. "Masjid Al-Salaam, the name of the mosque, means mosque of peace."

In Europe, Poland's announced it would refuse an EU plan to redistribute refugees across Europe as a "political possibility" in light of the Paris attacks. Dutch anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders weighed in on Twitter Sunday, writing "[Prime Minister Mark] Rutte will you listen at last: Close the borders!"

PEGIDA, the German Islamophobic movement, has predicted that attacks in Germany are inescapable "if we don't stop the avalanche of asylum seekers, if we do not properly secure our borders." More than 800,000 migrants have arrived in Europe by sea so far this year, mostly from the Middle East, with Germany alone expecting nearly a million migrants in 2015.

Other voices have called for calmer thinking. Germany's Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, has warned against any "swift links" between the Paris attacks and Europe's migrant crisis. "Those who organized, who perpetrated the attacks are the very same people who the refugees are fleeing and not the opposite," said Juncker. "Those behind the attacks in Paris cannot be put on equal footing with refugees who are seeking asylum," he said.

France's 5 million Muslims saw how easily the link is made after attacks in January that killed 17 people at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket. Saphirnews, a Muslim news website, reported on Sunday that French Muslims were once again becoming "collateral victims of terrorism." Early on Saturday morning, blood-red crosses were found painted on the wall of a mosque in eastern Paris, it said. The slogan "France, wake up!" was daubed on the wall of a mosque in southern France and "Death to Muslims" was written on walls around Evreux north of Paris, Le Parisien daily reported. "We don't understand what's going on ... This just pushes us backwards," said Ismael Snoussi, a worshipper at a mosque in Luce, the town outside Chartres where one of Friday's attackers grew up. Nabil, a ground staffer at the Stade de France stadium where two suicide bombers blew themselves up, objected to linking the attacks to a certain religious group.

"They're terrorists," he said. "I was 100 meters from the first explosion and the bomb would not have made the difference between a Muslim and a Buddhist."

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