The Muslim population of France reached an estimated 6.5 million in 2014. Although French law prohibits the collection of official statistics about the race or religion of its citizens, this estimate is based on several recent studies that attempt to calculate the number of people in France whose origins are from Muslim majority countries.
This implies that the Muslim population of France is now roughly 10% of the country’s total population of 66 million. In real terms, France has the largest Muslim population in the European Union.
Consequently, Islam was an ever-present topic in newspaper headlines during 2014. What follows is a chronological review of some of the main stories about the rise of Islam in France during 2014:
On January 1, Interior Minister Manuel Valls announced the most anticipated statistic of the year: a total of 1,067 cars and trucks were torched across France on New Year’s Eve, a “significant reduction” from the 1,193 vehicles that were burned during the annual ritual on the same holiday in 2013.
Car burnings, commonplace across France, are often attributed to rival Muslim gangs that compete with each other for the media spotlight over who can cause the most destruction. An estimated 40,000 cars are burned in France every year.
Meanwhile, a court in Versailles on January 8 convicted Cassandra Belin, a 20-year-old convert to Islam, for wearing a full-face Islamic veil in public, and threw out her bid to have the country’s burqa ban declared unconstitutional. She was also convicted of threatening three police officers at the time of her arrest, which sparked three days of rioting in the Parisian suburb of Trappes in July 2013. She was given a one-month suspended prison sentence for the clash with the police and a €150 ($200) fine for wearing the veil.
Finally, an Ipsos survey published on January 21 found that 66% of French people believe there are too many foreigners in France, and 59% believe “immigrants do not try hard enough to integrate.” According to the poll, 63% of French people think Islam “is not compatible with French values.”
In February, French Islamists sued the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for blasphemy for publishing a cover page that Muslims said was offensive. The League of Judicial Defence of Muslims (LDJM) brought the case before the criminal court in Alsace-Moselle, a region that was twice annexed by Germany and still retains part of the old German code, which includes the crime of “blasphemy.” Blasphemy is not a crime in the rest of France.
The magazine’s office in Paris was firebombed in November 2011 after it published special edition called “Charia Hebdo” (Sharia Hebdo) and listed the Prophet Mohammed as its editor-in-chief.
In March, a militant Islamist website published a series of posters calling for attacks on France and for the assassination of President François Hollande in retaliation for the country’s policies in Mali and the Central African Republic.
The al-Minbar Jihadi Media Network, a well-known Islamist website, created six posters as part of a campaign called, “We will not be silent, O France.” One of the posters read:
“To our lone-wolves in France, assassinate the president of disbelief and criminality, terrify his cursed government, and bomb them and scare them as a support to the vulnerable in the Central African Republic.”
On March 31, police arrested four Muslim boys (three Turkish brothers between the ages of 13 and 15, and one 17-year-old from Morocco) for gang raping an 18-year-old woman as she left the main train station in Évry, a commune in the southern suburbs of Paris. During police questioning, the minors said that they attacked the woman because she was French and “the French are all sons of whores.” The boys were jailed for rape and—unusually in France—reverse racism.
In April, a confidential intelligence document leaked to the French newspaper Le Figaro revealed that a form of Muslim ghettoization is gaining ground within the French school system. The report says that Muslim students are effectively establishing an Islamic parallel society completely cut off from non-Muslim students.
The 15-page document, dated November 28, 2013, includes 70 examples—headscarves in school playgrounds, halal meals in cafeterias, chronic absenteeism during Muslim religious festivals, clandestine prayers in gyms or hallways, and so on—of the Islamizing trend in schools throughout France.
The document says that Muslims are engaged in a “war of attrition” aimed at “destabilizing the teaching staff.” It adds that Muslim fundamentalists are circumventing the law that bans religious symbols in schools, and that self-proclaimed “young guardians of orthodoxy” in many schools are exerting pressure on Muslim girls.
On April 23, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve unveiled a 20-point anti-radicalization strategy aimed at preventing French citizens or residents from waging jihad in Syria and other conflict zones in the Muslim world. The plan also aims to combat the radicalization of young French Muslims at the earliest stages of indoctrination.
A counterterrorism expert interviewed by the newspaper Le Parisien said he believed the plan is aimed primarily at reassuring the public, “but in terms of effectiveness in the fight against terrorism, the effect is zero.”
Others said the plan is a political ploy by President Hollande aimed at blunting the rising popularity of the anti-immigration National Front party, which captured a record number of city council seats and mayoralties in local elections held in March.
National Front party leader Marine Le Pen told RTL Radio that the government’s plan is cosmetic. She said:
“It does not attack the root of the problem—the speech in some mosques that are genuine calls to jihad. Nor does the plan attack recruiters and funding from foreign countries known to support terrorist fundamentalism, such as Qatar.”
On April 26, the German news-magazine Focus reported that the French government paid $18 million to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant [ISIS] for the April 20 release of four French journalists held captive in Syria for more than 10 months.
Citing NATO sources in Brussels, Focus said that the ransom money was personally delivered by French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. French officials denied that any ransom was paid, but the French newspaper Le Parisien wrote: “According to our information, the DGSE [French foreign intelligence service] negotiated directly with the rebel group. There can be no doubt that a payment was made.”
The 31st congress of the Union of Islamic Organizations in France [UOIF], held in Paris from April 18-21, was turned into a Muslim anti-Jewish “hate fest” when keynote speaker Hani Ramadan—a prominent Muslim leader from Geneva and the brother of Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss professor banned from entering the United States—blamed Jews and Zionism for a litany of maladies all over the world.
“All the evil in the world originates from the Jews who have only one thing in mind, realizing the dream of Greater Israel,” the French daily Le Figaro quoted Ramadan as telling the congress, one of France’s largest and most prominent Islamic events. “Against these international schemes of the Zionist power there is only one rampart: Islam,” he added.
In May, an ornate theater in the historic Fontainebleau Palace was renamed after the ruler of Abu Dhabi, who funded a multi-million euro project to restore the site. The 400-seat Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan Theater was first opened in 1857 by Napoleon III. Critics said the renaming was a sad commentary on the future direction of France.
On May 28, Europol, the law enforcement agency of the European Union, reported that France was the terror capital of Europe during 2013:
“A total of 152 terrorist attacks occurred in five EU Member States. The majority took place in France (63), Spain (33) and the UK (35). In 2013, 535 individuals were arrested for offenses related to terrorism, a number similar to 2012 (537). Most of the arrests occurred in France (225), Spain (90) and the UK (77). A continuous increase in the number of arrests for religiously inspired terrorism has been observed since 2011.”
On December 21, another “lone wolf” shouting “Allahu Akbar” ploughed his car into pedestrians in the eastern French city of Dijon, injuring 11 people. Police said the man was “apparently unbalanced” and that “for now his motives are still unclear.”
Finally, a new novel by the award-winning French author Michel Houellebecq predicted that France will be under Muslim rule in less than a decade. The book—entitled Soumission (Submission, a clear allusion to the word “Islam,” which in Arabic means submission to the will of Allah)—describes how the French Socialist party helps Mohammed Ben Abbes of the fictitious Muslim Brotherhood party to become the president of France in the 2022 elections. Just days after taking office, Ben Abbes moves to speed up the Islamization of France by implementing Islamic Sharia law.
Full article: The Islamization of France in 2014 (Gatestone Institute)