Anti-Muslim backlash fears after French tourist is beheaded

Damian picBy Damian Grabiac

There is growing concern that the beheading of a French national, Herve Gourdel, by Islamic extremists on Wednesday could make life more difficult for Muslims living in France.

“I’ve been getting hostile looks on the underground and on the street since this happened,” says 23 year old Parisian Muslim student Assia Mansouri. “Some people think all Muslims are to blame for it, and this makes me and my family feel bad. I’m afraid that this anger will grow.”

The  brutal murder of Mr Gourdel in Algeria by jihadists linked to Islamic State, was in direct response to the French government’s decision to participate in air strikes against IS fighters in Iraq.

Herve Gourdel

French economist Julien Rabin, who lives in London, believes there is a lot anti-Muslim sentiment lurking beneath the surface in his home country, which the recent murder of Mr Gourdel is likely to unleash.

“I think what happened yesterday could increase negative attitudes towards Islamic people in France, especially among people who are already are islamophobic,” he says. “People are not yet really saying what they are thinking.

Support for the far right continues to grow in France with a Le Figaro poll published early this month suggesting that Marie Le Pen’s National Front party has a good chance of winning the presidential elections in 2017.