Islamophobic attacks in France up sharply last year

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Islamophobic attacks in France rose by 54% in 2019, the president of the National Observatory of Islamophobia said Monday.

In a written statement, Abdallah Zekri said there were 100 attacks against Muslims in France in 2018 and this rose to 154 in 2019.

The attacks mostly occurred in the Ile-de-France, Rhones-Alpes and Paca regions of the country, Zekri said.

He said there are no links between Islam and terrorism and Muslims in France should be able to practice their religion freely like members of other religions.

France has the largest Muslim population in Europe at around five million, mostly from North Africa.

Following a wave of terrorist attacks since 2015, officials have urged people not to confuse the actions of radicalized individuals with those of France's Muslims, but anti-Islamic violence in the country has been on the rise for years.

Anti-Muslim hatred has significantly risen in Europe in general in recent years. Far-right extremism and xenophobia have fueled anti-Muslim hatred in Western countries, where terror attacks by Daesh and al-Qaida as well as a migrant crisis are used as an excuse to legitimize those views.

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