The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has issued an advisory warning American Muslims against traveling to France as tensions rise following recent terrorist attacks.
“American Muslims, especially American Muslims who are noticeably Muslim, should avoid visiting France until its government stops fanning the flames of Islamophobia, prosecuting Muslim women for wearing religious clothing, and collectively punishing the entire Muslim community for the crimes of individual extremist,” Edward Ahmed Mitchell, the deputy director of CAIR, told CNN.
“The French government must unite society to reject all forms of bigotry and extremism, respect religious and cultural differences, and protect all people from violence and oppression. Until the government does so, American Muslims should exercise caution and avoid travel to France.”
Three people were stabbed to death at a church in Nice on Oct. 29, a brutal attack authorities say was carried out by an Islamist terrorist.
The killings followed the murder of high school teacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded last month during a terror attack in a northern suburb of Paris.
He was killed after showing cartoons published in the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo depicting the Prophet Mohammed to students in his class. Displaying images of the Prophet Mohammed is highly offensive to some Muslims.
The investigation into Thursday’s attack is still under way. But after the incident, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the country was under attack by “Islamist and terrorist madness.”
A history of ‘anti-Muslim bigotry’
France is home to 5 million Muslims, many of whom live in poorer areas, are marginalized in political circles, and socially separate from other French residents.
Macron said that France would not “give in” by balking at or criticizing the caricatures and pledged to tackle Islamic separatism in the country, sparking demonstrations and triggering boycotts in Muslim-majority countries.
Leaders in countries including Egypt, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey urged Muslims to boycott French products after condemning Macron’s comments on Islam.
“In the days since the horrific murder of educator Samuel Patty (sic) the French government has expanded its embrace of anti-Muslim bigotry by arresting numerous French Muslims with no apparent connection to the crime and moving to shut down various French Muslim organizations, including the country’s largest anti-Islamophobia group,” Mitchell, with CAIR, said.
“Just as France did not collectively punish all French secularists for last week’s racist stabbing attack on Muslim women near the Eiffel Tower, France must stop collectively punishing all French Muslims for the crimes of individual religious extremists,” Mitchell added, referring to reports of two veiled Muslim women who were stabbed last month in an allegedly racist attack.
The vast majority of France’s Muslims do not support Islamic extremism, but often face unfair stereotypes, according to experts.
French Muslims say they face discrimination with a ban on religious veils and the anti-Muslim rhetoric by some political leaders.
“It’s also worth noting that the French government has a long history of transforming anti-Muslim bigotry into government policy: kicking students who wear hijabs out of public school, barring public servants from wearing such signs of their faith, criminalizing religious face veils while requiring medical face masks, and arresting Muslim women for wearing full-body swimsuits, among other irrational policies that should end,” Mitchell said.
CNN’s Luke McGee contributed to this report.