Joyeux Eid! French Muslims celebrate holiday amid tensions

The festivities are likely to be overshadowed by the recent terror attacks in France, analysts say

Rajia Aboulkheir
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French Muslims are celebrating Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

However, the festivities are likely to be overshadowed by the recent terror attacks in France, analysts say.


“The current situation of Muslims in France isn’t conducive to such celebrations,” Kamal Kabtan, the rector of the mosque of Lyon - France's third-largest city - told Al Arabiya News.

“This year’s Eid al-Fitr is going to be different… We thought things were slowly going to get better after the attack in Paris earlier this year… but unfortunately things only got worse, especially with the latest incident in Lyon,” Kabtan said. “The image of Islam was tarnished once again, and French people are scared.”

In recent years, France has witnessed rising anti-Muslim sentiment, which has intensified further since the Paris killings in January, which began with killings at the office of the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly, and ended with more at a Jewish supermarket.

The attacks in Paris were followed in June by a Muslim man admitting to beheading his manager at a plant 30 kilometers south of Lyon.

Kabtan said French Muslims could “feel the continuous rise of Islamophobia and real pressure that has been ongoing for a few months.

“We feel that people look at us [Muslims] differently every time we try to express opinions… There’s always someone to tell us to shut up or to stigmatize us.”

At around 6 million people, France is home to the largest Muslim community in Europe, mostly from North Africa and Turkey.

Festive cheer

However, in Paris some seemed more cheerful regarding Eid al-Fitr, even though France recently cancelled several public gatherings for security reasons.

“Celebrations of Eid al-Fitr here shouldn’t be more disrupted than the previous year. On the contrary, it has the advantage of taking place during a school holiday, which will give people more time to celebrate,” Moulay al-Hassan al-Alaoui Talibi, an imam at the Grand Mosque of Paris, told Al Arabiya News.

“The only point that may affect the festivities is the country’s restrictions on some public gatherings,” Talibi said, adding that many French Muslims have left the country and gone back home to “celebrate with their families.”

He said the annual gathering of Muslims for the Eid prayer will take place at the Grand Mosque in Paris and across the country.

In Lyon, Kaptan said the city’s mosque would hold the annual prayer marking the end of Ramadan, followed by Friday prayer.

He said on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, he hoped that “French Muslims find their place within society, and realize that they’re part of a nation and that France is their country.

“I also hope that French people realize that Muslims aren’t here by luck, and that they accept to live with us in peace and serenity.”

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