A chronological review of some of the main stories about the rise of Islam in France during 2014.
The Islamization of France in 2014
Soeren Kern | Gatestone Institute | December 23, 2014
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.
On January 6, two 15-year-old boys from the southern French city of Toulouse—home to Mohammed Merah, the Islamist who murdered seven people in and around the city in March 2012—ran away from home to become the youngest-ever European jihadists to join the fighting in Syria since the war there began in 2011.
During a press conference on January 14, French President François Hollande revealed that more than 700 French nationals and residents—more than twice that of previous estimates—have traveled to fight in Syria. On January 19, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said more than a dozen French nationals under the age of 18 are active as jihadists in Syria.
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.”