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In wake of assaults, one French Muslim asks: does my nation love me?

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© Reuters. Naouelle Garnoussi attends interview with Reuters

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By Elizabeth Pineau

ARGENTEUIL, France (Reuters) – Naouelle Garnoussi is a religious Muslim who was introduced up in France, prays 5 occasions a day, enjoys her job working with native communities and covets her designer purse.

Raised by her grandparents – one Muslim, the opposite Catholic – the 36-year-old identifies as French, and defends France’s secular values that separate faith from the state in public life.

But within the aftermath of a spate of Islamist assaults she has begun to really feel more and more alienated in her personal nation.

Compatriots are inclined to see her as a Muslim first, she stated, and the federal government’s response to the violence left her questioning: are Muslims actually equal within the eyes of the Republic?

“My grandmother was French. My great-grandmother was French, she was referred to as Antoinette. You do not get extra French than that, however typically I am made to really feel I’m now not French, only a Muslim,” Garnoussi advised Reuters in her flat in Argenteuil, a working-class Paris suburb.

Attitudes amongst members of the general public in direction of Muslims seemed to be hardening, she continued.

“Typically I neglect to place my telephone on silent and the decision to prayer rings out. The opposite day I used to be spat on (when that occurred), so it is beginning to get actually dangerous.”

Some distinguished Muslim figures concern the broader public is tarring them with the identical brush as militants.

This week, an announcement from a gaggle of Muslim leaders pressed the federal government to behave in order that the “majority of Muslims who overwhelmingly condemn the latest terrorist assaults aren’t lumped along with the fomenters of hate.”

‘IT HURT US’

Garnoussi was bewildered by satirical journal Charlie Hebdo’s choice in September to re-publish caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad that had triggered outrage throughout the Muslim world after they first appeared in a Danish newspaper in 2005.

The journal did so to mark the trial of the alleged accomplices in a militant assault in 2015 through which 12 individuals, together with a few of its best-known cartoonists, had been killed.

Weeks after the re-publication, a Chechen teenager beheaded a highschool instructor who had used the cartoons in a category on freedom expression. Final week a girl was decapitated and two different individuals killed in Good in a suspected Islamist assault.

The French authorities defended the caricatures, saying that the nation’s secular values permitted blasphemy.

For Garnoussi, their publication was a intentionally provocative act that risked making life tougher for the various amongst France’s estimated 5 million Muslims who, like her, condemn violence within the identify of faith.

“It harm us and left us feeling the State would not love us,” she stated of Charlie Hebdo’s actions and the federal government’s defence of them.

President Emmanuel Macron’s authorities responded to the homicide of instructor Samuel Paty and the victims in Good days later with a promise to crack down on what some public officers have referred to as “the enemy inside”.

It has shut down a mosque on the sting of Paris, dismantled at the least three Muslim associations suspected of fomenting extremist views and vowed to speed up laws to counter Islamic behaviour that runs in opposition to the Republic’s values.

However in an effort to rectify what Macron stated had been misapprehensions about France’s relationship with Muslims, he careworn in an interview with Al Jazeera that he didn’t assist the cartoons and that France was under no circumstances anti-Muslim.

The president has spoken of making an “Islam of France”, or what he has extra lately termed an “enlightened Islam” that’s suitable together with his nation’s secular values.

It’s a idea that makes little sense to Garnoussi, for whom Islam transcends borders.

“If I’m in Japan, Papua New Guinea or France I’ll pray 5 occasions a day in the identical means. It’s simply my prayer mat, dealing with Mecca, that may level in a unique route.”