Muslims fear backlash after Charlie Hebdo deaths as Islamic sites attacked

Grenades and gun shots have struck several Islamic targets in France following the murderous attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, police and local media said, raising fears of an Islamophobic backlash among the country’s six million-strong Muslim community.

Three grenades hit a mosque in Le Mans, in the early hours of Thursday while in Aude, southern France, two gunshots were fired at an empty prayer room.

A Muslim family in their car in Vaucluse came briefly under fire but escaped unharmed, and a mosque in Poitiers was daubed with graffitti saying “Death to Arabs”. In Villefranche-sur-Saône, an explosion blew out the windows of a kebab shop next door to the town mosque.

On Thursday a delegation of about 20 imams from France’s Muslim federations visited the Charlie Hebdo offices in the 11th arrondissement of Paris and fiercely condemned the gunmen who killed 12 people, including 10 of the magazine’s staff and two police officers.

Witnesses said the gunmen had shouted “Allahu Akbar” and “we have avenged the prophet” as they left the scene after the murders.

“These men are criminals, barbarians, satans. For me, they are not Muslims,” the imam of the Paris suburb of Drancy, said, addressing the media. “Their hatred, their barbarism, has nothing to do with Islam. We are all French, we are all humans. We must live in respect, tolerance and solidarity.”

Abdallah Zakir, president of the Observatory against Islamophobia, told AFP news agency that he was worried that there would be anti-Muslim events. “We’ve had at least three already, and the day is not yet over. I am afraid that these attacks will only spread in the days to come.”

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