A women’s rights campaign group is organising marches and protests in a bid to retake streets in predominantly Islamic neighbourhoods which they say have become entirely male dominated.
La Brigade des Mères, which is aiming to restore gender equality in France’s troubled ‘banlieues’, says women in many communities are now too scared to go out because gangs of young men rule the streets.
And a shocking undercover report, compiled by the TV channel France 2, shows how women are not welcome in bars and cafes in Muslim majority areas, with many men openly hostile to their presence in public at all.
Pascale Boistard, the women’s rights minister, declared: “There are now areas in our country where women can no longer go.”
For the report two brave women from La Brigade des Mères wore button-hole cameras and headed alone into the Muslim majority Paris suburb of Sevran, which was at the centre of the French capital’s 2005 race riots.
Nadia Remand and Aliza Sayah visited the streets and cafes of the notorious banlieue to build up a picture of how welcome women were in its public spaces.
As soon as they entered one bar, which was filled entirely with young men, the owner approached them and asked what they were doing there, and if they were waiting for a man.
When the women said that they were, he advised them: “It’s better to wait outside. There are men in here.”
The man insisted the Paris suburb was like the “bled” – A French slang term for a person’s home country which is frequently used by Muslim migrants from north Africa.
Following the exchange the two women said that the government’s decision to bring in imams to quell the religious tensions which led to the 2005 riots had led to a more hardline version of Islam taking hold.
In Lyon, France’s second biggest city, the report unearthed evidence that women are now actively altering their dress to avoid being threatened or abused by Muslim men.
One young woman told the broadcaster that she does everything she can to not be noticed, including wearing baggy trousers and avoiding wearing skirts and makeup.
When asked why, she replied: “Because I’m afraid, as simple as that.”
… in a video response to the report, Ms Maréchal-Le Pen said was evidence that some parts of the country are “no longer the land of France, because Islamic law has taken hold”.
“The problem of radical Islam today is evidently the problem of immigration and of the division of communities.”