Two Killed in Xenophobic Attacks in Europe

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Published Saturday, January 17, 2015

A French Muslim man was stabbed to death in his own home in southern France in what a Muslim group called a "horrible Islamophobic" attack the week after France was rocked by the Charlie Hebdo killings.

The attack came a day after Eritrean asylum seeker Khaled Idris Bahray was killed in Germany, in a suspected hate crime case.

France's National Observatory Against Islamophobia said on Friday that a 28-year-old attacker forced the front door of his neighbors' house in the French village of Beaucet near Avignon just after midnight on Wednesday, shouting "I am your god, I am your Islam" before repeatedly stabbing Mohammed al-Makouli, 47,

The attacker was disarmed but later returned with another knife and attacked the father-of-one again, this time killing him.

His 31-year-old partner tried to save him, and suffered wounds to her hands, before fleeing with their young child to call the police, officials said.

An autopsy showed Makouli had been stabbed 17 times.

Prosecutors in Avignon confirmed that a man had been charged on Thursday with "murder, attempted murder and possession of drugs," before being committed to a psychiatric hospital in nearby Montfavet.

"The Islamophobic aspect will be investigated when we interview this boy who claims to have heard voices," a spokesman added.

Observatory president Abdallah Zekri condemned the attack "as a horrible Islamophobic attack" and claimed that the victim's partner was very clear about what the man shouted. "She is sure of what he (the attacker) said," he told AFP.

The regional Muslim council said that while it was waiting for "the conclusions of the enquiry," it feared the climate of suspicion and hostility after last week's Paris attacks were having an effect on "the most fragile of our fellow citizens."

More than 50 anti-Muslim incidents, including attacks on mosques, have been recorded by the Central Council of Muslims in France since the Paris shootings by three Islamist gunmen left 17 dead, including 12 at the offices of the satirical Charlie Hebdo weekly.

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira said Friday the government was going to stiffen laws against racism and anti-Semitism, and wants to give the authorities powers to block Internet hate sites "as already happens with ones that carry child pornography."

In the meantime, the Paris attacks have added to growing anti-immigration and Islamophobic sentiments in Europe, raising fears of increasingly more violent acts of xenophobia.

Bahray, a 20-year-old Eritrean Muslim man was killed in a knife attack Tuesday morning in the eastern German city of Dresden.

Saxony's Left Party Deputy Juliane Nagel pointed that the potential racist background of the murder should be taken into consideration.

Police had initially said there was no reason to suspect foul play in the man's death, but after a postmortem examination corrected this to say he had died from multiple stab wounds to the neck and chest.

Greens party lawmaker Volker Beck, the party's interior political spokesman, tweeted that he had lodged the complaint against persons unknown for possible obstruction of justice in office, while warning against speculation.

He told the website of the Dresden Morgenpost regional newspaper, Mopo24, that any "investigation slip-ups" must be "wholeheartedly" cleared up, complaining that it took 30 hours after the crime to secure evidence at the site.

"I have no understanding for the negligent approach of the investigation authorities," the report quoted him as saying.

The victim had lived in Dresden since September and was staying in accommodation he shared with seven other asylum-seekers from Eritrea.

Dresden has been in the spotlight for weekly marches since October called by the anti-immigration PEGIDA movement against what it terms the "Islamisation" of Europe and "criminal asylum seekers." Its latest rally Monday drew a record 25,000 people.

Extreme right-wing parties have grown in popularity across Europe in the past decade, surfing on anti-immigrant sentiments amid widespread discontent over the dismal economic situation.

(AFP, Anadolu, Al-Akhbar)

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