Anti-Arab violence in Corsica follows mounting hate campaign

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Since last Friday, following an attack on firefighters and police by a group of youths on a housing estate in Ajaccio, the capital of the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, vigilante mobs chanting anti-Arab and anti-Muslim slogans have reigned terror on the neighbourhood, seeking out the perpetrators and ransacking a Muslim prayer room where they attempted to burn copies of the Koran. Despite an official ban on public demonstrations until January 4th in an effort to reduce the tensions, several hundred marchers on Sunday again tried to occupy the estate which is home to a large North African population. Rachida El Azzouzi and Ellen Salvi report on the events this weekend and why, as the mayor of Ajaccio admits, they came as no surprise.

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“We have a big problem in this country and Corsica is a sad illustration of this,” said Laurent Marchangeli, mayor of the Corsican capital Ajaccio, speaking after a mob shouting racist slogans on Friday attacked a Muslim prayer room in the town and tried to burn copies of the Koran. “A strong hate, fanned by radicalized minds and also by politicians, threatens our unity. It lays claim to a land that is exclusively Christian, and condemns what is supposedly a rampant Islamisation of French society.”