After The Attacks, Activist Reminds: French Muslims Have Been Hurt, Too Social activist Rokhaya Diallo says that French Muslims shouldn't be expected to answer for the violence in Paris because of their religion — and that they have felt the pain of the attacks, as well.
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After The Attacks, Activist Reminds: French Muslims Have Been Hurt, Too

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After The Attacks, Activist Reminds: French Muslims Have Been Hurt, Too

After The Attacks, Activist Reminds: French Muslims Have Been Hurt, Too

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

French Muslims are suffering two kinds of anxiety in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Paris. There's the trauma of the event itself but also the fear of backlash. Rokhaya Diallo is a French social activist and a writer. She started an organization to fight racism in the media. She joins us now on the line from Paris. Thanks so much for being with us.

ROKHAYA DIALLO: Thank you. Hi.

MARTIN: What is the feeling - what is the mood like in Paris today as a French Muslim?

DIALLO: As a French person, the mood is - French and a Parisian - the mood is very sad. And the streets are less empty that they were - than they were yesterday, but still. And as a French Muslim, it's very difficult because we have been asked for (unintelligible) to say openly that we didn't stand for the terrorist attacks. And it's very sad because many Muslims died actually on Friday.

MARTIN: How does the response to these attacks, Rokhaya, compare to what you saw after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January? Does it feel different? Is the response different, especially this - the fear of a backlash?

DIALLO: The - it's different in the way that the shock is deeper. And generally, the targets were politicized (ph). Those victims were journalists for political reasons. Jews, even if it's, you know, the others - I don't try to justify - but it sounded like having a reason. But on Friday, it was only random people in the streets, most belonging to the same generation - my generation, actually - and in the side of Paris that was most progressive and festive. So people are really feeling like anybody could be shot and anybody could be targeted by the terrorist attacks.

MARTIN: There have been long-standing debates in France about how to integrate immigrant communities - and Muslim communities in particular - into the mainstream culture. Have you felt that? Do you, as a Muslim woman in France, feel French? Are you made to - are you allowed to feel French?

DIALLO: The thing is that I think that integration is not the right word. As many Muslim and black people, I was born and raised in France. I, you know, I speak French. I dream in French. So I don't have - I don't have to integrate because I'm French, and I belong to the country. The thing is that the country think - still it is seeing itself as a white and Christian country. So people who are not white, people who are Muslim, they are always asked where they are from. And they have to justify themselves. Perhaps the reason why Muslim are pointed out because people think that they could be - there is a suspicion toward Muslims because as they are not seen as fully French, they need to speak out louder than any other French. And that's the problem because we are French. We have always been French. And we don't want - or I don't think it should be questioned anytime there is a crisis because we suffer the consequences of it. There is, as much as anyone, because I have - you know, I have friends who are close friends. And I know people who died, actually, on Friday like, you know, any Parisian from my generation. And I shouldn't be asked to be - being - be demanded to stand out louder than any other French because me being a Muslim doesn't make me naturally, you know, close to the attackers.

MARTIN: Rokhaya Diallo is a French social activist. She joined us on the line from Paris to share her reflections on this day. Thank you so much for talking with us, Rokhaya.

DIALLO: Thank you. Thank you so much.

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