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French press review 7 April 2015

Text by: William Niba
4 min

French Muslim leaders terrify the far-right with a proposal to build 2,000 mosques by 2017. Meanwhile, a record-breaking rescue by coast guards in Lampedusa and revelations about a young Kenyan lawyer behind the Garissa University massacre.


There is an outpouring of emotion in the French press for Kenya as it mourns the 148 victims of the Garissa University massacre. Several papers report findings by Kenyan investigators that the vast majority of students massacred by Al-Shebab terrorists were mainly Christian.

According to Le Monde, it was even more shocking and traumatising when Kenyans learned that the four gunmen are Kenyans from the predominantly Muslim north-east.
“Kenya discovers killers’ faces”, headlines Libération.

The left-leaning publication publishes a portrait of a young bright law school graduate from the University of Nairobi named as leader of the commando. Abdirahim Mohamed Abdullahi, aged 24, is the son of a local government official in Mandera region who had gone missing since 2013, according to Libération.

The Catholic daily La Croix shares the anguish of Kenya’s Christians who make up 80 per cent of the population, as survivors of the massacre testified that the victims were selected on the basis of their faith and executed in cold blood while their Muslim friends were allowed to leave.

Al-Shebab’s barbarism leaves Kenya’s Muslims between a rock and a hard place, according to the Catholic daily.

Click for RFI reports of the Charlie Hebdo killings

Several French papers see the targeting of Christians at Garissa University as a grim reminder of the threat posed by Islamic radicalism in France. It comes on the heels of the terrorist attack at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris in which 12 people were killed. Hence the right-wing daily’s interest in the raging debate about the construction of mosques in France.

At the annual meeting of France’s highest Islamic council in Le Bourget Saturday, Muslim leaders called for the construction of about 2,000 mosques to create decent worship conditions for the country’s millions of Muslims.

Le Parisien ridicules a warning by Front National's deputy leader, Florian Philippot, that more mosques in France would be a boon for hard-line Islamists. He claims that 100 per cent of French jihadists were indoctrinated in mosques. As he put it, meeting the demand would mean building three mosques a day, one every eight hours and the largest construction project in France.

Experts contacted by the Parisian newspaper refute the claims, arguing that 100 per cent of radical Islamists trooping to Syria never set foot in a mosque before.

Libération blasts European nations for ignoring “the homicidal indifference taking place on the Italian island of Lampedusa." An estimated 1,500 refugees were fished from the high seas there on Saturday, according to the paper.

The left-leaning publication says a record 170,000 refugees docked on the Italian soil in 2014, citing statistics from the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR. According to Libé thousands of men and women are fleeing the chaos in Libya and the Middle East and taking to the high seas en route to Europe.

The EU's External Frontiers Agency FRONTEX puts the number of migrants who have tried in vain to cross the Mediterranean in 2014 at 218,000, with the little Italian islet overstretched and standing on the frontline alone to receive them, according to Libération.

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