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The New Arab Staff

Jordanian man, sister attacked in France after 'speaking Arabic'

Mohammad Abu Eid received medical attention after being chased and assaulted. [Facebook]

Date of publication: 25 October, 2020

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Jordan's foreign ministry says it is investigating the attack on Jordanian nationals in France, suspected of being a hate-motivated assault.
Two Jordanian siblings were assaulted in France's Angers in an incident they claim was fuelled by hate speech amid tensions between self-avowed secularists and the country's Muslim minority.

Mohammad Abu Eid and Heba Abu Eid were attacked on Thursday evening by a French pair after they allegedly spoke Arabic, according to a Facebook post written by Mohammad.

Mohammad, an Arabic teaching assistant, and his sister Heba, an MA student who started her graduate studies earlier in the year, said they were waiting at the bus stop when they were insulted for speaking Arabic.

In his public account of the event, Mohammad said they were followed into the bus, where insults were continuously hurled at them, and later they were chased after down the street.

The chase ended at a student housing complex, where the Jordanian siblings allege they got beaten up.

Mohammad, who had to be taken to a hospital, said he injured his face protecting his sister.

"The man stood across from us and shouted, 'This is France, this is our [country], not yours'," he recalled in a video interview with Roya news

The siblings said they asked bystanders to call the police, but their pleas were ignored.

Heba told Roya news she beleives the dissemination of anti-Arab and Islamophobic hate speech in recent days contributed to the assault, which she said was 'unprecedented' in the western city of Angers – home to thousands of international and Arab students. 

"They wanted to aggrevate us. They insulted us in front of everyone," she recalled. "It was scary"

Read also: An unpopular Macron invokes the anti-Muslim playbook

Jordanian media outlets said the country's foreign ministry is investigating the incident through the Jordanian Embassy in Paris. While Mohammad thanked French authorities for their "cooperation", he said the suspects have not yet been arrested. 

"We want to present the aggressive racism attack story that happened to us because we want to protect Jordanian and Arab students and citizens in France from the current conditions in the country and the threat of attacks on Arabs and Muslims due to current racism issues," Mohammad wrote on Facebook.

The attack came a few days after thousands of protesters took part in marches accross France in support of free speech in the wake of the beheading of schoolteacher Samuel Paty.

The killer, Moscow- born Chechen jihadist Aboulakh Anzoro, reportedly carried out the murder in response to Paty showing some of his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. 

Jordanian media outlets said the country's foreign ministry is investigating the incident through the Jordanian Embassy in Paris. While Mohammad thanked French authorities for their "cooperation", he said the suspects have not yet been arrested.

Since the start of the year, France has shut down more than 70 mosques and private Islamic schools. Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron described Islam as a religion "in crisis" worldwide.

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