Welsh Muslims live in fear of sectarian repercussions after Paris attack

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SHAFAQNA – Welsh Muslims are living in “immense fear” of backlashes following the Paris terrorist attacks, according to the assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Wales.

Sahar Al Faifi said she “lost count” of incidents of physical abuse she received before the attacks happened.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Paris with 129 people dead.

The first minister said the level of potential threat “remains high”.

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement programme, Ms Al Faifi said ISIS wanted to create a perception of “us and them”, adding: “Welsh Muslims are living in immense fear of backlashes.”

Despite two Cardiff men, Reyaad Khan and Nasser Muthana travelling to Syria and appearing in a video urging people to join IS, Ms Faifi said they represent a tiny proportion of Welsh Muslims.

“The Muslim population of Britain is 4.8% or two million people and 700 have joined ISIS. Are they really representative of the Muslim community and faith?” she added.

“Two boys from Cardiff were not radicalised in mosques but through social media.”

Ms Al Faifi also said she “lost count” of the incidents of physical abuse against her before the Paris attacks, saying: “If I reported all of them, I’d be living half of my life in the police station.”

Outside the Carillon cafe in Paris on 14 November 2015

Her fears were echoed by former Neath MP and cabinet minister Peter Hain, who said: “We have to make sure we do not allow any Islam phobic targeting of Muslims in any part of Wales where Muslims form an important and valued part of the community.”

Speaking on the same programme, First Minister Carwyn Jones called on people in Wales to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity.

He said security in the country has been the same for the past few months and the level of potential threat to Wales remained high and had not increased following the Paris attacks.

With one of the incidents taking place near Paris’ Stade de France as a football match took place, he said people in Wales should be “aware of the implications of hosting big events” like the recent Rugby World Cup matches that took place in Cardiff.

“In the past, these terrorists have wanted to attack big cities, to kill the most people and get the most publicity, but the threat is not only in big cities.”

Despite the attacks, he said Welsh football fans should not be concerned about travelling to France for next summer’s European Championships, adding: “It will go ahead. It would be a great victory for them (the terrorists) if it doesn’t.”

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