SHAFAQNA -Â A popular French food website has came under racist comments’ attack after posting recipes for Muslims’ Ramadan, in an incident that reflects the surge of Islamophobia in the European country.
â€œIn France, even recipes cause Islamophobic reactions,â€ wrote one of social media users, International Business Times reported on Tuesday, June 23.
The controversy erupted after France’s leading food website, Marmiton, wished a “Happy Ramadan to all” and decided to cook lamb couscous or chicken tajine suggestions to celebrate the holy month.
Marmiton Ramadan wishes has sparked a row online with more than 1,450 comments debating the issue.
â€œHappy Ramadan to ‘ALL’????????????????” wrote Facebook user Anne Piraux-Flabat, using a total of 16 question marks, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported on
“I am not Muslim and I don’t count on becoming one,” she added, following up with six exclamation marks.
Another reader, Cyril Richard, showed his love for purely French cooking: “Long live cassoulet, sauerkraut, pork cutlets, ham and saucisson.â€
Other users slammed the website for excluding the option of tapas, pizza and chow mein.
“Fascists even on their plate — what a shame!” wrote Dav Du Bled.
The latest online debate comesÂ at tense time for the countryâ€™s six million Muslims who have been facing increasing hatred since Paris attacks last January.
The National Observatory Against Islamophobia said over 100 incidents have been reported to the police since the Charlie Hebdo attacks of January 7-9.
The observatory also noted that more thanÂ 222 separate acts of anti-Muslim behaviorÂ were recorded in the first month after the January attacks.
In April,Â the National Observatory Against Islamophobia warned of an unprecedented increase in Islamophobic attacks in France during the first three months of 2015, rising by six-fold than in 2014.
Islamophobic actions soared by 500% compared to the same period in 2011, according to the observatory.
Despite fierce criticism, the website has been defended by many readers who slammed the Islamophopes users.
â€œSad state of France right now: French cooking website deluged with hate after wishing happy Ramadan/posting recipes,â€ one Twitter user wrote.
â€œBut many, many more messages of peace and tolerance. There is hope!â€ another one replied.
Deeply saddened by the offensive posts, the site co-founder, Christophe Duhamel, waded into the debate to defend the goodwill gesture.
â€œWe are a cooking site. It’s the only subject that interests us and it’s the only subject we talk about,” said Duhamel who has issued an open letter appealing for tolerance.
“For 16 years of our existence, we have taken all major festivals, religious or not, as opportunities to discover new recipes.
“Our religion is sharing, discovery, openness — in short, everything that is integral to cuisine,” he said.
Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to become closer to Allah through prayer, self-restraint and good deeds.
It is customary for Muslims to spend part of the days during Ramadan studying the Noble Qur’an.
Many men perform i`tikaf (spiritual retreat), spending the last 10 days of the month exclusively in the mosque.
France is home to a Muslim community of nearly six million, the largest in Europe.
French Muslims have been complaining of restrictions on performing their religious practices.