French girl attempts suicide after ‘veil attack’

Photo: AFP

A French teenager has attempted suicide after reportedly being assaulted by skinheads for wearing the Muslim veil. The 16-year-old jumped from the fourth floor of her apartment building outside Paris and was “seriously injured” in the fall.


A 16-year-old girl, who filed charges against a pair of skinheads for what she said was an Islamophobic attack on August 12, attempted to commit suicide on Monday by jumping from a window in her apartment block.

According to a police report, the girl was assaulted on August 13 in the troubled town of Trappes, 35 kilometres west of Paris. Two men with shaved heads approached the Muslim girl with a “sharp object,” ripped off her headscarf, shouted Islamphobic insults and hit her on the shoulder before fleeing by car, a judicial source told French media.

The girl made a first attempt to take her life on August 23 by ingesting a dangerously-high quantity of medicated drugs, police said.

After jumping from a window on the fourth floor of her apartment building on Monday evening she was said to be “seriously injured” but still conscious when taken to hospital by paramedics. She was then transferred to a hospital in Paris during the night. Local authorities described her condition as “worrying”.

Riot police deployed

The town of Trappes suffered three nights of violent clashes in July following an altercation after the police questioned a woman who was wearing the full-face veilillegal in public in France since 2011. The woman’s husband, a converted Muslim, intervened and was subsequently restrained and arrested, sparking an outcry from locals who then besieged the police station.

Police said that the situation in Trappes was calm on Monday night after news of the girl’s attempted suicide spread, but eight riot police squadrons were still deployed to guard a police station in the most restive part of town.

One resident told French press agency AFP that he was disappointed at the police’s response. “It’s deplorable that after an event which has rocked a local family and the neighbourhood in general, we get sent riot vans and not a counselling service,” he said.

A guide to the four main types of Muslim veil

“In sending the police, it’s as though we are all considered potential enemies,” he added. Another local resident said, “It would have been better to do nothing than to do that.”

Devisive veil debate

The unrest in Trappes has provoked a fresh debate on relations between Muslims and police in France’ deprived suburbs, which have seen sporadic clashes in recent decades.

France’s infamous “burqa ban,” which refers to the prohibition of the full-face veil in public places, has exacerbated strains in areas with large Muslim populations.

Ultra-secular France has long fought a battle to keep religious symbolism out of the public eye, but Muslims feel that recent legislation has been designed specifically to target Muslims.

University heads spoke out against a government proposal in early August that headscarves and other religious symbols be outlawed in universities, as they are in schools and colleges.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning

Take international news everywhere with you! Download the France 24 app