France: Group of students beat 13-year-old classmate for 'dressing like a European'

Young Samara received a brutal beating when leaving school that left her in a coma. Police arrested three culprits, who according to the mother, hate her daughter for not following the social codes of Islam.

A new episode of religious tension is echoed in France this week after the attack on a 13-year-old student in Montpellier, in the south of the country, whom other students accused of not correctly following the social codes of Islam.

The girl, named Samara, was the target of a brutal beating on the way out of her high school by her classmates. The brawl left the young girl in a coma, who had to be treated urgently at a hospital in the southern French city of Montpellier. After the brawl, in which around 20 minors were involved, the authorities arrested three accused of being the main culprits. Among them was a girl who seems to be the instigator of hatred toward Samara.

Harassment of Muslim students

This case of bullying has been particularly prominent in the media due to its circumstances. According to the story of Hassiba, the victim's mother, the violence carried out against her daughter occurred for religious and ideological reasons.

The woman, who belongs to the city's Muslim community, claims that her daughter has been a victim of harassment for more than a year because of her "European" style of dressing and her secular way of life. Questioned by the press, Hassiba recounts how it was impossible for her daughter to go to high school with dyed hair due to the harassment she received from another older student. This harasser did not tolerate the fact that young Samara did not wear a veil and insulted her for being of Muslim origin but leading a more moderate way of life.

"I myself am a Muslim, and we don't understand it," the confused mother says before the cameras of the French television channel CNews. "This is very, very serious," the mother continues, "they call her unfaithful ... they call her a whore." Still, according to the mother, Samara's harassers even posted on social media calling for her to be raped due to the way she dresses and her way of life that is considered more European than Muslim.

The family criticizes the school administration

Samara's high school is at the center of the family's criticism. According to the girl's family, the school's management knew that a group was waiting for Samara at the exit preparing to mug her. The mother was also aware of this, which is why she asked the school staff to keep Samara protected inside the school until her arrival. This did not happen.

Together with other mothers, Samara's family organized a protest in front of the school Wednesday. They ask that the attackers be held accountable. In parallel to the police investigation, political authorities have traveled to the scene and are interested in the issue due to the impact it has on the media.

Islamization in schools

Violence promoted by radical Islam in schools is not something new in France. Education is an extremely stressed sector of society in the French country. The French government intends to establish secularism in schools, one of the pillars of the so-called "republican education," while the number of Muslims is increasing in the country and especially in its low-income neighborhoods.

In this context of confrontation between the secular state and Islamist ideology, schools have become a battlefield that has left people dead at the hands of Islam. In 2023, a teacher was murdered in the city of Arras, in the north of the country, by an Islamist. This tragedy was not an isolated incident for the French, as in 2020, another teacher, Samuel Paty, was murdered by another Islamist after displaying images of Muhammad in class.