Islamophobia is on the rise in France

Last week, in the French town of Bayonne, an 84-year-old man attempted to set fire to a mosque. When two passersby tried to stop him, he shot and wounded them both, before he was eventually arrested. That same day in Paris, President Emmanuel Macron was meeting Muslim leaders at the Elysee Palace - not to discuss threats against their community, but to urge them to step up efforts to combat religious extremism.

The day’s events were just part of a vicious cycle of recrimination and demonisation that has erupted in France since the stabbing in Paris on October 3 of four policemen by a colleague who had converted to Islam.

Internationally, the incident attracted little attention, especially when compared with the mass killings in Paris in November 2015 and Nice in July 2016.

But in France, it has sparked a deeply concerning escalation of Islamophobia - one that is being fuelled at least in part by the words and actions of Macron and other political leaders.