An anti-French demonstration near the Kowloon Mosque and Islamic Center was reported on Friday, October 30, with protesters condemning French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron's recent vow to fight 'Islamist separatism'. Security forces were present, largely to enforce coronavirus (COVID-19) social distancing requirements. The protest was well attended and only minor scuffles with police were reported. Participants have vowed to continue protests throughout the weekend.
Localized disruptions are likely in the Kowloon area in the near term.
Teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded in an attack by an alleged Islamist extremist in the northern Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine on October 16 after showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad during a civics class. The attack prompted the arrest of a number of people linked to the attacker and comments from President Macron about religious rights and freedom of expression in French society. However, the government's response was seen by some communities as Islamophobic and has prompted a number of protests and calls for boycotts of French goods in some Muslim-majority countries.
Those in Hong Kong are advised to avoid the area around the Kowloon mosque in the near term. Travelers should be aware of an elevated threat against French nationals and interests in Hong Kong and other countries in the region and should exercise a heightened level of vigilance.