The attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in which 10 journalists and two policemen were killed by armed gunmen claiming they belonged to al-Qaeda, has sparked worldwide outrage prompting thousands of people, including several world leaders, to take part in solidarity marches to show their support to the French community.

The tragic event has also started a debate on the possible causes that led to the attack, with some claiming sociopolitical factors and a widespread sense of alienation perceived by the French Muslim community have to be taken into consideration.

According to Jim Wolfreys, senior lecturer at King's College London and expert on contemporary French politics, it is very difficult to give a coherent explanation on the factors that led to the attack on Charlie Bebdo, which is not "a phenomenon that characterises France's Muslim population as a whole".

Offering an in-depth analysis of the rise of far-right groups and Islamophobia in France, Wolfreys explained that in recent years the country has been witness to "an exacerbation of tensions partly due to the extreme defensiveness of the republic in relation to the Muslim population".

"The Front National [conservative and nationalist political party] played upon fears and anxiety during recession by scapegoating France's immigrants," he said and added that in the following years, the increasing popularity of the Front National helped it gain control of some towns "in which they implemented laws that attempt to humiliate Muslims".

"For example, we have seen bans on the headscarf and the burqa and attempts to stigmatise Muslims," he continued.

"One of the dangers of the recent attack on Charlie Hebdo is that it will increase that stigmatisation and will further isolate France's Muslim population."