Intifada in France

The northern industrial suburbs of Paris suffered the worst of eight consecutive nights of rioting on November 3-4. Disorder has now spread to dozens of provincial towns, including Dijon, the first city outside Ile-de-France (the metropolitan region) to be affected by unrest. Hundreds of cars, as well as schools, stores, and warehouses have been torched or ransacked. A disabled French woman, unable to escape from a bus set alight by the rioters in Sevran (Dept. Seine-Saint-Denis), was badly burned. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy noted “a great coordination” among rioters, hinting that the unrest was far from spontaneous.

The rioters are mainly young, French-born North African males. Last week in the Parisian banlieu of Clichy-sous-Bois—a concrete and steel high-rise monstrosity that is now over 80 percent Muslim—they rose in anger when two teenagers were accidentally electrocuted while hiding from the police in a fenced-off area housing a high-voltage pylon. Shouting “Allahu akbar!” groups of youths armed with clubs and sticks went on a rampage forcing the regular police to retreat. When the riot police came in force to reclaim the area, the protests became focused on the demand that the French police get out of the “occupied territories.” The trouble would be ended, various Muslim “community leaders” claimed, if the French authorities accepted that there were de facto no-go areas within the country which should be self-administered. “All we demand is to be left alone,” said Mouloud Dahmani, one of the local “emirs” engaged in negotiations to persuade the French to withdraw the police and allow a committee of sheiks, mostly from the Muslim Brotherhood, to negotiate an end to the hostilities.

The demand is not new and it will be made with increasing frequency in the years to come. Many Muslims in France and elsewhere in Europe already consider themselves de facto autonomous, a community justifiably opposed to the broader society of infidels and centered on mosques and Islamic centers. The emergence of a huge diaspora of the faithful away from the heartland is seen by pious Muslims as an event archetypically linked to conquest. The demand for the predominantly Muslim areas to be granted communal self-rule will inevitably lead to the clamoring for the sharia law in a segregated Muslim France.

Assimilation is no longer a viable option in France, the country that used to pride itself on its ability to turn foreigners into Frenchmen. That was possible with the Italians, Spaniards, Poles and Russians becauyse they were culturally assimilable and because they came in tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands even (e.g., the non-French Pieds-Noirs), but not in the millions. The Muslims now account for ten percent of France’s population and for more than one-fifth of all newborns. They live in compact communities in which it is no longer possible to buy wine in a local store or to see Amelie in a cinema. Their leaders regard their faith and culture as superior to that of the host society. Those who have doubts wisely keep quiet.

Young Muslim men direct particular violence against Muslim women who try to follow French ways. Many French-born Arab girls in the ghettos resort to wearing hijab as the only protection against face-slashings and gang rapes. Not having one makes a girl fair game for both. (A knife slash across the cheek from the lip to the ear is common, and known as a “smile.”) Samira Bellil, a third-generation woman of Algerian origin, has written a book about the hell of the suburban ghettos. She was was gang raped by three people she knew, but could not say anything because her family would be dishonored. She recalls the case of a girl who was raped in a school: “Of course, everybody knew, but they’re so afraid of these young men that they prefer to close their eyes. That’s the price of peace in the ghettos.”

This reality is light years away from the desire of Gilles Kepel, President Jacques Chirac’s advisor on Islamic affairs, to create “an Andalusia” of multi-denominational tolerance in France. As French commentator Yves Charles Zarka, director of Cités, has warned, even that price cannot maintain the semblance of peace for long because the roots of “ideological Islamism” are deep and enduring among the young rioters. France is experiencing “a central phase of the more general and mutually conflicting encounter between the West and Islam, which only someone completely blind or of radical bad faith, or possibly of disconcerting naiveté, could fail to recognize.” Outside the ghettos the price of a wider societal “peace” is a complex web of lies and half-truths by which the elite class has sought to conceal the truth about what it has done to the French nation.

The real cause of the French intifada is the enormous growth, dysfunctionality, and arrogant self-confidence of the Muslim immigrant community within France, coupled with the cultural enfeeblement and demographic decline of the French nation. The mix is dangerous. Its result has been stated with haughty arrogance by Tariq Ramadan, professor of Islamic studies at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland and a grandson of Hasan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ramadan proposes through his teachings and writings that Muslims in the West should conduct themselves not as hyphenated citizens seeking to live by “common values” but as though they were already living in a Muslim-majority society and were exempt on that account from having to make concessions to the faith of others. Muslims in non-Muslim countries should feel themselves entitled to live on their own terms—while, under the terms of Western liberal tolerance, society as a whole should feel obliged to respect that choice.

That “liberal tolerance” and the accompanying “societal obligation,” is the true enemy. “No other race subscribes to these moral principles… because they are weapons of self-annihilation.” They need to be understood for what they are, and discarded, if France is to survive.

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