Intifada in France (New York Sun Staff Editorial, November 4, 2005)
If President Chirac thought he was going to gain peace with the Muslim community in France by taking an appeasement line in the Iraq war, it certainly looks like he miscalculated. Today the streets of the French capital are looking more like Ramallah and less like the advanced, sophisticated, gay Paree image Monsieur Chirac likes to portray to the world, and the story, which is just starting to grip the world’s attention, is full of ironies. One is tempted to suggest that Prime Minister Sharon send a note cautioning Monsieur Chirac about cycles of violence.
Back in the 1990s, the French sneered at America for the Los Angeles riots. As the Chicago Sun-Times reported in 1992: “the consensus of French pundits is that something on the scale of the Los Angeles riots could not happen here, mainly because France is a more humane, less racist place with a much stronger commitment to social welfare programs.” President Mitterrand, the Washington Post reported in 1992, blamed the riots on the “conservative society” that Presidents Reagan and Bush had created and said France is different because it “is the country where the level of social protection is the highest in the world.”
Small, petty, and unChristian it may be, but who can even pretend not to be enjoying this?
Paris Burning (Robert Spencer, November 4, 2005, FrontPageMagazine.com)
In her seminal Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, historian Bat Ye’or details a series of agreements between the European Union and the Arab League that guaranteed that Muslim immigrants in Europe would not be compelled in any way to adapt “to the customs of the host countries.” On the contrary, the Euro-Arab Dialogue’s Hamburg Symposium of 1983, to take just one of many examples, recommended that non-Muslim Europeans be made “more aware of the cultural background of migrants, by promoting cultural activities of the immigrant communities or ‘supplying adequate information on the culture of the migrant communities in the school curricula.’” Not only that: “Access to the mass media had to be facilitated to the migrants in order to ensure ‘regular information in their own language about their own culture as well as about the conditions of life in the host country.”
The European Union has implemented such recommendations for decades — so far from playing down the differences between ethnic groups, they have instead stood by approvingly while immigrants formed non-assimilated Islamic enclaves within Europe. Indeed, as Bat Ye’or demonstrates, they have assured the Arab League in multiple agreements that they would aid in the creation and maintenance of such enclaves. Ignorance of the jihad ideology among European officials has allowed that ideology to spread in those enclaves, unchecked until relatively recently.
Consequently, among a generation of Muslims born in Europe, significant numbers have nothing but contempt and disdain for their native lands, and allegiance only to the Muslim umma and the lands of their parents’ birth. Those who continue to arrive in Europe from Muslim countries are encouraged by the isolation, self-imposed and other-abetted, of the Islamic communities in Europe to hold to the same attitudes. The Arab European League, a Muslim advocacy group operating in Belgium and the Netherlands, states as part of its “vision and philosophy” that “we believe in a multicultural society as a social and political model where different cultures coexist with equal rights under the law.” It strongly rejects for Muslims any idea of assimilation or integration into European societies: “We do not want to assimilate and we do not want to be stuck somewhere in the middle. We want to foster our own identity and culture while being law abiding and worthy citizens of the countries where we live. In order to achieve that it is imperative for us to teach our children the Arabic language and history and the Islamic faith. We will resist any attempt to strip us of our right to our own cultural and religious identity, as we believe it is one of the most fundamental human rights.” AEL founder Dyab Abou Jahjah, who was himself arrested in November 2002 and charged with inciting Muslims in Antwerp to riot (Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said that the AEL was “trying to terrorize the city”), has declared: “Assimilation is cultural rape. It means renouncing your identity, becoming like the others.” He implied that European Muslims had a right to bring the ideology of jihad and Sharia to Europe, complaining that in Europe “I could still eat certain dishes from the Middle East, but I cannot have certain thoughts that are based on ideologies and ideas from the Middle East.”
What kind of ideologies? Perhaps Hani Ramadan, grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan Al-Banna and brother of the famed self-proclaimed moderate Muslim spokesman Tariq Ramadan, gave a hint when he defended the traditional Islamic Sharia punishment of stoning for adultery in the Paris journal Le Monde. In Denmark, politician Fatima Shah echoed the same sentiments in November 2004. That same month, filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, who had made a film, Submission, about the oppression of women by Islamic law, was murdered in Holland by a Muslim, Mohammed Bouyeri. Bouyeri later declared in court: “I did what I did purely out my beliefs. I want you to know that I acted out of conviction and not that I took his life because he was Dutch or because I was Moroccan and felt insulted.” In other words, his problem was religious, not racial: Van Gogh had blasphemed Islam, and so according to Islamic law he had to die. Significantly, Bouyeri maintained during his trial that he did not recognize the authority of the Dutch court, but only of the law of Islam.
How many European Muslims share the sentiments of Mohammed Bouyeri? How many of these are rioting this week in Paris? Alleviating Muslim unemployment and poverty will not ultimately do anything to alter this rejection of European values by growing numbers of people who are only geographically Europeans. And the problem cannot be ignored. For France is not alone: Muslims in Århus, Denmark have also been rioting this week. And in France, Sarkozy recently revealed that this week’s riots are just a particularly virulent flare-up of an ongoing pattern of violence: he told Le Monde that twenty to forty cars are set afire nightly in Paris’ restive Muslim suburbs, and no fewer than nine thousand police cars have been stoned since the beginning of 2005.
Blame for the riots in France has thus far focused on Sarkozy’s tough talk about ending this violence. On October 19 he declared of the suburbs that “they have to be cleaned — we’re going to make them as clean as a whistle.” Six days after this, Muslim protestors threw stones and bottles at him when he visited the suburb of Argenteuil. He has been roundly criticized for calling the rioters “scum”; one of them responded, “We’re not scum. We’re human beings, but we’re neglected.” However, as a solution the same man recommended only more neglect, saying of the Paris riot police: “If they didn’t come here, into our area, nothing would happen. If they come here it’s to provoke us, so we provoke back.” Others complained of rough treatment they have received since 9/11 from police searching for terrorists: “It’s the way they stop and search people, kneeing them between the legs as they put them up against the wall. They get students mixed up with the worst offenders, yet these young people have done nothing wrong.”
But of course, all these problems are exacerbated by the non-assimilation policy that both the French government and the Muslim population have for so long pursued: the rioters are part of a population that has never considered itself French. Nor do French officials seem able or willing to face that this is the core of their problem today.