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The rioting by Muslim youth that began October 27 in France to calls of "Allahu Akbar" may be a turning point in European history.
What started in Clichy-sous-Bois, on the outskirts of Paris, by its eleventh night had spread to 300 French cities and towns, as well as to Belgium and Germany. The violence, which has already been called some evocative names - intifada, jihad, guerrilla war, insurrection, rebellion, and civil war - prompts several reflections:
End of an era: The time of cultural innocence and political na vet , when the French could blunder without seeing or feeling the consequences, is closing. As in other European countries (notably Denmark and Spain), a bundle of related issues, all touching on the Muslim presence, has now moved to the top of the policy agenda in France, where it will likely remain for decades.
These issues include a decline of Christian faith and the attendant demographic collapse; a cradle-to-grave welfare system that lures immigrants even as it saps long-term economic viability; an alienation from historic customs in favor of lifestyle experimentation and vapid multiculturalism; an inability to control borders or assimilate immigrants; a pattern of criminality that finds European cities far more violent than American ones; and a surge in Islam and radical Islam.
Not a first: The French insurrection are by no means the first instance of a semi-organized Muslim insurgency in Europe - it was preceded days earlier by one riot in Birmingham, England and was accompanied by another one in rhus, Denmark. France itself has a history of Muslim violence going back to 1979. What is different in the current round is its duration, magnitude, planning, and ferocity.
Media denial: The French press delicately refers to the "urban violence" and presents the rioters as victims of the system. Mainstream media deny that it has to do with Islam and ignore the permeating Islamist ideology, with its vicious anti-French attitudes and its raw ambition to dominate the country and replace its civilization with Islam's.
Another method of jihad: Indigenous Muslims of northwestern Europe have in the past year deployed three distinct forms of jihad: the crude variety deployed in the United Kingdom, killing random passengers moving around London; the targeted variety in the Netherlands, where individual political and cultural leaders are singled out, threatened, and in some cases attacked; and now the more diffuse violence in France, less specifically murderous but also politically less dismissible. Which of these or other methods will prove most efficacious is yet unclear, but the British variant is clearly counterproductive, so the Dutch and French strategies will probably recur.
SARKOZY VS. VILLEPIN: Two leading French politicians and probable candidates for president in 2007, Nicholas Sarkozy and Dominique de Villepin, have responded to the riots in starkly contrasting ways, with the former adopting a hard line (proclaiming "tol rance z ro" for urban crime) and the latter a soft one (promising an "action plan" to improve urban conditions).
Anti-state: The riots started eight days after Sarkozy declared a new policy of "war without mercy" on urban violence and two days after he called violent youth "scum." Many rioters see themselves in a power struggle with the state and so focus their attacks on its symbols. A typical report quotes Mohamed, 20, the son of a Moroccan immigrant, asserting that "Sarko has declared war... so it's war he's going to get." Representatives of the rioters have demanded that the French police leave the "occupied territories"; in turn, Sarkozy partially blamed the riots on "fundamentalists."
The French can respond in three ways. They can feel guilty and appease the rioters with prerogatives and the "massive investment plan" some are demanding. Or they can heave a sigh of relief when it ends and, as they did after earlier crises, return to business as usual. Or they can understand this as the opening salvo in a would-be revolution and take the difficult steps to undo the negligence and indulgence of past decades.
I expect a blend of the first two reactions and that, despite Sarkozy's surge in the polls, Villepin's appeasing approach will prevail. France must await something larger and more awful to awake it from its somnolence. The long-term prognosis, however, is inescapable: "the sweet dream of universal cultural compatibility has been replaced," as Theodore Dalrymple puts it, "by the nightmare of permanent conflict."
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Tim Froehlke, USA:
I appreciate the concise and clear summary of the problem in France. I am sad to have to agree with the conclusion of Mr. Pipe.
There are two types of people in the world. Those who believe that there is a God, these are like one who wakes suddenly in the back seat of a speeding car. He looks in the front seat and sees someone he trusts driving the car and relaxes. The person who does not believe in God is like a person who suddenly wakes in the back seat of a speeding car and sees no one driving. He not only wants to take control of the car but demands that the government make safer cars as well as safer roads. Seeing no God, he projects himself into the role.
People who claim that there is no God can be called secularists. Like an insurance agent, they see the universe as threatening and filled with potential harm. The universe seems scary unless it is controlled and the only tool they see that is available to control the universe is government. In a way government becomes part of their religious system. Since it becomes the source of their provision and protection it becomes viewed almost as a holy temple. They view even a marginal Christian or Jewish leader like a Muslim would welcome a truck load of pigs in Mecca
. The god of the secularists is government and the holy work is political activism.
When Christians and Jews (all too infrequently) follow their book, the world is a better place (They have a God they can trust). When Muslims (all too frequently) follow their book, the world is a worse place (they have a God they have to appease). Islam is works based. You get to heaven by what you do. One problem with works based religions is that you can never be sure how much is enough.
Islam has the feature of guaranteeing heaven to those who die killing unbelievers.
One reason that the liberal press does not want an accurate assessment of Islam is that the evil of a demonic religion by contrast points to the value of the Christian and Jewish religion. Since the liberal press are agents of their own religion of secularism, they do not want to elevate anything that would compete with their own faith.
Secularism is the religion of man in general and self in particular. They view themselves as evolved beyond religion and having pushed aside Christianity (from which it sprung) so easily, it thinks everything will fall its way with enough education. This arrogance is blinding Europeans (where secularism is the major religion) to the danger of Islam. Their culture is being taken over in front of them and they will never recognize it.
The self-appointed liberal elite of America fawn after the elite of Europe and like them welcome Islam, because they feel they will be able to "educate" people away from Islam, just like they did Christianity. Once we recognize the "three way" religious war we are in, it becomes much easier to understand current events.
Jorge Ruiz, Spain:
Al-France will never accept the problem is with the Muslims. Its the third generation of Muslims and they are still talking about integration. Jihad is already in Europe, and Europeans, as usual, don t want to wake up from their Chamberlainian dream. But Europe is not innocent, at least France, whose right-wing party is the brother party of the Baaz, Syrian fascists and Palestinian terrorists and whose left-wing venerates Islam because its a revolutionary religion ( anti-America, anti-Israel
As the president of Algeria
Houari Boum dienne said in the UN General Assembly 30 years ago: Un jour, des millions d'hommes quitteront l'h misph re sud pour faire irruption dans l'h misph re nord. Et certainement pas en amis. Car ils y feront irruption pour le conqu rir. Et ils le conquerront en le peuplant de leurs fils. C'est le ventre de nos femmes qui nous offrira la victoire .
That day is today.
Stephen Asbel, Media:
France has demanded for years that Israel must appease Arab terrorists by creating a new Arab state expected to be called "Palestine." France was among the nations cheering the loudest for Sharon's unilateral handover of Gaza
to the Arab Palestinians where Hamas
terrorists now have free reign. If France applies to itself the same sense of "logic" that it tries to impose upon Israel, France should see that it has a serious problem with demographic trends that will eventually leave white ethnic French a minority in their own country and conclude that to maintain a viable French state
, France will have to "disengage" from those areas with high populations of Arabs and other Muslims. This new 23rd or 24th Arab Muslim state could be called a number of things such as "Paristine" as suggested by Joseph Farah or as someone else suggested, "Franckenstine."
Ernest S. Geskin, Florham Park, USA:
As usually Pipes gives a brilliant and comprehensive analysis of the crises.
no suggestions to address crises
the uprising is a part of the global assault of barbarians on the West more dangerous than WWII and the Cold War. Both Germans and Soviets did not intend to destroy the Western civilization, just to change it.
the real reason of the crisis is , as it was in 30th, the appeasement
It is not an accident that the appeaser #1, France ,was hit
whatever cultural and demographic reasons are, the crisis, at least in a short run, will be over if and when a new Churchill, Reagan or Ben Gurion will emerge. Hopefully, Sarkozy will become one of them.
Julie Dicks, Kansas City USA: What a thought-provoking and well-written article. The facts are well-presented: cultural ambiguity, deterioration of the Christian faith and moral diffidence have led to this. It is truly a "war of the worlds" between the modern, democratic ideal and the middle-ages version of Islam. Who will blink first??