Monday, November 07, 2005

French Riots III

There is no end in sight, and further deterioration seems more likely than improvement. Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin talks of curfews, but is apparently not imposing any yet. He says prefects will be able to put a curfew in place, if they think it will be useful. One wonders why that announcement wasn't accompanied by a list of places where curfews are immediately in effect. Arrests are practically meaningless. Rioters under 18 who are arrested are released the next day to their parents' custody.

The Wall Street Journal (free this week, subscription later) has an excellent review of the situation and a discussion of how Muslim groups are acting as "mediators." (There's also a javascript slideshow in the right sidebar of the WSJ page.) While the government is obviously clueless as to what to do, accepting the "help" of the Islamic groups has its own risks:

"These groups don't preach violence, but they do advocate something that is troubling Europe's secular democracies: that Muslims should identify themselves with their religion rather than as citizens. Effectively, they are promoting a separate society within society and that brand of Islamist philosophy is seeping into many parts of Western Europe. Countries from France and Germany to the United Kingdom and the Netherlands haven't succeeded in integrating their Muslim minorities -- and Islamic organizations have carefully positioned themselves to fill the breach.

The riots 'are a blessing for them because it gives them the role of intermediary,' says Gilles Kepel, a scholar who has studied and written extensively about the rise of Islam in France. That, in turn, puts them in a stronger position 'to force concessions from the state,' such as demanding a repeal of the law France passed last year banning headscarves from public schools, he says."

... and:

"There isn't anything inherently Muslim about the violence: Islamic groups appear to have played no part in stirring up the trouble, and few rioters seem to be using Islam to justify their attacks. On the contrary, many Islamic groups say they are trying to calm things down. But the bleak projects that ring Paris and France's other big cities have long been fertile recruiting grounds for Islamic groups that preach a fundamentalist form of the religion that is often hard to square with Europe's pluralistic societies.

While their mediation seems helpful in the short-term, these Islamic organizations end up further alienating Muslim youths from mainstream society because they teach an ideology that is in conflict with France's secular ideals, says Malek Boutih, a former head of human-rights group SOS Racism. 'They recruit, they teach the Quran and they try to orient everything around the mosque,' says Mr. Boutih. 'That's it.'"

The question is: Does that make them more peaceful or more radical and violent in the long run?

It's long been an article of faith, particularly in France itself, that the failure to assimilate the Muslim immigrants is due to a failure of French government and society, e.g. "racism," not enough job training, and the other "root causes" as liberalism sees things. While hostility of many Frenchmen to "outsiders" is certainly present, that is not the whole story. First of all, many Chinese immigrants (and Vietnamese before them) have rapidly assimilated and risen in social standing. Consider also the problems Holland is having with its own restive Muslims. Could there be a more open, welcoming society than the Dutch? Yet their situation is just as bad with last year's jihadist murder of filmaker Theo van Gogh and ongoing death threats to members of the Dutch Parliament by Islamists.

Yet friction and conflict with other religious and ethnic groups is a consistent theme for Muslims. It has been happening with all other religions and all other ethnic groups for centuries.

It's easy for Westerners to interpret the violence as a response to desperate conditions such as the massive unemployment that results from France's (and much of Europe's) inflexible labor markets and generous social welfare systems. However, as The Brussels Journal points out, the rioters are not angry about being rejected by French society. They consider themselves to be superior to the French, who are (in the rioters' view) beneath contempt:
Show Them Who Is the Boss in France | The Brussels Journal: "What is happening in France has been brewing in Old Europe for years. The BBC speaks of 'youths' venting their 'anger.' The BBC is wrong. It is not anger that is driving the insurgents to take it out on the secularised welfare states of Old Europe. It is hatred. Hatred caused not by injustice suffered, but stemming from a sense of superiority. The 'youths' do not blame the French, they despise them.

Most observers in the mainstream media (MSM) provide an occidentocentric analysis of the facts. They depict the 'youths' as outsiders who want to be brought into Western society and have the same rights as the natives of Old Europe. The MSM believe that the 'youths' are being treated unjustly because they are not a functioning part of Western society. They claim that, in spite of positive discrimination, subsidies, public services, schools, and all the provisions that have been made for immigrants over the years, access has been denied them.

This is the marxist rhetoric of the West that has been predominant in the media and the chattering classes since the 1960s. But it does not fit the facts of the situation in Europe today. To understand what is going on one cannot look at today's events from a Western perspective. One has to think like the 'youths' in order to understand them. Not imagine oneself in their shoes, but imagine their minds in one's own head. The important question is: how do these insurgents perceive their relationship with society in France?"
The rioters have no desire to be integrated into French society. They want to supplant it with their own, "superior" culture. Welcome to Eurabia.

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