Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The French riots were never about social justice

Paul Belien:

The riots that began on Oct. 27 in Clichy-sous-Bois lasted for days, grew ever more violent, and spread throughout France, until the whole world noticed. It is easy to understand why the “youths” in the suburbs turned so violent when Sarkozy tried to establish law and order there. The “youths” have held sway there, unchallenged, for decades. If they allow the French authorities to reassert their authority, they lose their own power base. Unlike the Western intellectuals, they realize that everything boils down to the question of who wields power over a specific territory. The police and the gangs fight over whose laws will apply in the neighborhood: the laws of the French Republic or the laws of Eurabia.

As Dyab Abou Jahjah, the young and charismatic Brussels-based leader of the European Arab League, has said, “We believe in a multicultural society as a social and political model where different cultures coexist with equal rights under the law. 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. Assimilation is cultural rape. It means renouncing your identity, becoming like the others.” For Jahjah, Europe does not belong to the Europeans, it belongs to the Arabs as well: “I don’t believe in a host country. We are at home here and whatever we consider our culture to be also belongs to our chosen country.”

It is likely that Sarkozy did not realize what was really at stake when he declared “total war” in order to recapture the suburbs for the French Republic. However, for the Muslim radicals—invariably described in the media as “youths”—it is quite literally a war. The French government is reneging on the 1975 Strasbourg Resolution. If multiculturalism is impossible except as different cultures “coexisting” on neighboring but different territories, the attempt of the French Republic to reconquer the suburbs is a strike at the heart of the culture of the immigrant “youths,” an attempt to deprive them of their country. It is cultural rape, it is forcing them to become like the others, namely secularized Europeans.

Sarkozy, who deployed only policemen in his war, was unable to prevail because he did not have the weapons to win a territorial conflict. After two days of rioting, police officers warned that they did not have the means to win what they (correctly) described as a “civil war.” The riots spread to the whole of France. Dozens of schools, shops, and factories were set ablaze and thousands of cars and buses. Molotov cocktails were thrown into buses while the passengers were still on them. The police were shot at.

Moreover, Sarkozy’s enemies in the government did not want the interior minister to win the battle for the suburbs, which would make him immensely popular with ordinary Frenchmen. Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who is Sarkozy’s main rival for the presidential elections in 2007, blamed the latter for having incited the “disturbances” with his inflammatory rhetoric which was said to have “provoked the youths.”

While the battle for the suburbs went on, political bickering paralyzed the government. Jacques Chirac, the corrupt center-right president of France, who in 2002 won the elections in the second round from the far-right Jean-Marie Le Pen, distrusts Sarkozy. Chirac sees Villepin, an aristocrat appointee who has never held an elected office, as his crown prince. The president and the prime minister refused to crack down on the “youths” in the suburbs. They favor a policy of “dialogue” and “appeasement.” The latter constitutes not only an appeasement of the radical Muslims and the thugs in society but also of one’s own mind. Indeed, it is more convenient to think that the cause of the riots is plain thuggishness resulting from discrimination on the job market.

The poor natives who live in the immigrants’ neighborhoods know better, however. They know that the generals of Eurabia, the leaders of the “youths,” drive BMWs and Mercedes (which no-one dares to set alight), and that they use mobile phones and PCs to instruct their highly mobile troops. The war in France is not about social injustice, but about territory.

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