Has an intifada begun in France — an all-out jihad? Are the French facing what is by now, as the riots are well into their second week and have engulfed virtually the entire country, a full-scale insurrection from immigrant youth who simply resent being marginalized and shunted to the fringes of French society? Or does the unrest have something to do with the agenda of jihadists worldwide? As is becoming increasingly well known, Osama bin Laden and others all over the world want to unify the Islamic world under a restored caliphate, reestablish the rule of Islamic law, and extend the hegemony of that law, Sharia, to the rest of the world also. Does that play any role in the French riots?
Evidence so far is somewhat sketchy. Mainstream media reports have centered on the rioters’ economic and cultural marginalization. “Theirs,” laments AP, “is a drab life of days spent smoking hashish, hanging out on street corners.” An 18-year-old named Ahmed complains: “You wear these clothes, with this color skin and you’re automatically a target for police.” Some analysts, indulging in various degrees of schadenfreude, have alleged that France’s ingrained racism, snobbery toward outsiders, and mistreatment of Muslim immigrants are responsible for the riots.
Yet the horror stories detailing this mistreatment that are now filling the news do not entirely ring true. France has not neglected its sizable Muslim minority. Not too long ago it established an official organization to oversee French Islam, the French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM), and has even discussed revising France’s secular laws to allow the government to fund mosques in France, in order to wean them away from “extremist” foreign influences.
Nor have Muslims been marginalized in French public life. Dalil Boubakeur, leader of the CFCM and imam of the Paris mosque, enjoys high visibility. After the French government announced plans to expel jihadist imams from France in May 2004, then-Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin told Boubakeur that he wanted to “reassure the Muslim community” of “his willingness to treat it as he treats other faiths.” Boubakeur explained that as far as Raffarin was concerned, “there is no lumping together of the expulsion of imams and the Muslim community in general.” When two French journalists were kidnapped in Iraq in August 2004, then-Interior Minister (and current Prime Minister) Dominique de Villepin went to Boubakeur’s mosque to join Muslims in prayer for their release — and drew applause when he spoke of the unity between non-Muslims and Muslims in France.
De Villepin’s mosque visit was emblematic of France’s ongoing efforts to make its Muslim population feel included, loved, and French — efforts they are now being universally excoriated for not having made. And there are several indications that the riots are not wholly or solely about economic and social marginalization at all, and that the Islamic jihad agenda is a significant element fueling their continuing spread:
• It has long been established that there is a significant jihadist presence among French Muslims. Recently six Muslims in Paris were arrested for recruiting for the jihad in Iraq.
• The rioters have been shouting the jihad battle cry, “Allahu akbar.” As Muhammad Atta wrote in his final exhortation to himself, “When the confrontation begins, strike like champions who do not want to go back to this world. Shout, ‘Allahu Akbar,’ because this strikes fear in the hearts of the non-believers.” While the mainstream media continues to identify the rioters as “French-born youths of Arab or African origin, many of them Muslim,” in fact the Islamic identity of the rioters is quite clear: rioters have avoided Muslim-owned businesses, preferring obviously non-Muslim targets.
• The rioters have thrown Molotov cocktails at two French synagogues, making it likely that they subscribe to the deeply rooted hatred of Jews that so many jihadists share. They have also set two churches on fire, further reinforcing the impression that they view their struggle as fundamentally religious, and consider the terrorizing of Jews and Christians to be part of their religious responsibility, in accord with Qur’an 9:29, which directs Muslims to wage war even against “the People of the Book”: the Qur’an’s term for — primarily — Jews and Christians.
• Mouloud Dahmani is a Muslim leader in France who is trying to prevail upon the French to allow for a group of Muslim Brotherhood sheikhs to negotiate an end to the riots. The Muslim Brotherhood, of course, is the first modern Islamic jihad organization and the direct forefather of Hamas and Al-Qaeda. Dahmani has declared: “All we demand is to be left alone.” This is a strange statement coming from the leader of a community that resents being marginalized and longs to enter the mainstream of French society. Left alone? Quite literally. Journalist Amir Taheri says that the Muslims in France are not actually interested in assimilation at all; rather, they want autonomy: “Some are even calling for the areas where Muslims form a majority of the population to be reorganized on the basis of the ‘millet’ system of the Ottoman Empire: Each religious community (millet) would enjoy the right to organize its social, cultural and educational life in accordance with its religious beliefs.” He reports that “in parts of France, a de facto millet system is already in place.” Muslim leaders control the area and French officials, including police, simply do not enter.
• Postings on Muslim weblogs indicate that the riots are not spontaneous outpourings of rage, but carefully planned endeavors. Some revealed not only the planning involved in the riots, which have now swept all across France and have spread also to Denmark, Belgium and Germany, but also the Islamic supremacist goal behind them. One wrote: “The cops are petrified of us, everything must burn, starting Monday, the operation ‘Midnight Sun’ starts, tell everyone else, rendezvous for Momo and Abdul in Zone 4 ... jihad Islamia Allah Akhbar.” Another added: “You don’t really think that we’re going to stop now? Are you stupid? It will continue, non-stop. We aren’t going to let up. The French won’t do anything and soon, we will be in the majority here.”
Meanwhile, the Union for Islamic Organizations of France, which has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, has issued a fatwa declaring: “It is formally forbidden to any Muslim seeking divine grace and satisfaction to participate in any action that blindly hits private or public property or could constitute an attack on someone’s life.” There is a strange ambiguity in this, recalling that of the CAIR-backed American fatwa condemning attacks on innocent civilians without defining “innocent”: what constitutes attacking “blindly”? Is a focused, targeted attack somehow acceptable?
The time for such ambiguity is long past. And indeed, lines are being drawn everywhere.
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