In the media show about violence in France, there is a high-flown chord above all others: the expansion of riots, which, though very limited geographically and sociologically, serve the purpose of further imposing the concept of an imminent war of civilizations upon minds. The press shows a West besieged by non- assimilated Muslim hordes – the fifth column of an “Islamist-Fascist” regime plotting to own the world and build a caliphate on the ruins of a dissolute West. Neo- con analysts repeat this ad nauseam, closely followed by some left-wing European editorialists.
“The absence of an official voice, the nihilism of these riots is like a virgin canvas on which each and everyone can, according to his tendencies, paint the portrait he wants. Everyone may add his touch and the weak and inconsistent voice of the rioters gets lost behind comments”. This analysis of the Los Angeles 1992 riots, by Noam Chomsky, could perfectly adjust to those writers filling the newspaper columns after the riots in French suburbs. Each sees in these events the confirmation of their own political philosophy. The French Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy is not the last in Le Monde, to express his satisfaction at the success of his policy based on repression and the military treatment of urban violence. He repeated his traditional accusations against the rioters, mixing things up and using provocative formulas, praising his own action though it had only added fuel to the fire. This forum was published while the minister and chairman of the Unity for the People’s Movement was organizing a great propaganda campaign through a search drive Google.
Daniel Cohn-Bendit – a devoted “former expert on street fighting” by the German Magazine Der Spiegel, could indirectly answer that this is just a respective macho struggle between rioters and ministers.
In this media show about violence in France, there is a
high-flown chord above all others: the expansion of riots,
which though very limited geographically and
sociologically, serve the purpose of further impressing
the concept of an imminent war of civilizations upon the
human mind. The press shows a West besieged by non-
assimilated Muslim hordes – the fifth column of
an “Islamist-Fascist” regime plotting to own the world and
build a caliphate on the ruins of a dissolute West.
That’s all NATO military expert Ludovic Monnerat said when asked in Geneva’s Le Temps if Europe is on the eve of a civil war. He thinks there is a real inner enemy already actively involved in a low intensity conflict. Making use of misinformation, he announced the discovery of a “factory for incendiary devices” – a name quite ostentatious for what is only a place with a barrel of gasoline and empty bottles, or else “the trafficking of war weapons in the neighborhoods”, when rioters, at most, go around armed with air pistols or shotguns, and the famous war weapons he regularly mentions in the international press have never been found. Whatever it is, Monnerat regards it as the preparation of an armed uprising – a communitarian and generational “Intifada” the objective of which is undermining Democracy. If he does not respond militarily to this aggression, he is dead. _Walking on the same tightrope is neo-con historian Niall Ferguson, whose article, as it often happens, has been published by several dailies (Los Angeles Times, La Vanguardia included), explains that urban violence is not the problem but the number and origin of the rioters – non- assimilated foreigners who threaten to cause the country’s disintegration. Quoting the theorist of the war of civilizations, Samuel Huntington, denounces the invasion both sides of the Atlantic: Arab and Muslim in Europe; Latin and Catholic in the US, and naturally considers that the former is the most threatening. Of course, Islam phobic theorist Daniel Pipes could not be missing. In a column simultaneously published by the New York Sun, the Jerusalem Post and the Korea Herald (which, as far as we know, is spreading this writer for the first time), he again criticized the European indifference in the face of “World War Four”, triggered, according to him, by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. Denouncing the French media blindness that can only see social reasons in this wave of violence, Pipes links three unrelated events: the London bombings, Theo Van- Gogh’s murder in the Netherlands and the French riots, in order to make out a multiform and above all planned jihad. Once more, only by correcting the “guilty indulgence of the last decades” can the situation be saved! _This kind of analysis is to be constantly found in a portion of the international press, which as we had pointed out in our section Deceiving Headlines, has an arrangement with France. An analysis of that sort comes from a most prolix commentator of Iranian origin Amir Taheri, who said in Vienna’s Standard that the French rioters simply want to reinstate the Ottoman principle of the “millet”. This would allow each religious community to live by their own rules and habits dictated by their religion. The day following the first riots, the Washington Times gave details of Tony Blankley’s last work “The West’s Last Chance: Will We Win the Clash of Civilizations? where the writer explained that only a worldwide coordinated counterinsurgent military response can stop the advance of the Nazi-Islamist militarism which, as in 1940, threatens to submit and turn Europe into an “Eurabia” – a lookout for oil routes and hostile to the US. The cultural tolerance that characterizes this dissolute and powerless Europe is directly responsible for this situation and it is the US and Great Britain – “healthy” states – which must take things over on their own. Regrettably, this martial analysis, which reminds us of General Bugeaud’s famous phrase during the colonization of Algeria: “Those Who Are Not with Us Are against Us”, is not at all surprising for the readers of Forums & Analyses, who are used to the verbal exaggerations of neo- con and Atlantist circles when it comes down to Arabian- Muslim populations. However, as a few years ago, this rhetoric is not only the property of a neo-con, racist and reactionary rightwing. As we have proved in our columns, this is a vision equally shared by the European left. The reaction of Philippe Val – editorialist and director of the French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo – to the events is an example of this.
As usual, Philippe Val seized hold of a current fact to bring up her favorite topic for debate: the fight against anti-Semitism in the French left and the condemnation of any thoughts beyond the conventional western framework after 9/11. For her, the riots are not the result of conspiracy but the consequence of an ideological confusion “stemming from the mutations of racism and antiracism”. If the suburbs are on fire, it is because humorist Dieudonné and the president of the Voltaire Network Thierry Meyssan have fuelled the hatred – “a hatred that has become the ne plus ultra of a radical opposition” (and, of course, anti-Semitist according to the writer). Although the argumentative coverage differs from that of Daniel Pipes, Niall Ferguson and others, Amir Taheri, etc., the essence is the same: the leaders of the riots fighting against the Jews, the “Americans”, and the “citizens” of Democracy”. _Philippe Val is not alone in this crusade. In a widely spread text within the libertarian circles, probably due to its offensive title: “Révolution, mon cul !” [Revolution: Bullshit!], Véronique Dà Rosas, of the Secular Maghrebi Movement of France, speaks no differently when denouncing the left and extreme left militants fascinated by the “new proletariat: the young man djeune of the suburbs for them” – a djeune behind whose young figure advances the “bearded comrade”, the Islamist who has won the confidence of the opposition movements, according to a currently fashionable issue. The left would have lost its references and therefore opened the door to “indigenous” people in the name of an anti- colonialist issue. What upsets the writer is not the rebellion of the youth, or that they wear the Nike brand, definitely not. What upsets her is that they are of Muslim origin, consequently impossible to assimilate. This analysis grows more caustic as it comes from a person in charge of a self-proclaimed “Maghrebi Movement”.
Muslim theologian and political militant Tariq Ramadan
highlighted this obsession in Le Monde: Islam would
necessarily be a problem for social peace. He deplores the
inability to listen to European Muslims and democrats who
say that the problem is not Islam, but social matters.
Whether on an ethnic or an economic basis, both models –
the French and the British – have built real ghettos on
the grounds of xenophobic concepts or by reviving them. As
a new policy becomes necessary against ghettos and racism,
the recurrent rhetoric of the left and the right about the
Islam and integration agree with those who, on the Muslim
side, Islamize all problems and on the other, fuel the
idea of an unavoidable conflict with Islam.
For his part, analyst Mark Levine of the Jewish Progressive Movement Tikkun wields the pretext of the riots to talk about the search by the West of a “moderate Muslim” who would save Islam from itself making it acceptable. Unfortunately – he points out – the Muslim leaders supported by the West as “moderate ones” are frequently repressive dictators to their people and generally help crush those who try to define a modern Islam. He is of the opinion that Islam needs not “moderation” but lots of “radicalism” in the sense that it should come back to the roots of the Islamic culture itself. However, all those trying to do so are rotting today in the jails of Muslim governments “friendly to the West”.
Le Monde diplomatique’s director Bernard Cassen speaks of a “French Katrina” in El Periodico, stressing that if Katrina brought to light much of the US social reality, the wave of violence in Paris and other French cities says a lot about French society. Violence is begotten by the anger against neo-liberal policies and not by any Islamic conspiracy or any other kind, and just like others, he calls to a “Marshall Plan” for the suburbs.