“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
. 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
”, 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
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
(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
. 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
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 &
, 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.