Muslims throughout the world are reacting with hostility towards France since Macron cracked down on extreme Islamism in the country. After the beheading of French schoolteacher Samuel Paty, who showed Charlie Hebdo cartoons satirizing Muhammed, and then a Islamic terror attack in Nice that killed three, President Macron is determined to defang extreme Islamism in France. His new plan, aimed at becoming law this year, bars Muslim home-schooling, requires all children to attend state-recognized schools from age three, and calls for more scrutiny of foreign funding of mosques as well as suppressing speech that incites hatred (his plan was formulated before the Nice killings).
In response, much of the Muslim world, but particularly Turkey, has vowed to boycott French products and strike back at France in other ways, including diplomatically. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is particularly incensed, though some of his ire is clearly meant to distract his populace from the tanking Turkish economy and Erdogan’s suppression of free speech and his efforts to return his country to the pre-Atatürk condition of being an officially Muslim country. Erdogan was particularly peeved at the latest Charlie Hebdo cover, below. (Macron also said, at a memorial service for Samuel Paty, that France “will not give up our cartoons”.)
Business Insider explains this somewhat enigmatic cartoon:
The cartoon depicts Erdogan sitting in a T-shirt and underwear, drinking a beer, and lifting up a woman’s hijab to expose her bare backside. [JAC: it’s not a hijab, which is a headscarf, but a chador.]
Drinking alcohol is considered haram, or forbidden, by most Muslims, and Erdogan has long condemned it.
“Ouuuh! The Prophet!” the speech bubble from Erdogan’s mouth said, suggesting Erdogan was only pretending to be a staunch defender of Islam.
The headline published alongside the cartoon said: “Erdogan: In private, he is very funny!”
This has really ticked off both Erdogan and many Turks. Erdogan had already called for a Turkish boycott of French products, and now his Ministry of Foreign affairs has called for both political and legal action against France.
Now I don’t spend my time reading all the world’s press, but my impression is that they’re spending a lot of space explaining why Muslims are angry at France for its crackdown on extreme Islam, as well as the cartoons, and not so much space decrying the terrorist attacks in France, much less the religious ardor that causes them. One gets the impression from some journalistic pieces, like the one under consideration, that writers are more concerned with explaining why the terrorists felt compelled to attack French civilians than with explaining why Islam inspires such acts of terrorism. (Here’s a particularly egregious example from Politico.)
UPDATE HERE: Reader Ken alerted me to the fact that the Politico article has disappeared, replaced by this editor’s note:
If it didn’t meet their editorial standards, why did they publish it? Well, I managed to find a copy online and have saved it at the Wayback Machine, so you can see the lunacy by clicking here. I think you should have a look.
The implication of many of these pieces, at least to me, is that “the French sort of had it coming”. That may sound extreme, but given the pro-Muslim stance of the liberal mainstream press, and its failure to strongly decry the attacks—or analyze why Islam, alone among major faiths, inspires such attacks—I can’t help but think that these “explanations” shade into “excuses”. My prediction is that the liberal mainstream media, already strongly Islamophilic (after all, Muslims are seen by the Left as oppressed people of color), will become even more so in the coming years, and it will seep into their straight journalism, as it already has in The New York Times.
The latest report implying that “the French had it coming” is from the Associated Press (AP). As the article below from Tablet notes, the AP has long had a sympathy for Muslims, particularly in Palestine, to the extent of deliberately slanting its journalism in favor of Palestine and against Israel. I’ve mentioned this piece several times before, and since the AP is a major source of news for Americans, with its reports appearing in many newspapers, this is a must-read:
I won’t dwell on the piece above except to say that you need to read it if you have an interest in Western journalism about Palestine and Israel.
The story at hand is the new AP piece below, which has all the earmarks of an excuse. If you asked me why there are so many terror attacks in France, my answer would be that France has both absolutely and relatively more Muslims than any country in Western Europe (8.8%; 5 million), that this is a result of the French having colonized Muslim lands, that Islam encourages separatism and a sense of offense against those seen as “blasphemers,” and that the long-standing French policy of laïcité (secularism or church-state separation), which began with the French Revolution, is seen as a slap at religion, especially by Muslims.
Granted, French colonialism was abhorrent, but it no longer exists, and can’t be a valid reason for killing French citizens. Also, Macron’s measures, which I haven’t studied in detail, may be a bit extreme, but again, that doesn’t justify killing, nor does it justify the press’s concentration on French bad behavior instead of Islam-inspired murder. And I’m not sure how much of the Muslim failure to integrate into French society is due to their own culture rather than to French measures that prevent such integration. As far as I know, the French are eager to integrate all immigrants, but there is surely some bigotry against Muslim immigrants.
But the AP’s article (click n screenshot) sounds like a chastisement of the French for their secularism. To me, it’s more than an explanation: it’s also an excuse.
Here are some excerpts from the story:
So why is France singled out for protests and calls for boycotts across the Muslim world, and so often the target of deadly violence from the extremist margins?
Its brutal colonial past, staunch secular policies and tough-talking president who is seen as insensitive toward the Muslim faith all play a role.
As France steps up security and mourns three people killed in a knife attack at a church on Thursday – the latest of many attributed to Islamic extremists in recent years — here’s a look at some of the reasons the country is under fire.
Failure of integration:
But the country’s efforts to integrate Muslim immigrants have faltered. The official French doctrine of colorblindness is intended to ignore ethnic and religious backgrounds and to have all French citizens seen as equally French. In reality, the ideal often fuels discrimination against those who look, dress or pray differently from the historically Catholic majority, instead of preventing it.
Muslims are disproportionately represented in France’s poorest, most alienated neighborhoods, as well as its prisons. That has bred angry outcasts who see their homeland as sinful and disrespectful toward Islamic traditions, or simply racist against Arab and other immigrants from lands that once enriched the French empire.
Is all of this the fault of the French government, as the article implies?
France maintains a more hands-on role than Britain does in their former colonies, notably via economic and cultural ties — and that’s also visible in how France deploys troops abroad.
French forces intervened in recent years against Islamic extremists in Mali and Syria, both former French holdings. Thousands of French soldiers are now stationed in former colonies in the Sahel region of Africa with the same mission.
A French military presence fuels routine online appeals from IS, Al-Qaida and other extremists for retaliation on French soil, in hopes of forcing France to withdraw its forces.
“Strict secularism” (my emphasis)
Much of the current anger stems from the recent republication by French satirical newspaper weekly Charlie Hebdo of caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad. The cartoon images of Islam’s founder deeply offended many Muslims, who see them as sacrilegious. But the cartoons were originally published in Denmark in 2005, and similar images have been published in other countries that hold freedom of expression dear.
While French officials often say their country is targeted because of its reputation as the cradle of human rights and a rampart of global democracy, what distinguishes France most is its unusual attachment to secularism.
The often-misunderstood concept of French secularism is inscribed in the country’s constitution. It was born in a 1905 law separating church and state that was meant to allow the peaceful coexistence of all religions under a neutral state, instead of a government answering to powerful Roman Catholic clerics. Crucifixes were at one point torn from classroom walls in France amid painful public debate.
A century later, polls suggest France is among the least-religious countries in the world, with a minority attending services regularly. Secularism is broadly supported by those on both left and right.
As the number of Muslim in France grew, the state imposed secular rules on their practices. A 2004 banning Muslim headscarves and other ostentatious religious symbols in schools remains divisive, if not shocking to many outside France. A 2011 law banning face veils made Muslims feel stigmatized anew.
Note the phrase “what distinguishes France most is its unusual attachment to secularism.” Yes, that may be an explanation, but, as in the Politico piece, it sounds like an excuse. France is too secular! As Politico said, France has a “dangerous religion of secularism.” Since when is secularism a religion? And how is it “dangerous”? Only to those who are so attached to their faith that they’ll kill for it.
Yes, secularism entails an acceptance of blasphemy, for religion, like politics, should not be protected from criticism. It’s that blasphemy that inspired the original Charlie Hebdo murders, and has now returned to prompt four more murders.
Finally, the AP mentions an “outspoken President”.
France has been hit with extremist attacks over recent decades under leaders across the political spectrum, but centrist President Emmanuel Macron is a particularly popular target. Protesters burned his portrait or stomped on it at protests in multiple countries this week.
That’s in part because of a law Macron plans to introduce to crack down on Islamist fundamentalists he contends are turning some communities against the state and threatening pillars of French society, including schools. In the wake of recent extremist attacks, his government expelled Muslims accused of preaching intolerance and shut down groups seen as undermining French laws or norms.
The words the president uses have provoked outrage as well. He said the planned law was aimed at Islamist “separatism,” which raised fears of the further alienation of French Muslims.
At a memorial for a teacher beheaded for showing the prophet caricatures to his class, Macron gave a speech extolling tolerance, knowledge and religious freedom. But he drew ire, including from Turkey’s president, for saying, “We won’t renounce the caricatures” and that France should “diminish Islamists.”
Earlier, Macron described Islam as a “a religion that is in crisis all over the world,” with positions “hardening” in many Muslim countries.
Well, Macron may be a target, but he can hardly be blamed as a main cause of French terrorism. His statements were made after the killing of the teacher, and of course far more Islamist murders happened before his watch than after it.
Now I’m sure that France bears at least some guilt for policies that anger its Muslim population. But those policies cannot by any means justify the murder of civilians. And I maintain that the main cause is still religion—a religion that mandates proselytizing, encourages feelings of outrage, and is as much a way of life as a faith, encouraging separatism.
You may say that I’m misinterpreting these articles: that they’re just meant to explain to the public why French Muslims are outraged to the extent that they slaughter non-Muslim citizens. But I’d be more likely to believe such a claim if I saw an equal number of articles explaining why the religion of Islam, as opposed to other faiths, is so often involved in these attacks. Doesn’t the public need to know that, too? Well, not according to the press, who, if they gave such explanations, would be subject to terrorist attacks themselves.
Religion poisons everything.