by Avi Davis
In the wake of the attacks on both the Charlie Hebdo offices on January 7 and the Kosher market on January 9, many commentators are declaring that most Muslims are as appalled by the carnage as the rest of the French people. Any television news program on over the past two days seems to have always included a Muslim representative expressing his own horror and indignation at the terror attacks.
French liberal apologists around the world are in fact scrambling with the means to assuage their consciences and assure their fellow citizens that all French citizens – save for a tiny minority – stand united in their condemnation of the atrocities.
Indeed, that sentiment is taken up in French philosopher and celebrity Bernard Henri Levy’s opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal on Friday, January 9.
In it he avers that Muslims throughout France are not generally complicit in this terrible crime and that the instigation for it came from a sector of their society which is on its fringe.
And so he offers a test:
“Those whose faith is Islam must proclaim very loudly, very often and in great numbers their rejection of this corrupt and abject form of theocratic passion. Too often have we heard that France’s Muslims should be summoned to explain themselves. They don’t need to explain themselves, but they should feel called to express their tangible brotherhood with their massacred fellow citizens. In so doing, they would put to rest once and for all the lie of a spiritual commonality between their faith as they know it and that of the murderers.
They have the responsibility—the opportunity—before history and their own conscience to echo the “Not in our name!” with which Britain’s Muslims dissociated themselves last year from the Islamic State killers of journalist James Foley. But they also have the even more urgent duty to define their identity as sons and daughters of an Islam of tolerance and peace.”
In other words, the Muslims who are against this terrible carnage must come out and say so – vocally and defiantly.
This will now become the new Rorschach Test of Muslim loyalty – and a means of stressing that the multicultural policies of 30 years have not failed.
But are Muslims in the banlieues – those no-go zones where French police do not even dare to tread – really likely to stage their own mass rallies with hundreds of thousands of them appearing arm in arm in the Place de la Republique sporting tri-color arm bands and belting out, teary-eyed, La Marseillaise? Do Henri-Levy and other French intellectuals truly believe that French papers are going to be filled any time soon with angry letters from Muslim mothers and fathers decrying the atrocities of their co-religionists and swearing that they are neither inspired nor catalyzed to action by the depredations against their own society?
It is a foolish expectation and it fails to appreciate the unbridgeable divide that now separates most of French Muslim society and the secular French world.
What you will see, however, is a limited range of French Muslim leaders, imams and intellectuals (almost certainly on the liberal fringe of their own communities) speaking out as individuals, distancing themselves from the horror of the Wednesday and Friday attacks. But to believe that this will represent mainstream Muslim opinion and sentiment is self-delusional.
Henri Levy refuses to acknowledge that the short sighted European multicultural policies of the past 30 years have essentially cut off a broad swathe of the Muslim population from French culture and any sense of their obligation towards it. It is far more likely that a majority of French Muslims see the attacks in Paris last week as an assertion of Muslim power and as a just and welcome response to the years long perceived insults received from satirists like Charlie Hebdo and French society in general.
So, now, what if they don’t come out and say it? What if the Muslims stay home and remain mute about the atrocity? What if Bernard Henri Levy’s optimism about the sense that these Muslims are as French as he is proves just as unfounded as the suspicion that Muslims in general were against the carnage? Bernard Henri Levy provides no consequences and that is the problem with his and other liberals’ view of the situation. The failure of the French intellectual and political elite to grapple with the fundamental problems of race and religion within their society, ignoring the drive of Muslims for power and control over France while pretending that at heart they are all good Frenchmen, is very much like believing that telegenic moderate Muslims – few and far between- represent mainstream Muslim character.
President Francois Hollande, in his address to the nation, did not once mention Islam. The word has barely crossed the lips of commentators and other politicians. But the word must be spoken if France is to come to terms with the terrible demographic mess it is in. If French society is to prevail over the menace to its survival, then the French police, if not military, will almost certainly need to make sweeping arrests in the Muslim banlieues, break up communities and possibly even strip many French Muslims of their citizenship. That may sound harsh to the ears of the French liberals who have long felt that economic prosperity and the extension of the values of liberté, égalité and fraternité to minorities would solidify French society.
But in the 21st Century it would appear that in order to secure fraternité the citizens of the Fifth French Republic may well have to surrender elements of their blessed liberté, and égalité .
History will tell us whether they had the courage to do so.