Reflections on the Revolution in France by Dr. Daniel Pipes
Muslim France 1995
"...The Muslims live more concentratedly together in what the French call the "suburbs of Islam." In part, this reflects a characteristically European difference from the United States: whereas here the affluent and the middle class have virtually abandoned the city for the suburbs (in order to have more space), in France and most of Europe, the well-off have stayed in the city (wanting to travel less). This has relegated immigrants and other poor to dreary "suburbs" in the periphery of the cities. In the French case especially, Muslims tend to live isolated from others, creating their own subculture and building their own resentments...
Dr. Daniel Pipes "Muslim France" 1995
Reflections on the Revolution in France*
by Daniel Pipes
The rioting by Muslim youth that began October 27 in France to calls of "Allahu Akbar" may be a turning point in European history.
What started in Clichy-sous-Bois, on the outskirts of Paris, by its 11th night had spread to 300 French cities and towns, as well as to Belgium and Germany. The violence, which has already been called some evocative names – intifada, jihad, guerilla war, insurrection, rebellion, and civil war – prompts several reflections.
End of an era: The time of cultural innocence and political naïveté, when the French could blunder without seeing or feeling the consequences, is drawing to a close. As in other European countries (notably Denmark and Spain), a bundle of related issues, all touching on the Muslim presence, has now moved to the top of the policy agenda in France, where it likely will remain for decades.
These issues include a decline of Christian faith and the attendant demographic collapse; a cradle-to-grave welfare system that lures immigrants even as it saps long-term economic viability; an alienation from historic customs in favor of lifestyle experimentation and vapid multiculturalism; an inability to control borders or assimilate immigrants; a pattern of criminality that finds European cities far more violent than American ones, and a surge in Islam and radical Islam.
Not a first: The French insurrection is by no means the first instance of a semi-organized Muslim insurgency in Europe – it was preceded days earlier by one riot in Birmingham, England and was accompanied by another in Århus, Denmark. France itself has a history of Muslim violence going back to 1979. What is different in the current round is its duration, magnitude, planning, and ferocity.
Press denial: The French press delicately refers to the "urban violence" and presents the rioters as victims of the system. Mainstream media deny that it has to do with Islam and ignore the permeating Islamist ideology, with its vicious anti-French attitudes and its raw ambition to dominate the country and replace its civilization with Islam's.
Another method of jihad: Indigenous Muslims of northwestern Europe have in the past year deployed three distinct forms of jihad: the crude variety deployed in Britain, killing random passengers moving around London; the targeted variety in the Netherlands, where individual political and cultural leaders are singled out, threatened, and in some cases attacked; and now the more diffuse violence in France, less specifically murderous but also politically less dismissible. Which of these or other methods will prove most efficacious is yet unclear, but the British variant is clearly counterproductive, so the Dutch and French strategies probably will recur.
Sarkozy versus Villepin: Two leading French politicians and probable candidates for president in 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy and Dominique de Villepin, have responded to the riots in starkly contrasting ways, with the former adopting a hard line (proclaiming "tolérance zéro" for urban crime) and the latter a soft one (promising an "action plan" to improve urban conditions).
Anti-state: The riots started eight days after Mr. Sarkozy declared a new policy of "war without mercy" on urban violence and two days after he called violent youth "scum." Many rioters see themselves in a power struggle with the state and so focus their attacks on its symbols. A typical report quotes Mohamed, 20, the son of a Moroccan immigrant, asserting that "Sarko has declared war …, so it's war he's going to get." Representatives of the rioters have demanded that the French police leave the "occupied territories"; in turn, Mr. Sarkozy partially blamed the riots on "fundamentalists."
The French can respond in three ways. They can feel guilty and appease the rioters with prerogatives and the "massive investment plan" some are demanding. Or they can heave a sigh of relief when it ends and, as they did after earlier crises, return to business as usual. Or they can understand this as the opening salvo in a would-be revolution and take the difficult steps to undo the negligence and indulgence of past decades.
I expect a blend of the first two reactions and that, despite Mr. Sarkozy's surge in the polls, Mr. Villepin's appeasing approach will prevail. France must await something larger and more awful to awake it from its somnolence. The long-term prognosis, however, is inescapable: "the sweet dream of universal cultural compatibility has been replaced," as Theodore Dalrymple puts it, "by the nightmare of permanent conflict."
MIM: In 1995 Dr. Daniel Pipes predicted a major crisis in France emanating from 'the suburbs of Islam'
With eight bombings or attempting bombings in three months, France is convulsing over the problems of terrorism, fundamentalist Islam, and Algeria. During a recent trip to France, spent in Paris and at the Riviera, this writer had an opportunity to concentrate on the Middle Eastern dimension of life in that country. What's happening there will probably come as a surprise to most Americans.
Problems. With a population of over three million Muslims, about half of them citizens, France has the largest Islamic presence of any country in Western Europe, both absolute and relative. Of this number, some 90 percent have North African origins (Algeria especially, followed by Morocco and Tunisia). In addition, France suffers particularly acutely from several problems.
(1) The Muslims live more concentratedly together in what the French call the "suburbs of Islam." In part, this reflects a characteristically European difference from the United States: whereas here the affluent and the middle class have virtually abandoned the city for the suburbs (in order to have more space), in France and most of Europe, the well-off have stayed in the city (wanting to travel less). This has relegated immigrants and other poor to dreary "suburbs" in the periphery of the cities. In the French case especially, Muslims tend to live isolated from others, creating their own subculture and building their own resentments.
(2) Muslims engage disproportionately in criminal activity, and mostly of a violent nature. Muslim youth gangs, not all that different from American gangs of the inner cities, for example, like their counterparts here, smash a stolen car into a luxury store, push aside the bewildered shopkeeper, and run off with the loot. It's gotten to the point that Arabs intimidate the French without specific reason. For example, the household I visited in the Riviera employs three gardeners, named Nabil, Ali, and Mustafa. Although one of the three has proven to be incompetent, the owners of the house dare not fire him, fearing retribution. When I asked if they knew of violence in other cases of dismissal, they said no, they simply had a bad feeling. Behind the idyllic appearance of the Côte d'Azur, in other words, lurk some quite powerful fears.
(3) Terrorism committed by Muslims takes place more often than elsewhere. One spasm of violence took place in 1986; another has occurred over the past three months, including attacks on a busy subway station and a Jewish school. The terror has prompted not only a massive manhunt (which led to a shootout and death of the apparently lead perpetrator) but a host of security measures. Public trash bins throughout Paris have been sealed tight (to prevent them from being used as bomb containers) and air travelers must run a gamut of physical and paper obstacles. The police set up impromptu road blocks here and there, causing traffic delays. Virtually every person I talked to agrees that the French population, famously ornery when it comes to authority, has accepted these inconveniences without complaint. This, they further agree, points to the widespread conviction that the country needs to protect itself.
Future of the country. Beyond these specific problems, some French believe the very nature of their country to be in play. One prominent journalist in Paris told me he thinks that France may change from what it is into an Arab and Muslim country in the course of the next century. How so? He pointed to two main trends, the demographic and the political. The French, like almost all modern peoples, are not sustaining their own population even as the nearby North Africans have one of the highest rates of reproduction in the world. Over time, he holds, the North Africans will ineluctably fill the vacuum in France.
Secondly, there's the matter of will. As a post-Christian country, he sees the French lacking the will to maintain their own against the powerful wishes of the Muslim immigrants. As the latter population gains in numbers and sophistication, he sees a real possibility of French civilization drying up and the country fundamentally changing course.
I checked out this astonishing prediction with others and found that while no one else put the case so strongly as did the journalist, no one entirely disagreed with him either. Rather, a wide agreement seems to exist that unless something changes, the historic French population will over the long term not be able to control the immigrant population. Needless to say, this prospect worries more than a few of the French.