The Islamist Terror Attacks in France
A briefing by Michel Gurfinkiel
January 27, 2015
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Michel Gurfinkiel, Founder and President of the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute, a conservative think tank in France, and a Shillman/Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum, briefed the Forum in a conference call on January 27, 2015.
The jihadist attacks of January 9-11 that murdered 17 at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and a kosher supermarket in Paris are bound to have a long-term impact on the French national psyche.
Viewing the cartoonists' murder as a major blow to France's long-held tradition of a free press, many left-wingers abruptly awoke to the reality that the old French majority and the new Muslim minority, now at 10 percent of the total population and rapidly growing, do not share the same values.
The attacks in Paris last month have united French citizens across the political spectrum.
Indeed, the Muslim community's response to the Hebdo massacre consisted of perfunctory condemnations of the violence followed by qualifiers that all but blamed the victims for their contempt of the prophet. In government-funded public schools with Muslim majority student populations, civic ceremonies memorializing the victims were largely shunned.
At the same time, the deployment of French soldiers to protect Jewish schools and synagogues has shocked the community into the realization that there is a virtual state of war against it. The response has been a surge in Jewish emigration from France.
According to the French government, half of the country's racist crimes are directed against Jews who comprise less than one percent of the general population; and while anti-Semitic attacks across Europe have increased over the last decade, most of this violence now stems from Muslim communities whose growing anti-Semitism correlates with deepening religious observance. This observance level is up from 30 percent ten years ago to 40-50 percent today. While many French Muslims do not support violence against non-Muslims, the proportion hostile to non-Muslims is growing.
Wary of the socialist government's dependence on the Muslim vote, the French public is increasingly supportive of Marine Le Pen's National Front Party whose stridently anti-immigration stance has gained much traction in the wake of recent massacres. And while Le Pen accepts law-abiding French Jews and Muslims as full-fledged French citizens, most French view her party as non-democratic and dangerous due to its insistence on absolute secularism and the abolition of dual citizenship.
For the first time in France's history, a large proportion of its citizenry is contemplating emigration. Worried about their children's future and demographic and ethnic disruption, they are looking elsewhere to live. The main problem for the French government, fearful of terrorism and a civil war, is whether the Muslim community will be willing to submit to the same rule of law that applies to the rest of France.
Summary account by Marilyn Stern, Middle East Forum fellow
Related Topics: Immigration, Muslims in Europe, Terrorism, War on terror | Michel Gurfinkiel
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