X Close

The French Left against Islamism Debate around extremism has been plagued by cringe-inducing naivety

The solidarity shown in 2015 towards Charlie Hebdo feels like a different world. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

The solidarity shown in 2015 towards Charlie Hebdo feels like a different world. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)


January 12, 2021   5 mins

It was supposed to be the turning point in our response to violent Islamism. This week marks six years since more than a million people marched through the streets of Paris waving “Je Suis Charlie” placards in a show of defiance, echoed across the world, against the slaughter of satirists by a pair of jihadist brothers.

Today, with most Western countries reverting to type and responding to jihadist terror with obscurantism and denial, it looks like far fewer people were Charlie than was actually claimed. Not so in France, though, which is more or less united behind President Macron’s decision to confront the country’s domestic Islamist movement. In one poll at the end of last year, a staggering 79% of French citizens agreed that “Islamism has declared war on the Republic”.

To his critics, Macron’s hard line was a cynical manoeuvre designed to reduce the electoral threat to his right posed by Marine Le Pen and National Rally. But such a claim ignores the threat that Islamism does pose to France. It is also to misread who is directing the country’s conversation on extremism. For the truth is that the impetus behind France’s skirmish with Islamism doesn’t come from the Right, but from the Left.

This shift did not happen overnight. Way back in 2002, the left-wing feminist collective Ni Putes Ni Soumises (Neither Whores Nor Submissives) was founded following a series of high-profile organised gang rapes known as tournantes – or “pass-arounds”. They soon became vocal advocates against escalating misogyny and violence against women. But they were particularly concerned with the French authorities’ empowerment of Islamist and Salafist groups to tackle the social ills of drugs and crime, which to the feminists culminated in an Islamist culture of sexual repression, misogyny and extremism.

This was famously attempted in the commune of Trappes, some 30km from Paris, where the Salafist community was enlisted to steer young members away from criminality and delinquency. One resident gushingly described how “mothers saw their children return to religious practice. It was a relief.” By 2013, however, it became starkly clear that this experiment in activist Salafism had all but failed. Trappes was seized by religious rioting and the commune set an ignominious national record in sending 80 jihadist recruits to Syria. At the time, Ni Putes was denounced for being “Islamophobic”. But, if anything, the riots acted as a vindication of their warning.

Yet Ni Putes was hardly an isolated example, a fringe outlier on the peripheries of French debate. In the same year as its launch, a collection of essays titled Les Territoires Perdus de la Republique, or The Lost Territories of the Republic, was published, which warned of rising antisemitism and radicalisation among second and third generation Muslims. In the book, a number of schoolteachers – those tasked not just with imparting knowledge, but the values of the Republic – pointed out that classrooms were disintegrating along ethnic and religious lines, that the ideals of secularism and universalism were facing an unprecedented challenge.

That isn’t to say that the teachers’ sense of urgency — or that of Ni Putes — was widely shared on the Left, or even the centre. In fact, as late as 2014, national discussion surrounding Islamism was still, to an extent, plagued by cringe-inducing naivety. In April of that year, journalist David Thomson appeared on a typically French news programme to assess the steady exodus of jihadist recruits to ISIS’s nightmarish project in Iraq and Syria. Thomson, who by this point had interviewed dozens of French jihadis, calmly explained that that French jihadis see France as a legitimate target, as an “enemy of Allah”.

For this now painfully obvious insight, Thomson was humiliated on national television. Facing the indignation of seven panellists and a presenter, the journalist – barely allowed to finish a sentence – was accused of “populism” and “stigmatising” French Muslims, while other guests drew comparisons between ISIS recruits and the anti-fascist volunteers of the Spanish Civil War. Of course, France was a target. And an honest attempt to understand Islamism and its militant jihadi offshoots would have made this clear. As one anonymous imprisoned jihadi made clear recently: “France is a symbol, an enemy. If you can push it into a civil war, if you’re able to make France lose its strength, its social contract, then you will have an open door to a victory in Europe.”

It wasn’t long before Thomson’s every word proved correct: just one month later, a Frenchman fresh from the Syrian jihad, Mehdi Nemmouche, gunned down four people at the Jewish Museum of Brussels. Later, between the attacks on Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 and the assassination of Father Jacques Hamel in July 2016, jihadists would kill a total of 239 people in France. Thomson, for his troubles, ended up on a jihadi kill-list and went into hiding.

For much of the French centre and liberal-left, afflicted by what Thomson labelled “jihadoscepticism”, the attacks proved a rude awakening. In particular, the shootings at Charlie Hebdo’s offices struck at the core of the French Left’s secular, anti-clerical values. (Despite the British media’s portrayals of the magazine as Islamophobic and racist, it sits firmly within the traditions of the Left.)

Since then, every section of French political society has woken up to the threat of Islamism. Just as with Ni Putes’s vindication, one of the contributors to The Lost Territories, a history teacher named Iannis Roder, has found himself exonerated and thrust into the public eye. The decision to invite him to deliver a Ted Talk in 2017 signalled his total rehabilitation by the liberal professional classes. To this day, Roder still challenges the escalation of classroom “separatism” through an influential left-leaning think tank, Fondation Jean-Jaurùs.

More significantly, a raft of left-wing commentators and politicians have stepped into the rhetorical and ideological territory carved out by Ni Putes and others. Then Prime Minister Manuel Valls adopted a firmer stance than his fellow socialists on security, secularism and Islamism, though he paid for it electorally. Journalist Caroline Fourest and Marianne magazine, firmly of the Left, became fierce and fearless public advocates against Islamism, while prominent socialist voices such as Gilles Clavreul and Laurent Bouvet offer full-throated criticism of the far-left’s indulgence of it.

Even the academics have got on board. Echoing the explosive 2002 essay collection, leading scholar Bernard Rougier published Les Territoires Conquis d’Islamisme, or The Territories Conquered by Islamism, detailing the growth of Islamist movements of France – and, more importantly, where Islamists have become the de facto local authorities. Soon, long-held truisms about the socioeconomic causes of radicalisation were subjected to rigorous questioning, exemplified in the work of Hugo Micheron. Why, for instance, does Trappes hold the record for jihadist foreign fighters but a neighbouring commune with the same socioeconomic profile account for zero? What made the tiny affluent Southern town of Lunel “the capital of French jihad”, but Marseille, a big city with its own share of social ills, immune to the lure of extremism?

Crucially, all of these developments have taken place in the mainstream. A culture of public intellectualism sees those such as Roder, Thomson, Fourest, Rougier and Micheron on TV shows and in newspapers in a way that their British colleagues might only find themselves in the aftermath of a terrorist attack. It’s a refreshing reminder that the West’s understanding of Islamism doesn’t have to be hampered by political tribalism: for the Left in Britain, the cause is Western foreign policy; for the average liberal-minded academic, it’s economic and social marginalisation; while for the far-right and certain sections of the Right, Islam is to blame.

In recent years in France, though, the centre-left has shed this deadweight and articulated arguments against Islamism and for the values of the Republic. Yes, the far-left remains obsessed with “anti-imperialism” and identity politics. But there can be no doubt that those not on the fringes now focus on the political dimensions of Islamism, without implicating ordinary French Muslims in the manner of the far-right.

That is particularly important, as few things have boosted the Western far-right like the perception that the establishment is unwilling to confront the thorny issues of the day. Yet in France – and perhaps there is a lesson in this for us in Britain – the Left and the centre are pulling the rug from beneath the far-right’s feet. It follows that the former darling of centrist liberals, Emmanuel Macron, has been on the very same intellectual journey. The only question for France remains whether or not this is too little, too late.


Liam Duffy is a researcher, speaker and trainer in counter-terrorism based in London.

LiamSD12

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

95 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Well I suppose it is mildly encouraging to know that the Left, for once, is acknowledging some form of reality. But it may well be too late for France and Europe.

Nick Whitehouse
Nick Whitehouse
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Yes it is mildly encouraging that the Left, is edging towards acknowledging that the Right have been correct with regard to Islamism.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
3 years ago

A slow process. And meanwhile the predictable catastrophe looms ever larger. Worse, the left’s “acknowledgement” is pitifully limited and hobbled, for what does the current crisis in the affairs of the west tell us if not that the entire project of the globalist elite is rotten? For most transactions, de Maistre’s famous observation was correct: we can see Persians, Spaniards, Russians, Turks, Germans etcetera but nowhere that elusive creature “humanity”. Yet upon this unmediated sense of mere “humanity” the centrist part of the elite, fast being pushed out of power, has predicated our future. Meanwhile, the hard left, with its “successor ideology” of “woke” decries even “humanity” as a “eurocentric construct” and settles our western future as one of irrational self-hatred. And they are surprised by the bombs, the murders, the silence? No, they are either queasily quiescent or rubbing their hands.

Chris Casey
Chris Casey
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

I think you’re right Simon, there is a kind of blindness abroad on the left, their hermeneutic of suspicion seems to be the log in their eye – they can only see things to criticise or idolise without offering a better vision.

As Goethe once said to one of his young, whinging, students, “Young man give me the benefit of your convictions – as for your doubts keep them to yourself, I have enough of my own”.

Neil John
Neil John
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Casey

There are none so blind as those that will not see.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago

Although, of course, Islamism is right wing.

Jack Daniels
Jack Daniels
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Of course the right wing bogey man that died in europe a hundred years ago, the Muslims are a lot more like that than some left wing victim identified group like the left likes to make them out to be..

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Jack Daniels

Sorry, I don’t understand what you mean. Still don’t understand what you mean. Which right wing bogey man who died in Europe a hundred years ago?

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Which makes the left’s steady defense of it all the more curious, doesn’t it. And who cares if Islam is right or left wing. Some of the acts associated with it don’t become acceptable because of right or left.

Maybe that’s the larger problem; we have lost the ability to judge people or actions on their own merit, choosing instead to weigh them vs our own seat on the ideological spectrum.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I don’t think there has been any ‘steady defense’ of Islamism (which I’m taking to mean support for imposition of Sharia Law or Islamic Fundamentalism) from the left. The left speaks out against Islamophobia, normally in the context of it being used as a cover for racism towards Asian minorities.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

The left speaks out against Islamophobia
Even in cases when speaking out against the excesses of Islam would make far more sense. The same people who whitewash the actions of the radicals have no such hesitation when it comes to broad brushing other groups, like conservatives.

Of course, there is a steady defense of Muslims and almost always wrapped in “Islamophobia.” It’s like couching any criticism of a minority or female as racism or sexism, which is bigotry in itself. Stop coddling these groups; stop treating them as people incapable of anything but violence; and stop holding them to far lower standards.

Chris Casey
Chris Casey
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Thanks ALex – I think you’re right on there.

Sanjiv Malaviya
Sanjiv Malaviya
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Very well put up. The attitude of ‘I am right and ONLY I am right’ is the biggest attitudinal problem exercised by any group. When any group starts believing that either the world falls in line with their thoughts and practices, or they have the right to kill them then god save the societies that they intrude into.

Daniel Goldstein
Daniel Goldstein
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I’ve made a similar point in my latest blog post (see link on my profile).

Daniel Goldstein
Daniel Goldstein
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas
Daniel Goldstein
Daniel Goldstein
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

See https://theconservativeliberaluk.wordpress dot com /2021/01/12/why-im-no-longer-talking-to-liberals-about-islam/

Terry Mushroom
Terry Mushroom
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

“Islamophobia”?

If you mean the belief system, it’s open to criticism, rejection or mockery like any other.

Muslims, of course, aren’t a race. Nor are all Muslims Asian.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Mushroom

I agree. I find all organised religion vaguely ridiculous (though not always those who adhere to it) – but I also think there are instances of racism that are dressed up as opposition to Islam as a religion. The same is true of anti-Semitism – sometimes from muslims and christians.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

“I also think there are instances of racism that are dressed up as opposition to Islam as a religion.”

Of course there are. The problem is when all criticism of Islam or Islamism is interpreted in such a way.

And if someone makes a well argued case for their views, supported by evidence, it is not enough to cry racism rather than trying to refute them.

Terry Mushroom
Terry Mushroom
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

You need to find another word than “Islamophobia” to describe what you think.

Phobia means “anxiety disorder”. It may be unreasonable in terms of Islam. But given what’s happened and is happening in France, it’s understandable.

Anna Borsey
Anna Borsey
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Mushroom

Terry Mushroom ~ “Phobia means “anxiety disorder”.”
It does not.

A phobia is an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.
According to the NHS, “A phobia is an overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal. Phobias are more pronounced than fears. They develop when a person has an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger about a situation or object.”
Personally, I am of the opinion that to fear Islam and Islamists is a perfectly rational response to the current situation in Europe and i n the Middle East.

Terry Mushroom
Terry Mushroom
3 years ago
Reply to  Anna Borsey

You’re right! And I agree!

Chris Casey
Chris Casey
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Mark, I know it’s slightly off the point, but to find ‘all organised religion vaguely ridiculous’ only makes me wonder about your understanding of it? Look into your anthropology and social psychology – you may find some things about organised religion to challenge your perspective? I think the French ‘Republic’ that went to great lengths to ‘free’ itself of religion created a vaccuum. I also fear the in the UK we are rushing into the same error. But that’s just my perspective.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Casey

Chris, I was being a bit off the cuff and judgmental. I’ve got lots of time for different cultural (which I suppose are anthropological and psychological) aspects of religions of all sorts – it’s the belief that the cultural traditions and practices are somehow an expression of a divine ‘truth’ I find ridiculous – or less controversially, puzzling.

Mike Lotrean
Mike Lotrean
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Casey

Assuming we will not destroy ourselves as a species, current religions will probably one day be only found in books to be studied, like the gods of ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, ancient Norsemen, and so on.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

…you need to get past the superficial Mark. The scariest thing In the Age of Wokeness, is that our miseducated children really do believe they can create heaven on earth. What I have come to realize rather late in the piece, is that the most meaningful contribution of religion is not its institutions or specific lifestyle rituals, but its firm relegation of the perfection of humanity to the afterlife.

Robert G
Robert G
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Mushroom

I’m going to ask these questions in good faith so please don’t take them for rhetorical questions: Would you similarly classify anti-semitism as rejection of a belief system? Is there a meaningful distinction between the two? Might there be an important line between hostility toward Muslim/Jewish beliefs on one hand and Muslim/Jewish people (ethnicity aside) on the other?

Terry Mushroom
Terry Mushroom
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert G

The ultimate in antisemitism is killing people for no other reason than they exist. Whether they follow the Jewish faith, other beliefs or have none. As history has shown.

What is so shocking about Christian antisemites is that their faith came from the Jews.

I stand to be advised but I am unaware of secular Muslims, Christian Muslims or atheist Muslims.

Daniel Goldstein
Daniel Goldstein
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Mushroom

It’s technically not possible.

chris carr
chris carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert G

These are intriguing questions.
Terry I think wondered if “Islamophobia” was used against those who consider “the belief system, it’s open to criticism, rejection or mockery like any other.
You ask if one should “similarly classify anti-semitism as rejection of a belief system?” I think not. The results of pogroms are against people’s bodies not their beliefs. Mobs do not consider belief systems and nor on the whole do aristocrats. There is physical hatred in anti-semitism.
You ask if there is “a meaningful distinction between the two” ““ that is between anti-semitism and ““ as Terry had defined his position ““ the belief that Islam as a “belief system, [is] open to criticism, rejection or mockery like any other.” I think the distinction is obvious. Pogroms and gas chambers are distinct from criticism or rejection.
You ask lastly “Might there be an important line between hostility toward Muslim/Jewish beliefs on one hand and Muslim/Jewish people (ethnicity aside) on the other?” I do wish you hadn’t; the question is so weirdly incomprehensible that it will launched a thousand PhDs, and ordinary people going about their business will hardly be aware of that until some regulation changes

m pathy
m pathy
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert G

The tendency to bring up antisemitism when discussing Islamophobia is almost always whatabouttery. There is no equivalence between antisemitism and the new-fangled Islamophobia. Jews are hated for far more than their beliefs, they are hated for their existence and their persecution has been a recurring feature of history. Islam has been an imperial project even more than it has been a spiritual quest. The hostility to an ideology that demands submission in its very name is rational and sane.

Jewish status is not easy to attain while it takes but a 30-seconds recitation of the shahada to become a muslim. Of course the Jews dont kill their own for leaving the fold but try Islam for the reverse.

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Well, is there a similar amount of prejudice directed towards Hindus and/or Sikhs, who are racially much the same as the Sub-Continent’s Muslims? And really, your attitude is the one that made it incumbent upon police in Rotherham to accuse girls as young as 11 of “asking for it” rather than placing the blame where it clearly belonged.

girondinus
girondinus
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Islamophobia, in the sense of hating Islam, is a perfectly valid and legitimate opinion.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Yep-marching right along with the National Socialist People’s Party.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Is that in the same way that Hitler was a socialist?

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago

No. Hitler was not a socialist.

Cambridge dictionary definition of socialism: the set of beliefs that states that all people are equal and should share equally in a country’s money, or the political systems based on these beliefs

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Look up ‘Hitler’s Socialist Dream’….

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

Absolutely nothing wrong in standing up for the underdog but the SJW Left, unfortunately, keeps trying to be all things to all, what it perceives to be, endlessly ‘oppressed’ groups.

Whether that’s because it cynically sees votes in it or whether it is just another way of giving the finger to those on the right or a combination of the two or more I really don’t know, but one thing I do know is that not only are its positions often glaringly incoherent, they are craven and hypocritical on closer examination.

I look forward to the day when the SJW Left is seen vocally, conspicuously and consistently calling out the misogyny, homophobia and anti-Semitism inherent within the fiercely, unapologetically patriarchal Islam or even, ‘god’ forbid, within its other sacred cow, ‘black culture’ that it forever unquestionningly bows down to.

People forced to go into hiding in fear for their lives, like the hapless gentleman referred to in this article, aren’t just the victims of Islamic extremists seeking to foment hatred and strangle the truth, they are the victims of the complicity and downright cowardice of ANY of those who seek in any way, shape or form to justify these threats.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

‘In one poll at the end of last year, a staggering 79% of French citizens agreed that “Islamism has declared war on the Republic”.’

i don’t see why this is a ‘staggering’ figure. It merely tracks the reality, and the French claim to be rationalists if nothing else. As I have said since the Charlie Hebdo attack, ‘Je Suis Mort’ is the only slogan that is of any relevance here.

David Lawler
David Lawler
3 years ago

Islam Is the problem. Remove Islam, and Islamic atrocities go away.

Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
3 years ago
Reply to  David Lawler

Christianity has been more or less removed from the public sphere in Europe in my lifetime. Without anyone having been killed or locked up, it has gone from prevalent to irrelevant, simply because of cultural change and fashion. Does that ‘chill’ you too?

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago

I assure you Christianity is very much present in the public sphere in the UK. Our (allegedly extreme left wing national broadcaster) still has a Sunday Service broadcast every week, a major religious (95% christian) segment on it’s main radio morning news broadcast, we have Bishops in our legislature and collective worship (which in 98% of cases means christian) is compulsory in state funded schools. It has not been ‘removed’.

Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Christian worship compulsory in state-funded schools? Don’t be silly. This was no longer the case even in the comprehensive I went to in the 1970s. The BBC Christian content is just a hangover (sensibly) left in to placate their over-60 audience, and perhaps you can tell me when a Bishop in the Lords was last able to put a Christian spin into any piece of legislation – I hadn’t noticed.

Joe Francis
Joe Francis
3 years ago
Reply to  David Lawler

I imagine they’re upticking the “Islam is the problem” bit and letting the implication pass. There is, of course, another way to “remove Islam”. By offering its adherents something better. Like Christianity. Iranians seem to be quietly boarding that bus. Secularism, by the way, while better than Islam, is not particularly good. It is, in the literal sense of the word, nothing, and nothing doesn’t really do anything for people.

Chris Casey
Chris Casey
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Francis

And when you hear some of the personal stories of Iranians who are, courageously, embracing Christian faith it really does give you hope for their host nation. Sadly, the reality seems that under sharia these new converts may never live to see the fruits of their witness.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  David Lawler

If you don’t ‘remove Islam’ your country inevitably and inexorably becomes just another Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Turkey etc, as 1,400 years of history clearly demonstrate. Moreover, with vanishingly few exceptions, it seems impossible to ‘remove’ all the life-denying insanity of Islam from the mind once that mind has been inculcated with all the nonsense of Allah and the Koran and whatever else it all involves.

Interestingly, I believe the Danes are attempting to inculcate Danish values in newly-born Islamic children, essentially by removing the child from the parents for eight hours a day. This will be an experiment to watch. I don’t suppose it will work.

Jack Daniels
Jack Daniels
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I think Lebanon is a better example, a country that was at most 20% Islamic at the turn of 1800’s, once the Paris of the Mediterranean, open in all ways possible, mini skirts and bikinis, now an Islamic hell hole in line with Pakistan and Iran, it’s religious minorities including atheists either slaughtered, suppressed or in exile.. that is the future of any country that lets Islam go over the 20% demographic time bomb..

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Jack Daniels

I believe Lebanon was barely Islamic even up until the 1970s, when it was still the riviera of the Middle East. Then, I believe, they allowed a bunch of supposedly persecuted Islamic refugees in the country and it all collapsed. The smart people like Gad Saad’s family and Nicholas Taleb got out.

Robin P
Robin P
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Fraser et al, your info is out of date! Islam now faces a terrible problem it has never faced before. That is that there are now millions of free Qurans plus loads of discussion online. For first time in history “Muslims” can read what they thought they believed, and realise that they most definitely do not. Never before have there been “ex-Muslim” societies. Islam is heading down the drain. ISIS was its last gasp, also now failing. Islam on the backfoot in China, Myanmar, India, Iran, and everywhere else only less obviously.

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin P

I hope you’re right.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  David Lawler

Hey Harvey-Islam is busy working on a final solution for you…

Jack Daniels
Jack Daniels
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

They certainly are..

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  David Lawler

There is no removing it. But there is acknowledging that it has been the font of terror on every content but the frozen one.

Robin P
Robin P
3 years ago
Reply to  David Lawler

The same way the Roman gods were removed. The cult of a certain, ahem, merchant, is so credibility-straining that it has only managed to survive so long because people were unable to read its cringeworthy terrorist training manual. Now everyone including millions of “Muslims” can see what they are supposed to be believing, and become apostates (quietly and not-so-quietly). A high proportion of hijab-wearers are only pretending. The only thing holding up the facade now is the constant intimidation of those who tell the truth and the constant official clap about “perversion of a noble faith”. You see it right here with the reference to “Islamism”. No, it is ISLAM pure and simple that is behind the terrorism. Until you grasp that you have no hope of contributing to the solution.

Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin P

Well, that’s nice but I thought that all Muslims (at least boys) were made to learn that book by heart at an early age. They can’t just be finding out what it says for the first time.

Daniel Goldstein
Daniel Goldstein
3 years ago

They can if they don’t speak or read Arabic, surely.

Robert G
Robert G
3 years ago
Reply to  David Lawler

I agree, Harvey. And the comment in question has 24 upvotes now. I hold Zionist beliefs, I am fiercely critical of radical Islam, and I have argued with friends and family about “profiling” of terrorists in the wake of 9/11. That being said, I am seriously disturbed by the suggestion that “removing” Islam is the appropriate solution to radical Islam. An incredibly dangerous, irresponsible, and ignorant suggestion. Perhaps some of these folks would like to swap notes with the CCP to learn how they successfully sterilized Uighurs in Xinjiang?

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

All those people who saw reality, were scorned, and have been proven correct, where do they go to get their reputations back? The left’s blindness to parts of Islam is incomprehensible. Of course, it’s not every Muslim but how many incidents are necessary before the benefit of the doubt starts to become a luxury that cannot be afforded.

poacheruk
poacheruk
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

There has been 37,000 (provably) terrorist attacks worldwide in the name of islam since 9/11. Ive been pointing out this runnign total since it was around the 16,000 mark, and banned from Twittert and facebook for this truth. When was the last time you saw anyone other than an Islamic torrorist holding a severed human head?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

Experience is a hard teacher. It’s a shame the left has to learn the hard way. But maybe better late than never.

Joe Francis
Joe Francis
3 years ago

I’m staggered the left is capable of learning at all.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Francis

Only when it comes back to bite them, today they are certainly regretting their support for the riots across the US all summer.

Chris Casey
Chris Casey
3 years ago

I wonder – is it just me or is there definitely a whiff of cowardice behind the myriad arguments about Islamism as it rears its ugly head and bloodied hands? Why let the issues be hijacked by arguments that focus on ‘right/left’ paradigms, ‘imperialist politics’ or ‘economic depravation’, they are only secondary details. There is a bigger elephant in the room – the Qu’ran. Behind every action is an idea. In UK prisons the spread of radical Islam and the active marginalisation of the Christian faith are permitting the emergence of something very unhelpful and we have yet to feel the full force of this gestation. For centuries Christianity has had to face itself, its history, its darker chapters and reform. The church has done so, is trying to do so and will do so. The time has come for Islam in the West to do the same; sadly the waves of Isamist migration into the UK have been handled far too sentimentally and with alarming ignorance – it’s time for both host nation and potential citizens to shape up, no-one arrives anywhere as a tabula rasa.

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
3 years ago

There is no such thing as “islamism”, or if there is it is merely a disingenuous euphemism for “islam”, employed so the powers that be can express condemnation of behaviour deriving directly from an evil cult – violence, misogyny, bigotry – while trying to pretend not to offend the many muslims who don’t or won’t stand up to the behaviour of their muslim brothers, or who tacitly approve of the over-reactions of the hyper-offended.

Islam or islamism ? If there is a difference, I contend that it is the classic case of “a difference which makes no difference is no difference” (James)

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago

Would you apply the same to extreme Christian or Hindu fundamentalism? Ie. all practitioners of the religion are responsible for the excesses of the minority?

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

What do you suppose would be the reaction if it was one Christians or Hindus, or Jews for the sake of discussion, who were as involved in global atrocity as Muslims? The inconsistency in reaction is astounding. I’d like to think that if elements of a group were involved in horrific activities the world over, the initial response would not be to run cover for those who did not act.

Robin P
Robin P
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

“extreme Christian” consists of being even more pacifist and non-retaliatory than Christ, which is logically impossible. I suggest you get some proper education by reading the most important books in history such as Gospels and Acts of the Apostles. You could then contribute usefully to discussions. Cheers.

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin P

I am reminded of the (possibly slightly flippant) remark made by I know not whom :

“If islam is a religion of peace, how come extremist islam is not extremely peaceful?”

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago

And if Christianity is a religion Of love and forgiveness – how come it has a hell?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

It’s for people who don’t love and forgive.

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Not all Christians believe in Hell. These are some who believe that the unrighteous simply cease to exist. There are other Christians who believe in Universalism, that is, that all people eventually make it to Heaven. Many may have to go through Purgatory first, however, according to many Universalist believers.

Daniel Goldstein
Daniel Goldstein
3 years ago

That’s a good one.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin P

I have no problem with most of the reported words of JC as in the Gospels – they tally with many of my own opinions. As you know, he wasn’t a Christian and he didn’t invent the religion.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

That may not be a coincidence Mark. Your “own” opinions are likely in inheritance from Christianity.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

That would certainly be the view of Tom Holland.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

And many others, including Nietzsche, of course.

The history of ideas has a continuity which is easily seen in retrospect. It has many twists and turns, but it would be very hard to argue that the process restarts from scratch with each new individual (or generation). Our thoughts may seem our own, and they may seem independent from what has gone before, but they never truly are.

And careful reflection can reveal the similarities and continuities. Often we don’t see them because they are just too obvious, too close.

G H
G H
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Yes, but today proportionally they are insignificant contributors to the violence

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  G H

Well I think there is currently a bit of a problem with Hindu violence etc in India.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

How come the Muslims who, as you put it, don’t or won’t stand up violence and murder, don’t get offended by the actions of others who make the whole lot look bad? This is a huge part of the problem – the insistence on defending the worst of behavior. Were the excesses of Islam associated with jews or blonde people, I doubt the apologists would be as vocal.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago

Great report from Liam. There should be no division between the moderate left and the moderate right when it comes to fighting Islamism. It should be a common project for all lovers of freedom, including French Moslems who do not subscribe to the Islamist political project. If France saves herself by her own exertions, she may yet save Europe by her example.

girondinus
girondinus
3 years ago

I find the columnist excessively optimistic.
The only party from the left who acknowledge the Islamic threat is the socialist party, which is totally discredited.
All the others forces of the left, may it be the ecologists or the “insoumis”, are incredibly lenient toward islamists. And even marched with them last year.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
3 years ago

This will pale into insignificance next to the huge emerging refugee crisis in Africa and the Middle East due to climate change and political failure that will logistically overwhelm Europe’s borders. Potentially many millions. How to deal with this will be a conundrum.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

Should it be though? If the solution is just to empty out the ME and North Africa into Europe it seems like Europeans should decide for themselves if that is what they want. Otherwise they may become the new refugees.

Jack Daniels
Jack Daniels
3 years ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

You do know Africa is a large resource abundant land that really shouldn’t have to export its people, if you keep letting them in they will never fix their own mess, europe did not become rich until it sorted out it’s political problems, Africans will have to do the same at some point, and it may look like a transcontinental war..

William MacDougall
William MacDougall
3 years ago

Certainly France has a serious problem, with terrible terrorist attacks, but it’s a complicated issue. The country has the strongest emphasis on mono-culturallism in Europe, and against religion in the classroom. It’s illegal even to count the number of people in different ethnic groups, with all supposed to be good Frenchmen. Could this contribute to the difficulties, could it have lead to a counter-reaction? And certainly part of the Left’s objection relates to its obsession with Laïcité, so it’s reacting against moderate islam as well as extreme islamism. If you show no respect for any religious belief, you leave room for religious extremists. It’s not obvious that even more mono-culturalism and even more Laïcité would help.

Gonzalez Girl
Gonzalez Girl
3 years ago

I appologise that I only have this article in French. However, it argues that the ability to disrespect all religions is the basis of democracy.

“in a democracy a religion is an opinion, it is not sacred. If you don’t admit that, then
you don’t admit democracy. This means that you want to live in a society without
freedom of expression, where nothing and no one will be criticized any more, in a
society without blasphemy, where religion will dictate to people their way of life, behavior and their speech. . It was France in the Middle Ages. It’s Saudi Arabia today.”

https://www.nouvelobs.com/l

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

Mono-culturalism may not be a good fit for Muslims who blend religion and culture into one. In many Muslim cultures you cannot practice any religion other than Islam. There’s always the chance of course that France is a popular choice for Muslims because it does not permit overt religious observance in public. What better place to instill the idea that unless it’s allowed for Islam as an exception there will be violence?

girondinus
girondinus
3 years ago

We always did mono culturalism. I perfectly understand this might be difficult for some Muslims, but we don’t have to change our culture and values for them to fit. Nobody forced them to come. Nobody forces them to stay.

William MacDougall
William MacDougall
3 years ago
Reply to  girondinus

The UK has done multi-culturalism in many ways, France has always done mono-culturalism, or at least tried for it, and has had worse results…

Daniel Goldstein
Daniel Goldstein
3 years ago
Reply to  girondinus

You’re not allowed to say that anymore.

Peter KE
Peter KE
3 years ago

Good article. The U.K. needs to get moving and start dealing with the Islamist problem in the U.K.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago

The far right are the canaries in the coalmine who react to obvious but politically unpalatable truths and are not listened to by the left, until they eventually catch up to reality way too late when the wolves are not just at the door but inside the house, setting it on fire.

Sean MacSweeney
Sean MacSweeney
3 years ago

Sadly, the UK government has chosen appeasement when it come to radical Islam, as evidenced by the softly softly approach to Pakistani Muslim Rape gangs which are endemic in the UK

Visiting Reader
Visiting Reader
3 years ago

this article touches on a fascinating angle within the “Islam in France” debate – namely, the left’s back-and-forth unease with Islamism, radicalism and its causes in France. These aspects of the article are well researched and convincing, and indeed allowed me to look at the issue from a different perspective.

But the arguments are ultimately undermined by the absurdity of claims like “Charlie Hebdo sits firmly within the traditions of the left.” Certainly, the magazine’s history, its founders, and its initial political function can be broadly characterized as emerging from the “left-wing” of French political thought, but to make this argument in the present is to ignore entirely the political context of the 21st century: the magazine’s satire has become immersed (indeed, has become a tool) for a larger political project of the Right. To me, this contemporary understanding of the magazine’s political function makes it’s ideological origins irrelevant. One could argue that David Horowitz also “emerged firmly within the traditions of the left” – but what significance does this have in understanding his function today? It is a moot point.

Claims made about socioeconomic factors and their role within radicalization also suffer from a disingenuous reading. Those who point to them as causal factors do not do so in a “zero-sum” context as suggested in the article (“if in Trappes, why not in Marseille?”). No one is claiming that “wherever there is socioeconomic decline, there is potential for radicalization” – moreso that socioeconomic circumstances can certainly come into play, along with a number of other factors, to inform radicalization.

That said, I enjoyed this article and its framing – despite disagreeing with some aspects of it. Thanks Liam.