The jihadists who leave France to fight the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria symbolise an Islamist “fifth column” within France, perhaps the most potent of fears associated with immigration. Some of the jihadists, such as Jean-Daniel and Nicolas Bons, brothers from Toulouse who died fighting in Syria last year, are Christians who converted to Islam. Their fate gives substance to French paranoia about contagion by radical Islam.These particular two were converts, which is definitely disturbing. But what's this about "paranoia"? I believe this is where the paper's descending into offensive dismissals of legitimate fears.
Their father, Gérard Bon, has founded an association to fight the recruitment of young Frenchmen for jihad. The government fears that jihadists will return from Syria to carry out attacks in France. So returning veterans are threatened with 15 years in prison for having participated in “terrorism” – ironic, since president François Hollande has called for Assad’s downfall. Bons recounts how his sons told him that the prospect of years in prison dissuaded them from coming home.
Asked about French jihadists earlier this month, Marine Le Pen, the leader of the anti-immigrant National Front (FN) replied smugly: “It’s hard to fight the quenelle and jihadists at the same time.” (The quenelle is an allegedly anti-Semitic gesture invented by the humorist Dieudonné, whose show Valls succeeded in banning.)This part, if accurate, bugs me, because isn't educational curriculum a vital factor in dissuading people to imitate that awful pseudo-comedian's behavior? At the same time, I wonder if they're putting words in her mouth like "smug"? What a shame a paper in a country that's got its own problem with Islam encroaching is stooping to such poor etiquette.
Government surveillance of Muslim extremists in France is hopelessly inadequate, Le Pen said, citing the case of Mohamed Merah, the 23-year-old son of Algerian immigrants who killed seven people, including three Jewish children, in early 2012.But here's where Le Pen is much more spot on with her criticism. Thanks to poor law enforcement - surely a very common crisis in Europe - Merah was able to commit sadistic crimes before being sent to hell where he belongs.
Two anti-racist groups have filed lawsuits against Marine Le Pen for her December 2010 comparison of Muslims praying in French streets to the German army’s occupation of France during the second World War. The EU parliament has lifted her immunity as an MEP, and she may stand trial for incitement to racial hatred.If they do that, they're only bound to boost support for her party, and they probably know it.
Immigration was the backdrop to feverish political disputes in recent months: the “Leonarda affair”, when the expulsion of a 15-year-old Roma schoolgirl with her family backfired on the Hollande administration; the government’s climbdown after 250 experts delivered a report on integration to the prime minister which said schoolgirls should be allowed to wear headscarves and Arabic could be taught in French schools. “We’re not in Britain or Canada, where women can go around in hijab and kids can demand halal meals in schools,” says Prof Perrineau. “France just doesn’t work that way.”I don't know about Canada, but he's right about Britain. Now, I hope the National Front, having since replaced the awful Jean-Marie Le Pen with daughter Marine, will lead a straightforward campaign. It won't be without opposition from the worst sources, as I'm sure they know too, but they're going to have to be brave if they want to save France and find the light of civilization at the end of the tunnel.