France is a country at war, say the media on the Seine. On the one hand, it is fighting the covid-19 pandemic, on the other, it is fighting the Islamic radicals, outraged caricatures of Muhammad, which were the cause of the murder of teacher Samuel Paty on October 16 in Conflans-Saint-Honorine near Paris. And today they were the cause of another brutal attack in Nice, during which three people were killed, one of which was almost cut off the head. Caricatures that President Emmanuel Macron saw as an appropriate way to defend the freedom of speech and the values of the republic.
This sparked a harsh reaction from Muslim countries, especially Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan instructed Macron to “undergo a psychiatric examination.” Many thousands of anti-French protests swept through many of them, such as Syria, Tunisia and Bangladesh. The authorities of Iran, Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, Kuwait, Yemen and Qatar also called for a boycott of French goods. In Qatar, they were withdrawn from supermarket shelves. According to France24, the websites of numerous French associations and small mayors have been hacked. There was a graphic with Macron in the form of a pig and the inscription: “Victory of Islam, death of France”. The Iranian Foreign Ministry called the French ambassador to the rug, and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made an appeal to French youth to “distance themselves from the leader of the offending prophet.” The Iranian daily Vatan Emrooz called Macron “the demon of Paris.” Erdogan went a step further and accused all of Europe of treating Muslims “as Jews were treated during World War II.” The pro-government Turkish media write about racism in France and even about fascism. According to the daily Sabah, French authorities hunt Muslims like witches. Consequently, the French ambassador to Turkey was summoned for consultations in Paris. In short: the atmosphere has become very tense, and as a consequence the risk of attacks on the Seine has increased significantly.
France has already practiced this once. In 2015, Islamic terrorists attacked the editors of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in response to the magazine’s publication of Muhammad’s caricatures from the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, accompanied by their own new cartoons. 11 people were killed. You might say: this is the price of defending freedom of speech. Muslims cannot blackmail France, force them to respect their religious sensibilities. France is not giving up on blackmail. If only it were true. The last several decades of politics towards Muslims in France were marked by submission: the borders were not protected against the mass influx of migrants, because it was contrary to humanism, the program of family reunification was extended, Islamic radicals were not deported, because they were threatened with torture in their countries of origin, and France is a state after all rights, this was often prevented by the European Court of Human Rights, and the reluctance of the countries of origin to accept them back (i.e. the lack of readmission agreements). Those with French citizenship were not taken away. And when radicals were captured, they served symbolic sentences, just like those who managed to fight in the ranks of ISIS in Syria and are now being released from prisons. More and more mosques were agreed to be built, and left-wing politicians fraternized with imams and Muslim associations, springing up like mushrooms and controlled, among others, by by the Muslim Brotherhood in exchange for a few votes in the ballot box. Whoever wanted to win elections in immigrant ghettos had to fraternize, and it was all covered with a sauce of political correctness. The French political elite has tried and is trying not to combine the “Islamism” it wants to combat with Islam. It went on like that for years, and the number of Muslims in France grew. And instead of secularizing, they became more and more religious.
Meanwhile, the republic was going in the opposite direction. The values it offers to Muslims have become increasingly progressive. LGBT rights, legalization of abortion, hommarriage. The more secular France became, the more it despised religion and faith (not only Muslim), the more Muslims entrenched themselves in their identity, in their ghettos. Hostility towards the French state became the norm there. Cultural identity is not a coat that is taken off after arriving in another country and then put on another. And while Macron and other progressives associate “Charlie’s spirit” and his contempt for faith with Europe and its values, Islamic radicals still associate the old continent with Christianity. That is why the attack in Nice took place in the Notre Dame cathedral, and the victims are the faithful who came to pray and the sacristan of the church. Again, one could say: what about freedom of speech? Muhammad caricatures are a bad weapon in the fight against Islamic radicals because they strike at all the Muslims France wants to have on its side, at least some of whom are their internal enemy. Islam is now the second religion of France. Insulting Muslims will not make them integrate or cooperate with the state, and most of them were born here. There is nowhere to deport them. It is also the path of least resistance – it is easier to brandish caricatures than to change your policy – from migration and asylum to social. The logic of this is completely elusive. It is not allowed to criticize Islam too loudly, nor to doubt its compatibility with liberal democracy, and whoever does so is relegated to the corner with the words “extreme right” and falls prey to ostracism. However, it is allowed and even necessary to mock Islam as a faith.
France continues to praise its secularism, while religion continues to invade the public sphere: Muslims pray in the streets, paralyzing traffic, women wear burqas, although it’s forbidden because the police do not dare to enforce the ban. Part of the far left, such as Jean-Luc Melenchon’s La France Insoumise, has become an advocate for the Islamic fundamentalists whom anti-Semitism shares. The French state is unable to enforce the law in immigrant ghettos, it surrenders to Arab gangs, but it can punish Muslims with caricatures of Muhammad, although it is completely pointless. I am not a fan of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he has his reasons to incite Muslims to anti-French protests and ultimately – intentionally or not – to bombings. Like other Arab countries, these reasons are overwhelmingly political. But France must find a better weapon than the cartoons of Muhammad if it is to win the war against the Islamic radicals. Drawing mockery under the guise of freedom of speech is not enough.