Sarkozy's Failures Hidden Under a Burka
France's State Council upholding the judgment denying French citizenship to a Moroccan Muslim woman, on the grounds of her "radical practice of her religion," shouldn't be viewed in connection to Nicolas Sarkozy's carefully forged reputation of toughness vis-à-vis radical Islam.
On the contrary, this judgment perfectly fits in the historic French pattern of secularism as the state religion.
It is a national doctrine that stemmed from the rivers of blood spilled during the French Revolution and later was lifted to an exclusive state liturgy by the Red Republicans of the late 19th century and early 20th century. It was later refreshed in 2003 with the ban on all religious symbols in public schools.
In recent years, this doctrine of secularism has been violated many times over -- selectively and mostly to the benefit of Muslims both foreign and domestic, for "pragmatic" reasons. This has more to do with France's cynical post-colonial era "Arab policy" or her punctual need to appease an increasingly numerous, radicalized, and unassimilated Islamic population than with any intent to abjure the Republic's extremist atheism - which remains the absolute standard by which every French citizen, or aspiring citizen as the case may be, must be measured.
Indeed the original judgment barring this Burqa-clad Muslim from exposing her face on a French passport alongside the Marianne des sans-culottes -- the Jacobins' muse and symbol of the French Republic covered with the emblematic bonnet rouge of the French Revolution Terrorists -- dates back to 2005, thus predating Sarkozy's presidency.
Further evidence that this judgment owes little to a shift in French policy under the new president lies with his personal nemesis, Jean-Marie le Pen, and the Secretary General of the Socialist Party François Hollande, both of whom swiftly and unconditionally applauded the State Council decision.
Had it been the result of Sarkozy's purported "totalitarian" approach to immigration, as the French Leftist smears have it, this would have been a golden opportunity for the battered Parti Socialiste to take back the initiative on one domestic issue at least -- especially now that Sarkozy managed to practically disable and replace it with his own brand of social-democracy.
The Burqa Babe at the center of this controversy, a seemingly resolute Francophile, appealed the judgment and battled her way against what must decidedly be a woefully xenophobic and "Islamophobic" -- perhaps a bit misogynistic too -- French administrative grinder, up to the higher ends of French legislation.
The poor thing can rest assured, however, that I would spare her the sarcasms had the niqāb not become distressingly widespread (among other variations of conquering Muslim garment and even to the most casual observer) on much of the French soil including, as I can bear testimony on a regular basis, in very small towns far and away from the large suburban concentrations that regularly make the news. When, over the time span of just a few years, one ends up routinely passing by a handful of chadors and head-to-toe niqābī ghosts in a typical French rural community hardly a couple of thousands large, it's difficult to believe this particular Muslim has been unfairly targeted.
I do not deny that she, or rather the men behind her have an agenda of their own. They are obviously an active part of the constant probing of Western institutions by conquering Islam. In this instance however, it is far more likely that the ever-clever media animal that is Nicolas Sarkozy is using this case to his own advantage, as he is increasingly reaping the dividends of his presidential strategy of inaction and distraction.
Inaction in delivering on his ambitious socio-economic electoral promises -- from engaging decisively the country's long overdue liberalization reforms to curbing crime and restoring the States' authority on the lost territories of the Republic.
Distraction through various rock star stratagems ranging from the vulgar to the demagogical in order to keep his voters' attention away from the fact that he's achieved rather the opposite of what he pledged; devising new taxes rather than cutting them, pandering to the unions and other special interests groups that clog the French workplace rather than skimming dry the fatted up and suffocating work regulations. Or championing European Constitution 2.0 abroad rather than reducing drastically the layers of bureaucracy -- among the thickest in the world -- at home.
On the Gallic Intifada front, his presidency has already seen another row of riots popping out of the daily Car-B-Qs that lighten up France's suburban nights. Some sources advance 45,000 torched cars in 2007 alone; the Bastille Day celebrations, just a couple of days ago and just like the previous years, reached an extra level of revolutionary realism through many riots between Codeword "Youth" and the Gendarmes -- including 29 mortar attacks (the professional fireworks devices, not the artillery ones -- yet) on the police forces, for a reported total of 592 incinerated vehicles and 219 arrests all around the country over a single weekend.
This brings us back to our rebuked niqāb. As non-Muslim discontent grows close to critical thresholds, as Europe's old school xenophobes begin to surf on the legitimate wave of anti-jihadists, acknowledging their renewed chances to win (back, sometimes) the ears and attention that really matter -- those of the silent dissatisfied masses -- Sarkozy the Acrobat's margin of maneuver keeps shrinking.
Two recent events just made his position more uncomfortable:
First, a court in Lille annulled the marriage of a Muslim couple on the ground that the bride was not a virgin. This shocking instance of creeping Shari‘a sparked an uproar that escalated when 150 MEPs petitioned Sarkozy's Muslim-born -- and, perhaps, either still a Muslim or an apostate? -- Justice Minister Rachida Dati upon her refusal to condemn the court ruling.
Next, his hosting the head of a terrorist state, Bashar al-Assad, at the Bastille Day parade didn't go down well at all with a wide range of people, from the leftist NGO Reporters Sans Frontières -- whose president, Robert Ménard, and seven of his colleagues were arrested by French police on July 14 for protesting the presence of al-Assad by deploying a sign that read "Assad, predator of press freedom" -- to those among the French military who remember their dead in Lebanon.
As a result, what Sarkozy needs the most now, when it comes to anything even remotely connected to Islam, extremism, and terrorism is distraction. The State Council decision, as such rather trivial or at the very least incidental, might very well have been just that. To this seasoned veteran-witness of the hyperpresident, these timely headlines spell much like another script of the Sarko Show.
Call me when Islamic fascists, men and women alike, see their citizenship application forms refused en masse.