This mosque in the Paris suburb of Blanc-Mesnil was publicly accused last week by a politician in the neighboring town of radicalizing Samy Amimour, a 28-year-old who grew up nearby and was among the suspected gunmen at the Bataclan concert hall where at least 89 people died Nov. 13.
The Muslims who pray here were shocked by the accusation and its bluntness. Theirs was “a mosque known for being radical,” the neighboring deputy mayor, Jean-Christophe Lagarde, told the news media, “for being a place where they seek to radicalize the young.”
This mosque, long part of the surrounding community, where members distributed brochures deploring violence after the Charlie Hebdo attack, has been caught in the broad net of rumors, raids and deep suspicion surrounding France’s Muslims since the latest attack. Mosques across the country have been searched, as have individual homes in hundreds of “counterterrorism” searches not particularly linked to the Paris plot but conducted under the expanded police powers granted by the country’s current state of emergency.
The sweeping reaction comes in a country with a long-standing tension between the guarantee of religious liberty and a deeply felt political commitment to secularism — a tension that has been particularly acute for Muslims. In France, minarets are controversial, and girls are banned from wearing headscarves in public schools.
“The government reacted quickly and badly,” said Samy Debah, president of the Collective Against Islamophobia in France.
Gee, that’s too damn bad. Note the attitude on the part of the Washington Post writer, who seems to feel a) that there should be no reaction against the alien presence in Paris responsible for mass murder and b) that France should somehow accommodate “religious liberty,” even if it means the death of French citizens. There’s no “long-standing” tension between religion and secularism in France: the country’s official policy is laïcité, which means that Church and state have nothing whatsoever to do with each other (the result of the extreme anti-clericalism that accompanied the French Revolution). The only “tension” has been provided by Islam, which does not acknowledge any separation between the Islamic faith and the Islamic state. They are the same thing.
Assimilation is prized in France over the kind of “melting pot” ideal that exists in the United States. In France, the other is welcomed — if the other blends in. “In France, do like the French. That means that you need to conform to a lifestyle shaped by centuries of Christianity,” legislator Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, the niece of far-right leader Marine Le Pen, said Saturday. “France isn’t a land of Islam.”
I guess that’s what we’re going to find out. France is not just some passport-issuing mechanism, it’s a culture. What the French are now realizing is that most of their Muslim population has little interest in French civilisation; they’re simply taking their dole and waiting to take over. No wonder the French are “suspicious.”