Roger L. Simon

France again

There has been a lively (to say the least) discussion on here over the last several days about the various possible motivations behind the French rioting. I would like to call you attention to this article by the French intellectual Michel Garfinkiel, which appeared yesterday in the NY Sun but I saw only today. Mr. Garfinkiel concludes:

Which brings us to a second question: How ethnic is the present violence in France? Liberal commentators, both in France and abroad, tend to say that poverty and unemployment, rather than race or religion, are the driving force behind the riots. Mr. Villepin himself tends to share this view, at least in part. He said yesterday on TV that he is earmarking enormous credits for housing rehabilitation, education, and state-supported jobs in the areas where the unrest has developed. But the fact remains that only ethnic youths are rioting, that most of them explicitly pledge allegiance to Islam and such Muslim heroes as Osama bin Laden, that the Islamic motto – Allahu Akbar – is usually their war cry, and that they submit only to archconservative or radical imams.

The fact also remains, according to many witnesses, that the rioters torch only “white” cars, meaning white owned cars, and spare “Islamic” or “black” ones. One way to discriminate between them is to look for ethnic signs like a sticker with Koranic verses or a picture of the Kaaba in Mekka or a stylized map of Africa. Further evidence of the animating influence in the riots lies with the French rap music to which the perpetrators listen. Such music obsessively describes White France as a sexual prey.

A third and last question is what impact this unprecedented ordeal is likely to have on France and Europe? One would reasonably expect the French government to restore its grip over the country. What matters, however, is the long-term outcome. My guess is that the crisis will not be so easily forgotten or washed away among the “non-ethnic” citizens, including those of alien stock who have fully integrated into the French society as it is. Rejection of Islam and of North African, Black African, and Middle Eastern immigration may increase dramatically. And the prospect of Turkey acceding to the European Union may get even dimmer.