For One indivisible #French Republic
This article by: Rabah Ghezali
is adjunct professor of economics at Sciences-Po Paris and Chairman of Humanity at Action France.
The content of this [report/study/article/publication…] does not reflect the official opinion of the DIPLOMAT NEWS NETWORK.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.
– What we saw on Friday 13 November was pure evil made manifest. Right now, words are not enough to describe the horror France feels. Nothing prepared us for this, not even the January attacks. If terrorism is said to be the weapon of the weak, the Friday attacks were the use of weapon against the weak and innocent, at very symbolic places.
France loves intellectual debates. But the discussions between those who argue that radical and violent extremists hate us for our modernity, and those who argue that they hate us for our policies seem, right now, superfluous. The answer is obviously yes to both. There is absolutely no political justification for the mass crime they committed against us. With ISIS (or Daesh), absolute violence and the most absurd sectarianism prevail over everything with an eschatological view of the world as sole justification. They aim at getting closer to end of the world by attacking Paris, as a European city and capital of France.
Daesh targeted its youth and civil society at its progressive core. Instead of attacking tourist, conservative or governmental areas, the assassins preferred the Xth and XIth arrondissements where the population is known to be tolerant and open-minded, places where people of different ethnic and social background are used to mixing and enjoying themselves. And by targeting the Stade de France, the attackers chose a national monument where our best memories are still vivid: those of a multi-ethnic but very French team, representing all of us, which won the FIFA World Cup in 1998. The assassins aimed at attacking all of us, at a time when French society is fragile, divided and threatened by many communitarian fractures.
France has experienced its 9/11.
Far more than the January attacks, the 13 November events were a terrorist strike against every single component of the French nation. There was no more “Je suis Charlie” or “Je ne suis pas Charlie”, only French citizens. Daesh’s butchery indiscriminately targeted all of us without exception. The Paris attacks are likely to raise tensions between us French Muslims and other communities. By allowing that to happen, we would give Daesh just what it wants. It wants to divide us further; it wants the French Muslim community to be victimized and feel left outside the French nation. Daesh wants reprisal and violence against French Muslims to push us towards a state of civil war. With the extreme-right National Front’s sweeping gains in the first round of regional elections on Sunday, France will be one step closer to this scenario.
As we are united in our grief, we should be united in our response to the terrorists. The alternative is not more violence and discrimination among us, but the concrete materialization and manifestation of our oneness and love for France. We owe to those who died, and their suffering families, a re-appropriation of the last word of our national motto: “brotherhood”. Unity and brotherhood can’t this time be just empty words, they must be the core of our future actions and policies. Only in this way, can we respect the memories of the fallen and bury them with a sense of honour.
Avoiding at all costs all reference to a clash of civilisations, France needs to distance itself from civil-war-mongering intellectuals and politicians who argue that Daesh represents Islam, and that the Paris attacks represent the latest battle of a war for global Islamic hegemony. This is nonsense: They fail to recognize that France is the collateral victim of a clash taking place within Islam in which the victims are also Muslims. They also fail to understand that Daesh can’t represent the Muslim community since the sole and selfish millenarian project of its followers is to accelerate the end of the world to gain their place in heaven irrelevant of how many lives (Muslim or not) they sacrifice in their psychopathic aim.
If France depicts itself as a “one and indivisible” republic, it needs to behave that way. The double standards and discrimination need to be tackled. For too long, decision makers hid behind the concepts of “the republic” and “laicité” and conveniently ignored the discrimination some groups face. Denying the fact that France is already a multicultural society and that some ethnic groups are treated in a discriminatory fashion has failed us so far. The French prime minister may have rightly used words such as “apartheid” but we still need concrete solutions. Late in diagnosing the problem, we are also late in finding solutions. It is perhaps time to embrace multiculturalism as a modern reality of our society and as a strength to build on. Having a religion or a multicultural background is not an all-engulfing identity incompatible with Frenchness. So far, French identity has worked as a way to park people in communities based on a single dimension that overlooks the various affinities of class, politics and individual interests that go to make up personal identities.
Insisting that everyone becomes fully assimilated French citizens frustrates us all — those who think that as they were born and educated in France, they are de facto French, and those who think that all their efforts to assimilate are not enough, as they represent a foreign body. France can’t afford any longer to push for a monolithic identity by treating those with a different ethnic or religious background as the “other”, or worse the “enemy”. Instead, France should celebrate its diversity while treating everyone as a citizen. If not, France will continue preventing the emergence of moderate “community leaders”, particularly within the Muslim community. Our politicians and media must favour the emergence of French Muslim voices and let our community organize itself instead of imposing, from top down, institutions that have totally failed.
The government can do a lot, but French Muslims themselves will have to play the leading role in a march towards national unity with one fundamental mission — dispelling the negative stereotypes affecting them by demonstrating how much they care for their country and fellow citizens. By attacking us, Daesh perhaps did us a great favour: forcing all of us to unite despite our difference, and to solve the many obstacles that polarise us, giving a strong and dignified response to the terrorists who attacked each and every one of us.For more news and stories, join us on Facebook,Twitter , or contact us through our Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com