Tyler Hahn: The Parisian intifada

Jacques Chirac must be scratching his head. Despite his and the French people’s vehement invectives against the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq (and the United States in general), France is learning the hard way that there is no bargaining with Islamic extremists.

On Oct. 28, riots began in cities outside of Paris after two Muslim boys accidentally electrocuted themselves to death while hiding from the police. As of Monday night, the 12th day of violence, the riots had spread to more than 275 cities across France. More than 5,000 vehicles had been torched, one man had been beaten to death, churches, synagogues, hospitals and even daycare centers had been firebombed, and the violence continued to escalate. Police, more than 50 of whom have been injured in the violence, have been shot at, and are now reporting finding automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades among the terrorists roaming the streets.

Just who are these thousands of rioter-terrorists? They are, by all accounts, almost entirely France’s disgruntled Muslim youth. France has the largest Muslim population of any Western European nation at an estimated 6 million Muslims – mostly descendents of North African immigrants. Despite France’s reputation as a liberal and open nation, it is beyond question that many if not most of these immigrants and their children have failed to assimilate. Unemployment among Muslim immigrants and their children is the highest in France, consistently holding at around 25-30 percent of the general Muslim-immigrant population, and as high as 60 percent among Muslim-immigrant youths (ages 18-25). The majority of these poor and jaded people live in ghettos of crumbling government housing projects that few police dare to patrol.

Muslim North African immigrants no longer come to, or live in a France that embraces or wants them. This truth became overwhelmingly clear in 2002 when Jean Marie Le Pen, a neo-fascist war criminal (who tortured Algerian Muslims during the French occupation) was voted into the run off election against Chirac while campaigning on an anti-immigrant platform. Rejected by a French population that repudiates and even illegalizes their culture and values (i.e. the hijab ban), Muslim youths have found an outlet and accepting culture of violence, crime, and – yes – Islamic extremism. The news media has proven to be unwilling to cover the situation in a fair and balanced way, so I pose the simple question: could Islamism play a roll in deadly and violent riots perpetrated almost singularly by Muslims?

If you answered no to the former question, take the following into consideration: According to the National Review Online, and rioters themselves, any vehicles with Muslim bumper stickers and Muslim-owned businesses have been deliberately spared. Mosques, of course have not been burned, while Christian churches and Jewish synagogues have been firebombed. Le Monde and the Arab News Network have reported that the rioters shout “Allah is Great” as they torch the buildings and vehicles of non-Muslims. On French Muslim blogs, Islamists have begun to mention a militant operation “Midnight Sun,” and are strategically organizing the riots. French news sources report that rioters have begun to call the riot-movement the “Ramadan Intifada.”

France has recently begun to take a hard-line stance against Islamist Imams who have swarmed their country by booting them out of the country. In the weeks leading up to the violence French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy warned of Algerian Islamist groups plotting violence and attacks against non-Muslims. I ask again, is it fair to characterize as an intifada this violent movement perpetrated and militantly organized by Muslims who chant “Allah is Great” while fire-bombing cars, churches and synagogues, and that targets exclusively non-Muslims and their property?

Make no mistake. What is occurring in France is not a haphazard, disorganized riot by well-intentioned but fed-up poor immigrants – it is an organized, militant, Islamist movement: the Parisian intifada.

-The writer, a sophomore majoring in Middle Eastern studies, is a Hatchet columnist.

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