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Intifada in France

The northern industrial suburbs of Paris suffered the worst of eight consecutive nights of rioting on November 3-4. Disorder has now spread to dozens of provincial towns, including Dijon, the first city outside Ile-de-France (the metropolitan region) to be affected by unrest. Hundreds of cars, as well as schools, stores, and warehouses have been torched or ransacked. A disabled French woman, unable to escape from a bus set alight by the rioters in Sevran (Dept. Seine-Saint-Denis), was badly burned. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy noted “a great coordination” among rioters, hinting that the unrest was far from spontaneous.

The rioters are mainly young, French-born North African males. Last week in the Parisian banlieu of Clichy-sous-Bois—a concrete and steel high-rise monstrosity that is now over 80 percent Muslim—they rose in anger when two teenagers were accidentally electrocuted while hiding from the police in a fenced-off area housing a high-voltage pylon. Shouting “Allahu akbar!” groups of youths armed with clubs and sticks went on a rampage forcing the regular police to retreat. When the riot police came in force to reclaim the area, the protests became focused on the demand that the French police get out of the “occupied territories.” The trouble would be ended, various Muslim “community leaders” claimed, if the French authorities accepted that there were de facto no-go areas within the country which should be self-administered. “All we demand is to be left alone,” said Mouloud Dahmani, one of the local “emirs” engaged in negotiations to persuade the French to withdraw the police and allow a committee of sheiks, mostly from the Muslim Brotherhood, to negotiate an end to the hostilities.

The demand is not new and it will be made with increasing frequency in the years to come. Many Muslims in France and elsewhere in Europe already consider themselves de facto autonomous, a community justifiably opposed to the broader society of infidels and centered on mosques and Islamic centers. The emergence of a huge diaspora of the faithful away from the heartland is seen by pious Muslims as an event archetypically linked to conquest. The demand for the predominantly Muslim areas to be granted communal self-rule will inevitably lead to the clamoring for the sharia law in a segregated Muslim France.

Assimilation is no longer a viable option in France, the country that used to pride itself on its ability to turn foreigners into Frenchmen. That was possible with the Italians, Spaniards, Poles and Russians becauyse they were culturally assimilable and because they came in tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands even (e.g., the non-French Pieds-Noirs), but not in the millions. The Muslims now account for ten percent of France’s population and for more than one-fifth of all newborns. They live in compact communities in which it is no longer possible to buy wine in a local store or to see Amelie in a cinema. Their leaders regard their faith and culture as superior to that of the host society. Those who have doubts wisely keep quiet. ~Srdja Trifkovic

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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