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France Woke Up Late; Perhaps Too Late

France Woke Up Late; Perhaps Too Late

Ma’ariv, Israel, December 23

France woke up late. Perhaps too late. Almost two months after the beheading of French teacher Samuel Patti, five years after the murderous attack on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, and following dozens and possibly hundreds of Islamist terrorist attacks across France (many against Jews), President Emmanuel Macron and his government finally decided to fulfill the government’s duty: to maintain the security of its citizens both through more vigorous police operation and through legislation. What I’m specifically referring to is a new bill currently being legislated in the French parliament known as “the law to strengthen the principles of the republic.” The purpose behind it is to fight what President Macron described as “separatism” and the growing phenomenon of the Muslim minority acting as a state within a state and disregarding the rules and principles that guide the French Republic. Muslims constitute somewhere between 6% to 12% of the total French population. Over the course of the past few years, this minority has increasingly removed itself from the mainstream population, partially thanks to the emergence of the liberal tendency to prioritize each ethnic, religious, or cultural group at the expense of the general public’s interest (by the way, if the Equality Law, which has now been hastily debated in the Knesset, is not amended, it could pave the way for separatism in the State of Israel, as well). Like most of the Western world, France failed to understand the true nature of Islamist separatism. French legislators have emphasized that they have no intention of infringing on religious freedom, but rather on preventing religion from becoming a political and subversive tool. As Benjamin Haddad, the European expert at the Atlantic Council wrote: “Macron has made a clear distinction between the Muslim majority and an Islamist minority that has extreme political goals.” But the question today is whether there really are such clear boundaries in France between the two, especially when it comes to young people who are easily influenced by radical Islamist sermons in mosques, which pushed many of them to the hands of ISIS. The new law will seek to address separation and segregation by preventing private education at the hands of Islamist preachers and abolishing so-called “charity” organizations and societies that seek to cut off Muslims’ dependence on state institutions. The law emphasizes that these restrictions will be enforced by force. Just like America is punished today for its old sin of slavery, France is punished today for its old colonial sin. The artificial decision at the time that Algeria was supposedly part of France, an illusion that only De Gaulle with his wisdom put an end to, caused tens of thousands of Algerians (and to some extent also residents of Morocco and Tunisia) to easily become French nationals. Many of these immigrants, and especially their children and grandchildren, have been fully and productively integrated into the French society, economy and culture. Unfortunately, it is not this quiet majority that sets the tone for France’s Muslim community, but rather the loud, extremist minority. France’s national motto of liberté, égalité, fraternité — liberty, equality, fraternity — couldn’t seem more detached from France’s current reality. The French Revolution, which put an end to one tyranny, created tyranny of a different kind, including one toward Jews who sought to continue their lives as Jews, but as part of French society, contrary to the separatist trends of Muslims today. The deception under the slogan of equality for Jews was revealed in all its bluntness to Theodor Herzl at the time of the Dreyfus Affair, and grew to monstrous proportions in World War II when the Vichy government, supported by most French people, sent native Jews and French citizens to Nazi death camps. French people who want to live their lives according to their tradition are currently struggling in the wake of separatist forces, but Macron’s new policy is the first step toward realizing this aspiration. Today, France is fighting for its existence against an internal enemy. Will it endure this war? –Zalman Shoval (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)


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