As the media has been turned towards the USA for so long; calling out their institutional racism, mocking Donald Trump during his entire 4 years in office, then reporting live updates during the incredibly tense 2020 elections, Canada and the USA seem to have forgotten about the issues present across the ocean, and no, I’m not talking about China and Russia, as we do hear a lot of anti-Russia and anti-China propaganda. I’m talking about France.
On October 16th, Northern Parisian schoolteacher Samuel Paty was beheaded by a suspected Islamist terrorist for having shown his class Charlie Hebdo caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in a lecture concerning freedom of speech.
On October 21st, in tribute to Paty, and “in defiance of Islamist terrorists”, the very same caricatures that got the man killed was projected onto government buildings. (I swear, this is not an Onion article.)
Macron gave a speech saying the teacher was a “quiet hero” who “was killed precisely because he incarnated the Republic. He was killed because the Islamists want our future.”
Furthermore, Macron posthumously awarded Paty the Légion d’Honneur for his bravery, the country’s highest civilian honour.
Also in response to this murder, France led dozens of police raids against Muslim homes and groups “accused of radicalism”, putting in question whether they really wanted to prevent further acts of terrorism or if they simply wanted revenge for Paty’s death.
The French government has also threatened to mass expulse over 200 Muslims and cut funding for over 50 Muslim organizations, some of which were even forced to shut down.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has even labelled the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) as “an enemy of the republic”, and proposed to ban it. The CCIF’s mandate is to track hate crimes against Muslims and it effectively condemned Darmanin’s words, expressing how the government is “criminalising the fight against Islamophobia”.
Tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims aren’t only rising within France’s borders; Muslim countries are also threatening to boycott France. Pakistan’s Prime Minister accused Macron of “encouraging Islamophobia”; a 40 000 person anti-France rally took place in Bangladesh, who also threatened to destroy the French embassy; the Turkish president commented that “Macron needs mental treatment,” confused as to how a head of state can be so prejudiced against Islam.
In Kuwait and in Qatar, French products were removed from store shelves; Jordan condemned the “continued publication of caricatures of Prophet Muhammad under the pretext of freedom of expression,” and many other countries expressed similar discontentment with France; specifically, its president.
On October 29th, three people were killed in the seventh suspected Islamist attack of the year, this time, in front of the Notre-Dame basilica in Nice.
However, the effectiveness of the French government’s response to the rise of terrorism that has been happening ever since the Charlie Hebdo attack, back in 2015, was further put into question when it was discovered that the perpetrators of all seven 2020 attacks had no affiliation to any terrorist groups, according to the director of a Paris-based research organization, the Center of the Analysis of Terrorism.
Indeed, these individuals seemed to have been self-radicalized, rather than radicalized by Islamist networks. A former head of the French domestic intelligent services describes them as “a new generation” of terrorists, “a personal jihad, religious and without demands,” unlike the synchronized attacks of 2015.
On December 3rd, Macron announced that out of the 2 600 mosques in France, 76 are suspected to be a threat to France; these mosques will be monitored and controlled by the state until further notice.
By Sophie Dufresne