Vive la France

Christopher Harries

Another week, another act of barbarism on the streets of France. A febrile atmosphere is developing as the secular, French Republic comes to know the pernicious Islamic extremism. 

Rhetoric could be excused and dismissed, yet slaughter on the streets is far more difficult to ignore. Violence is not a new phenomenon, yet the frequency is making it difficult to forget. The murder of three including decapitation at the Notre Dame Basilica in Nice followed mere weeks after the beheading of Samuel Paty. Paty, a history and geography teacher from a suburb of Paris, ended up butchered for daring to show a Charlie Hebdo cartoon of the prophet Muhammad to a classroom of students.

The Charlie Hebdo cartoon that provoked fury and led to the beheading of Samuel Paty.

Earlier this month, President Macron positioned himself in a speech as a defender of the French Republic. In the speech, Macron announced a plan to tackle separatism. Particularly Islamist separatism while acknowledging France had failed its immigrant communities. 

In the wake of the beheading of Paty, Macron announced “We will not give up caricatures and drawings, even if others back away” action was also taken with the state forcing the closure of a mosque which had published videos agitating action against Paty, the deportation of foreign nationals and the dissolution of some non-governmental organisations.

This rhetoric from Macron has provoked outrage in the Islamic world. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey has described Macron as mentally ill, while there are boycotts of French goods.

Rhetoric will not suffice, further steps must be taken to challenge this pernicious ideology. Thinking about this subject reminds of the paradox of tolerance outlined by the philosopher, Karl Popper. As Popper described it “in order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant of intolerance.” 

As Ayaan Hirsi Ali outlined in The Spectator, in practical terms, Macron can do this by utilising French Law, such as a denial of citizenship to those foreign citizens deemed to have assimilated. Tackling the dissemination of ideological extremism by other nations and strengthening immigration considerations.

It is also worth considering that the perpetrators of the two recent acts of savagery were not born in France. In the case of the murder of Paty, the perpetrator was an eighteen-year-old refugee called Abdoullakh Abouyedovich Anzorov. While the perpetrator in Nice according to France’s chief anti-terrorism prosecutor, is a Tunisian national who entered Europe last month, having crossed the Mediterranean. 

This highlights some of the risks posed by illegal crossings, namely we cannot be sure of the identity or intent of those making the crossing. Given the illegal crossings over the English Channel, we should be vigilant that a wolf may seek to enter the United Kingdom in such a manner. 

To talk about France is not to ignore the issue here in the United Kingdom. We have experienced the violence of Islamic extremism from suicide bombings and acts of barbarism. We should take similar action to avoid a replication of such recent horrors on our streets. 

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