Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Friday, November 04, 2005

A really ugly political science experiment

If you've been wondering what the heck is going on around Paris, you could do a lot worse than to read this Amir Taheri article, which quickly summarizes the events and political consequences. What I found especially fascinating was that the residents of the rioting cities view themselves as occupied territories, despite the fact that these cities/geographical regions have been part of France since the Romans left and France really began. Given that these are not recent occupations, a la Israel, it's really quite shocking to read things like this:

Some are even calling for the areas where Muslims form a majority of the population to be reorganized on the basis of the "millet" system of the Ottoman Empire: Each religious community (millet) would enjoy the right to organize its social, cultural and educational life in accordance with its religious beliefs. In parts of France, a de facto millet system is already in place. In these areas, all women are obliged to wear the standardized Islamist "hijab" while most men grow their beards to the length prescribed by the sheiks. The radicals have managed to chase away French shopkeepers selling alcohol and pork products, forced "places of sin," such as dancing halls, cinemas and theaters, to close down, and seized control of much of the local administration. A reporter who spent last weekend in Clichy and its neighboring towns of Bondy, Aulnay-sous-Bois and Bobigny heard a single overarching message: The French authorities should keep out. "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 last paragraph I quoted is especially amazing, because it implies two separate sovereignties within a single country. Amir Taheri ends his article with a couple of interesting points. First, it did France a fat lot of good to dilute the effect of the Iraqi war by opposing it so vigorously. Its opposition did nothing to innoculate it against the Caliphate. Second, it reveals that France is the new laboratory for the experiment of deal with significant blocks of fundamentalist Islam within a larger non-Islamic culture:
It is now clear that a good portion of France's Muslims not only refuse to assimilate into "the superior French culture," but firmly believe that Islam offers the highest forms of life to which all mankind should aspire. So what is the solution? One solution, offered by Gilles Kepel, an adviser to Chirac on Islamic affairs, is the creation of "a new Andalusia" in which Christians and Muslims would live side by side and cooperate to create a new cultural synthesis. The problem with Kepel's vision, however, is that it does not address the important issue of political power. Who will rule this new Andalusia: Muslims or the largely secularist Frenchmen? Suddenly, French politics has become worth watching again, even though for the wrong reasons.
UPDATE: It is, I think, unlikely that France will be able to deal with the root causes of this problem, since the Press, in France and abroad is being very careful to paint the problem in Marxist, rather than religious terms. For a good analysis of the press's failure to grasp what is really going on, and it's resolute insistence on applying outmoded, failed economic/classist theories, this Robert Spencer article is a good start. UPDATE II: No surprise here, of course, but Laer asks some excellent questions and offers some smart insights about the Paris riots.