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A Tale Of Two (French) Books

Times Literary Supplement reviewer Patrick Belton doesn't much like the bestseller, Les Islamistes Sont Déjà Là, (The Islamist Are Already There*) which articulates French fears of Muslim radicalism. He allows that "sales of the book reveal the nerve it has touched in French society." But the book's success, in his estimation, says more about France than about French Muslim fundamentalism, the latter being a figment in bigoted French imaginations. A familiar theme? Belton's rush to fault ordinary Frenchmen for their well-founded fears will resonate with many Americans, who are often labeled "Islamophobes" by Muslim activists, the odd libertarian, and practically all left-liberals, when they voice similar trepidations.

The two Christophes who coauthored the maligned book—Deloire from Le Point; Dubois from of La Parisien—have it all wrong, says Belton. "The Republic" and Islamism are not at war; extremists do not seek to impose Shari'a in place of French laws, Muslim youth are not flocking to "green fascism," to train for jihad, moderate Muslims have not been marginalized, and French Muslims don't take their orders from Saudi Arabia. In support of his objections, however, our reviewer offers only that the authors mingle the "genuinely troublesome with the overplayed and the wholly non-problematic."

Yes, Belton concedes, acts of anti-Semitic violence have risen considerably—the hate fueling the acts of aggression is spread by Saudi proselytes and acted on mostly by Maghrebian Muslims. Also true is that a majority of French prison inmates are now adherents of the religion of peace. That Algerian and Moroccan governments exert considerable influence over local mosques and that 95 percent of French Imams come from abroad is equally accurate. All this is "potentially troublesome," but, on second thought, not so much. The French "intelligentsia" still believes fears about the rapid transformation of their society are "overplayed and … wholly non-problematic." I mean, doesn't the Vatican select France's bishops? Then why shouldn't foreign governments select "French" Imams?

Like all liberals or neoconservatives, our reviewer twists like a Cirque du Soleil contortionist to depict his countrymen as having failed to accommodate "the oppressed." You see, a popular humbug, repeated by the Bush/Blair pair, and their ideological acolytes in France, is that aggression is a symptom of oppression for which the putative oppressor should be blamed, not the aggressor. French Muslims endure untold oppression. Consider: "Nuns do not have to remove their headscarves for passport or driver's license photographs; Muslim women do." France's holidays are largely saints' days. School cafeterias serve fish on Fridays. French restaurants still serve wine and pork. Likewise French souvenir shops peddle porcelain pigs. Oh the indignities! As one smart sort (his name, but not his words, escapes me) once said: "Had Muslim women in the West been living in the Islamic world, it would be liberalization and not the hijab they'd be campaigning for."

Not unlike our own, the French intelligentsia, with Nicolas Sarkozy in the lead, has plenty solutions to the oppressed-cum-aggressive Muslims in their midst. Described as a "charismatic politician cast from the post-ideological mould of Blair and Clinton," "Super Sarko" wants an Islam that's more French, more mod. His book, La Republique, Les Religions, L'esperance (Republic, Religions, Hope), proposes to achieve such a thing with dollops of dhimitude, beginning with state funding for mosques. Such assistance (or baksheesh) is likely, says Sarko, to encourage "an indigenous French Islam."

Since "the State finances thousands of cultural associations, sporting clubs and other groups, why should religious associations not receive any aid," Sarkozy asks. Where have I heard that before? Not from Bill Clinton. The Fabians in the White House and their friends at Fox News were first to beat that drum. They've long since supported funneling taxpayer funds to faith-based organizations. Left-liberals or neoconservatives: telling them apart is becoming harder with every dirigiste deed.

* Lawrence Auster translated.

  ©2005 By Ilana Mercer
   Free-Market News Network
   October 28



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