‘Why France is burning’ – Melanie Phillips explains

French riot police (4)“Nicolas Sarkozy, the tough-minded Interior Minister, has been blamed for inflaming the situation by his uncompromising language. French policy in general has been blamed for herding poor Arabs into suburban ghettoes where they have been left to fester in high unemployment and poverty. The disturbances are thus being portrayed as race riots caused by official discrimination and insensitivity.

“But this is a gross misreading of the situation. It is far more profound and intractable. What we are seeing is, in effect, a French intifada: an uprising by French Muslims against the state….

“M. Sarkozy and the police are determined to take back the streets. The Muslims are equally determined to keep territory they feel they have conquered from the French state…. For more than twenty years France’s Muslim areas have been out of control. Indeed, they only turned into Muslim ghettoes in the first place because Muslim violence and harassment forced everyone else out…. The fact is that French Muslims want to be segregated. The ghettoes are a way of ensuring a separate Islamic existence without having to assimilate into French society….

“This is all bound up with the erosion of national identities across Europe. This has affected even France, once a ferocious proponent of French culture which was imposed through a centralised schools system, a strong police force and national military service…. Banning the hijab (Islamic headscarf) in schools represented a flickering of the old national certainty as France sniffed the danger that had arisen in its midst. But it was too little, and maybe too late.

“Even now Britain, France and the rest of Europe are still in varying stages of denial over Muslim unrest. Reluctant even to admit that religion is central to this phenomenon, they look instead for ways to blame themselves and use the insult of ‘Islamophobia’ to shut down debate. The warning for us from the disturbing events in France could not be clearer. We must end the ruinous doctrine of multiculturalism and reassert British identity….”

Mad Mel rants on.

Daily Mail, 7 November 2005

For a contrary view – which is based on interviews with the youth involved in the disturbances, as distinct from Phillips generating Islamophobic fantasies out of her own head – see Molly Moore’s piece in the Washington Post, 6 November 2005