For French President François Hollande, the enemy is an abstraction: “terrorism” or “fanatics”.
“We are on the verge of a civil war.” That quote did not come from a fanatic or a lunatic. No, it came from head of France’s homeland security, the DGSI (Direction générale de la sécurité intérieure), Patrick Calvar. He has, in fact, spoken of the risk of a civil war many times. On July 12th, he warned a commission of members of parliament, in charge of a survey about the terrorist attacks of 2015, about it.
|French police shoot dead a Tunisian-born Islamist terrorist who murdered 84 people in Nice, France, July 14, 2016. (Image source: Sky News video screenshot)|
In May 2016, he delivered almost the same message to another commission of members of parliament, this time in charge of national defense. “Europe,” he said, “is in danger. Extremism is on the rise everywhere, and we are now turning our attention to some far-right movements who are preparing a confrontation”.
What kind of confrontation? “Intercommunity confrontations,” he said — polite for “a war against Muslims.” “One or two more terrorist attacks,” he added, “and we may well see a civil war.”
In February 2016, in front of a senate commission in charge of intelligence information, he saidagain: ” We are looking now at far-right extremists who are just waiting for more terrorist attacks to engage in violent confrontation”.
No one knows if the truck terrorist, who plowed into the July 14th Bastille Day crowd in Nice and killed more than 80 people, will be the trigger for a French civil war, but it might help to look at what creates the risk of one in France and other countries, such as Germany or Sweden.
The main reason is the failure of the state.
France is the main target of repeated Islamist attacks; the more important Islamist terrorist bloodbaths took place at the magazine Charlie Hebdo and the Hypercacher supermarket of Vincennes (2015); the Bataclan Theater, its nearby restaurants and the Stade de France stadium, (2015); the failed attack on the Thalys train; the beheading of Hervé Cornara (2015); the assassination of two policemen in Magnanville in June (2016), and now the truck-ramming in Nice, on the day commemorating the French Revolution of 1789.
Most of those attacks were committed by French Muslims: citizens on their way back from Syria (the Kouachi brothers at Charlie Hebdo), or by French Islamists (Larossi Abballa who killed a police family in Magnanville in June 2016) who later claimed their allegiance to Islamic State (ISIS). The truck killer in Nice was Tunisian but married to a French woman, whith whom he had three children together, and lived quietly in Nice until he decided to murder more than 80 people and wound dozens more.
After each of these tragic episodes President François Hollande refused to name the enemy, refused to name Islamism — and especially refused to name French Islamists — as the enemy of French citizens.
For Hollande, the enemy is an abstraction: “terrorism” or “fanatics”. Even when the president does dare to name “Islamism” the enemy, he refuses to say he will close all Salafist mosques, prohibit the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist organizations in France, or ban veils for women in the street and at university. No, instead, the French president reaffirms his determination for military actions abroad: “We are going to reinforce our actions in Syria and Iraq,” the presidentsaid after the Nice attack.
For France’s president, the deployment of soldiers in the homeland is for defensive actions only: a deterrent policy, not an offensive rearmament of the Republic against an internal enemy.
So confronted with this failure by our elite — who were elected to guide the country through national and international dangers — how astonishing is it if paramilitary groups are organizing themselves to retaliate?
As Mathieu Bock-Côté, a sociologist in France and Canada, says in Le Figaro:
“Western elites, with a suicidal obstinacy, oppose naming the enemy. Confronted by attacks in Brussels or Paris, they prefer to imagine a philosophical fight between democracy and terrorism, between an open society and fanaticism, between civilization and barbarism”.
Yves Mamou, based in France, worked for two decades as a journalist for Le Monde.
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