Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Un Pain au Chocolat-France, increasingly divided.

France is in deep trouble. As I blogged yesterday, this country has spent several billions of Euros over the past 11 years sending its troops, planes and ships, to join the War against Terrorism in Central Asia. Now, however, the French are finally discovering the threat of radical Islam is at home, under their own noses. 

According to a poll in today’s centre-right Figaro, 82% of the 44,000 French questioned fear an increase in Islamic terrorism in France. Provoking this fear, sensational headlines about a network of 12 jihadis—converted in overcrowded French prisons—and rounded up by police over the past few days.  
But, more serious, than the threat of radical Islam is the fact that France is menaced by mounting racial tensions stoked by extremists on both sides.

I discussed the rise of radical Islam among France’s five million Muslims in previous blogs. An equally alarming development is that, on the other side, Islamophobes are  also on the rise.

This past weekend, one of the most prominent of Nicolas Sarkozy’s former ministers, Jean-Francois Cope, who is campaigning to become leader of his party, the UMP, , made headlines with the story of a good “French” working class family, whose son, as he was leaving school, had his pain au chocolat ripped from his hands by “a young punk”  (obviously Muslim) who told the distraught little boy he had no right to be eating during the Muslim fast of Ramadan.

Overnight, the little French boy losing his pain au chocolat to a brutish Muslim kid has, in the eyes of many French, become a symbol of what’s really wrong with this country.
 It’s also become endlessly discussed on French television.

On the Grand Journal last night, one of the commentators, Jean Michel Aphatie, pointed out that, if you check the dates of Ramadan –which was in the summer for the past couple of years--there’s no way this incident could have recently happened, if it did happen at all.

In any case, as Aphatie pointed out, Cope’s views are far from original. He presented a video of former French President Jacques Chirac, delivering a stunningly crude anti Arab/Mulsim diabtribe at a banquet in Orleans in 1991: 

Imagine, said Chirac, a working man, who together with his wife makes 15,000 francs a year, and is sitting on the landing of his little flat and sees across from him, on the same landing another “head of a family with three or four wives and twenty kids, who, naturally without working, is making 50,000 francs a year--from welfare.

“You add to that,” said the President of France, “the noise--and the smell--and the French worker goes crazy.”

The only difference between Cope and Chirac, suggested, Jean-Michel Apathie, was that Chirac was probably a little drunk at the time.

Indeed, here in Paris, my wife is constantly being forwarded some astonishingly blunt  racist videos--from well meaning friends. Like one received today, that apparently originated with a Catholic professional, we know, an educated, upper class man; who sent it to another Jewish friend of ours, also charming and highly educated; who forwarded it to us:

It’s called “Les Envahisseurs” and is a dubbed takeoff of the science fiction series, The Invaders, from the Sixties. While the original series dealt with evil creatures from another star system trying to take over the earth, this modified version substitutes the intergalactic villains with, of course, the Muslims in France.

They’re fomenting jihad, taking over the streets with their prayers, demanding that schools serve only hallal meat. When the hero turns for help to the authorities, he finds that it’s too late—they too are Muslims!

The furor over Cope’s pain au chocolat tale was still on the mid-day TV news today in Paris.
-We watched as France’s Prime Minister proclaimed his determination to go after all forms of “extremism.”

On the same show there was also video of hundreds of outraged French workers, whose jobs are at risk because of factory shutdowns, being blocked by riot police from entering the lustrous automobile show currently going on in Paris. One of the factories being shut down is Peugeot.

-The TV news also had live coverage of French President Holland presenting his plan to totally overhaul France’s creaking education system. Unemployment among French under 25 is 23%.

After the President had finished, one expert interviewed on the news show asked, with the government having to drastically cut back its budget, where the money for reform would come.

As he was talking, a crawl ran across the bottom of the screen, a bulletin about the round up members of the internal investigation unit of the Marseilles police. Turns out 19 of them have been hauled in, targets themselves of corruption charges.

-One bright spot:  A sponsor of the TV News today was the French Justice Ministry, with a major job offer: they’re looking for more prison guards.

 Meanwhile, some 1200 French troops remain in Central Asia, continuing to support the “War on Terrorism.”


  1. Barry, I believe there IS a threat, and it's growing.

    What about the kosher shop that was vandalized?
    And the synagogue that was firebombed one recent Saturday night?

    France has long suffered under the stigma of being anti-semitic, but the anti-semites now are the French Muslims.

    If they had to chose between Jews and Muslims, I'm sure the French would choose the Jews. But I fear the Muslim anti-semitism may start to infect the French.

    And, it is shocking that (Islamic) imams are proselytizing young French prison inmates. Where are the priests who should be putting these punks on the straight and narrow?

  2. I've just read your article on counterpunch and I sincerly agree with what you wrote. I live in Belgium and as a native french speaker I follow the situation in France which is the same as here in Belgium. I live among muslims and I know how many islamic "divisions" ready to threaten our well beloved civilization there are : none. Most of what is shown on television are just trivial news events that should be treated as such in a decent peaceful democratic society. Unfortunately we don't live in such a society and , as you wrote, the french politics, as the belgian one, is poisoned with islamophobic paranoia.
    Actually, that's not the reason why I wrote this comment. I have indeed a great disagreement about the sketch "Les envahisseurs" which is a famous 20 years old sketch from "Les inconnus". It is very funy and not islamophobic at all, on the contrary, it's a parody of islamophobia. Had you watched this sketch until the end, you would have noticed that the "aliens" became japanese with the end line "on va tous les niquer" ("we'll screw them all")

  3. Sorry, it's me again, the original sketch from les inconnus is this one : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOlhv7s2-mE and not the distorted one you posted as a link to your article.

  4. There is no threat against France from Islam - or Islamists. This is all political exaggeration. I have watched these same French news programs from next-door Geneva, and I am outraged that Vichy-style French politicians are scapegoating Muslims. Let us not forget that Copé is himself a Jew, and he is joined by other Jewish politico intellectuals such as B-H Levy and Alain Fienkelraut in accusing Muslims for all the troubles in France. The former Jewish victims have now become the accusers and are acting on behalf of the Jewish Lobby in defense of Israel. In the case of the most recent roundups, the culprits are simple French born delinquents who use the cover of Islam to justify their discontents.

    @ J.Z.Shore: You should know better. I can cite as many Mosques and hallal shops that have been vandalized as synagogues and kosher shops.

  5. Gene Schulman sees the "Jewish Lobby" everywhere, under Hollande's bed, hanging Israeli flags from the Arc de Triumphe and even probably secretly infecting France's world famous exported bottled water. Schulman is in denial about the Saudi Arabian financed (for more than four decades) wahabi movement that wants to restore the caliphate in Europe. Maybe a naysayer should start by asking Schulman to explain religious freedom and tolerance in the Arabian pennisula. Could be interesting.

    Arthur Lieber, Gland, Switzerland

  6. Poor Art Lieber has an obsession with wahabism. They contribute nothing to Islamism other than to keep Saudi Arabia a conservative, closed fundamental society. They have no influence beyond their borders, and are zero threat to the US or other western countries. The rest of Lieber's screed is a non sequetur.

  7. Take notice that in the naysayer tradition, Gene Schulman ducks the question of religious tolerance in the Arabian penninsula. No influence beyond their borders he claims for the the wahabis. Explain, dear sir how, with Bush family-blessed Saudi oil money the wahabis managed to set up a web of masadas in Pakistan to poison that country's youth and incite them to jihad against unshaven westerners. Matter fact , look no father than the humiliating, but revealing photo of the president of the United States bowing to the wahabi Saudi king. ( bowing, as in ring kissing, better known in Bush family oil circles as ass-kissing). A zero threat to US and other western countries. Well, when the dark questions surrounding 9/11 ever get sorted out, maybe the wahabi role will be become clearer. Matter of fact on some special days, in tribute to the very folks Schulman claims have no indluence beyond their borders, a blue and white Palestinan flag flutters from Schulman's Geneva balcony daring the Swiss police to wonder if the white man with the beard could be a sleeper.

    1. No comment to such stupidity. Has nothing to do with the issue at question.

  8. Hello Mr Lando

    Love your blog

    I like your articles that are posted in Counterpunch

    Wondering if you can read french

    If you do, this is the link for the number one website for Islamic social, political and theological editorials and analyses out there:


    Its heavily left leaning in the third world solidarity and french universal spirit and its a bit sufi inspired.

    Anyways, its been around since 1999 and no other website from french islam gets as much trafic as they do.

    They've been under heavy attack from BHL to Copé to Caroline Fourest, Eric Zemmour and all the mainstream media islamophobes.

    Anyways, I think you understand I'm not proselytizing here, just suggesting a source of info where educated french muslims freely communicate their usually well researched and scholarly opinions and analysis...

    Keep posting those great articles, I'll keep reading you (mostly) on Counterpunch.

    Thank and good night


    Karim B., Montreal

    1. Thanks Karim..sorry I took so long to get back. Yes, i read French...I"ll check out your site. If you like my blog, appreciate it you pass it on to your friends.

  9. To my mind this is exactly what I call a good article! Do you run this site for your private joy exclusively or you still use it profit wise?

  10. Thanks --i run this for my own interest...also contribute to other sites such as the Huffington Post and Counterpunch.

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