France is not in a battle with Muslims or Islam, but since the battle of Poitiers France sees itself as the defender of European civilization.
At Poitiers, the Armies of the Caliph were defeated by the French because the army foolishly brought with them their women and kids who were in the rear of the army. The French spies discovered that the Muslim soldiers feared for their families in the rear. So of course they fell upon the women and kids with sword in hand.
The soldiers of the Caliph turned in disarray to defend their women and kids and in that chaotic rush to save their families; they too were attacked and defeated as a military force.
However, this was not the end of Islam in France. Islam continued to exist for a couple of hundred years in the south of France (See Muslim colonies in France, Switzerland and Northern Italy by Joseph Toussaint Renaud (an English translation was published in India).
Why do French Muslims matter?
The fact that there are some 5 million Muslims in France today, the largest Muslim population in Europe, makes what happens in France of interest to all. France believes in an assimilation policy for migrants who come to France. Not in multiculturalism. France however does not want to practice assimilation.
The Arabs in France live in poor sink estates on the outskirts of Paris. Girls cannot wear head scarves in school. Wearing head scarves in State buildings is not permitted. Jobs are hard to come by for North African Arabs/Berbers.
Recently, the European Court of Human Rights has found that the head scarf ban does not violate the right to practice your beliefs. Now if that is not a judgment which is not irrational, then pigs can fly.
In this climate of tension, just as in the USA, police brutality frequently rears its head and North African kids get killed.
The legacy of crusades and how it affects France today
The writer and thinker Mohammed Asad has said in his books Islam at the Crossroads and The Road to Mecca that the European man never considers Islam rationally, like they would Hinduism or Buddhism and for that reason there is a barrier to reflecting upon Islam with objectivity.
This is because Europeans see Islam through the eyes of European cultural history and ensnare Islam with the reservoir of deep dislike dating back to crusades. One can understand that the French with their historical celebration of Poitiers as a great victory over the 'Moors' have a big hang up over Islam. In this context there is frequently little sympathy by the French state for why riots by minority youths have happened.
The cartoonists and their role in rubbing salt in the wounds of Muslims
If in Ferguson today, a cartoonist vilified Martin Luther King or Malcolm X as deranged black fanatics with bombs in their turbans can we predict what will happen? These French cartoonists were waving a red flag to a sorely discriminated against community.
While violence is never justified and loss of life is a cause of deep regret, I do consider the deaths of the four cartoonists to amount to an occupational hazard akin to that suffered by a Bull Ring fighter who is gored, or some deranged terrorist who is making a bomb and succeeds in blowing his/herself to the smithereens.
Yes you may say but there are successful North African females who have managed to climb the ladder into French ministerial positions. Indeed, they have not kept much of their Islamic culture, are often attractive and thoroughly assimilated with nothing but a Muslim name and dark face to show their immigrant origins.
The Wests journey from Omarska to Guantanamo
We, in our times, have drifted from Omarska to Guantanamo in the so called war against terror that really stirs up all sorts of hatred against Muslim communities and leads to Muslim baiting.
Let us be honest and agree that this is what those cartoonists were doing, they were on a fool’s errand and the social bomb they were making blew up in their faces.
I regret the loss of lives, particularly the police officers who had to look after and protect such cartoonists. This issue has nothing to do with free speech but about how France treats its minorities. This issue is an issue not for France alone or those countries with a Muslim minority but for all countries with any type of disenfranchised minority.
Writers seek not power like a politician, but a writer’s power comes from the written word of the truth, al haq. The greatest jihad is to speak the truth in front of a dictator.
Sadly, in the world that we live in, even with the window dressing of democracy, inequality, racism and the ugliness of fascist marches against Muslims in Germany presage an era of new intolerance.
My admiration for altruists of faith or no faith and British Society
I admire all those altruistic people who stand by Minorities whether they be ordinary members of the public, who support Muslim women wearing head scarves as per the Australian example or brave lawyers like those in reprieve who support the persecuted.
I take my hats off to all those, in this brave new world of ours, who recognize that living together involves a bit of give and take and mutual respect. That is why I love Britain. We have a slightly better society than France where it is not all rosy but certainly we can practice Islam unlike in France.
France used and abused its minorities
The French welcomed the Muslims to join their armies during the first and Second World War. At the battle of Monte Cassino when the German paratroops upon the mount could not be shifted, A French officer suggested that the best people to do the job would be Berber troops. And yes the Berbers put the Germans to flight where all the other allied forces could not.
Let France with its bloody violent campaigns in the 1960s during the war of independence remember the sacrifices made for French freedom during the 1940s and give its Muslim citizens their due.
The way forward
Let the writers and thinkers and professionals rise up and speak out in the audience chambers of the oppressors which would surely be more in line with the noble teachings of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh).
Social media and news media allow us to do this with ease. Let us all work together Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Gay, Atheist for our common good and for the good of the planet in a true spirit of humanity.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Afghan Zariza’s editorial policy. The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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26th Oct 2017
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