Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald considers the question of whether the rioting in France presents a problem that can really be solved by ameliorating the lot of Muslims there, by considering the case of Algeria:
From 1830 to 1962 the French ruled in Algeria. They had arrived to finally put paid to the attacks by Muslim corsairs on Christian shipping. In Algeria, they introduced modern agriculture. They allowed the humiliated and degraded Jews, through the loi Cremieux, to become French citizens and hence free from Muslim laws, humiliation, and degradation. They established schools and the French language and universities — real universities. Some of the best French Orientalists lived in Algeria, and published their works in Algeria — Emile Fagnan comes to mind. Whatever civilization Algeria came to possess, was the direct result of the French conquest and settlement and civilizing mission in Algeria.
What is Algeria like today? The last Christian religious, a group of Italian, and another group of French monks, exercising their vocation of charity and never attempting to be missionaries, all had their throats slit. The French cemeteries all over Algeria have been vandalized; the tombstones taken, the bones unearthed and thrown about — they are, after all, merely the remains of Infidels, and deserve no respect. A succession of juntas, consisting of corrupt despots and their courtiers, with the odd supposed technocrat, continue to rule without end. Terrorism racks the country, terrorism and corruption and, despite the vast oil and gas deposits, poverty. Nor is there a single “Algerian” people, any more than there is a single “Iraqi” people. Arab cultural and linguistic oppression of the Berbers causes riots years ago in Tizi-Ouzou and elsewhere in the Kabyle, and finally, the continued unrest led the Arabs to grant one concession: no longer would speaking the Berber language, Tamizaght, be a punishable offense. But the forced arabization has not stopped. The Berber writer Kateb Yacine, who refused to write in Arabic but chose French, was not the only Berber intellectual who recognized that Islam was the vehicle for Arab supremacist ideology. The Berbers, like the Kurds, have learned that, some so well that they have managed to see Islam itself in a new, unflattering light.
No one of sense now visits Algeria; no one of sense, if forced to visit, would wish to stay longer. A few French born in Algeria may dare to cross the Mediterranean, la mer blanche du midi, nostalgic for a now non-existent civilization that they dimly or vividly remembered from their childhood, before 1962 and their hurried flight for France.
The French presence in Algeria, that past, that culture, that 132-year interregnum of civilization between two Muslim darknesses, need not be apologized for, and the amends the French may once have thought they needed to make, they’ve made. They owe the Algerians, the Moroccans, the Tunisians, the world of Islam, nothing further. And if their ruling elites contain many who have ignored, or pooh-poohed the menace of, or chosen to be apologists for, Islam, out of ignorance, stupidity (when you read Olivier Roy or Gilles Kepel you have the proof that la bÃªtise s’est mise Ã penser) — if they continue to make amends by casually undoing the civilization of Chamfort and La Fontaine for beur hip-hop and the praise of Dalil Boubakeur, then something is very wrong. Amends that were never required in the first place have been made. It has been enough. It has been more than enough. Now essentially what is being asked of France is that it change its laws, its customs, its manners, its everything that Muslims do not like, that they find irksome or insulting or that frustrate them.
France is told it must become a new thing, no longer France but a place for a new “synthesis” of Islam and Europe. What this means is that Europe, and not-Europe, Europe and its negative, Europe whether Christian or freethinking, and its historic enemy and opposite, the belief-system that offers Believers a Complete Regulation of Daily Life and a Total Explanation of the Universe, all for the same spiritual price in the same handy book-shaped container — are somehow to meld, and produce some strange amalgam that, of course, is completely impossible. For Believers know that there is no such thing as “European” or “French” Islam but only Islam, and that Islam must dominate and is not to be dominated, and if they just wait, Da’wa and overbreeding at the expense of Infidel governments will do the rest.
Giving up Algerie franÃ§aise was not enough. Now France must become algerienne, maghrebine, islamique in pockets, and then finally, ultimately, everywhere. No, it doesn’t. France owes the Arabs, and Islam, in and out of France, exactly nothing.
When Chirac visited Algeria, mobs besieged him chanting: “Visa, visa.” It seems ironic now that the world has decided that the French have been beastly to their Muslim immigrants, but it’s true. Who, in his right mind, would not prefer to live in France rather than Algeria? Algeria is no longer Algerie franÃ§aise, as the car horns of its defenders used to toot in French cities during the days of General Salan, and that assassination attempt in Clamart, and the harkis, and Pontecorvo’s absurd movie (a favorite of campuses) about the wonderful fight of the FLN against the bad bad French. See, if you can find, what the eminent anthropologist of Mexico, who worked for the French government in France, Jacques Soustelle, has written of that period.
Well, the “winds of change” blew through Algeria all right. The line of succession, from FLN to corrupt army leaders, continues to rule. And as always, the vehicle for extreme protest in any Muslim country will always be — Islam. Nothing but Islam.
If Algeria did not have gas and oil deposits, it would sink into nothing. For even as one of the beneficiaries of the largest transfer of wealth in human history (8-10 trillion dollars to the Muslim oil states since 1973), Algeria, like Iran, like Saudi Arabia, like the sheikhdoms, is amazing not for what it has achieved with all that money, the result of no effort on the part of its people, but how little it has achieved.
It took a kind of genius in reverse to make a mess with all that money. But the Muslim states proved equal to the task. If you seek Islam’s monument, look at Iran, look at “Saudi” Arabia, look especially at the once-civilized place that is now called Algeria.
And today, the most telling reply to those who wonder about the root causes of the low economic achievement by Muslims in Algeria and now in France, and indeed everywhere, is to ask what it is about Islam that might explain it. What blend of inculcated hostility toward Infidels and of inshallah-fatalism might be responsible for whatever supposed travails the Muslims in France, Muslims in Belgium, Muslims in Spain, Muslims in Italy, Muslims in the United Kingdom, Muslims in Germany all experience? (Of course, in the latter case, Turkish immigrants have had a life-saving early immersion program in Turkish secularism, so that even if they “return to Islam” they still have not lived under its full mental burden.) Might such hostility be ill-concealed, or not concealed at all, and therefore might Infidels not respond, after a while, in kind?
If even after the receipt of $8-10 trillion in OPEC money, unmerited, unearned, sous-sol manna from Heaven, Arab and Muslim countries have nowhere managed to create modern economies, and still rely almost completely (as Saudi Arabia does), or nearly completely (as the sheikdoms do), or only partly (as Iraq does, and Iran did), on Western professionals, Western know-how, Western workers at the top and Asian workers at the bottom, then perhaps there is something about Islam itself that causes this. Perhaps there is something in the kinds of attitudes Islam fosters, the contempt for many kinds of work, that is simply beneath Muslims but not beneath Infidels, apparently, and then of course there is the habit of discouraging independent thought and free and skeptical inquiry that is essential to science, and to more than science, and this kind of mental submission and lack of imagination and indifference and incuriosity about how things work, and how they are created and how they can be made better (though Muslims en masse display a willingness to accept, like the members of a cargo-cult, the technological fruits of Western science), so often (not always, but often) prevents the kind of entrepreneurial activity and industry that not only the West, but the entire Rest of the non-Islamic world, appears to have little difficulty engaging in, encouraging, appreciating.
Islam creates Believers who are the Odd Men Out of the World yet believe the World belongs to them. It is they, those Believers in Islam, who demand that superior civilizations transform themselves in order to be more welcoming to Islam, to give up its own laws, customs, understandings, to transform themselves so as to become more welcoming of Islam and of Believers. It is they, the Muslims, and only they, who insist on their divine right to domination of the world and of all the Infidels in it, wherever they may live, and no matter what the particular brand of Infidels those Infidels might be. The demand to end Algerie francaise, a place that once brought temporary civilization to the uncivilized turned out not to be enough. As the Maghreb countres became independent and returned to their local lords of misrule and their former squalor, maghrebins themselves sought to leave and, without recognizing that what was wrong with their own countries could be traced to Islam itself (how could they), they insisted on bringing Islam with them in their mental baggage, undeclared and overlooked by the French officials, and settled in France, determined to remain, determined more and more not to give up the belief-system that offered solace even as it was the source of their inability to adjust, their inability to think clearly, to encourage the faculty of critical self-scrutiny or free and skeptical inquiry, and settled into the sour hatred of the Infidels that was preached in the mosques, and that in any case pervaded, and pervades, Muslim societies, groups, familiies. Inculcated hatred of Infidels, hatred of their ways, their laws, of everything about them because they are Infidels, did not disappear: in fact, with the welfare state, there was no need to break one’s back in labor, and there was plenty of time to consider the perfidy of those same Infidels.
And now they are in France, in millions more than the government will admit, and the government still refuses to look deeply into Islam, relying instead on the wily and untrustworthy Boubakeur, and the less wily, more gullible “Islam experts” who think at the level of Olivier Roy and Gilles Kepel — the blind leading the blind.
And now the demand is no longer for the French to leave Algeria, but for the French to leave, in a sense, their own France: to accede to the demands to transform it, and to do nothing to preserve it as it has been, with its own history, literature, laws, customs, manners, understandings. Mere demography, it is insisted, is destiny — and cannot in any way be tampered with. The Czechs may have overnight expelled 3 million Sudeten Germans because of a security risk, but the French are not allowed to even mention the very idea of expulsion.
This is the demand, express and implied: the civilization of France must change, the order of things must change, to make it in every respect Islam-friendly, and willing to submit to Muslim demands, Muslim needs, Muslim resentment that Muslims do not have their rightful — their superior — place in the scheme of things. Infidels have traditionally paid a jizyah to Muslims in Muslim-ruled societies. In France, for now, the Muslims will be willing, like those in Malaysia, to accept a disguised jizyah — the jizyah of endless aid, endless government support, endless tolerance for Muslim disruption of schoools and workplaces and street life and everything else that can be disrupted.
And meanwhile, a superior civilization is required to dilute itself, to succumb to an inferior one, and nothing is supposed to be done, or even hinted at, that might prevent the continued incredible rise in Muslim nmbers, in Muslim power, in the growing Muslim will to dominate, and to make France, something that is not France, but something that trades what remains of Chamfort’s “perfected civilization,” for a mess of pottage — crude verlan, beur hip-hop, the muezzin’s wail, the minarets rising everywhere — that pottage being a nearly unrecognizable place that could be called la France algerienne. The mission civilisatrice in reverse. That is in essence what is being demanded.
How silly, how stubborn, how unreasonable for the rest of us not to be enthusiastic about this promised splendid synthesis of “Islam” and “Europe,” beginning with “Islam” and “France.” Tariq Ramadan approves, Olivier Roy, D. de V. all seem to find the idea plausible. idea. And they, of course, are the kind of people one should surely trust. But for some reason they cannot quite describe in the slightest detail, or indeed with any detail at all, what this “synthesis” between “Islam” and “Europe” would look like.
Sorry, the Infidels in France, and not only in France, must insist — sorry we can’t be more accommodating. But that’s the way it’s going to be.