Friday, July 15, 2016

Le navire glissant sur les gouffres amers…


“Why France?” The question is once again posed.

“Because hundreds of French nationals from Muslim background went to fight for the Islamic State in Syria.” Comes the usual answer, which begs the question.   

“But why did hundreds of French nationals from Muslim background go to fight for the Islamic State in Syria?” The follow-up question that needs to be posed but seldom is.

“Would the attraction of ideology have proven so irresistible to so many had they been satisfied with their lot at home.” Another such follow-up question.

Other such questions:

Ideology attracts the repulsed. So why do so many Muslims in France feel repulsed today? Is Islam, be it as a system of faith or a repository of identity, still the problem here? Or are there other or additional factors involved – factors that have more to do with the realities of life in modern France than religious faith?

Answering these questions call for an open debate involving all, one that needs to delve much deeper into the issues than the current discourse. But, and as we seek answers, it is clear that the battle against terrorism has to be fought on multiple fronts.

Delving deeper into the issues means that pointing out the extreme nature of French laïcité as a possible culprit is insufficient, as most of the terrorists involved in the attacks over the last couple of years did not seem to be practicing Muslims for most of their lives, and right until they decided to embark on their fateful course. In other words, they didn’t seem to be particularly offended by the country’s laïceté. The source and nature of their disenchantment with French society and polity seems to have its roots elsewhere. We should be looking for these roots.

But it important to note here that disenchantment came before radicalization and was conducive to it, because the political system didn’t seem to offer a legitimate channel to it.