It’s a familiar phenomenon in our world today, defining one’s identity in negative terms or in opposition to a perceived “outside” and “otherized” threat. Take the Right-wing’s playing up and trotting out self-described “ex-liberals,” or Islamophobes in the looniverse championing so-called “ex-terrorists” — these labels are the way these individuals most wish to be identified we are told!
In Europe a segment of the population in search of identity cannot reconcile itself with a world that is transforming, a world in which their fellow citizens come from different backgrounds and follow different religions. Europe’s second largest religion, Islam, a faith that has been an integrated reality on the continent for 1300 years is still described by this hostile group as the unacceptable “other.” Signs and symbols of integration such as the construction of mosques, participation in public life, academics, politics and sports is too often viewed with intolerable suspicion and irrational fear.
“The moooslims! they’re heere!”
Many of the Muslims who immigrated to Europe over the past 50 years did so with the support of their former colonial overlords. The “mainland” needed cheap labor, and so Muslims from Turkey and former colonies such as Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan were part of a wave of immigrants invited to live and work in countries that they would come to adopt as their homes.
Take France for example, a European nation in which scapegoating Islam and its Muslim populace whenever it’s convenient is commonplace. A country that has divisive national debates about Islam (that largely don’t include Muslim citizens), bans the niqab, forbids hijabs in public schools, focuses on “Islam” when violence flares in the suburbs, often stereotypes and denigrate’s Muslims and Islam in the media, and doesn’t take rising Islamophobic anti-Muslim sentiment and violence seriously.
This from a nation that only 60 years ago was committing genocide against Algerian Muslims, killing between 700,000-1.5 million Algerian Muslims (not including systematic torture and rape). Resistance activists to colonial rule were seen by French generals like Marcel Biegard as “savages.”
Now it seems the genocidal and hateful predilections of only a few generations ago are resurfacing with a subset of hardcore “nationalists” becoming increasingly unhinged and confrontational against France’s Muslim minority. Take the recent assault on a mosque in Poitiers by a group called “Generation Identitaire” (Generation of National Identity), claiming to follow in the footsteps of Charles Martel (I guess we should be thankful they are not referencing the likes of Biegard or Marshall Bugeaud–yet).
In a height of irony hundreds of fascists took to the streets in Paris today, November 10th, to protest the misnomer known as “Islamofascism.” Fascism of course had its origins in 19th and 20th century Europe. “Islamofascism” is a neologism that is the propagandistic creation of Islamophobes and in this instance is nothing but twisted projection on the part of a group dubbing itself “Republican Resistance.”
The AP article below on the protest march by Republican Resistance is substandard, note that they don’t term the group or its motivations, ‘expelling Islam’ as extremist. They also soften the purpose of Republican Resistance’s march by describing it as a demonstration against “Islamist extremism.” I wonder how much the AP, usually a reliable source, reviews what it writes anymore, considering its own report shows that it is not “Islamist extremism” that is being protested by the rank and file of Republican Resistance but rather ”the religion of Islam” and what they are advocating is nothing less than its eradication from France.
Golly jee, I wonder how you get rid of Islam in France? Oh yes, by expelling and or otherwise repressing its 6 million adherents!
PARIS (AP) — Hundreds of French nationalists have demonstrated in Paris against Islamist extremism, chanting the French anthem and saying the religion has no place in the country.
Protester Romain Cyiril says, ‘‘France was always a welcoming country, but for the first time we have to deal with a religion which can’t and doesn’t want to integrate itself.’’
Three weeks ago, dozens of far-right French activists stormed an unfinished mosque to protest immigration policies that have made France home to Western Europe’s largest population of Muslims. There are an estimated 5 million or more Muslims in this nation of 65 million, although under French law the government does not track religion.
The French government has denounced anti-Islam extremists.
Saturday’s protest was organized by a nationalist group called the Republican Resistance.
Update: (h/t: Bob) “Résistance Républicaine, the organisation behind the demonstration, was set up by Riposte Laïque, whose founder Pierre Cassen is a former member of the Communist Party and the Trotskyist LCR. The leader of Résistance Républicaine is Christine Tasin, who was once a member of Jean-Pierre Chevènement’s socialist Mouvement républicain et citoyen.
Last year the French media publicised the case of Fabien Engelmann, an official in the CGT trade union confederation who had a long history on the far left, first in Lutte Ouvrière and then in the Nouveau parti anti-capitaliste. Engelmann left the NPA in 2010 in protest at its decision to stand a hijab-wearing Muslim woman, Ilham Moussaida, as its candidate in a regional council election. Englemann and his supporters reorganised around Riposte Laïque, which promoted him as a hero of secularism. He then joined the Front National and is now a member of its political bureau.
Saturday’s Résistance Républicaine demonstration was backed by a range of Islamophobic groups, most of them from the far right – the Mouvement national républicain for example and the FN-supporting Union des Français juifs. However, another supporting organisation was the Cercle Laicité et République Sociale, which still claims to be part of the left.
What Riposte Laïque and Résistance Républicaine exemplify is the way in which the dogmatic hardline secularism that predominates on the French left has disoriented some of its activists to the point where they have abandoned left-wing politics and made common cause with the far right on the basis of a shared hatred of Islam.”