La nature du terrorisme russe est désormais évidente, il n’y a plus de place pour des revendications qu’aucun mal n’ait été fait. J’estime que votre initiative de placer entre des mains russes des années plus tôt la bombe nucléaire avant que nos meilleurs savants ne prévoient que la Russie la perfectionnerait, a déjà causé, à mon avis, l’agression communiste en Corée, avec les pertes dépassant 50.000 et qui sait, si des millions de personnes innocentes supplémentaires ne paieront pas le prix de votre trahison. En effet, par votre trahison vous avez sans doute modifié le cours de l’histoire au détriment de notre pays. Juge Kaufman
Qui arrêtera cette folie ? La prodigue Union européenne (UE) met le destin des peuples à l’encan en applaudissant, derrière l’Allemagne exaltée, à l’invasion des clandestins qui forcent les portes de Schengen. Des libérateurs ne seraient pas mieux acclamés. Or ils sont des millions, dans les pays arabo-musulmans, à vouloir gagner l’UE enivrée de ses vertus. Cette semaine, la petite île grecque de Lesbos était submergée par 20 000 « migrants ». Les barrières volent en éclats, depuis qu’Angela Merkel a promis de recevoir 800 000 demandeurs d’asile cette année. François Hollande s’est engagé pour 24 000 personnes en deux ans. Peu importe les chiffres : les feux sont passés au vert, sans discernement ni recul. Les commissaires de Bruxelles, qui ont toujours appelé de leurs vœux une immigratAAæion massive, sans se soucier de son intégration culturelle, sont complices du bouleversement identitaire enclenché. La propagande émotionnelle s’est emballée, après la diffusion de la photo d’un corps d’enfant échoué sur une plage turque. Depuis, les « humanistes » de tréteaux, artistes ou politiques, moralisent sur la « fraternité humaine » en exposant publiquement leur grande bonté. Ils accusent évidemment l’Occident d’être coupable des désastres qui frappent l’Afghanistan, l’Irak, la Syrie, la Libye, etc. Persuadés d’avoir raison, ils exigent des excuses de ceux qui ont soutenu, depuis le 11 septembre 2001, les résistances aux offensives du nazislamisme. Ils crachent par habitude sur les États-Unis et leurs alliés, mais ignorent le totalitarisme coranique, responsable du chaos. Combien de soldats de Daech, infiltrés parmi ces exilés ? L’État islamique avait promis, début 2015, d’utiliser la bombe migratoire pour déstabiliser l’Europe. Mais cela fait longtemps que l’aveuglement narcissique berce les beaux parleurs. Il suffit d’observer la jubilation des idéologues de l’égalitarisme, de l’indifférenciation et de l’homme remplaçable pour les tenir comme inspirateurs de la béatitude des dirigeants et les médias du camp du Bien. Ivan Rioufol
Les « humanistes » sont des dangers publics, quand ils ne voient pas plus loin que leurs psychés. Lorsqu’ils se mêlent de diriger des pays, voire l’Union européenne elle-même, ils montrent leur inconsistance en se révélant incapables de prévoir les conséquences de leurs élans compassionnels. L’ahurissante légèreté Angela Merkel, qui a ouvert ses frontières aux « migrants » sous les hourras des belles âmes, restera probablement comme l’aboutissement de la régression politique réduite aux pulsions émotives. La décision de la chancelière, ce week-end, de rétablir le contrôle aux frontières de son pays soudainement envahi signe sans doute la fin des utopies sur l’accueil pour tous, dont elle était devenue l’étendard. Elle justifie sa volte-face par le fait que Schengen a démontré qu’il ne maîtrisait pas l’immigration et laissait passer, à côté des réfugiés politiques, beaucoup de faussaires. Mais cette situation, décrite ici depuis le début, est connue de tous depuis toujours. Elle n’est d’ailleurs pas un obstacle pour la France, qui se flatte d’accueillir et de prendre en charge des « réfugiés » dont rien ne dit qu’ils le sont tous. Il suffit de relire les dithyrambes de la presse française pour se désoler de la capitulation de l’esprit critique dans une large partie de la profession. « L’incroyable madame Merkel », « La dame de cœur », « le futur prix Nobel de la paix », auront été quelques-uns des lauriers tressés par le camp du Bien, dans un manichéisme réservant aux pays récalcitrants, et singulièrement au premier ministre hongrois Viktor Orban, toutes les réprobations morales. Disons les choses comme elles se présentent : le revirement allemand couvre de ridicule les sermonneurs qui ont semé la tempête migratoire. Le ministre de l’Intérieur français, Bernard Cazeneuve, qui entend faire de la « pédagogie » pour expliquer sa politique d’accueil, ne peut que s’enliser dans une propagande irréfléchie qui n’a évidemment pas le soutien de l’opinion. Incapable idéologiquement de concevoir la moindre vertu aux frontières nationales, il parle d’ouvrir en Grèce, en Italie et en Hongrie des « hot spots », en collaboration avec l’Union européenne. Mais cette dernière se dévoile, avec l’Allemagne immature et la France suiveuse, comme autant de dangers pour l’Europe, fragilisée par quarante ans d’immigration de peuplement et de multiculturalisme imposé. Le cynisme mercantile du président du Medef, Pierre Gattaz, qui salue une « opportunité » dans l’arrivée d’une main d’oeuvre docile, est une autre agression pour les Français soucieux de préserver la cohésion de leur nation ouverte. En réalité, l’effet de cet excès de xénophilie est, dès à présent, de replacer au cœur du débat public des sujets évacués : l’immigration, le retour aux frontières, la préférence nationale, l’expulsion effective des migrants économiques et des clandestins. Sans parler de la faillite des partis politiques et de l’Union européenne elle-même. Dans le fond, merci Angela Merkel pour tant de maladresses ! Ivan Rioufol
The “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” is a bad deal because it’s the first time the United States has offered extensive concessions to a nation that openly seeks to destabilize our interests. It’s the first time we will be offering an oppressive theocracy (one that still holds American hostages) hundreds of billions of dollars to menace our (former) allies via its proxies throughout the Middle East. For the first time in history a president has legitimatized an openly anti-American state with expansionist aims to help him expand political legacy at home. (…) The real question, as Rouhani understands well, is this one: Is the United States going to stand with the Jewish State or with Iran? We know where Obama stands. Obama is now locked in no matter how poorly implementation goes and no matter how uncooperative Iran will be. Otherwise, it is another political failure. And most Democrats are probably locked in to supporting the deal for a number of partisan and ideological reasons. Signing it, they will argue, proves that diplomacy, not war, can work. Liberals have been offering this false choice for so many years, so it’s doubtful they can back away from it now. Others will claim that conservatives have an ideological predisposition to opposing any foreign-policy agreements (…) Or maybe, it’ll be Netanyahu’s fault for opposing an Iranian deal that pushed the president to allow Iran to become a nuclear power. (…) There’s little doubt Obama desires to see Iran as a counterbalance to Israeli power in the region. There’s little doubt this deal would accomplish that goal. Yes, there is a relationship in place with the Jewish State that can’t be discarded by the administration for legal, practical, and political reasons. But the same administration that has no compunction demanding Israel stop building neighborhoods was unable to extract anything but the most rudimentary concessions from Iran. Not even snap inspections. And though Netanyahu has already claimed that Israel is not bound by this deal, attacking the Iranian program itself becomes far more perilous—if it’s even possible without our help—as Iran is essentially under the protection of the United States and six other nations. (…) Even if you have an unfettered belief in diplomacy, what’s the point of being a superpower if you’re going to negotiate with enervated regimes as if they were equals—or worse? What’s the point of creating leverage through years of sanctions, if we don’t demand Iranians stop, at the very least, using technology that can be quickly re-engineered to enrich uranium? (…) Why? Did you think Iranians were spilling into the streets to celebrate access to a new source of energy? David Harsanyi
The policy of “leading from behind” and the crudity of “We came, we saw, he [Qaddafi] died” have left a human tragedy in Libya. Backing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was an inexplicable choice, and it almost ruined the country. The United States did not need to hound and jail an innocent video maker in order to concoct a myth to cover up the culpable lax security in Benghazi. Yemen was strangely declared a model of our anti-terrorism efforts — just weeks before it ignited into another Somalia or Congo. ISIS was airily written off as a jayvee bunch as it spread beyond Syria and Iraq. There is little need to do a detailed comparison of Iraq now and Iraq in February 2009 (when it was soon to be the administration’s “greatest achievement,” a “stable” and “self-reliant” nation); the mess in between is attributable to Obama’s use of the aftermath of the Iraq War for pre-election positioning. Ordering Assad to flee while ignoring the violence in Syria and proclaiming a faux red line has now tragically led to a million refugees in Europe (and another 4 million in the neighborhood) and more than 200,000 dead. Israel is now considered not an ally, not even a neutral, but apparently a hostile state worthy of more presidential invective than is Iran. We have few if any reliable friends any more in the Gulf. Iran will become a nuclear power. The only mystery over how that will happen is whether Obama was inept or whether he deliberately sought to make the theocracy some sort of a strategic power and U.S. ally. The Middle East over the next decade may see three or four additional new nuclear powers. The Russia of kleptocrat Vladimir Putin is seen in the region as a better friend than is the U.S. — and certainly a far more dangerous enemy to provoke. There is no easy cure for all this; it will take years just to sort out the mess. Victor Davis Hanson
Ce que les Rosenberg avaient fait pour Staline, Obama le fait aujourd’hui pour l’ayatollah Khamenei. Le méprisable accord nucléaire d’Obama avec l’Iran a déjà précipité l’agression iranienne dans la région. En réponse aux concessions faites par Obama, Hillary Clinton et John Kerry, l’Iran raidissait son attitude et devenait plus agressif. À l’heure actuelle, l’Iran est impliqué dans des guerres dans la région, entrainant déjà les États-Unis dans leur sillage. Si l’Iran se dote de l’arme nucléaire, ces guerres s’aggraveront et deviendront beaucoup plus dévastatrices. Ce n’est pas seulement Chamberlain. C’est Quisling et Philippe Pétain. Il ne s’agit nullement d’un mauvais jugement. Il s’agit d’une trahison. (…) En ouvrant à l’Iran la voie vers la bombe nucléaire, Obama a transformé les conflits lents du terrorisme classique en crise de civilisations catastrophique. Une bombe nucléaire iranienne ne se faufilera pas discrètement comme le fait la crise démographique de la migration musulmane avec son complément de terrorisme. Ce ne sera pas un problème progressif. Une course aux armes nucléaires entre sunnites et chiites impliquant des terroristes des deux côtés qui emploient des armes nucléaires rendra insoutenable toute la structure de la civilisation occidentale. L’attaque du 11/9 a vu l’usage de quelques jets pour dévaster une ville. La prochaine vague d’armes pourrait tuer des millions, pas des milliers. Les traîtres qui ont fait de l’URSS une puissance capable de détruire le monde étaient motivés par le même agenda caché des partisans à l’accord nucléaire iranien. Ils croyaient que le monopole nucléaire américain conduirait à l’arrogance et au bellicisme. Ils étaient convaincus que la puissance américaine devrait être surveillée en s’assurant que l’union soviétique puisse égaler l’oncle Sam, nucléaire pour nucléaire. Ceux qui ont ouvert les portes du nucléaire à Téhéran aujourd’hui croient qu’un Iran nucléaire aura un effet dissuasif contre l’impérialisme américain dans la région. Leur nombre inclut Barack Obama.(…) Obama a trahi l’Amérique. Il a trahi les victimes américaines du terrorisme iranien. Il a trahi les soldats américains qui ont été assassinés, mutilés et torturés par les armées terroristes iraniennes. Il a trahi des centaines de millions d’Américains dans leur patrie, et qui seront contraints d’élever leurs enfants sous l’égide de la terreur nucléaire iranienne. Sa trahison nucléaire est non seulement une trahison de l’Amérique. Pour la première fois depuis la fin de la guerre froide, elle ouvre les portes de l’assassinat en masse de millions d’américains par un ennemi vicieux. Obama a appauvri des millions d’Américains, il a le sang des soldats et des policiers sur ses mains, mais son héritage final peut être la collaboration dans un acte d’assassinat en masse qui pourrait rivaliser avec Adolf Hitler. Daniel Greenfield
Attention: une trahison peut en cacher une autre !
A l’heure où après le reste de l’Europe et le monde, l’Allemagne de Madame Merkel découvre enfin l’invraisemblable folie de sa décision d’ouvrir ses frontières à de centaines de milliers de prétendus réfugiés musulmans …
Et où après avoir apporté sa bénédiction aux dirigeants de la prison à ciel ouvert de Cuba, le prétendu chef de la chrétienté n’a pas de mots assez durs pour fustiger pour son prétendu égoïsme le seul système capitaliste dont rêvent justement comme l’ensemble des migrants du monde lesdits Cubains …
Comment ne pas voir avec le chercheur américain Daniel Greenfield …
L’incroyable et bien plus grave accélération que vient de faire subir à l’histoire, l’accord nucléaire iranien initié par l’Administration américaine avec le soutien tant des Européens que du Vatican …
Où, à l’instar du réseau Rosenberg qui a fourni à Staline les plans de l’arme atomique au lendemain de la dernière guerre mondiale et, précipitant la Guerre froide, fait passer le monde à plusieurs reprises à deux pas de l’apocalypse nucléaire …
Le pompier-pyromane Obama a non seulement déjà précipité l’actuelle « agression iranienne dans la région » …
Mais « transformé les conflits lents du terrorisme classique en crise de civilisations catastrophique » ?
Aucun gouvernement actuel n’a autant de sang de soldats américains sur les mains que le gouvernement iranien. Du Liban à l’Afghanistan, de l’Arabie saoudite à l’Irak, l’Iran a tué des soldats américains des décennies durant : 241 à Beyrouth. 19 dans les tours de Kobhar. Plus de 500 en Irak et en Afghanistan. La dernière fois que les États-Unis avaient officiellement combattu l’Iran c’était sous le président Reagan. Mais l’Iran n’a jamais cessé de tuer des américains. Il n’y a aucune raison de croire qu’il ne le fera pas une fois armé de bombes nucléaires accordées diligemment par Obama et son administration.
La dernière fois que des gauchistes radicaux avaient soutenu un programme nucléaire à un ennemi reconnu des États-Unis, ils avaient été trainés en justice. Le juge qui officiait alors avait déclaré que puisque « la nature du terrorisme russe est désormais évidente, il n’y a plus de place pour des revendications qu’aucun mal n’ait été fait. J’estimes que votre initiative de placer entre des mains russes des années plus tôt la bombe nucléaire avant que nos meilleurs savants ne prévoient que la Russie la perfectionnerait, a déjà causé, à mon avis, l’agression communiste en Corée, avec les pertes dépassant 50.000 et qui sait, si des millions de personnes innocentes supplémentaires ne paieront pas le prix de votre trahison. En effet, par votre trahison vous avez sans doute modifié le cours de l’histoire au détriment de notre pays », avait déclaré le juge Kaufman.
Ces paroles émises lors du verdict Rosenberg s’appliquent aussi bien à la trahison d’Obama en faveur de l’Iran. Ce que les Rosenberg avaient fait pour Staline, Obama le fait aujourd’hui pour l’ayatollah Khamenei.
Le méprisable accord nucléaire d’Obama avec l’Iran a déjà précipité l’agression iranienne dans la région. En réponse aux concessions faites par Obama, Hillary Clinton et John Kerry, l’Iran raidissait son attitude et devenait plus agressif. À l’heure actuelle, l’Iran est impliqué dans des guerres dans la région, entrainant déjà les États-Unis dans leur sillage.
Si l’Iran se dote de l’arme nucléaire, ces guerres s’aggraveront et deviendront beaucoup plus dévastatrices.
Ce n’est pas seulement Chamberlain. C’est Quisling et Philippe Pétain. Il ne s’agit nullement d’un mauvais jugement. Il s’agit d’une trahison. Obama n’a pas par crainte cherché à apaiser l’Iran ; il sympathise avec ses griefs anti-américains. Comme il l’avait avoué aux négociateurs, « les dirigeants iraniens se sentent «vulnérables» en raison de la façon dont l’Amérique a «interféré » dans « leur démocratie » et son anti-américanisme est une réaction «défensive» pour «éviter les répétitions du passé ».
Obama s’identifie avec les ressentiments anti-américains de terroristes musulmans au lieu de compatir à la souffrance de leurs victimes. Sa politique étrangère se base sur la responsabilisation des ennemis des États-Unis pour transformer leurs griefs en «défense» contre l’influence et l’intervention américaine. Il l’a fait à cuba jusqu’à l’Iran, sauvegardant les tyrans communistes et la Confrérie musulmane. Mais son affaire iranienne est son crime le plus sanglant.
Fondé sur ces ressentiments, l’accord nucléaire permettra aux iraniens d’agir en tuant des millions. La bombe nucléaire est non seulement une arme, c’est surtout un instrument génocidaire. C’est une menace existentielle pour notre civilisation et notre mode de vie. Les espions qui avaient aidé l’URSS à obtenir le nucléaire n’avaient pas seulement transmis des informations sur l’arme, ils avaient transformé un conflit militaire en une crise mondiale permanente planant sur le sort de l’humanité entière, guidée par l’avidité et le pouvoir d’idéologues vieillissants et brutaux de Moscou.
En creusant à l’Iran la voie vers la bombe nucléaire, Obama a transformé les conflits lents du terrorisme classique en crise de civilisations catastrophique. Une bombe nucléaire iranienne ne se faufilera pas discrètement comme le fait la crise démographique de la migration musulmane avec son complément de terrorisme. Ce ne sera pas un problème progressif. Une course aux armes nucléaires entre sunnites et chiites impliquant des terroristes des deux côtés qui emploient des armes nucléaires rendra insoutenable toute la structure de la civilisation occidentale.
L’attaque du 11/9 a vu l’usage de quelques jets pour dévaster une ville. La prochaine vague d’armes pourrait tuer des millions, pas des milliers.
Les traîtres qui ont fait de l’URSS une puissance capable de détruire le monde étaient motivés par le même agenda caché des partisans à l’accord nucléaire iranien. Ils croyaient que le monopole nucléaire américain conduirait à l’arrogance et au bellicisme. Ils étaient convaincus que la puissance américaine devrait être surveillée en s’assurant que l’union soviétique puisse égaler l’oncle SAM, nucléaire pour nucléaire.
Ceux qui ont ouvert les portes du nucléaire à Téhéran aujourd’hui croient qu’un Iran nucléaire aura un effet dissuasif contre l’impérialisme américain dans la région. Leur nombre inclut Barack Obama.
Après son échec avec les frères musulmans, Obama prit la décision d’octroyer une puissance de dissuasion à l’Iran contre des interventions militaires futures par un successeur républicain. S’il peut obtenir « Téhéran Joe Biden », sympathisant notoire du lobby iranien, pour monter la garde tandis que l’Iran marche vers le nucléaire, l’Iran dominera la région de la même façon que l’union soviétique dominait l’Europe de l’est.
La trahison terroriste d’Obama joue sur l’alternative d’un Iran qui serait « rationnel », et que ses dirigeants soient des Khrouchtchev prêts à appuyer là où ils sentent une faiblesse, plutôt que des Staline, prêts à tuer des millions pour le pouvoir. Les conciliateurs gauchistes de l’Iran, au sein et en dehors de l’Administration, s’accrochent de manière obsédante, à la foi que le régime islamique iranien est rationnel, puisqu’il leur permet de contourner leur responsabilité au cas où le monde prendrait feu.
Ils rationalisent leur trahison en soutenant que les dirigeants de l’Iran et leurs foules enfiévrées ne pensent vraiment rien quand ils hurlent, « mort à l’Amérique ». Et si les intentions du dirigeant de l’Iran signifient ce qu’il annonce, les démocrates du sénat les affublent différemment, les médias gauchistes caquettent sur les points de discussion de la maison blanche, les intellectuels se souviennent de leurs rencontres avec des diplomates iraniens lors des parties de cocktails, et leur chef, Obama, deviendront éléments du génocide.
À chaque étape du chemin rationalisé de la trahison d’Obama en faveur de l’Iran il y eut des compromis qui semblaient inévitables et raisonnables, minimisant ainsi la trahison catastrophique finale, exposant une version d’un Iran nucléaire comme étant l’unique alternative possible à un Iran nucléaire. Comme Benedict Arnold, il avait grignoté toutes les autres options à l’exception de la défaite ou de la trahison afin d’en faire une option sensible et même patriotique.
Les traîtres nucléaires qui avaient aidé Staline nourrissaient la même logique, négociant chaque trahison comme étant l’unique alternative à la guerre, pour enfin infliger la guerre froide et la menace d’anéantissement par le nucléaire sur des générations entières. Après avoir inlassablement dénoncé la guerre froide qu’ils avaient déclenchée par leur soutien diplomatique, politique et même militaire pour les ambitions de Staline, ils étaient finalement disposés à ramener la guerre froide.
Et si tout va mal, la faute tombera sur les épaules des « fomenteurs de guerre de la droite» qui avaient aliéné l’Iran, tout comme leurs prédécesseurs l’avaient fait à l’URSS, pas sur les sympathisants gauchistes qui avaient offert aux ennemis de la civilisation le pouvoir de la détruire.
Obama a trahi l’Amérique. Il a trahi les victimes américaines du terrorisme iranien. Il a trahi les soldats américains qui ont été assassinés, mutilés et torturés par les armées terroristes iraniennes. Il a trahi des centaines de millions d’américains dans leur patrie, et qui seront contraints d’élever leurs enfants sous l’égide de la terreur nucléaire iranienne.
Sa trahison nucléaire est non seulement une trahison de l’Amérique. Pour la première fois depuis la fin de la guerre froide, elle ouvre les portes de l’assassinat en masse de millions d’américains par un ennemi vicieux.
Obama a appauvri des millions d’américains, il a le sang des soldats et des policiers sur ses mains, mais son héritage final peut être la collaboration dans un acte d’assassinat en masse qui pourrait rivaliser avec Adolf Hitler.
Obama’s Nuke Deal Makes Israel The Enemy And Iran Our Ally
You can pick the Islamic Republic or the Jewish State. You can’t pick both.
July 14, 2015
Isn’t it odd how every pundit and politician who’s been antagonistic towards Israel is also super excited about an Iranian deal that’s allegedly going to help protect the Jewish State from the threat of nuclear Iran?
All the peacemongers love it.
“We are satisfied that the solution found is based on the principle of phasing and mutuality which our country has been consistently supporting at every stage of these complicated negotiations,” says Vlad Putin, the leader of the country that made Iranian nuclear power a possibility. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says he’s confident his ally in Iran will now step up its efforts to back his “just causes” after the nuclear deal is wrapped up. And really, why wouldn’t it?
The backing of a war criminal doesn’t necessarily mean we have a bad deal. The “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” is a bad deal because it’s the first time the United States has offered extensive concessions to a nation that openly seeks to destabilize our interests. It’s the first time we will be offering an oppressive theocracy (one that still holds American hostages) hundreds of billions of dollars to menace our (former) allies via its proxies throughout the Middle East. For the first time in history a president has legitimatized an openly anti-American state with expansionist aims to help him expand political legacy at home.
We just handed Iran everything it wanted in exchange for a promise to keep the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation it already signed back in 1968. Good work.
The above tweet from the Iranian president was sent out after the deal was reached, by the way. Yet, many in the media have already framed Obama’s Iranian deal like so: Are you with the United States or are you with Israel? (When a confused chief foreign correspondent for NBC News asks whether it is even legal for Israel to lobby Congress on the deal, you’re getting a taste of the underlying antagonism the press often has towards Israel.)
The real question, as Rouhani understands well, is this one: Is the United States going to stand with the Jewish State or with Iran? We know where Obama stands.
Obama is now locked in no matter how poorly implementation goes and no matter how uncooperative Iran will be. Otherwise, it is another political failure. And most Democrats are probably locked in to supporting the deal for a number of partisan and ideological reasons. Signing it, they will argue, proves that diplomacy, not war, can work. Liberals have been offering this false choice for so many years, so it’s doubtful they can back away from it now.
Others will claim that conservatives have an ideological predisposition to opposing any foreign-policy agreements, as Jonathan Chait and others have already done, so this hostility can only be vacuous, as well. That sure makes debate easy.
Or maybe, it’ll be Netanyahu’s fault for opposing an Iranian deal that pushed the president to allow Iran to become a nuclear power.
Even if you have an unfettered belief in diplomacy, what’s the point of being a superpower if you’re going to negotiate with enervated regimes as if they were equals—or worse? What’s the point of creating leverage through years of sanctions, if we don’t demand Iranians stop, at the very least, using technology that can be quickly re-engineered to enrich uranium? There are a number of possibilities, among them: 1) The administration doesn’t really care if Iran becomes a nuclear power one day. As long as it’s not today. 2) The administration does care if Iran becomes a regional nuclear power, but it doesn’t really mind at all.
Turns out everything those conspiracy theorists were claiming about the president’s policy of generating conflict with Israel was probably right. One point of the deal—or, at the very least, the unintended outcome—is to dramatically alter the balance of power in Middle East. Who do you think Obama believes is a bigger threat to peace in the region? Likud or the Supreme Leader? Put it this way. The Obama administration has called Javad Zarif a patriot and Netanyahu a chickenshit.
There’s little doubt Obama desires to see Iran as a counterbalance to Israeli power in the region. There’s little doubt this deal would accomplish that goal. Yes, there is a relationship in place with the Jewish State that can’t be discarded by the administration for legal, practical, and political reasons. But the same administration that has no compunction demanding Israel stop building neighborhoods was unable to extract anything but the most rudimentary concessions from Iran. Not even snap inspections. And though Netanyahu has already claimed that Israel is not bound by this deal, attacking the Iranian program itself becomes far more perilous—if it’s even possible without our help—as Iran is essentially under the protection of the United States and six other nations.
If the new Iranian deal doesn’t significantly change the Jewish vote in the United States, then Israel really isn’t as an important issue as we think. Very soon, it will be entirely partisan.
At least, we have a better idea when the Iranians will possess the nuclear weapons that will allow them to function with impunity in the region: Around ten years from now. By that time, Tehran will be securely situated on the threshold (if they uphold their end of the deal) of spurring a nuclear-arms race in Middle East. Although a ban on trading ballistic missiles will expire after only eight years, unless the IAEA says Iran can have them earlier. “All the sanctions, even arms embargoes and missile-related sanctions… would all be lifted,” President Hassan Rouhani correctly notes.
Why? Did you think Iranians were spilling into the streets to celebrate access to a new source of energy?
Citizens of this country who betray their fellow-countrymen can be under none of the delusions about the benignity of Soviet power that they might have been prior to World War II. The nature of Russian terrorism is now self-evident. Idealism as a rational dissolves . . .
I consider your crime worse than murder. Plain deliberate contemplated murder is dwarfed in magnitude by comparison with the crime you have committed. In committing the act of murder, the criminal kills only his victim. The immediate family is brought to grief and when justice is meted out the chapter is closed. But in your case, I believe your conduct in putting into the hands of the Russians the A-bomb years before our best scientists predicted Russia would perfect the bomb has already caused, in my opinion, the Communist aggression in Korea, with the resultant casualties exceeding 50,000 and who knows but that millions more of innocent people may pay the price of your treason. Indeed, by your betrayal you undoubtedly have altered the course of history to the disadvantage of our country.
No one can say that we do not live in a constant state of tension. We have evidence of your treachery all around us every day–for the civilian defense activities throughout the nation are aimed at preparing us for an atom bomb attack. Nor can it be said in mitigation of the offense that the power which set the conspiracy in motion and profited from it was not openly hostile to the United States at the time of the conspiracy. If this was your excuse the error of your ways in setting yourselves above our properly constituted authorities and the decision of those authorities not to share the information with Russia must now be obvious . . .
In the light of this, I can only conclude that the defendants entered into this most serious conspiracy against their country with full realization of its implications . . .
The statute of which the defendants at the bar stand convicted is clear. I have previously stated my view that the verdict of guilty was amply justified by the evidence. In the light of the circumstances, I feel that I must pass such sentence upon the principals in this diabolical conspiracy to destroy a God-fearing nation, which will demonstrate with finality that this nation’s security must remain inviolate; that traffic in military secrets, whether promoted by slavish devotion to a foreign ideology or by a desire for monetary gains must cease.
The evidence indicated quite clearly that Julius Rosenberg was the prime mover in this conspiracy. However, let no mistake be made about the role which his wife, Ethel Rosenberg, played in this conspiracy. Instead of deterring him from pursuing his ignoble cause, she encouraged and assisted the cause. She was a mature woman–almost three years older than her husband and almost seven years older than her younger brother. She was a full-fledged partner in this crime.
Indeed the defendants Julius and Ethel Rosenberg placed their devotion to their cause above their own personal safety and were conscious that they were sacrificing their own children, should their misdeeds be detected–all of which did not deter them from pursuing their course. Love for their cause dominated their lives–it was even greater than their love for their children. »
Is Obamism Correctable?
Here and abroad, the Obama administration damages whatever it touches.
Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online
September 15, 2015
The next president and Congress will inherit what President Obama left behind. Whether Democrat or Republican, the president will have no choice other than to try to undo much of what Obama has wrought. But can he or she?
THE MIDDLE EAST
The policy of “leading from behind” and the crudity of “We came, we saw, he [Qaddafi] died” have left a human tragedy in Libya. Backing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was an inexplicable choice, and it almost ruined the country. The United States did not need to hound and jail an innocent video maker in order to concoct a myth to cover up the culpable lax security in Benghazi. Yemen was strangely declared a model of our anti-terrorism efforts — just weeks before it ignited into another Somalia or Congo. ISIS was airily written off as a jayvee bunch as it spread beyond Syria and Iraq. There is little need to do a detailed comparison of Iraq now and Iraq in February 2009 (when it was soon to be the administration’s “greatest achievement,” a “stable” and “self-reliant” nation); the mess in between is attributable to Obama’s use of the aftermath of the Iraq War for pre-election positioning. Ordering Assad to flee while ignoring the violence in Syria and proclaiming a faux red line has now tragically led to a million refugees in Europe (and another 4 million in the neighborhood) and more than 200,000 dead. Israel is now considered not an ally, not even a neutral, but apparently a hostile state worthy of more presidential invective than is Iran. We have few if any reliable friends any more in the Gulf. Iran will become a nuclear power. The only mystery over how that will happen is whether Obama was inept or whether he deliberately sought to make the theocracy some sort of a strategic power and U.S. ally. The Middle East over the next decade may see three or four additional new nuclear powers. The Russia of kleptocrat Vladimir Putin is seen in the region as a better friend than is the U.S. — and certainly a far more dangerous enemy to provoke.
There is no easy cure for all this; it will take years just to sort out the mess.
There will be a temptation for a reform president to use the lawless means that Obama has bequeathed — executive orders to unconstitutionally bypass Congress; arbitrary suspension or simple non-enforcement of laws, depending on where we are in the national election cycle; exemption of party loyalists from legal accountability — to achieve the noble aim of restoring legality. But such short-cuts to reform would be a terrible mistake.
It would be quite illegal to ignore emissions standards the way Obama has ignored the Defense of Marriage Act; or to reduce, by fiat, the EPA to the present toothless status of ICE; or to allow a new sort of “sanctuary city” to refuse to marry gays, in the manner of San Francisco’s refusing to hand over illegal immigrants; or to arbitrarily remove particular owls and newts from the protection of the Endangered Species Act as Obama has picked and chosen which elements of the Affordable Care Act at any particular time he considered legally non-binding. Payback is very tempting, but eight more years of it would ensure that we would become another Zimbabwe or Venezuela. Instead, the next president must, as never before, obey both the spirit and the very letter of the law to restore to us what Obama has almost destroyed.
Polls and pundits agree that racial relations are now at their worst since the riots of the 1970s. Barack Obama in the 2008 campaign blew long and hard the dog whistle of racial polarization: clingers, the not-to-be-disowned Rev. Jeremiah Wright, typical white person, bring a gun to a knife fight, get in their faces. He has never stopped since. The president kept at it when he intervened in the Skip Gates farce, or editorialized about skin color in the ongoing and volatile Trayvon Martin case, or institutionalized the lies of Ferguson that begat the “Hands up; don’t shoot” mythology — and the tragedies that followed. The message was always that race is still a barrier to success in America and that, logically, only fealty to the Obama administration could improve things for people of color.
Obama did not phone the family of Kate Steinle — murdered as a direct result of sanctuary-city practices approved by his administration — or the families of police officers slain as a result of the hate speech generated by the Black Lives Matter movement. But he has also largely ignored nearly 7,000 blacks whose lives have been taken by other blacks. In some sense, Obama proved a captive of his own political matrix. The Obama election strategy — successful in 2008 and 2012, a failure in 2010 and 2014 — was predicated on upping the polarizing rhetoric, extending social services, and embracing hip popular culture to achieve historic minority voter turnout and unprecedented block-voting patterns.
But in the blowback, the liberal Congress and many of the Democratic state legislatures were wiped out, and the country has been split apart. Obama’s legacy to the Democratic party is the loss of the white working classes, and the permanent need to achieve massive minority turnout and absolute liberal fealty at the polls. To do that will probably require institutionalized open borders, habitual racial haranguing, and the courting of the Al Sharptons of the race industry. Whether Obama knew that such racial voting would not be completely transferrable to his Democratic successors, while the hostility it engendered most certainly would be, remains a mystery. But that paradox raises what is perhaps the central issue of his presidency: whether he was a short-sighted incompetent naïf or a mean-spirited and narcissistic nihilist. Or both?
The next president should take a hiatus from our racial obsessions, and simply try treating Americans as if their race or ethnic background were irrelevant.
We will reach $20 trillion in debt on Obama’s watch. He ran on the issue of national debt, blasting George W. Bush for using a “Bank of China” credit card “by his lonesome” to bankrupt the country. Indeed, a penny-pinching Senator Obama had voted to shut down the government rather than raise the debt ceiling. But as president, Obama may well accrue more debt than all previous presidents combined. His legacy will be that he made George W. Bush’s budgetary indulgence look sober and judicious compared with his own. Only the Federal Reserve’s near-zero interest rates for seven years — along with the low energy prices that came despite, not because of, his efforts — have saved Obama, and staved off the stagnation of having well over 90 million able-bodied Americans permanently out of the work force. When interest rates climb to 4 or 5 percent, the next president will face a budgetary crisis, augmented by Obama’s failure to address entitlement spending. We are in for rough times; whether Obama will get out ahead of the reckoning is unknown.
In other areas, the Obama agenda is falling of its own weight. Obamacare is becoming irrelevant, because of both noncompliance and soaring costs. As the poor discover that even with subsidies they have to pony up considerable deductibles and copays, and must actually pay some premiums, they increasingly head for the free clinics or back to the emergency rooms. Even Democrats will not rue too much the spontaneous unwinding of Obamacare, given that much of the public is doing its best to ignore it.
The restoration of defense spending will follow the Carter-to-Reagan pattern, albeit more slowly given the specter of unsustainable national debt. The next president will address the tax code, and the solution won’t be Bernie Sanders’s dream of a 90 percent income-tax rate. Even Joe Biden cannot run on Obama’s stellar economic record — pretending that the middle class has been in ascendance since 2009, extolling the advantages of more debt, or proclaiming the necessity of even stricter environmental regulations or more subsidies to Solyndra-like green companies.
There is not much of an idea any longer of investigative journalism. The press for the last seven years has largely chosen to become a Ministry of Truth. One reason why Donald Trump soars is that, after the press’s canonization of Obama, the public relishes Trump’s contempt for the media — and the latter have now lost the moral credibility to critique any candidate on the grounds of dishonesty, hypocrisy, narcissism, mendacity, or polarization of the electorate.
The tragic mess of 2009–2016 is ending, and soon the cleanup will begin — accompanied by stupefaction as to just how much will have to be thrown away.
Voir de même:
L’Allemagne repentie menace l’Europe
11 septembre 2015
Qui arrêtera cette folie ? La prodigue Union européenne (UE) met le destin des peuples à l’encan en applaudissant, derrière l’Allemagne exaltée, à l’invasion des clandestins qui forcent les portes de Schengen. Des libérateurs ne seraient pas mieux acclamés. Or ils sont des millions, dans les pays arabo-musulmans, à vouloir gagner l’UE enivrée de ses vertus. Cette semaine, la petite île grecque de Lesbos était submergée par 20 000 « migrants ». Les barrières volent en éclats, depuis qu’Angela Merkel a promis de recevoir 800 000 demandeurs d’asile cette année. François Hollande s’est engagé pour 24 000 personnes en deux ans. Peu importe les chiffres : les feux sont passés au vert, sans discernement ni recul. Les commissaires de Bruxelles, qui ont toujours appelé de leurs vœux une immigration massive, sans se soucier de son intégration culturelle, sont complices du bouleversement identitaire enclenché.
La propagande émotionnelle s’est emballée, après la diffusion de la photo d’un corps d’enfant échoué sur une plage turque. Depuis, les « humanistes » de tréteaux, artistes ou politiques, moralisent sur la « fraternité humaine » en exposant publiquement leur grande bonté. Ils accusent évidemment l’Occident d’être coupable des désastres qui frappent l’Afghanistan, l’Irak, la Syrie, la Libye, etc. Persuadés d’avoir raison, ils exigent des excuses de ceux qui ont soutenu, depuis le 11 septembre 2001, les résistances aux offensives du nazislamisme. Ils crachent par habitude sur les États-Unis et leurs alliés, mais ignorent le totalitarisme coranique, responsable du chaos. Combien de soldats de Daech, infiltrés parmi ces exilés ? L’État islamique avait promis, début 2015, d’utiliser la bombe migratoire pour déstabiliser l’Europe. Mais cela fait longtemps que l’aveuglement narcissique berce les beaux parleurs.
Il suffit d’observer la jubilation des idéologues de l’égalitarisme, de l’indifférenciation et de l’homme remplaçable pour les tenir comme inspirateurs de la béatitude des dirigeants et les médias du camp du Bien.
Voir de plus:
Angela Merkel, merci pour vos maladresses !
14 septembre 2015
Les « humanistes » sont des dangers publics, quand ils ne voient pas plus loin que leurs psychés. Lorsqu’ils se mêlent de diriger des pays, voire l’Union européenne elle-même, ils montrent leur inconsistance en se révélant incapables de prévoir les conséquences de leurs élans compassionnels. L’ahurissante légèreté Angela Merkel, qui a ouvert ses frontières aux « migrants » sous les hourras des belles âmes, restera probablement comme l’aboutissement de la régression politique réduite aux pulsions émotives. La décision de la chancelière, ce week-end, de rétablir le contrôle aux frontières de son pays soudainement envahi signe sans doute la fin des utopies sur l’accueil pour tous, dont elle était devenue l’étendard. Elle justifie sa volte-face par le fait que Schengen a démontré qu’il ne maîtrisait pas l’immigration et laissait passer, à côté des réfugiés politiques, beaucoup de faussaires. Mais cette situation, décrite ici depuis le début, est connue de tous depuis toujours. Elle n’est d’ailleurs pas un obstacle pour la France, qui se flatte d’accueillir et de prendre en charge des « réfugiés » dont rien ne dit qu’ils le sont tous. Il suffit de relire les dithyrambes de la presse française pour se désoler de la capitulation de l’esprit critique dans une large partie de la profession. « L’incroyable madame Merkel », « La dame de cœur », « le futur prix Nobel de la paix », auront été quelques-uns des lauriers tressés par le camp du Bien, dans un manichéisme réservant aux pays récalcitrants, et singulièrement au premier ministre hongrois Viktor Orban, toutes les réprobations morales.
Disons les choses comme elles se présentent : le revirement allemand couvre de ridicule les sermonneurs qui ont semé la tempête migratoire. Le ministre de l’Intérieur français, Bernard Cazeneuve, qui entend faire de la « pédagogie » pour expliquer sa politique d’accueil, ne peut que s’enliser dans une propagande irréfléchie qui n’a évidemment pas le soutien de l’opinion. Incapable idéologiquement de concevoir la moindre vertu aux frontières nationales, il parle d’ouvrir en Grèce, en Italie et en Hongrie des « hot spots », en collaboration avec l’Union européenne. Mais cette dernière se dévoile, avec l’Allemagne immature et la France suiveuse, comme autant de dangers pour l’Europe, fragilisée par quarante ans d’immigration de peuplement et de multiculturalisme imposé. Le cynisme mercantile du président du Medef, Pierre Gattaz, qui salue une « opportunité » dans l’arrivée d’une main d’oeuvre docile, est une autre agression pour les Français soucieux de préserver la cohésion de leur nation ouverte. En réalité, l’effet de cet excès de xénophilie est, dès à présent, de replacer au cœur du débat public des sujets évacués : l’immigration, le retour aux frontières, la préférence nationale, l’expulsion effective des migrants économiques et des clandestins. Sans parler de la faillite des partis politiques et de l’Union européenne elle-même. Dans le fond, merci Angela Merkel pour tant de maladresses !
Voir de plus:
Exclusif. Deux terroristes présumés arrêtés à la frontière hongroise
23 Septembre 2015
Terrorisme. Deux meneurs des affrontements ayant eu lieu à la frontière serbo-hongroise (à Horgos et à Röszke) viennent d’être identifiés par la police hongroise, comme des terroristes qui s’apprêtaient à commettre des actions sur le sol européen.
Le 16 septembre, Yacir et Ahmed H. ont été interpellés alors que, munis de mégaphones donnant des ordres en arabe et en anglais, ils encadraient les émeutiers qui tentaient d’entrer en Hongrie par la force.
D’après le portail d’information Alfahir.hu, c’est un immigré illégal, manifestement chrétien, qui a reconnu Ahmed H. et envoyé des photos accablantes à la police. On y voit Ahmed H en Syrie brandissant une kalachnikov ou partageant un moment de repos au milieu d’un groupe de djihadistes.
D’après la police hongroise, Ahmed H aurait participé au meurtre de plus de cinquante personnes. Le témoin a révélé que celui-ci avait la réputation d’un « boucher sanguinaire, assassin notoire, tortionnaire ». Après enquête, selon la police, le terroriste présumé, loin d’être un malheureux réfugié, possède une maison à Chypre, un bateau, cinq voitures et venait d’investir 90 000 euros dans la construction d’une nouvelle demeure.
Plus grave, il était lié au Tabligh Jamaat, un groupe fondamentaliste islamiste. Il aurait combattu au sein de l’armée syrienne libre, puis dans les rangs du front al-Nosra (branche syrienne d’Al-Qaeda). Une information annoncée par la police hongroise.
Il a été arrêté en possession de sept passeports, tous munis de visas Schengen. Il préparait, d’après la police hongroise, des actions terroristes sur le sol européen.
Viktor Orban, le premier ministre hongrois, vient de confirmer ce mercredi, que les services spéciaux avaient déjà arrêté plusieurs terroristes.
De notre envoyé spécial en Hongrie, Pierre-Alexandre Bouclay
‘We’re going to be the majority soon!’ Furious Muslim parents taunt New Jersey school board over religious holiday closure
Muslim families had wanted Jersey City schools to shut on September 24 in observance of Eid al-Adha holiday
After initially approving the move, the state’s school board voted to keep the schools open so as not to disrupt the lives of non-Muslim families
Several Muslim parents who attended the meeting screamed in rage
One woman in a purple head scarf told the board: ‘We’re no longer the minority, that’s clear from tonight. We’re going to be the majority soon’
Muslim students who choose to stay home on Thursday will not be penalized, the board said
23 September 2015
Tempers flared at a school board meeting in New Jersey when a room crowded with Muslim parents learned that schools will remain open during Thursday’s religious holiday of Eid al-Adha.
Several of the Muslim parents and children screamed in rage and openly wept when the board announced its decision.
At one point, a young woman in a purple head scarf took the microphone and told them: ‘We’re no longer the minority, that’s clear from tonight. We’re going to be the majority soon.’
Enraged: Muslim parents in Jersey City were furious to learn during a school board meeting September 17 that local schools will remain open during the holiday of Eid al-Adha
RELIGIOUS POPULATIONS IN JERSEY CITY BY NUMBERS
New Jersey as a whole boasts the second largest Muslim population in the US after Michigan.
In New Jersey, 4.2 per cent of residents who say they are religious are Muslim Americans, according to the latest U.S. Religions Census.
The city, which has 257,000 residents, is considered one of the most ethnically diverse in the Nation.
Of those who say they are religious, 3.3 per cent are Jewish American. There are also established Evangelical Protestant and Orthodox communities.
Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Arab Americans compose a significant proportion of Jersey City’s Muslim population.
A Jewish parent who attended the meeting said some people in his community felt they were being discriminated against because the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur were not on Jersey City’s official school closure list.
Meanwhile just across the Hudson River in New York City, schools will be closed for Eid Al-Adha for the first time as a result of a change put in place by Mayor Bill de Blasio in March.
The Jersey City Board of Education had originally proposed to close local schools on September 24 to allow Muslim children to observe the holiday.
The City Council unanimously voted in favor of the closure two weeks ago.
However, during the contentious four-hour meeting held last Thursday, the board voted to keep Jersey City schools open so as not to cause disruptions for non-Muslim families, reported NBC New York.
Silver lining: The board noted that Muslim students who choose to take Thursday off to observe the holiday will not be penalized
Practical concerns: Board member Gerald Lyons told the crowd closing Jersey City schools on such a short notice would cause hardship for non-Muslim families
‘Doing this at this point on six days’ notice for this upcoming holiday is going to cause undue hardship on 5,000 to 10,000 people, who are going to have to scramble to get coverage for their children,’ board member Gerald Lyons told the meeting.
Board members said that Muslim students who choose to take Thursday off to observe Eid al-Adha will not be penalized.
The school board is expected to review its religious holiday policy later this year.
Eid al-Adha, also known as the Feast of Sacrifice, is the second of two religious holidays celebrated by Muslims around the world to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Our Far-Flung Correspondents August 31, 2015 Issue
The Other France
Are the suburbs of Paris incubators of terrorism?
The New Yorker
August 31, 2015
Although the alienated, impoverished immigrant communities outside Paris are increasingly prone to anti-Semitism, the profiles of French jihadists don’t track closely with class. Many of them have come from bourgeois families. Credit Photograph by Arnau Bach For The New Yorker
Fouad Ben Ahmed never paid much attention to Charlie Hebdo. He found the satirical magazine to be vulgar and not funny, and to him it seemed fixated on Islam, but he didn’t think that its contributors did real harm. One of its cartoonists, Stéphane Charbonnier, also drew for Le Petit Quotidien, a children’s paper to which Ben Ahmed subscribed for his two kids. On January 7th, upon hearing that two French brothers with Algerian names, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, had executed twelve people at the Charlie Hebdo offices—including Charbonnier—in revenge for covers caricaturing Muhammad, Ben Ahmed wrote on Facebook, “My French heart bleeds, my Muslim soul weeps. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can justify these barbaric acts. Don’t talk to me about media or politicians who would play such-and-such a game, because there’s no excuse for barbarism. #JeSuisCharlie.”
That night, Ben Ahmed left his house, in the suburbs outside Paris, and went into the city to join tens of thousands of people at a vigil. He is of Algerian and Tunisian descent, with dark skin, and a few white extremists spat threats at him, but Ben Ahmed ignored them—France was his country, too. On January 11th, he joined the one and a half million citizens who marched in unity from the Place de la République.
Ben Ahmed’s Facebook page became a forum for others, mostly French Muslims, to discuss the attacks. Many expressed simple grief and outrage; a few aired conspiracy theories, suggesting a plot to stigmatize Muslims. “Let the investigators shed light on this massacre,” Ben Ahmed advised. One woman wrote, “I fear for the Muslims of France. The narrow-minded or frightened are going to dig in their heels and make an amalgame”—conflate terrorists with all Muslims. Ben Ahmed agreed: “Our country is going to be more divided.” He defended his use of #JeSuisCharlie, arguing that critiques of Charlie’s content, however legitimate before the attack, had no place afterward. “If we have a debate on the editorial line, it’s like saying, ‘Yes—but,’ ” he later told me. “In these conditions, that is unthinkable.”
Ben Ahmed, who is thirty-nine, works as a liaison between residents and the local government in Bondy—a suburb, northeast of Paris, in an area called Department 93. For decades a bastion of the old working class and the Communist Party, the 93 is now known for its residents of Arab and African origin. To many Parisians, the 93 signifies decayed housing projects, crime, unemployment, and Muslims. France has all kinds of suburbs, but the word for them, banlieues, has become pejorative, meaning slums dominated by immigrants. Inside the banlieues are the cités: colossal concrete housing projects built during the postwar decades, in the Brutalist style of Le Corbusier. Conceived as utopias for workers, they have become concentrations of poverty and social isolation. The cités and their occupants are the subject of anxious and angry discussion in France. Two recent books by the eminent political scientist Gilles Kepel, “Banlieue de la République” and “Quatre-vingt-treize” (“Ninety-three”), are studies in industrial decline and growing segregation by group identity. There’s a French pejorative for that, too: communautarisme.
After the Charlie massacre—and after a third terrorist, Amedy Coulibaly, gunned down a black policewoman outside a Jewish school and four Jews at a kosher supermarket—there was a widespread feeling, in France and elsewhere, that the killings were somehow related to the banlieues. But an exact connection is not easy to establish. Although these alienated communities are increasingly prone to anti-Semitism, the profiles of French jihadists don’t track closely with class; many have come from bourgeois families. The sense of exclusion in the banlieues is an acute problem that the republic has neglected for decades, but more jobs and better housing won’t put an end to French jihadism.
Ben Ahmed has lived in the 93 his entire life. A few years ago, he and his wife, Carolina, and their two children moved into a small house near Charles de Gaulle Airport. They wanted to be near a private school that the children attend, because most public schools in the 93 are overcrowded and chaotic, and staffed by younger, less qualified teachers. Ben Ahmed spent his teens in one of the toughest suburbs, Bobigny, in a notorious cité called l’Abreuvoir. During his twenties and early thirties, Ben Ahmed was employed by the Bobigny government as a community organizer, working with troubled youth—some of them his friends and neighbors, many just out of prison or headed there. His authority on life in the cités exceeds that of any scholar.
“First, I’ll read the minutes from your last weddings.”Buy the print »
After the attacks, Ben Ahmed wrote an open letter to President François Hollande titled “All Partly Responsible, but Not Guilty.” He identified himself as a banlieue resident who had often “seen death a few metres from me.” He wrote about the problems of joblessness, discrimination, and collective withdrawal from society. He recalled that, in October, 2001, a soccer game in Paris between France and Algeria—the first such match since Algerian independence, in 1962—had to be called off when thousands of French youths of North African origin booed the “Marseillaise” and invaded the field, some chanting, “Bin Laden, bin Laden!” The French public responded with righteous revulsion. “The problem was before our eyes,” Ben Ahmed wrote. “But instead of asking good questions, we chose stigmatization, refusal of the other.” He went on, “The split was born on that day, the feeling of rejection expressed by the political class, when we could have asked other questions: What’s wrong? What’s the problem?”
Ben Ahmed wears sharp dark suits, even on weekends, as if such formality were the only way for an Arab from the 93 to be taken seriously. When I met him, soon after the attacks, he told me, “In French, we say, ‘Clothes don’t make the monk’—but they do, unfortunately.” For the same reason, he always speaks proper French, not the accented slang of the banlieues. He shaves his head close, the black stubble of his hairline descending to a widow’s peak. He has a broad, boyish face and a disarming smile; as he shuttles around the 93, with quick, lock-kneed strides, he seems to know everyone by name. But as a youth in l’Abreuvoir he had to learn to fight—he trained at boxe française, a form of kickboxing—and his eyes can turn hooded and flat under stress. Two years ago, upon entering a cinema with his children, Ben Ahmed noticed that a patron was carrying a shotgun. (The man was out to settle scores with his wife and her lover.) Ben Ahmed told his children to lie down, stalked the gunman for thirty feet, then grabbed him from behind and took him to the floor in a Brazilian-jujitsu chokehold. After security guards arrived, Ben Ahmed escorted his children into a screening of “Man of Steel.”
Ben Ahmed had been nurturing political ambitions, and the incident made him a neighborhood hero. He decided to run for local office. “I have an ability to talk with everyone, because I respect the other,” he told me. “I think there’s always some good at the bottom of everyone.” Ben Ahmed’s wife and friends consider him a little naïve, but naïveté is almost a requirement for a banlieue Muslim entering French politics during a national-identity crisis.
The highway that encircles Paris is known as the Périphérique. Entering or leaving the suburbs is often called “crossing the Périphérique,” as if it were a frontier. Banlieue residents joke that going into Paris requires a visa and a vaccination card. Mehdi Meklat, a young writer at Bondy Blog, which reports on the banlieues, told me, “There are two parallel worlds.” He called the dynamic between Paris and the suburbs “schizophrenic.”
The R.E.R., the rail network linking Paris to its suburbs, takes you from the Gare du Nord to Ben Ahmed’s station in just nineteen minutes. The trip begins in a tunnel, and when the train emerges the boulevards lined with bistro awnings are gone. Even the weather seems different—damp and murky, with a wind blowing from the southwest. (The suburbs of the 93 grew around factories that had been situated northeast of Paris in order to allow industrial smells to drift away from the City of Light.) The rail tracks cut through a disordered landscape of graffiti-covered walls, glass office buildings, soccer fields, trash fires, abandoned industrial lots, modest houses with red tile roofs, and clusters of twenty-story monoliths—the cités.
The banlieues are far more diverse than the ghettos of American cities. On the R.E.R., I saw a man speaking Tamil on his cell phone; an Asian woman watching her two boys; North African women in every variety of hijab, or in none; an elderly white man; a black man in a blazer reading the sports section; an Arab begging in the aisle with a child in his arms. Wealthy neighborhoods stand next door to poor ones, privately owned houses are interspersed with housing projects, and people of every color and religion shop in the commercial centers. In a dingy little restaurant in Montreuil, on an empty street near a cité, Arab men were served by a white waitress. The banlieues have housed generations of immigrants, and the older tide of Portuguese, Italians, and Poles hasn’t completely gone out with the more recent waves of Arabs, Africans, and Chinese. The suburbs are thought to remain majority white, though no one knows for sure because, in France, collecting statistics by ethnicity or religion is illegal. (A precise count isn’t necessary for the cités: they are overwhelmingly Arab and black.)
Fouad Ben Ahmed, a lifelong banlieue resident, wrote of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, “My French heart bleeds, my Muslim soul weeps.” Photograph by William Daniels / Panos for The New Yorker
For all their vitality, the banlieues feel isolated from the city, and from France itself. Parisians and tourists rarely visit them, and residents complain that journalists drop in only to report on car burnings and drug shootings. The suburb Clichy-sous-Bois—the scene, in 2005, of youth riots that spread across the country—has tried to raise revenue by offering a tour de banlieue for curious outsiders. Many suburban residents, meanwhile, never even think of going to Paris. Compared with American slums, the banlieues have relatively decent standards of housing and safety, but the psychological distance between the 93 and the Champs-Elysées can feel insuperable—much greater than that between the Bronx and Times Square. The apartment blocks in the cités, often arranged around a pharmacy, a convenience store, and a fast-food joint, look inward. Many have no street addresses, obvious points of entry, or places to park. The sense of separation is heightened by the names of the surrounding streets and schools, preserved from a historical France that has little connection to residents’ lives. The roads around Gros Saule—a drug-ridden cité where the police dare not enter—include Rue Henri Matisse and Rue Claude Debussy.
“It’s a social frontier,” Badroudine Abdallah, Mehdi Meklat’s colleague at Bondy Blog, said. “It’s not just about being black or Arab. It’s also about having relationships at your disposal, a network.” Meklat and Abdallah, who are in their twenties, told me about weeklong internships required of French ninth graders. Most of their classmates ended up in lousy little bakeries or pharmacies, or with nothing, because corporations wouldn’t answer queries from the children of immigrants in the 93.
Being from the banlieues is a serious impediment to employability, and nearly every resident I met had a story about discrimination. Fanta Ba, the daughter of Senegalese immigrants, has taken to sending out job applications using her middle name, France, and Frenchifying her last name to Bas, but she remains out of work. Whenever she hears of a terrorist attack in France, she prays, “Don’t let it be an Arab, a black, a Muslim.” On January 7th, she turned off the TV and avoided Facebook for two days. She couldn’t bear to rewatch the violent images or hear that all Muslims bore some responsibility. “To have to say, ‘I am Charlie’ or ‘I am a Muslim and I condemn this’—it’s too much,” she said. “It wasn’t me. I asked myself, ‘How will this end? Are they going to put crosses on the apartment doors of Muslims or Arabs?’ ”
Ben Ahmed has a friend from Bobigny named Brahim Aniba, an accountant who, like many banlieue residents, once endured a period of unemployment. To receive state benefits, he had to meet with a job counsellor. Aniba told me that the counsellor, wanting to help, said, “You don’t have an aunt who lives in Paris or somewhere else? Because Bobigny—really? Cité Grémillon?” This was the French equivalent of Shitsville. The counsellor advised, “If you have an address in Paris, a post-office box, just to receive mail, it’s better. And then the family name, Aniba—it’s O.K., but the first name, Brahim, use ‘B.’ ”
“Madame, why don’t I just drop my pants instead?” Aniba said.
Simply defining who is French can make small talk tricky. When people ask Widad Ketfi, a thirty-year-old journalist, where she’s from, she replies, “Bondy,” but that never ends the conversation. “Of what origin?” “French.” “Where are your parents from?” “France!” Even citizens of immigrant descent often identify whites with the term Français de souche—“French from the roots.” The implication is that people with darker skin are not fully French.
Fanta Ba said, “You do everything for France, to be accepted, but you feel you’re not welcome.” This is especially true for Muslims. In a poll taken by Le Monde after the attacks, a majority of respondents agreed that Islam is incompatible with French values. In a cité like Trappes, where Ba grew up, some Muslims have separated from French society: women are disappearing under the black abaya; men are dropping out of school to sell Islamic clothing online. Ba doesn’t cover her hair, but she has become more observant as she struggles with being jobless and alone. Withdrawal, she said, was often a reaction to exclusion.
In the 2012 elections, nine of the five hundred and seventy-seven seats in France’s National Assembly were won by nonwhite candidates—an increase of eight seats. France remains a caste society where social capital is king. It’s ruled by les énarques—graduates of the prestigious École Nationale d’Administration, in Strasbourg. According to Laurent Bouvet, a political scientist, an élite degree is the only guarantee of finding a good job in a country that’s mired in economic torpor. This is increasingly true in America, too, but the U.S. absorbs immigrants far more easily than France. What the two countries have in common—and what makes them unique—is a national identity based not just on history, blood, soil, and culture but on the idea of popular sovereignty. In France, this is called republicanism, and in theory the idea is universal. In practice, being part of the French republic has to do not just with democracy and secularism but also with what you wear, what you eat, and what you name your children.
In 2007, a national immigration museum opened in the Porte Dorée, an Art Deco palace in eastern Paris which was built for a colonial exposition in 1931. Tradition requires French Presidents to inaugurate national museums, but Nicolas Sarkozy, who had used immigration as a wedge issue in his election campaign, refused to attend. The Musée de l’Histoire de l’Immigration opened without official ceremony. (Last December, after seven years, Hollande, a Socialist, finally inaugurated it.) When I went to the museum, in February, there were few visitors, and many Parisians remain unaware of its existence.
That struck me as a missed opportunity, for the exhibitions tell a rich story, going back to the mid-nineteenth century, when France was receiving new immigrants while the rest of Europe was creating them. As recently as the nineteen-thirties, France had the world’s highest number of immigrants per capita. The museum’s placards offer historical reassurance: “The figure of the unassimilable foreigner accompanies every wave of immigrants. From the Italians at the end of the nineteenth century to the Africans of today, the stereotypes hardly change: immigrants are too numerous, carriers of disease, potential criminals, aliens in the body of the nation. This xenophobia, recurring in times of crisis, is often paired with anti-Semitism and fed by racism.”
The least digestible aspect of France’s colonial past is Algeria. When Algeria was settled by Europeans, in the early nineteenth century, it became part of greater France, and remained so until 1962, when independence was achieved, after an eight-year war in which seven hundred thousand people died. It’s hard to overstate how heavily this intimate, sad history has been repressed. “The Battle of Algiers,” the filmmaker Gillo Pontecorvo’s neo-realist masterpiece about insurgency, counterinsurgency, terrorism, and torture in Algiers, was banned in France for five years after its release, in 1966, and it remains taboo there. On October 17, 1961, during demonstrations by pro-independence Algerians in Paris and its suburbs, the French police killed some two hundred people, throwing many bodies off bridges into the Seine. It took forty years for France to acknowledge that this massacre had occurred, and the incident remains barely mentioned in schools. Young people in the banlieues told me that colonial history is cursorily taught, and literature from former colonies hardly read.
Andrew Hussey, a British scholar at the University of London School of Advanced Study in Paris, believes that the turmoil in the banlieues—periodic riots, car burnings, brawls with cops—is one more front in the long war between France and its Arabs, especially Algerians. The aim of the violence isn’t reform or revolution but revenge. “The kids in the banlieues live in this perpetual present of weed, girls, gangsters, Islam,” he said. “They have no sense of history, no sense of where they come from in North Africa, other than localized bits of Arabic that they don’t understand, bits of Islam that don’t really make sense.”
Hussey’s recent book, “The French Intifada,” describes the conflict in such dire terms that his French publisher refused to release a translation. His banlieue research is less nuanced than that of Kepel (the phrase “French intifada” drew laughs of disbelief when I mentioned it to some banlieue residents), but it’s vivid and firsthand. The book opens with an eyewitness account of an eight-hour battle, in the Gare du Nord in 2007, between cops and banlieue kids who shout, in Arabic, “Fuck France!” Hussey writes, “This slogan—it is in fact more of a curse—has nothing to do with any French tradition of revolt.” But his portrait leaves out all the banlieue residents who are trying to be both Muslim and French—people like Fouad Ben Ahmed.
One night, at a Thai restaurant in the suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois, Ben Ahmed said, “I barely know my history. It’s not taught, and because it’s painful my mother and my grandfather never told me.” Still, he knew the basics of the French-Algerian War, and he spoke about the pieds-noirs—French settlers in Algeria who, after independence, fled what they considered their homeland—and the Harkis, Algerian Muslims who supported French rule and were demonized by other Algerians. At the end of the war, neither country made a place for citizens with conflicting allegiances and identities: Algeria became an Arab state, and France cauterized its wounds by pretending that the conflict hadn’t happened. Among the pieds-noirs, Harkis, and Algerians who immigrated to France for economic reasons, guilt and recrimination have impeded a candid reckoning with their shared pasts. Ben Ahmed said, “And since neither our parents nor the state tells us this history, other people come along to tell us lies in order to justify things that are unjustifiable.” He meant jihadists.
Ben Ahmed’s grandfather was an Algerian who enlisted in the French Army and immigrated to the Paris banlieues in 1958. Most immigrants of that period entered France as laborers—factory hands, street-cleaners—and lived in shantytowns. Their presence was expected to be temporary. When it became clear that most of the immigrants weren’t returning home, the shantytowns were cleared and the workers were moved into the cités. Ben Ahmed’s grandfather, with his military pay, was able to afford a small house in the 93. Ben Ahmed’s mother was a secretary in a metallurgical factory; his father disappeared when Fouad was two. He grew up in relative ease in his grandparents’ house until 1989, when they sold it. Ben Ahmed was thirteen.
At the time, his mother was unemployed, and she and Fouad had to move to l’Abreuvoir, the cité in Bobigny. L’Abreuvoir had been considered innovative when it was built, in the sixties, with undulating rows of four-story low-rises and green circular towers. But by the nineties it had become a center of heroin trafficking. Once, Ben Ahmed walked into the lobby of his building and saw a man holding a bag of drugs and a wad of cash. “Get out of here, or I’ll take care of you,” the man said. Ben Ahmed fled.
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He was an indifferent student, forced to repeat several grades, but his mother made him stick with it, because her welfare benefits would drop if he quit school. He helped support her and his little brother by delivering washing machines to Paris apartments. Some of his friends were drug dealers, and Ben Ahmed might have become a criminal, too, had he not met Carolina, the daughter of political refugees from Chile. When they were eighteen, she told Ben Ahmed to choose between his crowd and her. With Carolina’s help, he finished high school, got a college degree in social management, and became a youth organizer.
One youth Ben Ahmed tried to help was J.-P., a wild kid from Salvador Allende, another cité in Bobigny. Ben Ahmed, twelve years older, had known J.-P. almost since birth. (“Bobigny is like a village,” J.-P. said.) J.-P. was a métis: Arab father, white mother. His grandfather had emigrated from Algeria in 1954, and became a street-cleaner. His father belonged to what J.-P. called “an uprooted generation, with their ass on two chairs”—unwanted by both the old country and the new. J.-P.’s father is still alive, but most of his father’s friends died young, from violence, drugs, or AIDS. J.-P. grew up a tattooed devotee of “Scarface” and Tupac Shakur. At fourteen, he was expelled from school and began selling drugs and stealing. “When people lay down the law with violence, to get the last word you have to be the most violent,” J.-P. said. He didn’t see himself as a victim. “I was a little asshole. I chose to get into it. I should’ve tried not to go down that path. The problem is why the path’s there at all.”
We drove around the 93 in Ben Ahmed’s Citroën. J.-P.—light-skinned, ripped jeans, bad teeth—sat in back. He never took out his earphones, and he often withdrew into a haze, only to emerge with full powers of focus and articulation. He had been imprisoned three times since 2010. His first conviction, he said, had involved “a little of everything—weapons possession, violence, buying drugs.”
Ben Ahmed recalled that he and J.-P. knew a teen-age girl whose boyfriend was a thug. Ben Ahmed advised the girl to be careful, and, when word got back to the boyfriend, he confronted Ben Ahmed: “What the fuck do you want?” The next night, Ben Ahmed asked a friend in the boyfriend’s cité to go with a few others to calm the guy down. When the boyfriend saw the group approaching, he pulled out a pistol and fired warning shots.
“Sometimes it’s hard—wanting to try to help certain people and finding yourself in a situation that’s difficult,” Ben Ahmed told me.
“Two years later, I slept with the girl,” J.-P. said, laughing. “The same guy shot me in the leg.”
“What’s also hard is for someone like me who wants to help J.-P.,” Ben Ahmed said. “Sometimes you feel people aren’t ready to be helped.”
“Hey, you’re starting to annoy me,” J.-P. said. “Give me a hundred thousand euros. That would help!” He complained that his stomach was growling. We dropped him off at a Senegalese cafeteria.
“You’re very intelligent but wrong in the head,” Ben Ahmed said to him.
“I like my life,” J.-P. said. “It’s never too late to change.” He walked away, with a slight limp.
“I’m afraid he’ll end badly,” Ben Ahmed said.
In 2004, the French parliament passed a law forbidding religious symbols in public schools. The law emerged in response to Muslim girls coming to class with their hair covered. The legislation affirmed the century-old French concept of laïcité, or secularism, which enshrines state neutrality toward religion and prevents religion from intruding into the civic space. (In America, the intent of secularism was nearly the reverse, prohibiting state interference in religion.) But many French Muslims interpreted the ban as an act of gratuitous hostility. Some of them told me, inaccurately, that the law had made an exception for the Jewish kippah.
“School is a sacred space in republican theory—it’s the church of the republic,” Vincent Martigny, a political scientist at the École Polytechnique, outside Paris, said. “School is the place where an individual, especially a child, becomes a citizen, which is a superior form of the individual.” Martigny noted that rigid republicanism coexists in France with public support for cultural diversity—in cinema, in local festivals. But in an era of insecurity France is undergoing what he called “moral panic attacks.” In a recent poll in Le Monde, forty-two per cent of respondents said that they no longer felt at home in France.
After the Charlie killings, dozens of mosques around France were defaced, and in a few cases fired upon. Veiled girls and women were harassed. Some French Muslims complained that, while the government sent armed soldiers to guard Jewish sites, Muslim sites were initially left unprotected. The complaint, though accurate, obscured key differences of degree and kind: Jews, who represent less than one per cent of the French population, are the victims of half the country’s hate crimes, and in recent years they’ve been the repeated targets of murderous violence.
On January 8th, there was a nationwide minute of silence for the Charlie victims. At least a hundred incidents were reported of students in banlieue schools refusing to observe it. People in the 93 explained that some rebellious kids were just acting out. But the public was outraged. Sarkozy, eying another shot at the Presidency in 2017, demanded that schools stop serving halal food—if Muslim kids didn’t want to eat pork, they could forgo eating.
Hélène Kuhnmunch teaches history in a vocational high school in Colombes, a banlieue northwest of Paris. The vocational schools are despised, she said, as tools of “exclusion from the system,” and they have few resources. Kuhnmunch is a fifteen-year veteran who teaches banlieue youths because she loves their humor and energy. In 2008, she and a group of immigrant kids made a documentary film about the Franco-Algerian history that lay buried in the children’s families. One boy discovered that his father had been among the Algerians thrown by police into the Seine. (He survived.)
Kuhnmunch said that her students responded to the Charlie attacks with defensiveness, adding, “This wasn’t new, this feeling of always being pushed back on their origins, their religion, of being insulted.” Kuhnmunch, who lives in Paris, did not attend the unity march at the Place de la République, because she knew “that the banlieues would not be there.” She spent that day gathering material for a class on the attacks.
In school on Monday, a Muslim student raised his hand. “Madame, the cartoons—I was against them,” he said. “But you don’t kill for that.” It saddened Kuhnmunch that he felt compelled to reassure her. Others echoed the conspiracy theories on social media, including one dreamy, funny boy who was among her favorites, but who had closed up in anger. Kuhnmunch turned the discussion to the history of secularism. In the banlieues, laïcité has become synonymous with atheism and Islamophobia. Kuhnmunch told her students about the Edict of Nantes, in 1598, when King Henry IV granted rights to French Protestants for the first time. The class discussed laws, passed in the eighteen-eighties, which eliminated religious education in public schools. She showed her students anti-clerical cartoons from that time, and they analyzed Charlie’s drawings (though not ones of Muhammad) in their political context.
“They realized that the same arguments were made then on the subject of the Catholic religion and in 2004 on this story of the veil,” she said. “And that moved them—that this wasn’t just something against Islam, that it comes out of a tradition.”
J.-P. offered to take me to a mosque in Bobigny. He rarely went there himself; his attachment to Islam had less to do with faith than with cultural identity. One Friday afternoon, he showed up at the concrete shopping mall in the town center wearing a glossy black hooded coat, a long black skirt over gray sweatpants, green-and-yellow sneakers, and earphones—religious gangster attire. We followed a footpath away from the projects, under railroad tracks, up to a scrubby clearing beside a junk yard of decaying freight containers. A double trailer stood next to a white tent. This was the central mosque of Bobigny, a town of fifty thousand people. (A new mosque, planned for years, remained unbuilt.) There was a bottleneck where men streamed through the door of one of the trailers. Women, out of view, were presumably in the other trailer. In the entryway, shoes were piled waist high. We squeezed inside the sanctuary, which had barely eight feet of headroom, and found places at the back.
At least two hundred men were kneeling, heads bowed to the carpet. On the coming Sunday, a few miles away, the magnificent, cavernous churches of Paris would be nearly empty. The imam, an elderly Tunisian who spoke little French, gave the closing prayer. J.-P. kept his earphones in.
Afterward, in the crush at the exit—old North African men, young blacks in street clothes, fundamentalists with long beards in ankle-length skirts—J.-P. introduced me to some of his friends. “Allahu akbar! ” they exclaimed in surprised welcome, but they seemed even more surprised to see J.-P. He said to me, “Not everyone has to be a Muslim in the same way. There are sixty-two approaches to Islam.”
I mentioned a few I knew about, including Sufism and Salafism.
“We’re all Salafists,” J.-P. said. “We all want to live like the companions of the Prophet in the seventh century.”
The Salafists I knew were extreme ascetics—they didn’t drink, smoke, or sleep around. J.-P. enjoyed his “glass of wine,” and had plans to get wasted that very night. His idea of Salafism seemed little more than an aspiration to be a more observant Muslim.
He had hesitated to take me inside a cité—he had too many enemies. Instead of showing me around his own housing project, he led me across the street to a larger block of towers called Chemin Vert. J.-P. knew everyone there, too. “This guy is a big rapper,” he said of a loiterer, who nodded warily. Two young Arabs were hanging out in front of a tower, and J.-P. identified one as a dealer. The other, learning that I had come from America, cried, “Is it true that Tupac is dead?” A group of bearded men from the mosque greeted us. J.-P. introduced me to one of them, joking that the man might be heading off to Syria. The man smiled uneasily.
In the deserted center of Chemin Vert, on a plaza surrounded by eight twenty-story towers, J.-P. stopped walking. “See?” he said. “It closes you off.” The cité felt like the perimeter walls of a prison. Even Brutalist Bobigny had disappeared. J.-P. was gazing at nothing I could discern. The air was dense with rain that wouldn’t fall. “There’s nothing at all for kids,” he said. “I’ve never seen the ‘Mona Lisa.’ I want to see it before I die.”
In the middle of the cité, at a fast-food counter, we ordered lunch: a pile of fried meat covered in processed cheese. J.-P., still wearing earphones, asked the cook what he thought of the Islamic State. The cook said that it was bad. J.-P. agreed, but his politics were heavily inflected with a sense of Muslim oppression. If Muslims wanted to go fight in Syria or Iraq, that was their business. France was different. If someone hurt France, he hurt J.-P., too.
“France is our mother,” J.-P. said as he ate. His own mother was a white Frenchwoman. “Your father, he gives you more—Islam. But your mother is still your mother. And, whatever happens, you’ll love her your whole life. Even if she didn’t cherish you.”
Other Muslims had described themselves as unloved children of the republic. Widad Ketfi, the journalist, said, “If you have children you don’t take care of, a day will come when you tell them, ‘Do this,’ and they’ll say, ‘I don’t give a damn. You’re not my father.’ ” Sometimes French Muslims compete for their father’s love with his other, more favored children—the Jews. Or else they search for another father.
“Islam sometimes brings the radiance and love and affection that the republic doesn’t give,” J.-P. said. He laughed at his own words. “Because me—I’m rotten.”
When I met J.-P., he was looking for work. Eventually, Ben Ahmed helped him find a job as a housepainter, with the city of Bondy. But J.-P.’s life was hardly stable. He had a court date pending—he had been charged with armed assault. He told me that he wasn’t too worried about returning to jail, because he was “four hundred per cent innocent.” The first of his prison terms, he told me, had been in Villepinte, near the airport. Among the inmates was Amedy Coulibaly.
Coulibaly, the French son of Malian parents, grew up in a cité south of Paris. At fifteen, he began a career in armed robbery, and during one of his imprisonments, in 2006, he met a newly converted Islamist named Chérif Kouachi. Both twenty-three, they found a mentor in a veteran jihadist named Djamel Beghal, who had been born in Algeria and had brought radical Islamist views with him when he moved to France, in 1987. Beghal visited Afghanistan and became an Al Qaeda operative in 2000; the following year, he was charged in France with plotting to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Paris. From an isolation cell in prison, he managed to communicate with Coulibaly and Kouachi. At one point, Coulibaly used a smuggled camera to shoot video of the prison’s dismal conditions. The footage aired on French TV.
The leading authority on jihadism in French prisons is an Iranian sociologist in Paris named Farhad Khosrokhavar. For his book “Radicalisation,” published just before the January attacks, he spent three days a week in French prisons for three years, developing a theory of inmate conversion. It happens in stages. Most of the recruits grow up without fathers and without any religious knowledge—only anger and alienation in the banlieues. They fall into crime and end up in prison. J.-P. described the mind-set of some of his fellow-inmates: “I’m in prison, the state is to blame—it pushed me to live this life.” Prisoners watch a lot of TV news, and see war and death in Muslim countries. Someone like Coulibaly, J.-P. said, starts to “mix all this together” and create his own ideology, then “runs across a bad person who influences him.” One former prisoner I met in the 93 explained that Islamists target the fragiles, psychologically weak inmates who never receive visits. They are offered solace, a new identity, and a political vision inverting the social order that places them at the bottom.
As Khosrokhavar analyzes it, prisoners are “born again”: “Through jihadism, they transform the contempt of the others. . . . Once they become jihadists, people fear them. One of them told me, ‘Once they fear you, they cannot be contemptuous toward you anymore.’ ” After converts are released, they go on an “initiation journey” to the Middle East or North Africa, where they become capable of extreme violence. They come to think “that they belong elsewhere, to the Islamic community, and not to the French society.”
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Khosrokhavar estimates that, of France’s sixty-four thousand prisoners, up to sixty per cent are Muslim. (Muslims are thought to compose only eight per cent of the population.) These inmates are served by fewer than two hundred prison imams, many of whom are older immigrants and unable to understand life in the banlieues. France once had many Islamist mosques, but its internal intelligence service rooted out radical imams, and the country’s mosques are now pointedly apolitical. Recruitment, therefore, happens outside the mosque, in prisons or on the Internet. The conversion process rarely involves more than three people, to thwart infiltration. French intelligence estimates the number of suspected jihadists to be three thousand, in a country of sixty-five million people.
Radicalization, then, is not a mass phenomenon in the banlieues. “There are no jihadi pools,” Jean-Pierre Filiu, an Arabist at the élite Paris Institute of Political Studies, said. Becoming a jihadist is a quantum leap requiring self-isolation, a break with one’s upbringing, and dehumanization of non-Muslims.
In 2007, after Coulibaly was released, he appeared to go straight. He got a short-term job at a Coca-Cola bottling plant, married his girlfriend, Hayat Boumeddiene, in an Islamic ceremony, and met President Sarkozy, at a 2009 event promoting youth employment. But Coulibaly led a double life. He cut himself off from his parents, whom he considered infidels. He stayed in touch with Beghal and Kouachi after their release, meeting in the South of France and supplying them with weapons and money. “When jihadis go on the run, they don’t go to the banlieues,” Filiu said. “They go to the countryside, to a place where you don’t have a Muslim for ten kilometres.”
In 2010, French police arrested Coulibaly again, finding a stash of ammunition in his apartment. He was convicted of plotting to spring from prison an Islamist who had organized bombings around France in 1995, killing eight people. Coulibaly was sent to Villepinte prison, where J.-P. was serving time. They watched TV and competed on a PlayStation. “He was nice, smiling, pleasant,” J.-P. recalled. “I never saw him bother anyone. He never preached. If someone told me this person was capable of doing what happened, I wouldn’t have bet on that horse.” Coulibaly was released early, in March, 2014. He slipped off the police radar, before surfacing just after the Charlie massacre as the Kouachis’ accomplice and a self-proclaimed soldier of the Islamic State.
More than the Kouachi brothers, Coulibaly, who was killed by French police during the standoff at the kosher market, became a subject of fascination in the banlieues. The Kouachis were raised as orphans in a provincial institution, and were radicalized in their early twenties, after the invasion of Iraq, by recruiters in the northeast corner of Paris. For the Kouachis, a jihadist destiny seemed overdetermined. Coulibaly was the son of a factory worker, and was raised by both parents in a cité south of Paris. And he was black. France’s high-profile jihadists had been Arabs, from Zacarias Moussaoui, the thwarted “twentieth hijacker” of September 11th, to Mohammed Merah, who murdered three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi, and three paratroopers in the Toulouse area, in 2012. A young man of Malian origin told me that, when Coulibaly’s face appeared on French TV, in front of a homemade Islamic State banner, a friend of his mother’s cried out, “Oh, no—now they’ll accuse us. That’s why I tell you not to hang out with Arabs!”
Mehdi Meklat and Badroudine Abdallah, of Bondy Blog, found Coulibaly such an enigma that they considered writing a novel about him. “He could be someone we know,” Meklat said. And yet Coulibaly had cast himself in the role of a great man. At the kosher supermarket, after killing three customers and an employee, he calmly introduced himself to his fifteen hostages, saying, “Je suis Amedy Coulibaly. I am Malian and Muslim. I belong to the Islamic State.” (Abdallah noted the eerie echo of “Je suis Charlie.”)
In videos made just before the attack and posted after his death, Coulibaly keeps changing costume, as if to emphasize his transformation. He wears a gangbanger’s leather jacket in one, a military flak vest in another, a turban and the white robe of a martyr in a third. Always, an automatic is at his side. “It was as if, for him, he didn’t exist enough,” Abdallah said. “It wasn’t enough to be a normal guy.”
From the supermarket, Coulibaly contacted the media, asking to speak with the police and pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. During the siege, he angrily justified his actions to his hostages, citing the incarceration of Muslims, hostility toward women wearing the hijab, Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, and French military action in Mali and Syria. He demanded to know why, if French citizens could rally together after the Charlie massacre, they had never demonstrated on behalf of persecuted Muslims. “I was born in France,” he declared.
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Abdallah and Meklat noted that, in 2000, during an armed robbery, the police had shot and killed a close friend of Coulibaly’s right in front of him. Coulibaly, in other words, was a fragile. It wasn’t hard to get him to “go against French society,” Abdallah said, because France had already rejected him. In this explanation, a fairly direct line could be drawn between Coulibaly’s life in the Paris suburbs and terrorism. But this didn’t account for why almost no other banlieusards—including criminals who had been subject to worse indignities—had committed mass murder against schoolchildren, Jews, and cartoonists. The social explanation, used commonly on the left in France and the U.S., oddly mirrors the right’s tendency to make an amalgame—to mix up terrorists with all Muslims. Both views suggest that an evil deed can be attributed largely to a perpetrator’s social or religious identity. In addition to insulting the vast majority of French Muslims, this analysis fails to treat Coulibaly as an individual. And it ignores the fact that he had adopted a set of beliefs. In one of Coulibaly’s videos, he describes his motives in the stark terms of ideology: “What we’re doing is totally legitimate given what you’re doing. It’s vengeance. You attack the caliphate, you attack the Islamic State? We attack you. You’re the ones killing. Why—because we uphold Sharia? Even in our own land we can’t uphold Sharia. You get to decide what happens on earth?”
Another youth whom Ben Ahmed tried to help was named Stéphane. He came from a Catholic Haitian family and grew up near his friend J.-P., in a cité in Bobigny. When Stéphane was thirteen, his father died and he became so disruptive at school that he was expelled. He turned to petty crime, and he and his friends regularly drank themselves into a stupor.
At sixteen, Stéphane heard someone reciting a verse of the Koran and felt tears come to his eyes. He didn’t understand the words, but the sounds moved him. Most of his friends were Muslims, and he decided to convert. He stopped drinking, and quit a restaurant training program that required him to prepare pork. But he wasn’t ready to go completely straight, and at nineteen he was arrested and sentenced to eighteen months in prison. Inside, he began praying five times a day, and when he got out he vowed to reform his life. He started a business that rented inflatable castles and other equipment for children’s parties, and made a point of hiring unemployed locals. He formed a group that organized excursions for youths in the cités. He married J.-P.’s cousin, and with his earnings he moved to a small house not far from Ben Ahmed’s.
I met Stéphane there one day in February. We sat at the kitchen table while his wife, who was pregnant, watched TV. Stéphane was lightly bearded and wore pajama bottoms and a T-shirt that clung to his muscular torso. His answers were terse until I asked him what role life in the banlieues had played in the January attacks.
“The neighborhoods and the environment don’t create it—it’s the people themselves,” he said. Men like Coulibaly “think everything here in this lower world is useless, it’s just a passage. And this ideology that they have—it’s not the fact that you live in a banlieue that gives it to you. It’s your faith.” Stéphane could see that Coulibaly was “fed up” with “the injustice we have here in France.” But even if Coulibaly’s milieu was the context for his actions, it wasn’t the cause. “He reacted—and a lot of people react, you know. But most don’t have such a strong faith to do those acts that he did.”
What stops them? I asked.
Stéphane leaned forward, his eyes fixed on mine. He hadn’t said that he admired Coulibaly’s actions, but he hadn’t issued the immediate condemnation made by nearly everyone else I’d met in the 93. Stéphane seemed to be saying that what separated Coulibaly from all the other pissed-off Muslims in the banlieues was the intensity of his convictions.
Andrew Hussey, the British scholar in Paris, described the intoxicating, mystical quality of jihadism. “It’s not an ideology of social conditions,” he said. “This is not about poverty, this is not about improving people’s conditions. It’s about hatred, to some extent. Purification.” He likened it to the Fascism of the nineteen-thirties. Jihadism doesn’t have the contours of ordinary politics. “This will turn you from ‘I am nothing’ to ‘I should be everything,’ ” Hussey said. Jihadism attracted both wealthy insiders like bin Laden and poor outsiders like Coulibaly. It was “a floating ideology, like the cloud—you’ve just got to lock onto it.”
I asked Stéphane to describe the injustice that Coulibaly was reacting to.
“Injustice toward Muslims.”
Injustice toward Muslims led Stéphane straight to the Jews. They were, he believed, a privileged community in France. They exploited their historical tragedy and French guilt to acquire power. He pointed out that in Drancy, another banlieue in the 93, a memorial museum stands across from the cité that had been France’s main transit center for Jews destined for concentration camps. “But they don’t recognize the slavery that there was in Haiti, in Africa, everywhere,” he said. The Shoah was a crime. “But why recognize one and not another? You have to be equal. We say ‘égalité, fraternité.’ ”
The crime of slavery couldn’t be acknowledged, because of the vast fortunes made from it. France had given money to Israel as compensation for the French role in the Holocaust—imagine what it would cost to make reparations for slavery! Coulibaly had chosen his target carefully, Stéphane said: “It’s a symbol, to say that, with all the injustice here, stop focussing on the threats to one religion.”
I asked why Coulibaly hadn’t directed his anger at a church, given that most of France’s citizens are Catholic. “Because France isn’t controlled by the Christians,” Stéphane said. He claimed that France’s tiny population of Jews controls the National Assembly, the media, and the banks. The Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, is married to a Jew, and, according to Stéphane, that was why he went on TV after the attacks and said, “France without Jews is not France.” Valls didn’t say, “France isn’t France without Muslims.”
Stéphane had only praise for Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front. “The real French, Français de souche, they see that France is now controlled by the Jews,” he said. I asked if Le Pen, who is known for having anti-immigrant views, posed a threat to French Muslims. “When I see Valls, I think Islamophobe,” Stéphane said. “Marine Le Pen, I think pure French who wants to give everything to the French. Understand?”
“Does that include you?”
“Me? I’m French.” Stéphane showed me his identity card. “Lots of Muslims are going to vote for Marine Le Pen.” I had heard this from others, and some political data bore it out. “You know what they say—the enemies of my enemies are my friends.”
Ben Ahmed had known Stéphane for years, and had admired that he cared enough about kids in the cités to volunteer his time and help. His successful business also offered inspiration to banlieue residents. But after the January attacks they argued. Stéphane insisted that Charlie Hebdo was Islamophobic, and Ben Ahmed thought that he was implying that the staffers might have deserved their fate. The argument upset Ben Ahmed deeply.
Last summer’s war in Gaza provoked widespread demonstrations in France, and some turned violent and explicitly anti-Semitic, with attacks on synagogues and kosher shops. One day in August, Ben Ahmed was driving home from Bondy’s city hall when he heard someone shout, “Dirty Jew!” He stopped. A man in a kippah was walking away from another man.
“Dirty asshole!” Ben Ahmed yelled at the man who had hurled the insult. It was someone he knew, and the man, seeing him, looked surprised, saying, “Hey, why are you talking like that?”
“When you respect him, I’ll respect you,” Ben Ahmed said.
The anti-Semite walked away. The Jew thanked Ben Ahmed. “People are making an amalgame,” he said. In the banlieues, French Jews were commonly conflated with Israelis.
“Do you often get insulted?” Ben Ahmed asked.
“No, it’s the first time. It’s the war.”
“No, it’s just an asshole,” Ben Ahmed said. “A visible minority, that’s all.”
Ben Ahmed was being too sanguine. If there were only around three thousand potential jihadists in France, there were far more anti-Semites—many of them Français de souche. A generation ago, Muslims and Jews lived together in the banlieues with the sociability of immigrant neighbors. Today, few Jews remain in the banlieues, and those who do downplay their identity. A friend of Ben Ahmed’s said that her Jewish friends tell their children not to wear the kippah outside.
The old anti-Semitism of the French right and the newer immigrant strain were united in 2008, when Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the National Front, became godfather to the third child of Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, the French-Cameroonian comedian, who turns Jew-baiting into lucrative entertainment. Dieudonné has an avid following in the banlieues—Stéphane’s views about Jews could have been lifted from a Dieudonné monologue. Unless you’re already on his team, Dieudonné is distinctly unfunny. His 2012 film, “The Anti-Semite,” begins with a mock silent movie, with jaunty piano accompaniment, in which Dieudonné plays an American soldier who’s just liberated Auschwitz. (If only historical ignorance were the movie’s main failing.) A grovelling prisoner shows him around the camp. Inside a gas chamber, Dieudonné dabs his neck with Zyklon B, as if it were cologne; in the crematorium, he mistakes children’s remains for chicken bones. When he sits in a leather armchair, the prisoner tells him, “Careful, you’re sitting on my grandma!”
Dieudonné has spread anti-Semitism beyond extremist circles into popular culture. In Montreuil, I met a restaurant health inspector, Saïd Allam, who is a fan. “Dieudonné is the same as Charlie Hebdo—it’s satire,” Allam said. “He does sketches to make people laugh at Jews, Charlie Hebdo does cartoons of the Prophet to make people laugh—it’s the same thing.” After the massacres, Dieudonné wrote on his Facebook page, with typical slyness, “I feel I’m Charlie Coulibaly.” In response, the authorities prosecuted him for supporting terrorism, and he’s been convicted several times for inciting racial hatred; this has led his admirers to accuse the government of a double standard. “People say, ‘In killing Charlie Hebdo you killed freedom of expression,’ ” Allam said. “But you already killed freedom of expression in sending Dieudonné to court.” Complaints about double standards displaced the horror of the killings with a more comfortable sense of victimization. The argument that Charlie attacks religious politics, whereas Dieudonné goes after Jews, was far too subtle for the fraught atmosphere that prevailed after January 7th. So was the notion that hate-speech laws are inherently problematic, not least because they’re bound to inspire charges of selective application.
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Ben Ahmed detested Dieudonné. “He’s the only comedian who could gather in one room Islamophobes, anti-Semites, and anti-élites, and make them all laugh,” he said. “Not because it’s funny, but out of hatred.”
In 2006, a multiracial gang led by Youssouf Fofana, a criminal of Ivorian descent, kidnapped a Jewish cell-phone salesman named Ilan Halimi and took him to a cité south of Paris. The gang wanted ransom money. According to an associate of the gang, Fofana believed that the state considered him a slave, and that “Jews were kings, because they ate the state’s money.” Fofana, assuming that all Jews were rich, demanded four hundred and fifty thousand euros. But Halimi’s family couldn’t afford this, and the kidnappers tortured Halimi—with punches, lit cigarettes, acid, and, finally, knives.
After twenty-four days, Halimi was found, naked and mutilated, tied to a tree in a park south of Paris. He died en route to the hospital. During his long agony, at least fifty people in the cité—from gang members to neighbors—knew that something was going on, but no one called the police.
In a sense, the Halimi case was even more troubling than the January attacks. Because so many residents had sanctioned the violence, it suggested that lawlessness and hate had become endemic in the banlieues. Marc Weitzmann, a novelist who is writing a book about French anti-Semitism, said that, in the banlieues, a hatred of Jews “is in the background of the values they grow up with—it’s ready to be activated as soon as they move from nihilistic delinquency to the search for meaning.” For some residents, anti-Semitism can be the path toward radicalism.
Ben Ahmed said that he had two jobs in the 93: “to correct bad ideas in religion, and to end the stigmatization of that religion.” It was a difficult balancing act. What if correcting bad ideas led to more stigmatization of Islam? For example, what should one call the religious ideas that, according to Stéphane, had given Amedy Coulibaly the courage to act?
Allam, the restaurant health inspector from Montreuil, lamented the fact that the killings were labelled “an Islamist act.” He added, “It’s very, very serious to say that, because it implicates a religion in murderous acts.” If a blond man killed cartoonists for caricaturing blonds, he argued, people would call him crazy. “And a guy who kills people in the name of religion is a crazy man.”
But the words “Islamic” and “Islamist” are not the same, and allow a crucial political distinction to be made between ordinary believers and ideologues—a distinction that protects Muslims from being equated with jihadists. Nevertheless, the wound of exclusion has festered in French Muslims for so long that the subject of Islamist terrorism is almost too sensitive to touch. An honest conversation about it would require a degree of trust that hardly exists.
One evening, Ben Ahmed prepared dinner at the house of his next-door neighbor, Valérie Tabet, a widowed piano teacher whose daughter attends the same school as Ben Ahmed’s kids. The two families are close. Tabet, who has pale skin and short, dark-blond hair, told me that it’s no longer safe for young children to be out alone on the streets of the 93, and Ben Ahmed has become a kind of father figure to her daughter. While Ben Ahmed poured crêpe batter onto a griddle in the Tabets’ dining room, he and Valérie discussed how someone becomes a terrorist.
Ben Ahmed said, “I have the impression in fact that it’s rather simple, how these people can flip from one day to the next.”
“It isn’t from one day to the next,” Tabet said.
“For me, it’s a question of people who either are psychologically ill, maybe a little crazy,” Ben Ahmed said. “These people are very fragile, and at a given moment they’re recruited by people—”
“There’s too many jihadis for me to agree with you,” Tabet interrupted. “The Kouachi brothers were fragile in their makeup—a lack of bearings, a lack of education, a lack of a vision of life, and later that leads to violence—but I don’t agree that they were nuts.”
Ben Ahmed said that this wasn’t what he meant. In addition to the psychiatric cases, there were the psychologically weak, like the Kouachis: “These people would have got in a fight on the street for nothing, for a parking place.” He added, “Coulibaly, he scares me a bit, because his family life was more normal.” Somehow, Coulibaly was indoctrinated, and then he found it all too easy to find weapons.
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“It’s very easy to get them,” Tabet agreed. “But there’s a lot of people who are made fragile by society, because there’s not enough work for everyone, because of social problems and all that. But what I see is that there’s a point in common among those people—they’re Muslims.” She added quickly, “And it’s not to point a finger, because I mean the potential terrorists. But the problem for me is what they hear in the mosques, in small groups.” She spoke of radical imams preaching hate.
Ben Ahmed said that Tabet was simply repeating what she’d heard in the media.
“But someone indoctrinates them.”
“The people who do that are in a network, but not in a network you would call Muslim,” Ben Ahmed said. “Not in the mosque.” He searched for the name of Coulibaly’s recruiter in jail. “Djamel Beghal. He isn’t an imam.”
“You can’t say that there aren’t people who use religion to attract these youths.”
“You say ‘people,’ sure, but you also said ‘imams.’ I’m not saying they don’t exist, but you’re generalizing from the exception.”
“I’m saying there are many reasons, and the point in common is these are young Muslims. And that means something—it means that they’re using religion.”
Ben Ahmed seemed to be afraid that if he accepted Tabet’s view he would end up vindicating the Islamophobes. He couldn’t cross that line. The two friends were on the verge of an argument that might inflict lasting hurts.
“Your opinion is interesting,” Ben Ahmed said. “The thing is, I’m convinced that this doesn’t really happen in the mosques. It’s in prison.”
“Yes, that’s certain,” Tabet said.
“And there are people who come to the mosques to talk with some of them and succeed in capturing them, on the side.”
They had found just enough common ground to move on.
More than fifteen hundred French citizens have left to join the Islamic State—a quarter of the European total. Around two hundred of them have returned to France. A growing number of these new recruits have no connection to the banlieues. According to Farhad Khosrokhavar, the majority of French Muslims going to Syria are now middle-class youths, some of them white converts to Islam, and an increasing percentage of them female. They come from big cities and small towns. “They do not belong to broken families,” Khosrokhavar said. Their radicalization can happen in a very short time, a matter of weeks, usually through social media. They go to the Middle East because they’re moved by the plight of fellow-Muslims. Once there, some are shocked by the Islamic State’s violence and try to return home; others are seduced by it.
A few days before the January attacks, Hayat Boumeddiene, Coulibaly’s wife, flew from Madrid to Turkey, then crossed into Syria. A security camera at the Istanbul airport captured her entry into Turkey, alongside a young man with a thin beard, his long black hair tied back in a bun. He was a twenty-three-year-old from the 93 named Mehdi Belhoucine. His older brother, Mohamed, had become radicalized through the Internet around 2009, and afterward relayed messages for a network of French jihadists headed for central Asia. Mohamed and Mehdi were now believed to be in Syria. The brothers had been excellent students—Mohamed had done advanced studies in mine engineering, Mehdi in electronic mechanics—and were from a middle-class family who lived in a private house. Ben Ahmed knew their mother, who worked with him at Bondy’s city hall. “Very nice lady,” he said. “It’s too, too sad.”
Sylvine Thomassin, the mayor of Bondy, told me, “I had a clear view of jihadism before January—families with educational deficiencies, parents who hadn’t done well, kids failing at school.” It was, she said, a weirdly “reassuring diagram,” because it made the pathway of radicalism seem predictable. Then came the stunning news of the Belhoucine brothers’ connection to the authors of the Paris attacks. The mayor, who knew the Belhoucines well, now found it impossible to come up with a profile. “Our Muslim fellow-citizens live overwhelmingly in public housing, and the majority are confronted with the same problems as those who are radicalized, and yet they aren’t radicalized,” she said. “So the problem definitely isn’t the banlieues. Perhaps it’s the hypersensitivity of a very small number to this discourse around them.”
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Xavier Nogueras, a defense lawyer in Paris, represents twenty French citizens accused of jihadism. A few of his clients are violent and dangerous, he said, but many went to Syria out of idealism, wanting to defend other Muslims against the Assad regime and build an Islamic state. He argued that such people pose no threat to France and that the state shouldn’t permanently embitter them with years of detention. Nogueras resisted tracing his clients’ motives to social conditions in the banlieues. Few have criminal backgrounds; some had well-paid jobs in large French companies. “The most surprising thing to me is their immense humanity,” Nogueras said. He finds jihadists more interesting than the drug dealers and robbers he’s represented. “They have more to say—many more ideas. Their sacred book demands the application of Sharia, which tells them to cover their wives, not to live in secularism. And we are in a country that inevitably stigmatizes them, because it’s secular. They don’t feel at home here.”
I found the lawyer’s distinction between jihadism at home and abroad less than reassuring. Coulibaly’s faith could have led him to kill people in Paris or in Syria; violence driven by ideology could happen anywhere. The “idealism” of clients motivated to make Sharia universal law is, in some ways, more worrying than simple thuggery: even if France dedicates itself urgently to making its Muslims full-fledged children of the republic, a small minority of them will remain, on principle, irreconcilable.
On a commercial street in the 93, in a sparsely furnished apartment with no name on the buzzer, Sonia Imloul, a social worker of Algerian origin, meets with families of radicalized young people. Cases come to her through police departments or through government agencies that have been contacted by the families, on a hot line. Sitting down at the kitchen table, Imloul lit a cigarette and said, “I’ve had children of doctors, journalists, generals. I’d say it’s almost a national epidemic.” She remains “super-vigilant” about her fourteen-year-old son.
Imloul’s method is to maintain a young person’s ties to his or her family before an “initiation journey” occurs. “The family often has the answer, without knowing it,” she said. Radicalization has been a phenomenon in France for thirty years; devising a proper solution may take another thirty. The problem is acute in France, Imloul said, partly because the republic’s rigid secularism leaves no room for serious discussions of religious identity. “With a radical, if you don’t talk to him about religion, you can’t talk about anything,” she said. France has taken an entirely punitive approach to the problem. Imloul’s “prevention cell” is the only such program in the country.
The January attacks created a genuine sense of crisis, and Prime Minister Valls made passionate speeches condemning the “geographic, social, ethnic apartheid” that denies French citizens in places like the 93 full entry into the republic. Thomassin, the mayor of Bondy (and Ben Ahmed’s boss), showed me a map to pinpoint where high-rise cités are being torn down and replaced by smaller buildings surrounded by green space. The goal was to encourage a new spirit of neighborliness. The mayor of Le Blanc-Mesnil, another banlieue in the 93, described a similar plan, along New Urbanist lines, that allowed public-housing renters to become homeowners. I got the feeling that, after decades of denial, France was now playing catch-up.
“We’re at war, but not against a religion,” Valls said. France was “at war to defend our values, which are universal.” He urged French Muslims to see it as their struggle, too. “It is a war against terrorism and radical Islamism, against everything that aims to break our solidarity, liberty, fraternity.”
For two or three decades, a soft multiculturalism has been the default politics of the governing left, while France’s silent majority, more and more culturally insecure, has moved rightward, and the banlieues have been allowed to rot. The National Front voter and the radicalized Muslim feel equally abandoned. According to the political scientist Laurent Bouvet, the January attacks, like an underwater bomb, brought all these trends to the surface. “Secularism is our common good,” Bouvet said. “If there is a common French identity, it’s not an identity of roots, it’s not a Christian identity, it’s not cathedrals, it’s not the white race. It’s a political project.” He went on, “If we let the National Front define French identity, it’s going to be by race, by blood, by religion.”
France has an official “rapporteur général” for secularism, and currently it is an earnest young Socialist politician named Nicolas Cadène. He told me that France had failed to create a national story that included all its citizens. The shock of the attacks and the divisive fallout made a new approach imperative, and he sketched a program of reform starting with the schools: explain the meaning of secularism while teaching “impartial, neutral” facts about different religions as a way to make students more tolerant and critical-minded; integrate more colonial history into the curriculum; encourage the teaching of Arabic in public schools, so that this wasn’t left to madrassas. Some of these changes will be instituted this fall.
Jean-Pierre Filiu, the Arabist, told me that, for more than a decade, Sciences Po—the social-science institution where he teaches—has been admitting a portion of each new class on the basis of slightly different entrance criteria. French law forbids discrimination by ethnicity or religion, so Sciences Po uses geography instead. “We want to bring in students from the 93,” Filiu said. “I’ve been sitting on those juries, and the banlieues are among the best, because you have la niaque”—heart, a fighting instinct. I thought of what such a chance would have meant to Ben Ahmed.
Elections in France’s hundred departments were scheduled for late March. Ben Ahmed decided to run as a Socialist to represent Bobigny. When his campaign posters were defaced with swastikas and racist graffiti—“Dirty Arab”—he ignored it. He spent nights and weekends leafletting and shaking hands in his old hangouts. The residents greeted him as one of them, but many thought that voting was pointless. He told his most resistant neighbors—the old women in full hijab, the jobless men at the corner bar, J.-P. and his gang—that they couldn’t abstain if they wanted to be equal citizens.
Ben Ahmed came in fourth. Even the candidate from the National Front beat him. The Socialists, being the party in power, did badly almost everywhere. The extreme right continued to rise. But Ben Ahmed wasn’t discouraged. He believed in politics, and he believed in France. He would try again. ♦