Horror, shock and revulsion. No one, no, not even Jeremy Corbyn’s most crazed supporters, can have learnt of the murderous, bloody, brutal and insane attacks in Paris without feeling sickened to the core.
Within hours, however, copy was appearing that while not vindicating the extremist terrorists is doing its best to ‘explain’ them. By 3.50 am GMT 14th November Hilary Alexander had penned this for The Daily Telegraph: Paris attacks: why has France been targeted again?
I fear we can expect plenty more of such analysis over the weekend.
Her commentary is persuasive and exactly what Telegraph readers have gradually been brainwashed into expecting. “Every Western capital knows that Islamist extremists would love to strike a blow at its heart but few are so tantalising a target as Paris”. Why? is the tenor of her piece.
Her answer is that: “France fights jihadists worldwide; has one of the largest Muslim populations in Europe – and arguably the most divided society. It also has a steady stream of guns pouring in from across continental Europe’s porous borders. It is a potent, explosive mix – as shown by the Charlie Hebdo attacks of January, and now the Paris shootings.
“Indeed”, she continues, “France takes pride in its proactive stance against Islamists worldwide, especially in the face of what is frequently seen as British and American retreat. Over 10,000 French troops are currently deployed abroad – over 3,000 in Western Africa, 2,000 in Central, and 3,200 in Iraq.
“French intervention in Mali, against al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, in 2013 was seen as pivotal in the weakening of the jihadi group. A fortnight ago a leader of an AQIM affiliate urged his followers to attack France in retaliation for their presence in the region.
“And last week President Francois Hollande announced that France will deploy an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf to assist the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), setting him on a collision course with the Islamist leaders.”
So what should they expect? Yet she gives no explanation or justification of the need for this French foreign policy. She is, of course, wonderfully dispassionate.
But now we come to the crux of her text. The key problem is not actually this one. It is an internal one: “The feelings of isolation and exclusion can be overwhelming (for Muslims in France), with few high profile Muslim role models in business or politics. France’s stridently secular state, the banning of the burka and the power of the Front National have not helped to ease tensions between communities.”
Yes, go on blame the National Front while we are at it – after all no decent liberal can possibly be allowed to question the fact or effect of mass migration on another culture.
In true liberal vogue, Ms Alexander predictably goes on to portray former and now imprisoned terrorists as victims: “Mohamed Merah, the Toulouse shooter of 2012, grew up in a tough banlieu, began as a small-time delinquent, was sent to prison, and emerged a hardened jihadi with “meaning” in life”.
And who’s to blame again? Not Mr Merah for his murderous activities, but the French for not giving him a nice house and upbringing and then having the temerity to imprison him when he shot a dozen people, seven fatally.
This is the classic liberal narrative – we only have ourselves to blame. Maybe, it is true. Not, I would venture, through for being over punitive but rather for unthinkingly allowing uncontrolled migration in the first place, without a formal and planned process of integration. This should have been based on a calculation of what the host countries could sensibly manage and an insistence that new arrivals understood that their asylum or citizenship depended on their respecting the rule of law and the institutions of their new abodes.
This is not, I fear, what Alexander means. France, she intimates, is actively hostile to Muslims – it does not have an enlightened multicultural stance as we do here in the UK:
“Inside France’s prisons, 70 per cent of the inmates are estimated to be Muslims – by law, France cannot ask a person to state their religion, so official data is unavailable. In England and Wales, by comparison, Muslims account for 14 per cent of the prison population, according to Home Office statistics, and five per cent of the population nationwide.”
I am pretty dubious about such bandied about estimates. They remind me of those stats that tell us United States prisons are bursting to the seams with otherwise innocent cannabis offenders, but which, when unpicked, reveal true number to be fewer than 2 per cent.
France too, she reports, is struggling with radicalisation (as though we were not too) behind bars, and unlike the UK does not allow imams to visit the cells. Well, I would think the jury is out on the virtues or otherwise of that one.
It is not just the subtext that reads that France only has itself to blame. It is overt. The only additional explanation of ‘why France?’ is a brief nod to the leaky borders with Belgium, from where the terrorists easily source unlimited stashes of illegal arms.
I only hope that her deduction (true or false) that Britain is less likely to be targeted than France proves true. But what I find deeply disturbing is ‘the lesson’ politicians and we will be encouraged to take from the terrible atrocity in Paris. It is this that our policy towards Muslims and terrorists alike should be more placatory – less critical of their culture and religion and what is disconsonant with Judeo-Christian culture and the western democratic systems it has given rise to – namely our hard won liberty .
It would be a dangerous route to follow when opinion polling has revealed that possibly up to 40 per cent of Muslims want sharia law in the UK and a startling 27 per cent of Muslims living here sympathised with the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack.
In the wake of this last atrocity, I think the message to Muslim communities in Europe has to be clear and unambiguous – even at risk of offending them. They cannot accept the hospitality of their host country and then abuse the freedoms they are allowed in them. If they do abuse them, then they must expect the sanctions of the law to follow. There are no excuses, whether they be our foreign policy or their experience of growing up in their countries of adoption.
For the many moderate and law abiding Muslims, such clarity would leave them feeling much safer and perhaps more appreciative of the rule of law and democracy that makes Western Europe the haven they originally sought.