Racism in France and Mohammed Merah’s Jihad

9 Apr

It was only a few weeks ago that Sarkozy was again attempting to shape and inflame French public opinion on the issues of migration and Islamism, particularly in light of the constraints of immigrant poverty, the building of mosques, wearing the Hijab, and terrorism on national thinking. This is nothing new; Sarkozy has relied on this kind of rhetoric many times over, throughout his tenure. A more fitting indictment would be that Sarkozy has always sought to maintain the cultural divide, when it suits him, and in wishing to cement his personal position and power among the French electorate.

After all, who would want to be banished to the annals of political mediocrity, with the possibility of pending electoral defeat by the likes of Messrs.’ Hollande or the fallen-from-grace Strauss-Khan before him, like a deposed member of the aristocracy to the gallows from the time of the French Revolution. This would surely, and fatally, wound Sarkozy’s well-known French/ Hungarian aristocratic pride. (Ssh! We are not supposed to speak of the fact he is the son of a Hungarian émigré!). His main arguments, however, have always been that Muslims do not fit in or integrate with the French view of republicanism and secularist notions of society. Perhaps so. But the fact is, many do, and it is neither fair nor right to say that his presumption applies to all Muslims, which is especially so as Muslims are as diverse in their social, cultural and religious views as Christians and those who do not follow any religion.

It is only because of Eurocentric perceptions- which remains fixated (in) the dogma of European imperialism and increasing marginalization of Christianity- that these issues are a concern at all. The argument goes- and it’s not just Sarkozy, it is also the view of the Far Right- that Islam, and therefore Muslims, are entirely separate and other to their former European oppressors. This is a complete denouncement of Muslim identity, based on thousands of years of religious unrest and rivalry that continues to be the body politic and media focus of today. But what it all comes down to is that Muslims are different; European and the Western views of Muslim existence remain at odds and, because of this, the European/ Western view refuses to accept or validate either the Muslim experience or existence.

For Mohamed Merah, such a politically motivated denial- by Sarkozy and many other western politicians when it suits them- of Muslim cultural and religious identity and consciousness must have represented a far worse wounding to his (Merah’s) right to existence and presence in Europe than to the utter triviality of any impending loss of personal pride presently faced by Sarkozy should he lose his power and position within the French elite and political system in the eyes of the public, media, and world stage.

However tragic and woefully misguided Merah was in his actions, in mercilessly murdering innocent people in Toulouse, it should at least be considered and discussed that Sarkozy’s continued inflammatory remarks and legislative sanctions regarding Muslim presence and integration, directly contributed to and exacerbated Merah’s cause to action. For example, it was only in the beginning of March 2012, that Sarkozy, in attempt to woo the right, was exclaiming that France had too many foreigners. The “foreigners” he was referring to, are some 6 million Muslims, representing the largest group of minorities in western Europe.

In the aftermath the murders of Toulouse, Sarkozy’s recent claims- that Merah’s murderousness was nothing to do with Jihad or defending his faith- can only be a considered a further a feeble attempt at appeasement; this time, of the Muslim electorate. Again, it appears that Sarkozy’s wishes to court every corner of French society are relevant when it suits him best, particularly when facing re-election and possible defeat. (See Huffington Post: Merah was insane; not a Jihadist).

Whatever the case, it is certainly realistic and feasible that Merah could have been stirred to action in light of the continued polemic of Muslim presence; on issues as wide as serving halal meat in schools, the Parisian youth riots, the provenance of meat consumption in Paris, the presence of Muslim clerics, and wearing the Hijab. We only need look back at events that have occurred in Britain and the US to confirm that this is as a much a likely possibility as it is Merah was simply a disgruntled madman. (See Guardian online: France has too many foreigners).

If Merah was answering a deluded calling to Jihad, then why kill those who may not be considered a threat to Islam, you may ask? Perhaps this was an entirely deliberate intention. At least until an investigation is completed and made public, we will have no idea how Merah plotted his crimes, but it could easily be suggested that his intention was to deceive both the public and the media and make everyone believe a member of the Far Right had committed these crimes, inspired by Sarkozy and Marine Le Pen?

This was my very thought when I heard of the first murders, and I was more than surprised when I heard the perpetrator was a Muslim. As has recently been speculated by several international reports, perhaps Al-Qaeda and/ or its factions located both within or outside Europe are seeking to adapt, and employing new tactics in order to change public opinion in further justifying the Muslim cause of being at odds with the ideologies of the West. If this was Merah’s intention, then he failed miserably, and rightly so, but at the unnecessary expense of the lives of innocents, which is a cause of action that can never be justified. If Sarkozy, as has recently been reported, believes that Merah’s actions were not motivated by his Muslim faith, then he too, must be deluded.

Author: Jason Schumann

Tags: Cultural Analysis, Debating Culture,Islamaphobia, Racism in France, Sarkozy, Jihad in France, Terror in Toulouse, French Islamic Union, Jewish Community Toulouse, Islamism, Politics, Mohamed Merah, Secularism in France, Mohammed Merah, Forsane Alizza, Knights of Pride,


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