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France’s Self-Inflicted Refugee Crisis. The Result of NATO-Led Wars

refugees

Following rhetoric regarding Europe’s refugee crisis, one might assume the refugees, through no fault of Europe’s governments, suddenly began appearing by the thousands at Europe’s borders. However, this simply is not true.

Before the 2011 wave of US-European engineered uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) transformed into Western military interventions, geopolitical analysts warned that overthrowing the governments in nations like Libya and Syria, and Western interventions in nations like Mali and the Ivory Coast, would lead to predicable regional chaos that would manifest itself in both expanding terrorism across the European and MENA region, as well as a flood of refugees from destabilized, war-racked nations.

Libya in particular, was singled out as a nation, if destabilized, that would transform into a springboard for refugees not only fleeing chaos in Libya itself, but fleeing a variety of socioeconomic and military threats across the continent. Libya has served for decades as a safe haven for African refugees due to its relative stability and economic prosperity as well as the Libyan government’s policy of accepting and integrating African refugees within the Libyan population.

Because of NATO’s 2011 military intervention and the disintegration of Libya as a functioning nation state, refugees who would have otherwise settled in Libya are now left with no choice but to continue onward to Europe.

For France in particular, its politics have gravitated around what is essentially a false debate between those welcoming refugees and those opposed to their presence.

Absent from this false debate is any talk of French culpability for its military operations abroad which, along with the actions of the US and other NATO members, directly resulted in the current European refugee crisis.

France claims that its presence across Africa aims at fighting Al Qaeda. According to RAND Corporation commentary titled, “Mali’s Persistent Jihadist Problem,” it’s reported that:

Four years ago, French forces intervened in Mali, successfully averting an al Qaeda-backed thrust toward the capital of Bamako. The French operation went a long way toward reducing the threat that multiple jihadist groups posed to this West Africa nation. The situation in Mali today remains tenuous, however, and the last 18 months have seen a gradual erosion of France’s impressive, initial gains.

And of course, a French military presence in Mali will do nothing to stem Al Qaeda’s activities if the source of Al Qaeda’s weapons and financial support is not addressed. In order to do this, France and its American and European allies would need to isolate and impose serious sanctions on Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two nations who exists as the premier state sponsors of not only Al Qaeda, but a myriad of terrorist organizations sowing chaos worldwide.

Paradoxically, instead of seeking such sanctions, the French government instead sells the Saudi and Qatari governments billions of dollars worth of weaponry, proudly filling in any temporary gaps in the flow of weapons from the West as each nation attempts to posture as “concerned” about Saudi and Qatari human rights abuses and war crimes (and perhaps even state sponsorship of terrorism) only to gradually return to pre-sanction levels after public attention wanes.

The National Interest in an article titled, “France: Saudi Arabia’s New Arms Dealer,” would note:

France has waged a robust diplomatic engagement with Saudi Arabia for years. In June, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited France to sign deals worth $12 billion, which included $500 million for 23 Airbus H145 helicopters. Saudi and French officials also agreed to pursue feasibility studies to build two nuclear reactors in the kingdom. The remaining money will involve direct investment negotiated between Saudi and French officials.

The article would also note that Saudi Arabia’s junior partner in the state sponsorship of global terror, Qatar, would also benefit from French weapon deals:

Hollande’s address was delivered one day after he was in Doha, where he signed a $7 billion deal that included the sale of 24 French Rafale fighter jets to Qatar, along with the training of Qatari intelligence officers.

In order to truly fight terrorism, a nation must deal with it at its very source. Since France is not only ignoring the source of Al Qaeda’s military, financial and political strength, but is regularly bolstering it with billions in weapons deals, it is safe to say that whatever reason France is involved across MENA, it is not to “defeat” Al Qaeda.

The refugee crisis that has resulted from the chaos that both Western forces and terrorists funded and armed by the West’s closest regional allies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is a crisis that is entirely self-inflicted. The rhetoric surrounding the crisis, on both sides, ignoring this fundamental reality, exposes the manufactured and manipulative nature of French government and opposition agendas.

The chaos across MENA is so significant, and terrorism so deeply rooted in both Western and their Arab allies’ geopolitical equations that even a complete reversal of this destructive policy will leave years if not decades of social unrest in the wake of the current refugee crisis.

But for anyone genuinely committed to solving this ongoing crisis, they must start with the US, European, and Gulf monarchies’ culpability, and resist blaming the refugees or those manipulated into reacting negatively to them. While abuses carried out by refugees or locals are equally intolerable, those responsible for the conflicts and for manipulating both sides of this crisis are equally to blame.

Until that blame is properly and proportionately placed, and the root of the crisis addressed, it will only linger and cause further damage to regional and global security.

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Clearing the “Jungle”: The Calais Refugee Operation. “Humanitarian” Police State

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migrant-camps-calais
“We don’t know yet where we are going, but it will obviously be better than the Jungle, which was made for animals, not humans.”
— Wahid, Afghan refugee, PRI, Oct 24, 2016

It grew out as an organic consequence of failure – a failure on the part of Europe’s authorities to come to some measure of proportionate and even handed procedures to assess and process desperate refugees who have very little intention of returning back to their countries.

Calais’ informal camp, which came to be known as the Jungle, had 7,000 residents from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, among other countries, living in squalid conditions, an assemblage perched tantalisingly close to the English coast.  Since Monday, more than 4,000 individuals have been moved.  The operation has involved the tearing down of wooden shacks and the deployment of diggers to remove debris.

Aware of the political message it might convey, French authorities have insisted on a dismantling process to be done essentially by hand.  This has merely cloaked the cynicism further, as it would make little difference to some of the residents determined to make a fist of keeping the “Jungle” tradition alive in some form.  The promise of sub-camps sprouting in the environs of the Channel coast is already being made.

The Jungle tradition has not merely seen residents dig in their heels in the hope of making a stand, but local, sometimes violent resistance.  Forms of violence, in short, have proliferated, be they at the hands of tear gas used by police authorities, or thugs keen to brandish their patriotic credentials.

Research by Arshad Isakjee and Thom Davis also warn about “the invisible public health dangers that refugees have suffered, and the microbiological threats of living in such squalid conditions – conditions that the state could easily have chosen to improve.”[1]

Moved camp residents have already made something of an impression by decamping to the Miramar hotel in Saint German-sur-Ay.  Alternatives have been thin on the ground.  Selecting it was primarily based on the resort’s emptiness at this time of the year.  Some local residents have been far from impressed, worried by the prevalence of young, desperate men who might prey on empty homes.

At the very least, some measure of processing is being promised, even if it does little to deal with the problem as a system.  On Tuesday, 1,264 adults were taken to shelters across the country, while 372 unaccompanied children were located to what are termed “provisional reception centres” within the camp, adapted from converted shipping containers.

All in all, a confused doctrine of mismanagement has reigned.  French authorities have shown little interest in ameliorating conditions within the camp, falling short of minimum humanitarian standards outlined by the UNHCR and the Sphere Project[2].

From across the Channel, Britain’s cooperation has been resolutely stubborn, at points verging on complete indifference to chances of accepting the refugees. “The situation is unacceptable and everyone knows it,” claimed the French President, François Hollande on a September visit to Calais.

That unacceptable situation, something Hollande has done little to alleviate, has also been reciprocated by Britain’s security moves.  If anything, the cooperative dimension has tended to involve a vast securitisation of the refugee problem.  Less emphasis here is placed on settlement programs but those of policing, control and repulsion.

While residents in the camp suffered from food shortages and miserable conditions of shelter, the UK got busy beefing up border security in its efforts to shut off points of entry.  From 2014, £12m over three years was committed, comprising, amongst other things, the building of a 15ft fence along the motorway leading to the port.[3]

In August 2015, France and the UK made an agreement outlining new measures specific to Calais, among them a “control and command centre” and the deployment of 500 more French and British police.[4]

Some French political figures have decided to capitalise on the point, treating the refugees as subjects of electioneering worth.  Hollande, it is argued, must carry the can on this point, largely for being soft with Britain’s share of the bargain.

British Home Secretary Amber Rudd inched a bit closer to some rapprochement with a promise that half of the camp’s unaccompanied children would be taken to British shores, though it’s a meagre concession.  The move is being facilitated by what has been termed the “Dubs” amendment to the Immigration Act, permitting vulnerable children of a certain category to be admitted, despite not having family residing in the country.

The principle behind this entire operation remains one and the same.  Far from having a human element, it bristles with a security rationale.  It was, in fact, left to an umbrella of non-government organisations to fill the human void, among them Secours Catholique, Kitchen In Calais and Care 4 Calais, to name but a sprinkling.

There will be those from the inhuman Jungle who will find settlement; few will find their way to Britain. Others intend resisting the thousand or so riot police slated for the operation.  But the failings in Calais will simply be propagated further, a story not merely of French but European mismanagement.  Bureaucracy, and security, remain twinned policy rationales in the global refugee crisis.

 

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Washington and Paris reboot the propaganda machine against «the Bachar régime»

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The tribunals of Nuremberg and Tokyo enabled the Allies to expose the crimes committed by the Axis during the Second World War, and also served to justify both the price of their victory and their domination over the world. Based on this model, Washington believed it could judge and condemn 120 Syrian leaders, including President Bachar el-Assad, in order to justify the war and the overthrow of the Syrian Arab Republic. All that was left to do was invent their crimes…

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In April 2012 – in other words after the French withdrawal from thewar (which it rejoined in July), and before the Russo-US sharing agreement (30 June in Geneva) – the «Friends of Syria» had decided to judge President Bachar el-Assad before an international court of law. The point of this was to stage, a posteriori, the Pax Americana, after the murder of Slobodan Milošević in his prison at La Haye, the hanging of Saddam Hussein and the lynching of Mouamar Kadhafi.

In order to do this, the United States had created an association at La Haye, the Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC). For two years, lawyers and jurists gathered witness accounts of the «tortures practised by the regime».

The Office of Global Criminal Justice for the Secretary of State, at that time directed by Ambassador Stephen Rapp, had solicited Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and Turkey to finance a «UN Special Tribunal for Syria» on the model of the «UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon». Let us remember that the Lebanon Tribunal, contrary to its denomination, is not a tribunal in the real sense of the term, since it was created by only two executives, the General Secretary of the United Nations and the Prime Minister of Lebanon, without ever being endorsed either by the Security Council or the Lebanese Parliament. This pseudo-tribunal would have been able to ignore the rules of law and condemn the Syrian President without proof.

The principle of the tribunals for Lebanon and for Syria was imagined by Jeffrey Feltman, ex-US Ambassador in Beirut, then Under-Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and currently Director of Political Affairs for the UNO. Mr. Feltman created the Tribunal for Lebanon, after having personally organised the assassination of Rafic Hariri, to judge and condemn Presidents Emile Lahoud and Bachar el-Assad, whom he intended to accuse. We were able to consult an internal document from his office, and learned that after the overthrow of the Syrian Arab Republic, NATO had planned to judge and condemn 120 leaders of the country, 80 of whom were already listed as persons under sanctions established by the United States and/or the European Union.

On 20 January 2014, two days beore the opening of the Geneva 2 negotiations, the London-based law firm Carter-Ruck accused Syria of having tortured and killed more than 11,000 of its own citizens during the war. It then published a report by three international lawyers authenticating 55,000 images allegedly taken by a defected military photographer. Although two of the lawyers were seriously called into question for their partiality in previous affairs, and the third had been tasked by the CIA to create the Syria Justice and Accountability Centre(SJAC), and despite denials by Syria, John Kerry did not miss the opportunity of quoting this document at the opening of the Geneva 2 Conference.

On 31 July 2014, the Commission for Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives interviewed the Syrian photographer. He showed 10 images among the 55,000 in his collection, but only after having blurred them out, rendering them unidentifiable.

And oh my! On 22 September 2014, Russia and China opposed their veto to a French project for a Resolution which referred to the International Criminal Court concerning the crimes committed in Syria. The State Department ruled that the material gathered, although extremely voluminous, had no more value than the false witness statements from the Tribunal for Lebanon. As a result, it ceased to sponsor the preparations for the Syrian Nuremberg.

However, the Secretary of State recently sponsored theCenter for Victims of Torture in Minnesota, not only for its actions, but also in order to come to the assistance of «victims of the régime» – if they can find any – but not to help the 80,000 people kidnapped by the United States and tortured by the Navy in Guantánamo and in prison boats in international waters during the two mandates of George W. Bush.

Besides this, the State Department sponsored an exhibition by Qatar at the United Nations in New York, then at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, and finally, last week in Rome – based on the photos from the Carter-Ruck law firm. Of course, there was no question of showing all 55,000 photos, but the same 10 blurred-out photos accompanied by a few others relative to the war. At the same time, the pro-Israëli representative, Eliot Engel, (already the author of the Syrian Accountability Act) presented the proposition for law H.R.5732, which was aimed at strengthening the sanctions against Syria.

On 6 October 2016, Holland (whose military is illegally deployed in Syria) organised a meeting at their embassy in Washington in order to relaunch the Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC) and finance the project of a Tribunal for Syria. Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, and of course the United States, announced that they would participate with a contribution. The project should cost only a few million dollars per year.

For Washington, it is now clear that the Syrian Arab Republic will not fall, and that it will be impossible to judge and condemn President Bachar el-Assad without proof. This set-up is part of the conditioning of the Western public as the «defenders of Good against the cruel Syrians». France, which has been successively spokesperson for the interests of Turkey, then Qatar, then Saudi Arabia, and today, Israël, does not see things this way. It therefore hopes to judge the 120 Syrian leaders (who are already condemned on paper) before the International Criminal Court… in absentia.

On 10 October, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jean-Marc Ayrault, announced that he had asked a group of lawyers to find a way of referring to the International Criminal Court, despite the predictable opposition of the Security Council.

It seems that Washington is preparing to accept the end of the unipolar world. In this case, the most ridiculous and terrifying accusations against Syria will serve to darken the image of the Russian camp.

Documents :
- A Report into the credibility of certain evidence with regard to Torture and Execution of Persons Incarcerated by the current Syrian regime, Carter-Ruck, January 20, 2014.
- «Report sulla attendibilità delle “Foto di Caesar” che si paventa saranno esposte in mostra al Senato della Repubblica italiana», Sibialiria, Marzo 2016.
- The Caesar Photo Fraud that Undermined Syrian Negotiations”, Rick Sterling, March 2016.

Thierry Meyssan
Translation
Pete Kimberley

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François Hollande, pro-Israëli «World Statesman of the Year»

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On the side-lines of the General Assembly of the UNO, the Foundation Appeal of Conscience gave its prize to the «World Statesman of the Year», French President François Hollande.

This foundation is interdenominational, but has been presided, since its creation in 1965, by Rabbi Arthur Schneier, known for his engagement in favour of the Hebrew state. Every year, it honours a personality who has worked both for religious freedom and to the advantage of the state of Israël.

Since the creation of this prize, it is always awarded in New York by the ex-National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and by the ex-National Director of Intelligence John Negroponte – of the Iran-Contra affair and the Islamic Emirate in Iraq.

Over the last few years, the Foundation has also honoured such personalities as José-Maria Aznar, Nicolas Sarkozy, Stephen Harper, Enrique Peña Nieto and David Cameron.

This year, the Foundation wanted to thank President Holland for his action against Syria and his attempts to prevent the Iranian nuclear agreements. Mr. Hollande was accompanied by Jack Lang and Bernard-Henri Lévy.

Most French newspapers which mentioned the event seemed to ignore who Henry Kissinger and John Negroponte are, as well as the political character of their association.

Translation
Pete Kimberley

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Zio-Wahhabi, French special forces hold joint drills near Lille

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Saudi, French special forces hold joint drills near Lille: Report

French troops engage in joint drills with Saudi forces on the outskirts of the northeastern French city of Lille (Photo by alsharq.net.sa)e53c8dbe-7afb-449a-84fd-aeffd6ec2b64

Press TV 

Special Forces units with the Saudi and French armies have partaken in joint military drills in France.

The exercise engaged the Royal Saudi Land Forces’ crack unit brigade and its French counterpart in the town of Meer, London-basedAl-Hayat newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Citing the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA ), the paper said the maneuvers had started last week.

The news comes only three days after the kingdom’s navy finished 10 days of live-fire military exercises in the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz.

The seaborne drills involved warships, speedboats, marines and special forces in the strategic waters.

The SPA alleged that the maneuvers sought to test combat readiness “in preparation for the protection of the marine interests of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against any possible aggression.”

France is known for its close relations with Saudi Arabia. The two sides have been seeking to boost their military ties in recent months.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the kingdom’s defense minister and most powerful figure after the monarch, has twice traveled to France since 2015.

During Salman’s visit to France last June, Paris and Riyadh reportedly sealed military deals worth up to USD 12 billion for the delivery of modern weaponry to the Arab kingdom amid Riyadh’s deadly military campaign against Yemen.

The prince paid another visit to France in July this year, in what was widely seen as an attempt to finalize the agreements reached with Paris the previous year.

Last year, the Paris government raised controversy by closing off a French beach for a visit by Saudi King Salman.

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US, Britain and France now air force for terrorists in Syria

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Image result for SYRIA WAR PHOTOS
By Finian Cunningham | RT 

For nearly six years, Washington and its allies have gotten away with playing a cynical double game in Syria’s war. But now the mask is slipping to reveal the ugly face of Western involvement – it is openly siding with terrorists.

Russia was correct to veto a French-sponsored draft resolution at the UN Security Council this weekend. Along with American and British vigorous support, the French proposal centered on halting military flights over the besieged northern Syrian city of Aleppo.

As Russia’s foreign ministry commented, the French initiative was tantamount to giving air cover for insurgents dominated by the internationally proscribed terrorist group Jabhat al Nusra. In short, a no-fly zone protecting terrorists would have been imposed in violation of Syrian sovereign rights, as well as international law.

An alternative draft resolution put forward by Russia was subsequently nixed by the US, Britain and France. The Russian proposal was aimed at reviving the ceasefire arrangement declared last month by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Moscow’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. It reiterated the need for anti-government militants to dissociate from the proscribed terrorist groups affiliated with al Qaeda, including al Nusra and Daesh (ISIS).

Russia is calling for a general ceasefire, but it does not specify the condition of halting military flights over Aleppo.

If France and its Western allies were genuine about wanting to stop the violence, then why don’t they get behind the Kerry-Lavrov deal? They have evidently abandoned that ceasefire arrangement because it was exposing Western claims about supporting “moderate rebels” as distinct from “extremists” as a fallacy.

That the Kerry-Lavrov truce was immediately violated by the insurgents and that there was no separation of “moderates” and “extremists” showed once and for all that Western claims of supporting “legitimate rebels” are a farce. Washington, London and Paris are patently backing a terrorist army fighting for their objective of regime change in Syria.

Since Syria and its Russian ally resumed offensive operations to take the key battleground city of Aleppo on September 22, the Western sponsors of the terror proxies have become increasingly shrill in a media campaign to thwart that offensive.

America, Britain and France have decried “war crimes” allegedly committed by Syrian and Russian air strikes. John Kerry, ahead of the weekend spat at the UN, called for a probe into suspected war crimes attributed to Russia.

Western media have been saturated with unverified reports from the militant-held eastern Aleppo purporting to show Syrian and Russian air strikes on civilian centers, including hospitals. Much of the information coming out of eastern Aleppo is sourced from Western-funded “activists” who are embedded with the Nusra terrorists. Tellingly, Western media and governments are in effect peddling what is terrorist propaganda.

The Russian and Syrian governments deny Western claims. They say their military operations are targeting terrorist groups that are deliberately using the 250,000 civilian population in east Aleppo as human shields.

It is significant that the more the Syrian army and its allies among Iranian, Lebanese and Iraqi militia, as well as Russian air support, make advances to retake Aleppo, the more hysterical Western governments and media become about “war crimes”.

If we start from the premise that the conflict in Syria has from the outset been a Western-orchestrated covert war for regime change involving the sponsoring of a terrorist mercenary army, then the Western hysteria over Aleppo is perfectly understandable.

A defeat for the insurgents in Aleppo means the end of the Western criminal enterprise to install a pro-Western puppet regime in Syria. That would mark a historic blow to the prestige of Washington and its European allies in the Middle East. It would also further expose their criminal complicity.

By contrast, Russian influence in the strategic region would be elevated. And for good reasons too. Moscow will be seen as having stood by a sovereign nation to vanquish Western powers who have wreaked havoc in the region with illegal wars and regime-change subterfuges.

Given the high stakes, this is why Western powers are evidently becoming more desperate to impede Syrian and Russian military success against the insurgents. Western emotive denunciations against Syria and Russia have nothing to do with concern for human suffering. It is all about contriving a moralistic political pressure to hamper the campaign against the West’s terrorist project.

Seen in this context, French calls at the UN for a no-fly zone around Aleppo is a startling admission by the Western powers that they are trying to protect terrorist al Qaeda-affiliated organizations. It is a stunning revelation of the fraudulent and criminal nature of Western governments. Their claims of “fighting terrorism” which have justified overseas wars over the past 15 years are self-evidently bogus. Their claims of supporting a “pro-democracy uprising” in Syria are grotesque.

This giant fraud has, of course, been made possible because Western media corporations have gone along with the vile charade. These media organizations are equally complicit. Giving succor to war crimes is in itself a war crime, as international attorney Christoper Black points out.

Meanwhile, away from Aleppo and the Western distortion of what is happening there, the alternative media report that the US-led military coalition is destroying bridges on the Euphrates in the eastern province of Deir ez-Zor.

According to the Syrian Free Press and others, American air strikes have demolished seven major river crossings over the past week. The latest strike was on the al Syasia bridge north of the city of Deir ez-Zor, the largest bridge in the province.

Targeting civilian infrastructure is a war crime. It will prevent humanitarian aid convoys reaching civilians in government-held Deir ez-Zor. But more significantly, the US, French and British coalition – which is operating illegally in Syria in the first place – is working to block the Syrian army and Russian offensive against the Daesh terror stronghold of Raqqa. The bridges knocked out were providing key linkages for the Syrian and Russian forces from Deir ez-Zor towards Raqqa.

The US-led air strikes also give full meaning to the deadly American attack on the Syrian army base at Deir ez-Zor on September 17. Over 60 Syrian troops and nearly 200 more were wounded when US, British and Australian warplanes blasted the base in a sustained attack. Washington claimed it was an “accident”.

But to many other observers, the massacre was no accident. It was a deliberate assault by the Western coalition to end the Kerry-Lavrov pact because the failing ceasefire was exposing the systematic terror connections of the Western governments in Syria.

Washington and its allies are not just trying to give air cover to the terrorists in Syria indirectly by setting up so-called no-fly zones. They are evidently now giving the terrorists air fire-power.

As in the NATO regime-change war in Libya in 2011, the Americans, French and British are riding shotgun in the air for terrorists on the ground.

And the truly disgusting thing about this criminal collusion is that the Western powers claim to be concerned about international law, war crimes and human suffering.

Read more:

Rival resolutions on Syria sponsored by Russia & France fail at UNSC

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J’Accuse – French Condemnations of Russia in Syria Beyond Cynical

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AppleMark

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation 

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault worked up his frequent-flyer air miles account this week with consecutive flights to Moscow then to Washington in a bid to push through a UN Security Resolution for a new ceasefire in Syria.

Ayrault began his shuttle diplomacy with stern condemnation of the Syrian government for what he said were «war crimes» committed in the besieged city of Aleppo. The French minister also implied Russian complicity in the same alleged crimes. It wasn’t the first time he made such accusations against Russia and its Syrian ally.

When the ceasefire brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov broke down at the end of last month, it was Ayrault who led vociferous denunciations at the UN, along with American UN ambassador Samantha Power, blaming Russia for «barbarous crimes against humanity».

This week on his way to Moscow, Ayrault accused Russia of «cynicism that is fooling nobody» in reference to the renewed Russian-backed offensive by Syrian state forces to recapture the militant-held eastern quarter of Aleppo. That part of the city housing about 250,000 people has been under the control of various Islamist militants dominated by the terrorist group Al Nusra Front since 2012.

France, the US and Britain, amplified by the Western news media, have been conducting a relentless campaign to portray the Russian-backed Syrian operation on Aleppo as criminal and brutally injurious to the civilian population. Since the ceasefire collapsed during the last week of September, the Western media have been saturated with unverified claims of Russian air strikes killing civilians in eastern Aleppo and of targeting hospitals and humanitarian aid facilities.

France 24, the state-owned broadcaster of Ayrault’s country, never gives any reports from the Syrian government-held quarters of Aleppo where the majority of citizens – some 1.5 million – are residing. These areas are routinely shelled by the militants, with hundreds of victims over the past few weeks. Yet, France 24 and the other Western media outlets appear to operate on the basis that the majority of Aleppo’s population simply does not exist.

Nor do the Western media report that the majority of Aleppo’s civilians are willingly residing in the government-held districts out of seeking protection from the Islamist militants. Moreover, neither is it reported that the mainstay of the 250,000 civilians in eastern Aleppo are being held there against their will by the militants as hostages, or human shields. They can’t flee out of fear that remaining family relatives will be murdered in retribution.

The evidently selective humanitarian concern expressed by the French foreign minister and his Western counterparts for the people of Aleppo begins to alert one of a more nuanced – dare we say cynical – agenda.

Claims of Russian and Syrian «war crimes» made by Ayrault and other Western officials are based on «rebel sources» within besieged eastern Aleppo. One of the primary sources is the so-called «volunteer aid» group known as the White Helmets. Video footage purporting to show the aftermath of Russian air strikes is routinely aired by France 24 and other Western channels with the White Helmets logo displayed. It is presented as a bona fide humanitarian agency, when it fact the group is funded by US and British governments to the tune of $23 million and is embedded with the Al Nusra terrorist-controlled Aleppo Media Center. In short, a terrorist propaganda outlet, which serves to feed Western media and government ministers with disinformation that is purveyed to the Western public in order to discredit and demonize Syria and Russian forces.

French diplomats told Reuters this week that France is drafting its proposed resolution to the UN Security Council in such a way that Russia would have to exercise its veto if it is to block it. In that way, the French purpose is to project Russia as an unreasonable member of the Security Council and a stalwart backer of the Syrian «regime». This amounts to more cynical Western attempts to traduce Russia and Syria as the perpetrators for the ongoing violence.

Russia is unlikely to support the French-sponsored resolution because the resolution is impossibly one-sided and belies a political objective of undermining Syria and Russia. France is calling for an immediate cessation of fighting in Aleppo, including no military flights over the city; and, secondly, for the complete humanitarian aid access to eastern Aleppo.

This French initiative – under the guise of urgent humanitarianism – is a de facto «no fly zone» that will bolster the fighting capability of the anti-government insurgents, which, as noted, are dominated by al-Qaeda-affiliated terror groups.

When Russia and Syrian forces agreed to the ceasefire declared earlier on September 12, they did so on the strict condition that militants not associating with terrorist brigades would henceforth separate physical units. But no such separation occurred, as many observers had predicted, because Western government claims of «moderate rebels» being interspersed with «extremists» are nothing but a cynical charade. All these militants belong to the same terrorist front which Western governments have been arming in a covert war for regime change against President Bashar al-Assad – a longtime ally of Russia and Iran.

The only parties to respect the ceasefire called by Kerry and Lavrov last month were the Syrian army and its allies among the Iranian and Hezbollah militias, as well as the Russian air force. The foreign-backed militants continued to carry out hundreds of breaches of the truce, while also using the initial reduction of operations by the Syrian and Russian forces as an opportunity to regroup and rearm.

What French minister Ayrault is calling for in a renewed ceasefire this week is merely a repeat of the previous one – this time without even a pretense that the terrorists might separate into «moderates» and «extremists».

French and Western anxiety to implement some kind of cessation around Aleppo is correlated with the increasingly desperate, losing situation for the regime-change insurgents. Aleppo is a key battleground. If the Syrian and Russian forces manage to vanquish this bastion for the militants then the six-year war in Syria will be over.

The Western sponsors of the covert war in Syria stand to incur a huge strategic defeat. It should be also noted that 66-year-old Jean-Marc Ayrault was previously French prime minister back in 2012, at the very time that France was beginning to covertly supply weapons to illegally armed groups in Syria – in contravention of a European Union embargo.

This is why Ayrault and his American and British allies are now assiduously piling the political pressure on Russia to desist from its offensive in Syria. The Western sponsors are desperately trying to salvage their proxy assets on the ground and to salvage their criminal regime-change project – using the language and emotion of humanitarian concern and legal niceties.

You can’t get much more cynical than that. Now Monsieur Ayrault, just who is accusing who of what?

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Statement by the Quartet’s Principals

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Representatives of the Quartet — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, United States Secretary of State John Kerry and European Union High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Federica Mogherini — met in New York on 23 September.

The Quartet Principals were joined by the Foreign Ministers of Egypt and France during the second part of the meeting to brief on their work to support Middle East peace. All agreed on the importance of close and continuing coordination of all efforts to achieve the common goal of the two-state solution.

The Quartet reiterated its call on the parties to implement the recommendations of the Quartet Report of 1 July 2016, and create the conditions for the resumption of meaningful negotiations that will end the occupation that began in 1967 and resolve all final status issues.

The Quartet recalled its findings from the Quartet Report and expressed concern about recent actions on the ground that run counter to its recommendations. In particular:

The Quartet emphasized its strong opposition to ongoing settlement activity, which is an obstacle to peace, and expressed its grave concern that the acceleration of settlement construction and expansion in Area C and East Jerusalem, including the retroactive “legalization” of existing units, and the continued high rate of demolitions of Palestinian structures, are steadily eroding the viability of the twostate solution.

The Quartet expressed serious concern for the continuing dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, exacerbated by the closures of the crossings as well as for the illicit arms build-up and activity by militant Palestinian groups, including rockets fired towards Israel, also increase the risk of renewed conflict. In addition, advancing Palestinian national unity on the basis of the PLO platform and Quartet principles remains a priority.

The Quartet condemned the recent resurgence of violence and called on all sides to take all necessary steps to de-escalate tensions by exercising restraint, preventing incitement, refraining from provocative actions and rhetoric, and protecting the lives and property of all civilians.

The Quartet stressed the growing urgency of taking affirmative steps to reverse these trends in order to prevent entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict that is incompatible with realizing the national aspirations of both peoples.

The Quartet acknowledged certain practical steps and agreements by Israel and the Palestinian Authority that could improve conditions for the Palestinian people, while stressing the importance of full and timely implementation. The Quartet also noted the importance of a political horizon and reiterated its call for significant policy shifts consistent with the transition to greater Palestinian civil authority contemplated by prior agreements and called for in the Quartet Report.

The Quartet underlined its commitment to achieving a negotiated, comprehensive, just and enduring resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).

The Quartet expressed appreciation for the efforts of the United Nations Special Coordinator. It directed the Quartet Envoys to continue engaging with the parties and key stakeholders and to keep the Principals apprised on implementation of the Report’s recommendations.

Posted in Middle East, USA, Egypt, France, Russia0 Comments

The Burkini and France’s Imperialist Mindset

burkini

In Europe, oppression is never really called by its true ugly name. It is constantly concealed by lofty slogans such as culture, even tolerance. Repression, discrimination and harassment are administered in order for the ‘entire society to be free’.

Or so at least the official narrative goes.

In France, recent and ugly row over so-called burkinis, a swimsuit used by many Muslim women all over the world, has demonstrated how little tolerance there really is in today’s Europe for other cultures and for different ways of life.

Recently, France’s highest administrative court has ruled that “burkini bans” being enforced on the country’s beaches are illegal and a violation of fundamental liberties. Still, more than 90 percent of French people are supporting the ban, which is thoroughly illogical and philosophically as well as ethically indefensible.

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What is suddenly so shocking about a woman wearing a wetsuit on some French beach? And let’s face it: burkinis are nothing else but a wetsuit, which is commonly used on countless beaches of California, Australia, and Europe, in fact all over the world, by surfers and other water sport enthusiasts.

Just compare these images and these. Can you really tell much of a difference?

According to Wikipedia, a wetsuit is:

… A garment, usually made of foamed neoprene, which is worn by surfers, divers, windsurfers, canoeists, and others engaged in water sports, providing thermal insulation, abrasion resistance and buoyancy.

If courts manage to resurrect the ban (and actually some municipalities have already declared that they will uphold it no matter what), are the French police going to interrogate women on public beaches, while trying to determine whether they are wearing these plastic garments simply because they are planning to go surfing, or because of their religious beliefs? Would the first reason be allowed, while the other one forbidden?

Are we heading towards an era when people will be forced to confess to the authorities, why they are choosing to cover their bellies and shoulders? And is this going to re-define the meaning of ‘freedom’?

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Who would be free to cover and who would not? Would the French state be permitted to decide what is the legitimate menace from which a woman should be allowed to protect herself from?

For instance, would the cold be ok? Imagine Paris, in January or February; 100 degrees Celsius below zero… Most of the women you pass on the streets (Christian, Muslim and atheist) are “fully covered”, aren’t they? What can you see of them? Nothing, almost nothing! Their entire bodies are covered; their heads are covered, even their feet and hands are covered (unlike the hands and feet of women wearing burkinis). You travel to Grenoble in the winter, and the chances are that women will even be covering their faces with scarves. You know why, right? Because they are cold! Is this reason OK, or should the French authorities demand that they expose their bellybuttons or shoulders or legs, in order to prove how “European”, how “French” they are?

Fine, so covering yourself up from the cold is most likely admissible; it is not ‘un-European’.

But what about the heat; is it OK to protect yourself from sun? In almost the entire Southeast Asia, but also in some parts of Latin America and the Sub-Continent, women want to be as white as possible. Unlike Western women, they hate suntan. I used to live in Vietnam and in Indonesia, as well as in many parts of Latin America, so I know… In the summer in Hanoi, you spot those (mainly secular, I emphasize it here!) elegant ladies on designer scooters, covered from head to toe: their feet are covered; they wear gloves, long dresses (áo dài) or pants, most likely a helmet and underneath one more layer of headwear, plus sun glasses. Sometimes their mouth and nose is ‘protected’ by some fabric as well. While French women are fighting against the cold during the cold winters, hundreds of millions of women all over the world are covering themselves up because they are fighting against the sun. Could that be tolerated in France? Or is it unacceptable; just more evidence of how badly foreigners are ‘integrating’?

But back to the beach… Would wetsuits or burkinis or whatever they are called by, be out-rightly banned, or only when a woman decides to go into the water? And as we know, when we go diving, we all, men and women, have to ‘cover ourselves up’ fully. So even if a woman would not be allowed to enter the water unless she exposes herself, could she still be covered if she would intend to go diving, surfing, or kayaking? Would there be some ‘benevolent set of exceptions’?

And one more question: ‘If all women were to be required to expose themselves (by the new French law), then how much has to be actually shown?’ Could 60% of their skin be covered, or would only 40% be tolerated? Is there going to be some new and precise measuring device supplied to the police, calculating whether the law has actually been broken?

And what about the punishment? Should women be fined? Should they be arrested, or even deported? Should they be forced to show their legs? Should police simply kick them out of the beaches? I really want to know.

Does it all sound absurd? But of course! But sadly, it is also real. To ban or not to ban burkini is one of the most passionately debated topics in Europe today!

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That Europe is a ‘beacon of freedom’ is something that only Europeans (and far from all of them) truly believe. While anti-immigrant bigots are protesting against those relatively few migrants arriving at the EU doors every year, Europe annually literally regurgitates millions of its citizens, those who cannot stand living in what they see as a sad, oppressive and deteriorating continent. Legal and illegal European migrants are heading for North and South America, for Southeast Asia, China, even Sub-Continent and parts of Africa. Annually, they are entering millions of arranged marriages in order to secure local residency permits; others are crisscrossing Asia during their ‘visa runs’.

Many of the European migrants living abroad are very far from being ‘culturally sensitive’. Those who have plenty of money are buying off entire coastal areas of Asia and Africa. Entire nations like Thailand, Cambodia or Kenya are getting culturally ruined.

It is hardly ever debated in Europe: what is actually more damaging to local cultures – those Muslim women covering their bodies and hair on the streets and the beaches of Europe, or those literally millions of European potbellied, drunk, and half naked men in their sixties and seventies, promenading themselves publicly with their local teen female or male ‘acquisitions’ all over the Asian and African cities, villages and beaches?

And what about the European women, with their exposed breasts, wearing hardly detectable bikinis on the beaches of the once conservative Muslim communities of Indonesian Lombok or Southern Thailand?

I hate to write about this topic fleetingly, in such a short essay. I have lived, for many years, in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. The destruction of local cultures and entire communities by European migrants amounts to an extremely disturbing and painful topic, worthy of in-depth analyses. I mainly address these issues in my novels.

But this absurd anti-burkini outburst in France suddenly forced me to react, as it is thoroughly one-sided and hypocritical.

*

My ability to cope with today’s Europe is quickly evaporating. I still go there, perhaps 4 times a year, to meet my translators and publishers, to show my films, to give a speech here and there, or to see my mother who married a German around a quarter of century ago. I plan to stay for a week, but mostly I escape after 2-3 days.

The continent rubs me up the wrong way. I feel terribly un-free there. I’m forced to eat lunches and dinners at particular designated hours (as if Europe does not have tens of millions of doctors, pilots, writers, sex workers, firefighters, train operators and others who are on totally different schedules). In September I cannot buy a windbreaker that I forgot to pack, as only clothes for cold weather are now available in all department stores. I stopped renting cars in Europe, as even passing the speed limits by 5km/h kept getting me endless (electronically processed) fines. Unlike in China or in Cuba, I am not allowed to film or photograph at European train stations or at some ‘sensitive areas’. I was even stopped and chased away when I filmed the ice skating ring in front of the Municipality building in Paris! Surveillance cameras keep watching me from almost every corner, and the mainstream media feels ridiculously censored and submissive to the regime. A few months ago, when I travelled from Lebanon to Germany on Air France via Paris, both my suitcases were cut open by a saw, and then delivered to the final destination in plastic bags. “For security reasons they were ‘checked’ at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, as your bags were travelling from the Middle East,” I was told.

Of course I have a choice to stay for a while or to leave. And mostly, I leave. I frankly dislike 21st Century Europe, so why should I stay for longer than is necessary.

But many foreigners do not have this luxury. Their countries were raped, plundered and destabilized by the West, by NATO, by the US and by Europe. They are trying to survive, somehow. Surprisingly, only very few come to Europe! Very, very few compared to the millions of Europeans who are annually shutting the door behind their backs and leaving – leaving permanently, for distant shores.

Other ‘foreigners’ were born in Europe, but were never accepted. Were they to be born in Brazil or modern day South Africa, no one would even blink. They are Muslims, so what? They want to cover themselves on the public beaches? Well, it is hot and unusual, but illegal! How could it be illegal?

Europe is not at peace with itself. It robbed all over the world, it became rich because of colonialist and neo-colonialist plunder, but there is no joy behind its walls. Whenever I speak to Greeks, French, Germans, Italians, Czechs or Danes, I clearly feel it. Most Europeans do realize that their continent is in decline.

When one does not like his or her home, why not to re-think its concept, and rebuild it? Why not bring in totally new, even foreign ideas? Why stick to what makes it so oppressive?

But again, European ‘logic’ is quite different! The more dissatisfied people become, the more conservative and inward looking they get. Foreigners irritate them, or they even horrify and infuriate them. Unless they totally ‘adopt’ (abandon their culture), the majority of Europeans want them out.

In reality, Muslim women wearing burkinis is not about burkinis at all. At the beginning of this essay, we already illustrated how absurd the anti-burkini laws and regulations really are.

It is about something else. It is about the globally disliked culture of colonialist oppression and exceptionalism, flexing its muscles once again, at home and abroad. It is actually much more terrible than it looks. The movement to ban burkinis has its roots in a horrible past, when entire nations and cultures were annihilated by European barbaric expansionism.

So read between the lines:

You can wear any wetsuit, but not a burkini. It is exactly the same thing, but the wetsuit is our own invention (and therefore it is right), while the ‘burkini’ was designed by and for ‘the others’ (therefore it is clearly wrong). Remember, only our definitions are allowed on this Planet.

We are not religious or cultural fundamentalists (because only ‘the others’ can be), but we will protect our right and freedom to tell the world what can be believed, thought or even worn. Amen!

This is the iron, unapologetic logic of the imperialism.

Therefore, poor burkinis should be defended! Let’s all buy them, even us, men. After all, when you look at those old black and white photos depicting European swimming pools and beaches, many dudes were wearing almost identical all-covering stuff, and so were the women. Just see it here!

Posted in France0 Comments

How France Sets the Rules for Discussions About Racism, Terrorism and Islam

NOVANEWS
By Muriam Haleh Davis

A woman in a "burkini," a full-body bathing suit designed to meet Islamic modesty codes, in Marseille, France, on August 20, 2016. Some French politicians began backpedaling as an outcry grew on social media over the public humiliation and ostracism of Muslim women dressed in modest attire on the country’s beaches. (Dmitry Kostyukov / The New York Times)

A woman in a “burkini,” a full-body bathing suit designed to meet Islamic modesty codes, in Marseille, France, on August 20, 2016. Some French politicians began backpedaling as an outcry grew on social media over the public humiliation and ostracism of Muslim women dressed in modest attire on the country’s beaches. (Dmitry Kostyukov / The New York Times)

The last decade has seen a global rise in authoritarian populism, racism and Islamophobia in Europe. Indeed, there is an increasing stigmatization of Muslims, both those who were born in Europe, as well as those who are arriving as refugees. Moreover, the recent wave of terrorism in France has drawn particular attention to the Republic’s failures at the so-called project of “integration.” Sparring French intellectuals have even become a major news story in the Anglophone press. Despite claims that there is a “taboo” around the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962), or that one cannot talk about racial difference because the Republic is “color-blind,” there is no lack of discussion on the topics of Islam or racism. In fact, anti-racist movements are receiving renewed attention — from the Parti des Indigènes de la Republique to Black Lives Matter to the “Decolonial” Summer Camp held in late August.

The state’s response to the demands made by these groups has been decisive: It has denied the legitimacy of any organization explicitly based on race. In so doing, the government has also carefully delimited “acceptable” and “unacceptable” ways of speaking about racial difference. In other words, rather than silencing a discussion on race, there is a strict set of rules for discussing the plight of France’s minorities. Yet, the rules of engagement ensure that any examination of the root causes for racial discrimination is considered hors-jeu, or out of bounds.

The Question of “Non-Mixity”

In France, the first Black Lives protest in Paris in July 2016 led to accusations that the movement is based on “communitarianism (communautarisme). This is a French way of expressing the accusations of anti-white racism the group faced in the United States. As protesters proclaimed “les vies noires comptent!” (Black Lives Matter!), their grievances centered on the legacy of France as a colonial power and the fallacies of France’s purportedly universal ideals. Another anti-racist movement, the “Decolonial Summer Camp,” has taken a cue from a study group at the Paris 8 University that was organized in April 2016 in response to the reform of the labor code. Both of these initiatives have been defined as spaces of “non-mixity that are explicitly and exclusively geared for those who have been victims of racism.

One might understand these groups as a way to address the widespread silencing of certain communities that have specific grievances based on their racial identity. Yet, rather than taking a frank look at the racialized nature of police violence, housing policies or employment statistics, the French newspaper Le Monde asked if non-mixity was a “tool of emancipation” or a “communitarian folding inwards” (repli communautaire). Centrist websites like Marianne were even more hostile, making a pernicious parallel between this event and the “no Blacks allowed” policy of Jim Crow in the United States. A workshop that addresses the experiences of those who have been victims of racism is thus being likened to racial segregation in the US (US apartheid), prompting the question: “Who are the real racists?”

Reading the French mainstream press, one might have the impression that the forces of exclusion stem from these myriad social movements, rather than from the French state. Racial difference can thus be acknowledged in the public sphere, as long as the discussion actively erases the distinction between racism (a set of structures that historically marginalizes a population) and anti-racism (a strategy that seeks to redress this violence). As David Theo Goldberg has argued in the American case, this is a sign of the “post-racial” era in which we now live.

Islamophobia: A Misnomer?

A similar confusion is being enacted in relationship to Islamophobia. Scholars, such as Gilles Kepel have claimed that a use of the term Islamophobia itself serves to evade a critical analysis of religion. Going one step further, he even argued that the term was invented by Islamists themselves. In this series of claims and counterclaims, it is increasingly difficult to differentiate between the victim and perpetrator of racism — a confusion that suits the State of Emergency just fine.

These rules of discourse have also extended to the academy as the French government has promoted knowledge production around Islam. Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the minister of education (whose Moroccan origins prompted much discussion among the right wing of the political spectrum), supported a research agenda on Islam that led to the creation of 10 academic posts on “Islamology and radicalization.” According to a March 2016 report, which explicitly linked Islam and terrorism: “An understanding of the causes and an explanation of reasons are the best way to determine and decide how to fight terrorism.” It is hard to argue with such logic — except that Vallaud-Belkacem has also publicly condemned the Decolonial Summer Camp as fostering a racist vision of society.

Similarly, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has claimed that certain sociologists who attempt to “explain” terrorism merely provide an alibi for these violent acts. Clearly, the line between “useful” and “subversive” knowledge is being carefully guarded, and the brows of the state furrow when its non-white subjects gather outside of the Republic’s pedagogical gaze. At the same time, the goal of the state, in conjunction with the mainstream media, is not to silence a discussion of Islam and terrorism, but to funnel it into certain acceptable channels.

How else can we explain the project of the French state to reform Muslim institutions (again), often written about as the “reform of French Islam”? After all, recent perpetrators of terrorism are closer to the “born again” model of religious practice rather than reliable Mosque-goers, as Olivier Roy has pointed out. The man who committed the attack in Nice, for example, never attended a mosque; he was reported to be an avid salsa dancer, and an alleged womanizer who also drank alcohol before his quite sudden turn to ISIS (also known as Daesh). It is thus unclear how teaching Muslims how to appreciate French secularism through official religious channels would have changed his violent trajectory.

On August 2, 2016, French President François Hollande chose ex-Minister of the Interior Jean-Pierre Chevènement to head the Foundation for Islam in France (Fondation pour l’islam de France). Chevènement has drawn attention to the international financing of mosques and asked the Muslim population in France to show discretion in their religious practice and suggested the creation of a halal” tax, which highlights the fixation of the Islamophobia industry on the “right to difference” summarized in symbolic differences, such as eating habits and clothing. Here, one could also cite the long-winded debates on the burkini, which offer another platform to recycle clichés about Islam and the public space. Discussions on the appropriate role of Islam in the Republic are underpinned by a long debate that dates back to the French Revolution and the fraught relationship between the Catholic Church and the state. These polemics have now become the bread and butter of the Islamophobia industry.

Thus, as commentators drone on about the need to encourage “living together” (vivre ensemble), they treat Islamophobia as a mere question of personal prejudice against Muslims. Indeed, the phenomenon has been discussed as a question of individual psychology or as an unwillingness to socialize with Muslims. Like all racism, Islamophobia is based on a perception of difference that can be as superficial as a style of dress, a last name or a facility with the Arabic language. Indeed, as the “one drop rule” in the United States reminds us, race has always been a fluid category that scholars generally acknowledge is socially constructed rather than biologically determined. Nevertheless, any attempts to address the problem at the level of individual preference is bound to fail; the solution can be nothing less than a radical change in the structures of governance.

The War Without a Name

Recently, a different kind of violence has also become a frequent tool in the Islamophobia industry’s toolbox: The Algerian War of Independence.  Scholars have termed the violence a “war without a name since France refused to admit that Algeria — which was legally part of France and not a colony — was engaged in a struggle for independence. At the time, the French government referred vaguely to “events” in Algeria, and was more likely to see the struggle in terms of a civil war or communist incursion.

Yet in 2016, it is undeniable that the Algerian War is widely discussed in France as well as in the United States and the UK. A recent article in the Guardian was one of dozens of pieces that established a link between the attack in Nice and decolonization in Algeria. So why, at this precise moment, has the mainstream press looked to 1962 as a useful paradigm? Rehashing the Algerian War establishes a link between terrorism and another war that was seen as “savage” by French observers at the time. Moreover, it also obscures 50 years of history in France, including its domestic policies and close partnership with the Algerian state (here one could cite cooperation on so-called “anti-terrorism” policies and the largely unpopular intervention in Mali). Instead of engaging with these contemporary realities, the Islamophobia industry would have you think that old Cold War animosities (and Muslims) are again rearing their violent (and covered) heads.

A robust system of economic and cultural exclusion has created solidarity among individuals who rightly recognize that they have been excluded on the basis of their religion or skin color. Yet, when they organize along these lines realizing that any mediation or dialogue with the state is largely futile, observers worry that the fabric of the Republic is under threat. Exposing the rules of talking about race in France should not stop us from asking important questions about the efficacy of certain forms of organization, or expressing our discomfort with certain political positions (the Parti des Indigènes de la Republique‘s statements on Muslim masculinity and homosexuality in the Arab world, for example). But what we must do, imperatively, is to reject the myth of the French Republican taboo.

The Algerian War, race and Islam are splattered over front pages, televised debates and even school curricula for the bac (the academic exam taken by high school students). As Foucault taught us about sexuality, race in France only seems to be a repressed topic of conversation. Rather than something that must be discussed in whispers, it is a subject that has been actively and purposely fashioned through state power. Multiculturalism might not be the operative vocabulary in France, but there, too, demands for visibility and inclusion have resulted in a defeat for anti-racist struggles. As Robin D.G. Kelley writes about Black Lives Matter, attending to the trauma of exclusion, or making that exclusion feel less violent, does nothing to dismantle the social and epistemological architecture that allows racism to flourish.

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