On October 16, 2020 in Paris, an 18-year-old Chechen refugee beheaded French teacher Samuel Paty, who showed students caricatures – which among other things mocked Mohammed – of the controversial French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, as part of a lesson on freedom of expression.
France went crazy. They somehow put up with all the years before, when various jihadists ran trucks into crowds of people or massacred everything in front of them with machine guns in the name of Allah. When terrorists killed half of Charlie Hebdo’s editorial staff in 2015, the loudest cries were still the ones for tolerance. Islam is a religion of peace, these jihadists are just a few rotten apples, we need to be sympathetic, says the liberal mantra. Personally, I think jihadists are a gangrene. The rest of the Islamic world might agree, but it does not occur to them to cut off the murderous hand that feeds them.
So what happened in 2020 that made the French president – a great advocate of peace and coexistence, solidarity and tolerance, as he portrayed himself in the presidential election against Marine le Pen in 2017 – attack the so-called “Islamist separatism”? Isn’t Islam a religion of peace?
Macron did bare his teeth, which led to calls for a boycott of French products, while various Muslim leaders around the world tried to outdo each other in portraying Muslims as victims in Europe. But a few terrorist attacks later and Macron rushed to correct the media that he never critiqued Islamic separatism, but the Islamist separatism.
Macron’s premise is that he is attacking an ideology that is supposed to be detrimental to the values of secular France, which are, purely by chance, the same enlightenment values which I have been critical about in the past. There is no problem with Islam as such, Macron will be quick to claim, the problem is Islamism. You see, religion in itself can coexist with secular enlightened France, the problem is this shabby political part that refuses to disappear. Why cannot Muslims understand, as Catholics do, that in France, religion is a private matter, something you leave at home, something you do not discuss in public? The answer is simple. Muslims missed the period of terror and guillotine. They came to France after it.
The solution to the problem offers itself. The fact that “Islamists” understand the language of violence and terror very well is confirmed by a 1986 story published in the LA Times. Hezbollah kidnapped four Soviet diplomats and, in exchange for their release, demanded that the Soviet Union stops bombarding Tripoli. The Soviets tried to negotiate. Hezbollah sent them the body of one of the executed diplomats. The negotiators washed their hands and handed the matter over to the KGB. They tracked down one of the relatives of the then leader of Hezbollah, arrested him, castrated him and delivered him in pieces to the leader of the terrorist group. The Islamists understood the message. Shortly afterwards, the remaining three Soviet prisoners were released – unharmed.
A similarly pragmatic but somewhat more comprehensive approach was taken by the Chinese Communist Party with Muslims in Xinjiang Province. Until 2017, they were plagued by annoying terrorist attacks, but then China decided it was enough. China implemented draconian retaliatory measures, mass surveillance, increased arrests, and the establishment of a system of so-called “re-education camps” where about a million Uighur and other Chinese Muslims were to be imprisoned. The end result? There has not been a single terrorist attack since.
What should France do? Is “democratic” France allowed what “communist” China dares? Far from it. It is necessary to think about poor human rights, this embodiment of French values. But it will be necessary to choose between France and the subjugation to Islam. And “Islamism” understands only one language. We can only hope that Muslims in Europe will take seriously the warnings of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who warns that Muslims in Europe are persecuted worse than Jews before World War II and that they will leave Europe. The last thing we want is another Holocaust.
Until then repression remains – the expulsion of entire families of terrorists, the disabling of Islam at every turn, both academically and financially. After all, this is war. Total war. Regardless of whether Macron is aware of it or not.