January 23, 2017
In Les Territoires Perdus de la République
(The Lost Territories of the Republic), a prophetic book edited by historian
Georges Bensoussan published in 2002, a group of French school teachers described
the wave of anti-Semitism, misogyny and Islamism that was sweeping through
schools in the suburbs surrounding Paris.
The book was met with a deafening media
Fifteen years later, Bensoussann has edited
a follow-up: Une France Soumise (A Subjugated France), a collection of
testimonials by over 70 civil servants, teachers, social workers, doctors,
nurses, law enforcement officers and mayors.
The face of France has been transformed in
the intervening years. What was a rippling wave back in 2002 has become a
tsunami spreading out from the suburban zones that threatens to engulf the
Sharia law has arrived on street corners
and village squares. The Islamists are progressing, not from the top down but
from the bottom up. Their strategy is one of gradual and inexorable
Enclaves are being created in housing
projects, neighbourhoods and towns, where they stake out their social and
political markers to impose their laws and worldview.
A Salafist counter-society has materialized,
characterized by hatred of all things French that threatens to destroy social
cohesion, transform lifestyles and erase cultural identity.
This reality is more frightening than the
fictional France portrayed in Michel Houllebecq’s novel Submission. Barbara
Lefebvre, who co-edited the book, asserts that “a world is coming to an end:
that of a secular, republican and liberal France.”
In its war on Western, liberal democracy,
political Islam sees France as a key battleground. But the testimonials collected
demonstrate that those invested with exercising the authority of the state have
renounced any attempt to enforce the laws of the republic throughout the
As nature abhors a vacuum, those laws have
given way to a forced submission -- to rules that are not those democratically
created by lawmakers, but imposed by religion.
A case in point is the wearing of the
Niqab. Despite a legal ban introduced in 2010, police officers are afraid to
enforce this law, not only for fear of being attacked but also because their
superiors instruct them not to, so as to maintain social peace.
The testimonials in A Subjugated France
come mainly from public-sector employees, who are confronted on a daily basis
with situations similar to those reported in the popular press.
Yet unlike the press reports, Bensoussan’s
book gives those employees an opportunity to describe the reality they face --
a reality their hierarchical superiors forbid them from discussing with
The role of the state itself in the
disintegration of its own authority is thus highlighted in a way that is absent
from the media accounts.
Reading the book makes one aware of the
conflict between, the French nation -- with its rules and cultural identity --
and a counter-society composed of a section of French Muslims, who consider
France to be a hostile environment and want to live according to a Salafist
religious, legal and social model they seek to extend throughout the country
and ultimately, the globe.
That model is diametrically opposed to the French
Republican values of liberty, equality and fraternity. It sees Muslims as
superior, forbids marriage with people of other ethnic or religious groups,
considers solidarity to be exclusively communal, excludes freedom of conscience
and speech, rejects gender equality and anathemises homosexuality.
It propagates a victim mentality that
facilitates psychological manipulation, instilling fear and loathing of the
host society that makes integration impossible. The notion of Islamophobia
encapsulates this strategy. The intellectual enquiry and critical thinking so
characteristic of French people confirms and reinforces this alienation, thus
closing the loop.
To those who are not willing to sacrifice
their country to the Salafists, Bensoussann’s book is required reading.
is an Associate Professor at the Paris campus of ESCP Europe Business School
and President of FIRM (Forum on Islamic Radicalism and Management).