Posted tagged ‘France’

Islam in the Heart of England and France

April 23, 2017

Islam in the Heart of England and France, Gatestone InstituteDenis MacEoin, April 23, 2017

For many years, the British government has fawned on its Muslim population; evidently the government thought that Muslims would in due course integrate, assimilate, and become fully British, as earlier immigrants had done. More than one survey, however, has shown that the younger generations are even more fundamentalist than their parents and grandparents, who came directly from Muslim countries.

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“There are plenty of private Muslim schools and madrasas in this city. They pretend that they all preach tolerance, love and peace, but that isn’t true. Behind their walls, they force-feed us with repetitive verses of the Qur’an, about hate and intolerance.” — Ali, an 18-year-old of French origin, whose father was radicalized.

“In England, they are free to speak. They speak only of prohibitions, they impose on one their rigid vision of Islam but, on the other hand, they listen to no-one, most of all those who disagree with them.” — Yasmina, speaking of extremist Muslims in the UK.

“Birmingham is worse than Molenbeek” — the Brussels borough that The Guardian described as “becoming known as Europe’s jihadi central.” — French commentator, republishing an article by Rachida Samouri.

The city of Birmingham in the West Midlands, the heart of England, the place where the Industrial Revolution began, the second city of the UK and the eighth-largest in Europe, today is Britain’s most dangerous city. With a large and growing Muslim population, five of its electoral wards have the highest levels of radicalization and terrorism in the country.

In February, French journalist Rachida Samouri published an article in the Parisian daily Le Figaro, in which she recounted her experiences during a visit there. In “Birmingham à l’heure islamiste” (“Birmingham in the Time of Islam”) she describes her unease with the growing dislocation between normative British values and those of the several Islamic enclaves. She mentions the Small Heath quarter, where nearly 95% of the population is Muslim, where little girls wear veils; most of the men wear beards, and women wear jilbabs and niqabs to cover their bodies and faces. Market stalls close for the hours of prayer; the shops display Islamic clothes and the bookshops are all religious. Women she interviewed condemned France as a dictatorship based on secularism (laïcité), which they said they regarded as “a pretext for attacking Muslims”. They also said that they approved of the UK because it allowed them to wear a full veil.

Another young woman, Yasmina, explained that, although she may go out to a club at night, during the day she is forced to wear a veil and an abaya [full body covering]. She then goes on to speak of the extremists:

“In England, they are free to speak. They speak only of prohibitions, they impose on one their rigid vision of Islam but, on the other hand, they listen to no-one, most of all those who disagree with them.”

Speaking of the state schools, Samouri describes “an Islamization of education unthinkable in our [French] secular republic”. Later, she interviews Ali, an 18-year-old of French origin, whose father has become radicalized. Ali talks about his experience of Islamic education:

“There are plenty of private Muslim schools and madrasas in this city. They pretend that they all preach tolerance, love and peace, but that isn’t true. Behind their walls, they force-feed us with repetitive verses of the Qur’an, about hate and intolerance.”

Samouri cites Ali on the iron discipline imposed on him, the brutality used, the punishment for refusing to learn the Qur’an by heart without understanding a word of it, or for admitting he has a girlfriend.

Elsewhere, Samouri notes young Muslim preachers for whom “Shari’a law remains the only safety for the soul and the only code of law to which we must refer”. She interviews members of a Shari’a “court” before speaking with Gina Khan, an ex-Muslim who belongs to the anti-Shari’a organization One Law for All. According to Samouri, Khan — a secular feminist — considers the tribunals “a pretext for keeping women under pressure and a means for the religious fundamentalists to extend their influence within the community”.

Another teenager of French origin explains how his father prefers Birmingham to France because “one can wear the veil without any problem and one can find schools where boys and girls do not mix”. “Birmingham,” says Mobin, “is a little like a Muslim country. We are among ourselves, we do not mix. It’s hard”.

Samouri herself finds this contrast between secular France and Muslim England disturbing. She sums it up thus:

“A state within a state, or rather a rampant Islamization of one part of society — [is] something which France has succeeded in holding off for now, even if its secularist model is starting to be put to the test”.

Another French commentator, republishing Samouri’s article, writes, “Birmingham is worse than Molenbeek” — the Brussels borough that The Guardian described as “becoming known as Europe’s jihadi central.”

The comparison with Molenbeek may be somewhat exaggerated. What is perplexing is that French writers should focus on a British city when, in truth, the situation in France — despite its secularism — is in some ways far worse than in the UK. Recent authors have commented on France’s growing love for Islam and its increasing weakness in the face of Islamist criminality. This weakness has been framed by a politically-correct desire to stress a multiculturalist policy at the expense of taking Muslim extremists and fundamentalist organizations at face value and with zero tolerance for their anti-Western rhetoric and actions. The result? Jihadist attacks in France have been among the worst in history. It is calculated that the country has some some 751 no-go zones (“zones urbaines sensibles”), places where extreme violence breaks out from time to time and where the police, firefighters, and other public agents dare not enter for fear of provoking further violence.

Many national authorities and much of the media deny that such enclaves exist, but as the Norwegian expert Fjordman has recently explained:

If you say that there are some areas where even the police are afraid to go, where the country’s normal, secular laws barely apply, then it is indisputable that such areas now exist in several Western European countries. France is one of the hardest hit: it has a large population of Arab and African immigrants, including millions of Muslims.

There are no such zones in the UK, certainly not at that level. There are Muslim enclaves in several cities where a non-Muslim may not be welcome; places that resemble Pakistan or Bangladesh more than England. But none of these is a no-go zone in the French, German or Swedish sense — places where the police, ambulances, and fire brigades are attacked if they enter, and where the only way in (to fight a fire, for example) is under armed escort.

Samouri opens her article with a bold-type paragraph stating:

“In the working-class quarters of the second city of England, the sectarian lifestyle of the Islamists increasingly imposes itself and threatens to blow up a society which has fallen victim to its multicultural utopia”.

Has she seen something British commentators have missed?

The Molenbeek comparison may not be entirely exaggerated. In a 1000-page report, “Islamist Terrorism: Analysis of Offences and Attacks in the UK (1998-2015),” written by the respected analyst Hannah Stuart for Britain’s Henry Jackson Society, Birmingham is named more than once as Britain’s leading source of terrorism. [1]

One conclusion that stands out is that terror convictions have apparently doubled in the past five years. Worse, the number of offenders not previously known to the authorities has increased sharply. Women’s involvement in terrorism, although still less than men’s, “has trebled over the same period”. Alarmingly, “Proportionally, offences involving beheadings or stabbings (planned or otherwise) increased eleven-fold across the time periods, from 4% to 44%.” (p. xi)

Only 10% of the attacks are committed by “lone wolves”; almost 80% were affiliated with, inspired by or linked to extremist networks — with 25% linked to al-Muhajiroun alone. As the report points out, that organization (which went under various names) was once defended by some Whitehall officials — a clear indication of governmental naivety.

Omar Bakri Muhammed, who co-founded the British Islamist organization al-Muhajiroun, admitted in a 2013 television interview that he and co-founder Anjem Choudary sent western jihadists to fight in many different countries. (Image source: MEMRI video screenshot)

A more important conclusion, however, is that a clear link is shown between highly-segregated Muslim areas and terrorism. As the Times report on the Henry Jackson Society review points out, this link “was previously denied by many”. On the one hand:

Nearly half of all British Muslims live in neighbourhoods where Muslims form less than a fifth of the population. However, a disproportionately low number of Islamist terrorists — 38% — come from such neighbourhoods. The city of Leicester, which has a sizeable but well-integrated Muslim population, has bred only two terrorists in the past 19 years.

But on the other hand:

Only 14% of British Muslims live in neighbourhoods that are more than 60% Muslim. However, the report finds, 24% of all Islamist terrorists come from these neighbourhoods. Birmingham, which has both a large and a highly segregated Muslim population, is perhaps the key example of the phenomenon.

The report continues:

Just five of Britain’s 9,500 council wards — all in Birmingham — account for 26 convicted terrorists, a tenth of the national total. The wards — Springfield, Sparkbrook, Hodge Hill, Washwood Heath and Bordesley Green — contain sizeable areas where the vast majority of the population is Muslim.

Birmingham as a whole, with 234,000 Muslims across its 40 council wards, had 39 convicted terrorists. That is many more than its Muslim population would suggest, and more than West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Lancashire put together, even though their combined Muslim population is about 650,000, nearly three times that of Birmingham. There are pockets of high segregation in the north of England but they are much smaller than in Birmingham.

The greatest single number of convicted terrorists, 117, comes from London, but are much more widely spread across that city than in Birmingham and their numbers are roughly proportionate to the capital’s million-strong Muslim community.

Hannah Stuart, the study’s author, has observed that her work has raised “difficult questions about how extremism takes root in deprived communities, many of which have high levels of segregation. Much more needs to be done to challenge extremism and promote pluralism and inclusivity on the ground.”

Many observers say Birmingham has failed that test:

“It is a really strange situation,” said Matt Bennett, the opposition spokesman for education on the council. “You have this closed community which is cut off from the rest of the city in lots of ways. The leadership of the council doesn’t particularly wish to engage directly with Asian people — what they like to do is have a conversation with one person who they think can ‘deliver’ their support.”

Clearly, lack of integration is, not surprisingly, the root of a growing problem. This is the central theme of Dame Louise Casey’s important report of last December to the British government. Carried out under instructions of David Cameron, prime minister at the time, “The Casey Review: A review into opportunity and integration” identifies some Muslim communities (essentially those formed by Pakistani and Bangladeshi immigrants and their offspring) as the most resistant to integration within British society. Such communities do little or nothing to encourage their children to join in non-Muslim education, events, or activities; many of their women speak no English and play no role within wider society, and large numbers say they prefer Islamic shari’a law to British law.

Casey makes particular reference to the infamous Trojan Horse plot, uncovered in 2014, in which Muslim radicals conspired to introduce fundamentalist Salafi doctrines and practices into a range of Birmingham schools — not just private Muslim faith schools but regular state schools (pp. 114 ff.): “a number of schools in Birmingham had been taken over to ensure they were run on strict Islamic principles…”

It is important to note that these were not ‘Muslim’ or ‘faith’ schools. [Former British counterterrorism chief] Peter Clarke, in his July 2014 report said:

“I took particular note of the fact that the schools where it is alleged that this has happened are state non-faith schools…”

He highlighted a range of inappropriate behaviour across the schools, such as irregularities in employment practices, bullying, intimidation, changes to the curriculum, inappropriate proselytizing in non-faith schools, unequal treatment and segregation. Specific examples included:

  • a teachers’ social media discussion called the “Park View Brotherhood”, in which homophobic, extremist and sectarian views were aired at Park View Academy and others;
  • teachers using anti-Western messages in assemblies, saying that White people would never have Muslim children’s interests at heart;
  • the introduction of Friday Prayers in non-faith state schools, and pressure on staff and students to attend. In one school, a public address system was installed to call pupils to prayer, with a member of the staff shouting at students who were in the playground, not attending prayer, and embarrassing some girls when attention was drawn to them because girls who are menstruating are not allowed to attend prayer; and
  • senior staff calling students and staff who do not attend prayers ‘k****r’. (Kuffar, the plural of kafir, an insulting term for “unbelievers”. This affront reproduces the Salafi technique of condemning moderate or reformist Muslims as non-Muslims who may then be killed for being apostates.)

Casey then quotes Clarke’s conclusion:

“There has been co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action, carried out by a number of associated individuals, to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos into a few schools in Birmingham. This has been achieved in a number of schools by gaining influence on the governing bodies, installing sympathetic headteachers or senior members of staff, appointing like-minded people to key positions, and seeking to remove head teachers they do not feel sufficiently compliant.”

The situation, Casey states, although improved from 2014, remains unstable. She quotes Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, in a letter to the Secretary of State for Education, which declared as late as July 8, 2016, that the situation “remains fragile”, with:

  • a minority of people in the community who are still intent on destabilising these schools;
  • a lack of co-ordinated support for the schools in developing good practice;
  • a culture of fear in which teachers operate having gone underground but still there;
  • overt intimidation from some elements within the local community;
  • organised resistance to the personal, social and health education (PSHE) curriculum and the promotion of equality.

Elsewhere, Casey notes two further issues in Birmingham alone, which shed light on the city’s Muslim population. Birmingham has the largest number of women who are non-proficient in English (p. 96) and the largest number of mosques (161) in the UK (p. 125).

For many years, the British government has fawned on its Muslim population; evidently the government thought that Muslims would in due course integrate, assimilate, and become fully British, as earlier immigrants had done. More than one survey, however, has shown that the younger generations are even more fundamentalist than their parents and grandparents, who came directly from Muslim countries. The younger generations were born in Britain but at a time when extremist Islam has been growing internationally, notably in countries with which British Muslim families have close connections. Not only that, but a plethora of fundamentalist preachers keep on passing through British Muslim enclaves. These preachers freely lecture in mosques and Islamic centres to youth organizations, and on college and university campuses.

Finally, it might be worth noting that Khalid Masood, a convert to Islam who killed four and injured many more during his attack outside the Houses of Parliament in March, had been living in Birmingham before he set out to wage jihad in Britain’s capital.

It is time for some hard thinking about the ways in which modern British tolerance of the intolerant and its embrace of a wished-for, peace-loving multiculturalism have furthered this regression. Birmingham is probably the place to start.

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[1] Hard copies of the report may be purchased via PayPal here. Essays, summaries etc. may be linked to from here. An excellent summary by Soeren Kern is available online here.

French Elections: Populist Revolution or Status Quo?

March 22, 2017

“If the Macron bubble doesn’t pop, this may portend the realignment, not just of French politics, but Western politics in general, away from the left-right division that has defined Western politics since the French Revolution, towards a division between

by Soeren Kern
March 21, 2017 at 5:00 am

Source: French Elections: Populist Revolution or Status Quo?

  • “If the Macron bubble doesn’t pop, this may portend the realignment, not just of French politics, but Western politics in general, away from the left-right division that has defined Western politics since the French Revolution, towards a division between the people and the elites.” — Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, French political analyst.
  • “This divide is no longer between the left and the right, but between patriots and globalists.” — Marine Le Pen, French presidential candidate.

The presidential election in France officially got underway on March 18, when the Constitutional Council announced that a total of eleven candidates will be facing off for the country’s top political job.

The election is being closely followed in France and elsewhere as an indicator of popular discontent with traditional parties and the European Union, as well as with multiculturalism and continued mass migration from the Muslim world.

The first round of voting will be held on April 23. If no single candidate wins an absolute majority, the top two winners in the first round will compete in a run-off on May 7.

If the election were held today, independent “progressive” candidate Emmanuel Macron, who has never held elected office, would become the next president of France, according to several opinion polls.

A BVA market research poll for Orange released on March 18 showed that Marine Le Pen, the leader of the anti-establishment National Front party, would win the first round with 26% of the votes, followed by Macron with 25%. Conservative François Fillon is third (19.5%), followed by radical Socialist Benoît Hamon (12.5%) and Leftist firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon (12%).

For the first time, the two established parties, the Socialist Party and the center-right Republicans, would be eliminated in the first round.

In the second round, Macron, a 39-year-old pro-EU, pro-Islam globalist (platform here), would defeat Le Pen, a 48-year-old anti-EU, anti-Islam French nationalist (platform here), by a wide margin (62% to 38%), according to the poll.

Macron, a former investment banker, was an adviser to incumbent Socialist President François Hollande, one of the most unpopular presidents in modern French history. A long-time member of the Socialist Party, Macron served in Hollande’s cabinet for two years as economy minister until August 2016, when he resigned to launch his rival presidential bid to “transform France.”

Macron, whose core base of support consists of young, urban progressives, has tried to position himself in the political center, between the Socialists and the conservatives. His meteoric rise has been propelled by a scandal involving Fillon — who is the subject of a criminal investigation over allegations that he used government money to pay his wife and children more than €1 million ($1.1 million) for jobs they never did — and because the Socialists fielded Hamon, a nonviable candidate who has promised to pay every French citizen over 18, regardless of whether or not they are employed, a government-guaranteed monthly income of €750 ($800). The annual cost to taxpayers would be €400 billion ($430 billion). By comparison, France’s 2017 defense budget is €32.7 billion ($40 billion).

Macron’s ascendancy comes amid heightened worries over security. More than 230 people have been killed in attacks in France by Islamic radicals during the past two years. The latest attack, on March 18, involved a 39-year-old French-Tunisian jihadist who proclaimed that he wanted to “die for Allah,” and was shot dead after he tried to seize a soldier’s weapon at Orly Airport in Paris.

Shortly after the attack, Le Pen accused Macron and the rest of France’s political establishment of “cowardice in the face of Islamic fundamentalism.”

In an apparent effort to bolster his national security credentials, Macron on March 18 announced a surprise proposal to restore compulsory military service. He said he would require men and women between the ages of 18 and 21 to serve one month in the armed forces.

“I want each young French person to be able to experience military life, however brief,” Macron said. “This is a major project of society, a real republican project, which should allow our democracy to be more united and the resilience of our society to be increased.” Macron, if elected, would become the first president in modern French history not to have performed military service.

Observers say that Macron’s national service proposal — which copies Le Pen’s proposal to reintroduce compulsory military service for a period of at least three months — is an attempt to siphon votes away from Le Pen and Fillon, both of whose campaign platforms call for a strong national defense.

Macron’s proposal, which will require an estimated €15 billion ($16 billion) upfront, and another €3 billion ($3.2 billion) each year to maintain, has been met with derision because of its exorbitant cost and dubious contribution to national security. Le Monde reminded its readers that France spends a similar amount (€3 billion annually) on nuclear deterrence.

Fillon’s spokesman, Luc Chantel, said the proposal was “absurd and unrealistic” and added:

“Either it is a measure designed to discourage students from quitting school, and this is not the mission of the army, or it is training for the defense of France, and one month is a joke, it is a discovery camp.”

Some of Macron’s other policy positions include:

  • European Federalism: Macron has repeatedly called for a stronger European Union. At a January 14 political rally in Lille, he said: “We are Europe, we are Brussels, we wanted it and we need it. We need Europe because Europe makes us bigger, because Europe makes us stronger.”
  • Single European Currency: In a January 10 speech at the Humboldt University in Berlin, Macron, speaking impeccable English, said: “The truth is that we must collectively recognize that the euro is incomplete and cannot last without major reforms. It has not provided Europe with full international sovereignty against the dollar on its rules. It has not provided Europe with a natural convergence between the different member states. The euro is a weak Deutsche mark, the status quo is synonymous, in 10 years’ time, with the dismantling of the euro.”
  • Migration Crisis: Macron has repeatedly praised German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door migration policy, which has allowed more than two million mostly Muslim migrants into Germany since January 2015.

    In a January 1, 2017 interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung, Macron accused critics of Merkel’s open-door migration policy of “disgraceful oversimplification.” He said: “Merkel and German society as a whole exemplified our common European values. They saved our collective dignity by accepting, accommodating and educating distressed refugees.”

    In a February 4 rally in Lyon, Macron mocked U.S. President Donald Trump’s pledge to build a wall with Mexico: “I do not want to build a wall. I can assure you there is no wall in my program. Can you remember the Maginot Line?” he said, referring to a failed row of fortifications that France built in the 1930s to deter an invasion by Germany.

  • Islamic Terrorism: Macron has said he believes the solution to jihadist terrorism is more European federalism: “Terrorism wants to destroy Europe. We must quickly create a sovereign Europe that is capable of protecting us against external dangers in order to better ensure internal security. We also need to overcome national unwillingness and create a common European intelligence system that will allow the effective hunting of criminals and terrorists.”
  • Islam: Macron has said he believes that French security policy has unfairly targeted Muslims and that “secularism should not be brandished to as a weapon to fight Islam.” At an October 2016 rally in Montpellier, he rejected President Hollande’s assertion that “France has a problem with Islam.” Instead, Macron said: “No religion is a problem in France today. If the state should be neutral, which is at the heart of secularism, we have a duty to let everybody practice their religion with dignity.” He also insisted that the Islamic State is not Islamic: “What poses a problem is not Islam, but certain behaviors that are said to be religious and then imposed on persons who practice that religion.”
  • National Defense: Macron supports NATO, and has pledged to increase French defense spending to reach 2% of GDP by 2025 — a level to which all NATO members agreed in 2006. At the same time, Macron believes in the need to create an “autonomous” European defense capability, also known as a European Army, which would duplicate military capabilities which already exist within NATO.

An Ifop poll for the Journal du Dimanche published on March 18 found that French voters are divided into “two quasi-equal blocks” about Macron’s honesty and his ability to govern. According to the survey, only 46% of French people believe he will be “able to guarantee the safety of the French people.” More than half (52%) of respondents said they were “worried” about Macron, while 52% said they doubted his honesty.

In an interview with BMFTV, Laurence Haïm, a Canal+ reporter who was accredited to the White House and who recently joined Macron’s team, described Macron as the “French Obama.” She added: “I think that in today’s world we need renewal, from someone young, who is not a politician. He wants to make the democratic revolution.”

So what is driving Macron’s political ascendancy? French analyst Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry explains:

“The best way to look at Macron is as a kind of anti-Le Pen, or, to stretch the bounds of logic even further, a ‘populist from the top.’ If Le Pen is anti-establishment, Macron is the incarnation of the French establishment, a graduate of ENA, the top civil service school that trains the country’s elites, and a member of the Inspection des Finances, the most elite civil service track. His only experience in the private sector is through the revolving door as an investment banker. And yet, Macron sounds off populist rhetoric: His candidacy, he says, is about sweeping out a corrupt system (even as he is supported by the vast majority of the French establishment).

“It would be only slightly churlish to say that the parts of the system Macron wants to do away with are the democratic ones; witness his full-throated support for the EU in a country that has rejected it at the polls. Macron supports various liberalizing reforms, and Angela Merkel’s welcoming policy towards migrants. He is, of course, a social liberal. In a country that takes culture very seriously, he has argued that there is ‘no such thing’ as French culture; rather, there are many cultures with which the French perform a kind of synthesis. His biggest donors seem to be French tax exiles residing in London and Brussels.

“In other words, he is the mirror image of the political realignment that is transforming Western politics. If the familiar motley crew of populists — Trump, Le Pen — are the candidates for those who lost out from globalization, then Macron is the candidate of the winners. In both cases, they seem to make old left-right divisions obsolete. If the Macron bubble doesn’t pop, this may portend the realignment, not just of French politics, but Western politics in general, away from the left-right division that has defined Western politics since the French Revolution, towards a division between the people and the elites.

Le Pen agrees. At a rally in Lyon on February 5, she said:

“The old left-right debates have outlived their usefulness. Primaries have shown that debates about secularism or immigration, as well as globalization or generalized deregulation, constitute a fundamental and transversal divide. This divide is no longer between the left and the right, but between patriots and globalists.

“The collapse of traditional parties and the systematic disappearance of almost all of their leaders shows that a great political re-composition has begun.”

At that same rally, Le Pen launched a two-pronged attack on globalization and radical Islam. She also promised French voters a referendum on remaining in the European Union in order “to allow us to recover our four sovereignties: monetary, economic, legislative and territorial.”

She went on to articulate exactly what is at stake for France in this election:

In all respects, this presidential election is unlike previous ones. Its outcome will determine the future of France as a free nation and our existence as a people.

After decades of errors and cowardice, we are at a crossroads. I say it with gravity: the choice we will have to make in this election is a choice of civilization.

The question is simple and cruel: will our children live in a free, independent, democratic country? Will they still be able to refer to our system of values? Will they have the same way of life as we did and our parents before us?

Will our children, and the children of our children, still have a job, a decent wage, the possibility of building up a patrimony, becoming an owner, starting a family in a safe environment, being properly cared for, to grow old with dignity?

Will our children have the same rights as us?

Will they live according to our cultural references, our values ​​of civilization, our style of living, and will they even speak our French language, which is disintegrating under the blows of political leaders who squander this national treasure — for example, by choosing a slogan in English to promote the candidacy of Paris to host the 2024 Olympic Games?

Will they have the right to claim French culture when certain candidates for the presidential election, puffed up by their own empty-headedness, explain that it does not exist?

I ask this important question because, unlike our adversaries, I am interested not only in the material heritage of the French, but I also want to defend our immaterial capital. This immaterial capital is priceless because this heritage is irreplaceable. In fact, I am defending the load-bearing walls of our society.

The choice for French voters is clear: Le Pen is the anti-establishment change candidate and Macron is the pro-establishment status quo candidate.

In the current French presidential election campaign, Marin Le Pen (right) is the anti-establishment change candidate and Emmanuel Macron (left) is the pro-establishment status quo candidate. (Image source: LCI video screenshot)

Le Pen is offering voters an historic opportunity to reassess relations with the European Union, reassert national sovereignty and stanch the flow of mass migration from the Muslim world. By contrast, Macron is offering voters increased European federalism, the transference of yet more national sovereignty to the European Union, and the further multiculturalization of French society.

If polls are any indication, French voters appear to be more comfortable with the status quo. The populist revolution that began in June 2016 when British voters decided to leave the European Union, and cross the Atlantic in November when Americans elected U.S. President Donald J. Trump, will not be spreading to France in 2017.

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

 

A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in France: February 2017

March 18, 2017

A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in France: February 2017, Gatestone InstituteSoeren Kern, March 18, 2017

(Just as “there is no connection between Islam, radicalism and terrorism,” there is no connection between multiculturalism and any of Europe’s problems. Any fool can see that.– DM)

Children and women are being raped by human traffickers inside the Camp de la Linière, a migrant camp in the northern French city of Dunkirk; they are forced to have sex in return for blankets, food or the offer of passage to Britain. A volunteer worker referred to the children as being like “little steaks” because they were considered so appetizing and vulnerable to traffickers.

The breakdown in law and order in Muslim neighborhoods in Paris is being fueled by impunity for criminals and a lenient judicial system, according to Hugues Moutouh, a former advisor to the Interior Ministry.

“You can pass on my respects to the Grand Mufti, but I will not cover myself up.” — French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, cancelling a meeting with the Grand Mufti of Lebanon.

The report implies that deradicalization, either in specialized centers or in prisons, does not work because most Islamic radicals do not want to be deradicalized.

February 1. The Interior Ministry reported a 45% decline in attacks against Jews and Muslims in France in 2016, but a 17.5% increase in attacks against Christians. The ministry said there were 1,125 attacks against Jews and Muslims in 2016, down from 2,034 attacks in 2015. It also reported 949 attacks against Christians in 2016, up from 808 attacks in 2015. Attacks against Christians jumped by 245% between 2008 and 2016.

February 2. Undercover police wearing burqas and qamis (traditional Arab gowns) were filmed apprehending a drug dealer in the Marseille’s Bricarde district, a notorious no-go zone. Police confirmed the “totally normal camouflage technique” after the cellphone video was posted on social media. A local resident complained: “This gives the impression that you basically have to be Muslim or look like a Muslim in order to blend in.” Another resident said:

“I think that trying to blend into the crowd in order not to attract attention is a good way of catching traffickers. What’s more, the police are not really respected on the council estates, which have become no-go areas. Even the police are scared to go there, which isn’t right. So it’s hardly surprising that when they come they have to disguise themselves — although I can understand why lots of people are criticizing them for it.”

February 3. Abdallah El-Hamahmy, a 29-year-old Egyptian national, attacked four French soldiers at the Louvre in Paris. He was carrying two backpacks when he approached the soldiers, who were on patrol at the entrance to the Carrousel du Louvre shopping mall, beneath the museum. When they told him that he could not bring his bags into the mall, he lunged at them with a machete and began shouting “Allahu Akbar.” After a brief struggle, one of the soldiers opened fire, leaving El-Hamahmy in critical condition. El-Hamahmy had arrived in Paris legally on January 26 after obtaining a one-month tourist visa in Dubai. Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called the attack “terrorist in nature.”

February 5. Marine Le Pen, the leader of the anti-establishment National Front party, officially launched her campaign to become the next president of France. Speaking at a rally attended by thousands of her supporters in Lyon, Le Pen launched a two-pronged attack on globalization and radical Islam. She promised French voters a referendum on remaining in the European Union, and also to deport Muslims who are deemed a security risk to France.

February 5. A police officer was charged with raping a 22-year-old man named Théo during an identity check in the Paris suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois. The man was allegedly beaten and then raped with a police baton. He was subsequently hospitalized for injuries to his rectum that required surgery. The arrest sparked riots in Paris and other cities across France. The Inspector General of the National Police (IGPN) later determined that the sodomy was an accident which occurred after Théo refused to allow himself to be handcuffed. “It is undoubtedly very serious, it is violence that has resulted in permanent disability, but it is not a rape,” the IGPN said. The police finding sparked another wave of riots.

February 7. A majority (61%) of French respondents agreed with the statement, “All further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped,” according to a Chatham House survey of European attitudes toward Muslim immigration.

February 8. A new study by the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) offered a partial view of the ethnic composition of French society. Journalist Yves Mamou wrote:

“In 2015, 7.3 million people born in France had at least one immigrant parent (11% of the population). Of these 7.3 million people, 45% are of European origin, most of whom are children of immigrants who arrived in France from Spain (8%) or Italy (12%) as early as the 1930s, or from Portugal in the 1970s onwards. One can assume, although it is not written in the study, that these people are of Christian origin.

“Another group is composed of Africans. 42% of the 7.3 million children born in France to an immigrant parent are of African background, mainly North Africa. They came from Algeria (15%), Morocco (11%), Tunisia (5%) and sub-Saharan Africa (11%). Although it is also not specified in the study, it would seem that the great majority are Muslim.

“Another group, children from Turkish migrant families, represent 4% of the 7.3 million. These people are classified as Asian; they are not included in the African and Muslim group. Most of these Turks are also presumably Muslim.

“A conclusion therefore would assume that 46% of the descendants of immigrants are Muslim and 45% are Christian. The remaining 9% are from East Asia or the Americas.”

February 8. Two jihadists who were under house arrest in Bayonne evaded French authorities and left for Syria to join the Islamic State. The duo was intercepted in Slovenia. “This does not mean that Bayonne is a fertile ground for radicalization,” said Éric Morvan, the prefect of Pyrénées-Atlantiques. “We are very far away, even if some individuals are closely monitored.”

February 9. The Paris mayor’s office announced a plan to build a 2.5 meter-high (8ft) wall of reinforced glass around the Eiffel Tower to protect against jihadist attacks. If approved, the €20 million ($21 million) project will begin later this year.

February 10. The Constitutional Council, the highest court in France, ruled that a law adopted in June 2016, which makes it a crime to consult jihadist websites, is unconstitutional. The ten-member council ruled that the law, which sets a two-year prison sentence and €30,000 ($32,000) fine for anyone “habitually” consulting jihadist websites, infringed on the fundamental freedom of communication. The case was brought before the court by Sami Khankan, a lawyer whose client, a convert to Islam named David Pagerie, was found guilty of the offense and was sentenced for two years by a court in Anger.

February 10. Cédric Herrou, a French farmer who helped migrants evade police to cross the French-Italian border, was handed a €3,000 suspended sentence. A court in Nice found him guilty of meeting migrants, most of them Eritrean, on Italian soil to bring them to France. The court found him not guilty of other charges, in particular housing illegal immigrants and placing them in a disused holiday home belonging to the SNCF rail company. France’s immigration law punishes people who facilitate the illegal entry, movement or residence of a foreigner in France. The law allows for sentences of up to five years in prison and a fine of €30,000. After the verdict, Herrou vowed to carry on helping migrants.

February 10. The Pentagon confirmed that it targeted an Islamic State jihadist, Rachid Kassim, a French national, in a strike by the U.S.-led coalition near Mosul, Iraq. Kassim, who was in his 30s and originally from Roanne in the Loire Valley, is believed to have inspired the June 2016 attack on a senior French police officer and his partner, and the July 2016 murder of an elderly priest, whose throat was cut.

February 11. Children and women are being raped by human traffickers inside the Camp de la Linière, a migrant camp in the northern French city of Dunkirk, according to the London-based Observer. Corroborating accounts from volunteers, medics, refugees and other officials revealed that sexual abuse is common within the camp, and that children and women are forced to have sex in return for blankets, food or the offer of passage to Britain. Accounts from those at the camp, which currently holds up to 2,000 refugees, of whom an estimated 100 are unaccompanied minors, portray a squalid site with inadequate security and atrocious living conditions.

A volunteer coordinator, testifying on the condition of anonymity, said:

“Sexual assault, violence and rape are all far too common. Minors are assaulted and women are raped and forced to pay for smuggling with their bodies.

“Although the showers are meant to be locked at night, particularly dangerous individuals in the camp have keys and are able to take the women to the showers in the night to force themselves on them. This has happened to women I know very well.”

She said that one of the most in-demand products distributed to women in the Dunkirk Camp are adult diapers: “Women are too scared to go to the toilets in the night,” she said. “None of the locks in the women’s toilets in the camp work.”

The volunteer also recounted several incidents where minors had been attacked:

“A 12-year-old girl was groomed in the camp by a man well over twice her age. When she no longer wanted to speak with him because his behavior towards her had become so obscene, he threatened her. A 13-year-old boy ended up returning to his home country having been raped in the camp.”

Another statement provided by an ex-NGO worker, who spent more than three years volunteering at Dunkirk, said men targeted women and children because they were so vulnerable. “You see women in a male environment with men that are disconnected from reality, so there are serious incidents such as rape. Women, children, young teens, male and female.” The worker referred to the children as being like “little steaks” because they were considered so appetizing and vulnerable to traffickers, of whom dozens reside on site.

One woman travelling by herself said that unaccompanied individuals were viewed as prey: “All men see that I’m alone, and it’s the same for the children. Men see me and they want to rape me.”

February 13. The South Korean embassy advised Korean tourists to avoid parts of Paris after a tour group was robbed in a tour bus stuck in traffic in Bobigny (Seine-Saint-Denis).

February 13. The breakdown in law and order in Muslim neighborhoods in Paris is being fueled by impunity for criminals and a lenient judicial system, according to Hugues Moutouh, a former advisor to the Interior Ministry. In an essay for Le Figaro, he wrote:

“Another night of riots in the Paris suburbs. Again and again the same scenes of urban violence, the same images of cars burned, attacks of police stations, Molotov cocktails launched on the forces of law and order….

“A part of the French political class, on the left, is even an accomplice to these abuses by justifying the revolt of those whom it still persists in calling ‘young people’…

“The suburbs of our big cities are being gangrened by gangs of traffickers…. They no longer fear the police and increasingly do not hesitate to attack them violently. Public utilities, schools and police stations are routinely ransacked. Our forces of order are exhausted and disgusted… Politicians, by their attitudes, may also give the impression of endorsing or even encouraging public disorder.”

February 13. A hundred Eritrean and Sudanese migrants rioted at a rest area in Steenvoorde, on the highway linking Lille to Dunkirk, in northern France. Police said the fight was over “control of the territory” for trucks on their way to Britain. “When the police arrived, the migrants scattered in the woods and there were no arrests,” police said.

February 13. The Paris City Hall installed large boulders to dissuade migrants from setting up makeshift camps outside an official migrant shelter at Porte de La Chapelle. Migrants often sleep outdoors while waiting for one of the 400 spaces in the shelter to become available. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said the city wants to carry out “a reflection on the appropriation of public spaces to avoid the installation of new migrant camps in Paris.”

February 14. Two men and a 16-year-old girl were charged in southern France on suspicion of planning a terror attack that the authorities said was imminent. The three, arrested on February 10 near the coastal city of Montpellier, were identified as Muslim convert Thomas Sauret, 20; his partner, a 16-year-old named only as Sarah; and Malik Hammami, 33. They were indicted for “criminal association in connection with a criminal terrorist enterprise.”

February 18. The LigneRock Festival, an annual music festival in Saint-Christophe-du-Ligneron, Vendée, was cancelled after concert organizers received three anonymous phone calls warning of a “bloodbath” if the event went ahead as planned.

February 18. Police reported escalating tensions between Afghans and Sudanese at a new migrant reception center in northern Paris. “It was tense for a week,” a police source told Le Monde. “The Sudanese and Afghans are not friends.” The facility also reported a surge in migrants from Germany and Sweden. “Seventy percent of arrivals may not satisfy the criteria for asylum in France,” the source said.

February 19. A 32-year-old man shouting “Allahu Akhbar” and “we are going to kill all of you” was shot by police after stabbing a female passerby and then attacking an elderly couple in Montauban, near Toulouse. The public prosecutor’s office ordered the man to be hospitalized for treatment of “psychiatric disorders.”

February 21. Prosecutors in Paris launched an investigation after two French Jews, aged 29 and 17, reportedly were assaulted by a group of men described as having a Middle Eastern appearance. The incident allegedly occurred at a traffic light in the Paris suburb of Bondy (Seine-Saint-Denis). The attackers pulled the victims, who were wearing skullcaps, out of their vehicle and attempted to sever their fingers with a hacksaw. The attackers hurled anti-Semitic slogans at the victims, including “Dirty Jews, you’re going to die.” Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux expressed “outrage” and pledged to do everything he could to find the perpetrators.

February 21. Three men were arrested in separate counter-terrorism raids in Paris, Marseille and Clermont-Ferrand. “The suspects had a plot that was sufficiently advanced for the police to decide to arrest them,” according to anti-terrorism prosecutors in Paris.

February 21. The Paris region lost an estimated €1.3 billion ($1.4 billion) in tourist income in 2016 due to a steep decline in tourism since the 2015-2016 terror attacks on France. The number of tourists visiting Île-de-France, a region which includes Paris and the surrounding area, fell by 1.5 million in 2016. The steepest decline was in Chinese and Japanese visitors.

February 21. French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen cancelled a meeting with Lebanon’s Grand Mufti after he insisted that she wear a headscarf. “The highest authority in the Sunni world did not have this requirement, therefore, there is no reason to wear the veil,” Le Pen said in reference to her meeting with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, Egypt, in May 2015. “You can pass on my respects to the Grand Mufti, but I will not cover myself up.”

On Feb. 21, French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen cancelled a meeting with Lebanon’s Grand Mufti after he insisted that she wear a headscarf. “You can pass on my respects to the Grand Mufti, but I will not cover myself up,” she stated. (Image source: France24 video screenshot)

February 22. The government’s flagship program to deradicalize jihadists is a “total failure” and must be “completely reconceptualized,” according to the initial conclusions of a parliamentary fact-finding commission on deradicalization. The report reveals that the government has nothing to show for the tens of millions of taxpayer euros it has spent over the past several years to combat Islamic radicalization in France, where 238 people have been killed in jihadist attacks since January 2015. The report implies that deradicalization, either in specialized centers or in prisons, does not work because most Islamic radicals do not want to be deradicalized.

February 22. A court in Paris sentenced two French jihadists, Ibrayima Sylla, 37, and Pierre Roubertie, 26, to a combined 38 years in prison for invading the home of Jacques Penhouet, a post office teller in Seine-et-Marne, and taking his pregnant wife and son hostage, in August 2013. While Roubertie, a convert to Islam, guarded the mother and son, Sylla dragged Penhouet to his workplace to empty the post office safe. The attackers made off with a meagre €2,080 ($2,100). Prosecutors said the two men had planned to use the stolen money to fund jihadist attacks on French soil.

February 28. Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, during a visit to Jakarta, Indonesia, insisted that there is no connection between Islam, radicalism and terrorism. “Terrorism has no nationality or religion,” he said.

Man shot dead after trying to steal weapon from soldier at Paris Orly Airport (PHOTOS, VIDEO) — RT News

March 18, 2017

French soldiers have shot dead a man at Paris Orly Airport after he tried to seize a weapon from one of them. An evacuation of the terminal was ordered after the incident.

Source: Man shot dead after trying to steal weapon from soldier at Paris Orly Airport (PHOTOS, VIDEO) — RT News

French soldiers have shot dead a man at Paris Orly Airport after he tried to seize a weapon from one of them. An evacuation of the terminal was ordered after the incident.

An unidentified man tried to seize a firearm from a French soldier at the airport and shots were fired by the French military in the ensuing altercation.

The man succeeded in seizing the weapon of a soldier. He was quickly neutralized by the security forces,” Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told Reuters.

We confirm that the man, who tried to seize a weapon from a soldier, has been neutralized,” the national police also told RT, adding that it would not disclose any detail immediately.

Aside from the attacker, no other deaths or injuries are reported at the airport.

The man is said to have acted alone. Police sources told Reuters he was known to intelligence services as a radicalized Muslim.

Brandet later confirmed that the same attacker had injured a police officer in the northern Paris suburb of Stains earlier that morning. The shooting occurred after a police patrol had pulled over the man’s car for an ID check.

Anti-terrorism prosecutors will probe the incidents. The Interior Ministry says that while terror motives are “possible,” it is early to draw conclusions.

The attacker’s father and son have been taken into police custody, Reuters reported citing judicial sources.

Around 3,000 people were evacuated from the terminal during the special operation, according to local media.

Bomb disposal units were sent to the site to make sure the attacker did not have a suicide vest. No explosives have been found.

Flights have been suspended at both terminals of Paris Orly Airport due to the incident, with some inbound flights diverted to Charles de Gaulle Airport, Orly management said.

The South Terminal where the incident took place may stay closed until the evening, while the West Terminal is expected to open shortly.

‘He was holding woman by her neck with gun in his hand’

Some tweets reported a hostage situation, with several witnesses RT talked to confirming this.

He was holding the woman by her neck with the police officer’s gun in his hand. We understood the seriousness of the situation and fled. Later we heard several shots,” a witness told RT outside the airport.

When we entered the building, it was calm. Then, within several meters, I saw a young man. He took a female officer hostage and an evacuation happened very quickly,” another said.

The gunfire sparked panic at the airport, a witness identified as Dominque also told BFM television.

The soldiers took aim at the man, who in turn pointed the gun he had seized at the two soldiers,” he said.

He added that, after snatching the female soldier’s weapon, the attacker grabbed her by the neck and threatened two others, before being shot.

Located 13 km south of Paris, Orly Airport was the French capital’s primary airline hub before the opening of Charles de Gaulle Airport, and continues to serve some 30 million passengers annually.

It remains France’s busiest in terms of domestic flights.

The patrol involved in Saturday’s incident is part of the Sentinel special force, which was deployed throughout France in the wake of a string of deadly jihadist attacks. The force has some 7,500 soldiers, of whom roughly half operate in the Paris region

READ MORE: Machete-wielding man attacks security personnel at Louvre, terrorism suspected (PHOTOS)

A similar incident occurred at the Louvre last month, when an Egyptian man sustained a gunshot wound after attacking soldiers guarding the museum.

AMAZING! Marine Le Pen Enjoys Spectacular Trump-Like Crowd in France (Video)

March 11, 2017

Source: AMAZING! Marine Le Pen Enjoys Spectacular Trump-Like Crowd in France (Video)

FREXIT Is Coming—
Marine Le Pen is enjoying spectacular and excited Trump-like crowds in France.

Here is Marine Le Pen at a recent rally.

France’s Fatal Attraction to Islam

March 4, 2017

France’s Fatal Attraction to Islam, Gatestone InstituteGiulio Meotti, March 4, 2017

Instead of fighting to save what is savable, French opinion-makers are already writing the terms of surrender.

By hybridizing cultures and rejecting Christianity, France will soon end up not even teaching also Arabic, but only Arabic, and marking Ramadan instead of Easter.

Instead of wasting their time trying to organize an “Islam of France”, French political leaders, opinion makers and think tanks should look for ways to counter the creeping Islamization of their country. Otherwise, we may soon be seeing not only a “Grand Imam de France”, but also lashes and stonings on the Champs Élysées.

Two years ago, the rector of the Great Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, suggested converting empty churches into mosques, to accommodate the growing Muslim community in abandoned Christian sites. Now, many people in France seem to have taken the idea so seriously that a report released by the foundation Terra Nova, France’s main think tank that provides ideas to the governing Socialist Party, suggests that in order to integrate Muslims better, French authorities should replace the two Catholic holidays — Easter Monday and Pentecost — with Islamic holidays. To be ecumenical, they also included a Jewish holiday.

Written by Alain Christnacht and Marc-Olivier Padis, the study, “The Emancipation of Islam of France,” states: “In order to treat all the denominations equally, it should include two important new holidays, Yom Kippur and Eid el Kebir, with the removal of two Mondays that do not correspond to particular solemnity”.

Thus, Easter and Pentecost can be sacrificed to keep the ever-elusive multicultural “peace”.

Terra Nova’s proposal was rejected by the Episcopal Conference of France, but endorsed by the Union of Islamic Organizations of France, close to the Muslim Brotherhood, which would also like to include the Islamic holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha in the calendar. The idea of replacing the Christian holidays was also sponsored by the Observatory of Secularism, an organ created by President François Hollande to coordinate secularist policies. The Observatory of Secularism also proposed eliminating some Christian holidays to make way for the Islamic, Jewish and secular holidays. “France must replace two Christian holidays to make way for the Yom Kippur and Eid,” said Dounia Bouzar, a member of the Observatory.

1800In his recent book, Will the Church Bells Ring Tomorrow?, Philippe de Villiers notes the disappearance of churches in France, and their replacement by mosques. Pictured above: On August 3, 2016, French riot police dragged a priest and his congregation from the church of St Rita in Paris, prior to its scheduled demolition. Front National leader Marine Le Pen said in fury: “And what if they built parking lots in the place of Salafist mosques, and not of our churches?” (Image source: RT video screenshot)

“France is no longer a Catholic country”, wrote Frederic Lenoir, editor-in-chief of Le Monde des Religions. The newspaper Le Figaro wondered if Islam can already be considered “France’s prime religion.” Instead of fighting to save what is savable, French opinion-makers are already writing the terms of surrender. That is the meaning of Terra Nova’s proposal.

A similar shocking idea came from another think tank, the Montaigne Institute, which provides ideas to another presidential candidate, Emmanuel Macron. In its report, written by Hakim El Karoui, the Montaigne Institute proposed the creation of a “Grand Imam of France“, no less, as if Paris and Cairo would have the same historic roots. Macron recently apologized for French colonialism, feeding a defeatist sense of guilt that fuels Islamic extremists in their demands.

The Montaigne Institute has also suggested teaching Arabic in public schools. This idea was also sponsored by Jack Lang, president of the Institute of the Arab world, who stated, “the Arab world is part of us”. By hybridizing cultures and rejecting Christianity, France will soon end up not even teaching also Arabic, but only Arabic, and Ramadan instead of Easter.

If the goal is accommodating Muslims in the French Republic instead of assimilating them, why not ban pork in the schools, avoid sensitive subjects such as the Crusades and the Holocaust, separate men and women in swimming pools, call cartoonists to “responsibility,” and allow Islamic veils in the public administration? In fact, all these things are taking place in France today. And the result is not “emancipation,” but religious segregation.

It is in this Apartheid that Islamic extremists grow and permeate hearts and minds. France’s director-general of intelligence, Patrick Calvar, has been clear: “The confrontation is inevitable,” he said. There are an estimated 15,000 Salafists among France’s seven million Muslims, “whose radical-fundamentalist creed dominates many of the predominantly Muslim housing projects at the edges of cities such as Paris, Nice or Lyon. Their preachers call for a civil war, with all Muslims tasked to wipe out the infidels down the street”.

The Socialist front-runner for the Presidential elections, Benoit Hamon, to whom the Terra Nova’s report was directed, even justified the disappearance of French women from the cafés in Muslim-majority areas: “Historically, in the workers’ cafes, there were no women,” he said.

Instead of wasting their time trying to organize an “Islam of France”, French political leaders, opinion-makers and think tanks should look for ways to counter the creeping Islamization of their country. Otherwise we may soon be seeing not only a “Grand Imam de France”, but also lashes and stonings on the Champs Élysées.

EU seeks to help prosecute Marine Le Pen for… Tweeting

March 3, 2017

EU seeks to help prosecute Marine Le Pen for… Tweeting, Hot Air, Jazz Shaw, March 3, 2017

The horrible, dangerous activity which Le Pen engaged in was the tweeting of an “image of violence” last year. The picture in question was one of James Foley, the journalist who was beheaded by ISIS. 

The law in question is one which forbids the publication of violent images but this is where the true irony comes in. Le Pen was considered in violation of a rule which was designed to stop people from distributing such images as a way to recruit terrorists. She was doing precisely the opposite, drawing attention to the barbaric nature of the enemy, but now may run afoul of the law.

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Clearly French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is making all the right enemies in high places. The established political class in France clearly despises her but the European Union is now getting in on the act, no doubt because of her less than favorable opinions of the continental organization. In one of the stranger stories to come out of the French election cycle, the EU has moved to suspend Le Pen’s standard immunity from prosecution over images which she posted on her Twitter account. If that sounds to you like something out of a George Orwell novel, fasten your seat belts because it gets even more strange. (Washington Post)

On Thursday, the European Parliament voted to lift Marine Le Pen’s immunity from prosecution for tweeting violent images, a crime that in France can carry up to three years in prison.

As Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front party, rises in the polls ahead of France’s presidential election next month, authorities will now be able to pursue a case against her. Speaking on French television Thursday morning, she was quick to condemn her European colleagues for what she called “a political inquiry.”

Apparently in France the phrase “political inquiry” is the European equivalent to what we in the United States would call “an obvious witch hunt.”

This question of immunity is the first one to sort out because the entire concept will no doubt sound like something from an alien planet to most Americans. The European Union Parliament provides immunity to its members in matters of free speech so that they will be free to express their opinions in public debate. That sentence alone is a chilling reminder of precisely how different things are across the pond if you grew up taking American rights to freedom of speech for granted. Yes, in Europe you can frequently be prosecuted for thought crimes.

The horrible, dangerous activity which Le Pen engaged in was the tweeting of an “image of violence” last year. The picture in question was one of James Foley, the journalist who was beheaded by ISIS. Such images are no doubt disturbing to some people, in this case the Foley family in particular. After a complaint was raised by relatives, Le Pen apologized and deleted the tweet but the damage had already been done.

Keep in mind that one of Marine Le Pen’s main selling points in the election is her outrage over attacks by violent Islamic extremists and her insistence that the nation do more to protect its citizens. The law in question is one which forbids the publication of violent images but this is where the true irony comes in. Le Pen was considered in violation of a rule which was designed to stop people from distributing such images as a way to recruit terrorists. She was doing precisely the opposite, drawing attention to the barbaric nature of the enemy, but now may run afoul of the law.

It’s simply impossible to deny that this is a political hit job. By lifting Le Pen’s immunity, the European Union is paving the way for France to prosecute her over a tweet. This prosecution is taking place (assuming it happens) just as the final stages of the presidential election are kicking into high gear. You don’t need the world’s best detective to figure that one out. Of course, it would be nice to pretend that this is somehow a unique situation, but it’s obviously not. You’ll recall that Dutch candidate Geert Wilders was actually taken to trial and convicted for chanting a slogan at a political rally. Wilders did not wind up serving any time for his “crime” and the trial lead to a surge in sympathetic support for him in the polls. But it still underscores the fact that freedom of speech in Europe is largely a joke.

The thing to watch for now and over the next few weeks is whether or not Marine Le Pen receives the same sort of boost in her popularity which Wilders experienced previously. Are the French truly such a nation of sheep that they want to stand by idly and watch a presidential candidate be dragged into court over a tweet expressing a political position? If not, and if they are truly disgusted by this effort to stifle Le Pen’s opinions, there may be another upset brewing in the European electoral races.

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