Recent events in France are very disturbing indeed. A schoolteacher was murdered a few days ago for a cartoon lampooning Prophet Mohammed. Soon thereafter, three parish goers in the city of Nice were murdered. Preceding this was the incident of attacks on two women speaking Arabic by some other French women over an altercation. Later, there was another attack on a priest in the city of Lyon. Meanwhile, a series of attacks have followed in the media and in political circles on people of the Islamic faith. The condemnable events of violence in France are being used to whip up a frenzy against Muslims worldwide and in India too.
It was as if the forces interested in condemning all Muslims were just waiting for an opportunity to do so. This kind of fury against all people professing a particular religion, the vast majority of whom live in peace and harmony with their neighbours irrespective of their religion or creed, certainly deserves condemnation. The individual acts of violence such as the murders of the schoolteacher, the priest and the churchgoers are doubtless reprehensible, but the concerted worldwide whipping of Islamophobia by the media, electronic, print as well as on the internet needs to be condemned in no uncertain terms.
France is one of the important European countries which has a significant immigrant population from its erstwhile colonies, nearing ten percent of its current population. Many of these French citizens are Muslims, and on paper they enjoy the same rights as any other French citizen to practise of their customs, culture, and religion. Yet, after the first attack, a provocative speech made by the President Emmanuel Macron called into question the loyalty of this entire sizable segment of the population to France and so-called
French values of liberalism and secularism. This despicable statement reflects the racist past of the French ruling circles which despite their embracing such noble ideas as liberty, equality and fraternity in theory remains in truth highly bigoted.
The events themselves beg some questions. The first event mentioned was a very gruesome murder that took place due to what was considered a highly insulting prop that was used in class, which rapidly gained a following in a discussion on the internet, followed by death-threats to the teacher and the eventual murder, followed soon afterwards with the killing of an 18 year old student from Chechnya by security forces. It is not clear why the latter was not apprehended or shot in the legs to immobilise him, and why deathly force had to be used. The events in Nice likewise where the perpetrator has been named as a 21 year old recent emigre from Tunisia are also shrouded in mystery, with the family of the alleged perpetrator asking now for footage. He remains in hospital in critical condition. Thus, it is not at all clear what the motives of the attackers were and whether they were part of a larger conspiracy and if they involve other organisations. In the past, attacks have been linked to individuals and organisations that were already known to security forces and intelligence agencies.
It is clear that a huge worldwide demonising of Islam and it’s followers has been carried out. Words such as fanaticism, zealotry, irrationality, emotions, and so on have been bandied about as if Muslims all over the world are all equally culpable for these acts just because a couple of individuals who are the alleged perpetrators are Muslims. The stage has been set for a worldwide vilification of Muslims. The aim of the propaganda following these events has been to create a worldwide wave of opinion against Islam and against people living in the areas of the world were Muslims may be in the majority.
France, whose leading political forces see themselves as a big power, has in the past stayed out of the Anglo-American imperialist camp, especially in 2003 when US President Bush and UK PM Blair formed the so-called “Coalition of the Willing” to attack Iraq and unearth ‘weapons of mass destruction’, which remain elusive even 17 years later. The Anglo-Americans are known to use every trick in the book to create conditions for attacks on any country or region which do not toe their line, and to force hitherto unwilling countries to join their camp. France has also had domestic crises, notably vigorous protests against “pension reforms” and more, French people are highly disillusioned with their ruling elites and their outright policies of plunder and loot, which in the last couple of decades has led to the greatest inequalities between the rich and poor since the time of the French Revolution.
After these events, Governments including of India have gone to town with the slogan that they `Stand with France’. India has faced enormous public opinion against its own treatment of minorities, its’ performance on social indicators and hunger. The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed last year led to widespread protests across the length and breadth of India and even among Indians abroad. The recent events in France have provided a cover to the ruling circles to attack Muslims in India once again. The Government of India must be roundly condemned for not redressing any of its own atrocities and putting its own house in order, and instead joining the international bandwagon of Islamophobia.
By BA and Venkatesh Sundaram