By Leslie Shaw
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 silence.
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 entire country.
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 encroachment.
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 nation.
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 reporters.
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.
Leslie Shaw is an Associate Professor at the Paris campus of ESCP Europe Business School and President of FIRM (Forum on Islamic Radicalism and Management).