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For well over fifty years France has taken in large numbers of Muslim immigrants, mainly from its former colonies in North Africa. Especially in the 1960s and 1970s, when the economy was booming, they were needed to do the menial jobs that French people no longer wanted to do. It is estimated that they total some five million – some say many more with their children.

Successive French governments over-confidently asserted that their presence in France posed no difficulties, thanks to the French State religion of ‘secularism’. Born of the atheist French Revolution, this ideology claimed that, thanks to its belief in ‘Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood’, all immigrants could be absorbed and integrated into French national conformity. Strangely enough, no-one seemed to have noticed that the Muslim immigrants and their descendants were housed in poverty-stricken tower-block ghettos, concrete shanty-towns, ringing French cities and towns. The Muslims are strangely unfree, strangely unequal and strangely unbrotherly.

The fact is that secularism, French or other, only works when people lose their faith and are contemptuous of religious values. If, on the other hand, people have a strong religious faith, culture and identity, then secularism is a total failure. After all, secularism fails to recognize that the fundamental reality of human beings is not that they are equal, but that they are different. And any organization which fails to recognize human diversity will inevitably collapse. It happened in the old Soviet Union and the Yugoslav Union, as it has happened in centralized systems throughout the world. Today it is happening in centralized France. The fact that Muslim women and girls are not allowed to wear headscarves in public buildings, such as schools, is not ‘equality’ or ‘freedom’, it is in fact simply an ‘unbrotherly’ act of religious and cultural persecution - and everybody knows it.

As a former resident of the Paris suburbs from 1983 to 1997, knowing only too well those ‘suburbs’ (the French euphemism for ghettos), where the current wave of violence has started, I am amazed that this violence did not break out years ago. Many factors are behind it; the name of the disease is indeed ‘legion’.

First of all, there is the fact that most of the immigrants in France and their children and grandchildren live there because the Arabs of North Africa defeated the French in wars of colonial liberation some fifty years ago. In particular, no North African can forget the traumas of the Franco-Algerian War of 1954-1962, with its torture and atrocities, leaving two million, mainly Arab, dead. As for the French, they find it difficult to forgive the Arabs for their national humiliation in the ‘Maghreb’.

As a result, a large percentage of the French support the National Front Party of the elderly racist Le Pen, who some fifty years ago fought with the French Army in North Africa. The fact that the young rioters of today were born in France is overlooked: they are still ‘des arabes’. The fact that the ultra-ambitious, right-wing French Minister of the Interior, Nicolas Sarkozy, who called the rioters ‘scum’, is himself a Jew, is unlikely to quell the violence of French Muslim protestors. Behind all this, there is also the historic rivalry between European Catholicism and Islam, which began long ago with the aggressive European Imperialism of the Crusades

Secondly, France is dominated by a rigid and disconnected elite who dominate its institutions, making the British class system look incredibly flexible and modern. All the last five French Presidents, since the 1960s, have even physically resembled one another – elderly, bald bureaucrats. The political class, products of the elitist ENA political school in Paris, all seem to be the same, regardless of the Party to which they belong and which they founded in order to launch them to the Presidency. ‘L’immobilisme’ of France is quite extraordinary, for it excludes all outsiders. France is paralysed by its own elite, leaving a despised, excluded, largely immigrant underclass of the poor and disenfranchised. The French always revolt – no wonder, the aristocratic elite simply does not represent the people. Beneath the imported veneer of democracy, there simmer parallels, sometimes surprisingly similar to some of the conditions which prevailed before the French Revolution. And the poor Muslim immigrants and their French-born children and grandchildren are not represented by the government-controlled media, whose all too deferential journalists receive from the government comfortable apartments in the chic but expensive centre of Paris.

France’s weak and ailing gerontocrat-President, Jacques Chirac, who in the tradition of Pompidou and Mitterrand before him, refuses to step down, clinging on to his power even in his dying gasps, does not know what to do. Instead, the unelected Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, a French aristocrat and poet, dithers, with less than six months experience, he seems lost. Frankly, the French political system of Presidential absolutism (even if it now only lasts for five years) seems ill-adapted to twenty-first century politics. Now that the recently hospitalized President is dying, the ignoble scramble has begun to succeed him, Sarkozy and de Villepin the most likely rivals for power. The situation does not make for strong leadership and political direction in a divided nation.

Finally, there is the great and unresolved problem suffered by the children of Muslim immigrants to France – unemployment. For over fifteen years unemployment has been a cancer in France. Each successive government has refused to tackle the problem, brushing it under the carpet. They massaged the unemployment figures with ‘Youth Training Schemes’. They massaged the figures by massive ‘early retirements’, with people as young as 45 being retired ‘prematurely’. They massaged the figures by keeping young people in education well into their twenties. And after five years of University, they still could not obtain jobs. As long ago as 1995, the then French Prime Minister, Alain Juppé, noted that the real unemployment figures were six million, not the official three million – and these are still the same today. Of course, Juppé lost the elections. Politicians should not announce the truth. After him, Chirac famously told the unemployed young to ‘emigrate’: clearly, a long-sighted statesman.

I myself left France in 1997, as a result of the assassination of my employer, which left me unemployed. However, for the Muslim young people of today’s France, among whom unemployment is often well over 30% and of whom many have never worked and have no prospect of ever working, the situation is incomparably worse. They cannot leave. Having spent huge sums on megalomaniac public works to glorify their Presidents in the past (who can forget the Pharoahism of Mitterrand?), State finances are critically indebted. Confined to their Communist-built tower-blocks on rundown estates, the like of which can be found elsewhere only in ex-Communist Eastern Europe, with no future before them, the ‘peasants’ of modern France are revolting. House people like animals, and, inevitably, they will start behaving like animals. Despise them, and, inevitably, they will despise you.

French governments and their media sometimes tend to gloat over the problems which their international rivals suffer. Suffering from a national inferiority complex as an ex-World Power, they often petulantly point out the failings of others, forgetting to look at their own failings, blaming everything on some imaginary bogeyman or other: ‘les anglo-saxons’, ‘la mondialisation’ ‘l’ultra-libéralisme’ etc etc.

However, it would be a pity if some were tempted to gloat over the results of French hubris. The fact is that in terms of immigration policy all Western European governments have acted like the French. In their arrogance, all those governments have in the last fifty years accepted large numbers of Muslim immigrants, who naturally have had children and grandchildren. The governments all supposed that they would be able to integrate such immigrants easily, through one form or another of secularism. The fact is - secularism does not work. The foolish arrogance of thinking that religion does not shape culture, that religion in general is unimportant, now has to be paid for.

Whether in Britain, with its British-born Muslim terrorist bombers, in Holland with its anti-immigration Party and political stabbings, in Germany with its disenfranchised Turkish millions, in Spain with its train bombings and Muslims who want ‘our mosques’ back, in Italy with its chaotic and unchecked immigration, in France and Belgium with their immigrant ghettos, each Western European government is now going to have to take measures to decide where it is going. In a France with an ailing, almost invisible President, elected only to stop the National Front from coming to power, in a politically crippled Germany, ‘governed’ by a non-government, in an Italy racked by political corruption, in a ‘fin de règne’ UK, ruled by an incredibly arrogant Prime Minister, who long ago lost all authority by undemocratically leading his country into a Texan oil war, and whom even his own Party views as a liability, Western Europe presents a picture of a drifting and rudderless ship.

Dare I say it? Today France: tomorrow Western Europe?

After decades of secularist irresponsibility, a lot of people are going to have to face up to reality and responsibility. Just because you, the elites of Western Europe, happen to despise religious belief, do not think that religion will go away. It is coming back to haunt you - and now you must pay the price for your past contempt for it.

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