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Renewed religious violence outbreak in France – Who is the Victim and Who is the Culprit?

Published by Foreign Affairs Bulletin by IDSA on

France plunged into mourning…

…after another bloody attack, this time in the suburbs of Paris, in the town of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. On October 16, Samuel Paty, a teacher of history, geography and civil society at a local school, was brutally murdered after the demonstration of a caricature of the sacred figure of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). His student, a refugee from the once rebellious Russian region, the Republic of Chechnya, beheaded his mentor in the school premises as a sign of protection of his religious beliefs, and then was shot dead by the police. French President Emmanuel Macron has already marked the incident as “terrorist attack” and called on the French to “unite”.
Over the past 8 years, barbarian attacks have resulted in over 250 casualties among the French people, including civilians and government officials. A society that traditionally professes tolerance towards representatives of all religious confessions and ethnic groups, has recently begun to understand that such a compassionate approach does not always find a symmetrical reaction among the newly minted “French” who came to the republic hoping to hide from the war and hunger, often raging in flames civil war in Africa and the Middle East. Indeed, in addition to passports, they also brought into the Fifth Republic a new way of life, not always similar to the local one, and more often even conflicting with it and striving not to integrate into the new, but to consolidate and dominate the already familiar.
Nevertheless, it was this crime that revealed a new trend showing two main problems – the unwillingness (intentional or blind) to criticize, first of all, the very fact of taking the life of Samuel Pati and, which is generally related to the above, an attempt to present Muslims not as the culprit, but as a victim of what happened. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, positioning himself as a defender of the Islamic world, said that “Macron needs to check if he is mentally healthy” in response to the statements of his French counterpart in “defense of the secular state and promises to fight radical Islam”. At the same time, he is in no hurry to recognize the committed murder as something unacceptable and immoral, not only by universal human, but also by religious standards. The wave of protests, which swept mainly the Arab states, takes out its hatred of the “offender” of their shrine: the chants portray the President of France in the form of the devil, trampling and mocking his portraits in every possible way, while posters with the prevention of bloodshed, oddly enough, have not yet been noticed.
The key problem here is the manipulation of pseudo-religious rhetoric either in order to gain a political rating by certain subjects, or in order to present the group itself as infringed in rights with the aim of making new and new demands. Moreover, society now thinks like this: “If you condemn caricature, then you are in favor of chopping off heads.” The substitution of concepts and the twisting of formulations in one’s favor becomes a colossal obstacle to reaching a compromise between the two camps that are in a state of conflict.
A few days after the murder of a school teacher on the outskirts of Paris, three visitors of a local church were murdered in Nice, and a day later – an armed attack on police officers in the city of Avignon. Both incidents are religious in nature. Today it will no longer seem strange if someone from the leaders of the Islamic world condemns the French police, who wounded a terrorist in Nice during his arrest. It is quite possible to expect something like “Senseless cruelty, hatred of Islam and its shahids – this is the ideology practiced by French thugs in police uniforms. Macron will answer for this. ”
Thus, the main task of French society today is to decide whether they want to integrate into their culture and their way of life those who, by default, see it as hostile and wrong. At the same time, excessive enthusiasm for “freedom of speech” hardly gives them the right to mock other rituals and traditions, because freedom, equality and brotherhood are respect, dignity and honor, first of all, for those who see the world differently. And the demonstration of cartoons of those who have a sacred meaning in the fate of entire nations is a very unreasonable idea, but it should be prosecuted not with a knife, but with the letter of the law.

— Written by Artur Safin, Associate Editor at FA Bulletin, currently working on a MSc in Public Policy Management at Corvinus Univeristy of Budapest–