by Ramin Mazaheri
There wasn’t an official award handed out, but the Islamophobic statement of 2016 in France has to go to the politician who said that Muslim women who wear the hejab are like the “American niggers who were in favor of slavery”.
LOL, she did even not say “blacks”, she said “niggers” – “nègres”, in French. You simply cannot use that word in polite society. I know because I tried – simply to understand what the level of acceptable racial discourse here was in France – and was roundly admonished. Fortunately, I could honestly plead ignorance.
The person who said it was Laurence Rossignol, of the Socialist Party, so she’s also a candidate for “French fake leftist of the year”.
It gets worse: This was not some nobody Socialist politician, she said it while serving as a member of President Francois Hollande’s cabinet!
But wait, there’s more! She was the Minister for Women’s Rights, hahaha.
Yes, Muslims in France truly have nobody in power on their side, LOL – ya gotta laugh to keep from crying.
And yet…“Islamophobic acts in France were down in 2016”, is what tomorrow’s headlines will blare from the mainstream media.
Because, of course, the issue of Muslims being attacked should be treated exactly like how capitalists treat the economic growth rate: “But did we get more than last year?”
(Coincidentally, those numbers were out today as well: a paltry 1.1% economic growth rate in 2016 for France. Another year of failure, but you can send me all the mainstream media reports which do not put a positive spin on the numbers.)
Back to Islamophobia: the number of Islamophobic acts was indeed down 36% in 2016 when compared with 2015.
“Three cheers for France! Pass the halal croissants!”
For those of you new to this planet: In 2015 there were 2 huge terror attacks in France and an enormous outpouring of Islamophobic violence, both private and state-sanctioned. That was the year that Islamophobia “went mainstream”- it became ok to openly talk about every Muslim as if they lived in a cave, were stuck in the year 742 AD and had 4 wives.
So, had the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) – the nation’s watchdog on the subject – reported that the numbers had actually increased in 2016…ooh la, now that would have meant 2016 was a Muslim massacre.
I can feel…people clicking away from this article, because I’m sure people are so fed up that they will read the words “Collective Against Islamophobia in France” and move on – because aren’t we all tired of such subjects? I know I am sure as hell tired of reporting it!
So let me pass on the actual good news: On the personal level, Islamophobia truly is decreasing in France.
I covered the CCIF’s press conference for Press TV and they told me that their years of work are paying off: they see more and more solidarity and help for the victims of Islamophobia. Some government workers, teachers and cops have realized there is a problem, and they are actually putting their authority to good use (as opposed to throwing up obstacles, as many civil servants still do).
That’s what grassroots activism does – it thinks long-term, it’s committed for the long-term and it really wins…long-term.
Keep in mind that it was only in 2015 that France decided to finally join the 20th century and admit that “Islamophobia” actually existed so…baby steps. But if you’ve been sucker-punched and had your hejab pulled off, such baby steps are important – if only to get the bleeding stopped.
Politically, Islamophobia is worse than ever
Again, to the aliens among us, France has been a police state dictatorship (the correct term) since November 2015. It will be until May 2017, depending on who is elected president.
As regards the Muslim community, France’s state of emergency has been one big “we run this place” message.
Intimidation, arrests, house arrests, brutal tactics, smashed doors, smashed reputations, smashed lives, smashed innocence of children…but it’s been effective in the fight against terrorism, right?
Wrong – 4,000+ raids by the French state have produced just 6 investigations opened regarding terrorism. I haven’t been able to find any new data, but going back about 6 months there had been just 1 indictment from such raids. There had been 0 convictions.
I don’t want to waste much of our time on this because the state of emergency is so obviously wrong for all Frenchmen and racist towards Muslims, so I’ll just throw out some key phrases the CCIF used at the press conference – I think you are smart enough that I don’t have to clarify: “climate of general suspicion”, “winning electoral formula”, “Muslim frustration with Hollande”, “lack of a clear message of ‘zero-tolerance’”, “Islamophobic security state”, and here’s what it was really all about in 2016: “institutional validation of Islamophobia”.
Even if you think these shifty Muslims deserve it for being born Brown, isn’t your libertarian, anti-authority side upset? I hope so.
There are, as always, only 2 poles of thought on dealing with us lousy immigrants: “live and let live”, which is known as “multiculturalism”, or you have what France has pushed all their chips behind: “assimilation”.
The problem with assimilation is that it inherently implies that other cultures have nothing of value to add. Secondarily, it necessarily freezes the growth of French culture, which is implied to be “perfect”, and thus cannot progress. Doesn’t such cultural chauvinism sound so very French? It is.
But why keep abusing the already-abused?
But enough of this ethno-racial analysis – you can find identity politics and please for tolerance all over, but it’s rarely enough: keeping the boot on the Muslims’ neck has two class components which are vital to understand.
The point I need to make to those who don’t live in France is: Blacks & Muslims are the underclass here.
In France, the security guards in supermarkets are big and Black (the riot police are all big and White, of course). The cashiers are pretty Arab young ladies. The office cleaning ladies are middle-aged Black women. The bleary-eyed people you see unhappily taking the buses on your way home from a night of carousing are Black and Arab. The garbagemen are Black, Arab, Muslim or all three.
And it’s the wives and sisters of these garbagemen who suffer the most from Islamophobia: 75% of all such attacks are against women. Muslim women were the victims in physical Islamophobic attacks 100% of the time last year.
This is what Islamophobia in France basically boils down to: White guys scaring Muslim women, or pulling off their hejab or maybe beating the woman who is simply on her way to clean their office toilets.
This is cowardice, tragedy, deadly, misogynistic, anti-feminist, and reactionary, of course. But this Muslim underclass has nothing, is going to get nothing and poses no threat. So if France hates Muslims and tolerates violence against them, what are they for?
France – rich, rich France – needs Muslims two reasons: number one, to staff these low-level service jobs.
It’s the same reason why the only Palestinians allowed inside Israel’s football stadiums are to work as low-level service workers: “Get me my large Coke, boy, and mop it up when my kid kicks it over.”
Capitalism cannot replace these types of workers with robots. It’s the same with Mexican fruit-pickers – some jobs have to be done by human beings.
In France’s it’s the non-Whites who are fated to serve in this caste. Of course, they are not all Muslim simply because they are non-White, of course, but such collateral damage hardly keeps the Roman Catholic 1% up at night.
And we must remember that the 1% has no interest in letting Muslims improve their station, because then who would clean their toilets and check them out at the supermarket?
No class is more at the mercy of the 1% than the negative-99%, and that is Muslims are in France. What good is being in the 1% if you cannot abuse your butler, I guess is their thinking?
But Islamophobia is not just for kicks – attacking women are just one of the ways to keep all Muslims on edge, insecure, isolated and – above all – disunited. Class unity is any sort, of course – of course! – is what the 1% fear most.
To disempower an entire underclass and keep them your servants, it’s not enough just to not provide basic services like health and education or good jobs – you have to get them to short-circuit their own lives, and a simple way is via racial violence and the promotion of it; through constant media messages that your group is associated with terrorism, death and backwardness; through the constant message that your group has no values to share, and that you must “become French”, which is something French people have told me here over and over.
This is all simply colonization at home instead of abroad – i.e., capitalism!
These are all the same tactics reported by Franz Fanon in the French Caribbean or by Amilcar Cabral by the Portuguese in Angola.
To paraphrase Cabral, the French want to break the Muslims here down like any other “bush people” – they want to make Muslims “cling” to the French; to make them want to “pretend as hard as they can to be” French; they want Muslims to forget their origin because “That, unhappily, is what many people want.”
I told such French people that in a multicultural society such an order to “become French” is rightly considered to be fascistic and prejudiced. In inheritance there is richness, for all people.
Furthermore, even if France can get all the 3rd-generation Muslims here to 100% believe in their hypocritical assimilationist “everyone is French under the law” nationalist hypocrisy, they still cannot get people to give up their Allah in exchange for either the Roman Catholic God, or their French atheism.
But keeping the 99th percentile down is one thing, what about the 98% in between?
The Islamophobic safety valve for leftist indignation
The second class component is that Islamophobia is so heavily promoted by both the mainstream media and government police is because it is a flaming distraction from the real issues. We all know this.
Who does not know this are the idiot White French who go around attacking Muslims. They fail to realize they are the modern-day equivalent of the poor White sharecroppers in Jim Crow America – yeah, you have a bit more status than French Muslims, but not much, you dumb crackers.
Islamophobia is a tool not just against French Muslims, but against French non-Muslims who are not in the 1%.
These attackers are double-losers because they have also imbibed the false leftism of identity politics – they are told to worship their French nationality instead of the universal respect for hard work which unites everyone not in the 1%.
They are content with the privilege of wielding Islamophobia instead of being a real leftist like their great-grandfathers, who demanded real rights prior to World War One. My most tepid congratulations on not being in the lowest rung of society….
Why is racism and Islamophobia rising across the West?
There is no mass influx of Syrian immigrants here – France has only taken in about 12,000 Syrians while probably arming 2-3 times that number – and there won’t be. France already has their caste of non-White low-level service workers, and we understand their place in the French capitalist system. Hollande’s state of emergency has only pushed them down deeper in fear, cultural exclusion and institutionalized racism.
Germany, probably because of their incredibly racist legacy, did not have such a non-White underclass. They have a sizable Turkish minority, but France’s Muslim community is 3 times larger, proportionally.
Well, they just got theirs – 600,000 Syrians – and they have already re-closed the gates.
What happened to Merkel’s reportedly-big heart? Did you think Time Magazine’s Person of the Year was actually good person and not just a sharp capitalist businesswoman?
Germany needs a new underclass for these low-level service sector jobs nobody wants, and these jobs are even worse than in France because Germany permits part-time work – what they call “minijobs”.
Such underemployment is banned here, and that’s why France’s poverty rate is so much lower than in Germany, the US and the UK. But this is what the patsy Hollande was for – to ram through right-wing roll backs which permit part-time jobs for 45-year old men instead of 14-year old boys – and he did it.
German capitalists told Merkel that they already rolled back their wages and worker rights in the 2000s, and in order to keep an economic leg up on France they need a new pressure to keep workers from asking for better wages: and that’s why you have Syrians in Germany.
They’ll be, like all refugees, desperate for work and ready to work for subsistence wages. It’s a German capitalists dream! But if you think there is anti-refugee sentiment in Germany now, just wait – it will get far worse.
In America, Mexicans have long-provided the same function of depressing worker wages and security. But why do you think so many want a wall to keep out Latin Americans – free trade sends jobs to Mexico and desperate Latin American immigrants depress wages in America. Voila.
Is America racist? Yes, history proves that but, again, the proper analysis is not just “France, Germany and the US are a bunch of racists”. No, racism and Islamophobia is a diversionary tactic used by the 1% to keep the negative 99th% and the 98% down.
If one is content with railing against the racial angle, as falsely-superior fake leftists are, one cannot see that these racists are responding to capitalist manipulation, above all.
Charlie Hebdo – ‘fake leftism’ of Biblical proportions
It’s hard not to talk about Islamophobia without bringing up Charlie Hebdo, because that’s when it all went really bad. My God! That was the motherlode of French “fake leftism”! Ugh! What a terrible story that was to cover!
I interviewed the CCIF’s Marwan Muhammad for my report for Press TV, and he was eloquent as usual. I laughingly reminded Marwan of his debate with Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Luz on CNN in September 2012, just after Luz had penned some pictures of the prophet Muhammad.
Marwan wiped the floor with him.
I don’t know what made Luz arrogant enough to think his terrible English was good enough to outdo Marwan, who speaks like a native, on such a subject….
Luz barely managed 5 minutes of unintelligible and unsatisfying philosophic rationale – to a totally impatient Christiane Amanpour – for drawing pictures of the Muhammad bent over and spreading apart his buttocks, filming a porno movie, etc. Pure class, that Luz.
Charlie Hebdo will always be a sore subject in France because there is so much phony philosophical bull surrounding the violence, but it’s worth re-reading Marwan’s interpretation, because it helps explain my fundamental class-based premise of Islamophobia:
“I don’t think at all that Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists are racists – I think they’re just stupid, and they don’t know what they are doing. This is a band of friends, and they are in their basements with their pencils and paper, and they don’t know the consequences of what they are doing. And that’s why you have just heard Luz saying that, ‘Well, we are just making cartoons; and we don’t expect anything bad to happen; and we are journalists; but at the same time we are not responsible at all.’ Well this doesn’t stand, because whenever you take responsibility for something you say, on national TV or on paper – you need to stand with the consequences of this. And what we see when we speak with perpetrators of hate crimes towards Muslims is that this type of cartoons, this type of ideology, is building their will to act. It legitimizes them when they to turn to actions, to stab a Muslim woman in a German court or to discriminate (against) a Muslims child in a school, so this is conducive to violence.’
I wonder if Luz thinks doing prophet Muhammad-based porn was worth it? Doesn’t every kid dream of being a man like that? In France, I guess. Luz threw in the towel at Charlie Hebdo about 3 months after the attacks – he reported that the workplace culture had changed. It did – Charlie Hebdo used to not pick on the weak and powerless, but their shift to pro-Zionism, pro-NATO & Islamophobia is another story.
As your intrepid reporter in France I could find out what Luz is doing now, but I won’t. I’ll assume he’s still in his basement drawing porn, probably like this one kid I knew in high school. That kid was a riot…when I was 14.
Not even the French left supports the Muslim underclass
One mainstream French reporter asked the CCIF about their close ties with Benoit Hamon, the surprise Socialist candidate. LOL, Marwan said that he had no relationship at all with Hamon, and I didn’t write it down so I can’t be sure, but he might have said they have never even met.
This is, of course, part of the right’s effort to scare voters that Hamon is too leftist, too close to Muslims, too willing to increase welfare to 750 euros per month, etc.
Hamon, to his credit, said he was proud of his new nickname of “Bilal Hamon”. Boring…that’s just their same old tactics: The far-righters would have come up with something similar for Manuel Valls if he had beaten Hamon, even though Valls visibly seethes on his favorite subject – holy French secularism.
Of course, good ole’ Bilal Hamon will surely be very well received in Syria, Mali and Libya, right? He supported all those foreign interventions, like all fake leftist Socialist Party members.
Anyway, Marwan did fairly criticize Hollande and his henchmen when I brought up the subject of Hollande’s Islamophobic legacy at the press conference. Remember back in 2012? Islamophobia was all Sarkozy’s fault, right? In 2017 that answer is a clear “no”.
Technocratism won’t work, even with Islamophobia
The CCIF refuses to give voters political advice, and I think that’s a mistake: the CCIF are the “technocrats” of Islamophobic facts, but what good are facts without ideology? If they are the experts and study these things, then they should take a stand and advise voters which parties are Islamophobic and which are not.
The idea that technocrats can stay above the fray is totally false. With another terrible economic year imposed by (pro-capitalist) economists in Brussels officially in the books, technocratism as a governing ideology needs to be demolished: what’s needed is activism of the side of right.
Because just giving data is not enough – and the clear proof will be in the headlines which say “Islamophobia down in France”! It’s not down, in any sort of a real sense. It’s far worse!
I understand the reticence of the CCIF to possibly tarnish their data –– but they need to get even more involved than they already are. Of course, everyone in France knows that the National Front, the conservative Les Republicains, the Socialist Party, and half of the culturally-chauvinistic far left are all Islamophobic. Still…take a public stand and get political, even if it just means telling the truth about these parties.
Predictions for French Islamophobia for 2017: Hopefully Marine Le Pen wins, and I say that seriously. I predict that a “Mexican Power” movement will rise up in the US against Trump to advance civil rights, and a “Muslim Power” movement would be the response here to Marine Le Pen. Both are what’s needed to lift the underclass out from hell…and this is the only proven route, failing a successful communist-inspired revolution like in the USSR, Cuba, China, Iran etc.
Just like Mexicans in the US, you can kick out the illegal Muslims in France, but then you are still left with 3 generations of legal French Muslims, and there’s no solution for them.
Ya gotta accept your phobias if you want to work past them…and truly live.
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television