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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The French-Muslim Riots

The recent Muslim torching of French property is widely seen as the beginning of the end of Europe. But a closer inspection of the evidence forces quite a different conclusion.

To understand the problem in France, we must first consider a piece of evidence that is nowhere to be found in the front pages of any MSM outlet. According to reports coming out of the Inter-religious Council in Russia, over two million Russian Muslims have converted to Christianity in the last fifteen years, while only 2500 Russians have become Muslims. The driving force behind this wave of conversion to Christianity? Sectarian violence.

According to Roman Silantyev, the council’s director, “After each terrorist attack, thousands and even hundreds of thousands become Christians,” resulting in an almost 50% drop in the Muslim population in certain regions. He acknowledges that hard-core believers rarely convert, but this hardly matters. As the events in France show, not all Muslims are raised in hard-core Muslim families.

It is certainly the case that Muslim faith and culture is predisposed to violence. The history of Islam is virtually synonymous with the history of warfare in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. But the remarkable thing about the rampaging youth in France is precisely the lack of violence.

Now, to be sure, many cars and buses are being torched, but the youth are generally careful to avoid harming individuals. After ten days of riots, only one death can be attributed to the rioters. That level of concern for the individual citizen is unheard of among rioters. The youth have a marked prediliction for destroying property, not persons, even going so far as to make sure the occupants of every bus are safely off before they consign it to the flames.

We should also note that the objects of their rage are, to put it mildly, odd. Nurseries, schools, cars and buses seem to have borne the brunt of the assaults. The rioters are most assuredly not targeting Christian churches, synagogues, banks, businesses or French military installations – the youth are taking out their rage on the places that separate children from parents. This is rather important.

The rioters themselves have asserted that the ghettoes they inhabit are generally riven by turf wars between rival gangs competing for influence. We know from other research that these kinds of youth gangs almost always form where father-less families are prevalent. But the gangs only united to attack targets outside of their neighborhoods when they became aware of the disdain the government had for them and their families.

In short, it is safe to conclude that the French Muslim teenagers who are running riot through the streets are not doing this for religious or financial reasons. They have not begun their war over ideology, but over anger at a system that has not only destroyed their families and their hope, but has asserted their sub-human status. They are killing nurseries and luxury sedans, not men, women and children. These young men and women are not suicide bombers – they are as careful to respect people as they are careful to destroy objects.

Given the length of the riots and the enormous opportunity for some demagogue to turn this into something much more sinister, the fact is, this has not yet happened. Of course, it might all change tomorrow, but somehow that seems unlikely.

The conclusion? We aren’t watching Muslims riot. We are watching young men and women who are acting out a very closely governed rage, a rage that does not draw artificial “us vs. them” lines between Muslims and non-Muslims, but rather draws the line between the people of France and the system that governs them.

Are the riots horrendous? Yes.

Are the rioters horrendous? Oddly enough, the answer seems largely to be “No.”

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