Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Forum on the murders in Paris, Thursday, noon, Anderson Academic Commons, University of Denver

     The Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Center for the Study of Europe and the World of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies are sponsoring a forum on the significance of the depraved Charlie Hebdo and kosher supermarket murders in Paris this Thursday at noon. Personally, I would add to these themes: French colonialism and war in Algeria, the oppression of Arabs in Europe (some 60% of the imprisoned in France are Arab; Arabs are less than 10% of the population - see below), American aggressions and torture in the Middle East, and other matters, but having a brief title for issues of this complexity is a problem. Here is the program:

Thursday January 22 at 12:00 PM
Anderson Academic Commons—Special Events Room

 A Faculty Forum co-sponsored by the

Center for Middle East Studies & the Center for the Study of Europe and the World

Charlie Hebdo Debate—Islam, Europe, 
Freedom of Expression & the Antinomies of Liberalism

with Korbel Professors Micheline Ishay, Martin Rhodes, Nader Hashemi,

Tom Farer & Alan Gilbert—moderated by Danny Postel

      To oppose the murders and affirm equal rights, one must also look carefully at the issue of colonialism/racism and immigration.  The issue of "territorial, social and ethnic apartheid" for Algerians and other Arabs in France  has just been raised by Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who had been a reactionary toward immigrants (h/t Danny Postel) and is sharply implied in the New York Times editorial on "An Inclusive France Republic" below (even though the latter ignores the effects of American aggression in Iraq and torture in making it easy for terrorists to find recruits in prison...)

"The Opinion Pages | EDITORIAL
An Inclusive French Republic
Paris Attacks Lay Bare Longtime Muslim Exclusion

Outside a funeral for a Charlie Hebdo cartoonist last week, a woman's sign reads: "I am a Muslim. I come to share your grief."
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

    The recent terrorist attacks in Paris prompted millions to take to the streets to show national solidarity and to pay tribute to the 17 people murdered. The attacks have also inspired a lot of soul-searching, as the French struggle to understand how three men, born and raised in France, could have trained the murderous intent of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State on their own countrymen. And the attacks have revealed a larger, existential threat to France: that its social compact may be torn apart by sectarian polarization.
       The profiles of the three attackers — Amedy Coulibaly and the brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi — are an indictment of the decades-long failure of France to address long-festering alienation and exclusion among too many Muslim immigrants and their French-born children. Unemployment is as high as 40 percent among youths in France’s disadvantaged neighborhoods. All three attackers grew up in poverty. Chérif Kouachi and Mr. Coulibaly spent time in prison. All ultimately found deadly purpose in Islamist terrorism.
     Prison was the crucible of their radicalization. There are five million to six million Muslims in France, less than 10 percent of the total population, but 60 percent of France’s prison inmates are of “Muslim culture or religion,” according to a report presented to France’s National Assembly. It was in prison that Mr. Kouachi and Mr. Coulibaly met the Qaeda recruiter Djamel Beghal. To stem recruiting by Islamist extremists in prisons, the government of President François Hollande has announced it will seek to isolate identified Islamist proselytizers from other prisoners.
      There is also the problem of France’s secularism. A ban on head scarves in public schools and on full-face veils feels to many Muslims like an unfair constraint on their religious freedom. Some also find it hard to accept that blasphemy is not a crime in France, and that Charlie Hebdo and other publications have a right to satirize religious leaders. Some students in French schools with large immigrant and Muslim populations refused to participate in the national minute of silence following the Charlie Hebdo attack because they objected to what they had heard about the magazine’s depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.
      As of mid-December, 621 citizens and residents of France were running off to fight in Syria and Iraq or were already there, according to the government. Many of them are young and self-radicalized, having fallen prey to slick films — produced by the Islamic State and other jihadist groups and disseminated on social media — that glorify jihad as the ultimate rebellion against parental and societal expectations. The Hollande government has tried to deal with this phenomenon by passing a law that restricts travel abroad by would-be jihadists, but it must also use the current crisis to find engaging alternatives for people who might find refuge in the jihadist message.
French Muslims, who are as scared of terrorists as everybody else, also have to fear anti-Islam prejudice and attacks. There were 60 recorded threats and attacks against Muslims during the six days following the Jan. 7 attack on Charlie Hebdo. There is a real danger the right-wing National Front will seek political advantage by fueling anti-Muslim hysteria.
      At a visit to the Institut du Monde Arabe on Thursday, President Hollande assured France’s Muslims that hate crimes would be punished and that the government would protect Muslims, as it would all French citizens. France’s minister of education, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, who is French-Moroccan, is to announce new measures on Monday to better explain French “republican values” in the schools. For the lesson to work, the Hollande government must find ways to make those values a reality for the many French youths who feel marginalized from French society."


"PM Valls: France must address 'territorial, social and ethnic apartheid'

Valls, a relatively conservative Socialist whose hard line on Islamic extremism has won many fans, said fight against hatred, racism and anti-Semitism is urgent.

By Reuters Jan. 20, 2015 | 2:42 PM

​     Deadly shootings by homegrown Islamists have cast a light on France's "geographical, social and ethnic apartheid", Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Tuesday in one of the starkest indictments of French society by a government figure.

      The Jan. 7-9 attacks on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in Paris have plunged France into a soul-searching debate to assess how the three gunmen were radicalized and how to prevent a repeat of violence that claimed 17 victims.
      "These last few days have underscored a lot of evil that is gnawing at our country and challenges we must be equal to," Valls said at a New Year's address to the media.

      "We have to look at all the divisions, the tensions that have been going on for years ... the neglect of the suburbs, the ghettos, the social misery," he said. "A geographical, social and ethnic apartheid has established itself in our country."

       Run-down neighborhoods ring many French cities, often populated by poor whites, blacks and people of North African descent who feel marginalized from mainstream society. Yet it is rare for a French leader, even from the ruling Socialists, to paint a picture of inequality in such strong terms.
       The three killers were of Algerian and African descent, prompting some in the National Front to push their calls for less immigration - an argument the government has rejected.
      Riots erupted across many of France's powder-keg suburbs in 2005 and have shaken depressed districts at regular intervals in the past decade.
      The unrest is often blamed on a combination of unemployment rates in such zones as high as 40 percent, racial discrimination and perceived hostile policing.
      The government is due to unveil proposals this week looking at issues from security to education and urban policy.
       While politicians from all governing parties have vowed to tackle the problems over the last 30 years, the failure of such efforts has left a growing sense of desperation and isolation that has fuelled radicalization.
     "Reforming means fighting relentlessly against the inequalities," Valls said. "We have to battle each day this terrible feeling that there are second class citizens or some people that are more important than others."

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