During the Bosnian War, Omar Djellil, a Muslim activist in Marseille, joined scores of Muslims and others from around the world who traveled to support Bosniaks against Serb forces. In 1993, after a six-month stint doing what he calls “humanitarian work,” he returned home quietly and back to his life in France.
But if he had made a similar trip today to Syria to fight against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – something he contemplated doing – he’d likely be locked up as a potential terrorist risk to the nation…
…Here in Marseille, Muslims makes up roughly one quarter of the city’s population, dispersed throughout all parts of the city. They’ve long been considered better integrated in the urban fabric than in other cities of France. When Muslim, Arab and black youth torched cars in the infamous riots that began in the the projects outside Paris in 2005, Muslim Marseille did not erupt.
But for many French Muslims, discontent is brewing. Amid the rise of anti-immigration parties in France and now fears about terrorism in Europe, many say they are worse off than their first-generation immigrant parents.
“They got more respect than we do,” says Nordine Benguerroud, who works with youths at the Social Center Rouguiere in Marseille. “This is not a cosmopolitan city, it’s a racist city.”
In fact, while many European Muslims are deeply opposed to US foreign policy, they envy the status of American Muslims, who they say have fared better than their European counterparts…
Most of us knew little about Islam during the 1990’s. We are wiser now, and the Balkan conflict would unfold differently today, I suspect. As for French Muslims envying American Muslims, would someone please let the leftist Islamophobia crowd know about this? Especially the obnoxious CAIR.