Excerpts from a piece by Le Pen at The New York Times:
Mr. Fabius will not describe as “Islamists” the terrorists who on Wednesday, Jan. 7, walked into the offices of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo, right in the heart of Paris. Nor will he use “Islamic State” to describe the radical Sunni group that now controls territory in Syria and Iraq. No reference can be made to “Islamic fundamentalism,” for fear that Islam and Islamism might get conflated. The terms “Daesh” and “Daesh cutthroats” are to be favored instead, even though in Arabic “Daesh” means the very thing to be hidden: “Islamic State.”
Let us call things by their rightful names, since the French government seems reluctant to do so. France, land of human rights and freedoms, was attacked on its own soil by a totalitarian ideology: Islamic fundamentalism. It is only by refusing to be in denial, by looking the enemy in the eye, that one can avoid conflating issues. Muslims themselves need to hear this message. They need the distinction between Islamist terrorism and their faith to be made clearly.
Yet this distinction can only be made if one is willing to identify the threat. It does our Muslim compatriots no favors to fuel suspicions and leave things unspoken. Islamist terrorism is a cancer on Islam, and Muslims themselves must fight it at our side.
She singles out three main mistakes she considers that France has made in the past:
First, the dogma of the free movement of peoples and goods is so firmly entrenched among the leaders of the European Union that the very idea of border checks is deemed to be heretical. And yet, every year tons of weapons from the Balkans enter French territory unhindered and hundreds of jihadists move freely around Europe…
I am not sure why the EU clings to this with such fervency. I suspect that the free movement has made it much easier to carry on trade across EU borders. So there is that angle. And of course, the “no borders anywhere” crowd supports it simply based on ideology.
Second, the massive waves of immigration, both legal and clandestine, our country has experienced for decades have prevented the implementation of a proper assimilation policy. As Hugues Lagrange, a sociologist at the French National Center for Scientific Research (C.N.R.S.), has argued, culture has a major influence on the way immigrants relate to French society and its values, on issues such as the status of women and the separation of state and religious authority.
Without a policy restricting immigration, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to fight against communalism and the rise of ways of life at odds with laïcité, France’s distinctive form of secularism, and other laws and values of the French Republic. An additional burden is mass unemployment, which is itself exacerbated by immigration.
No arguments from me about that. Unfortunately, the immigrants France (and much of Europe) chose in the 1960’s to work in nearly broke and soon to be closed mills were not very promising: peasants or lower class, uneducated, even illiterate. I remember reading about a Dutch employer who said he preferred illiterates because they were less likely to become involved in union organizing.
These immigrants were chosen strictly for short term profits. It was a disastrous mistake and an excellent lesson on letting short-term profits rule the day.
Finally, she brings up the policy of interfering in the affairs of the Muslim world. I have come to agree that this too was another mistake.
Third, French foreign policy has wandered between Scylla and Charybdis in the last few years. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s intervention in Libya, President François Hollande’s support for some Syrian fundamentalists, alliances formed with rentier states that finance jihadist fighters, like Qatar and Saudi Arabia — all are mistakes that have plunged France into serious geopolitical incoherence from which it is struggling to extricate itself.
Reversing course completely is not going to be possible now. They are too far down the road.
For now, one emergency measure can readily be put into action: Stripping jihadists of their French citizenship is an absolute necessity. In the longer run, most important, national border checks must be reinstated, and there should be zero tolerance for any behavior that undermines laïcité and French law. Without such measures, no serious policy for combating fundamentalism is possible.