lundi 7 avril 2008

Culture war

The Muslim quarter of France's biggest military cemetry was attacked by racists on Saturday night. (Even in death, there are racial divisions and banlieues). They daubed 'SS' , '18', swastikas (and all the other tedious messages these stunted people scrawl in these situations) on the tombstones that commemorate those who were killed fighting for France in the First World War. To top it all off, the neo-nazis hanged a pig's head from one of the graves. Nice.
The French Justice Minister spoke of her outrage and that "Through its racist connotations, it is an assault on the values of the republic and an insult to all French people."
Fine words indeed. Yet the right wing UMP (the French governing 'party') at the behest of its increasingly sinister and deranged President, has made it clear in a drip-drip of anti-Muslim rhetoric, that France is involved in a war for western 'civilisation' against 'Islamic terrorism'. To this end, Sarkozy has continued his rapprochement with President Bush, even going so far as stating that France will rejoin NATO, has decided (without Parliamentary agreement) to send up to 1000 troops to Afghanistan and has reiterated his government's intention to expel at least 28000 'illegal' exiles from France.
As Jean-Pierre Alaux noted in this weekend's l'Humanité, the State's desire is for a white Christian Europe. Sarkozy's response to the recent riots in Paris was to describe them as caused by 'strangers'.
In this context, the recent events in Arras don't look like something random or mad - but part of a cultural war that will have unpredictable, but for the extremists in power, useful consequences.