Sunday, January 06, 2019

France in Free Fall

January 6, 2019

Image result for france protests 2018
A demonstrator waves the French flag on a burning barricade on Paris’s Champs-Élysées avenue during a demonstration against the raising of fuel taxes on Novermber 24, 2018.(Michel Euler/AP)

Strasbourg, France. Christmas market. December 11th, 8pm. A man shouting, "Allahu Akbar" ("Allah is the greatest") shoots at passersby, then wounds several with a knife. He murders three people on the spot and wounds a dozen others, some severely. Two will later die of their wounds. The murderer escapes. Two days later, the police shoot him dead.

He was known to the police. When members of the General Directorate of Internal Security and some gendarmes came to his home a few hours earlier, he had escaped. Although they knew he was an armed and dangerous Islamist ready to act, and that Christmas markets had been, and could be, likely targets, no surveillance was in place.
The murderer, Cherif Chekatt, should, in fact, have been kept off the streets. He was 29 years old, his name was on the list of people reported for terrorist radicalization (FSPRT), and he and had already been sentenced for crimes 27 times. He was nevertheless roaming around free, with no police oversight.

His case is similar to that of many jihadi terrorists in France in the last decade. Others include Mohamed Merah, who murdered Jewish children in Toulouse in 2012; Cherif and Said Kouachi, who murdered most of the staff at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015, and Amedy Coulibaly, who murdered people at a kosher supermarket few days later.

Successive governments have done exactly nothing to remedy the situation. Instead, they delivered speeches and stationed soldiers about the streets. "Young French people must get used to living with the threat of attacks", then-Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in 2015. Two years later, just before the first round of the presidential elections, Emmanuel Macron, still a candidate, used almost the same words. Terrorism, he said, is "imponderable" and will constitute a "threat that will be part of the daily life of the French for the years to come".

French laws are extremely lax. Even serial killers and terrorists are not sentenced to long prison terms. Most prisons have become jihadist recruiting stations. Currently, more than 600 no-go zones are under the control of imams and Muslim gangs. Islamists, apparently "ready to act", number in the thousands. The police simply do not have the personnel or material resources to monitor all of them.

The only political leaders who have proposed tougher laws against terrorism, or who have said that exceptional measures were needed -- such as a wider use of electronic ankle-bracelets -- to counter increasing threats, come from parties considered "right-wing". The mainstream media immediately branded these leaders as "extremists" and their proposals were dismissed.

Macron and his government continue their unfortunate tradition of submitting to political correctness. It seems they prefer to appease extremists rather than confront them.

These politicians are undoubtedly aware that more riots could take place. In 2016, the head of the French General Directorate for internal Security, Patrick Calvar, spoke of a high risk of "clashes between communities", perhaps even civil war.

These officials evidently understand that the terrorists are engaged in a long war and that it will be difficult to stop them; so they seem to have given in. These officials are no doubt aware that young French Muslims are being radicalized in increasing numbers. The response, however, has been to strengthen Muslim institutions in France.

Although these officials also presumably see that Muslim immigration into France continues, and that hundreds of thousands of illegal Muslim migrants are creating increased security concerns, they do nothing to reverse the trend. The number of deportations is rising, but are still rare: slightly more than 26,000 persons were deported in 2017. Meanwhile, more than 150,000 illegal immigrants live in Seine Saint Denis, near Paris. Macron, since becoming President, has repeatedly said that those who call on him to expel illegal immigrants are "xenophobic".

Macron and the current government, in fact, have been encouraging more migration: all illegal immigrants in France receive financial assistance if they ask for it, as well as free health care; and they run almost no risk of being deported.

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