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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Giulio Meotti : France: Muezzins, not Church Bells


  • French Catholicism is now witnessing a tragic decline, caught between two fires: state secularism and political Islam.
  • Le Figaro wondered if Islam can already be considered "France's prime religion".
  • Muslim countries are generously funding France's mosques, covering an average of 50% of total costs.
  • "Avignon is no longer the city of the Popes, but of the Salafis. ... They [Muslim extremists] urge us to rewrite the history of France in the light of the 'contribution of the Islamic civilization'" — Philippe De Villiers, author of Will the Church Bells Ring Tomorrow?
  • The trend indicates that in France, there are currently three young practicing Muslims for every young practicing Catholic.
  • "It is conceivable that Islam is overtaking Catholicism". — Osservatore Romano, the Vatican official daily newspaper.

A new book is shaking France. Les cloches sonneront-elles encore demain? ("Will the Church Bells Ring Tomorrow?"), by Philippe de Villiers, is shattering the nation. France, the "eldest daughter" of the Catholic Church, is instead turning into "the eldest daughter of Islam". "With arrogance, they [Muslim extremists] urge us to rewrite the history of France in the light of the 'contribution of the Islamic civilization'", de Villiers states.

De Villiers points out that:
"France has experienced many misfortunes in its history. But for the first time, it must face the fear of disappearing. In France, there are two groups: a new people who move with pride and an exhausted people, who are not even aware of the conditions needed for their own survival".
De Villiers paints a grim picture of French Catholicism: "Avignon is no longer the city of the Popes, but of the Salafis". In Saint-Denis, where the French kings and Charles Martel are buried, "tunics and beards now dominate, and girls are dressed in the Islamic shrouds". If a parish is still alive there, it is thanks to the zeal of the Christian community of Africans and Tamils. "The Kings' cemetery is just one enclave. It belongs to a story that does not count anymore".

The bell towers of the churches in de Villiers' book are already growing silent in Boissettes (Seine-et-Marne), and on the outskirts of Metz, where the bells of the church of Sainte Ruffine have been forced by the state secularist authorities to keep silent. It happened in the Breton village of Hédé-Bazouges, where silence is filled by the sound of what de Villiers calls "the clergy in the djellaba" [outer robe worn by North Africans] -- the muezzin's call to prayer. It is happening everywhere in France.


Will France soon forbid the ringing of Notre Dame's bells? It happened already in Boissettes, and on the outskirts of Metz, where the bells of the church of Sainte Ruffine have been forced by the state authorities to keep silent. Meanwhile, the muezzin's calls to Islamic prayer continue to broadcast. (Images source: Wikimedia Commons)

"France is no longer a Catholic country", writes Frederic Lenoir, editor in chief of Le Monde des Religions. Le Figaro wondered if Islam can already be considered "France's prime religion".

It is estimated today in France that for every practicing Muslim there are three practicing Catholics. But if the analysis is deepened, it appears that this ratio will soon reverse. Comparing only the weekly frequency of attending a mosque on Friday and a church on Sunday, the scenario is clear: 65% of practicing Catholics are over the age of 50. By contrast, 73% of practicing Muslims are under 50. The trend indicates that in France, there are currently three young practicing Muslims for every young practicing Catholic.

The same is true for the construction of new religious sites. There are nearly 2,400 mosques today in France, compared to 1,500 in 2003: "This is the most visible sign of the rapid growth of Islam in France", according to the weekly magazine, Valeurs Actuelles.
Almost two new mosques are built each week: that is the pace of expansion of Muslim places of worship in France for the last 10 years. The record is held by Corsica: in 2003 there were no Muslim places of worship, now it has 11.

Muslim countries are generously funding France's mosques. Foreign funding covers an average of 50% of total costs: for the Grand Mosque of Strasbourg, 37% came from Morocco, 13% from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. At Roissy-en-Brie, the Sultanate of Oman contributed 1.8 million euros, or two-thirds, of the budget. In Marseille, Qatar will provide 25% of the funding.

Charles Adhémar, a French political scientist, also commented on the "de-Christianization and gradual Islamization of France". The picture over the last year has been devastating: A Catholic priest murdered inside a French church by Muslim extremists; Muslim leaders who call to convert empty churches into mosques; Christian faithful dragged from Paris's churches before they are demolished. Even Lourdes, France's most famous Catholic site, lies in crisis because of the shortage of pilgrims.

French Catholicism is now witnessing a tragic decline, caught between two fires: state secularism and political Islam. 
"In forty years, France has become the nation in Western Europe where the population of Muslim origin is the most important", 
wrote the Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's official daily newspaper. "It is conceivable that Islam is overtaking Catholicism".

That is why for 45% of French Catholics, Islam represents a "threat". That is why for the last few years, a growing number of French intellectuals, mostly secular authors, published books raising the alarm on this religious outstripping.

One author is Pierre Manent, who in the book La situation de France writes that "we are witnessing the extension and the consolidation of the domain of Muslim practices rather than its shrinking or relaxation".

Another is Éric Zemmour, public enemy number one of the French left; he just penned a new book, Un quinquennat pour rien ("A Five Year Term for Nothing" -- quinquennat is the five year term served by France's president), in which he calls for "a cultural revolution that can afford only to win the war of civilizations taking place on our land".

A renowned sociologist of religion, Danièle Hervieu-Léger, also published a book that sounds like a verdict: Catholicisme, la fin d'un monde ("Catholicism, the End of a World"). Hervieu-Léger makes up her own word to describe this end: "exculturation". It brings to mind not a battle that is taking place but one that is already finished.

In the fight between "the cube and the cathedral" -- the Arche de la Défense built in Paris by François Mitterrand as a symbol of modernity, and the Cathedral of Notre Dame -- the cube is overtaking the church. Both are dominated by the Islamic crescent.
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.

Judith Bergman : Mockeries of Justice in Denmark


  • An appeal would have sent a signal to potential terrorists that Danish authorities look sternly upon logistical assistance to terrorists, and will do everything in their power to pursue justice.
  • The only one at risk of actual harm is Lars Hedegaard himself: his attempted murderer remains at large. "I have resorted to making the suspected assassin's name as well-known as possible in self-defense."
  • It is deeply disturbing, not only for the victims, but for all citizens, when the courts so clearly divorce themselves from pursuing what most citizens would perceive as justice, and instead appear to favor those who seek to harm society.
  • Refusing to implicate Omar El-Hussein's friends in his terrorism, despite their obvious contributions to his terror deeds, and fining the victim of a terrorist attack for publicly naming his would-be murderer, who escaped justice by fleeing the country, inevitably appears like a mockery of justice, not its fulfillment.

If the legal system in Denmark is anything to go by, being an accessory to murder is just fine. Attackers are protected to the hilt; their victims are left unprotected and fined.

In February 2015, the terrorist Omar El-Hussein murdered Danish film director Finn Nørgaard in front of café Krudttønden in Copenhagen. Later that night, he killed a Jewish guard in front of the Copenhagen synagogue. Danish police shot and killed El-Hussein during the subsequent manhunt.

Four men assisted El-Hussein after he killed the film director: They helped him get rid of the murder weapon, gave him fresh clothes and bought him a new bag, which he used to store the gun used to kill the Jewish guard. They also met with him several times in different places around Copenhagen in the five hours leading up to the murder of the Jewish guard. One of those places was an internet café, where El-Hussein googled for information about the synagogue. The four men were charged with complicity in the terrorist act against the synagogue.

At the end of September, the Danish District Court acquitted all four of the terrorism charge. The district court found no evidence that the men knew of El-Hussein's plans to attack the synagogue, when they met with him after his attack at Krudttønden. Instead, the four men were convicted of minor charges, such as threats and violence against prison staff, weapons possession in particularly aggravating circumstances, and possession of illegal ammunition. Three of the men were free to go after the sentencing, as their 18 months in custody meant that they had already served their sentences, which were sixty days, six months, two and a half years and three years respectively. One of the four men has already declared his intention to sue the Danish state for damages amounting to 1 million Danish kroner (USD $150,000) for the 18 months he spent in custody. The prosecution has decided that it will not appeal the verdict, which is therefore final.

Appealing the verdict might have been the appropriate thing to do, even if there were little chance of having the ruling reversed. An appeal would have sent a signal to potential terrorists that Danish authorities look sternly upon logistical assistance to terrorists and will do everything in their power to pursue justice.
 Considering that European countries are likely to experience many more terrorist attacks in the future, the Danish court and the prosecution both sent a deeply troubling signal to future terrorists and their helpers, as well as Danish society as a whole.

This is not the only recent Danish court case to be sending the wrong kind of signals. In September, the Danish High Court upheld the District Court's decision to fine the Danish writer, Lars Hedegaard, 10,000 Danish kroner (USD $1500) for publishing the name of a terrorist, "BH," who attempted to murder Hedegaard in his own home in February 2013. BH subsequently fled from Denmark, but was arrested in Turkey. Denmark wanted him extradited, but instead Turkey released BH in what was most likely a prisoner exchange with the Islamic State, in 2014.

Hedegaard published the name of his would-be assassin in his book, Attentatet ("The Assassination"), on Facebook, and on a Swedish website. This, the Danish courts ruled, was in breach of a court order suppressing the name of the terrorist.
The name of a defendant in a criminal case may be suppressed if public communication of the name is likely to endanger someone's safety or cause unnecessary harm. Ostensibly, the court upholds the court order suppressing the suspected terrorist's name in order to protect the family of the suspect.
The name, however, was already out in the press at the time of the court order and has been mentioned countless times by others on Facebook and elsewhere. Furthermore, the only one at risk of actual harm is Lars Hedegaard himself: his attempted murderer remains at large. This was indeed why he publicized the name: "I have resorted to making the suspected assassin's name as well-known as possible in self-defense, on the grounds that it increases the chances that he will be apprehended," Hedegaard explained.

In a Kafkaesque form of inverted justice, the High Court disregarded this commonsense argument and instead maintained that Hedegaard should pay the fine, adding insult to injury by claiming that there was no need on the grounds of self-defense for Hedegaard to publicize the name of the man who tried to kill him.
Indeed, the High Court found that the fine should be considerably higher than the 10,000 kroner that the District Court had ruled that Hedegaard should pay.

Graciously, the High Court decided not to raise the fine, because of the "mitigating" circumstance that Hedegaard had been the target of a murder attempt. How magnanimous of them!


Denmark's high court upheld a fine levied against Lars Hedegaard, because he wrote the name of the man who tried to murder him, in violation of a court order suppressing the name of the terrorist, who is still at large and wanted by police.

The Danish authorities did not stop there. A number of activists, in solidarity with Hedegaard, went ahead and published the name themselves. Some of them showed up during Hedegaard's court case wearing T-shirts with the name of the suspected terrorist. The Danish court spent taxpayer money charging some of those activists for wearing those T-shirts. Several others -- the publisher of Hedegaard's book, an artist who painted BH's name on a painting, a priest who mentioned the name in an article in a Danish newspaper and others -- were also charged with breaching the court order.

It is deeply disturbing, not only for the victims, but for all citizens, when the courts so clearly divorce themselves from pursuing what most citizens will perceive as justice, and instead appear to be favoring those who seek to harm society. 
Refusing to implicate Omar El-Hussein's friends in his terrorism, despite their obvious contributions to his terrorist activities, and fining the victim of a terrorist attack for publicly naming his would-be murderer, who escaped justice by fleeing the country, inevitably appears like a mockery of justice, not its fulfillment.
Judith Bergman is a writer, columnist, lawyer and political analyst.
===================

Giulio Meotti : Which Way Will France Go?


  • After two years and 238 deaths at the hands of Islamic terrorism, what did France do to defeat radical Islam? Almost nothing.
  • If Emmanuel Macron wins, France as we have known it can be considered pretty much over. By blaming "colonialism" for French troubles in the Arab world, and calling it "a crime against humanity", he has effectively legitimized Muslim extremist violence against the French Republic.
  • In just two years, Muslim organizations in France have dragged to trial great writers such as Georges Bensoussan, Pascal Bruckner, and Renaud Camus. It is the Islamists' dream coming true: seeing "Islamophobes" on trial to restrict their freedom of expression. Charlie Hebdo's physical massacre was therefore followed by an intellectual one.
It was a sort of farewell to the army. During a brief visit to the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle last December, French President François Hollande honored the French soldiers involved in "Operation Chammal" against the Islamic State. After two years and 238 deaths at the hands of Islamic terrorism, what did France do to defeat radical Islam? Almost nothing.

It is this legacy of indifference that is at stake in the looming French presidential elections.

If Marine Le Pen or François Fillon win, it means that France has rejected this autocratic legacy and wants to try a different, braver way. If Emmanuel Macron wins, France as we have known it can be considered pretty much over. Macron is, for example, against taking away French nationality from jihadists. Terrorism, Islam and security are almost absent from Macron's vocabulary and platform, and he is in favor of lowering France's state of emergency. By blaming "colonialism" for French troubles in the Arab world, and calling it "a crime against humanity", he has effectively legitimized Muslim extremist violence against the French Republic.

As General Vincent Desportes wrote in his new book, La dernière Bataille de France ("The Last Battle of France"):
"President Hollande said on November 15 that it would be ruthless, we were at war ... but we do not make war! History shows that in the eternal struggle between the shield and the sword, the sword is still a step forward and winning".
In the past two years, France only used the shield.

France's fake war began in Paris with a massacre at the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. Twelve cartoonists and policemen were massacred by two brothers who shouted, "We avenged Muhammad, we killed Charlie Hebdo". 

After a few days of marches, vigils, candles and collective statements such as "Je Suis Charlie", half of the French intelligentsia was ready to go and hide underground, protected by the police. These are academics, intellectuals, novelists, journalists. The most famous is Michel Houellebecq, the author of the book Submission. Then there is Éric Zemmour, the author of the book, Suicide Française ("The French Suicide"); then the team of Charlie Hebdo, along with its director, Riss (Laurent Sourisseau); Mohammed Sifaoui, a French-Algerian journalist who wrote Combattre le terrorisme islamiste ("Combating Islamist Terrorism"); Frédéric Haziza, radio journalist and author at the journal, Canard Enchaîné; and Philippe Val, the former director of Charlie Hebdo. The latest to run was the Franco-Algerian journalist Zineb Rhazaoui; surrounded by six policemen, she left Charlie Hebdo after saying that her newspaper had capitulated to terror and refused to run more cartoons of Muhammad.

"Charb? Where is Charb?" were the words that echoed in the offices of Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015, the day he and his colleagues were murdered. "Charb" was Stéphane Charbonnier, the editor of the magazine that had published cartoons of Muhammad. Charb was working on a short book, On Blasphemy, Islamophobia and the true enemies of free expression, posthumously published. Charb's book attacked self-righteous intellectuals, who for years had been claiming that Charlie Hebdo was responsible for its own troubles, a childlike view, popular throughout Europe.
It is based on the notion that if everyone would just keep quiet, these problems would not exist. 

Presumably, therefore, if no one had pointed out the threats of Nazism or Communism, Nazism and Communism would have quietly have vanished of their own accord. Unfortunately, that approach was tried; it did not work. The book also criticized "sectarian activists", whom he said have been trying "to impose on the judicial authorities the political concept of 'Islamophobia'".
As for "the Left", he wrote: "It is time to end this disgusting paternalism of the intellectual left" -- meaning its moral sanctimony. Charb delivered these pages to his publisher on January 5. Two days later he was murdered.

Now, some of these people he was calling out are trying to hide their cowardice by attacking him. In recent weeks, a number of cultural events in France have tried to "deprogram" the public from paying attention this extremely important book. A theatrical adaptation of it, attended by one of the journalists of Charlie Hebdo, Marika Bret, was scheduled to take place at the University of Lille.
However, the president of the University, Xavier Vandendriessche, said he feared "excesses" and the "atmosphere", so he eliminated Charb from the program. Twice. The play's director, Gérald Dumont, sent a letter to the Minister of Culture, Audrey Azoulay, mentioning "censorship".

At the same time, Charb's book also disappeared from two events at a cultural festival in Avignon. "How to reduce the dead to silence", tweeted Raphaël Glucksmann. "Killed in 2015, banned in 2017", Bernard-Henri Lévy summed up.

During the past two years, the publishing industry itself has played a central role in censoring and supporting censorship, by censoring itself. The philosopher Michel Onfray refused to release his book, Thinking Islam, in French and it first came out in Italian. The German writer, Hamed Abdel Samad saw his book Der islamische Faschismus: Eine Analyse ("Islamic Fascism: An Analysis"), a bestseller in Germany, censored in French by the publishing house Piranha.

The French courts, meanwhile, revived le délit d'opinion -- a penal offense for expressing political opinions, now an "intellectual crime". It was explained by Véronique Grousset in Le Figaro:
"Insidiously, the law blurred the distinction between the discussion of ideas and the personal attack. Many organizations are struggling to bring their opponents to justice".
It means that the legal system is hauling writers and journalists to court for expressing specific ideas, in particular criticism of Islam.

In just two years in France, Muslim organizations have dragged to trial great writers such as Georges Bensoussan, Pascal Bruckner, and Renaud Camus. It is the Islamists' dream coming true: seeing "Islamophobes" on trial to punish their freedom of expression.

Charlie Hebdo's physical massacre was therefore followed by an intellectual one: today, Charb's important book cannot find a room in France for a public reading; it should, instead, be protected as a legacy of courage and truth.

Even in French theaters, free speech is being crushed. Films about Islam have been cancelled: "The Apostle" by Carron Director, on Muslim converts to Christianity; "Timbuktu" on the Islamist takeover of Mali, and Nicolas Boukhrief's "Made in France", about a jihadist cell. A poster for "Made in France" -- a Kalashnikov over the Eiffel Tower -- was already in the Paris metro when ISIS went into action on the night of November 13, 2016. Immediately, the film's release was suspended, with the promise that the film would be back in theaters. "Made in France" is now only available "on-demand". Another film, "Les Salafistes", was screened with a notice banning minors. The Interior Ministry called for a total ban.

After the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, the country seemed for a short time to return to normalcy. Meanwhile, thousands of Jews were packing up to leave France. At the request of local Jewish community leaders, the Jewish skullcap disappeared from the streets of Marseille, and in Toulouse, after an Islamic terrorist murdered a Jewish teacher and three children in 2012, 300 Jewish families pack up and left.

In the daily newspaper Le Figaro, Hadrien Desuin, an expert on international relations, compared the last two years to the "phony war" that France did not fight in 1939-40. Paris, while declaring a war against Germany, as it now declares a war against terrorism, simply refused to fight.
For a whole year, France, crouching behind a Maginot Line that it foolishly believed was invincible did not fire a single gun against the Germans who were spreading throughout Europe at the time.
Similarly, General Vincent Desportes explains in his book The Last Battle of France that Operation Sentinel, in which French soldiers are now deployed in the streets, is a "show", and that "the Islamic State is not afraid of our aircraft. You have to attack by land, terrorizing. We have the means to do it, but it takes political courage". According to Desportes, Operation Sentinel "changes nothing".

France's never-begun war on terror also collapsed around the three most important measures: removing French citizenship from jihadists, "de-radicalizing" them and closing their salafist mosques.

There are at least 20 among 2,500 famous radical mosques that need to close now. The Territorial Information Center (SCRT) recommended that there are 124 salafist mosques in France that should close. Only Marine Le Pen has demanded that.
Three days after the November 13 Paris massacres, President Hollande announced a constitutional reform that would strip French citizenship from Islamic terrorists. Faced with the impossibility of finding a shared text by both Houses, as well as with the resignation of his Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, Hollande was forced to cancel the move. It means that hundreds of French citizens who went to Syria for jihad can now return to their country of origin and murder more innocent people there.

The Bataclan Theater -- the scene of a massacre in which 90 people were murdered and many others wounded on November 13, 2015 -- recently reopened with a concert by the performer Sting. His last song was "Inshallah" (Arabic for "If Allah Wills"). That is the state of France's last two years: starting with "Allahu Akbar" ("Allah is the greatest"), chanted by the jihadists who slaughtered 80 people, and ending with a phony invocation to Allah by a British singer. "Inshallah," said Sting from the stage, "that wonderful word". "Rebirth at the Bataclan," the newspaper Libération wrote as its headline.

The director of the Bataclan told Jesse Hughes, the head of American band Eagles of Death Metal: "There are things you cannot forgive." True. Except that France has forgiven everything. The drawing on the cover of Charlie Hebdo after the massacre -- a weeping Muhammad saying, "All is forgiven" -- was the start of France's psychological surrender.

Left: The cover of Charlie Hebdo after the massacre of its staff -- a weeping Muhammad saying, "All is forgiven" -- was the start of France's psychological surrender. Right: When the Bataclan Theater (where 90 people were murdered in November 2015) recently reopened with a concert by the performer Sting, his last song was "Inshallah" (Arabic for "If Allah Wills").
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
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