- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 2, 2004

Is France onboard?

Something important is happening in France. The jihadist threat to murder two French journalists if Paris doesn’t rescind its ban on head scarves in public schools has proven one thing: These fanatics are not responding to Western excess or the war in Iraq. They are theocratic fascists using the old methods of terror and violence to get their way. You cannot appease them, although Paris is trying to get its Arab friends to help out. But the event may shift French opinion our way and reveal to them that they, too, are at risk and that appeasement cannot work. Here’s Wednesday’s editorial in Le Monde. It’s revealing in its hopes and its fears:

“They say that every cloud has a silver lining. The kidnapping of the two French journalists Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot and the blackmailing of the French government by the kidnappers to force the government to repeal its new law against wearing the Islamic veil in school has two objectives. The first is to show that no Western country, no democracy — even one that, like France, opposed the American intervention in Iraq — is sheltered from the fanaticism of the soldiers of the ‘holy war’ launched on September 11, 2001 by Al Qaida. The second is to show that France, despite or even because of its status as the largest Muslim state in Europe, has become a preferred target of this ideological war… . [But the terrorists have missed their mark.] Even if the current consensus in France remains fragile, even if ambiguities remain, even if the law against wearing the Islamic veil remains for many Muslims a strike at their religious liberty, we can do nothing but rejoice to see French Muslims on the front line of defense of the Republic.”

But for how long? And how solid will French Muslim support be if France really begins to fight back?

The jihadist strategy

Meanwhile, here’s an extract from a fascinating (as usual) dispatch from the “Healing Iraq” blogger in Baghdad, Zeyad. He quotes one Mohammed Bashar Al-Faidhy, spokesman of the Association of Muslim Scholars, in a speech delivered on Arab satellite networks earlier this week. If you want to see how attuned these maniacs are to divisions in the West, read on:

“To our brothers in the Islamic Army of Iraq. We wish to inform you that we totally understand the extreme rage that is boiling in your hearts regarding the French decision to ban the Hijab in their schools, and we share you your disappointment. We officially condemned the French decision at the time … However, killing the two hostages without considering the grave consequences of such an act would be harmful to our cause and would isolate us from our international support … Our goal is to besiege the Americans politically in every spot of the world and this act is not serving that goal … You can see how the agents of the occupation are already using this incident against us … It is our duty as scholars to point out to our brothers what is wrong and what is right … France as an anti-occupation country has been helpful to our cause … You might say that the French stance is not an altruistic one and that they have their own political interests that caused them to disagree with the Americans, and I am not going to say that is not true but it is also our goal to turn them against each other to serve our cause so France has a strategic importance for us.”

This is a fascinating and potentially important moment in the war on terror. If the jihadists take the war to France now, we may get the Western unity that has so far eluded us. And that can only be a good thing.

The inclusive party

The Republican candidate for Senate in Illinois, Alan Keyes, has been off the leash lately. Last week, he called Mary Cheney, the vice-president’s daughter, a “selfish hedonist” because she is a lesbian. To duck this kind of abuse, Mary didn’t even appear with her family on the podium Wednesday night. Meanwhile, the Family Research Council has been distributing fortune cookies in New York with the message: “Real Men Marry Women.” I guess Jesus and the Pope aren’t real men.

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