- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 9, 2005

It is an exaggeration to equate the French riots — today entering their third week — with the Battle of Tours, where in 732 French Christians beat back the Muslim invasion of Europe. The rioters are motivated by a variety of grievances which say much about French governance. But to ignore the Islamist threat in France, as the U.S. media has done for 14 days, betrays a politically correct ideology that is willfully ignorant of the facts.

In a recent editorial, The Washington Post went so far as to deny any Islamist influence. “[The riots are] not the European version of an intifada: Islamic ideology and leaders play no role in the disturbances, and many of those participating are not Muslim,” said the editorial. This is clearly wrong, especially since one week before the riots, The Post reported how Algerian terrorists were singling out younger French citizens for indoctrination.

Other newspapers have been careful to avoid labeling the rioters as anything other than “youths.” An article in yesterday’s New York Times about the riots never once mentioned the words “Muslim” or “Islam.” In stark contrast, the Arab media is all over the story. The Middle East Media Research Institute translated one Saudi columnist who seems to have a better understanding of the conflagration than his Western counterparts. “The fires in Paris also set fire to all [the problems] that had accumulated with regard to Arab immigration… Whoever blames only the French government for the grave situation in these Parisian suburbs is mistaken,” he wrote.

Maybe the Arab media is interested in the story because it acknowledges that a majority of rioting “youths” are of Arab or Muslim descent. With 6 million Muslims, France has Europe’s largest Muslim community, many of them crowded in the suburban ghettoes. Synagogues and churches have been attacked to the cries of “Allahu akbar” — God is great. The German daily Der Spiegel has reported how rioters are using text messaging and the Internet to organize the nightly attacks. One message read: “We aren’t going to let up. The French won’t do anything and soon we will be the majority here.”

Although The Post might imagine Islamic leaders “play no role” in the riots, the leaders themselves seem to think differently. While some have told reporters that what they want is civic autonomy for their communities, others have taken to the streets to tell the rioters to go home “in the name of Allah.”

If this isn’t the Battle of Tours, it is a sign of things to come. The veneer of French secularism has given way to reveal an unstable balance of Western complacency and Muslim contempt. And in the face of French weakness, that contempt has turned to confidence. This bodes ominously for not only the French, but all of us committed to resisting Islamist aggression.

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