Paris and Islamophobia

Middle East
on 9 Comments

I am so sad today. My heart goes out to the families and friends of the people who were killed and who are still in the hospital.

I feel very touched by these murders. Friends of mine were in close proximity, and friends of friends are in the hospital or were killed. One of the restaurants that was attacked is next to a vegan spot that Felix and I go to often. All of these places are places I know well and that I could easily have been at or near on Friday.

It feels hard to mourn because so so much of the collective mourning here seems to be centered around nationalism, the French flag, and celebrating how wonderful France is.  I cannot separate French nationalism from colonial racism, Islamophobia, and imperialism. So how do I feel my feelings right now? I am sad, upset, angry, but I do not agree with the French government and I do not valorize the French state. I am trying to hold all this together and to mourn in a way that feels right to me.

I believe, as analysts have said, that these terrorist attacks were not the beginning of a war in France, but the manifestation of wars France is already participating in, specifically by bombing Syria. France was at war, is at war, and now we are seeing what war looks like in our own city. Terrorist attacks happen in many places and they only get this type of attention when they target Europeans or people from the U.S. I am especially close to Paris because this is my home right now. I have been given a glimpse of what it feels like to live with this type of violence and death, and I am thinking of the millions of people who live with this type of fear everyday.

In a country where it is illegal to wear a hijab in public buildings, where my Arab friends talk how strangers look at them with racism and fear on their faces, about being afraid to go outside, and where violent anti-Muslim attacks increased 500% after the Charlie Hebdo attack, I am very afraid of what is to come. I am also heartened by some of the analysis I am reading in friend’s Facebook posts and in articles from activist organizations. I am trying to end on a positive note here, hopeful that we can stand together against this Islamophobic backlash, which has already started.

About Raymond Wofsy

Raymond Wofsy is an educator and activist who is living in Paris. He is a member of Jews Say No! ([email protected])

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9 Responses

  1. CigarGod
    November 16, 2015, 11:35 am

    Good job, Raymond.
    If your reaction is to think, then you are interested in the cause of things.
    Our leaders don’t want us to look under the symptoms.

  2. Kay24
    November 16, 2015, 12:03 pm

    Plenty of blame to go around for this situation, and it is time for self examination by those involved. While the world tries to figure out how to combat a violent and dangerous problem, there should be analysis with honesty, as to what we can do differently, or stop what we are doing, which results in such these fanatics taking advantage of our policies, to wage terror among people.

    For those who keep blaming all Muslims for what these despicable groups do, an great
    analysis from Juan Cole.

    “Terrorism and the Other Religions
    By Juan Cole |

    Contrary to what is alleged by bigots like Bill Maher, Muslims are not more violent than people of other religions. Murder rates in most of the Muslim world are very low compared to the United States

  3. gamal
    November 16, 2015, 1:48 pm

    No calls for forgiveness, as after the much praised words of the Charleston church survivors, but a rabidly vengeful Hollande laying waste to Syria right away, or would forgiveness not be appropriate in this instance?

    The French Intifada: how the Arab banlieues are fighting the French state
    Andrew Hussey:

    “The atmosphere was strangely festive. Behind the reinforced steel and glass of the Eurostar terminal, new arrivals from London were ushered into Paris by soldiers with machine guns – the glittering capital of Europe now apparently a war zone. They looked on the scene with horror. But it was exhilarating to watch kids hopping over metro barriers, smoking weed and shouting, walking wherever they wanted, disobeying every single one of the tight rules that normally control access to the station. It was also frightening, because these kids could now hurt you whenever they wanted. They had abolished all the rules, including the rule of law.”

  4. pabelmont
    November 16, 2015, 2:17 pm

    USA’s government gives itself “permission” to go to war without cause against Iraq and then kills how many thousands of people? And this is considered “war” rather than “terrorism”. And the recent even in France kills less than 1000 and is called ‘terrorism”.

    What fun it is to determine “how great your country is” and how right it is for your country to go to war, whether attacked or not, and to call it “war” and not “terror”. And what was France doing in Syria anyhow?

    Do any of her people see it that way? Any newspapers?

  5. ivri
    November 17, 2015, 8:26 am

    Well, an even better way to advance your ides than quasi-moral arguments that nobody takes any more seriously is a practical one. What really can the French actually do except heightened rhetoric?
    The situation in France has already passed reversibility threshold – it is factually a mixed ethnic country now with Muslims percentage of population in the big cities, where they are concentrated (including their suburbs), is 20, 30 or even 40 percent (there are very few in rural France and its many small towns). For instance in neighboring Brussels – the headquarters of the EU – the fraction is above a quarter.
    The hard truth is that in such conditions there is simply not much you can do except hoping for the better or, as you seem to suggest, behaving “nicely” so that Islamists, mercifully, will leave you alone and go target others in “worst” places, which are less attentive to their grievances.
    As for yourself, personally (I see you are Jewish) – consider an Aliya to Israel. It is in no submission mood – it passed through an Intifada which had hundreds of such attacks. Mnany thousands of your fellow citizens are already here.

    • Mooser
      November 17, 2015, 11:26 am

      “As for yourself, personally (I see you are Jewish) – consider an Aliya to Israel.”

      “Irvi” is sure that WC Fields was right about the birth-rate.

      “Mnany thousands of your….”

      Love those odds.

    • eljay
      November 17, 2015, 11:36 am

      || ivri: As for yourself, personally (I see you are Jewish) – consider an Aliya to Israel. … ||

      “As for yourself, personally (I see you are male) – consider joining the…ahem… ‘party’ in Joe’s basement. Don’t worry about the screaming – she’ll eventually pass out.”

  6. talknic
    November 17, 2015, 9:05 pm

    ‘scuse the thread spam, again

    A Syrian passport found next to a suicide bomber in the Paris terror attacks may have been planted, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere

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