Charlie Hebdo, The Bataclan and Nice. All have connotations today with terrorism in Europe. In the latest attack the finger is again pointed toward terrorism and by definition it is or it would be if there had been a stated political aim. The fact there was no stated political aim puts this in the category of mass murder. Even ISIS have not claimed responsibility for this latest attack, at least at the time of writing. Even if they did it seems to have escaped the attention of many that IS may just about claim responsibility for any act of terror it can if it furthers their rhetoric across the globe.
Not one of these acts of terror has been the work of IS. Not directly. They have been nothing more than a catalyst for the downtrodden and persecuted. This is not to defend the actions of the murderers instead merely to suggest that religion and IS in particular are not the driving force behind it.
Instead the driving force is French national policy. France has seen rioting over the past couple of decades from ethnic communities where unemployment is high and discrimination based on culture and the colour of skin is rife. 2005 saw some of the worst rioting in recent times and for a couple of years after, rioting would make headlines again.
Civil Unrest in the French Suburbs, November 2005 – An Overview
The average age of most of the terrorists in all three recent attacks in France can be put at around 30 years of age.
In the Charlie Hebdo attack the three main suspects were:
- Chérif Kouachi, 32, French national
- Said Kouachi, 34, French national
- Amédy Coulibaly, 32, French national
At the Bataclan:
- Abdelhamid Abaaoud, Belgian National, 20
- Bilal Hadafi, French national, 20
- Salah Abdeslam, French National, 26
- Brahim Abdeslam, Belgium national, 31
- Omar Ismail Mostefai, French national, 29
- Samy Amimour, French national, 28
- Abdel Hamid Abaaoud, 27, French national
- Hasna Aiboulahcen, 26, French national
- Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, 31, French national.Lived in Tunisia until 2005 before living in France.
2012, The Guardian – Racial hatred poisoning France
That means that 11 years ago back in 2005 the average age of each and every attacker would have been around 19 years of age. With a few exceptions most were living in France at the time.
2015, The Guardian – Nothing has changed in the last 10 years
Growing up as a young person in France around 2005 would have almost certainly had a profound effect on the mindset of ethnic French men and women. It would have fostered long standing resentment and anger. Unemployment amongst young ethnic men was standing at around 40%, just shy of the record levels of unemployment in Greece right now. France did try to address the imbalance but it didn’t go far enough and the push to make corrections didn’t translate to the people of France in general. There was a chasm in undemanding of the problems and implementation of national policy. It was a failure on the part of government.
The problems were never rectified and even after the riots of 2005 and 2006 and beyond they were not met with new policies on how to address the anger and hatred but instead Nicholas Sarkozy ordered a zero tolerance approach to disorder. This only poured fuel onto the fire and when all dissent and disorder had been crushed what would have been left for the immigrants and ethnic nationals? Problems still persist to this day.
Now, 11 years later those same 19 year olds are adults and full of resentment. Older, wiser and more clever and certainly far more damaged. At this point all that is needed to trigger the self destruct button is a catalyst. That catalyst came in the form of IS.
“To get a better idea of the causes of the November 2005 urban riots in France, which have claimed 200 million euros in damaged property and one death, one should try to forget about theoretical models and concentrate on specific factors that caused the eruption at this specific moment and in these specific places. Those factors includethe particular French ethnic context, economic conditions, discrimination, police violence, housing, and (bad) national policies. It should also be clear that despite the claims of many foreign commentators, religion was conspicuously absent from the mix.”
– Understanding the French riots
The 2005 riots came shortly after the end of the Iraq war and many then knew what everyone knows now. That the war was if not illegal, highly immoral and the result was a generation of new terrorists and disenfranchised youths. Of course ethnic men in France would have felt a sense of solidarity in some respects with those in Iraq and other nations that were affected by the war. IS was born out of the Iraq war and they have been successful in galvanising huge support and even those who do not necessarily share the IS ideology which is rooted in Wahabbism will find some sense of unity with them in one way or another. Much in the same way that the working classes in 1970’s-1980’s England would turn to football hooliganism for their outlet for anger, the football was just a catalyst, not the driving force. Most if not all of the suspects in all three terrors attacks in France were not hardline devout Muslims. Reports stated that some liked the nightlife, gambling, drugs, some were involved in petit to serious crime.
Yet after everything, the authorities continue to insist IS is the problem. With Obama reiterating the intention to destroy IS, they are the catalyst, they should be destroyed, but unless we face up to the realities behind what really drives extremism in the West especially, then extremism will always come forth just in different ways.
Unless France deals with its problems internally there will never be a short supply of extremists.
(Video below: Paris Burning, David Brill investigates the social and racial fault lines of Paris)