FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.

posted on 17 July 2016

Nice Attack Brings A Difficult Question Into Sharp Focus: Why France?

from The Conversation

-- this post authored by Philomena Murray, University of Melbourne

If you live in France, you enjoy Bastille Day. There is a buzz in the air as you celebrate a day off in the middle of summer with your family and friends. You go to the fireworks. It is good to be in France and to remember the founding principles of the state - liberty, equality and fraternity. There is little mention of a bloody history of revolution and wars, colonialism and empire.

Now, after the horrific Nice truck attack that killed at least 84 people - including many children - and injured at least 100 others, one question is being asked more than most: why France?

France has a long history of both protest and terrorist attacks. When I lived and worked in Paris as an Irish diplomat in the late 1980s, a German diplomat was assassinated, allegedly by a Kurd extremist. Stringent anti-terrorism legislation was introduced at that time due to a number of attacks on the capital - and over the last few decades these attacks have come from different groups.

It would be foolish to imply the perpetrator of these attacks speaks for even disaffected groups in France. It would be simple to suggest that France's North African communities are involved in this attack in Nice. It is also not appropriate to commence a witch-hunt on Muslims in France.

On July 14, France was celebrating its liberty - and that includes freedom of expression for the media, as seen in the case of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

France was rejoicing in its commitment to equality - even if that is often presented as strict adherence to secularism, or laïcité, the term used to deny any organised religion a special place in French society, with strict church-state separation. It is about secular principles always being more important than religious beliefs, which are regarded as the private sphere.

And fraternity has been talked about a great deal in French society - including by politicians - yet many young Muslims have not experienced that fraternity as they have grown up in ghettos with little chance of employment.

There has been massive discontent and even violent protests over the last decade or so in these urban settings, often very disadvantaged areas - les banlieues, often called the suburbs of exile. Here there is a combination of poverty, housing problems, and a sense of alienation from the advantages of French society.

There is a sense of lack of opportunity in the structure of French society, with high unemployment and little access to the labour market. There have equally been very strong police crackdowns.

Secularism has been the justification for the ban on headscarves and religious symbols in French schools over several decades. France was debating this issue well before September 11 and Islamic State terrorism. There is a remarkable consensus among the mainstream parties on this issue.

France, using secularism as the justification for equality, has been at the forefront of European countries in its denial of the right to wear the foulard - or headscarf - in French state-funded schools (and 85% of French schools are state schools). The move to ban headscarves was part of the French debate since 1989.

At the same time, France is also where the largest populist right-wing political party continues to gain traction with its anti-immigration agenda. The National Front is a serious contender for leading positions even up to the forthcoming presidential elections. Its leader, Marine Le Pen, has spoken of:

... the foreign populations that seek to impose on the French their own lifestyles, religion and codes.

The day after the attacks on the Bataclan theatre and the Stade de France suicide bombing, she said that France and the French were "no longer safe".

This language of societal insecurity often allocated blame to immigrants. There is a potent populist message of a society under threat. And the actions of a lone truck driver on Bastille Day would bear this out for some. Like Belgium, which was attacked earlier this year when Brussels' airport and Maelbaek metro station were bombed, it has relatively high numbers of jihadists.

France has had a history of requiring equality in expecting integration of its migrants or citizens who are of North African background.

Multiculturalism is not celebrated in France. What is expected is a form of integration that is quite assimilationist. There is not very much of vive la difference when it comes to North African communities, even though many in those communities have established a firm presence in the media and in winning France's most prestigious prize for literature.

The reasons there are about several million people of North African background in France is that they were colonised nations, when the French extended its sphere of influence in the 19th century.

There are 4.7 million people of Muslim background in France and 4.8 million in Germany. Germany has not participated in the war in Iraq - Spain did. A Madrid train was attacked in March 2004, allegedly by al-Qaeda, resulting in the deaths of 191 people and injuries to some 1800 people.

Internationally, France, under President Francois Hollande, remains resolutely involved in military actions, including bombing Islamic State in Syria. There is no doubt France's European partners will stand shoulder to shoulder with it after these attacks. We can expect increased security co-operation among the European Union countries - including the UK.

And we can expect that France will seek answers to the question - why France? - as it attempts to recover from this horrific attack.

This article was co-published with Pursuit.

The ConversationPhilomena Murray, Professor, School of Social and Political Sciences and EU Centre on Shared Complex Challenges, University of Melbourne

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Click here for Historical News Post Listing

Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted. You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.

Econintersect Contributors


Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF

The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.

Take a look at what is going on inside of
Main Home
Analysis Blog
Was Marx Right?
Angst in America, Part 5: The Crisis We Can’t Muddle Through
News Blog
What We Read Today 29 April 2017
'Horrifying' Witnesses Describe Latest String Of Prisoner Executions In Arkansas
Apr 25, 2017 08:01 GMT What Trump's Next 100 Days Will Look Like
How Did Small Businesses Do In 2016?
Costs Of Building A 355-Ship US Navy
The Roots Of Rising Treasury Yields
How Will College Grads Do In 2017 In Their Job Search
Recall This Bond Trader Chart? Here's What Happened
Infographic Of The Day: The Sad State Of America's Infrastructure In One Infographic
Early Headlines: High Worker Taxes, US Has Temp Funding, Net Neutrality Going?, Kurds Supported Erdogan, US To Crack Down On Iran, Russia C. Bank Easing, India Heat, H1B Scam, And More
Wiping Out Jobs Growth With Robotics
This Fantastic Idea For A Circular Runway Is Sadly Going Nowhere
Research Check: Are Aussie Women Ageing Up To 20 Years Faster Than US Women?
Investing Blog
The Last Time Weekly Wrap-Up 28 April 2017
Opinion Blog
New 'Gaullism' Rises In France
Blockchain: A Technology Whose Time Has Come
Precious Metals Blog
A New Age For Gold
Live Markets
28Apr2017 Market Close: Wall Street Closed Mostly Down On News The U.S. Economy Grew At Its Weakest Pace In Three Years, WTI Crude Settles In The Low 49 Handle
Amazon Books & More

.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government



Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day


Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution



  Top Economics Site Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2017 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved