After Paris Attack: One of the reasons of involvement in terrorism is ideological, social and domestic vacuum

Author : Volodymyr Lazar

Respondent : Volodymyr Lazar

Source : 112 Ukraine

The president of French-Ukrainian association in the Center for development and international cooperation, Volodymyr Lazar, speaks on Paris attacks, Muslim rights, and the future of French nation.
13:23, 26 November 2015

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Paris attack: test for safety system? People’s solidarity and tolerance?  

Paris attack can’t be considered as purely a surprise. There was something hazardous in the air. But to tell the truth no one expected such a massive crime. French Defense Authorities often receive the information about a danger. Regularly they react; frequently the information is not confirmed. But not all hazards can be foreseen and in no way it’s possible to exclude them totally, especially in short terms.

After these terrible events all security specialists enhanced their activities to the most efficient level. All over France and in many other EU countries operative actions have been taking place - detentions, searches, control on who might have a relationship to terrorism.

Of course, terroristic acts that took place, touched everyone who live in France. All French citizens, foreigners that reside permanently or on a regular basis in France and even Muslim communities roundly condemned terroristic attacks. After the attack on the editorial staff of Charlie and on the shops with kosher food in San-Mande city in Paris countryside, I saw Africans, Arabs, Indians, Chinese people bringing flowers, chaplets, posters, to support French nation. I saw people crying among them sharing a French pain. There were posters such as “I’m policemen, I’m Arab and I’m Charlie”, “I’m Muslim and I’m Charlie”, “I’m Muslim, I’m French and I’m Charlie”. And this time as well, everyone felt solidarity with France and French nation. They bring flowers and posters. There was no panic or fear in society, apart from caution and raised attention and the huge solidarity feeling. French people known that their law enforcements do everything possible to took all the risks of repeated attack away. 

What is your personal view and opinion on Muslim situation in France – the attitude of French to Muslims – What it was? And whether it changed and keeps changing after so many asylum-seekers coming to France and especially after the terrorist attacks? The general picture. In France there are many Muslim migrants which over several generation live in the country and have nothing in common with terroristic organizations, has the attitude changed towards them?

The Guardian

The attitude of French people to foreigners has always had a particular shade. To understand this better, it’s necessary to know that the topic on foreigners in France is a topic of political speculations. As well as in Ukraine, earlier, the question on two languages was exploited, for Russia the US has always been an external enemy, and in France this theme is a political card being played especially before the elections.

Sometimes on common level you can hear a phrase that all the evil existing in France come from the foreigners. But majority of people understand the realities in a proper way and realize the role of foreigners for France.

It happened to me to be in many French companies where I noticed 5-10% of workers with European appearance that work only on administrative level and the rest – 90-95% of Arab and African roots.

We can observe Arab and African descent workers to be engaged in garbage-disposal and machinery sectors. Building sector is full with workers for Portugal, Poland and Spain, sometimes for Turkey. In every city you will find quite a lot of Chinese shops and restaurants “buffet a volonte”.  As well widely known Turkish bars that are numerous in France and where shaurma is served promptly.

African, Polish, Philippine, Ukrainian nannies responsibly take care for children and French families. I can’t imagine France with no foreigners. I think French would not like the consequence.

In general, working people don’t think about terrorism and radicalism. Because of that there were no critical changes in perception of foreigners and Islamists in particular. However, single accidents of aggression that took place can be considered as exceptions.

In fact the French President announced that France intends to honor its commitment to accept 30,000 Syrian refugees over the next two years. What do French people think of such open European policies governed by Angela Merkel?

I cannot say exactly how France will cope with so many immigrants, because in France there is no special program that would allow foreigners to employ 30,000 over two years, qualification of which is not fully in line with European requirements. This requires special mechanisms that allow over a short time to teach people the language, profession, basic principles and standards of coexistence in the European environment. Under these conditions, today's refugees won’t become a problem for France and will work for its economy. But at the moment I haven’t heard of any specific actions in this area conducted be ​​France.

As another, more realistic scenario, the option of compact settlement of all refugees in several towns on the northern outskirts of Paris and other major French cities, which eventually will cease to be calm and safe, can be considered. Usually to local government budgets in such cities, the additional funds for social housing, payments and to cover all medical expenses are directed. When using this option, the adaptation process extends over many years, and only gives its effect on a new generation born in France. In addition, these cities remain criminogenic forever.

As a good example of migration policy in this case, we can consider Canada, that uses maximum forces to integrate refugees into its environment over the short period of time. But this is bit different topic..

Are there any Muslim parties (maybe radical) created in the Parliament to express the rights and views of the Muslim population?

Since 1983, in France there is an association Union of Islamic Organizations of France, which brings together more than 250 Islamic Organizations of France, and currently has offices in 25 cities, but it is not sufficiently convenient for the official Paris.

In 2002, due to Sarkozy, embracing Minister of the Interior position over that time, France attempted to create a representative body French Council of the Muslim religion which would express the position of Muslims. But unfortunately, the status of the body was not high enough to guarantee it a major influence on decision-making bodies and remained as NGO. And the organization itself more like a formal convenient mechanism for creating visibility cooperation with Muslims in France.

However, this does not prevent it to be a communicator between the official Paris and Muslims.

As we know the five attackers are not Syrian, but French or Belgian citizens. They are linked to Syria, and some of them were there in the last couple of years. None of them came back to France as asylum-seekers coming from Syria. The mean age of ISIS member with European origins – 24 year. What is the reason of such a brain wash to become ISIS members? What makes French/Belgian citizens to come down to side of terrorists and be recruited?

To my mind, one of the reasons of involvement in terrorism is ideological and social and domestic vacuum that successfully filled by senior radically infected "authorities".

Lack of integration into the European environment makes immigrants, and often their children create their closed group based on the basic values ​​that are available to them in terms of the medium with limited prospects. Feeling of secondary importance appears by itself, feeling aliens in France. I think the most important point is the mental integration, which actually can be developed only in special circumstances.

A social gap. France has Western Europe's largest Muslim population. Complaints that they suffer from economic and social inequality are common. In which economic spheres Muslim people work? Official statistics says that in general Muslim people earn less than European citizen? What are the roots of this situation? Is it because of discrimination or their unwillingness to work hard and pay huge taxes as all Europeans do? Since the size of social benefits is quite high in Europe?

Answers to this question I have already mentioned partly above, but I will return to the mental differences resulting from the great social and economic contrast between life in France and in countries "exporters" of refugees. We can try to imagine a human condition that yesterday had no food, rights, was a subject to persecution and today received housing, and medical care costs. And time of getting all the free benefits of French civilization is limited only by the desire or reluctance to work. If you are poor the level of state aid can be equal or sometimes exceed your potential future wages. At the same time, I am not aware of the fact of unequal pay. In most companies, salary is determined before hiring the employee; respectively each has equal conditions, and a vacant seat with a fixed salary can get as a Frenchman and as well as a foreigner. The main criteria for selection are the experience, professionalism, motivation and recommendations. A reason for the differences in income disparity may be due to one of the above criteria or the absence of French diploma that puts the employee down in a lower qualification level, which, in turn, has a lower tariff scale.

The future of a nation. What the French society will be in 10 years, for example? Since the average fertility rate for European Union families is 1.6 children (according to World Bank data), for France - 2-3 children. Muslim families tend to be much larger. And the age as well - the median age of Muslims throughout Europe is 32, eight years younger than the median for all Europeans (40) – what will be the face of France?

To my mind, 10 years are not enough for significant demographic changes. In France, there are about 60 mln . citizens, out of which 13 mln. have a foreign origin in the first and second generation, they aged 25-54 years. However, related discussions often appear in society. As well as many other issues I’ve talked today about, one of the necessary conditions for the solution of this issue is the creation of the State program of integration of foreigners.

Related: Terrorist acts in Paris pushed the interest of Europe to Ukraine away

Related: To see Paris and survive: what do the Paris talks mean

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