France takes a stand against extremism, media spins it as anti-Islam


By | Rachel Brooks

November 1, 2020_

Above, Emmanuel Macron, the current French President, photographed in 2014. 

The changing rhetoric between the French secular and the French Islamic society has been braced with the challenges of a negative media rhetoric toward the anti-extremsim campaign. 

France is a nation in peril from within and without. Faced with bracing extremism statistics, the leadership and people of France make hard choices forced by the hour. The extremist forces retaliate with propaganda, stirring the ethnopolitical tensions in France. Muslims are led to believe that the French crackdown on extremism is a war against Islam itself. Meanwhile, the Anglo media appears to reinforce this issue, portraying the French domestic defense as villainous.  

Media portrays French domestic struggle as anti-Islamic

The western media has, to some degree, fueled the fears of the Muslim community in Europe. Terror attacks have left a question mark in the minds of French Muslims about their place in western society, which has been exacerbated by language depicting France as a threatening place for Muslims to live. The New York Times called the French officials’ stance against Islamic separatism an “attack.” The paper’s language failed to specify that the French have not attacked Islam or Muslims directly, but rather extremist groups. France called extremists “the enemy within.” This language, and the rhetoric of the polarizing divide, has created a further distancing between the secular French society and the Islamic French society. 

This rhetoric continues to fuel the rage between the secular and Islamic society. Muslims in the RSS held protests in which they burned pictures of French President Emmanuel Macron. 

French public meets silence from Western compatriots 

The French public has met the lack of response from American and British compatriots with shock. Unherd reported that France has met the arch of extremism within its borders, going from defiant to despairing, to finally, with the assassination of the school teacher in 2020, to fury. That fury has been increased by the decapitation in Nice, France, and the shooting in Leon within October. 

As the French government embraced the laicite law that allowed for the separation of church and state, it put itself in greater jeopardy with the Islamic clerics who are believers in traditional religion as a core foundation for governance. 

President Macron attempts to placate tensions

To placate tensions, French President Emmanuel Macron has made a recent appearance on an Islamic newscast. He then shared this appearance to his Twitter account. He laid down, in no uncertain terms, that France will not tolerate extremism. 

“The extremists teach that France should not be respected. They teach that women are not equal to men, and that little girls should not have the same rights as little boys,” said Macron, as he was quoted via his Twitter reshare of a broadcast airing on Al Jazeera Arabic. 

“I tell you very clearly: Not in our country.” 

Macron also sent messages directed at the Muslim community in Arabic via his Twitter. 

“I saw many people in recent days saying unacceptable things about France, supporting all the lies that were spoken about us and about what I said, and implicitly colluding with the worst,” Macron tweeted in Arabic on October 31. 

“Contrary to much of what I have heard and seen on social media in recent days, our country has no problem with any religion. All of these religions are freely practiced on his land. There is no stigmatization: France is committed to peace and to live together,” tweeted Macron. 

He shared previous quotes from the same newscast in which he expressed the French stance on extremism. 

“I saw a lot of lies, and I want to clarify the following: What we are doing right now in France is fighting terrorism that is being committed in the name of Islam, not Islam itself. This terrorism has claimed the lives of more than 300 of our citizens,” said Macron, as he was quoted via his Twitter. 

Macron has been documented throughout his presidency as a purist of the la laicite laws in France, or the French legal code for secularism. He again defended that position on October 31, before his appearance on Al Jazeera. 

La laïcité n’a jamais tué personne.” In English, “Secularism has never killed anyone.” he tweeted. 

His statement inspired an enraged response from the Islamic community of France, including those who stated that secularism, while never killing anyone, “mocked the prophets.” Some likewise compared the Colonial era of France to the present in cartoons depicting guillotine use. Others likewise stated that Macron’s country “killed millions in Africa.” 

However, the statement also received support from the international community, with responders hailing from as far away as India.

France faces great challenges in extremism crackdown

Aside from the rhetoric in the western media, that greets each day of the secularist vs. extremist cleric struggle with new polarizing rhetoric, France has the intensity of its domestic peril to contend with. In our series La Laicite and the Prophets: the quest for the soul of France Republic Underground News will analyze and explore nuances of the French intenral struggle with extremism.