First lesson of politics – don’t invade Afghanistan.
Second lesson, don’t invade Iraq.
Third, don’t bomb Syria, especially if, like France, you have four million Muslim citizens (mostly of North African decent) in a secular/Christian state with a very bloody history like the Algerian independence struggle (1954-62) behind you and then the exceedingly violent Algerian civil war in the 1990’s.
Naturally, most immigrants won’t be anti-French, but French actions in Syria, bombing Isis targets, are enough to ignite certain minds, especially those feeling displaced and unable to assimilate into French society, identify with it and Western Christian values.
They feel lonely, isolated mentally and emotionally and therefore ‘oppressed’, seeking to take their resentment out on something, someone.
And whilst they ‘suffer’ like their fellow Muslims in Isis, who they consequently identify with, so they seek to strike back in similar vein, especially against the pleasure seeking, decadent Westerners enjoying themselves whilst indifferent to, even living off, Muslim suffering.
For Muslims, especially true believers, Islam (profoundly different from Western society and culture: remember how difficult assimilation and integration is between fellow Christians here and then multiply it 100 times) is their identity, what and who they are, the ultimate truth, and a primary injunction of their belief is of collective belonging to, conforming to and defending (even violently, Islam is a warrior religion) the ‘ummah’ and fellow followers of the ‘book’.
For such people integration is impossible and sacrilegious since Western values are so opposed to it and they are appalled by Muslims who integrate and/or who simply tolerate and quietly lead their own Muslim lives in private (the vast majority).
Toleration becomes the greatest sin for a tiny minority which often builds on personal feelings of inadequacy and non-acceptance in the host society.
This then conflates with resentment and hatred at the dishonest and cack-handed interventions of the West in Muslim societies – so strike back against the ignorant and sacrilegious Westerners, let them know what it’s like to be bombed and shot in their land.
The aim is a gesture of defiance, an emotional expression of hate and contempt, a pay-back for their emotional hurt, then to impel the West into hysterical reactions, oppressive and useless security gestures that undermine Western freedoms and liberties without making us the least bit more secure whilst isolating ‘ordinary’ Muslims out of society and so recalling them to their Muslim identity.
Dr James Dingley, Belfast BT9