French literary star Michel Houellebecq’s new novel Soummission has been widely pilloried as islamophobic in the French media. The book depicts the “submission” of France to Islamic rule – or, at any rate, to the government of an Islamic party – in the not-so-distant future of 2022. But on closer inspection, Houellebecq’s novel is less about any external threat to France, Islamic or otherwise, than about a profound internal malaise. He brandishes the specter of “Islamization” in order to set in relief the folly and opportunism of France’s own elites, who, he suggests, in order ostensibly to “save the republic” would even be prepared to dilute its principles with a “moderate” dose of sharia.
See my review essay in the May/June issue of World Affairs and now available online here.
What happens in France if you are convicted of plotting terror attacks with chemical weapons on French soil, including, among other potential targets, the Eiffel Tower? Well, if you are the Algerian jihadist Saïd Arif, you spend a few years in jail; and then when you are released, instead of being deported, you are put up at public expense at hotels throughout the French countryside, receiving not only full room and board but also unemployment benefits to boot; before one fine day you steal a car and drive off to points unknown.
On the amazing story of Saïd Arif, who was reportedly killed last month in a missile strike in Syria, see my new article at The Weekly Standard here.
How many European jihadists have gone to Syria? EU officials and the Western media continue to cite relatively reassuring figures, typically in the low thousands. But the official statistics are misleading. The real figure must be significantly higher: undoubtedly now in the tens-of-thousands. See my new article at Geopolitical Monitor here.
The hypothesis that Germanwings Flight 9525 was intentionally crashed by its allegedly suicidal co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, has dominated the headlines to such an extent that it has taken on the aura of established fact. Numerous aviation experts and professional associations have condemned this rush to judgment and the role of French authorities in fueling it. What the aviation experts and professional associations know, but the broader public in general does not, is that a known malfunction in a cockpit computer on the A320 family of planes could initiate a controlled descent like that Lubitz is accused of having intentionally brought about and, furthermore, that so long as the computer is running, the pilot or pilots would not be able to override it.
For the details, including critical commentary on the Germanwings investigation from French pilots, see my new article on Geopolitical Monitor here.
As reported by the Austrian daily Der Standard, some fifty Bosnian soccer fans broke into a chant of “Kill, kill the Jews!” during a pro-Palestinian rally in Vienna’s central Saint Stephan’s Square last week. For details and video, see my new post at the Weekly Standard here.
The question as to why Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of Germanwings flight 9525 would intentionally bring about the crash of the plane is at the source of much of the perplexity surrounding the Germanwings tragedy. Even if we suppose that Lubitz was suicidal, it is obviously one thing to commit suicide and another to do so in such a way as to cause the death of 149 other people as well. This perplexity undoubtedly fueled the unfounded rumors that Lubitz was Muslim, since if the co-pilot was an Islamic radical conducting a suicide operation, then the mystery would be resolved. But there is also another way of resolving the mystery: maybe Lubitz did not intentionally crash the plane.
Although the international media has shown little interest in any other storyline, French investigators have not ruled out other hypotheses, including that of a mechanical failure. For details, see my new post at the Weekly Standard here.
Blogs and social media has been abuzz with talk of a supposed “German news report” indicating that Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of Germanwings flight 9525, was a Muslim convert. In fact, there is no such report. On how the rumor got started, see my new post at the Weekly Standard here.
On Sunday, following the first round of voting in France’s departmental elections, Prime Minister Manuel Valls took time to congratulate himself on having halted the rise of Marine Le Pen’s National Front. But a closer look at the election results reveals that the prime minister’s personal triumph is an illusion. Reports to the contrary notwithstanding, the National Front remains the “first party of France.”
For the details, see my new post at World Affairs here.
On February 9, the US State Department designated German citizen Dennis Cuspert as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. Formerly known as “Deso Dogg,” during his days as one of Germany’s most well-known gangster rappers, Cuspert more recently adopted the nom de guerre Abu Talha al-Almani (the German). The State Department designation comes after Germany itself submitted Cuspert’s name to be included on the UN Security Council’s list of designated terrorists and terrorist entities. There is no doubt that since arriving in Syria in summer 2013, Cuspert had become a very significant recruiter of foreign and, above all, German-speaking jihadists. There is, however, significant doubt whether Cuspert is today even still alive.
For the details, see my new report at Geopolitical Monitor here.
The recent controversy over a Fox News segment on “no-go zones” in France, culminating in Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo’s threat to sue the American channel, will undoubtedly have been a surreal experience for many French-speakers, connoisseurs of France, and, above all, French people themselves. For while the original remarks by Fox interviewee Nolan Peterson contained some fuzziness and error, the existence of such zones has been universally acknowledged in France for years: by members of all political parties, including Hidalgo’s own Socialists, and all media, including the leftist media. Of course, the French do not use the expression “no-go zones,” because the French speak French. Their expression is zones de non-droit, literally “lawless zones,” so described because the police are incapable of maintaining a regular enough presence in them to enforce the law.
For the details, see my new article in the Weekly Standard here.