Paris Is Burning: Religion Has A Lot To Do With It

Dr. Robert D. Crane

Posted Oct 26, 2005      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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An article appeared this week on Altmuslim entitled Paris Is Burning: What’s Religion Got To Do With It by Shahed Amanullah discussing the riots in France.

  The Altmuslim discussion on the riots in France is challenging.  I agree that the riots themselves have little to do with Islam, any more than the Watts riots had anything to do with Christianity.  The resort to violence to express outrage over legitimate grievances, however, must be justified by the requirements of the just war theory, which exists in one form or another in all religions and, in my opinion, apply to both domestic and international violence.

  The three most important of these just war requirements are necessity in self-defense, probable net good, and minimal use of force.  The first condition is that no other solutions are possible.  The second is that good results not only are probable but will outweigh probable bad results.  The third is that the application of force should not exceed what is necessary.  These are the classical requirements.  Four more have been added in modern times.

  Only experts on internal French society can judge whether there are no possible alternatives other than rioting to address the horrible state of Muslims in France.  These alternatives must be judged on the basis of their timeliness and likelihood of being effective and then should be compared with the likelihood of their good results for the Muslims in France.  Again, I cannot judge this as an outsider, but the notorious brutality of the French when they feel their identity is threatened either at home or abroad would suggest that the oppression of the Muslims, those who are permitted to remain in France, will be even worse than before.  We have yet to see how much excessive force will be used, but the potential for major crimes is shown by the rioters who threw gasolene on an old woman and torched her in a wheelchair as she was getting out of a bus that they had just set on fire.

  The state-approved imams are now trying to quiet down the firebrands, but they have long lost credibility with the street Muslims because they have not even begun effectively to address what Shahed Amanullah calls “the deep problem of exclusion from the social and economic game.” 

  This exclusion results not merely from bad people with extreme racial and cultural prejudices, but from bad economic institutions that have been carefully developed over many decades and even centuries to concentrate wealth with full knowledge that those who own the production of wealth in society automatically own the political process.  For further insights on this, I recommend my article, Crane, Dr. Robert D., “Economic Justice: A Cure for Terrorism,” TAM #10 - Feb 2002, as well as the websites, and 

    My basic prescription for addressing most of the problems in the world is encapsuled in the bumper sticker, “Stop Bitching!  Start a Revolution!”  The real question is what kind of revolution can succeed and how does one start it?   

  The Muslims in France certainly are not providing a model for successful revolution.  From my experiences in the ghetto mosques in France a decade ago,  I concluded that a major cause of the Muslims’ eventual inevitable resort to violence stems from mullahs who base their extremism on perversions of Islam.  Extremism is a necessary cause and precursor of hiraba, which is the Islamic definition of terrorism, namely, a wholesale attack on society in order to destroy it for whatever reason.  I blame the Taliban-type mullahs who have been inciting the Muslims in their ghettos to hate the surrounding society.  These religious leaders should have been educating those under their care on how to integrate into French society by bringing enlightenment to a nation that, perhaps more than any other, has lost all sense of the sacred.  See my article, Crane, Dr. Robert D., “From Clashing Civilizations to a Common Vision - Parts I, II, and III,” TAM #23 Sept/Oct 2003, which is now available from Amazon as a chapter in the just released book, edited by Roger Boase, Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace, Ashgate, 2005, 310 pp.

  Muslims have the potential to bring out the best of Western civilization from both the Atlantic countries and those south and east of the Mediterranean.  Instead, radicalized Muslims have bought into the concept of clashing civilizations, first highlighted by Syed Qutb and then popularized worldwide by Samuel Huntington.  They can be marginalized only by interfaith cooperation in educating Muslims, Christians, and Jews to understand that the real clash is not among civilizations or even countries but within each one of them between those who have taqwa or loving awe of God and those who have invented their own false gods.  These utopian polytheists include the leaders of Leninist Communism, National Socialism (the Nazis), Secular Zionism, and lately the Neo-Cons, all of whom are committed to “creative destruction” in order to impose their power on the world.

  The chaos developing in France today is simply a microcosm of what is occuring in the global macrocosm.  The causes and cures of each are the same.

Copyright 2005 Robert D. Crane.  Originally published on The American Muslim.  Reprint allowed with this statement and link intact.