The carnage in France that left 17 people dead has Europeans rightly regarding these latest outrages by Islamic fanatics as direct assaults on their nation’s secular culture and the Western way of life. Finally, many came to recognise that hard-won freedoms – free speech and the right to offend most of all – are at grave risk. The sincerity of protesters who filled the streets in sympathy with the Charlie Hebdo martyrs cannot be doubted, but what took them so long? French Jews have endured years of escalating assaults on their synagogues, businesses, even their children, but these outrages seem not to have bothered fellow Frenchmen until the terror went mainstream.
Some three million French men and women demonstrated their outrage at the latest butchery, many carrying those small signs which read je suis Charlie. Some would have been more honest if they had hung other notifications around their necks. It would have been a single word: “Hypocrite!”
Take French President Francoise Hollande, as our first example. There he was, walking in the front row of the huge Paris rally organised in defence of liberte, egalite, fraternite. Yet he owes his election in no small measure to the country’s ten million Muslim voters, who support him overwhelmingly. And why wouldn’t they? He campaigned on promises of higher social welfare payments, also vowing to make it much easier for those of Tunisian, Algerian and Moroccan origins to settle their families in France. And just to cement the backing of Muslim voters, he pledged the right to vote for immigrants who are not yet citizens. Now what is the French word for pandering?
Marching beside Hollande was Emmanuel Valls, the French Prime Minister who has hounded Eric Zemmour, a prominent French journalist who has dared to observe that Muslims’ refusal to integrate with their host society is both widespread and obvious. Driven also by the official encouragement of immigrants from undeveloped countries, Zemmour noted that France’s cherished national identity was being eroded. Rather than acknowledge that the journalist might have a point, that entire suburbs of Paris are no-go zones for police and where Islam is the only recognised authority, Vals denounced Zemmour as a racist and demanded that his opinions no longer be given an airing. Yet there he was at the head of the hypocrites’ parade, professing to be baffled and appalled by the murderous rampages of fundamentalists from the same suburban enclaves of militant intolerance that he still prefers not to notice.
Then there was Interior Minister Bernard Kazeneuve, who has urged that the word “Islamic” never be used in news reports of Islamic massacres. The latest attackers were shouting “Allahu Akbar” as they pulled the triggers on their AK-47s, but by Kazeneuve’s reckoning this should in no way be taken as a reference to Islam and the “Muslim community”. No, he said, the killers need to be viewed only as “mentally deranged individuals”, further explaining that “Islamophobic labels” have no place in post-massacre debates. Sound familiar? It should, we heard the same empty pieties, the same don’t-look-there attitude, delivered in flat-vowel Australian accents after the Martin Place siege. Kazeneuve must be aware that the hashtag #jesuikouachi – an expression of solidarity with the killers, not the victims — trended heavily on Twitter. But not to worry. Presumably the hashtag’s popularity signified nothing more than an unremarkable indication of the need to spend more on mental-health programs.
These brave and committed defenders of the virtues of the French Republic were accompanied by a host of dignitaries from around the globe, all equally committed to defending freedom of speech – but only in France, never at home.
Below are some of the countries officially represented at the march that rank particularly low on Reporters Without Borders’ annual Press Freedom Index (PFI), which places Finland at the top and Eritrea and North Korea at the bottom, ranked respectively at 179th and 180th. France ranks at 39 on the on the 2014 list of 180 countries.
• Algeria – PFI ranking: 121 out of 180. Represented by Ramtane Lamara, Foreign Minister. As the website Algérie-Focus noted, “Marches and public protests are banned in Algeria, but Algerian ministers have the right to march in the streets of … Paris!” In April, 2014, demonstrations against a fourth term for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika were ruthlessly suppressed by authorities.
• Russia – PFI Ranking: 148. Represented by Sergei Lavrov, Foreign Minister
Russian journalists are routinely imprisoned or assassinated, while two NGOs that support freedom of the press have been added to an official list of undesirable “foreign agents” guilty of “political activity”. Alexei Navalny, a blogger who regularly criticised President Vladimir Putin, is now serving an extended prison term on what are undoubtedly trumped-up charges of embezzlement. Meanwhile, Russian media, controlled by Putin, is doing its master’s bidding, asking pointedly if the Paris terror attacks were really false flag operations orchestrated by the US.
• Turkey – PFI Ranking: 148. Represented by Ahmet Davutoglu, Prime Minister
Nearly 70 Turkish journalists are being prosecuted for report corruption allegations against close associates of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was furious that Israel’s Benyamin Netanyahu was allowed to take part in the march.
Australia should learn valuable lessons from the Paris horror and the long, divisive road that led up to it. The first of these must be an earnest appraisal of Islamic immigration and its consequences. If those who advocate a mindless multicultulturalism are foiled in their inevitable efforts to shut down this needed debate before it begins with cries of “Racist!” and “un-Australian intolerance”, they will be obliged to concede an undeniable fact: whenever the Muslim population reaches a certain critical mass in any country, history demonstrates that trouble follows. Nor would they be able to deny the logical outgrowth of their own, oft-repeated assurance, which is that the trouble with Islam springs only from a tiny minority. Therefore, by their own tacit admission, if the overall size of the Islamic community continues to grow, the radical element must expand in step.
Similarly, the inflow of funds from Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich countries needs to be checked and controlled. It is no secret that this support comes from the Wahhabi stream of Islam, the most radical of the Sunni dogmas, and that these funds are being used to build mosques, schools, endow departments of the Islamic studies in our universities, even sponsor sporting events. Australia has been blessed by its religious tolerance and the trust we have historically placed in inherent human decency. Can we tolerate the promotion of a creed that says these values are wrong, that they must be changed no matter how long it takes, and that Islam is destined to reign supreme, just as the Prophet promised?
This brings us to the next “must”: an unqualified commitment to the defence of the Jewish community, always the canary in the coal mine. Jews and their institutions are the favourite targets of militant Muslim, as well as homegrown radicals on the far left. Both regard Jewish targets as soft and safe to strike, which serves a double purpose. Attack the Jews, the battle plan goes, and the broader society will get the hint and grant Islamic intolerance further concessions and dispensations. Today it is university students shouting abuse at a Jewish-owned chocolate shop. Tomorrow, radicals of a more militant stripe are blowing it up.
More than this, a resolute defence of potential Jewish targets will signal that our society, unlike those of the Middle East, does not discriminate on the basis of race and religion. Such a firmly stated resolve to defend everyone from violence and hatred represents a powerful statement that Australia knows and understands how the Islamist game is played and that no one, especially not the weakest and most easily isolated communities, will be attacked while the rest of the population goes about its untroubled business.
Scuttling the official policy of multiculturalism is another essential step. As it stands, multiculturalism rejects the concept that every member of any group is obliged to do his/her level best to get in step with the mainstream. That doesn’t mean renouncing heritage and customs, far from it, and it does not imply compulsory assimilation. What it does mean is an end to the assiduously promoted patchwork of a tribalism. Let us de-fund the grievance mongers and multi-cultists whose members have made good livings by separating ethnic communities from each other. I have no problem with religious schools and hospitals, nor with public support for them, but I do have a problem, a huge problem, with the various ethnic councils and foreign-language ghettoes promoted by the likes of SBS.
Then there is the better equipment, generous funding and thorough legal protection needed by our intelligence, police, special forces and counter-terrorism operatives — another essential adjustment of current attitudes. They are on the front lines of the war with the radical Islam, guarding our way of life, and their vital task should never be hobbled by threats of “lawfare” and unwarranted prosecution. As I write, representatives of our military are deployed in the Middle East to help counter the rise of ISIS. They are there because Iraq and Syria are our first lines of defence. Stopping Islamic aggression on the other side of the world is vital if we do not want to see the fight shift inexorably into our cities and suburbs, as it has in France.
Closer to our home, that same campaign must encompass a sustained and a well-resourced appeal to win the hearts and minds of the Australian Muslims. Even if they wish to cooperate, to participate and be included in the mainstream of the wider Australian community, Muslims can’t do so for fear of the radicals in their midst. This has to change, because no cultural can be reformed from the outside, only from inside. Here we must recognise that women are key. Systemic violations of Muslim women’s rights come regularly to the public’s attention, be it forcing young girls into the body-covering garb that sets them apart from non-Muslim classmates, or the less obvious arranged marriages, genital mutilation, polygamy, and Islam’s scriptural endorsement of misogyny. An active and aggressive defence of Muslim women’s rights could bring about the change in their community’s standards, attitudes and practices. If we do everything we can to let Muslim women taste the full breadth and measure of Australian-style freedoms, make male domination something that happens only to less fortunate sisters elsewhere, we will go a long way toward winning the war against the Muslim terror.
Last and certainly not least we must celebrate the full measure of free and unfettered speech. That means the abolition of the infamous Section 18C because, if denied the right to offend and the liberty to criticise, we can hardly enjoin Muslims to embrace the rights our own legislators have thrown away.
Make no mistake, I am intensely aware of that the majority of Australian Muslims favour peace and share an abhorrence of blood being spilled in their religion’s name. But as those who are not appalled represent a troubling percentage of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims, they remain a formidable threat in terms of sheer numbers. By spreading fear and mayhem, the firebrands use the blood of innocent victims as the glue that traps peaceful Muslims in the cage of group responsibility. The shared heritage of “the people of the book”, as Muslims refer also to Jews and Christians, is not enough to defeat the fundamentalists’ medieval insanity.
Peaceful Muslims in the West are hampered in their efforts to resist the radicals by the insane, self-defeating policies of successive governments, socialist or conservative alike. Give peaceful Muslims their chance. Change these policies. Then some good may come from the horrors in Paris.