Gérard Collomb (center), France's Interior Minister until last month and currently Mayor of Lyon, is apparently pessimistic about the situation in his country. "It's difficult to estimate but I would say that in five years the situation could become irreversible. Yes, we have five, six years to avoid the worst," he said recently. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron engaged in a public diplomatic clash just days before Trump visited France this month. The spat began when, in a radio interview, Macron suggested that Europe needed an army to protect itself from the US. "We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America," said Macron.
Protecting France from the United States? In a November 11 speech commemorating World War I, Macron in a diplomatic welcome to his guest, attacked "nationalism". President Trump had proudly called himself a "nationalist" less than three weeks before.
Macron, it seems, was using the armistice signed in 1918 to forget what is going on in France in 2018.
Gérard Collomb, France's Interior Minister until last month and currently Mayor of Lyon, is apparently pessimistic about the situation in his country, according to comments reported by Valeurs Actuelles. "People do not want to live together," Collomb lamented, continuing that the responsibility for security during the recent immigration has been "huge." Collomb also warned that there is only a "little time" to improve the situation. "It's difficult to estimate but I would say that in five years the situation could become irreversible. Yes, we have five, six years to avoid the worst," he added.
Macron, however, does not seem particularly receptive to Collomb's warning. A man reportedly shouting "Allahu Akbar" stabbed a police officer in Brussels this week, during a state visit by Macron to the Belgian capital -- the first for a French president since Mitterrand visited there in the 80s. Macron also went to Brussels' Molenbeek district, which he defined "a territory marked by the image of the terrorist drama and also a place of initiatives, sharing and integration". Sharing and integration?
Eight people were arrested in a March 2018 counter-terror raid in Molenbeek. A confidential report revealed last year that police in the same Brussels district uncovered 51 organizations with suspected ties to jihadist terrorism. Many of the suspects involved in the Paris and Brussels terror attacks either lived in, or operated, from Molenbeek. As Julia Lynch wrote in The Washington Post regarding Molenbeek:
"One of 19 'communes' in the Brussels metro area, the neighborhood was home to one of the attackers in the 2004 commuter train bombings in Madrid and to the Frenchman who shot four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in August 2014. The Moroccan shooter on the Brussels-Paris Thalys train in August 2015 stayed with his sister there."
If there is a place where Collomb's explanation about "secession" is not only a warning but already a reality, that place is Molenbeek. Roger Cohen, in The New York Times, called it "the Islamic State of Molenbeek." And such districts are not on a Belgian phenomenon. "Today, we know that there are 100 neighbourhoods in France that have potential similarities with what happened in Molenbeek", said France's then Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Patrick Kanner, in 2016. One is the town of Trappes, not only famous for the international soccer star Nicolas Anelka, but also for the number of jihadists from there who went to fight in Syria or Iraq.
In France, six planned terror attacks have been foiled this year, the Secretary of State to the Minister of the Interior, Laurent Nunez, disclosed. "Since November 2013, 55 planned Islamist attacks were foiled thanks to the action of the intelligence services, including six this year", Nunez said.
In the last few months, the current French scenario has not been dominated by new big terror attacks, but by a daily rain of intimidation. A Frenchman in his 60s was walking down a Paris street with wrapped Christmas gifts last week, when a stranger knocked off his eyeglasses before slapping him. "That's what we do to the infidels", the attacker said to the man. A few days before that, a French Jewish citizen was also attacked in the street by three men.
"Now President Emmanuel Macron's government is considering giving parents a secular alternative to that intertwining of Arabic and Islam by prodding more of France's public schools to offer children as young as age 6 Arabic lessons..."
Robert Ménard, the mayor of the southern town of Béziers, declared that "teaching Arabic will create more ghettos". French authorities seem to ignore that the vast majority of terrorists from France have been French citizens, who spoke a perfect French and, unlike their parents, were born in France. They were perfectly "integrated". They rejected it.
The confirmation of the Islamist wave came last September in a shocking report from Institut Montaigne entitled, "The Islamist Factory." It details the extreme level of radicalization of the French Muslim society. According to its director, Hakim El Kharoui, extremist Muslims in France are "creating an alternative society, parallel, separate. With a key concept: halal." Macron has done almost nothing to stop this expansion.
"Two or three Salafist mosques were closed in 18 months, [but] foreign funding of mosques was not banned," said National Front party leader Marine Le Pen recently. The goal of foreign funding has been detailed by the former chairman of the Christian Democratic Party, Jean-Frédéric Poisson, in his new book, "Islam, Conquering the West". "The expansion of Islam in the West is part of a strategic plan developed by the 57 states that make up [the Organisation of] Islamic Cooperation -- a sort of Muslim United Nations -- which theorized the spread of Sharia law in Europe", Poisson said in an interview this month. "They openly declared the ambition to install a 'substitution civilization' in the West."
There is, however, more than the cultural level. Philippe De Villiers, a politician and essayist close to Macron, recently evoked a phrase coined by his brother, General Pierre de Villiers, the former head of the French military. General de Villiers had warned Macron about a possible internal implosion in the volatile Parisian suburbs: "the darker sides of the City of Light". According to Philippe De Villiers, his brother would have said to Macron: "If the suburbs revolt, we would not be able to cope with it, we cannot afford to face it, we do not have the men."
Two journalists with the mainstream newspaper Le Monde, Gérard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme, recently published a book entitled Inch'allah : l'islamisation à visage découvert ("If Allah Wills: The Exposed Face of Islamization"), an investigation of the "Islamization" of the large Parisian suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis. There and in many other suburbs, anti-Semitism is rising. According to the French Prime Minister Eduard Philippe, recorded anti-Jewish "acts" rose by 69% in the first nine months of 2018. Francis Kalifat, president of the official body that represents the French Jewish communities, has called anti-Semitism "a cancer."
In a report this summer from Paris, The New York Times detailed the Jewish exodus from the multicultural suburbs: "More than 50,000 have moved to Israel since 2000, compared with about 25,000 French Jews who left between 1982 and 2000". There is also an internal exodus:
"In Aulnay-sous-Bois, the number of Jewish families dropped to 100 in 2015 from 600 in 2000; in Le Blanc-Mesnil, to 100 families from 300; in Clichy-sous-Bois, there are now 80 Jewish families, down from 400; and in La Courneuve, there are 80 families, down from 300."
"We may be living the end of a civilization -- ours," says Philippe de Villiers, a French politician and novelist.
"There are two points in common between the decay of the Roman Empire and our own decay. The Roman senatorial nobility, who thinks only of adding a layer of porphyry to their bathtubs, no longer considers the limes, the border of the Empire, as an emergency to secure".
It seems that Macron has been busy only in adding a layer of porphyry to the Frances "grandeur".
Last year, Macron presented himself as the candidate making a "a break with the system." In five years, his presidential mandate will be over. According to his former Interior Minister, Gérard Collomb, these will probably be the last years before the real "break" could become irreversible. Not only for France, but also for Europe.
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.