Several weeks have passed since Islamist attackers bloodied Paris. France's President François Hollande is describing the killers as just "a horde of murderers" acting in the name of a "mad cause." He adds that "France has no enemy." He never uses the word "terrorism." He no longer says the word "war."
French forces did bomb positions of the Islamic State in Syria; and Hollande traveled the world to find coalition, but could not. Now he says he wants to turn a page. The French public seems to want to turn a page, too.
From the beginning, pacifism and appeasement filled the air. A German pianist came to play John Lennon's Imagine in front of the Bataclan Theater; since then, other pianists have come. On the Place de la République, people assemble every evening to sing more songs by the Beatles: All You Need Is Love; Love Me Do. Candles are lit, and banners deployed, calling for "universal brotherhood."
Those invited to speak on TV about what happened allude to "senseless acts." They do not blame anyone.
Some spoke of "resistance," but to them, resistance meant listening to music. To others, it meant having a drink with friends in a bar. In a widely circulated video, a man tries to reassure his child. "They have guns," he mutters, "but we have flowers."
Just after the attacks, French philosopher Michel Onfray said that France for many years had led Islamophobic bombings against the Muslim world, so "it was logical if the Muslims now attacked France."
A man who lost his wife in the Bataclan massacre said on a talk show that he would live in the future as he did before; that he had no hatred at all against the murderers, just compassion. Another man on a different talk show said he was offering "free hugs."
If some French think otherwise, they are silent.
All political leaders in France speak like Hollande. They say the country must show "unity" and "solidarity." All of them know the mood of the vast majority; even those who might want to say more, stay silent.
Almost no one mentions radical Islam. Those who do, prefer the word "jihadism," and rush to emphasize that "jihadism" is "not related to Islam."
Hollande, when he still spoke of war, said that France had "an enemy." He avoided the word "Islamic," instead referring to the Islamic State by its Arabic acronym, "Daesh."
He knew that "Daesh" could not be defeated without an American intervention that would not take place. With symbolic gestures, he did the best he could.
He also seems to know that the main enemy of France is not in Syria or Iraq, but inside the country: France already finds herself defeated.
More than half the Islamists who attacked Paris on November 13 were Muslims born and raised in France. Mohamed Merah, the murderer of Jewish children in Toulouse in 2012, and those who attacked the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket in January all were Muslims born and raised in France.
Over 750 no-go zones -- autonomous areas ruled by radical imams and Muslim gangs -- exist in France.
Radical imams and Muslim gangs also control most of France's prisons: 70% of prison inmates in France are apparently Muslim. Non-Muslim inmates are attacked and threatened; many are forced to convert to Islam.
A British survey published in 2014 showed that 16% of French approve of the Islamic State. Among people aged 18-25, the proportion rose to 27%. Within the French Muslim population, the numbers are undoubtedly higher.
More than 1000 French Muslims have left France to fight for the Islamic State. At least 400 have returned without being stopped or vetted at a border. Thousands of radicalized French Muslims have never left. Many are good, loyal citizens; but many could have learned all they wanted to know on the internet and on Islamic satellite television stations. Still others -- hundreds of thousands of French Muslims -- are not radicalized but are ready to help the radicalized ones; ready to host them or offer them asylum.
More than 10,000 French Muslims are classified as extremely dangerous by the police and are linked to "jihadist activities". They are registered in what the French government calls "S files," but there is no way to monitor their whereabouts. Placing them all in detention centers would involve a complete break with what is left of the rule of law in France.
All of the French Muslims who participated in the November 13 attacks were registered in "S files," but that did not change anything. They were free to act, and they did.
For the first time in Europe, suicide bomb attacks took place. The explosive used to make suicide belts, triacetone triperoxide (TATP), is powerful and extremely sensitive to friction, temperature change and impact. Making belts containing TATP requires a "professional."
A French judge, Marc Trevidic, in charge of all the main Islamic terrorism cases over the last ten years, said a few days before the November attacks that the situation was "getting worse," was now "out of control," and that "radicalized groups" established in the country could "carry out attacks resulting in hundreds of deaths." He was quickly transferred to a court in Lille, northern France, where he was assigned to petty crimes and divorce cases.
All the French political leaders know that Marc Trevidic is right -- that the situation is out of control -- but not one will say so publicly. Not one has asked the government why it took almost three hours for the police to intervene during the attack at the Bataclan Theater, where 89 people were murdered and over 200 wounded. There are simply not enough well-trained police, and not enough weapons in the hands of the police, and not enough bulletproof vests.
For the next few months, more soldiers and police officers will be placed in front of public buildings, synagogues, churches and mosques, but "soft" targets, such as theaters, cafés and restaurants, are not protected. It is as easy to enter a theater in Paris today as it was on November 13. French police do not have the right to carry a weapon when they are on duty.
In a few weeks, French military actions against the Islamic State will doubtless stop. President Hollande, the French government, and most French political leaders probably hope that the French will soon forget the attacks. They know that the problems are now too widespread to be solved without something resembling a civil war. When more attacks occur, they will talk of "war" again. They are supposedly hoping that people will get used to being attacked and learn to live with terrorism.
In the meantime, French politicians are trying to divert the attention of the public with -- "climate change!" The conference in Paris will last a fortnight. President Hollande says he wants save the planet. He will be photographed next to America's Barack Obama and China's Jiang Zemin.
French journalists are no longer discussing jihad; they are discussing "climate change."
Until December 11, at least, Paris will be the safest city.
In June 2015, five months after the January attacks, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that the French had to "adapt to Islam". In November, he added that "Islam has to stand up to jihadism". The French Council of the Muslim Faith, offering "condolences" to the families of the victims, specified that Muslims were "victims" too, and that they should not be "stigmatized."
Regional elections will be held on December 6th and 13th, the same time as the conference on climate change.
Polls show that the rightist party, National Front, will almost certainly win in a landslide. Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front, did not depart from the calls for "unity" and "solidarity." She is, however, the only politician to say unambiguously that the main enemy is not outside the country, but within. She is also the only politician to say that a return to security implies a return to border controls. A National Front victory does not, however, mean that Marine Le Pen will win the 2017 presidential election: all the other parties and the media might band together against her.
France's National Front is part of the increasingly popular rejection of the European Union. The invasion of Europe by hundreds of thousands of mostly Muslim migrants has strengthened that stance. The Islamist attacks in Paris, combined with the state of emergency decreed in Belgium for several days after the attacks, have helped this rejection to gain more ground. In addition, the news that several of the Paris terrorists came to France among illegal migrants -- and had successfully used false Syrian passports to enter Europe, where they could go from country to country unhindered -- did not help.
The rise of populism is slowly destroying the unelected, unaccountable, and untransparent European Union. Many European mainstream journalists see this change as a "threat."
The real threat to Europe might be elsewhere.
"The barbarians," wrote the commentator Mark Steyn, "are inside, and there are no gates."
After the attacks in Paris, Judge Marc Trevidic, again, raised the possibility of simultaneous attacks in several cities in France and in Europe. He said that if these attacks took place, the situation would become "really serious". He said he had documents to show that Islamist groups were planning to organize such attacks. If the suicide bombers, he said, had been on time at the Stade de France, before the 79,000 spectators had entered, the death toll could have been worse. He concluded that too little had been done for too long, and that now it was probably too late.
During the November 27 official ceremony in Paris honoring the victims of the attacks, a song, If We Only Have Love, by Jacques Brel -- selected by President Hollande – was sung: "If we only have love - We can melt all the guns - And then give the new world - To our daughters and sons."
How could an Islamist not be moved by that?