French companies try to cope with Islamism in its two modes: the soft one -- veils spreading throughout every office, an increase in lawsuits against employers on religious grounds; and the hard one -- terrorism and threats of Islamic terrorism.
According to the French satirical weekly, Le Canard Enchaîné, in October, 40 Air France plane fuel hatches were covered in graffiti stating: "Allahu Akbar" ("Allah is Greatest"). Citing anti-terror police, the magazine reported that airplane functions had been deliberately tampered with and that the pilots' communications and engine control from the cockpit kept failing.
This repeated sabotage of several planes was spotted thanks to standardized safety checks. A quick police investigation identified an employee of Air France to be the responsible party. The problem: this French convert to Islam, knowing he was under suspicion, already left the country. He is now said to "be a refugee in Yemen, while his wife continues to lead an Islamic school near Orly [another airport close to Paris]." Added to this, Air France computer systems were hacked: Last Christmas, security announcements on a Paris-Amsterdam flight were programmed to be automatically delivered in Arabic. A computer bug, Air France said.
The Geovision system that allows Air France passengers to follow their route on a world map has been hacked twice. As a consequence, Israel was wiped off the map and replaced by "Gaza." Finally, in another recent incident, a ramp agent refused to guide a plane that had just landed, on the grounds that the captain was a woman.
(Image source: Pawel Kierzkowski/Wikimedia Commons)
Of course, Air France's public relations department has denied all of the press reports, and claimed they were "unfounded rumors or events out of context." It is also possible, in fact, that many of the 40 planes were vandalized at airports in North Africa.
It is not the first time that Air France and Aeroports de Paris (AdP), the company that manages Parisian airports, have been the target of Islamists threats. On December 12, 2015, Philippe Martinez, head of the powerful CGT union, declared on France Info public radio, that these "Islamist deviations" were "unacceptable."
"At Air France, we have excluded from the ranks of our union all people of this [Islamist] type... We fired them at a cost, because we lost first place at the professional elections [of delegates in each company]. We have fired 500 CGT card-holders in this affair."
Martinez implied -- with no real explanation - that his union had been the target of a successful infiltration maneuver.
"You know how things go... One [Islamist] leader comes, he takes his CGT card, and then he makes all the others take their card."
"All the others" were 500 people in a CGT union with 2000 card-holders at Charles de Gaulle Airport. CGT for years remained the most important union for Air France, because Muslims employees vote on sectarian grounds for Muslim CGT delegates. For years, CGT easily won professional elections. But at the end of the process, the CGT confederation had lost power within an Air France union totally controlled by Islamists.
In 2011, Air France's Islamist CGT union tried to impose halal meat on all employees -- Muslims and non-Muslims alike -- at the restaurant for ground employees at Charles de Gaulle Airport. This halal operation failed because all other unions (not infiltrated by Islamists) strongly campaigned against it.
Ronald Noirot, general secretary of the CFE-CGC (a union for managers), declared on December 2, 2015:
"for a long time, certain behavior was causing trouble in Air France's activities. Some Muslim employees refused to shake hands with their boss because she was a woman. In the freight business, some Muslim employees refused to carry containers with alcohol bottles inside. This is not necessarily connected to a radicalization, but one is entitled to ask questions."
At the beginning of 2015, 50 Muslim employees at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle, who were working in "sensitive zones" (with access to planes and luggage) had their magnetic security passes withheld. Four thousand cloakroom lockers were searched by police for security reasons. The results of this investigation have not been released.
Air France is a sensitive company, because aircraft are a traditional target for terrorists, but other transportation companies are also suspected of having been infiltrated by Islamists.
On November 17, 2015 -- four days after the largest terrorist attack ever in France -- Le Parisien revealed that Samy Amimour, one of the suicide bombers who killed 89 people at the Bataclan Theater on November 13, had worked for 15 months as a bus driver at the Autonomous Operator of Parisian Transport (RATP). The company confirmed the information a few days later. RATP is a huge state-owned company that operates all of Paris's subways and buses.
Because of Samy Aminour, old facts, neglected by the mainstream media, were suddenly considered. In December 2012 for example, around 20 bus drivers belonging to the CGT union had denounced the chilling work environment created by Islamist bus drivers at the bus depot of Nanterre (the western suburb of Paris). Some women bus drivers were complaining that their Muslim colleagues refused to shake their hands; others complained that some Muslims refused to drive a bus that was driven before them by a female driver.
On November 26, 2012, Ghislaine Duménil, a female bus driver wrote a letter to Pierre Mongin, CEO of RATP
You were notified in a July 16th letter, about the "difficulties" (a weak word) we encounter in our work because of our colleagues fundamentalist Islamists.
These "difficulties" are still not settled, and are worsening.
Apart from the fact that new beards have grown, and the contempt for women continued... a driver refused to take the bus at the time of shift-change, on the pretext that a woman machinist had driven the bus before him.
In the same period, Muslim machinists "watched" other Muslim employees to be sure that each of them fasted during Ramadan. Thus we have witnessed moral lessons on "recalcitrant" Muslim employees.
Clandestine prayers in the workplace are no longer just by the fundamentalists, but by our Muslim colleagues whom we called moderates.
Letters of this type were sent to CEO on February 4, 2013, on June 29, 2015 and on July 29, 2015.
After the terrorist attacks of November 2015 (129 killed, 354 wounded), Christophe Salmon, head of CFDT union at RATP, said that RATP has let Islamists' "behavior become trivialized," as in "the refusal to shake hands with female colleagues, or in the refusal to take a bus that had been driven by a woman." But the denunciation of Islamist deviations by CFDT came at a cost: the CFDT collapsed in the last professional elections, with only 5.1% of the vote. The Secretary General of CFDT, Laurent Gardoni, explained this poor score by the "rise of a sectarian unionism" -- that is, Islamist unionism.
The RATP affair is the story of failed integration. The state-owned transportation company, tired of seeing its buses stoned and burned regularly in some Paris suburbs, began to hire as drivers young Muslims who were living in the suburbs. The result of this hiring policy is that buses continue to be stoned in the suburbs, but Islamist ideology is now spreading within the company.
France's national rail company, SNCF, is also not immune to the Islamist threat. In November 2015, the head of SNCF, Guillaume Pepy, admitted that some railway workers had been transferred, after a report from the intelligence services.
When counterterrorism services identify a suspect inside the train company, they do not give us the "S mark note" (people identified as threats are marked "S" by intelligence services), but they give us the information that a "specific action" must be taken against this or this person. We do not fire the person, but depending to his position, he can be transferred.
SNCF agents have therefore been excluded from jobs deemed sensitive. "No signal box, or switching station, not in the armed security service, not as a train driver," listed Guillaume Pepy. "You transfer these people to other departments in the company."
At SNCF, as at RATP and Air France, similar problems are arising: mainstream unions are losing ground to religion. Unions have to accept infiltration by Islamists, or they lose elections. In daily life, the company tries to cope with the fact that prayer comes first, before serving the public. Trains can be delayed because of a driver's prayers, changing rooms become prayer rooms, men refuse to shake the hand of female colleagues, and intolerance of homosexuals is spreading.
Yves Mamou is a journalist and author based in France. He worked for two decades for the daily, Le Monde, before his retirement.