On the look out for an “intifada” in Europe

The following links are from the back end of last month, but I put them up because they tie in nicely with Gary Younge’s piece I linked to a few days ago. The first link is interesting, as it is from the right of the political spectrum.

Around the time of the last French riots, I had a friendly exchange with Fred Siegel, City Journal contributor and biographer of Rudy Giuliani, regarding the “intifada” which some American conservatives claimed had broken out in France’s housing estates. Fred e-mailed again this week, asking if the latest violence had made me reconsider […] Well, I still haven’t come across any firm evidence. As far as I can see (I’m an interested bystander, not an expert) the new bout of theorising is limited to the usual suspects. Front Page, for instance, is banging the drum in its inimitable style […] Michelle Malkin files her report under the category of “jihadists”, influenced, perhaps by Pajamas Media’s exciteable correspondent, Nidra Poller and her talk of a “punk jihad”. Instapundit takes first prize for inanity with a post on the “Paris intifada” which ends with the line: “The French haven’t taken this seriously enough. Perhaps they should ask this guy for advice.” Follow the link to “this guy” and you find a dispatch from Michael Totten in, er, Fallujah. No wonder I stopped reading Glenn Reynolds a long, long time ago.


As soon as a riot starts in one of the poor suburbs around Paris, we [at Reuters] get emails from readers and see comments on blogs accusing the media of hiding the supposedly key fact about the unrest. That fact, they tell us without providing any proof, is Islam. Why don’t we call this violence “Muslim riots?” they ask. What are we trying to hide by not identifying the rioters as Muslims? Do the MSM have a hidden agenda? Don’t we have the courage to “tell the truth?”

We’ve had rioting this week and the same questions came again. This blog has discussed this issue already in a post last month called “Smoke without fire – there was no Paris intifada in 2005.” That dealt with the 2005 riots in detail. This latest unrest is a good opportunity to explain why we don’t write “Muslim riots” — and ask in return why readers so far from the events are so convinced that we should.

We mention race and religion in Reuters news stories when they are relevant to the event being covered. It would be absurd to write “Presbyterian second baseman XYZ…” in a baseball story. He may be a Presbyterian, but he is not at second base as a Presbyterian, but as a baseball player.

When Muslims marched in Paris demanding the end to a ban on headscarves in public schools, we called them Muslim protesters. When French Muslim Council members speak out on an issue, we call them Muslim leaders. These people are speaking as Muslims, so we identify them as such. They also have other identities — they may be French or foreign citizens, male or female, football fans or music lovers — but these other identities would be irrelevant to a story about Muslim issues.

Hooded youths and burning car in Villiers-le Bel, 26 Nov 2007In this week’s events, young men, often hooded, roamed the suburbs at night and firebombed cars, dumpsters and a library. They did not shout Muslim demands, spray Muslim graffiti or wear the trademark beards and baggy pants of a salafi. They did not gather at mosques or shout “Allah-o-akbar!” They avoided journalists, presumably seeing them as part of “the system” that they oppose, and made no demands related to Islam. When those detained were questioned by police, they were not asked about their religion or ethnic identity — that’s not allowed in France.


The Reuters blogger, Tom Heneghan, ends his lengthy post with a question:

[W]hat would it take to convince these readers that there is no hidden agenda here? Is it possible that the hidden agenda lies elsewhere?

Heneghan is being too kind. The agenda of the people demanding that rioting in France be labelled an ‘intifada’ is clear enough. Just look at the blogs Clive Davis discusses in his piece.

The real cause of these riots is, as ever, likely to be a culmination of different factors, of which religion is likely to be negligible.

The myth of a pre-Muslim European utopia is nothing but the delusion of bigots


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