Once again France is in the news for reasons it would rather not be. If you’ve been too deep in your studies to catch the news, a person deliberately drove a large truck into a festival of people in Nice who were celebrating Bastille Day. The driver then got out and started shooting randomly before being shot and killed by police. Investigation showed that the man also had grenades and other explosives in the vehicle. Over 80 people lost their lives.
If you’ve read the other entries in what I’m now thinking of as my “Borscht” series, you’ll know that the latest act of violence in France qualifies as true terrorism. It was directed at civilians, the armaments in the vehicle seem to indicate it was planned and organized, and although nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the action, with France already under a state of emergency due to the attacks last year, it does seem to have been intended for no other reason than to cause people terror.
And it worked. French President, François Hollande, has confirmed that the French Parliament will seek to extend the state of emergency, something that gives the French government wide and sweeping police powers, by three additional months from the July 26th end date that only a day before he had announced would not be changing.
The problem, however, is that a French commission looking at the effects of this state of emergency said it was limited when it came to improving the security of the nation. And as many analysts have already said, preventing this type of attack would be extremely difficult, because it is so simple to execute. And since this particular attack occurred while France is already under a state of emergency, it would seem that both the commission and the analysts are correct. So what is the answer?
A Time Magazine article looks at why so many attacks happen in France, and part of it is that France is a fertile recruiting ground for terrorists. France has a history of violence in the Middle East and North Africa, as Wanda Waterman’s pictorial article on the Tunisian Rose Palace Museum shows. The Muslim community in France also has a long experience of discrimination and feeling excluded from French society, which is largely secular and increasingly coming under the influence of France’s radical right wing that promotes anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric. A report from a security firm based in New York concludes that there is “a sense of marginalization among immigrant communities, especially those from North Africa,” and that “Against this sense of alienation, the propaganda of the Islamic State offers an attractive alternative of belonging, purpose, adventure, and respect.”
And there’s the answer. Since France is going into a state of emergency and President Hollande has announced the hiring of some 5,000 additional officers and an expansion of the French military reserve forces by 12,000 people by 2018, why not use that to combat the cause of terrorism. Target young Muslim men especially for recruitment into the police services. If they want a sense of belonging, purpose, adventure, and respect, what could be better than joining the police services to gain those things, plus it has the additional benefits of being close to their home and families, and entirely legal. An added benefit is that seeing good Muslim officers on the streets would also help to combat the xenophobia that is slowly rising. For France, it not only lets them shrink the recruitment pool, but gives them officers that would be excellent for undercover work to further disrupt the terrorists. That’s my thinking anyway.
As to this week’s issue? Our feature is interview with fellow student Jessica Avery. We also have a uniquely AU-centric look at summer studies, a thought-provoking article on the nature of the Liberal Arts degree, and a look at morale issues at AU. Plus, of course, advice, reviews and entertainment to keep you busy. Enjoy the read!