France opens up its eyes to Salafism, rethinks counterterrorism

Catherine Shakdam
Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on radical movements and Yemen. A regular pundit on RT and other networks her work has appeared in major publications: MintPress, the Foreign Policy Journal, Mehr News and many others.Director of Programs at the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, Catherine is also the co-founder of Veritas Consulting. She is the author of Arabia’s Rising - Under The Banner Of The First Imam
© Ali Hashisho
Could it be that France has just blown the whistle on Salafism, and finally anchored its counter-terrorism narrative against not Islam, but the devolution which has worked to hijack its Scriptures and redact its principles?

France it seems has woken up from its political stupor – and not a moment too late. Faced with the abomination it allowed in – radicalism – the French government had no other choice but to reassess its counter-terror position. Bearing in mind that France has rubbed shoulders with those powers which from the shadows continue to wield Terror as an asymmetrical weapon of colonialism, the French Republic is likely set for a grand political re-alignment.

At this point in the story we ought to have realized that Terror in itself is not the end-game, rather the expression of a grander political will, which is covertly vying for world domination. However insane – and let’s just say doomed to fail – this pursuit maybe, it nevertheless remains a reality that world nations have failed to adequately grasp.

So far we have operated under the premise that Terror is inherently Islamic, and that in some ways all Muslims are bound to fall under radicalism’s spell – the enemies of civilization and all things fair and true.

Only, Muslims have been the number one victims of radicalism. Worse still, Muslims have been caught between rising intolerance against their religious denomination and the violence of radicals whose bigotry has called for the annihilation of all they see as apostasy to their dogma.

If only ever so slowly France is beginning to come to terms with such a concept – that far from being the problem, Muslims could hold the solution to radicalism, and that the real enemy the world is de facto at war with has been offered a seat at the world table.

For once … and I need to add “á mon corps defendant”, I happen to agree with both French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, and Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, when they call for the state to take measures against Salafism.

Yes, Salafism, which has destroyed and perverted a part of the Muslim world, is a threat for Muslims, and also a danger for France,” Valls said in an address at the French National Assembly.

May I dare say: “We told you so!

May I dare say that for well over a decade we have been collectively asserting those very truths the French PM finally got around to verbalizing. Muslims of all shapes and sizes, all denominations, and political persuasions have argued, debated, and pleaded with the world against Salafism – also known as Wahhabism. The only real difference which exists between the two schools of thoughts is that a branch of Salafism makes room for change through evangelization, as opposed to violence.

For all intents and purposes the two are indistinguishable - both calling for the annihilation of the proverbial infidels.

May I dare say as well that France was instrumental in the spread of this cancer, since it is under its officials’ care that Salafism was made to become the Islamic norm. There I believe Marine Le Pen will wholeheartedly agree with me since she herself has been most vocal against what she describes as “Islamic extremism.”

But let’s discuss terminology for a second. As you will find, terminology might hold the answer to this most peculiar problem we are all facing – how to distinguish between Islam and Salafism?

Here I know many will find my words scandalous, and to some my conclusions will forever place me in the camp of the “rafidis” – those monsters Wahhabis have claimed are un-Islamic for daring to hold true to a tradition which recognizes not their authority but that of another house. If you ever wondered, I’m quite happy sitting there, since there I found the principles of justice and tolerance still hold true.

Back to my question: How can we tell which is which? Quite simply: We don’t! Wahhabism, Salafism, whatever you want to call it, does not belong to Islam. I know that this concept is hard to envision when all you have been told of Islam is that its people’s sole purpose is to rise as tyrants over nations, but the truth of the matter is that radicals have abused Islam to quench their own twisted political hunger. I would like to think that the brutal beheading of a Palestinian boy this July forever closed the debate on whether or not Wahhabism represents the interests of Muslim communities – never mind offering a mirror to their inner thoughts.

Muslims, I’ll have you know, find Wahhabism atrociously despicable – an abomination we would like to see the back of, to never face again.

For the sake of argument, if Islam was in fact absolutely violent in its expression of faith, why would only a minority few advocate mass murder? There are over 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, and unless I missed that show, they are not planning to obliterate nations under their prayer mats.

For all the revolting xenophobic hatred the National Front has displayed to surge in the polls, Marine Le Pen is on to something when she accuses the state of complicity before Terror. “ISIL [Islamic State/IS, formerly ISIS] and their murderous ideology that we let develop in our country are the root cause of the wave of terrorist attacks France has endured,” she told the press following the bloody Nice attack.

Yes Ma’am, I happen to agree with you. Let me however stress that if we agree on the origin of this Terror, we probably do not on the means which ought to be exerted to defeat it. When Marine Le Pen is advocating for the “eradication of Islamic fundamentalism,” I fear violent repression is on her mind.

I would personally champion a subtler approach, one which does entail another witch-hunt… something like political ostracization for those powers in league with Terror, followed closely by financial monitoring. If we were to cut off funding I would argue that Terror would soon suffocate, and ultimately lose much of its traction. Let us remember that not all terrorists are there out of ideological indoctrination – many, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has established, are hired-guns.

Rather than blame Muslims for the cancer which has permeated their communities, why not empower them in their resistance?

How about we hold accountable those whose actions and rhetoric has fanned radicals’ agenda: the media, and disingenuous politicians and officials? How about we start there?

Salafism in France is taught in over “2,300” mosques", said Prime Minister Valls. My question is: did France only just come to this realization? Seriously now!

French Muslims, with government support, “should lead the fight [against Salafism] and clearly separate Islam in France from these perverse ideologies,” he added.

Yes indeed, but let’s not play counter-terrorism to the tune of secularism and pave the way for the criminalization of religion altogether, because THAT would be replicating Terror.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.