Blaming Muslims is useless in the face of Islamic State group doctrine, argues Glenn Greenwald, reviewing this important film.
"In France we are attached to our notions of liberty and equality but of fraternity we speak a little less," one interviewee says in Max Blumenthal and James Kleinfeld's documentary about France post-Charlie Hebdo, which has been updated and re-released free online (watch below) to reflect Friday's synchronized attacks that killed 129 people in Paris.
The documentary, “Je ne suis pas Charlie,” which was filmed between the two attacks, explores attitudes toward France’s Muslim population between the attacks, exposing the links between France’s imperialist behavior and the rise in Islamophobia.
Glenn Greenwald for The Intercept website writes that the film is so important because it explains how counterintuitive France's response to both attacks has been.
Two months after post-Charlie Hebdo free speech rallies, “France is a changed nation. The celebrations of free speech have been replaced by police crackdowns on those accused of defending terrorism,” the film’s narrator explains, a minute into the film.
This film “illustrates how close France is to playing into (the Islamic State group's) hands,” Greenwald writes. As the “prime strategic objective” of the Islamic State group “is to convince Western Muslims that they cannot assimilate or even coexist in the West because those societies are so uncontrollably hostile to Islam that persecution is the inevitable outcome,” reacting to an Islamic State group attack “with increased hostility and persecution toward Western Muslims plays perfectly into (their) hands.”
The Muslims interviewed for the film say the atmosphere since Charlie Hebdo has gone from Islamophobic to equating Islamic people with terrorism.
“There was a pre-Charlie situation and a post-Charlie one. It’s undeniable. Before Charlie, there was discrimination, there was Islamophobia," said Amal Paluskiewicz, spokesperson for the French League of Muslim Women, regarding French Muslims wearing religious clothing, "But after Charlie … we are easily identified with Islam and we are then conflated with the extremists.”
"Of course there's a history to all of this," explains the film's narrator. "The legacy of French colonialism and France's ongoing involvement in the Middle East has set the backdrop for this social crisis.”
Houria Bouteldja, founder of the Party of the Indigenous of the Republic, says that it is no legacy: “there are still colonies, since imperialism has changed. It still exists. We are not in a post-imperial situation. We are still in imperialism.”
The vice president of Jews for Peace, Michele Sibony, agrees there is a direct relationship between imperialism abroad, the attacks at home and the relationship with Islamophobia:
“Nobody wants to make the connection between the fact the French army is fighting in the Middle East and Africa with one of the consequences of these imperial wars, which is attacks on French territory. They want to make the connection with the Muslim population taken hostage here in France, and to whom we say that they must speak out against the attackers who they had nothing to do with, and who have become a suspect population.”
Perhaps most importantly, one of the film's participant says, France has lost its way, following the rhetoric of the far-Right National Front in making issues around Islam the most important in the country, over the huge unemployment and economic deficit that affect a larger portion of the population.