A few days after the attack in Nice, a French sociologist, Farhad Khoshrokhaver, explained in a New York Times op-ed why terrorist attacks are so frequent in France. The response is that Muslims and Arabs have not been fully integrated in French society.
According to the scholar, the root of the problem is the extreme French republicanism that created a state that is secularist and distrustful of all religions. Thus, this system is so inflexible it does not allow enough room for religious expression and this leads to alienation and lack of dignity.
The author also adds that the French have ignored the social and economic exclusion of Muslims. This makes them easy targets of jihadist propaganda and recruitment, mainly in the prisons where a growing population serves time for minor crimes.
The author also points out that France, in contrast to Germany and Britain, is more nationalistic and does not promote multiculturalism.
The explanation given by Khoshrokhave, which I have heard from several French diplomats as well, does not explain why terrorist attacks happened and will continue to happen in France, Germany, Turkey, Bangladesh, and many other places around the world.
First, not every form of social or religious alienation causes this type of terrorist violence.
Social protest does not necessarily take this type of systematic and methodical form.
Whereas it is true that the jihadists are recruiting more often than not criminals or very unstable people, the effective cause of terrorist act is ideological indoctrination.
By the same token, terrorist attacks of this magnitude also require meticulous planning.
They are neither spontaneous nor an act of social protest.
Yet, in France there are masses of Muslims concentrated in specific neighbors that facilitate the recruitment and indoctrination. Although it is true that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are not terrorists, it is in this mass concentration where the probability of successfully recruiting them is the highest.
In fact, France faces what Israel faces. Israel is located next to the West Bank and Gaza, who also have a mass concentration of Muslims from where organizations such as Hamas and the Islamic jihad recruit.
This proximity also enables terrorists in both cases to have easy access to the heart of French and Israeli populations for their despicable acts of terrorism.
In the case of France, there are more than 750 locations considered to be sensitive urban zones (ZUS) where the French police are reluctant go. These areas concentrate about 5 million people. This lack of control by the French over large parts of its urban territory enables not only criminal activity (particularly drug trafficking) and anarchy — but also indoctrination and radicalization.
If French authorities have chosen not to enter these neighborhoods, they are obviously in a situation comparable to West Bank cities and Gaza populations where Israel has limited or not control at all of local activities.
Well too many Western intellectuals, opinion leaders, and even governments still try to portray the carriers of serious crimes as being part of a group of victims. These concepts exempt radicals from responsibility.
ISIS, Hamas, or Hezbollah terrorism is not the result of occupation, social marginality, insufficient religious expression, or some Western-caused objective circumstance.
Terrorists come from the lower, middle and upper classes. It includes people with and without strong religious backgrounds. Terrorism is the result of organization, planning, ideology, and motivation — not of social condition.
Still European governments have distinguished between the political and military arm of a terrorist organization like Hezbollah, which is nothing but an Iran proxy that has taken over Lebanon. In fact, two days before the terrorist attacks in Nice, the French foreign minister met with Hezbollah’s political leadership, as if the political circles were separated from the military ones.
France has insisted on the idea that the Palestinians are victims of the occupation despite the fact that Israel several times offered generous concessions only to be rejected with violence.
France has also sided with the most extreme forces in the United Nations by voting earlier this year for a resolution that disconnects between the Western Wall and the Jewish people in what is a gross concession to extremists and terrorists.
Europeans do not even know how to start fighting terrorism.
Even if French security forces try to do their utmost to protect France, it is the French foreign policy establishment that projects surrender and defeat. If this attitude is not changed neither France nor Europe will ever have the credibility needed to defeat terrorism.
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