'In France, they would like very much to reduce these riots to their social dimension, to see them as a revolt of youths from the suburbs against their situation, against the discrimination they suffer from, against the unemployment. The problem is that most of these youths are blacks or Arabs, with a Muslim identity. Look, in France there are also other immigrants whose situation is difficult - Chinese, Vietnamese, Portuguese - and they're not taking part in the riots. Therefore, it is clear that this is a revolt with an ethno-religious character… directed against France as a former colonial power, against France as a European country. Against France, with its Christian or Judeo-Christian tradition...
'We are witness to an Islamic radicalization that must be explained in its entirety before we get to the French case, to a culture that, instead of dealing with its problems, searches for an external guilty party. It's easier to find an external guilty party. It's tempting to tell yourself that in France you're neglected, and to say, “Gimme, gimme.” It hasn't worked like that for anyone. It can't work.’
To me it seems the degree to which Islam and Islamism figured into the rioting is still a controversial and unsettled question. But Finkielkraut's conclusion, for the French, and perhaps particularly for the French Jews, is frightening, and saddening:
‘But there's something in France - a kind of denial ... in the sociologists and social workers - and no one dares say anything else. This struggle is lost. I've been left behind.’