Update: Barbarians Beyond the Gates : Portuguese and Native French Non-Muslim "Youth" Join Rioting

Monday, November 07, 2005
Following Craig S. Smith's daily dispatches from Paris, today we read:

Many politicians have warned that the unrest may be coalescing into an organized movement, citing Internet chatter that is urging other poor neighborhoods across France to join in. The Justice Ministry announced today that it had arrested three youths who had called for rioting and attacks on police on their Web sites, though it stressed that the three did not know each other. No one has emerged to take the lead like Daniel Cohn-Bendit, known as Danny the Red, did during the violent student protests that rocked the French capital in 1968.

Though a majority of the youths committing the acts are Muslim, and of African or North African origin, the mayhem has yet to take on any ideological or religious overtones. Youths in the neighborhoods say second-generation Portuguese immigrants and even some children of native French have taken part.

In an effort to stop the attacks and distance them from Islam, France's most influential Islamic group issued a religious edict, or fatwa, condemning the violence. "It is formally forbidden for any Muslim seeking divine grace and satisfaction to participate in any action that blindly hits private or public property or could constitute an attack on someone's life," the fatwa said, citing the Koran and the teachings of Muhammad.

One is heartened to learn of the fatwa against destruction of property and attacks on human life.

We will wait to see whether the continuing and spreading violence coalesces around any religious or ideological banner.

Perhaps a good label for these "youth"'s in the interim would be the traditional and straightforward barbarians, which singles out no particular ethnic or religious group.


Peter UK said...

I will be both good and bad if the Fatwah works.Good becuase it ends strife,bad because it directly implicates Islam and demonstrates that Islam has a greater influence than French law.

Syl said...

"that blindly hits private or public property"

Some wriggle room there. ;)

'On the other hand, if you have specific targets, nevermind.'

Oh, I'm bad.

However, I think the fatwa is sincere. Da'wa isn't served well by this type of unorganized violence.

Jamie Irons said...



Did you read my response to your worry that I was addressing you (when I was really referring to Thibaud) in a thread last night?


Syl said...


Yes, I did, thank you. I posted a comment in that thread here. It's hard to remember which threads are which though and I don't remember which one it was in.

Anyway, clarification noted and appreciated.

ex-democrat said...

hey, does that fatwa apply to iraq too?

Peter UK said...

No its a low Fatwa edict.

Syl said...

I think a fatwa only has effect on the specific community to which the fatwa issuer belongs.

A fatwa issued by an American muslim organization has no effect on muslims living elsewhere.

Many muslims consider bin laden a leader, and will thus respect his fatwas.

Also explains the contradictions among fatwas heard around the world.

chuck said...


However, I think the fatwa is sincere.

In France the government has sought to buy off and coopt the Islamic leaders. I suspect the rioters regard them as just another part of a despised regime.

Pastorius said...

I think Syl is correct to say there is "wiggle room" in the Fatwa. Take note, since the Fatwa was announced, there has been a move towards targeting churches and synagogues. I think we will see more of this tonight. This Fatwa was created by an organization with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. I think we would be foolish to be heartened by it.

Rather than being a declaration of what not to do, I believe it is a declaration of what to do; target the enemy.

Knucklehead said...


Watch for some form of demonstration by someone that they can control the rioters. That is necessary to establish bona-feeties for negotiating control of the "troubled nieghborhoods". Here a fatwa, there a fatwa, every where a fatwa-fatwa.

Might we anticipate the rioting in a few of the neighborhoods to be brought under control by the chicest shieks with whom, of course, the govermenment will immediately open negotiations.

Barry Dauphin said...

The issuing of the fatwah seems to interrject a dose of moderation into a heated situation. But the fact that it is issued also undermines the idea that this has nothing or next to nothing to do with Islamism. Clearly the moderates recongize that Muslims comprise a signficant percentage of the violent youth here (or else there's no real need for the fatwah). And as PeterUK said, it would then have had greater influence than French law. What gvernment and country wants to regularly be on the wrong side of extortion just to "keep the peace." Just what price is too high for the French to simply be content with keeping the peace. Yes, the French have done some stupid things like the clothing rules. But when they change that at the end of a barrel, what's next?

The concern about Islamism is not a concern that all Muslims are bin Laden-philes. There are virulent strains of Islam preached in US prisons every day. Perhaps the so-called dispossessed resonate to its message, but it would be naive to think that Islamism is no where to be found in the riots of France. This isn't the end of France, but it is a warning that should be heeded. There are plenty of Muslims who want to be disassociated from Islamism. Yet the idea that so many Muslims in France want a separate place should cause much worry when al Qaeda has preached about the return of the caliphate.