France is a country in Europe which has its own specific conditions. These conditions have put France in a position today where it is now in confrontation with the radical and fundamentalist Islamic movement inside the country. This has caused France’s radical groups to choose this country as the focus of their activities in Europe. Perhaps the existence of such an atmosphere and structure in France has led to these reactions. Two points must be considered in understanding these criteria:
First, we must return to the beginning point which is the Great French Revolution and then the Industrial Revolution which is considered as one of the most significant political developments of the West. These two events have directly impacted all later political developments until today and led to the formation of issues related to human rights. Therefore, developments that have occurred during the Great Revolution after the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution in Europe have all led to the division of France into before and after these events.
The second point is France’s position today among European countries, holding the largest Muslim minority inside the country – about 6.5 to 7 million Muslims live in France which is about 10% of the entire population. This issue has troubled some who have prejudice regarding their language and literature. Even after WWII, France has pursued a path against US hegemony, from de Gaulle to Giscard d’Estaing.
Today, France is faced with 7 million Muslim citizens who are originally from Africa – mainly from North Africa and Algeria and Tunisia which have been under its colonization – and the strengthening of the radical rightist groups which are active in gaining people’s votes. All these cases plus the approach of the West with regard to the issue of Syria and the interests of France in Syria and Lebanon and its attempts to overthrow Assad were the tactical mistakes of the western countries particularly France. This was a trap for them; a trap which was organized by Israel with the help of Saudi Arabia. This issue led to the entrance of a considerable number of second- and third-generation European Muslims to Syria and Iraq who later established the ISIS phenomenon.
The reason behind the presence of the second- and third-generation European Muslims in this jihad was their feeling of degradation by French society and they found an opportunity to prove themselves in a new atmosphere and with an idealistic approach. This is while they are not confronted with the government regarding this issue. The reason is that the intelligence services believed that with this move they would win on two fronts; first they would weaken the Assad regime and second some of their citizens who might have caused trouble would participate in this war and they would get rid of them.
This is the wrong behavior and carelessness of a government regarding its citizens. Europe, whose main slogan is human rights, ignores this issue and changes the equations in Syria and forms ISIS in order to gain its own interests. But ISIS has created complicated problems for the western countries especially France and then Germany and Britain and even Belgium. ISIS has decided to transfer its operations to Europe. Choosing Paris could be their biggest target in this regard. France has 70 million tourists every year and considers itself the cultural center of the West. It is also the center of secularism and it does not treat Muslims as Britain does and has adopted laws regarding the wearing of veils. Britain has been able to better dissolve the Muslim minority in its society. All of these factors, plus the blasphemy of Charlie Hebdo regarding Prophet Muhammad, gave excuses to the radical groups. Despite its violent actions and the killing of a great number of Shiites, Yazidis and Sunnis, they went after a magazine which insulted the Prophet. This issue could repair the image of ISIS and give them an opportunity to recruit the youth. That is why it seems that they have acted intelligently. Attacking Charlie Hebdo and then a Jewish supermarket are two incidents which will be used by ISIS to reconstruct itself.
Unfortunately, Charlie Hebdo repeated its mistake which caused huge protests in Muslim countries including Indonesia, Pakistan and North Africa. This was an intelligent act which, on one hand, repaired the image of ISIS and, on the other, led to maximum benefit for the government of France. Considering the low popularity of Francois Hollande in French society, this terrorist act led to an unprecedented show of the French government after WWII. 40 heads of state and millions of French citizens participated in this movement. More astonishing is that Charlie Hebdo sold 5 million copies of its next issue which was ten times higher than its previous number. French officials gained the greatest advantage from this act. They managed the crisis well and strengthened French nationalism while stressing the foundations of human rights and secularism. They consider themselves in a superior position compared with Germany and Britain and many European countries. France does not compare itself with Belgium and Denmark. It compares itself with the US. They consider themselves to have the leading role in drawing strategy. They believe that they must safeguard their freedom. It must not be forgotten that the editors of Charlie Hebdo have socialist inclinations and they published the cartoon with this viewpoint. Nonetheless, this incident has helped this publication to multiply its issues to millions of copies.