TERROR IN FRANCE: THE RISE OF JIHAD IN THE WEST
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TERROR IN FRANCE: THE RISE OF JIHAD IN THE WEST
25th May 2017 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
The recently published Terror in France shows how the atrocities committed by the so-called Islamic State in France over the past few years represent a paroxysm of violence that has long been building.
The turning point was in 2005, when the worst riots in modern French history erupted in the poor, largely Muslim suburbs of Paris after the accidental deaths of two boys who had been running from the police. The unrest – or “French intifada” – crystallised a new consciousness among young French Muslims.
The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to an event with distinguished scholar, Professor Gilles Kepel, who will guide us through the findings of his new book, Terror in France: The Rise of Jihad in the West. In November 2015, we saw ISIS terrorists massacre scores of citizens with coordinated attacks on the Bataclan concert hall, cafes and the national sports stadium. On Bastille Day in 2016, an ISIS sympathizer drove a lorry into crowds in Nice, and two weeks later a French priest was murdered during morning Mass by two ISIS militants. Kepel’s groundbreaking account of the radicalisation of young Muslims and the failures of governments in Europe will take the reader through a timeline of events over the past decade to reveal the truth about a virulent new wave of jihadism that has Europe as its main target.
Gilles Kepel is a French political scientist and the professor of political science at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. He is also the director of the Middle East and Mediterranean Chair at Paris Sciences et Lettres Research University. Kepel has written many books on the subjects of Islam, politics and Jihadism. His best known titles include: Beyond Terror and Martyrdom: The Future of the Middle East, The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West, and Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam.
On the 25th of May, the Henry Jackson Society welcomed Gilles Kepel, Political Science professor at the very prestigious École Normale Supérieure in Paris, to present his latest book. The recently published Terror in France: The Rise of Jihad in the West draws on Islam History to elucidate the roots of the new virulent wave jihad terrorism in Western countries.
Mr Kepel began his talk by highlighting the parallelism between Paris’s Bataclan and Stade de France attack in November 2015 and the very recent Manchester bombing. But whilst both terror attacks targeted young crowds, and especially young in Manchester, during a musical event, the two incidents were in fact radically different in terms of planning and modus operandi, thus epitomising the evolution of jihadist terrorism in Europe over the past years.
Indeed, according to Mr Kepel, we have now entered the third wave of jihadism: the network-based, digitalised jihadism. But to fully grasp this last generation of jihadism, one would have to rewind History. The original meanings of the word ‘jihad’ embodies the struggle or effort to become a better Muslim and ultimately to defend Islam and expand it. The first wave of Jihadism was put to an end by the French Charles Martel in Poitiers in 732 when he stopped the Arabs, and the second was when the Ottoman Empire lost after the siege Vienna in 1683. The audience was then reminded that the symbol behind the famous croissant pastry originated from this very loss of the Ottoman Empire. Finally, citing Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Al-Jazeera broadcaster associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, the thirst wave of jihad, the modern jihadism, which, unlike the ones before, will not be achieved through the military but through persuasion, and will be successful in Western countries.
Mr Kepel stressed that 1979 was a tipping point, as it market the birth of modern jihadism. Until this very year, jihad was largely an obsolete expression in the world of international affairs, as no one thought it could have any meaningful impact in the future world. In 1979, two incidents placed the Muslim world at the centre stage of international affairs. Firstly in February, when Ruhollah Khomeini came back from Paris became Iran’s leader and ignited an aggressive policy and rhetoric against the Great and the little Satans of the world. Iran’s revolution, which married ‘Marxist language and Islamic parlance’, not only sent a shock wave across the Western world, but also alarmed the Arab monarchies. The second incident marking the birth of the third wave of Jihad was the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union. Whilst the Sunni victory in Afghanistan ten years later would have elevated the Sunnis as the heroes of the Muslim world, Iran managed to pull to rug under their feet. Indeed, Mr Kepel argued the fatwa against Salman Rushdie was merely aimed to distract the public and ‘conceal from public perception’ mujahideen’s success in Afghanistan.
Nonetheless, these jihadists came home and many tried to duplicate this successful jihadist experience in their country of origin, but only to be quickly defeated by the military. Ben Laden attempted to identify the reasons of these failures and considered that Muslims were in fact afraid of the West. Therefore, if he could manage to blow up and expose the West, Muslim masses would mobilize under the Jihad banner. Millions of disenfranchised Muslim in France and in Europe would become soldiers of the caliphate. And indeed as this happened, bolstered by the creation of YouTube in the 2000s which triggered a ‘cultural revolution’, jihadism was brought jihadism into the digital age.
Finally, Mr Kepel noted that because of the pressure on IS territory and the frontiers closures, the modus operandi of attacks in Europe have dramatically evolved over the past years: now attacks are less sophisticated and usually involve ‘not so lonely’ lone wolves, belonging to networks of jihadists and identifying with jihadist ideology.
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