History with a capital H is written day by day. All big events in a time scale are the results of series of small -and sometimes even individual- stories. 14th of July, as always, since the French Revolution, the preparations are on their way. Shopkeepers are making money, selling more matches in one day than during the rest of the year. Fireworks are exceptionally seen in shops before disappearing in the hands of children, or in some occasions, in their parents’ bags. For every single shop selling gadgets and other items prized on the French Bastille Day, the scenario is the same; stocks are emptied quicker than would some French baguettes handed out for free at rush hours in front of the Gare du Nord tube station in Paris.
At night, in the city of Nice, located in the south of France, the exception reigns, though. No fireworks but the sound of vehicles; no cheerful cries of happiness and stupefaction, but tears and cries in front what will be remembered as the scene of horror that will definitely mark that Thursday night of July 2016. The word is dropped only a couple of hours after the scene of horror was violently put to an end. Terrorism! This is the fourth terrorist attack France is suffering in eighteen months. The connection is quickly made. As suggested in an ISIS recording released a couple of years ago, a vehicle -more precisely a truck- was used in the Nice attack that claimed the life of 84 people. What a sad and dark day is that French bastille day, 2016. Hundreds of people coming to watch the fireworks celebrating the French national day, and tens of them eventually dying in a scenario that even William Shakespeare could not have better staged.
The culprit and murderer is killed, as it is always the case in France in such circumstances. It also leaves fewer details or information on why is all that. Some few things are not quite clear, though. The response of the government is heard in the following days. No Islamist terrorist group has clearly claimed the attack yet; but, France will intensify its bombardments in Iraq and Syria against the so called Islamic state, the French President said. Many things are not clear and do not connect, though. We learn that the terrorist was a French Tunisian, not known at all as a practising or devout Muslim. Things are not clear again when the French government, through its interior minister and some important civil servants, puts pressure on the police officer in charge of the CCTV that night. Sandra Bertin refuses to erase, and get rid of the video as ordered by the French interior minister. Neither will she write any untrue report on what happened on that night of July when 84 people lost their lives and twelve others were seriously injured. Big up to her!
Things again are not clear, yet, when less than a week after the Nice attack, a Catholic priest is beheaded in a church, in the city of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, in the North-West of France. The responsibility for the crime will, this time, be quickly claimed by ISIS terrorist group.
In order to get to a better understanding of what is going on, and where the Hexagon as a whole is heading to, I decide to apply a very scholastic method. “Who, why, what, Where, and when” is the methodological approach that I decide to adopt in order to clear up the opacity surrounding the different attacks that have been going on, on a regular basis in France for a bit more than a couple of years now.
Who: The terrorists involved in the different attacks that took place on the French soil these last five years or so were, for the vast majority of them, French citizens or residents of Muslim cultural background. They all had some kind of experience or contact with the different war zones in the Arab World. These French citizens on the battlefield in Iraq, Libya and now Syria are also often used by the French secret services as information providers. Hence, also, the fact that quite a considerable number of them had the contact numbers and other details of some French secret service agents in their contact lists.
Why: There is very little explanation as to why, once back home, these people decide to attack their mother land. Sociological and psychological analyses might, though, give us a clearer glimpse of what could be a possible explanation. France is clearly known and recognised by international organisations that are expert on the matter as a racist and Islamophobic country.
Youngsters of Black African and North African cultural backgrounds often have the feeling of being rejected and treated as second class citizens. High unemployment and poor education characterise the life of these minorities put aside by the French political system and society as a whole. Resentment towards France is quite significant among the children of immigrants. This cocktail of animosity, rejection, violence, and the taste for blood experienced and developed in the war zones could explain their easy surrender to terrorist theories and activities.
What: Terrorism is seen, by those using it against their so-called “enemies”, as a war strategy aimed at terrorising and harming in order to win a fight or a battle. Because all those committing acts of terrorism in France have always been killed, it is also possible to say that it is a suicidal act. This, obviously, tells us that those committing acts of terrorism in France are sort of sacrificing their own life for what they think is right, in their own understanding of things.
Where: These terrorists have always perpetrated their mass massacres in Arab countries first, where helped and provided with weapons by the West, they tried to establish an Islamic State. That has clearly been the case in Iraq where with the help of the West they got organised to topple Saddam Hussein; in Libya, where again, with the help of the West and particularly France, they managed to get rid of Colonel Khadafy; or again in Syria, where, Al Nostra, the military branch of Isis, was doing -according to French former foreign minister, Laurent Fabius- an excellent job in Syria fighting against the Syrian government, and could therefore benefit from Western help involving money and weapons.
When: It is once back home in the Hexagon that the French warriors are finally recognised and labelled as “terrorists”. As if the execution of innocent people committed in the Middle East and other non-white populated regions was not enough for them to be awarded such status. Once in France, these French non official soldiers are now seen as potentially likely to commit crimes that will eventually make them worldwide terrorist figures. In Iraq, in Libya or in Syria, the French non official soldiers -who for a while served French interests- went, very often, through traumatising experiences that are not seriously dealt with when back in the Hexagon; and as we all know: “blood calls for blood” and “chickens always come home to the roost”.
To finish this article without pointing out any culprit for all what France is going through would be an insult to the reader. So, I ask the following question, in order to find out where the responsibility lies.
Had there not been any war in Iraq, had Khadafy not been executed, had the moderate rebels of Syria not been fuelled and provided with weapons against their own government, would we be discussing, debating, and talking about ISIS the way we do it here now?
It is sad to say it, but all attacks France suffered these past five years or so are nothing else but the perfect demonstration of the French “savoir faire”.