It was about 10 o’clock in the morning. I was in a taxi heading for Charles de Gaulle International Airport from my hotel in Paris to take a plane back home. On our way to the airport which is not far away from ‘Stade de France’ where the inaugural matches and final of the 1998 FIFA World Cup were held, and France led by Zinedine Zidane, the Frenchman of Algerian origin, went on to win the World Cup.
In the taxi, I had a conversation with the driver, who told me that he was French of Moroccan decent. He kept talking and pointed to the ‘Saint-Denis’ area where Stade de France is located and told me this area was out of control by the security and many people living there have a criminal past, wanted by law and most of them do not have any identification documents. So I concluded this area was a safe haven for the outlaws. I wondered how this suburb should be next to the capital of the country.
I remembered this conversation after I heard the shocking news that Paris had been targeted by the terrorists, especially after France carried out a security operation and conducted several raids in Saint-Denis including a raid which lasted for hours and resulted in two militants being killed, including a woman who blew herself up.
Seven suspects were arrested, five policemen were injured and the mastermind of the Paris terrorist operation was killed.
I will not talk about assaults in Paris. It has become a hot topic — the talk of the town and a subject for detailed analysis but I will talk about the negative aspects that may affect Arabs and Muslims.
It is quite certain that the repercussions of these heinous attacks will harm Arabs and Muslims in France, other European countries and elsewhere and here lies the problem.
It is clear these operations are planned and carried out by people who do not belong to Islam because these people always make what favors them their priority and not what causes harm to others.
When I talk about keeping away from harm’s way, I talk about millions of Arabs and Muslims (including thousands of refugees who have recently flocked to the European countries) to live in safety and security and reasonable standard of living and practise Islamic rituals freely and many of them have acquired the European citizenships.
These people shall be the first to be affected because of what has happened. Some countries have already tightened measures against them for security reasons particularly in France and Belgium.
Many Arab and Muslim communities have been living in these two countries for decades. But if we talk about what is in their favor, I will talk only about politics not to fall into the trap of forbidden legitimate issue unintentionally.
It is a well-known fact that any terrorist act is planned by organizations or groups. They impose certain conditions to find a suitable platform to negotiate for something or achieve considerable gains on the ground. We understand this in spite of our disagreement to these terrible acts and the shedding of blood of innocent people.
It is strange that such attacks aim only at intimidation and to spread panic among the people. They have no political objective at all. These attacks only damage the public security in a safe city and kill innocent people.
I’ve tried looking for that one reason, even a simple reason, to convince me that these attacks have a political or strategic motive, but what I have found out is these attacks are meant only to cause harm, sabotage and spread panic among civilians but what is most unfortunate is Arabs and Muslims are the victims.
France in particular is considered the land of dreams for many young Arabs because the Arabs live in one of the best environments, in Marseille, for example, a coastal city on the Mediterranean Coast.
More than a million Arabs live freely to the point many call the city ‘Algeria in France’ not to mention other French cities that are inhabited by Arabs and Muslims.
What happened in Paris is not acceptable by a sane human being. Appropriate excuses have been offered on a gold platter to change the treatment of Arabs and Muslims in a different manner. News reports are rife which talk of withdrawal of citizenship and other unexpected decisions.
By Yousuf Al-Awadh