Wednesday, May 29, 2013
French soccer cup victory triggers mayhem
Familiar mechanism: no more dancing in the streets of Paris on National Day
PARIS. Monday, May 13, French soccer fans turned out to honor the local team – Paris St. Germain – winner for the first time in nineteen years of the French League cup. A sweet victory for another kind of “local,” Nasser al-Khalifi, CEO of the club that was bought by Qatari interests two years ago. A big bash was planned at Place du Trocadéro, with the Eiffel Tower in the background, as if the vast square were a replica of the team logo. Fans wearing the jersey with the PSG/Eiffel Tower badge over the heart and “Fly Emirates” across the chest hooted and hollered.
True to tradition, smartly dressed players in dark suits stood triumphantly on the open top deck of the team bus as it traveled from the stadium to Trocadéro. A few smiles and grins later they were whisked away in unmarked cars and the celebration turned into a pitched battle between riot police and the usual suspects. Frantic efforts to pin the blame on the “ultras” (hooligans), who did make a brief appearance, are contradicted by ample video evidence. Embarrassed officials and prepaid journalists, forced to admit that the troublemakers were not the “ultras” banished from the stadium by its new proprietors, and maybe not even soccer fans, came up with les casseurs [smashers] and guérilla urbaine [urban guerilla warfare]. Blogger Maxime Lépante identifies them as la racaille [banlieue, particularly Muslim, riff-raff]. I call them punk jihadis.
They did one million euros of damage that night, running on the rampage for hours, terrifying fans, tourists, and motorists caught in the middle of the battlefield. One client arrived at a refined upscale restaurant in tears; she and her husband were caught in the crossfire on their way to dinner. Tour busses were blocked, passengers roughed up and robbed, their luggage stolen from the baggage compartment. Drivers were pulled out of their cars, beaten, forced to turn over the keys. The Café Kléber was devastated, shop windows were smashed, shops were pillaged, customers were terrified. The riot police, outnumbered, were taunted, defied, outrun. They could not protect people or their property.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls, the most popular member of the Hollande government, lost some of his luster in the aftermath. Under the combined blows of criticism from the right wing opposition and clearly visible humiliation of law enforcement, his tough law and order discourse shifted to a stutter of dhimmitude. These things happen, he declared, listing previous incidents over the past decade and predicting potential trouble in the future—the Fête de la Musique in June, the 14 Juillet (national holiday).
We’re not allowed to dance in the streets on Independence Day? Then, adding a dose of spin, Valls dragged in the verbal and physical violence associated with anti-gay marriage protests. In fact, a breakaway group, loosely organized under the questionable “Printemps de Paris” label and impatient with the “teddy bear” nonviolence of the massive anti-gay marriage movement, has been engaged in some aggressive operations.
The Interior Minister who dealt so timidly with the brutal hordes at Trocadéro and on the Champs Elysées brought out the big guns against a small brigade of roughies whose strategy added nothing to the movement and played into the hands of the government.
The mechanism has become all too familiar. Incidents like the Boston Marathon bombing, Mohamed Merah killing spree, the Benghazi attack, and now mayhem at Trocadéro, are deliberately removed from the context of global conquest. The initial and always baseless attribution to right wingers, hooligans or legitimate anger at anti-Muslim artifacts creates confusion in the distracted public mind. This is followed by a slow leak of details and a rapid focus on something, anything, whatever can push the story off the screen, making it an isolated incident in a steady flow of unrelated sensations. If and when—if ever—a few perpetrators are clearly identified by the police and properly punished, the story will be too old to matter.
Instead of analyzing the persistence of an infinite variety of punk jihad attacks against society (President Hollande did say the violence was an attack against the nation, but…) the mass media fretted about the future of Qatari investment in the football club. How utterly naïve! French journalists say that al-Jazeera Sports (under the direction of the same Nasser al-Khalifa) didn’t even mention the mayhem at Trocadéro. Qatari interests are undermining Western societies with underhanded funding of jihad combined with up front financial investments and clever media manipulation. And, it seems, they are also buying up politicians. Though there has been some resistance to proposed massive Qatari investments in French banlieues, it is probably moving ahead out of the limelight. To put it simply: the punk jihadis that wreak havoc on the occasion of a victory ceremony for the Qatar-owned soccer team can eventually be “reformed,” that is, brought into the sharia-promoting fold.
Is the situation hopeless? I don’t think so. I have covered countless demonstrations since 2000—pro-Palestinian, pro-Hamas, student protests, and so-called peace marches that turned into pogroms. Mass media censored or underplayed the violence associated with these “noble” causes. Independent producers withdrew their videos of Jews beaten up by peace marchers, jewelry stores smashed and robbed by anti-Zionists, students beaten and robbed by the very underprivileged banlieue punks in whose interests they were supposedly demonstrating.
Today, there is an abundance of video evidence online. Owners of shops and cafés were given air time to express their outrage at being abandoned by law enforcement and left to swallow the damages. But of course there was no in-depth analysis of the consequences of constant aggression against the productive elements that keep the economy afloat. Intrepid journalists and cameramen who found themselves shifting from sports to war reporting that evening at Trocadéro are more willing than before to tell the truth. Reader’s comments on media sites demonstrate lucidity that should leak up to editorial boards.
The movement for global conquest can lead to international resistance. Every inch of progress toward a full and comprehensive articulation of the problem adds an ounce of hope to the safeguard of our freedom.