Exactly two months from today a man ran over eleven pedestrians with his car yelling “Allahu Akbar!” in Paris France. Last month twenty men were killed in Paris by the mass shooting at Charlie Hebdo magazine headquarters. Less than three weeks ago, a brutal stabbing injured three men guarding a Jewish center in Nice. While these acts of terror shock the world, they are not the first glimpses of terrorism in France and certainly will not be the last. Known to be the worst terrorist attack in modern French history was the 1961 train-bombing that killed twenty-eight, and injured more than a hundred. The 1995 train bombings in Paris, included eight bomb attacks in all, and was known to have injured more than 140 people. Looking at the records from 2000 to 2015, one will find numerous bombings, shootings, and stabbings, but these actions are nothing new. Acts of terror in France can be traced back to the 1960’s.
With all these events occurring, one might question what do the citizens of France think? Why are such events happening? And finally, what is the French government doing to stop these acts of terror on innocent people? Throughout this feature story you will hear the viewpoint of an army veteran, and French citizen. This topic is extremely controversial in French politics and may be found offensive. Due to the protection of my interviewee, we will call him André.
André served as a driver to a Colonel in the French military for the Algerian Civil War. Recently a French colony, and known to be a Muslim country, Algeria was fighting to obtain their independence from the French in 1954. André remembers, “We were sent to defend the wealth of the rich French farmers in Algeria.” He would drive the Colonel down the same road five to six times a day, but on one specific occasion the breaks on the car broke. The car flipped, throwing André out of the car, and sending him straight to the hospital. His femur was broken and sticking out for all to see. He was at that hospital for a month in Algeria, then switched to a local hospital in France near his hometown.
After the injury he went back to school to become a mechanic. Soon the army called for him to be sent back to Algeria for fifteen more months. André recalls, “I should’ve been sent back to the front lines, but I used my education as an excuse.” In France at that time if you were getting an education, the military would take you off the list. So once the French army knew André was getting an education and studying for his exams coming up, they let him be.
André remembers his time in Algeria well. “I remember how fascinated the children were with us French soldiers. I remember noticing a lot of lazy Algerian men. They made their wives work really hard as the men did nothing. Most importantly I remember how pointless the war was. The only thing my friends and me knew about the war was that we were defending the rich. It seemed like a pointless reason for men to die. The French army had over 100,000 deaths, as well as over a million dead Algerians on the opposing side.” After the war a large portion of French settlers, and pro-French Algerians moved to France. So much that Algeria was left with a huge lack of laborers. It was through this war that Algeria did in fact become an independent nation, and it is through these events in history that the terrorism attacks in France today unfold.
The immigration laws in France were very loose, and as the French government tried to tighten them during the 1990’s through the “Pasqua Laws” there was a growing amount of protest from their now many immigrants. In 2005 surveys reported that Algeria was considered the number one country sending immigrants to France. This made France the European nation with the highest number of Muslims. In 2030 it is said that the percent of Muslims living in France will grow more and more due to demographic reasons, and lower birth rates of non-Muslim Europeans. André comments, “It’s our government’s own fault that these acts of terror occur in France. We have always known, since immigration was opened to pro-Muslim countries, that the government should have never let those people in. We have seen that aggressive Muslims are born fighters. It comes as no surprise when we see Islamic terrorism and extremists. It is in their blood to fight. It is justified by their Koran, more than that, these acts of terror are instructed by their religion.”
Many French citizens are convinced that huge acts of terrorism, such as that of Charlie Hebdo, are a result of the immigration laws being open to such violent people entering the country of France. They know it is not the beginning of such acts of terror, and they also know it is certainly not the end. André ended the interview talking about what his government can do regarding terrorism in France, “I don’t know if there is anything the government can do about it. First they have to make the immigrants in France understand that terrorist attacks are wrong. Then they have to teach all the people of France that our country is founded on freedom, and respect towards one another. These acts of terror are horrible representations of my country.”