I was finishing a post on bad habits – like smoking – when the news broke of the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris. Twelve dead – mainly journalists and cartoonists, the editor, and two policemen.
France – never a placid, non-violent nation, is poised on a precipice – and one that we in the US need to watch closely. Its large Islamic population has become increasingly militant, so much so that there are areas of Paris in which police only venture fully armed with automatic rifles and full protective gear. It’s not unusual in Paris to see a police van screaming round a corner packed with fully armed men, rifles at the ready. The hatred for the Moslem immigrants, mainly from Algeria which France ruled for over 130 years, has grown. And while France is forbidden from collecting official numbers and statistics about the religion or ethnicity of its citizens, it’s estimated that of the 66 million people who live in France over 10% are Moslem. In the port city of Marseilles – ranked by some as the most dangerous city in Europe – 40% of the immigrants are Moslem.
So what does this mean in the wake of the worst terror attack in France in 50 years? Forget “A Year in Provence”, wine, The Louvre and the Riviera – France is all that to most Americans and more. But it is a troubled, politically stressed country with myriad problems, the highest taxes in Europe, some of the most extreme right wing politicians who are fairly close to attaining a greater role in leadership, a very expensive country where people live on credit. All this and more fuels a smoldering fire which, when inflamed, could prove devastating not only for France, but for the rest of Europe,
Today I’m troubled. Deeply troubled. A bad habit of mine – introspection. Maybe I should try harder not to care — but I can’t. I do.