Following are excerpts from a debate about the riots in France between London Islamist Dr. 'Azzam Al-Tamimi, who heads the Islamic Political Thought Institute and Dr. Muhammad Bushari, Chairman of the General Muslim federation in France. Al-Jazeera TV aired this debate on November 11, 2005.
Al-Tamimi:France does not respect Islam or the Muslims, when it insists that integration is conditional upon girls removing their headdress before entering their schools.
This is a failure of French liberalism, which does not believe that the “other” is entitles to be distinguished in any way. They use the word "integration," but they mean complete dissolution and loss of identity.
As someone following the events in France from outside, I cannot but note the great similarity between the truck incident of 1987 in Gaza (which sparked the first Intifada) and the two young men who got electrocuted, while being pursued by the police.
There is a great build-up of frustration and humiliation. This revolution of rage cannot be attributed to poverty and unemployment alone. These are catalyzers, but the main cause is the accumulation of a sense of humiliation, of marginalization, a sense that I – the black, the Muslim, the foreigner - am not treated like a human in the full sense of the word.
Bushari: This may be the opinion of Dr. 'Azzam Al-Tamimi, but I say that more than five or six million Muslims in France are content, and they live in security and peace, despite some exceptional issues like the Hijab law.
I’m against saying that Muslims in France live in miserable conditions. No. Our conditions are a thousand times better than many of the Arab and Muslim countries. There was an incident now…
Al-Tamimi: But you are getting there. You are slowly getting closer to the Third World.
Bushari: Am I supposed to turn things and accuse others of heresy just to please people? No.
Al-Tamimi: I do not condone burning, but I understand the reason. The reason is a build-up of frustration, a sense of humiliation, a sense that although these young men were born in France, and although they are French citizens… They are no less French than anyone else, yet they are treated worse than animals.
When the Intifada broke out, some of the traditional leaders in the West Bank and Gaza called it “riots”, and said it served the Zionist occupation.
Bushari: Those responsible for these incidents do not belong to the Arab leadership, or to the religious leadership. They don’t have a plan. They benefited from… They have a problem with the police – this how it is with youth… The investigation proved that a large group of them are drug dealers.