SECURITY precautions have been stepped up to the highest level in France in the wake of the armed and bombed assaults in six different parts of the capital, Paris, that left 132 people dead and 352 injured on Nov 13 this year. Everyone’s attention in the country, which has just suffered the worst terrorist attack in its history, is now on the two rounds of provincial and regional elections that will be held on Dec 6 and 13.
Marine Le Pen, the extreme right-wing leader of the National Front, the leading party in the elections, has been strongly criticised by secular sections of society for reaching out to Muslims in order to attract a higher vote. Le Pen is expected to win the presidential election in 2017.
An official from the National Front has defended the party by saying that they are addressing French citizens who believe in the true Islam, rather than radicals and religious fanatics, and that they regard them primarily as French citizens.
Ability to differentiate between radicalism and the true Islam is of crucial importance in the extent that it would make it possible to put an end to the radical terror, which is afflicting the entire world under the name of supposed ‘Islamic terror.’
The most fundamental solution that can bring peace and security to the world lies in showing, with supporting evidence, that the actions of radicals who describe themselves as Muslims do not originate from Islam. Being a single, united voice against terror is only possible in this way.
However, the real Islam has still not been properly defined in Western countries. Europeans equate the actions of the radicals with the true Islam and adopt a defensive posture that directly targets Islam and Muslims.
While it can be observed that there is an increase in hostility towards Islam and in Islamophobic attacks compared with previous years in France, which has spent 2015 in fear of radical terror, research and statistics have also revealed a significant increase in sympathy for Islam in the wake of the terror attacks. For example, according to a poll conducted by French daily Le Monde following the Charlie Hebdo attack at the beginning of the year, the level of people saying, “Islam is compatible with the values of French society” has increased 12 points compared with last year and reached 47 per cent. Sixty-six per cent of French people say that Islam is peace-loving, like other faiths, and that radicalism is a perverse interpretation. Eighty-four per cent of participants emphasised that France is fighting terror, not Islam.
On the other hand, Carole Vitura, from the famous Parisian bookstore La Procure, says there has been a huge increase in sales of the Quran in French, and that they are unable to meet the demand. The Paris Great Mosque announced that 40 people had converted to Islam in January this year. This is twice the figure of the previous year. Mosques in Strasburg, Aubervilliers and Lyon report similar figures.
France has the largest Muslim population among all the countries of the European Union. Islam is also the second largest religion in France and is spreading much faster than Catholicism. The number of people converting to Islam is growing every single day. The five million Muslims in France represent 7.5 per cent of the population. The number of people converting to Islam in France to date is approximately 100,000. One promising point is that radicals emerging in the name of Islam and perpetrating terror attacks enjoy no popularity among French Muslims devoted to the Quran.
The majority of Muslims in France believe that in the eyes of Islam, killing one person is equivalent to killing all of mankind, that suicide is rendered unlawful in Islam and that suicide bombings and terror attacks cannot therefore be equated with Islam in any way.
Those same people also think that the way to solve the problem of radicalism is not to respond to violence with violence and to guns with guns, but to respond to a false idea with a true one.
The only way of doing that is without question to replace the perverse, non-Islamic ideas that represent the foundation for violence and hatred with the true Islam.
A move to a policy of education that describes how the conception of religion developed by the radicals on the basis of fabricated hadiths and other nonsense is in direct conflict with Islam, is essential also in France, as it is in all Western countries.
In an address in the immediate wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack, French President Francois Hollande referred to this very important fact and said that radical Islam had fed off contradictions, poverty, inequality and conflict.
He said: “As I have said on every occasion and on every visit to the Arab world, we need to refuse to allow some things to be compared to others, to emphasise that Islam is compatible with democracy and to start doing this in France in particular.”
This address by Hollande at the Arab World Institute on Jan 15 contains accurately revealed evaluations regarding the difference between radicalism and the true Islam.
Further clarification of this difference will make it possible for Muslims in Western countries to live in greater peace and comfort. Indeed, Muslims are regarded as potentially guilty across the West because of the inhuman actions of radical terror organisations that emerge in the name of Islam, despite possessing a mindset at complete variance with it. Their personal rights are infringed and they are subjected to humiliating treatment.
However, Muslims manage to overcome this difficulty through their moral virtues. This also applies to Muslims in France. Through their patience, tolerance, and warm and peaceable attitudes, they show that Islam is a religion of love and peace. They describe the concepts of love, justice, peace, liberty, beauty and quality that represent the essence of the Quran, the basis of Islam, by living by them. Islam means love, compassion, affection, friendship, cleanliness, goodness, beauty and peace. It means loving the poor, orphans, the needy, the seniors, plants, animals and everything created by God.
Muslims with such an immaculate moral framework have a complacent, trustworthy attitude and bring peace, quality and decency wherever they go. Muslims living in France, like those living in Western countries, all have a responsibility to describe the beauties of Islam in the best possible way to those who are unacquainted with it. Being a Muslim in France is no different to being a Muslim anywhere else in the world, for, someone who complies with the Quran, that God revealed upon many wisdom such as making Himself recognised, telling people the reason for their creation, telling them what He expects of them, telling them of the hereafter and describing what proper moral virtues are.
Their main duties, similarly to those of all other Muslims, are to avoid wickedness, immorality and evil wherever they may be; to be patient in the face of troubles that befall them, and to behave well in the face of them; and to be affectionate, loving, just, trustworthy and honest.
Adnan Oktar's piece on New Straits Times: