Radio France Internationale's Hannah Godfrey reports that France's terror attack preparedness could not contain a feeling of mistrust of Muslims that sprouted from a part of the population.
France was not only aware of the risk of terrorist attacks, it had been the victim of lethal bombings by Islamic extremists from Algeria in 1995.
Alain Richard, defense minister in Lionel Jospin's government at the time of the September 11 attacks.
The impression of being protected by both oceans has neve existed in Europe. We had waves of terrorist attacks of different kinds, every decade or every two decades throughout the 20th century.
This meant it had protection systems in place..... and was already tough on Islamic extremists, unlike its friend across the water... Farhad Khosrokhavar, specialist in European Islam at the EHESS social science institute in Paris:
I think nowadays in Britain lots of people put into question the wisdom of the English tolerance and multiculturalism. Some people believe that the French model is better for the intergration of Muslims and for the prevention of what might be called Jihadi terrorism.
The riots which took place in many of France's more deprived suburbs last autumn were arguably a sign that the country's efforts to integrate its immigrant population have not been a roaring success. At the time some members of the government accused Islamic extremists of coordinating the unrest. Farhad Khosrokhavar vehemently disagrees that Islam had anything to do with the events of last autumn.
Few would deny that the 11 september attacks radicalised a section of the French Muslim population, with the ban on the Islamic veil in schools three years later compounding this. One of the most deep reaching effects in France of the terrorist attacks in America has been the reinforcement of prejudice towards people of Muslim culture. Bruno Jeanbart, specialist in politics for the pollster "Opinion Way":
In all the surveys we saw that there was an increasing part of the French who declared they were racist. There was a kind of radicalisation of a small part of the French public opinon. It has changed also the way all the political parties are talking about these programmes, even the socialist party for example, has another discourse on immigration and tries to find a kind of agreement between being very strict on illegal immigration and also helping the immigrants to find their way in the French society. So there was a soft radicalisation of all the political parties except for the far-left.
When I asked former socialist minister Alain Richard whether he thinks the fallout of the September 11 attacks has made the French political scene more hostile to immigrants he replied :
In the sea of hyperbole in which both sides in the so called "war on terror" bathe, it is important to get a bit of perspective. Farhad Khosrokovar again.
People say we are at war, you know. September 11th meant a kind of deep break-down I mean a breaking point with the past. I don’t think so. There are of course some major changes in the world, but on the whole, we are not at war. Lots of things have changed but cannot be compared to the Second World War or the First World War. In your daily life, you don’t feel any major change. So I would say September 11th is a major turning point but one should not exaggerate its’ meaning: social, political, cultural and economic. It has made the world much more complicated. Human rights issues have suffered a lot but that hasn’t changed the nature of democracies or of daily life in Western countries as far as I can see.Listen to the report:
An almost immediate impact of the attacks on the US in 2001 in Britain was a move to bring in legislation giving police wider powers, notably to act on suspicion of terrorist activity. Some see such initatives on the part of the British government as sensible and effective prevention steps. Others have raised concerns over abuse of rights.
German’s were shocked to find that those believed to be behind the attacks on the US five years ago, had worked on their plan in one of its own cities. The authorities try to work out how to move forward, to protect themselves and others, while dealing with its particular history, and recent policy of welcoming foreigners.
Network Europe reporters ask ordinary citizens what they think about how 9/11 has affected their lives. From living in fear to “nothing has changed”, to embracing religion, or embracing the United States, depending on who you are and where you are.
Polish people feel vulnerable and wonder if they are could be on a terrorist hit-list because they have shown support for the US war on terror. So the level of suspicion is high and tighter anti-terror laws are on the cards.
In Sweden’s civil liberties take a knock after the authorities take preventive measures against possible terrorist attacks. There’s serious debate about whether it’s necessary to snoop into people’s internet research or phone calls. And self-censorship raises its ugly head.
We reported on surfing on the river in Munich but the city is better known for other liquid-based fun. As thousands of visitors to the legendary annual beer festival will testify. But what is the festival called? You can email us your answer. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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