In France, ‘normal’ is no longer what it used to be

Sylvie Kauffmann writes: For most Europeans, war was a conflict between states that had either territorial or ideological claims, fought by regular armies. It had a starting date and an end date. It belonged to previous centuries. War nowadays, writes the political philosopher Pierre Hassner in a recent book on the subject, “La Revanche des passions” (“Revenge of the Passions”), “has been relegitimized in the form of jihad, of global war on terror, or with the aim of promoting democracy.”

The war we are asked to fight is against obscure men who one day target cartoonists, the next day Jews, another day football stadiums, cafés or rock concerts — who target people who live in “the capital of abominations and perversion,” as ISIS described us in a communiqué after Friday’s attacks. It added a chilling warning: “This is only the beginning of the storm.”

So how do you fight such a storm? “War is not a word used lightly,” former President Nicolas Sarkozy said Sunday on television after a long meeting with President Hollande. He advocates working with President Vladimir Putin of Russia to address the Syrian war; on the home front, he advocates putting some 10,000 suspect Muslim radicals under house arrest and fitting with them all with electronic bracelets. Another conservative politician, Laurent Wauquiez, even suggested interning them — a measure that was immediately denounced in the media as tantamount to “creating a French Guantánamo.” The government considers both proposals incompatible with the rule of law, but is now committed, under the state of emergency, to close radical mosques and deport imams who preach hatred. [Continue reading…]

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