Macron provoking Muslims to distract from his many domestic challenges, says American analyst

November 6, 2020 - 12:15

TEHRAN - Andrew Korybko, an American geopolitical analyst based in Moscow, tells the Tehran Times that the Emmanuel Macron government's Islamophobic policies, which hypocritically masquerade as defending the freedom of expression, provoke discord and intend to distract minds from his domestic problems.

“Holocaust denial is banned in France so that country does indeed impose limits upon freedom of expression contrary to its support of Islamophobic hate speech, which raises questions about how sincerely the government abides by the principle of free speech. This makes one wonder whether liberalism and its expression through freedom of speech are just excuses for justifying Islamophobia in French society,” Korybko, a member of the expert council for the Institute of Strategic Studies and Predictions at the People’s Friendship University of Russia, tells the Tehran Times.
He notes, “French policy of double standards gives credence to claims that the government is Islamophobic and might even be deliberately provoking Muslims for ulterior reasons such as distracting from its many domestic challenges.”

The text of the interview with Korybko is as follows:

Q: Why does Emmanuel Macron support the reprinting of blasphemous cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad?

A: Macron is either misled by his advisors or purposely seeking to provoke Muslims in his country and abroad, but either way, he's full responsibility for what he's done. The first theory is that he and those around him don't have enough information about Islam and therefore didn't realize what they were doing. That would explain why they'd encourage him to make very ignorant comments without fully understanding the consequences. The second theory, which is much more likely, is that they knew very well what the consequences would be but purposely wanted to provoke them. This theory implies that his War on Islam is meant to distract from domestic challenges, which is possible, but it might also have another motivation as well.

As I wrote in my recent analysis for the OneWorld Global Think Tank asking, “Is A “Great Social/Civilizational Reset” Upon Us?” there's an observable trend taking place which misleadingly appears to confirm the so-called “Clash of Civilizations” scenario. The argument put forth is that Western civilization (which is characterized by its extreme secularism as embodied by France) and Islamic civilization, among others, are reasserting their unique attributes, which are contradictory in many respects such as the discussed one when it comes to the topic of free speech for instance. This gives off the optics that different civilizations are “clashing” even though pragmatic cooperation between them is still possible in areas of shared interest such as trade.

This is not at all to defend the French government's public support of blasphemous depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, but simply to explain one of the reasons why Macron is doubling down on this provocative policy. Both civilizations, in this example, regard the other as an existential threat to their identity. For this reason, many French defend blasphemous cartoons as legal expressions of free speech, whereas most Muslims are disgusted by this abuse of liberal ideology for Islamophobic ends. There's no middle ground, and a compromise on the issue is impossible since one or the other side would have to concede on an issue that's integral to their identity, which isn't likely.

The larger dynamic taking place, which has escaped a lot of discussions, is that the concept of liberalism is being reconsidered all across the world. Muslims might have previously had some respect for this idea, but few support it nowadays after the French took it to its extreme by using liberalism as their justification for Islamophobic hate speech. Other societies than just the Islamic one are questioning this concept, as can be seen by Poland -- also a European civilization just like France -- recently banning practically all abortions in late October. This proves that the global reconsideration of liberalism isn't exclusive to Islamic civilization but is even present within civilizations such as the European one itself, as the Polish precedent proves.

Q: Could the adoption of such an offensive policy be justified as freedom of expression?

A: Technically speaking, yes, it is the extreme embodiment of liberal ideology in the form of freedom of expression. That concept in its purest form enables anyone to express themselves; however, they'd like regardless of how offensive it may be to others. Curiously, however, Holocaust denial is banned in France, so that country does indeed impose limits upon freedom of expression contrary to its support of Islamophobic hate speech, which raises questions about how sincerely the government abides by the principle of free speech. This makes one wonder whether liberalism and its expression through freedom of speech are just excuses for justifying Islamophobia in French society.

Q: How do you assess the West’s double standards when it comes to freedom of expression?

A: It's every country's sovereign right to make their own laws and implement them as they desire (even selectively through the use of double standards), but it's also every person's right to call out hypocrisy wherever they see it. The French government shouldn't have different standards when it comes to imposing consequences upon those who offend Jewish and Muslim sensitivities. It should either practice the extreme liberal manifestation of freedom of speech by allowing all sorts of hate speech to flourish in society or crackdown whenever the feelings of religious believers are offended by various expressions of free speech. As it stands, the French policy of double standards gives credence to claims that the government is Islamophobic and might even be deliberately provoking Muslims for ulterior reasons such as distracting from its many domestic challenges.

Q: In your view, what would be the appropriate responses to this offensive approach?
A: Every Muslim should protest the French government's Islamophobic policies, which hypocritically masquerade as defending the extreme manifestation of liberal ideology's concept of free speech (despite holding different standards whenever it comes to offending the sensitivities of Jewish people), as should those who stand against hate speech of any sort regardless of their religion or lack thereof. Boycotting French products is also a powerful way to send a strong statement to the French government even if it's unlikely to change their policy. That said, all those who oppose this offensive act must obey the laws of the land in which they live and must take care not to resort to hate speech of their own by getting carried away and doing the same thing that they're protesting. Any highly publicized mistakes could be exploited to “justify” the French government's anti-Islamic policies.

Q: Why is Islamophobia increasing in Western countries?

A: Without intending to blame the victims, it must be universally recognized that some Muslims refuse to assimilate and integrate into the Western societies where they're either born or moved to, which fuels a nationalist (over) reaction from some of the locals. Just like Islamic civilization has its own social standards, so too does Western civilization, and it's expected that all minorities make a sincere effort to assimilate and integrate into Western societies where they live. Again, this is not to justify Islamophobia nor any expression of hate speech against Muslims but simply to explain the mindset of those in Western societies who might at the very least feel suspicious of their Muslim neighbors. Not every Muslim refuses to assimilate and integrate into Western society, but enough of them do, and that, in turn, fuels Islamophobia.

Those in Western society who feel -- whether rightly or wrongly -- that their civilization is under threat by civilizational dissimilar people such as Muslims refusing to assimilate and integrate into their society might feel tempted to express themselves in an Islamophobic way to signal to other Westerners that people are “resisting” what they regard as an “invasion” as well as to intimidate Muslims with the expectation that they'll either leave or comply with their standards. The French government tacitly supports this trend by defending the extreme manifestation of liberalism as embodied by Islamophobic hate speech despite holding double standards when it comes to people expressing themselves in ways that offend Jewish people, such as denying the Holocaust.

Q: Do you see any trace of Zionists in this policy?

A: It's difficult to ascertain such a role even though speculation might abound about the interests that that ideology's adherents have in current events. Cynics might suggest that an increase in Christian-Muslim tensions could be beneficial for Zionists since it distracts from their occupation of Palestine and the many crimes that they regularly commit there, while supports might allege that they don't have any ulterior motives but instead wish that people of different religious beliefs could peacefully coexist. There's no way of knowing which interpretation is the most accurate, but it should nevertheless be said that what's happening in France is the result of preexisting tensions inevitably boiling over as was bound to happen with time and that no outside force played a role in the events that triggered the latest unrest (the French schoolteacher terrorist attack and the French government's support of the victim for sharing Islamophobic cartoons with his pupils).

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