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Is France the New Satan?

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For decades, many extremists among the Arab World and radical Islamists have designated their sworn enemies with a very striking vocabulary, popularized during the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979: “The Great Satan” represented the United States seen as the greater evil against the Islamic world, and its regional proxy, Israel, seen as “the Little Satan”. These terms were widely used within the religious and political propaganda of radical groups; and this anti-Western rhetoric with some aspect of messianism ( the war against Satan) helped the Islamist ideology to gain more influence throughout, not only the Arab world but the entire Muslim world. For instance, under such influence, the Middle East that was for many years a region whose national governments tended towards secularism or nationalism embodied by the Pan-Arabic movement slowly turned into a land made of failed states, torn by religious wars and a shelter for terrorists and other extremists. This worrying phenomenon is starting to move now beyond the Arab World, for example in Turkey who used to be a secular haven not so long ago. It is true, however, that other states (usually the richest) still adopt a more pragmatic approach and move closer to the Western World; but by doing so they are seen as traitors by a significant part of the Muslim World and actors like Saudi Arabia seem to have lost their symbolic leadership in that respect.

Nowadays, this situation is a little bit different. The United States is starting to pull out of the Middle East, Israel develops its diplomatic ties with some part of the Arab World, and historic supra-actors of the region like Turkey, Iran or Russia see here the opportunity to regain influence in the region. Any conquest of power or gain of influence is made easier by the existence and the demonization of a common enemy to the whole targeted population. By doing so, those leaders can gather a huge amount of people from various origins under the common Islamic cause ( the Umma) whose values feel threatened by a foreign nation of heretics. And with the recent events that shook the entire Muslim world, this enemy was easy to point: the French republic and its blasphemous cartoons.

On many occasions, France has been the target of jihadism but it seems like France’s status has recently changed for the Islamists. For instance, the horrendous attacks that took place in 2015 killed hundreds of innocent civilians because they were Jews, policemen, journalists or simply enjoying a concert, fireworks show in........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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