france is upwards of 10% muslim

Macron administration wages far-right campaign against “Islamo-leftism”
Will Morrow, WSWS, Oct 29 2020

In the wake of the Oct 15 terrorist attack that killed French school teacher Samuel Paty, the Macron administration is seeking to brand opposition to its racist police-state attacks on Muslims as “Islamo-leftism” and essentially criminal. In an interview with Europe1 last Thursday, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer declared that broad sections of the “left” were accomplices for terrorism. He referred to the more than 50 Muslim organizations that the Macron government is in the process of dissolving, saying:

The intellectual complicity of terrorism is what I would like to underscore. What is called ‘Islamo-leftism’ is ravaging the universities, is ravaging organizations like UNEF and CEDA. In France Insourmise, you have people who are quite simply of this current of thought and openly state it. In this affair there is not simply a lone killer. It is a killer who has been conditioned by those who are in some sense the intellectual authors of this murder… You have people who do not commit a crime but who encourage this intellectual radicalism, and they are in fact intellectual accomplices of the crime. If you have the fish poisoned by the head, as one says, these are ideas (such as) communalism, which come from elsewhere, from models of society that are not our own. … Our society has been far too permeable to these currents of thought.

This was only the latest in a wave of similar statements over the past week. Two days earlier, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who controls the police and security services, told BFM-TV, referring to halal, kosher and other foods that satisfy religious requirements:

I have always been shocked to walk into a supermarket and see an aisle with the cuisine from some community and some other on the other side. That is how communalism begins.

In the same interview, Darmanin targeted Edwy Plenel, the editor of Médiapart and former member of the predecessor of the Pabloite New Anti-Capitalist Party. He denounced the left as “responsible for this atmosphere, this temperature that permits individuals to pass to the act by excusing everything.” Manuel Valls, an interior minister of François Hollande’s Socialist Party (PS) government, attacked “a section of the left, Islamo-leftism, which has demonstrated very great complicity with regards to political Islam.” He named Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who joined a Nov 2019 protest against attacks on Muslims, as “very complicit. He has a great responsibility for everything that has happened, in the entire relationship of the left in the fight against Islamism.” In an Oct 17 interview with Le Parisien, former PS Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve denounced “Islamo-leftism, that looks lovingly upon certain communalist organizations that have defiance, not to say a form of hatred, towards the Republic.”

The Macron administration and the PS from which it emerged are working to promote and rehabilitate far-right and fascistic politics in France. Denunciations of the “permeability of France” to foreign ideas, attacks on Muslim and Jewish cuisines, the assertion that the “left” is complicit in the promotion of terrorism and subverts “the Republic” all have the character of a far-right promotion of police-state measures. The charge of “Islamo-leftism” is now being used to slander anyone who defends the democratic rights of Muslims and immigrants and opposes French imperialism as criminals and accomplices of terrorism. The term was previously confined largely to the extreme right but was adopted more broadly within the political establishment in the past two decades to legitimize attacks on Muslims. This period saw the banning of Islamic headscarves in public schools in 2004 and the burqa in public places in 2010.

The real “accomplices” of terrorism are not Muslims and those who defend them but the French ruling class and its political representatives. France, historically a colonial oppressor of much of Africa and the Middle East, has joined imperialist wars from the Sahel to Libya, to Afghanistan and Syria, to install puppet governments and control the region’s geo-strategic positions and profits. The greatest refugee crisis since WW2 has emerged, and hundreds of thousands have been killed, including countless defenseless civilians. Not only have these acts of neocolonial aggression affected domestic political life within all the imperialist countries. As part of its regime-change wars in Syria and Libya, France helped fund and arm right-wing Islamist forces and groups linked to Al Qaeda and used them as proxy forces. In successive terrorist attacks in Europe, including the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks, the attackers had been known to and followed by the intelligence agencies before the attack. In every instance, the terrorist attacks have been used by the ruling elite to shift politics to the right, divide workers along ethnic lines, and justify sweeping inroads into democratic rights. The present campaign is no different. Its real target is not sections of the political establishment such as Mélenchon, but millions of workers and youth opposed to the policies of the French ruling class. Macron’s “anti-separatism” law, which is due to come before parliament next month, grants sweeping powers to the state, including the dissolution of any organization not in line with supposedly “Republican values,” as defined by the interior ministry. Macron, who declared that Nazi-collaborationist dictator Philippe Pétain was a “great soldier,” has worked to build up a police state, assaulting strikes and “yellow vest” protests with police violence since 2018. This is now being accelerated by the pandemic, as France reported more than 50k cases on Sunday, with warnings by health officials that the country faces a second wave deadlier than the first. Fully aware of rising popular anger at its murderous policies in the pandemic, the ruling class is seeking to prepare a neofascistic, authoritarian regime to try to suppress popular opposition.

As COVID-19 surges in Europe, governments protect profits over lives
Johannes Stern, Alex Lantier, WSWS, Oct 29 2020

After over 9m cases and 250k deaths from COVID-19 this year, Europe stands on the brink of catastrophe. The resurgence of the virus had made clear that European governments’ ending of lockdowns this spring was disastrously premature. It led to a global resurgence of the disease, especially in Europe, that now threatens to completely overwhelm Europe’s medical system. Each day, Europe now records over 200k new cases and 2k deaths from COVID-19, figures that are doubling approximately every 10 days. If this trend is not stopped, it is a matter of weeks before hospitals in the worst-hit countries are overrun and masses of people are cut off from treatment. Half of France’s assisted-breathing hospital beds and over a quarter of Spain’s are already occupied by severe COVID-19 cases. Countries like Britain, Italy and Poland who record around 20k daily cases, or Germany and Belgium, with around 14k, are at most a few weeks behind. Europe is teetering on the brink of loss of life on a scale it has not seen since the world wars of the 20th century. Several millions of lives are at stake. In March, German intelligence prepared a report stating that over a million people would die in Germany if the virus spread through the population. Last night, in a national televised address, French President Emmanuel Macron estimated 400,000 people could die in France unless emergency measures were taken.

Faced with mounting public anger and growing calls from medical authorities for shelter-at-home orders to avert catastrophe, European governments are suddenly announcing they are considering or re-imposing lockdowns. After Ireland and Wales both announced lockdowns last week, Macron announced last night a four-week, renewable lockdown in France. These official announcements are not, however, shelter-at-home orders allowing youth and all non-essential workers to stay home and avoid infection. As they impose new lockdowns, European governments have the same goal that led them to prematurely lift the previous lockdowns: keeping youths at school and workers at work producing profits for the financial aristocracy. Workers must be warned: the lockdowns proposed by European governments will not halt the pandemic or avert a disastrous loss of life. Imposing a genuine shelter-at-home policy to protect the population from the global pandemic requires an independent, international mobilization of the working class against the European governments. Germany and France both adopted partial lockdowns yesterday, closing cultural institutions and restaurants for a month. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “decision paper” states that “schools and kindergartens remain open” and aims “to ensure that industry, trade and small and medium-sized enterprises can work safely as much as possible.” Macron said:

Schools will stay open, work will continue, retirement homes will be open for visiting.

And so the virus will continue to spread. In countries across Europe where stricter confinement measures have been adopted, non-essential industry and schools remain open. The Irish government announced a “six-week coronavirus lock-down,” limiting citizens’ movements to a 5 km radius of their homes. However, unlike the March lockdown, schools, construction sites and industry remain open, including meat-processing plants that are hot spots for new outbreaks. While claiming to pursue lockdowns, European governments are thus essentially continuing their murderous strategy of “herd immunity,” letting the virus keep spreading through the population. Control of health policy cannot be left in the hands of the capitalist class. The force that can be mobilized to impose a rational, scientifically based policy is the European working class, fighting on an international and socialist perspective independent from the trade union bureaucracies to expropriate the ill-gotten wealth of the financial aristocracy. It was the working class that imposed the first lockdowns this spring. A wave of wildcat strikes that began in Italian auto, steel and engineering plants in early March spread across Spain, France and Britain, cutting supply chains and bringing industry across Europe to a halt. As COVID-19 ripped through the population, European governments, shocked by the movement from below, suddenly changed course and implemented lockdowns.

It is critical to draw political lessons from this experience. While the working class demonstrated its ability to impose a scientifically grounded policy, it was a spontaneous movement. Once strikes were ended and the initial lockdowns adopted, state power and control of the banks and industrial life remained in the hands of the financial aristocracy and the various union bureaucracies. Europe’s population is now paying a bitter price for this. Governments did not aim to save lives, but to save the wealth of the super-rich. Britain adopted a £645b bank bailout, the euro zone a €1.25t bank bailout and a €750b EU corporate bailout. Apart from a tiny fraction spent on unemployment insurance and small business loans, these sums went to bailing out the bank accounts and stock portfolios of the super-rich and retooling big European corporations to compete with America and China. A column in Le Monde stated that the growing global struggle between the major capitalist powers over markets precluded a lasting shelter-at-home policy and required mass deaths, writing:

New strategies for onshoring plants, diversifying supply chains, and controlling key technologies, which Europe and the US were already studying, are now an absolute priority. This is why the Trump administration is making the terrible choice of the ‘business first’ option, sacrificing part of its population to not leave Chinese power an open field.

The European bourgeoisie also pursued this policy. With the collaboration of the trade unions and pseudoleft parties such as Podemos in Spain and the Left Party in Germany, who signed their support for the EU bailouts, governments launched a back-to-work drive. No lie, that children do not spread the virus, or that there is no money to help workers and small businesses weather a longer lockdown, was too outrageous as they bludgeoned workers back to work to produce profits on the massive sums of public money given to the super-rich. Halting the pandemic and imposing a scientific, shelter-at-home policy has proven impossible in the framework of European capitalism. It requires a conscious political mobilization of the working class across Europe against capitalism, on a socialist program. It entails a struggle to crush the power of the financial aristocracy, impound public funds illegitimately given to the super-rich in trade union-backed bailouts and provide the necessary resources to massively improve health care and support workers and small businesses as they weather the pandemic. The European sections of the ICFI have called for the formation of independent workplace safety committees in factories, offices and schools to prepare for international general strike action against the bourgeoisie’s politically criminal policies on the pandemic. This can prepare the expropriation of the financial aristocracy and the socialist reorganization of society on a rational, scientific basis to address the needs of the population. It requires the overthrow of the EU by the working class and the construction of the United Socialist States of Europe.

UK government calculates second wave of pandemic is “going to be worse this time, more deaths”
Robert Stevens, WSWS, Oct 28 2020

Tuesday’s total of 367 more deaths lost in the UK to coronavirus was the highest daily total since May. On Wednesday, a further 310 were reported dead. The 24,701 new infections recorded yesterday were over 1,816 higher than Tuesday. The grim figures came as the Office for National Statistics announced that 61,116 people have died in cases where COVID-19 was stated on the death certificate. The ONS figures are two weeks out of date, and the true figure will be even higher. Even so, the ONS calculation is much higher than the highly manipulated daily figure tally provided by Boris Johnson’s Conservative government, which totalled 45,675 yesterday. The ONS figures are proof of the deadly outcome of the government’s homicidal reopening of the economy from June, along with schools, colleges, and universities. However, the ONS figures are still lower than excess death figures, generally considered to be the most reliable indicators internationally, with more than 60k excess deaths, compared to previous years, having already occurred by May 11.

To meet the demands of the corporations for renewed profits, the government refuses to take the essential measures required to arrest the spread of the virus. It is proceeding with a series of ineffective Tier-based local lockdowns. Most of England is under the “High” Tier 2 but as infections mount, more than 8.7m people will be under Tier 3 restrictions by the end of the week. This means people cannot mix with other households and pubs and bars are closed, but most workplaces remain open. Schools, that are among the main vectors for the spread of the virus in communities also remain open under Tier 3. The government’s own scientists are agreed that the Tier system cannot stop the spread of the virus. The town of Warrington in Cheshire entered Tier 3 level Tuesday and the 828.2k population of Nottinghamshire will be under Tier 3 by Friday. A further 5m people are set to be brought into Tier 3, with West Yorkshire’s population of over 2.3m to be placed under it imminently. The SNP government is playing the same role. Today it announces which parts of Scotland will be placed into five separate Tiers it has established. It is expected that main populated Central Belt, including Glasgow, Edinburgh, plus the City of Dundee, will be assigned only to level three to be in place next Monday.

These measures have been carried out weeks too late, with people dying preventable deaths. On Tuesday, deaths in South Yorkshire, which includes Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley, passed 1k since the beginning of the pandemic. Five deaths occurred between the Royal Hallamshire and Northern General hospitals in Sheffield, four at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals trust, and three at Barnsley Hospital. South Yorkshire was only placed under in Tier 3 and a limited lockdown last Saturday. These deaths are the outcome of a herd immunity policy as the government repeatedly and wilfully ignored warnings from their own scientists, placing the health and livelihoods of millions at risk. Last month, Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance warned that there could be 200 dead a day from COVID-19 by mid-November, a tally that has already been nearly doubled. Yesterday, Professor Wendy Barclay, a SAGE member from Imperial College London told Times Radio:

The total lockdown that we had back in late March was enough to turn the tide, and get the virus back under control. So far, none of the other restrictions that we’ve seen and none of the other actions, seem to have done that.

This has prepared the way for even more deaths than in the spring. On Wednesday, the Daily Telegraph reported:

Second wave forecast to be more deadly than first. Downing Street is working privately on the assumption that the second wave of Covid-19 will be more deadly than the first, with the number of victims remaining high throughout the winter.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) said:

The course of the second wave is understood to show deaths peaking at a lower level than in the spring, but then remaining at this level for weeks or even months. Health officials expect the death toll to reach 500 a day within weeks.

The newspaper quoted a “well-placed source” who said:

It’s going to be worse this time, more deaths. That is the projection that has been put in front of the Prime Minister, and he is now being put under a lot of pressure to lock down again.

There are already 10k people in hospitals in the UK receiving treatment for COVID-19. Asked yesterday on BBC Radio 4 Today whether there could be 25k people in hospitals by the end of November, SAGE member Professor Sir Mark Walport warned:

It’s certainly not unrealistic to think about that. We are still relatively early in the second wave and as we know, there’s a significant lag, two to three, two to four weeks, between actually getting an infection and people potentially dying, and so the number of deaths is always lagging the number of cases that are reported at any one time, so there’s little to feel reassured about. There are still an awful lot of people out there who are vulnerable, it’s not, as it were, that the disease has killed off everyone who is vulnerable, there are still very many people that are vulnerable and we know that only still a relatively small proportion of the population has had this infection.

Dr Gabriel Scally of the University of Bristol, a member of the Independent SAGE group, told Sky News he agreed with SAGE’s worst case scenario. He said:

If the government go on the way they are doing, then we are going to see a very large number of deaths and we are going to have the rockiest possible period. I think it is going to be dreadful.

Government ministers and a pliant media are seeking to divert attention from the carnage they have wrought, and served as propagandists for, through a campaign aimed at “saving Christmas.” Labour Party Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said:

Because the government has not put in place the limited national “circuit breaker” we have called for, I’m worried now that what we’ll see is deeper, more drastic lockdown action over November and December, which sadly probably does put Christmas at risk.

Neither SAGE or its critics in Independent SAGE advocate a national lockdown of the type the government was forced to implement in March. They call for a time-limited national “circuit breaker” of “at least two weeks” (Scally, Independent SAGE) along the lines of the 17-day lockdown imposed in Wales last week, or the similar one in Ireland. Infections in schools are rocketing. According to figures compiled by the Tory Fibs twitter page, more than 6k schools have reported one or multiple infections. Figures released by the Department for Education revealed that nearly a fifth of children were off school in self-isolation on Oct 22. Last week alone almost 600k secondary school pupils were forced into self-isolation for Covid-related issues. Contrary to government lies, younger children are being massively affected. Along with the more than 55% of secondary schools with at least one child self-isolating at home, 20% of primary schools are in the same situation. Overall, between 16 and 18 percent of schools had to send 30 or more children home.

Johnson government’s war on migrants turns English Channel into a “graveyard for children”
Laura Tiernan, WSWS, Oct 29 2020

Two children aged 9 and 6 were among up to seven asylum-seekers who drowned on Tuesday trying to cross the English Channel. A baby on board the capsized dinghy is missing, distressed survivors reported yesterday, with search efforts ended. The bodies of Rasoul Irannazhad, a 35-year-old construction worker, his wife Shiva Mohammad Panahi, and their children Anita, 9, and Armin, 6, have been identified. The couple’s 15-month-old son Artin is presumed drowned. The Kurdish family were from Sardasht, Iran. Yesterday, Rasoul’s brother Khalil told the Daily Telegraph:

We begged him to not try to cross by boat. He insisted on going. It was the third time that they had attempted to cross to the UK. Two times they wanted to cross via train, and the last time they wanted to cross by boat.

The small inflatable dinghy capsized in rough seas just a few kilometres from the French port of Dunkirk at around 9.30 am. Those on board sent a desperate Mayday call begging, “Help us, we’re sinking!” A 40 ft “pleasure craft” named Marbuzet reportedly received the distress call, relaying it to French coastguard authorities. But a map published by the Daily Mail shows the Marbuzet’s course tacking away suddenly near the site of the capsized vessel, raising questions about its failure to assist. Rescuers, including a fishing vessel, a pilot boat from Dunkirk and a lifeboat from the French commune Gravelines, joined French and Belgian helicopters pulling around 15 people from the water. Survivors were taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia and cardiac arrest, but six-year-old Armin could not be revived, and nine-year-old Anita died later in hospital.

Tuesday’s horrifying events mark a new daily record for asylum-seeker drownings in the English Channel, with 11 deaths recorded there since Dec 2018, a figure that almost certainly understates the real death toll. The 20 asylum-seekers who left the coastal area of Loon-Plage on Tuesday morning are reportedly Iranian and Iraqi Kurds. Driven from their homes by British imperialism’s wars of aggression across the Middle East, these persecuted people have become the latest victims of the Johnson government’s xenophobic “deterrence” regime against immigrants and refugees. Farhad Shekari, 28, told the Telegraph he had been due to leave on the same boat as Rasoul’s family, but refused to board when he saw how risky it was. He said:

There were 22 people in the boat and I said there are too many people and I didn’t want to go. I told people not to get in the boat. I said it was too dangerous.

The boat set off despite rough seas and wind speeds of 48 mph, with French coastguard officials describing the dinghy as a “death trap.” Another Kurdish refugee told the Telegraph the family had travelled from Turkey, forced on from Italy and Greece, before ending up at the migrant camp in Calais and then Puythouck camp in Dunkirk. She said:

The family were so frustrated by their treatment in Greece and France that they were desperate to get to the UK. They knew it was dangerous but were prepared to take the risk. The mother said: my future is lost because my fingerprints were taken in Italy, as were my husband’s, but I hope my children can have a future in Britain.

In September, the Macron government razed the Calais migrant camp, leaving 700 refugees without shelter. It was the biggest police operation in Calais since the Socialist Party government bulldozed “the Jungle” in 2016, evicting all 6,400 inhabitants. Care4Calais founder Clare Moseley said that refugees in Calais were “utterly devastated” by Tuesday’s drownings. She said:

This unnecessary loss of life has to stop. No one should ever feel they have to get into a fragile craft and risk their lives crossing the Channel, least of all vulnerable children.

A spokesman for charity Save the Children said:

The English Channel must not become a graveyard for children. Today’s tragic news must be a wake-up call for both London and Paris to come up with a joint plan that ensures the safety of vulnerable children and families.

But the entire political establishment on both sides of the Channel are fully committed to the war on refugees and migrants. In Britain, the drownings were seized on by the Tories and Labour to call for stepped up attacks on the “people smugglers who organise migrant crossings.” Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated:

We have offered the French authorities every support as they investigate this terrible incident and will do all we can to crack down on the ruthless criminal gangs who prey on vulnerable people by facilitating these dangerous journeys.

Johnson’s ghoulish Home Secretary Priti Patel declared she was “truly saddened” to learn of the “tragic loss of life.” Patel has led the government’s fascist military campaign against migrants, appointing Dan O’Mahoney, a former Royal Marine who served in Kosovo and Iraq, to the newly created post of Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, tasked with making the “Channel route unviable for small boat crossings.” Labour MP Yvette Cooper described the drownings as an “awful tragedy.” The leading Blairite immediately called for measures to stop migrants “getting sucked into the arms of criminal gangs or making such desperate journeys.”

The mounting death toll among asylum seekers is not caused by “people smugglers” but by British imperialism’s “hostile environment” against asylum-seekers that effectively overturns the right to asylum under international law. This includes the adoption of “deterrence” measures in which refugees are left to drown as an example to others. In recent months, the Johnson government has unleashed Britain’s armed forces, including RAF Atlas A-400M, Shadow R1 and P-8 Poseidon aircraft, Royal Navy vessels and drones against defenceless refugees in the Channel. At the same time, the Tories are busy putting together plans to deport migrants as soon as they arrive. Proposals include the detention of migrants on disused ferries, abandoned North Sea oil platforms and remote islands. Earlier this month, Labour peer Lord West, Baron West of Spithead, a retired Royal Navy Admiral, called for the construction of migrant concentration camps. In September, the first such camp was opened by the Home Office at the Folkestone Army Barracks in Kent. The facility will hold up to 400 “Channel arrivals” with similar military sites being established in Wales and Dover. At the same time, more than 40,555 migrants have died since 1993 due to the EU’s Fortress Europe restrictions. This includes 11,421 migrants who drowned in the Mediterranean between 2016 and 2019. Workers and youth in Britain and across Europe must oppose the fascist attacks on migrants and refugees. Such repressive measures are part of the ruling-class agenda of austerity and war directed against the entire working class. The ruling class is resorting to racism, nationalism, xenophobia and fascism as part of its efforts to divide the working class, suppress mass opposition and prepare new wars of imperialist aggression. The answer to this policy of reaction is the fight for socialism and the United Socialist States of Europe.

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