Behind Paris Burning?
By B. Raman
All indicators point to the involvement of some Pakistani, Algerian and
Moroccan members of the London-based Hizbut Tehrir (HT) in the violence by
sections of angry Muslim youth, which has rocked the suburbs of Paris and some
other towns of France since October 27, 2005.
The outbreak initially was spontaneous following the electrocution of two Muslim
youth as they were fleeing away from a random identity papers check by the
Police. The violence continued to be spontaneous, with no external instigation,
for three days. In the meanwhile, it is reported by reliable sources, the
headquarters of the HT in London saw the agitprop potential of the developments
in Paris and sent some of their experts, who had participated in instigating the
violence earlier this year in Afghanistan over the alleged desecration of the
Holy Koran by the US guards at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba and
in Uzbekistan over the allegedly autocratic ways of the local Government, to
Paris to stoke the anger of the youth and exploit it for their purpose.
With the help of the sleeper cells, which the HT has already established in
Paris and other parts of France for some months, they drew up plans for keeping
the violence sustained in order to further radicalise and mobilise the youth
against the French government. For this purpose, they exploited the already
prevalent anger in the Muslim community of France over the ban on the wearing of
head scarves by Muslim girls in public schools and over the ruthless action
taken by the Police in the past against suspected radicals. The intemperate and
insensitive language used by the French Interior Minister, which is perceived as
an insult to Islam and the Muslim youth, facilitated the task of the HT.
The HT has the same objective as Al Qaeda, namely, the restoration of an Islamic
Caliphate, but denies any link with Al Qaeda and claims that it intends
achieving its objective through overt political agitation and not through resort
to terrorism or other forms of political violence . While there is no evidence
of its involvement so far in any act of jihadi terrorism anywhere in the world,
it has been involved in many instances of political agitation in the streets in
some countries and in attempts at subverting the armed forces and the
intelligence agencies in Pakistan and other Islamic countries.
It is reported by reliable sources in Pakistan that the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) in
Pakistan has instructed its cells in France to assist the HT clandestinely as
best as they can. Similarly, the Jamat-ul-Furqa (JuF), which has some followers
in the community of Caribbean origin in France, has also asked its followers to
assist the HT. Richard Reid, the so-called shoe bomber, was suspected to be a
member of the JUF.
B. Raman, currently camping in Europe, is Additional Secretary (retd),
Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, and, presently, Director, Institute For
Topical Studies, Chennai