“Since the days of the French Revolution, there is no difference as to the essentials of a free social order…The first is that the individual is an end in himself and that the aim and object of society is the growth of the individual and the development of his personality. Society is not above the individual, and if the individual has to subordinate himself to society, it is because such subordination is for his betterment and only to the extent necessary. The second essential is that the terms of associated life between members of society must be regarded by consideration founded on liberty, equality and fraternity”. — Dr Babasaheb B R Ambedkar, “The Hindu Social Order: Its Essential Principles”, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches Vol. 3, Education Dept., Govt of Maharashtra, p. 95
France is facing its own Black Lives Matter moment. Race and religious identity have been a bone of contention in European societies, especially in France. But, the recent incident where a 17-year-old Arab Muslim youth of Algerian origin succumbed to the police shooting has completely exposed the emerging crisis in Europe. For at least six days, many cities have been burning, and in the name of protests, public property has been damaged, including schools, libraries, town halls and community centres. With more than 200 businesses, 300 bank branches and 250 tobacco stores looted in the first five days, the estimated loss is worth €1 billion ($1.1 billion). Why France and many other European countries are going through religious and cultural strife? When the European Union preaches about democracy and human rights to other countries, why can they not observe the same standards in their backyard? What can be the possible ways to address these problems?
As per the basic principle of the rule of law, any killing of a citizen by authorities is condemnable and questioned. The misjudged shooting and death of Nahel Merzouk is no exception. Can the arson and looting be justified in the name of protest is the first question, and for whom is another? At 17 years of age, he was driving a car, which is an offence as per French Law. In 2017, a law was passed permitting police to shoot at a vehicle fleeing a traffic stop if the driver was putting other commuters at risk, known as the Refusal to Comply Law. As per the investigation, Nahel did jump a red light, drove at high speed in a bus lane and did not stop even after multiple warnings. He had 15 recorded incidents in a judicial file, including using false licence plates, driving without insurance, and carrying drugs. The law of 2017 did not come out of nothing. On July 14, 2016, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a Tunisian living in France, deliberately ramped a 19-tonne cargo truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, resulting in the deaths of 86 people. Later, Islamic State took responsibility for the attack. Aren’t the human rights of those people equally important, if not more? While discussing the use and misuse of laws in a democracy, keeping such background in mind is essential.
Since the introduction of Refusal to Comply Law, there has been discussion about the systemic racism in France against the Blacks or Northwest African Arab Maghrebi people. Minority rights are critical, especially regarding cultural, linguistic and religious practices. Who are these minorities in European countries? Most have come searching for greener pastures, or because terrorism and violence have ravaged their home countries. Unfortunately, the ideology of cultural Marxism, which never believed in a democratic form of Government, instils a sense of guilt in the law-abiding majority. Under the garb of liberalism, they are giving the so-called minorities a licence not to follow the law of the land. In a country like France, where religion was never allowed to come out in a public space, these communities consider the display of religious symbolism a right. Under the threat of radical Islam, one cannot speak about the regressive religious practices in a country that always stood for Freedom of Speech.
Sensitising police about diverse cultural practices is essential, and so is the education of the migrant groups about the compliance of laws. The majority should be sensitive to the new minority groups. Similarly, minorities should learn to coexist in the new environment. Islamism, with cover from Wokeism, is putting liberal democracy under severe stress. Anarchy leading to revolution is their goal. European Liberalism is facing an existential threat from this combination. Until they find the solution, they should not preach what they cannot practise to others.