Muslim Militancy and Youth Unrest in France

The past two nights I’ve spent downtown at the World Affairs Council on Sutter Street in SF.

Wednesday night I listened to an outstanding presentation and Q&A titled Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim Militancy. Professor Gerges (extremely impressive) gave a lucid overview of the state of the militant jihad, the middle east in general, and our efforts at fighting terrorism. Here are my rough notes from the talk. Big take aways that I didn’t know:

  • After 9/11 most all moderate Muslims and some radical clerics denounced 9/11 as terrorism as not jihad. American media keeps asking, "Where are moderate Muslims?" False question. But, the same cleric who denounced 9/11 also said all Muslims should kill American soldiers in Iraq (and anyone who supports them).
  • 65% of Arab world is under 28 years old!
  • Third generation is bubbling up from Iraqi insurgency
  • Took European nation-state concept 300 years to reach a fully functioning civil society. Comparatively, Arab state isn’t making bad progress.
  • They are electing governments like Hamas because secular governments haven’t been able to stem poverty and have, all in all, been a dismal failure. Why not try something else?

That youth statistic really caught my attention — is there a way we can overcome the hundreds of millions Saudi Arabia spends on indoctrinating their kids in schools? In other words, can we penetrate the system on an ideas level?

After the talk I had dinner with my good friend Valerie Cunningham of GoingOn at Perry’s, where we could debrief on the talk and catch up on each other’s lives and Silicon Valley happenings.

Tonight I attended Understanding Youth Unrest in France, a talk put on by two Berkeley professors. It, too, was informative. Interestingly, one of the Berkeley professors was in France during the latest protests over employment law and…marched with them! Given my opinion on those riots, you can imagine my surprise. My big takeaway was that the U.S. media grossly exaggerated the extent of the riots and violence. I learned some interesting factoids about France, its history with race and protesting, and the state of current political life, but there was little discussion on how to actually solve the unemployment problem. Here are my notes from the talk.

All in all, an enlightening two evenings, good food for the brain, and despite backing me up on work, totally worth it.

4 comments on “Muslim Militancy and Youth Unrest in France
  • Whoever said only 1 car was burned is an absolute kook and is far removed from reality.

    The riots lasted more than ten days, and on Sunday afternoon the 7th of November, a bus was set afire in Saint-Etienne, in the south, and at least 10 police were injured, two seriously, in Grigny in the Essonne region south of the capital.

    The riots began after two teenage boys were accidentally electrocuted Thursday, 27 October, as they tried to scale a wall in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois. A public prosecutor said the boys thought they were being chased by police. Police denied they had been pursuing them.

    This info was taken from archived articles from Le Monde, Paris’ leading paper. An article written in French for French readers seems more accurate than what 2 Berkely profs (typical) would have to say, especially since one actually marched.

  • And yet — it doesn’t say anything about a second car being burned, other than that bus! No one is denying there was violence, but the question is whether the media exaggerated it grossly.

  • Paris, 6 November 2005: The wave of unrest that has engulfed the working-class suburbs around Paris has now spread beyond the French capital. For the first time, other cities with large immigrant populations reported violent incidents. French authorities said that nearly 900 vehicles were burned and that more than 200 people had been detained. A number of buildings were also set afire in the Paris area, including a pre-school, a middle school and a supermarket.

    Sorry forgot to add that quote.

    How do you mean “grossly exagerated?”

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