Aux Armes etc.

Here’s an interesting article from the WSJ which considers the manner in which the Jeunes Musulmans de France – which I believe is a Muslim Brotherhood front organisation – and other communtarian groups are leveraging the riots in order to build their profile.

The JMF has been playing a mediating role since the violence began. Abdel Wahab Bakli, the organization’s president, says his activists successfully restored calm to restive neighborhoods of Nice where the rioting threatened to spread on Saturday night. There has been no acknowledgment by public officials so far of the mediation role played by the JMF or other Muslim organizations.

Mr. Ajir, a 29-year-old social worker, lives in La Courneuve, a suburb north of Paris where an 11-year-old boy was killed by a stray bullet earlier this year. During a visit to the projects where the boy was shot, Mr. Sarkozy vowed to clean them with “a Karcher,” the brand of a German-made high-powered hose. Some observers say that comment, which got widespread coverage in the French media, planted the seeds of the current violence.

Mr. Ajir, who sits on the JMF’s board, says the organization encourages the discontented youths of the banlieues “to think of themselves as Muslim and French.” For the most part, he says, these youths “are sensitive and respectful of the message carried by Islam. We’re very well-perceived in these neighborhoods.”

But, Mr. Ajir adds that it “bothers people that the JMF and other similar associations are able to intervene” with youths, while the government remains helpless.

El Mostafa Ramsi, who emigrated to France from Morocco in his mid-20s and now serves as the local representative of a center-left political party in the nearby suburb of Saint-Denis, is suspicious that organizations like the JMF are using the crisis to bolster their influence. “They’re saying to the government: ‘See, without us, your republic is in danger of falling apart,’ ” says Mr. Ramsi, who supports France’s strong secular tradition.

The French government has tried to counter the influence of organizations like the JMF and the Tabligh by creating the French Council of the Muslim Faith. The government hoped to use the council to engage the Islamic organizations and soften their ideological edges.

But that strategy has failed. The council has been riven by disagreements between its various factions and has lost some of its credibility among the Muslim community because the state has insisted on promoting Dalil Boubakeur, an Algerian civil servant who heads the Paris Mosque, as its president to counter the influence of other more radical groups. Mr. Boubakeur is perceived by rivals as too accommodating toward the government and as advocating a soft brand of Islam.

When Mr. Boubakeur paid a visit to the mosque in Clichy-sous-Bois last week in a show of support after the tear-gas incident, his car was pelted with rocks. On Thursday, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin met Mr. Boubakeur for a half-hour in what was intended as a gesture toward the Muslim community. But the move was greeted with deep skepticism by members of the mosque itself.

Also, see this short Time article from earlier this year which considers the failure of the state-sponsored CFCM.

Hat tip: BC