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France’s reaction to Osama Bin Laden’s death
The death of Osama Bin Laden has sparked celebrations as well as debate and controversy. What do the French think?
The death of Al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden has perhaps provoked the biggest media coverage of them all. You can get thorough international coverage and background from BBC, New York Times and The Economist.
With Al-Qaida confirming Bin Laden’s death and vowing revenge, the debate about whether or not to release the official picture of Osama seems a bit moot now. There was also controversy surrounding the nature of the celebrations over his death in the US, which sociologists contribute to a cathartic release of emotion.
Reactions to Bin Laden’s death: polls and French media
First, to get some context, you can see special coverage in the French media by publications such as Le Monde, Libération and Le Figaro (which also did a video report). According to a poll by Le Figaro, the majority of respondents (about 61%) said that the US should not have to publish the Bin Laden corpse picture.
French Middle East expert commentary
French Middle East expert Olivier Roy wrote an opinion piece in Le Monde, stating that Osama’s death will further weaken a terrorist movement that never truly gained a strong foothold among the majority of the Arab peoples, who have instead recently risen up in several countries for democracy.
Reaction by Muslims in France
France has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe. What do they think? The Rector of the Mosque of Paris Dalil Boubakeur said that Bin Laden’s death is a “victory for peace and democracy.”
Even though Al-Qaida has certainly been weakened, most people are aware that the threat is not completely decimated. Claude Guéant, French Interior Minister, said that France could face revenge attacks by supporters of Bin Laden and should be very cautious in this environment.
President Sarkozy and France’s role in Afghanistan
President Sarkozy himself said, “The scourge of terrorism has suffered a historic defeat but it’s not the end of al-Qaeda.” Also, the Director of the DCRI, France’s intelligence services, said that France has been a terrorist target for several months.
What about France’s role in Afghanistan? Their involvement in the war has been the source of fierce debate in France since the beginning, and recently French Defense Minister Alain Juppé said he is planning for a French exit before 2014.
The debate will be ongoing about what the future holds, but just as in the US where there are diverging opinions about the operation that killed the world’s most wanted criminal, the French will also certainly keep their finger on the pulse of the news.
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French Muslims: New Voices in Contemporary France provides a critical perspective on Muslim politics and experiences in contemporary France, the European country with the largest Muslim population. Drawing from the work of four Muslim thinkers and activists—Chahdortt Djavann, Fadela Amara, Tariq Ramadan, and Houria Bouteldja—this volume examines issues such as the veil, integration, the role of the school, the traditions of the French republic, and the legacy of the French empire. More here: French Muslims: New Voices in Contemporary France.