Zineb El Rhazoui is a French-Moroccan journalist involved in culturally left and secularist activism against the harassment of women and the power of the patriarch.
On a TV station after the attack on the Christmas market in Strasbourg, where five people were killed by an Islamic militant she said Islam must be subject to criticism. Islam must subject itself to humour. Islam must subject itself to the rights of the Republic and to French law. She also said that no one would ever get to the bottom of the ideology that drives terrorism by telling people that Islam is a religion of peace and love.
Within hours she was subjected to a barrage of rape and death threats. Undeterred, a few days later, she unapologetically reaffirmed her views. The silence from the establishment, supposedly committed to freedom of expression, was deafening. Her words struck a certain nerve in France where there is a centre-left establishment consensus that terrorism has nothing to do with Islam.
In the UK Sajid Javid, the rising star in Britain’s Conservative Party, and currently home secretary, hit the headlines. Javid, one of five children of a Pakistani immigrant bus driver, won a seat in Parliament in 2010. He combines intelligence with a drive that would be exceptional anywhere. The youngest ever vice-president of Chase Manhattan at the age of 24 and a managing director at Deutsche Bank 10 years later.
Reports that dozens of migrants were setting off in small boats from the coast of France to reach Britain and claim asylum brought him back early from his Christmas vacation.
What he said on his return hit the headlines. “If you are a genuine asylum seeker, why have you not sought asylum in the first country you arrived in? Because France is not a country where anyone would argue it is not safe in any way whatsoever.” This statement earned him harsh criticism.
Javid has a history of remarks that provoke the multicultural left. After the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris he referred to the fact that the people carrying out these acts call themselves Muslims. The lazy answer would be to say that this has got nothing whatsoever to do with Islam. That would be lazy and wrong. You can’t get away from the fact that these people are using Islam, taking a peaceful religion and using it as a tool to carry out their activities.
Previously Javid ordered research into the ethnic origins of the child rape gangs in northern England. These gangs are disproportionately of Pakistani origin, a fact that was ignored by the British Press, which referred to them as “Asian.”
Javid wrote that understanding their background was essential to understanding the problem. Who could object to research? Unfortunately, in multicultural Britain there is a taboo against probing too deeply into why Pakistani men form gangs to rape white British girls.
Sajid Javid and Zineb El Rhazoui have a good deal in common. Both are figures who have been somewhat liberated by their ethnic backgrounds to speak more candidly than most playing a critical role. Their ethnicity gives them more licence to speak freely than is acceptable from a person of white ethnicity. As such they are very valuable and hopefully they and others like them play a big part in the battles ahead.
Gordon is the former president and chief executive of BMMI. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org