Paris Is Burning and the gravy train ran dry – and a once-great nation is aflame

The classic 1966 movie Is Paris Burning? centers around Adolf Hitler’s desire, as the Allied armies advance through France in 1944, to see Paris destroyed rather than fall into the hands of his enemies. Paris didn’t burn in 1944, but the conflagration, as it turns out, was just delayed. CNN reported Friday that “Paris and most major cities – including Lyon, Marseille, Lille, Bordeaux and Rennes – have been hit by protests.” Hitler is finally getting his wish. But why now?

France is in turmoil, CNN added, because of “proposed pension reforms.” Reportedly, “many people are unhappy with President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform, which will raise the full-pension retirement age from 62 to 64. They’re also angry that he used constitutional powers to push the reform through.” France’s legendary welfare system has hit a wall.

As is typical for Leftist political elites today and throughout the ages, Macron is pushing austerity on his people while having no intention of tightening his own belt: he drew international ridicule Friday for putting his hands under the table during a televised discussion and surreptitiously taking off a luxury watch, the estimated worth of which could be as high as $86,000, while talking about how the French people were going to have to make sacrifices.

The hypocrisy of the elites, however, is just one small aspect of a much larger problem. A 2016 study ranked France’s welfare system as the most generous in the world, and that system has not changed significantly since then. “France’s social security deficit was approximately $22 billion in 2012,” said the study, and as you’d expect, that problem has not been solved, but has only gotten worse.

Reuters reported in September 2020 that “France’s social security deficit will reach record levels this year,” and was set to reach 44 billion euros ($51.4 billion) that year, “far more than the deficit of 5.4 billion forecast last year [2019] by the government.” This is because of the government’s record-breaking profligacy. The 2016 study notes that France “has the most generous social welfare spending, which amounts for 31.5% of its GDP.”

Why does France need this massively generous welfare system? In large part to support the migrants who were brought into the country to serve as a work force as the native French population, which had stopped reproducing, aged and retired. A 2016 Brookings study noted that while fifteen percent of native French fifteen- to twenty-nine-year-olds were unemployed, fully forty percent of migrants from North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and Turkey of that age were jobless.

Brookings observed that “recent immigrants and their descendants tend to concentrate in public housing projects that were built in the 1960s and 1970s in low-rent neighborhoods; in France, these projects are located on the urban outskirts, known as banlieues or cités.” These areas are predominantly Muslim: “the proportion of residents of North African origin may be very high, but it is never all inclusive; other Africans, Turks, and nonimmigrant French live alongside Arabs and Berbers from Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia.” And “these neighborhoods are marked by poverty” and “welfare dependence.”

Non-Muslims paying for the upkeep of Muslims is a Qur’anic dictate, as the Islamic holy book commands Muslims to fight against Jews and Christians “until they pay the jizya [a poll tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” (9:29). The caliph Umar said the payments from the non-Muslims who were subjugated under Muslim rule (dhimmis) were the source of the Muslims’ livelihood: “I advise you to fulfill Allah’s Convention (made with the Dhimmis) as it is the convention of your Prophet and the source of the livelihood of your dependents (i.e. the taxes from the Dhimmis.)’” (Bukhari 4.53.388)

UK jihad preacher Anjem Choudary said in February 2013: “We are on Jihad Seekers Allowance, We take the Jizya (protection money paid to Muslims by non-Muslims) which is ours anyway. The normal situation is to take money from the Kafir (non-Muslim), isn’t it? So this is normal situation. They give us the money. You work, give us the money. Allah Akbar, we take the money. Hopefully there is no one from the DSS (Department of Social Security) listening. Ah, but you see people will say you are not working. But the normal situation is for you to take money from the Kuffar (non-Muslim) So we take Jihad Seeker’s Allowance.”

But now the gravy train is running dry, and France is aflame. The protests are enormous and destructive. According to CNN, “More than a million people took to the streets across France on Thursday with protests turning violent in some areas…. French police said around 1,000 people acted ‘violently,’ setting fires, launching smoke bombs and damaging property. In the southwestern city of Bordeaux, protesters set fire to the entrance of the city hall during ongoing clashes with police.”

And so it must be asked about the entire enterprise of bringing massive numbers of migrants into France, many of whom depend on a welfare system that is now cracking under the strain: was it worth it?

This article was first published in Frontpage Mag

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Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 19 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process.