When French entrepreneur, politician and novelist Philippe de Villiers published The Mosques of Roissy in 2006, he was vilified as an Islamophobe and right-wing extremist. The book revealed how Islamic radicals had infiltrated Charles de Gaulle airport and its publication led to the immediate closure of six illegal prayer rooms.
A decade later Villiers’ accusations were totally vindicated following the November 2015 attacks, when the Paris Airport Authority withdrew 70 airside security badges from Muslim employees and 4,000 staff lockers were raided by police as the employees were considered a security risk.
Villiers has turned out to be something of a prophet in a land that is now in the front line of the war against Islamic radicalism. “I am the only politician who is telling the truth about the Islamization of France,” he declared in April 2006 while running in the French presidential election.
His policies included a moratorium on the construction of new mosques, banning Islamist organizations suspected of links to terrorism and deporting Islamic extremists. Such themes are now par for the course among conservative candidates in the 2017 French presidential election campaign.
One may reasonably speculate that the state in which France currently finds itself could have been avoided had Villiers been elected president.
In 2014, he did not stand as a candidate to retain his seat in the European Parliament and withdrew from politics to concentrate on his business ventures and writing.
His latest book, Will the Church Bells Ring Tomorrow? deals with what he terms the Islamization of France. Like The Mosques of Roissy, Villiers claims that his new work is backed up by reports written by the French domestic intelligence service.
Villiers links the Islamization of France to the advent of globalization. In the 1980s, the French Socialist Party turned its back on the diminishing indigenous working class, small shopkeepers and tradesmen on whom it could no longer depend to win elections. Instead it focused on wooing naturalized immigrants from North Africa, France’s fastest-growing population group, to build an alternative power-base to shore up its traditional public-sector constituency.
This shift coincided with the creation of pressure groups allied to the left such as SOS Racism and Muslim advocacy groups such as the UOIF (Union of French Islamic Organizations) and the CFCM (French Council of Muslim Faith), both linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Villiers seems to subscribe to the “Great Replacement“ theory put forward by Renaud Camus and others, which asserts that European big business is seeking to substitute a diminishing and aging European workforce with immigrants.
Patriotism has all but disappeared, to be replaced by a globalist ethic where the sole civic duty is to save the planet. The state no longer exists as the source of public well-being. People no longer have any roots and have become nomads in a world where mobility is the great absolute. Hence, the moral obligation of Europeans to welcome the arrival of millions of migrants from Africa and the Middle East.
He attributes the exponential growth of Salafism over the past 40 years to interference by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who pumped vast sums of money into France to build up a network of mosques and associations to promote radical Islam.
Villiers considers that the threat is coming not just from terrorism but from what is seen as “moderate” Islam. He cites Dalil Boubakeur, CFCM president and rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, who recently said, “We have 2,200 mosques and we need to double that number within two years.”
Villiers condemns the arrogance of mainstream Muslim leaders who “arrogantly enjoin us to rewrite French history in light of the contribution made by Islamic civilization, without which modern Europe would never have seen the light of day.”
Villiers blames weak and complicit politicians over recent decades for what he sees as the present-day fear and frailty of the indigenous French population. “France is now inhabited by two peoples: the newcomers who are settling in with pride and a debilitated native population no longer aware of the conditions necessary for their survival. One by one, towns are sliding into a Halal France. Oyonnax has become Turkish, Avignon is no longer the Papal City but a city of Salafists.”
Villiers’ thesis is at least partially corroborated by recent opinion polls of Muslims and the latest figures from the UCLAT (Anti-Terrorist Combat Coordination Unit). According to the report, there are over 15,000 identified Islamic radicals throughout France, of which 18% are minors, the youngest being 11 years old.
The greatest numbers are located in the industrial basins of Paris, northern France, the Rhône valley and the Mediterranean coast, where immigrants from North Africa settled in the 1960s and 1970s. They are also present in thinly-populated rural areas and small towns such as Lunel, from where 20 jihadists departed to fight for Islamic State in Syria.
It remains to be seen whether Villiers’ latest book will portend France’s future or whether the president elected in 2017 will be able to stop the country’s Muslim youth from veering further towards radical Islam.
Leslie Shaw is an Associate Professor at the Paris campus of ESCP Europe Business School and President of FIRM (Forum on Islamic Radicalism and Management).