17. "Banlieues" and Islam

We heard that one Islamic organisation had a fatwa against the rioters. What was the role of the mullahs and the Islamic groups in the rioting? Is religion a big problem and are there counterparts in the banlieues?

There was indeed a fatwa against the rioters, with very little or no effect: Islam neither inspired the revolt nor was able to stop it. At least that's a relief : so much for the media fuss about growing Islamic political indoctrination among banlieue youth. Unfortunately, in the areas with lots of people from North or Black Africa, Asia and Turkey, Islam certainly plays a conservative role, not directly political, but with more influence than twenty or thirty years ago. The jobless son of the ex-unskilled Algerian or Moroccan automobile worker is more concerned by the Koran than his father was when he worked in a Citroën plant. (This should help us grasp that the de-socialisation caused by the decline of big factories is not enough to produce a mobile, rootless and volatile, potentially universal "new" proletarian, ready for a social critique that the former blue collar worker entrenched in the fetters and myths of work was supposedly incapable of.) However biased the religious critique of society in general and of capitalism in particular can be, it is based on a form of community that can only be superseded by a larger higher form of community, a proletarian and then a human community, that still has to prove its historical validity. Until then, religion is here to stay, or even to develop, as we argued in The Continuing Appeal of Religion.