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I am only 20 minutes from my aunt’s flat on Ligne 13. This is Sunday morning. At the cathedral I count scarcely 500 faithful at Mass. They are almost all black. “This is a black church,” says the old white priest as I leave. Imagine Westminster Abbey in Tower Hamlets, a Tower Hamlets without jobs, which makes it more of a Bradford. This is the banlieue of Seine-Saint-Denis. In a country where ethno-religious statistics are illegal, this is seen as a Muslim-majority territory. To mention Saint-Denis is to start arguing about France’s greatest tension: Islam and the Republic.

Bradford upsets the British less than Saint-Denis does the French. France has a far more virulent rejection of Muslim multiculturalism. The majority even find Islam itself incompatible with the values of French society. The word communitaire is only used with sharply negative connotations. This is because Saint-Denis clashes with the underlying French ideology — La République, the enlightenment scheme whereby there should be nothing between the will of a uniform, secular state and its citizens. No priests, no imams, no community elders.

Last week one of the cathedral’s priests was savagely beaten here, thugs mistaking a long thin book for an iPad. Then they bolted, leaving him with a bleeding nose on the square. My notebook fills with stories like this: of thieves, hoodlums and pickpockets. This is nothing like poor London.

The streets of Saint-Denis talk as if the authorities have lost their grip. Jihadists are waging a dirty war on the Republic, recruiting intensively in these banlieues. Since 2012, stabbings, shootings and car rammings have taken place every few months, punctuated by slaughters such as Charlie Hebdo and the Bataclan.

It was here after the Bataclan massacre that the police stormed the hideout of the terrorist mastermind, firing 5,000 rounds. Three jihadis were shot dead, minutes from the cathedral. Their stated ambition was to start a civil war.

The odd woman circumvents France’s ban on complete face coverings, by wearing a little anti-bacterial facemask under tight-fitting hijab. The Catholic faithful drifting out of the cathedral are uncomfortable. “Everything has changed,” says Maria, a 62-year-old cleaner. “Immigration changed everything. The people changed. You can just see it for yourself. The French have all left Saint-Denis. Look around you.” She has lived here for 37 years. “The real French have left. I’m a Portuguese immigrant, and I want to leave too. It’s their own fault they let themselves get screwed like this. But now France is no longer France.”

The square is full of drug pushers, hustling in broad light. They are brazen in a way unthinkable in London. Dishevelled Arab men hawk parsley and fennel out of cardboard boxes where the escalators grind out from the Métro. A Roma beggar without one arm but instead three deformed fingers sprouting from her shoulder stump, chimes “Salaam Aleikum” at the hijabis outside a poky Islamic clothes shop.

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August 27th, 2016
1:08 PM
Jonathan Tokeley Th author probably forgot to consider exponential growth rate. I too calculate that in less the 50 years, France will be a Muslim majority country. For that matter so will all Western Europe.

Robert Marchenoir
August 21st, 2016
3:08 AM
Everything in this article is true, except the last sentence. The author is Jewish, his own family lives in fear on the frontline of Muslim conquest, he saw with his own eyes how Jewish children need to be protected by the army in their own country, and yet, out of the blue, he concludes that Islamists are not about to take power. Then why the army ? Why the fear ? Also, he equates the "hatred" of Saint-Denis and Hayange, speaking about "the hatred between Saint-Denis and Hayange". This is blaming the victim. Nobody in his right mind would write about "the hatred between the Nazis and the Jews".

August 11th, 2016
10:08 AM
I remember when my father was an African student in Greece 40 years ago. We knew that it was not our country and that Greek meant white people and often Orthodox Christians. We respected them, they respected us and we knew that one day we would go back home. We knew that we had a country. Those Blacks and Arabs who whine and complain that they are not seen as French have been lied to by the French politicians. There are many Lebanese and Indians merchants in my country. They may live here as long as they wish but they are Lebanese and Indians and will never be Africans. There is no insult implied, that's the way it is. Some of them marry local and a few aqcuire the nationality but it remains exceptional. When you impose abstract philosophical ideas upon the people however generous it may seem, you end up with the problem France and Western Europe are facing with their immigrant population.

Gil Gillespie
August 4th, 2016
7:08 PM
It is depressingly ironic that a country that invested so much effort and so much money resisting the appetite of American cultural imperialism could end up being eaten from the inside by an even more ravenous beast; Islam. A unique and insightful insight into the bleakness of modern Paris.

Ancient Briton
July 21st, 2016
1:07 AM
Does anybody know when the essentially Marxist idea became predominant, namely that all issues relating to the wellbeing of the nation are essentially economic ? We would presumably have been better off joining the Continental system. We would have saved a fortune, and eventually the Empire, by falling in with the Kaiser's Europe. But no statesman of those times would have contempated dealing with issues of war and peace, of national survival, and national honour, as if they were merely matters of economic benefit. Over the last however many years, even apparently sensible and educated contributors have come naturally to assume that all the arguments pro and con, be they relating to Brexit, immigration, trade, sovereignty, and so on, are to be considered by all rational people as if they were economic questions : does Brexit make you better or worse off; does mass immigration advance or retard the national economy ? The assumption now seems to be that any consideration of such issues as anything other than economic is at best unhealthy and unworthy, at worse bigoted and racist, and only to be indulged in by the poor, miserable, and uneducated. Certainly, until 1945, national leaders could rely on the simple patriotism of men and women of all classes and of all degrees of education. Even Stalin discovered that 'the great patriotic war' stiffened the sinews in a way that could not be achieved by a revolutionary call to arms. Precisely when and why did simple love of homeland become a sin amongst intellectuals, and why do they despise it so amongst ordinary souls?

Lawrence James
July 19th, 2016
10:07 AM
This is bleakly predictable and the upshot of France's imperial policies in Africa. Official assimilation was only possible for non-Muslims, for it was argued that Muslims could never embrace secular,republican values rooted the the principles of the Revolution. This proscription extended to North African immigrants who entered France in growing numbers from the early 1900s and were augmented by pro-French Algerians who fled after independence.

July 17th, 2016
7:07 AM
Visit Germanys problem zones e.g. in Berlin and read Michel Houellebecq's "Soumission" or Thilo Sarrazin's "Germany Is Doing Away With Itself" both written before the terrorist wave. The immigrants outbreed the former residents, which was a cause for the conflicts in Lebanon and Kosovo. Brussels will be the first town with a Muslim majority. Knowing how Muslim countries treat their minorities this is less than comfortable...

Jonathan Tokeley
July 12th, 2016
7:07 PM
One important factual error: the author quotes his pollster as stating that; "Predictions of a Muslim majority by 2050 are baseless. Only 13 per cent of French teenagers are Muslims, and Muslims are expected to reach only 10 per cent of the French population by 2030". Mark Steyn, in his authoritative 'America Alone', cites the generally accepted demographic statistics, culled from governmental sources. The Muslims make up 7.5% of the French population, but are notably more fecund, producing 3.95 children/mother, as opposed to 1.35 children/mother for native French. They are producing 34% of all french babies. This means that, in twenty years' time, in 2030, when they reach breeding-age, this 34% will be producing a clear majority of children, all of whom will be muslim (unless Muslim women become less fecund, and apostasy become feasible, neither of which are at all likely). By 2050, when this generation reach breeding (and voting age), they will have a "democratic" majority, and also a breeding majority. I don't know where the pollster's 10%-of-the-population-by-2013 claim comes from, but it's nonsense...

July 8th, 2016
11:07 PM
This article veers between being over-simplistic and overly detailed with depressing (and occasionally misleading) details. It is also far too long - an extended essaay written in a personalised and sometimes discursive style. I used to know Paris fairly well in the 1980s but I haven't been so often in the last two decades and I find the changes details in this piece quite depressing, although I don't know how reliable this author is and perhaps some aspects are over exaggerated (I don't know this to be true but journalistic distortions are commonplace and I'm not familiar with this writer). So - a couple of comments. Firtly, Mr. Judah sometimes uses the term 'Islamist' as synonymous with Muslim and uses the term 'Islamic' in an undefined way (he mentions an 'Islamic' clothes shop... does he mean a religious clothes shop or what...?). Islamists are quite different from Muslims. Islamism is a political ideology; a variety of Clerical Fascism. It may be widespread, indeed mainstream, within the Muslim communities of France and the UK but it is not universal and a great many people who identify as Muslims do not support Islamism so it is unwise and dangerous to push them into this camp (unless this is a deliberate part of your political strategy - as it is with the Israeli/Zionist approach towards the Palestinians). Secondly, Mr Judah is clearly not a student of European history or political ideology, which is amply demonstrated when he refers to the device in the symbol of the Republique Francaise as " axe wraped in a wood bundle." He obviously doesn't know what 'fasces' are or their political symbolism in ancient or modern European history. This does not invalidate his comments but it is surprising in a writer (especially a Jewish writer) penning such a lengthy article on the racial politics of France. It reminds me of a senior Guardian journalist called Martin Walker (probably retired now) who wrote a book on the revival of British Racial Fascism in 1976 called 'The National Front'. It was only years later, when Walker was the Guardian's US correspondent and wrote a piece on the opening of the New York Holocaust Museum that I realised that he had never read a history of Nazi Germany - in particular he had never read the standard reference work on this period which is William Shirer's 'Rise and Fall of the Third Reich'. This astonished me and helped me to realise that even journalists on so-called 'quality' broadsheets can be lazy and shallow in their research. Last point (I had several more but they would make this comment far too long): reports of Anti-Smitic "incidents" may well have risen dramatically in France, and this is deplorable. They have also risen dramatically in the UK, which is also deplorable. However, a significant proportion of incidents in both countries are not actual physical attacks and many are not Anti-Semitic at all. The reason for the inclusion of many non violent and non-Anti-Semitic incidents is because several Zionist organisations (and others who they influence or who folow their lead for politically opportunistic reasons - such as the Labour Party Right Wing who want to undermine Corbyn at the moment) classify political criticism or polemical attacks on Israel and Zionism as "Anti-Semitism" and even attempt to have them defined as "hate crimes". I don't know what difference this makes to the statistics but it certainly inflates them and makes the figures untrustworthy.

July 8th, 2016
9:07 AM
The utopian, anti-Christian left is only now realizing what it has wrought, and it is too late. Refusing to have children, suppressing the heritage of Europe, unchecked immigration and lavish financial benefits ... you cannot go back and undo all of that. It's too late.

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