Meeting in Paris at his home with French author and activist Marek Halter. Sharing his frame of mind after recurrent Terror attacks and his views on the challenge offered by jihadism.
Franck Guillory: Three months and a half after Terror attacks orchestrated in Paris by radical islamists, over a month after murders in the Bardo Museum in Tunis, which is your own take on these events. What is your frame of mind?
Marek Halter: We shall always hope for the better… Read the Bible where it is written that, when creating a disease, God imagines simultaneously a cure for it. We, human beings, are not God and therefore we are certainly not as cautious and may take us time to conceive a response. But we will end up finding one.
Franck Guillory: Very early on, in the aftermath of Terror attack on Charlie Hebdo on January 7th 2015, French President François Hollande declared that “we are at war”. Others had already written or said it publicly… Do you consider that we are at war?
Marek Halter: Yes, it is a war but it is one different from the wars we have been confronted to so far.
Hitler was Hitler. The threat was identified and well known. Now we are confronted to an unprecedented threat with an enemy which seems capable to hit us anywhere and at any time.
More to the point, this enemy does not share at all our perception and conception of life and death. So far, with very rare exceptions, the enemies we have had to fight wanted to kill without taking the risk to be killed.
Nowadays, those who are threating us are not scared to be killed. On the contrary, they see their own death as a promise in after-life.
Franck Guillory: How did we reach such a point?
Marek Halter: This is not just a matter of human development, misery, suffering as still pretend some generous “beautiful mind”, as Hegel used to call them.
Radicalization and growing violence find their origin in a lack of prospect. There are no ideologies able to help people facing ultimate misery. Nothing, not even a “red sun on the horizon” as French poet Jacques used to say.
Franck Guillory: Isn’t this radical perception of Islam, which is also a perversion of Islam – we believe – an ideology in itself which has come to fill the gap left by the former domineering and then failed ideologies…
Marek Halter: It is the return of God, a return to God. When nothing is left, men put their destinies in the hands of God. “Inch Allah”, “God wishing”…
The second post-Second World War generation shares a huge responsibility through failing to offer some collective adventure, a renewed ideological adventure, some hope… In the name of God, some Muslims are now offering pour souls some adventure. These days, you can jump in a plane to Turkey, cross the Syrian border and find yourself wearing a uniform, handling a Kalachnikov machine gun and experiencing some sort of adventure.
There’s seemingly nothing else on offer and some souls, unconscious, ignorant don’t manage to resist the temptation.
Franck Guillory: How could we deter them from doing so?
Marek Halter: Governments have some options. Some means of deterrence do exist…
It is necessary to strengthen secret services, to expand their funding. We should, as an example, deploy a better control of social networks to counter jihadist propaganda.
We must target them where they are. And we should do so without underestimating the risk of fuelling jihadism and reinforcing our enemies through such military operations in Middle East and elsewhere where radical Islamism is spreading.
We are in a state of war, a war that is permanent and multipolar, a war that will transform our way of life et a war that risks forcing us to restrain our civil liberties. Attack after attack, we are losing ground on two centuries of gain in term of rights and liberties.
Marek Halter is born in Poland in 1936. Having fled the Jewish Warsaw Ghetto, he returned to the Polish capital city after the war and then moved to Paris in 1950.
To learn more: The Wall for Peace