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In this month, 11 French nationals and one Tunisian with French dual nationality were sentenced to death by an Iraqi court. These 12 were accused to be fighters of Daesh (ISIL). This case is very important. This conviction simulated France-Iraq diplomatic rift.  It provides a study of how the French people are being attracted by ISIL. This case has also prompted an international diplomatic rift between Iraq and France. France refused to accept these twelve. However Foreign ministry officials criticized the death sentence. This behavior is depicting the hypocrisy of the French government.

An article named “Who are the new Jihadis?” was published in The Guardian two years ago. This article was written by a renown writer Olivier Roy. Mr. Roy is also a French citizen. He wrote that two types of people are joining ISIS. The first type includes 2nd generation of French Muslims. These Muslims are hiring their relatives for ISIL. The 2nd type is native French nationals who converted to Islam.

The children of Muslim migrants are living a liberal life in France. However, at some points of their lives, they were brainwashed and directed towards extremist ideology. Daesh or ISIL could not attract the first generation of Muslims. Because first-generation sacrificed a lot for the better future of their families. It may be noted that it is a very small portion of 2nd generation Muslims who are attracted towards Daesh. However, these are signs of the rebellion of 2nd generation against their parents.

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Newly converted French are disappointed with their families. And when their families disowned them they become an easy target for ISIL.

Mr. Roy claimed that another dangerous thing is that the pair of siblings are also being hired by Al Qaeda or ISIL. For example, Abdesalam brothers were involved in the Paris attacks of 2015. Similarly, Kauachi brothers were involved in the Charlie Hebdo incident. In the same manner, Fabien and Jean Michel were converted to Islam and were killed in Baghouz Syria.

People gathered to pray for victims of Paris attacks Photo via wikimedia.org

This sibling phenomenon is not only limited to France. The Tsarnaev brothers were involved in the Boston bombing of 2013. Similarly, siblings were responsible for a terrorist attack in Catalonia Spain.

Now looking back at the twelve who got convicted in Iraq. Fodil Tahar joined ISIL’s Syrian wing in 2013. France convicted his sisters for providing financial help to Fodil. Similarly, Karam el Harchaoui went to Syria in 2014. His younger brother was also with him. Yassin Sakkam left France in 2014. However, his brother did a suicide attack at the Iraq-Jordan border in 2015. Kevin Gonot and Thomas Collange are also siblings. They are also among the twelve who were convicted by an Iraqi court. They belong to the converted category.

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One of the convicted is Leonard Lopez. He is 32 years old. He went to Syria with his family including his wife and two children. Vianney Ouraghi left France in 2013. He abandoned his studies in France and joined ISIL through Social media. Meanwhile, Mustapha Merzoughi was a soldier in the French army. He also joined ISIL through social media.

All the convicted ones are in their early 30s. It means that they got inspired by extremist ideology in their twenties. It is a clear example of generational rebellion as mentioned by Roy in 2017.

Here it must be noted that 1st and 3rd generations of French Muslims are not involved in any terrorist activity. Only a small portion of 2nd generation and converts are part of this extremist ideology. This is because of the alienation of 2nd generation Muslims. They were either ignored by their parents or victimized by the global recession of 2008. It is very clear that the issue is not religious but socio-economic.

However, this conviction clearly exposed France’s hypocrisy. On one hand, France criticized Iraq on conviction and on the other, it is not ready to accept these twelve. France has an option to offer incentives if Iraq converts execution to a life sentence. Possibly France may offer some economic or military aid to Iraq to avoid the execution of these twelve. European Union can also meddle to diffuse the current France-Iraq diplomatic rift. 

European countries seriously need to develop strategies to counter extremist ideologies. A possible solution of current France-Iraq diplomatic rift lies in a negotiated settlement.

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