00:39 - TV showing September 11th
News Reporter: On this day in September 2001 - 19 people decided to die. They dragged thousands of civilian victims into their suicide
00:50 - Aicha
Corcoran: The agony of a mother caught up in a tragedy she still barely comprehends. Aicha El-Wafi sits transfixed by an endless stream of reality TV starring her son - Zaccarias Moussaoui.

01:16 - TV footage
News Reporter: 2 days later, the name of Frenchman Zaccarias Moussaoui, is revealed to the public.

01:12
Corcoran: Arrested a month before the attack – the American’s allege he intended to be the 20th hijacker. When Zaccarias’s trial starts next year, prosecutors will call for his execution.

01:25 - Aicha
Aicha acknowledges he is an Islamic extremist – but claims he was radicalised by the discrimination and racism that all French Muslims must endure.

01:36
Aicha: You are rejected by French society – they don’t give us a chance to integrate.

01:48
Muslim on the streets and Music

01:52
Corcoran: Moussaoui’s arrest has sharpened debate on an increasingly sensitive issue - Islam’s place in French society.

Music

02:10
Corcoran: France’s four and a half million Muslims constitute 8 percent of the population - proportionally it’s now the largest Islamic community in the West -- and growing fast.

02:26
Moisi: Islam is by far the second largest religion in France.

02:30 - Moisi
There are more Muslims in France than there are Muslims in Tunisia or in Jordan.

02:38 - Muslim on street
If we fail further to integrate, if we fail

02:42 - Moisi
to create an atmosphere in which a moderate, tolerant Moslem society blossom in France - yes, there will be a more Moussaouis.

002:56 - Music

03:05 - Port of Marseilles
Corcoran: Marseilles may be in France - but it’s heart lies in the former French colonies of North Africa - the Magreb.
003:17 - Street of Marseilles
Beyond the postcard visage of the harbour lies a tough cosmopolitan city with a violent reputation, where drugs are traded in the street as openly as vegetables.

03:30
It’s a town where most simply struggle to get by in life – and to pray to their God in peace.

03:38
One in four people here are Muslim - of Algerian, Moroccan, Tunisian or West African descent –

03:43 - Old French building
but Marseilles features few signs of their faith.

03:55 - Ben Cheikh
And nothing in Soheib Ben Cheikh’s appearance gives any hint that he is one of the nation’s Islamic leaders - the Grand Mufti of Marseilles.

04:03
Ben Cheikh: Islam is not a religion which demands a particular form of dress. One has to be part of this century, not be marginalised in one’s own century.

04:24
Corcoran: And as this theology graduate of France’s elite Sorbonne University heads for Friday prayers, something is clearly missing from the Marseilles skyline. There’s not a single dedicated mosque in the entire city.

04:43 - Inside prayer hall
Here the faithful gather in ad hoc prayer halls – such as this converted shop – spilling out onto the footpaths and gutters.

05:01 - People praying outside
For decades, authorities have ignored requests to build mosques – conveniently citing a century old law prohibiting Government from endorsing or financing religious institutions.
05:19
For the Grand Mufti, his faith and people have been rendered invisible.

05:24- Ben Cheikh
Ben Cheikh: It’s been caused by a political failure to take Islam seriously in an almost sick or pathological manner – which is pushing Islam towards invisibility as if it did not exist at all.

Super fades up Soheib Ben Cheikh Grand Mufti of Marseilles

05:50 - People praying
Corcoran: Muslims pray in a French Republic built upon the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. In return they are expected to totally integrate in a state with zero official tolerance of multiculturalism. And this, according to one of the nations leading social policy advisers is the core of the problem.

06:11 - Moisi
Moisi: Since they are French, since they are French citizens, we negate them the right to be different. This is where the multiculturalism of the American experience is really a plus -
Super fades up Prof. Dominque Moisi French Institute of International Relations

06:26 - Muslim leaving building
which was refused by France. They want to be different; we want them to be like us.

06:37 - Moisi
Corcoran: What is the reality here?

Moisi: Well the reality is of a land of great inequality. You may succeed if you are a Muslim, but it is going to be very difficult for you.

06:48 - Music

06:52 - View over public housing estates
Corcoran: And for many Marseilles Muslims that difficult life starts here in one of the city’s 20 public housing estates.

07:04 - public housing estates
Most were hastily erected in the early 1960s, for Algerians who fled the bitter war of independence from France. The Government kept hoping the Arabs would eventually go home - but they never did. Instead, they took out French citizenship and now raise families amid the slow decay.

Music

07:30 - Karim
Karim: Look at them - they are just sitting there. They get bored….bored shitless. Imagine sitting here at that age – I went through exactly that. You sit there every day looking at the building -and that torments your head and when that happens you just don’t think any more.

07:47 - Felix Piat estate
Corcoran: Karim is a community mediator at the Felix Piat estate, where 7,000 people endure a squalor intended for only 4,000.

08:02 - Corcoran and Karim
It’s largely a no go zone for police and essential services. Karim inhabits a parallel universe - more Middle Eastern war zone than metropolitan France. That’s used as an illegal garbage dump by city businesses.

08:18
Karim: This is shit - little children play in the shit. We live with shit and disease….cholera. Why? This is Marseilles. This is part of the town. I cannot understand it any more. I just can’t deal with it any more! Why don’t they send the garbage trucks? Because we are not citizens? Because we are animals?

08:44 - estate
Corcoran: Official figures are vague – but according to one reliable estimate, half of France’s unemployed are Muslim – and half the jail population is defined as being of “foreign origin”.

08:57
Karim: We have big problems.

08:59 - Karim
You look for a job, you can’t find one, you look for an apartment you can’t find one. You want to leave the country, you can’t. So what’s left? Drugs. You steal – that’s what they want. They want to destroy you.

09:15 - Estate
Corcoran: Authorities are finally attempting repairs; the lifts work for the first time in 20 years. Power and water supplies are becoming more reliable. But, as a gesture such efforts come too late; the perception here is of a Government simply building a better cage.

09:39
The project manager is accused of ignoring a request to repair the flat of this elderly pensioner.

09:47 - Manager speaking with residents
Manager: Look, Mr. Faisal’s problem is that his mother has no legal papers to be on French territory. Could you please stop filming?

10:06 - Mr. Faisal’s apartment
Corcoran: We’re ushered into Mr. Faisal’s apartment - which he shares with his 84 year old mother. For this he pays the equivalent of 450 U.S. dollars a month.

10:19 - Faisal
Faisal: I am asthmatic, I am 69 years old and I need the oxygen machine all night, my mother has diabetes…. she’s paralysed, and she cannot walk, I have to give her food.
10:35 - Apartment
Corcoran: The bitterness, heightened by a perception that while born in France, they’re still regarded as foreigners - nothing more than a burden to the state.

10:45 - Faisal
Faisal: Yes, I was born in Marseilles, I am French, French nationality.Corcoran: That’s your card - and how long has your mother been here?

Faisal: 60 years.

Corcoran: And they still won’t work on your apartment because your mother is not considered French?

Faisal: It’s an excuse.

11:05 - Estate
Corcoran: The estate is plugged into its own version of reality - pirated satellite dishes all face Arab TV – which serves up a steady diet of jihad and intifada.

In a perverse way, September 11 provided a focus for youths without purpose. Young French-Arabs who once identified as Algerian or Moroccan – now view themselves simply as followers of Islam.

11:34 - Karim
Karim: Thank God we’ve got it. Because without religion, there would be a bloodbath. Islam and religion lead us towards the “good path”. Despite this, despite where we live, we always look to god and always towards the good. Despite this the hurt we go towards the good.

11:53 - Moisi
Moisi: This extreme minority is allowed to blossom because there is such dissatisfaction, such humiliation, such resentment, with the failure to fully penetrate French society.

12:14 - Music

12:23 - Narbonne
Corcoran: Two hours drive from the squalor of Marseilles lies the world of Zaccarias Moussaoui.

12:30 - Image of Zaccarias Moussaoui and Music

12:35 - Narbonne
Corcoran: France’s most infamous fundamentalist was not a product of the ghetto, but of this mainly white, middle class town. His mother Aicha moved here to Narbonne more than twenty years ago.

12:49
A Moroccan migrant, and abandoned mother with four young children – she was determined her family would succeed – far from the tensions of the ghetto.

13:00 - Aicha
Aicha: I had to work hard to give everything to my children.
13:03 - Narbonne
It wasn’t easy. I never had a social worker come around. I never asked for handouts from anyone.

Music

13:16 - Aicha house
Corcoran: Aicha bought a house and progressed from cleaning lady to administrator for French Telecom. All for a better life for her two daughters, and her sons Zaccarias and Abd Samad.

13:30 - Aicha
Aicha: When I was with my children, when they were little, I used to work 8 hours a day. But when we were together and they were here - playing together, laughing. I was the happiest woman in the world.

13:54 - Aicha and Corcoran
Aicha: Please come in…Corcoran: Zaccarias’s things?Aicha: Oh yes, Zaccarias played here.

14:01
Corcoran: Under the house lies the typical bric-a-brac of childhood, and the teenage rites of passage

14:08
Aicha: Look here for example - here is Bob Marley, he was Zaccarias’s favourite - he would sing with him all the time.
14:23
Corcoran: Did he smoke pot as well? Aicha: Yes, yes, he smoked joints, he went out with girls as well, both of them, Abd Samad and Zaccarias – both of them.

14:33 - Picture of her sons
Corcoran: Aicha says her sons’ dreams had faded by the time they were in their early 20s. Zaccarias and Abd Samad were well educated and middle class - but they were no jobs for young Arabs in a white town.

14:46 - Aicha
Aicha: From the moment that they’re rejected find the people who speak of Islam who say “you see, you are French - you are born in France, you have skills, you’ve studied - but they didn’t give you the chance to be completely French”
Corcoran: Zaccarias moved to London and embraced

15:09 - Picture Zaccarias and Abd Samad
the radical Islam of the Wahabbi sect of Saudi Arabia. Aicha claims her other son Abd Samad, joined a local fundamentalist group,

15:22 - Aicha
and broke off all contact because she refuses to wear traditional Islamic dress.

Aicha: He says a woman who does not wear the veil is not a good Muslim. I feel broken and destroyed inside, because I love them despite everything. Despite everything I love them both.

15:56
Corcoran: And if Aicha is to be believed

16:01 - Abd Samad Moussaoui
Corcoran: this is the face of French fundamentalist Islam – her eldest son Abd Samad Moussaoui. She claims his western, urbane exterior conceals a militant soul. Abd Samad reluctantly agrees to meet us at a local hotel. He’s written a book condemning his brothers actions – but refuses to be drawn on his mother’s criticisms.

16:26
Abd Samad: It makes me sad, it makes the whole family sad, it’s something I don’t understand. But that’s my mother.
16:38
Corcoran: But what he does offer is an apocalyptic view on the future of Islam in France.

16:44 - Abd Samad
Abd Samad: If you leave, let’s say, the Muslim community shut up in a ghetto then that will allow racism, xenophobia and indifference to develop and lead to a situation similar to that in Yugoslavia.

Music

17:18 - Muslim on the street
Corcoran: For many, this is the vision splendid of cosmopolitan France.

Music

17:29 - Jean Marie Le Pen
Corcoran: But it’s not the view of Jean Marie Le Pen, leader of France’s extreme right wing National Front. He sees a nation in danger of being swamped by Islam – runaway immigration and Arab crime.

17:48 - Picture army photos
Like so many of his generation, Le Pen fought and lost against the Algerians in their war of independence from France. A humiliating defeat that even today weighs heavily on the national psyche and French-Arab relations.

18:04 - Le Pen
Le Pen: The most serious racism in France is the racism against the French - especially the poor French - are victims of racism from the immigrants and they are victims of an aggressive attitude - especially from young migrants.

18:29
We believe we have a superior right to be in our country. It’s been created by those before us, by their work, by their efforts, by their sacrifice and their suffering. It’s our home.

18:49 - Marseilles
Corcoran: While Le Pen provides a rallying point for anti-Muslim sentiment, France’s Islamic community remains highly fragmented.

18:59 - Grand Mosque of Marseilles model
One solution is this proposed Grand Mosque of Marseilles, intended as a unifying symbol to draw followers of this diverse faith together.

19:13 - Prayer hall
Many prayer halls are controlled by fundamentalists, and nearly all are directly funded by Arab States such as Algeria and Saudi Arabia.

19:26 - Grand Mosque of Marseilles model
This model represents one solution: build a Grand Mosque, funded by the community and placed under the control of the moderate Mufti so to erode the hardliners’ power base.

19:28 - Ben Cheikh
Ben Cheikh: And you have a whole lot of negative sources which unfortunately are joining forces. It makes these young Muslims vulnerable to the temptation to become extremis. Thank God it’s not the case of the majority

Music

20:09 - Kader
Corcoran: For young Muslims such as Kader, our guide through the housing projects, the chasm between his world and the good life of white France grows ever wider.

20:24 - Tour of Marseilles’ nightclubs
He takes us on a hidden camera tour of Marseilles’ nightclubs – where Arabs are inevitably rejected. While dozens of white kids are invited in – Kader is told he needs a reservation.

20:35 - Doorman
Doorman: Do you have a reservation?

20:42 - Kader
Kader: Well the real reason is that I’m - as they say in France, a Buerre, an Arab.

20:50 - Outside night club
Corcoran: And it’s from such relatively minor humiliations that the seeds of anger continue to grow.

20:58 - Kader
Kader: Well from all this - the nightclubs, housing problems, employment - places a shadow over your whole life. They bottle it all up inside their hearts and in the end they become bombs waiting to explode.

Music

21:25 - Grand French building
Corcoran: French authorities estimate this disillusionment drove more than 300 of their nationals from these streets to the Al Qaeda terrorist camps of Afghanistan.

21:36
Moisi: The number of people who were raised in France and who

21:42 - Moisi
were trained in terrorist camps in Afghanistan and other places, is quite spectacular. In fact, their anger grew in France. This is a failure of the west - they may hate America -

22:03 - Night lights
but they hate America after living in the French part of the west.

22:12 - Image Zaccarias Moussaoui
Corcoran: Perhaps it is not so remarkable that France spawned a Zaccarias Moussaoui.

22:17 - Night in Marseilles
What’s more extraordinary – in this state that tolerates such subtle yet systematic discrimination – is that Kader and the vast majority of young French Muslims – have so far – refused to travel down the dangerous road to extremism.

Music

22:49 - FRENCH MUSLIMS

Reporter: Mark Corcoran

Camera: Geoffrey Lye

Editor: Garth Thomas

Producer: Jonathan Harley

© 2019 Journeyman Pictures
Journeyman Pictures Ltd. 4-6 High Street, Thames Ditton, Surrey, KT7 0RY, United Kingdom
Email: info@journeyman.tv

This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more info see our Cookies Policy