Senior correspondents and specialists in the Middle East, Edit Bouvier and Céline Martellet work together to solve the problem of the French who left to fight for the Islamic State. After Perfume of Jihad in 2018, the two journalists authored the episode of Terror, still in Blane, highlighting France’s abandonment of hundreds of its citizens, with a central question: “Are we creating the terrorists? Tomorrow? Edith Bouvier calls for policy change at the highest level.” in the state to prevent this astonishing possibility from realizing.
How did you become interested in the issue of the French who left to join the ranks of the Islamic State?
In 2015, at a mosque in Strasbourg, where I came to talk about the profession of a journalist, I met two young thirteen-year-old girls who told me that their dream was to go to Syria to find love. She distinguished me and tried to understand why, at this age, one would desire it. How did they get there and there were so many of them? I came to this thread this way and then met Celine, who has been working on it a lot since 2013. We’ve been putting together our networks and knowledge since 2016.
After “The Perfume of Jihad”, why write a new book?
The smell of jihad It was dedicated to the wives of jihadists. The cycle of terror is the logical consequence because with these women and children held in camps in Syria, we have a real social problem. We tried to understand how they see us and how we see them. And our inability to speak the same language.
One of the most powerful parts of your book relates to the abandonment of 250 to 300 children of French nationality in the camps of northern Syria…
Our concern is that these kids will become time bombs, which in no way means that they are today. The terrible thing is that we criticize the Islamic State for failing to respect our rule of law, but we ourselves no longer respect it. We mock him in the hope of fighting the jihadists and vice versa. And by doing so, we risk fueling the hatred of these children against their country.
What did you want to contribute by giving a voice to these women prisoners in the camps?
We do not deny the crimes committed. Joining a terrorist organization is a crime and must be recognized as such. On the other hand, their children are not responsible. We cite the example of a young woman who celebrated her eighteenth birthday at a camp last August, and was forcibly taken by her parents at the age of twelve. She is now an orphan. And when her lawyer struggles to admit her victim status, she hits a wall. While he is someone who has nothing left, his family in France is struggling to get him back. How can you tear up a life like this? And when the French state requires mothers to give up their children so that they can be returned to France, it is a complete violation of the rights of the child.
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Is France the only country that has not returned women and children?
Most countries have returned them. The file in France is managed directly in the Elysee. Lacking the political courage to take the initiative. We have every arsenal to support these people. It is better for some to be in prison here than to be left to fend for themselves in Syria, where the Kurds do not have the means to take care of them.
Interview by Dominique Diogon