tv Democracy Now LINKTV January 1, 2016 3:00pm-4:01pm PST
01/01/16 01/01/16 democracy now! [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> i'm scared from the war, i don't want to die. this war is not my war. amy: what do survivors of war have to do to live in peace? one million refugees -- it's the largest refugee crisis in europe since world war 2. we head to a refugee camp in calais, two hours north of paris, france, filled with thousands of refugees from syria, afghanistan, iraq, sudan, and other countries -- a map of
the targets of u.s. bombing campaigns. the refugees have come to try to make passage through the channel tunnel to england. >> u.s. is just increasing the war. actually, u.s. don't want to finish the war. it's their game. it's the game of george w. bush, obama, and other -- all the european union. they don't want to finish. amy: who also speak with french journalist nicolas henin. he was held for 10 months. >> the problem is that with all these bombings -- because everybody at the moment is bombing syria -- all of these bombings have a terrible side effect. and basically, we -- westerners, but not only westerners, also the russians, also the regime -- are pushing the syrian people into the hands of isis. amy: all that and more coming up.
this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we turn now to two of the biggest stories of 2015, war and europe's worst refugee crisis since world war ii. more than 1 million refugees have come to europe this year, three to four times as many as 2014. almost 3700 died or went missing on their way to europe. the united nations has appealed for $20 billion in additional aid, saying that at present funding levels the u.n. is "not able to provide even the very minimum in core protection and lifesaving assistance." u.n. officials cited the wars in syria, afghanistan, iraq, yemen , and south sudan as one of the major reasons there are nearly 60 million people forcibly displaced worldwide. the largest single displaced community are syrians, with 4 million refugees forced outside syria's borders by the ongoing
conflict. in democracy now! traveled to december, the calais refugee camp, the largest refugee camp in france. it is about two hours north of paris. 6000 to 7000 people are living there, camped out in makeshift tents. their goal is to reach britain. night people set out along the highway to the channel tunnel, where they attempt to cross into britain by jumping on top of or inside trucks or lorries. a few days earlier before we arrived, a sudanese man named joseph was killed when he was run over by a car on the highway. while we were at the calais refugee camp, residents were protesting in the freezing cold, protesting the police had not stopped the driver. people held signs reading, "we are humans, not dogs" and "do survivors of war not have the right to live in peace?"
right next to the refugee camp is this overpass, and we've heard that a young sudanese man was killed, hit by a car, and the car didn't stop. and the people are angry because the police didn't arrest the driver. they're holding up signs in arabic and english that say, "our destiny here is unknown," "today, joseph. tomorrow, who?" "where is the u.n. in this?" "europe, do you hear our call from calais?" "our destiny here is unknown." can you tell me your name and what you're doing here? >> my name is majd. i'm from syria. i'm here, like everyone. i'm a refugee, escaped from the war. yes, from two days ago, it was -- there was a refugee on the highway, and some people here on the highway killed him. this is a murder. amy: did they run him over? >> yes, they run him over on the highway. yes. it is not the first time.
but it's the first time he -- it's the first one he is dead, yeah. we have another ones in the hospital. and there is a lot of violence here. the treatment of the police, the treatment of the truck drivers, it's not good at all. yes. amy: and so, what does your sign say? >> yes, it say, "today, joseph. tomorrow, who?" maybe me, maybe someone from my country, from my friends, from my family here. amy: where was joseph from? >> joseph is from sudan. amy: and where are you from? >> syria. amy: and when did you come here? >> two months ago. amy: and why are you here? >> i'm here to go to the u.k., yes. amy: to? >> the u.k., united -- to the united kingdom. amy: yes. >> yes. amy: and where did you live in syria? >> in damascus. amy: and why did you leave? >> i escaped from the war. i don't want to be -- to die.
this war is not my war. yes, everyone is fighting in my country, yes. so i escaped from the war. i don't want to be dead for nothing. amy: how old are you? >> 21. amy: are you a student? >> no, no. i was working, yes. amy: and what was happening in damascus? >> in damascus, now it's just the assad regime there. they're taking all the young people, the young boys, to the war. they must go to the army. yes, there is no -- no one there is civilians, yes. amy: and you said everyone is attacking your country. who? >> yes. who? everyone. russia and america and iran -- everyone. amy: and so, what do you want to do? >> i just want to live in peace
and be like any human again. yes, to have a family, to be safe. yes, that's just it. amy: is ur family back in syria? >> yes, yes. i have just three -- two sisters and one brother, small brother. amy: they stayed. >> yes, and my father and mother are there. amy: and what did your parents think about you leaving? >> they just want me to be safe, yeah. they sent me out. amy: do you think the russian, syrian, french, british bombing of syria will save it? >> no, no, no, it's not a solution. you can't protect someone by killing someone else. you know? they can't stop the bombs here when they bomb in syria. yes, it's not a solution. amy: what is the solution? >> the solution is not giving the weapons to everyone. they're giving the weapons to the free army, to the assad regime, to isis.
they just give weapons and money, and just they let them fight in my country. just stop the weapons. amy: now, britain just voted. the u.k. just voted to bomb syria as well. you want to try to get into britain. >> britain or the u.s.a. the governments or the people? who votes? who voted? i'm asking. the government, who -- i mean,'. i will go to the u.k. to live with the civilians. i am not going to their government, yes. amy: majd has just taken us to the house that him and his friends have built out of -- you made it out of wood? >> wood, yes. amy: and plastic? >> plastic and some blankets. amy: how many of you sleep in here? >> three. amy: three of you.
>> yes, two on the floor and one in the bed, if you can call it a bed. amy: and talk about what -- when you were in syria, where you lived with your family, what you did, what your parents do. >> we have a building, whole building. my family was in the upstairs and they have a factory. yes, a paint factory. amy: a paint factory, yes. >> paint factory, yes. it was bombed from five years ago. i was living a good life -- cars and houses and the parties and everything. yeah, we lost everything right now. amy: i'm surprised you can still smile. >> yeah, i have to. if i don't smile, it will be the end of my life. amy: i see on your phone you have a picture of your family. can you show me? >> yes, this is my family, my small brother and my father and my sister -- daughter -- i don't know how to call it.
amy: how many months or years do people stay here? >> most of them about -- there is no specific time or something. some people, one week. some people, one year. yeah. amy: and is it legal? will the police come and take you out of it, this house or this tent? >> i told you, there is no specific thing to do with the police. it's not legal, but they can't take us out. yes, it's complicated. they call it a jungle. yes, it's where the animals live. they treat us like animals. amy: does the u.n. know that you're here, that this refugee camp is here? >> i think we are invisible to the u.n. here. we didn't see anyone from them. and we didn't have any help and anything from them. yeah, i saw them in greece and other countries, but here, there is no one. they don't see us. i don't know. they don't care, maybe.
yes. amy: we're just back from majd's tent, where he lives with two other men. and we're now on the street of, well, makeshift restaurants. there's a barbershop. this is the kabul café. and right here, as we're going in, is a map of the whole camp. let's go inside. we've come to the back of the kabul café -- it's very warm here in this back room -- to speak with the owner. can you tell us your name? >> yeah. my name is sikandar. amy: and can you talk to us about when you got to this camp? >> yeah. it's about more than six months. amy: and where did you come from? >> i'm from afghanistan. amy: where in afghanistan? >> nuristan, but i grew up in kabul. amy: and why did you leave afghanistan? >> because of war. because of americans' politics.
because of the england politics. because they come to my country, use the bombs, the weapons. in my country, we don't have any weapons. so these weapons is using in afghanistan, if the terrorists using, if the americans using, if anyone using, just use it in my country. so there is war in my country, and i am here. amy: we just saw a protest about a death of a young man named joseph, a sudanese man who was killed on the highway, on the overpass above. do you know about that? >> yeah, i know. amy: what happened? >> it's happened every day. it's not just this one time, you know? it's happened every day, every week. and one month before -- in one month, nine people died here in calais. amy: why are you willing to risk all of this? >> because if the people like me, they have problems in their countries, like me.
if i have a problem in my country, i have to go forward, you know? i don't have to go back. if i go back, i'm -- 100%, i die. but for this, i can risk. i say, ok, maybe 50%, i go. so some people -- i think people are thinking like this -- if i go back, i will die, and i have a very bad life. it's better to try, 50% -- maybe i will go there and i will arrive there, and i will have a normal life. amy: president obama said the war is ending in afghanistan. do you see it ending? >> until americans in afghanistan, it will be not ending. never. amy: the map of this camp, it's like a map of the world or a part of the world. >> yeah. amy: it's a map of where refugees are from. most of these countries have been bombed by the united states. >> i really didn't think about it. the map of the jungle is looking like the map of the world.
amy: syria, afghanistan, iraq, sudan. >> yeah, yeah. yeah, yeah, yeah. it's true. i didn't think about it, but, yeah, it's true. amy: we're walking through the refugee camp, just outside of calais. as we walk, some people just pass us, some people stop and look. and occasionally people stop to talk. but we've been warned over and over that people don't want their faces shown. they're afraid. they're afraid of being targeted here, and they're afraid their families will be targeted at home. it's very cold and overcast. it's just rained, so it's very muddy. and it looks like it's going to be raining again. do you want to say your name? >> my name is sidiq husain khil, and i am from afghanistan. amy: when did you come here?
>> i am here since 4.5 months. amy: and why did you come here? >> i want to go to u.k., because in afghanistan, you better know, the situation are very bad. and america comes there. they want to finish al-qaeda and terrorism, but they are unsuccessful in that. instead of that, to finish the terrorism, they increased the war in afghanistan. and the people are in a very bad situation. it's all because of america. amy: where do you come from in afghanistan? >> i come from kunar. amy: what is it like? was it destroyed? was it bombed? >> yeah, kunar was totally destroyed. and a big group of americans were there. there was a big base. and still, kunar is under
bombing, from -- even from pakistani side. all areas of kunar is. each day and every day, the pakistan is bombing on kunar. and at that time, was also american were bombing there, because from the past the people of kunar are all like -- you know, they are religious people, all of them, like that are the -- this is the main center of taliban. amy: why do you think they're bombing? >> because they say these people are taliban, they are terrorists, americans are bombing there. and pakistan is also bombing there. pakistan think that the taliban are hiding here. and they were thinking that osama is also there and the hezb-e islami leader, gulbuddin hekmatyar, is also there. that's why kunar is mostly under attack. amy: were there drone strikes in
kunar? >> yes, there were drone attacks. amy: and what effect do they have? did you know people killed? >> they're always killing innocent people. they're bombing on the civilians, on the villages. in fact, they were not taliban. many times they kill civilians there. amy: and how does that make people feel? >> they make people unhappy, disappointed, from both sides -- from government and from the -- from the whole world, from america, from all the people. amy: al-qaeda, daesh, do you think it increased since 2001? >> since 2001, yeah, because, you know, if they are bombing on civilians -- america or the nato or all these groups -- if they are bombing on civilians, civilians become very angry, and
they join the group of taliban. that's why if they are killing one person or 10 person, 100 of them are joining the group of taliban. they don't support the government, because government cannot help them. amy: so are you saying the bombing increased terrorism? >> yes. the war is not the solution for finishing terrorism. they have to talk face by face. what is their demand, you know? look to the syria. the whole world is bombing daesh, but they are increasing. they can't do anything. amy: when did you actually leave afghanistan? >> i left afghanistan in -- i think in august. i don't know. five, six months ago. amy: and how did you make your way out? >> it's a big story. it's very difficult. you know, everyone knows. i come to iran.
then after that, i come to turkey. after that, i come to bulgaria. amy: do you drive? do you walk? do you -- >> we -- sometimes we were in buses, sometimes we were walking in the mountains when we were crossing the borders. amy: so from bulgaria to where? >> from bulgaria to serbistan. amy: to? >> to serbia. amy: and then? >> then to hungary. amy: and then? >> then to austria. amy: and then? >> and then, you know, to italia, france. and now i'm here. amy: it's a very, very long trip. >> it's a -- yeah, of course, it's a very long trip. it's not that easy just to buy the ticket of airplane and go to the airport, sit in the plane and come directly here. we were just illegally crossing the borders, and that is very difficult, a very difficult task. we lost many of our friends.
they lost their -- they passed away, they lost their lives. and some of the people, they're not with us now. nermeen: and your family? is your family with you here? >> no, my family is not here. amy: where is your family? >> they're in afghanistan. nermeen: so what do you think the u.s. should be doing now? >> i told you, you know, u.s. is just increasing the war. actually, u.s. don't want to finish the war. it's their game. it's the game of george w. bush, obama and all the european , union. they don't want to finish that. amy: why? >> because it's on the -- behind, there are their profits, their benefits. they are selling their weapons and using in the islamic countries. this is the big point.
how much they spend there? if they spend $100, they're getting from there $1,000. they don't care about the people who are dying there. amy: president obama said they're wrapping up the war in afghanistan. do you feel like the u.s. is ending the war in afghanistan? >> what do you mean, sorry, by "wrapping"? amy: ending the war. >> ending. no, never he will end the war. never he will end the war. amy: can you be safe in afghanistan? >> i don't think so. if i was safe there -- i don't like to live here in these tents. and i don't like these, the high buildings, the beautiful countries. my country is my country. but, you know, i was not safe there. amy: did things change here after the november 13 attacks in paris? >> yes. but, you know, it's everywhere,
everywhere the police are checking. the security is very strong. and, yes, it's totally changed nowadays. before it was good. the border was also good. nowadays, it's very strong security. amy: did they come here after the attacks? >> yes. each night, they are coming here. amy: so even though the u.k. and the united states bombed your country, you would like to go live there? >> yes, both are the same for us. america, u.k., france -- all the european countries are the same for us because they are bombing our countries and they destroyed our countries. but their countries are ok and good. amy: we then went to another area where there were, well, sort of small campers that people had donated for families. we met a woman who had been a teacher in kabul, afghanistan, before she fled with her four children.
she and her 12-year-old daughter described their journey. >> we had to travel by bus, by car, by horse, by train, until here, by boat, all. amy: can you tell me how you got from afghanistan to france? >> from -- i will let my daughter tell you. amy: so how did you get from afghanistan here to calais? >> at first we go to nimruz province of afghanistan. then we go -- we went to pakistan. then we walked to saravan, balochistan. then iranshahr, kerman, shiraz, tehran, tehran, kurdistan, and, we were at the turkey and iran. then we start walking in mountains. then we went to turkish --
türkiye, then, then istanbul, izmir. then we arrived to sea. and then -- amy: you took a boat? >> yeah, we took a boat. then -- amy: was that scary? >> yeah. >> yeah, all of us scared from the boat. at first, when i saw that boat, i don't know about this boat. when i saw that they -- after that, they said, "you come." i called all my children and told -- and i start to cry. oh, i bought death by money. i spent all my money to buy them death, for all of you. yeah. amy: to buy? >> to buy the death. amy: to buy death for all of you. >> for all of you. and i start crying. amy: and you made it. and then where did you land? >> in greece. amy: in greece. >> yeah. amy: in greece. and then where did you go from
greece? >> then we went to macedonia, serbia. amy: macedonia. >> yeah. amy: serbia. >> croatia. and -- amy: croatia. >> croatia. autriche. amy: oh, austria. >> hungary. >> ah, hungary, then autriche. amy: oh, hungary, then austria. >> yeah. amy: this is quite a geography lesson that you lived. that was dur and her 12-year-old daughter. after we left their camper, just as we were heading out of the camp, a young man ran after us. he said he wanted to tell us his story. >> my name is najibullah. i am from afghanistan, kabul. and i was working with the u.s. marines back in helmand province, musaqara. and -- amy: when? >> it was 2011, yeah. amy: what were you doing?
>> i was interpreter with the u.s. marines, yeah. and we were in a fop, forward operation base. and then, yeah. amy: and how long did you work? >> i was working with them seven years -- seven months, yeah. amy: and then, also for a u.s. contractor? >> and before that, yeah, i was also working in a construction company, in creative international company. they were running a project by the name of crowded house. that project was from the dod side for -- they were creating culverts, bridges and retaining walls for the people of daykundi province, yeah. amy: and so did you apply for immigration to the united states? >> yeah, i applied for a special immigration visa, but they --
because i was working just for seven months, the u.s. government refused to give me visa because they said, "you just worked for seven months, not one year." and i sent a letter from the creative international company that i -- as evidence that i worked with them also. so if we put all together, it becomes more than one year. but still they said, "that's not a kind of evidence. you should send us a hr letter from the international company." amy: sort of on letterhead from creative international. >> yeah. so they said -- but that letter which i had, that was from the -- from those people who was working with us from the dod side. and those numbers and emails were just, you know, local from afghanistan. and by the -- from the day they left afghanistan, those numbers
-- emails doesn't work. and what i am trying to say, that working with the u.s. government, it doesn't matter. you work just one day or a year or two years or for four years, it doesn't matter to the taliban. as long as you work with them just one hour, you're condemned to death. so that's what happened to me. i was condemned to death. and i am asking the u.s. government why they refuse me to -- to give me a visa. and that's why i'm here. that's why i am here, i'm facing this difficulty. amy: just a few of the thousands of afghans now stranded in the
refugee camp, about two hours north of paris by train as they risk their lives to reach britain. double, and in some places triple rows of barbed wire , fences were built recently, securing both the entrance to the chunnel -- that's the channel tunnel -- and the tractor-trailer staging area for trucks bound for the u.k. all trucks entering the tunnel are also subjected to infrared scanning, looking for body heat, for stowaways. just months ago, it was common for scores of people to transit the tunnel nightly, hidden in trucks or on the high-speed train. now it's almost impossible. it's 14 years into the u.s. war in afghanistan. president obama had pledged to withdraw the majority of the thousands of u.s. troops deployed to afghanistan by the end of 2015. but in october, he reversed course and instead indefinitely , extended the longest war in u.s. history. there are nearly 60 million people forcibly displaced worldwide, the largest number since world war ii.
amy: "borders" by m.i.a. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. while democracy now! was in france for the u.n. climate summit, i interviewed french journalist nicolas hénin. he was held hostage by the self-proclaimed islamic state inside syria for 10 months, spending much of that time locked up in a dungeon. he was held alongside u.s. journalists james foley and steven sotloff, who were later beheaded. their deaths were videotaped and aired across the world. while he was held hostage, nicolas hénin also briefly met american aid worker kayla mueller, who also died in captivity, possibly from a u.s.-led coalition airstrike. nicolas hénin was released in april 2014 along with three other french journalists. i began by asking nicolas if airstrikes are the answer to combating the islamic state.
>> airstrikes in syria, the way they are done, are a mistake. i'm not saying that our countries should deprive themselves from any military option. no. the military action should remain in the panel of the strategy. it should be kept as one way to counter terrorism. but the point is that in a counterterrorism strategy, the military shall remain a very little part of the overall strategy, because, eventually, what kind of fight are we fighting? that's a fight for propaganda. so, basically, the side that will -- the party that will win this war is not the party that will fight harder or have the most expensive or newest weaponry or the bravest fighters. it will be the party that will
manage to have the people on its side. and the problem is that with all these bombings -- because everybody at the moment is bombing syria -- all of these bombings have a terrible side effect. and basically, we -- westerners, but not only westerners, also the russians, also the regime -- are pushing the syrian people into the hands of isis. we are working for them. we are recruiting for them. so i'm not saying, no, absolutely, for any strike, but strikes should remain minimal because we should keep in mind what are the consequences and the side effects of them. amy: you have called them, these strikes, a trap. >> yes, very much. and i called them, especially in the french environment because just two months ago, president hollande, the french president,
advocated for the strikes, and he announced to my fellow countrymen that these strikes were aiming at securing our country, at making it safer, because he said it's better to fight the terrorists of isis there in syria so that we don't have to fight them here at home. and what is the consequence? we have seen with the paris attacks, that these strikes probably contributed to designate us, the french people, even further as a target for isis. so these strikes were counterproductive. amy: so what is the answer, nicolas? >> the answer is to engage the people, to address especially their cry for -- their desperate call for freedom, democracy and, first of all, on a very short term, security.
over the last 4.5 years, syrian people have been massacred at the pace of 200 people per day. that's even higher than the death toll of the paris attack. this is something we have to address first because these 200 people killed every day are the reason for the -- the primary reason for the success of isis. amy: talk about what happened to you in june of 2013. >> bad, bad memory. i mean, i -- it's -- i was just taken, and i -- amy: where were you? >> i was in raqqa, so one of the -- well, the syrian capital city of the islamic state. and i was reporting. that was my fifth trip to syria since the beginning of the revolution. and they have taken me. i tried to escape on the third
day, so of course they were not happy. and i've been moved and moved and moved. and also some people have been moved with me, and eventually, we found out, being two dozen westerners hostages together, journalists or aid workers. amy: why did you open your book with james foley? >> james was the first to be murdered, and that was a trauma, a personal trauma to me, but also a trauma for the world. and this is why i open my book with him because the aim of the islamic state by murdering him was to open a trap wide open and under our feet. they wanted to impose their agenda on us. they wanted to stone us, that we are so much shocked that we stop acting rationally.
because, you know, amy, there is something very specific with a terror action. the success, the completion of a terrorist attack, does not depend on its perpetrators, but it depends on its victims. the beautiful example for that is the aftermath of 9/11. i mean, how did the bush administration react after 9/11? we had the invasion of afghanistan and iraq, that later became the birthplace of the islamic state. we had guantánamo, extraordinary rendition and the patriot act. i mean, one must be totally stupid to believe that we punished osama bin laden and al-qaeda, invading iraq and
afghanistan. and even the opposite -- the real success on 9/11, this is not the collapse of the twin towers. the real success of 9/11, this is the invasion of afghanistan and iraq. and this was not made by the terrorists. this success is only due to the victim. the americans were victims of the terrorists, but they offered to their aggressors their success. and this is something that we shall always keep in mind every time we are hit by a major terrorist attack -- what want our aggressor us to do? what would you like me to do, and how shall i react to displease him? amy: isil hostage, french journalist nicolas hénin. , we'll be back with him in a minute. ♪ [music break]
journalist james foley, who was beheaded in august 2014, four months after henin was released. when james foley was beheaded, how did you find out? where was he beheaded? >> well, it was -- i recognized the place because these were valleys where i ran when i escaped. i actually ran very close from this place on the night i escaped at the very beginning of my captivity, so i recognized the landscape. and i was, of course, very much shocked, because i did not believe that that would happen.
, was still maybe a bit naïve but we filled ourselves with hope, with desperate hope, during these months of captivity. we had to hope because if you stop hoping, then you have no reason to survive. so that was maybe a bit naive to believe that, yes, for some of us, it may be a bit more difficult than for others, but that we would eventually, all of us, make it out. and his murder was the evidence that that wasn't true and that actually some of us, some of our group, would not make it out. amy: how did you ultimately get freed, nicolas? >> well, i believe that there has been negotiations for that.
i don't know the terms of the negotiation. i don't know what i have been exchanged for. the only thing i know is what the french authorities, what president hollande told me that the french government did not pay any money. so i don't know anything else. amy: so what happened after 10 months? you were held, and then tell us about the day you were freed. >> well, it was a bit strange. i mean, i was -- we were moved to a different jail, away from the group. we had to speak on the day before we were said, "well, you will be freed." so and we had to speak for the first time with kayla mueller for five minutes. and -- amy: what do you mean, you had to speak to kayla? >> she -- they brought us to her cell. so we had five minutes of exchange because, obviously, they wanted us to report that she was with us and alive.
and -- amy: what did you say to kayla? what was your conversation? >> well, she explained a bit what she had been through. amy: what did she say? >> she said that she -- she was looking extremely brave. i mean, she was incredibly courageous. -- she, at that time i don't believe that she , had been mishandled yet. apparently she has been , afterwards. amy: raped and abused. >> maybe. but she spent several months in isolation, and she -- but she was impressive. she had a beautiful inner strength. i mean, she was strong inside. she obviously had been through some tough moments, but she managed very well to overcome them.
i was just impressed. she was looking beautiful. she was strong. she was -- i mean, to the point that jihadi john believed that she converted to islam. and she said, "oh, i just want to correct you, i did not convert." and, i mean, no one would dare to contradict him, but she did. that was not aggressive. she was just like, "no, please let me correct you, i did not convert." and she was just like that, very calm, but very decided. and she even spoke to us a few words of french, because her french was actually quite good. and she -- yeah, she was really impressive.
amy: and who were you released with? >> with -- we were four french journalists together, and we have been released together. and they just, after some days in a transit place, drove us to the turkish border and then delivered us to the turkish military. amy: were there other women held there? >> yes, there were a few women, but they were in a separate cell. amy: and did you know who they were? >> yes. amy: who were they? >> i cannot say, because these cases are under blackout. amy: blackout because? >> because of their will and the will of their employer and families. amy: we just came from calais, about two hours north of paris. there were thousands and thousands of refugees there.
talk about the largest explosion of refugees since world war ii and how the west is dealing with them. >> well, this huge flow of refugees is a major recruiting argument for populist political parties across europe. and that's another trap, because actually, this refugee crisis was a major blow to the islamic state and to its propaganda. because what does the islamic state propaganda rely on? first, they say western society is not suitable for a muslim to live in. a muslim should immigrate to a muslim land, and preferably to
the caliphate, because this caliphate that we are establishing is the dream land for all muslims. and the other aspect -- the other key point of isis propaganda is based on the fact that westerners marginalize muslim, that there is racism and hatred. and basically, what have we witnessed last summer? first, hundreds of thousands of muslims fleeing this dream land of syria. it's like -- it's just like if you had loads of jews fleeing israel just a couple of years after the state of israel is established. i mean, that's a -- it
contradicts all of the speech the state is based on and contracts itself on. and not only that, so they leave this land of sham, that is dream land for isis, to immigrate to lands of unbelievers. and on top of that, they are welcomed with open arms by the western societies, who -- and by many people in europe who say, "well, you are our brothers, and we will protect you." and that was so much a blow that i believe that one of the reasons behind the paris attack was to disrupt this and to stop, to make us close our doors to the refugees because, actually, welcoming refugees is not a terror threat to us, to our countries.
it's like a vaccine to protect us from terrorism. because the more interactions we have between societies, between communities, the less there will be tensions. i mean, the islamic state believes in a global confrontation. what they want eventually is civil war in our countries, or at least, large unrest. and in the middle east, a large-scale war. this is what they look for. this is what they struggle for. so we have to kill their narrative and actually to welcome refugees, totally destroy their narrative. and if you kill their narrative, it's even more efficient than if you drop some bombs and kill some of their fighters. amy: marine le pen, the far-right national front party here in france, has just surged
in the election yesterday. now, these are regional elections. she -- her base is calais. what does this mean? >> well, she actually benefits a lot from the recent events. of course, one of the reasons for this surge is the high unemployment rate that we have in france and the economic crisis that is continuing. but she benefited a lot from, first, the refugee crisis, with a surge also in xenophobia. and she is very much islamophobic and she plays with that. and the second event was the paris attack. she played with the fear of the people. amy: can you talk about the rise of the national front and the
rise of isis? >> well, it's surprising to see the parallel somehow and some kind of shared interest between isis and the national front. it can sound a bit provocative to say it like that, but the point is that definitely the paris attack, just a few weeks before the first round of these elections that have seen the surge of the national front, are -- well, these events are probably related, just like this surge is probably also related to the refugee crisis and -- because marine le pen, just like all of the populist leaders across europe, played a lot with the fear of the people following this refugee crisis. they pretended that this influx of refugees threatened our
identity, that it would jeopardize our security. this is totally stupid. i mean, you know, in france, we will welcome this year between 20,000 to 26,000 refugees. we are a country of almost 70 million inhabitants. i was in sweden last week. they have 9 million inhabitants. they will welcome 190,000 refugees this year alone. i mean, and they are not afraid for their identity. they are not afraid for their security. they are just -- well, they are just concerned, well, with the accommodation of all these people and more -- much more logistical and practical concerns and issues.
but they -- i mean, we could welcome even more refugees than we are welcoming. and actually, welcoming refugees is a beautiful way to fight the islamic state. amy: because? >> because this kills their narrative, because all their narrative is based on the fact that they are building the holy land for muslims in their caliphate, self-proclaimed caliphate on one way, and it's made also on the islamophobia. i heard, you know, during my time in captivity once a discussion between french-speaking jihadis, so probably french and -- or maybe of mix of french and belgian. and that discussion was about islamophobia in europe. and obviously, islamophobia was one of the main reasons for which they decided to join the islamic state, because many of
the people, the islamic state fighters, go there and join the group in an attempt to kind of restore the muslim pride. amy: did you feel the jihadis were steeped in islam? >> very little. and by the way, most of the jihadis i know, either that i met during my time in captivity or that i followed on the social media or exchanged with on the social media afterwards, are just new muslims. i mean, they either converted, or they are kind of born-again muslim. so to be provocative, a good muslim will not become a jihadi. i did not meet any jihadi who had a religious childhood.
and religion is always kind of a vaccine -- can you say? amy: vaccine. >> and religion seems to be always almost a vaccine against terrorism because a good religious people will never become a terrorist. amy: your message to the republican presidential candidates now, donald trump and others, who are saying the refugee flow must be cut off? >> well, they are playing the game of isis. they are just playing it. so -- amy: because? >> because they -- welcoming refugees is kind of a vaccine against terrorism. amy: and why so many jihadists come from france? >> that's a difficult question to answer. maybe because of the proximity of the -- of syria.
it's not difficult to travel from france to syria, from western europe to syria. and also it's probably a problem of sociology. it's probably also the result of social problems that we can have in france. it's also probably, to some extent, the result of bad policies with indeed, some , marginalization of muslims. and there have been likely some failures as well from the security services. amy: what would you say to young europeans who want to join, who what to become jihadists? >> this is a very important message. basically, isis will recruit
you telling you jihad is cool, because, yes, it's cool, if you have no life, no girlfriend, no job, no money, nothing in your home country, and isis promises you, what, adventure, engagement, a girl, a car, a weapon, power, money, whatever. so they all play like jihad is cool. -- isis is a is scam because isis does not really fight assad, does not protect the muslims in syria, but kills, to wide extent, a number of muslims in syria. isis is a disaster for the syrian people. so for those who want to join
isis, i tell them, "i understand the reason for your rage, because, yes, there are many reasons actually to be unhappy about both your life in the west or both the situation in syria and these civilians being massacred in huge numbers. but isis will just make you make this crisis bigger." amy: french journalist nicolas hénin who was held hostage by isil for 10 months. that does it for our show. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]