Clowns & Jokers

Stuck in the middle.... Left, right, centre. It's a mess out there.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Ghettos Shackle French muslims.

I found this oldish BBC archive article quite interesting. Id wondered how French Arabs had become known as French Muslims in the short space of time that elapsed since i lived there. I don’t think the article delves deeply enough into finding an answer sadly. And strangely, since al Beeb worship at the altar of multi culti here, I wonder why they haven’t worked out that multiculturalism also = ghettos, ergo same thing? Doh.

In the mid 90s I went to the University of Nancy, which has a high density of French North Africans. Like everyone I was with at the time I was determined to use the time to crack the language - which is pretty tricky. Problem was when we, mostly girls, arrived there in preparation for a year in France, we found it particularly difficult to permeate the clicky groups of French girls and boys in their final year. Nevertheless we did make friends with some people. Nearly all of them French born North Africans. And since they weren’t exactly welcomed by the French students there either they tended to hang around in groups and made a bee line for the English misfits on arrival. I suspect it wasn’t only because we were misfits and initially we resisted the temptation to hang around the halls of residence lobbies. They would hawk in male groups and it could be quite intimidating as a girl trying to get to the coffee machine in the evening quite frankly. Nonetheless we failed miserably at making friends with any of the girls there. How can I put this. French women aren’t merely aloof. They aren’t even friendly. They are obsessed, OBSESSED with boys. Which might be a good thing for the blokes out there except that by and large the women are devoid of a sense of humour and inclined to throwing hissy fits for no real reason. My Blackadder jokes were probably crap in French but when I did say anything mildy amusing the boys would laugh and the girls would stare at you like the mini Marie Antoinettes they all are. So we socialised, like all the English students before us, with the French boys – the North African hawkers. Not that this felt unusual or odd. To me they really were just French. And every word of French I speak today I owe to a group of friends called Havidah (girl), Karim, Nasser, Kader, Ali and Driss (oh and Christophe a pot smoking, chain smoking, beer guzzling student who liked to drink and drive) .

Half of these guys family roots were in the berber sections of Algeria, not that they could really relate to that. Driss who had curly blonde hair and blue eyes was a ‘berber’. The level of mistrust with the students extended to cultural groups also. The Moroccans disliked the Algerians and vice versa. Not so much dislike as outright shows of hatred at times. None of them were practising muslims. Id go so far as to say that most of them disliked religion and Islam and spent a good deal of time ridiculing it. They all lived in and came from surburban areas mostly comprised of high rise HLMs. The flip side to the religious side is that they were still overtly pro Palestine. The French media was crazy about Palestine. That’s all I remember seeing. It really aggravated and riled them. Iraq didn’t. Noone there was in any doubt that Saddam was a ‘connard’ (jerk). Noone even discussed it. We’d sit in bars drinking copiuous amounts of beer and Karim and co would sketch the odd cartoon: topics included AK-47s, Intifada, Intifada, Intifada, oh and Palestinian flags. I paid it little attention. I just figured they were blokes. They like drawing guns. And that Palestine was just another French student cause celebre.

There was as I mentioned a hawking tendancy in that group. They were quasi Mafioso. Since we were part of their little entourage of uni friends any gestures by other males in the University that were seen as turf encroaching could and would frequently flare up with mafia like responses. I always found that pretty startling to be honest but in the process I learned to swear in Arabic (omg!). So all things considered i suppose all the classic elements were there.

When my French got better I had to undertake a project so I chose to focus on something suitably liberal to score the appropriate grade I needed in my final year. I chose, to concentrate on integration, Islam, HLMs and student life in that area. In the process I spent time with Havidah and her family in the banlieues of Metz. I got to interview a French imam in his house (ive still got the transcript). And I attended an anti Le Pen rally in Paris which was also very well attended by the scary CRS. The group addressing racism was corrupt and run by an Algerian who didn’t seem to really do that much. I think it was SOS Racism and if im right the leader of the group has since been done for fraud.

I put together a project load of work which at the time didn’t feel as relevant to me then as it does now. Lately Ive been reading back through all of it sparked by the horrible scenes in France over the last month. I came to the conclusion even back then that French xenophobia and the failure of socialism with its high unemployment and unworkable job platforms play a large part in the complete lack of cohesion. Sarkozy is right to look at these issues but wrong if he thinks the British model is something to aspire to. Multi culturalism doesn’t work. It’s the lefts way of saying we don’t know how to deal with immigration. Its just forced ghettoisation by any other terms and reinforces a lack of identity where foreign policy needs a special sanction from minority groups or they’ll blow you up. That’s not exclusive to France or the UK either. You get pockets and ghettos created through immigration all over the West as people naturally band together, including the US.

Basically Karim and co wanted to be French. They didn’t have a very promising future and nothing much has changed since then for French youths in general except by and large yet more immigration and no jobs. But they certainly weren’t islamists waiting to pounce.

Fast forward a nos of years: 9/11, copious Intifada-Jihadee Kool Aid which gives them a buzz and a sense of belonging, Osama is Cool and unfuckingtouchable, democracy is for saps, the MSM banging their drums on anti Americanism, the proliferation of the internet, the total failure of the French socialist model etc to unravel the job market. The yobs there are now turning to those intifada mafioso style tactics (like ghetto gangs use stylised tactics wherever they are) and to devastating effect.

I wonder what Havidah and Karim make of it all. Its not one single driving factor behind the problems in France but its certainly all riding that islamist ‘wannabee in our club’ crest now, isnt it. France is going through huge upheaval just as Britain did in the 70s. Except that it’s a different post 9/11 world out there and what the government is trying to drive through isn’t easy. Chirac has once again turned to Sarkozy to help. He admires anglo-saxon economic policies, the melting pot - well that’s good news. Good luck to them. I expect 2007 can’t come soon enough. But I wouldn’t suggest for one second they look to modern multi cultural Britain for social inspiration thereafter.


At Tuesday, 04 April, 2006, Blogger Wolfie said...

A blinding post Alison, absolutely spot on and full of the observations I made during my Francophone years. What are we to do now? Been wondering that myself.

At Tuesday, 04 April, 2006, Blogger Alison said...

Thanks Wolfie - im so sorry when my blog crashed a few weeks back i didnt put your link back in. It was all done in such a hurry..

I wish id stayed in touch with everyone in France, i really would like to get their take on this.

Honestly I hope they get this employment law in and then Chirac out. They have an interesting political slate at least. Were a bit screwed really arent we.

At Tuesday, 04 April, 2006, Anonymous Rastaman said...

That was an interesting read. Skipping to the bottom line, I know what I would recommend tho I know it's a pipe dream to think the French government would ever do it. I know because I know what my own government would do if unruly armed mobs set out on paths of destruction (9000 burned cars, 1000's of plate glass windows, mugged and robbed people, robbed stores, etc.)

The National Guard would be out in force, lots of them trucked in from other areas, lots of police backing up lots of fire trucks with high pressure hoses, the police with riot guns at the ready, the Nat. Guard behind them with automatic rifles....

Get the picture? If the tear gas cannisters and the high pressure hoses didn't stop them and turn them back, and they kept surging forward with their bars and clubs and blades in hand, then the shooting would start. One way or the other they would stop. In New Orleans in the aftermath of the hurricane, looters were getting shot. Dead.

A nation is either governed and ruled by laws that affect us all equally, or it is not. France is not. Socialism is a failed experiment.
I was amazed to find that France has a law that you can't fire people. What IDIOTS, what MORONS ever thought that would make things better? Really. I was astounded. That's an instant economy buster. Unreal....

Thanks for the insight into conditions in France. It was enlightening.

At Wednesday, 05 April, 2006, Blogger Alison said...

Theyre real protectionists alright. The upside of that though Rasta is the quality of life ironically. By that i mean the pace of life, quality of life, environment, really pretty French villages unchanged for centuries. Thats the reason people leave to set up home there from the UK - which they still do even now in spite of the issues with socialism (their healthcare system is wonderful). The problem as i see it is that the world has changed to such an extent that France just has to get on board like the rest of us if it wants to reduce youth unemployment.

At Wednesday, 05 April, 2006, Blogger Chas said...

alison, you're right about the pace of life. I visited 3rd cousins in Belfort once and it was grand. All the family cames out to welcome home family that had been lost to America for a century! We got 4 pecks on the cheek each, the places of honour at the table, and OMG, Sunday Lunch!!! I was so stupid. I thought it was an English brunch and I chowed down on the 1st appetizer. I thought it was the whole lunch. I look up and I'm the only one eating and I say, Les oeufs, c'est tout, no? Their mouths fell open. It was the 1st of 8 courses. LOL. 3 hours later I had to unbutton my pants.

At Wednesday, 05 April, 2006, Blogger MonicaR said...

How interesting to go back and compare what was before to what is now. I wish that you could talk to your old buddies too. Things certainly have changed.

Multiculturalism (IMHO) seeks to divide and highlight differences in people. The melting pot is not cool anymore and is not taught to our children in public schools. When I was coming up we WERE taught that America was the 'melting-pot' and that did not mean that everyone had to put down their unique cultural identities. It meant (to me anyway) that America was the land where one was free to different yet still be 'American'.

I had read years ago that the French don't take kindly to 'outsiders'. That even 2nd generation immigrants were not considered to be French.


At Wednesday, 05 April, 2006, Blogger MonicaR said...

I would like to add that on MY block in America this rioting, mugging, breaking of windows would not happen and it's not because the National Guard would be called up. It is because the majority of us are well armed.

At Wednesday, 05 April, 2006, Anonymous Maggie said...

Very interesting article Alison. Yes great pity you don't know what happened to the 'French' boys. France needs a Maggie Thatcher to try and get rid of the unions. Have you ever wondered what would happen if France was told they were not getting the 42% subsidies for their farmers anymore from the EU budget. Wonder where the youth of France would stand on that issue...interesting.

At Wednesday, 05 April, 2006, Blogger "Alice" said...

Great post, alison.It's amazing to note how many countries are fighting one another within their own countries - imploding rather than exploding.

At Wednesday, 05 April, 2006, Blogger ed thomas said...

I came by yesterday and I thought this post was too interesting for me to comment on!

Now, however, I'll say that I think France is in terrible trouble. I think the real problems are the discreditation of their politicians (marority corrupt), the passivity of their welfare state, and the fact that the lively ones (the muslims) they are totally indifferent to.

I've been observing Sarkozy and Villepin fighting it out like cats in a sack and thinking: these men have absolutely no idea what could await them. I liked what you said about a load of little Marie Antoinettes. It seems that what goes around comes around.

At Wednesday, 05 April, 2006, Blogger ed thomas said...

Oh, but I should also add that I think we in the UK have pretty analagous trouble in store; definitely beyond high time to look sharp.

At Wednesday, 05 April, 2006, Blogger Hellpig said...

When France burns to the ground once again,I just hope they don't expect America to bail them out.I for one am tired of my tax dollars paying for the protection of France,it's been 60 years let them spend their own Euro's.This is what they get for undermining the World with Iraq.Socialism is a failed exercise.

At Wednesday, 05 April, 2006, Anonymous alison said...

Not sure it will go that far Hellpig - we'll have to keep an eye on Sarko, he's very pro US/UK.

At Thursday, 06 April, 2006, Blogger associatecontributor1 said...

Great post Alison. Except for one thing why were you at an anti Le Pen rally?
He is by far my all-time favorite Frenchy.

At Thursday, 06 April, 2006, Blogger MonicaR said...

She was young! She wanted to get out and have some fun!


At Thursday, 06 April, 2006, Blogger Alison said...

maggie: i think theyd throw their toys out their pram again. Since 68 the students think they rock/people power etc. Bunch of spoiled brats.

AC1: i was dating a communist, ahem! yes it seemed like a fun idea at the time. lol. Then i grew up and got a JOB.

Alice: sad isnt it

Ed: i think theyll work it out eventually.

At Thursday, 06 April, 2006, Blogger Alison said...

monicar: i forgot to mention that the CRS usually sort it right OUT! I think theyve been muzzled by the government a bit. But when they get going - omg.


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