Clowns & Jokers

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

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A France Update: Their Advantage

European Islam: Democracy and the 11 September earthquake


September 11 2001 turned Europe's relations with its Muslim populations upside down. Though many officials are reluctant to admit it, fear of a "clash of civilizations" between the West and Islam has been permanently in the back of people's minds ever since.

And yet it is four decades since Islam "came to the West" and immigrant Muslim populations set down roots throughout Europe. But until 11 September 2001 nobody was interested in their degree of integration. Apart from the far right, which was already capitalizing on this theme, the Europe that had lapsed into "neglect of God," to quote Benedict XVI, naively thought that the West's consumerist and libertarian model would prevail over religious and cultural tensions.

In France, as in Britain or the Netherlands, the Jewish and secular left is shifting to the right, where it is forming alliances with Christian parties

In this connection France seems to enjoy a small advantage, on account of its secular and republican model, which gives citizenship priority over ethnic or religious origins. From the Dutch or British vantage point, it is even regarded with envy. A recent survey published by the Pew Institute also lends support to France's position: whereas 88 per cent of Britain's Muslims feel more Muslim than British, the figure is 48 per cent in France.

France is often cited as Europes muslim scare story because of its large immigrant arab population. Even though the article goes on to make a nod to the riots, i still think there is a valid point in this piece regards the advantage they have. Part of me reckons the riots themselves were more synonymous with unemployment and disaffection in les banlieues and generally in France than with Islam alone. Though i know its been hijacked and used as an excuse for some gross crimes, a criminal element nicely aligning itself with jihadis.... Thing is, France has a chance in the future with someone like Sarkozy, again ahead in the polls, to approach integration differently to the UK model or even the US model. Particularly with stronger youth employment in the future - assuming Sarkozy manages to reform it as planned. Pre 9/11 when i did that research project into Islam in France I never ever felt that the young French arabs were THAT into Islam. For a start noone called them French muslims - largely due to secularism - a reluctance for the state to support religion in any way let alone endorse the now defunct notion of multi culturalism as we have here. Thats has also made it easier to intrdouce the headcsarf ban in state schools ensuring kids grow up with a sense of equality. And then there was always that sense of French pride. That has certainly declined with Chirac and the French hate it. Whereas here we revel in it! A combo of this decline in national pride, youth unemployment, uneasiness at integration and 9/11...when France starts a new chapter with Sarkozy or even Royal they stand a very good chance of turning this around & all this is fixable.

The piece concludes:

"The urban riots showed that you are by no means immune, even if you have had no attacks," according to Sadiq Khan, a British deputy or Pakistani origin. "You are indeed in the Middle Ages compared to us, in terms of Muslims' representation. Where are your Muslim deputies, senators, business chiefs and intellectuals?"

Far from denying this, France acknowledges that there are "things to be taken" from its neighbours, in connection with positive discrimination, for instance. One sign of the times is the fact that the debate on "the need to Europeanize Islam" is emerging in France, as it is elsewhere.

Things - not the lot. For a start i would be inclined to laugh at Sadiqs comments. Fat lot of good muslim representation does you. Ironic he mentions Middle Ages since that is precisely what the cited organisations are tryng to do both here and even in the US with CAIR. But then France can see that hence the "". So yes...extract some things like bits of 'positive discrimination' but in very small doses. Start with ushering in Sarkozy and reforming employment laws.


At Saturday, 14 October, 2006, Blogger Chas said...

I read a funny comment somewhere about the French intifada. It said that the obvious answer to the violence was a two-state solution, with France withdrawing to it's pre-Battle of Tours borders!

At Sunday, 15 October, 2006, Anonymous alison said...

Sorry I missed this comment Chas - you know it was the anniversary of the battle of Tours last week i think.??..I have to laugh when i read the blogosphere on France. Its a different situation altogether. We had riots in Brixton you had riots in LA all down to the same thing a lack of integration and employment prospects. This time round its coupled itself to Islam and being paraded as a French Intifada but its basically the same problem as Brixton and LA. What people fail to realise about French socialism is that its different to the UK. They look after 'their own' and are generally hostile to foreigners and that includes third generation French born Arabs. Having spent so much time with a small group of these guys I think i can safely guess that what wasnt remotely an issue with Islam (France is secular) is now being presented as such because they feel emboldened after 9/11 with something t latch onto. Unlike the UK where we have cossetted and nourished our problem into a monster largely due to British socialism the French can solve this and I expect they will. In fact if things dont improve here France is where im headed.


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