Mustafa Hussein

Is France On The Way To Becoming An Islamic State?

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Is France on the way to becoming an Islamic state?

By Barbara Amiel

(Filed: 26/01/2004)

France, wrote Luigi Barzini, wouldn't be the great and endearing country that it is, la lumière du monde, if its quarrelsome people had not been "moulded down the centuries by antagonisms and tensions between tribes, clans, cliques, classes, coteries, guilds, camarillas, sects, parties, factions, regions..." The French are ever at the barricades.

Last week the barricades were at the prime minister's office, the Matignon, where the government was discussing the awkward business of France's proposed new law designed to ban the Muslim headscarf from schools. The Bill, portentously named "Application of the Principle of Secularity", will go to the National Assembly on Wednesday, with a peppy addition to ban beards from schools as well.

Dominique de Villepin, the foreign minister, gravely explained that the law is not aimed at any particular minority, community or religion, though there is, he said, some difficulty in making the essential tolerance of it clear to Arab countries.

Domenica Perben, the justice minister, felt the whole thrust of the issue revolved around the equality of men and women - which clears up why the French may be forcibly shaving prematurely mature Sikh schoolboys: they are a gender offset for de-scarfed female Muslims.

France is facing the problem that dare not speak its name. Though French law prohibits the census from any reference to ethnic background or religion, many demographers estimate that as much as 20-30 per cent of the population under 25 is now Muslim. The streets, the traditional haunt of younger people, now belong to Muslim youths. In France, the phrase "les jeunes" is a politically correct way of referring to young Muslims.

Given current birth rates, it is not impossible that in 25 years France will have a Muslim majority. The consequences are dynamic: is it possible that secular France might become an Islamic state?

The situation is not dissimilar elsewhere in the EU. Europeans may at some young point in the 21st century have to decide whether they wish to retain the diluted but traditional Judaeo-Christian culture of their minority or have it replaced by the Islamic culture of the majority.

In theory, the cultural and legal assimilation of Europe's Muslims would be the ideal. This was supposed to be the notion behind the vision of the French interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, of a "French church of Islam" with homegrown imams.

But knowledgeable observers say his "moderate" Council of Muslims has made radical Islam the government-sanctioned norm for all Muslims.

For Islamists, assimilation is contamination since, in Professor Bernard Lewis's words, "Muslims must not sojourn in the land of the infidel". Intermarriage should be another route to assimilation, though in France this usually involves an Islamic male and often the wife converts to Islam.

Meanwhile, the state of Christendom in France is perilous. Catholics may not have reached the secular nirvana of the Church of England's working party that declared the Sunday Sabbath redundant, but French Catholicism, except for little pools of the faithful, is taken with the notion that their Church will be borne forward only if the next Pope is ready to "dialogue" with Islam - a code word that augurs dilution of the faith.

Currently, Islamists are only a fraction of France's Muslim population. In last week's demonstrations against the headscarf law, only 20,000 people turned out. But as in all radical movements, the young are the driving force. As their numbers increase, the militancy of Islam is likely to increase as well.

Europe's chickens are coming home to roost. The Great Powers used the Commonwealth or La Francophonie to continue the fiction of Empire. Large numbers of people were admitted mainly from North Africa.

The borders of mainland France seemed extended to include Algeria. Guest workers arrived to satisfy needs for cheap labour. Unloved by their host country, they were marginalised in shabby living conditions, with no attempt made to assimilate them. Political refugees and asylum seekers moved in.

Early arrivals, such as the White Russians or the Ayatollah Khomeini and his supporters, never intended to assimilate. They were sitting out bad weather before returning home. More recent ones, who arrived because of Nato policies in the Balkans, have been greeted with hostility and distrust.

European countries are not organically immigrant societies. The groups that went to America in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries did so specifically to become Americans. They wanted to shed their past and, within a generation, they did. America's emphasis today on faith and God is just an echo of the founding Pilgrims for whom Christianity was central.

Their beliefs were reinforced by many Christian groups, from Baptists to Mennonites, all in search of religious freedom. These founding fathers decreed separation of church and state, not to make sure the nation was secular, as in France, but to make sure no state religion could interfere with religious freedom.

European countries have none of this melting-pot principle. You cannot become German or Italian with the same ease with which you become American. Also, into this very different European environment came a very different sort of immigrant - people who had no interest in assimilation at all.

They came as settlers, wanting to establish their own communities; at best they favoured a merger - at worst, a takeover. Their approach was nurtured by notions of multiculturalism, a creed appealing to intellectuals, administrators and enforcers, but having almost zero appeal to the home population.

The cultural abrasions that developed, especially between the rapidly growing Muslim community and the French, became the problem that could not be talked about. All respectable political parties, journalists and academics felt it too volatile and far too politically incorrect. The field was abandoned to extreme Right-wingers and nativists who, by default, established the unpleasant tone of the debate and became exclusive owners of a subject affecting the whole nation.

In the absence of openness, the government's response was a cover-up - or, rather, an uncovering: to outlaw Muslim headscarves, shave beards worn for reasons of faith, or ban crucifixes if too large. In Britain, some school Nativity plays were forbidden.

There seemed to be a genuine belief among governments that they could solve this problem by violating Western traditions of religious freedom and by outlawing their own cultural traditions. Far from alleviating the situation, this only aggravated it. Worse, it gave fodder to the extreme Right.

Tribal friction has only two solutions: groups will either unite in the manner of Normans and Saxons, melding into a society that may have different religious practices but subscribes to the same laws and values - in which case headscarves, beards and demographics don't matter a fig. Or they will follow the pattern of warring tribes throughout history.

The question is not whether French and Muslims can co-exist with each other so long as Muslim schoolgirls are bareheaded. Rather, it is the fundamental question of whether Muslim groups will become part of the French nation. This is not one of those old "querelles gauloises" that Barzini so loved. It is the fundamental dilemma of the new century.

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I got it here; Article

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Yes.

With a vocal and organized minority, any group can force unwelcome policy changes in a democracy... Since christians dont organize around religion, (for fear of media ridicule) poeple who do organize around religion and vocalize thier support for policies based on religion, will carry the day. Not because they're right or they're a majority, simply because the battle hasnt been joined...

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A wopping yes!

It's pretty gutsy to bring about such a topic. An Islamic DEMOGRAPHIC WARFARE is being waged worldwide, and I do mean it politely. Europe now has over 25 million Muslims. It's only a matter of time before they form their own voting block (ie. Detriot, Michigan). My fear is the rise in fanaticism that's being brought with many of 'em. John-Marrie Le Pen should've been France's elected leader, not Chirac. Sadly, the French will reap what they've sown. Soon, we will experience THE DEATH OF THE WEST, thanks to Bush’s lax immigration policy. My government(Canada) doesn’t seem to care at all.

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I can't think of a single islamic US politician, congressman, senator, representative or governor. And you think they're taking over? You gotta be kidding. Could they lobby and influence some policy? Maybe on a local level.

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It's not just Muslims. I've noticed this general trend among immigrant groups from Third World countries. They just never assimilate into the country like earlier immigrants did. Sure, other groups keep some of their traditions alive, but there is no good reason to never learn English, and to insist on dressing in clothes straight from the Middle Ages all the time. This isn't about keeping your own identity-it's about not even attempting to understand the values of the very country that is providing your livelihood, and perhaps down the road having ideas about converting everyone else to your point of view. The solution is simple-be more selective about which groups are allowed to immigrate. It may seem biased, but it seems France is in danger of losing its unique cultural identity, and the US may follow in time. The only reason the US has tolerated so much Third World immigration is because businesses want cheap labor. Cheap ends up being more expensive in the long run.

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Part of the problem, is that we're not a melting pot anymore, we're a multi-cultural society... So why assumulate, if your not haveing the crap beat out of you for being a foriegner?

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I don't know about America but in Europe they will use the system to defeat the "enemies of Islam" which essentially is anyone who is not Muslim. Not through violence, although some will try, but through the ballot box and through intimidation.

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Since christians dont organize around religion, (for fear of media ridicule)

You should spend some more time in America. Ever heard of the American Family Association? Just about any political group with "family" in the title is a Christian group. And there are a LOT of those.

The primary reason Bush won the Republican nomination was that he appealed to the strongly religous faction of the party, which currently forms a large, influential base of power in the GOP, as opposed to McCain, who is a far more moderate candidate in most ways (and incidentally, would have handily won the national election, in my opinion, due to Gore's very weak candidacy).

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Bush's election had more to do with the previous president. Al Gore was really the wrong candiate for the time. Really.

I also believe McCain had a better chance won...but I'm not sure any Democrat really had a chance.

But the big money wanted their environmental socialist as the candidate. *shrug*

Oddly, the Trade center attacks has sparked a bit of Islamic favoritism. I said a bit. ;)

In an effort to make sure Muslims do not feel threatened, Islam has been promoted into the national spotlight as a kinder, gentler religion.

It's a topsy-turvy world we live in:

- hate the evil empire, they spy on their people, impeded their freedom

Now the U.S. does that. Hmmmm

- Fear Islam. They are the threat. Kidnapping, death, bombings, etc.

Oh...sorry. They're OK now.

- Down with Taxation without representation....

Who repesents the middle-class?

Ooops. Guess that last one doesn't fit. :)

Why can't the pendulum say more in the middle? LOL

DogEared

8^)

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Since christians dont organize around religion, (for fear of media ridicule)

You should spend some more time in America. Ever heard of the American Family Association? Just about any political group with "family" in the title is a Christian group. And there are a LOT of those.

The primary reason Bush won the Republican nomination was that he appealed to the strongly religous faction of the party, which currently forms a large, influential base of power in the GOP, as opposed to McCain, who is a far more moderate candidate in most ways (and incidentally, would have handily won the national election, in my opinion, due to Gore's very weak candidacy).

That's an example of what Iam pointing too, a vocal minority can bring thier views to the mainstream and win a great deal of influence...

The 'christian right' suffers a great deal of media scorn even in America...

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Oh, and btw, Bush wasnt running agianst Gore for the nomination, he was running agianst McCain, and who else? for the Republician nomination...

You're right about Gore, you just had him in the wrong election...

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That's an example of what Iam pointing too, a vocal minority can bring thier views to the mainstream and win a great deal of influence...

This "vocal minority" is one of the largest group of voters in the Republican party. They are not a majority, though.

The 'christian right' suffers a great deal of media scorn even in America...

Rightly so. They are extremists; extremists are almost always met with amusement and/or scorn. Look at PETA. To a lesser extent, organizations like NOW (National Organization of Women, IIRC) have also had mixed bouts of scorn in the media.

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That's an example of what Iam pointing too, a vocal minority can bring thier views to the mainstream and win a great deal of influence...

This "vocal minority" is one of the largest group of voters in the Republican party. They are not a majority, though.

The 'christian right' suffers a great deal of media scorn even in America...

Rightly so. They are extremists; extremists are almost always met with amusement and/or scorn. Look at PETA. To a lesser extent, organizations like NOW (National Organization of Women, IIRC) have also had mixed bouts of scorn in the media.

And where is the scorn for Islam? There is no such thing as Islamic Fundamentalists. One is either a Muslim or he is not.

Did you know that the the Prophet Mohammed had sixteen wives though every other Muslim was allowed only four? That Muhammed's youngest wife was six years old when he married her and only nine years old when he consumated the marriage? And when he grew smitten with his son's wife he suddenly had a visitation from the angel Gabriel who told him it was perfectly alright for him to marry his son's wife?

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And where is the scorn for Islam? There is no such thing as Islamic Fundamentalists. One is either a Muslim or he is not.

I hear many things from many different Muslims about this. Or shall I say, I hear the same thing from many different Muslims, and they often mutually exclude each other from the religion. It is not as simple as you make it.

Did you know that the the Prophet Mohammed had sixteen wives though every other Muslim was allowed only four? That Muhammed's youngest wife was six years old when he married her and only nine years old when he consumated the marriage? And when he grew smitten with his son's wife he suddenly had a visitation from the angel Gabriel who told him it was perfectly alright for him to marry his son's wife?

How dare the media not heap scorn upon Muslims for this! After all, look what they've been saying about Lot!!!

Said more politely, I fail to see your point.

Say Mustafa, who are you really?

You mean you haven't guessed?

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And where is the scorn for Islam? There is no such thing as Islamic Fundamentalists. One is either a Muslim or he is not.

I hear many things from many different Muslims about this. Or shall I say, I hear the same thing from many different Muslims, and they often mutually exclude each other from the religion. It is not as simple as you make it.

Did you know that the the Prophet Mohammed had sixteen wives though every other Muslim was allowed only four? That Muhammed's youngest wife was six years old when he married her and only nine years old when he consumated the marriage? And when he grew smitten with his son's wife he suddenly had a visitation from the angel Gabriel who told him it was perfectly alright for him to marry his son's wife?

How dare the media not heap scorn upon Muslims for this! After all, look what they've been saying about Lot!!!

Said more politely, I fail to see your point.

Say Mustafa, who are you really?

You mean you haven't guessed?

The point is that Islam has as sorted a history as does Christianity. Yet the operative word in our society for Islam is "tolerance". But not so for Christianity. Why?

Just what does "a religion of peace" mean?

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Say Mustafa, who are you really?

It looks like someone that just read a 15 page anti-islamic propeganda workbook.

Every philosiphy has it's share of crazies.

Thank you for your time,

Frank Russo

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The point is that Islam has as sorted a history as does Christianity. Yet the operative word in our society for Islam is "tolerance". But not so for Christianity. Why?

Just what does "a religion of peace" mean?

Er, probably because relatively few people are prejudiced against Christians: you rarely use the word "tolerance" for what is considered the "norm" or the group in power. For example, there is no talk of tolerance for white males, or tolerance for capitalists.

And by the way, I DO hear of "tolerance" for Christians; there are a number of groups around that DO have serious prejudices against fundamentalist Christians (many homosexual groups, pagan groups, etc.).

FWIW, I don't really like the word "tolerance" in this situation; it has taken on some of the meaning of "sensitivity" which to me is a different thing from tolerance.

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The point is that Islam has as sorted a history as does Christianity. Yet the operative word in our society for Islam is "tolerance". But not so for Christianity. Why?

Just what does "a religion of peace" mean?

Er, probably because relatively few people are prejudiced against Christians: you rarely use the word "tolerance" for what is considered the "norm" or the group in power. For example, there is no talk of tolerance for white males, or tolerance for capitalists.

And by the way, I DO hear of "tolerance" for Christians; there are a number of groups around that DO have serious prejudices against fundamentalist Christians (many homosexual groups, pagan groups, etc.).

FWIW, I don't really like the word "tolerance" in this situation; it has taken on some of the meaning of "sensitivity" which to me is a different thing from tolerance.

Why do you have "prejudice" against Christian fundamentalists? Are they not entitled to believe as they chose regarding any and every issue? Provided they do act upon their beliefs in any way that is illegal?

If the word "tolerance" bothers you substitute a philosophy of "live and let live" for it.

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Religious fundamentalists of all sorts are idiots and should be treated as such. They should not be tolerated as they themselves are the most intolerant of people.

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Say Mustafa, who are you really?

It looks like someone that just read a 15 page anti-islamic propeganda workbook.

Every philosiphy has it's share of crazies.

Thank you for your time,

Frank Russo

Not quite my friend.

Is what I have said the truth? Or are you accusing me of lying?

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Religious fundamentalists of all sorts are idiots and should be treated as such.  They should not be tolerated as they themselves are the most intolerant of people.

So their intolerance justifies your intolerance? How?

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