France As An Islamic State?

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by Annie, Jan 26, 2004.

  1. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    http://www.portal.telegraph.co.uk/o...xml&sSheet=/opinion/2004/01/26/ixopinion.html

    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.

    Information appearing on telegraph.co.uk is the copyright of Telegraph Group Limited and must not be reproduced in any medium without licence. For the full copyright statement see Copyright
     
  2. Sabir
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    The author of this article has thrown in a few stats here and there without giving details which would allow us to put them in proper perspective (one reason why I rarely use stats my self).

    Sure, it may be possible for France or any other European Country to become an Islamic state in 25 years, but I think not. The majority of Muslims in these countries would not want that themselves, we too value the freedoms and opportunities of the West.

    I accept that the increasing Muslim population may become more influential in France in the years to come but it will be a far far cry from a Muslim state.

    We should be ever vigilant of the extremists, we should be vigilant of the dire consequences of any extremists gaining control of our governments but we should also maintain perspective in light of such articles.
     
  3. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    French population is declining, the growth has come from immigrants, a high percentage have been Muslim. That's just the way it is.

    http://www.nationmaster.com/country/fr/People

    Birth rate: 11.94 births/1,000 population (2002 est.) [184th of 223]
    Couples with children: 56% [8th of 23]
    Death rate: 9.04 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.) [92nd of 223]
     
  4. Sabir
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    I wont dispute that statement. I was just pointing out that France becoming a Muslim State in the future although possible is highly improbable.
     
  5. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    Like to see how you arrive at that, since the Muslim birthrate in France is quite high. Some evidence already that those under 25 are Islamic majority already.
     
  6. Psychoblues
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    Psychoblues Senior Member

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    Kathianne, you obviously have some problem with the general idea of the Religion of Mohammed, Muslim. Like you, I don't share the ideology but I question your concern of it's growth.

    Muslims, as I have come to understand, are even more tolerant and welcoming than most Christians that I've met and come to know. Muslim, Christianity, even many of them (Christians) condemn the Catholics, and especially the Pentacostals, have their own demons to deal with. There are thousands of other religions that I could point out here but considering your obsession with Muslims and the fact that Christianity overwhelms the US yet rejects the teachings of Christianity, I think it strange that you would now concentrate on some obscure and improbable suggestion that France is a Muslim nation.

    What gives?
     
  7. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    Seriously Psycho, 9/11 gives. Prior to that I believed the 5 pillars to be an exemplary form of religion and the OBL was an aberration. Since then, I noted the derth of protest from within the Islamic representatives in the US, never mind without, regarding the practices of hate and violence.

    Moreover, the questions raised by the silence has started me on a path of revisiting what I've been taught, as a history major no less. Seems that the Crusades were a bit 'pc'd' even in my time. It wasn't only the Christians at fault here. Perhaps more disturbing to me is what I've discovered regarding the Barbary Pirates, thanks to TIME and some other sources. Their ideas of punishment and hatred of others were very informative regarding the impulses alive and kicking today. Actually they made Jefferson sound nearly Jacksonian.

    This doesn't mean that all Muslims are bad, evil, hateful, etc. However, it may be those that aren't, silent they remain for the most part, are not adhering to the precepts as preached.
     
  8. Psychoblues
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    Psychoblues Senior Member

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    Be that as it is, maybe the problem is within the "preaching" and that concept goes all the way around, don't you agree?
     
  9. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    No.
     
  10. Psychoblues
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    Psychoblues Senior Member

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    I'll accept that as the "no suggestions accepted" attitude that it represents on it's own. Have a good life, Kathianne, but somehow I suspect that you've not nurtured one that will provide one for you.
     

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