|More news stories on Islam in Europe/Asia|
Susan Sachs, Globe and Mail (Toronto), February 9, 2010
It started with a bang and ended with a committee.
Four months ago, the French government opened a grand collective discussion about national identity. It quickly evolved into a nasty quarrel over whether immigrants, and particularly Muslim immigrants, are French enough.
Yesterday, Prime Minister François Fillon essentially shelved the debate, saying he would ask a committee of “intellectuals” to ruminate on the subject and report back in September.
“The debate was exemplary,” he announced after a closed-door meeting of the full French cabinet. “The question of the identity of France is no longer a taboo question.”
But critics across the political spectrum said the government opened a Pandora’s box in setting up a website for people to weigh in on what it means to be French and organizing more than 350 public hearings across the country.
“It’s a fine subject, but the way it was handled ended up creating a monster and a lot of racist excesses,” said Patrick Lozès, president of the Representative Council of Black Associations.
The government’s website, for example, proved a popular success, with some 55,000 comments posted on it since October. But 15 per cent of the posts had to be removed because they were racist, xenophobic or otherwise inappropriate.
Eric Besson, the Minister of Immigration and National Identity, said he never meant for the debate to focus on immigrants or on French Muslims, another common theme in the sometimes strident public hearings.
But from the start, that subtext was raised in his suggested talking points for the debate, which included the question, “Should we control immigration in order to preserve our national unity?”
The debate took place against the backdrop of an equally divisive discussion over the niqab, the face-covering veil worn by some Muslim women. A parliamentary commission has recommended that women wearing the garment be banned from public transport, hospitals and government buildings. A group of deputies from the governing rightwing party wants to outlaw the wearing of it in all public places.
A TNS Sofres poll published last week suggested that the French are generally worried about the impact of immigration. Asked if there is a French identity, 23 per cent of those surveyed answered no. But the majority or respondents said it exists, needs to be strengthened and is under threat from immigrants from different cultures.
The roots of the national identity debate go back to 2007, when newly elected President Nicolas Sarkozy said the French needed to show more respect for their values and national symbols.
With regional elections looming in March, Mr. Fillon revived those themes at the same time as he dispatched the larger question of national identity for further study.
He said the government will ensure that all schools fly the French flag by the start of the next school year and that the 1789 Declaration of Human Rights is posted in every classroom “to cultivate pride in being French.”
The government will also require foreigners to prove their proficiency in French and sign a contract of rights and responsibilities in order to get French citizenship, he said.
Much of what Mr. Fillon is proposing is already in place. Since 2003, anyone seeking a work visa, residence status or naturalization has to speak French. For the past three years, they have also had to complete a course in French culture and values and prove that they have integrated into French society.
“In fact, the government decided to bury the debate on national identity,” said Harlem Désir, a spokesman for the opposition Socialist Party. “These are insignificant measures to make people believe that it actually served a purpose.”
During the national identity debate, some government ministers proposed more-explicit requirements for foreigners, including a pledge that they will not wear or force anyone to wear the full Islamic veil.
Mr. Besson proposed that each French boy and girl be required to sign a “rights and duties charter” at 18 and that the government revoke the visa of any foreigner who breaches what he called French values.
(Posted on February 9, 2010)
1 — Linus wrote at 5:37 PM on February 9: “Yesterday, Prime Minister François Fillon essentially shelved the debate, saying he would ask a committee of “intellectuals” to ruminate on the subject and report back in September.
“The debate was exemplary,” he announced after a closed-door meeting of the full French cabinet. “The question of the identity of France is no longer a taboo question.””
What obviously contradictory nonsense.
Besides, it’s never “taboo” to have “intellectuals” discuss any dangerous topic as “intellectual” is always a designation awarded solely on the basis of ideological affiliation! These “intellectuals” will simply decide, after a moment’s delibera- err, “rumination” – that the public is ignorant and racist and just can’t see the truth behind the ideals to which they so perfervidly hold, but are utterly incapable of explaining.
The public just can’t see the Emperor’s New Clothes.
2 — Blaak Obongo wrote at 6:04 PM on February 9: “In fact, the [French] government decided to bury the debate on national identity.”
Unlike the United States, where no such debate is permitted in the first place. It’d be Racist, don’t you know?
The Left’s noisy desire for “Democracy” quickly evaporates when it becomes clear that the democratic majority is not Leftist.
3 — sbuffalonative wrote at 6:28 PM on February 9: “…he would ask a committee of “intellectuals” to ruminate on the subject and report back”
Confirmation of what we all know. The self-proclaimed ‘intellecutuals’ and elites are going to by-pass the common sense and will of the majority and presumably ‘do what’s right’.
4 — Anonymous wrote at 6:35 PM on February 9: “But 15 per cent of the posts had to be removed because they were racist, xenophobic or otherwise inappropriate.”
Yes, we are free and encouraged to discuss ideas and express our views, but ONLY those ideas and views that are sanctioned by the governemnt. Alternative views or ideas will NOT be permitted. This is one of the first signs of a totalitarian government — i.e., Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Kim Jong-il, Idi Amin, etc.
5 — ghw wrote at 6:55 PM on February 9: “Asked if there is a French identity, 23 per cent of those surveyed answered no.”
A quarter of the population! I’m not at all surprised by that statistic. With each generation, there are ever fewer “French” people left in France. It has become a composite of Europe —- and now the world. France has been a “proposition nation” and a melting pot for at least a couple of centuries ….since the Revolution at least, and even before that, starting with Marie de Medici and Cardinal Mazarin. Well before the USA even existed! I don’t know why this simple fact of history is unmentionable.
In a metropolis like Paris or Marseille, you have everybody from everywhere. The united nations! For generations, Paris has been a magnet for population. I wouldn’t be surprised if a majority there are not native French or of French descent (by which I mean having at least French grandparents).
6 — GoAway wrote at 8:13 PM on February 9: I’ll settle it. What It Means To Be French: White, Catholic, and ethnically and linguistically FRENCH. Class adjourned.
7 — SKIP wrote at 10:19 PM on February 9: They have also had to complete a course in French culture and values and prove that they have integrated into French society.
There is no way a Muslim can adapt to a civilized society, they change said society or try to blow it up..and the futility of trying to or expecting African black Muslims to be civilized is laughable to tears. A religious conflagration is coming to EU.
8 — WR the elder wrote at 11:08 PM on February 9: The liberal elite is always engaging in this sort of censorship. They believe in free speech and free debate so long as you agree with them. They are nasty little totalitarians at the core.
If there’s one thing I’m certain of it’s this: The French elites live well removed from the diversity they impose on everyone else, just as the American elites do here.
|More news stories on Islam in Europe/Asia|
CGH, Spiegel, February 5, 2010
A small Muslim community in a western German town would like to build a minaret on its mosque. But the plan has triggered passionate opposition from locals, many of whom rely on rhetoric from the extreme right in railing against the “symbol of Islam’s quest for power.”
“Willkommen,” reads the stencilled print on the wall along the riverside boardwalk in the small town of Völklingen. Not content to just welcome its German guests, however, the message is translated into a number of languages. “Bienvenue . . . bienvenidos . . . velkommen,” it reads. And “hosgeldiniz,” a nod to the city’s substantial Turkish population.
Elsewhere in the city—particularly in the quarter known as Wehrden—Muslim immigrants may not feel quite as welcome. A small mosque on the banks of the Saar River there has applied for a permit to build a small minaret on its roof—triggering a wave of at-times vehement protest reminiscent of the fuss surrounding the November 2009 referendum in Switzerland to ban minarets in the country.
“I am against the Islamification of our fatherland!” reads a message, posted by “Tommy” on the Web site of the local paper Saarbrücker Zeitung. “Islam is the greatest threat facing humanity,” he adds.
In a town meeting held on the subject in late January, a number of locals came out against the minaret plan. According to Berlin daily Die Tageszeitung, several expressed fears that Germany was being “infiltrated” by “the Turks.”
The plan foresees a minaret stretching a mere eight meters (26 feet) above the roof. The head of the Turkish-Muslim community planning the minaret, Adnan Atakli, has assured locals that there are no plans to broadcast calls to prayer from the minaret and that he merely sees it as an “ornament.”
Doesn’t Shy Away from Far-Right Rhetoric
And not everyone has come out against the plans. Many have pointed out that such an adornment would only improve the not-terribly-attractive quarter where the mosque is located. Furthermore, almost 10 percent of the Völklingen population is made up of immigrants, many of them Muslims. Some say it only makes sense that they be allowed to build a small minaret.
Still, politesse has hardly characterized the debate in Völklingen. Indeed, the back and forth is reminiscent of the campaign in Cologne in 2008 to block the construction of a mosque there. The campaign was led by a group called Pro-Cologne, a group that doesn’t shy away from far-right rhetoric. Similar debates have taken place in numerous European countries as the right wing seeks to tap into widespread skepticism toward Islam.
The Swiss referendum, which saw 57.5 percent of voters come out against the minaret ban, clearly showed just how anchored anti-Muslim sentiment may be in Europe. Indeed, a group called Pro-NRW (short for the German state North Rhine-Westphalia) now plans to cooperate with right-wing political parties in numerous European countries to organize a European Union-wide minaret referendum.
Islam’s ‘Quest for Power’
The debate in Völklingen is once again showing how quickly right-wing rhetoric can cross over into the mainstream when it comes to debates on Islam in Europe. Local right-wing extremists—two of whom are in the Völklingen city council—have argued that minarets are “symbols of Turkish dominance.” They point to a speech given by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in February 2008 in Cologne. In it, he said that “mosques are our barracks, minarets our bayonets, the domes our helmets and the believers are our soldiers.”
The Völklingen mosque belongs to the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), which has close ties to Turkey. “We are being quietly infiltrated by the Turks!” said one participant at the late January town meeting, according to Die Tageszeitung.
The local news paper, however, has used the exact same rhetoric on its editorial pages. “This minaret should not be built,” the Saarbrücker Zeitung wrote in late January. “It symbolizes Islam’s quest for power and is nothing less than a provocation. In the course of the Muslim conquests, minarets were first used as watch towers and only subsequently as religious symbols. Following the violent seizure of new territories, minarets were built as manifestations of Muslim rule.”
Minaret opponents are now looking into the possibility of holding a referendum on the issue in Völklingen. Yet another one.
(Posted on February 9, 2010)
1 — Anonymous wrote at 7:07 PM on February 9: Adnan Atakli, has assured locals that there are no plans to broadcast calls to prayer from the minaret and that he merely sees it as an “ornament.”
Then what is the PURPOSE of it? I don’t believe it is for “ornament” only. That’s just a way of slipping a foot in the door. Eventually, given time, nibble by nibble, they will want to broadcast calls to prayer. That’s what a minaret is for.
I can say as one who knows, that this is one of the greatest annoyances in a Moslem country. Yes, you can say that Christian countries have their church bells, but they’re not the same as the call of the muezzin waking the city up at the crack of dawn, and then broadcasting at various intervals throughout the day.
It served a purpose for desert tribes and before people had clocks. It’s need is outmoded today.
2 — John PM wrote at 7:38 PM on February 9: Right Comrade Invader Atakli, that is until maybe 2012 or 2013 when you start demanding “calls to prayer” as your “human” or “religious” rights in the next phase of your “assimilation” into German culture!
Am I wrong?
The poster to the Saarbrücker Zeitung’s website named Tommy is quite correct when he wisely declares: “Islam is the greatest threat facing humanity.”
We have been at war with, and defending ourselves against, being enslaved and brutalized by Islam for centuries in the West. What makes anyone, except for the most infinitely odious of “enlightened intellectuals,” think that anything has changed in this historical dynamic? It hasn’t, and to make matters worse, they of that “religion of peace” are openly stating that it hasn’t for them at all.
Their goals are for conquest and “revenge” upon the Western “whoredom,” that they see as their nearest and most natural enemy.
What is so “unfathomably” hard to grasp about this:
As always, God help us all!!!
3 — Anonymous wrote at 7:57 PM on February 9: Is this the infiltration of ‘old style right wing rhetoric’, or is it simply the young, taking a page from the very playbook of the multiculturalists, and marxists, learned and active and prevelant as they are; is this fighting fire with fire, so to speak?
That one is considered hate and the other enlightenment says more about the Spiegel than it does about these extreme rightists.
4 — Bobby wrote at 8:09 PM on February 9: Germany, one of the great nations of the world, is truly losing it. I have a buddy that does business( antique pianos)in Berlin,Germany,and he likes to go to the classical music concerts there. He once told me, Bob, I couldn’t believe how families would go to these concerts with their elementary school aged kids and the kids would sit quietly and listen. He is just about ready to leave California for good. However,he always says that the ultra liberal mind set there, that he has observed talking to the average German, is probably going to ruin the country.
5 — GoAway wrote at 8:16 PM on February 9: Europe’s Muslims should be allowed to build as many mosques and minarets as there are churches in Saudi Arabia. See how easy that was?
6 — Tim Mc Hugh wrote at 8:37 PM on February 9: “a Mere 8 meters…” Or as the article pointed out, 26 feet. That`s a good ways above the roof line. Ask anyone who changes stadium and parking lot lights for a living.