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"Multiculturalism has failed"
September 17, 2011 2:56 PM   Subscribe

The State of France has banned prayers in public starting Friday in a move widely seen as being targeted at (what might be) the largest Muslim community in Western Europe.

Muslims defy ban on outdoor prayers.

Sarkozy: "Multiculturalism has failed"

LePen: Muslims in France are "like [the] Nazi occupation"

Background from The Economist. Previously on Metafilter. Previously. Previously and possibly related: Sarkozy orders "systematic evacuation" of Roma immigrants from France.
posted by Avenger (267 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
I am not there, so who am I to address this?

But, about 15 or 16 years to at Disneyland, I happened upon a little alcove that the park had set aside for a prayer by Muslim patrons. Made me feel good, both that there were a couple families using it on this particular afternoon (I would not have known the purpose of this space otherwise), and the fact that this big corporation made the space available.

So this makes me sad.
posted by Danf at 3:03 PM on September 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


Can't speak for the French but Toronto would suck pretty hard if it didn't push multiculturalism.
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:11 PM on September 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


This informs young, unemployed Muslims that they are not a part of the French state, they cannot be integrated, and they should keep their religion and their politics underground. Riots or worse will ensue.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:12 PM on September 17, 2011 [69 favorites]


This seems less like failure and more like quitting. Multiculturalism is hard, let's go shopping!
posted by feloniousmonk at 3:12 PM on September 17, 2011 [26 favorites]


Can't speak for the French but Toronto would suck pretty hard if it didn't push multiculturalism.

That is true, but I suspect dominant culture as she is practiced in Paris and dominant culture in Rob Ford's Toronto are not equivalent.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:14 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


That picture in the Economist is amazing. They're doing this in the middle of the street? I could see how that's kind of a nuissance
posted by Hoopo at 3:14 PM on September 17, 2011 [14 favorites]


Praying in the street in the way which is happening is clearly an actual problem, but surely this has to be pure politics? The Presidential elections are only eight months away now, and the Socialist primary very soon. Given the electoral share that the Front national have had in the past few presidential elections, there is no doubt that pandering to their supporters will be profitable. I gather that Sarkozy needs some kind of boost in polls if he's to be in with a chance.
posted by Jehan at 3:16 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


"[Multiculturalism] is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:18 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


They're giving laissez-faire a bad name.
posted by argonauta at 3:20 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94: " Riots or worse will ensue."

Or a mass exodus.

This is sad, but not at all surprising. France has been heading in this direction for a while now.
posted by zarq at 3:20 PM on September 17, 2011


Half of Canada thinks religion is harmful. They do not, however, think that the religious individuals they know personally are harmful.

I don't know if that link source is any more reputable than others in the same search. Some of its siblings looked shady: naturally, bloggers have run wild with this information.

Anyhoo, if the French public have the same sort of attitude, perhaps it's not surprising they're willing to bar public displays of religion.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:21 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Enjoy your ossified concept of culture now before it burns, Frenchy.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 3:26 PM on September 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


I really don't know enough about anything involved with these topics to be able to make cogent analysis of it all, but it does seem, from where I sit, that it probably won't end well.
posted by hippybear at 3:29 PM on September 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


The State of France has banned prayers in public starting Friday

Holy shit. The Nazis have easily penetrated France again.
This time they did it without anyone even knowing it.

Ah the French defence budget! Spent once again on guns pointed the wrong way.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:33 PM on September 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


So, is public sex OK? Or does that go with prayer?
posted by Obscure Reference at 3:33 PM on September 17, 2011


"So, is public sex OK? Or does that go with prayer?"

As long as you don't cry out the name of your deity.
posted by Randwulf at 3:37 PM on September 17, 2011 [25 favorites]


Well this helps me understand right wing thought better. In a country where right wingers identify with the government, it is fascism, in a country where they can't, it is libertarian with the aim of creating a fascist conclave community within the multicultural country, (see my home state of Alabama!).

I guess the real question this worldwide crisis is asking us is, do we really want to live in harmony with people who are different than us in bad times? Is it possible for human animals to want this? Does anybody have faith that a collective that can be fair to people without being ethnically/racially/religiously homogeneous if we know we just plain don't have enough for everybody and some people are just plain going to suffer more than they have?

"The right" gets a lot of well deserved criticism for being anti-science, but after observing the last 5 years I have to wonder if thinking that human beings want multiculturalism isn't the biggest empirical blunder that "the left" makes. Although I think making this mistake is about the only thing that lets me have any faith in humanity.
posted by SomeOneElse at 3:39 PM on September 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is disgusting, inhuman and a rejecting slap in the face to a large segment of the population in France.
posted by knoyers at 3:40 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


France's is a false universalism. You should be free, so you will not be allowed to do that.
posted by Roachbeard at 3:40 PM on September 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Presidents or Prime Minister of the UK, France, Germany, and Spain have all said that multiculturalism is a fundamentally flawed paradigm. And as a liberal libertine immigrant in a European mono-culture, I generally agree. We're not talking about a "war on Christmas" here. We are dealing with frequent honor killings, lack of respect for gender equality and complete disregard for the cultures that generously provide the social benefits so many of the people miserably failing to acclimate are quite happily enjoying.

My kids are in schools that are virtual UN assemblies. Some of the issues that have come up at school are folks that want to mutilate their kids, or make their 8 year old daughters wear a full veil against her wishes, or refusing to allow kids to interact with the opposite sex, and refusing to allow kids to be taught biology and sex education. Now, as a parent, that may be your right in some countries. But not this one. And if you can't abide by the local culture to some minimal degree, you are free to leave.

By the same token, I'm not welcome to go to many of these backwards cultures and hit on peoples wives, get drunk and eat bacon burgers, then have gay sex by the flickering light of a burning the Koran. That would be insulting their culture.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 3:41 PM on September 17, 2011 [78 favorites]


The street is not a mosque or a church of a synagogue or a temple. If you want to pray in your hundreds then rent or buy a damn building or go find space in as park. This FPP implies its individual personal prayer when the reality is that its large groups of people blocking traffic several times a day.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:41 PM on September 17, 2011 [44 favorites]


French secularism: you can be whatever religion you want, as long as it isn't Islam.

I am amazed that someone who actually lived through the occupation and tried to join the FFI would nave the gall compare the Muslim presence in France to the Germans. But then again, I'm still amazed that someone with the last name Sarkozy would work so hard to demonize the children and grandchildren of immigrants (or people who have always been French, just from a part of France that isn't a part of France anymore, and it's complicated)

But yes, it is all the Muslims' fault.

Eurozone crisis? Muslims.

Youth unemployment? Muslims.

Drugs? Muslims.

Tommy Voeckler loses the yellow jersey? Muslims.

France knocked out of the World Cup? Muslims.

Vine blight? Muslims.

Dien Bien Phu? Muslims.

The Dreyfus Affair? Actually Muslims.

Favorite restaurant loses its Michelin star? Muslims!

Dogshit all over the sidewalk? Muslims!

This croissant is terrible! Muslims!




Now if only there were camps of some sort that we could put them in.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:42 PM on September 17, 2011 [18 favorites]


The 1st Amendment is pretty awesome, I'd welcome more Muslim immigrants to the US. A load of ignorant dumbasses may protest building your mosque but the law will stay out of your way!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:43 PM on September 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


The Presidents or Prime Minister of the UK, France, Germany, and Spain have all said that multiculturalism is a fundamentally flawed paradigm. And as a liberal libertine immigrant in a European mono-culture, I generally agree.

As much as I criticize the US, we're making a pretty decent go of multiculturalism in many parts of the country.
posted by muddgirl at 3:44 PM on September 17, 2011 [19 favorites]


By the same token, I'm not welcome to go to many of these backwards cultures and hit on peoples wives, get drunk and eat bacon burgers, then have gay sex by the flickering light of a burning the Koran. That would be insulting their culture.

If that's your idea of an average Saturday night in your culture, then I'd hope you actually only do that where you live and no place else.

Couldn't you have found a better way to express this using things you actually do in your context which would be considered bad in another context without resorting to hyperbole for most of it?

Or do you really hit on other people's female spouses and then go fuck men to the light of burning books on a regular basis?
posted by hippybear at 3:45 PM on September 17, 2011 [12 favorites]


How many of you would endorse a daily Christian prayer meeting in the middle of the street? Not many, I'm guessing, because the street belongs to everyone, not just the devotees of a particular religion.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:45 PM on September 17, 2011 [26 favorites]


I could see how that's kind of a nuissance

I wish I could find the link right now but on another site where this was being discussed, someone who lives in the Goutte d'Or neighborhood was saying just this, that the prayers were block public thoroughfares and filling the local public spaces, even after indoor space was provided. Seeing that picture, I kind of get their point.
posted by JaredSeth at 3:46 PM on September 17, 2011


Er, were blocking, that is.
posted by JaredSeth at 3:47 PM on September 17, 2011


Traffic blocking is ridiculous to the extreme. The golden rule is "Don't be an asshole".

I have to wonder if thinking that human beings want multiculturalism isn't the biggest empirical blunder that "the left" makes.

Multiculturalism isn't so much the problem as non-adaptation. Maybe it's cool to block the street back in the old country, but it just ain't gonna work in NYC. Maybe it's acceptable to cut up girls genetalia back home, it sure as hell isn't okay over here.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:47 PM on September 17, 2011 [30 favorites]


Does the text of the law mention Islam?
posted by LogicalDash at 3:47 PM on September 17, 2011


The 1st Amendment is pretty awesome, I'd welcome more Muslim immigrants to the US. A load of ignorant dumbasses may protest building your mosque but the law will stay out of your way!

I some regards the US is much worse than France when it comes to islamophobia. People wen't crazy when they thought that a mosque was being built on ground zero, so I'm pretty sure they would resort to violence and worse if muslims started praying en masse in the streets.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:49 PM on September 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Does the text of the law mention Islam?

I doubt it, but that's still messed up to target religions. I'm going to go to France and stage an atheist counter-protest in the street. The law can't touch me now since I'm not praying!

My point is I assume blocking the street is already illegal. Why is there a need for an additional ban? When you combine this kind of thing with the burqa ban it's a pretty disturbing pattern.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:50 PM on September 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


How many of you would endorse a daily Christian prayer meeting in the middle of the street?

But that's not what is happening.

From the Economist article:
It is only Friday prayers which experience overflow like this.

Of over 2000 locations, this only happens in about a dozen places, mostly in crowded metropolitan areas.

Muslim congregations are trying to raise money to deal with their capacity problems.

They expect new centers to be complete in the next year or two.
A picture may be worth 1000 words, but sometimes the words accompanying the picture are also important to digest.
posted by hippybear at 3:51 PM on September 17, 2011 [36 favorites]


Couldn't they have just solved this by enforcing a law against blocking traffic? I mean, if blocking public streets was really the problem. There seems to be more at stake here. In any case, France needs to start treating its Muslim population better or it's only going to exacerbate its own social problems.
posted by adso at 3:55 PM on September 17, 2011 [16 favorites]


So, as I read it. The problem is people blocking entire streets by mass prayer. (see The Economist pic for reference).

The first problem - They don't have enough spaces in the mosques for all worshipers.

The solution - The government gives them free spaces to worship in.

The overlying problem - The press distorting the issue.

The news groups are making it seem to be that the French are trying to ban praying. That's not what is happening. The streets are being blocked multiple times a day by one religious group. The French are trying to come up with a solution to the problem. Muslims have been given free - indoor - spaces for prayer. This was provided by the French at no cost.

As usual, this is being overblown by the press. It's a hot button issue - guaranteed to spark debate - and drive traffic to their sites. (can't wait to see the comment count here).
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 3:55 PM on September 17, 2011 [26 favorites]


This is being done in the name of upholding secularism, but it's really just anti-Muslim bigotry.
posted by ms.codex at 3:56 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


We are dealing with frequent honor killings

Is this true? I've heard people say this in Canada too but that doesn't hold up to scrutiny.
posted by Hoopo at 3:56 PM on September 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


The town hall sees street prayers as a temporary problem of capacity. Two local mosques draw worshippers from afar, often new arrivals to France. They come to pray and pick up supplies in the many ethnic stores, offering such wares as raw goats’ feet, mobile-phone cards and Afro-hair extensions. The local government and the city are spending €22m ($32m) to build a new Islamic cultural centre on two sites, with space for concerts and exhibitions. Muslim associations will use private finance to buy prayer rooms, for €6m.

To purists, this is an outright breach of laïcité. To the town hall, it is the best hope of resolving the problem peacefully, even though one mosque has yet to sign up to the plan. As in other French towns, where the authorities organise sites for ritual slaughter during Eid or create Muslim burial spaces in public cemeteries, local flexibility seems to triumph over rigid national theory. When the new Islamic centres are ready in a year or two, Mr Vaillant promises, “there won’t be any more prayers in the street, and they will give the public space back to citizens.”


So, at least some of the locals aren't "shocked" but feel it's temporary and a matter of capacity, not Muslim bloody-mindedness.

Why can't they be the people in charge of this issue?
posted by emjaybee at 3:57 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


This sort of thing doesn't align with US or Canadian ideals for sure. But is it wrong?

The United States exists because of a document, and was founded on philosophical principles of self-governance and equality. France, on the other hand, seems to exist by shared ancestry and language, and wasn't necessarily founded on any particular principles (your mileage may vary).

So the question is: would you require that every nation on earth allow equal rights to anybody who happens to want to join, or is it acceptable for a nation to decide they want to limit membership to people with a shared cultural heritage?

Personally, I'm not sure.
posted by phenylphenol at 3:58 PM on September 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Maybe it's cool to block the street back in the old country, but it just ain't gonna work in NYC.
Feast of San Gennaro

St. Patrick's Day Parade

But it's different when it's Catholics.

This really sounds like a problem that could have been resolved in a better way.
posted by craichead at 3:58 PM on September 17, 2011 [18 favorites]


France, on the other hand, seems to exist by shared ancestry and language, and wasn't necessarily founded on any particular principles (your mileage may vary).

Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite
posted by Hoopo at 3:59 PM on September 17, 2011 [31 favorites]


Yeah, I can't get down with laws that appear specifically formulated to shit on religious freedoms, no matter how much disdain I have for all religions in general. But this case lost a bunch of my sympathy when I realized that these people would be totally in my way on a Friday afternoon when I am trying to get the fuck away from the office and back to my house where pajamas and beer await. And yes, I would certainly feel the same way if it was a minyan or a christian prayer group or a pack of zoroastrians or whatever.
posted by elizardbits at 3:59 PM on September 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


What happens during winter or when it's raining, how do people pray then?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:01 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, a weekly Christian prayer meeting. My point is that a religion's capacity problems are not my problem, so GTFO of the street. Funerals, weddings, and high holidays I can make accommodations for, but just filling up the street like this is inconsiderate. Note how it's also an all male gathering, at which women are presumably unwelcome. My issue here is not with Islam, it's with a bunch of people who think everything revolves around their particular worldview. If you're short on space then rent a building like everyone else.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:02 PM on September 17, 2011 [26 favorites]


Time and time again, history reminds us that the one thing the French can't get enough of is social discord.
posted by TwelveTwo at 4:03 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


OK, a weekly Christian prayer meeting. My point is that a religion's capacity problems are not my problem, so GTFO of the street

Critical Mass?
posted by Hoopo at 4:04 PM on September 17, 2011 [16 favorites]


It's ironic that the French state has actually addressed the question of the integration of Muslims into French society before, and the result (in part) was la Grande Mosquée de Paris.

When people talk about assimilating to French society, one should ask, "assimilate to what?" A number of these people were French citizens at the time of the Algerian Revolution, and chose to remain French. Even as colonial subjects, they had all the rights of citizens (although it didn't stop the police from killing a bunch of them and dumping them in the Seine). Their children and grandchildren are French by birth. Others are the children and grandchildren of immigrants who are just as French as Sarkozy. Why should they have to assimilate to anything?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:04 PM on September 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


There is certainly a component of Sarkozy courting the bigots here. I'd even imagine Sarkozy's immigrant parentage has some bearing upon this, often immigrants who successfully integrate have very little patience for those that fail, even when that failure isn't all their fault.

Yet, I'd agree with the basic premise that religious activity should be prevented from blocking up streets quite so regularly. If otoh they wish to protest instead of pray, or even pray holding protest signs, that becomes speech that I'd consider worth protecting.

It would be totally awesome if some converts from Islam to a Neo-pagan religion protested by having sex on the streets during prayer times.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:04 PM on September 17, 2011


But it's different when it's Catholics.

The real difference is comparing 2 days out of a year (three if you count Native American Slaughter Day every second monday in October) to one day out of every week, which I suspect you know full well.
posted by elizardbits at 4:05 PM on September 17, 2011 [21 favorites]


If otoh they wish to protest instead of pray, or even pray holding protest signs, that becomes speech that I'd consider worth protecting.

That's an interesting position, and one which I think may be worth unpacking and examining.
posted by hippybear at 4:05 PM on September 17, 2011


I suppose I totally take it for granted growing up in Vancouver but a life without multiculturalism would be so much less.
posted by mek at 4:07 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't like Critical Mass either, for exactly the same reasons. It's not like the give a fuck about pedestrians, so tough shit if you're trying to cross the street while they're having their party.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:07 PM on September 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


I was making a Catholic joke, but no I don't care much fo Critical Mass either.
posted by Hoopo at 4:09 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Of course if the communists and trade unions had given up their ridiculous racism years ago and actually reached out to Muslim workers, they would likely have a voting bloc now that would put Le Pen back in some home for Anciens Combattans and mean that Sarkozy would still be doing whatever the hell he was doing before he got into politics (something something Berlusconi).
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:11 PM on September 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


If only those so worked up about praying in public spaces were equally worked up about corporate preying in public spaces.
posted by hippybear at 4:12 PM on September 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


Their children and grandchildren are French by birth. Others are the children and grandchildren of immigrants who are just as French as Sarkozy. Why should they have to assimilate to anything?

Very insightful.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:13 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why can't they just have prayer in public schools, like they do in the USA?
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:14 PM on September 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


There are important reasons why protests and speech must have the authority to interrupt economics, like say traffic. Religion is however fundamentally far more akin to an economic activity than anything else. We should not permit CocaCola to trot dancing Coke cans blocking up the Champs-Elysees either.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:16 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ugh, Le Pen is such a revolting human being that every time I see/hear his name I am seized by an unholy impulse to write the most heinous and graphic fanfic possible about him and Rush Limbaugh locked in a fevered embrace.

So far I have managed to resist but I greatly fear that one day I will finally give in.

*weeps*
posted by elizardbits at 4:16 PM on September 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


We are dealing with frequent honor killings

Besides the fact that is almost certainly, as hooper pointed out, false and made up, here's the thing:

Does your country have a law against murder? Bam! Problem solved! "Multiculturalism" does not equal allowing people from other cultures to break the law, and it's a ridiculous straw man to say so.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:17 PM on September 17, 2011 [39 favorites]


That Economist backgrounder from last April is helpful, thanks for posting it. I'm finding it really hard to object to laws that are trying to prevent scenes like the picture above that article. And it does seem that towns in France are trying to make room for Muslim culture in many ways:

The local government and the city are spending €22m ($32m) to build a new Islamic cultural centre on two sites, with space for concerts and exhibitions. Muslim associations will use private finance to buy prayer rooms, for €6m.

To purists, this is an outright breach of laïcité. To the town hall, it is the best hope of resolving the problem peacefully, even though one mosque has yet to sign up to the plan. As in other French towns, where the authorities organise sites for ritual slaughter during Eid or create Muslim burial spaces in public cemeteries, local flexibility seems to triumph over rigid national theory. When the new Islamic centres are ready in a year or two, Mr Vaillant promises, “there won’t be any more prayers in the street, and they will give the public space back to citizens.”


I dunno, the kneejerk "HOW DARE THEY CRUSH RELIGIOUS FREEDOM" reaction here seems a bit overblown. Clearly Sarkozy has to protect himself on the right in next year's election, and the new law might be mostly politicking since it appears solutions are on the way. But I don't think it's smart to deny the problems a secular state confronts when a large population of strict religious adherents needs significant accomodation.
posted by mediareport at 4:17 PM on September 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


I miss multiculturalism. Yes, there are ethnic minorities here - the largest groups being Poles, Thais and Filipinos - but they're waaaay in the background of daily life. It sucks. I miss Little Italy next to the Central American district next to Greektown next to the Polish neighborhood with an Indian take-out place or Korean grocer on every corner. Having multiple cultures teaches us to appreciate more than just a new place to get delivery. You learn to visualize the world as vastly larger than your six square blocks. You put yourself in the place of other people - even if you don't agree with them, you become aware that there are other people on the planet with different worldviews. You might even learn a little about what these other cultures are about. It's because of multiculturalism that we developed codes of ethics that transcend boundaries, and stopped cowering behind fortress walls with spears and boiling oil.

Unfortunately, the EU is building a legislative fortress, with turrets not just in France but across the continent where even, as others have pointed out, natural-born citizens within the EU are finding themselves on the receiving end of measures such as this.

I'm torn on the EU, leaning mostly towards being in favor of my country joining, but stories like this make me wonder if the EU has the will - or even the ability - to uphold basic human rights.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:20 PM on September 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


Note how it's also an all male gathering, at which women are presumably unwelcome.

While I can't speak to those specific congregations' practices, Friday prayer, or indeed any prayer, is not an "all male gathering." Friday prayer is not obligatory for women, but women are certainly allowed at Friday prayers or the daily congregational prayers. According to one interpretation of the hadith, men and women aren't supposed to pray within line of sight of each other. In mosques I have attended, this is achieved by separating two halves of the room with a curtain, or simply by having the men and women's rows side by side. I would venture to guess that since those pictured are all men and the mosques are having capacity problems, the women (and children) are performing their prayers inside the mosques.
posted by yasaman at 4:21 PM on September 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Does your country have a law against murder? Bam! Problem solved! "Multiculturalism" does not equal allowing people from other cultures to break the law, and it's a ridiculous straw man to say so.

I like discussions of multiculturalism, but they suffer from lack of definition where even smart people ending up taking past one another. There seems to be two distinct meanings which allows people to say "I'm for" or "I'm against" multiculturalism, even if they're for or against different things.

Some have taken multiculturalism to mean a non–universalism where rights are relative to culture and attach to groups rather than individuals. That's a very academic view, and it supposes cultural or ethnic essentialism that I think few would support because it's anti–liberal. When bigots wish to oppose a certain group this is the kind of multiculturalism they use as cover, with scare stories of sharia law or government–condoned discrimination.

Others take it as a mere multiplicity of lifestyles, like mode of dress, language, food, and so on. But agreeing with this is Libertarianism 101, and most realize that it's good practice to generally preserve personal freedom. Who cares how a person lives, so long as they do no harm to others? Some people do get angsty about this stuff, but it's hard to oppose straight out without looking pretty narrow.

I can't help feeling that although the dividing line between these two is pretty clear, they're still being confused and it's causing a lot of trouble.
posted by Jehan at 4:25 PM on September 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't think much of the religious segregation. That said, I've defended the right of French Muslim women to wear a burqa if they feel like it.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:25 PM on September 17, 2011


We are dealing with frequent honor killings

Is this true?


Well, I should have said "honor crimes" because it more frequently does not reach the level of murder. The truth is nobody appears to be keeping track of honor killings in the whole of Europe, but Wikipedia states every year in the United Kingdom, officials estimate that at least a dozen women are victims of honor killings. My country had an honor killing last year and I have personal knowledge of a woman beaten for dishonoring her brother by having the audacity to have drinks with a stranger, so confirmation bias is a possibility but I'd say honor killings are a problem. In 2009, the European Parliamentary Assembly's Resolution 1681 addressed the urgent need to combat honor crimes.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 4:28 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Presidents or Prime Minister of the UK, France, Germany, and Spain have all said that multiculturalism is a fundamentally flawed paradigm.

The holders of those posts have been frequently wrong before and will be again. Holders of three of those posts (or equivalent) have been out and out fascists (and not just in the sense of people we call fascists because we don't like them). You are appealing to authority to make your case; their election does not make them right and it does not make you right.

And as a liberal libertine immigrant in a European mono-culture, I generally agree. We're not talking about a "war on Christmas" here. We are dealing with frequent honor killings, lack of respect for gender equality and complete disregard for the cultures that generously provide the social benefits so many of the people miserably failing to acclimate are quite happily enjoying.

Most western countries, including France, already have laws against murder and gender equality. Can you not see that there is a major difference between placing limits on murder and placing limits on free assembly and the right to practice one's religion?

My kids are in schools that are virtual UN assemblies. Some of the issues that have come up at school are folks that want to mutilate their kids, or make their 8 year old daughters wear a full veil against her wishes, or refusing to allow kids to interact with the opposite sex, and refusing to allow kids to be taught biology and sex education. Now, as a parent, that may be your right in some countries. But not this one. And if you can't abide by the local culture to some minimal degree, you are free to leave.

By the same token, I'm not welcome to go to many of these backwards cultures and hit on peoples wives, get drunk and eat bacon burgers, then have gay sex by the flickering light of a burning the Koran. That would be insulting their culture.


So you wish to bring down the freedoms of all as some sort of retaliation against people who happen to have mioved from the countries whose cultures you oppose? You're arguing for restrictions on freedom in your own country in order to make some point about freedom in another country?

Our European cultures, mono or otherwise, have freedoms which have been fought for over decades, even centuries. These freedoms are a huge part of what makes out cultures valuable, and if our cultures are to demonstrate they are meaningful our freedoms must be at their heart in the future, not sacrificed to some political point or with petty justification rooted in bigotry about skin colour or creed.
posted by biffa at 4:29 PM on September 17, 2011 [13 favorites]


From the Economist Link: President Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP party has raised the temperature by holding a controversial debate on laïcité. It wants 26 measures to clarify the application of the 1905 law. These include stopping pupils from skipping classes on compulsory bits of the curriculum (such as the Holocaust) or patients refusing on religious grounds to see a male doctor

So who is skipping classes on the Holocaust, and why?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:30 PM on September 17, 2011


If a Western woman travels to Saudi Arabia, she must dress and act appropriately. Why not the other way around, in general.

"When in Rome, do as the Romans do"

Multiculturalism without limits in unworkable. Limits apply to *everyone* - i.e. ALL citizens. Nobody is saying that Muslims cannot pray; they are saying this: "Mr Vaillant promises, “there won’t be any more prayers in the street, and they will give the public space back to citizens.” The last part of that says it all - i.e. "will give the space back to citizens". This means that French citizens are being kept from unimpeded access to some of their byways. That French society has permitted prayer to this degree - for this amount of time - should be sufficient. Now it's time for a change.

What multiculturalism - liberal multiculturalism - keeps missing, is that "difference" or "diversity" - is a good thing, until the very delicate balance that ensues around difference begins to violate rights and customs that are already in place, and begins to challenge the status quo in ways that aren't anticipated. In those cases, hard decisions often have to be made.

I'm not crazy about a lot of what the French government does (aside: I think Le Pen is a nutcase) but certain lines have to be drawn or else you end up with massive discontent from ALL French citizens. Do governments really want that?

This is a delicate issue, and so far I think the French and other European nations are handling it pretty well.
posted by Vibrissae at 4:37 PM on September 17, 2011 [14 favorites]


Dear France,

How is that enlightened liberalism working out for you?

Yours etc.,

The Bill of Rights
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 4:37 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wikipedia states every year in the United Kingdom, officials estimate that at least a dozen women are victims of honor killings.

This rhetoric obscures the reality of violence against women, which is a cross-cultural problem. As it stands, statements like these are just coded xenophobia. If you're British and you assault or kill your spouse, it's "domestic violence," but if you're racialized, it's an "honor killing." It disgusts me.
posted by mek at 4:37 PM on September 17, 2011 [49 favorites]


Maybe it's cool to block the street back in the old country, but it just ain't gonna work in NYC.

Actually it's cool to block the street in NYC, ask your local community board for details. You can even apply online.
posted by fuq at 4:38 PM on September 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Though I jest, I do admit to a certain amount of schadenfreude to see western Europe, to which I (rightly or wrongly) a certain looking-down-their-noses demeanor toward American politics as backwards, struggling with issues of integrating minorities into what tend to be much more ethnically-oriented national identities.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 4:39 PM on September 17, 2011


There are huge problems with gender inequality among the Islamic immigrants to Europe, including honor crimes, but any new laws should take the form of either hate crimes laws, i.e. ratchet up the penalties for threats, or increased funding for women's shelters and education programs.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:43 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


If a Western woman travels to Saudi Arabia, she must dress and act appropriately. Why not the other way around, in general.

It has always seemed to me that embracing multiculturalism is essential for a society that values personal freedom, eg "your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins." So maybe in a world that thinks of itself as civilized, we might say something like "When in Rome, do however you like, so long as it doesn't stop Romans from being Romans."
posted by Wyatt at 4:46 PM on September 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


If a Western woman travels to Saudi Arabia, she must dress and act appropriately. Why not the other way around, in general.

Because Saudi Arabia is an authoritarian theocracy.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:48 PM on September 17, 2011 [42 favorites]


biffa - you are putting words into my mouth. I'm not appealing to authority, I'm pointing out that the elected leaders of 4 major European powers are openly questioning the policy of multiculturalism. This isn't a fringe or Fascist belief, even the opposition parties generally acknowledge there is a problem with cultural integration. And I'm not arguing for or against any laws or restrictions on freedoms. I'm pointing out that there are laws and restrictions in every society and culture.

If you don't want your daughter to talk boys, that's fine. If you think I or most of my compatriots are willing to tell our sons not to talk to your daughter, you are quite mistaken.

Some may desire to mutilate their daughters genitals. They had better hope she doesn't mention it to anyone with a mandatory reporting requirement. Go ahead and circumcise your son, but we have laws in this country about prohibiting female circumcision. And I'm just fine with that.

mek - The British don't have a recent cultural practice of killing their woman for bringing disgrace on the family. Violence against spouses is wrong. Traditional culturally sanctioned retribution for slights of familial honor, intended to keep women in a submissive role against their will, are especially abhorrent in a free society.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 4:48 PM on September 17, 2011 [16 favorites]


But both San Gennaro and St. Pat's involve permits and parades and commerce, really. Why should a secular society give up public streets for private prayer, especially when prayers can be conducted anywhere?
posted by Ideefixe at 4:49 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


I would like to hear no more church bells anywhere in France, as being forced in public to listen to the sound of people being summoned to pray is "a direct attack on the principle of secularism."
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 4:54 PM on September 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


It would be totally awesome if some converts from Islam to a Neo-pagan religion protested by having sex on the streets during prayer times.

But even then they wouldn't do it every week, just on special occasions, like Saturnalia.
posted by homunculus at 4:56 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


mek - The British don't have a recent cultural practice of killing their woman for bringing disgrace on the family.

That's a pretty narrow and weak qualifying clause you've got there. Do you believe the motive (excuse, really) for murdering innocent women matters, and if so, what makes one case worse than the other? If we have a cultural practice of killing a partner for cheating, I guess that doesn't count as an honor killing by your definition, because it's not about "disgracing the family" ... just the murderer... so it's just a dick move? None of this makes any sense to me. Moreover, "honor killings" are not exactly a crisis: I haven't seen any evidence it's even statistically significant w/r/t the general population.
posted by mek at 5:01 PM on September 17, 2011 [4 favorites]




you are putting words into my mouth. I'm not appealing to authority, I'm pointing out that the elected leaders of 4 major European powers are openly questioning the policy of multiculturalism.

Make an argument and let it stand on its own strengths. If your argument lies simply with citing those who you agree with then you are appealing to authority.

You are missing the point. No-one in this thread, including me, is arguing for removal of other laws that apply to all members of our socities in order to suit those who kill or mutilate. You however, along with those who have introduced these laws in France, have argued that there should be restrictions on some members of western societies which restrict their ability to free assembly and prayer. These are rights which all have, and to take them away from some, is to threaten the rights of all.
posted by biffa at 5:02 PM on September 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


With regard to multiculturalism- I'm here in a city, the city that I was born and raised in, that is multicultural. It has been multicultural since I can remember. It is probably even more multicultural now than it was when I was a kid, even with the current ass of a mayor. It works. It is by no means perfect, but it works.

It's called having a level of respect for each other. It's called not being dicks to each other. It's called making a conscious decisions to do these things and, when someone tells you otherwise, to make sure and check what their agenda might be, and if they might not be using it as a cover to pick your pocket.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:03 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


McGuillicuddy is making some good points about how you can run into mistakes when you believe in cultural relativism to a fault. The problem is that the type of relativism he is describing is not the same thing as multiculturalism. And I don't think anyone here on Metafilter is going to be hardcore in favor of such an expansive view of relativism so there isn't much discussion to be had on it. However, a grown woman making a decision to wear a burqa is not the same as a young girl being mutilated. It's an expression of culture and religion and a personal choice.

When you have, as a government, already crossed over such a line it's much harder to make the case that you are simply acting out of practical concerns with things like the issue of people blocking the streets. Communities have to work together to solve practical issues like this, it's not a good sign that a simple logistical issue can get this politically charged.

There are people like Pam Geller out there. There are people like Anders Breivik. They think we are already at war and the simple act of people trying to fulfill a religious obligation, unfortunately at the inconvenience of others, is a sign of war and conflict rather than a friggin lack of space. This is a problem that can be solved, not a cultural battle or a question on the nature of secularism.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:04 PM on September 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


Well, I should have said "honor crimes" because it more frequently does not reach the level of murder.

So, just to be clear, when you said "honor killings", that was dishonest inflammatory rhetoric?

It's... rare that people cop to that. But I find your attitude refreshing.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:05 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


The British don't have a recent cultural practice of killing their woman for bringing disgrace on the family.

Neither do the overwhelming majority of Muslim cultures all over the world. It's unfair to paint a small proportion of a religion comprising a billion people as the whole. It would be like using the BNP as representative of Britain. It's lazy.

Anyway, I was real down on this, until I watched a report on our decent Australian News (link, probs won't work if you're outside AU). In the report it showed the city giving free spaces to congregations for additional room, and all the Muslim people being interviewed were quite happy about it, and didn't feel marginalised at all. Saying things to the effect of, "We didn't want to be out on the street, and now the city has given us this new space for free, so it's really great for everybody."

The report also highlighted how promised-spaces and upgrades were running late or not delivered, so it was really a problem years-in-the-making and is now being resolved quite quickly.

This, of course, doesn't mean it's not also a desperate, racist electoral gambit by Sarkozy, but if the Imans and people interviewed in the report are cool with it and representative, I don't really feel confident speaking for them, myself; they presumably know and care a lot more about it than me.
posted by smoke at 5:06 PM on September 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm pointing out that the elected leaders of 4 major European powers are openly questioning the policy of multiculturalism.

I'm most familiar with Angela Merkel's periodic bashing of multiculturalism. Every single time it's a way of shifting the blame for any marginalisation experienced by the Turkish community onto the Turks to escape having to consider whether the government isn't serving the Turks properly. Same thing when David Cameron decided to take up the 'multiculturalism has failed' shtick as well. (Plus he had the added bonus of it being a riff on his 'society has failed, so trust the aristocracy' theme.) Telling people they've 'failed to integrate' is nothing more than telling them they're not welcome. Speaking your native language in public is 'failing to integrate', for god's sake.
posted by hoyland at 5:06 PM on September 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


OK, a weekly Christian prayer meeting. My point is that a religion's capacity problems are not my problem, so GTFO of the street

Critical Mass?
posted by Hoopo at 12:04 AM on September 18


Yeah, I'd like to see those selfish, self-righteous motherfuckers banned too.
posted by Decani at 5:07 PM on September 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


But yes, it is all the Muslims' fault.

Eurozone crisis? Muslims.

Youth unemployment? Muslims.

Drugs? Muslims.
[....]
Dogshit all over the sidewalk? Muslims!

This croissant is terrible! Muslims!

So then...
Muslims : France :: Mexicans : USA

(they're both scapegoats)
posted by SirOmega at 5:09 PM on September 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


FPP is misleading. It is about collective street prayers. People blocking traffic - for prayer or otherwise - is already illegal except in special occasions (to be negociated with the local authorities). However, street prayers in districts with a large muslim population have been tolerated for a while since building mosques is not cheap and causes some NIMBY issues. Guéant said that this would no longer be the case.
Of course, there are elections next year and Sarkozy and his minions are desperately trying to woo Le Pen voters using scare tactics (Romas! Romanians! Burqas! Gender studies in schools!) and code words. Right-wingers have been using the street prayers into a OMG Muslims!!! hot button for a couple of decades. But banning something that's already illegal does not belong to the sky-is-falling category. It's just noisy sabre-rattling at this point, to be forgotten as soon as they find another scapegoat for the news cycle.
BTW, would the US handle this issue more gracefully if they had 15-30 million Muslims instead of 2 (French Muslims represent about 5-10 % of the population for 60 million people)?
posted by elgilito at 5:10 PM on September 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


I really haven't heard great things about Mexican croissants, so there might be a valid point there.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:12 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


which restrict their ability to free assembly

No. The law apparently restricts their ability to block the street, and removes the tolerance for behavior that, in my understanding is not allowed regularly for other citizens - i.e., police blocking off streets for regular gatherings. Again, their right to assemble is being accommodated by the state in the form of money and assistance in building new mosques. Here it is again:

The local government and the city are spending €22m ($32m) to build a new Islamic cultural centre on two sites, with space for concerts and exhibitions....As in other French towns, where the authorities organise sites for ritual slaughter during Eid or create Muslim burial spaces in public cemeteries, local flexibility seems to triumph over rigid national theory.

How on earth is that "restricting their ability to free assembly" again?
posted by mediareport at 5:16 PM on September 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Indeed, elgilito, the anti-Hispanic sentiment among some American bigots might be due to the 50.5 million people of Hispanic/Latino origin (16%!)
posted by Wyatt at 5:18 PM on September 17, 2011


Going from Vancouver to teaching English in France for a year was a really eye-opening experience. I was teaching in a really industrial neighbourhood with a lot of immigrant families (although nothing like the Paris banlieues). "What is your nationality?" was a common question in my classes and I would say 75% of my middle school students would identify as something other than French, despite the fact that most of them were born in France. I can't imagine describing someone with Canadian citizenship (even if they were born in another country) as anything other than Canadian, or perhaps Somali-Canadian if it seemed relevant, yet most of my kids thought of themselves as Moroccan or Portuguese or Chechnyan or even Mayotte (which is a French territory) first.
A lot of the steps Sarkozy is taking now are attempts to appeal to right-wing voters before the election and I don't believe they're a reaction to a new problem but my experiences confirm that however the French are trying to handle multi-culturism, it's not working.
posted by carolr at 5:21 PM on September 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


wyatt: It has always seemed to me that embracing multiculturalism is essential for a society that values personal freedom, eg "your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins." So maybe in a world that thinks of itself as civilized, we might say something like "When in Rome, do however you like, so long as it doesn't stop Romans from being Romans."

This is exactly the point that those of us *outside* of France should be tending to. The French are different than us, and we're judging their brand of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is not a defined monolith. Yet, liberal multiculturalism posits some perfect multicultural nirvana that doesn't exist, and judges from that. So, who suffers from that? Who suffers from multiculturalism without limits? *Everyone!*.

furiousgeorge: Saudi Arabia is an authoritarian theocracy.

You're exactly right. I used a poor example. France has roughly 5M Muslims in a population of 63M+. The US has about 2.8M Muslims in a population of just over 310M. That's about .6% for the US, and almost 8% for the US and France, respectively. If we had the equivalent size of Muslim population here it would be almost 25M Muslims. We're a LOT bigger than France, geographically. I dare say that if the roadways in entire neighborhoods were taken up by people praying in the streets, there would be a hue and cry here, as well.

Personally, I have no problem with people praying wherever the heck they want to pray *as long as it doesn't interfere with access to space that I - (btw, along with taxpaying religious believers) - pay for.

Praying in public, in the traditional Muslim way is a new thing for French culture, especially as it grows at a rapid pace (Muslim birthrates in France are high). I expect this conflict to go on for some time, with both sides having to give some way.

All that said, I don't think the French government request is unreasonable, and it is creating an alternative to "on street prayer" as we discuss this.

I feel for the Muslim population, but at the same time I can understand where ther French are coming from.
posted by Vibrissae at 5:21 PM on September 17, 2011


emjaybee writes "The local government and the city are spending €22m ($32m) to build a new Islamic cultural centre on two sites, with space for concerts and exhibitions."

Can you imagine the head asploding that would occur if the solution to that silly "wtc" mosque brouhaha was the city of NY spending 30 million on an Islamic cultural centre? It'd be like the fourth of July.
posted by Mitheral at 5:25 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


However, street prayers in districts with a large muslim population have been tolerated for a while since building mosques is not cheap and causes some NIMBY issues. Guéant said that this would no longer be the case.

This is an entirely valid point, but people aren't generally experts on the law, if they are allowed to do something one day and not the next it's sometimes difficult to communicate the nuance.

We're a LOT bigger than France, geographically. I dare say that if the roadways in entire neighborhoods were taken up by people praying in the streets, there would be a hue and cry here, as well.

Of course, over-capacity comes up all the time, and not just for churches. It gets people all pissed off even when it's just having to walk a little extra to find a parking spot.

But you go ahead and start writing tickets on Sunday morning in Philadelphia and let me know if you don't end up with a huge outcry on your hands, and that's without taking into account the obvious cultural issues at play in regards to the French and their Muslim population.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:28 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ridiculous. "Banning" prayer (and let's be honest, this is really banning muslim prayer/worship) is not going to change anything. They're basically just leading the way for more militant extremists to find another target in the "West". When will governments learn that they cannot overpower the people (in the long-term)? Power and culture come from the ground up, not the top down.
posted by 1000monkeys at 5:29 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


[And, of course, I'm not saying that all Muslims are militant extremists. Just to be clear.]
posted by 1000monkeys at 5:30 PM on September 17, 2011


I don't care if you follow Allah or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, doing this kind of thing in the middle of the road, as pictured is fucking selfish and a public nuisance. It was almost certainly already illegal though (jaywalking / obstruction of the highway etc)
posted by w0mbat at 5:31 PM on September 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just yesterday I was talking to a professor about the tension between multiculturalism and negative liberty on the one hand, and normative national identities on the other hand (eg. "What does it mean to be French?"). He claimed that, as an American, he felt he lived in a country which valued freedom over nationalist identity, and I almost laughed. Sure, in the formative days of the American nation resisting the British, and compared to France now, maybe, but they still are very much engaged in an assimilationist and nationalist project: they are a "melting pot," not a "mosaic." But they are definitely in the middle, and a far cry from the Old World.

You can hear the phrase "Real America(n)" from the likes of Michele Bachmann and understand exactly what it means. "Real Canadian" is an interesting failure of a phrase in that respect.. in fact, it seems to me, that to assert a claim on "what it means to be Canadian" is anathema to most Canadians' understanding of the term. (With the exception of a certain commercial for a certain shitty beer.) I think that this is essential for true multiculturalism to occur. You must slay the nationalist identity, because as long as it lays claim to what a "real citizen" is, those who don't fit the mold are oppressed.

France wanted to have their cake and eat it too, and it'll get neither.
posted by mek at 5:37 PM on September 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


But you go ahead and start writing tickets on Sunday morning in Philadelphia and let me know if you don't end up with a huge outcry on your hands, and that's without taking into account the obvious cultural issues at play in regards to the French and their Muslim population.

You may disagree, but yours is an apple and oranges comparison. Muslim prayer is a relatively *new* thing - to the degrees experienced in France. Like I said earlier, our complaining about French solutions to multiculturalism begs the question (really, the meta-question)" who are we to judge the French solution to multiculturalism?". If we do, we are not taking into consideration the dominant French cultural values of the time.
posted by Vibrissae at 5:38 PM on September 17, 2011


I love how Europeans thought that they could colonize the world willy-nilly and now they whine because of the blowback.
posted by Renoroc at 5:38 PM on September 17, 2011 [21 favorites]


I'm still amazed that someone with the last name Sarkozy would work so hard to demonize the children and grandchildren of immigrants (or people who have always been French, just from a part of France that isn't a part of France anymore, and it's complicated)

But from his POV, that's surely the point. He has assimilated, speaks the language like a native, could pass as a native on the street. Old France has cherished a Love France, love French culture, embrace French culture notion such that by doing all these you are better than halfway there to being accepted as virtually or even actually French. Just ask Julia Child and Josephine Baker. (Hell, even Mrs Sarkozy is an immigrant.) Not saying it necessarily worked, but that's still a lingering mindset, as I understand it. When in Rome, as Vibrissae said.

By the way, don't know if the English speaking press picked up on this, but among other comments made by the ministers was that besides being contrary to the principle of laïcité, prayer in the street is "unworthy of religious practice" (Prier dans la rue n'est pas digne d'une pratique religieuse).

Decide for yourself if he's being disingenuous or whatever.

Can you imagine the head asploding that would occur if the solution to that silly "wtc" mosque brouhaha was the city of NY spending 30 million on an Islamic cultural centre?

Quite rightly too. Just imagine the head asploding that would occur if a US government spent a dime for a Christian or Jewish Cultural Center.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:39 PM on September 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


every year in the United Kingdom, officials estimate that at least a dozen women are victims of honor killings

In other words, it's indistinguishable from random noise in the total murder rate for the UK. Not exactly a crisis.
posted by straight at 5:42 PM on September 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


I love how Europeans thought that they could colonize the world willy-nilly and now they whine because of the blowback.
posted by Renoroc


This is EXACTLY what I was about to say, and what I say often to my British friends who always complained about how "downhill England has become" due to immigration. Guess what? You want to colonize a country, dominate them, and strip them of their culture? Well, by doing so, you also make them citizens of your empire and you end up having to afford them all the same rights and privileges. And you don't get to bitch about it.
posted by 1000monkeys at 5:44 PM on September 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


Honour-based violence (often connected to women refusing forced marriages, or being unable to live in them, and including being driven to suicide) is a real problem in some communities. It's magnified by some people, so they can use it as a stick to beat all muslims/sikhs with, and it's minimised by others who want to show how anti-racist they are, and who want to pretend that there aren't much worse problems for women in some particular communities, when in fact there are. The women activists in the communities affected (like these excellent people - karma nirvana) end up being caught in the cross-fire.
posted by Flitcraft at 5:50 PM on September 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


But you go ahead and start writing tickets on Sunday morning in Philadelphia and let me know if you don't end up with a huge outcry on your hands, and that's without taking into account the obvious cultural issues at play in regards to the French and their Muslim population.

You may disagree, but yours is an apple and oranges comparison. Muslim prayer is a relatively *new* thing - to the degrees experienced in France.


I agree, what I was pointing out was that this is a fairly universal problem of overcrowding in cities. It's logistics. If you have a building stuffed to the rafters once a week and not so much the rest, it's hard to come up with a sane parking solution.

So you don't write the tickets, even though people are parked illegally. The overcrowding in France is a direct symptom of the population being new, otherwise they would have more places of worship already. So yes, this is way over the top compared to illegal parking that still leaves room to move about the street and there is cultural baggage galore...but this isn't a clash of cultures at the core aside from the surrounding issues that make it sensitive. If it were Christians they would still be told to get out of the damn way, but the Pam Geller crowd would not be having such a hategasm.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:55 PM on September 17, 2011


The reported killings are the tip of an iceberg of problems surrounding forced marriage where under-reporting and police mis-categorisation of deaths are also issues. Remember they won't include the suicides which the activists in the communities which are affected point out are direct effects of putting the idea of family 'izzat' above whatever is happening to a woman. This is a problem in some communities which activists from within those communities are addressing. It would be nice if people who want to show how anti-racist they are actually listened to the women who are directly affected by this.
posted by Flitcraft at 5:59 PM on September 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


I like how we're white-knighting about Ye Saracens and Their Savvyge Honour Killyngs as if the people of Christendom never have any of these nasty situations where men murder women because they think they own them.
posted by mobunited at 6:01 PM on September 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


mek - One last try... Honor crimes are a cultural phenomena that are distinct from other interpersonal violence. A distinction can be made between a father killing his daughter for any random reason and a father killing his daughter in an honor killing. These are murders with a message - girls in these subcultures must submissively obey their male relatives or face death. Like hate-crimes in the US, it is worth considering approaching the problem differently as a society, and perhaps in the law.

biffa - Again, you are misattributing things. I haven't mentioned freedom of prayer or assembly. I read the article about the prayers in the street and it was not informative enough for me to offer an opinion on any proposal to address the issue. I've addressed the waning of the ideal of multiculturalism and the desire to maintain that which is French in France or that which is Swedish in Sweden. While those concepts have always and are still constantly evolving, I believe both multiculturalism and "Frenchness" have inherent worth that requires balancing.

running order squabble fest - Considering the damage it does to a distinct segment of society, an estimated 12 honor killings per year in just one European country seems like a frequent problem. Nothing inflammatory about it. I was merely saying the problem was greater than just the killings, it applies to all honor crimes. It is not the most pressing issue in the world, but it is one of the most visible symptoms of the struggles Europe is facing in integrating immigrants and sometimes second-and-third generation children of immigrants.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 6:03 PM on September 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


How about some of you bother listening to what the Muslim and Sikh women in the front line fighting forced marriage and honour based violence are actually saying? Just because some right-wing commentators abuse it to justify their views doesn't mean it doesn't exist and isn't a serious problem in some particular communities.
posted by Flitcraft at 6:06 PM on September 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Blocking streets is clearly an issue that could be addressed with existing ordinances. Bans on veils and public prayer are clearly targeted at Muslims. This is totally not the right way to build a more harmonius society.
posted by snofoam at 6:06 PM on September 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


I fail to see what honour-killings have to do with issues of crowding in mosques in France.. Take the nonsense derail elsewhere.
posted by smoke at 6:07 PM on September 17, 2011 [15 favorites]


These are murders with a message - girls in these subcultures must submissively obey their male relatives or face death. Like hate-crimes in the US, it is worth considering approaching the problem differently as a society, and perhaps in the law.

Sorry, but I simply don't see this social cultivation of female submission through the threat of violence as unique to Muslim culture. If you are fortunate enough to not experience it, good for you, but I have (white, Christian, Canadian) friends that deal with exactly this phobia on a daily basis. The exact mechanism of violence may be unique, but the underlying threat of violence to nonconformist females is absolutely alive and well in even the most progressive of North American societies. I agree that it's terrible and needs to be addressed, but Islam has nothing even close to a monopoly on it.
posted by mek at 6:11 PM on September 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Which is what I've pointed out - that it's a problem within some particular communities, linked to forced marriage and the way some sub-cultures interpret 'izzat'. It's not a muslim problem but a problem which exists in some local Muslim and Sikh communities in the UK (and some communities elsewhere), however it is a genuine problem which costs women their lives and which should neither be used to back up laws like this, nor minimised to score anti-racist points.
posted by Flitcraft at 6:18 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


they are a "melting pot," not a "mosaic."
I understand that Canadians are taught this in school and parrot it thereafter at every opportunity, but I really have no idea what it means.
Just because some right-wing commentators abuse it to justify their views doesn't mean it doesn't exist and isn't a serious problem in some particular communities.
The thing is, the right-wingers make the problem worse. They make things harder for people within the community who want to change things. They make it really easy for hardliners to accuse reformers of being in league with bigots who hate the community and want to destroy it. They make people in the communities fear that discussing problems plays into the hands of bigots. Every time someone brings these issues up in irrelevant discussions in order to paint Muslims as alien and primitive, it reinforces the idea that people who claim to want to liberate women are just really trying to discredit Islam. And that's not even the slightest bit helpful.
posted by craichead at 6:28 PM on September 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Is the main problem mosque overflow for Friday afternoon prayers?

The practicing Muslims who I know almost all attend Friday afternoon prayer. It is a bigger deal to them than Sunday morning is to most Christians I know.

The other thing which I wonder about is how much commerce actually is done in corporate Paris after noon on Friday. I know a couple of European capitals where the work week is mostly over with at noon on Friday.

I am on the other side of the Atlantic ocean here but my initial response is to sympathize with the Muslims. The vast majority of them are law abiding citizens and they are just praying, which seems a nigh universal human drive. Seems pretty damn hardass to illegalize it.
posted by bukvich at 6:29 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


And when people give the idea that it's racist to mention it, what happens is that the police don't act on it, or worse return victims to their families.
posted by Flitcraft at 6:31 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


(in the case of people escaping abuse or forced marriages)
posted by Flitcraft at 6:33 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


to score anti-racist points

If you're (twice now) going to accuse people who disagree with you of arguing simply for the sake of liberal posturing, it's hard to believe you're really entering the discussion in the best possible way, apart from this entire issue having nothing to do whatsoever with mosque overcrowding and public prayer blocking traffic.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:33 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Speaking as a militant atheist with a particular mad on against Islam rooted in my radical feminism, I'd like to say that this action by the French government is an intolerable assault on basic human rights.

I am in utter, 100%, complete, disagreement with Islam. I view it as a vile force for evil on the planet. And were I French I'd be rioting in the streets against this ban.

It's also, like the burka ban, an act that is not only self evidently motivated by nothing but naked racism, but also counterproductive. Nothing has ever strengthened religion like banning it. Religions thrive in oppression, and I flat out guarantee that the French Muslim community will have its faith strengthened by the oppression it's experiencing and will probably grow numerically to boot. Muslims previously weak in their faith and mostly secular will grow more religious and less secular as a direct result of this.
posted by sotonohito at 6:37 PM on September 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


I understand that Canadians are taught this in school and parrot it thereafter at every opportunity, but I really have no idea what it means.

The melting pot concept is that a variety of different ingredients form a relatively homogenous whole. The idea as far as I understand it being that while, successive waves of immigration result in a change to the national character there is a single national character, that is expected to ultimately replace the culture of the immigrants.

The mosaic concept is that different communities within Canada retain their identity (as each piece of a mosaic is distinct), but fit within the larger Canadian society. There's no expectation that a uniform Canadian identity exists to supplant the identity of immigrant groups, but rather that being Canadian exists as something that compliments the existing cultures that make it up.
posted by Grimgrin at 6:39 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well when people want to minimise this, a major problem which it's taken a huge amount of campaigning to get the police to take seriously, and where getting the police to finally take action has saved lives, I really do despair.
posted by Flitcraft at 6:40 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I view it as a vile force for evil on the planet.

I know, right?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 6:41 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well when people want to minimise this, a major problem which it's taken a huge amount of campaigning to get the police to take seriously, and where getting the police to finally take action has saved lives, I really do despair.

May I suggest that in the future you start with the framing, "Actually, I think the problem is larger than you think. Here is some information."

It's minimised by others who want to show how anti-racist they are, and who want to pretend that there aren't much worse problems for women in some particular communities, when in fact there are.

...rather than the more judgmental examination of assumed motives.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:46 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm familiar with the concept, Grimgrin. I just have no idea how Canadians think the "melting pot" actually works in the US. And I say that as a US immigration historian who has also done some work with contemporary immigrant communities and who lives in a mostly-Latino neighborhood.
posted by craichead at 6:49 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sarkozy is a joker, as always; it's pretty much all his government does: enact nonsensical laws to dogwhistle to "old French" FN voters.

He and Le Pen are basically trying to do with people from Maghreb in France what's been done to Blacks in the US: use them as a distraction while he keeps dismantling the social safety network.

It's working quite well, so far.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 6:50 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I know, right?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:41 PM


I guess they were just getting ready to do some urban renewal here to erect some more of that glorious Islamic art?

And no, I don't support that "vile force for evil" statement nor am I a Buddhist. Just providing counterpoint. Although I will cop to be extremely frustrated when every other sect of Islam didn't condemn the actions of these fundy Muslims as shameful.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 6:56 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I understand that Canadians are taught this in school and parrot it thereafter at every opportunity, but I really have no idea what it means.

The mosaic thing? It's basically a junior high school thing taught to instill a sense of nationalism. If Canadians choose to study politics further than whatever mandatory civics unit they might get, it's made pretty clear the "mosaic" is just another form of assimilation. There's not a lot I'm aware of in Canada actively promoting that people to hang on to their culture and not adapt to Canadian culture. Whatever that is. Maybe that's the problem; we need symbols like the "mosaic" to make up for our perceived lack of identity that seems to drive everyone here to obsess over "what it means to be Canadian".
posted by Hoopo at 7:01 PM on September 17, 2011


Although I will cop to be extremely frustrated when every other sect of Islam didn't condemn the actions of these fundy Muslims as shameful.

There was plenty of outcry when it happened.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:02 PM on September 17, 2011


Anyway, that's getting further afield from the post. It's clear, as several have already mentioned, that this is a logistics issue that should be dealt with in non-religious terms.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:03 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


craichead: Then ask that.
posted by Grimgrin at 7:04 PM on September 17, 2011


I know, right?

Yeah, tell Molly Norris how great Islamic art is, if she's ever able to come out of hiding for not hewing to it's strictures.
posted by Scoo at 7:04 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd really like to know some things about Muslims in the US. Are their children allowed to partake of sex-ed in school? Phys-ed and change and shower with the others? Because as a substitute teacher in Sweden, it drove me nuts that some children in my classes were just let to slip between the cracks in these classes, in a country that has laws regulating school; everyone HAS TO take part fully.
The families I got into conflict with didn't want to be integrated, period.
That's hardly a rare occurance either:
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. ---
The cultural abrasions that developed, especially between the rapidly growing Muslim community and the French, became the problem that could not be talked about.


Also, Europe's Muslim population has more than doubled in the past 30 years and will have doubled again by 2015 and this is only the start of the troubles this will bring. French families have an average of 2 kids each, muslim families in France average at a whopping EIGHT.
I heard an interview with someone saying "We don't even need weapons to take over Europe. Soon, we will be the majority anyway, simply by having lots of children"
I don't care what you call youself, muslim, purple, angelic, whatever, I don't like anyone aiming for domination... that's just a scary thought.
posted by Zorsha at 7:07 PM on September 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Let's blame the majority for the sins of the few.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:09 PM on September 17, 2011


French families have an average of 2 kids each, muslim families in France average at a whopping EIGHT.

I don't think it's a sure thing the offspring of Muslim immigrants will retain their parents' views. Presumably they are growing up with French institutions and a French education in French culture.
posted by Hoopo at 7:11 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


But that's just it!
If they're not even allowed to fully take in what is taught at school, how are they then going to see things differently?
posted by Zorsha at 7:14 PM on September 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Because they're literally surrounded by it and will grow up recognizing the French way to some degree as normal.
posted by Hoopo at 7:18 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Good for France. I commend this.
posted by ReeMonster at 7:19 PM on September 17, 2011


So the only alternative to multiculturalism is ethnolinguistic nationalism, eh? Like Pat Buchanan's speeches, that concept is probably best rendered in the original 1930's German.

Sheesh, do we have to reenact the worst parts of the last century all over again?

I'll admit it. I'm a racist. I hate the French. I'm a Huguenot, so I'm entitled.

It's like here in the States where many of "those damn Mexicans" are American citizens. Not that it makes any difference to the bigots.

Oh, well, I'm sure President Perry will set things right.

*continues drinking heavily*
posted by warbaby at 7:21 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is my final post because it is late in Europe. First, for folks yelling about derails, the title and topic of the entire post is "Multiculturalism has failed". That's a pretty broad topic.

My son is in a public school class with at least 8 Muslims, all of them are lovely kids. But one of these cute little kids, one born here in Europe, delivered a lengthy anti-Western diatribe and defense of Osama Bin Laden on the next school day after OBL's death was announced. He learned that in his home, and likely his community, because as a 9 year old "European" he could not have fully understood or even agreed with his rant.

That said, the parents that most often tries the patience of class parents by expecting the school to alter local custom to meet their beliefs are Fundamentalist Christians (though I hesitate to admit, they are from sub-Saharan Africa).

Decades of European multiculturalism has created ex-urban neighborhoods that make any North American ghetto seem quite well integrated with the larger society. Many former Communist-bloc immigrants are also geographically clustered and poorly integrated but their native culture does not conflict with certain fundamental Western ideals as drastically. Pointing out that too often there has been a failure to integrate Arab, South Asian, and African immigrants and children of immigrants does not make one a racist.

Multiculturalism and lack of cultural integration is not the biggest problem facing Europe. There is political and cultural debate about whether multiculturalism has failed in Europe, but nobody that is paying attention thinks there are not some major issues to be solved.

Zorsha - The answer is many American kids, Muslim or otherwise, don't change for or shower after gym. Sexual education is nearly always optional at parents' discretion.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 7:21 PM on September 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'd really like to know some things about Muslims in the US. Are their children allowed to partake of sex-ed in school? Phys-ed and change and shower with the others?
You realize, right, that the overwhelming majority of fundamentalists in the US are Christian? These aren't really issues that are identified with Muslims here.
posted by craichead at 7:26 PM on September 17, 2011


First, for folks yelling about derails, the title and topic of the entire post is "Multiculturalism has failed". That's a pretty broad topic.

Agreed, it struck me as the more significant aspect of this story and frankly I don't think the decision to not allow people top block streets says anything about multiculturalism one way or the other. This recent development is a small part of a much bigger picture.
posted by Hoopo at 7:28 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


craichead, there's actually a pretty decent wikipedia article on the phrase melting pot. I was actually thinking of Santorum's recent description of American identity during the GOP debate: "we're a melting pot, not a salad bowl.”
posted by mek at 7:29 PM on September 17, 2011


But one of these cute little kids, one born here in Europe, delivered a lengthy anti-Western diatribe and defense of Osama Bin Laden on the next school day after OBL's death was announced.

Oh god NO! Not a passionate critique of Western imperialism! Where on earth did he learn that?!! Sounds like a failure of the state to adequately brainwash him, indeed!
posted by mek at 7:33 PM on September 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Is THAT what you call it, mek? Really?
posted by Zorsha at 7:35 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I heard plenty of the exact same talk the day after OBL died, in what was undoubtedly an extralegal assassination. I heard it from intelligent American citizens and even saw it in the press. I'm sorry it terrifies you that some people raise their children to be critically engaged.
posted by mek at 7:38 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's something I keep reflecting on. You have a minority within the Muslim population in Europe aiming for an Islamic state. You have a minority within the larger population that wants to get rid of the ethnorelegious minorities entirely.

How do you keep the two from forming a feedback loop that spirals out of control?

I don't know. I wish I did because we've seen where this leads, fairly recently.

How do you say "We're all Serbians now" in French?
posted by Grimgrin at 7:39 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did you read that wikipedia article? It notes that "[i]n the United States, where the term melting pot is still commonly used, despite being largely disregarded by modern sociologists as an outdated and diffuse term, the ideas of cultural pluralism and multiculturalism have largely replaced the idea of assimilation."

(There's actually been a revival of interest in assimilation in recent years, but no serious scholar would use the term "melting pot." And it really seems to me that the US has a lot more in common with Canada on these issues than Canadians or right-wing Americans like to admit.)
posted by craichead at 7:43 PM on September 17, 2011


"a lengthy anti-Western diatribe and defense of Osama Bin Laden" is what you call being critically engaged, mek?!
Oooook...
It hardly terrifies me, it makes me roll my eyes and decide it's time for bed. Yawn.
posted by Zorsha at 7:44 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have been RE-reading Neal Stephenson's "System of the World" trilogy. What were once Huguenots, are now Islamists... La France will not be decreased by them, unless idiots declaim otherwise.

If that happens, we're all fluxxionned.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:48 PM on September 17, 2011


If you think that 9 year old is bad now Zorsha, you should wait to see what happens when he's 14 and gets ahold of some Nietzsche...
posted by mek at 7:48 PM on September 17, 2011


"a lengthy anti-Western diatribe and defense of Osama Bin Laden" is what you call being critically engaged, mek?!

Well, that description sounds a lot like the sort of dismissive characterizations we hear from the right-wing out here so I can see where he's coming from.
posted by Hoopo at 7:49 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


craichead I think this is definitely one of those Two Americas issues, as evidenced by Santorum's comment.
posted by mek at 7:49 PM on September 17, 2011


Nine year-olds that hold forth about how evil the West is, like nine year-olds who go and on about sinners burning in hell, are invariably brainwashed and often abused. Disgusting and shameful and sad, really, and the opposite of "critically engaged".
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:54 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


[Since we're talking about derails, may I suggest that modern American politics is kind of a big one? ]
posted by restless_nomad at 7:55 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's almost like the Muslim diaspora in Europe has been traumatized somehow. I wonder how that happened.
posted by mek at 7:56 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


No one really knows what the 9-year-old kid really said. It could be another case of exaggeration along the lines of "honor crimes" being promoted to "honor killings."


You have a minority within the Muslim population in Europe aiming for an Islamic state.

Grimgrin, is this a fact or a guess at motivations? I haven't heard of Muslim communities stating this, but then again, I don't follow Muslims in Europe that closely.
posted by ignignokt at 7:59 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's almost like the Muslim diaspora in Europe has been traumatized somehow. I wonder how that happened.

mek
, I don't know where your obvious personal investment in this topic generally comes from - and the level of reactive sarcasm and and finger-pointing emanating from you does make it obvious - but that's a really ugly, two-wrongs-make-a-right dodge of a bad situation that many communities confront at some point. I don't have any desire to continue discussing the issue with someone who cares more about being clever than taking a full account of the consequences of the problem at hand.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:03 PM on September 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Decades of European multiculturalism has created ex-urban neighborhoods that make any North American ghetto seem quite well integrated with the larger society.

Have you been to a North American ghetto? I've been to Clichy-sous-Bois and La Goutte d'Or, and I used to live near Cabrini Green, and I can tell you that that statement is categorically incorrect.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:08 PM on September 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


I looked up that corner in the Economist photo. They're praying towards Karlsruhe, Germany. Did Mecca move?

I think they have to shimmy clockwise about 90 degrees.

Link Note how they are parallel to the crosswalk lines in the photo above.
posted by CarlRossi at 8:25 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I looked up that corner in the Economist photo. They're praying towards Karlsruhe, Germany. Did Mecca move?

Muslims orient mosques to Mecca according to the curvature of the earth, not flat map projections. So, in North America they would face northeast.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:26 PM on September 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Huh. Learn something new every day.
posted by CarlRossi at 8:29 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


No one wants to be a melting pot or a salad bowl any more. I thought we had all settled on mosaic?
posted by brina at 8:39 PM on September 17, 2011


That said, it does look like they are facing a bit more easterly than they should be. But, it's difficult to orient precisely from Google Street View and that picture in the Economist. There are also allowances in Islam for people to make their best reckoning and then proceed.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:40 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Inspector.Gadget, thanks for the series of ad-hominems, but to paraphrase a great philosopher, you don't know me. If you'd like to discuss the end of nationalism and the blowback of 20th century imperialism via globalization in the present, I'm thrilled to do so. But if you feel the need to speculate on my personal background, well, please keep it to yourself, because it doesn't exactly add to the thread.

No one really knows what the 9-year-old kid really said. It could be another case of exaggeration along the lines of "honor crimes" being promoted to "honor killings."

And that's exactly I feel it deserves the dismissal I gave it. And at least the kid's a talker and not a bully!
posted by mek at 8:41 PM on September 17, 2011


Good. Let France be France.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 8:45 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


ignignokt: This is a fact. They're a small minority, with very little support, but they exist. So do people like the EDL, or other ultra right wing racists.
posted by Grimgrin at 8:47 PM on September 17, 2011


I feel that more Muslims should pray to Karlsruhe.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:55 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


No shortage of Islamophobia on Metafilter.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:57 PM on September 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


then have gay sex

One of these things is not like the others. I'm not going to tolerate everything my neighbours do and they don't have to tolerate everything I do (or not tolerate things I tolerate) but since borders link countries together as much as define their limits, you can't expect everyone to have their own static little bubble-nation. Thus I can tell Iran to let the gays screw without being prosecuted already and they can call me out for whatever it is they don't like me doing. Same rules apply if we live in the same country. No sense in free speech if you don't get to air it out and use it from time to time.

we need symbols like the "mosaic" to make up for our perceived lack of identity that seems to drive everyone here to obsess over "what it means to be Canadian".

It's a bit more complicated than that, even. As well as a feel good source of bland and inoffensive nationalism (yaye tolerance!) its also a coping strategy in the face of a country where one in five is foreign born. Even if we wanted to effect mass assimilation, trying to negotiate a mosaic is cheaper than trying to ram the schools of newly minted Canadians into some sort of "model Canadian" shape when we're not even sure what that looks like ourselves.
posted by Phalene at 8:57 PM on September 17, 2011


"Good. Let France be France."

Indeed lets let France be France
posted by Blasdelb at 8:59 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


get real
this is not an attack on preventing muslims from praying - it is a ban on blocking the streets
posted by hopefulmidlifer at 9:12 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


No shortage of Islamophobia on Metafilter

And no shortage of derails from those that decry them, eh?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 9:19 PM on September 17, 2011


So, do some Muslims carry around prayer rugs with them wherever they go? I noticed a few in the Economist picture.

The few I know don't, but I just wanted to say how awesome it would be if everyone carried around small decorative and ornate rugs. The world would be such a colorful place.

This is not meant to demean the deep religious meaning and value associated with prayer rugs, just noting another wonderful cultural artifact that diverse communities bring to the world.
posted by formless at 9:37 PM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


French families have an average of 2 kids each, muslim families in France average at a whopping EIGHT.

The weird thing is that the French birthrate is positively healthy compared to much of Europe. So the freakout is a little strange. I mean, Italy averages 1.3 children per woman for god's sake. They don't even have to resort to fear of a New Yellow Peril to worry about cultural destruction, they just have to wait a few years!

France is just barely below replacement.

Still, it's kind of funny to see the differences in this thread and the recent over-population thread. There it's all like if you have more than one kid you're personally murdering mother earth while here it's like, hey, don't be a racist and worry about having people having 8 kids!

But at least France is making Arizona look good by comparison.
posted by Justinian at 9:39 PM on September 17, 2011


This is not meant to demean the deep religious meaning and value associated with prayer rugs

Actually, there is very little religious meaning to prayer rugs. Sure, there are lots of beautiful designs, but they don't make the prayer and totally optional. The Shia do attach significance to a small clay disc or stone to place the forehead on, but there is dispute about if it is a requirement. Mainly, the prayer rug is to ensure that the surface is clean...if one deems the ground clean (ie. free from excrement that would invalidate one's ablution) then it's ok to just pray on the ground.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:45 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


this is not an attack on preventing muslims from praying - it is a ban on blocking the streets

Wait, wait, wait... The Economist article says this:

Each week, policemen allow the streets to be shut for outdoor prayers. They stand by as mosque officials put up plastic tape to separate pedestrians from worshippers. Some residents see this as a provocation. Daniel Vaillant, the local Socialist mayor, calls it pragmatic.

So local police were basically the ones setting up the situation allegedly causing the tension in the first place--that is, they basically told them it was cool to do this up until now, and now, it's the Muslim community's fault for creating all the logistical problems?

And what, did they just change policies and say the police couldn't do that anymore, or did they actually literally ban public prayer?

Sorry. There's still not enough here for me to really get a handle on the actual truth of the situation. I get the sense someone's trying to stir up the pot and make some ugly shit happen for some reason, but I'm not sure what's actually going on here (after reading all the links). One thing I notice is that The Australian is one of Murdoch's rags, and it includes what I guarantee you is at least one deliberatly unflattering misquote.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:54 PM on September 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


For what it's worth, Snopes isn't convinced by the claim that Muslim women in France have eight kids on average, pointing out that France doesn't keep fertility statistics by religion and that this would mean that Muslim women in France had a higher fertility rate than women in any country in the world. A recent Reuters blog post dismissed that number as "wildly exaggerated" and completely unsubstantiated. It seems to originate in a weird, scare-mongering video. Can anyone substantiate that number?
posted by craichead at 9:55 PM on September 17, 2011 [18 favorites]


Maybe if France didn't want Muslims to continue their customs inside its borders, it shouldn't have let them in. Do you really think people are simple going to stop believing what they believe, and give up everything they ever knew simply because they are now in a geographically different location?
Decades of European multiculturalism has created ex-urban neighborhoods that make any North American ghetto seem quite well integrated with the larger society. Many former Communist-bloc immigrants are also geographically clustered and poorly integrated but their native culture does not conflict with certain fundamental Western ideals as drastically. Pointing out that too often there has been a failure to integrate Arab, South Asian, and African immigrants and children of immigrants does not make one a racist.
Why is it a problem that people want to live amongst their own? Especially when Europeans are so intolerant of their practices, why would they want to "integrate"?

I suppose the real problem is tension between "French" culture and "North-African Muslim" culture (which, like it or not, became inexorably a part of French culture the moment you allowed North-African Muslins into your country.) The question is, what needs to be done to relieve this tension? Passing laws that discriminate against Muslims is certainly not it.

To my mind, what needs to happen is some kind of understanding between Muslims and the cultural French. What the French are calling multiculturalism at this point really seems to be a demand that Muslims abandon their culture and adopt French culture, which frankly is so unrealistic that it's absurd. There needs to be an understanding both ways, with Muslims acknowledging that they are now a part of French culture, and the French acknowledging the same about Muslims. Once that understanding exists, real work can be done to bridge the gaps and solve problems. Calling Muslims lazy and backwards does nothing to further this understanding.
posted by !Jim at 9:59 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


French families have an average of 2 kids each, muslim families in France average at a whopping EIGHT.

They're all French families. Also, who cares?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:59 PM on September 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


I, for one, am shocked that the people who are saying that Muslims are going to outbreed the nice white people and take over France are not basing that on actual evidence.
posted by overglow at 10:00 PM on September 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


Can anyone substantiate that number?

No, nobody can substantiate an obviously false number.

They're all French families.

The majority of them are non-citizens and thus non-French by definition, right? It seems like a country can say who is and who is not a citizen, unless one rejects the entire concept of nationhood. Which a lot of people do, sure, but it isn't something to be assumed as true. I mean, I went to school in Canada and lived in Canada for some years but the Canadian government and most Canadians would say I am not, in fact, Canadian.
posted by Justinian at 10:08 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, if anyone has the actual numbers on what fraction of the Muslim population in France are citizens vs non-citizens, that would be interesting. It's a lot harder to find than I would think it should be.
posted by Justinian at 10:11 PM on September 17, 2011


The majority of them are non-citizens and thus non-French by definition, right?

By French law, anyone born in national territory cannot be considered an immigrant. So, if we're talking about kids born in France, yeah, they're French.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:14 PM on September 17, 2011


Oh, if anyone has the actual numbers on what fraction of the Muslim population in France are citizens vs non-citizens, that would be interesting. It's a lot harder to find than I would think it should be.
I think that France doesn't acknowledge religion in government statistics. (The same is true of the US: there's no question about religion on the census here, which complicates the process of gathering data about religious groups.) There are also some complicated definitional issues about who you count as Muslim: is it anyone from a Muslim background, or do you only count people who currently practice the religion to some degree? I'm not at all surprised that statistics about Muslims and citizenship are tough to come by. I'm sure that won't stop people from just making shit up, though.
posted by craichead at 10:22 PM on September 17, 2011


really seems to be a demand that Muslims abandon their culture and adopt French culture

At least so far as establishing that public access takes priority to specialty religious interests. Make it reasonable—once a year big public event, with proper permits & public/charity events. A weekly shutdown of traffic space seems quite excessive to me.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:22 PM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


By French law, anyone born in national territory cannot be considered an immigrant

Upon checking, it looks like kids born in France become citizens between ages 13 and 18 depending on various circumstance. So "They're all French families" isn't completely true (the parents often still aren't citizens, for example, nor depending on the situation very young children) but it is probably true enough for purposes of this discussion.
posted by Justinian at 10:25 PM on September 17, 2011


"Multiculturalism has failed"

More like, you failed multiculturalism.
posted by polymodus at 10:41 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Canada: No one wants to be a melting pot or a salad bowl any more. I thought we had all settled on mosaic?

I prefer Katamari.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:42 PM on September 17, 2011 [13 favorites]


really seems to be a demand that Muslims abandon their culture and adopt French culture

At least so far as establishing that public access takes priority to specialty religious interests. Make it reasonable—once a year big public event, with proper permits & public/charity events. A weekly shutdown of traffic space seems quite excessive to me.
Oh, to be honest I was responding to the "multiculturalism has failed" debate, rather than the blocking-traffic debate. I don't see why a ban on public prayer is necessary, however, as surely it is already illegal to impede the flow of traffic.
"Multiculturalism has failed"

More like, you failed multiculturalism.
This is kind of a flippant remark, but I actually like it. The reason it seems like multiculturalism has failed is that they haven't actually tried multiculturalism. Demanding that recent immigrants adopt your culture is not multiculturalism.
posted by !Jim at 10:47 PM on September 17, 2011


I'd really like to know some things about Muslims in the US. Are their children allowed to partake of sex-ed in school? Phys-ed and change and shower with the others?

There is no monolithic entity of "Muslims in the US." I will repeat that, because it is important: THERE IS NO MONOLITHIC ENTITY OF MUSLIMS IN THE US. By which I mean, you are looking for a generalization that will not hold up, because there are multiple Muslim communities in the US, of differing national origins and with different norms.

I am a Muslim in the US, I have gone to school in the US from kindergarten through university, and I was "allowed" to have sex ed at school. I changed in the locker room with the rest of the girls. My entire extended family had the same experience. The girl at my high school who observed hijab changed in the locker room with the rest of the girls, and took PE with the rest of the girls.

Speaking as a Muslim immigrant, albeit an American one, the kind of reception French Muslims are receiving in France is not the kind of reception that leads to happily jumping in the melting pot and discarding one's native culture. It's the kind of reception that alienates you, that makes you want to retreat to ethnic and cultural enclaves, because it's safer there, because you don't feel like you're rejecting a huge part of yourself. Because frequently, it seems like no matter what you do, you haven't assimilated enough.

I frankly don't see how the French government or French right wing politicians think trying to force that kind of assimilation is going to work. I agree with !Jim that France's multiculturalism has failed because they haven't tried multiculturalism. Multiculturalism means Muslim immigrants adopting and becoming part of the culture of their new country, a process which will happen more or less naturally as kids grow up there, because even growing up in an ethnic enclave, it's close to impossible to stay cut off from the culture at large. But hey, maybe they'll choose to reject the culture of their new country, because it's not as if it's been very welcoming.
posted by yasaman at 12:18 AM on September 18, 2011 [14 favorites]


I don't read French so I don't know what the text here is saying, but here's a video of Noël à Barbès a few years ago where the public street prayer is happening. (They're on the pavement)
posted by dabitch at 12:32 AM on September 18, 2011


Scoo: Yeah, tell Molly Norris how great Islamic art is, if she's ever able to come out of hiding for not hewing to it's strictures.

"Yeah, tell the dead Afghanis how great Anglo-American literature is. Oh, you can't, because they're dead."

Both of these statements are incredibly silly, but I think only one of them was silly on purpose.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 12:53 AM on September 18, 2011


I don't speak French, but might this aggressive behavior by (presumed) Muslims at people on a public street be a reason that this sort of law was brought forward?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 1:24 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always wonder about the relationship between the French policy of not taking official demographic statistics under the guise of egalité and the huge problems with cultural integration that have been discussed by several people upthread. It seems like by refusing to understand the problem on an official level, they make it easy to dismiss all problems as the fault of immigrants. Not that better census statistics would stop them, probably, but man does it seem like it would be a useful start.
posted by Schismatic at 1:26 AM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


What are people making a big stink for? This ban will simply be reversed in a few years. That's the problem with democracy: in such situations, it contains the seed of its own destruction.
posted by gnossie at 1:39 AM on September 18, 2011


mek: This rhetoric obscures the reality of violence against women, which is a cross-cultural problem. As it stands, statements like these are just coded xenophobia. If you're British and you assault or kill your spouse, it's "domestic violence," but if you're racialized, it's an "honor killing." It disgusts me.

This subject basically makes me too angry to type so I'll just quote previous exchanges from an earlier thread from when I was in better spirits.
Given that most murder victims of domestic violence are killed by partners when they try to leave, I'd say first world countries has a fair number as well, just under a different name.

To be sure, society as a whole doesn't approve, but you sure see a lot of "Why didn't she leave?" victim blaming... which, in the end, is still just another "how she deserved it" phrased differently.
That's a pretty big 'to-be-sure'. Someone who faces the threat of honor violence from her family will not get peace even if the father or husband is jailed for the beatings and death threats, when there may be tens of other male relatives just as ready to punish her 'dishonoring the family'. This is a critical difference from the sort of domestic violence typically seen in the West, and maybe some people don't care to think through that distinction but to the victim it can mean the difference between freedom and a hopeless, endless nightmare.
And another comment:
If a Western victim of domestic violence manages to overcome the psychological manipulation and the fear of threats, she has a lot more places to go for protection. Her own family is not out to have her raped and killed, our society funds shelters where she can stay, our legal system tends to act against the (usually lone) perpetrator, and if she decides to try to have a life outside the shelter or her parents' or friends' house, being a woman without a male protector does not make her eligible for rape.

In the report, the only hope the woman had of escaping her family was the shopkeeper, who then spent five months in prison for helping her.

I will not believe you really think there's no significant difference, because what that means is that all those Western women who have found freedom might as well just go die or live a life of rape. I hope you'll appreciate my not taking your words at face value.

There needs to be an Abolitionist movement against the culture of honor violence. Ending it in the Muslim ghettoes of Europe would be a good first step.
posted by Anything at 2:03 AM on September 18, 2011 [11 favorites]


I don't speak French, but might this aggressive behavior by (presumed) Muslims at people on a public street be a reason that this sort of law was brought forward?

That's your evidence for "aggressive behaviour"? The guy was walking in front of a crowd of people, filming their faces, and didn't stop when some people asked him to. He was being provocative, and all he managed to get out of the guys he filmed was that they took him to one side and challenged him about it. It's true that technically he's allowed to film them, but if people ask you to stop filming them and you don't, just to get a rise out of them, you're being obnoxious. I thought the crowd's response was pretty calm.
posted by creeky at 2:07 AM on September 18, 2011


If a Western victim of domestic violence manages to overcome the psychological manipulation and the fear of threats, she has a lot more places to go for protection. Her own family is not out to have her raped and killed, our society funds shelters where she can stay, our legal system tends to act against the (usually lone) perpetrator, and if she decides to try to have a life outside the shelter or her parents' or friends' house, being a woman without a male protector does not make her eligible for rape.

If only this were true in the majority of cases, oh God, if only. The reality is a lot uglier. However, I agree that the best solution to these issues is to provide support systems and work through existing legal frameworks; unfortunately, we have a long way to go yet before violence against women even in the most progressive centers of the West is eradiacted. What is not helpful is targeting specific ethnic groups as if they are the sole or major cause of violence against women; in reality, disciplinary approaches in general are ineffective.
posted by mek at 3:09 AM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's true that technically he's allowed to film them, but if people ask you to stop filming them and you don't

Then they have the right to shove you off the public sidewalk, block your camera and act aggressively to you? So if some of Le Pen's National Front bullyboys do this, you're cool with that as well? Because you wouldn't want to be, well, obnoxious, would you?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 3:35 AM on September 18, 2011


Decades of European multiculturalism has created ex-urban neighborhoods that make any North American ghetto seem quite well integrated with the larger society.

Have you been to a North American ghetto? I've been to Clichy-sous-Bois and La Goutte d'Or, and I used to live near Cabrini Green, and I can tell you that that statement is categorically incorrect.


This. I live in a European so-called "ghetto", and I have visited some of the areas in Chicago and lived next to Harlem back in the days before Clinton made it posh. If you believe the European immigrant communities are even similar to the inner-city slums in the US, you need to go out more.
There are real problems concerning integration of Muslim minorities in Europe. A minority within the minority has an obnoxious value-system, specially when it comes to women (though here, every single woman wearing a burkha is a convert!). As I see it, the lack of jobs for young men with short educations is a far greater problem, though the two are related - I can't see someone with a real job risking that for beating up his sister.

What the national politicians are doing, all over Europe, is plain wrong. They do it to pamper scared voters in rural districts and ex-urbs. I think most local authorities are angry and frustrated. I am lucky, my youngest daughter attends the most popular school in the entire city. Immigrant children are at exactly the same proportion as in the community as a whole, and they are given the same excellent education. There is no shaming, and no one is excluded. This leads to the conservative Muslim families having a high degree of trust in the institution. So the veiled girls go to gym and get sex-ed along with the others of all creeds and nations. Actually, in the beginning (the school is 6 years old) the families in the district who preferred private schools were mainly fundamentalist Christians, but now they are slowly coming back in the fold. Still, when journalists come to the school, they come to look at "ghetto-problems", and their photographers frame the pictures to make the kids look "ethnic" and "scary".

If we could stop the scare-mongering, I believe many of the real issues would be resolved within a decade.
posted by mumimor at 3:44 AM on September 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


So mek, what is your actual point, that there IS no honor-violence against women?
posted by Zorsha at 4:49 AM on September 18, 2011


Not being French, I am inclined not to involve myself in this argument but simply want to know why one prays in the street rather than indoors? Is it possible that at work Muslims are not allowed to pray? At home, they can, in a mosque they can, but if they are to pray 5 times a day, are they not permitted to do so in school, at work?
posted by Postroad at 4:54 AM on September 18, 2011


"Not being French, I am inclined not to involve myself in this argument...."

This viewpoint has been expressed several times in this thread. Why is it that people have lots of opinions about how Africans and Asians should be treated by their governments, but aren't willing to critique Europeans?
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 5:04 AM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


So mek, what is your actual point, that there IS no honor-violence against women?

It's so plainly not mek's point that I'm inclined to think you need to take a step back and a deep breath. Domestic violence against women is an endemic problem in all societies and cultures. A simplistic framing of such violence as normal in Islam but an aberration in Western Christian culture fails to reflect reality. It is not a good way of dealing with the problem of violence against women, including that which occurs in the context of honour violence.

Mainly it serves to reinforce the "bad, sinister Muslims" narrative. The same narrative that is driving the rise of the European far right, most obviously at the moment in France and Scandinavia.
posted by howfar at 5:11 AM on September 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


unless Postroad is expressing opinions about African and Asian governments, I don't see the conflict.
posted by dubold at 5:13 AM on September 18, 2011


Postroad, I believe it is the Friday afternoon prayer, akin to the Catholic Sunday Mass, not every day five times a day. The issue is one of capacity, the mosques cannot hold all the people that wish to pray. At a few Churches near my house the over-capacity problem exists as well, except instead of people praying on the streets they instead park where ever they can (including illegally and blocking traffic) in order to attend church on Sunday. As Sunday is a quieter day the one hour of parking isn't a major inconvenience but if t was a Friday afternoon when people were attempting to get home/do shopping I can see it resulting in flared tempers. And no, my understanding of French culture is that praying in schools or work is not usually acceptable. (Even multicultural and usually tolerant Toronto has an issue with prayers in schools).
posted by saucysault at 5:16 AM on September 18, 2011


why one prays in the street rather than indoors?

Hi Postraod this is addressed in several of links and early comments: there simply isn't room in the mosque for the worshippers. However, in a report I viewed last night, the city council has actually supplied the French Muslims with warehouse and other spaces to worship - temporarily until new facilities are built - and the people that I saw interviewed - council and Muslim alike - were really happy with the outcomes and stoked to get in off the street. They didn't *want* to worship on the street.
posted by smoke at 5:43 AM on September 18, 2011


"An end to prayer in the streets. After several weeks of discussions between the French state and the Muslim associations who manage the Mosques, an agreement was made for the usage of 2000 sq metres of a disaffected firemen's station to be used for prayer. This is a temporary solution until 2013 when a new mosque will be made available - a project that is being undertaken by the Paris Town Hall" le Monde 16/09/2011 for http://religion.blog.lemonde.fr/files/2011/09/pri%C3%A8re-de-rue.jpg
posted by hopefulmidlifer at 5:45 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Domestic violence against women is an endemic problem in all societies and cultures. A simplistic framing of such violence as normal in Islam but an aberration in Western Christian culture fails to reflect reality. It is not a good way of dealing with the problem of violence against women, including that which occurs in the context of honour violence.

Indeed. Many stories of domestic violence never make the news because of the nature of the crime (family members involved, no police report, psychological factors, etc), but if you simply go go Google News and search on "woman beaten family member" you'll find reports from all over the globe which have everything to do with women being beaten by family members and nothing to do with Islam. Men have been trying to "keep women in line" through various forms of abuse forever, and it continues in every city and neighborhood on the planet today, even right now as you read this.
posted by hippybear at 5:46 AM on September 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dear France,

How is that enlightened liberalism working out for you?

Yours etc.,

The Bill of Rights


Yes, because America has been the standards bearer for human rights lately. We even made a nice place for Muslims to pray safely, on a lovely tropical island just of the coast of Florida.
posted by doctor_negative at 5:46 AM on September 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


They didn't *want* to worship on the street.

Which shows up the ban even more plainly as a piece of inflammatory pandering to the French far-right. If the solution was providing facilities then this ban is a way to disguise a reasonable action as an unreasonable one, in order to appease unreasonable people. That's a pretty damn scary interpretation.
posted by howfar at 5:52 AM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Divide and conquer.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 6:00 AM on September 18, 2011


The law against praying in the streets was passed in 1905 !

Unfortunately there is just not a big enough mosque in the north of Paris yet.... and the disruption to the circulation could not continue I guess

Imagine the same thing in Times Square or Piccadilly Circus !
posted by hopefulmidlifer at 6:02 AM on September 18, 2011


In the report, the only hope the woman had of escaping her family was the shopkeeper, who then spent five months in prison for helping her.
There's a whole hell of a lot wrong with that entire comment, which I can get into if you'd like, but that bit really jumped out at me. You linked to a news report about a woman in Afghanistan. It really sounds like you think that what goes on in Afghanistan tells you about "Muslims," generally. That's bizarre, given that Afghanistan is especially screwed up on many levels and given that the overwhelming majority of French Muslims come from or are the descendants of people who come from other places. It's sort of akin to pointing out how Haiti handles domestic violence allegations and acting as if you can use that to discern the attitudes of people from Italy.
Thanx for mansplaining that for me.
I'm a woman, and I've got pretty good feminist credentials. I've also volunteered with a project that worked with immigrant women who were attempting to address domestic violence issues within their community. I'm not "mansplaining" anything when I point out that very real problems with the things you say here. Don't try to use feminism as a "get out of racism free" card.

(But speaking of feminism, that natalist shit that you posted above about Muslim women having eight children, that turned out not to be true? There's a whole extensive literature on the ways that right wingers use those ideas not only to stigmatize immigrants but also to discipline "selfish" white women who do things like pursue careers and education rather than start popping out babies early and often. It's anti-feminist on so many levels.)
posted by craichead at 6:03 AM on September 18, 2011 [24 favorites]


So the only alternative to multiculturalism is ethnolinguistic nationalism, eh?

Oh, come along. Even without Islam, France is great bouillabaisse of culture and types and regional accents, dialects and attitudes. Always has been. What was DeGaulle's comment? "How do you govern a country with 246 varieties of cheese?" They're not all Parisians.

It's true that technically he's allowed to film them, but if people ask you to stop filming them and you don't


Just to nitpick, the fellow with the securite band on his arm insisted that it was forbidden to film. And he could be right. Any French lawyers out there?
posted by IndigoJones at 6:07 AM on September 18, 2011


I wrote that to mek, not you craichead?
I have much appreciated your input in the thread so far.

The "natalist shit" I wrote before wasn't untrue, it has been hard to find accurate numbers when we tried. But thanx, I think it's time for me to leave this thread now.
posted by Zorsha at 6:08 AM on September 18, 2011


The Austrialian's reporting seems out of touch, at least, with what I could find in the French media, which has a much more detailed and nuanced view. For those that read French.
posted by thegears at 6:11 AM on September 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just wanted to say thanks to the folks who are keeping their heads and honoring the complexities of this issue, rather than jumping to immediately stake out and vociferously defend an emotional position at all costs. Thank you.
posted by mediareport at 6:25 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


honoring the complexities of this issue

Pft. Sarkozy plays the race card. It's really not very complex. There were already appropriate laws in place to deal with disruption. The ban solves nothing, but working with Muslim communities isn't good press. Sometimes what looks like racism is just racism.
posted by howfar at 6:32 AM on September 18, 2011


Er, I'm talking about the complexities of the *larger* issues.
posted by mediareport at 6:38 AM on September 18, 2011


There may be strong arguments against this law. But "I think the way we do things in the US is better!" sure isn't one of them. Talk about simple-minded.
posted by jayder at 6:40 AM on September 18, 2011


Imagine the same thing in Times Square or Piccadilly Circus !

But that is a false equivalency. This isn't happening on the Champs Elysees.
posted by hippybear at 6:49 AM on September 18, 2011 [3 favorites]



Domestic violence against women is an endemic problem in all societies and cultures. A simplistic framing of such violence as normal in Islam but an aberration in Western Christian culture fails to reflect reality. It is not a good way of dealing with the problem of violence against women, including that which occurs in the context of honour violence.


This is so, so true. There are probably less than ten muslim families within an hour's drive of where I am sitting right now, and yet somehow we manage to provide plenty of domestic violence, much of it based on ideas of women as property. Islam has less than zero to do with this; societal attitudes and acceptance of this violence is everything.


The "natalist shit" I wrote before wasn't untrue,

Unless you can provide strong proof of it, I think that yes, we can safely say it was untrue. That's the same bigoted shit that my local racists say about Mexican immigrants; showing them accurate demographic numbers means zero to them, because their actual point is that the nasty brown people are moving in and changing "their" community in uncomfortable ways. Pointing to alarmist and made-up birthrate statistics is just a slightly coded way of saying racist things.


There may be strong arguments against this law. But "I think the way we do things in the US is better!" sure isn't one of them. Talk about simple-minded.


I somewhat disagree. There are things that the US does really well, such as integrating successive waves of massive immigration (complete with a predictable cycle of nativist outrage, temporary limitations on immigration, and then total integration). There are other things that European countries do really well, such as providing things like health care to all citizens. In my imaginary utopian world, I would like to think that each could learn from the other on these and other issues. (And there is Canada, which when I visit certainly seems to be doing well at both gracefully dealing with a large surge in immigration and also providing services to its citizens.)
posted by Forktine at 6:53 AM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the link thegears, I had found some French reports I could read via Google translate and it looked much more nuanced to me. But being a non-French speaker I didn't want to post them as ....well, google translate only gives you the gist of things and I might have misunderstood.
posted by dabitch at 7:01 AM on September 18, 2011


But that is a false equivalency. This isn't happening on the Champs Elysees.

very true.
but i was getting a bit fed up of all the over top comments
posted by hopefulmidlifer at 7:02 AM on September 18, 2011


oops !..the over the top..
posted by hopefulmidlifer at 7:03 AM on September 18, 2011


Mumimor: If we could stop the scare-mongering, I believe many of the real issues would be resolved within a decade.

This, tenfold. I really wish that the actual success of Muslim populations in Europe got as much attention as their problems. Just a small example: there are several real-estate & investment exhibitions in France targeting French North African families willing to invest in their country of origin. In spite of all the hardships they (or their parents) have been through, there's a growing middle-class of North African Muslim descent who is doing quite well. These folks are quite invisible because they're no longer that different from the millions of French people from Italian, Spanish, Polish etc. descent. Amusingly, so many Muslim families send their kids to private catholic schools that it became necessary to publish guidelines for catholic school authorities.

Zorsha: French families have an average of 2 kids each, muslim families in France average at a whopping EIGHT

That's the sort of nonsense that makes loonies like Breivik feel like they're the righteous ones. People should not repeat this kind of thing unless they have a better source than a YouTube video. Here are some actual figures from an official report from 2011 (in French, page 29). The figures are from the late 1990s but there's no reason to believe they've changed dramatically. If anything, the figures should be lower since North African countries are in Stage 3 of the demographic transition. For instance, Algeria's fertility rate collapsed in the 1980s and is now at European levels. The highest figures cited in the survey are about 3 and that's for women who arrived as teenagers or older. Immigrant women who arrived as children, and second-generation women from foreign origin have the same rates as women from French origin.

Note:there's a little bit of misinformation about French statistics. It's true that France does not keep track of the ethnicity of its citizens (for fear that history might repeat itself) but surveys can ask for the nationality of someone's parents.
posted by elgilito at 7:50 AM on September 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


I love the way imagined conflicts between Muslim and non-Muslims always brings out the Harry Callahan in even the most progressive folks.
posted by nola at 8:33 AM on September 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure I'd say multiculturalism has failed in Europe. Does it present problems? Of course. But I'm living in London, which is a great city because of its diversity and has at least a couple of industries (Finance, Education), which benefit from the lack of a monoculture. I grew up in Athens, where the current backlash against the newest wave of immigrants (often from destabilised regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan) makes it easy to overlook the large communities of Albanian immigrants who are model citizens despite earlier fearmongering. When we discuss about the success of the German economy, we rarely think about the role of the Turkish immigrants. Barcelona would be a poorer city without its immigrant barrios.

It is easy to blame the other, especially in times of diminishing prosperity, and it is easy to use immigrants as a scapegoat for the very real social and cultural challenges we face. However, it does not provide any solutions.
posted by ersatz at 8:48 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


By the way, the "multiculturalism has failed" quip by Sarkozy should be understood in the French context. France has never acknowledged multiculturalism (the kind practiced in the US and Northern Europe anyway) as a valid model of society. The official doctrine has always been "assimilationism" (cultural assimilation): a foreigner who wants to become French must assimilate French values and shed his/her own values if they are in conflict with French ones. In the colonies conquered in the 19th century, early attempts at assimilation were quickly replaced by a more practical (and politically safer) "associationist" doctrine which was somehow multicultural, but "association" was not exported to the mainland. Vichy, of course, broke the assimilationist pact by rounding up the Jews, then the poster children of French-style assimilation.

Obviously, in the last decades, a de facto multiculturalism has been gaining ground in the French society (France's motto contains the word "Liberty" after all) and assimilation is being challenged. But even then the assimilationist view is still predominant and is popular even in immigrant communities.
Sarkozy was accused for a long time of worshipping the US. At one point he tried and failed to introduce race-based affirmative action, which is anathema for the (officially at least) race-blind French. By criticising multiculturalism, Sarkozy tries to climb down this ladder but does not say much about French society.
posted by elgilito at 10:25 AM on September 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Thanx for mansplaining that for me.

That's not what happened. You totally mischaracterized mek's point. Then you also misattributed something to mek that was said by someone else.
posted by Hoopo at 10:34 AM on September 18, 2011


I know I said mek last, when it was actually howfar I meant, but as I have a cold+fever invading me like Poland (let's all chop my head off for that next!) I couldn't be bothered to correct myself.
I really didn't think people reading here gave a rats. My bad.

As far as being EXPLAINED TO "How It Is" so that I know, I still feel the same way.
posted by Zorsha at 11:08 AM on September 18, 2011


MetaFilter: I really didn't think people reading here gave a rats. My bad.
posted by hippybear at 11:20 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


[Zorsha, if your feeling ill is making you careless and also fighty, it may be a better idea to take a nap rather than continue arguing here. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 11:29 AM on September 18, 2011


Have you been to a North American ghetto?

Um, yeah, I grew up partly in a North American city neighborhood that many would term ghetto-fied during a wave of white flight. I visit the ghetto in every city I travel to, and I've been in hundreds of ghettos in North and Central America, Asia, and Europe.

Remember, what I wrote was there are European ghettos that are less integrated into their surrounding cultures than any American ghetto.

If you do not realize that there exist neighborhoods in Europe that are more socially isolated from their surrounding communities when compared to US ghettos, then you need to get out more. The South Side of Chicago is not unintegrated into Chicago, it a major part Chicago's Chicago-ness.

You are simply uninformed if you claim Harlem, a major section of central Manhattan, was lacking cultural diversity or was lacking integration with greater NYC in the last quarter of the 20th century. If it was a ghetto, it was the birthplace of of Ghetto Fabulous. I was there in the 80s, 90s, 00s. The dining and shopping choices were diverse, culture thrived and crossed over to the larger society, and people of every race were visible everywhere.

The US's most isolating and non-integrated ghettos are some of the Mexican and Central/South American barrios in or around, for example, San Diego, LA, and Phoenix. In terms of isolated and "foreign" culture from the surrounding culture, those ghettos can be compared to neighborhoods around London (e.g. Southall), Amsterdam (e.g. Bijlmer), and Stockholm (e.g. Tensta, Rinkeby).


> Demanding that recent immigrants adopt your culture is not multiculturalism.

It seems to redundant say, but Europe is not failing at multiculturalism just because their cultural expectation of immigrants are different than the US. One-size-fits-all definitions and approaches to multiculturalism is not multiculturalism either.

Assimilation in immigrant societies like the US and Canada have, for over a century, has accepted a level cultural preservation that has not been the historical expectation of European immigration. The European social contract with immigrants is not the same as it is in the New World. That said, I've never seen signs or bumper stickers here like the popular America sentiment "Welcome to America, speak English".

But there is a local expectation that completely secular public schools here will celebrate Christmas, including the student chorus singing hymns. Immigrants that cannot tolerate that are free to skip it, but increasingly the call from supporters of increased multicultural is to add Eid celebrations to the calendar and/or remove the religious nature of Christmas celebrations. I sympathize with those that want to remove the religious aspects, and I could tolerate an Eid celebration. But as a moderately-well assimilated immigrant, I respect and value the cultural history and customs of the society that I choose to live in.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 1:26 PM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Twats. Racist twats.
Re photo: articles states the roads are being guarded by police, so they have permission to close. Like i could get permission for a march in favour of overthrowing the monarchy, although that's treason.
But, muslims are racist in one way too: they should definitely not be allowed to carry on with their racist holocaust denying, those lessons should be compulsory. And a bit of education would help both sides: saw a shocking debate on christmas not being lay because it was Christian, neither muslims nor french knew it was pagan. That's both sides told off schoolmarmily.
posted by maiamaia at 1:50 PM on September 18, 2011


> But, muslims are racist in one way too: they should definitely not be allowed to carry on with their racist holocaust denying

I don't know why I'm bothering, but are you aware that most Muslims aren't Holocaust deniers?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 1:53 PM on September 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


> neither muslims nor french knew it was pagan.

Probably few lay people know about Mithraic influences on later religions either. It doesn't matter when you're talking about subjects in general. Christmas is in fact a Christian holiday regardless of the existing rituals that the Church co-opted. What people self-identify as is where you start.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 1:55 PM on September 18, 2011


Decades of European multiculturalism has created ex-urban neighborhoods that make any North American ghetto seem quite well integrated with the larger society.

Was just re-reading this, and I have to say I don't really believe this story. Britain embraced multiculturalism more wholeheartedly than any European country. If multiculturalism were the cause of ghettoisation, one would expect British "ghettos" to be more disconnected from the mainstream culture than (say) French ones. This is both palpably and demonstrably untrue. I used to live in Newham, the second most Muslim borough in Britain, and while it suffered many of the problems of urban poverty, there was certainly none of the cultural segregation that is a defining characteristic of the banlieues.
posted by howfar at 2:44 PM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I should say "little of the cultural segregation".
posted by howfar at 2:44 PM on September 18, 2011


If you do not realize that there exist neighborhoods in Europe that are more socially isolated from their surrounding communities when compared to US ghettos, then you need to get out more. The South Side of Chicago is not unintegrated into Chicago, it a major part Chicago's Chicago-ness.

You are simply uninformed if you claim Harlem, a major section of central Manhattan, was lacking cultural diversity or was lacking integration with greater NYC in the last quarter of the 20th century. If it was a ghetto, it was the birthplace of of Ghetto Fabulous. I was there in the 80s, 90s, 00s. The dining and shopping choices were diverse, culture thrived and crossed over to the larger society, and people of every race were visible everywhere.

The US's most isolating and non-integrated ghettos are some of the Mexican and Central/South American barrios in or around, for example, San Diego, LA, and Phoenix. In terms of isolated and "foreign" culture from the surrounding culture, those ghettos can be compared to neighborhoods around London (e.g. Southall), Amsterdam (e.g. Bijlmer), and Stockholm (e.g. Tensta, Rinkeby).


I do not get what you are saying. Is Southall or Rinkeby "lacking cultural diversity"? Really? Is the South Side more integrated into Chigago than Bijlmermeer into Amsterdam? Harlem in the 80's and 90's a place where culture thrived and dining and shopping choices were diverse and people of every race were visible? You are occupying an alternate universe to mine.
That's fair enough, but it kind of ends discussions.

The first big difference between the US segregated areas and the European social housing projects is that most European countries are welfare states, and simply will not accept the levels of poverty (and crime) which are normal in American cities. We set in with social programs, new schools, health programs, urban redevelopment and much more very early in the process of decline. So one might hear all sorts of worries in France or Holland or Sweden about religious immigrants and problems and whatnot. But those worries are on a level that isn't even acknowledged when it comes to minority neighborhoods in the US. (No US-bashing here, it's just different ideals for society). In my northern view, the French programs are cheap and ugly, but as The WhiteSkull stated, they are a completely different thing from the US projects.

The second big difference, as I see it, is that in Europe, most Muslim families have middle class values and aspirations. A lot of the conflict comes from the fact that they are trying to make things work in a sensible and respectable way, and they really enjoy their beautiful homes, whilst their (ethnic-)European neighbors are the weakest part of the population who undermine the stability of the neighborhood and present bad role-models for the kids. In that context, conservatism and isolation seems like a good strategy. The success of my daughter's school is to a huge extent that it has managed to attract normal middle-class families, thus convincing immigrant families that not all locals are drug dealers and/or prostitutes (and yes, these were very real issues at the two schools the current school has replaced).
A typical instance is a rule that is the norm in most of this country: for parties, one invites all children, all boys or all girls. Sleepovers are mostly either girls or boys. This is a rule which is perfectly acceptable for conservative Muslims, and helps inclusion of Muslim girls, but it wasn't upheld in the neighborhood schools before because teachers misunderstood the problems of integration. Originally, it wasn't made for Islamic reasons, but to prevent bullying.

I realize as I write this that it is probably exotic for most of you to imagine rules for childrens' birthdays.

Again, I do not deny cultural conflicts exist. What I am saying is that these cultural conflicts are somewhat simpler to deal with in settings where people have shared values.

One thing I find fascinating as I observe my girls' social life is that they have far more open and inclusive networks than I had at their age. Almost every kid here goes to the skate park at least once a week; our kids go on their own, the rich kids are taken by their parents. But they interact, become facebook friends, and learn from each other. The older kids meet in the city, and they have cliques and conventions like teens of all ages, but they know each other, and I've seen how racism is condemned on an everyday basis. That is one reason I think this ugliness will all end. Both sides have fanatics, but they are being marginalized.
posted by mumimor at 2:51 PM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, my point was not that the projects of Chicago are any more or less integrated into larger society than the banlieues of Paris, or an older-style urban ghetto like La Goutte d'Or, but rather that all three are different from each other, each with their own specifics and historical trajectories.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:29 PM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


My neighborhood is very similar to la Goutte d'Or although slightly more gentrified, and most city dwelling Americans and Canadians literally can't understand why it has the "ghetto" predicate. To them it looks like home.
In the local press, however, we are Eurabia.
Other areas are very different. But none are what the press and politicians make them out to be.
posted by mumimor at 3:58 PM on September 18, 2011


Streets get closed all the damn time in NYC, seems like in the summer there is some sort of steet fair blocking up an avenue, we have a pickle fair that blocks off like 4 streets for god's sake,not to mention all the parades we have. We also have the sadly declining tradition of block parties, once a year or so a block will get a permit to close off the street, grill food, blast music etc. And of course San Gennaro, and the biggest clusterfuck of them all, we block off what must be a square mile every new years eve, the shit you see on tv is only a small part of the stupidity.

But all this is moot, those are scheduled in advance and have permits, they have barricades and cops.

Cops here really hate people blocking traffic, as you can see from the videos from critical mass. But I think that since these people are only blocking traffic as a side effect of gathering, that is they are not gathering simply to block traffic, I think it might be rough at first, and morons like Pam Gellar would freak the fuck out, but we would figure out how to make it work. Bloomberg would love nothing more than to limit traffic even more, so he would be all for shutting that street down and making it pedestrian plaza or something.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:22 PM on September 18, 2011


Not to break up all the heavy intellectualism but check out Days of Glory aka Indigènes, a recent French WWII flick about the hundreds of thousands of mostly-muslim North Africans who fought for France. Worth it for the ballet scene alone. From a review:
Broken promises made to Adbelkader from on high are the ultimate betrayal as the Algerian troops play a crucial role in the liberation of Alsace. This battle is the movie’s most intense scene, made personal by the resonating words of Saïd spoken earlier in the film: “If I free a country, it’s my country. Even if I’ve never seen it before, it’s my country.”
posted by BinGregory at 6:20 PM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Look, I lived in Amsterdam for most of the 1990s and I'm headed back there in four weeks, for duration, until my kids are in collage. I played in a Rai band. I am far to the left of any major politician in the US.

But there is no reason whatsoever that a nation should have to sacrifice its very identity because people who have chosen to come to that country want it to become regressive. There is NO reason in Holland for anyone to live in a "ghetto," but people chose too anyway because it's much easier to police your own population that way, away from what we call "social control."

I mean, yes, there are terrible racists about now in Europe. That fact does not diminish the very real concerns of the people who live there, who have lived there all their lives, that the things they value - equality, progress, science - are all to be washed away because of the very same democratic values that allowed the immigrant populations to live in their countries in the first place.

As another poster pointed out: if a bunch of white westerners insisted on imposing their views on another country, well, we have a word for that sort of thing. Making reasonable accommodations in a democracy is expected, even required, but what do you do when a small but powerful section of those people want to use the very mechanisms of democracy to subvert the democratic, multicultural process itself, to essentially carve out for themselves their own, taxpayer supported enclaves outside the reach of the standard educational and judicial system?
posted by digitalprimate at 6:48 PM on September 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


But there is no reason whatsoever that a nation should have to sacrifice its very identity because people who have chosen to come to that country want it to become regressive.

I think this is a generally quite unfair characterisation of issues of mosque-crowding in France and more broadly what the vast majority of Muslims in Europe would want. The fact that you view them as an homogenous whole capable of "wanting" anything makes me question both how much you actually know of and have personally experienced with Muslims in Europe and how much you're actually interested in having a real dialogue about it.

I find the discussion of self-evident ghettos quite interesting. I don't know about Europe, but I've read quite a lot about this in Australia, and in reality it's not really true here.

I can't find it now, but there was some terrific research done by an academic about migrants in Sydney showing that perception of "ghettos" was mainly incorrect, and that new immigrants to the country settled in areas based more around income (new arrivals generally being pretty broke) than culture, and that as immigrants started earning more money they quickly spread out from their "arrival suburbs" and into the broader city and more affluent suburbs.

This, whilst in the short term there were indeed perceived "ghettos", they actually comprised a steady stream of different people (albeit from similar countries in some cases) coming and going over 5, 10 and 20 years.

When corrected for crime rates and other things based on income, the suburbs became almost entirely un-noteworthy; i.e. race had very little to do with anything that was demographically happening in those suburbs.

As I say, I have not seen any research about this pertaining to Europe, so I'm not sure if it would apply. But I don't know that it would be so different, either. Australia has had much Muslim immigration for the years, though certainly not as much as France.
posted by smoke at 7:31 PM on September 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


....makes me question both how much you actually know of and have personally experienced with Muslims in Europe and how much you're actually interested in having a real dialogue about it.

I suppose you ignored the part where I played in a Rai band, eh? I actually lived in a small enclave within a larger (mostly Turkish) neighborhood in A'dam for most of the 1990s. I've been to Mosques in Malaysia and England on many occasions. Also, Theo van Vogh was my best friend in NYC's best friend in Holland. You think I don't know the difference between different "kinds" of Muslims? Pop quiz kiddo: what language to the major of Moroccan immigrants in NL speak? Hint: not Arabic.

So, why yes, I do know what the fuck I'm talking about. I have muslim friends here in NYC, many of them in my current neighborhood and including my wife's best friend (although she just moved to Chicago). I have no animosity towards muslims individually or collectively.

My thoughts about have to do with the concept of a "nation" in the broadest sense of the word, and the limits of the people who live there to determine what they want that nation to be. In some cases, like segregation in the South, clearly those people were wrong. In some other cases, not so much, like that whole war the US had to end slavery and impose our will on a different majority population. We had parliamentary debates over ten YEARS ago about allowing Dutch doctors to perform female circumcisions to avoid septic deaths. None of this came about suddenly.

This is not a problem well suited to remote evaluation, and the fully and admittedly racists aspects that bedevil this issues do NOT help at all. The fact remains that a majority population has to have a certain amount of influence over the maintenance of what they perceive to be as their own cultural continuity. That majority, as I've said, is sometimes quite wrong and needs to change. I do not think that is, de facto, the case in places like Holland and Sweden which have stable, prosperous societies predicated upon a particular social contract that allows people a very, very wide latitude on how they practice their particular religious beliefs. Those beliefs, in American parlance, stop at the end of my nose. In other cultures, one can make the case that minority beliefs cease to be minority when they explicitly expose values at odds with the fundamental, underlying social contract that keeps a country together. Yes, again, this is mostly often a minority population in any country, but it is a real problem both because, well, it's real and because it inflames the right wing assholes who would make life worse not only for muslims but for all freethinking people.

And NONE of this is intended to excuse the racist shit that's been going on in Europe or elsewhere. It's abhorrent and should stop immediately. That, however, does not mean that people have should be required to sacrifice their own, indigenous values when those values are one of gender equality and the secular rule of law. Yet again, I know the majority of muslims in Europe do indeed espouse these values and moved to Europe in large part to take part in them. The minority that does not, however, are just as pernicious an influence as our christian dominionists here.

And now I should probably step away from the computer and leave this alone. I'm a bit too close to this personally I think at the moment.
posted by digitalprimate at 7:53 PM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Multiculturalism (Wikipedia)
posted by Brian B. at 9:05 PM on September 18, 2011


I'm headed back there in four weeks, for duration, until my kids are in collage

I've heard that's a sticky situation.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:02 PM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


This thread features a (small) number of commenters whose opinions on the subject are informed by all they've seen and done in this wide old world. And man, they've seen ALOT. Un peut trop, peut d'etre. En fait, je pense que ces gens sont des vantards. IMHO, bien sur...

Enumerating all the neighbourhoods you've lived in or how many muslims you count as friends kind of makes one sound like a blowhard. This is the internet. Stressing how much living you've done in order to buttress your argument is a horrible strategy.
posted by Roachbeard at 10:20 PM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The fact remains that a majority population has to have a certain amount of influence over the maintenance of what they perceive to be as their own cultural continuity.

Why?

The minority that does not, however, are just as pernicious an influence as our christian dominionists here.

Does this mean that you think the U.S. government would be justified in banning public prayers, or, to use a more specifically Christian example, banning people from wearing crucifixes?

And, granted I am not super informed about the situation in France, but I find it hard to believe that conservative Muslims are as pernicious an influence as conservative Christians are here. Do they dominate a major political party? Do they dominate any political party? Are there even any elected officials in France who would self-identify as conservative Muslims?

Because there is no way that a president of the United States would act in such a hostile manner towards Christians as Sarkozy is acting towards Muslims.
posted by overglow at 11:29 PM on September 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


The thing is, this is all constantly changing. The first big waves of immigrants came in the fifties and sixties. Now their grandchildren are young adults. Even new immigrants are arriving into a different situation from ten years ago or twenty years ago. The so-called ghetto-areas are "integration machines", where people live as they adjust to their new conditions, and these machines are being finer tuned every day.
The changes that are happening are generally for the good, in spite of the economic crisis: young European Muslims are increasingly getting good educations and jobs at the same level as other young people.
Now, it will be very interesting to see how the developments in the Middle East and North Africa influence all this. My feeling is that this will contribute to the improvements.
The danger lies in the rhetoric of the nationalists. The Muslim minorities in Europe are in reality a very small group - and many, many Europeans never or rarely meet a brown person. These are the people who are easily duped by right-wing populists into believing stuff like "Muslim women in France have 8 children" or "Muslims are planning to take over Europe".
posted by mumimor at 12:08 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Like so many in this thread, I can't speak for the whole world, but I've lived in NYC (4 years), London (2 years), Amsterdam (4 years), Copenhagen (Six years) and Malmö (Six years), and I often "Go home" to visit folks in Stockholm and Kiruna Of all faraway places.

There's not one of these places where I haven't interacted with a muslim in a regular day to day interaction (in a shop, on a bus, street, café). No, not even Kiruna. I wonder where this place the Europeans who "never met a brown person" is.

Really, I honestly do.
posted by dabitch at 3:13 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


American red states were all up-in-arms about the found zero Mosque while New Yorkers, combat vets, etc. don't much care. There are certainly outright racists like Le Pen in France, maybe that's even who Sarkozy placates here. Yet, there are also people with reasonable concerns about Islam, which don't really apply in the U.S. Examples :

- You know, the original headscarf ban in schools was pushed by the school teachers themselves (unions), which ain't exactly a right wing or bigoted group and has vast exposure to Muslims.

- There was a recent article about how France should take stronger steps to prevent harassment by banlieue thugs in public spaces, like Pont des Arts or Quai Claude Bernard. In fact, such behavior apparently makes France's urban centers into exporters of anti-Islamic and anti-immigrant feelings, via the Erasmus program.

There is imho a clear solution that principally involves teaching children about the rights of women, gays, and minorities in one unified course, which the right-wing won't like. In other words, you teach the Islamic kids the parallels between any racism they experience and what their culture does to women and gays.

There should also be both (1) restrictions on influence from conservative Islamic nations, especially ending religious worker visas, and (2) restrictions placed upon asylum or immigration from nations who's populations have integrated poorly, such as the adult women not learning the language or not working outside the home.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:31 AM on September 19, 2011


Dabitch: I wonder where this place the Europeans who "never met a brown person" is.

In France, at least, immigrant communities tend to live in urban areas. In rural ones (not the fruit & legume picking regions), the only foreigners local people may meet on a regular basis are tourists. So all these folks know about immigrants comes from the media: riots, drugs, street prayers, burqas etc. In the case of rural workers suffering from unemployment, they are led to believe that those fabled immigrants are "stealing their jobs". In some country areas with not a "brown person" in sight, Le Pen got sometimes over 50 % the votes in 2002. There are some tiny villages, with 100 people, 0 crime, 0 immigrants, and half of them voted for the extreme-right (see Schwengler, 2003). There are several studies (in French) about this phenomenon, but I'll just quote Ravenel et al., 2003: The higher one rises in the urban hierarchy the more positive is one's perception of multiculturalism. It is in rural areas, where foreign communities have the lowest impact, that people are the most hostile to this model of society.

In any case even living in areas where there are immigrants does not mean that local people have significant contact with them. I'm sure it's certainly changing thanks to intermarriages and the general upward social mobility of immigrants, but yes, I'd expect lots of people to have at best passing interactions with them. It's quite significant that Le Pen does not get many votes in Paris, where interactions between immigrants and non-immigrants are high, and (I guess) more positive since the immigrant may be your doctor, the network specialist at work etc. At other places, interactions may be less important and less positive.
posted by elgilito at 5:22 AM on September 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


aargh! I just lost a long post, and now my coffee-break is over. Anyway, elgilito said it. The statistics and election results in France match those in the rest of Europe.

Don't believe everything you see on the news or in the tabloids.
posted by mumimor at 6:28 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can't wait to ask some right wing nut cases in America what they think of this. To them, France is wrong by definition, but they are doing something to marginalize Muslims. Situation like this are what creates nuance for the far right.

Seriously though, I expect better of France. There must be a better way.
posted by dgran at 11:46 AM on September 19, 2011


When people regularly and predictably block traffic queueing up for concerts and festivals, they solve the problem by dispatching resources for managing foot/car traffic so that roads aren't blocked. So any discussion of the street-blocking as a real and genuine cause for any kind of prayer ban is disingenuous, because there are known, proven methods that exist to solve that problem. It is merely a scapegoat, and an emotional trigger.
posted by davejay at 12:10 PM on September 19, 2011


When people regularly and predictably block traffic queueing up for concerts and festivals, they solve the problem by dispatching resources for managing foot/car traffic so that roads aren't blocked.

Event promoters usually receive a large bill from whatever local government is providing said resources.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:33 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the US, do churches receive a bill for the in-uniform police presence which directs traffic at church parking lot entrances and exits? Or is this considered a public service that is good for the community?
posted by muddgirl at 12:51 PM on September 19, 2011


In the US, do churches receive a bill for the in-uniform police presence which directs traffic at church parking lot entrances and exits? Or is this considered a public service that is good for the community?

There's kind of a big difference between traffic management and actually kneeling in the street, don't you think?

Anyway, it depends. Some churches use trained volunteers. Sometimes they hire off-duty police officers (this is the most common approach where I live, but I don't know how typical that is). Some ministers say churches should pay the same as anyone else. Sometimes they are required to pay. Sometimes traffic services are provided for free.
posted by anigbrowl at 1:26 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


How can prayer be banned when you can prayer without making it a public demonstration?
posted by CherrySoda at 1:31 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


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