Seen from a particular angle, it’s invigorating and reassuring to be presented with evidence that the French are made of sterner stuff than their delicate pastries might suggest. From another angle, however, we can almost feel ourselves lapsing into depression at evidence of the French being so out of touch with reality as to defy belief.
Perhaps both visions of the French are, in this case, true. If nothing else, the recent furore focuses only some attention on the obvious failings of French, and indeed, Western immigration policies of the past few decades.
On March 23 2021, the French Minister of Citizenship, Marlène Schiappa stated on television that imams of mosques in France
“must recognise in their sermons the right to marriage for people of the same sex”.
To state things as bluntly as we can: she lit the touchpaper and stood back. As might well have been expected, with a fuse as long as a grasshopper’s cock, the imams’ fireworks exploded on social media almost instantly.
Predictably, the reaction was well...predictable. There was some waffle:
“The world has become a small village. The impact of every negative decision extends far beyond what the decision-maker expects,”
OK, fine, but apart from the waffling, the real meat of the sandwich was also present, as the Secretary General of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) called for the French minister to respect “the sanctities of society and its religious pluralism.”
Unsurprisingly, the Secretary General also referred to the request from the French as “provocative”, and stated that it “does not support a peaceful life in France.”
If this man was someone else, then the sluice gates would have been opened to drench him in damning criticism for uttering such threats against the French. But he’s not someone else, he’s a Muslim urging other Muslims to resist the laws of the country in which they live.
The basis for that resistance, of course, is that they think that their God is better than the one which was traditionally favoured in the country where they live, nothing more.
In recent years, France, lest we forget, has suffered deeply at the hands of a percentage of its present Muslim population. We’ve watched aghast as journalists have been not only targeted, but also murdered. Even now, normal people wonder at the medieval attitudes, still very much present in aspects of the Muslim religion today. Those medieval attitudes seem totally at odds with the very liberal attitude to life that enabled, even encouraged Muslims to relocate to France in large numbers.
The whole thing stinks of cynicism: We will exploit your liberal attitudes to others to gain access to a better life for ourselves. We will install ourselves in your country and enjoy the benefits of the infrastructure that you, as Christians, have provided. And, most importantly, we will do all this whilst pointedly ignoring the values that we exploited to gain access to your society.
But this is nothing new, is it? All across Western Europe we can see the same selfish disregard being applied by some Muslims. Invited in, either as some sort of atonement for empire-era crimes, or alternatively as a result of pandering to the European hand-wringing, bleeding heart liberals who have steadily gained in influence over the past few decades.
No matter what the reason for the change in balance regarding, in this case, French society, we have here an unbelievably stunning dichotomy. If this were presented graphically, then we’d be looking, and trying to explain, something along these lines:
Yes, it really is that much of a mess. A mess which turns in on itself repeatedly. A self-generated, and self-generating mess to which there is no apparent end. The only difference, of course, is that watching that gif is soothing. Observing the problems in French society is anything but.
It’s not fair, however, to imply that this problem with French society is one that only rears its ugly head within the Muslim community. Recently, the Catholic church issued a ruling which states exactly the same opposition to the French government’s plan to make everyone accept same-sex marriage as we heard from the Muslims.
But there are blindingly obvious differences between the more or less identical reactions from the Catholic and Muslim bosses. The Catholic announcement amounted to not even a storm in a teacup, rather a breeze in a saucer. The only reaction which the media considered worthy of mention was Elton John getting his knickers in a twist, outraged that the Catholic church’s money-making branch turned a profit on the filmed version of his life. A film which he saw as all about his homosexuality, even if most people thought it was about the music. Mr John (not his real name) regarded the Vatican’s ruling as blatant hypocrisy. The ruling might well qualify as such, but this is the money-making branch of the brand, not the spiritual branch, and so exceptions are to be expected.
The Muslim announcement obviously harbours more of a threat. Raised in what was once an exclusively Christian/Jewish continent, in a framework of laws based on the ten commandments, we have been lulled into thinking that all religions start from the same premise as that which we know. The Muslim religion, as many murdered French testify, doesn’t necessarily work that way.
The situation in France is obviously one which is playing out, at more or less the same speed, elsewhere in Western Europe. What singles the French out is that they remain dedicated to if not forcing, then strongly encouraging the members of modern French society to play according to the same rule book.
Problematically, there is no consensus within French Muslim organisations which would remove obstacles to the state’s goal. Following Islamist attacks in Toulouse in 2012, the vice-president of France’s Muslim Council and Rector of the Paris Grand Mosque, had this to say to then-president Sarkozy:
“’His name may be Mohamed, but he’s a criminal!’ I didn’t want to make the connection between that crime and my religion. Today, I do. The imams of France have work to do.”
Fast forward to 2020, however, and the mood of cooperation has changed. Regarding the text of a new, proposed “charter of republican values” intended to be signed by French imams, the same man had this to say:
“We do not all agree on what this charter of values is, and what it will contain.”
Of course, one sticking point may have been that Macron’s charter reportedly wanted Muslim leaders to sign up to recognising France’s republican values, the rejection of Islam as a political movement, and embrace a ban on foreign influence.
Once again, it’s an admirable idea, but it does suggest that the French are guilty of naïveté, if nothing else.
But, let it not be said that the Muslim community in France is unwilling to learn from the French whom they now live amongst. In the reaction of the International Union of Muslim Scholars to the French move, one thing stands out: the use of well-trodden liberal arguments being turned around to counter the very liberal arguments that enable the Muslims to exist in a parallel society. Having stated that the construction of a free country depends on the respect afforded to society’s sanctities and religious pluralism, the Union’s Secretary General, Sheikh Ali Al-Qarah Daghi then demanded that Muslims in France “appeal to civil law and institutions to confront any law that limits their human rights and freedom of religion”.