24.01.2015 Author: Vladimir Platov

Problems Of Muslim Integration In France

french-muslim-protestThe terrorist attack perpetrated in Paris against the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo was not just significant for France, but also exacerbated the problems that have accumulated over the last decades of inter-religious, inter-ethnic, civilizational, and cultural relations between people of different races and nationalities living in the same territory as a result of global migration.

France, standing under a single banner with the United States to protect “the generally accepted laws of a democratic society”, loudly defends freedom of the press and expression, protecting the French cartoonists. Assessing the behavior of the perpetrators in Paris, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy stated: “This is a war declared by barbarism against civilized humanity.” While he certainly did not directly refer to Muslims as barbarians, nevertheless, everyone understands that this was what he meant.

However, when upholding the principles of freedom of the press, we must not forget that every coin has two sides, and in any democratic society another right remains inalienable – freedom of religion, which means it is unlawful to target the religious feelings of believers, as in this case with the frank mockery of the foundation of the Islamic faith – the Prophet.

Indeed, Muslims in France are not representatives of the indigenous population. Since ancient times, members of other religions tried to enslave them by the sword and fire, crusading for Islamic lands, and later by colonization. Times have changed, policies have changed, and already there are new crusades of the West “in defense of democracy”, in which France is actively involved as a true satellite of Washington, and which erupted in Muslim countries such as Libya, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and a number of other states.

But what are the principles of this declared “democracy” which migrants coming to Europe and especially France face? – At the state level, and through the media, a retreat from many religious canons is actively promoted, as a result of which France is experiencing the abandonment of the Catholic faith, the traditional family, and other fundamental values.

At the turn of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the Islamic factor has become one of the defining factors of the present and the future of humanity. According to forecasts by the American sociologist Samuel Huntington (see ), Muslims will make up 30% of the Earth’s population in the middle of the twenty-first century. Many experts believe that Europe may be almost completely Islamized within 2-3 generations, all the way to the loss of its cultural identity.

Currently there are around 20 million Muslims in the EU. According to various reports, their number in the next 10 years will double due to high birth rates, family reunification, and a huge influx of immigrants.

The largest Islamic community is living in France. In the country’s population of 62 million people there are around 6 million Muslims. Thirty percent of young people under 20 years old are Muslims, and in 2027 it is expected that every fifth Frenchman will be Muslim.

At the same time, Muslims living in the country do not want to be assimilated. As stated by the former French President Sarkozy in one of his nationally televised interviews, “If a person comes to France, they must become a part of the French nation, and if they are not going to do that, they will not be a welcome guest in the country.” According to Sarkozy, France will not change its way of life, will not revise the concept of equality between men and women, and will not accept the fact that someone can forbid girls from going to school. The French do not want people to pray in the street for all to see. In addition, Sarkozy said: “France is a country where there is no place for the burqa, where there is no place for the subordination of women.”

In 2010, at the time the ruling conservative party Union for a Popular Movement, led by President Sarkozy, initiated a bill to ban the wearing of the “full veil” by Muslim women in public places and in the street, including the Iranian paranja, Arab niqab, and the burqa worn by Afghan and Pakistani women. All these types of Islamic dress almost completely cover the body of a woman, and the burqa does not even leave the face exposed. In this case, Muslim women are not forbidden to wear the paranja, niqab, and burqa at home, in hotel rooms, at indoor private associations, and businesses. They can wear clothing covering the face in and near places of worship, and during religious processions and theater performances.

A fine is imposed for violating the ban, which can reach 150 euros. In addition, violators may be required to take “good citizen” courses, established in 2004, in which offenders are reminded of the need to respect the rules of civil equality and human dignity. If wearing face-covering clothing in public places was imposed on the offender by a third party, such third party/person may be sentenced to a year in prison and a 30 thousand euro fine. Forcing this on a juvenile is punishable by two years in prison and a 60 thousand euro fine. Security guards may not allow violators into public places, and recommend to those who are already in a public place with a covered face to either reveal their face or leave.

On April 11, 2011 the law came into force, which caused a wave of debate in French society. The Socialist Party, although it condemned the wearing of the “full veil”, argued only for its ban in public places, and not in the street. “The French Council of the Muslim Cult” does not criticize the initiative either, considering the obligation to wear the “full veil” to be a literal reading of the Koran, and not an actual religious precept.

Representatives of the French police, on the other hand, face a number of obstacles to translate this law into practice, since, according to the law, law enforcement officers are not eligible to use force on violators, and police intervention in such cases may create unrest. In addition, you can imagine what would happen if a male police officer tried to “have a talk” with a woman in the “full veil” in a community of Muslims.

Undoubtedly, French Muslims are a very important component of the population. In an effort to live according to the laws of their faith and to preserve it, they unfortunately feel surrounded by a crowd of atheists, for whom everything is relative, the emphasis of good and evil is shifted, aggression towards believers prevails, especially towards Muslims. Of course, this does not justify the actions of religious terrorists against the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo. Nevertheless, it behooves French society (as, indeed, other countries) to overcome its feeling of superiority and to defend its democratic principles, to not forget the rights of other religions, giving them the freedom of religion and not allowing the mockery of their religious sentiments.

Vladimir Platov, an expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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