Saturday, April 23, 2011

FRANCE - Sarkozy fanned the embers of secularism

Quotes disagree unfortunately not on television and is a real calamity. This story of "debate" on Islam and secularism shows us once again. Last month, when he was low in the polls, Nicolas Sarkozy took a new rabbit out of his bag. The French president announced that he would organize a big "debate" on Islam.

As often happens with presidential ads, the media buzz has finally taken the place of debate and balloon was quickly deflated. While the left and right rightly denouncing the stigmatization of Muslims, we realized that this great "debate" would boil down to little things. No committee, no committee of wise men, no report or discussion in Parliament.

Like its predecessor, the "debate" about national identity on secularism that has made pschitt!. But whatever. As for national identity, the key was to bait the media and causing a virtual polemic intended to show that the president did not intend to be imposed upon by the National Front and its high-profile president.

Moreover, the president's announcement followed an intervention by the latter against the (very) few Muslims who were praying in the streets. Not to be outdone, the president has just thrown gasoline on the fire. To understand this attitude, perhaps suicidal today, we must go back to July 2010.

Nicolas Sarkozy had then delivered a speech at Grenoble stigmatize the Roma. It was a radical shift. The president had just decided that his re-election in 2012 would be on the themes of security and immigration. The candidate we had the same shot during the 2007 campaign. "Sarko the American" liberal and supporter of affirmative action had suddenly turned into a supporter of law and order.

This "debate" on secularism has no other cause than this pure political calculation. And it produced the desired results, that is to say enough media buzz to announce the 15 to 20% of French people likely to vote for Le Pen in the first round, Nicolas Sarkozy would not allow himself outdone.

Nicolas Sarkozy knows maybe not, but if France does not need a new debate on secularism, because few countries have as much debated for 20 years. Several commissions have examined the issue and produced reports very seriously. In 2004, the law banning conspicuous signs at the school had been preceded by discussions in all strata of society.

France was the first European country to take up this issue and is probably the one where the rules are clearer and better accepted by all. Let's be honest, this does not mean that France is not taken, as elsewhere, with some Muslim proselytizing. The emergence of the Islamic veil was bound to cause friction in a society where secularism is old.

That is why this country, who lived in peace with its Muslim population over 40 years, responded first. Precisely to preserve that peace. We can not emphasize enough, France is home to the largest populations of Muslim, Jewish and atheist in Europe. However, it is a country where, as long as the president does not fan the embers, there is the least religious conflicts.

The real problems of integration of the suburbs have never formulated in religious terms. Since its adoption, the law banning religious symbols in schools has been widely accepted even among Muslims in the name of a school where there is first a citizen before being a Jew, a Muslim or an atheist .

This does not prevent the French to protect their religious heritage, and school canteens to offer as far as possible from pork-free menus for those who want it. Because it once the rules are clear that accommodations are possible. Not before. While the debate on secularism relaunched in Quebec, it would be a shame to push secularism called "French" the back of his hand on the pretext that Nicolas Sarkozy promotes political interests on his back.

For despite a history and context obviously different, there are few areas where this country has much to teach us. That is also the "opening". You'll notice the quotes.

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