Saturday, May 28, 2005

Why is France at war...

This question has been raised dozens of times since the French state adopted a prejudice law forbidding Muslim students from wearing Hijab in public schools last year. Few people have actually raised the proper questions in order to find the real start of this French media and “intellectual” frenzy. However we can try to analyse the three main sources that led to it. The first goes back to the Algerian colonisation, the second to a state manipulation and the third to a collective unconscious form of bigotry (with racism not far in many cases...).The “Algerian colonisation” part of the story began when about seventy years ago the French authorities in charge of “breaking” the Algerian unity, decided to concentrate all of their efforts on the Algerian women, whom they believed would be the starting point of their assimilating revolution; the primary objective being of course, to “fight” the Hijab by influencing the women into getting rid of the most visible symbol of religious or sometimes just traditional expression. Helping to accomplish that goal was easily suggested to the “European-Algerians” (les pieds noirs)who owned and/or functioned all of the administration and economy and who, very much like their contemporary french fellows now days, fantasized about being able to “see” the Muslim women (we’ll come back to this psychological issue in the third part). They attacked from all sides, while giving organised charity to pour women, while getting paid at the register in their stores, by insisting that their Algerian employees come with their wives at the “new year party” etc. Just as today, they pictured the Muslim women as oppressed under a macho religious form of “house arrest”, in desperate need of French enlightened salvation…However Algerian women were not corrupted, even when oppressed, because they knew that freedom from the colonisers had to be accomplished before intra-society fights. Clearly we can draw the parallels between now and then. The French have failed “there” but they take it as a collective challenge to win “here”, it’s something like “they didn’t accept our advanced values there but on the French main land they’ll have too”. This of course breaks the argument that claims that the law is trying to undo what is called “communautarisme” (or simply identity expression) by making all students “secular looking”, since we have a dividing “us” and “them” situation created by that very same law.The second point has unfortunately been ignored by most of observers when it should’ve been seriously examined since it not only illustrates immoral media manipulation (and raises many questions regarding the future of this “hypnotizing power”) but also explains why this issue was brought to national debate at that precise moment of history. It so happens that the very same week they passed this discriminating law, was also voted a dangerous law called “Perben2” (Dominique Perben being the minister of justice) which, under the slogan of acting against a new form of organised criminality, dangerously increases the power of the repressive arms of the states (police, army police “gendarmerie” etc.). Many of the rights that were acquired under the past governments, have just been swept away considering that the lines that define organised crime from “usual” crime are very subjective and left to the views of the police. For example while under arrest at the station, a person had the right to have a lawyer within the first hour, now it’ll be 36hours…!!! Even worse is the application of the American system of “pleading guilty” for a supposedly lesser charge before even seeing a lawyer. The law also gives the state attorneys much more power and radically changes the balance of power within the judicial system. However our purpose here is not to analyse it in depth but to show how the anti-hijab campaign has been used as a scarecrow to focus the attention of the population away from a law that drastically reduces its civil rights. The debate around the Hijab was so passionate that no one reacted, other than a few activists, who were not heard since they were considered and pictured by the media as defending the Muslims for political opportunism…Our third point would need a book to be properly addressed; nevertheless it must be approached here in order to complete this modest explanation. To begin it regards the inner mind of the French, men and women, confronting the Hijab, but then it also bringsus to a French social struggle. As was hinted previously, it appears that collectively, the French men have been fascinated by the Hijab ever since they encountered it and have developed eagerness in unveiling those “exotic” women they not only can’t “have” but can’t even “see”. This is all very usual and can be compared to many other cultural interactions like the relation of the white men to the African-American women a few decades ago. Yet the interesting thing is that the Hijab wearing Muslim women do inspire some respect to the French men, which sometimes unconsciously but mostly undeclared, creates a situation of jealousy and consequently a need for open confrontation from the French women. After having been convinced that true feminine freedom and esteem, is lived and expressed through body exposure, to the point where even indecency must be culturally imposed, for the rights of women to control their own “destiny” to be achieved; they now discover that it could just all be an illusion and that somewhere lies an other way of being respected that doesn’t rely on competition/opposition but on Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala)s word. For that large part of the population, fighting the Hijab is a fight to impose their “hesitating” model of individual behaviour. We can add that there is a very small proportion of the Arab communities’ women, which received exaggerated coverage, who have also violently opposed our demands regarding our little sisters’ rights to education, some because they have been assimilated and others (confused and in need of guidance) because they simply want to oppose the “takfir preaching” men who believe that Hijab is an absolute condition to being Muslim.The main issue here, introduced by this short collective psychological analysis, is a social one. France must realise that a growing part of its society is Muslim and French (or French and Muslim for anyone playing with word order), and that no one will settle for second class citizenship. Unfortunately when people are not “secularly” assimilated in France, they are considered as not intellectually mature yet. The French state, with the agreement of most of its population, can decide that it is its duty and interest to oppress the “transgressors” and “educate” them until enlightenment is reached. One of the main arguments in the french street has been that sometimes the girls are forced to wear Hijab against their will…sure, it can happen…but then why punish the “victims”?!! And even then, is it the states responsibility to discriminately deem itself competent as a “guardian” on a part of its population by going into families and taking educational decisions for the parents? Why then, not go to indoor cigarette smoking parents and make it illegal at home, since it’s obviously dangerous to the children’s health? Not even talking about the bars and supermarkets that sell alcohol to minors all around the country. The answer is simple to us…and anyone who’s lived and studied in France knows what is being put into the people heads as early as the second grade, which is that the mean Muslims tried to invade centuries ago and many people are convinced that it is happening again and that the state has to totally assimilate the French Muslims by “any means necessary”. One of the most recurrent arguments of the French street is the following: “ok, but when I go on vacation to Tunisia and visit a mosque, I abide by local laws and cover my hair, so here in France they must abide by our standards”…personally my answer is always the same, I just try to remind them that those young students are neither tourist nor are they “visiting” schools…they are French and it’s about time you start to understand…As a conclusion it can be added that the necessity of explaining Islam is everyday more vital for France as a whole. We must not only talk about it but mostly express it through our way of living. In sha Allah things will get better.Allâhumma lâ sahla illâ mâ sahâltahu, wa anta taj`alu l-hazna idhâ shi’ta sahlan

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