Friday, November 04, 2005

Paris - City Alight

Well, my original post on the Paris riots below certainly sparked some controversy in the comments section.

The discussion went in the direction of the problem of passages in the Koran that advocate the killing of infidels. That was not really where the original post was pointing, however. My joke about "insurgents" was more of a jab at the ridiculous coverage of events in Iraq and the endless pontificating on America's failings from the "enlightened" French government.

France has the largest Muslim population in Europe now. These riots are, no doubt, the result of the growth of that population in a country that has a long historical obsession with the concept of French identity and the uniqueness (and superiority) of French culture. Until now, my impression is that the French have tried to pretend that there would be no problem assimilating a large Muslim presence into its modern, secular state.

Unfortunately, many of the cultural norms and beliefs that the immigrant community bring to France cannot be squared with a modern, secular state. You can't have one community that believes in French jurisprudence, for example, and another that wants to live under sharia law. This tension was revealed recently in the controversy over banning headscarves from French schools.

It is, therefore, not surprising that the Muslim community is mostly ghetto-ized. This doesn't excuse the rioting, but it does provide some context.

I am not assigning value judgments here. I am merely pointing out that France has a mess on its hands and not a lot of ways to square the circle. I suspect this is going to get uglier because the problem has been ignored for a long time.


Chrispy said...

They have a huge problem on their hands.

A giant segment of their population is cut off. What do both sides do? As Americans, we don't have many good suggestions. We've got similar fish to fry, although it seems like the French government has really stuck their foot in it, from banning headscarves to using words like "scum."

It would have led to violence regardless of religion, I believe (that was the original point of my whole "I think it's more an issue of poverty and marginalization" vs. "they're Islamic and are called to violence anyway" thing).

Ultimately, like anything, it's going to come down to the individual man on the street.

Dave Cavalier said...

See next post. The situation is opening up an opportunity for radical Islamists to recruit these young French immigrants.

Jackson said...

And that's why I said it was more like Watts than Veitnam.

Chrispy said...

And that was really my whole reaction to Dave's "It's more a Muslim thing" comment.

These are two groups, one marginalized and ghettoized. The fact that it led to violence, in my opinion, had absolutely nothing to do with the Koran. This has happened a million times before and will happen again. To single out the fact that one group is Muslim and point to this as a major factor is missing the point at best and dangerous and divisive at worst.

Dave Cavalier said...

Well, I think that the inherent tension between strong Muslim identity and French secularlism is a root cause and I think this precedes any intervention by "radicals."