Monday, April 04, 2011

Today's Selection: French edition

Readers in the Home Counties reassure themselves that there will be no pictures of black people in this post.

  • There's an excellent debate on the hijab between Salma Yaqoob and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown here, where Yasmin utters the incredible phrase "The French are racist" for doing something she agrees with but for the wrong reason.
  • The burka ban is about to come into force and Islamophobia Watch have noted the criticism Sarkozy is getting for trying to broaden the debate.
  • The European Union has rapped France over its immigration policies.
  • The French local elections have seen a massive shift away from Sarkozy. Comparing the 2011 results with the 2008 results we see the Greens vote double to 8.2% putting it higher in the polls than the Communist Party or the other left regroupments. Sadly while Sarkozy's vote dipped the far-right vote rocketed from just over 4% to over 15% as their new leader has tried to detoxify the FN.
  • Red Pepper says we should look to France for strategies to beat austerity.
  • And lastly Air France have revealed how aviation could be greener. No, they have.


Raphael said...

"The French are racist" is not an incredible phrase; it is just a plain ordinary racist phrase.

Also strange to use Islamophobia watch, a site which has 200+ articles in praise of Qaradawi, as an anti-racist reference.

Many commentators in the UK have problems understand the French debates on the Burqa and related issues. The main reason for this lack of understanding is the absence of secularism in the UK whereas this is a really central principle of French public life.

There are a number of genuinely leftist and anti-racist supporters of legislation against the Burqa. This includes movements such as Ni Pute ni Soumise. Real feminists and a movement which grew in the suburbs; the name of the movement says it all about the attacks on women coming both ways, from Islamists who want to hide women and from a culture which present woman as sex toys for men consumption.

There is also absolutely no doubt that the debate on these difficult topics is framed and used by nasty politicians who use and promote racism. This includes yesterday's comment by the Minister Claude Gueant on the "too many Muslims" in France. This is discussing and to be condemned unambiguously. And it is broadly condemned. Such language makes headlines.

Incidentally such racist discourse is also an attack on French secularism: it is not the business of a Minister at all to discuss the number of people of any particular faith.

Raphael said...

a few typos in there, apologies, should be "have problems understanding" and of course, in the one before last sentence, it should be "disgusting" and not "discussing"...

Jim Jepps said...

The irony of the phrase the French are racist really struck me when I read it - I hope they editted out the caveats or whatever.

I think there is a key problem about French secularism though which is that it's used as cover for racism for some and allows others who should know better to get led into racist position.

Brown is wrong to say that the entire parliament is full of racists, but they all (but one) voted for the ban. I think that was a grave mistake but one made with 'good' intentions.

ModernityBlog said...

"I think there is a key problem about ........... though which is that it's used as cover for racism for some and allows others who should know better to get led into racist position."


Whilst I can see what you are getting at, surely it's equally applicable for any number of issues?

You just have to fill in the blank...and let's be honest, you could pick a few issues within the Green party that would fit that particular category?

But more broadly there is, in my view, an almost complete misunderstanding of French secularism by the British, and it's no coincidence, historical animosities which have gone back centuries mean that there is little desire or room for a thoughtful understanding of French history and how secularism plays its part within it.

That's rather surprising given that Britain is often so full of Francophiles, but ignorance of French history and its subtleties is no impediment in Britain.

It would be far better if those opposed to the ban, made a stab at at least understanding French secularism, and I say that as someone opposed to any ban on burka, niqab or enforced dress code.

The perpetual loathing of the French, petty jibes and historical animosity does nothing to help the debate on these complex issues.

If one was to suggest that any country was racist, then Britain fairly and squarely fits that bill, given the recent surveys of peoples views, continued xenophobia and the residual support for the Far Right within Britain, but even then that doesn't truly sum up the complexity, so it is probably best to avoid sweeping generalisations about a whole nation or country.