Miracle Maid is a Bilingual British Blogger based in the Grésivaudan who writes and rants in French and English. She shares a recent post with Grenoble Life.
A right Charlie
Now let me see, that would be FREEDOM OF THE PRESS. Is that it? Let’s not forget we live in a lay republic and that religion has no place in public life. It’s a private affair and everyone is free to worship as they like but they must respect the sacrosanct (oops, there goes a loaded word) laïcité of the Republic. Mon cul-te.
Looking forward to the vacances de la Toussaint? Already stocking up on the chocolate advent calendars on sale in the shop to prepare for the vacances de Noël. Still not quite sure if the lundi de Pentecôte is a jour férié or not? Looking forward to your days off for lundi de Pâques or the jeudi de l’Ascension? Isn’t it great that we can take one fewer day in August from our congès payés thanks to the Virgin Mary’s Assomption?
France is simply oozing with Christian references wherever you turn, and understandably so given the history of the nation. The clocher at the end of my road serenades me every Sunday at 7am sharp. One of my best friends is a practicing Christian (gasp!). But like the nuclear cloud of Chernobyl, one’s beliefs – of whatever confession – don’t stop by magic at the school gates. Religion is not taught in schools in France (although the Bible is used as a literary reference in collège, because of course the original version was written in French …) so that should reassure the Mr et Mme Laïc that their children will not all end up in seminaries and convents when Pôle Emploi fails to deliver after a Bac +5.
But no, the government has to go even further and ban all external signs of religious appartenance as if there is danger of a sort of Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus conversion under the préau à la récré. Or worse (Nirvana forbid) we will all be forced to eat halal ham and kosher kebabs in the canteen. Call me naïve (or Eve if you prefer) but I can’t help but smell a rank hypocrisy in all this lay self-righteousness that smacks of trying to maintain the status quo in a multicultural society that threatens some outmoded notion of la Patrie. The early 20th century’s (well deserved?) bashing of the Catholic clergy gives legitimacy to deriding the modern day equivalent that Islam represents.
There is such an atavistic anti-clerical psyche in French society that it generates irrational fears of a return to theological interference in the democratic process. France suffered for so many centuries from the abuses and corruption of the Catholic church that the powers that be threw the baby (Jesus) out with the bathwater. Résultat : Laïc = good, croyant = bad. Or at the very least said croyant must not be allowed near the statute book.
The BIG problem is that to Mr Tout le Monde all Muslims are Arabs, all Arabs are Muslims and all Muslim Arabs are unable to fit into French society because they are all too busy sending funds to Al Qaeda. Perleeeeeze! It seems to me that a little religious instruction in schools would go a long way to eradicate ignorance and apartheid in La Douce France at an age where children are still hopefully tolerant of difference and open to being guided towards humanistic ends. The slippery slope to racism is littered with remarks about people’s religious beliefs, foodstuffs and customs.
Charlie Hebdo’s petite blague reminds me of the Vichy propaganda posters (great artwork n’est-ce pas?) of occupied France so decried by today’s French citizens (alas not by all by any means – some still think Hitler could have made more of an effort … )
François Hollande has just got round to asking forgiveness for the stain of French collaboration in the deportation of thousands of French Jews and off we go again on another them and us bandwagon. But hey that was then and there were nasty, evil Nazis in the equation. This is now and we journos are just having a bit of fun. If we can’t mock religion our fundamental freedoms are in danger. Nice logic for the chattering classes.
It is however one thing (and a healthy one thing) to mock religious customs and rituals where they simply reveal unwarranted privilege and abuse, quite another to attack the fundamental beliefs of one’s compatriots. Come down to my corner of la France Profonde and see what societal damage such journalistic jinks can cause. In my small town my Muslim friend – one of my best friends is a practicing Muslim (gasp!) – has noticed a shift in mentality where everything Muslim is associated with extremism, terrorists and danger. Du pain béni (!) for the Front National. Jehovah help us. When asked where she is from she now replies ‘Sweden’ … (it’s that Muslim sense of humour winning through). The head of my local primary school felt within her rights to berate said friend for her son missing school to celebrate l’Aïd El-Fitre. Maybe if there was a ‘lundi or jeudi de l’Aïd’ she wouldn’t have needed to.
As to the headline ‘Intouchables 2’ it would seem that if any one community in France is ‘touchable’ en permanence it is that of North African descent. French Muslims (many second generation immigrants from the Maghreb, Mauritania – from where hails Omar Sy the original ‘Intouchable’, Mali, etc.) can’t put one foot forward without an avalanche of commentary, debate, criticism. Probably how the Huguenots felt before they scarpered to Petty France …
So the free press would do well to take a leaf out of Dave Allen’s good book – “I’m an atheist, thank God” and stop stirring the hornet’s nest. Tell it like it is Dave : Let your god go with you.
© Miracle Maid 2012