After a chain of murderous attacks by Islamic extremists in Paris, including an iconic assault on free speech and liberty in the Charlie Hebdo shootings, agitations over a supposed Islamisation of France are to be unfortunately expected.
It is important to keep in mind that Muslims, the vast majority moderate and harmless, represent only less than ten percent of the French population. Despite the attacks, France remains a secular state that guarantees freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, and is even more proud of this in the face of adversity.
Yet in this state of emergency, people are afraid. This leads to crackdowns on Muslim life like the controversial burkini ban. Nevertheless, there is a distinction to be made between Islam and Radical Islam, and making the lives of peaceful Muslims difficult does nothing to help French security. Despite the fear the media pushes, it is important to underline the fact that there is only a small proportion of French population that conflate problems linked to terrorism and Muslims.
“We face relentless media outlets and politicians looking to hide true economic and social problems”
There are many representatives of the Muslim population in France and the vast majority don’t recognize themselves in those terrorism attacks: they condemn it. My feeling is that the media doesn’t put enough emphasis on this idea: they are, in a way, guilty of this confusion.
The topic of French identity has become a crucial stake for French politicians campaigning for the future presidential elections. Indeed, President Francois Hollande has made remarks saying that there is a problem with Islam, and that the religion wishes to affirm itself as a national religion of France. Hollande claims that one day the national symbol of his country could be a woman in a veil. I don’t think a President, due to his position, should take the liberty to say such things. It could incite further tension and opposition, leading to more violence. I feel like these remarks are against the Left Party’s values.
It would be hardly an exaggeration to maintain that politicians like Hollande are making a big mistake: they arouse fear in French society with all their questions. They only have in mind the future presidential elections, without thinking about the consequences of their words. Thus, with all this information and confusion, people are afraid of an Islamisation of France.
In reality however, Muslims are a small minority, and largely have no will to tear down French values like secularism. We cannot prove that there is an Islamisation of France. As a French woman I have never felt like a Muslim has tried to impose their religion or culture on me. Our society is free, and everybody can do what they want as long as they respect other people. I worry some may see France as instead, a racist nation.
More than anything, we face relentless media outlets and politicians looking to hide true economic and social problems. The EU is unstable, people still sleep on the streets of our capital and go hungry every night. Terrorism is a problem, but we must react appropriately with the same kind of sensible attitude we’d apply to issues like poverty. As independent writers we must do what we can to push the state to face up to real problems like the plight of refugees, a humanitarian crisis on our doorstep.