French and Francophone Studies: French Muslims - New Voices in Contemporary France
|ISBN: 9780708322093 (0708322093)Dyddiad Cyhoeddi Medi 2010 |
Cyhoeddwr: Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru / University of Wales Press, CaerdyddFformat: Clawr Caled, 216x138 mm, 192 tudalen
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Dadansoddiad manwl o'r dadleuon gwleidyddol am le Mwslimiaid yn Ffrainc heddiw, ynghyd â thrafodaeth am y syniadau a gyflwynir gan amrywiaeth o feddylwyr Mwslemaidd, a hynny wrth i Ffrainc ddod yn gefnlen i un o'r gwrthdrawiadau pwysicaf yn y byd modern. modern.
A detailed analysis of the political arguments about the place of Muslims in contemporary France, together with a discussion on the ideas put forward by a range of Muslim thinkers, as France becomes the setting for one of the most important conflicts in the modern world.
‘A careful reading of recent debates in France can provide an extremely valuable lesson, even a universal lesson, about the dilemma of nationhood in today’s world.’ This might sound ambitious, but I would unhesitatingly recommend Sharif Gemie’s scholarly yet accessible study to anyone interested in looking beyond the constant onslaught of media hype and propaganda surrounding the ‘rise of Islam’ and a ‘reverse Crusade’.
Gemie begins with an analysis of ‘the war of the veil’ – the debate that first entered the public arena back in 1989, when three Muslim girls were excluded from a French school because their veils allegedly contravened the secular principles of the education system, and raged on until 2004, when a law banning ‘ostentatious’ religious symbols from state schools was passed. The controversy was famously echoed in the UK, when Jack Straw asked a woman visiting his MP’s surgery to remove her veil, which he perceived as ‘a barrier to social integration’.
Gemie’s analysis is detailed and balanced, and he never uses words lightly, carefully highlighting the various possible meanings and interpretations of key words: veil, Muslim, integration, secular. Every argument is backed by specific examples and incidents. The approach is academic, supported by innumerable references and an extensive bibliography, but the writing is lucid and concrete. The chapters on four current key thinkers in France – Chahdortt Djavann, Fadela Amara, Tariq Ramadan and Houria Bouteldja – and on the organisations with which they are associated give practical substance to theoretical notions and raise questions about common distortions and misconceptions. Does the veil really have the same meaning when it is worn freely in France as it has when it is worn by force in Iran or Saudi Arabia? Are French Muslims ghettoising themselves and refusing to integrate, or are they actually being ghettoised and denied integration by the state? When someone like Tariq Ramadan goes to talk with disenchanted young Muslim men on the sink estates, is he stirring up dissent and subversion or is he helping them to find ways to survive in tact in a hostile environment?
‘As authorities and governments increasingly identify their enemies as Muslims, as they treat these peoples with greater suspicion and hostility, it is inevitable that both global and national conflicts grow in frequency and virulence.’ It is something we all need to be thinking about. Sanely and rationally. Gemie’s book is an excellent antidote to the poisonous propaganda that is eating away some of our most strongly avowed principles, including liberty, equality, and simple human tolerance.
Suzy Ceulan Hughes
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.
Introduction: At the Funeral
1. The War of Symbols: A Chronicle of a Debate Foretold
2. Chahdortt Djavann: Assimilation as Liberation
3. Fadela Amara: Assimilation as Social Reform
4. Organisations and Institutions
5. Tariq Ramadan: An Islamic Liberation Theology
6. Houria Bouteldja: A Native in the Republic
Dr Sharif Gemie is reader in History at the University of Glamorgan. He has written several books for UWP, including Galicia - A Concise History, Brittany, 1750-1950 and is co-editor of At The Border - Margins and Peripheries in Modern France (2007).
France has become the setting for one of the most important conflicts in the modern world. On the one hand, it possesses a rigidly organized, centralized state, whose bureaucrats and civil servants are animated by a code of secular activism. On the other hand, France is also the home for Europe’s largest Muslim minority, variously estimated at numbering between four and six million people. This means that in terms of simple numbers, France can be counted as the world’s fifteenth Islamic power.
Previous conflicts with religion have left a deep impression on French political culture: from the sixteenth and seventeenth-century conflicts between Catholics and Protestants played to the formation of the collaborationist Vichy government in 1940. In recent decades, Muslims have been stigmatized as an irreconcilable minority unable to adapt to the secular culture of the majority of French citizens.
This work draws out the political implications of the current conflict. It is based on events and publications produced in a single five year period, beginning with the shock of the 2002 Presidential elections, in which Le Pen was the second most successful candidate, ranging through the legislation of March 2004 which banned the Islamic headscarf from French state schools, and which sparked off a series of bad-tempered exchanges between left and right-wing French nationalists, anti-racism campaigners, secularists, anti-clericals and a variety of Muslim authors.
The text provides a critical perspective on Muslim politics and experiences in contemporary France. Drawing from the work of four Muslim thinkers and activists - Chahdortt Djavann, Fadela Amara, Tariq Ramadan, and Houria Bouteldja - this volume examines issues such as the veil, integration, the role of the school, the traditions of the French republic, and the legacy of the French empire. In addition, Gemie analyzes the most important organizations and structures representing French Muslim opinion today, including the French Council of the Muslim Faith and the Union of Islamic Organizations of France.
‘Original and thought-provoking, Sharif Gemie’s study of Muslims in France breaks free from the stale confrontation of knee-jerk reactions and hackneyed positions so typical of current debates around such controversial issues as the Muslim headscarf and the veil. It focuses on the ideas and approaches of a number of disparate Muslim thinkers and activists and, in the process, provides real insights into the diverse strands operating within the French Muslim population, often erroneously portrayed and demonised as a homogeneous group.’
Margaret A. Majumdar, Visiting Professor of Francophone Studies, University of Portsmouth
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