« 1491 | Main | Call for Student Papers »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

It's a difficult situation. I heard a commentator say on the news last night that French Muslims look upon the UK and the US with envy, that it is easier to be a Muslim in Britain and America than it is in France. That may be so, but I could point to many Britons who think that it is precisely our openness that made the July bombings possible.

Well, that said, I think the French attitude towards Islam (see headscarf ban) has been deplorable. It has come back to bite them.

The American application: don't let the French lecture you on how to deal with Islam.

" The areas where night-time riots are happening are typically the same general areas where LDS missionaries work and even live."

Perhaps, but as a French missionary, I doubt it. If these are the predominantly ethnic neighborhoods, there aren't and shouldn't be missionaries living there.

France has problems, and one of them is that in spite of the fact that very few of them believe their own religion, they cling to it and look down their noses at any other religion, be it Mormon, Muslim, or Evangelical.

When visiting authorities would want to do some training, they'd say "Be an average investigator, what's that like?"
"Ok, I'm an agnostic/atheist Catholic who goes to Church on Christmas. I don't like my religion, but I was born Catholic and I'll die Catholic."

What can they do about it? Well, that law about not wearing religious items to school was a step in the wrong direction.

The Deseret News has a vague update from the church re LDS missionaries in the area.

If you had to drive a Citroen, you would start burning them too. :)

I think Ronan's analysis is correct. The French aren't particularly adept at cultural inclusion. This despite having the largest muslim minority in Europe.

I have to admit to being surprised at the riots. While there is pleanty of discontent in the zups, the prevailing sentiment I remember is apather; though, it has been 7 years since I have been back. It takes a fare amount of volition to burn your neighborhood.

Dave, my sister is in the Paris mission, currently serving in Versailles, and we hadn't heard a thing until my mother called the missionary department yesterday. Missionaries (in the Paris mission, at least) have been confined to their apartments, and thus are unable to send their weekly emails from the internet cafes. (Rachel's missing letter was a source of much anxiety to us.) The missionary dep't must be dealing with hundreds of anxious parents; I wish the mission president had taken it upon himself to contact the worried parents before they had to call the missionary dep't themselves.

Another great post, Dave. I too wish we had better information on the riots.

From what I can gather, most informed observers don't think that religion is an important motivation for the rioters. For example, this quote from a Paris correspondant:

Talk of an intifada is absurdly misleading. Firstly, the rioters are far from being all Muslim (although more than half are from Islamic backgrounds). Second, they have no sense of political or religious identity and no political demands. Their allegiance is to their quartier and their gang. Their main demand, so far as can be established, is to be left alone by police and the Interior Minister, Nicolas Sark-ozy, to continue with their life of low-level violence and drugs trading.

I do think it's possible that an Islamic movement could become a more important factor if the underlying issues can't be resolved.

I have to admit that I'm ashamed at the schadenfreude I've felt over this.

Ronan, I'll take I step further: don't let the French lecture you on anything.

It's not just the French lecturing the US on Islam. It's the French lecturing the US on Katrina and Rodney King...

Why do you assume that the Church and local mission hasn't responded promptly to this problem? Do you actually have any information, other than a quick glance at a web page that you assumed should be the location of said information, to indicate that they haven't been informing parents and keeping the missionaries safe? If not, I would suggest withholding judgement and not assuming the worst.

Ronan, I disagree that the French attitude towards Islam has been deplorable. On the contrary, I think it shows one of the few ways that a national identity can be preserved in the face of radical religion. What we're seeing here is not an Islamic reaction per se, but a socio-economic backlash. These are poor immigrants, period.

I think that the Egyptians may well view Suez in 1956 as an Anglo-French adventure in neo-colonialism, but they would bristle at the suggestion that Egypt was a colony of France before then, or that their experience with the French in 1956 was analogous to the Indochinese or the Algerian experience, other than that the French lost.

Very interesting post, very interesting discussion. A complex matter indeed.

First, the riots have little to do with Islam as a religion. As has been said, it's socio-economic, it's gangs, it's minors who enjoy vandalism. Background, however, is that many, most of these youngers come from the islamic milieu and that the socio-economic conditions of their (grand-)parents have created the environment they live in.

The relation between France and Islam cannot be understood without a view on the relation between the French Republic and churches. The French Republic is totally devoted to a very strict separation between state and religion, which entailed many historical conflicts since the French Revolution, and is still an important value today. Islam is circumventing that separation because it has no central authority and the local islamic entities function as cultural centers. Consequence: France ends up financing mosques and their cultural "animators", while it does not finance Catholic churches or priests, and refuses to give permission to Mormons to build a temple (among others, because no free entry to all). But for the principle of separation between State and religion, it banned headscarfs (or any other obvious religious symbol) from public schools. Actually, France has been pretty logical in its handling of all these issues, but the result is ...

Appeasement of Muslim extremists comes back to bite them in the arse. What's that German word for "enjoyment of the misfortune of others?"

That German word is Schadenfreude.

Defined as: satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune.
[1890–95; < G, equiv. to Schaden harm + Freude joy]

I think it is still very unclear what role "religion" is playing in the events in France. Note that even if the participants themselves deny that their Islamicism has anything to do with their rioting, that doesn't decide the question. People often have no clear idea of what motivates their actions; when people do think they know why they're doing things, they are often just wrong about what is really motivating them. This is all doubly true for crowds, of course.

And that isn't even considering the bias of the media, which is largely unwilling to assign Islam any role in explaining the actions of Islamic fundamentalists or, here, of Islamic crowds. I'm not making the claim Islam is driving the present events in France, I'm just noting that to the extent Islam is part of the explanation, you won't have it explained to you by journalists or the media. They just aren't receiving signals on that frequency.

What sounds a note of worry appears to be the role religious leaders are trying to take. They want to act as intermediaries, which isn't bad on the face of it. But some (perhaps unwarrentedly) suggest that they are taking de facto control of the regions. That is, that rather than having any assimilation there will be little Islamic city states throughout France. There is also worry that the Muslim Brotherhood, which many know from Egypt, is exerting a lot of influence here.

So it seems the worry is that even if these are merely hooligans, that some are using it as an opportunity to gain more power.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Now Reading

General Books 09-12

General Books 06-08

General Books 04-05

About This Site

Mormon Books 2015-16

Mormon Books 2013-14

Science Books

Bible Books

Mormon Books 2012

Mormon Books 2009-11

Mormon Books 2008

Mormon Books 2007

Mormon Books 2006

Mormon Books 2005

Religion Books 09-12

Religion Books 2008

Religion Books 2004-07

DMI on Facebook

Blog powered by Typepad