Amazing how a spate of terrorist acts can promote a desire for national cohesion.
A few hundred murders, and suddenly the French are dismayed that most of their 6,000,000 Muslims live in ghettos. They only ever venture out to join rallies under the slogan of “Nique la France!” (f*** France) or else have some fun with explosives and AKs.
After three generations of de facto apartheid, this is their principal way of interacting with their fellow Frenchmen. But Manny, his self-confidence expertly nurtured by his foster mother Brigitte, won’t take it lying down. He’ll take it standing up – on a rostrum, making speeches.
His buzz neologism is ‘structuration’ of Islam, meaning weaving it into France’s social fabric in such a way that Muslims talk to their infidel neighbours rather than shoot them.
A fairly tall order, one would think, but 56 per cent of the French disagree. In a rare outburst of collective Stockholm syndrome, they think that Islam is perfectly compatible with the values of French society.
Two years ago exactly the same proportion thought otherwise, but we should never underestimate the mind-shaping potential of a few AK bursts. Muslims become more compatible with French values in direct proportion to the number of rounds they fire at French people.
Manny resembles JFK in believing that his youthful energy can overcome any obstacle. No job too big or too small (to mess up, in JFK’s case).
So how does Manny plan to succeed where every one of his predecessors has failed, not to mention every other president or prime minister in what used to be Christendom? They’ve all tried, only to come a cropper.
Surely Manny must have a plan hatched by his active brain egged on by his foster mother Brigitte? And so he does:
“My goal is to rediscover what lies at the heart of laïcité, the possibility of being able to believe as not to believe, in order to preserve national cohesion and the possibility of having free consciousness.”
That sounds like a fact-finding mission rather than a plan for action. What exactly are you planning to do, Manny?
Er… we’ll fight fundamentalism by integrating Islamic religious practice into French life. Splendid, Manny. But how do you propose to do that?
You’ll know after I’ve done it, was Manny’s reply to the people most of whom voted for him. Those who worship at the altar of democracy may find this response by an elected official rather unsatisfactory.
The Interior Ministry was slightly more forthcoming. The plan is for the state to start training imams and funding their mosques, thereby hoping to “reduce the influence of the Arab countries, which prevent French Islam from returning to modernity”.
In other words, it’ll now be the state’s task to teach imams how to be imams and Muslims how to be Muslims. All I can say is good luck, Manny.
This is a thorny path with many natural obstacles along the way. One such is the word ‘return’ in the Interior Ministry’s quote. The verb means going back to an earlier point. Therein lies the trouble.
Islam can’t ‘return’ to modernity for the simple reason that it has never been there. Modernity promotes, in theory at least, free discussion, something that hasn’t existed in Islam for at least 800 years even in a severely abbreviated form.
Forty generations of imams, caliphs and emirs have realised that an invitation to discuss is an invitation to doubt, which isn’t something their patchwork quilt of a religion can withstand.
What’s there to discuss anyway? We’ve got the Koran which is immutable and true in every letter. So, if the Koran tells us in 300-odd verses to kill or at least shun infidels, mainly Christians and Jews, then that’s what we’ll do. And if someone doesn’t agree, he’s an apostate who must be stoned to death.
That’s what being a good Muslim means. The only way for him to become a good Frenchman is to become a bad Muslim or no Muslim at all, with all the social or even physical risks such a metamorphosis may entail.
Then again, how does this desire to incorporate Islamic worship into secular life tally with France’s much-vaunted laïcité, the bedrock of French life since 1905? Such complete separation of religion from state affairs seems to preclude the state from assuming the role of a nationalised Mullah. (Having said that, the Eiffel tower does have the makings of a natural minaret.)
If I were a French Catholic, I’d be up in arms. And what am I, chopped foie? What’s sauce for l’oie is sauce for le jars. Fair is fair.
So how about incorporating Christianity into French life? How about the state funding seminaries and churches? So that each priest has one parish, rather than 30 or even 40, as is widespread in la France profonde? How about preventing churches from going to rack and ruin?
I’d be curious how Manny would answer such questions. I suppose that depends on how uncharacteristically honest he wants to be. If our hypothetical French Catholic posed such questions, Manny would probably say something noncommittal.
But speaking to his foster mother Brigitte in private, he’d tell the truth. If Christians want Christianity to be ‘structurated’ into French life, they should blow up a few buses and shoot up a few crowds. Learn from the Muslims, chaps. That’s what comparative religion is all about.
P.S. I’m still awaiting applications for membership in the Charles Martel Society for Multiculturalism, of which I’m the founder, president and so far sole member.