And why? Because the French don’t have the courage to say that the threat they face comes from the Muslim jihadists who want to make France over into an Islamic state. They don’t have the courage to say that Islam contains within itself something that is qualitatively different from Christianity, Judaism, and all other religions, precisely since it contains “” inherent within it “” specific directions for the governance of states as well as individual and collective piety. Thus they don’t have the courage to ban the headscarf alone, as a symbol of this will to subvert their government and society, without banning also Christmas Santas and crosses and the like.
From AP, with thanks to BHall and Susan:
PARIS – They arrived as they do every December: gaily wrapped gifts destined for children at a kindergarten in rural northern France.
But this year, teachers unwrapped a few, took a look and sent all 1,300 packages back to City Hall. The presents were innocent, but strictly speaking, illegal: seasonal chocolates shaped like Christian crosses and St. Nicholas.
As Christmas approaches, France is awakening to the realization that a new law banning conspicuous religious symbols at schools “” a measure used mainly to keep Muslim girls from wearing traditional Islamic head scarves to class “” can cut both ways.
“It’s an unhealthy political affair. Absolutely regrettable,” said Andre Delattre, mayor of the northern town of Coudekerque-Branche, which has shipped the traditional chocolates to local schools for 11 years.
“What’s the point? It’s the children who are being penalized for this difference of opinion,” he said. “They”ve been deprived of a festive moment.”
Challenge to Christian imagery
The law, which took effect in September, bans overt symbols such as Islamic head scarves, Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crosses at public schools.
More than a dozen teenage Muslim girls have been expelled from high schools for refusing to remove their scarves, along with three Sikh boys kicked out of a Paris-area school for wearing turbans.
But last week’s dispute over the chocolates was the first time the law “” France’s response to what many perceive as a rise in Muslim fundamentalism “” has been used to challenge Christian imagery.