This is, especially from a European perspective, a worrying development. French Socialist president Francois Hollande — who got his job due to Muslim votes — sets all sails in order to increase the influence of “Arab” culture in Europe’s second biggest country. Translated from the German newspaper Welt by Sandra:
Veils in school, holidays for foreigners
The government of President Hollande forces a radical change in integration policy, stating that France should accept its “Oriental-Arab heritage.” This is met with harsh criticism. By Sascha Lehnartz, Paris
In the future, wearing a veil in school should not be a problem anymore. France should acknowledge its “Oriental-Arab heritage.” And for the purpose of promoting integration, prominent streets and squares should be named after celebrities with an immigrant background. As the word is hardly fostering integration, integration should not be called “integration” anymore. Instead, an “inclusive and solidarity we” should be created.
This hopeful scenario was not thought up by two multiculti-paradise prophets in the bubbling of a very vigorous water pipe. It stems from an official report on immigration and integration for the French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. On the basis of this report, Ayrault will initiate consultations on a major reorientation of the French integration policy in early January.
“We want to change the way integration is being addressed,” it reads from the Palais Matignon, the seat of the Prime Minister. “We strive for a policy which is heavily based on equality and the fight against discrimination.”
This realignment is likely to lead to heated debates and to dominate the upcoming European and municipal elections next year. Marine Le Pen and the Front National should be somewhat grateful that their favorite subject is being served in such a bite-sized manner. The conservative “Figaro” is worriedly reporting about a “shock report.”
“Inclusive and solidarity we (feeling)”
In his governmental statement in July 2012, Ayrault announced that he had “the ambition to change the access to integration issues in France fundamentally.” Since last summer, five working groups have been busy contemplating different aspects of integration policy.
The result was the central recommendation to policy makers to aim for an “inclusive and solidarity we (feeling).” Policy makers would therefore have to formulate a “society project” that would allow France to acknowledge the “gain” of “cultural diversity.”
To achieve this goal, a “paradigm shift” in the integration policy, that has so far been mainly focused on pushing immigrants to adopt the French model of civilization, would be necessary.
Reinvention of French identity
Now, this policy should aim primarily at reducing inequalities and discrimination. The main goals would be to “live equally together,” “produce possibilities” and create a new community. In other words: nothing less than to reinvent the French identity.
To this end, the curriculum of primary schools is already to be massively reformed: The reformers suggest “discussion workshops in all grade levels on topics such as differentness, identity, gender and religion.” It is also envisaged “re-evaluating the history of France completely,” since the history curricula are crucial “to live up to the diversity of society and facilitate identification with the inclusive we,” it says in the report, which the “Figaro” quoted extensively.
To raise awareness about the culturally diverse roots of today’s French society, the reform project intends to address “the migration flows of population groups” in history lessons, paying particular attention to “slavery and slave trade,” as well as the history of the Roma.
Too many dead, white, heterosexual men
A “new Panthéon” is to be set against the good old Panthéon and its problematic excess of dead “white, heterosexual men.” In this hall of honor, preferably historical figures who “embody the great movements, the epochs and the varied dynamics of society” would be allowed to reside.
The predominance of the French language should be reduced, insofar as “acknowledgement of all languages in the same way” is to be pursued. That is a pretty radical innovation in a country where, until now, any foreigner can immediately feel that he has mastered the French language only inadequately. In the future, Arabic lessons should be promoted and African languages are to be offered on grammar schools.
The most controversial point of the reform program is the veil issue. The reform provides for the “abolition of discriminatory laws and school rules,” especially those that “relate to the veil.” According to the Reform Commission’s view, the ban follows a “discriminatory logic” that encourages “discriminatory practices” in many public sectors, as well as in the private sector.
The new multicultural sense of unity should be strengthened by the introduction of at least one Memorial Day which honors the “contributions of all immigrants to French society.” In addition, “new streets and squares” are to be named in a way that makes the history of this immigration stories resound. Creation of a “museum of colonization” is desired, too. This could be accommodated at the Hôtel de la Marine at Place de la Concorde, where the decree on the abolition of slavery was signed in 1848.
Speech police regulations
Is also recommended ending the naming of “nationality, origin, ethnicity, skin color, religion or culture,” if naming does not seem obligatory. In case of violations of this speech police rule, an “administrative penalty” should be considered. “Racial harassment” should also be introduced as a criminal offense.
The reformers are aiming for “a new form of universality for the benefit of all.” It should be achieved through government subsidies, an initiative for the promotion of “positive social change,” an investment fund and an office, located in the Prime Minister’s offices, that monitors the coherence of government actions against discrimination.
Not all proposals from the Reform Commission wish list will be implemented. Still, the thrust meets the target that Premier Ayrault had set for the five working groups of the expert commission. France needs to acknowledge the “Arab-Oriental dimension of its identity,” the experts recommend. The reformers have not yet specified how this public acknowledgement is to be reconciled with the proposal to cease the naming of ethnic origin.
However, further discussions with the Prime Minister in January will certainly offer occasions to eradicate existing contradictions in an integration-fostering way. However, it needs to be noted that the term “integration” should preferably no longer be used in the radical reorganization of the concept of integration.
“The French people will be unrooted”
Not convinced by this vigorous identity change is the former director of the High Council for Integration, appointed under Nicolas Sarkozy, Malika Sorel-Sutter: “For me, the goal here is to unroot the French people,” she believes. Ms. Sorel-Sutter fears a “mass re-education” and a “real thought police.”
The chairman of the conservative opposition party UMP, Jean-François Copé, goes a step further and calls the report “dangerous to our republic.” France must not “give up its values, its language, its history and its identity in order to adapt to the cultures of others.”
Instead, “immigrants should adopt the French culture.” The report is nothing more than a “sad strategy of the Left to wave red cloths to strengthen the Front National and weaken the UMP.” Ex-Prime Minister François Fillon warned that these measures would split the French further and promote extremism.
“Serious provocation” or “more Republic”?
Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen spoke of a “serious provocation” with which “the republican model” will be abandoned in favor “of a “split communitarian society.” Given the angry comments, the Left tried to temporize: “Just because I get reports, these do not necessarily reflect the government’s position,” Ayrault defended himself.
It was merely preliminary considerations which were several months old, asserted the parliamentary group leader of the Socialists, Bruno Le Roux. He accused the press of having picked up this in a sensationalist manner, which diverges from the intended target of “more Republic.”
For example, the proposal of a re-introduction of the veil in schools was “a dead end,” said Le Roux. Also Ayrault assured that the government would “certainly not” allow wearing religious symbols in schools again. He called opposition leader Copé “irresponsible” and a “liar.” Many who are responsible now seem to want to draw the veil of silence over the subject.