Monday, April 18, 2011

Possible Solutions for Resolving this Situation; which One is the Most Feasible?

This conflict has only begun to receive major attention for the past half century due to the dramatic increase in immigrants from the Maghreb since World War II. Though this may seem like ample time to find a resolution for the debate, quite the opposite is true. As we have seen, the situation for the people from the Maghreb is still quite poor, as noted by the vast majority still stuck in the HLMs.

This leads one to ponder how the French would define “solution” in terms of possible solutions for resolving the situation. Through recent legislation such as les lois Pasqua and l’affaire du voile, it could be argued that the French’s idea of a solution is to simply hinder immigration as much as possible from North Africa and to ban Islamic religious expression, thus eliminating the “source” of the problem and forcing those immigrants already in France to (at least on a visual level) to assimilate into the French (Christian) culture rather than allowing them to hold so tightly onto their own culture and religion.

If we observe the literature that is being produced by the Beurs, it is quite easy to see that they are also extremely conflicted on this issue and do not seem to offer a feasible solution. In many cases, the literature suggests that they are simply trying to find a place in their current society, but at what cost? Their plight, however, is quite evident in books such as Kiffe Kiffe Demain, where the author explains her daily struggles and the ridicule that she often faces from French European peers due to mainly her socioeconomic status.

I think this issue is of the utmost importance because it literally has the ability to splinter the French society if a resolution is not found. Neither side is correct to enforce their religion on others or attempting to suppress the other’s rights. The most difficult thing for them to be able to do is to be able to accept each other for who they are and be able to find a middle ground in which neither side is oppressing the other.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Many of the difficulties faced by the Beurs in France are excellent examples of the terms that Albert Memmi employs in his work The Colonizer and Colonized. Two of the best of these terms are undoubtedly dehumanization and assimilation.

The Beurs are all too often victims of dehumanization, or the proclamation by a group of people that another group of people are inferior. Examples of this form of treatment are surprisingly blatant in France and can even be observed in the government and laws of the country. The most notorious example is l’affaire du voile.

L’affaire du voile (roughly translated to the “veil affair”) was the result of a law passed in France that restricted the wearing of religious symbols during school. While Christians were able to easily hide a cross under their shirt, Muslim women were not in this category and were unable to simply hide their veil (nor did they want to do so). Because of this, the law is regarded as discriminatory against the Muslim population since it only truly affects them. Therefore, there is a sense that the Muslims are being dehumanized, since the law was written in such a way that the other two major monotheistic religions could continue to wear their religious articles essentially unimpeded whereas the Muslims were “not worthy” to do so in the eyes of the French government.

On the other hand, the Beurs themselves are often attempting to integrate into the French society, since doing so would undoubtedly make their lives easier. However, many recent laws make doing so exceedingly difficult if not impossible. For example, les lois Pasqua (1994) were anti-immigration laws enacted in response to the surprisingly large number of Muslim immigrants coming to France from her former colonies and protectorates in North Africa. These laws have a variety of different sub-laws, however, the most important in the scope of this paper are:

« On n’est plus automatiquement français à 18 ans parce qu’on est né et que l’on réside en France. Il faut faire la demande expresse entre 16 et 21 ans. Elle est refusée aux personnes de plus de 18 ans condamnées á 6 mois de prison ferme. »

« Les parents étrangers ne peuvent plus demander la nationalité française pour leurs enfants mineurs. »

Both of these laws make even the most basic step to assimilation (becoming a citizen) even more difficult for the Beurs. Before these laws, a non-citizen who was born in France automatically gains citizenship when they turn 18. However, this is no longer the case and these non-citizens must specifically ask for it. Furthermore, if they were in prison for 6 months, they are deemed unworthy of attaining citizenship, even though they may have lived their entire life in France. Similarly, parents can no longer ask for their children to have citizenship. Both of these laws make assimilating into the French society, which is already hostile towards Arab immigrants, that much more difficult.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Background/History of your chosen situation

Since 1830 when France invaded Algeria, the country has been intimately involved in North Africa and eventually came to control Tunisia and Morocco as well. At first, this was a very one sided relationship in which France was the main profiteer of the colonial relationship. With this in mind, as the first and second world wars took place, France found itself in dire need of more men to fight for the motherland. In order to fill this need, they naturally went to their colonies and protectorates who answered the call. Since this helped France, the country was perfectly happy to have an influx of Arab people coming to the motherland to defend her. Furthermore, after the second war was over and France no longer needed a huge quantity of soldiers, she found herself in dire need of workers to fill the gaps left in France’s workforce after the death of millions of their citizens in both WW1 and WW2. Thus, she arranged for men from the colonies and protectorates in the Maghreb to come to France and be able to work.

Initially, the politicians in France supported this idea wholeheartedly and planned for the immigrants to work a few years in France and then return home. However, they quickly learned that this was not the case.

The immigrants were enticed by the dramatic increase in salary and quality of living they found in France. Therefore, many of them decided that they did not want to return to their countries of origin. Instead, they worked to try to bring their families to France and live there permanently as residents and, in some cases, citizens of France. Sadly, many of these families who were first generation immigrants were poorly educated and often worked menial jobs. However, their children, or the second generation immigrants (also known as the Beurs) had the opportunity to attend French schools and become well educated members of society. Through this educated second generation is where we see the birth of Beur literature that speaks out about the problems and difficulties that they face on a daily basis.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Situation I Will Analyze and Why

After further considering my final paper, I have decided to change my two aspects of colonialism from dehumanization and the mark of the plural to assimilation and dehumanization because the topic that I have chosen lends itself to these topics much more freely. Since I did my Spanish capstone on the Arab’s influence on Spain, I find it only fitting that I should do my French capstone on the Arabs in France. With this in mind, I plan to examine the current situation in France in regards to the Muslims living there and how they are treated in the French society.

Sadly, this is a very bleak aspect of French society to analyze. Throughout the past half century, many Arabs have decided to come to France to try to start a new life for themselves and their families. Through this immigration, France has seen a variety of new problems arise. These problems are quite closely related to my two terms in many cases. For example, dehumanization is almost second nature to many French citizens when talking about the Beurs (Arabs who were born on French soil). For example, in Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong, the author, Jean-Benoit Nadeau, states that “during the three years [he] was in France, [he] very rarely heard anyone say anything positive about multiculturalism.” He goes on to mention that this profound distaste for Arabs penetrates almost every aspect of daily life, relating a story that when he told his taxi driver where he was staying, the driver went off on a rant about how terrible the Arab effects on society are. The author goes so far as to mention les préfets who could never seem to find enough time to devote to the Beurs as they devoted to voting French citizens.

In terms of assimilation, the Beurs have been trying but are finding this process exceedingly difficult. Nadeau discuses how the Arab immigrants had not been extended the right to vote until 2002. Fortunately, this is definitely a sign that the difficulty involved with assimilation may be beginning to break down, but there is still a long way to go before the Beurs are able to enjoy the true feeling of assimilation.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Aspects of Colonialization that Interest me and why

Many of the terms that we have studied so far this year are of quintessential importance when discussing contemporary international world politics. For this reason, I have found quite a few of them to be extremely interesting to me. Some of the most prominent of these are dehumanization and the mark of the plural, which are both intimately related.

Before discussing dehumanization, it is important to understand its meaning. Within the scope of this blog, the most suitable definition for dehumanization is when a group of people, through their actions, proclaims the inferiority of another group of people. This tactic is often exploited during colonization and other ventures in which a hegemony finds it necessary to oppress another group of people. However, a notable modern day example of dehumanization is present in contemporary Israel. Here, the Jews have come back to the country as a haven from WWII Europe, but in return they have wreaked havoc on the Palestinian population. Since they are not God’s chosen people, the Jews feel they have the right to kick them out of their houses and displace the entire population.

Similarly, the mark of the plural has played a huge role in politics and shifting the hearts and minds of people for millennia. This occurs when someone (or a group) harshly generalizes a group of people. For example, in today’s media, it is far too common to hear examples of the mark of the plural when discussing Muslims. News agencies often spew out hateful talking points that fit into this category almost haphazardly, as though they do not comprehend the pain it inflicts upon the people to which it is targeted. A very recent example could be seen over the debate about the Mosque at ground zero. News broadcasters were so offended that people could consider having something that represents so much hatred at the site of one of our countries most tragic disaster sites. To a certain extent they have some merit, but the vast majority of Muslims do not feel the way the terrorists that took the towers down did; therefore, it is unbelievable racist to claim that the “run of the mill” Muslim in the United States does not have the right to freely express their religious beliefs anywhere they want.