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.