Monday, December 30, 2013

Silent bells

Earlier this month a now-notorious report, commissioned by the French government, disclosed plans to revise the existing policy on integration. Included were the possible removal of the ban on the veil in schools, the promotion of Arabic and African languages, the emphasis on the Arab-Oriental roots of France (sic), and the intent to change the great historical figures in the Pantheon from white heterosexual men to something else (we can assume black homosexual females, or something similar.) If you read the report in the PDF format, you will note that about twenty-five of the authors have Arabic or Muslim-sounding names. One of them, Khalid Hamdani, defended the report on RTL Radio saying:

"A child's clothing, with or without the veil, does not bother me at all, in the name of freedom."

However, he is strict on certain principles:

"Laïcité yes, but not watered down laïcité when it is a matter of principles. If someone says: 'I refuse to sit next to a girl because my religion forbids it', that's when you have to be firm on your principles."

"Firmness on principles, flexibility in the details."

Note: A reminder for those new to this blog that the word "laïcité" refers specifically to the separation of Church and State in France, dating from 1905.

The same Khalid Hamdani, in 2011, insisted that the churches of France cease the ringing of bells, a noise he regards as an intrusion of religion in the public sphere, hence counter to the law separating Church and State. His remarks were reported at Mediapart in March of that year, when Nicolas Sarkozy was implementing his so-called national debate on laïcité, one of many fictitious debates concocted by Sarkozy on questions the answers to which were decided upon long before Sarkozy was even president. Muslims, in general, were opposed to such debates that they felt stigmatized Islam. How, Hamdani wondered, can you even consider such a debate at a time when the Arab/Muslim world is turning to democracy "in the name of the principles and values of the Enlightenment?" He adopts, for his argument, a hypocritically secularist position:

- Frenchmen of Arab-Muslim identity, believers or not, are living in great times. They are proud to watch democracy spread throughout the Arab world, and see that the so-called Islamist danger was only a convenient pretext for maintaining dictators who favored Western interests. They feel fully French and cannot see what good will come out of this debate imposed on them. Except for those who won't see, any person of good faith can tell that the application of laïcité in France is strict in theory but flexible in practice. So to demand a rigid, punctilious, literal application of laïcité only of French Muslims, with no accommodation, with no exceptions, would be unjust and may even generate trouble and disorder.

Indeed, how can an atheist, or someone other than a Catholic, who lives near a cathedral, put up with the ringing of the bells every Sunday, while nothing is being done to stop this loud and ostentatious intrusion of religion in public space? How can you put up with the processions that take place under the eyes of passers-by, religious demonstrations on public streets in Lourdes, over-flow crowds during the Mardi Gras, funeral services transmitted over loud speakers outside of the churches, in the presence of the authorities, etc…

Note: The above is a violent attack by a Muslim residing in a Catholic country, and points clearly to what France's fate will be if Islam is not removed from French territory.

Beware! This time, the Muslims of France and all secular and reasonable republicans could form a sort of common front. They could demand the rigorous application of laïcité for all and for all the territories of the Republic. They could demand that all religions be treated in the same manner without special arrangements or exceptions. What would it matter then that the roots of France be Christian or pagan, Greek or Roman? What counts is that the secular Republic would no longer practice a double standard.


Note: He is right to say that while laïcité is strictly obeyed in theory, in reality there is flexibility. This was the case before the arrival, en masse, of Muslims. Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and others were not always forced to obey strictly the law banning religious symbols, for example a yarmulka, or a cross. This flexible system worked because the people did not feel threatened by any particular religion, and because they were mature enough to appreciate these exceptions without regarding them as entitlements. It was the arrival of the Muslims that changed everything as violence or the threat of violence became the preferred method of obtaining a new mosque, a light jail sentence, or a public slaughter of thousands of sheep for Aïd. If there was a debate on laïcité in 2011, however perfunctory, it was because Muslims were not behaving like other groups, despite Hamdani's claim that Islam was unfairly singled out. Moreover, his wish that the law be rigorously applied to all religions would effectively destroy Christianity. Not surprising then that in 2013 this man would participate in a government project to further Islamize France. So much for equal treatment for all religions!

The fault however, is not Hamdani's, but the government's. Prime Minister Ayrault commissioned the report and chose its authors. Lest we forget…

Regarding the ringing of bells, in the city of Boissettes (Seine-et-Marne), mayor Jean-Pierre Legrand has been ordered by a court to stop using the church bell to give the hour. An article dated December 29 in Le Figaro explains:

It's a veritable war of the bells that divides the town of Boissettes. Until now the life of this little village of four hundred inhabitants was regulated by the sound of the church bell every half-hour. But the municipality has been condemned by an appeals court in Paris, and the bells will have to stop sounding the hour, both day and night. The court ruled that by virtue of the law of 1905 the church is the property of the municipality, but use of the building, as of its bells, remains of a religious nature. Certain "local customs" cannot be maintained unless they date from before 1905, which is not the case of Boissettes.

Note: This means that even though the church was built before 1905, the ringing of the bells to give the hour began much later (in 1967). The law of 1905 separating Church and State stipulates that all churches and cathedrals in existence at the time of the law become the property of the State or the municipality. But in this case, the ringing of the bell is not the "property" of the village, and so is subject to a new court decision as the result of a 2006 lawsuit brought by two residents who bought a house facing the church and could not sleep at night.

In 2010, the courts ordered the bells to stop between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. The decision angered the mayor who filed an appeal. "I wanted to defend a tradition dating from 1967," he said to justify his action. "Two hundred villagers signed a petition to keep the bells ringing." (…) However, the Paris appeals court ordered the mayor to pay one thousand euros to the two residents, and to stop ringing the bells. The mayor will also need special permission to have the bells rung during emergencies requiring rescue operations.

Note: Crazy. The appeals court got even with the mayor for filing his appeal. The original 2010 decision to stop the bells during the night was reasonable and should have been maintained. The two residents insist they never wanted the bells to stop completely. Islam will simplify all of this. No more church bells, just the shrieking muezzin.

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At December 30, 2013 1:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not that it resolves anything but what is to stop Christians or others from lodging similar complaints against the muezzin? Has this not yet gone to any French court?

At December 30, 2013 10:35 PM, Blogger tiberge said...

@ anonymous,

Good question. Officially, the call to prayer by a muezzin is not allowed in France. However, in 2011, several blogs reported that in the city of Nanterre, west of Paris, the muezzin could be heard twice a day, then three times, then five times, with impunity. Apparently the police were aware of the situation, but as far as I know nothing was done. Videos were posted at the time that purported to prove that the muezzin were audible. Unfortunately, these videos are no longer on line (I personally never saw the videos.)

Just for the record, in Germany the muezzin are authorized, at least in certain cities like Cologne. The Christian priests are happy about it because to them it means that all the religions are living side by side in peace!!!!



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